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A Soul's Fire by Prudence Prior

Format: Novel
Chapters: 34
Word Count: 133,000
Status: COMPLETED

Rating: 15+
Warnings: Mild Language, Scenes of a Mild Sexual Nature, Strong Violence

Genres: Romance, Action
Characters: Draco, Ginny, Harry, Dumbledore, Hermione, Neville, OC, Remus Lupin, Ron, Sirius Black, Snape, Voldemort, Fred/George, Narcissa, Tonks, Luna, Lucius, Peter Pettigrew, M. McGonagall
Pairings:

First Published: 02/21/2005
Last Chapter: 12/05/2005
Last Updated: 03/01/2006

Summary:

Harry Potter has witnessed the return of the Dark Lord and the Order of the Phoenix has risen again to fight him. Dumbledore enlists a beautiful and unusual expert in Eastern magic to help Snape resist the call of Voldemort but Lupin may step in the way of Snape’s defenses. What were the grownups doing to stop Voldemort while Harry struggled with his visions of the Dept. of Mysteries? This is a magical adventure and back-story to book five.


Chapter 1: Emptiness
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Chapter One
Emptiness



The first years nervously came forward to be sorted into their houses. Every year had been the same for so many years. There was a coldness that had settled in Professor Severus Snape’s heart for them. Yet again, he would suffer their addled brains that seemed to dither entirely too much about each other. These teen-agers spent far too much time exploring their silly sexuality and far too little on improving their minds. It was such a waste of his time. Sometimes he wished that he had never come to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to attempt to stuff knowledge into their paltry brains. They rarely retained a fraction of it. He doubted any one of them would show the least prowess at Potions.

The dinner was, as always exemplary and truly delicious. Severus chatted quietly with Professor McGonagall about the start of term and both he and she made furtive glances at the new Defense against the Dark Arts teacher, who was an absurd frog like creature with bulging eyes and some pink outerwear that belonged on a muggle.

Albus Dumbledore clapped his hands and there was a hush in the room as the students and teachers listened attentively. So much had happened in the short summer since last year. The Headmaster mentioned it not at all in his speech to the students. He always seemed so calm and unassuming but of course, Severus knew him to be both calculating and brilliant. The man was a master at manipulation and cunning as a fox. His only weak spot had been the young student Harry Potter whom he indulged recklessly.

Severus felt a small temporary welling of distain regarding Mr. Potter. He shifted his gaze to stare at the young man sitting amongst his Gryffindor friends. He looked a bit pale and terribly thin, as if he’d not eaten a decent meal all summer and had wasted away indoors. Severus imagined that young Mr. Potter was feeling his usual resentful and put upon selfish little self, especially after single handedly returning the Dark Lord to their midst. Professor Snape suffered an involuntary tremor of anxiety. It was all that he’d dreaded from his past come to haunt him in his present. The Dark Lord’s return to power and all that it would entail. Certainly, and Professor Snape had no doubts whatsoever on the subject, for he had dwelled on it all summer, soon, he, Severus Snape would suffer a horrible death. Mr. Potter seemed to be a magnet for the disaster that was Voldemort. Yes, he’d thought the name and wanted to spit on the floor for all the bile the name brought with it. Voldemort was alive!

Harry Potter indeed seemed to attract the evil one. Frankly, the idiot boy was so hell-bent on being angry and hateful that it was a wonder that he was taking so long to fall into the Dark Lord’s traps. Harry Potter showed a few too many of Voldemort’s personality traits to be comforting. The Parseltongue incident of a few years before was proof enough that something of Voldemort lived within the boy. Potter must be dealt with before he exhibited the insanity and anger that was the fiendish one. Severus vividly remembered He-Who-Should-Not-Be-Named angry. It was burned into his memory and into his skin. Dumbledore was going to let that boy get killed and all his little friends with him if he didn’t stop indulging him. The boy was marked by the Dark Lord, for pity sake, he needed to learn discipline and control, not be left to run wildly throughout the castle.

The Headmaster was winding up his welcome speech when that foul Umbridge woman rudely interrupted him. The Ministry of Magic should keep its bloody nose out of Hogwart’s business.

Prof. Flitwick leaned close to Severus and tapped his hand. “We’ve a nightmare year ahead of us, Professor Snape,” he whispered good-naturedly to the silent and frowning fellow teacher. “She’s a scary one. That pink bow and cardigan look muggle made and fifty years out of date.”

Severus said nothing but raised his outward emotion level to a smirk, which was sort of a smile, to acknowledge the comment. When the horrible woman finally shut up and sat down Flitwick leaned over to Severus again. He willed himself not to sigh in exasperation. The little man was so tiny that Severus was compelled to lean way over to hear his tiny voice.

“I heard that the new Ancient Runes Professor is to arrive next week,” he said in his dry and squeaky voice. “They must be a terribly important person to arrive LATE for start of term.” Professor Flitwick was known for his humorous wit and gossipy nature. They were famous traits that Severus often found trying.

“I’ve not been made privy to the details, Professor,” he said loftily. He flicked a strand of his inky black hair out of his eyes to look at the tiny man. “All I was told was that this mysterious ‘expert’ in Runes was coming from the east.”

“Oh, my!” said Flitwick delighted. “Won’t that be exciting? We’ve not had a teacher from the orient in how many years?” He thought for more than a moment, looking into space as if calculating the number. The students in the hall had raised the noise level considerably as they began to shuffle out the door. Severus so wanted to leave. “Why, do you know, Severus?” Flitwick said finally, after Severus had looked to the ceiling in exasperation a good three times. “Why, I don’t remember the last time we’ve had a professor from the Orient. Do you?”

“No,” said Snape, a slight curl of a sneer forming on his lips. “I believe this may be the first.”

“Positively, delightful!” said Flitwick. “I shall be excited until they come!”

Severus was not interested in this supposedly delightful and mysterious professor at all. What he was interested in was leaving, which he did abruptly rising and sweeping out the door, his black robes flapping as he went.


The first week of term went as he expected. The first years were slugs. They sat with their mouths hanging open as if in waiting for flies to enter. The Weasley twins almost blew up the dungeon by the second day. Severus was absolutely sure that those boys were more talented at potion making then they pretended NOT to be. To finish off his trying week, Mr. Potter was his usual arrogant self. That boy deserved every ounce of comeuppance that he could shove down his insolent young throat.

Still, the emptiness of waiting for his death consumed him with dread for the entire week. The Dark Lord would call his followers and what would happen, he did not know. He had barely lived his life and most of it had been miserable. He was a young man about to die.

These were the thoughts of Professor Severus Snape as he stormed through the halls of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in answer to a summons by the Headmaster on a particularly cold Friday evening in September. His dark and gloomy figure striding, his black robes billowing, his stringy black hair half in his eyes, he was lost in thoughts of his inevitable demise. He stopped at the great large statue that was the entrance stair to the Headmaster’s tower office and speaking the requisite sugary absurdity, he rose to meet his Headmaster.

Severus knocked on the outer door, was bade to enter but when he did, he stopped short on the threshold. There was a stranger in the room with Dumbledore. A fairly tall woman of slight build and the most extraordinarily long braid down her back held together with a green ribbon that certainly must have been a meter and a half long. Her hair was a deep black, but not as his own that was nearly blue black but henna red black. It glowed fire in the candlelight of Dumbledore’s cluttered receiving room. She did not turn, as anyone normally would, but kept her back to him as Dumbledore called to him to enter.

“Good of you to come on such short notice, Severus, come in!” beckoned the Headmaster. “There’s someone very special that I’d like for you to meet.”

Still the woman did not turn, but waited facing Dumbledore, her head lowered in respect. Perhaps it was the Oriental professor that was to arrive, Severus speculated as he entered and walked toward the two standing at the desk in the center of the tower room.

He stood beside her watching Dumbledore, who had that silly mother hen look on his face that he got when he was trying to be welcoming and friendly. “Severus, this is Felicity Wood,” he said proudly.

Severus looked at the woman in profile for she still had not turned but seemed especially interested in looking down at the desk until he turned toward her with his hand out. “How do you, Ms. Wood,” he said with only a slight sneer at her obvious demur posturing, an absurdity in this day and age.

She turned quite suddenly though gracefully and looked at him then. She was no woman from the Orient. Her eyes were green and sparkled with mischief. She’d been playing a game! The very idea! “How do you do, Professor Snape,” she said echoing his sneer. “I’ve heard so much about you and have looked forward to meeting you.” She did not smile but her eyes did. They fairly danced a jig at his expense.

Severus shot Albus Dumbledore a glare before he thought better of it. Albus raised his hands in his defense. “It wasn’t I, Severus. I assure you. Felicity, dear, you’ve alarmed poor Professor Snape, please explain.” His voice was mock severity. The man was abysmal at keeping order and rank correctly.

She laughed lightly. “My younger cousin was a student at the school, Professor Snape and he’s told me all about Hogwarts. You’ve quite the reputation with the students.” He glared at her but she seemed unaffected. “I would hope that I would do as well to live on in their memories as you have.” She politely inclined her head.

He was not mollified by her belated and feigned gracious behavior. “And this infamous cousin, who has obviously defamed my character, would be?”

“Oliver Wood,” she said grinning from ear to ear.

He noticed it then. Her accent was neither Scottish as her supposed cousin was nor British. “You’re an American!” he said almost as an accusation.

“Hardly,” the woman replied haughtily. “I was born in Scotland, if that’s what you’re acting so pompous about. I grew up for part of my life in Canada and went to Prior’s Academy of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the Berkshires. That IS in the States, by the way. I left there when I was sixteen. My father was an Ambassador in the Ministry and we lived all over the world. Most of my formal schooling was in Tibet and India. I’ve just come from a year in Egypt. I’m sort of a life long student, I guess.” She smiled a shy smile. It was faked to be sure.

Severus Snape was at a loss for words. The woman was outrageous. “I was not being pompous, Ms. Wood,” he whispered lividly. “I merely stated an observation. You needn’t have given me your resume.” He looked her up and down intimidating her with his eyes. He observed her clothing in the process. It was highly unusual. She wore an eastern style robe of the darkest green silk that he’d ever seen with a vague pattern of water throughout. It fitted closely to her not unappealing figure and was fastened down the side with several stays in the shape of a dragon, red in color, each one with green eyes. Her outfit was mesmerizing and he forgot to finish off his head to toe intimidation with the glare that was his signature. He felt off-balance.

“Don’t worry, Prof. Snape, I have that affect on a lot of people when they first meet me,” she said solemnly as if answering his thoughts.

She looked to Severus to be very young, but perhaps she was only a few years younger than he. Certainly, she was too young to be the supposed expert in Runes from the Orient that Flitwick was so anxious to meet.

“I’ll be thirty-five in October,” she said, looking at him soberly.

Being an expert at Legilimency he knew that she was not reading his mind but her guessing was uncanny. “I did not ask how old you were, Ms. Wood,” he said, this time purposely pompous.

“Of course you didn’t, Professor. That would be impolite. I only said that because it was what you were thinking.”
He narrowed his gaze at the strange woman before him. “You are extremely presumptuous, Miss.” He looked to Dumbledore, who frankly should have stepped between them at hello! The old man stood admiring them as if they made a lovely couple and invitations to the wedding should be mailed immediately. Snape was furious. “Well, now that we’ve met, I must take my leave.” He turned to escape but the old goat held him back.

“Severus, Severus, don’t run off!” he said.

“I was not running, sir, I’ve a potion brewing and must attend to it.” He was biting his tongue. The pain was excruciating and much more enjoyable than this meeting.

“I was hoping that you would be so kind as to show Ms. Wood to the dungeons, Professor. She’s to have the teacher’s suite down the hall from Slytherin.”

Severus raised an eyebrow and he looked at Ms. Wood in reserved horror.

“I am most comfortable with stone around me,” said Felicity in explanation.

“Well,” said Severus dryly, “you’ve certainly come to the right place then. We’ve stone aplenty. Follow me.” With that said he tipped his head slightly to the headmaster and turned to go. She politely took her leave of the Headmaster and rushed after him. Though she didn’t rush fast enough as far as Professor Snape was concerned.




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Please leave a review! I'd love to hear what you think. Cheers, Pru





Chapter 2: Word Magic
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Chapter Three
Word Magic



Master Tong had told her many times that her lack of patience needed tending to. She had never been the type of student to pay attention long enough for his tastes. He would often take her aside and out of earshot of the other pupils, where he would lecture her on growing the wisdom eye somewhere in the middle of that thick forehead of hers.

That’s what she thought about as she stood before her new class. She had already taught the lower years that first week in classic Ancient Runes. It was yawn worthy but necessary fodder to grow magic in a young wizard’s mind. These students however were her elite tribe, the ones to inspire or risk losing to any number of other disciplines. After the end of the year exams, they would either choose to stay on or drop the class. She had special hopes for these young ones. As she looked out on their faces she saw that more than half were from Ravenclaw, some from the other houses and only one, a tall young man, was from Slytherin.

“Settle down, Class!” she called out sharply to the group of twenty chattering students. “We’ve a lot to cover this term and we’re already a week behind.” She smiled knowing they were intrigued by her. She had worn her special robe, a shape fitting superb green shift with a dragon hand painted in china up the front. She removed her teacher’s robe of black and laid it on a chair, and flipped her long braid to her back. The class was silent and watched her breathlessly. She was a dragon woman come alive.

When she’d fully had their attention, she performed the usual getting to know the class bandying back and forth of names that one does on the first day before she launched into her agenda. She could tell that the class had begun to relax.

“Now, class,” she began. “I understand that you are familiar with the Ancient Runes and are looking forward to your exams at the end of the year.” There was a general groan from the students. “That being the case, our Headmaster has given me permission to teach Runes from my own special, perhaps unorthodox point of view in order to broaden your knowledge on the subject.”

“How many in the class are familiar with muggle legends and fairy tales?” she heard a loud snigger from the tall Slytherin boy. “ Mr. Nott!” she hissed. “I’ll not have you interrupt my class with laughter. If you have some joke or opinion, you’ll raise your hand and share it.”

The insolent punk raised his hand. She’d been counting on it. “You have something to volunteer, Mr. Nott?”

“I didn’t come to the class to learn about slime ball muggles!” he said defiantly. There was a murmur amongst the students. Some of them agreed.

She smiled slyly. Slytherin could always be counted on to defy the unorthodox. “Well, young man, that just shows how ignorant you are of the world of magic.” She took out her wand and pointed it to the door to open it. Every student in the room watched as a large ginger cat sauntered into the door as if it owned the whole castle and had every right to be there.

“Crookshanks!” cried Hermione Granger, who was sitting in the first row. “That’s my cat Crookshanks!”

“Yes, Miss Granger,” said Felicity. “I hope you won’t mind that I took the liberty to introduce myself to your cat and he has agreed wholeheartedly to spend a short time with us for this demonstration.”

Another murmur circulated the class as Crookshanks hopped up on the podium and began washing his face acting very bored.

“Now, as I was about to say before Mr. Nott so boldly made his presence known, the muggles have many legends and fairy tales that knowledgeable wizards and witches now know for a fact are not so. Very knowledgeable wizards believe for instance, that animals do not talk and it is not possible to talk to them. Except for those few and chosen individuals who speak Parselmouth, or the few special magical creatures who are able to communicate, we wizards assume that we cannot talk to animals.”

She stepped forward away from the podium and Crookshanks to be closer to the students. “The muggles have a story, very ancient and in many languages, that states that if a human learns the secret name of any creature, that they will owe an allegiance for life. It is believed that animals guard their names fiercely and very few humans are able to learn them. When their name is shared they become of one mind with the human and will be able to communicate freely. Most creatures find us tedious at best and hide their true selves from us.” Mr. Nott was just begging for detention by rolling his eyes and mouthing ‘ridiculous’ to the Ravenclaw girl next to him. “I propose to you that this old wives’ tale is a magic truth.”

Hermione Granger raised her hand so hard that it may have come loose from its socket. “But Professor Wood,” she said breathlessly, “the wizards Masterson and Phillips proved without a doubt in 1852 that it was impossible to know an animal’s name and it was just a muggle distortion without any basis in fact.”

“Yes, poor them,” answered Professor Wood sarcastically. “They wasted their whole careers searching in the wrong place for what they never found. But I assure you, the names exist and humans once knew them. They exist, my dear, deep within the old languages that we share with the muggles. Deep within our ancient Runes, within our Cuneiform, our ancient Persian, our ancient Sanskrit and our Hieroglyphics, somewhere buried by time so that we no longer know the meanings. It is not only the Latin and Greek words that produce magic for a wizard or witch. There are other ancient words that we magic folk once used. We have merely forgotten them, Miss Granger.”

She stepped back to the podium and petted Crookshanks fondly. “Take our young cat here. He is very smart and is a mix of muggle cat and a more magic creature, the kneazel. How did I ask him to be here? How did he know to come at that very moment?”

A young Ravenclaw raised his hand. “Yes, Mr. Boot?”

“Are telling us that you know the cat’s true name?”

“Yes, I am,” she said lightly. “Thank you Mr. Crookshanks, you’ve been very kind to come. Hop over to Miss Granger and give her a rub and you may go and play in the sunshine.”

The class watched silently as Crookshanks hopped down and took his time to make it to Hermione. “If you would hurry it up a bit, Mr. Crookshanks,” she said perturbed at his slowness. “I’ve a class to teach.” Crookshanks looked up at her and mewed but speeded through a quick rub and beat it out the door. With a flick and swish Felicity slammed the door behind him. The class was silent.

“Take out your ancient languages volume and turn to page one fifty to begin our Sanskrit, the magic words.” She smiled at the class knowing she had at the very least made them start thinking a little harder. “We’ll learn about the magic in ancient words, now.” They quickly flipped open their books as she filled up the board behind the podium with an array of words in Sanskrit.



That evening she plopped her body tiredly down next to Professor Snape at dinner. One could always count on an empty seat at table next to Severus. The man was not known for his welcoming nature.

“I’ve had one heck of a day! Whew! Let me tell you!” she said to him.

He glared at her. “Professor Wood, must you always hound me?”

“Must you always sneer at me?”

“I am not sneering and I have better things to think about then how your day went.” Severus looked out at the students with a look that was callous. His gaze rested on his favorite student to glower at, Mr. Harry Potter.

“Severus, look at me,” she said trying to dissuade him from going down that dark road again. He looked at her with a puzzled look. “Do you ever wonder about the magic of words?”

“Is this going to take long?” He was in a very dry humor.

“The word and its magic. When we say a spell with a word and a wand, doesn’t it ever strike you as an odd thing, really?” She looked into his eyes, knowing he thought she was mad. “I’m not mad, or crazy or whatever you’re thinking,” she said turning back to her dinner that had freshly arrived before her, a plate of spaghetti with real meatballs and garlic toast points. She was thrilled with the house elves at Hogwarts. They really knew their stuff.
Severus looked at her dinner in horror but said nothing. It would mean a commitment to conversation if he were to comment on her horrendous taste in food.

“Words that are for making magic are fascinating, that’s all I’m saying.”

Severus grunted and got up to leave. “Please don’t go,” she asked quietly. She reached out and grabbed his arm and he just barely winced in pain, sitting quickly down again.

“I’ve a potion brewing, Professor Wood,” he said gritting his teeth. “I must return to it.” He looked impassively at her. There wasn’t an emotion on his face but she could see beyond to something new in the man that she hadn’t seen before. It was fear.

“Are you okay?”

A slight sneer appeared completely masking the fear that she had seen. “Miss Wood, your questions are often preposterous and your accent is grating!” He acted angry with her but really he wasn’t. It looked as if he was so depressed with what was bothering him that he couldn’t even find the energy to be disdainful.

At that moment the awful woman, Professor Umbridge sat down next to Felicity and started clearing her throat.

Severus seemed to rally enough energy for some meanness to throw at her as he rose to go. “Somebody is in for it,” he whispered in her ear and took his leave. She watched him sadly as he walked away from her while Professor Umbridge cleared her throat beside her waiting to be noticed. She’d only spoken to the woman twice but already loathed her deeply.

“How are you, Professor Umbridge?” she asked politely while picking at her food that no longer looked appetizing.

“Fine. Professor, I’m just delightful and you?” She had a very strange smile plastered on her face.

“Peachy.” Felicity just couldn’t bring herself to like the woman. She was creepy.

“A little birdie told me that you demonstrated talking to animals in your class today, Professor Wood,” said Professor Umbridge in a sugary sweet voice.

Alarm bells rang in Felicity’s head. Mr. Nott was definitely getting a talking to and a detention. “I demonstrated a parlor trick to get the student’s attention, if that’s what you mean.” The woman was very annoying.

“It was a trick? You know the Ministry of Magic does not approve of false claims especially as preposterous and impossible as claiming communication with animals by knowing their secret names, Miss Wood. Particularly when these claims are made during class time.” The puffy pink cow actually giggled. “You’re very young and impressionable, though, Miss Wood. Perhaps the reason you had such poor judgment is because someone told you that tricking the class to get their attention was something you should do?”

“Like who?”

“Did Headmaster Dumbledore tell you that it would be a good idea?” she asked sweetly. “You can tell me, dear. I’d love to hear.” The woman’s face would break if she didn’t stop smiling like that. It was hideous.

Felicity had lost her appetite entirely. “I’m sorry Professor Umbridge, I must go to my rooms. I am too tired to even eat my dinner.”

She rose from the table and slowly made her way down the corridor toward the dungeons. She passed a few students who smiled at her as she went. She dragged her hand along the stone relishing the feel of it as she walked down the stairs. Of course, she had to pass Professor Snape’s offices as she went by. The door was open. She only had to touch it with a finger to look inside.

Severus sat at his desk reading a book, his whole room in shadow but for a pool of light around him. He didn’t look up. She entered quietly.

“Must you come in?” he asked with out moving his head. “Must you disturb me once again?”

“I was on by way to my rooms,” she said nervously playing with her long braid as she walked into the classroom and up to his desk.

He looked up then. His face was again completely impassive. The unfortunate man only wanted to be left alone in his misery.

“Why do you have that ridiculously long braid?” he asked in an effort to irritate her.

Felicity moved closer to him. She lifted her braid and laughed lightly at it. “It’s my tail,” she said.

“You are insane.” He said it dully, as if it were just a fact.

“Let me see it,” she said, now that she was close enough to him.

“No.” He was so depressed he didn’t even deny it.

“I knew him too, Severus. A long time ago, he wanted me with him.”

Severus’ eyes focused on her in alarm. “What do you mean?”

“When I met him first I was just sixteen,” she said sadly. “It was a particularly hard year for me. I had been with my father in Tibet and something happened. I couldn’t go back to Prior Academy and finish my education.” She lifted her hands in dismay at the memory. “We then went to Scotland for our gathering and he came in search of us, for my family.” Severus watched her listening, his eyes intent on her. “He killed my cousin Harold and his family,” she whispered. “Even the baby, it was terrible.”

“Yes,” he said, as if he remembered it, too.

“We escaped, but he followed us. I was sixteen. Finally, my father sent me back to Tibet where I lived for a few more years.” She reached slowly for his arm. He didn’t protest. “When I was nineteen, I tried to come back home, my father was in London then just trying to stay ahead of the Death Eaters and do his job at the Ministry.” She held his arm and gently pushed back his sleeve. “He found out about me. I was of interest to him.”

“Why?”

“Because I’m very special, Severus Snape,” she whispered. “Just in case you hadn’t noticed it, yet. I’m someone the Dark Lord would find handy to have in his arsenal of evils, just as you are.” Her green eyes fixed onto his black. She could feel him pushing into her mind. He was really quite subtle. Not many were. Voldemort, for instance, was brutal in entering another’s mind. She’d only made that mistake once.

She let him see only one memory of Voldemort so he would understand and then pushed the door close on him. He blinked in surprise.

“I can make the pain go away for awhile if you’ll trust me, Severus,” she said evenly.

He said nothing. She could tell that he wanted to trust her, wanted the pain to just leave him, that he would do anything to make it stop, but he couldn’t bring himself to ask her for help. She looked at him with pride. For all his severity and sneering, she looked on him and saw only that he was the Master of Slytherin House. Her house. He would not ask her for help, but she would give it.

“Close your eyes,” she said quietly.

“No.”

“You must, Severus. You won’t want to look.”

He obeyed. She didn’t let go of his arm as she reached for her wand that she touched lightly to the middle of his forehead whispering a small sleeping spell. When he was asleep, she released his arm and went right to work. Taking out a pouch of powder that she always carried, she searched around his room for a shallow bowl, cleaned it thoroughly and returned to him. She then put the powder in the bowl and cut the inside of her palm with a small knife letting the blood flow into it. After sealing the cut with her wand, she mixed and spread the poultice on the Dark Lord’s mark and whispered an incantation as she rolled her wand over the area. The poultice glowed a vivid green and then darkened and soaked into the skin turning the area a deep black. This done, she washed all trace of her work and went back to him.

For just a second before waking him, she looked at his face. No one would say he was handsome, certainly. His strong nose, his greasy long hair and that furrow from years of frowning on his forehead made him look older than he certainly was. He was Head of Slytherin House. She kissed him fondly on the forehead and woke him up with her wand.

“Do you feel better?”

“I do.” He was taken aback.

“Is the pain gone?”

“Yes.” The look on his face might have been a smile if he’d tried practicing once in awhile.

“Good! Because I’m exhausted and have to go to bed,” she said turning to go.

“Miss Wood?”

“Yes?”

“What did you do?” Severus never had liked to be in the dark on any subject that related to him.

“You don’t want to know. It should work for another month and then we’ll do it again. I sealed the mark against his call.”

She turned to go but now he couldn’t let her leave.

“How did you get away from him, Miss Wood?” he asked. There was tiny note of desperation in his voice that broke her heart.

“I am no one’s servant, Professor Snape,” she said proudly. “Even the Dark Lord is not strong enough to make me his slave.”

“Why are you so blessed?” he said sarcastically, sitting back in his chair. “How did you escape?” There was a hard edge in his question.

“Someday, I’ll tell you, Severus. I need to go to bed now.”

“Goodnight then, Felicity,” he said letting her go and acting as if he’d called her by her first name all the time.



When she reached her quarters she sealed the door with magic against any unwanted intruders and took off her clothes as quickly as she could. Blood magic was tiring for so many reasons and it had been such a long day. She was exhausted. Master Tong had warned her that a series of long days without release into her dragon self would be hard for her. He was right. She needed to change quickly for she’d held off too long. She transformed her slim form rapidly, and taking the time needed to rub her scaled body up against the cool stonewalls, she curled up and went into a deep and much needed sleep.


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A/N: Please take a second to review! I'd love to hear what you think. :) Pru


Chapter 3: Hogwarts Heaven
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Chapter Two
Hogwarts Heaven



Felicity rose early the next morning. It was her habit to wake before the sun whether she could see it or not. After her meditation she headed for breakfast in the great hall. She remembered the way. She’d been to Hogwarts at the age of eleven. As so many of her future students now were, she had been excited and full of promise for her first year. She’d been so thrilled and so eager to succeed.

As she walked the steps from the dungeon and through the halls she remembered that time with a tug on her heart. She’d been a student at Hogwarts for a whole two weeks before her father had stormed in and snatched his only daughter from this heaven and plopped her in the rolling hills of the Berkshires. Every Wood through all generations in family memory had attended Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, but her.

She purposely sat down next to Severus Snape at the teacher’s table. He also seemed to be an early riser. She looked nostalgically at her house table. There was a small group of students at the long table, just as she had been for two glorious weeks. Poor daddy, she sighed, outwardly sad. He’d tried to save her but he had only set her life rolling down a similar path. Her father had been so angry when he’d heard the house she’d been sorted into. He had said sternly to the Headmaster that there could be nothing on earth that would compel him to allow his own flesh and blood to belong to Slytherin House. There would be no snakes in daddy’s portrait parlor. Such was the prejudice of her father.

The sad sigh from the upstart who had the audacity to sit next to him brought Severus’ head up from trying to eat his breakfast quickly and be on his way. He stared at her. Her pale skin glowed and she had several freckles across her nose that he tried not to admire.

“You’re the only one that I know here, Severus,” she said defying him with her eyes. “I didn’t think you’d mind if I sat next to you.”

“Though the table is long and wide with room to sit anywhere,” he said with distain.

Her eyes fixed on him, green and bright with light. “You shouldn’t judge me so harshly, Professor Snape,” she said. “Look, we’ve gotten off to a bad start. Let’s not fight, okay?”

He kept his face as impassive as he could, an easy feat for him. “I suppose.”

“Perhaps you wouldn’t mind showing me around?”

“I’m very busy.”

“Doing what?”

“I beg your pardon?”

“What are you doing that could be more important than showing a new fellow teacher around the school and making her feel welcome?” She wanted to stick her tongue out at him but held back. “The Headmaster expects it, Severus,” she said exasperated with his defensive wall of malice that surely kept everyone in his life at arms length. “Please? He said as much last evening. We, being nearly the same age and all.”

“What is that supposed to mean?”

“I don’t think it’s meant to mean anything. You know Albus Dumbledore and what the politics at Hogwarts must be like more than I would.”

Severus raised a brow and pursed his lips in thought. “Yes,” he said, thinking that he might have to play along to please Dumbledore. Perhaps it would be in his best interest to be nicer to the woman.

“See? I knew you’d see my point.”

She was doing it again. It was as if she heard his thoughts, yet he knew she wasn’t inside his mind. He felt no presence.

“I’m very quiet, you won’t even feel my presence, ” she said and he almost jumped off the seat in alarm. “And I won’t bother you much. Just show me around the school and we’ll pretend to like each other. That should make the Headmaster happy until he forgets about us.” She prattled on while eating her breakfast but he was so alarmed that she had seemed to hear what he had thought that he sat gawking at her like a first year.

“What’s wrong?” she said finally. A piece of toast poised to bite. “Are you all right, Professor Snape? You don’t look like you’re breathing.”

He shook himself. He calmly transformed his exterior to his usual impassive and found his voice. “I suppose that if it will please the Headmaster, I might find the time to show you around.”

“Will you show me the grounds, as well? I’ve heard of an unusual tree that I’d like to see.”

“You must be referring to the whomping willow. I assure you, Miss Wood, it is a very dangerous tree and you should refrain from searching it out.”

“I’d like to see it.” She wasn’t going to back down from his challenge.

“If you wish.” He ran his hand through the greasy strings of hair hanging in his eyes. It looked to Felicity as if it was a nervous habit of his and she noted it for memory. “Shall we say that we meet at noon for luncheon?” he continued. “I’ll show you about then.”

He seemed resigned to her inevitable company knowing it would be in his best interest to at least appear hospitable. He rose abruptly and strode out of the hall without another word. She watched him as he marched past the few students at the Gryffindor table. She could see them visibly cower in fear of him.

What Professor Dumbledore had asked her to do for Severus Snape was not going to be easy. She wondered about him. His mind was as calculating and cunning as the best of minds but she had not dared reach into his soul as yet. There was fire there. Burning hot and bright like a volcano yearning to explode. She hoped she could do as Dumbledore had asked her. Severus Snape did seem to need her help.


Felicity wandered about the halls for a while after breakfast and found the library. She introduced herself to the librarian, Irma Pince. She was quite a fierce old bird and reminded her of any number of her New England professors. That thoroughly pinched look of severity had made its mark on the Prior Academy matrons, as well.

“I will find special requests for teachers, Miss Wood, but you must give me at least a weeks notice,” she said firmly. “I won’t go searching all over kingdom come for some obscure volume that you must have for a lesson the next day. It infuriates me!”

“I understand, Miss Pince.”

“Ancient Runes books are often obscure,” she continued in the same no nonsense voice. “Don’t forget! One weeks notice at the very least!”

“I suspect that I won’t have to trouble you, Miss Pince. I’ve plenty of books with me that will serve my purposes. Thank you so much for your time. I’m so happy to have met you.” She was on her way out the door in escape when a student hesitantly approached her.

She was about sixteen with frizzy brown hair, a clear complexion and very pretty eyes that glittered with intelligence. “Excuse me, Professor,” she began. “Are you the new Ancient Runes professor?”

“I am!” Felicity smiled warmly. This girl must be one of her new charges. “My name is Felicity Wood.”

The girl’s face broke into an enthusiastic grin. This girl loved her professors. “I’m so pleased that you’re finally here, professor! I’ve been looking forward to starting my Ancient Runes class. My name is Hermione Granger.” She held out a small hand that Felicity shook gently.

“I see from your robes that you’re from Gryffindor House, and you’re Prefect this year, Miss Granger. I will hazard to guess that I should expect great things from you in my class this year.” The sweet girl blushed. No snob in this one. No, she would not be from Slytherin or even Ravenclaw. “My cousin was in Gryffindor House, you might have known him.”

“He was?”

“Yes, he was. His name is Oliver Wood. Did you know him?”

“Of course, Prof. Wood. He was Captain of the Quidditch team! Oh, Harry will be so excited when I tell him that you’re related to him.”

“Harry?”

“I’m sorry, Professor. Harry Potter, he’s my friend and he’s on the Gryffindor team as a seeker. He was very fond of Wood, hmmm, I mean Oliver.”

“Harry Potter?” asked Felicity pretending to be taken aback. “You mean the boy-that-lived? Is he in Gryffindor House?” Even as Herimone babbled on about her friend, Felicity saw the logic of the boy being in that house. He was the one marked by the Dark Lord. His life was bound for challenges. Poor boy.

“I’d like to meet your friend sometime, Miss Granger,” she said.

Hermione’s face fell slightly. “He doesn’t really like being noticed, Professor. For that, I mean. You know, he doesn’t really like it when people point to his mark.”

“Heavens, child,” Felicity laughed. “I won’t even mention it. I promise. Shall I pretend that I’ve never heard of him?”

Hermione smiled, knowing that Felicity was being kind. Everyone knew who Harry Potter was.

“He’s on the Quidditch Pitch at the moment, practicing, I expect,” said Hermione. “If you’d like, I could show it to you and perhaps I could persuade him to say hello?”

Such a kind heart this girl had. “That would be lovely, Miss Granger. Lead away!” They trooped out into the sunshine together. Soon it would be full fall but now the days switched occasionally back to summer. This was one of those days, glorious and bright.

They made their way to the pitch. It was a place that Felicity had not gotten a chance to know in her short two weeks at Hogwarts. There was not much Quidditch play in New England either, where the winters were long and harsh.

It was hard to hold onto a broom in that freezing cold no matter how much magic heat you applied. No, Americans didn’t much go out for Quidditch. Her cousin Oliver had been scandalized when she’d told him that fact at the clan gathering in July. He was such a Quidditch nutter that she could tell that the Americans went down a full peg on his board.

She and Hermione sat on a bench in the warm sunshine looking up to the flyers practicing.

“There’s Harry, there!” said Hermione waving to her friend. He waved back and did a little loop in the air. Perhaps they were more than just friends, Felicity speculated. Or, perhaps Mr. Potter wasn’t showing off but just glad to be flying on such a beautiful day.

Felicity’s breath caught with the memory of flying. Merlin! How she wished she could transform right here and now and fly high with these children. “I love to fly!” she said aloud before she thought better of it.

“Do you?” asked Hermione, pleased. “So does Harry. He says it’s the most free that he’s ever felt.”

“Yes, that’s how it is…to be free.” She felt sad suddenly, not able to fly. Dumbledore had warned her not to even bother registering with the Ministry. They would not accept her as an animagus and she risked Azkaban if she transformed while in Britain. Not that anyone could ever put her in Azkaban. She’d never allow it. There were so many rules here. She yearned for home. She felt the breeze and felt the memory of Tibet. Somehow she could smell the dry air of the high mountain desert in summer though Scotland even in the sunshine was not dry. She’d been away for so very long.

Hermione shaking her arm shook Felicity out of her daze. “Here he is Professor, here he is!”

Harry Potter raced up on his broom, a full grin plastered on his flushed face. Felicity saw that he was having one hell of a time.

“Harry! Harry!” gushed Hermione. “This is Prof. Felicity Wood! She’s the new Ancient Runes Professor.”

“How do you do Professor?” said Mr. Potter smiling and hopping off his broom. What a wonderful smile the young man had. He was very handsome, though terribly thin.

“Hermione, has told me that you love to fly, young man,” she said in mock severity. “That’s what’s needed in a seeker!”

“Yes, Professor.”

“Harry,” said Hermione pulling on his sleeve. “Guess who her cousin is?”

“Who?”

“Oliver! Oliver Wood!”

The boy looked both pleased and surprised. Hermione looked as if she would burst. She obviously loved to give the boy something to smile about.

“Yes, I confess,” said Felicity. “Ollie is a close cousin.”

They both laughed at her calling him, Ollie. Another boy, very tall and well built with flaming red hair walked onto the pitch and waved to their group.

“Hey, Harry, Hermione,” he said coming up.

“Ron,” said Hermione reaching for him and dragging him near her. Obviously, Harry was not first in line, noted Felicity. “This is Prof. Felicity Wood, Ron. She’s Oliver Wood’s cousin, isn’t that nice?” He looked pleased and shook her hand. He seemed a nice open-faced boy that was surely a loyal friend.

“Well,” said Felicity. “You’ve all made me feel so welcome! But I must be leaving to go back to the Great Hall. I’ve an appointment with Prof. Snape and I’m sure I’m right in saying that being late is not in his vocabulary.”

The change of spirit in the small band of friends was deafening in the chill that suddenly appeared before her. Harry frowned visibly concerned, Ron shifted uncomfortably and Hermione looked crestfallen. It was as if she had said that she’d an appointment with the Dark Lord his self.

“Don’t worry,” she said to their evident concern. “I can hold my own with Prof. Snape. He’ll not eat me.” They laughed hesitantly for her sake. “Hermione, dear, I might not always be the kindest Professor, either.” She winked at her. “We, teachers live to make the occasional student quake with fear.” She laughed; as did all of them save Harry, who looked very serious.

“Be careful, Professor,” he said.

She reached out then, her compassion compelling her to touch his arm. She’d promised Dumbledore that she would not interfere, but this boy called out for her with his wanton need to make things right around him. The poor young man, she felt her heart wrench.

“Don’t worry, Harry. Prof. Snape will be putty in my hands when I’m through with him,” she said. They didn’t believe a word of it.

Felicity walked out of the field, turning to wave at the little band of concerned faces. Prof. Snape must be a very troubled soul to inspire such emotions in the young. What a challenge Dumbledore had set before her, giving her this secret mandate, to heal a man’s tortured spirit.

She walked into the hall. It was empty but for a few students with books. Because she was the only teacher about and Prof. Snape was not due for a good fifteen minutes, she walked over to the Slytherin table. Prof. Snape certainly would not come early. He probably made a life rule to be exactly on time at all times. Never arrive early and never arrive late.

There were no students at the Slytherin table. Felicity ran her hand along the worn wood. Imagine all the hands that had caressed it. She let the feeling of loss and regrets flow through her. The tears well up in her eyes. She might have been here had her father relented. She would have felt that Slytherin pride in her veins had he just let her.

Of course, her father had saved her life, and she knew it. Had she remained at Slytherin, she most surely would have followed her friends, the ones that she had just begun to make all those many years ago. She would have followed them to Voldemort.

Severus Snape walked into the hall and glared at all around him. He expected that Miss Wood would certainly be late. Instead, he saw her standing at the Slytherin House table, her face in profile. She caressed the wood of the table as if it were precious silk, obviously lost in thought. Snape crept stealthily up behind her. He was a man that could make himself invisible in a crowded room. He was a master at secrecy. He would certainly surprise her.

He was almost upon her and intent on startling her in order to throw her off-balance when she turned very suddenly to face him. The look on her face stopped him dead in his tracks. She was a blaze of emotions and all of them raw.

“Thought you’d sneak up on me, did you, professor?” she said and the emotion was gone. Packed down deep behind her beautiful green eyes.

“Yes,” he was the one off-balance again, “No, I…confound it! Why do you do that?” he asked exasperated.

She smiled. “Finally, some honesty. Gee wiz, Severus. You’re a hard one to reach, let me tell you!”

“I wasn’t aware that you were trying to ‘reach’ me. What does that mean exactly? Is it some quaint Americanism that I’m supposed to understand?”

She laughed at him. Mr. Pompous puss was back in full measure. “Come on, Professor Snape,” she said taking his arm and pulling him to the teacher’s table. “Let’s have some lunch and then you can show me around this beautiful place.”

He did not pull away as she lead him. He even introduced her nicely to several of the teachers who all seemed to be arriving for lunch. In fact, the hall filled up quickly with students as well. There was the noise of free and happy teenagers arguing, laughing and gossiping. There was the slam of books and bags upon the tables, and scuffles down the isles. She felt quite thrilled to be there. It was all coming back to her. It was where she’d first met those that might have been her friends.

She let it all wash over her. It was only when she felt him look at her that she snapped out of her reverie. “Where shall we start?” she asked looking at him. He tried to lock her gaze. He was going to try Legilimency on her, the little snake.

“Don’t you dare,” she said sternly to him. She did not, however avoid his eyes, in fact, she challenged him with a glint.

His face didn’t even flinch. “What are you talking about?”

“Legilimency is something you should not try on me, Severus,” she whispered. She did not want the other teacher’s to think that they were arguing.

“You are extremely conceited,” he said with that cold, deadly warning in his voice. She could already tell how tiresome he could be. Mr. Denial, that’s what she should call him Mr. Denial of his feelings and Mr. Denial of everything.

He turned back to eating a salad, something with mandarins and egg that looked simply awful. “Okay, then Severus,” she said, knowing he would be sneaking up on her and trying to catch her off guard until she showed him who was boss. “Try me.”

He put down his fork and sneered at her as if she were the most crass woman on earth and had just propositioned him. “Don’t be vulgar, Miss,” he said sternly. “I have no intention of entering your mind. It’s most likely a dusty little hole of broken dreams and lusts for the willing. I’ll not be a party to it.”

“You’re chicken, then.” She picked up her sandwich, a bacon, lettuce and tomato. How the elves knew she’d love it was beyond her. Hogwarts was amazing.

Severus threw down his fork so hard that a few of the teachers that she’d just met and even some of the students
nearest the table looked up in alarm. Felicity looked at him in surprise, as well. He was like a powder keg. He really needed to learn to release his emotions slowly on occasion. No wonder he struck such fear in the students.

Felicity looked out at the student body to release her self from his withering silent glare. She caught the eye of Harry Potter, who sat with his friends. The look of fierce concern on his face, as if he was about to jump over the table to pummel Severus if only she would cry for help, just melted her heart. She couldn’t help but smile at him. He was such a sweet young man, so sad.

Severus watched her face, willing himself not to reach out and strangle her. He followed with his eyes in the direction of her gaze and saw whom she was smiling at amongst the students. He glared at Harry Potter with a heat so hot it would fry an egg. To his credit, Mr. Potter stood his ground. Felicity saw in an instance that those two did not get along in a BIG way.

Snape was pulsing with venom and even he didn’t know why. He stood up and stormed from the hall. All the teachers and many of the students watched him go. Felicity attempted as deftly as she could manage without looking like she was chasing down a stag to walk very quickly after him. As soon as she left the hall she sprinted after him. She knew where he was going. She could feel his presence in the very walls. She memorized the scent of him and tracked him to what must have been his classroom. A wounded animal always returns to its lair. The door was shut to her.

Taking out her wand she opened the door with a wind spell. Shaman Lu had taught it to her. It was useful against western magic sealing spells. The door flew open and smacked against the wall. She walked toward him, her wand held out of sight, just in case. He was in a dangerous mood. “Severus,” she said calmly and as soothingly as she could.

“You promised to show me Hogwarts.”

The man that turned stiffly from his desk to face her was as cold as ice. He would have fooled anyone but her. There wasn’t a trace of the powder keg smoldering within him. Nor the fact that he’d just lost it in front of everyone. She didn’t know him very well yet, but she knew that that fact alone might move him to murder her.

“How dare you intrude?” he hissed at her.

Being coy and pretending that she didn’t know what he was talking about was not going to work on this man. “I had no idea. Severus, I had no idea how you felt about the boy. I’ve only just met him this morning.”

“I have no idea what you’re babbling about, Miss Wood.” His voice was so cold it could freeze water.

He would deny it until the cows came home. She made a decision. She would never get anywhere with him in his current state of mind. He was a wounded animal in a trap that would snap at her forever until he died. She stuck her wand in her braid. He was watching her closely. She stepped as close to him as she dared and put her hands to her face. She looked as if she were about to cry. Severus assumed that she was.

It was hard to do the spell and something that Master Tong had made her practice for six months before she’d got it right. Her hands covered her face. She breathed in the essence of her own spirit deeply. Opening her hands in a flat cup, she blew Severus the kiss of her spirit. Her breath hit him like she’d just caressed his soul or she’d drugged him with a happy drug. Severus stood still as it enveloped him. He was powerless. His breathing came more deeply. She could feel his heart calm down. His mind came into focus.

“What did you just do?” he said almost civilly.

“It’s a calming spell, Severus. I was afraid you were going to hurt me. Sorry, it’ll wear off in about five minutes.”

“It feels quite nice, actually,” he said surprised at his own words. “I feel fully aware and yet strangely good.”

She thought with chagrin that it was probably an unnatural feeling for the man. She stepped up to him and gingerly took his hand and led him to the chair at his ponderously large desk. When he came around, having him in a comfortable familiar surrounding would be best for all concerned. He sat down willingly, the scowl on his face
somewhat softened but no less a scowl. No doubt about it, he was quite the challenge.

“Severus,” she said touching his face and gently pulling it toward her to look into his eyes. His eyes were the most amazing black with flecks of hazel green. “I need your help.”

“Miss Wood, I hardly think I am the rescuing type.”

She stifled a laugh at his dry humor at a moment like this. “Severus, I’m going to leave the room and when I come back you’ll be back to your old self, but this time you won’t be mad anymore. Your anger at me, your anger at Harry

Potter and your anger at losing control of your emotions in front of the whole school are not going to exist anymore. You’ll talk to me as you have before. Your emotions will be in control as always. You have not lost control.”

“All right, if you wish,” he said calmly. “You know, Miss Wood, if I might be so bold, you’re quite beautiful.”

“And you won’t remember that you just said that to me, either. Trust me, it’ll just get you all worked up again.”

“Fine.” He sat calmly.

It was going to be all right to leave him. She walked out the door and closed it behind her.

Felicity Wood stood outside Severus Snape’s door biting her nails. This man was a hard case. He had a volcano inside. He was a roaring fire. Prof. Dumbledore had NOT given her all the facts. She’d have to take him to task on that.

She waited enough time and knocked on the door.

She knocked again.

She knocked once again. Harder.

The door flew open and Prof Snape loomed over her. “What do you want?” he snapped.

“Prof. Snape, you promised to show me Hogwarts.”

“Must I?” he asked exasperated.

“If you would be so kind?”

He gave a sigh of ultimate boredom. “You know I’m going to complain to Prof. Dumbledore that I am not a tour guide,” he said as he walked out the door and shut it behind him. “I find you very tedious, Miss Wood.”

“Why ever for?”

“Because you seem to play a great many games,” he said pushing her gently toward the dungeon stairs. “That daring me to try Legilimency on you was idiocy. It tried my patience, no end.”

“I’m sorry, Professor,” she said not even bothering to hide her relief. “I’ll not do it again.”

“See that you don’t,” said Prof. Snape with just enough severity to make her listen. He led her up to the sunlight and out onto the grounds for her silly tour.




Chapter 4: A New Member for the Order
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Chapter Four

A New Member for the Order



Remus Lupin sat by the fire in the kitchen at 12 Grimmauld Place wondering how he would approach Sirius with his new problem. He hated leaving his old friend alone but Dumbledore had asked him to go on a journey. He was also feeling a little peckish and Molly Weasley hadn’t been round for days with her gift of good cooking. He got up from his seat and rustled around the pantry looking for some food. All there was were a few stale crackers and a moldy wedge of Montgomery Cheddar. That elf Kreacher was the sorriest excuse for a house elf that he’d ever seen. Not that he’d seen many. He chuckled inwardly. Remus’ family background did not include family house elves. He’d grown up in a little country house with an academic father and a muggle mother. Sirius, on the other hand, had grown up amongst the wealthy Blacks and had disappointed his family heritage no end, most especially at being sorted into the Gryffindor House at Hogwarts rather than Slytherin.

Sirius walked into the kitchen heading straight for the kettle to pour his self a cup of tea. “Buckbeak’s wasting away up there,” he said to Lupin without looking over at him. “I’m going to point out to Dumbledore tonight at the meeting that he must get taken out on occasion. A hippogriff needs to fly every once and awhile.”

Lupin smiled grimly. “Are you going to suggest to him that you be the one to take him out, Padfoot?” His friend was slowly wasting away being caged in a house that held memories of a family that he’d hated. Kreacher was no help. The little troublemaker was constantly getting in the way of cleaning efforts in the house. Molly and company had made great strides sweeping out the place over the summer but the house was creaking under the weight of neglect.

Sirius said nothing but gritted his teeth and sat down with a disgruntled thud next to Lupin by the fire.

Molly Weasley bounced into the kitchen shoving open the door. She was trailed by sacks of food floating in the air like so many ducklings. “What, ho!” both men at the fire called out in welcome. It was as if the cavalry had come to save them.

“We didn’t hear you come in!” said Lupin delighted that food had arrived. Molly’s happy face was also a welcome change after listening to Sirius grouse about the state of things for three days. His friend had been awfully grumpy.

Molly put her hands on her plump hips and clucked at them. “If you two don’t look an old married couple sitting by the fire, I tell you!” she said grinning. She set to work unpacking the food. “You didn’t hear me coming in because no offence to your old mum, Sirius, but I do so hate to hear her scream at me! I put a silencing charm on whenever I enter that door!” The portrait of his mother at the front door screamed at whoever entered and it was very annoying.

There was a bang and something fell at the front door. “TRAITORIOUS MUD BLOOD RELATIONS!!!! OUT OF MY HOUSE!!!!!”

“Remind me to teach the silencing charm to Tonks, gentlemen,” said Molly as she held up a bottle of cream from the sack.

Lupin jumped up to hold open the door for Tonks. She looked exceedingly guilty. “Sorry, Molly!” she said. “I swear I think she jumps out of that painting and moves the umbrella stand just so I’ll trip over it.” She caught Lupin by the arm, pecked him spontaneously on the cheek and finished it off with squashing his chin lightly with her fingers.

“Did you miss me?” she asked laughing at him.

“Utterly,” said Lupin rolling his eyes and pretending sarcasm but he had never been very good at it. He missed everyone when they were away. Remus Lupin loved everyone’s company and Tonks was, to be sure, entertaining to have around. He rubbed his hand through his sandy colored hair, as he habitually did, and followed her.

She jumped over to the fire and nicked Remus’ seat next to Sirius. “Wotcher, cousin,” she said seriously. “How’re ya holding up?”

“I want to fly,” said Sirius deadpan. He looked healthier than he had only a month ago, but his eyes still retained that hallow look of a man who’d been in prison or in hiding for many years.

She didn’t laugh at his attempt at humor, she looked concerned. Tonks had not really known Sirius before, being much younger, and banned from the family because of her mudblood father. Now, however, they shared a common disdain for their mutual Black family relatives and had become fairly tight on that fact alone. She fussed at her pink hair to check that it was standing up correctly and showed Sirius her new nail color to cheer him up. “Pumpkin orange for a little seasonal color, what do you think?” she asked him teasing.

Sirius laughed at her, which was her aim in the first place and swatted her hands away. He’d kept his black hair long and even though he’d been in Azkaban for twelve years it hadn’t gone gray. He was also clean-shaven again, which helped his appearance.

Tonks looked up at Remus, who stood over them watching them fondly. “Did you tell him, yet, Remus?” she asked.

Remus shook his head.

“Bloody hell,” said Sirius disgusted. “I’m not a frigging child, you two!”

“Dumbledore’s assigned Tonks and I do go to the lake country to check reports of werewolves there that we’re to make the effort to enlist,” said Remus before Sirius could yell any more. He felt guilty leaving his friend. Sirius had always been the one inclined to travel and live dangerously and he was miserable having to stay in the house. It was almost as bad as Azkaban for him.

Sirius Black was still wanted for the supposed killing of Peter Pettigrew and his escape from Azkaban. Albus Dumbledore had instructed him in no uncertain terms that he was not to leave the house for his own safety. Only two weeks before there’d been a report in The Daily Prophet that he’d been seen in London.

Arthur Weasley arrived at the front door with Kinsley Shacklebolt and Hestia Jones. Ten minutes later two others, Tomasina Tall and Erik Findlay came in. Soon others arrived, including the formidable Auror Alastor Moody who grunted to all and wandered about the room looking in corners to make sure it was safe. Molly busied herself making coffee and tea and instructing Remus to draught butterbeer for all who wanted it. She didn’t hold back in saying that they could do with a few more supplies and she’d see that they got some.

The members of the Order of the Phoenix were assembling for their meeting and only missing a few of those expected.
The intended agenda for the meeting consisted of concern about the interference with Hogwarts by the Ministry of Magic and other more recent mix-ups that had occurred at the Department of Mysteries. One of the Order, Sturgis Podmore, had been sentenced to Azkaban in early September because the Ministry had charged him with attempted theft when he was discovered at the door to the Department of Mysteries. He’d been guarding a particularly important artifact for the Order at the time. It was getting harder and harder to keep their presence a secret. There was quite the brisk debate about the room as people shared snacks and drank while discussing various options.

Albus Dumbledore, Severus Snape and Felicity Wood arrived via a portkey some two blocks from 12 Grimmauld Place since Felicity had never been there before. Severus followed Dumbledore up the walk as they made their way toward the house. It didn’t take much observation to note that Severus was devoted to Albus Dumbledore in a way that was outside his usual inclinations toward people. It was not lost on Felicity that Severus, though he was inwardly as sarcastic and snarling toward Dumbledore, as he was to anyone else, took great pains not to show it. He often tried to whisper suggestions, even advice to the Headmaster. He was a bit of a butt kisser.

Felicity followed a short distance behind enjoying the London air. She had never gotten to know the city very well and it had a certain sound of energy about it that she quite liked. She remembered the short stay that they’d had in London before her father sent her back to Tibet to escape the Dark Lord. There had been a wonderful walled garden that she suddenly remembered for the first time in years.

“You really are quite slow, Professor Wood,” said Severus impatiently. He was not comfortable in the open streets with or without Dumbledore. He also did not like 12 Grimmauld Place in any shape, manner or form.

Dumbledore stopped and waited for her, taking her arm in his. “How do you like being at Hogwarts again, my dear? It’s been so many years since you were there, has it changed much?” he asked with a slight twinkle in his eye. The man was really a wicked tease sometimes. Snape had turned and starred at her as if she were a liar and a cad for not telling him that she’d been to Hogwarts before.

“Severus, Severus” said Dumbledore cheerily, “didn’t you know yet that Miss Wood had been to Hogwarts?”

“I never mentioned it, Headmaster,” Felicity said biting her lip. She rather thought she might kick the old man if he didn’t stop causing trouble. It was hard enough to get Snape to trust her without him messing with his head. Why the Headmaster wanted to muddle with his own agenda was beyond her.

They arrived at the house, which magically appeared before them with a word from Dumbledore and walked in the door with Dumbledore leading the way and Severus behind her. The house had an unpleasant odor and she accidentally tripped over something in the hall.

“STRANGERS!!!! OUT!!!!” Yelled a voice from the wall.

Before she realized that she’d done it, Felicity had flipped her braid in a defense response and shut the voice up.

Severus stood stunned at the door glaring at her. “What did you just do?”

“Sorry,” she said. “I was startled.”

“That is a Black family portrait that you just slapped with your ridiculous braid, Miss Wood,” he said with distain. “Who knows but that you may have ruined it!”

“Severus, please,” said Dumbledore, sighing. “Felicity would be doing us all a favor if she did!” He led them down a dark hall into a kitchen where there was the sound of a lively debate in process. Dumbledore walked in and everyone quieted. Felicity could feel the tension in Severus. It emanated from him. She needn’t even try hearing his thoughts. He didn’t like these people that she was about to meet very much.

She emerged into a kitchen filled with people. A fire spat smartly in the corner and a very cheery woman with bright red hair greeted her warmly and asked her if she’d like something to drink. Severus hovered at the edge of the fray looking stiff.

“Everyone!” said Dumbledore with his arm about her shoulders. “This is our new Ancient Runes professor from the East, Miss Felicity Wood!” They all greeted her in various ways. It was Remus Lupin sitting next Sirius Black in the corner that she noticed immediately. She could smell the beast within him from across the room. She felt a thrill of discovery rush through her. She’d never met a werewolf before but she knew that was what he was.

Her interested look was not lost on Remus who had been slouching in the corner listening intently to Sirius rant about how worried he was about Harry. A deep feeling stirred in him when he looked at this new witch that Dumbledore had introduced. Her dark green dress robe was quite remarkable and her long braid that she twirled in her fingers made her look seductive. She was truly breathtaking and he wanted so much to touch her that he was tempted to jump up and make his way across the room to her, but he held back.

Mad-eyed Moody noticed her immediately, as well and walked right up to her putting his wobbling eye quite close. She laughed. “So what exactly are ya, Miss Wood?” he asked looking at her from head to toe.

Some in the room were watching intently, including Snape, who had never liked the uncouth Auror even though they were technically on the same side.

“Why, I’m the Runes Professor at Hogwarts,” she answered grinning at him. He reminded her of Shaman Lu who’d lost his eye in a battle and had filled the empty socket with a similar orb. His had been red, a much scarier color than Moody’s blue.

“Aye, so Dumbledore’s said, but what are ya?”

Albus came up putting his arm around Felicity and moving between them. “She’s a woman, Alastor,” he said smiling. “I would have thought you’d know one when you’d seen one.” There was a small chuckle from Arthur Weasley who was sitting nearby.

Severus Snape stood talking to Kingsley Shacklebolt in low tones and she could feel him watching her out of the corner of his eye. He didn’t seem to miss much and hid very well from all contact with others unless approached and very few in the room seemed inclined to seek him out.

He’d not acknowledged, other than that first evening, what she’d told him about her past or even what she’d done for him a few weeks before when she’d quieted the Dark Lord’s mark. He’d not changed his disdainful demeanor other than that she could feel he’d gotten a great deal less aggravated whenever she was near him. But now, here in this room filled with people she didn’t know and many of whom he definitely didn’t like, she could feel his covert fixation on her. He was being downright territorial and watched her tirelessly from afar.

The meeting was primarily about new methods of surveillance protecting something important in the Department of Mysteries that she knew nothing about and the intrusion of the Ministry on the inner functions of Hogwarts.

Severus voiced his concerns about Dolores Umbridge’s appointment as “High Inquisitor” at Hogwarts in the first week of term.“She is a most annoying woman, with a secret agenda from Minister Fudge and the ministry,” he said. “They mean to take control of the school.”

Albus Dumbledore listened quietly. There was a large proportion of the listeners that were too busy loathing Severus Snape to listen to what he had to say. “Felicity?” said Dumbledore, “have you found this to be true?”

She looked at him and wanted to laugh at his attempt to include her but kept her face straight. Severus was not the
only one in the room that could control his outward emotions. “Professor Umbridge definitely has an agenda,” she said. “And it most certainly is to control Hogwarts. I have already had to alter my plans to teach Ancient Languages along with our standard Runes curriculum. She sits in on my classes regularly, asks annoying questions about my background, and has resorted to using some of my students to spy on my teaching and report to her. She has a particular distaste for my Eastern education, which she condescendingly considers too foreign and she has even suggested that I wear more appropriate clothing to set an example for the students. She is a large pink cow, very irritating and I think, dangerous.” Felicity lifted her chin in pride. It was true. Dumbledore should take her threat more seriously than he seemed to. “I also must add that I suspect that she has a separate agenda for those in Gryffindor House, and that she particularly has plans for Mr. Harry Potter. Herimone Granger, who is a student in my class and is good friend of his has been very agitated and worried about something concerning Dolores Umbridge and Mr. Potter.”

“Miss Granger, is often agitated, Miss Wood,” said Severus dryly. “You are new and just getting to know her.”

The look of loathing from many in the room toward Severus’ words was illuminating. He was not liked by anyone, it seemed. The man was incredible.

Sirius jumped up. “It’s true what the lady has said,” he said emotionally. “I’ve had a letter from Harry myself and he’s miserable. The woman has made his life a living hell by putting him in detention during the very first week! And, it’s absurd letting her teach the Dark Arts with no practical application! The woman is a menace.”

Everyone looked to Dumbledore, who grimaced but looked calm. “Ladies and Gentlemen, until we find the Dark Lord we will not be able to rid ourselves of the Ministry at Hogwarts,” he said. There was a general murmuring.

“I’ve been watching the Malfoys for a month,” said Mad-Eye. “Disgusting bunch of no-goods going in and out a that bloody house, but I haven’t laid eye on the old snake anywhere!”

Dumbledore nodded his head. “I’m sending Remus and Miss Tonks to the Lake District in search of the werewolves there to bring them over to our side,” he said with authority. “Hagrid is still in transit after negotiating with the Giants. All of us, who are older remember how many were killed by the Giants when the Dark Lord was last in power.” Many in the room nodded their heads in memory, including Felicity. She had witnessed an attack by the Giants and it was something horrifying to fear for those not able to defend against them. “We all know that the Dark Lord wishes to obtain the secret in the Department of Mysteries,” continued Dumbledore. “This must be stopped at all costs. And we must double our efforts to find Voldemort before he gathers forces. Thankfully many of his more zealous followers are in Azkaban. However, my friends, I believe that it is not unlikely that he will try to approach the Dementors in an effort to illicit an escape. They have never been trustworthy. The Ministry is foolish to use them. We should prepare for the eventuality that he will try to free his followers from prison.”

Felicity noticed that Sirius Black looked particularly ashen at the mention of the Dementors. She had no experience with them, but from the way that Remus Lupin felt for his friend’s shoulder with his hand, she knew it meant that they must be terrible creatures.

When the meeting broke up, she made her way over to Sirius and Remus as gracefully as she could. She wanted more than anything else in the world to touch Remus Lupin. The beast within her blood called out to greet the other who carried a creature within. There was a carnal urging that she needed to obey.

“That was very touching how you defended Harry Potter, Mr. Black,” she said to Sirius. “He’s really a very earnest young man. Miss Granger is really quite concerned for him.”

She smiled shyly at Remus.

“Hermione is a most clever young witch,” said Remus before Sirius could utter a response. Sirius, in fact, raised a brow in surprise at Remus being so forward with a lady.

“Mr. Lupin?” she asked holding out her hand for him to take. Oh, she so wanted him to take her hand.

“Miss Wood,” he said reaching out to touch her. She stood holding his hand and smiling for definitely longer than was necessary. She could feel the quickening of his blood and knew his scent was different than the others. Though his animal was a fur creature and hers scaled, they were both predators and this was what she found so exciting about him. He was another predator!

Sirius started to laugh at them for they’d stood far too long looking at each other and shaking hands. “Somebody may shake my hand, as well if they’d like,” he said sarcastically rolling his eyes. “I’m the one that she said was very touching, after all.”

They all three laughed. “I’m sorry,” said Felicity, still looking at Remus. “There’s something about you that seems very familiar to me, Mr. Lupin.”

“And what am I?” said Sirius still wanting some attention.

She looked at him and smiled teasingly. “You Sirius Black, friend of Harry Potter, are a big black shaggy dog.” Her eyes glittered for she knew he would be taken aback. They both were.

“And what am I?” said Remus in almost a whisper. He could hardly breathe.

“You,” she said smiling at him and lowering her voice huskily. “Are a handsome wolf.” She could have kissed him,
though she’d only just met him. For the look of joy on his face melted her heart. He seemed unaccustomed to acceptance, yes, but more than that, he was not comfortable with his wolf. That made her sad for him.

“What am I?” she asked them both grinning mischievously.

Sirius and Remus both looked at each other questioningly. “A beautiful woman,” said Remus taking her hand again and kissing it gently.

Sirius made a, not so slight retching sound, which she deftly ignored. “They call me the dragon woman,” she said lightly, his hand still holding hers. “Because of the beast within my heart.”

Sirius laughed wholeheartedly. “I think she likes you, Moony!” he said gaily. “That’s the best pick-up line that I’ve heard in ages!”

Remus blushed. My goodness she liked this wolf! She wanted to kiss him passionately right then and there in front of everyone.

The looming shadow of Severus Snape approached her and bent to her ear. He fairly hissed into it. “We’re leaving, Miss Wood,” he said and she could tell that he was seething.

“Severus Snape,” said Sirius with the utmost contempt. In fact, he completely changed in an instance from a laughing man to a hateful man.

Felicity Wood felt the hairs on her neck stand on end. She suddenly wanted to claw the black dog. This Head of Slytherin House had no end of enemies.

“Black,” said Severus taking her arm possessively. “Lupin.” She let him guide her out of the room. He was so angry that she never got a chance to say good-bye to the others. Before he pushed her through the door she looked back at them. Remus Lupin had a pained look in his pale blue eyes as he looked at her intensely. It was as if something important had been taken from him and he wanted it back.


When they were out on the sidewalk, she wriggled from Snape’s grasp and stomped her foot at him. “What is wrong with you?” she shouted at him.

“I have no idea what you are talking about,” he said stoically but there was viciousness in his voice.

“I know a jealous man when I see one, Severus,” she said.

He grabbed her harder this time and pushed her along the street. “Don’t be conceited, woman,” he said coldly. "Dumbledore instructed that we return immediately. The longer that we are away will be noticed. We’re to apparate from a point a few blocks from here and act like we’ve been out together if that silly Umbridge woman spots us.”

“Why didn’t you like Remus and Sirius, Severus?” she asked.

He didn’t answer her at first. He didn’t want to answer her at all. She couldn’t hear his scattered angry thoughts coherently. Severus struggled inwardly to keep his stoic outer shell intack.

“We have a history and none of it good,” he said finally.

“I thought that they were rather nice,” she said. She didn’t know why she’d said it, knowing it would enrage him.

Severus stopped and grabbed both her arms, looking sternly into her face. He wanted to shake some sense into her. She could practically see the fire inside him bursting with heat. It was, frankly, exhilarating. “He’s a werewolf, Felicity!” he said fiercely, thinking that she would be shocked. “He’s dangerous! You must stay away from him!” He was livid and so wanted her to see the wrongness of her ways.

“I know that he’s a werewolf, Severus,” she said evenly. “That’s what I liked about him.”

He had that awful look of prejudiced revulsion on his face that she most despised. People were so irritating in their assumptions of those who were different. Her father had had that same look the first time that he’d seen her change into her dragon self. It was a disgusted horrified look and she wanted to wipe it off Snape’s arrogant face.

She ripped herself from his grip. He was surprised at her strength. “I might have a few other surprises for you! Professor Snape.” She spat the words. “You know nothing about me! You are so arrogant and yet you know little or nothing about the world outside your quaint little England. How dare you presume you know what is best for me? It’s a wide world of magic out there, and you haven’t a clue!” With that said, she disapparated to the gates of Hogwarts.

Severus stood seething alone on the sidewalk for a few minutes before he followed her.



“I think old Snivellus was jealous, you know,” said Sirius to Lupin who stood looking like he’d just lost a friend.

“Yes,” said Lupin avoiding his eye. He didn’t want to look at another until he’d memorized her face.

“She was certainly smitten with you.” Sirius could barely contain his grin.

“You think?”

“Huh-huh, in fact, Moony,” he said slyly. “I might just send an owl along to make sure she got back all right. Maybe she’d like to meet up with you in Hogsmeade?”

Lupin laughed uncomfortably. “I’m perfectly capable of pursuing a beautiful woman without advice from you, Padfoot,” he said feigning severity.

“Then you’ve changed a bit in the years that I was away,” said Sirius. “Because I don’t remember you being the pursuing type, mate.” Sirius laughed at him but Lupin merely smiled.

He could change his old habits for this woman. She had seemed delightfully special and something deep within him called to seek her out.



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Chapter 5: Lupin and Tonks on Safari
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Chapter Five

Lupin and Tonks on Safari



Lupin and Tonks were on Diagon Alley gathering supplies for their journey. They were going to make a quick jaunt to the Lake District to find the small village of Wolvin but they would have to rough it. There would be no Inn in Wolvin, nor any welcoming pub from their understanding, so they would have to hike in and camp. Dumbledore had told them that strangers were not welcome but that they should try to enlist the werewolves to join the Order of the Phoenix if at all possible. Dumbledore had asked that Lupin try to convince them not to follow the Dark Lord.

Tonks pulled on Lupin’s arm trying to persuade him into a shop. “Oh, please, Remus?” begged Tonks. “Let’s just step in for a minute! It’s my fave shop and who bloody knows when we’ll get back from that place? It sounds as if it’s in the middle of nowhere!” She was dragging Lupin into a bangle and bobs shop with a lurid purple window and a twinkling gaudy sign. There were magically dancing fairies and flying bats hovering about inside, along with some strange outlandish music pumping loudly out onto the alley. “It’ll just be a sec, I promise!” she pleaded.

He let her lead him, always wanting to make others happy, but wished he’d done otherwise as he entered a maze of color, stuff and noise. It was a shop with great large cases of jewelry, and bits of what looked like junk everywhere. There were endless bolts of shimmering fabrics and outlandish clothing on manikins that moved around the shop as if possessed by the music that beat and blared. Lupin felt, most definitely out of place and very old.

“If I could just wait outside, Tonks?” he asked desperately.

“You’re loving it, you old coot!” laughed Tonks. She slapped him on the back and messed up his hair.

Lupin smiled weakly. He didn’t really love it, at all, but she laughed at him and nodded encouragingly as she pushed him deeper into the center of the place. She then bounced off to look at something at the back of the shop while he pretended to be interested in the jewelry cases. He held onto the largest case for support because the music was really quite loud and he had particularly sensitive hearing.

As he was letting his eye wander past snake pins with tongues that hissed and eye bracelets that seemed to have real eyes, he spotted a charm that was really rather lovely sitting alone in a cloth box. He signaled the young woman who looked bored and therefore worked there. She had exotic spiky white-blonde hair with black roots that stood straight up all around her head and blue iridescent lips. He asked her if he could see the charm.

Tonks was done looking around and came up behind him. “Who’s it for?” she asked eyeing the charm that showed a wolf in front of an opalescent moon that shimmered and glowed.

“A lady I just met that I wish to impress with my charm,” said Lupin over the music. He laughed at his own little joke and gave it to the girl to wrap up for him. It was a small inexpensive gesture but he was sure she’d appreciate the humor as well as the sentiment. What a relief to think that he’d met someone who seemed so open to what he was and how clever she was to have guessed it. He briefly visualized the moment, thinking of how nice she’d been. The dragon woman from the East, she’d called herself. It had been very entertaining. She didn’t seem a dragon like personality, at all, but rather nice. Perhaps she was a very strict professor.

“It’s for that lady in green isn’t, Remus?” Tonks asked as they exited the shop to Lupin’s immediate relief. His ears were numb from the onslaught of sound.

“I saw you making eyes at each other,” Tonks teased. “In fact, the entire Order of the Phoenix saw it. I thought poor Snape was going to hex you on the spot. He looked the little green monster, if you ask me.”

“Now, Tonks,” he said, not wanting to share his thoughts of Felicity nor think of Snape at Hogwarts with access to her. “Don’t you be nosy. I didn’t ask for your views on my love life.”

They made their way out through the Leaky Cauldron and sat down in a corner for a pint and a nosh before leaving on their trip.

Remus took out parchment and quill while Tonks watched the busy pub. He wrote a short note to Miss Felicity Wood, Ancient Runes Professor at Hogwarts School of Magic and Wizardry. He rolled it up and with a flick of his wand made a nice little package of the charm and a note for the owl post. He was really quite pleased with himself and feeling very confident. He felt, for the first time in many years, not the tired and worn-down old dog, but the handsome and hearty wolf.



That afternoon Lupin and Tonks arrived on the hill just above the Drunken Duck Inn in Barnsgate. From there they had a short hike toward Coniston down a country lane to the hidden village of Wolvin. The Inn beckoned Tonks with its painted brick exterior of English country quaintness. She just knew it’d be nice, warm and cheery inside.

“We could stop in for a Tag Lag before we hoof it down the lane, Remus,” she said hopefully. “The local muggle beer is very tasty here. It’s meant to give you strength. That’s what my dad always said: ‘Lake country beer is the best.’ After all, it’s a little like a safari that we’re on, isn’t it? We’re hunting the illusive wolf, the beast of the night, wild and untamed! We should have a pint to begin it.”

“We’ve got to set up a camp before nightfall, Tonks,” answered Lupin dryly. “We haven’t the time to celebrate before we begin. Besides, I don’t think of myself as a wild beast.” He started walking down the hill toward the pretty and picturesque Inn that sat on a crossroads. It had stood there unchanged for a good four hundred years. Tonks followed hoping she hadn’t offended him. Sometimes, she really should think before she opened her big fat trap.

They walked along as the sun dove slowly for the horizon, dodging speeding vehicles that the muggles seemed inclined to drive at frightening speeds along the country roads. Tonks was nearly clipped twice. Eventually, they stood on yet another hill overlooking the small village. There wasn’t much to it, only a tearoom, small market and a cluster of ten odd dwellings. The place looked untouched by time, as if it had looked the same for a hundred years.

“We might as well have tea,” said Tonks, thinking wistfully of the beer they might have drunk a few miles back. “We could ask if they allow camps, and perhaps the tearoom is a meeting place? It seems the only business in town other than that tweedy little market.”

Lupin nodded silently. He was not feeling comfortable in this place. Though he was a werewolf, he had never sought out his own kind. He could smell their presence all around him. Werewolves had stood on this very hill, and lived in this village. He wondered how many there were and what they were like. Dumbledore had not given him much information. He felt his defenses become very alert to possible danger. Even though the moon was only half full, he was wary and knew that caution was in order.

“Tonks,” he said stopping suddenly thinking of something important. He turned to look at her taking in her attire. She’d changed her hair to violet, something she often did, and wore a mix of many colored tops with a pair of ripped and baggy jeans. He wondered how he was going to ask her.

“Tonks,” he began again.

“You want me to change, don’t you?” she said guessing. “Mad-eye is always saying that I stand out like a sore thumb, as well. The crabby old codger is forever on about it.

“It’s just that we don’t want to draw too much attention to ourselves,” said Remus. “You look very young to be traveling with a graying old man like myself. If you wouldn’t mind?” He smiled kindly to her in apology.

“I don’t mind, Remus.” She sparkled her eyes at him. “How about this?” she said and instantly changed into the spitting image of Felicity Wood, dressed in the green robe as he’d last seen her. Her smile just as bright, just as beautiful.

Remus gasped. “No, don’t, Tonks!”

She smirked at him and then turned herself into a muggle looking blonde of about forty, her hair in a bun with a hiking outfit on. Next to Remus in his shabby exterior of various browns with a cardie to top it off, they looked the lovely middle-aged couple on hiking holiday. “Better?” she asked innocently.

“My heart nearly stopped, Tonks,” he said finding his breath.

“You must really like her, then,” she laughed hitching up her knapsack and heading down the hill toward the village.

Remus gulped and followed her. Yes, he really must.



Once in the tearoom, they fell into their roles. Tonks settled into a table at the back under a poster showing the joys of vacationing in the Lake District while Lupin went to the counter to order tea. The place had a shabby unkempt feel about it, as if few strangers happened in and if they did, they’d left and walked the extra few miles down the road for a better place. The tables were covered in a plastic check that was very dated and the tea boxes did not look stocked with much choice. The old woman behind the counter looked up at Lupin but didn’t smile. She let out a small sigh, very slight, as if she recognized something in him. Lupin guessed what that something was.

“We’re interested in camping nearby,” he said casually after ordering and struggling with the muggle money that he had never got straight though his mother had tried to teach him for years.

“How long will you be staying in the area?” the woman asked. She had gray hair, and looked ancient. Her face that was deeply lined. She’d probably spent the whole of her life out of doors.


“I don’t know, a few days perhaps,” he said.

“You’ll be leaving before the next full moon, then?”

Lupin smiled. “Most definitely.”

“Then, there’ll be an old oak up the lane out the village next to a small pond that’d be nice for you. We allow it for a small fee.” She looked at him warily. Obviously, not many strangers stayed around the place. But the money must be useful or she’d have told him to get lost.

“You’re very kind,” he said, and then walked back to Tonks with the cups.

“She knows,” he whispered to her as he sat down.

“So we’ll wait then and see what happens,” she said soberly. She was disconcertingly in character as the middle-aged wife. It was a little disturbing for Remus who was feeling his age already. He wasn’t really old at all but he was graying prematurely and the battle that he’d waged with the wolf inside was taking its toll on him. He was often very tired.

As they had sat at the back of the tearoom over the next half hour, several locals came by to chat with the old woman. At first, it just seemed that the woman was probably the center of news in town, but then the intrepid pair noticed that each time someone entered they tended to sniff the air as if checking for a scent, then after chatting with the old lady they would leave without having tea. A few would eye them in a backward glance as if making sure that they’d seen what they’d seen.

Finally, Remus and Tonks got up to go and returned the cups to the counter.

“You say it’s just up the lane?”

The woman merely nodded.


As they set up camp under the ancient oak that must have been two meters wide and sat alone in a treeless landscape, Tonks became her old chatty self again.

“Suspicious lot, these people, wouldn’t you say, Remus?” she asked.

“I suppose.”

Remus pulled a huge tarp out of his very small knapsack. He drew out several stakes and two long poles, as well.

“I sure hope you know how to set one of these things up because I haven’t a clue,” said Tonks watching him.

“Just you witness and be amazed, young lady,” he said looking around furtively as he took his wand from his inside pocket. He sat down next to Tonks on a stump and orchestrated a tent pull by flashing his wand about expertly.

Tonks clapped encouragement. When he was done she then removed two sleeping cots, bags and a cook stove from her own pack. They made a nice little home in no time at all. It was just in the nick of time as it turned out, because their local Wolvin welcoming committee arrived shortly after that.

It was just dark and Remus had a small fire going to warm them against the autumn evening chill. Tonks was chattering away about how crazy Mad-Eye was to work with sometimes.

“I tell you, Remus when he takes that weird eye of his out and drops it in a glass of water, well, I just want to retch….”

“Shush!” whispered Remus coming alert. He had always been more able than others to sense movement from far off, even able to know how many or how big from the sound. “There are three large men heading our way, Tonks. Ready yourself,” he warned.

The three men circled their camp just out of sight once. Lupin could feel their movement. Both he and Tonks kept quiet pretending to stoke the fire with a stick but really poking it with their wands to be ready in case the intruders attacked. Finally, the three must have made a decision and walked purposely into the light of the campfire.

Both Lupin and Tonks stood in defensive positions ready for anything.

“You can put your wands away there, folk,” said the deep voice of the man leading the three. “We’ll not be fighting you wizards.” He was a large burly man with steel gray hair and eyes that reflected yellow in the firelight, a most disconcerting sight.

“You know we’re wizards, then?” asked Lupin.

“Yeah, and we wouldn’t be fool enough to fight the two of you, especially when one of you is a werewolf, as well.”

He reached out his hand in a friendly manner and stepped forward. “I’m David Gray and these here are my sons, John and Stephen.” He pointed to the two others with him, who did indeed look like close relatives. They looked strangely too old to be his sons however, as they already had hair nearly as gray.

“My name is Remus Lupin and this is Nymph, I mean Tonks, just Tonks,” said Lupin hesitantly taking his hand. “Please join us by the fire and tell us why you’ve sought us out.”

“Like as not, we’d be asking you the same question, sir,” said Mr. Gray sitting down on a stump. The sons stood still and silent obviously there to guard their father. “It does not go unnoticed when those like yourselves enter our little village intending to stay. There is always a reason. We’ve seen your kind before.”

“Recently?”

“No, but we’ve been expecting someone. We’ve heard rumors of the Dark One’s return.”

Lupin took this in silently. “Then you’ll have guessed why we’ve come?”

“As last time, the evil wizard sought us out to join him. Many of us were killed when we denied him and most of us went into hiding for many years. The hills are endless here amongst the lakes. Our village is still recovering from the hardship of those years. We have no love of this Dark Lord as you wizards call him.”

“We fight against the evil one, once again. He’s gathering force as we gather ours against him. Our leader, Albus Dumbledore has sent us to seek out the werewolves here in Wolvin to join us against the Dark Lord. Are you the leader of this village, this den of werewolves?” asked Remus watching the older man as he grimaced and looked to his sons before answering.

“I am the leader of Wolvin, yes, and I remember this Dumbledore as a very powerful wizard. He saved many lives years ago.”

“Will you join us, then? Help us in our fight?”

The older man smiled slyly. “I think there must be more of a reason than just asking our help for your leader to send you to us, Mr. Lupin. It can be no coincidence that you are a wizard and a wolf.” He rose as if to leave. Lupin was confused. He knew of no other reason.

“My instructions were to ask your help, sir.”

“Tomorrow, you two will come into the village to meet the others in the morning. Our council will decide then what we’ll do.” Nodding his head politely in Tonks’ direction he turned to go. The meeting was over for Mr. David Gray.

“Are there many of you, may I ask?” said Lupin almost hopefully. “Werewolves, I mean.” He knew so few like himself.

David Gray turned and laughed at him. “Yeah, Mr. Lupin, we’ve many in our humble community. At least two hundred in these parts alone.”

Remus sat down hard on the stump as he watched the three men walk out of the light into the night. Two hundred werewolves in one place! It was inconceivable.

That evening Lupin lay back on his cot starring at the tent ceiling, Tonks lay on her stomach in the cot next to him.

“What are you thinking, Remus?” she asked, barely awake but still puzzled by Mr. Gray. “I can’t imagine so many werewolves in one place. How do they do it?”

“I don’t know, Tonks. It’s intriguing, isn’t it?” He sighed deeply. He was feeling strangely happy. “I think that the man may be right, you know,” said Lupin. “I think that Dumbledore sent me here for a reason other than just enlisting these people in our fight. They already seem to know and dislike Voldemort. There is no persuading to be done whatsoever and yet Dumbledore has sent us here. Why?”

“Sometimes I wish that old Dumbledore would just share a little more information with the rest of us, Remus. All this guessing he has us do is a pain.” She mumbled the rest of her train of thought incoherently, falling asleep almost instantly.

“Yes,” said Remus, listening to the sounds of the night. The wind rustled through the leaves of the sheltering oak tree above them. Off in the distance he heard the faint call of a wolf. He recognized the familiar sound immediately. For whatever reason, he found it comforting to hear and was half tempted to call out after it.




Chapter 6: Conversations with Friends and Devils
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Chapter Six

Conversations with Friends and Devils



Severus Snape had completely gotten control of his anger by the morning after the meeting of the Order of the Phoenix. Truly, he was done being aggravated by the silly woman and her wanton behavior toward the werewolf after ten minutes. He entered the great hall early for breakfast. She was already there and just to show her that he was above her accusation that he’d acted jealously, he seated himself next to her at the head table.

“Good morning, Professor Wood,” he said. “Did you sleep well?”

Felicity looked up surprised. Not once in the three weeks that she’d practically thrown herself at him in every friendly way in order to get close to him, had he barely acknowledged her existence. Now, suddenly after having a shouting match with him on the streets of London and he’d become sweet as pie. “You realize, Severus that you confuse me no end,” she said.

“That was not an answer to my question.”

“I slept well,” she said grinning at him. He was truly a wonderful example of the stuffed shirt. “Did you? Sleep well, I mean?”

“Superbly. In fact, I believe it was the most relaxing sleep that I’ve had in several months.” He wore his smug and aloof exterior like an old glove.

“Isn’t it interesting, Severus, how letting out a little of that aggression you continually bottle up inside you, can help you sleep at night?” She smiled sweetly at him raising her mug of coffee to her lips. She was half tempted to bat her eyelids but thought better of it. He might hex her.

“Don’t be impertinent, Felicity,” said Snape narrowing his gaze at her. “I’ve merely forgiven you for your unseemly behavior last evening. You showed rash judgment that is most probably typical of your character.”

She glared right back at him and added a growl for good measure, but he ignored her. Eventually, she gave up on him and continued with her breakfast of ham and eggs with pancakes. She was going to get fat if the house elves kept feeding her what she loved to eat.

The hall began to fill with students lumbering in for breakfast. The poor dears always looked so tired in the mornings, as if they’d spent the entire night with their noses in their books. Severus occupied himself immediately with glaring at them, especially the Gryffindors and especially Harry Potter and his friends. The man was a habitual menace. It was no wonder the students thought he was a vampire. Sometimes, she wondered how he ever aspired to teaching children at all. He seemed to loathe them so much.

Felicity noticed that they were the only teachers at breakfast. It was as if the entire school was under siege and all the teachers were actively avoiding public places where they might have to endure the roaming pink cow from the Ministry of Magic, Dolores Umbridge. Now, there was someone to truly loathe.

The mail began to arrive. Swooping owls flew through the hall with newspapers, packages and letters. It was an amazing sight. Snape raised an eyebrow ready to judge, as an owl dropped a package before Felicity. As she opened it she felt a little thrill of excitement. It was from Remus Lupin. The small charm with the magically glittering and iridescent moon fell from the package. She picked it up and held it laughing with delight.

Severus let out an ever so slight grunt of disgust but before he could say anything snide, another owl dropped a letter into his lap. It was a summons from Malfoy Manor. Lucius wrote that he insisted he come that evening and would take no excuses. It was an order that he couldn’t refuse.

The familiar feeling of emptiness and doom that Severus had felt for most of the summer hit him right between the eyes. It would no longer be possible to avoid the Dark Lord. Lucius Malfoy would certainly never allow it and he would descend into his old and familiar roll of spy within the Death Eaters. Severus, for only a moment, allowed some fear, some sadness, and some self-pity to seep into his well-protected interior but only for an instant. Any more and the floodgates would open.

“It does not mean that you’ll die, Severus,” said Felicity watching him. “You are very good at Legilimency and Occlumency, more so than he realizes.”

He looked at her in alarm. This time he knew she knew his thoughts somehow.“Obviously, I am not as good as I thought, Miss Wood! Tell me, if you would, how you are able to know what I am thinking?” he asked sternly.

“My training is in different disciplines than yours, Severus,” she said knowing that he finally understood that he could not hide from her. “I have ways of listening and you can’t shut me out.”

“How dare you!” he hissed.

“How dare I what?” she said irritated. “Care for you? Help you? Protect you? What?” She looked at him defiant. Albus Dumbledore had set her a ridiculous task. It was useless. He resented everything about her. No one got along with the man. He didn’t want any of her help. She got up to leave. He might have forgiven her for her behavior last evening but she had not forgiven him. She headed out the door stomping past the student’s table. Both Hermione and Harry looked up at her in alarm. She ignored their concerned faces and rushed out the door toward Dumbledore’s tower room.



There were soft voices in deep debate just beyond Dumbledore’s door when she knocked.

“Come in, Felicity!” called Dumbledore from inside.

There was no one in the room but the Headmaster. All the paintings of past Headmasters watched her, some pretending to be asleep. They must be forever giving him advice.

Albus Dumbledore was smiling pleasantly at her as she walked into his circular receiving room. He sat at the desk writing on a parchment. Dumbledore always looked so agreeable and open, as if nothing in the world fazed him. But the old man was uncanny. He had known it was she at the door just as he seemed to know most things. “Tell me, Headmaster,” she said standing before him. “Did you ever study in Tibet?” She’d meant to start on a different tack but Dumbledore was so much more than he seemed and she was suddenly curious about his background.

Albus chuckled as he put the finishing touching on a parchment. “I was in Tibet for five long years more than seventy years ago, my dear.”

She realized then how he had known about her. “So, you understand the third eye, the witness of us all, sir? You have the sight, sir?” she said. That’s how he understood.

“I do.”

“And you know more about the dragon people then you led me to believe.” Of course, it made perfect sense. His immense power had to be based on a universal of knowledge of all the disciplines. It would explain his mystery. He was very old and had most likely traveled widely just as she hoped to. He must have also discussed her with Master Tong. “Have you even been to the temple school?”

“I have not misled you, Felicity.” Dumbledore looked at her with amused eyes of scrutiny over his half moon glasses.

“I do indeed understand your particular uniqueness. After all, I believe that I wrote the book on the twelve uses of dragon’s blood in my youth. Master Tong and I are old friends and we have discussed you, my dear, at length. You are here with his full blessing. He is as sure as I that you will be able to help our Professor Snape.”

Felicity groaned. “Headmaster, I realize that you’ve asked me to help you protect Severus Snape from the Dark Lord because you believe he needs my expertise.”

“Yes, Felicity.”

“I cannot do it, sir,” she said with a sigh. “Not unless you tell him what is planned for him. I can’t carry on this charade. He’s too cunning, too suspicious and…”

There was a loud knock on the door.

“…too irascible.”

Dumbledore eyed Felicity over his spectacles smiling gently. “He’s at the door, my dear. Shall we let him in?” He gestured that she sit down in a chair and nodded to her encouragingly. “He seems to be angry.”

“Yes, as always,” she sighed sadly. “I just seem to make him worse. I feel that I’ve failed you, sir.” She let her body bend to the chair and indulged her feeling of helplessness.

“Nonsense, my dear. As you’ve said, he’s a bit of a hard case.” Dumbledore smiled encouragingly.

The knock came again, harder and louder.

“Come in, Professor Snape!” called Dumbledore.

The door flew open and Snape flew in intent on ranting about Professor Wood only to find her sitting in a chair in Dumbledore’s office. “I must protest, Headmaster,” he said sneering in Felicity’s direction. “You have enlisted this woman for some purpose without my knowledge.”

“Yes, Professor Snape, I have enlisted our dear Felicity to help you.”

“And why have you done this outrage without consulting me?” asked Snape. Dumbledore took unfair advantage of his position, certainly.

“It is hardly an outrage, Professor Snape. I have only done it because you needed her help. Sit down, please Professor and we’ll discuss this.” He indicated another chair.

“I have not given you any reason to have me watched, Headmaster,” grumbled Snape, sitting in the chair. “I have resisted the Dark Lord’s call, I have been loyal in the face of great obstacles.”

Dumbledore shook his head sadly. “Severus, Severus, I do not question your loyalty. You are a wizard of innumerable talents and virtues. I only wished to aid you in your fight against Voldemort. He has returned, my friend. The evil fiend who has killed so many has returned to challenge us once again. These are dark times that we enter. It will be worse, as last time, before it can get better. Felicity was willing to do as I asked and help you resist him. She is not instructed to watch you.”

Snape looked at Felicity who was sadly looking at her shoes and scrunched into the chair as if she were a teenager in trouble. In fact, she hardly looked her thirty-five years and looked eighteen. He found it hard to believe that this woman could possibly save him from the Dark Lord’s shrewdness.

“I can if you will only let me,” said Felicity looking at him proudly.

“But, why?” He had no idea how she did it. How did she see his thoughts so clearly?

“She sees your thoughts because I asked her to, Severus,” said Dumbledore. It made Snape’s head spin. He was an accomplished Occlumence and everyone seemed to be inside his head.

“I asked her to help you, Severus, because you are one of my most important allies,” sighed Dumbledore. “You are a man who will be asked to perform insurmountable tasks, my friend. Voldemort will seek you out. He knows that you are here at Hogwarts with me. He will use you in any way he can.” Dumbledore fixed his eyes on Snape. “We cannot afford to lose you. Felicity has successfully eluded him in the past. She has talents to escape his grip. She will be able to help you.”

“I have training and knowledge in what you call the Dark Arts, Severus,” said Felicity sadly. “I am more of an expert in certain practices than the Dark Lord himself.”

Snape gasped. What had she done to him to make the mark stop calling him to the Dark Lord? “Sir,” he said, turning to Dumbledore. “Lucius Malfoy has summoned me to Malfoy Manor. He says that I am to come to dinner but I have no doubts that I am to be led to the Dark Lord’s door.”

“It was only a matter of time, my friend,” replied Dumbledore grimly. “You are the one wizard in this world that is closest to me, Severus. He will want to know that you are still the Death Eater of old. You must fool him at all costs.”

“Yes, sir.” Severus was certainly lost. A great weight of melancholy sat on his shoulders.

“Let Felicity help you, Severus. Lean on her. I ask you to. You are very important, as I’ve said and she will give you strength.” Dumbledore sighed deeply. He was not happy about sending his friends into harms way. Though he had confidence in Severus Snape and knew that he would be able to resist Voldemort, it was certainly not doing any good for the poor man’s soul.



Snape apparated directly to the front garden of Malfoy Manor that evening as he had so many times in the past. He stood on the front walk, breathing in the lovely aroma of the flowers that Lucius’ wife. Narcissa always had growing in the garden no matter what the season. Felicity had given him a potion that had calmed him and as she had put it in her own infuriately vague way: thickened his blood so that he would be entirely in control of all that he was. Sometimes, she prattled on just like Trelawney. He had only allowed the potion because Dumbedore had asked him to. He was entirely capable controlling his emotions; in fact he was famous for it.

He walked up the walk and into the front vestibule where he waited for the house elf to find him. Instead, it was Lucius himself who came forward and greeted him with that wicked half smile that was his signature.

“Severus, my old friend,” he drawled deliberately emphasizing and elongating the words. “It’s been too long.” Lucius clasped his hand firmly and held his shoulder in welcome.

“The start of term has been busy, Lucius,” said Severus coldly. “I could not get away for a social call without raising suspicions. Dumbledore watches me most closely these days and there is an abomination disguised as the Dark Arts Professor from the Ministry of Magic that is underfoot and spying on my every move.”

“So, I’ve heard, my friend,” said Lucius leading him to the drawing room and pulling close the pocket doors behind them. “ You know, I’ve been hard at work at the Ministry for our special friend.” He winked meaningfully at Snape.

“If you’d like, I’ll mention to Minister Fudge that you should be exempt from this woman’s spying. After all, you are Head of Slytherin House and therefore above question.”

“I would certainly appreciate that, Lucius,” said Snape watching him as he went to the small discreet bar in the corner, poured cocktails and without asking if he’d even like it, handed him one.

Lucius Malfoy was the perfect example of what pureblood genetics could do for a wizard. He stood erect and his handsome features were always in the perfect order. He was not one to make faces unless one counted curling a lip in a sneer as a face. His long white blonde hair, as well as his perfectly portioned and experienced hands seemed to drive women wild. He was cunning, self assured, subtle, and ambitious, if not a little given to acts of cruelty.

Overall, he was the perfect example of what a pureblood Slytherin should be. Frankly, Severus Snape envied him in every way, something that made them the perfect friends. Lucius Malfoy, above all else, enjoyed the envy of others.

“So how is our special friend, Lucius?” Severus said evenly. Even though he indulged the ever so slight dread of the Dark Lord’s presence, he knew it was best to bring it up first. “Are we seeing him tonight? He’s been calling and the pain was excruciating. Dumbledore forced some poultice on me a few weeks ago and has been watching me ceaselessly.”

“Has he now?” Lucius sat in a plush chair to relax, his drink dangling in his hand. He indicated that Severus do the same with a graceful gesture. “We wondered why you didn’t answer the summons. Of course, I told him that it was most likely Dumbledore, but you know how he can be. Believe me, old friend that one has not changed. Only the skin is different.” Lucius laughed at his own joke. “Ha! Most literally!”

Snape only smirked. It was best to let Lucius carry on with his own entertainment.

“I wouldn’t worry about Dumbledore for too much longer.” Lucius raised his drink as if to toast his own genius. He flashed his gray eyes at Severus in delight. “I’ve managed to work up that idiot Fudge into a froth over the injustice of Dumbledore’s ambitions for his job. The man has become completely obsessed with getting rid of him. I’m telling you that the imbecile will do our whole job for us. It’s really rich.”

“I can hardly wait,” said Severus coolly. “The old goat has been having me watched. He’s enlisted some young woman that is constantly underfoot.”

“Do tell, is she pretty?”

“Very.”

“You should enjoy yourself, Snape. Believe me, there’s nothing so delicious as a woman who thinks she’s spying on you for duties sake. It adds so much to the experience.” Lucius smiled at some memory and then returned to business. “We must, in fact, go and see him tonight. He’s most insistent. I’ve a portkey all arranged as he’s so paranoid of being found out.” Lucius sighed, the weight of the world on his shoulders as second in command to the great lord. "I’ll be happier when our numbers are larger, between you and I.” He indulged a pout. “I’ve been trooping all over hell and gone enlisting endless beings and all the while keeping my foot firmly planted in that foul Fudge’s buttock.”

“I haven’t exactly been swanning on the lake up at the castle, my friend.” Snape couldn’t help but roll his eyes. Lucius was such a whiner. Rolling in gold, with everything he wanted and still he found time to complain.

“I know, I know, dear friend,” said Lucius flashing a smile of perfect teeth at Snape. Yet another thing Snape envied. “I’m just vexed because I’ve got to go down to some flee bitten village in the Lake District tomorrow and talk to some werewolves.”

“Foul creatures.” And, Snape meant it, too.

They finished their drinks and Lucius rose to leave.

“We may as well get on with it, friend,” said Lucius. “I swear his temper gets worse by the minute. If the rest don’t break free from Azka….well, you know where…I don’t know what he’ll do.”

“Why are we using a portkey? I thought they were traceable,” said Snape as he reached for it with Lucius.

“Not if you’re sleeping with the Administrator’s secretary, my friend. Honestly, the things I must do…” and they were gone.


Voldemort sat waiting for them by a roaring fire. It was stifling hot in the room. He sat imperiously watching as they entered the room. He’d been expecting them. Snape followed Lucius in and stood next to him. They both bowed to Voldemort gracefully in unison. Voldemort had always loved the pomp part of his enormous power. It was a fact that both Severus and Lucius had practiced the finer points of groveling before the Dark Lord.

“I have called and called and yet no one comes to see me, Snape,” said Voldemort in what could have been a sneer but Snape found it hard to tell. The Dark Lord could no longer be described as a man. He was more a skeletal figure with skin and red evil eyes that seemed to see directly inside what he was looking at. Severus clamped down hard on any emotion or any memory that may have strayed to the forefront of his mind.

“I apologize for my delay, sir,” he said distantly.

“My most ardent followers are temporarily being held in Azkaban. What is your excuse?”

“Dumbledore has been having me watched twenty-four hours a day and he applied a poultice that kept me from you,Lord.”

“Poultice? Poultice? That’s not possible.” He leaned forward extending a skeletal hand. “Let me see my mark upon you, servant.”

Snape bowed and came forward extending his arm to be held in the fiend’s grip. Voldemort ran his clammy hands along the mark in almost a caress, searching for what the magic was that made it. “What has Dumbledore been up to Snape?” he asked as he examined it.

Severus’ clamped down on any revulsion he may have felt as the Dark Lord gripped his arm. “He’s started the Order of the Phoenix again to fight you, sire,” said Snape smoothly. He was in danger of retching.

“Fools,” said Voldemort dismissively. “A secret society of miscreant misfits. They’re nothing but a bunch of mudbloods. Dumbledore was never one for the subtle tactics needed to lead the mighty.”

Lucius laughed.

Voldemort released Snape’s arm and looked into his eyes suspiciously. “Leave us, Lucius,” he said. “I want a word with this one alone.”

If Lucius Malfoy felt any criticism in his dismissal, he was too in control to show it. He left the room quietly.

“That is a magic that Dumbledore would never allow, Snape,” sneered the Dark Lord nastily. He pointed to Snape’s arm. “Those bleeding hearts at Hogwarts would rather die than perform the Dark Arts. Who did this for you? You can’t have done it yourself. It’s only possible done by a particular type of wizard. I’ve actually never seen it done and that, my servant, is unusual.” Voldemort watched Snape for any reaction, any fear. Though he had been trustworthy in the past and like Malfoy was able to keep one step ahead of the enemy, such magic was extreme and therefore something to be wary of. Snape had also not come when he’d been called. Voldemort insisted on compliance to his will at all times.

“We have a young woman from the East teaching Ancient Runes who made a poultice is all that I understand.” Snape kept his voice even. Years of practice had given him the ability to mask all outward emotion or opinion. The Dark

Lord could not ‘read’ much from him and thought him a very cold fish. Snape would never allow himself to feel fear in the Dark Lord’s presence, but he did fleetingly remember that Felicity had said she was once of interest to Voldemort.

Voldemort’s hideous eyes narrowed on him. “What is the name of this professor?”

Snape only hesitated for a second. “Felicity Wood.”

“This Miss Wood is there with you at Hogwarts? Really?” The Dark Lord seemed suddenly amused.

“Yes.” Snape could feel the lord’s excitement and it filled him with feelings of dread.

“You must bring her to me,” said Voldemort fiercely.

Snape squashed any panic that he may have instinctually felt. “She will not come willingly, sir,” he said icily. “She’s told me that you’ve killed her family.”

“Did she tell you anything else, Snape?” said Voldemort watching him.

“She said that she was special when I asked her why she’d be of interest to you, Lord.” His face did not move a muscle and he was completely in the moment, anything less and he would lose control of his composure.

“And that’s all she told you?”

“Yes.”

“She has never once told you why she would be special to me, Snape?”

“No.” This line of questioning would have had Snape sneering and snarling at any other questioner long before but this was the Dark Lord. He offended easily and then you suffered.

“Bring her to me.

“I told you that she would not come willingly, sir. The castle is guarded against kidnapping.”

“Persuade her, Snape. Get her to Hogsmeade, go down to the pub and drug her if you have to. I’ll warn you to use a strong drug on that one. I want her here.” The skeletal face of the dark lord licked his lips as if in anticipation of lunch. “Your proof of loyalty and therefore your life, depend on it.”

“Why, sir?”

“Don’t be impertinent,” said Voldemort harshly. He looked at Snape, observing his servant shrewdly. “You do not know why she is important, I can understand that. You would not approve, certainly.” He laughed. It was the amused cackle of a flock of crows. “She is cunning, that one. Beware of her, servant. Watch her closely.” The Dark Lord let out a low and sinister snigger. “Dumbledore must know about her. Otherwise, he’s less of an obstacle than I’ve thought.”

He waved his hand in dismissal of Snape. “Go, and bring her to me. Whatever it takes, do it!”

Snape backed away and removed himself from the room. Lucius Malfoy was standing outside leaning on his cane looking bored. “Done, are we?” he drawled.

“Very,” sneered Snape. He relaxed in Lucius presence. The berk could not distinguish thoughts in another. “Let’s leave here.”

“To Malfoy manor, then old friend? We’ll have another drink before you return to the castle.”

“No, I’ll return to Malfoy Manor, but I’ll leave straight away for Hogwarts,” said Snape realizing where he needed to be. “The Dark Lord has given me an errand that I must attend to.”

“Pity,” smiled Lucius. “I so hoped for more of a chat about what is transpiring at Hogwarts. Narcissa will be narked at me for not discussing Draco, of course. You must come to dine properly with us so that we may discuss our futures under better circumstances, Snape. Next week, I insist.” Lucius fixed his piercing eyes on him. It was an order and Snape knew it.

“Next week, then, Lucius,” said Snape. They took the portkey back to Malfoy Manor and then Snape apparated to the gates of Hogwarts with barely a nod at Lucius before he left.

He raced across the grounds from the front gate and into the castle. Filch was doing his night rounds but he barely stopped to acknowledge him. He had one purpose and one purpose only. Running down the steps to the dungeon, he then banged on her door. To hell with anyone in Slytherin House who may have heard the sound, he needed to know. She must tell him.

There was a muffled sound behind the door. He waited impatiently for several minutes and was just about to bang more loudly when the door opened. Felicity stood in her robe. She was covered in a thin layer of powder. Even her hair was white with it.

“Has something happened?” she asked concerned.

“Yes,” he hissed at her. “We must talk. May I come in?”

She opened the door wider to allow him to enter her suite. It was a room fit for a Slytherin queen. The walls were draped with tapestries, the furniture looked straight out of a Persian boudoir and the fire lamps were all shaded in stain glass. Everything in the room was a shade of green to gold. He stood mesmerized for a moment before turning his intense black eyes on her.

“Why are you covered in powder?” he asked realizing she looked strangely like a ghost. The only part of her not white was her robe that she had obviously draped about herself in haste as it hung loosely open in the front exposing her skin. If it weren’t for the white mess about her, he may have been aroused.

She gathered her robe closer together realizing she was practically naked. She had changed from her dragon self so quickly that she’d neglected to clean her skin dust. Master Tong had told her again and again that she should not rush her change and that she would suffer the consequences if she were hasty. But Snape’s knocking had felt so panicked that she’d needed to respond. Felicity had a slight bit of vertigo and she swooned into Snape’s arms before she realized it. “So sorry,” she said slumping into him.

He caught her and tried to lift her to take her to the couch but she weighed a ton. Snape was attempting to drag her but he gave up and laid her on the rug in the middle of the room. The woman was only a little shorter than he and slim, but the weight of her was surprisingly absurd.

Snape grabbed his wand and pointed it at her. “Ennervate” he said quickly.

She blinked her eyes open and starred up at him. “What happened?” she said panicked.

“You fainted,” said Snape, helping her to sit up. Whatever was on her skin was getting all over his black robes.

Both he and she were now a mess. He sat on the floor with her plopping down with a thud. The absurdity of the situation coupled with the stress of his encounter with the Dark Lord made him finally lose control. He began shaking with laugher. He’d run from the Dark Lord to see her and accuse her of deceiving him once again, only to have her faint on him. His handprints were all over her body and the white dust was everywhere. It was starting to make him sneeze. He lay down next to her on the rug panting from the exertion of trying to lift her. He was alive, he had faced the Dark Lord and here he was a white dusty mess lying on Felicity’s floor. Felicity’s panicked face only made him laugh all the harder. He was alive!

Felicity jumped up, pulled her wand from robe and cleaned them both up with a swish and a flick. She pulled Severus to his feet. He was still laughing like a mad man and scaring her half to death. It was unhealthy for a man like him to laugh. It looked so unnatural it was unnerving her. She put her hands to his forehead and cheek checking for fever.

Severus abruptly seized both her hands in a fierce grip and frowned at her suspiciously. He fixed his black eyes on her forcing himself into her mind but she wouldn’t let him in. “What are you to the Dark Lord?” he said vehemently.

“He knows your name. Why?”

She tried to wriggle from his grip but he had clamped hard to her wrists knowing that she was strong. “Please let go of me, Severus. It hurts.”

“No,” he answered coldly. “Answer my question.”

“I told you that I was special.” She held her chin up boldly. “He wants my powers on his side. I nearly lost to him the last time we met but was able to get free. I was much younger and inexperienced. His Dark Arts curses do not kill me, they only weaken me.”

“How is that possible?”

She smiled wickedly at him. He was really so dominating sometimes that he was almost fun. “I have a very thick skin.”

He gripped her all the harder, thinking he might squeeze some sense out of her and then let her go. She stood rubbing her wrists watching him. There was something about this man that made her want to consume his fire. He seethed with an intensity shown only below the surface. It was tantalizing.

“Who are you?” he asked.

“That’s not the right question.”

“What are you?” he whispered.

“You don’t want to know, Severus.”

“But I do, I must know, Felicity,” he said curling his lip in a sneer. “You are so powerful that the Dark Lord is giddy with excitement at the very thought of you here at Hogwarts. He has told me that I must bring you to him, my dear. Or, he will kill me.” He watched her composure change.

Her face blanched. “Severus, what have you done?”

“He saw the Dark Mark. He asked who had done the sealing against him. You did not tell me that your name would elicit such an unusual response. He laughed at me, Felicity because I did not know who you are.” He grabbed her again, desperate to get a straight answer out of her. “I want to know why!”

“I am a dragon woman, Severus.” Her face was sad and wistful.

He gripped her harder. “What exactly is that?”

“My blood is mixed with dragon’s blood. I am only partly human, I share my very soul with a dragon.” She knew how he would react. She could have won money on it.

He released her in horror. He’d had that same look of revulsion on his face when he had talked of Remus Lupin. She wanted to spit on him.

“I warned you that you didn’t want to know,” she said turning from the look on his face. “You needn’t act so shocked. I wouldn’t feel so superior with the memories and deeds that you’ve done, Professor. You’re the way you are because you have much to hide.” She turned back to see him hating her but she lifted her chin in pride. “You’ve much to atone for. It’s no wonder that you’re so desperate to please Headmaster Dumbledore. You know that he will win now but once you thought it would be the Dark Lord.” She moved closer to him. “I only made a pact to share my life with a dragon so that I might live while you sold your soul to a crazy power hungry maniac because you thought it would improve your position in society. Who was the fool?”

The truth of her words wounded him so deeply that he slapped her hard on the face. By instinct she pushed him so forcefully that he flew into the wall knocking the wind right out of him. He slumped to the floor. “Do not fight me,

Severus. You will not win,” she said sadly touching her bruising cheek. She walked over to help him up holding out her hand. “Don’t fight me, Severus,” she repeated more softly. “I want only to help you win against him.”

He took her hand and let her help him to his feet. He stood staring at her. His look of hate and revulsion replaced with a look of shock. She patted his cheek. “It’s not contagious, Snape, dear,” she said kindly. “I’m only dangerous to those that aren’t my friends. Even if I bit you, which I admit is highly tempting at times; you still wouldn’t become a dragon. Unlike a werewolf, I am fully conscious of myself as a dragon or a woman. I share my life with my dragon. We are one.”

He raised an eyebrow at the irony of his position. “We are at an impasse, then,” he said. “You and I must help each other now.”

“Yes,” she said smiling at him. He really was an amazing man. Truly, he was worth saving. “And I guess that I must now face the devil himself in order to save your soul, my friend.”

Snape’s force of will broke at her statement. He was a man in distress. There can be no other explanation for going against all that he’d ever believed in. He reached out to her, a man drowning in his own sea of despair. He hugged the dragon woman for all she was worth. He was a man holding onto a new hope.




Chapter 7: Wolvin Village
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Chapter Seven

Wolvin Village



Lupin was awake before Tonks. He’d slept better than he had slept in weeks. It was something about being in the open air and listening to the night sounds that had relaxed him. When Tonks awoke, he was already dressed and had gotten a little fire going under the kettle.

“Tea?” he said when she emerged.

“What time is it?” She was still groggy with sleep.

“I’ve no idea,” answered Lupin, “but you’d better wake up quickly because I’m ready to hike back into the village and see what they have to say.” He smiled as only Lupin could. He looked kind, generous but at the same time, a little sad.

Tonks took her tea and slapped her own face lightly to wake it up. “Gor, you wake up early. How do you know that they’ll be there at the crack of dawn?”

Lupin laughed. “Tonks, it’s hardly early. The sun’s been up for two hours already.”


They made their way to the village hiking again along the road. It seemed a busy morning for traffic and there were many muggle cars that passed them by. When they entered the village, they saw why. The street was filled with the cars that had passed and there were many people milling around the few buildings of the village. Lupin was sure that they had all come to see he and Tonks.

David Gray, along with some fifty others, was waiting for them inside the tearoom. Lupin nodded to them in greeting.

He was feeling an exhilaration that he’d never felt before. It was as if he’d come home. He was in a room filled with his own kind and he recognized them all by scent and feel. They looked normal enough, as did he, and yet he saw each one’s secret beast. Lupin relished in the knowledge that he was not in the minority within the room.

“Welcome, Remus Lupin and Tonks!” called out Mr. Gray in a friendly way. He beckoned them to sit in two empty seats near him. All the other seats were taken and many of the people in the room stood around the edges. All looked at Remus with curiosity.

David Gray stood when they had seated themselves and spoke to all in the room. “These two wizards have come to us for help. The so-called Dark Lord has raised his ugly mug again, as you know.” There was a murmur of acknowledgement and grunting around the room. “And, as before, he will like as not come searching us out to join his ranks, telling us that he will reward us whilst all the while he’ll be planning to be rid of our kind. We know his lies of old. We will not be swayed.”

A cheer went up through the crowd. Remus could see that they’d opened the windows at the front of the shop and even more people were cheering out in the street. There was camaraderie and a joy to fight about this village of people that was infectious and Remus felt a renewed vigor in his purpose to defeat Voldemort, as well.

David turned to look at Remus. “I think that’s a yes,” he said winking at him. Tonks snickered beside him. She was also feeling the amity of the crowd.

David turned back to the room. “We’ve said yes, to these good folks, then?” Another cheer went up.

Outside on the street, however could be heard a low growl. Those inside the room instantly recognized the danger and were silenced and listening. Tonks, looked around surprised, but Remus, perhaps because he had felt already as if he belonged amongst them, reached for his wand in alarm. Surprisingly, ten or so others, including David Gray did the same. All were holding their wands at the ready.

The crowd at the door parted to let a lone-cloaked wizard enter. Lucius Malfoy stood before them scowling, his chin held high. He was barely able to stand the stench of being surrounded by the filth in the room. The trying things he did in the name of the Dark Lord was without end.

Remus stood alongside David, both men pointing wands at the intruder.

“Lucius Malfoy,” said David Gray with contempt. “As I live and breath, how did you ever escape Azkaban?”

“Funny, wolf-man,” said Lucius sneering. “How did you?” They appraised each other. They were enemies of old.

“Still messing in parts that you shouldn’t, I see,” said David not taking his eyes from Malfoy, who walked further into the room. “Still doing the dirty Lord’s bidding, as well, would be my guess.”

Lucius could barely contain his anger at this half-breed wanna-be wizard daring to ridicule his lord. “You are making a mistake, David. Allying your…people…” he said the word with such distain that many in the room were very tempted to attack him. “…With Dumbledore and his weakling followers will be your doom.” He glared directly at Remus.

“It is my understanding that your so-called Lord is merely a shell of what he once was,” said David unfazed.

Remus was impressed. Dumbledore had given him no indication that there might be other werewolves in such numbers or that some of them might be wizards. This leader of the werewolves obviously knew Lucius Malfoy and considered him an enemy but was showing no sign that he felt the other his superior in any way.

“I can see that there is no talking with you at this time,” said Lucius loftily. “It is a pity that your kind show a stubbornness above your station.” He lifted a withering eyebrow to show his scorn of them all. “The Dark Lord will not be pleased with your rudeness toward his emissary.”

Tonks had been standing with her wand out just as the others. She started laughing at Lucius Malfoy. She changed herself into her pink haired youthful reality and stuck her tongue out at him. “Ah, Uncle Lucy, you always were such a killjoy at a party,” she said defiantly.

Many in the room gasped at her change. It was, perhaps not the most strategic thing to do at that moment. Remus, for one, was tempted to kick her in the shins. But Tonks knew what she was doing. She hadn’t grown up the tainted blooded Black/Malfoy cousin for nothing. She knew how to push the Malfoy buttons. She smirked at the berk.

Lucius had been surprised. It was something he hated. “Nymphadora Tonks,” he hissed. “A sight from the family garbage pit, as always, I see.” There was nothing more he would accomplish with this group. He would have to endure the Dark Lord’s wrath but an alliance with this mangy crowd was not to be had. They would have to return in greater numbers and with more deadly force than he was willing to do. He growled at Remus and David and disapparated from the room without another word.


David was the first to speak. “Now that was a neat trick, missy,” he said to Tonks with a grin. “So how’d you do that so quickly?”

Tonks felt suddenly shy. “I’m a Metamorphmagus, sir,” she said respectfully. “I am able to change at will into anyone.”

“Well, it’s a bleeding brilliant trick, my dear,” said David with a laugh. The others in the room laughed with him.

A young girl of about sixteen that had been standing next to them reached out to touch Tonks, which made her blush with embarrassment.

“Perhaps, I shouldn’t have done it just then, but that man just gets my goat, sometimes,” she said.

“It certainly surprised him, Tonks,” said Remus, forgiving her. “It was getting a little tense there for a minute. I thought we were going to have to do him in.”

David grimaced. “Probably should have,” he said under his breath.

“Okay, folks,” he announced loudly to the crowd. “I think we’re all of one mind on this. Everyone go back to your homes and prepare. We’ll have not have seen the last of that grubby gannet. We’ll meet up at the house for the full moon. Come early, the missus will expect you all this moon, my friends.” He was jovial. The crowd clapped their hands enthusiastically in relief that it was over and began to disperse.

David’s sons came up to tell their father that they’d see him back at the house the next morning and then everyone had left except for the young girl, the old lady behind the counter and them.

“This is my youngest daughter, Kate,” said David pointing proudly to the suddenly shy girl. She had short dark hair to her shoulders and wore a wild display of colors in her muggle clothing. She looked down as she went to shake Remus’ and Tonks hands. Her hand was a limp rag.

“She’ll not talk to you at first,” said David slyly. “She’ll be pretending that she’s shy but don’t be fooled. She’d talk the tail off a donkey given the chance.”

Kate glared at her father in embarrassment.

“So, you’ll be coming up to the house with me, Mr. Lupin, Tonks,” continued David. “The wife is all fired to meet you. She went to that same school that your Albus Dumbledore is Headmaster of and she made me swear to bring you.”

“Your wife went to Hogwarts?” asked Lupin amazed. “Is she…?”

“A werewolf?” David laughed at him. “She’ll be having my guts for garters if I tell you her story before she’s seen you both.” His large handsome eyes were twinkling with amusement. “She’s a stubborn woman. You’ll see!”

He led them all out to an old-fashioned muggle car that had to be thirty years old but in perfect condition from the looks of it. Neither Tonks nor Remus had been in too many muggle vehicles and they approached the interior with caution. Tonks bumped up and down on the seat. Though her father was muggle born, she didn’t have too much contact with his family after her younger years. A muggle car was a treat and she smiled at her young companion, Kate sitting with her in the back seat, as if she thought of their short journey as an adventure.

They drove past their camp under the oak tree and around a bending road for several kilometers moving farther and farther from any hint of civilization until finally they came to a large stone gate that David Gray opened with a swish of his wand.

“I find it interesting that you’re a wizard, sir,” Lupin finally had the wherewithal to ask his host. “I’ll admit that I’m surprised.”

“I’m surprised that you’re surprised,” answered Gray with amusement. “That leader of yours doesn’t prepare you much, does he?”

Tonks snorted from the back seat.

“We have a few wizards in our midst and even a small school for witchcraft and wizardry that’s ages old. We have a few born with the magic every so often, probably the same average as in the general population. It weren’t always acceptable to be a wizard and a werewolf as I’m sure you know. Kate here goes to our school. She does right well at charms, our Kate does, and she’s bloody good at broomstick flying, as well. We’ve our own Quidditch team, though we only have two other teams to play.”

Kate was blushing and silent in the back seat. She snuck a peek at Tonks who gave her the thumbs up and whispered, “You’ll have to show me some of your tricks.”

The young girl nodded.

They came up to a large stone house built right into the hill. It was a magnificent manor house set at the pinnacle of a seemingly endless expanse of wilderness. A woman in form fitted dress robes stood to greet them in the doorway.

She was tall and thin with gray hair held back in a bun at the nape of her neck. She seemed pleased as punch to welcome them to her house.

“I was so excited to hear that you’d come from Albus Dumbledore, Sir,” she said to Lupin as she shook his hand. “And you, my dear,” she said kindly to Tonks, “you look much too young to be in the Order of the Phoenix!” Tonks had not bothered to return to her disguise.

Neither Tonks nor Remus had mentioned the Order, as yet so they were surprised that she knew of it. “We’re surprised that you know of the Order, Mrs. Gray,” said Tonks.

“Call me, Agatha. I insist!” she said ignoring their comment. She herded them into a large drawing room adjacent to the entry.

It was a large and spacious room that felt very warm and inviting. Even though a storm of gray clouds threatened to drop buckets of cold rain down outside the door, the room with the pleasant large hearth and lavishly red walls seemed to be awash with heat.

“What a lovely room,” said Tonks impressed.

“Yes, dear,” said Agatha pleased. “My husband’s family goes back centuries in the Lake District. This room has always been my favorite in this great big drafty old house, as well.”

A house elf appeared out of nowhere and Agatha ordered tea and sandwiches.

“That’s Sunny, by the way,” she said. “If you need anything while you stay with us, don’t hesitate to ask for her by name.”

She indicated seats for each of them. Her husband was smiling mischievously and sat quietly in a great ancient easy chair by the fire. Their daughter hovered by the door.

“I hadn’t actually asked them to stay, as yet, Agatha, dear,” said Mr. Gray with amusement. “I suspect that they’re a little overwhelmed by their welcome. Lucius Malfoy showed up at the meeting this morning.”

Agatha visibly paled. “So it has really begun,” she said sadly. “I do so wish that Malfoy had gone to prison with the rest of them.”

“So you knew Malfoy in the first war?” asked Remus. “I must admit that I know nothing of your village. I was much younger, then. I was nearly Tonk’s age in the first war and I am guessing that I must not have been privy to much of what went on.”

Sunny, the elf appeared with tea and sandwiches and disappeared just as fast.

“Dumbledore was sworn to secrecy about us until very near the end of the war,” said Gray. Remus couldn’t read his expression but he sensed that the man was grinding his teeth.

“It’s true,” said Agatha pouring tea like a muggle and handing out cups and saucers. “We almost made it through the war without that horrid monster He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named breathing down our necks.” She sighed sadly. “So many of us died when he discovered us.”

“Dumbledore did not tell Remus Lupin about us then or until now, my dear,” said David. It was as if he were just fueling her to chatter on and give out information that he might not have been as forthcoming with. She was obviously the talker in the family, while he was the more silent charismatic type. Certainly, he was a man of fewer words.

Remus couldn’t feel but envious of the older couple. They were both werewolves, living in a wonderful, warm and friendly house, with elves to serve them and children and most likely grandchildren to brighten their days. He had never thought such a thing was possible. These people seemed untouched by the prejudices of the outside world or the danger of what they were.

Agatha was scrutinizing him. “So you’re a lone wolf, then?” she asked him bluntly.

“I hadn’t, until this moment, thought that there was much of a choice,” said Lupin at a loss.

She looked over at her husband sadly. “Professor Dumbledore should have sent him to us right away after the first war,” she said firmly. “No wolf should be alone.”

Tonks sat fascinated by all their talk. “So, how’s it work, then, Agatha? How do you all live as werewolves in the open?”

“We have a pleasant life, here on our hill, Miss Tonks. I wasn’t always a werewolf as my dear husband was, you know.

I understand how it is for those alone.” She looked pointedly at Lupin.

“I didn’t tell them your story, Agatha,” said Gray looking at Remus and rolling his eyes.

Agatha pierced her lips. She was pleased as punch. “Well, let me tell you that I went to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry as I presume both of you did,” she said proudly. “I was in Ravenclaw House. My mother was a witch that married a muggle and in our family both my brother and I had the gift and went to Hogwarts. He was a few years younger than I and in Gryffindor. Professor Dumbledore was my Transfiguration professor.” She sipped her tea and looked into the air remembering her time at Hogwarts fondly. “I was a young intern at St. Mungo’s when I left school and expected to go into the healing profession when I had an accident.” She bit her lip in memory. “It was entirely my fault. When I was your age, my dear,” she said to Tonks, “I was a little bit accident prone. You can’t imagine what it’s like to find yourself tripping over everything all the time, but there you are, I was a klutz.”

Remus was trying mightily not to laugh out loud. Tonks just looked stunned. She was imagining herself in later years and wondering if Agatha was what she’d be like.

“Anyway, I was in the werewolf unit at St. Mungo’s one evening, doing the rounds with my mentor teacher. They chained the poor dear’s to the bed in those days during the full moon, you know. The wizarding world can be so archaic, really.” She hardly took a breath in telling the story but truly both Remus and Tonks were riveted to what she said. “Well, one full moon night I tripped over Merlin knows what chain and fell right into bed with a werewolf in full form. I was a mess, let me tell you!”

“Best thing that ever happened to you,” inserted Mr. Gray.

“Yes, well,” said Agatha giving him the evil eye for interrupting her. “I didn’t know it then, now did I?”

“So how did you come to be here?” asked Remus fascinated and envious at the same time.

“Well, it just so happened that, dear David’s parents ran a little halfway house for young werewolves finding their way in those day.” Both David and Agatha smiled with delight at each other, probably remembering the day that they’d met. Remus’ heart tugged with jealousy. “They were in need of a teacher in the wizard’s arts at their small school and though the Grays were completely unregistered werewolves at the time, the elder Mr. Gray had gone to St. Mungo’s

in search of a recruitment. He chose me.” It was obviously a moment she was proud of. “And here I am, now, lady of this fine house and the mother of five children, all of who bare the gift of witchcraft. It is a glorious life that we lead.”

“As long as Voldemort is dead and buried, my love,” said Mr. Gray.

“I don’t understand,” said Remus. “How is it possible that the Ministry would allow such a school for magic?”

Agatha laughed. “You mean because of their prejudices toward werewolves or how do we hide the magic from them?”

“Both.” He was intrigued and just for a moment, imagined himself again as a teacher. It had been something he had thoroughly enjoyed and heartily missed.

“Our school has charms and protections just as Hogwarts does, young man,” she said proudly. “Our school has existed for almost four hundred years and all that time in secret from the wizarding community at large. Our entire community is secret and we fiercely protect it.” She smiled at him with a glint of hardness. “We have fought hard for our freedom from the Ministry and to keep our way of life as it has always been.”

“We are at peace with the world, here,” added David.

“And your children, are they wolves, as well?”

“Of course, dear,” said Agatha smiling. “It’s in the blood and if the mother is wolf then so is the child.” She smiled indulgently, as if he were a child learning the facts of life.

Remus was overwhelmed. They seemed so matter-of-fact about something that he had spent his whole life trying to come to terms with. “So what of the changing at the full moon?” asked Remus now excited to know such happy werewolves. “

Do you take the wolfsbane potion?”

“Merlin no!” said Agatha with disgust. “I know they meant well in creating that potion. I worked on its development myself, but it isn’t a cure for lycanthropy and frankly running at full moon with the clan is so much more healthful.”

“Mr. Lupin would not know about that, Agatha,” said Mr. Gray with a tone of warning in his voice.

She looked sadly at Lupin. “You must return to us before a full moon, Mr. Lupin to experience what it is like to run with the pack. You would enjoy the feasting for the change. It is a glorious time and you should treat yourself to knowing who you really are.”

Even though, Agatha Gray meant well by telling him, Remus was saddened by her invitation. He had always assumed that he was to lead a hard life of loneliness and separateness from others due to his condition. That this was not necessarily so for all those like him filled him with even more loneliness. How had such a possible life been kept from him, and why? Dumbledore had surely known that these good people existed before.

“You must stay with us for a few days and get to know us,” said Agatha sensing Remus’ discomfort and remorse for what may have been. “The clan would welcome you, certainly.”

He looked fondly on the kind woman, and then to David Gray who nodded silently in agreement with her. He looked to Tonks who was looking at him near tears in sympathy. She too sensed his remorse. “It is a very kind invitation, m’am,” said Remus slowly. “But we must return to the Order and report to them of both Malfoy’s presence and that your clan is willing to join us in our fight.” He and David exchanged deep heartfelt eye contact. “I’d like to return, if I may, when I’m able to, in order to experience the full moon with you, however.” He looked toward the fire and then rose. “Meeting you both has been a significant experience in my life, I think.”

David Gray rose and held out his hand to Remus. “It is the way of the wolf, my friend,” he said. “We do nothing halfway and we are always better together. You must return and experience it for yourself. You’ll not be sorry.”

“I will come back if I possibly can,” Lupin almost whispered, he was feeling so many emotions at once.


He and Tonks took their leave of the kind people and disapparated to their camp, where they packed up quickly. Neither said a word to the other. Both were lost in their thoughts. Before leaving camp for Grimmauld Place, however, Tonks couldn’t leave without breaking the silence.

“Promise me, Remus,” she said. “No matter how hard this war gets, that you’ll come back here for what little happiness that they’ve just offered you.”

Remus smiled his generous, sad and kind grin. No one could smile with all those emotions sandwiched in together as
Remus Lupin could. “I promise, luv,” he said.


**********


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Chapter 8: Seriously Sirius
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Chapter Eight

Seriously Sirius



He would remember the dream of his youth when he and James Potter would rumble through the halls of Hogwarts, two hellions on top of the world. Life had been a wonder then and he had so loved being there away from this house that was now his prison. The dreams of James, and Remus, his fellow Marauder’s had kept his sanity within the hell that had been Azkaban Prison. Sadly, his youth remembrances hadn’t kept the demons away as much in the horrible hole of a home that imprisoned him. It was somehow harder to keep his sanity when he was locked in the house at Grimmauld Place, with his mother screaming insults at anyone who walked in the door and her crazy dirty mouth little house elf reminding him of the horror that was his childhood as a pureblood Black. He hardly had any dreams of a future anymore except when he looked at Harry, James and Lily’s son.

Harry was the spiting image of James. Sirius couldn’t help himself when he was near him. Even though Harry could never be James, he felt his youth again in the reflection of Harry’s eyes and yearned for it. It was hard to think about. In fact, sometimes it was hard to think at all. He had been locked away for so long in Azkaban Prison that his mind had been affected. The Dementors had taken chipped away, bit-by-bit the joys of his soul. It was so difficult sometimes to remember what was and what he imagined it was.


The will to seek revenge on Peter Pettigrew had kept him going, kept him alive and focused while in prison. He would be focused on that still but for Dumbledore confining him to the house, the jail of his youth. It was just one big bad dream. As his whole life after James and Lily had died had been, one long bad dream. It was only brightened by Harry’s need of him. Harry was the troubled boy with no parents who now looked to him, his godfather, as his family. It was seductive and the Black in him was seduced by that need. He needed to be needed. It was as simple as that. The boy gave him life again.

Sirius waited by the fire in the kitchen, sometimes for whole days, except when he was upstairs keeping Buckbeak company. People did come to the house almost daily. Grimmauld place was a stopping off, checking in and reporting central office for the Order of the Phoenix. All the members who fought against Voldemort were given free access to the house. He wasn’t really always alone with his thoughts. He had the Order’s purposes to keep him company. Sirius was grateful for that purpose at least. Anything was better than spending his days cleaning out the Black mansion of pests and magic vermin that infested the house. Such drudgery was more than he could bear when others were out there fighting Voldemort and finding the traitor Peter Pettigrew. He wanted so much to be with them.

Remus and Tonks walked in the front door of Grimmauld Place and for once Sirius’ mother did not scream bloody murder.

“Wotcher, cousin,” said Tonks coming in and throwing herself on the seat next to him and the fire.

“So talk,” said Sirius. “I’ve been sitting and waiting for two bloody days with only the spiders for company. How’d it go?” He was irritable that his tea was cold but he was glad to see them.

Remus stood looking at him with a pained expression. It was killing him seeing Padfoot like this. It was almost as bad as thinking for twelve years that his closest friend had betrayed them all.

“It was very exciting,” said Tonks smiling up at Lupin. “Remus made some new friends and we got to tussle a bit with Uncle Lucy, which is always good for a laugh.”

Sirius smirked. “Malfoy showed up, heh?”

“Recruitment, I think he was trying to do,” said Lupin. “He didn’t really make much of an effort. And then,” Remus made a face at her, “Tonks scared him off first thing before we could duel and accidentally kill him.”

“Very funny.” Tonks stuck her tongue out at Lupin. “Seriously, Sirius you should have seen the werewolves. They’re everywhere, you know. I no longer believe that there are just a few. Half of Britain is werewolf, I’m sure.”

“What’s this?” asked Sirius trying to make sense of what his younger cousin was saying.

“Two hundred werewolves in Wolvin Village,” said Remus, hardly able to believe it himself still and he’d seen it with his own two eyes. “Two hundred.”

“You should have seen Lupin, Sirius,” said Tonks. “They accepted him like a long lost brother and invited him to run at the full moon.”

A pained expression appeared on Sirius’ face. He looked to Lupin, who knew exactly what he was thinking. Inside Lupin was dying for his friend and frankly, himself. He remembered how Agatha had called him the lone wolf but really it was worse than that. His pack had all but died off. They had been betrayed by one of their own. His family could no longer run under the moon together. Sirius was the only one left and he was damaged by life and trapped by the past. There would be no running under the moon with those of his clan.

Remus turned away from the pain and searched for the kettle. When in doubt or under pressure, making tea was the best stress reliever.

“So have they joined us then?” asked Sirius trying to forget his thoughts and concentrate on important matters at hand.

“I’d say they have,” said Tonks. “You should have seen them when Lucius walked into their meeting. Ten or fifteen wands came out and were pointed at the git.”

“Wands? Some of the werewolves are wizards?” Sirius was shocked.

“Yeppers, Remus isn’t the only wizard that’s a werewolf,” said Tonks nodding. “They’ve even got their own little school to teach magic.”

“Do tell?” said Sirius thinking. “I wonder if Dumbledore knew?”

“Of course, he did!” said Remus more stridently then he normally would have. He realized he felt some bitterness toward Dumbledore. “I can’t imagine why he never told me. All these years and there were so many others like me.”

The kitchen door opened and Mad-Eye Moody walked in swirling his head all around so his revolving eye could make sure that the coast was clear.

“Wotcher, gaffer,” called Tonks.

Mad-Eye didn’t say anything but traveled around the room for a minute looking for intruders.

“Tea, Moody?” asked Remus.

Moody stopped and looked at him as if he’d grown three heads. “Are you daft, man? That stuff will kill you.” He took out his flask and held it up to show Remus. “Always drink your own to be safe.”

“You are so-o-o-o paranoid, old man,” said Tonks, rolling her eyes.

“As well you should be!” snapped Mad-Eye.

“So you’re off from the Malfoys?” asked Sirius conversationally. “What’s happening at the devil’s lair, these days?”

“I’ve got Tomasina Tall over to the house watching that Death Eater Snape having dinner with the snake.” He growled again. “I cannot stomach that pasty faced vampire working for the Order.”

Sirius snorted his agreement.

“His help has been invaluable to the Order,” said Tonks reasonably. “He’s the only one that we’ve got close to You-Know-Who. Dumbledore trusts him.”

“Sodding Snivellus was always a sneak,” said Sirius bitterly.

Remus looked over at him with a worried look. There was not enough light in Padfoot’s life. He needed a distraction, a purpose, something to bring his spirits up. Lupin was at a loss. It wasn’t as if he himself was on top of the world. He could use a distraction as well. He suddenly thought of Felicity Wood and felt his heart leap a little at the thought of her. She was a delightful distraction.

“I think I’ll send Hedwig back to Hogwarts, Sirius,” he said casually. “Would you like me to get a message to Harry, Padfoot?”

Sirius’ face brightened up. “Well, I was thinking of contacting him by floo, actually.”

“Argggghhhh!” Bellowed Mad-Eye. “Are you mad, son? Why don’t you just leave your calling card for the Ministry to hunt you down with?” He shook his head disgusted at the idiocy of the young. “EVER VILGILANT!!! Malfoy has been hobnobbing with some young secretary at the travel authority. He’s looking for you as well, boy. YOU STAY PUT!”

Sirius folded his arms stubbornly and frowned at Moody.

“Well, you’re just a happy camper all day, every day, aren’t you, old man?” said Tonks with heavy sarcasm. “Come on, let me take you away from torturing these heroes. I’ve got to check in at the Ministry and pretend that I work there. You come with me and pretend that you order me around.” She got up and grabbed Moody’s arm. He shook her off. Moody was not one for being touched but he got up willingly enough.

He and Tonks were almost out the kitchen door when he turned to look directly at Remus Lupin. “That woman you were making eyes at during the meeting,” he said.

Lupin looked taken aback. There was not much that was missed by Moody.

“She’s not what she seems to be, that one,” said Moody ominously. “I know Dumbledore is all for believing that she’s one of us.” He shook his head as if he just couldn’t shake a bad feeling. “But she’s not one of us. There’s something ‘not us’ about her.”

That said he left the room to follow Tonks, shaking his head.

“Wanker,” said Sirius under his breath.

“I HEARD THAT!!!” yelled Moody from the front door.

“BLAPHEMOUS TRAITORS!!!! MUDBLOOD RELATIONS!!” cried Sirius’ mother’s portrait from the hall.

“Bloody hell,” said Sirius getting up to go shut her up.

As Sirius was closing the curtain on the portrait thinking that he was very tempted to seal her mouth shut with a sewing spell, Mundungus Fletcher rattled through the door reeking of drink and smoking his pipe. The green smoke instantly filled the hall with the weird odor of rankish tobacco. He looked as if he were dressed in a flour sack with holes. He coughed at Sirius in greeting.

“Mundungus, you dirty geezer,” said Sirius disgusted and happy to see him at the same time. Mundungus was always entertaining. His stories of thievery and wickedness were legendary.

“Follow me to the kitchen, Black,” he said in his gravely voice. “I’ve a gossip about those young brats of yours to tell ya that’ll freeze your balls up tight!”

Sirius laughed heartily at the reprobate and followed him into the kitchen.

Mundungus doctored his tea with a flask pulled from his grubby robe. He sipped the warm liquid with relish and drew breath to launch into his tale. But just as he was about to begin, Molly Weasley pranced through the door with a sack of food and stopped mid-step to glare at him. Molly didn’t much approve of Mundungus Fletcher.

Both Remus and Sirius called out to her in welcome but Mundungus hunkered down under her glare. “What are you doing here, Mundungus?” she asked. “You’re supposed to be up at Hogsmeade.” She went to put down the sack of food so that she could more readily put her hands on her hips and glare at Mundungus.

“Ya should na be so bleeding sacrosanct, Missus,” he said defending himself. “I’ve come to make a report on your rebel child, so don’ be lookin’ a me like that.”

Molly visibly paled. “What’s happened?” she asked panicking.

Mundungus crossed his arms contemplating not saying another word but Molly started yelling at him and he had to relent. Remus and Sirius were both falling all over themselves laughing at the two, which only made Molly more fired up. Sirius was feeling much more upbeat and happy as they argued over whether Mundungus would tell what he knew or not. Finally, they agreed that Molly would fix a bite to eat for him if he’d relay to her the information about her sons.

She sat the food before him and waited tense.

“Well, all’s right, then, I guess,” said Mundungus airily.

“Spill it!” said Molly trying to hold her temper to a dull roar.

“I was in the Hog’s Head, see,” he began.

“I thought you weren’t to go in there?” said Molly. “I thought you’d been thrown out!”

“Well, that’d be correct, but I was in disguise, weren’t I?”

“As who?”

“Eh?”

“Who were you disguised as, Mr. Fletcher?” she said an edge to her voice.

Mundungus mumbled something unintelligible into his plate.

“What was that? Mundungus Fletcher, please speak so that we may hear you!”

“I was disguised as a bloody woman!” he yelled at her disgusted. Remus and Sirius pointing and laughing didn’t help his mood much.

“Can you imagine?” said Sirius in awe.

“All right, all right enough of that, gentlemen. Anyways, nobody recognized me and that were the point, weren’t it?”

They settled back down to listen.

“Those brats of yours, and Harry and that snooty girl with the frizz hair all were there.”

“At the HOGS HEAD!!!” yelled Molly. The Hogs Head was a hole in the ground and not a place for her precious children.

“Molly,” pleaded Remus, “let the man tell the story.”

Mundungus got a very superior look on his face. “They was at the Hogs Head recruiting for a secret club of theirs teaching each other Dark Arts ‘cause that weird teacher of theirs won’t let them learn anything. They’re going to meet in secret.”

“That’s a great idea!” said Sirius.

“Sirius Black! It most certainly is NOT a great idea!” yelled Molly.

“Well, I think it is,” said Sirius stubbornly. “And when I talk to Harry on floo, I’ll tell him so.”

Molly Weasley was having one of those moments when she was tangled up in wanting to yell her head off but having too much to say at once.

“Now, Molly,” said Remus soothingly. “I’m sure that Dumbledore knows all about it.”

“Sirius you must swear to me that you’ll tell my Ron, not to do it,” she said trying to keep her voice to a normal noise level.

“But, Molly…” said Sirius.

“YOU MUST SWEAR TO ME, SIRIUS BLACK!!!” she shouted. “He’ll damage his career and there’ll be plenty of time later to learn all that. He’s a child still.” The tears began to flow. Both Sirius and Remus stole a look of incredulity at each other.

“All right Molly, I swear,” he said to shut her up.

“And you must promise to tell both Hermione and Harry that I STRONGLY suggest that they leave well enough alone.”

Sirius nodded grudgingly. Molly could be such a pain with her mothering.


That evening Sirius and Remus sat talking after dinner, finally alone. Sirius had sat alone for two days with nary a soul but Kreacher the house elf and then everyone seemed to be on the doorstep that day. It’d been like Paddington Station at Grimmauld Place all day.

“We should send Hedwig back tonight,” said Sirius.

“Are you sure it’s wise?” asked Remus. He was having second thoughts about Sirius contacting Harry by floo. “Miss Wood did warn that this Dark Arts professor had a secret agenda. She might be intercepting mail. Perhaps we should use another owl.”

“Miss Wood?” said Sirius snidely. “Moony, you are too much. You’re dreaming about the woman with that look in your eye and still you hide behind formality.”

“Felicity, then.”

“Do you want to send her an invitation with my note to Harry?”

Lupin smiled lazily. “I just might.”

“So what are you going to say?”

Lupin looked askance that he would ask.

“Can’t I get a vicarious thrill from you pursuing a pretty woman, Moony?” He looked a little forlornly into his drink. “You don’t see me being able to do any pursuing on my own in the near future, do you?”

“Now you’re just feeling sorry for yourself, Padfoot,” said Lupin not unsympathetically. He relented for his friend, however.

“I thought I might ask her to meet me at the Hog’s Head in Hogsmeade,” he said casually.

Sirius laughed out loud, which was the reason Lupin, had said it in the first place. The Hog’s Head was the world’s worst pub and no place to meet a lady. He only wanted to hear Sirius laugh.

“Why don’t you ask her to meet you at the Shrieking shack while you’re at it?” said Sirius slyly. “It’d be more private.”

They both had a good laugh before fetching Hedwig for the post.


*************

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Chapter 9: Call of the Beast
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Chapter Nine

The Call of the Beast



Minerva McGonagall was worried, stressed and none too happy with her lot in life. Dolores Umbridge was almost more than she could bear. Albus had warned her, told her to beware but still the woman had the ability above and beyond to irritate. She must be stopped. If Albus had not persuaded her that it would be in everyone’s best interest to tolerate her for the time being, Minerva would have cursed the woman into next week by now.

She could not for the life of her understand why the Ministry of Magic would allow such a hateful person to hold sway over the school. Why they engaged this particular zealot, who seemed to have a singular gripe toward Gryffindor House was just too extraordinary. Albus might believe that the woman would hang herself eventually but Minerva thought it would be much quicker to lure her to the lake and let the Mermen have a go at her, instead.

When Harry Potter’s owl arrived wounded, she immediately suspected Dolores Umbridge of sabotage and worse, reading other’s mail. She tried to warn the young man to be careful what came and went through the post but she was never really sure if Mr. Potter paid much attention to what she said. He did have a tendency to be a headstrong young man. His heart was true, but he was also astonishingly stubborn. Sometimes, he reminded her of her brother Albert and she wondered if the Potters had Scottish roots in the family tree. It would explain a great deal about his behavior.

The poor wee owl was going to be all right, of course, but she did agonize over all the havoc that Dolores Umbridge was causing all of them at her beloved Hogwarts as she searched for the young teacher, Professor Felicity Wood in her office. She knocked on the door and peeked in but she was not there.

It was nearly luncheon time, so Minerva moved toward the Great Hall where she did indeed find Professor Wood sitting with Professor Snape at the teacher’s table. She hovered at the door outside at first looking around for a glimpse of that awful Umbridge troll but not seeing her, she ventured forward to deliver the letter that had been attached to Mr. Potter’s owl.

She bent down to Felicity for privacy, though Severus, if listening was sure to hear her. “I’ve a letter that’s just arrived, Felicity dear from Remus,” she said whispering.

“Oh, thank you, Minerva,” said Felicity brightly.

“I must warn you that I don’t usually deliver mail,” said Minerva furtively looking around for the pink horny toad.

“But this owl was tampered with and I suspect that your mail’s been read, dear.”

Felicity looked around her at Severus, who looked instantly put out that she’d even consider looking at him as if he might have read her mail.

“Don’t forget that we have the Minister’s intelligentsia in our midst,” he said icily. He eyebrow lifted and he narrowed his eyes at her.

Minerva nodded her head in agreement. “Yes,” she whispered feeling she was getting a tweak in her neck from bending over with effort. “I only warn you to be careful what you send through the mails.” Minerva stood pursing her lips and mumbling aloud to herself. “I do worry what’s to become of us…”

Dolores Umbridge, a round squat pink donut hole who was most likely female, entered the Great Hall. Minerva made a fast get away because she was already standing. Felicity and Severus however were not so lucky. Professor Umbridge walked straight for them and hovered at their backs.

“Hello, professors,” she said lightly. She looked pointedly at the letter in Felicity’s hand. Felicity tried to stuff it away out of sight in her lap. “I just thought it prudent to warn you, Professors, that the Minister is particularly aware of its teachers influence on the young.”

Severus rolled his eyes ever so slightly waiting for the punch line.

“It is an important responsibility,” she continued unaware of his disrespect. “To be the molders of future generations of wizards in our society.” She eyed Felicity who was forcing herself into a chaste, head down with respect position though she wanted very badly to choke the woman with her braid. “A teacher must fraternize with the right kind of people or the Ministry might have to rethink the employment of that teacher…”

Snape stood and though he wasn’t a particularly tall man, his black bedecked person towered over the pink troglodyte. “This is all very well,” he spoke coldly to the Madame Inquisitor, “but I do believe that since we teachers very rarely are able to socialize with anyone outside this school that the question of our bad taste in relationships is largely mute.”

Dolores Umbridge stood in seeming shock. She didn’t have her clipboard with her that she usually carried religiously to write scathing remarks about the teachers on. She might have to regroup and attack Professor Wood when she was alone, instead.

“Excuse us, Madame Inquisitor,” he said smoothly to Umbridge to flatter her ridiculous ego. “I’ve a potion on the boil and Professor Wood has promised to help me cut Newt livers this afternoon before class.” He waited a nanosecond for some verbal protest and then turned to Felicity. “Come with me, Professor Wood,” he said briskly looking down at a very grateful Felicity with no expression whatsoever. He took her arm and pushed her gently ahead of him.

“I could kiss you for that, Professor,” she said as they left the Great Hall.

“There’s no need for theatrics, Felicity,” said Snape not looking at her. “I’m merely tallying up what I will eventually owe you if I’m not dead as a doornail by Christmas, is all.”

She smirked at him but he didn’t turn. They just kept walking toward the dungeons.

“Plus, I really do need help with those Newt livers and now you shan’t escape or I’ll feed you to the Umbridge nightmare,” he said dryly.

She laughed lightly but he refused to acknowledge the lovely sound of it.


It wasn’t until after classes when she had a little time before dinner to hide in her rooms that Felicity was able to retrieve Remus Lupin’s letter to read. She unfolded the parchment with relish, noticing his handsome handwriting.

Her heart was leaping around in her chest, which was absurd because she’d barely spoken with the man and had only seen him once. It was the physical attraction that was doing her in was all. Master Tong had always talked of the body leading the soul to water. It was the way of creatures. She could hear his singsong voice. He had told her that she must listen to what the body said, especially if she was thirsty, but she must not forget that her soul was the true guide.

She forgot Master Tong as soon as she read the letter:


Dear Felicity,

It has been barely a week since we first met but I will admit to you that I have thought of you endlessly since then. Is it possible to come to see you soon? The weekend is almost upon us and I would dearly love to see you in hopes of a longer conversation then the short few minutes that we were allowed.

I would be happy to meet in Hogsmeade, the meadow, the lake or even the Dark Forest, if you prefer it. Just say the words where and when and I’ll there.

Yours fondly,

Remus Lupin



Felicity raced to the small desk in her room and exploded a drawer looking for parchment and quill. Only the heavy knock at her door kept her from answering immediately, she was so excited. She opened the door to Severus Snape. He stood immovable.

“What’s happened, Severus?” she asked. His mind spoke only of pain. She dragged him in the room and pushed him gently down on the sofa. He did not protest.

“He calls us,” he whispered, his black eyes intense and needful. “It’s not just me. He’s calling to those that can’t answer him in Azkaban.” He gulped for air.

“What shall I do, Severus? Do you want me to stop the pain again?”

He shook his head, panting from the agony. He ground his jaw and looked at her with steel and ice. The man had an incredible mastery of will. “We must go to him. The call is very strong this time,” he said.

“Now? But it’s Thursday. We haven’t had dinner yet. We have classes tomorrow.”

He looked at her as if she’d just told him that his hair was on fire. “Felicity!” he whispered harshly through his pain.

“Oh, I hate this fiend. Everything he touches, he ruins for everyone else,” she said irritably. She was very put out. She wanted to write to Remus Lupin, not face some mad man in a power play.

Severus waited watching her with no expression and she could only feel pain emanating from him. She softened to him, stroking his face. She was sure that she’d regret that touch later when he reprimanded her. “Come on, then,” she said. “Can you walk?”

He nodded and she led him out her door and up the dungeon stairs. She kept to the shadows, in case any pink cows were about. They slowly made their way out of the castle and over the grounds to the gate. Outside the gate, they stopped. “Are you able to apparate?”

He nodded. She could literally see the muscles in his face straining to keep from screaming.

“You have to show me where, Severus,” she said. “Segregate the pain and picture the place in your mind for me to see.” He did as she directed but she was not happy with the place he visualized. She knew it all too well and had hoped never to see it again. When he had mentioned the name and house the other day in Dumbledore’s office she had dreaded that someday she might be asked to go there.

They were both standing on the doorstep of Malfoy Manor seconds later.


Narcissa Malfoy stood in the doorway waiting to lead them inside. She was shocked to see Felicity Wood appear before her with Severus Snape. Never in her life would she have guessed it. The beautiful, elegant Narcissa fumbled with the lamplight that she held up to better view the other woman’s face.

“Hello, Narcissa,” said Felicity coolly. Severus looked from face to face and despite the pain that singed his mind, he recognized the visceral loathing between the two women. After all, he was often the inspiration for such a look.


Narcissa found her wits and ushered them inside without a word. She pushed them to the receiving room where Lucius sat in agony waiting for them. He looked at Severus with relief. He only wanted to make it to the Dark Lord to stop the pain. For some foul reason the Dark Lord was calling incessantly. Then Lucius spotted Felicity and no one who witnessed it could deny the look of greed combined with elation on the man’s face. He was writhing in pain but he had some small moment to remember her fondly.

“Felicity,” he strangled out before the reality of his situation overwhelmed him and he rose to the portkey.

All three hovered over to it. Felicity ignored Lucius whom she’d hoped never to see again and looked deeply into Severus’ eyes as she reached for the portkey. For you, she forced her thoughts soothingly into his mind that screamed with pain, I would do this.


They arrived before Voldemort and both Lucius and Severus fell to the ground writhing in pain but making every effort to bow before their Lord. Felicity stood between their prone bodies, every bit the ice queen staring at the creature before her. Voldemort had changed from the one she remembered. He once had looked like a man. This beast before her was a human shell only. He was snake like in appearance. So appropriate, and it would be fascinating under any other circumstance.

The monster still held his wand out calling, purposely torturing the two men writhing in pain before him.

“Please release your servants, great and powerful Dark Lord Voldemort,” said Felicity calmly trying not to gag on her words. “It does no good to torment those already loyal to you, my lord.”

“Are they loyal, Miss Wood?” said the strange voice that was now Voldemort’s. It had much of its old timbre and power but it was different. Felicity was surprised.

“They are here because you called and I am here for him.”

The creature smiled maliciously. She could feel its emotion of amusement. “And which him would that be, Felicity?”

She said nothing.

He finally released them. Both Severus and Lucius panted from the seeming hours that they had just spent in extreme pain. Severus had no concept of time.

“So, Miss Wood,” said Voldemort in the inky smothering voice. “You are within my grasp once again.”

Felicity smiled.

“You have nothing to say?”

“What do you want, great lord?” she said sneering. “I am here before you, waiting to know why you have demanded I come.”

“Don’t play silly games with me, dragon woman,” he said harshly. “You may think you are untouchable by my magic but I know your vulnerabilities.

Both Severus and Lucius gained their footing again and stood next to Felicity slightly bowing before Voldemort.

Lucius gazed at Felicity with both curiosity and longing. Her memory was that strong with him. Severus saw the look. He knew Lucius very well, having studied him for years. If he weren’t completely and utterly strangling every emotion within him to hide from the Dark Lord, he would have been very irritated that Felicity had not mentioned that she knew Malfoy.

“He is your weakness, dragon. Shall I kill him to make my point?”

“I admit that I care what happens to him,” said Felicity. Severus looked viciously at Lucius, letting down his guard. “He is Head of Slytherin House and you know that’s important to me.” She turned to hold Severus’ eyes.

He stumbled mid-glare.

“Stupid childish loyalties,” spat Voldemort.

“And yet you cater to them for your circle of power. Slytherin and all its values are important to you, as well.”

Severus watched her amazed. He stood up with no pretense of bowing any longer. He was being ignored as this dragon woman debated with the Dark Lord.

“You will join my circle,” said Voldemort coldly.

She said nothing.

Voldemort lifted his wand “CRUCIO!” he said loudly pointing the wand at Snape who keeled over in pain, the light of the curse gripping his chest. He had not seen it coming and he felt as if his heart was trying to jump from his chest.

“If you kill him, I will never cooperate with you,” said Felicity calmly ignoring Severus dying before her. “You would be a fool to lose him anyway considering how much Dumbledore seems to trust him.”

Voldemort actually considered what she said and released Snape. He was unable to rise and was losing consciousness. He lay in a heap on the floor hoping to stay awake. The pain was unbearable.

“What are you to Dumbledore, dragon? Why are you there? I am very curious.” He tried to fix her eyes in his brutal red stare but she shifted and held him out of her mind.

“I owe him a life debt and he has asked me to watch over the Head of Slytherin House. We dragons repay our debts, great one.” She turned eyes on him that were not human, they glowed opalescent, and her pupils became long reptilian slits. She met his equally inhuman stare. “It was something that I could do,” she continued casually but her voice deeper in resonance. “He is a sentimental soul, Headmaster Dumbledore and though he suspects that Snape is a traitor to his Order, he wanted to make sure that you wouldn’t kill him needlessly.” She laughed, filtering in her dragon’s voice to show her strength.

“Everyone seems to fear your power in this country.” Her words were spoken with a calm distain. She was separated from all her normal emotions. She could have been discussing lunch plans she was so casual, and so not human.

Lucius watched her in stunned amazement. His memory of her was her youth, a young and beautiful girl that he had seduced and won. This creature before him was not the girl he remembered, after all. He felt revulsion for her.

“When it is done,” she turned and sneered at Lucius, knowing his thoughts from the look in his eye. “I will go home to Tibet. I don’t belong in this England. I find the attitudes trivial and archaic here. I really don’t understand why a man of your power would want to be here.”

Voldemort stood watching her. He was waiting for some vulnerability other than Snape and was finding none. He knew his curses would only damage her and she was still possibly useful. “You are helping my enemy, dragon. I cannot let you live.”

“You have never struck me as foolish, my lord,” she said. “Perhaps, we could negotiate a truce. At least until you
release your followers from Azkaban and feel more superior.” Her lips curled nastily.

“You are insolent, dragon!!!” hissed Voldemort.

Lucius took his violent reaction as a cue and he went to slap her for her disrespect to his lord. He was self-preserving by nature despite any feeling for the past they may have shared. His slap was incomplete, however when Felicity caught his arm in mid-air, twisted until it snapped and pushed him flying across the room.

She turned tranquilly to Voldemort. Snape still lay crumpled on the floor barely conscious. Lucius was out cold. “A truce, my lord?” she asked sweetly. “I will not help Dumbledore in his fight against you and you will let me keep my promise to him.”

Voldemort’s tongue approached his lip tenderly sliding across the thin membrane. He was so reptilian that even his tongue was thin and split at the tip. She spent a moment being amused that in many ways they were so similar. The difference between them was that she had a soul and he did not. She had a fully human form and he did not. He was a sleaze bucket and she was not.

She picked up Snape awkwardly and dragged him to his feet. He was struggling to retain consciousness and failing miserably. She held him under the arm though his legs were jelly. “My lord,” she said bowing slightly and making herself as humble before him as she could. “May I leave you for now? I swear I will keep my promise. It is the promise of a dragon and binding. I will not help Albus Dumbledore or his Order of the Phoenix.”

The beast merely waved her off disgusted. She would be his eventually, as they all would be.

She reached for the portkey with Snape’s hand in hers. The magic hook gripped their navels dragging them back to Malfoy Manor. Felicity was hoping against hope that Severus wouldn’t die on her.

Narcissa was waiting and stood when they were thrown into the room. Severus moaned and she went to help prop him up.

“Felicity,” she whispered afraid. “Where is my husband?”

“Help me get him out of here, Narcissa,” she hissed. “Your husband will survive. The man is too arrogant to destroy so easily.”

They struggled outside to the street where Felicity lifted her wand for the Knight Bus. She only hoped that Severus could survive the short trip to Grimmauld Place.


*************

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Chapter 10: A Date with Magic
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Chapter Ten

A Date with Magic



The conductor helped her off the bus with Severus now passed out. “Your husband ought to be in bed, missus,” he said shaking his head and getting back onto the stair of the bus. “He’s a sight to behold. He’ll be sleeping that off for a week.” He tipped his conductor’s hat toward her and the bus was gone.

Felicity took out her wand quickly wielding the Feather-light Spell to make the dead weight of the unconscious Snape easier to carry for the two blocks to Grimmauld Place. It was nearly eight o’clock in the evening when she barreled through the door.

“HELP!!” She yelled once in the door.

The portrait started to scream but she had her wand out and was ready for it. “Silencio” she hissed. “Remus, Sirius, help!!” she called again.

Both men came running from the kitchen. Sirius was the first to see them. She stood looking forlorn at the door with

Snape a crumpled black mess hanging from her shoulder.

“What’s happened?” said Sirius urgently.

“Take him to a bed, Sirius. He’s nearly dead,” she commanded handing the feather-lightened Snape onto his shoulder.

He started up the stairs with him. She looked up into Remus’ eyes and without thinking reached for him, her eyes imploring. “You must alert Dumbledore. We’ve just come from Voldemort. Severus may die.” She gulped. His hands were warm, his questioning eyes melting her veneer. The panic she’d been hiding since the meeting with Voldemort was bubbling to the surface. “I must speak with him, immediately.” She wanted to stay connected to Remus, touching his hands in hers, but she let go and turned to run up the stairs after Sirius.

Severus was ashen and cold as ice. She went immediately to work on him.

“He doesn’t look good,” said Sirius. He hated the man, but he looked like hell. “What happened?”

Felicity took out her wand, tipped it standing vertically touching his face, said something unintelligible until blue sparks emerged and hummed about Severus forehead. They snapped and sparkled. Severus began to moan.

“We had a meeting with that snake, Voldemort,” she said to Sirius. “He held Severus with the Cruciatus Curse for over a minute while he blandly went on about nothing. That maniac gets my goat, let me tell you.” She didn’t look up at Sirius as she ranted on about Voldemort as if he was an irritating co-worker. Sirius was awed.

Remus ran in and both men hovered over her watching her work magic that they’d never seen before. She moved her hands over Severus’ torso and face searching him for the sources of pain.

“Voldemort’s no longer even a human,” she continued griping as she worked. “He’s repulsive and his personality has not changed one iota. He’s just as much a maniacal monster as he ever was.” She brought out a string of potion bags from inside her robe. “Get me a pot, quickly,” she ordered while opening up a bag and spreading the contents on the table. Severus moaned again, the dancing blue lights about his forehead seemed to be stimulating him.

Sirius raced back with a pot and watched mesmerized as she lit a fire under it right there on the tabletop. She drew a vile of liquid from her robe and dumped it into the pot. Chanting in a language neither man had ever heard before while she dropped the contents of the bag into the pot. It sizzled. She stirred it and blew into the liquid. A wafting smoke appeared drafting up lazily. She took out a knife and with a short unsure look at both men; she slit the vein of her wrist, the liquid blood pouring into the pot. She quickly sealed the wound with her wand. The liquid in the pot became a lurid orange hue that thickened immediately.

Both Remus and Sirius were transfixed and horrified while they witnessed the blood magic as she quickly worked it. This was a Dark Witch. All that they had been taught, all that they believed in told them that this beautiful young woman was evil, yet she acted as if her magic was medicine. She worked it in a practiced way. She had performed this perversity many times before. They were stunned.

She waited, counting the minutes while the potion cooled, hesitantly looking at Remus, knowing that he was shocked at her. It couldn’t be helped. Severus Snape must live. She reached for the pot and held it to his lips. “Drink this, Severus,” she said stroking his face with her hand. He didn’t waken. She pressed her thumb into each of his closed eyes and snapped her fingers. He instantly came awake. He focused on her, his look suspicious. “Drink this, Severus,” she said again. “Trust me. It’s me, Felicity, Severus trust me. Please live.” Her voice crooned soothingly. He nodded never taking his eyes from her face and drank the potion.

The taste was sweet and Severus drained it. Each sip seemed to envelope him in a warm and fuzzy happiness. For the first time in his life, Severus experienced bliss. He was stunned by it. Finally, he closed his eyes and drifted off into a calm and peaceful sleep.

Felicity looked up at Sirius and Remus hesitantly. “I’m sorry that you had to see that,” she said quietly. She lowered her gaze not wanting to see their shocked looks. “I had to. He was going to die. It’s a miracle that he didn’t.” She looked away with tears in her eyes. They both looked at her dumbfounded.

Albus Dumbledore, who had been standing in the room for some minutes quietly watching Felicity save Severus’ life stepped forward and put his hand on her shoulder. “You had to do it, Felicity,” he said kindly. “You would not be dragon, otherwise.” She looked up gratefully. “Master Tong is right to be so proud of you, my dear.” She wiped her tears and stood.

Remus sat on the edge of the bed with his head in his hands. Sirius stood watching Felicity with an unreadable look.

She turned to Dumbledore who smiled indulgently at her. “We were called to Voldemort tonight, sir,” she said urgently. “He is not weakened by his change or his banishment.

He is still as powerful as ever. It was all I could do to pretend otherwise. He nearly killed Severus just to make an example of his power to me.” She bit her lip, frustrated and angry again. “I swore to him that I would not help you or the Order of the Phoenix. I gave him a dragon’s word.” She smiled slyly. “Which means nothing, but I was banking on him thinking I was honorable.”

Dumbledore put his hands on her shoulders. “It’s all right, Felicity,” he said soothingly. “You did what you had to. Professor Snape will live.”

She started to cry and he hugged her like a daughter, stroking her head. “He’s just as evil, sir,” she whispered into his long beard that hung down his chest. “I would never have made it out of that room but for my dragon.” She whimpered and held onto to Albus. “He must be stopped before he grows even stronger. He must be stopped.”

“We will do all we can, Felicity,” he said. “Stay here to watch over him until just before dawn and return to the castle. I will make excuses for his absence tomorrow, but you must teach your classes. Dolores Umbridge must not suspect.” There was an edge to Albus’ voice. He felt for those who suffered the wrath of Tom Riddle, his creation of evil, his Voldemort. Dumbledore’s heart was strong, his will made of steel, but it bent for those such as Felicity,

Severus and the others who gave so much of their lives to stop the madman. He looked to Remus. “Take her downstairs, if you would, Remus?” he asked.

Remus stood, his face a cacophony of conflicting emotions as Felicity looked up at him. Albus pushed her toward him and Remus held her shoulders guiding her to the door. “Hot chocolate, I should think, Remus,” called Dumbledore after them. “Chocolate solves so many worries and fears.”

He settled his eyes on Sirius who had not moved and stood frozen. “Be careful, this evening,” said Dumbledore to him. “The Madame Inquisitor has become even more obstructive. She will be watching the hearths.” His blue eyes fixed on Sirius over his half-moon spectacles. “Be aware of the danger when you speak with Harry.”

If Sirius was shocked that Dumbledore knew that he was planning to talk with Harry by floo that evening, he didn’t show it. He simply nodded and headed for his room to light a fire and wait ‘til the appointed hour.

Albus stood for some minutes watching Severus lying peacefully. Something would have to be done. He was of two minds on the subject and hoped that waiting for what had been prophesized to happen was the best course. So many lives could be lost before the future became the present. It was such a high price to pay. He turned and left the room heading back for his tower.


Felicity sat dejected by the fire in the kitchen while Remus was busy making the hot chocolate. He didn’t say a word and seemed deep in thought. By the time he returned to her with two cups steaming, she was crying quietly.

“Drink it,” he said kindly. “Healer’s orders.” He sat down close to her. She could feel the comfort of his long and lanky body all along her side. He felt joined to her hip. When he put his arm around her to reassure her she wanted to mold into him and curl up.

“I know what you must think of me,” she said miserably looking at the ground.

He put down his cup, took hers from her hand and pulled her face up to look at him. “I watched you save a man’s life tonight, Felicity,” he said looking deep into her eyes. “You did what you had to do, just as Dumbledore said.”

She knew she shouldn’t do it because she’d only been given permission to intrude into Severus’ mind but she was so seduced by him that she didn’t care anymore what was right or wrong. She stepped into his eyes. There was an unbroken chain that led her in. He had a beautiful soul. She saw pain, remorse and longing inside of him and she drank it up. No words spoken, two magic humans who supposedly had just met. He smoldered down deep, his fire warm with a desire that yearned for her. She felt him pull at her. There was so much connection that she hardly noticed they’d been separate until his lips touched hers and she felt the sudden flutter in her heart. His kiss was warm with a hunger more intense than she could have imagined.

When they parted only by centimeters, Remus smiled into her lips. “It’s hard to believe that I’ve only spoken to you once before,” he whispered so close that she could feel his warm breath caress her.

She didn’t want to move. “It’s the beasts within us that lead us to each other,” she whispered back to him. “It’s very strong.” She pulled away farther from him but he pursued her not wanting her so far from him yet. He kissed her again, this time holding her gently, tightly. He’d been dwelling on kissing her for days. She answered his call, feeling it yawning within her center. She gave herself gladly to his warm and delicious kiss.

When he finally released her, they both looked at each other and laughed at themselves. “I told you that you seemed familiar, Remus,” she said. Her green eyes sparkled at him.

He shook his head in delighted wonder and ran his hand through his long hair before reaching for his cup of cocoa.

“Well, I think after that spontaneous spectacle of my lust, Miss Felicity Wood,” he said grinning happily at her. “That I should get to know you better.” He winked at her and she laughed, sipping her drink. “In fact,” he continued. “I think we should start that date I wrote to you about right here and now. Snape isn’t going to notice you gone.”

He looked at her seriously. “I want to know everything about you, as soon as you can possibly tell me.”

She sipped her cocoa. Chocolate had never tasted so good as it did mixed with his kiss that she still felt on her lips. “It’s a lot,” she laughed. “I’ll bet you’ve guessed that I’m not just any ordinary witch.”

He conceded that with a tip of his head. “So tell me what it means? What is a dragon woman? That I don’t understand,” he asked.

She looked down bashfully. She sadly realized that he didn’t know what she had meant. She wondered if he would be sorry that he’d kissed her, or touched her.

“It happened when I was sixteen,” she began, knowing that she would tell him the whole story. “I went to school in America instead of here. You may have known me long ago if I had stayed at Hogwarts longer than the two weeks that I had been there.”

“You went to Hogwarts for only two weeks?” he asked surprised.

She nodded. “I’d been sorted into Slytherin House and my father, who’s an ambassador for the Ministry had a conniption.” She shook her head at the memory of her father’s anger. “Anyway, when I was sixteen, I was staying the summer with my father here in London. It was when Voldemort was gathering his power and my father was under constant pressures.” She looked painfully into the fire not wanting to look at him. “I had an affair with an older man who was one of my father’s enemies.” She peeked at him. Remus sat serenely listening not wanting to interrupt her.

She was heartened that he wasn’t judging her. “It was stupid but I was headstrong and knew everything, just as all sixteen-year-olds think that they know everything.” She shook her head. “My father took a post in Tibet that summer and dragged me with him to get me out of London.”

“I’ve never been there,” he said, his smooth voice soothing her. “Is it beautiful in the mountains?”

“It’s the only place in the world where you can touch the clouds in the sky, where the mountains take your breath away and the wind carries a song.” She sipped her cocoa and remembered it, her beloved home.

“I was mad at my father for taking me there and angry at the man who let me go.” His look that told her that he would never understand anyone letting her go. She sighed hoping that he might always think it. “One day, when father was busy with the elders in a village we were at, I took my broomstick and flew into the sky as far as I could go.

I’m a reckless flyer and I like to ride fast and high, looping and weaving to make my stomach lurch and swim.” She laughed. Remus was enchanted by her laughter.

“You’re very beautiful, Felicity,” he said, not holding back his feelings. “I already love your laughter.”

She blushed trying to ignore the fluttering inside her. “Should I continue with my life story or should we take a break for a little banter?” she smiled mischievously.

“Banter is nice,” he said pretending to be serious while he slipped his hand onto her knee. He stroked the inside of her knee lightly. “But I’d rather hear your life story. Tell it slowly so I can hear your lovely voice.” He was playing with her. She made him feel excited to be alive.

“Well, “ she began again, hoping he would interrupt her by kissing her. “When I was flying around a small lake, my
dragon spotted me and thought that I was a large bird. She was young as I was young and neither of us knew that it was our fate to meet. She attacked me in the sky, realizing her mistake too late. I defended myself and slit open her underside with a slicing spell from my wand. We both fell from the sky and were mostly dead when they found us.”

Remus put his drink down and sat back with his arm around her shoulder as if he’d always done it. “I don’t know if I’d have been able to down a dragon at sixteen,” he said sincerely. “You must be a top-notch flyer.”

“I used to be pretty good,” she said hesitantly. “But I haven’t bothered mounting a broom in years.” She didn’t finish by saying that she had other means at her disposal to fly.

“So, we were dying the both of us,” she said wanting to just finish her story and take the consequences. “The elders persuaded my father that they could save me. He was desperate but he didn’t understand the price of it. I suspect if he’d have known what it would cost he would have insisted that I die.” She snorted softly indulging the bitterness toward her father. “The magic dragons of Tibet are scarce and my dragon was the first of its kind in a hundred years. The elders didn’t want to lose her. The dragon people are great healers and they will fight death wherever they can. Whatever they can do, they will do.”

Remus was gobsmacked by her story. It was amazing. “So they were able to save you with the help of this dragon?” he asked.

“They were able to save both of us,” she said slowly, making sure that he understood. “There is an elaborate ancient ritual that the dragon people perform when a dragon is near dying, they bond the dragon to an elder wizard or witch so that the dragon’s magic is not lost. The soul of the dragon lives within the soul of the elder. It’s symbiotic. The elders live for centuries. It is mutually binding and permanent. My teacher, Master Tong is three hundred years old.” She reached out and held his hand. He absently moved his fingers within her palm suddenly afraid of what she was telling him. “My dragon and I both wanted to live. We are one and the same.” She looked into his eyes, hoping he understood. “Just like you, Remus. You are a wolf within a man. I am a dragon within a woman.”

She waited while the fact of it sank in. He would comprehend it; she was almost sure, as no other man might.

Remus relaxed in looking into her eyes deep in thought. His life had been a curse until that moment. This woman embraced her dragon, as he had never thought to do with his wolf. He may have been more shocked at the thought if he hadn’t just returned from a village where a whole town was at peace with the wolves within them. “I am amazed that you’ve found me finally, Felicity,” he said, trying to quell his mounting emotion of hope. “Where have you been?” He smiled a crooked smile that she returned with laughter. He was such a brave soul.

“I’ve searched the world over for you, Remus,” she said, her eyes dancing. He had accepted her. The door was open for so many other possibilities that she shivered with glee.

“I suggest for our next date, dear,” said Remus soberly. “That we forego all that build-up of saving a man’s life after facing down Voldemort. I suggest that I just take you to Diagon Alley and perhaps buy you dinner.” He reached out pulling her face to him.

Sirius came in from upstairs. “I just talked to Harry,” he said a little frantically. He stopped dead in the middle of the kitchen and took in their cuddling posture in the corner of the room. “At it like bunnies already, then, I take it?” He smiled a wicked smile.

They both sniggered. Remus threw a rag at him.

“I’ve just spoken to Harry,” he said grabbing a glass and drawing a butterbeer. He plopped down next to them, strategically ignoring the look that Remus was trying to throw at him to get lost. “She almost caught me.” He was hyped up from the adrenaline of escaping. It was familiar exhilaration from his days of youth.

“Who almost caught you?” asked Felicity with dread.

“Dunno,” he said. “I saw the big fat hand with lurid pink nails reaching out and I got my face out of the fire faster than you can say Gifford Ollerton.

“Dolores Umbridge,” said Felicity with chagrin. “That woman’s got it in for Harry, for Dumbledore, for me, everyone. She’s a menace.”

“Harry can handle her,” Sirius said now all confident. “They’ve started up a Dark Arts Defense League.” He smiled proudly.

“Did you give them Molly’s message?” Remus was struck by the absurdity of Sirius giving such a warning on Molly’s behalf.

“I did and they ignored it as well they should.” He looked at Felicity smiling wickedly again. “So, you like Remus, do you?”

“Do I need your approval, sir?” she asked sarcastically.

“It depends how long we’ve got to put up with Snivellus upstairs in the bedroom. When he wakes up, he’ll not be pleasant.” Remus and Sirius exchanged knowing glances.

“I know you don’t get along with him, Sirius,” said Felicity seriously. Her face set in Slytherin stone. “But you mustn’t hurt him. I’ve sworn to Dumbledore that I’ll protect him from harm.” She smiled smugly at him. “I’d hate to have to eat you.”

Remus looked up at her with alarm.

She pretended she hadn’t noticed.


*******************



Please leave a review! Pru Prior


See: HP/OotP pg. 370-375 for Sirius’ conversation with Harry by floo.



Chapter 11: Heart of a Dragon
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Chapter Eleven

Heart of a Dragon



Felicity had left Grimmauld Place in the early morning hours. She’d only gotten a little sleep, having talked with Sirius and Remus for most of the evening. While Severus slept in his healing sleep above them, the two marauders had painted a picture of their past, their friendship and their loyalty to each other. It was heart wrenching to hear of the loss of their great friends. So many had died in the first war with Voldermort. Her heart hardened still further toward the monster as they related the story of poor little Harry, the boy-that-lived whose parents had been betrayed by their own friend. She had heard some of the story before but hearing the whole truth of it from them broke her heart.

She softened toward Sirius. His soul was so damaged by the betrayal of Peter Pettigrew and the loss of his friends. His years in Azkaban were unbelievable. It was amazing the man was even sane.

When their evening of talk had ended and she rose to go, she found it hard to leave the two marauders. They were the only ones left standing in a world full of dead friends. It was tragic. She kissed Sirius good-bye, hugging him as if she’d known him all her life. She was so moved by his story.

Remus walked with her the two blocks she needed to walk before apparating to the gates of Hogwarts. The streets ofLondon were largely quiet and a misty rain fell making the streets shine under the still dark sky.

“I’ll not be here when you return tomorrow night to take care of Snape,” said Remus, stopping and holding her close to him. He kissed forehead. “I have the watch at the Malfoy’s.” He caressed her back and leaned over her kissing her cheek. “I’m so glad you’ve found me, my dear,” he whispered. He moved his face along her skin until he found her lips. She felt a surge of desire in his kiss. The taste of him seemed endless.

She had never before known someone so hard to leave and they stood longer than they should have in the street for two people who were supposed to be inconspicuous. “Wake me when you get in,” she said breathless. “Severus will be needing care for a few more days.” She walked backwards from him still holding his hand, dropping it reluctantly to apparate to the gates of Hogwarts.


*********



She was exhausted. She had faced Voldemort, performed blood magic and stayed up through the night. When in her rooms, she transformed into her dragon self and crawled into bed for the few more hours of sleep she would be allowed. She sat at the teacher’s table later that morning numbly trying to pound down cups of coffee to wake up.

She never even noticed the pink bully sneak up on her from behind.

“Professor Wood,” said Dolores Umbridge sitting down beside her. “We missed you at dinner last evening.” Her bulbous eyes widened and the placid smile she always wore looked evil. “I went to your rooms and you weren’t there.”

“I had a family emergency,” Felicity lied. “I don’t know if you know it, Dolores, but my father is an ambassador in the Ministry and he asked be to do something in London for him.” She smiled sweetly as Dolores wrote on her clipboard.

“What’s his name?” she asked, her quill poised to write the offending father’s name.

“Roland Wood.”

Dolores hadn’t seen that coming. “Roland Wood is YOUR father?” Felicity’s dad was a very powerful man in the Ministry. Even Cornelius Fudge consulted with him for political advice.

The Madame Inquisitor looked suspiciously at her for a few moments. “Well, then you should be well aware of the
ramifications, Miss Wood of your fraternizing with a known werewolf!”

Felicity looked at her blankly. “I beg your pardon?” she asked incredulously.

“You are seeing, socially, that is, a known werewolf!” said Dolores with triumph.

“Remus Lupin is a werewolf.” She said the word with such loathing and hatred that Felicity was very tempted to drop her veneer of innocence and use an unforgivable on the woman. She could use the Tibetan killing curse that would surely mean a slow and cruel death that the Ministry could never trace. She considered these options as she wore a surprised look on her face.

“Why I never imagined,” she said slowly as if it were the first she’d heard it. “That’s bad isn’t it? I mean that’s why you’re telling me that Remus Lupin is a werewolf, because it’s considered bad, correct?” She looked at the woman with as blank a face as she could muster.

“He’s NOT human, Professor Wood,” said Dolores viciously. “They should lock up all the half-breeds in Azkaban!!!”

The woman really seemed to have an ax to grind when it came to mixes of blood. Felicity wondered what would happen if she changed into her dragon self, picked up the pink toad and dropped her off the nearest cliff.

“Gracious me,” said Felicity sweetly. “And to think that I was going to meet him in Hogsmeade on Saturday. Good thing that I had to cancel to go into London for my father this weekend.”

She smiled at the apple-faced amphibian.

“Thank you, so much for letting me know. Though, truly Ms. Umbridge, it’s very strange that you even KNEW about my meeting with Mr. Lupin. If I didn’t know it was against the rules, I would suspect that you’d read my private mail.”

She got up to leave without another word to begin her first class.


Felicity thought she would go numb by her last class of the day. It was exceedingly boring having to teach the Ancient Runes in the standard ‘Ministry Approved’ version.

“I’d like two lengths of parchment discussing the ramifications of the Norse Elder Futhark’s developments in dialect and magic content with special attention placed on the runes Wunjoand Hegall. I will mark down… Mr. Nott, are listening?”

The Slytherin troublemaker was giggling with a Ravenclaw, who frankly should have been placed in Hufflepuff for all the attention that she paid in class. “Yes, Professor Wood?”

“I want it clear to you especially, Mr. Nott after your last very mediocre attempt at Skuld and Freyja that I will mark down for long passages of descriptions that are not referenced. I want research from you this time, Mr. Nott.

“Yes, m’am,” he said grudgingly.

She stood glaring at him. For a young man from her house he was certainly an irritant. “Class dismissed,” she said not taking her eyes off him.

Hermione Granger came up to her as the class was shuffling out the door moaning about the amount of work that they’ been given over a weekend. She smiled sweetly at the girl. “Hermione, dear,” she said, “how are you?”

“I’m fine, thanks,” said Hermione hesitantly. “I was wondering, Professor Wood if you could give me a little extra reading in the magic languages that you introduced at the beginning of term?” Hermione chewed on her lip hoping she hadn’t offended her Professor.

“You poor dear,” said Felicity sympathetically. “It’s tedious and boring isn’t it? I can hardly keep my eyes open to teach the stuff and nonsense that I’m sure you know by heart already.” She put her arm around Hermione’s shoulder.

“Walk with me to the dungeons, dear. Why don’t you help me gather some things for my trip to London tonight? We’ll talk about what to do to fill that lovely mind of yours.” She guided Hermione out the door.

“It’s just that it seemed so interesting, Professor,” said Hermione apologetically. “I was stunned when Crookshanks came that first day of class.”

“I know, I know,” said Felicity as they walked down the stair toward her quarters. “I assure you, my dear that I’m a much better teacher than they’ve allowed me to be.” She opened the door to her rooms by flourishing a design in green light on the door. Hermione stood transfixed.

“What was that, Professor?” she asked as they walked into the room. “That symbol you used to open the door.” Felicity closed the door behind them. She gazed at Hermione gauging how much she should say. It was so unfair to keep knowledge from such a mind. “Hermione, my dear, you are a very smart young witch,” she said frankly. “There are those in this school that spend their time spying on others instead of teaching the young minds that they are meant to teach. I lock my doors with my own design of spells to keep out prying eyes.” She winked at her. “You are well read and you seem to understand everything put before you. Keep your mind and heart open, my dear, to the magic in the world. What you learn at this school will not be the only power that it is possible to learn. Seek out the different and discover your strengths.” She wanted to laugh at the look of joy on Hermione’s face. She loved learning, this one. Hermione would be a very strong witch someday. “My personal library is along that wall.” She pointed to a wall of over a thousand volumes. “Take most anything you wish, but make sure that you hide them from meddlesome eyes and I must insist that you return them before end of term.”

“Thank you, professor,” said Hermione enthusiastically rushing to look at the books.

Felicity took out her carpetbag and with her wand started packing for her trip. She packed the urn for Severus’ potion and several bags and vials of ingredients. She rustled through her robes and drew out a special kimono of the finest green and turquoise silk and slipped it on.

Hermione let out a small gasp from the far corner of the room. “What?” asked Felicity turning around, “Do you think this robe is too much for town?” But Hermione wasn’t looking at Felicity. She was looking at her books on changing human forms into beasts. “Those are probably not the best ones for you, Hermione dear. I’m not sure Headmaster Dumbledore would approve of your reading those.”

But Hermione wasn’t listening. She was reading off the titles. Dragons in Dragon land: the world of the Dragon people of Tibet by Alistair Motley; Blood of Dragons and other Simpler Spells for Modern Use by Helmut Shrewsbury; The Twelve Uses of Dragon’s Blood by Albus Dumbledore. “Your collection on dragon’s blood magic and animagus’ is amazing, Professor,” she said admiringly.

“Yes, but let’s keep it our little secret, my dear,” she said. She grabbed her texts on Ancient Sanskrit and Cuneiform magic and handed them to her. “Start small and build up. I must be off, Hermione.” She grabbed her bag and hustled the young woman toward the door. “I’ve a date with a werewolf this evening.” She laughed at Hermione’s shocked expression as she ushered the girl out the door. If she hurried she might be able to avoid any run-ins with the pink cow before she left the grounds.


*********



When Felicity peeked through the door at Grimmauld Place, the house was quiet as a tomb. She called out for Sirius, whom she knew was not allowed to leave the house but he was nowhere to be seen. She stepped up the stairs to where she’d left Severus asleep in bed. He had not moved. He laid still, his long raptor nose pointed to the ceiling, his eyes closed. She stood over him. When he found out how she had saved his life she was absolutely sure that he would strangle her.

She set to work making the potion again. When it was done, she again formed the blue sparks on his forehead to stimulate his brain, pressed her thumbs into his eyes and snapped her fingers.

“Severus, Severus,” she said smiling into his eyes wide open. “Wake up, dear. It’s time to drink your potion again.”

He looked at her uncomprehendingly for a few seconds and then recognized her face. “Felicity,” he said in a harsh whisper. “I had the most wonderful dream of you.” He smiled. She’d never seen him really smile. He wasn’t bad looking when he wasn’t frowning and glaring. “You were a dragon, Felicity. A beautiful green and gold dragon and I rode into the sky on your back.” He laughed at the absurdity. “Can you imagine it? It was quite exhilarating.”

She put the potion up to his lips. “I promise that if you promise me to live, my dear Severus,” she told him. “I will take you into the sky and give you the ride of your life.” He smiled at her and drank the potion happily letting the euphoria fill him up again. He fell again into a deep sleep. She stroked his cheek and sighed. When he was finally asleep, she kissed his forehead.

“That was a pretty picture,” said Sirius harshly from the door. “Burning the candle at both ends, are we, Felicity?”

His tone was self-righteous and bitter.

She sighed. She put a cover over Severus who was dreaming happily. “You judge him so harshly, Sirius and for what?”

She looked at him imploringly. “He had a miserable childhood and so did you. You have more in common with each other than either of you will ever admit.” She smiled at his hardened face as she walked to him. “Come on, black dog,” she said. His expression was still wary of her. “Let’s have some chocolate and tell more stories of our lives so that you might understand me. I am not your enemy.” She held out her hand to him.

“Women like you just confuse me,” he said taking her hand, relenting.

“Don’t forget, Sirius,” she said kindly. “I’m not just a woman. I’m a dragon woman.”

“You’re still confusing as hell, dragon or not,” he said.

She laughed happily and he smiled. Felicity had magic laughter that was infectious and mood changing. “Believe me when I tell you, Sirius that I confuse a lot of people. Didn’t you know that dragons are seductive as well as strong? It’s a winning combination. I can drive men wild.” She mussed up his hair and put her arm through his as they walked out the door. She laughed at the look of seduced wonder on his face.


*********



Later that evening, Felicity checked on Snape to make sure his breathing was regular and he was calmly sleeping. She was so shattered by the last two days events and her lack of sleep that she crawled into bed next to him. He would never know. She curled up alongside him and put her hand on his heart to make sure it was still beating in his chest and drifted off into a deep sleep.

Remus came in at three o’clock in the morning. He stood at the door of the room watching Felicity sleeping in the bed next to Snape. She looked so young and vulnerable next to the severe potions professor. A jealous hatred reared its ugly head and for a few minutes Remus raged with the need to hurt someone. He got a hold of his anger quickly and was in fact, amazed that he was capable of such jealousy. He shook himself to calm down.

He sat down next to Felicity on the bed. She was coiled up with Snape, who was lying on his back snoring away.

Gently Remus reached for Felicity’s hand on Snape’s chest and held it toward him as he whispered to her. “Felicity,” he called to her. “Felicity, wake up.”

She turned to his voice, still sound asleep.

“Felicity,” he whispered into her ear, kissing it tenderly.

“Remus,” she said without opening her eyes. She was still dreaming.

He kissed her cheek, her chin, and her lips. “Felicity,” he said louder. “Wake up, darling.”

She opened her eyes and smiled. “Remus, I was just dreaming of you.”

To his delight she reached up sleepily to touch his face.

“Come with me, dear,” he said to her. He pulled on her arms softly trying to encourage her out of bed.

“But I’m so tired, Remus,” she moaned. “You come to me.” She reached up to him.

The absurd vision of the three of them in bed together was too much for Remus, however and he finally persuaded Felicity onto her feet. She was barely awake as he led her down the hall to his room and tenderly tucked her into his bed. She fell instantly back to sleep.

He undressed and climbed into bed with her. She cuddled up next to him, still sleeping and he kissed her lovely face as he held her in his arms. He stayed awake listening to her breathing for a long time. He formed as much of his body as he could next to her, touching her, caressing her, wildly happy to have her near him. This was certainly heaven he thought as he finally dropped off to sleep thinking only of his dragon woman.


*********



The next morning Sirius was up late. He wandered into an empty kitchen. Usually Remus was up before him but he’d had the Malfoy watch so he was bound to be sleeping late. Kreacher, the house elf crawled from his hole and bowed to him.

“Fix me some breakfast and I want some very strong coffee,” he said harshly to the little twerp.

Kreacher mumbled meanly under his breath but Sirius forbade him from saying another word so he wouldn’t have to listen his foul comments spoken under his breath. It had already inspired him to be in a bad mood having to see the elf’s face first thing in the morning.

He was finished with breakfast and on his second cup of coffee reading The Daily Prophet when Remus and Felicity came literally dancing together though the door. They waltzed around the room gaily and then Felicity sat down next to Sirius while Remus went to get them both coffees.

“Isn’t it a lovely day, Sirius?” said Felicity joyously. She kissed him on the cheek. He looked at her surprised.

“At it like bunnies again, have we been, you two?” he said disgusted but smiling. “Must I be subjected to all this romantic drivel whenever you’re around, Felicity?”

She laughed at him. “I’m sorry, Sirius. Blame Remus, he’s the one that persuaded me out of bed with Severus last night. I was asleep.”

“Until this morning, my dear,” said Remus bending over to kiss her on the neck.

“Gor!!!” protested Sirius. “Don’t torture me with this kissy love stuff.” He moved the paper in front of his face.

Remus punched it playfully and sat down next to Felicity. They could hardly keep their hands off each other.

Sirius was getting agitated and frankly more than a little jealous. “So how long will we be subjected to the corpse of Snivellus upstairs, Ms. Dragon Woman?” he asked spitefully wanting to throw a wedge between them. Felicity grimaced at him. “I’m giving him another potion this afternoon,” she said. “I want him out like a light
while Remus and I go to Diagon Alley tonight. When he wakes up and finds out what I’ve done to him, he’s going to throw a hissy fit.” She looked at their questioning faces. “You’ll have to protect me until I calm him down.”

Remus was concerned. “What are you talking about, Felicity? You saved the man’s life. He’ll be grateful, of course.”

“That’s not necessarily true,” said Sirius quietly. “There was the time that James saved his life and he never forgave him. He’s a revengeful bastard.”

Felicity looked to them to explain.

“Sirius tried to kill Snape when we were at school,” said Remus to her.

“I never thought the berk would actually go to the whomping willow.”

“I was in my werewolf state and this idiot thought it would be a fun prank to lure Snape to me. James stopped him and saved his life. Snape was pretty bitter about it. In fact, he still is. It’s one of the reasons, I think that he hates Harry so much.”

Felicity looked shocked at Sirius. “Well, I’m certainly glad that I never attended Hogwarts to witness you Marauders
in action, then,” she said disgusted. “No wonder he loathes you.” She shook her head. “He’s going to look at what I’ve done as far worse than that, I think, though.”

Remus and Sirius both looked surprised.

“I have the heart of a dragon,” she said sadly. “There’s a reason that blood magic is forbidden in most of the
wizarding world and is considered Dark Magic. By saving Severus’ life the way that I did, I’ve bound him to me.

Remus didn’t like the sound of that. “What do you mean bound him to you?” he asked with dread.

She couldn’t look into his eyes. She probably should have told him before they’d made love that morning. Sometimes
she just didn’t think things through far enough. Master Tong was always on at her about being careful with another’s
soul. The responsibilities of the dragon people were immense. “It’s what Voldemort does when he marks his Death
Eaters,” she said looking down at the table. “My blood magic is stronger than his. I have the heart of the dragon
and dragon’s blood has magic even beyond his power. It’s older than human magic. Severus can never be rid of me. We
are bound for life. He must come to me if I call to him. Whenever he is in pain I will know it. Whatever he does or
wherever he goes I will be able to find him. He is mine.” She looked hesitantly up to their horrified faces. “It’s
why Voldemort pretended to try to kill him but didn’t quite finish the job. That’s why I needed to tell Albus
Dumbledore. I’m sure that Voldemort knew that I would do the blood binding to save Severus and now he thinks that he
will eventually get at me through hurting him.” She tried to keep the tears from her eyes. “He wants me enslaved to
him because he thinks that with me I will kill you all.”

Sirius face went ashen. “Could you kill us all if he bends you to his will, Felicity?”

She nodded sadly. “There is nothing that you have seen like one of the dragon people at war,” she said miserably. “I would be a weapon. A dragon’s skin is almost invincible to killing spells when we are armored. We fight with magic fire. We are both dragon and wizard. Voldemort could kill me and certainly Dumbledore, but not many other wizards could.” She looked away to the fire in the hearth. “I will kill Severus and myself before I would ever let

Voldermort bind me to him, however.” She looked to Remus whose eyes met hers with love. “I will never be servant and
slave to Voldemort.”

It was many minutes before any of them spoke.


*********

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Chapter 12: Awakenings
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Chapter Twelve

Awakenings



By mid-day on Sunday it was time to awaken Snape. Albus Dumbledore was there in the kitchen at Grimmauld Place with Felicity, Sirius and Remus waiting for the appointed time. Felicity was thankful for Dumbledore’s presence. The last thing Snape needed was to see Sirius or Remus as soon as he awoke. A wizard’s war might break out. As it was, Felicity was still afraid of Snape’s anger when he found out how she’d saved his life and what it meant. Albus Dumbledore had promised to help her calm him when he got upset. She was sure that Severus Snape would not be happy being bound to her.

“I think that it’s time, my dear,” said Dumbledore kindly. He set down his mint chocolate delight drink and rose.

Felicity was sitting next to Remus. The two had been inseparable for almost three days. Remus was playing absently with her braid and wanting very much to go upstairs with her. He'd not forgotten what it did to him to see her lying in bed with Severus Snape. He was jealous of the man and didn’t like the fact that they now had some sort of life bond. She kissed him on the cheek and rose to follow Dumbledore out of the room.

Felicity felt doomed.

Upstairs, Severus was restlessly sleeping. Instead of lying on his back as he had for three days, he was on his side. It was time to wake him. Felicity did the same ritual of her thumbs to his eyelids with a snap of her fingers and he was awake.

“Severus, it’s me, Felicity,” she said soothingly. “It’s time for you to wake up. We think you’re well enough now.”

He smiled at first, as he had done for three days. She thought she’d miss his smile. “Felicity,” he said dreamily.

“I feel so much better.” He looked to Dumbledore and there was an obvious physical change as the old Snape reared his considerably more sober head. “Headmaster! The Dark Lord nearly killed me this time.”

“Yes, I know,” said Dumbledore kindly. “Felicity saved your life. She brought you to Grimmauld Place where she’s tended you for three days. We almost lost you.” He tried with the tone of his voice to convey to him the loss that would be felt were they to lose him, but Severus sat mute and stone faced.

He surprised that he was alive. He looked to Felicity, at first with his usual steely stare but something inside him had changed toward her. There were memories that were surely dreams. He'd flown on her dragon’s back, she had slept peacefully in his arms, and she had kissed him. Severus was puzzled by the warmth of feeling and sat perplexed.

Felicity looked to Dumbledore for strength. He made movements with his hands to encourage her to tell Severus the truth. She looked into Snape’s puzzled expectant eyes. “Voldemort brought you to near death because of me, Severus,” she said. “He thought that by threatening me with killing you, I would follow him, but when that didn’t work he nearly killed you because he knew I would do anything to save you.”

Suspicion clouded his eyes. He glared at Dumbledore. He sneered at her. “What did you do to me, Felicity?” he demanded.

“The blood magic was the only thing that would save you.”

Severus, having had the ambition to be the Dark Arts Defense Professor at Hogwarts for fourteen years, knew something of what she was talking about. “Is it binding?” His voice was icy.

“Because I'm a dragon woman and the dragon blood runs in my veins, you are bound to me for life. Wherever you go, whatever you do or whatever I want you to do you must do,” she said. Her throat was dry from nerves. She was sure he would explode on her. “But please know that I'm not Voldemort or a perversion, Severus. I have long years of training as a dragon. We are healers and sworn to serve and protect. I will not fail you in this bond. I am not evil. I am not your enemy. I will always honor you and be your friend.” She bowed her head to him in respect. Tears welled into her eyes. She could feel him wrestling with his emotions but was afraid to intrude on his mind.

He sat watching her, calculating his options, clicking off the good and bad points, and tallying his assets. He would be tied to this beautiful and powerful woman who the Dark Lord wanted to enslave. She had saved his life but the price had been very high. He was not only bound to the Dark Lord but now she, as well. Others imprisoned him and his freedom was gone forever. He smoldered beneath the yoke he’d been forced to bear again and again.

The recognition of the irony of his lot in life saved him the trouble of anger. Truly, with the way his luck was going, being tied to her for life would most likely mean only that they’d both be dead by the New Year. He looked to Dumbledore, who was watching him over his spectacles with an indulgent look on his face. No doubt, both he and Felicity were listening to his thoughts. He would never have a private moment again, it would seem.

“Thank you, for my life, Felicity,” he said diplomatically. “Though my life may still be over soon depending on the Dark Lord’s whims by next week. I do rather enjoy breathing.” He said no more. He would not give them the satisfaction of being angry. In truth, he wasn’t angry, merely stunned.

“Severus,” said Felicity. “I will not fail you.”

“See that you don’t,” he said pompously. “The Dark Lord is enough of a madman pulling my strings. With you in the mix, I’ll feel that I’m a frigging puppet.” He smirked at her. He knew it would make her feel better to think him unimpressed.

“Well, then,” said Dumbledore satisfied that Professor Snape was not going to explode. “Can you walk, do you think? We’ve got to be back to Hogwarts within the hour.”

Felicity stood up to help him out of bed but he slapped her hands away. “I’m perfectly capable,” he said nastily. He put his legs to the floor, testing his weight. She handed him his robes. He had been dressed while a bed in his black undershirt. He gave her a calculating look. “We are bound for life?”

She nodded.

He put on his robes never taking his eyes from her face. “I suppose that you’ll still be pestering me constantly with your silly thoughts and worries, as you’ve done the last month?”

She nodded and looked into his emotionless stare.

“So nothing much has changed then, has it?” he smirked and raised an eyebrow in mock distain. He was really rather pleased with his whole control over the situation. She seemed suitably humble and guilty, as she should be. And, indeed, he did feel very much better.

She smirked back at him.

“Stop that!” he glared at her harder. She was listening to his thoughts again. She was a sneak.

She laughed at him and he had to hold back from his first inclination to smile at her. Her damned laugh was so appealing.

“Dumbledore is watching us, Professor,” she said gaily, knowing he’d forgiven her. “He’s waiting for you.” She looked over at the Headmaster, who was trying mightily not to laugh out loud.

Snape glared at both of them and walked to the door where stood Remus having been unable to bear Felicity away from him and with Snape. He got glared at, as well. “I suppose you were here to witness the whole silly saga, Lupin?”

“I was,” said Lupin looking toward Felicity. Unlike Snape, he wore his emotions on his face. His intimacy and longing for her was palpable.

“I imagine that it was quite the opportunity for you,” said Severus meanly. He looked back a Felicity with a dry withering glance.

“We need to go now,” said Dumbledore coming up behind him and pushing, ever so slightly the Potions Professor past Lupin and down the stairs before he hexed someone or someone hexed him.

When Snape and Dumbledore were gone, Felicity and Remus stood looking at each other across the room from one another. “You couldn’t resist coming to my rescue could you, Remus?” she asked smiling seductively and flipping her braid in her fingers.

They felt mutually pulled together, somehow covering the distance between them without effort. “No, I couldn’t help it,” he said hugging her, kissing her. “I can’t stand the fact that you’re now tied to that man. Of all the men in the world, Severus Snape would be my last choice.”

She held him back from kissing her and looked seriously into his eyes. “You mustn’t be jealous, Remus,” she said with severity. “Jealousy and hatred are soul destroyers. He's not you and will never be you, but I'm bound to him and he is and will always be my friend.” She let him kiss her again because she couldn’t resist his magnetism any longer. He made her knees buckle whenever he was near.

It was even harder when she had to disapparate a few hours later to go back to Hogwarts. She’d spent three days in his arms and had no idea when they’d be able to see each other again. There was no question that she would not be able to meet with him in Hogsmeade, for the pink troglodytes’ spies could be anywhere. He couldn’t even write to her or use the floo network because she would find out about them. Dumbledore had forbid her from endangering her position. He needed her at the school to watch over the students. The school term was in full swing and the holidays seemed a long way off. Remus Lupin seemed so far away from her and she longed for him.



Things returned to the mundane at the school. She secretly watched Harry Potter and his friends as they skirted around school furtively putting together their little Defense Against the Dark Arts club. She didn’t know the particulars, but she could tell that the small band of brethren in Gryffindor House were feeling better shielded in their solidarity under Dolores Umbridge’s reign of terror within the school. She envied them that.

Felicity was dying to escape to London for a weekend to see Remus but the pink idiot seemed to constantly be watching everyone suspiciously. Any student or teacher that moved a toe from the Ministry’s line was reprimanded or bullied. There was a siege mentality throughout the school, especially amongst the teachers. All the Professors had taken to Headmaster Dumbledore’s office to complain one by one. He refused to do anything about her. Felicity just could not understand his reasoning, but he seemed to feel that her presence was needed as a distraction for the Ministry while they were guarding whatever it was that they were guarding from Voldemort.

She and Severus fell back into their previous routine. She persuaded him to let her seal the Dark Mark from Voldemort’s call until the holidays because she was afraid that he couldn’t take another lengthy bout with pain before he fully recovered.

He, in turn, had not been changed a bit by his near death experience and seemed to approach each day with new vigor for the malicious aspects of his nature. He was just as mean and spiteful toward any of the houses other than Slytherin as he’d always been. It was all she could do not to strangle him the way he terrorized the Gryffindor students.

There was a Slytherin vs. Gryffindor Quidditch match in November that Professor McGonagall and Snape seemed to be at a face-off over. To two Professors seemed to be using their rivalry as a distraction from the absurdities that they suffered under the Madame Inquisitor’s constant rules and regulations. The competition between the houses was both extreme and ridiculous. Despite her relation to Oliver Wood, she had never been a huge Quidditch fan. When Severus seemed to encourage some sort of weird song to intimidate the Gryffindor keeper, Mr. Weasley, she refused to even attend the match in protest. It was too cold and wet to bother, anyway. Quidditch was a silly game.

Everyone else had gone to the match and she wandered around in her rooms for a few minutes before she realized that she was the only teacher not interested in Quidditch. If she hurried, she could apparate from the gates of Hogwarts to Grimmauld Place to be with Remus for a few hours and no one would be the wiser. She hadn’t been allowed to speak to him for nearly a month. Professor Dumbledore had even decided that it was too suspicious for her ever to leave to attend the Order of the Phoenix meetings, as well. She’d felt isolated and alone with only the uncooperative Severus to distract her.

She snuck out the front gate and was two blocks away from Grimmauld Place within minutes. There was a light snow falling in London and the air had that heavy feel of town, so different than the clean air of Scotland. Even though it was barely two in the afternoon, it was already getting darker. She rushed up the steps of the house and let herself inside quickly. There was a stillness about the place, and it was very gloomy in the hall.

Stepping into the kitchen she found Sirius alone. He looked almost unwell and his depression seemed to fill the room. He looked up dully. There was the staleness of beer and smoke in the air and he looked like he hadn’t shaved in several days.

“Sirius,” she said. “Are you all right?” He looked up at her and smiled at first then frowned.

“Felicity, what are you doing here?” he asked standing up.

“I escaped from the Hogwarts prison guard just to see if I could see Remus for an hour or two. I haven’t seen you or he in a month and I’ve missed you.”

Sirius frowned. “Me? No one misses me,” he said sullenly sitting down.

She rushed to his side, sitting close to him and taking his face in her hands. “Sirius, is it that bad here?” she asked. “Are you trapped in a sunless place with no hope of recovery?”

“How did you know?” he asked defeated. “Is it that obvious? Mundungus Fletcher just left and I’ve been drinking beer and smelling his smoke for hours. Felicity, I want so much to run outdoors I could scream!!!” He put his head in his hands, miserable.

“I’m so sorry, Sirius,” she said. “I do know what you mean. I haven’t been able to fly as my dragon since I came to England. I’m not allowed to change out of doors. Dumbledore has forbidden it. It’s like a prison.”

He looked at her sad face, a reflection of his own. “Yes, Felicity, a prison,” he whispered. He kissed her forehead. “Remus is upstairs,” he said with a half smile. “You’ve come at the full moon, though Felicity. He’s already taken his wolfsbane potion and is probably half asleep.”

“May I go up and see him?” She was so excited to see Remus she didn’t care what state he was in.

Sirius smiled enviously and nodded.

She crept into the Lupin’s darkened room. He was asleep in the bed, naked in anticipation of his change. She stood admiring him awhile then sitting down next to him on the bed, she stroked his shoulder. “Remus, can you hear me?” she whispered in his ear. “It’s Felicity.”

He opened his eyes still in a groggy sleep. “Ah, Felicity, am I dreaming?” She kissed him. “What are you doing here?”

“Aren’t you glad to see me?” She cocked her head; his head was too heavy with the potion to leave the pillow.

“It’s the full moon,” he stumbled. “My change is only hours away.” He frowned. “I’ve missed you.” He tried to rise but fell back down to the pillow. “I hate for you to see me like this, you should leave.” He was miserable.

She stood up and started removing her robe. She laid out her clothes across a chair at the far corner of the room.

He watched dreamily admiring.

“Felicity,” he sighed. “You must leave, even in my changed state I could scratch you.”

She ignored him, smiling mischievously and slipped into bed with him. She wriggled her toes on his legs and wrapped her body around his, kissing him on the nose. He moaned in protest. Even in his semi-conscious state she made his body tingle.

“Felicity, don’t! It would kill me if I hurt you,” he said.

“Silly man,” she said smugly. “I’m a dragon! You can’t hurt me.” She continued kissing him until he ceased thinking of protesting.



Several hours later, Sirius tipped-toed to the door of the room and peeked inside. The moon had long since risen and Felicity hadn’t come back down stairs. He’d begun to worry about her.

The sight that greeted him stunned him. Lupin was in his werewolf state asleep on the floor curled up next to a dragon. Felicity looked up, having heard Sirius at the door. She lifted her long and elegant head and fixed her opalescent eyes on him. Her dragon body was not as gigantic as those he’d seen in Romania; she was more slender and smooth. She was about half the length of the room from head to tail with green and gold scales that shimmered in the soft light. Her wings looked like oversized fairy wings, they were transparent. She stretched them out and flapped the air in greeting. They glittered with her magic. She was magnificent.

He stood watching her for several minutes on the threshold. She was a creature, not human. Moody had been right. There was something not ‘us’ about her. She glittered with a magic dragon’s strength. He was mesmerized and realized that she really did understand his prison, just as he had just then understood himself. We are not entirely human anymore.

His realization evolved within minutes in his psyche as he watched her. He remembered the years of trying to become an animagus, the reality that their animal selves were from within each of their very natures, and most difficult to comprehend, that they each had become the animal that they were, apart from their human selves.

Apart.

He remembered all those years that he’d spent in Azkaban as a bloody dog in order to survive the torment of the Dementors, as well as the insanity of grief and of revenge that had devastated his world and it struck him as epiphany. He was Padfoot the dog almost more than the human that he also was. He missed himself as the dog almost as much as he missed his human self. The prison of this house had kept them both from him and he was but a shadow of whom he had been before the war, before the deaths of his beloved friends and before prison.

Felicity let out roar of welcome to Sirius, not sure if he would recognize it as friendly. Her eyesight was very different in her dragon state and she couldn’t quite read his mood.

She had called to him and his heart called back. He was drawn to her. His Padfoot yearned to run with her. He missed the werewolf that Remus was, just as he missed Prongs. The tears began to fall from eyes that had not cried in years. He missed James. He missed what they had been. The hope of their youth had been striped from them. She called to him again and he could feel the welcome from her creature eyes. He yearned to run to her.

Then suddenly Sirius became a large black shaggy dog that shook itself and jumped toward her wagging its tail. He moved around her timidly at first until she reached out her slender neck to nudge him gently. He whimpered and hung his muzzle close to hers. She recognized the need of him as he rubbed her. She reached out to him dragon to human dog.

“Shhhhh,” she soothed into his mind. “We are here, Padfoot. We are together.”

His mind whimpered again and she nudged at his interior. She caught only sadness and need from him. His human self hid within the dog. Her heart broke. Sirius was so very damaged. How she wanted to help him, too.

He licked Remus’ muzzle and she understood how much they missed of this part of themselves, as well. Remus’ with the drug in him was not really his werewolf at all. They needed their creatures and didn’t even realize that that was what was missing from their lives.

She whacked Sirius playfully with her tail. He panted, suddenly jittery and expectant. He jumped about lightheartedly trying to get her to play. He barked and Remus let out a feeble answering wolf call. She laughed her dragon laugh at him and smacked Sirius again, lightly. He jumped and pounced on her tail then back again, barking excitedly in anticipation of play.

She got up and lumbered over to Sirius. She wasn’t exactly graceful unless she was flying in the sky. He licked her face. She felt his gratefulness and she tried to show him her love and caring for him by nuzzling him in return. He was such a nice dog. She garbled in her dragon laughter when he barked and tried to nip at her long and slender ear.

He was being a scamp and she lunged at him knocking him off his feet. He was back up and barking excitedly. Remus watched them in a semi-conscious daze. How sad that he couldn’t join them in their fun. He was fully in his wolf form but he was semi-conscious as a man, under the enforced limbo of the wolfsbane. He could only watch.

Felicity and Sirius played with each other until they were tired. Sirius nudged Remus, who had fallen back into a deep sleep. Sirius lay down next to him nose to nose, missing his friend dragged away by the drugged sleep. Felicity lay down on the other side of Remus circling them both with her long body. She draped her glittering wing over them and laid her nose next theirs. As they fell asleep together, Sirius put his muzzle to hers rubbing it tenderly. They were a makeshift family, of sorts, bonded by their need of each other. Sirius and Felicity slept that night with Remus between them, a rumpled lump of magic creatures, just happy to be together. They forgot for one small moment the human world that swirled around menacingly outside.



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Please leave me with what you think. Pru



Chapter 13: Master Dragon
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Chapter Thirteen

Master Dragon




She sat in Dumbledore’s tower room feeling sullen and disobedient. She’d been caught like a naughty child in her acts of escape. She had endangered Dumbledore’s plans by involving the silly pink troll. For a few glorious weeks she’d been escaping Hogwarts to run to her Remus. She was sneaky and cunning as was the dragon way when they want something. But, the irritating Ministry of Magic spy had taken a more avid interest in her after having learned that her father was an important advisor to Cornelius Fudge.

Umbridge had been more closely watching her movements. She had even tried to break into Felicity’s rooms, something that her own personal locking spell had prevented her from succeeding in.

Dolores Umbridge had found out that Felicity was estranged from her father and had not, in fact been leaving the grounds of Hogwarts to work with him but had been doing something else suspiciously nefarious in London. Now the pink slag was determined to find out whom she was meeting with. Albus Dumbledore had deflected her as much as he could without exposing others in the Order of the Phoenix but he warned Felicity that she should cease and desist her reckless behavior.

“I don’t tell you this to forbid you to see Remus Lupin forever, my dear,” said Dumbledore softly.

She sighed, dejected. “I know, sir,” she answered. She had been wrong to risk the others discovery to feed her need to be near him.

“You must remember the reason that I’ve brought you into this, Felicity,” he said. “Professor Snape needs you.”

She nodded her head. She was here to help Severus Snape, to protect him from Voldemort and nothing more. Albus Dumbledore was owed her debt. She was not meant to be in love with Remus Lupin. She was meant to love and care for Severus Snape, the man she had now bound, the man she must save. She had been enlisted to harness his fire, heal his fire that flamed within his soul and that was the purpose she must adhere to. Remus Lupin had distracted her from her mandate. Master Tong would be most displeased with her frivolousness and trivial desires.

“These men are merely humans, my dear,” Dumbledore said. He was studying her. “They cannot understand the ways or the greater purposes of the dragon people. They could be damaged by your ways, if you are not careful. We are talking about their souls, my dear.”

She began to cry softly. Dumbledore got up from behind his great desk to walk over to her. She rose to him, needing his soothing, missing Master Tong, wanting to go home to Tibet. She had been wrong to come to this cold and forbidding island. Loving Remus had been her only source of warmth and a dragon’s soul craves the warmth of earthly desires.

“I know, my dear,” said Dumbledore kindly as he stroked her head and hugged her. “When it is all over you may go home to them in the mountains, I promise you.” She cried softly and then he released her pulling up her chin to search her face. “You are unique, Felicity and you will succeed. I know you will.” He smiled kindly and she nodded her head. “You are all that Master Tong has said you were and much, much more.” He hugged her again and offered her a lemon drop. “Sugar cures all that ails you, my dear,” he said, his eyes twinkling.



It was early evening and she walked slowly back to the dungeons. She would need to meditate and reflect to regain her purpose. She had lost her way in the arms of the wolf and though she ached for him, she knew she must resist his pull. Severus Snape needed her more and he deserved the use of her powers. He was brave and in such terrible danger. He was standing before Voldemort almost alone shielding the Order of the Phoenix with his lies.

Felicity cracked the door of Severus’ office open. As he often did, he sat reading in a pool of light at his desk. She quietly entered.

“Since the blood binding I can feel your presence at the door,” he said without looking up from his book.

“It’s not the blood binding that helps you to sense my presence,” she said. “It’s because you like me.” She laughed. “And you are a powerful wizard, Severus.”

He snorted, as he always did at her gall. “You are the most conceited woman that I think I’ve ever known.” He watched her walking to him. There was a seductive quality about Felicity that he was finding harder and harder to ignore. “Why are you flattering me? What do you want?” He was alert to her as a very charismatic creature and constantly had to remind himself that she was not entirely human.

She stood close to him and reached out her hand brushing a thin tendril of his black hair from his face. “You always have a strand of hair in your face as if you might hide behind it,” she said gently.

Her touch jolted him and he shivered involuntarily. She smiled knowing that she’d affected him and it made him angry. He resented this power she seemed to be gathering over him. “What do you want, Felicity?” he fairly barked the question at her.

“I must check the Dark Mark,” she said now reaching for his arm and touching the mark as Voldemort had done but the effect of her touch was intoxicating whereas his had been revolting.

He tried to concentrate on the memory of the Dark Lord’s horrible touch while she caressed his arm. He tensed his arm and watched her touch him frowning.

“You were caught sneaking out to see him, weren’t you?” he said. He was bitter and though he had no right to feel it, he felt betrayed by her love of the werewolf.

She looked into his black eyes and said nothing, no retort. He wanted so much to be malicious and alienate her and yet he continually failed. She always looked at him imploring him to be with her, to love her. It was driving him insane. He felt such desire for her.

“I’m sorry, Severus, that I’ve failed you.” Her voice was small and quiet. He noticed then that she’d been crying. A small voice of concern and caring rose in him and he almost reached out to her face before he realized what he was doing and stopped himself. He held his breath for a moment to get complete control.

“You haven’t failed me, Dragon. You’ve saved my life.” He raised an eyebrow of distain. “Mind you, if you hadn’t been there in the first place, I most likely wouldn’t have been attacked by the Dark Lord.”

“You called me Dragon,” she said smiling. “Does that mean I am forgiven?”

“It only means that I accept you for what you are.” Her seductiveness was aggravating his peace of mind. He wanted her to both leave him alone and to make love to him.

She bent down and kissed him in that place between the cheek and the lips. He gasped at the intimacy of her light kiss, so close and yet so distance to his lips. Her eyes danced merrily at her power over him. He wanted to voice his protest but then she kissed him on the lips and he had to answer her, had to kiss her. He could not hide his lust for her in the kiss though he tried. It was there on the taste of her mouth to his, the caress of her tongue, and his wanting of her in return. She wasn’t human but a magic creature and yet he wanted her more and more.

He should stab himself and be done with it.

“I will not fail you again,” she whispered so close that he breathed in the musk of her aroma. She smelled exotic. He felt his hands reaching for her, but she broke away from him and walked quickly to the door. He felt a very real and empty void when she’d left him. She turned to look back at him sitting in stunned silence. “I promised to protect you and I will,” she said to him and walked out the door.



Felicity stood naked in the middle of the floor in the dragon’s pose, searching for her center, that balance of she and she. Her palms flat to one another, her legs apart, her body relaxed. She breathed in and out her dragon. The human in her had been too dominant and it was affecting her judgment. Her dragon struggled to be heard within the confining prison of Hogwarts. Her dragon needed to fly and breath the fresh air, feel the wind and be warmed in the sun. Her dragon wanted to wield her fire, to hunt and feel the power of the chase.

The love of Remus by both she and her dragon had sidetracked them from their original mandate to seduce and protect Severus Snape from the evil Voldemort and they had to find their balance to return to it.

As her shape changed back and forth between human and dragon in a rhythmic hypnotic way she reflected on her past and thought longingly of home.

“You will always go back to the source of who you are, Wood,” said the harsh voice of Master Tong. “Wherever you go along the path it will always lead back here. Use it to tether yourself to the mountain when a strong wind threatens you. Come back to us when you feel lost.”

She was lost. Lost in this foreign world of the European wizarding world that she’d been born to but no longer understood. She was dragon and now different. She no longer remembered the she that had been sixteen on her first visit to Tibet so many years before. These humans were so alien to her and she to them in this United Kingdom. Their prejudices and beliefs were so narrow and confining that her dual souls had fled in desperation into the arms of the only other magic creature she had met in a very long time. She and her dragon needed that release, craved the acceptance of her creature self.

“Do not seek for them to understand you,” said Master Tong. “They will never understand the ways of our people. We are not human, are not dragon but something apart.”

Even amongst the dragons, she was different and Master Tong had warned her that she would often be lost and finding her way without them. The older ones would not be able to journey with her to guide her. She would need to remember her cunning and the hard lessons she had learned from them to survive alone amongst the humans.

“You are young, Wood. We don’t remember ever a dragon who was young and a female, as well.” She could picture him as he said it. The craggy wrinkles of his face that had resisted the wind of the mountains for years upon years. Master Tong had lived a man’s life, with a wife and children before he’d taken the soul and heart of his dragon into his own. “The dragon is seductive by nature and you will be of mating age. You must remember to stay on the path and not get distracted by your lusts.” He had laughed at her, the master dragon had laughed at her when he’d said it. “I envy you your life, daughter,” he’d said softly. “You will live long and love many souls before you’re spent. This old dragon envies you that.” His cackling laughter had angered her at the time he’d said it.

She’d been furious with him for thinking her so frivolous. She’d known that she would never stray off the path. She had trained hard and been a good student. Her progress had been better than any of them had expected and she would be strong. She had been taught the healing ways of a dragon witch and she would not be distracted. She would not falter.

Felicity remembered this as she and her dragon melded and meditated, knowing that they’d been foolish and young. Now in the foreign and cold place of this large and hostile island they had been tripped so easily from an important goal that they’d almost lost their way.

We were so naïve they thought as one. They were ridiculous and inexperienced. The Dark Lord might win if they faltered again. Her loves were ridiculous weak points. If Voldemort were to discover them, he would use them to his advantage and conquer her.

But we won’t give him up, they said as one. They would not give up the love of the werewolf.

For more than an hour, Felicity the dragon stood in the melding state of her meditation. The energy of her soul’s entwining fire encircled her and the air danced with the magic of them. The two that were now and forever the one true being reclaimed their bond, the one bond between dragon and human.

Meditating on a plan they thought together and pulled their strengths and weaknesses apart to weave it all back into a self they could both live with. It was their process of meditation and they would do it again and again over the course of their life together. The love between self and self was the greater of her loves.

They were the healer of souls, the makers of magic fire, and would continue to remake their self always. Both the dragon and the human were the one soul and they reveled in the joy of each other, their everlasting union of love for self. They were of one mind when their decision was made and it was the only decision.

They would have them both, these men of their love and lust. In their heart there would be room enough. The men would have no choice. No human could resist the soul’s burning fire of the dragon’s love.



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Chapter 14: Fire Within
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Chapter Fourteen

Fire Within



Professor McGonagall and Felicity whispered together just inside the Transfiguration classroom.

“In the dead of night, my dear,” said Professor McGonagall. “We had to put her off. She’d been watching. She knew somehow that Potter and Weasley were out of bed.”

“She’s a menace, Minerva,” whispered Felicity. “I just don’t understand why Dumbledore puts up with her.”

Minerva nodded her head in nervous agreement. “Those poor wee dears. I dare not imagine if Mr. Weasley were to…” And tear of sympathy ran down her face. “All those children and Molly would be all alone. It’s just awful!”

“It’s almost too much to bear, Minerva.” Felicity’s heart went out to the Weasley family whose father had been attacked by a large snake with magic venom while he was protecting a secret important to the Order. “She must have some sort of spy system in place to have known the children were out of their beds so quickly. I know she watches the floo network and the owl post. I haven’t been able to write to anyone controversial since that time you gave me the letter from Remus. No one is safe with her watching. I do believe she is completely without ethics and unhinged to boot.”

Dolores Umbridge had been livid when the Weasley children with Harry Potter had disappeared just two days before the Christmas break to be with their father who had been recuperating in St. Mungo’s. She’d gone on a little rampage that morning and sent furious letters off to the Ministry.

She was a gathering thunderstorm and wrecked vengeance on anyone and everyone to do with the Potters or Weasleys of the world. Poor Hermione lost fifty points from Gryffindor for frowning at lunch. Seamus Finnegan yet another twenty-five points for raising his hands in the air. All the teachers were avoiding any public places. Everyone yearned for the end of term only a day away when they would be released from Hogwarts hell for the holiday.


That afternoon, after a very tense day of avoiding all contact with the giant pink toad, Felicity went down to her quarters in the dungeon to find Hermione tearfully waiting for her by the door.

“Hermione, honey!” said Felicity observing immediately that Hermione was upset. She hugged the girl. “What’s wrong, dear?”

“I came to return your books,” she said sniffling. The girl looked dejected.

“You come inside. You don’t mind me calling you Hermione in private do you dear?
We’ll have tea and a girl chat, I think. You look as if you could use a friend.”

She sat Hermione down on her settee and pulled the tea table over. Taking out her wand with a tap-tap, she had tea with sandwiches and cookies laid out on a nice linen cloth.

“Now, tell me what’s wrong, dear? How can I help?”

Hermione looked up, her face stained with tears. “I don’t want to go on holiday with my parents. The headmaster told me what happened last night and I want to go to be with Ron and Harry. They need me.”

“I don’t see why that would be a problem, my dear. There’s plenty of room at Grimmauld Place and yes, your men need you, I think.” She smiled pleasantly pouring the girl a cup of tea and handing it to her.

“My men?” asked Hermione, a flabbergasted look on her face. “You know about Grimmauld Place?”

“Yes, dear, I do. I also am a member of the Order.” She fixed a serious expression on her face, though she wanted to laugh at Hermione’s confused look. “You must never talk about it outside in the corridors, dear. Dolores Umbridge has ears out there. My rooms are protected, but you mustn’t let on anywhere else in the castle. You must be wary of her at all times.”

Hermione nodded seriously. “My parents are going skiing at Christmas but considering what’s happened…”

“I think it would be wise for you to go to them, my dear. Mr. Potter is under a great deal of pressure at the moment. I doubt he’s acting rationally. He’ll need your love. And Mr. Weasley, with his father perhaps dying, he will need your love, as well.”

Hermione looked quizzically at her. “T-They’re not my boyfriends or anything, you know,” she said.

“They’re not?” asked Felicity innocently. “But my dear, they should be. They both love and adore you, after all.”

“Both of them?” Hermione’s mouth gaped.

“The heart has room for many loves, my dear,” said Felicity. She appraised Hermione, narrowing her eye. “You’re an intelligent girl. Holding back your love until someone’s asked you for it isn’t enough. The more you love someone and give it freely unasked, the more love comes back to you.” She laughed lightly, the magical sound filling the air. “I will just never comprehend why westerners are so obsessed with the one true love. Why not love them both, I ask you?”

“It would hurt their feelings,” said Hermione seriously.

“Would it? Or is it their pride that it would hurt? There’s a difference, my dear. They both need your love. Why starve the one to save the other?”

“I can be their friend. I am friends with them and they love me for being their friend.” Hermione bit her lip in thought.

Felicity patted her on the knee sympathetically. “You will have to chose one then, my dear. Those young men adore you, trust you and will eventually want more than your friendship from you. Especially that Mr. Weasley. If you’re only up for choosing one, he might be the choice, dear.”

“Ron Weasley is clueless,” said Hermione with perhaps more bitterness than she had wanted to.

“That’s what I meant by not waiting, my dear,” said Felicity. “Don’t wait to be asked. You should go and be with them. Your parents will understand. You must do your duty to your two loves, even if they are only your friends for the moment.” She smiled meaningfully at Hermione’s perplexity. She liked this earnest young lady and felt her to be a kindred spirit. She would have made an excellent dragon.


**********************



Under any other circumstances Severus Snape may not have minded being bound to Felicity Wood for life. She was not, in fact, unpleasant to be around. She had the infuriating habit of commenting on his thoughts as if he’d spoken them out loud but other than that she was fairly intelligent, relatively quiet and really rather beautiful. He lusted after her, it was true, but he could resist her pull. He was a man of great strengths and well used to resisting his passions.

Any other circumstances than the reality that the Dark Lord now planned to use him as a way to enslave her and it would have been a relatively painless relationship.

The werewolf Lupin was a problem he had to admit that. Her love for the werewolf galled him. His jealousy of their relationship drove him crazy. He would like to be rid of that liability constantly taunting him. It was bad enough that Lupin had belonged with that nefarious band of reprobates from his youth, but the fact that she acted simply ridiculous at the mere mention of the creature really made his blood boil.

It was a curiosity that she was a dragon. He was half tempted to ask her to change into her other self just to see it. Especially after she’d allowed him to pilfer a book from her library on the dragon people of Tibet. He’d put it back as if he’d never taken it, but he knew she realized that he’d read it. It was so tiresome that she knew most everything about him, and yet relaxing, as well. He was undecided. The dragon people were quite fascinating and, as he discovered from the book, exceedingly rare. Felicity was most unusual to have been changed into a dragon woman at such a young age. She was entirely unique and deliciously seductive. He had to concede that she was a rare prize.

Severus thought about Felicity as he strode through the corridors toward the Headmaster’s office on the evening in December the before the holiday break. He seemed to have been thinking of her much of his time over the last several weeks and though she had assured him that it wasn’t because of the blood magic that she had performed to save his cursed life, he wasn’t entirely certain that she knew what she was talking about.
He knocked on the outside door to the Headmaster’s tower rooms.

“Come in, Severus,” called the Albus Dumbledore from inside his chambers.
When he entered, he was surprised to see Felicity there. She did not look happy. She looked miserable. “What’s happened, sir?” he asked deducing he was about to share in her misery.

Dumbledore did not immediately answer. “Please sit down, Professor,” he said indicating the chair next to Felicity. It could only be more bad news, he braced himself. Felicity looked up at him with an admirably Slytherin look, stoic, unreadable and thoughtful.

“Severus, Felicity,” Dumbledore began, “I do not believe in asking people to do more than their share of our burden but I find that I must ask for you to go above and beyond what others might do.” Severus glanced at Felicity whose head hung down. “You both have particular talents and contacts in the greater world that we have an urgent need to utilize.” He paused a moment for them to gather their thoughts. “As you know, Arthur Weasley was attacked by Voldemort, who possessed a large snake that attacked him while he was guarding the prophecy. We are, as yet, not sure that he will live.”

“Headmaster,” interrupted Felicity. “I don’t understand the importance of this prophesy.”

Albus looked at her appraisingly. He smiled, and nodded his understanding of her curiosity. “I cannot tell you why it’s important, my dear,” he said. “You must trust me.” Albus waited for her nod of comprehension. He could not tell either of them of the particulars of the prophesy, not with what he was about to ask them to do.

“I have already asked Felicity, Severus,” he said watching Snape, “to make amends with her father and spend the holidays with her family.”

Felicity’s head sunk still further in misery.

“It is important that she be near you, for I am also asking you to spend the holidays with the Malfoys.” Dumbledore tipped his head to pierce Snape with a focused stare over his spectacles.

“But, sir! I must protest,” said Snape irritated. “I was of the impression that it would be too dangerous.” Severus had been dreading spending the holidays at the Malfoys. Though they’d invited him a month beforehand, he’d planned to decline at the last possible minute, to escape being so near to the Dark Lord.

“The recent events make it imperative that we have your eyes and ears closer to Voldemort. Both you and Felicity will be the first to know if he plans any moves during this most vulnerable time period.” He looked to Felicity. “Felicity’s father is a prominent Ministry official with close ties to Cornelius Fudge. Lucius Malfoy has been lobbying, perhaps even bribing Cornelius. Lucius is closest to Voldemort. Both of you need to be in place.” He sighed unhappily. “Forgive me for asking you to do this, but we have no choice. Voldemort is planning something other than stealing the prophesy from the Department of Mysteries. We would like, if possible to find out what that is.”

“I don’t have to be at the Malfoys to know what that is,” said Snape bitterly. “Voldemort will soon release his followers from Azkaban.”

Dumbledore kept his face impassive. “I believe you are correct,” he said quietly. “All the more reason to know beforehand if we might stop them.”

Snape was livid. His life was worth spit. By all means protect the bloody boy, Harry Potter or worse, Sirius Black from harm but let’s just stick Severus Snape on a fishing lure to tempt the sharks, for Merlin’s sake.

“If we must,” he said stoically. He would not give Dumbledore the satisfaction of an outburst.

“I have another request, Professor Snape,” said Dumbledore quietly.

Snape glared at him. He refused to ask for what more he would be asked to do. It would most likely be yet another unreasonable request.

“I would like you, when the students return from break, to teach Occlumency to Harry Potter.” Dumbledore waited, knowing what would come. He knew his potion’s professor extremely well.

“Headmaster!!” exploded Severus. “I refuse to do it!” He sneered at Felicity, who was the closest for his wrath. “Ask HER to do it! She’s constantly in my head, I am so obviously lacking in technique compared with her.”

“I can’t do it, Severus,” said Felicity. “My abilities take years of focus and training.”

“He needs to block out the thoughts of Voldemort, now, Severus,” added Dumbledore.

“Voldemort is in Mr. Potter’s mind?” asked Snape incredulously. “How is that possible at such distances?”
“I believe that Voldemort’s emotions, when he is happy or sad have been conveyed to Harry for some time now. I suspect that they are connected by the curse inflicted on Harry as a child.” He looked down at his hands grimly. “Arthur Weasley’s attack, I believe has alerted Voldemort to this connection between them. He will use it too, if given the opportunity get to Harry. He will use Harry against us if he can. I imagine he has the ability to see us through Harry’s eyes.”

Professor Snape rose from his chair. It was outrageous to ask him to help Potter if Voldemort would know he was doing it. The Headmaster may as well just shoot an unforgivable at him right where he was standing, he would be so dead. He sneered at Dumbledore while fuming silently. He turned his malice on Felicity, who only looked up at him with those pitying, imploring eyes of hers. He wanted to smash something. He wanted for once in his miserable life to just give in to his inner rage. He loathed them all. James Potter or Harry Potter, it made no difference. They would always be the chosen ones at his expense.

Snape pivoted abruptly and went to the door. He opened it and walked through. Freedom would never be his. He stormed down the stair, raged down the halls. Pity any student who dared get in his way. He stomped down the dungeon stairs. His life was a dung heap. He stood at the door to his office and couldn’t enter it. This world was his prison. He wanted to run away from his life.

Snape abruptly turned on his heel, running back up the dungeon steps, he bolted for the front doors; anywhere that was far from this Hogwarts hell. Into the snowy night he stormed, into the wind and around the knoll to the tree where it had all begun: the stupid bloody tree that had ruined his life. It had been the binder of their friendship and the beginning of his doom. He did not stop, though he was sorely tempted to just stand before the whomping willow and let the damned thing pummel him to death.



Felicity felt for him with her heart. “He’s raging outside, Headmaster,” she said to Dumbledore. “He wants to leave his life behind.” She had tears in her eyes. The dragon’s capacity for compassion was endless.

“Go to him, Felicity,” said Dumbledore, knowing she would find him. “Take my cloak and bring him back.”

She rose without another word, fetching his purple wrap at the door. She glided down the stairs and sprinted out into the cold frigid air. She knew where he was and she ran for him.



Snape kept walking his wide steps of anger toward the whomping willow. When he was close enough he pointed his wand to the knot that froze the tree’s movements and cast an angry stun spell at it. The tree would not move for an hour, he had hit it so hard. He stomped through the secret crevice down into the corridor that led under Hogsmeade to the Shrieking Shack.

Felicity was close behind him but had never been through the secret tunnel and felt more than a little timid about finding her way in the dark. She illuminated her approach with her wand and followed the forbidding corridor as best she could. She didn’t call out to him for it would not have stopped him. Severus was unreachable in the mood he was in.
She emerged from the tunnel into what looked like the insides of a dilapidated old house. Severus stood in a shaft of moonlight at the bottom of a rickety stair.

“Severus?” she said quietly and beseechingly. “Severus?”

He turned with a look of pure malice. “We are bound and you can find me anywhere,” he said. His voice had a passion that burnt with so many emotions she could hardly name them all. She reached up to him and he snatched up her hand fiercely. He dragged her to him and held her face close to his. “I am bound to you, dearest Felicity, for the whole of my life and yet I am not privy to your inner longings or desires, for those belong to Remus Lupin.”

“Severus, don’t do this to yourself,” she whispered. He was exploding within. She could feel the convulsions of fire within his soul. She couldn’t understand all that she saw but the enormity and unfairness of his lot in life roared through him.

“Do you know where we are, my dear?” he said quietly.

She shook her head.

“This is called the Shrieking Shack. It is a place you should see.” He pushed her toward the stairs. “Go up, dearest Felicity.” He voice was dead calm. He’d forced the fire down within. She couldn’t help but admire the strength of will in the man.

She mounted the stairs with him pushing her lightly from behind. She entered a room that was derelict and depressing. There was dust everywhere and the dank smell of animals. It had that decrepit look of a long abandoned death chamber. The bed linen was ripped and dirty on a bed in corner, and there was only one chair that was not broken in the room. It was cold and the wind and snow seemed to blow in from a myriad of holes. He shoved her into the center of the room.

“This house was built for your precious love, Felicity,” he said. His voice was falsely solicitous. “Dumbledore allowed the werewolf to attend Hogwarts and built this house for him to come monthly in his werewolf state. Smell the air, my dear. View the scratches and bite marks and the decrepit state of the room. This is your dear love’s chamber.”

She looked around her and the only thing she saw was the tragedy of Remus Lupin’s life. She wanted to run to him, shelter him, hide him from what he thought was his shame. Her life as a magic creature had been so different. There was pride and strength in what she was. She was unique and if she dared to think it, superior to these humans. This place that Lupin spent his young years in was lonely and heartbreaking. Her wolf had been so lonely.

Severus’ look of triumph broke her heart further in two. He didn’t understand the tragedy of Lupin nor care a wit. He only understood the tragedy of himself. She began to cry for them both.

Severus watched her crying and his furious resolve crumbled. “Do not cry, Felicity,” he commanded. “Those tears are for him. I will not witness it.” He was a man defeated.

She shook her head, pleading with her eyes for him to stop hurting. “Severus, they are not just for him.”

She moved closer to him and caressed his face with her hands. She would stop this rampage with her magic. He must be healed. She was compelled by her instincts to help him.

Her hands were warm and soothing. He closed his eyes and suddenly all he could feel was her touch. She moved her hands to his neck, to his shoulders and down his arms. His muscles relaxed, he was stunned by the stroke of her hands. He moaned as she moved her hands to his chest. She caressed him, coddled him with her magic touch. She reached out to his soul, stroking his psyche with her dragon magic. He could feel his heart beating and the tightness in his stomach relaxing. She ran her hands up his back hugging him to her and he could feel his whole body relax as she moved closer than he’d been to a woman in forever.

“Severus,” she whispered in his ear. Her warm breath triggered a yearning like a bottomless chasm in him. Her hands cupped his face and she smoothed his inky hair from his still closed eyes. “Severus, look at me,” she whispered so close, so deliciously close.
He was afraid to open his eyes. Terrified to look into her soul. He didn’t want to see others in her. He couldn’t abide her pity. “No,” he said suddenly helpless.

“Please,” she said beseechingly. “Severus, please.” She moved her face to his. Her lips touching his with softness he couldn’t resist. Her kiss, so light and caressing just as her touch, it was all he could think about. She pulled him in and he gave in to her lips, a prisoner to her taste.

Felicity could feel the steam rising from his soul’s fire as she kissed him. Severus, Severus, Severus…she rushed into his mind and he met her thought for thought as their kiss deepened. All she wanted was for him to heal. All he wanted was all of her. They stood embracing for an eternity.

Finally, when she’d gathered the fragments of his pain and softened his edges, she released him from her kiss still holding his face in her hands. “Severus, look at me,” she said again.

His eyelids opened and the blackness of his eyes hit her full force with recognition. His wizard eyes that could puncture the soft subtle eyeball of any student at Hogwarts met hers with passion, want and need.

Both of them stood speechless before either could speak.

“We must return, Severus. You must go back with me,” she said finally.

“No.”

“You must.”

“No.”

Her smile was a smirk. “You must,” she commanded.

“I love you, Felicity,” he said. It was a statement of fact, a personal observation of his reality.

She cocked her head to the side and her face softened. She had left his mind subtly and he felt suddenly naked waiting for her response.

“Yes, you do love me as much as it is possible for you to love, Severus, but you don’t really know what that means.”

He stepped back from her insult. “What the hell is that supposed to suggest?”

“You don’t know how to love anyone, Severus,” she said simply. “You have never been loved, you don’t know the first thing about it.” She moved closer to him and wrapped her hands gently about the shoulders caressing him. “I love you, Severus. I have loved you since that first night when I looked into the mind of a man with such a force of will and intelligence that it took my very breath away. I love you, but you don’t, have not yet discovered, how to love me.”

“You love me?” he said disbelieving her. “What of your precious Lupin? The heir to this decrepit palace that we now stand in?” He sneered at her, daring her to rise to his challenge.

“You live in a very small world, Severus, if you are only ever able to love one soul in your life.” She grinned at him. “The heart of a dragon is expansive and wide. I doubt you would understand that now and can only hope that someday you will. Your petty prejudices are such that you would call me filthy names if I explained it to you.”

She took his hand. “Come, my dear Professor. Let’s leave this place. It’s cold, depressing and it smells of animal dung.”

“I’ll never understand you, Felicity,” he said grudgingly following her. He was suddenly exhausted and had forgotten entirely how he’d gotten to where he was standing.

“You’re tired,” she said her eyes dancing at him. She was so happy to have him back. She loved him so much.

“You only said that to annoy me,” he said sarcastically. “It irritates me when you listen to my thoughts.”

“See how well you know me, already, Severus?” She laughed at him lightly, gaily, and magically.



The next morning Severus Snape awoke refreshed and feeling for the first time in many a year, glad to be alive. Felicity lay sleeping next to him but because she had attuned herself to his needs, she woke to see him watching her.

His kissed her forehead tenderly and stroked her side admiringly. He relished the aftermath of their night together. She was a treasure. He no longer doubted her.

“I love you, Severus,” she said quietly.

He sat up on his elbows and searched her face. She was everything he realized and he must have her for himself, always. He was fierce in his conviction. She would be his and his alone. He would not share this new joy.

“I am a slave to no man,” she said gently answering his thoughts. “You cannot keep me, my love.” She put her hand to his face moving the ever-errant strings of hair from his eyes. “I’m a dragon, Severus. Never forget what I am. You’re the head of Slytherin House and therefore blood conscious. I am no longer a pureblood. I only want for you to be healed and someday, eventually, find happiness in your life.”

“You make me happy.” He felt a petulant child. Certainly, she was a magic creature to make him feel as he did. It was so alien to his character, this happiness of spirit. But he didn’t care any longer about anything but having her for himself. “I must have you.”

Her face was stern. “You cannot keep me, Severus.”

He smiled slyly, stubbornly. “You’re bound to me for life.”

“But that doesn’t mean that you can keep me, love.” She smiled indulgently at him and rubbed his neck. “You’ll see. I believe in you. If we live through this, and the Dark Lord doesn’t destroy us, you’ll understand me. You’ll realize that you cannot keep me.”

Severus Snape’s face darkened and he refused to listen to her. She was his as he was hers. She would never refuse him. They were bound by blood. She had enslaved him and therefore owed him this. All of his essence refused to accept her freedom from him. He kissed her face and her lips possessively, all the while thinking that he would win this one thing, this one triumph that was she. Felicity would be for him alone. He would gladly be willing to tolerate her not being human for this happiness that she gave him. She would be his dragon whether she liked it or not, and he would not share her with any man, least of all, Remus Bloody Lupin.

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Chapter 15: Holiday Hells
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Chapter Fifteen

Holiday Hells




There were so many worlds within this one world. Felicity sat on the train with Severus in the very back car, far from the eyes of students returning home for the holidays. The world at Hogwarts School was made up of students, classrooms, the houses and everything else in between. But when she got off the train at the end of the ride, loaded with luggage for the lengthy stay, she would be returning to a world where she was a stranger, a foreign invader and no longer a diplomat’s daughter. She reached out and pushed through the crook of Severus’ arm with her hand and dropped her head onto his shoulder.

He leaned into her, did not pull away or utter a sarcastic remark. He put down his book and sighed softly. They were two souls both possibly traveling to their doom, bound together by blood magic, about to re-enter the worlds that they were born to and yet had never settled into comfortably. He couldn’t deny that they might not live through these holidays they were barreling toward on the train, anymore than he would deny that she gave him comfort even as he thought that his end was near.

“I’m frightened, Severus,” she whispered.

“I know,” he said flatly. She had tried to explain this effect that her family and her father in particularly had on her but he found it difficult to understand. His own father had been a brutal tyrant but hers had never mistreated her. He’d protected her and she’d been given everything she’d ever wanted.

“Except Slytherin House,” she said.

“You’re doing it, again,” he smirked down at her, kissing her hair. It was so natural, their being together, as if they’d always been joined, just like this. They were condemned together and somehow he was reveling in her company as he went to what he perceived as his certain death. Voldemort would surely kill him when next they met for his failure to lure Felicity to the Death Eater’s cause. Dumbledore was sending him to stay with the Malfoys where inevitably he would be made to meet with the Dark Lord once again. If, indeed the Dark Lord had some unknown nefarious plan, he would most likely end up at the center of it. He sighed again.

“I will not let him harm you,” she whispered. She smiled up at him and kissed his cheek.

“You’re mine, mister.” She grinned as he lifted an eyebrow in disapproval of her irritating Americanisms.

“What of the loving Lupin?” he sneered meanly. “What will he say when he finds out about us?” He hoped to tell Remus Lupin himself. He imagined the crestfallen look on the werewolf’s face.

“I love Remus,” she said fiercely. “I will love him always, and you cannot mock or bully that love out of me. Don’t betray me, Severus Snape for your own greed.” She dropped her arm from his, removed her head from his shoulder and sat ramrod straight in her seat, irked at him.

He lifted his leg across his knee and crossed his arms glaring out the window watching the scenery but seeing nothing but the white light of his anger. The first woman he’d been with in years and she had to be a dragon, and worse, in love with the werewolf.

She heard him and said nothing. It was an impossible situation, loving two so very different men who were enemies from the time of their youth. She would have to be careful, as Dumbledore had warned her. Neither man would understand, and they could be harmed. She must take care not to let that take place.

She couldn’t help a small urge to feel petulant. It wasn’t as if she’d gone out of her way to make this silly human soap opera happen. It was part of being what she was. The dragon people were without restraint in their loves and she was unique even for a dragon. The men would have to adjust to her, not the other way around. She had become what she was before either she or her dragon had mated. Severus and Remus would have to learn to live with what she was if they really loved her. It wasn’t as if she would give Severus a choice. He was hers forever. Her Slytherin interior shivered gladly.

She turned to watch him. He was angry, sneering at nothing out the window, his brow creased by years of frowning. He so needed her joy. Responding to him, a sudden lust gripped her and she leaned toward him seductively, her hand rubbing his navel, fondling and searching his chest, she breathed into his ear. “I love you, Slytherin House,” she whispered hotly, so close he gasped with the shock of her.

She was beyond a doubt completely galling.

He stood up exasperated, his whole body drawn to her like a magnet but he relished the resisting of her pull as he took out his wand, sealed the car door, and blackened the windows. Never once did his dark eyes leave her face. Not one muscle in his face showed emotion of any kind. Every ounce of him yearned for her touch.

She smiled hungrily at him knowing that he secretly wanted her. His powerful resistance was intoxicating.

He felt as if he would die without her kiss. His glare was unrelenting as he removed his robe, tossed it in the air and dove for her with a soft revenge. Her magic was utterly mesmerizing. She would be, MUST be his, alone. He would make sure of it.




Roland Wood paced the platform impatiently watching for the Hogwarts train to pull into the station. Albus Dumbledore had asked him personally to make amends with his daughter, Felicity and he would comply out of respect for the great wizard but he wasn’t necessarily happy about it.

Politics being what they were, he needed to keep his nose clean and palms well oiled. These were dark days in the Ministry. Cornelius Fudge was getting too friendly with those of the He-Who-Should-Not-Be-Named followers. There were also warnings that the Dark Lord had returned. Albus Dumbledore himself insisted that it was true. Roland Wood just didn’t want to believe him. The war had been so devastating that it was unthinkable. He had to stay above the fray and keep himself in power. This daughter hovering about for the holidays that was strange, and in fact a bloody great dragon would make everything more difficult. There was the very real possibility of scandal if her secret were leaked for whatever reason. He just didn’t want to think about it.

Ambassador Wood was a man of great strengths. He’d left school in the early fifties to live a life of power and influence. His heart was brave, his mind quick. He was not an overly tall man but he gave the impression that he was tall. He’d once been a tousled haired red head from Gryffindor House. His hair had gone white now. He kept himself fit and as he’d done ever since coming to London, he’d rowed on the Thames with the muggles every morning for nearly forty years.

His wife, Rita, who’d been in Ravenclaw had given him two sons, both stalwart and strong like himself and a daughter, Felicity, the bizarre Slytherin sorted daughter that was the bane of his existence when he allowed her to be. That child had been a trial from the day that she was born and still was. He had often wondered about his wife’s fidelity with his youngest child though he’d never have voiced it to while his dear Rita was alive.

Since Felicity had been changed into a magic creature so many years ago she was almost entirely unrecognizable as his daughter to him. Though he’d never gotten along with the child even before that, she was so stubborn and defiant of him.

Felicity had been so bloody different. Raven-haired, with green eyes and a severity that no Gryffindor would dare. Both her brothers had been exactly like their father in every way. She had been an enigma, like her mother and yet not.

The red Hogwarts train pulled into the station, the steam of its engine billowing to the ceiling. There were many parents meeting students returning for the holidays. He felt ridiculous waiting there with them. Everyone knew whom he was and anyone and everyone had been coming up and asking him his business. He needed to get back to the office. Cornelius Fudge was chomping at the bit to issue yet another ridiculous order of the Ministry under the manipulation of that conniving Death Eater, Lucius Malfoy.

He watched as people began to descend from the train, looking for Felicity. He saw her at the very last car being helped by…Roland Wood saw his life pass before his eyes as he watched his daughter walk toward him arm in arm with ruddy Severus Snape. A bloody Death Eater! He didn’t know the man personally but he’d seen his file often enough and knew him by reputation and DID NOT under any circumstances agree with Albus Dumbledore that the man was redeemable.

“Well, daughter,” he said angrily. “Isn’t this a fine ‘how do you do’?”

“Don’t start, dad,” she said. “You haven’t seen me since the clan meeting and even then you wouldn’t say a word to me, so don’t get all pompous on me right off the bat.” She glared at him. Professor Snape wanted to laugh out loud at the instantaneous animosity between father and daughter.

“How dare you speak to me with that tone of voice, daughter,” growled Roland. He stared smoldering directly at Snape.

“This is Professor Severus Snape,” said Felicity in clipped tones. “We work together at Hogwarts.”

“How do you do?” said Snape stoically. He bowed slightly.

“I know who you are, of course,” said Roland diplomatically out of habit. “I hear from my sources that you’ll be residing through the holidays with the Malfoys, Professor.” He didn’t smile. His diplomat’s voice was warm but hard as steel.

Snape knew that he was not liked by this man that much was clear but it was nothing that he wasn’t used to. In fact, otherwise would have been a surprise.

“I will be staying with the Malfoys, yes, sir,” said Severus.

“You’ll see us then, as we will be attending the various gala functions that Mrs. Malfoy has planned.” He grimaced.

Professor Snape sighed. “No doubt,” he said with a resignation that revealed more than he’d have liked to Felicity’s father.

To make matters all the more strangely comical and tense, Narcissa and Lucius Malfoy walked up with Draco, their son in tow. Everyone was now glaring at someone else. An entire group of people who knew each other, meeting on a train platform and none of them wanted to be within ten feet of each other. Narcissa was loathing Felicity, as was Lucius now knowing what she had become. Lucius specifically wanted to kill Felicity for throwing him into a wall in front of his master. Roland Wood was aggravated at every last one of them, as was Snape.

All Felicity could do was shake her head and somehow orchestrate their leave taking. “Father,” she said ignoring the Malfoys. “We should go.”

He nodded. “We’ll see you on Christmas Eve then, Mr. and Mrs. Malfoy,” he said bowing to his enemy and his wife. “Come, daughter.” He put his arm around Felicity and guided her away from them toward his house elf, Wicca who was gathering her trunk from the train. She dared one last look back at Severus who was watching their retreat surrounded by still glaring Malfoys. Both had entered a hell of obligations, competitions and expectations for this holiday.

Severus was missing her already.




The Wood mansion was an Edwardian relic in a fashionable part of London with a small postage stamp front garden and an immense interior that was the perfect backdrop for entertaining. Ambassador Wood did a great deal of entertaining.

Roland stormed into the front parlor ranting angrily at her. Felicity was not about to argue with him in his livid and unreasonable state of mind.

“Severus Snape, daughter!” he yelled for the hundredth time since they’d left the train platform. “You couldn’t have learned your lesson after you had your affair with Lucius Malfoy twenty years ago? Do you like shoving it to your own father by having relations with bloody Death Eaters? Must I continually pay for taking you away from that frigging Slytherin House?”

“Father,” said Felicity patiently. “You know as well as I that I am here at the request of Albus Dumbledore. He wants me to help Professor Snape.”

“But do you have to sleep with him for pity’s sake? Is that what Albus Dumbledore has asked you to do? Because I certainly want to know if the fruit of my loins is being asked by the greatest wizard of our age to have carnal knowledge of damned DEATH EATERS for this cause.” He was raving with anger and they had only just begun their holiday together. It was going to be a long few weeks.

“Father you know perfectly well what I am. You know about my training. You have spoken with Master Tong yourself at length. You’re not ignorant of the ways of the dragon people.” She put her hands on her hips and her nose in the air with defiance.

“IT DOESN’T MEAN THAT I HAVE TO ACCEPT IT, FELICITY!” he roared at her. “It doesn’t mean that I find it commendable that Dumbledore has decided to turn you out for healing Death Eaters, miss high and mighty dragon!”

“FATHER!” she shouted back at him. “Don’t be vulgar! Shame on you.” She felt him an aggravating, overbearing ridiculous parent. She was cursed.

Wicca, the house elf trembled at the threshold of the room waiting to be noticed.

“WHAT IS IT, WICCA?” yelled Roland more harshly than he normally would have.

Wicca wavered and stuttered. He wrung his hands with worry.

“It’s all right, Wicca,” said Felicity kindly. “He’s mad with me not you. What is it?”

“There’s a man to see you, miss,” he strangled out. “A man at the door. His name is Remus Lupin.”

Felicity look of pure joy was palpable. “Show him in, Wicca,” she said excitedly.

Roland glared at her. “MORE MEN?” He knew that look of love on his own daughter. “ARE YOU BARKING MAD?” he yelled.

“Shut up, father,” she hissed. “Behave yourself.”

Remus stood at the door looking a strange contrast to the rich interiors of the parlor. His shabby brown robe hung loosely on his tall and erect frame. He looked directly at Felicity as if nothing in the world mattered to him but her.

Felicity heart beat excitedly. “Remus, thank Merlin you’ve found me,” she cried and ran to him. She threw her arms around his neck and they embraced as if they hadn’t a care in the world but each other. Remus melted her with his winsome smile.

“Hello, my love,” he said huskily.

“UNFRIGGING BELIEVABLE!!!!!” yelled Roland watching them from the other side of the room. He threw up his hands and moved to the bar in the corner. “I’m going to have a drink now. It’s not the cocktail hour, I know that it’s early, but I don’t care.”

Felicity clung to Remus whispering into his face between kisses. “He’s mad with me, don’t listen to him. He’s ranting.”

Roland appeared behind her with a tall firewhiskey on the rocks in his hand. “I’ll leave now, if you don’t mind,” he said.

“Father, this is Remus Lupin.”

Roland looked at Remus for the first time. He’d been so mad at Felicity that he hadn’t heard his name before. “I know that name, don’t I?” he asked suddenly racking his memory as to why.

Remus was used to people in the Ministry knowing about him. Felicity’s father was a diplomat so he would have seen his file. He sighed. “I taught at Hogwarts with Albus Dumbledore as the Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor year before last,” he said knowing the rest would follow if the man had seen his file.

“You’re the werewolf, aren’t you?” asked Roland now in shock.

Remus looked at Felicity with a slight pained expression. “Yes, sir. I am,” he said.

Roland drained his drink and slammed it on a nearby table. The little ice cubes jumped out of the glass and slid across the floor. “Well, you’re bloody well MADE FOR EACH OTHER then, aren’t you?” he yelled stomping out the door. “I’m going to the Ministry office if you have need of me, daughter. At least I understand what’s going on there!” He stomped off into the entry hall and out the front door.

They watched him go. “Was it something that I said?” said Remus facetiously.

“He’s just aggravated because I was with Severus Snape when I got off the train. Then the Malfoys showed up. My father doesn’t like Death Eaters much.”

Remus’ face darkened. “You were on the train with Snape?” he said with a pained expression.

Felicity looked alarmed at the shadow of jealousy that passed over his countenance. Such human emotions were destructive and could harm a soul. “Remus, don’t please,” she begged. “You mustn’t be jealous of him. I am bound to him. I am his protector. You must understand and accept that.”

The look of panic on her face softened him. It was not natural for him to feel jealousy. He did not like Snape near her. He had never really liked the man and had always found him harsh and inflexible. His treatment of Harry Potter was especially grating to him. “I just don’t care for him, is all, Felicity,” he said putting his arms around her and kissing her forehead. “But for you I’ll try.”

Felicity led him to a nearby sofa where she sat as close to him as she could manage. If she had any idea where her rooms were, she’d have led him there, she wanted to be so close. Every fiber of her cried out for him.

“Tell me how you found me,” she asked holding his hands in hers.

“I’ve been doing a little ranting, myself,” he said smiling. “When we last had our Order of the Phoenix meeting and Snape and Dumbledore showed up without you, I about had a fit.” He put his arm across her shoulder and kissed her ear whispering into it. “I made Albus promise to let me see you as soon as you arrived for the holidays.”

She felt a shiver of glee race through her at his loving touch. “He wouldn’t let me leave,” she whispered as he kissed her neck. “The pink troglodyte from the ministry watches me constantly. Dolores Umbridge is dangerous.”

He stopped kissing her and frowned looking into her eyes. “I think you were right about her,” he said seriously. “Be careful.”

“I can handle her, I think,” she said confidently. “Protecting Severus from Voldemort will be harder. We’re to both find out what he’s up to this holiday. Except for the attack on Arthur Weasley, he’s been too quiet according to Dumbledore.” She watched his reaction to her mentioning Severus and was relieved that he did not change his expression of concern for her. “How is Arthur?” she asked. “And his poor family?”

“He’s going to pull through,” he said with a grim smile. “We just got back from another visit to the hospital. It’s been very hard. Sirius is manic about having everyone there for Christmas. He’s been wildly happy and making every effort. Harry is silent and miserable and I can’t seem to convince him that Arthur’s attack isn’t his fault. Everyone is worried about Arthur but thanks to Harry, he’ll live.” He got a pained expression on his face. “Sirius was getting much worse before they all showed up.” Remus shook his head, obviously worried. “I’ve had to travel quite a bit for the Order. Sirius has been going slowly mad cooped up in that miserable house. When they all leave again after Christmas break, I just don’t know how he’ll react.”

Remus looked very forlorn and tired to her. She put her arms around his waist and laid her head on his shoulder. They sat silently together for many moments.

“I want you to come with me after Christmas to Wolvin Village,” said Remus finally. “I’ve been invited by the Grays and I’d like you to come.”

She looked up at his face. He looked very serious, as if this request was important to him. “Did you ask Dumbledore?” she asked. “I’m supposed to be watching over Severus.”

Remus’ face tightened. “No, I didn’t ask him, Felicity. I’m asking you. It’s only for an evening or two.” He sighed sadly. “This coming war is such a strain. I’m very worried for us all.” He looked at her imploringly. “I want this one thing for us, my love. I want you to share this with me.”

She nodded. “All right,” she kissed him softly on the lips. “I’ll make it work. What day?”

“On the full moon.” A smile crossed his face. “Sirius told me how you’ve felt imprisoned at Hogwarts and the people of Wolvin have invited me to run with them on the full moon.” Her eyes widened. “The village is magically protected. We’ll not be detected when we change by the Ministry. You will be safe in the open air.”

Felicity squealed with delight and threw arms around him. “I love you! I love you!” She bounced up and down on the sofa. “What a wonderful Christmas present, you beautiful man!”

Lupin grinned at her. “I’m guessing that you’ll find a way to be with me then?” He chuckled.

With all her heart she loved this wonderful man. He alone might someday understand her. She kissed him passionately, their embrace long and loving. Finally, Remus broke from her with effort and regret. “I’ve got to get back to Grimmauld Place, my love,” he whispered to her.

“No,” she begged. “Don’t leave me yet.”

He disentangled himself grinning at her, loving her need of him, relishing her welcome. “I must go but I’ll be back when I can.”

She frowned. “I have to watch over Severus and convince my father that Voldemort has really returned and a new war has begun over this holiday,” she said. “It’s painful to think about but I’ll have to go to the Malfoys. There are several parties in these next few weeks.”

He kissed her forehead. “If you’re not here, I’ll understand.”

He stood up to go, embracing her and kissing her good-bye. He was about to disapparate when he noticed Wicca at the threshold looking nervous and smiled.
Felicity’s house elf looked so much more wholesome than Kreacher, the house elf at Grimmauld Place did.

Wicca cleared his throat.

“What is it, Wicca?” asked Felicity.

“There’s a g-gentleman to see you, m-miss,” he said looking very skittish and nervous. He wrung his hands. “I told him you had a guest but he insists.”

Remus raised an eyebrow of concern.

“Who is it, Wicca?”

“He says he’s Professor Snape, miss.”

Felicity held her breath.

Lupin’s eyes narrowed and he felt for his wand. He wasn’t going anywhere too quickly, he’d stay to say hello to the dear Professor.

“Remus, don’t you dare,” said Felicity reading his face. “I’ll handle him.”

“No, Felicity,” said Remus lightly. “I’ll not leave as if I’m running from him, my dear.” He kissed her forehead to both reassure her and stake his territory. He smiled casually.

Felicity was realizing with each passing minute how hard dealing with these human emotions was going to be. Dumbledore had been very savvy to warn her. Her men were very competitive with each other. She couldn’t understand why they wanted to torture themselves as they did.

“Show him in, Wicca,” said Felicity bracing herself for the inevitable.

Severus stood in the doorway glowering as soon as he saw Lupin. His black attire against his pale skin looked striking against the bright interior of her father’s elegant house. Severus was born for such a room. He entered it and literally took over his surroundings with the force of his personality when he wanted to or faded from sight otherwise. He was always in control.

Remus in contrast seemed relaxed, almost careless and he did not fit the elegance of the room but he didn’t shrink in it either. He was certainly more handsome then Severus, as well as taller. He didn’t look timid in any way when facing the visage of Snape. She was struck by the many admirable qualities in both men. They might both be itching to hurt each other at the moment but she couldn’t help but be proud of them. She smiled.

“You were worried about me, weren’t you?” She walked over to Severus to break his concentration on hating Remus. She held his hands and kissed his cheek. Severus’ anger at seeing Remus with her wavered only slightly and he looked at Remus as she kissed him, challenging the other man with his gaze.

Remus smiled at him, which only made Severus more aggravated.

Felicity realized what she was up against. They were going to be impossible and she wasn’t going to stand for it. She stepped away from Severus and glared imperiously at both of them. “If either one of you dares to act in a ridiculous manner, I will simply leave you to kill each other,” she said. She used a bit of her dragon voice to drive the point home. “I would be happy to go back to Tibet and leave you both to Voldemort by yourselves if you cannot appreciate me for what I am.”

Remus looked shaken.

Severus’ face was entirely masked.

She waited.

Remus bowed with a slight smirk to Snape and conceded to her. She rushed to him and threw her arms around him, kissing him passionately and whispering, “Thank you,” into his ear. He couldn’t help but smile at Snape, who looked both shaken and seething.

“I’ll leave,” he said heavily to her. “As I was going anyway.” He tipped his head to Snape still holding her hand and then with a grin to her, flipped his wand and disapparated from the room.

Felicity felt the void he left in the room immediately and missed him.

Snape was livid.

“STOP IT!” she yelled at him. “You’ve no right to act the jilted lover.”

He was too worked up to listen to her and jumped at her catching her in his firm grip and glaring at her face. She refrained from throwing him across the room, something they both knew her capable of. For several minutes they just glared at each other nose to nose.

“I have every right to act the jilted lover,” said Snape, his voice cold. “Seeing as how you are my lover and I have just found you with my competition.”

“He is NOT your competition,” she said sternly. “I warned you Severus. If you cannot handle this, there is no reason for us to even BE lovers. I love you, and I will always love you. I will protect you from Voldemort, as I promised Dumbledore that I would but if you insist on acting like a ridiculous cretin, I don’t have to actually BE your lover. I do it by choice, because you are very important to me but I could very well choose not to.”

As any Slytherin would, Severus Snape conceded an argument he would not win until he could maneuver her to accept his agenda at a different time. He had patience and knew that he would win this. “I was worried about you,” he said gently. “Your father was very disapproving and you’d been afraid, if you remember.” He forced himself to smile warmly. Whatever it took..

“I remember,” she said thinking of the train ride and his ardent embrace, as he knew that she would. “My father and I often battle, Severus. I can hold my own despite the fact that I don’t enjoy it.”

He leaned over to her and brushed his lips across her neck and up to her cheek. She sighed, her body shivered. “And you say I have gall,” she whispered hoarsely. “Stop it, Severus.”

“What?” He asked innocently. He held her and kissed her softly on the lips. His intensity held in check as he did was exhilarating.

“Why are you really here?” she asked suspicious.

He smiled. “The Malfoys are having a party on Christmas Eve that you and your father are attending and I am to go to see the Dark Lord in the afternoon. I thought you should know seeing as you are my protector.” He kissed her again and she felt a lust for him well from within her but she resisted the pull.

“I will be there, then.” She leaned into him, her arms around him.

“No,” he said seriously. “I will not be in danger, I think but I will be with you there. I thought you needed to be warned since you will feel me with him.” Their bond was such that she could possibly come running to save him when he did not want to be saved.

She nodded. He went to kiss her again but she resisted. “You should go,” she said. “If my father returns and finds you here, then I WILL be in danger.” She chuckled at what she imagined her father would say.




After he left, she plopped herself onto the sofa in exhaustion. “Wicca?” she said softly to the air.

With a pop the elf appeared before her. “Yes, miss?” he said.

“May I have a bath, some dinner and a nice soft bed, all in that order, please?” She watched the elf. She’d known him all her life.

He smiled indulgently at her. “Yes, miss.”

“And Wicca?”

“Yes, miss?”

“If any more men come calling for me? Please inform them that I’ve returned to Tibet.” She smiled ruefully.

The elf giggled. “Yes, miss,” he said as he popped from the room to start her bath.


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Chapter 16: A Diplomat's Daughter
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Chapter Sixteen

A Diplomat’s Daughter




There was no escaping the roots of a childhood. A person might not always be as poor or as wealthy as they’d been as a child but the consequences of their circumstance during those young years somehow will follow them for the whole of their life. Perhaps that was why the purebloods hated the muggleborns so very much. They tainted the wizarding world with snatches of their upbringing amongst the non-magical ones.

Of course, it went deeper than that with every individual. It wasn’t merely whether you were born a muggle or a wizard. It was your family, the profile of it that counted. Remus had grown up a werewolf from the time he was very young, but his easygoing manners and personality were a reflection of his parents. He’d been loved as a child and it showed despite his being shunned by the larger part of the wizarding society.

Felicity thought of her own childhood in comparison to her beloved Remus as she watched her father pull on his Ambassadors red robe. Standing in the vestibule of the Wood manor, they readied to leave for the Malfoy’s Christmas Eve gala. Felicity was her father’s child whether she wanted to admit it or not. She had traveled the world, seen many diplomatic events, was essentially a global being and all because of whom he was.

“Father?” she asked him, while straightening the collar of his robe. “Why do we fight so much?” She was dressed in a gown of the finest green silk, which was embroidered with a darker green in the shape of a great dragon swirling about her to the low-neck line. It was her finest dress, made in Egypt, just before she had left at Albus Dumbledore’s request to go to Hogwarts.

Roland stopped and starred at her. She was magnificent to look at, his daughter, though he flinched at the dragon emblazoned on her like a muggle billboard. She had no shame of what she was. He sighed and missed his wife. She always knew what to say at times like this.

“Because you ask such inane questions,” he said, finally, “just before we have to go to an important public gathering where I have to concentrate on the balances of power. You’ve been taught not to disturb your father when he has important business and still you do precisely that, disturb your father.” He shook his head and helped her put on her winter wrap. “And, I might add that we are going to the house of your lover from years ago and my enemy, a man that you just had to sleep with in order to get back at your long suffering father. That is why we fight as much as we do.”

She stood looking at him with a crooked smile, waiting.

“You’re an infuriating daughter who reminds me of how much I miss your mother,” he said finally. It made him sad. “She could always deal with your weird impulses and I can’t.”

“Master Tong said that I must someday come to terms with being your daughter, dad,” she told him softly. “He said that what I am now, the human part, is because of what you are. That I am a diplomat’s daughter.”

Roland kissed his exasperating daughter on the cheek. She sometimes reminded him so much of his wife Rita that his heart actually ached. “Master Tong is a wise man,” he said hoarsely, the emotion welling up in him. “Except that he never warned me of the consequences of saving your life so many years ago,” he added dryly.

Felicity reached for her father’s hand. “You’re not sorry, really are you, daddy?” she asked weakly.

He put his hand to her cheek, thinking that perhaps Dumbledore was right after all to force them to make amends. “No, child,” he said.

He took out his wand ready to apparate to the Malfoy’s but she held onto his arm.

“Father?” she said urgently. “Tonight will be dangerous. All afternoon I’ve had images of Severus with Voldemort and Malfoy. Something is being planned. He is back, father and he is growing stronger with each passing day.”

Roland searched her face. It was hard to comprehend. Voldemort had killed so many, including more than of few of his own family. He couldn’t bear the return of such a horrible creature to his world. “I will be careful, Felicity,” he said finally. “I am always careful where Lucius Malfoy is concerned.”




Tonks watched from her perch in the tree above Malfoy Manor as everyone arrived for the event. She had a perfect view through the glass windowed back of the house. She sat hidden inside Mad-Eye’s invisibility cloak and was relatively comfortable except that she’d have to sit in the bloody tree for probably hours.

The Malfoy’s ballroom opened onto a wide stone terrace that had been decorated and lit festively with floating candles. On the stonewall surround sat Minerva, transformed into her cat self, licking her paws and bored to tears. She never could abide such frivolous affairs. Her tail swished as she watched. Narcissa Malfoy stood with Lucius at the bottom of a wide stair greeting her guests as two young wizards dressed up like Indian Pashas complete with gaudy green turbans announced the guests from above as they arrived. It was a sinfully ridiculous show of wealth.




“The Ambassador Roland Simon Wood and his daughter Felicity Wood,” announced the barkers as they descended the stairs. She could feel both Lucius and Narcissa’s glare boring holes into her. She ignored them searching the room below filled with people for Severus Snape. He was easy to spot, standing in a swirl of color and people like a black beacon. He stared up at her from the far side of the room. She smiled broadly at his intense glare. He was seething again, she could feel it, but he was alive and that was all that mattered.

“How nice of you to come, Felicity,” Narcissa breathed, bringing her back to the matter at hand. Narcissa was such an excellent hostess that she could feign enjoyment in any situation. “Your dress is marvelous, and so appropriate,” she sneered. Felicity knew full well that she was commenting on the dragon motif. “Dressing in green with your father in his red robes was so clever and festive of you to think of.” Narcissa was an expert at the deceitfully subtle slight.

“Thank you so very much dearest Narcissa,” said Felicity forcing a smile. Though this beautiful woman hated her utterly, she had no cause to return her hate. Narcissa was merely jealous of an affair that was dead to her. She felt sad for the woman.

With a very slight sigh of reluctance Narcissa let go of Felicity’s hand to pass her on to Lucius whose cold gray eyes observed her with both lust and distain.

“How pleasant to see you, again,” he said bringing her hand to his lips. “You look lovely, as always.” He raised an eyebrow and pursed his lips. There had been a time when she had thought him extremely handsome and powerful. He had been above any other man in her eyes when she was just sixteen. She’d been a foolish human girl. Now, she noticed the crow’s feet lines at his eyes and the strain of stress about his mouth. He was still a handsome man but he was showing the wear and tear of his hateful sensibilities about his edges. She disliked him. It was simply that, because of what he’d become. She was disappointed in him.

“I’m sure that this party will be so much more pleasant than our last meeting,” she said slyly.

He ignored her distasteful allusions to their conference with his Dark Lord. “May I present, the Minister of Magic, Mr. Cornelius Fudge, Miss Wood,” said Lucius presenting her to a short rather portly gentleman standing next to him. “Miss Wood is not only Ambassador Wood’s daughter, Cornelius but a professor at Hogwarts School.”

He smiled with an air of triumph as Cornelius Fudge puffed about Hogwarts and Dumbledore in particular. “I’ve been getting regular reports about the shenanigans going on up at that school, Miss Wood,” he said pompously. “We’re doing all we can to stop the ramble rousers and trouble makers up there.”

Felicity was aghast but stuffed her feelings down deep at the Minister of Magic’s blatant animosity toward the great wizard, Albus Dumbledore. She also wanted to wipe the smug look right off Lucius Malfoy’s face but kept that hidden, as well. “I’m sure that your High Inquisitor is doing a fine job, sir,” she said smiling sweetly, though her words regarding the pink toad tasted of muck on her tongue. “I myself am but a lowly first year professor in Ancient Runes and not one given to politics.”

Roland Wood disentangled himself from Narcissa’s hostess vice grip of inane chatter to get closer to Felicity struggling in the clutches of Lucius Malfoy. He could tell that the snake was up to something just from the caustic look on his face. “Cornelius, you old shark, how are you?” Roland said good-naturedly scooting his daughter out of the way and breaking her away from Malfoys plans. Roland was shaking the hand of the Minister with his arm around him and helping him greet the other many guests, as they filed past in two shakes of a Griffin’s tail. Roland was adept and ingratiating. He was a true master of his craft. Malfoy looked as if he’d be happy to eat him.

Felicity had been suddenly freed to find Severus, something she had wanted desperately to do. She glittered her eyes at her father in thanks but he pretended not to notice.

All afternoon she’d received whispers of strain and agony from her dear professor. So much of it that she’d been sorely tempted to search for him. If he had not made her promise not to, she would have.

She filed through the thick crowd as fast as she could to where he stood waiting at an opening out to the balcony. His dark eyes followed her unflinchingly. Every part of him wanted to sweep her up and carry her away from this hateful mansion. At his meeting with the Dark Lord, Severus had suffered little physical torture. He-Who-Should-Not-Be-Named had been strangely ebullient though mostly closed lipped about the future. Severus had gleaned only one choice bit of new information that must be gotten to Dumbledore forthwith. It had not been a difficult session but still, any meeting with the Dark Lord was a hell of evasion. He so hated placing himself in danger. He seethed at the injustice of his always being the one asked to consistently stick his neck out for the cause.

Felicity finally reached him after maneuvering through the crowds. She threw her arms around him hugging him fiercely. She was completely without decorum but he was glad of it and felt mollified somewhat by her obvious show of affection.

“I almost came to your rescue, Severus,” she whispered into his lips. “I was so worried.

“No WORDS, Felicity,” he whispered back glaring at her. He could feel the stares of both Narcissa and Lucius from a far. Their son Draco was hovering nearby, as well, and had, no doubt, been instructed to watch and listen.

Severus took her hand and led here out onto the terrace where it should have been chilly because of the December air but the Malfoys had magically warmed the area so that guests could wander about the gardens. “Read my thoughts, darling,” said Severus quietly as he did indeed sweep her into his arms to kiss her passionately. His arms enveloped her and he bent her back in his embrace.

Tonks just beyond them nearly fell out of her tree. “Bugger me,” she whispered before she caught herself. There were couples wandering about the garden and she hoped that none of them had heard her. Her thoughts were immediately of poor Remus Lupin as she watched in horror as his supposed darling Felicity let herself be ravaged by the bloody vampire Severus Snape. Ewww! She couldn’t help thinking. The very thought of kissing Snape was repulsive enough but having to watch him practically giving Lupin’s supposed girlfriend a muggle tonsillectomy was almost too much to stomach. Who would have thought that the Snapester had that much passion in him? She would definitely be taking a long hot bath when she got down out of the tree.

Minerva, meanwhile walked along the stonewall padding lightly toward the fervent couple. It was not unheard of for people to get carried away at a party but this was Severus Snape, the potion’s master at Hogwarts, who she had always thought had the passion of a Glumbumble. He seemed hardly the type to openly kiss the way he was kissing Miss Wood in public. She sat very close to them licking her paws and pretending to be disinterested but even she was getting a little hot under the kitty collar watching them.

Minerva was the only one unoccupied enough to notice Narcissa Malfoy glaring at the exhibitionist couple from the doorway. Minerva arched her back and hissed in warning, “yeowwwwww!” to alert the couple to danger before she jumped off the wall and ran out of sight.

Felicity felt Minerva’s familiar presence as she and Severus parted in alarm at the cat’s cry. Severus saw Narcissa immediately as she waited imperiously for him by the door. “I’ll come to you tonight,” whispered Severus before leaving her. He walked purposefully toward Narcissa and bowed silently to her. He was her guest and from the look on her face, his prisoner. He followed her dutifully back out into the main ballroom and the crowd without even a backward glance.

Felicity sat down on the stonewall in both despair and alarm. Severus had thrown images of his meeting with Voldemort at her in a tumultuous rush. But it was so much more that he had thrown at her. His kiss had been filled with an agonizing want and need of her. She was stunned. The Dark Lord had triggered a deep vein of despair in her Severus.

Voldemort, she growled inwardly. The Demon Dark Lord never ceased to amaze her. He was a force that must be stopped at all costs. She looked about for Minerva. She must warn Dumbledore. Her heart thumped violently. Remus also must be warned. She wandered off the terrace in the direction she had seen the cat run and found her calmly waiting by a tree.

“Kitty, kitty,” whispered Felicity coming close. “Come here little Minerva so I might give you something.” She picked up the cat, petting it while rocking back and forth.

Tonks watched from above in her tree as Felicity pet Minerva and rocked. Whatever she was doing, it was out of the ordinary and it was scaring Tonks to death. Minerva as a cat was one thing but stroking her fur was disconcerting. She wasn’t sure what she should do so she sat tight. Mad-Eye had taught her that. If you’re not sure, don’t move unless someone’s about to kill you. She reminded herself that Felicity was one of them, a member of the Order. Dumbledore had taken her to Grimmauld Place where she had met Remus. Poor Remus. It was going to take a really long bath to wash the image of Snape snogging Felicity out of her brain.

Finally, Minerva jumped from Felicity’s lap and ran off into the dark. Felicity watched her go with one of the saddest of looks on her face that Tonks had ever seen. Tonks watched her, feeling stupid for not understanding, as Felicity slowly went back up the stone steps of the Terrace and into the house now swirling with music and people.



Minerva could barely catch her breath. She changed into her human form and stood panting beside the woman who had been waiting for her. “I ran all the way!” She gulped for air. “Goodness, but I’m getting too old for this.” Tomasina Tall, an Auror and a member of the Order of the Phoenix waited. They stood in a dark doorway about a block from the Malfoy’s at a rendezvous point.

“What happened?” asked Tomasina. “Is Tonks alone there?”

Minerva nodded. “You must get back to her.” She brought herself up straighter and pursed her lips. “I must get some information to the Headmaster, as soon as possible,” she said efficiently.

Tomasina took out her wand and changed into her animagus form, a large crow.

“Please make sure that neither you nor Miss Tonks speaks of anything that is seen tonight with any other member of the order until Headmaster Dumbledore decides what to do, Miss Tall,” she whispered to the crow.

It flew off into the night and Minerva disapparated to Hogwarts.



The Headmaster picked at his long white beard, tucked into his belt, and his robes swished quietly as he paced back and forth. “You say she gave you these images, just as you’ve said them?” he asked Minerva.

“Yes, Albus,” she said nervously. “It has been years.” She stumbled for the words. “I’ve not seen the Dark Lord in many years.” Tears of fear stung at her eyes and she wiped them away. “It was horrible. He’s no longer human.”

Dumbledore set the Pensieve on his desk as Minerva went to retrieve the memories with her wand. “Now, you might be more aware of just what dangers that our Potion’s Master faces in what he does for us Minerva.”

She nodded as she tipped the memories of Snape into the wide bowl of the Pensieve. “I don’t want them back,” she whispered.

“No, I suppose you wouldn’t,” said Dumbledore. He would keep them to himself then, for the Order, as he kept so much else.

“Should I return?” she asked.

Dumbledore sighed. “No, you must warn Remus Lupin of what is to come.”

“To come, sir?” asked Minerva. Her memory of what was coming was gone within the Pensieve.

“Minerva, my dear,” said Albus quietly. “I would like you to return this evening to Grimmauld Place without being seen by the Weasley children or Harry if that’s possible, to warn Remus Lupin of a danger to the Village of Wolvin that we’ve just discovered thanks to Professors Wood and Snape. Tell him that Voldemort intends to invade Wolvin once he’s released his followers from prison. That he and Felicity should go to Wolvin as they’d planned at the full moon to warn them.”

Minerva was aghast. She knew little or nothing of a village called Wolvin. “But why would He-Who-Should-Not-Be-Named be interested in such a place?”

Dumbledore sighed audibly. He was sworn to keep so much within that sometimes even he felt the weight of it was all too much. “I cannot say, Minerva, my dear,” he said. “Simply tell Lupin that the magic of the place will be of interest to those who wish to hide. Remus will understand.”

She nodded, still nervous and turned to go.

“Minerva?” said Dumbledore sadly. The events of the night were sure to be painful for all involved. “Tell him that he must trust in Felicity, no matter what others may say.”

She nodded and walked out the door.



Chapter 17: Party Pleasures
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Chapter Seventeen

Party Pleasures




The Narcissa Malfoys of the world love a good party. Narcissa might plan for weeks, or months in advance all the little details that make for the perfect affair that will be remembered by all that attend. Severus Snape knew that Mrs. Malfoy had spent much of her energy over the last few months attending to every aspect of this party because that was what Narcissa lived to do. She’d spent days instructing the young lads on who announced the guests on how to do just what they did. There had been endless preparations of designs for the flowers, the strolling players, the floating candles, the snowfall and moonlight on the magical ceiling, the orchestra with each instrument performed by ghosts of Christmas past and the tree, the magnificent tree. There was never a Christmas tree finer than Narcissa’s tree.

Narcissa led Professor Snape to stand by the tree, though his insistence on the ever-black attire was a nuisance as it wrecked her beautiful and delightful tree of festively colorful decorations. It was lit with candles that never dripped set in holders with mirrors that twinkled in reflection of the flame. This year she had the magical toy theme that was in truth, always her favorite. She loved the idea of children with all their wonderful playthings. The actual children themselves were not so wonderful, except of course for her precious Draco, who doted on his mother. He was such a sweet boy.

“Draco helped with the decorations for the tree, Severus,” she said to him as they stood watching the dancers on the ballroom floor. “He’s such a good boy, my Draco, don’t you think?”

“I do indeed,” said Snape dryly. “He is very talented at potions and I might add very much adept as his father at the social styling needed to do well at Hogwarts and in Slytherin House in particular.” Sometimes even Severus Snape galled himself at the extent of his butt kissing, all for the ruddy cause. Narcissa was a beautiful woman that he had always found attractive but he was angry with her for taking him from Felicity. He was a bloody prisoner at Malfoy Manor.

“You must not see that woman, Severus,” said Narcissa with such venom that he raised an eyebrow to stare at her in surprise. “She is my enemy.” She smiled up at him and put her arm through his. It was a strange contrast, the affection of the movement to the venom of her words.

“I hardly think you’re being fair, Narcissa,” said Snape coldly. “She had an affair with your husband when she was sixteen years old. Who was at fault, my dear? You’re being unreasonable. That was twenty years ago.”

Narcissa was a beautiful woman. Her blonde hair and fine features could be cut in stone by the greatest of sculptors and still her beauty would not be sufficiently realized. She was, in fact the ultimate beauty. “That doesn’t matter to me, Severus,” she said softly smiling up into his face. “My husband’s indiscretions are numerous and although irritating, they don’t offend me.” She changed her face to a flirtatious pout. “But you, Severus are a man of integrity and not given to such base acts of lasciviousness as my dear husband. You must be above such thoughts. I cannot bear you with her.”

It had been a long time since Severus Snape had wanted to laugh out loud in the presence of a Malfoy. “You give me too much credit, Mrs. Malfoy,” said Snape. “She is useful to me at the moment and I am enjoying myself. You need know nothing more. My affair does not, in point of fact, concern you.” He chose his words carefully. She was up to something, this one. He was irritated at her. His having to cater to the whims of Lucius was one thing, but also having to accommodate the whims of his narcissistic wife was unacceptable.

She looked up at him fixing a beautifully dimpled smile on her face. “I was hoping that we’d get to know each other over this holiday, Severus. You have always held my affections.” She stroked his hand lightly with her fingers.

Snape was shocked, surprised and also, truth be told, flattered. “Why are you taking this tack with me, Narcissa?” he asked suspiciously. “You know full well that I would never oblige your supposed wiles with your husband, my close friend within the same house.” She wore a faint scent of a flower that he couldn’t place. It was neither sweet nor pungent. It smoothly entered his senses intertwining with his acknowledgement of her superb beauty. He felt the attraction, and reveled for a stolen moment in the possibility of her.

She pouted perfectly. “He won’t be in the house this evening, Severus,” she said. “He has an appointment with one of his many mistresses.”

“This doesn’t bother you?” he asked curious. The music was a waltz and the many dancing couples swirled before them. He indulged his vanity thinking of her wanting him more than Lucius.

She laughed. “Don’t be such a muggle proletariat, my dear Professor.” She leaned her head on his shoulder; her blonde tendrils of hair cascading down his dark shoulder. “My husband wants me to be happy and out of the way. He would much rather I chose someone that he trusts over someone he doesn’t know.”

“I’m surprised, Narcissa,” he said softly. He watched the dancers before them. Felicity was dancing with her father. He knew that she was aware of him and felt a rush of excitement at the possibility of her jealousy.

“I knew you’d be surprised, dearest,” she purred. “As I said, you’re a man of integrity. My door will be open to you, always.”

He turned and looked into her eyes. They were blue and alight with a cunning need that he found very tempting. He could not help but feel delighted at her offer of warmth and would indeed enjoy being seduced by the magnificent Narcissa Malfoy. Even though he was fully aware that her reasons might be something other than mere lust and certainly no love would be involved, she was very tempting indeed.

“I am intrigued, Narcissa,” he whispered moving his face closer to her. “But I don’t trust your motives, nor do I trust that your husband would not care.”

Lucius Malfoy, who’d been watching from afar, extracted himself from conversation with a group from the Ministry to stand before them. He could tell, even though he was busy elsewhere that his wife needed him to prod Severus a little more to get him to cooperate. The man was tiresomely suspicious.

“Don’t you two look cozy?” he said. “Are you making plans, perhaps?”

Severus’ head snapped up at the sound of Lucius’ voice. Narcissa however looked completely unruffled and even a little triumphant. “We are, indeed dear husband,” she said lightly. “Severus will keep me company this evening while you’re away on business. Won’t that be nice?”

Lucius looked at Severus’ inscrutable face and laughed out loud. “My dear friend, you’re so good at hiding all your desires that sometimes I find myself wanting to push your buttons just to see you shut them down!” He leaned over and kissed his wife on the cheek. “Anything that makes you happy, dear, makes me happy.” And walked off to greet a young man that he knew worked at the Ministry in the Department of Mysteries.

“See, my dear Severus?” said Narcissa sweetly. “You’ve made him very happy. He’s said so.” She flashed a look at him that he felt at his center. Her offer was very tempting indeed.

“I suppose,” he began. “That my plans could be changed.” It was for the cause, after all. He was here at the Malfoys to get close to them, enjoy their trust, and gather information, after all. She was so very alluring and he’d admired her from afar for almost two decades.

The look of joyful triumph on Narcissa’s face sealed his resolve. There was no aphrodisiac more potent to ones vanity than being seen as a prize won in the eyes of another.





The party whirled. The music was enchanting and everyone seemed to be smiling and chatting at once. The room was alive with the celebration of Christmas Eve and the perfect party. Roland stood with Cornelius Fudge and Lucius Malfoy as he had at various points of the evening. He had made an effort to ingratiate himself to the Minister specifically. Lucius Malfoy, like a bad penny was also never far away.

“Your daughter is very beautiful tonight,” said Lucius as if he were making polite chitchat. “Does she tell you about what Dumbledore is up to at Hogwarts?”

“Yes, yes,” agreed Cornelius. “What does she say Roland?”

“She says nothing,” said Roland truthfully. “She’s never been one to pay attention to the politics of our world.”

“It’s scandalous, really,” said Lucius. “Riding on the coattails of a mere boy who is most assuredly insane. Imagine, trying to whip up hysteria with these absurd rumors of He-Who-Should-Not-Be-Named returning?”

Roland glared at Lucius. He was sick of the tact that he took incessantly. It only stirred Cornelius up. He acted ridiculously whenever Dumbledore’s supposed ambitions were mentioned. Lucius was deliberately acting meddlesome. Lucius sneered in response to his glare.

“Something has to done about them. What they’re saying is dangerous! The wizarding community should be above such political maneuvers for power,” said Cornelius frowning at the injustice of it. He’d had a few of his rum drinks and was feeling relaxed in the company of his powerful friends. “I am still aggravated by that fiasco of a trial of a few months back. Mr. Potter most certainly should have been severely punished for using magic as he’d done. Dumbledore must be stopped in his ambition for control.”

“Cornelius, Dumbledore is not after your job,” said Roland exasperated. He sighed audibly.

“I wouldn’t be so sure of that, Roland,” said Lucius pretending to reflect seriously on what he’d said. “I believe that he is secretly gathering an army of followers.”

Cornelius started huffing and turned a splotchy shade darker red. Roland couldn’t help thinking for the umpteenth time that the man was just too emotional for such a powerful position as the Minister of Magic, especially as he was so easily influenced by the likes of Malfoy.

“Excuse me, Minister, I wonder if I might get a picture of the three of you,” said a rather paunchy man with a bad wig, an unfashionable robe and a cumbersome camera dangling about his neck. “It’s for the Daily Prophet Society page, sir.”

“It would be a pleasure, Bozo, indeed” smiled the Minister who was always one to schmooze the press. “Happy to oblige, to be sure!” All three of the men stood closer together smiling at the wizard’s camera.

“Would you like to comment on rumor of someone in the Ministry of Magic having been attacked by a mysterious serpent, sir?”

Cornelius turned a bit green. “No, I would not!” he spluttered.

“They say that it was He-Who-Should-Not-Be-Named, sir and in the Ministry building, as well.”

“Preposterous!!! Simply preposterous, this would be that idiot boy again trying to make a name for him self. Insufferable delinquent, that’s what he’s become. It’s a disgrace! There was no such thing as a bloody serpent within the Ministry and a rumor such as that is merely that!” Roland tried to shut the Minister up by taking his arm and redirecting his attention to something on the dance floor, but the Minister had built up a head of steam. “It’s others that have political aspirations that have spread such nonsense!”

“Who sir?”

“I don’t think the Minister wishes to associated in any way with the political aspirations of Albus Dumbledore,” said Lucius smoothly.

“Are you saying that the Headmaster of Hogwarts has started these rumors because he wants to be the next Minister of Magic, Mr. Malfoy?” asked Bozo smiling.

“I don’t think I want to be quoted as saying anything at all, sir,” replied Lucius.

Roland glared harder at Lucius while Minister Fudge pierced his lips together in anger and turned a deeper shade of red.

Lucius had a satisfied grin on his face as Roland finally whooshed the reporter aside and managed to drag Cornelius’ attention to an important dignitary that needed attending to. More and more, Ambassador Wood was seeing Cornelius Fudge’s misplaced liaisons as a liability to his own political career. He decided then and there that he would be the man’s new best friend to get him out of the clutches of Lucius Malfoy. From the satisfied look on his enemy’s face he was realizing that what his daughter had been telling him must be true. It would be all over the bloody papers by morning that Albus Dumbledore wanted the job of Ministry of Magic according to Lucius Malfoy.

Roland was livid. He had been in politics far too long not to see where this thread was leading them. He-Who-Should-Not-Be-Named had returned, after all. Malfoy was up to his old tricks, helping him yet again, this time by alienating Dumbledore from the Minister and the Wizarding world in general. It was a classic case of the muggle shell game as he’d ever he seen it. He suddenly realized that something would have to be done and he might have to do it.




Felicity had spent most of the evening listening to people. Having the ability to intrude unfelt into the minds of others was too valuable a skill not to use at such a party. So far, she had memorized the faces and names of six would-be Death Eaters not already known to the Order.

Severus came up behind her as she was watching the ghost orchestra play a show tune. She was giggling at the brass section because one of the ghosts had particularly puffy cheeks. Severus slid his arm around her waist and pulled her to him, whispering in her ear. “Come dance with me,” he said feeling his now familiar need of her touch. She was so naturally seductive. He felt invigorated by Narcissa’s proposal and more than a little aroused by the prospect of two women wanting him at the same time. He was empowered by it.

“You’re really very vain, professor,” said Felicity teasing him. Her eyes sparkled with delight. She turned to look at him.

“It’s very tiresome that you know everything about me, darling,” he said frowning. “I’m not allowed to be mysterious? You must always invade my thoughts?” Even with the orchestra blaring she seemed to know all that he was thinking. It was irritating.

“I don’t do it on purpose, Severus,” she said thoughtfully. “Sometimes you practically scream what you’re thinking at me and this would be one of those times. Narcissa Malfoy has made a very promising proposal that you want to accept and you think as an added bonus that I’ll be jealous.” She laughed at his irritated expression. “Which I’m not, jealous, that is. I’m not jealous.” He lifted an eyebrow of distain and disgust. “Jealousy and possession are things that I don’t do, my love. I have memories of feeling jealousy from long ago and that’s all. It’s not a dragon emotion.”

“I mean so little to you?” he asked coldly.

“Don’t be a baby, Severus,” she said lightly. “I love you and will always love you. You, however, know nothing about love. You still think that possessing me is love,” she frowned in thought. “I have great hopes that someday you’ll understand how to love.”

He hated her at that moment. The passion of it welled up like a viper striking out. This illusive thing that she called love was a ridiculous weakness. His passion for her was indeed love and she was just too brainwashed by her Eastern trainings to understand a man like him.

“Don’t be an idiot, Felicity,” he said harshly. “Of course, what I feel for you is love. Why else would it drive me insane with jealousy whenever you speak of your outrageous infatuation with the wolf.”

She smiled devilishly. He was very appealing when he was annoyed. “I’d kiss you passionately to prove my feelings for you,” she said, “but your new lover might have a fit. She is the covetous kind of human of the worst kind. Trust me, I’ve seen her jealous before.”

“Come dance then, dragon,” he said still frowning. She’d spoiled the moment with her ridiculousness. Why he found her attractive at all was beyond him. She wasn’t even a real human.

“I don’t dance very well anymore, Severus,” she said. “There wasn’t much call for it in Tibet and I’m out of practice.” She knitted her brows concentrating on him. “I am too very much a human. I am just also a dragon.”

He dragged her out to the floor regardless and glided her around. She danced just fine. After all, she was a diplomat’s daughter and born a pureblood. All the while that they danced, he made sure that Narcissa and Lucius were occupied. Both of them, he knew, watched them, as well. Despite Felicity’s uncooperative nature, he was still resolved to have her for himself and aimed her for the terrace again. An Order member would be watching and make a full report of what they saw.

“How about a photo?” asked Bozo the photographer interrupting them, as he was about to push her through the door. “You make a striking couple, Professor Snape.”

Even better, thought Snape meanly, spinning Felicity to pose. Lupin was bound to see a photo in the Daily Prophet.




Tonks watched from her perch in the tree for several hours as the Malfoy’s party progressed. She idly wondered about parties, how they seemed to have a rhythm. At first everyone seemed excited and happy, then as the evening waned the energy of everyone would become contemplative. This party had moved into the slower pace and people were leaving. It was quite late. She watched as Felicity and her father left up the stairs. Professor Snape gazed up after them and her aunt Narcissa Malfoy came up behind him placing her hand on his back in a way that was at once intimate and possessing.

Narcissa Malfoy and all that she was about aggravated Tonks no end. They had treated her mother and father like dirt and didn’t deserve to have all this beauty and wealth surrounding them. If it came to war, Tonks knew that her parents would be in great danger, as would she. Lucius Malfoy would make an example of them just because they were of his own family. She watched as Narcissa led Snape away and wondered about him kissing Felicity as he’d done but still looking as if he had a relationship of some sort with her Aunt. Snape walked a fine line amongst these people and she wondered suddenly if he’d been acting a part.

She had a dilemma ahead. What would she tell Remus? They were going to the hospital to escort the Weasley family and Harry on Christmas day. Should she tell him what she’d seen? Remus Lupin was without a doubt the nicest and kindest of men. He just didn’t deserve to have his heart broken and she sure as heck didn’t want to be the one to do it.

**********

Please take a moment to tell me what you think! Pru


Chapter 18: Gossip and the Godhead
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Chapter Eighteen

Gossip and the Godhead




It was late when Minerva entered the kitchen at Grimmauld Place. Only Molly was up, unable to sleep. It had been the hardest of weeks and it showed on her face. She was spending the first Christmas Eve of her married life without her husband and although she had been assured that he would be fine, she just wouldn’t be able to relax until he was safe at home.

“Molly, dear,” said Minerva softly.

Molly was at the table, her head bent over a cup of steaming cocoa, staring into the fire. She looked up at the sound of her name. Molly was a plump and jolly woman on the whole, and Minerva thought her very pretty especially when she smiled. She was a little given to loud outbursts and certainly she was too emotional, but Minerva liked her. But now she realized Molly looked ill, worn and haggard from her ordeal. Her worry had caused her to lose weight and there were great circles under her eyes.

“Minerva,” said Molly smiling listlessly. “Would you like something to drink?” Molly Weasley was always willing to help, to feed, and to cater to anyone she cared for.

Minerva’s face softened. “I’m so sorry, dear Molly,” she said moving toward her. She gave Molly a sympathetic squeeze on the shoulder. “You look done in!

“It’s been difficult,” Molly admitted.

“Is there anything that I can do for you?” asked Minerva sitting in a chair close to her.

“I’m fine, just fine,” said Molly forcing herself to smile broader. She patted Minerva on the knee. “Arthur will be home soon and then I’ll be better.”

Minerva pursed her lips together. She shook her head worriedly. The war would take its toll on all of them yet again. It would be as before, unless this horror could be stopped. She felt powerless.

“Why are you here so late, Minerva?” asked Molly suddenly realizing how unusual it was for Minerva to be there. It was Christmas Eve. She must have family and friends to be with.

“I’ve a message for Remus Lupin from the Headmaster,” said Minerva gravely. “He wanted it delivered tonight while the children were asleep.”

Molly rose silently and nodded her head. She quietly went out the door to fetch Remus.

Five minutes later she reappeared with Remus in tow. His long hair was a tangled mop and he yawned as he walked through the door. He shuffled immediately to the kettle on the stove. “Minerva!” he said as he poured the steaming water over the tea. “What a pleasure to see you.”

Despite the seriousness of the message, Minerva couldn’t stifle a half smile at the sight of the man who had been her fellow professor not too terribly long ago. He wore his casual demeanor like a glove. If one didn’t know him well, you would think that nothing could ever worry him or make him angry. He was as Dumbledore in that way. She had seen Albus raving with anger and though he rarely indulged it, he was perfectly capable of the emotion. So to, this young man rarely indulged in the showing of fear, or temper. She liked him for that, as everyone did.

Remus set his mug down and folded himself into a chair opposite her. Molly hovered for a few seconds and then excused herself to try and get some sleep. She was shattered with fatigue. A full minute passed of silence as Minerva gathered her thoughts together. Remus waited patiently.

“I’ve a message from Professor Dumbledore, Remus,” she said finally.

Remus nodded silently. He knew it would be something bad. That was why he waited patiently. He’d learned many years ago never to hurry for words that would hurt. He knew by instinct that Minerva’s message was terrible news of some sort, as he also knew that it would be just for him.

“Felicity was able to transfer information to me that she’d gotten from Severus tonight and it concerned a place called Wolvin Village,” she said. She winced at the sudden look of intensity on his face. “She was able to gather the memories whole from him, straight from his visit with He-Who-Should-Not-Be-Named.” Her voice cracked and she found that she could only whisper. “They were so horrible that I asked Albus to leave them in the Pensieve, Remus. So, Albus told me what to tell you. He said to tell you that the magic of the place, this Wolvin Village would be of interest to those who wish to hide. I can only assume that he means He-Who-Should-Not-Be-Named.”

Remus sat for several seconds taking in the news. Wolvin would, of course, be the ideal hiding place for Voldemort. It would be why Malfoy had been interested in them, why he had visited and said that he would return. This was a dreadful turn of events. The Gray family, and all their clan were in graver danger than they or anyone had realized. If Voldemort set up his base there, it would be unseen by any in the ministry. It was a protected place, just as Hogwarts School was protected. He could wield killing and tortures without anyone realizing that the reign of terror had begun again.

“What of Felicity?” Remus asked. “Was she all right?”

“Yes, of course, Remus,” said Minerva surprised at the question. “Why wouldn’t she be?”

“It’s just that you said the images were awful and if you got them from her…”

“I shouldn’t worry, Remus,” said Minerva. “She has Severus. He’ll protect her from any harm.” She looked off into the fire remembering their passionate kiss. That she did retain in memory. “They seem to have developed a rather intimate relationship. I’ve noticed that they are, shall we say, very close?” She smiled as she looked away from the fire until she saw the hardened look on Remus’ face. “What is it, Remus? What’s wrong?”

Remus shut down his feelings of shock and vulnerability immediately and smiled casually at her. If there was anything he was a master at, it was feigning a relaxed nonchalance when he needed to. “So old Severus has got himself a girlfriend has he?” he dared to force out.

Minerva remembered the letter that she delivered to Felicity from Remus. Had they, too, been intimate? “I’m sorry, Remus,” said Minerva carefully. “I didn’t mean to gossip. He was able to transfer information to her by touching her is all I saw.” She could just kick herself for being such a blind stupid old woman. “It wasn’t anything, really.” She’d done probably more harm than good and she knew it instantly. “Albus told me one more thing to be sure and tell you, Remus.”

“What was that?” he asked dejectedly. He barely bothered to hide the sadness that had overwhelmed him.

“He said to tell you must trust in Felicity, no matter what others may say.”

Remus looked at her stoically. “He said that?”

“Yes, Remus, just as I’ve said it,” she said gently. “You must listen to him, Remus. She is to be trusted.” The guilt of what she’d just done brought tears to her eyes. She, of all people had stooped to gossip like a common little old biddy. “No matter what fools may infer, you must trust her.”

“Of course, Minerva,” said Remus now smiling. His first instincts were to put others at ease and Minerva looked as upset as he felt. “I trust Felicity implicitly.” He smirked and let a little irony seep into his voice. “Though I can’t say that I trust Severus Snape much more than I might want to throw him.”




The next morning at Christmas, Remus did his best to be a part of the festivities for Harry and Sirius’ sakes. Everyone had put so much effort into making Christmas as festive as possible that he tried to just think of the other’s needs and to forget about the fact that he was upset about Felicity with Severus or that he’d still rather have been with her.

First thing in the morning he’d had to deal with poor Molly distraught over the fact that her ungrateful son, Percy had returned his Christmas gift from her. He’d never liked the boy but for Molly’s sake, he’d tried to console her. The woman was a wreak over Arthur’s being in hospital and all.

By the afternoon, he and Mad-Eye were escorting the whole entourage to visit Arthur. It had been entirely uneventful except that he’d had a conversation with a gentleman who’d just been infected by a werewolf. He’d meant to cheer the man up, give him some hope of a regular life, but he hadn’t been much good at it. He himself had been so miserable.

He wasn’t able to get away until late in the afternoon. He immediately made for Felicity’s house, hoping that she would be there. The elf, Wicca showed him into the parlor that was done up with a lovely tree and garlands throughout the room. Then Wicca informed him that the master of the house and his daughter weren’t due back until the evening and that they were at a celebratory function with the family.

“Will she return this evening?” asked Remus disappointed. He imagined all sorts of scenes, all of them containing Severus Snape.

“She will, sir,” said Wicca. “Miss is very excited about leaving tomorrow to go to Lake District with you, sir.” Wicca grinned proudly. “She says it is the best Christmas gift, sir.”

“Did she?” Remus couldn’t help himself. He’d become so frustrated and distraught over the possibility of losing Felicity to Snape that he’d worked his imagination into all sorts of contortions of feeling. His relief that Felicity was excited about going away with him was so palpable that it was noticed by the startled little elf. Again, he was amazed at the difference between Kreacher at Grimmauld Place and this sweet little elf that was so in tune with serving its family.

“Sir,” said Wicca. “Sir should leave some message for her.” He pointed Remus to a small receiving table that held quills and parchment. “Miss will pester Wicca for all the details of your coming. Miss…Miss…. my miss has so few happy friends.” The little elf smiled shyly up at Remus.

Remus wanted to hug the elf in gratitude. Of course, he’d worked himself up for no reason at all. Felicity had warned him not to be jealous and she had only touched him according to Minerva. He proceeded to write her a note, urging her to contact him by owl when she returned and he would apparate to her immediately because he missed her so much.

He left the house feeling much relieved and returned to Grimmauld Place where Christmas festivities were still under way. Everyone was trying to cheer Molly up because Arthur was still in hospital. She’d cooked a glorious goose with a nut and fruit stuffing that he couldn’t get enough of and the gravy was just the added topping that inspired him to stuff himself to the limit.

After dinner, Harry and Ron played Wizard’s Chess in the corner of the kitchen while Hermione, Ginny and the twins chatted over a card game that he’d never seen before. He, Molly and Sirius sat by the fire and watched the flames and the children with a growing feeling of warmth. They were a family of sorts, in these times of woe.

“You take it where you can,” said Sirius staring into the fire.

“What’s that?” asked Molly.

“You take these moments where you can, Molly,” said Sirius looking not at her but at Remus. “Because we could go at any time. Any one of us.”

Remus looked hard at Sirius and thought of Lily and James, just as he knew Sirius was thinking of them. Their eyes said everything within that moment.

Sirius raised his glass of fire whiskey. “To our friends that we miss,” he toasted.

“To them,” said Remus wiping a tear from his eye.

Harry looked up from the game with Ron and looked sadly over at them.

Tonks walked through the kitchen door. “Hi all!” she said happily. “Merry Christmas!” Her very presence suddenly lit up the room. She stood near Ginny and Hermione waving. “Whoever wrapped Mrs. Black’s portrait in pine bows did a good trick.”

The twins raised their hands. “We may have tied her up a bit tight,” said George proudly.

“She’s snug as a bug,” said Fred.

“Well, she didn’t scream bloody murder when I entered,” said Tonks. “I think you should tie that curtain tight around her year round.”

Tonks looked her usual overstated self, though she was dressed in red and green and sported a Santa’s hat on her head instead of pinkish spiky hair. She sauntered around and kissed them all a happy Christmas. Fred and George tried to make it more than just a peck on the cheek but she cuffed them in the ear.

“To what do we owe the honor, cousin?” asked Sirius as she settled down with the adults by the fire with a butterbeer.

She leaned over and gave him an extra peck on the cheek. “I’m in between shifts of watching the bloody Malfoys,” she said. “They’re a frigging bore in every way.” She looked shyly at Remus and he returned her look with a questioning one.

A feeling of dread rose again in his stomach.

“They had their silly Christmas party last night and I was stuck in a tree watching them for hours.”

“You were there?” asked Remus. “Last night with Minerva?”

Tonks nodded. She suddenly had hope that Professor McGonagall had said something to him and she was washed with relief. “I watched the whole party. It was boring and nothing much happened.” She looked at Remus again and she knew that he knew. The look on his face could only mean that he suffered. She felt awful for him but also uplifted that she wouldn’t have to be the one to tell him about Snape and Felicity. She relaxed and spent the next hour telling them about the silliness that she’d witnessed and stuffing herself with leftovers from Molly’s goose dinner.

She got up to leave and go back and Remus walked her to the door. She was surprised when he walked her outside and with her to the end of the block.

“So what happened between Snape and Felicity?” said Remus finally. He could have stabbed himself for even asking but he knew that she’d seen them together and like a moth to a flame, he just had to know.

Tonks started to panic. She thought that she’d gotten out of it. “Didn’t Minerva McGonagall tell you?”

“She said that they’d exchanged information by touching.”

“Cor! Is that what she called it?” she said before she could stifle herself.

“Tonks, tell me,” said Remus sternly.

“He just kissed her Remus,” she said evasively.

“How kissed was she? McGonagall said that the information was passed by touch.”

Tonks thought. She put her hands on her hips. She thought some more. “It was just a kiss, Remus. If Minerva said that that was how they passed information then that’s what happened.” She watched his resigned face. “If it makes you feel any better, Snape and Narcissa Malfoy have become quite the lover’s liaison since that night and Felicity hasn’t been back there.”

“It does make me feel better, actually,” he said and he kissed her on the cheek and let her go. By the time he’d returned the owl from Felicity had come.




The moment he saw her in the vestibule as she ran to him and threw her arms around his neck, he knew that he’d been a green-eyed fool. She loved him and it was ridiculous to think otherwise.

The house was dark and quiet and she led him up to her rooms where she undressed him and chattered happily at him about how excited she was to be going on their trip to the lake country the next morning.

He was beside himself with happiness at her giving of herself with such joy that he was feeling completely and utterly the lovesick idiot for being jealous of anyone as aggravating as Severus Snape. It had just been a kiss, after all. Both Minerva and Tonks had said as much.


Later, that night, he awakened and she wasn’t lying next to him. He looked over to see her standing in the moonlight. Any other man might think it a beautiful sight but the near full moon was a thing to fear for Remus. He wanted to draw her away from its evil light and rose to bring her back to bed.

Felicity stood at the window in her room wrapped in a sheet. She looked off onto the lights of the street and the contrasting darkness of a park beyond.

“What are you thinking about, my love?” said Remus coming up behind her. He put strong arms around her and kissed her neck.

“I was thinking of Severus,” she whispered.

Lupin’s lips paused. “Is that something to tell me now?” he said quietly. He waited not knowing what to think, his breath held.

“He’s happy at the moment in the arms of Narcissa Malfoy,” she breathed. “It’s good to feel his joy from afar, is all. He so seldom has any.” She turned around to face Remus with a sly smile. “It frees me of my responsibilities to the bond.” She put her arms around his neck.

“I won’t pretend to understand,” whispered Remus with confused sadness in his voice. “Please tell me. They told me things. You kissed him. Minerva said that she thought you transferred images of what had happened with Voldemort that way.”

She smirked. “No, that was Severus being greedy. He knew that those of the Order were watching and he wanted you to hear about us from others. He’s manipulative and sneaky.” She sighed, thinking about him. “He has no idea about love. He has never been loved nor loved anyone. He desires with an overwhelming need to possess and control.” She looked up at Remus’ now pained face. “Don’t fret, my love. I am his healing dragon. It has nothing to do with you.”

She stroked his face with her soothing hands and he felt the subtle warmth, realizing that she was using magic in her touch. “Tell me what it means to be a dragon, Felicity. I need to understand.” He bit his lip. Remus wanted so much to believe in her, but the others had inferred things that he found unbearable, he doubted her and felt threatened. He would just die if they were lovers.

She stepped away from him slowly. “Watch me, my love,” she whispered. “I am so much more than merely human. You must always remember that.”

Felicity dropped her sheet and stood uncovered. She raised her hands above her in the dragon pose, breathing and humming rhythmically. He watched as she seemed to grow in size and a sparkling enchantment swirled about her. His jaw dropped in awe as she changed back and forth from Felicity to her dragon form more and more quickly until she was a blur of dragon and human awash in the glittering magic light. The bright being that she’d become opened her eyes then. Not human, but other, she spread out her arms that were not arms and yet beckoned somehow. He could hear her voice, not her voice calling him and he was powerless. He had to respond and walked into her aura.

She, the dragon, his dear Felicity, hugged him and he was transported to another world. At first all he saw was sky. Clouds were quickly moving, the lightness of flight, the feeling of euphoria in his stomach and the mountains, and all around him the feeling of stone below. He could actually feel the sensations of her body, her dragon’s body in flight. The euphoria and joy of being alive was intoxicating and he realized suddenly that he was feeling inside her soul and yet was still himself, apart. He felt the sensations of her breath and even her heart beating but he was set aside within. He was watching within her creature self.

Then he was circling a walled city perched on a mountain in the clouds. Beneath him were streets with people, children, and markets with every type of goods for sale. There were so many people! A temple loomed, a dome with an eye atop it like the eye of a dragon peaking and thousands upon thousands of tiny lights surrounding it. Our prayers for the Godhead, he heard her whisper in a voice not her voice.

He saw men and women, so very old in purple robes and bare feet. One smiled reassuringly into his face and he felt Felicity’s voice more than just heard it. Master Tong, tell me what it is to be a dragon?

The old man came into sharp focus. He was wrinkled and looked so old that his skin was tough and brown as leather. He smiled and the joyfulness of him made Remus recognize a true happiness. We dragons must heal a soul’s fire. It is our dragon’s calling, we lead those souls we love to the Godhead and peace, always for their peace within. It is what we are. We serve those humans who have the greatest need of us. We are truly magic beings.

He saw a room awash with candlelight and a young man, a wizard in his twenties and a reflection of Felicity, clothed in a purple robe in a mirror. The room was filled with mirrors. Everywhere reflecting them, they were now a couple within. Remus watched in awe and wonder as Felicity worked her magic on the unknown man. He felt what Felicity felt, and was apart from his own emotions. The bliss of watching without judgment was in itself a wonder to him. He felt the fire within the other man. He experienced his emotions but was somehow not feeling them at the same time and this seemed natural to him. He then felt her soothe and smooth the flame, felt her ease the man’s pain. Tell me what it is to be a dragon, Felicity. I need to understand.

The image of Felicity in the mirror turned and the young man disappeared. Felicity stood before him within the Shrieking Shack. He gasped for she allowed him to feel the awful raw emotions from his youth with such glaring clarity that he felt strangled. He was suddenly lost. A sense of defeat, the scathing judgments of others, the shame and the loneliness overwhelmed him. It was so horrible that the remembered emotions seemed to drown him. She reached for him then and hugged him. The warmth of her and her soothing magic brought him peace, such a peace that he had only pretended to feel but had never actually felt. A deep sigh from his spirit released from within him. The sadness lifted and he was again without his own emotion and inside her soul, her beautiful soul. Tell me what it is to be a dragon, Felicity. I need to understand.

Snape stood seething with anger within the same room. All he could see was his face and an inferno of fire and all of it the pains from all of the wrongs done to him. The Marauders, his father who had been a violent, frightening man and Voldemort, and all his horror were there within Snape’s psyche. Remus watched, detached and yet vividly aware, as Felicity fled further into Snape, she showed him the inside of the man’s soul, his pain, so much agony of spirit it was astonishing and yet Remus only watched detached, feeling nothing but the wonder of feeling nothing. Snape was incredibly strong willed and had experienced tortures of the mind that were unfathomable to Remus and yet, through Felicity he understood and felt empathy, understanding and nothing more. He was merely a watcher and she showed him everything. He saw entire night of healing Severus. He experienced it all with her, always apart from himself. Tell me what it is to be a dragon, Felicity. I need to understand.

She released him finally from within herself and stepped back from him. Remus couldn’t move at first. He was stunned. He had seen things that should have inspired emotions of pain, jealousy and hatred but in fact, what he felt was love, even he realized for Severus Snape. The feeling of love was so strong that he didn’t want to let it go. He wanted to hold onto it.

She stood before him waiting for him to recover his senses. She was naked and so very agonizingly human and alone. Her soul that she had shared was now separate and encased in flesh watching him and waiting for his reaction. Her eyes, now human were filled with tears. “That is what it is like to be a dragon, my love,” she whispered. “My greatest hope is that you amongst these humans will understand me as no other.”

Never before in his life, a wizard’s life filled with wonders beyond any muggle’s experience, had he experienced such pure magic. He was overwhelmed with love for this magic being. “Felicity,” he said hoarsely. “You’re magnificent.” He rushed to her wanting only to hold and feel the smoothness of her skin. He ached for her, as he never had before for another. “I love you,” he whispered into her hair, her neck. The tears flowed from her eyes. He kissed the salty wetness on her cheeks and lifted her in his arms.

“I love you, Remus Lupin,” she whispered, kissing him tenderly as she draped her arms around his neck and he carried her back to the bed away from the light of the moon.

Magic, she was surely that. She was the greatest of magic above and beyond any that he had ever hoped to know.






A/N: I thought that I might just mention that Remus’ vision is known by various names: The Godhead, The Witness, The Third Eye, sometimes astral projection or my personal fav from the Beatles, The Fool on the Hill. There are other names for this state of mind often attained through long practice of meditation. It is that part of self that watches from within all our human frailties in all their glaring detail. This self has compassion, even empathy but no judgment. Considering all the guilt and self-flagellation that we inflict upon ourselves on a day-to-day basis, this self within self seems like it would be mighty handy to have around, don’t you think?

Thanks for reading and reviewing! Pru Prior


Chapter 19: A Dark Storm Blows
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Chapter 19
A Dark Storm Blows




Peter Pettigrew busied himself with preparing the potion for his master. The Dark Lord was gaining strength by the day and seemed to have risen from near oblivion to have even greater powers than before. Peter tried not to think of his own weakness, his secret guilts that would someday be the death of him. He made an extra effort at being humble and subservient as he walked with the glass of elixir toward the Dark Lord’s chamber. He thought only of serving well and living long. When the Lord had achieved his greatest triumph then he, the loyal and steadfast Peter Pettigrew, would be there with him. The small kernels of remorse he felt on occasion for his betrayals were a price worth paying for the power and glory of what was to come.

He opened the door silently. The Dark Lord was in conference with a young wizard that he didn’t know. Peter wondered at the young boy’s beauty and poise. He had always admired attractiveness or power in others. Voldemort sat in his usual throne-like seat by the fire.

The young man of sixteen sat at his knee facing him. His striking face was perfectly proportioned, his skin the color of antique ivory, his large almond shaped eyes were framed with long dark lashes that only emphasized the beauty of the deep brown almost black eyes that were set beneath the darkest of brows. Peter thought him very handsome.

The Dark Lord’s servant pushed quietly toward them, the elixir mounted on a tray, his head bowed in reference before his lord. He avoided the eye of Lucius Malfoy who lounged nonchalantly in an easy chair in a shadowed corner of the room.

“Is it time already?” demanded his lord. His voice had a higher inhuman sound. He took the vile and sneered at both it and Peter.

“Yes, Master.”

The boy bowed and moved his stool farther away to wait while Voldemort guzzled the foul potion. His eyes glowed redder instantly and he coughed. “Leave us,” he said to Peter as he slammed the glass onto the tray so hard that Peter almost lost his balance.

He shuffled reluctantly from the chamber. He was so very curious about the young man. He seemed so very familiar and yet the Dark Lord saw fit to keep the particulars of why the boy had spent the afternoon with them a secret. That in its self was unusual since Peter was his most intimate servant. The secret of the boy’s identity tickled at Peter’s guilt, gnawed at his fear, and offended his ego. Lucius Malfoy knew who the boy was, so why was he left in the dark?


Voldemort waited for his servant to leave before continuing with his instructions. “The diary will be your conduit to me, Barnabus,” he said severely.

“Yes, sir,” said the boy bowing and touching his forehead to the black leather bound volume.

“You must write to me everyday without fail if you wish to see your mother again.”

The boy’s eyes widened.

“Yes, son,” said Voldemort slyly. “She will be freed with the others and you will be repaid for your service to me. Your loyalty and your success will mean your mother shall be free from her incarceration by the evil Ministry.” Voldemort leaned forward and ran a bony finger along the boy’s chin. “She’ll be very proud of what you have done.”

Barnabus trembled in fear and awe at Voldemort’s touch. He was loath to look at the monster but he feared greatly for his mother for he hadn’t seen her in four long years. He steeled himself to acquiesce before the powerful being.

“Mr. Malfoy will escort you back to the school. The full moon is tomorrow and you must be there,” said the Dark Lord fixing his red eyes on Lucius.

Lucius rose silently, languidly holding his cane with his hand and bowing deeply. The Dark Lord smirked. Lucius’ vanity was amusing. Many of his mannerisms were styled specifically to pander to what he believed was expected. He was a laughably plastic creature and yet so very deadly and Voldemort had to concede, indispensable.

“My Lord,” said Lucius. “When I return, I’ll go immediately to my wife and Severus.” He held his head slightly bowed for a reverent touch.

Voldemort looked at him craftily. “Yes, and I wish you to report on her progress. If he cannot successfully bring to us the dragon then he must be seduced to get rid of her. We can’t have her aiding that simpleton, Dumbledore. I am sourly disappointed with Snape’s lack of sexual skill. It should have been easy to seduce the dragon.”

Lucius lifted an eyebrow.

“He cannot kill her himself because of the blood bond,” continued Voldemort. “But he will certainly aid us in trapping her if he only acts as bait. I will be sure and punish him for his failure.”

“He’s still a valuable ally within Dumbledore’s circle,” mused Malfoy. He bowed deeper, to take his leave. “I’ll return in time to assist you in freeing our friends, my lord,” Lucius looked down at the boy’s startled face and smiling crookedly.

“See that you do,” said Voldemort waving both the boy and Lucius off on their journey. The interview was over.



When they were gone, Voldemort starred into the fire thinking. He raised his skeletal head to stare into the shadows beyond where Malfoy had sat as if someone was there. But there was no one there. Voldemort was alone in his thoughts. He was the Dark Lord Voldemort, and truly powerful again after so many years. All that time alone and only his determination had kept him alive. His faithful would be with him again soon. It was only a small matter of waiting for the appropriate time. He had the Dementors ready, able and willing. He had only to prolong the moment for the most possible gain.

He was single-minded in his perseverance of the Potter boy. He was putty in his hands now that he had discovered their connection. He could feel the stupid juvenile mutterings of the insipid teenager whenever he cared to pay attention.

A vague and aggravating problem niggled at the Dark Lord as it always had during the years of his confinement in the forest where he had waited for his followers to find him. The boy was something special, this Potter enigma. He must know the prophesy in its complete form to find out why. Dumbledore thought it important or he wouldn’t protect it so, or the boy for that matter. The boy represented the possibility of failure and he must die for it.

Voldemort was not a person who liked dependency on such nebulous irrationals as fortunes or prophecy but if this one thing was to be his undoing then he must take heed of it. He had nearly lost his own life the night he’d tried to kill the boy before. In fact, the boy had wriggled from his grip numerous times.

It niggled. It tore. It was an idea that he could not have power over, something that had nearly killed him the last time, and something that the boy possessed. And yet, now that he could invade the silly imbecile’s brain, he couldn’t fathom how such an incapable and weak would-be wizard could have the power as a baby to almost defeat him. The answer must be in the prophecy and he must get it. The boy must have some secret power to have avoided his wrath again and again. Something protected this boy. He must hear the prophesy in its entirety and then he would know how to rid himself of this problem.

And, yet…

…There was a power…

… A quirky something that was peculiar to the boy, he thought. His memory tickled, it gnawed and he grappled for a handhold on what this Harry Potter could possibly have that he had not seen before. He’d already glimpsed the familiar within the child’s psyche. There was anger there of such explosion of spirit that he couldn’t help but recognize the vein of it from his own youth. Life had dealt him a similar cruel blow. He, Voldemort, the darkest of wizards had spent his entire life in pursuit of rising above the unfairness and the idiocy of all the rest of them. He had nearly succeeded in purging himself of the memory of his childhood. The imbecile Gryffindor boy’s mind kept reminding him of that same anger of spirit that he had known. He must control the boy by his silly determination to be an idiot hero. He was no Slytherin that was absolutely a surety. Potter’s visions of grandeur were purely Gryffindor and he would fail because of his bravery and his loyalties. He lacked the cunning of Slytherin. He lacked the patience, the determination and the will.

Only Albus Dumbledore stood in his way. A surge of hate welled up in him at the thought of his true enemy. Voldemort enjoyed the moment of his delicious hatred. The boy was merely lucky, and a puppet of the master that was Dumbledore. He would destroy him. He indulged a fantasy of the wreathing pain and agony that he’d inflict upon the wizard before he crushed him. It was joyous.

The endgame had already begun and within a short time Dumbledore would be gone and then no one would stand in his way. Soon they would all be with him again, his powerful followers that he would send out to do his bidding. The sweetness of power that he saw in his future was intoxicating. There were just a few more steps to victory.

Whatever it took, he told himself as he stared into the fire, it would be done and the Slytherin heir, monarch of all and the most powerful wizard that the world had ever known would win it all. Whatever needed to be done, whoever needed to be pushed out of his way, he would see this ended. The weakling child would not see his next Christmas. He was sure of it.


*****



“He's here! He's here!” Kate opened the door wide to Remus and Felicity at the great stone house of the Gray family. “We’re so excited you’ve finally come for the moon!” said the smiling sixteen years old while grabbing Remus’ arm and pulling him inside. She was very different from the shy young girl that he’d first met in the teashop of Wolvin Village. Remus had managed to return several times to visit since then and each time a layer of her shyness had pealed off to reveal her true nature. She’d taken him on as practically an uncle. Kate, like her mother Agatha, was an effervescent personality once you got past her shy front.

She was stopped short at the door by the sight of Felicity smiling at her. “Oh, I didn’t know that you were bringing someone,” she said. The shy front was immediately brought out of her, complete with hunching shoulders and twirling her hair in her fingers. She curtsied to Felicity. “Welcome, miss,” she said quietly.

Remus put his arm about the young girls shoulders to which she smiled adoringly up at him.

“This, my dear,” he said smiling proudly at Felicity, “is Felicity Wood. I predict you and she will be good friends. She teaches Ancient Runes at Hogwarts.

Kate Gray looked at Felicity through lowered lashes with a combination of shyness and suspicion. “Mother never said that you were bringing a friend.”

Felicity giggled at her obvious crush on Remus. He was handsome and charming. What girl wouldn’t have a crush on him? Especially since she was obviously a young werewolf just coming of age.

“I most certainly did so, young lady!” said Agatha Gray bustling up behind them in the hall. “You never listen to a word that I say. Goodness sakes, child! Bring our guests into the parlor! Where are your manners?” She kissed Remus on both cheeks in hello but it was obvious that she was most interested in Felicity. “Welcome! Welcome! Miss Wood!” She grabbed Felicity off the threshold and put her arm in hers leading her to the warm and cozy parlor. The room was gorgeously decorated for Christmas with a beautifully decorated tree standing in the corner of the room and ropes of pine boughs across the red walls.

“I can’t tell you what a thrill it is to meet you! When Remus told me your name I almost fainted with joy!” said Agatha.

Remus looked confused as he followed them into the room. “Do you know Felicity, Agatha?” he asked.

Agatha sat Felicity down on the sofa never letting go of her arm as she settled next to her. “I knew your mother and father in school, my dear.” She patted the surprised Felicity and gave a triumphant look at Remus. “Felicity’s mother was a few years above me in Ravenclaw.” Agatha loved to surprise and tell stories and she was obviously busting at the seams to tell this one. She turned to grin broadly at Felicity. “You look so much like her, my dear that it brings tears to my eyes.” Her teenage daughter who was hovering at the door looking neglected and morose momentarily distracted her. “Run and tell your father that they’ve finally come, Kate! He and Barnabus are out putting the horses in the barn before the snow falls.”

“May I fly out, mother?”

“Yes, yes, of course, dear,” said Agatha impatiently. Kate ran out and down the hall.

Felicity looked a bit overwhelmed by the strength of Agatha’s personality that did indeed seem to fill the room. Remus looked amused and completely at ease. She could tell he loved these people and it warmed her heart. She, too, felt very welcomed. Her dragon self was relishing the familiarity of the werewolf in both Agatha and her daughter.

“Your mother Rita was ahead of me in Ravenclaw, the same year as my brother who was in Gryffindor with your father. I knew them well. Your mother was in her last year when I entered Hogwarts and she immediately took me under her wing. What a gentle soul she had and so smart! Heavens that woman knew more about magic than I ever thought possible.” Agatha patted Felicity again. “I’m so sorry that she’s passed on, my dear, you must miss her.”

Felicity thought of her mother. It was something that she rarely did. Her mother had been kind and beautiful but like her father, Rita Wood had not understood the dragon that she’d become. Her father had been so dominating a personality that her mother always seemed to follow along in all that her husband did. She hadn’t been close to her mother before she’d died. It made her sad. Agatha was such a maternal personality that she suddenly regretted not being close to her mother.

“I spent many years away from my mother in Tibet.” Felicity suddenly felt small and insignificant. “She never really adapted to my transformation.”

“I didn’t tell them, Felicity,” said Remus quietly.

Felicity looked at him surprised.

“I thought you’d like to tell them yourself. I only said that you’d not be endangered at the full moon run.”

Agatha looked expectant. “I’m dying to know, my dear,” she said. “You’re not just a human, I can feel that in you. Are you a Metamorphmagus as our dear Tonks?”

“I’m a dragon.”

Agatha looked surprised, intrigued and gleeful. “Do you transform, my dear?”

Felicity nodded.

“Merlin preserve us, that’s most amazing!” she declared. “I cannot wait to witness it!” She glared at Remus mischievously. “You’re awful to keep it a secret from me, young man. I’ve been giddy with curiosity for weeks!”

“That she has!” said David Gray standing in the doorway. The large man lifted an eyebrow at his wife. “She’s been having kittens wondering if Rita and Roland Wood’s daughter had become a werewolf. She’s been planning your lives for the next few years in anticipation.”

Agatha frowned at her husband. “Don’t tell them that!”

Remus looked almost hopefully at Felicity but she tried not to look for fear that he would see the impossibility of what they were implying. She felt a small tremor of trepidation for her love.

David came in and shook Remus’ hand in greeting and then sat in his chair by the fire to wait for his wife to realize that he hadn’t introduced him yet to the young woman. Kate and a boy of fifteen or so that Remus hadn’t seen before hung at the door.

“She’s a dragon, David! Can you imagine?” said Agatha to her husband.

“Do tell?” He eyed Felicity. “I’ve never heard of an animagus who was a dragon.”

“This is Felicity Wood,” said Remus introducing her where Agatha had failed to. David rose to walk over and shake her hand and then settled his self back in the chair comfortably.

“Well, I’m not really an animagus,” said Felicity in answer to his question. “I’m really a dragon, just as you are wolves but more so. Whereas you have the werewolf in your blood, my heart is a dragon’s heart.”

“Merlin!” said Kate from the doorway, wide-eyed.

“Kate Gray!” admonished Agatha noticing her daughter. “What are you doing hovering like that at the door? Bring Barnabus in properly and introduce him to our guests.” But Agatha didn’t bother waiting for her daughter and launched right into introductions. “This is Barnabus Collins, he’s staying with us over the Christmas Holidays.” The two youngsters entered the room and timidly sat in chairs closet to the door as if they’d bolt from the room if given the chance. Barnabus watched Felicity with unabashed interest. “The poor boy’s parents were killed and he has no other relatives.”

David Gray cleared his throat. “Perhaps Barnabus doesn’t want everyone to know his story, Agatha.”

“Nonsense, dear,” said Agatha oblivious to her husband’s warning.

“I’m curious about you being a dragon, Miss,” asked Kate, beside herself with curiosity. “How do you come by such a thing?”

Felicity looked about the room at the expectant faces. Remus hadn’t been sure about how she would react to the openness of the Gray family circle but she’d never seemed ashamed of her dragon self as he had been of his wolf. He had thought that she’d only kept her true self a secret because she was a teacher at the Hogwarts and under the watchful eye of the Ministry.

“It’s a long story, but I’ll tell you a shorter version of it, I suppose,” said Felicity smiling at Remus. She sensed his uneasiness with his friend’s curiosity but she felt no compunction about telling them about what she was. She told them the story of her accident in Tibet, the monks saving her, and her subsequent training in the healing ways of the dragon people.

“Let me see if I understand you correctly, my dear,” said Agatha when she had reached the end of what she was willing to share. “You heal souls? Actually heal them?”
“Whenever I’m invited and able to, yes,” she answered.

“Why that’s remarkable, simply remarkable. Don’t you think that’s remarkable, dear?” she asked her husband who merely nodded in agreement.

“May we see you transform, Felicity, may we before the full moon?” asked Kate completely forgetting her supposed shyness. “I’d love to see you! Can you fly, too? Oh, I’d so love to see you fly!”

Felicity was suddenly overcome with anticipation of flight in the open air. Tears sprang to her eyes and she looked to Remus with joy and thankfulness. He had given her this chance to spread her wings. “I suppose I could show you my transformation before the full moon,” she said at last. “I would so love to fly. I haven’t been allowed since I’ve been to England and Remus told me that I’ll be protected from the Ministry here.”

“That’s true,” said David looking at Remus with pride. “We’ve no use for the Ministry here.”

Everyone around the room grinned in anticipation of her freedom and the run of the full moon. All save Barnabus, the young man with the beautiful dark eyes and hair who had not said a word but had watched Felicity unceasingly.




Later that evening after dinner, and more talk of events of the world outside Wolvin, Barnabus wrote of Remus and Felicity’s arrival in his new diary. He wrote of the dire warnings that the Dark Lord was planning and how he was coming to Wolvin. He explained how the Dark Lord wanted the protection from the Ministry of the ancient charms about the school. He wrote of the dragon lady and related her story and all that he had heard that night.

As he closed the book, sealing in the message to his master, he felt a pang of regret. The Grays were very kind people and only the thought of his mother languishing in a prison being sucked alive by the Dementors of Azkaban kept him going in his deception. He thought of the dragon woman and hoped that perhaps when his mother had come to claim him, that maybe she would help him heal his own soul. For he would need her curing powers when all was said and done to the village of Wolvin.



Voldemort studied the book for some minutes as Peter Pettigrew bustled about him like a decrepit mother hen. Nagini, Voldemort’s powerful snake lay warming on a rug before the fire. It might have been a picture perfect moment of domesticity if he was not a skeletal fiend or his servant had not looked completely terrified and jumpy at every movement that he made.

Voldemort slammed the book shut and threw it across the room knocking dishes and cutlery from a small far table that Peter had just set for a late supper.

“Is there anything you wish?” gulped Peter, thinking instantly that he was about to experience pain and that he’d done something wrong.

“That dragon is in my way once again!” said the Dark Lord with rage. “She’s finagled my plans for the werewolves out of Snape somehow. The simpleton has failed me. She is too sneaky and strong for him.” He starred darkly into the fire. The dragon had not kept her word. He’d been a fool to believe that she would not help the order.

He sat for many moments relishing the anger and hate within him. Slowly, a new plan emerged. He would crush the dragon, and when the time was right he would be rid of both she and Dumbledore. Nothing would stand in his way, not the dragon, not the muggle loving Dumbledore and not that pip of boy. He would smash the lot of them and rise up greater and stronger then ever before.

He only needed to wait a short while longer.






Chapter 20: Run the Moon
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Chapter 20

Run the Moon





The morning broke with excitement. Remus and Felicity emerged from their room buoyant and joyful because they were together, in love and the wizarding world outside Wolvin seemed very far away. As they walked down the stairs to the main living rooms of the house, however their delight was outmatched by the hustle and bustle of activity. People were arriving in small handfuls and as they gathered in and about the house. It hummed in anticipation.

The tradition of the werewolf in the small hamlet had developed over long centuries of secrecy because of the prejudice against their kind. The human and the wolf were not so very different. They were both hunters who were able to hunt alone but prefer packs. They were both very social creatures. As a group, as a unique people, the werewolves of Wolvin had adapted to their plight and made it something special.

It was generally accepted in the world outside Wolvin that wolves were unconscious in their werewolf state and dangerous to man and that they would hunt down and kill a human with no thought for the life that they took. They were animals that only responded to the call of their kind. For the short space of the moon time they were hateful and horrible creatures to be killed or avoided. That was what Remus Lupin, alone in his psyche and alone with his guilt had always thought of himself as a werewolf. He had never been sure that he wouldn’t kill someone he loved. He barely remembered his transformations, but he did remember impressions from them. He remembered the feeling of joy, a human emotion to be sure, when he’d run with the marauders all those years ago. They were together. He and his animal friends played together and ran before the moon with a joy of existence. It was why Sirius was so tortured by his captivity. It was why taking the wolfsbane was a necessity. That he was harmless during the change after he’d taken the wolfsbane was a good thing. He’d always felt that way until Agatha Gray had told him on that first day that he’d met her that things could be different for him. When she had shuddered with sympathetic distaste that he’d taken the wolfsbane for so many years, he’d wondered. When she’d hinted that there was another way, he’d hoped.

Remus had wanted to come to Wolvin to experience what they had only vaguely implied from time and again in the few months since he’d first discovered them. They’d given him hope that there was another way and whatever happened in the next few hours, he knew that it would change the way he looked at himself forever. He stood in the Gray’s kitchen bursting with anticipation.

Felicity smiled up at him feeling his eagerness. Her werewolf was discovering his self and the dragon in her couldn’t help but find happiness in that.

“In Wolvin, a moon night begins at dawn, you two lay abouts,” admonished Agatha who was stirring a big pot of something that smelled delicious on the stove.

In fact, the large and spacious manor kitchen was a beehive of activity. There were several pies and cakes on a large long table in the middle of the room. Kate was busy at the end of the table filling meat pies and there were several other women stuffing birds and pounding meat about the room.

“It looks to me as if you’re making enough to feed an army!” said Remus.

Agatha turned a mock glare on him. “YOU! Mr. High and Mighty have never been to a Run the Moon before!” she said with her hands on her hips. “You’re a blowhard who has no idea what he’s talking about!” Kate giggled gleefully from the table. Agatha gave a real glare to her daughter who she wished to have more respect for her elders. Kate looked properly down at her meat pie stuffing. “We’ve a crowd coming tonight and all must be stuffed with food before the transformation.” She looked at him with a raised eyebrow.

“Stuffed?” he asked.

Agatha came closer to him and waved the spoon that she’d been stirring the pot with. “You’ve much to learn young man,” she said with a gleam in her eye. “So little you know of your own kind! We feast to fill before the change.”

Remus felt his pulse quicken. Everyone around him was happy and excited for the moon’s coming. He felt it, too. Their mutual anticipation was so much sweeter than his usual lonely dread.

“Felicity! Felicity!” called Kate from her task. “You promised to show us your transformation. You promised you’d fly for us before the moon comes.”

Felicity smiled with elation. Flying, she would be flying!

Agatha gave her daughter a proud look and then turned to Felicity. “Yes, luv. I would dearly want to see it. You sit down and have a bite, though. We’ve much to do before we’ve time for it, however. We’ve nearly two hundred to feed. So many are coming Remus for your first run.”

Remus looked up surprised as they sat down at the table piled with food. “For me?”

There was sporadic giggling from the women busily at their tasks throughout the large room.

Agatha wiped her hands on her apron and sat down. She was bursting to tell him. She slapped a large spoonful of a scramble onto his plate. “Yes, they’ve all heard by now about how you stood beside my husband against Malfoy at the Teashop. Everyone is proud that you are a werewolf alone in the outside world, a high ranking member of the Order of the Phoenix and that you were a professor at Hogwarts.” She smiled proudly. “I may have had a hand in the details,” she said.

“I think saying that I’m a high-ranking member of the Order is stretching the details a wee bit, Agatha,” said Remus blushing. Felicity laughed at the suddenly frightened look on his face. He was not a man for the limelight.

“We’re hoping that you’ll come to Wolvin’s School, Remus!” cried Kate excitedly. “Everyone’s come to see you. We’ve never had a Defense against the Dark Arts professor, before. Father always teaches it.”

Remus looked alarmed. “I’m touched, really,” he said carefully. “I-I hope that everyone isn’t disappointed.”

Several ladies, including both Felicity and Agatha snorted. “Pish-posh, Remus Lupin! As I live and breathe! You, a handsome werewolf and so smart and important, who could be disappointed in you, son?”

A strong urge to escape from the room of women washed over him but thankfully young Barnabus opening the back door kitchen so hard that it banged against the wall saved him the trouble.

“She’s foaling!” he cried, then stopped short and looked down at the ground when he noticed Felicity and Remus sitting at the table.

“Merlin preserve us!” cried Agatha slamming both palms on the table. “That beast has the very worst timing.”

Both Felicity and Remus looked confused.

Kate looked sullen. “I wish I could see them,” she said.

“Do not wish the dead on you, young lady or you’ll rue the day!” snapped Agatha standing up and undoing the sash of her apron. “Come on, then, Remus, Felicity, get your cloaks. It’ll be cold going down to the barn. You’ll want to see this, the birth of a Thestral is something to behold.”

They followed she and Barnabus out to the barn that was a short walk away from the house. It was beautiful country, hilly and treeless except for pockets of forest. The sky seemed to swallow up the horizon. The hills were white with a snow dusting and all was peaceful.

It was then that they heard the shrieking sound, as they got closer to the barn. It was a weird struggling sound that sent involuntary shivers down the spine and visions of death to the mind.

Inside the barn all was alarm and movement. Two of the Gray’s sons rushed around getting the horses from their stalls and out the back door. The poor animals were jittery and unnerved by the sound of the Thestral. David Gray was desperately trying to calm the great dark creature with the enormous belly by rubbing its neck and with soothing sounds. Thestrals were usually skeletal and thin, but this mother creature had transformed as the baby inside had grown. Her coat was black as ink and shown with the effort of the birth. Her shrieking wail filled the barn.

“Barnabus!” yelled David. “Come hold her head and comfort her. It’s time.”

The boy jumped to do as he’d been told. David tipped his head to acknowledge the others but was busy with the birth.

The three stepped back to watch. “I’m so surprised that you’ve thestrals, Agatha,” said Remus. “I had no idea that they could be tamed.”

“They’re hardly tamed, Remus. This here is Dervish and she’s the tamest of the lot. None of the others have birthed indoors. David has been working with Thestrals since he was a young boy. They’re his passion and most definitely an obsession.” Agatha crossed her arms and clucked. “I do believe he prefers their company over mine, sometimes!”

“It’s amazing,” said Felicity in awe as they watched David assist with both hands and then the new life burst out in an oozing mess. The young Thestral was completely red, not black as its mother and looked about mewing softly. Dervish snapped at Barnabus nearly getting his hand before he snatched it away just in time. Thestrals were vicious creatures but as she moved to stroke the baby with her tongue, she seemed calm and serene as any mother.

David stepped up to them with a proud papa look on his face. “He’s a beauty that one!” he said. “That makes an even dozen in our herd!” The little thing flapped its miniature wings as if it knew it was he that David spoke of. “We’ve something more to celebrate today, Remus.” He slapped his friend on the back, beside himself with pride. “I love to see new life come into the world. It’s why we’ve had five children. I was at the birth of every last one of them.”

Agatha nudged her husband playfully on the shoulder. “As was I, you old wolf!” she said. “You just wait Felicity until you’ve had a child. It’s truly glorious!”

Felicity looked sad and aggravated. “I’m not sure that’s possible, Agatha,” she said not looking at Remus. “Never in the history of my people has there been a dragon human give birth.”

Agatha looked stricken. “There are no children amongst your people?”

Felicity shook her head and dared to look at Remus who she knew would listen to her every word. “The dragon people usually take the heart and soul of their dragon when they’ve already lived their human and dragon lives. I’m different. I-I …my dragon and I melded when we were young. No one knows what will happen.” She felt a surge of need within herself, within her dragon. “I find it hard to imagine the possibility. Master Tang, my teacher and the other elders have said that they do not think it would be possible.” She turned away. Suddenly, she wanted only to be alone. Without thinking what the others would think of her, she turned and walked quickly out of the barn.

The air was cold. She didn’t walk back toward the manor house but off toward a valley below on a path no more than a foot wide. She wanted to be alone with the sky. She wasn’t, in truth really that disappointed by the fact that she would most likely never have children, but somehow she had felt confused for Remus’ sake. She had always assumed that a child was the one thing that her dragon and she could not do together. She had suddenly felt vulnerable, less than her usual assuredness. Remus should be happy, she had thought. He should have a family of his own. He should live amongst these people.

Her heart caught in her throat. It would not be possible for her to stay. She would need to go home. She must return to her people. The winter wind bit at her as she walked more swiftly down the path. She rounded a corner and came upon a magnificent view of the valley below. Someone had placed a bench on the very spot to view it.

She would someday have to leave him and it tore at her.

Felicity had loved many men and women since becoming a dragon. She carried their healed souls within her heart. She was quite proud of her accomplishments and even Master Tang had often lamented that her youth had made her a master at healing where her elders were perhaps lacking.

But to leave Remus, that would be difficult. She’d not loved him to heal him as she’d done for the others, as she was doing for Severus. She’d loved Remus for the simple reason that she couldn’t help but love him. Her heart, her dragon heart was breaking at the inevitability of losing him. She’d left the others and they had gone on to create their own lives without her. But Remus, somehow she ached at the thought of losing him. She sat on the bench and cried as she watch the barren scenery of the valley below.

She was so intent on her strange and new emotions that she didn’t hear Remus as he jogged up the path.

He plopped down next to her on the bench panting. “You should know, Felicity,” he said breathing heavily. “I’m not the man I used to be. I once was able to chase down a young female without feeling I might have a heart attack.” He smiled down at her tear-stained face and folded her into his arms. “Silly dragon,” he said kissing her forehead.

She wrapped her arms about his waist squeezing him fiercely. Her dragon strength made him wince.

“I’m sorry,” she said releasing him. “I suddenly couldn’t live with the idea that someday I must lose you. That someday you’ll go on with your life, that you should stay here with your own kind and that I’ll return to my people.”

She looked up into his face and Remus felt he could have died of happiness at the look of devotion on her face. Of all the moments that they’d shared together, he knew that this was the one that he would always remember. His love was mourning their love before it’d ended. She was afraid. The dragon woman, his fearless Felicity was afraid of losing him.

“Felicity,” he said, his voice hoarse with emotion. “You’ve no need to lose me.” He kissed each of her wet cheeks fondly, his arms enveloping her. “If you must return to Tibet, then I’ll go with you.”

“Now who’s being silly?” she said burying her face gratefully into his shoulder. She breathed in the smell of him. Remus, he was her Remus. “Neither you nor I are able to leave while Voldemort still fights us.” She kissed his neck feeling his pulse quicken at her touch.

They were silent with each other for some moments, just enjoying their closeness. “If what Agatha said about children upset you, there’s no need,” whispered Remus. “I’ve never expected it.” He smiled down at her upturned face. “I’ve been so ignorant of what I am that I always thought that I’d pass on the werewolf and I’ve never wanted to do that.”

“But now you know differently,” she said sitting up. “And you also know that there is a better way. These people are obviously happy. That young girl, Kate has her eye on you, for instance.”

Remus looked shocked. “Felicity, I’m old enough to be that girl’s father,” he said. He shook his head. “I don’t know if I’ll ever understand your dragon ways. Even to suggest such a thing seems vulgar to me.”

She smirked. She was what she was. A dragon. No more. No less. She had no illusions about sexuality or coupling. He wasn’t too old and the girl would soon be old enough. Dragons were practical.

“Would you have me leave you just to have children that I don’t necessarily want?” he asked.

She faltered. Her smugness left as suddenly as it had come and her vulnerability overwhelmed her. “No,” she said hugging him to her. “I won’t lose you. I can’t.”

“And you won’t.” He cupped his hand under her chin and brought her lips to his. The wetness and warmth of his touch sent waves of want through her. He was so much more than a man. She clung to him deepening their kiss.

Her dragon nature took hold. She craved his touch and so she coaxed him beyond the bench to a sheltered spot where they made love in the open. The emotion of the day and the anticipation of the night made it imperative to feel each other thoroughly under the open sky. She needed him and he needed her.




It was afternoon before they returned to the house. By that time, the kitchen was exploding with people carrying food out to a tent that had miraculously been erected on the back terrace. The magic tent that was large and spacious on the inside. Everyone seemed to have a task in setting up the feast on long banquet tables. Remus and Felicity stood watching at the entrance as Kate and Barnabus came up to them.

“Mother almost sent me out to look for you because you were gone so long,” said Kate breathlessly. She reached out to touch Remus on the arm. Barnabus, who seemed ever silent and watching, had a dark look.

“We went for a long walk,” lied Remus smiling down at the girl. “What’d we miss?”

“Everyone is here almost,” she said. “We’re nearly ready to begin. The feast is very long and the moon will rise early tonight.”

“Why do you feast, Kate?” asked Felicity.

“A full stomach will not hunt,” said Kate as if she was reciting a lesson. “A full stomach is the freedom to run the moon in peace!”

“Well, that makes perfect sense!” said Felicity.

“I hope it’s all right with you but our feast is almost entirely meats and stews and soups. The vegetables don’t stay down during the change.”

Remus looked surprised. “How very interesting,” he said.

“It’s so wonderful, the change is so fun,” said Kate dreamily.

“Come, Kate,” said Barnabus sullenly dragging her away from them. “We had better go tell your mum that we’ve found them.”

The children left to go back to the house.

“That Barnabus is a strange young man,” said Felicity watching them go.

“He reminds me of Harry these days,” said Remus sadly. “Harry often has had that same 'weight of the world' look on his face of late.”

“I think that boy has a dark history,” said Felicity. Her instinct told her that something inside the boy was troubling him greatly. “Did Harry like his Christmas?” She was embarrassed that she hadn’t asked.

“It went very well. Sirius is happier than he’s been since he came to Grimmauld Place.” Remus sighed and reached out to hug her to him. “I still fear that he’ll be worse again when Harry and the others go back to school. Dumbledore will most likely insist that I keep an eye on Wolvin if Voldemort is planning something here. I won’t be able to keep watch over Sirius.”

Felicity worried over Sirius. His soul ached and she wanted so much to help him but she didn’t dare. Dumbledore had forbid her with interfering with Harry and her primary agenda was to help Severus. She couldn’t help him, too much was at stake now.




Their melancholy thoughts were swept away as soon as the feast began. Mountains of food were laid out on the tables and droves of people had come. Remus and Felicity were the guests of honor and sat with the Gray family at the head of one of the long tables. It seemed hours of eating, drinking and talking. Remus felt as if everyone in the room had approached him to chat and shake his hand. The feast went on and on with speeches, singing and strangest of all, howling.

Every so often one of the guests would howl and everyone in the room would answer. It was disconcerting for Remus at first.

“Why do they that?” He asked of David who sat next to him at the table. “Why do they howl like that?”

David gave him a sly look. “Have you tried it?” he asked. He let out a long loud howl and there arose answering howls throughout the room. David pounded his fist gently on Remus’ chest. “You’ll feel it here. Try it.”

Remus looked around sheepishly and everyone waited watching him with knowing smiles on their faces. “Whooooohooooooo!” he cried and then laughed at the feeling it produced within him. “It feels…somehow…freeing!”

“That’s right,” said David. “It’s inside of you. Your wolf calls out and we answer you. We are your kind, your family. The moon will rise soon, we should go outside.” He rose from the table and many of the others followed in kind.

“Daddy,” cried Kate. “We didn’t see Felicity change!”

“That’s right!” said Felicity. “May I change before you?”

Everyone excitedly exited the tent and made the short hike down to the school Quidditch pitch. No torches were needed though it was dark. It was a cold brisk winter night and a light snow falling making it easy to see even without the wolf’s night vision. This was a moon’s run and all save Felicity would be wolves soon. The moon’s rise was barely a half and hour away and the excitement and anticipation had already started to mount. There was sporadic howling let out by the crowd as they went.

The whole crowd formed a large circle on the pitch to wait the moon.

“Change now, Felicity,” begged Kate, holding onto her hand. “Do it now before the moon comes!” The young girl’s eyes shown with her excitement and she jumped up and down with anticipation.

“Yes,” said Agatha dragging her daughter off Felicity. “You must allow us to see!”

“But all these people,” said Felicity hesitating. “I’ve never changed before so many.”

“We all drop our cloaks at the change, girl,” said David cheerily. “You’ve no reason to be shy around us. We are all of us beasts”

She smiled at Remus and kissed his cheek sweetly. He was as excited as the rest of them.

Felicity moved to the center of the circle and dropped her cloak onto the ground moving into her dragon pose. She centered her mind and began the rhythm of human to dragon and back faster and faster until they melded in a blaze of light. A gasp went up from the crowd as Felicity the dragon emerged with a roar. It had been too long. She was free and from the very center of her she cried out with an ecstasy released.

She roared again, this time sending a stream of magic fire flying high into the sky. Her wings flapped and she threw herself into the air. Free! She was free! Giggling, the gurgling sound emerging from her throat she rose higher and higher above the trees. It was splendid to have her flight back again. She rolled about in the sky, swooshing to and fro and almost forgetting her audience below until she rose so high as to see the moon just peeking on the horizon.

She dived head first toward the ground to feel the wonderful lift of her stomach from the rush of it and then landed only a few feet from Remus. She towered over him by a few feet and she flapped the air with her wings to show off for him. She lowered her head to better see him with her opalescent reptilian eyes.

He was laughing at her.

She nudged him with her head nearly knocking him over. Kate reached out to touch her and David held his daughter’s hand back looking unsure of Felicity. She lowered her head even lower and rubbed it against him. He, too, began to laugh.

Someone cried, “The moon! The moon!” and all at once people let out howls and dropped their cloaks in excited anticipation.

Felicity turned her head to Remus to watch. It had been a few years since he had changed without the wolfsbane and it had never been a joyous occasion for him. She worried. He watched the sky and then turned his head to her with a look of real fear.

David reached over to him and slapped him on the back. “We’ll run together, my friend,” he said dropping his cloak to the ground. “You’re about to have the time of your life.”

Remus smiled bravely and dropped his cloak just as the full moon broke above the treetops.

Felicity had seen Remus change once before but this experience was entirely different. Just under two hundred humans stripped naked began changing all at once. For a short moment they seemed to cry out in pain together but that cry turned to howling almost instantly. Remus’ face took on a frightened dread and then changed altogether. His nose, his whole lengthened and grew hair, his arms and legs seemed to grow of their own accord and in only a few minutes he was a werewolf, hairy and baying at the moon with the others.

Felicity felt a surge of power from the group, as they all seemed to greet each other and then move together off the pitch. She jumped into the air to follow them from above. At first they traveled en masse but then the group split into smaller groups as they traveled toward the treeless hills. All the way they nipped and tucked amongst the group, yipping and yapping in playful chatter. Felicity followed from above fascinated with watching but also relishing her freedom, her solitary flight in the sky.



Throughout the entire evening they ran about the countryside until the sun began to rise. Luckily, it wasn’t snowing and the sun shown with some little warmth as the scattered remnants of the werewolves staggered together naked onto the Quidditch pitch to gather their cloaks and head for home. They had run through the night and looked exhausted, battered but overall happy.

Felicity also had changed back into her human form and she stood waiting for Remus. A group of five or six naked men and women strode by her quickly, some with arms around each other and laughing.

“Cor, but it’s too cold to be naked, mate,” said one.

“Colder than a witches’ tit,” said another. Then he’d noticed Felicity smiling and stopped, his cloak in his hand. “Sorry, m’am. No offense meant to you, of course.” He put his cloak around himself grateful for the warmth.

“None taken,” said Felicity laughing at the young man.

“You were amazing to watch, miss,” he told her.

“And all of you, as well. It was an amazing night.”

“Aye,” he laughed as he moved off to his mates. “Running the moon always is. Cheers!”

She watched until she felt the familiar arms of Remus envelope her from behind. “I’m shattered,” he whispered into her ear. “Let’s go to bed.”

She turned in his arms and smiled up at him. He was filthy and there were slashes about his face and neck but he looked happy. “How was it?” she asked.

He looked down at her with shining eyes. “Brilliant,” he said, his voice gravelly. “It was brilliant, darling.”


*****

I'd love to hear what you think of this story. Pru



Chapter 21: His Dark Heart
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21
His Dark Heart





He couldn’t sleep. A little gnat niggled at his psyche. There was something terribly wrong with what was happening to him. He felt in danger, as if at any moment he would draw his last breath. Severus had enjoyed his stay at the Malfoys, enjoyed the company of Narcissa but it was wrong, something about his visit was just wrong.

He wrapped himself in his robe, slipped on his slippers and walked down the hall toward the library. A soft light glowed telling him that someone else was awake.

Lucius Malfoy sat staring into the fire that flickered in the hearth in the library. Severus knocked on the door jam. “May I come in?” he asked.

Lucius looked up with a rueful smile. “You needn’t be so formal, Severus,” he said staring back into the fire. “You’re always welcome.”

Severus walked into the elegant room filled with the finest furniture, rugs and hundreds of books. “Why?” he asked as he settled down in a chair opposite Lucius and also starred into the fire.

“Why, what, my old friend?” asked Malfoy.

“Why am I always welcome?” Somehow this seemed the reason for his lack of sleep and the niggling little warning of danger in his mind.

Lucius sighed. “Because you’re my friend and you’re a loyalist like myself. We serve out master together.” He turned his gaze to watch Severus. The man was always insufferably dressed in black. Even his nightclothes were black.

“But Narcissa,” pressed Snape. “Why her? You invited me, prodded me into your wife’s bed, why?” It was wonder that Lucius would be so generous. In fact, it was impossible for Lucius Malfoy did nothing without a reason or a benefit to himself.

“Was she not…to your liking?” said Lucius slowly. His eye twitched with humor.

Snape dared a glare at his host. It was absurd, this game that Lucius played. He was playing some cunning underhanded game, surely.

“Forgive me,” said Lucius. “I am perhaps a little jealous.”

“Then why?”

A look of sly malice crept unmistakably across Lucius’ face. “Because the silly dragon has put you at risk, you fool.” His voice was harsh and angry. “You have risked everything and for what? She’s not even human!”

“I wasn’t given a choice if you recall,” Severus shot back at him. “Dumbledore stuck her with me and our master saw fit to bind her to me for life!” The words came out in a burning stream. “I am now forever bound to a dragon! I risk my life daily at that school under the watch of Dumbledore who suspects me constantly. I have been the most faithful of servants to our master and yet he nearly killed me, and for what? Only to somehow catch that dragon. He thought her to be important enough for that! My life is worth nothing to any of them, Lucius.” He realized as he said the words that all of it was true. “The Dark Lord may as well have killed me. My life is worth little more than dirt.” He slumped uncharacteristically in the chair and glared into the fire. He hated them all.

Lucius laughed. “Don’t be such a child. Our master had no wish to kill you…yet.”

Severus openly sneered at him this time.

“Come, come,” said Lucius. “You’re so dramatic! You always were so put upon, Severus. Granted, your job is difficult and you’re a constant target to our enemies, but look at me!” He smiled indulgently. “I’m out there, as well. Keeping my mouth shut and my pocket book open for that fool Fudge. It is a constant toil. We are but servants of our master and in the end, my friend, in the end, we will be rewarded for our loyalty.”

“I’m not so sure that my reward won’t be my death,” said Severus morosely.

“Bring him the dragon, Severus,” urged Lucius. “Bring him the dragon and he’ll see your worth. He only wants her out of the clutches of Dumbledore now. He believes her to be a threat of some kind, though I fail to see how that’s possible.”

“She’s unique.”

Lucius was curious. It had been burning inside him. The young woman had been his lover and now she was a monster. “Have you seen her as a dragon?” he asked. “Have you seen this power that Voldemort wants?”

“She is very strong and she is able to see my thoughts.” It was strangely comforting to confess this to Lucius. He carried such a huge burden around with him all the time. Everyone wanted a piece of him.

“She’s bewitched you, hasn’t she? The cunning minx,” said Lucius. “That’s why I gave you Narcissa, my friend, to break her spell on you.” He laughed at him. “And I think she has, my lovely bride. She’s broken the dragon’s spell. Now, you must honor our Dark Lord. You must enlist the dragon in our cause!”

Snape said nothing and starred back into the fire. It did seem logical, to bring her to Voldemort but she would never allow it. The first audience with the Dark Lord had ended in disaster for him. If anything, he knew she would not put him in danger again. In that she was loyal to him. She was also loyal in her pledge to Dumbledore. He idly wondered what she was doing at the moment. Most likely she had spent the last week fighting with her father while gathering information for the Order. It amused him that she and her father were so adamant with each other. He resolved to save her from herself. He would call on her.

“I’ll leave for Hogwarts today, I think,” he said aloud to Malfoy. “I’ll do as you say if I can. I’ll convince her to come to cause.” She could take a turn at being a target and feel the sting of being a double agent for a time. Let her bring her smug know-it-all attitude to Voldemort and see where that got her. The Dark Lord would make mince meat of her supposed dragon superiority. He wouldn’t, in truth mind her companionship on the front lines.




Later that day he found himself not in her company but staring down angrily at the little house elf of the Wood household. He was so angry that she was not to found where he’d expected to find her that he was of a mind to take out his wand and hex the little devil just to spite her.

“What do you mean she hasn’t been here all week?” he yelled.

He was aggravated no end at her audacity at leaving him without telling him where she was. She knew where he was. She had best return the courtesy. He paced the vestibule fuming. “Where is she?” he demanded.

“I dunno, sir,” cringed the little elf Wicca. This gentleman was very scary and he wished he could disappear. He bowed low touching his nose to the ground.

Snape flapped the edges of his black traveling cloak in frustration. “The very nerve of her!” he bellowed.

“Professor Snape, what in the world are you shouting about in my house?” asked Roland Wood indignantly. He stood at the top of the stair looking down at the black galoot having a temper tantrum in his vestibule below. “Your shouting could wake the dead and I’ll not have you frightening my servant in this manner, sir.” He walked down the stair and waited for an explanation. Roland Wood was aggravated.

Severus was momentarily caught out. He’d forgotten about her father. She was infuriating and now he looked a fool, once again. “Forgive me, sir,” he said bowing to the ambassador. “I have suffered a disappointment and forgot myself.”

“Well?” asked Roland not appeased. “Explain yourself!”

“I-I expected Miss Wood to be here,” he said carefully. “It is important that we return to Hogwarts.” Any lie would do to save face. “If you know where she is, it is imperative that she know this. Do you know?”

“I do,” said Roland. He had no intention of illuminating this Death Eater on the wicked whereabouts of his audacious daughter. And for that matter, his daughter was going to get an earful regardless. Lovesick bellowing Death Eaters in his hall was a thing she was entirely responsible for and he aimed to tell her so.

“Do you intend to tell me?” Snape’s anger was reaching a danger point.

“No, I do NOT!” said Roland unimpressed with the smoldering stare and curling lip of this supposed professor. He’d faced down worse wizards then Snape. “I think that I’ll leave Felicity to explain her own whereabouts, sir.”

Snape was livid and wanted to take out his wand and use an unforgivable on someone. Anyone would do. He fumed silently and then resigned that he would not be afforded the opportunity to kill, however, and there was nothing for it but to bow and take his leave. “Wherever she is then, sir, please inform her that I was calling and that she must return to work post-haste,” He said formally and curtly then apparated from the room without another word.

“That man is a loose cannon and will kill someone before he calms down,” said Roland to Wicca who had let out an audible sigh of relief when the black wizard had popped out of the room.

Wicca nodded in agreement.




Severus Snape’s day had gone from bad to worse in a matter of hours. He would be the very last man on earth to admit however that it was his entirely of his own making. He only made it worse when he pranced into Grimmauld Place unannounced and demanded he speak with Harry Potter about an important errand that Albus Dumbledore had set him on. It was only a rouse to have an excuse to look for Felicity Wood but again he’d be the last man to admit that he could have waited until all the students were back at school to inform Mr. Potter of his Occulmency lessons. Severus Snape had wanted to see for himself, had wanted to know absolutely that what he suspected was true. If Remus Lupin were gone, then he’d know.

He was a man quite proud of his cold and calculating control. He refused to admit to himself or anyone else that he could be dangerous to others. He was out there risking his life daily while there were some who hid behind Albus Dumbledore’s robes. He wasn’t going to be made a lap dog for any woman, no matter how pleasurable she was to him. The dragon was comforting to be sure, but he could find such comfort elsewhere if she was so accommodating to others; others that he hated.

It had been foolish, perhaps just a little to confront Sirius Black as he had done or to face that talent less little twerp that James Potter had spawned. He had asked Black about Felicity before Potter had come into the room and then been driven insane by the answer. For that braggart Black couldn’t help including an explanation. He couldn’t resist rubbing his face in it. He would have killed the berk given half the chance but the ridiculous Weasley’s and their enormous slobbering brood had interrupted that pleasure. He’d been rash, perhaps but what a relief it would have been to curse that coward into tomorrow. It was an outrage to have had to ask permission of Black as if he were a servant, as if he even cared whether the boy lived or died. The favored heir apparent be damned! He secretly hoped that the Dark Lord would squash the little nemesis.

Severus steamed and raged as he apparated to the outskirts of Hogwarts. He knew where Felicity was now and it only made him angrier. Remus Lupin had not been at Grimmauld Place. He’d seen that right away. The lazy loaf would have been lounging about in the kitchen, as he always was if he’d been there. He knew where she was. She was with him. Black had told him as much.



Severus Snape moved swiftly across the lawn ignoring the foot of snow that he trudged through. Stupid bloody useless Filch should have cleared the walks by now. He stormed up the stair and strode directly to Dumbledore’s tower. He should have thought better of it, should have stopped for a breather, a cup of coffee or even a smoke but he was hell-bent by then and in a rage.

He pounded on the door to the Headmaster’s office.


Albus Dumbledore let out an audible sigh as he looked up from his papers, realizing there was an irate and irrational potions professor just outside his door. He wasn’t surprised, nor was he displeased. The professor was just another problem on his list.

“Come in, Professor Snape,” he said lightly.

Snape pushed opened the door and walked purposely inside the room stopping just short of Dumbledore’s desk. He was intent on his anger, intent on having his say for once.

“Good day to you, Severus,” said Dumbledore smiling up at him. “How was your Christmas? Did everything go well?” He happily indicated a chair. “Do sit down, you must be tired after such an exhausting time of it.” He peered up at Severus Snape who suddenly looked as if the wind had been kicked right out of him. Poor lad. Dumbledore had that affect on people sometimes. When he wanted it.

Severus stood looking down at Dumbledore. He shifted his weight from one foot to the other. He dithered. He brushed his ever-errant hair from his eyes. “I’ve come,” he fumbled. “I’ve come to report in, sir,” he said finally.

He sat down in the chair defeated. He had no idea why he’d gotten so angry. No idea, at all. Or, for that matter, how the anger had dissipated so suddenly. “I’ve informed Mr. Potter of his Occulmency lesson, Professor,” he said evenly and calmly.

“Fine, fine,” said Dumbledore watching him. “And how did that go?”

Snape allowed a small smirk. “Black interfered,” he said.

“And?”

“And we had words. He and I have never seen eye to eye. The man’s a blagger.”

Dumbledore sighed and looked down at his desk for a moment. “Sirius Black is a troubled soul, Severus. He isn’t, however, a liar or a cheat. You and he have never got on well but do remember my dear Professor that you are free to come and go while he is trapped in that house.”

“I would not describe my predicament as exactly free, sir,” said Snape dryly.

Dumbledore chuckled. “No, no perhaps not!” He smiled pleasantly but with an edge of steel in his eye. “You must remember why we are here, my friend. You must remember what’s at stake. Many lives are in your capable hands.”

Severus starred into the cold blue eyes of his headmaster.

“I ordered her to go to Wolvin, Severus,” said Dumbledore.

Severus did not utter a word.

“The werewolves, as much as you disapprove of them have a right to live in peace.”

Severus moved not a muscle.

“Have you anything to tell me, Severus?”

Professor Snape’s mind went quite blank in an effort to hide from Albus Dumbledore. “No, sir,” he said with a shake of his head. “Nothing.”


“Very good then,” said Dumbledore smiling. “Welcome home, then.”

“Yes, sir. Thank you, sir,” and Severus rose to go.

He bowed and walked to the door stiffly.

“Oh, Severus?” called Dumbledore from his desk as Snape put his hand to the door.

“Sir?”

Albus paused to take in the image of the man. “You did very well, very well, indeed. I very much appreciate your sacrifices.”

“Thank you, sir,” said Severus and he was gone.




Albus Dumbledore stared at the door for some seconds. He’d learned much from the Professor and not all of it good. Lucius and Tom were up to several somethings but that was as to be expected. It seemed that they were using manipulation of Severus Snape and they hoped to gain the dragon in their growing arsenal. Tom could be such a cunning merciless enemy sometimes. And now…Dumbledore sighed again…now he wasn’t even human any longer let alone sane.

So many problems on his list! It seemed to endlessly be growing by the day!

Sirius was also, indeed a growing problem. Young Harry was, too. He was a frustrated and struggling youth with the weight of the world placed squarely on his shoulders. Dumbledore was most worried about Harry and the prophecy. It all hinged on how he, in the end would decide. He and Voldemort would end up at some crucial point in the future, vying for the same space and one would die while the other lived.

There were so many problems on his list.

He sighed and realized with a chuckle that he was doing a great deal of sighing of late.

Severus could go either way but he had faith in the man. He’d learned to appreciate the man over the years despite the differences in their personalities. He was a Slytherin and a Slytherin could always be depended upon to act accordingly. Severus Snape was a man to be trusted in a crisis. Lucius Malfoy and Tom Riddle would both drive Snape back to the fold no matter how hard they tried to lure him away.

For Severus Snape had the one thing that they did not, something that Dumbledore had absolute and unshakable faith in. Snape would, in the end, do the right thing. It was that simple. The man was a born to it. Yes, he was calculating, and self-absorbed but he would do the right thing in the end and simply because he had to, because he was compelled to, deep down in his heart.


************


I'd loved to hear what you think! Cheers, Pru

Chapter 22: Just a Dream
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22
Just a dream




By Sunday at mid-day Felicity had returned to Hogwarts. It was a difficult return. Her father had been angry with her over Professor Snape’s invasion of his home. She also felt bereft at leaving Remus. She would most likely not be allowed to see him for a few months. Dolores Umbridge and the constant policing of her comings and goings at Hogwarts would put an end to Felicity’s escaping unseen. Albus Dumbledore had warned her of the months that lay ahead when she returned. Felicity knew her duty was to protect the students from the ministry’s constant interference in the form of the great fat pink cow.

She had the unhappy experience of running into the ridiculous DADA professor on her way to report to Dumbledore upon arriving. Felicity doubted it to be accidental as the woman was obviously hovering about the tower in wait with her bloody clipboard ready.

“Felicity,” said the syrupy voice as she stepped up to the stone statue that guarded the entrance.

“Professor!” said Felicity. “Are you lurking in the hallway waiting for me?”

“I’d hardly call it lurking, young lady,” said Dolores. She wore a loathsome dark rose robe over her bright pink sweater set. The colors clashed violently. Professor Umbridge’s smile was plastic and dangerous looking. “You are reporting in, I presume?”

“Yes, I am, professor.”

“Well?”

“Well, what?”

“Come, come, Professor, don’t be coy. Anything that you have to report should be shared with the Inquisitor of the Ministry of Magic.” Her smile broadened into a hideous wide band of pink lipstick across her face. Felicity imagined her a toad whose long tongue would emerge to snatch her up like a fly.

“I’m going to give my New Year’s greetings to my Headmaster, Madame Inquisitor. I might also tell him about the lovely parties that I attended while in London with my father, the AMBASSADOR, if you will recall. And then I’m going to take my leave for a nice long bath and bed.”

The toad eyed her suspiciously. “I find your attitude lacking. Someone in your dubious position, being a first year professor should be more accommodating to the ministry, your employer.”

“And I find your prodding ambitions irritating, Professor Umbridge,” said Felicity in her coldest Slytherin voice. “I said as much to Minister Fudge when I met him at the Malfoys on Christmas Eve. He was quite interested in a second and, I might add less self serving opinion of the situation at the school.” It was a bold face lie that would bite her in the butt someday, she was sure. The toady was just too irritating.

“You did not!”

“I did.”

Professor Umbridge’s eyes widened then narrowed quickly. “I’ll be watching you, Miss Wood. This is insubordination and I’m going to write it down in my report.”

Felicity pursed her lips. “If you must, Inquisitor Umbridge, then you must. Excuse me.” She said the password quietly into the statue’s ear not knowing if Umbridge was privy to it and stepped onto the stair as it began to rise. She didn’t look down at the professor who she knew was boring a great large hole in the back of her head that might have melted a Hufflepuff at thirty paces. She was not a Hufflepuff.

She hesitated at Dumbledore’s door. So far, her day had gone from bad to worse. She took a moment to calm herself from her confrontation with the pink nightmare before entering the Headmaster’s office.

The two oil lamps on his desk lighted the room. In the waning light of the dreary afternoon, they gave Headmaster Dumbledore an almost sinister look as he watched her approach his desk in silence.

“Happy New Year, Headmaster,” said Felicity shyly.

He smiled then and broke the gloom. “Happy New Year, my dear,” he said and indicated a chair.

“Professor Umbridge met me at the bottom of your stair,” said Felicity.

He frowned. “Yes, she is getting more…enthusiastic. We must be careful around her.” He peered at her waiting and watching.

“Voldemort didn’t show up at Wolvin, sir. We warned them. They will be as ready as possible.”

“He wasn’t ready yet,” said Dumbledore quietly. “He will be.”

“Will you send Remus there?” she asked holding her breath.

He merely nodded and waited.

“You received my report on the Death Eaters that I spotted at the Malfoy’s Christmas ball?”

“I did.”

Felicity squirmed a little in her chair. This interview was not going well. “Have I done something wrong, sir?” she asked.

“Lemon drop?” He smiled and rose from his desk to move around it and stand in front of her. He held out the box of sweets.

She took one popping it into her mouth. The tart sweet taste was a relief. “Has something happened?” she asked.

He looked down at her and smiled kindly. His blue eyes sparkled with a curious look. “A small thing, perhaps, yes,” he said at length. “Severus reported in and he was more than a little annoyed.”

She gulped. She’d realized that he was unhappy since arriving at the castle. Even through stonewalls she’d felt his fire but that in itself was not unusual.

“My father told me that he’d gone to his house looking for me,” she said timidly.

“Yes,” said Dumbledore peering down at her. “He also went to Grimmauld Place and if the Weasley’s hadn’t appeared at the opportune moment, he may have dueled with Sirius Black in his anger.” He smiled kindly at her and waited.

Severus was a man of strong convictions, a man with a will power beyond any she had ever encountered. He had an almost superhuman ability to compartmentalize his emotions and his intellect was above and beyond the normal. He was also a tempest in a teapot when he was angry. He was proving her undoing and she knew it from the kind but firm face of the old man.

“I’ll fix it, sir,” she said finally. “I may have been wrong in my approach with Professor Snape.”

“You can never be wrong in the affairs of the heart, my dear,” said Dumbledore. “Just occasionally foolhardy. As I said before, they are merely men.”

“I’ll make it work, sir,” she said sadly.

“I know you will, my dear.” He reached out and put a comforting hand on her shoulder. “Master Tong would be very proud of you.”

“Would he, sir?” she asked. Felicity was sure that would not be proud of her.

She both dreaded and was excited about seeing Severus again. He was somewhere in the castle and she could feel the subtle anger he carried with him. It was directed at her she now knew. She would have to do something about his jealousy once and for all even if it broke her own heart. Though the old man was subtle, his order had been clear. Severus Snape must be dealt with. He could not carry such emotions with him and face the Dark Lord and whatever was to come. He couldn’t go bashing about like a hotheaded jealous lover every time she wasn’t available to him. She’d realized finally her mistake.

She knocked at Severus’ door in the dungeons. He was in his private rooms stretched out on his horsehair sofa reading a book. The door had opened freely enough but he barely looked up at her nor did he smile when she entered the room.

“Didn’t you have a nice time at the Malfoys?” she asked knowing that he was unhappy with her. She couldn’t help but admire him as she always did. His stroppy nature was part arrogant child and part proud king.

“I had a pleasant enough time,” he said still pretending to read. “Did you have a nice time in Wolvin?” His voice dripped with sarcasm and he lowered his book and raised an eyebrow in distaste. His jealousy was plainly visible.

“Yes, they’re lovely people.” She frowned at him. “You’re impossible!”

He stared at her blankly.

“I did nothing wrong,” she said putting her hands on her hips.

He watched her stone faced.

“Shall I tell you what I did?” she said meanly. “Shall I describe the details?” He was ruining everything with his behavior. She would miss him terribly. If he’d only have cooperated they could’ve had a wonderful time together.

He clenched his teeth and threw down the book to the floor and sat up. “I refuse to accept the state of affairs, Felicity,” he said coldly.

She knew that he was right. Her stubborn and greedy nature had caused this strength of feeling in him. It wasn’t ever going to be fair, not from his point of view.

“Why must you do this, Severus?” she asked desperately. “I love you, you know that. Can’t that be enough for you? Most men would think it ideal that they could have Narcissa as a lover without making their other lover jealous. Why must you behave so ridiculously?”

“Ridiculous?” he bellowed. “Ridiculous? I was not the one running around the countryside with werewolves. You’re to safeguard me, Felicity. That is your mission. I was in danger at the Malfoys and you left town.”

“You weren’t in danger. I would have felt it,” she said quietly.

“I won’t stand for it. You’re mine by the blood we share and I won’t have you cavorting with that werewolf, especially not Remus friggin’ Lupin!”

She sat down next on the sofa with a sigh. His anger was palpable and she had to admit defeat in the face of it. “I agree,” she said quietly. “I hadn’t realized how difficult it would be. This has never happened to me before and despite what I’ve told myself, I’ve acted badly. My human self has been far too involved. I-I’ve discovered things about my own soul that I’d not realized. I’ve been very selfish.” She looked at him sadly. “My teacher’s would disapprove of the decisions I’ve made. They warned me that my youth would cloud my judgment. Dumbledore also tried to warn me but I thought myself stronger than I actually am. I thought that I could be in control and find that I cannot. You are much too strong.”

Severus hadn’t expected her to be compliant. He was taken aback. “What in Merlin’s name are you blathering on about?” He snapped.

“The headmaster warned me that you were only men,” said Felicity. “My duty is to you. I love you, Severus. I want to help you survive the Dark Lord, as I promised Dumbledore, as I promised you. But, I’ve discovered late in the day that I’m actually in love with Remus Lupin, in a very human way. This shouldn’t have been a problem except that he’s a man that you’re hell bent on hating. It has created a situation that’s harmful to you, that’s harmful to others. I can’t stop your hating him any more than I can stop your need to possess me.” She sighed deeply. “I might try to convince you not to be jealous or possessive endlessly but you’ll still find a way to be what you are.”

“Once again,” interrupted Severus dryly, “you are insufferably presumptuous.”

“I am?”

“You are.” He held onto to his anger in an effort to keep her out of his mind and tried to empty his mind of everything else.

“You can’t keep me out, Severus. I’m not a Legilimence. I’m part of you and you are part of me. That’s why this situation is impossible. Usually, it wouldn’t have mattered to have two lovers because we dragons aren’t faithful in any human way by nature.” She bit her lip. “I don’t know if you’re able to understand me on this. Love Magic is very powerful, Severus. It’s in some ways more powerful than blood magic.”

“That’s absurd. There’s no such thing as Love Magic. You’re starting to sound like that idiotic Trelawney creature.”

“It’s very real. It’s the secret to the dragon healing. We love those that we’ve been enlisted to heal. Our devotion helps heal the injured soul with trust. You can always trust that I love you, and you would eventually gain strength from my help. Your hate, however, and your jealousy have hampered any good that I might have done for you. Severus, you can’t face the Dark Lord with such emotions uncontrolled.”

“I don’t consider myself weak, Felicity,” said Severus sternly. “It’s audacious of both you and Dumbledore to consider that I needed a keeper. I’ve faced the Dark Lord countless times without your administrations.”

“But you’ve yet to face him since we’ve been lovers, Severus. You’ve yet to face him as you’ve acted recently. It was completely out of your character to storm into my father’s house, or to nearly duel with Sirius because you didn’t find me,” she whispered.

“You have incredible conceit,” said Snape through gritted teeth. “You presume that my actions were due to your traitorous actions but I was actually concerned for your welfare.” He closed off all his emotions. She was much too clever sometimes.

She reached out him. Holding his hand, she opened it palm up and traced a circle in the middle lightly with her wand. He let her out of curiosity and also because he still wanted her near him. He could cut his own throat hating himself for feeling it but it was there nonetheless. He still wanted her touch. Her ability to create and maintain an immediate intimacy with him was comforting.

Where she touched him glowed softly with a warm light. She whispered words in a language he’d never heard before and realized too late that she was working some unknown magic on him again. He tried to snatch his hand from hers but couldn’t. He watched in horror as the glow began to spread up his arm. It tingled and tickled as it traveled to his neck and shoulders then spread quickly throughout his body. He suddenly relaxed, the magic lifting weights of feeling from inside. A joy and peace filled him and though he knew that it was of her making, he still rejoiced in it, false or not. It felt that good.

“The old ones, my teachers use this magic to heal,” she said quietly. “I’ve been selfish and cruel because I loved you. To give in to your lusts was easier and I wanted it that way. I wanted you for myself, my love. I lusted for you.” She reached her hand to his face and traced a finger along his lips. There were tears in her eyes. “You’re head of my house. You’re all that had been taken away from me and I so needed you, Severus, more then even I knew. I’ve acted foolishly as the young often do. The old ones had warned me but I did, as I liked because I wanted you and had to have you. They all warned me that such magic was too strong unless I was entirely focused and selfless. I thought I could be but Remus Lupin got in the way. I find that I don’t have that control, Severus. I can only hope that you’ll forgive me.”

“I can’t live with Remus Lupin in my face, Felicity,” said Severus.

“No, you can’t.”

“You must not see him again.”

“No, I can’t promise that and in the end it won’t be necessary.”

He tried to stir up his anger again but found he that he couldn’t. “You’ve had the audacity to bind me to you for the rest of my life. You must give him up.” He tried to muster some semblance of a persuasive voice to sway her. She must see his way was best for both of them.

“I’ll be gone and you’ll forget that I existed eventually. Only when your life is endangered will I be compelled to your side.”

“What are you talking about?”

“I’ll be gone, a dream, a memory of someone you worked with that you’ll only vaguely remember. ”

“You’ll do that?”

“Yes, and more. We’re magic creatures, we dragons. We can’t go about leaving broken hearts behind us, my love. That wouldn’t be the point, would it?” She was crying real tears. “I only thought we would have more time, at least this year together, you and I. I feel so trapped and alone here at Hogwarts and you’re my only real friend. I selfishly wanted to be here with you. I wanted us to be lovers.”

He realized suddenly what she was saying, what magic she had used on him. “No, Felicity,” he said sternly taking both her shoulders and shaking her. “Don’t do this. You have no right to take what we have from me. You have no right!”

“It was always going to be this way, Severus. It’s just sooner rather then later.”

“It’s so bloody convenient for you, isn’t it? You’re a monster!” There was an edge of hysteria in his voice. “You’re worse than the Dark Lord.” His body wouldn’t respond to his need for strength and anger. He was lethargic.

“It was a dream, my love,” she said. “You needed that time with me at that moment when it was us but it was just a dream. You’ll have Narcissa to comfort you, and I’ll still be as close as I dare to be.” She kissed his lips lightly. He could taste the salt from the tears that ran down her face.

“No, damn you,” he said into her lips.

She kissed him more deeply and pressed him back onto the sofa. He felt a strong sluggishness weigh him down. She’d concealed her wand in her free hand that she touched lightly to his chest. “Sleep.” His eyes fluttered closed. She placed the book back on his chest, leaving the room without a backward glance. Her dragon’s heart was breaking in two.



******




By Tuesday, Voldemort’s faithful had been released from Azkaban. The Daily Prophet reported it with blazing headlines but those in the Order of Phoenix by and large already knew. They’d been up for most of the morning, awakened by Dumbledore with McGonagall. There’d been an impromptu meeting of the Order at Grimmauld Place at three o’clock in the morning.

Shacklebolt, Tonks, the Weasleys, Black and many more had been driven from their beds to attend the meeting. Remus had been there and for a few short minutes Felicity had held his hand as the other argued and discussed what was to be done. He would be sent immediately to Wolvin to stand watch for them. She wished that she could go with him rather then return to a cold Hogwarts without Severus to warm her.

With the most notorious of the Death Eaters to do Voldemort’s bidding, his rise to power, as well as the ensuing war to stop him was inevitable. A gloom of helplessness had settled on them all. They all remembered the last war. The fact that the Ministry was blind to the coming storm was demoralizing.

By the following morning it was in the news. The Daily Prophet reported that it was believed that Sirius Black had released the others because he, of all the faithful followers had escaped first. There was another call by the Ministry to make more diligent their efforts to catch the infamous Black. Only those in the Order believed that it was Voldemort at the core of it.

Severus had been in a sour mood for most of the morning and refused to look at the Prophet though Felicity read him snippets from it at breakfast.

“Must you annoy me with your constant banter, Miss Wood?” said Severus irritated as she chattered on about the news as if he didn’t know it by heart already. He was a dead man walking. Voldemort would be calling him soon and the others would surely discover his secret.

“Severus, really,” said Felicity smiling at him. “You’re really such a martyr. He will want you placed here. You’ve nothing to worry about, yet.” She placed the paper down and reached over to touch his arm. Though she’d tried mightily not to induce the intimacy that they’d known for fear it would spark memory in him, she still wanted the closeness of his touch. Two days into her lie and she still wanted him near her.

He looked down at her hand on his arm with no expression. She removed it immediately. “I’m wondering about this bond of ours, Felicity,” he said not unkindly.

“What about it?”

“I’ve had dreams of you.”

“When in the world did you have time to dream last night?”

He glared at her. “Is it normal when one is bonded as we are to have dreams of an intimate nature?”

She looked away fighting down a wanting emotion that would have given her away. Tears suddenly stung at her eyes. “I think I’m going to sneeze,” she said pretending to do so.

He looked at her strangely. “You’re avoiding the question, Felicity,” he said sternly. “The dreams seemed very real. I believe that I imagined kissing you in public at the Malfoy’s party and I can’t imagine behaving in such a fashion.”

“That you did do,” she said. “You claimed that you were passing information to me.” She looked at him with a face of carved stone. “Perhaps you were drinking?”

“I do not drink at parties.”

“Perhaps you’re attracted to me?” she asked smiling seductively at him.

“I do find you attractive and you know it. You are constantly trying to seduce me, how can I not notice that?” He shook his finger at her. “Obviously, it’s some spell that you’ve worked on me and I want you to stop it immediately.” He leaned over to her letting strings of his black hair hide his eyes. “You must try to be less seductive, Professor Wood. We have a job to do and it just got harder last night.”

“The dreams are a passing part of the blood bond,” she whispered with lowered eyes. “The vividness will fade.”

She dared to look up at him. His eyes watched her, coveted her, and in his mind, he contemplated the fact that he wanted her just as he’d dreamt of her. “I hope it does pass,” he said calmly. “It’s disconcerting to think of you in that way in such dramatic detail.”

“I’m sorry, Severus,” she said sadly. “But the dreams will fade. They always do. I will try to be less seductive for your sake.”

She looked away from him with a pained expression and found herself looking directly into the cool blue eyes of Albus Dumbledore.




*************
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Chapter 23: Pink Cows Bite
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23

Pink Cows Bite




Felicity had had a tough beginning to the second half of the school year. There was a siege mentality throughout the castle. Dolores Umbridge was terrorizing everyone. The tyrannizing toady seemed to be everywhere in that first week back from the Christmas break.

On the day after the Death Eaters had escaped, Professor Wood had a difficult class. Theo, the sole Slytherin in her advanced Runes class was again prone to sassy remarks and to make matters worse, halfway through the class Dolores Umbridge had come in to observe and meddle. Her mean little mouth had been set in a smile and her sweet syrupy voice was beyond irritating. Felicity could hardly concentrate on her Runes lesson for the day. Umbridge had constantly interrupted the class with coughing fits for attention.

It was going to be a long term if she kept up this abuse of both her teachers and her students. Felicity wondered when she had time to teach her own classes.

Hermione had lingered after class to talk with Felicity. She stood fidgeting with her books, a look of stress and fatigue on her face.

“Professor,” she said breathlessly. “I wonder if I might have a word?”

Felicity looked up to see Dolores Umbridge in the darkened hall beyond the door. She turned around, her amphibian leer coming to attention.

“Now would not be appropriate, Miss Granger,” she said quietly in warning.

She knew the girl was troubled and that she needed an adult she trusted to talk with but the toad loomed and there was nothing for it but to put her off.

“Perhaps, you could knock at my door this afternoon?” whispered Felicity just before the pink troglodyte was upon them.

“Is everything all right?” asked the syrupy voice of the Inquisitor. “May I help you?” She peered menacingly at Hermione.

Hermione looked startled but recovered quickly. The poor child, everyone was suffering under the controlling hysteria of the toady professor.

“I-I just wanted to ask the professor about my O.W.L exams, Professor Umbridge,” she said recovering her wits quickly. “I’m quite worried about my Runes exam and wanted to know if she’d thought I’d be prepared.”

Professor Umbridge looked suspicious under a plastic mask of a pleasant face accented with her bulging eyes. The woman was odious in every way.

“It’s against the Inquisitor’s decree number twenty-six to discuss matters outside of a professor’s subject, Miss Granger,” said Umbridge sternly. It was a warning and it was directed with malice at Hermione. Felicity wanted to step in front of her to protect the child from this creature but knew that it would only make things worse.

“I know of no such a decree,” she said instead.

Umbridge shot her a glare than glazed it over with her cloying smile. Felicity felt the urge to retch. “It’s being posted as we speak, Professor Wood,” she said. “It has come to my attention that some of the professors are advising students outside what they are being paid to do. That just won’t be allowed.” She glared at Felicity seeming to dare her to contradict her.

The woman was simply dangerous. “Miss Granger’s Rune’s exam is within my realm to advise upon, Madame Inquisitor,” she said coldly before turning to Hermione. “Just be sure you’ve got your Magical Hieroglyphs and Logograms down pat, miss Granger. You run along to lunch, dear.”

Hermione escaped looking very relieved to be away. Felicity wasn’t so lucky.

Umbridge stood watching her. She looked like a puppet in a muggle Punch and Judy show.

“Is there something else that you wanted to say, Dolores?” asked a very irritated dragon woman. She sorely wished yet again that she could eat the tasty toady.

“I merely wanted you to know that I’m watching you, Professor Wood,” said Umbridge. “Your father’s position won’t protect you if you defy the Ministry.”

“And you are the Ministry, I take you to mean?”

“I am at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.” Her wide mouth was one long line in a pancake face. “Those who don’t follow the rules will be sacked. I am fully aware of your activities over the Christmas holiday. You were seen in the company of Professor Snape in public and in a very compromising position.”

“Oh, please, Dolores,” said Felicity dismissively. “A harmless kiss between friends is hardly compromising. It was Christmas Eve. Frankly, I would think you’ve got enough on your hands to be worrying about Professor Snape. The man’s a cold fish most of the time, though I do consider him a good friend.” If the woman didn’t leave her soon, she was certainly going to eat her.

“I’m watching you, Professor,” sneered Umbridge. “If I catch you with one toe out of line, you won’t be here next year and there’s no reason for you to finish this year. Neither Dumbledore nor your father will protect you from me. Be warned, miss.” She smiled sickeningly and then turned and waddled off out the door.

Felicity watched her go with a combination of dread, anger and fear. The woman was dangerous, ambitious and sinister. There was something not quite sane about the way she needed to control all of Hogwarts. Dumbledore had better be the great and wise wizard that he seemed to be. Felicity made a wish for peace of mind, as was the dragon way when stressed, deciding that meditation was better than lunch, she walked to her dungeon haven alone.

Hermione Granger hadn’t come to her rooms and was distant to her after that. Many of the students were distant from the teaching staff. It was only the beginning of the hell that became the Hogwarts routine. Everyone had become territorial and guarded. Both students and staff were tense. Umbridge was everywhere and into everyone’s business. The students were sullen and though outwardly compliant, there was a siege mentality amongst them as a whole. Many seemed as if they weren’t getting enough sleep at night and Felicity suspected that they were secretly meeting for some purpose unknown that she couldn’t quite put her finger to.

During the month of January and into February the only people she had to talk to were the other teachers and even then, most of them she had to talk with in the hallways as if in passing. Their own staff room wasn’t safe for discussion of any subject. Umbridge had spies everywhere. Felicity suspected some of the students of spying against her. Theo was particularly uppity and presumptuous in class and out. The Slytherin House students seemed to relish in the tension under Umbridge iron rule while the others withered.

Severus refused to discuss the Slytherin behavior when she tried to point out their growing allegiance with Umbridge one day in his office in mid-February.

“You’re very dramatic, Felicity,” he told her dryly. “They’re students, teenagers and ridiculous hellions the lot of them. It isn’t just the Slytherins that are throwing their weight around. Your precious Harry Potter has been particularly obstructive of late.”

“Why do you hate that boy so much?” she asked him irritated.

“Don’t be absurd. I don’t hate any of my students. I am severe with them because that’s what they deserve. Potter is a little subversive rabble-rouser just as his father was. That little holy triangle of Dumbledore’s favorites is up to something. I can smell their deviousness.”

“Hermione Granger is hardly devious, Severus,” she said. “The girl is a very smart. I’ve no other student as talented as she.”

“She’s a prissy little know-it-all that can’t hold her tongue.”

She watched his pursed lip with interest. He was irritated at Mr. Potter for something else and she knew what it was. “How are your private Occulmency lessons going with Harry Potter?” she asked. “Are you behaving yourself?”

She sat on his desk quite close to him. No one in his or her right mind would presume it acceptable to sit so. She smelled heavenly like springtime in the midst of winter. Her leg brushed against his knee. As usual, she was disconcerting to him. “How I behave toward any student is none of your business, Felicity,” he said grumpily. “He is not cooperating, frankly.” He brought both his hands to a peak under his chin setting his elbows on his desk. His elbow touched her thigh and memories of his dreams came freshly to his mind.

“He’s young and under pressure from everyone, I think,” she said.

“You’ve no idea what you’re talking about. The boy is a pampered prat. Sometimes I get glimpses, disturbing and violent images of feeling from him.”

“Violent?”

“He is more connected to the Dark Lord then I think healthy, and I don’t think that he actually wants to succeed in severing the link between them if that indeed is what it is.” Severus leaned back in his chair shaking his long stringy hair from his face. “This is none of your affair, Felicity,” he said dismissively.

She pondered him. They sat looking at each other and saying nothing. She missed him, missed Remus, who she hadn’t heard a word from in over a month. She hadn’t even been allowed to attend the meetings at Grimmauld and Severus had meanly not told her a thing about what was going on with Remus and his watch at Wolvin. Voldemort also had been strangely quiet. It was disconcerting. His followers escaped from Azkaban and then nothing of significance had happened for weeks. There hadn’t even been a call for Severus to attend him.

“There’s something that I’ve been meaning to broach with you, Felicity,” said Severus finally.

“What?”

“My dreams, I’m still having them.”

“What dreams?”

“The dreams of an intimate relationship between you and I.”

“You can’t have done.”

He looked at her strangely. His eyebrow rose. “I think myself fully capable of remembering what I have in fact dreamt, Felicity.”

She was agape. He didn’t often surprise her. How could it be possible? He was supposed to forget. She closed her mouth. “I have no idea why you should have dreams of me, Severus,” she mumbled looking away.

He rose from his chair and towered over her. She hunched under his stare suddenly interested in her shoes. “Look at me, Felicity,” he said dangerously.

He reached out leaning close to guide her chin up toward him. “Tell me why the dreams haven’t stopped. Why do I feel the desire to kiss you like a lover whenever you’re near? Why does it drive me mad when I think of you and that animal, Lupin? Why are you trembling with anticipation of my touch even now as if you know what it’s like to be close to me?” He grabbed her by the shoulders bringing her to her feet, his face leaning so close the desire rose in her with a fire that threatened to consume her willpower.

“Severus, don’t,” she said weakly.

He relaxed his hold. “Why not?” he said. “There is an obvious attraction between us. Why not?” He stroked her arms wantonly. It was all she could do to not reach out to him. Fidelity was not the dragon way and her desire was rising to a fever pitch as he moved his hands from her arms to her waist. She was stunned by the desire that emanated from him and about ready to give in to his seduction.

There was a voice at the door to his office. “Well, well, well,” said the drawling voice of Lucius Malfoy. “Isn’t this a pretty picture?”

Severus glared at Lucius who stood smugly leaning on his cane at the door.

Felicity turned around to see both Lucius and the pink cow, Dolores Umbridge staring at them. Lucius was sniggering quietly but Umbridge looked as if she were about to explode. Her eyes bulged and steam might have been rising from her ears if that were possible for witches.

“This is outrageous behavior,” she spluttered.

Lucius turned his amusement in her direction. “Really, Madame Inquisitor,” he said dryly. “We are all adults here. I have known both Severus and Felicity for years, since they were children.” His amused face took on a glint of the Malfoy brass. “There is nothing amiss here.”

The pink cow shot him a quick look of extreme malice before she masked it to a blank stare. “I will not allow fraternization amongst the staff, Mr. Malfoy,” she said. “Please have your visit then see me on the way out.” She turned and starred directly at Felicity. “I would like to see you in my office as soon as Mr. Malfoy is finished with you, Professor Wood.” She frowned and turned on her heel abruptly walking out the door.

Lucius watched her leave; the amusement still apparent on his and then shut the door behind her. “Someone is in a good deal of hot water, I should imagine,” he said snidely as he sauntered up to them. Felicity had removed herself from Severus’ embrace and stood beside him glaring at Malfoy. She simply loathed this follower of the Dark Lord.

“Thanks to you, I will probably have to pay heavily for that,” she said bitterly.

“I did nothing, my dear dragon,” he said. “It was your lascivious nature that got you into trouble. Tsk, tsk on both of you.” He looked slyly at Severus. “What will I tell my dear Narcissa, I wonder?”

“What are you doing here, Lucius?” asked Severus unperturbed. “You could’ve alerted me at any time that you were coming.” He looked sideways at Felicity feigning secretiveness. “It’s been strangely quiet since Christmas.”

“Yes, but that’s about to change,” said Lucius. Lucius had tired of teasing them quickly. “Let’s not play games, friends. These stonewalls have ears. You must come to the manor on Friday and spend the weekend. Both of you, I insist upon it. I’ve already cleared it with our most ambitious Ministry representative, Madame Umbridge.” He smiled at Felicity lazily. “Though, Felicity here might have detention for her sexual misbehaviors.”

“Do shut up, Lucius,” said Felicity crossly.

He laughed at her. “You’re both to be our guests at a very private gathering of our most intimate friends. It’s a command performance that mustn’t be missed.”

“At last!” said Severus acting his part. “It’s been an age and I was aggrieved at being left out.”

“Hardly, my friend,” said Lucius. “We’ve just been moving and adjusting is all. Things must be handled one step at a time and there is so much to accomplish before our duty is done, isn’t there?” He looked seriously on Felicity. “I don’t think your recent endeavors set too kindly with our friends, missy. You will watch your tongue.”

“We have no friends in common, Malfoy.”

“Oh, but we do, my dear. We have Severus, here for instance.” He laughed. “And others that you may not be aware of. Oh, yes. You will cooperate this time. You’ll have no choice if you care for their welfare.”

Felicity steeled herself but inwardly she groaned. She was loath to search inside the soul of this man she hated and then before she had a chance, he turned quickly and walked back to the door. “Friday, remember. Six o’clock and don’t be late,” he said bowing to them and walking out the door.

Snape stood contemplating the door just closed saying nothing for a full minute. Felicity was fuming and puzzled at the same time. Obviously they would be meeting Voldemort again and the escaped Death Eaters but to what purpose? Why should they involve her at all?

“We must inform the Headmaster,” said Severus at length.

“You do it,” she said with a sadness that overwhelmed her. “I have to go take my licks from that cow, Umbridge.” She glared at the ground. It wasn’t fair. None of it was fair.

Snape smiled down at her, reaching out and embracing her before she had a chance to protest. How she’d missed hid touch. She buried her face in his shoulder and let him hug her, her dragon self basking in his warmth. “I’m a magical creature of no consequence,” she said into his ear.

He shivered and gripped her tighter, kissing her on the neck. “You must stay with me,” he said quietly.

She pushed away from him. “I will protect you from the Dark Lord,” she said. Her voice was strained and it took all her effort to walk away from his magnetic pull. She went to the door and turned. He stood straight back and impassive watching her, his near black eyes boring holes into her from afar. She said nothing more and left to face the evil Umbridge cow.

She would surely be on probation just as Professor Trelawney was by nightfall.


**************




Chapter 24: Wolvin Waits
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24

Wolvin Waits




The boy wrote in the diary whenever he could. It was a chore but he did get some enjoyment communicating with another being that knew of his unique circumstance. It had become a comfort to put his thoughts down. He was so very worried.

Has my mother been released? May I see her soon?

She has and you will be able to see her as soon as she is better.

Is she sick? Has something happened to her, lord?

She will be fine. We hope for recovery. The Ministry and those in Azkaban were cruel and heartless toward your mother. She sends her love and wishes for you to do something for her.


As Barnabus wrote to the Dark Lord over the weeks after receiving the magical diary he’d begun to forget the frightening and horrible being at the other end of the parchment. He-Who-Should-Not-Be-Named was so understanding and sympathetic. He seemed to empathize with his frustration that he was still not able to see his beloved mother. She’d been freed with the others, the Dark Lord had told him. He rejoiced in the knowledge that she was no longer in that hateful place.

What? What does she need? I’ll do anything for her.

We, she and I and the others would like you to find a place for us in Wolvin. She will be closer to you there. She will be able to change into a werewolf in secret. The Ministry is always close by here. We will be safer in Wolvin. It should be set away from the rest so as to be undisturbed by the muggle born amongst you.

How? How can I do this?

Find a way. Tell no one. Hurry. Your mother is weak and needs you near her. This is her wish, to be near you. It must be secret. No one must find her or us. They will kill us rather than risk another escape from prison.


For weeks Barnabus had traveled around the countryside in search of a place that would be out of the way of other’s eyes. He’d secretly taken one of the thestrals named Galvan because that creature of all the thestrals rarely came near humans and kept largely to the forest. Galvan would not be missed. He’d been able to slip away.

Kate had been curious about his disappearances at first but he’d put her off. She wasn’t allowed into the forest except at the change time. She was afraid of the thestrals because she couldn’t see them. He’d told her that they might attack her and she’d believed him.

Barnabus thought his efforts would be rewarded. He dreamed of a time when his mother could experience the change out in the open there in Wolvin. He would be so grateful to the Dark Lord. His mother running free was all that he hoped for.

What of the other werewolves?

What about them?

If you come here, will you kill them? The Gray’s have been very kind and they’ve told me how it was before, that you hunted them because they were werewolves.

You doubt me? Is this possible? I, who am now taking care of your mother, a werewolf in her delicate health?

Forgive me.

Find us a safe haven and all will be forgiven. You will be reunited with your mother.


It was difficult to find a house that was isolated from the others. The people of Wolvin were a social group and tended to cluster their houses together. There were no stand-alone structures that he could find from above. Each family seemed to build near each other. Companionship and family were inbred within the community.

He became desperate as the weeks went on when he couldn’t find even a shack that seemed set apart. It had been difficult to leave the school without being noticed. His friend Kate always seemed to notice when he went into the forest. By February the diary had become more beseeching and his mother had grown weaker.

I cannot find an isolated place. The families live close together.

Try harder; perhaps find a place with only a few families? Your mother grows frailer daily without you.

What else has happened? What news of Wolvin?

The wizard Lupin seems here to stay. He’s been teaching us lessons in the Dark Arts and protection. I’ve heard them talking recently. They’ve begun looking for you here in Wolvin.

Watch him closely and John Gray, as well. Everything, I must know everything.





Remus had been living with the Gray’s off and on for over a month and a half and had to admit that it was a pleasure to be a part of their family. He’d been teaching again as per the Gray’s request to pay for his room and board and was enjoying himself immensely. It was not much of a strain compared with teaching the much larger classes at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry but they had enough for three Quidditch teams if everyone played and the students in general were talented and hardworking. There was no house rivalry because there were no houses. That was a welcome difference. The Gray’s boarded five students from outside Wolvin, which included the mysterious Barnabus but primarily students came from the neighborhood of Wolvin. Students also began attending the school as soon as they showed signs of magical talents. There were a few students as young as eight.

All students were witches or wizards and all were werewolves.

The entire area encompassing hundreds of acres of hilly land was part of Wolvin and the forefathers of the county and the village had seen fit to protect the population from the prying eyes of the Ministry as well as the larger muggle community outside the Wolvin boundaries. Essentially, over the last five hundred years, Wolvin had become a haven unto itself. While the magical community at large struggled with hiding itself from the more populated muggle community, the village and county of Wolvin kept itself apart for its protection from all of them. They had developed a culture that incorporated their muggle community with their magical folk. The werewolves were by and large muggles as a group. All knew that if either the wizarding world or the muggle world were to discover their secret society of werewolves that they would all be destroyed. They kept allegiance to the Wolvin code of secrecy from a very early age out of self-preservation, first and love of their unique culture, second.

Remus felt that he’d died and gone to heaven. It was that simple. He’d struggled with his difference from the wizarding world his entire life and in Wolvin he had no struggle. It had been only with the Marauders that he’d ever felt that he belonged in a group. Here in Wolvin he was respected, an individual who’d made a reputation and a success in the outside world. The people of Wolvin looked upon him with admiration and thankfulness. He was one of their own.

Remus found himself basking in the acceptance. He had never belonged anywhere as he belonged here. It was heart wrenching to realize that there’d been a large gaping hole in his life before that he’d never acknowledged. He wasn’t sure if he could ever fully go back to it. For what was he really but a very lonely man with a burden of responsibility for old friends destroyed by war? Here in Wolvin he felt hope. He was completely smitten with this new community and wanted more than he’d ever dreamed possible to stay with them and build a life there.

But, he only dared wish for such a life in small snatches of time when he was alone with his thoughts.

“I told you that it would be this way,” said John Gray in early February as the two sat talking over fire whiskey in the comfortable parlor. The hearth fire was lit. It had become their custom to sit and discuss the world in the evening and they had become good friends.

“It continually amazes me, though. The ease with which all here in Wolvin maintain their werewolf identities.” Remus tipped his head back in his chair. “I’d like to live here when the war is over.”

“You’re more than welcome, as you know,” said John chuckling. “The wife would have my guts for garters if I didn’t encourage you to move here permanently now.”

Remus laughed. “Agatha is persuasive, I’ll give you that,” he said. “But I have obligations beyond Wolvin, my friendship with those of the Order and my promise to Harry.” He thought again of his friend Sirius alone in the house at Grimmauld Place. He must return soon to make sure that all was well. It had been over two weeks since his last visit and Sirius’ letters had become extremely melancholy in tone.

“Aye,” said John nodding. “But we’ll beat this new He-Who-Should-Not-Be-Named somehow.” He nodded again and watched the fire silently.

His daughter Kate walked in with her ever-silent friend Barnabus. Remus had observed that the two seemed inseparable and yet were complete opposites in temperament. Kate was shy when you first met her but became an effervescent chatterbox almost immediately while Barnabus hardly ever spoke. He was a handsome boy but he often had a look of sullen tortured silence about him. He was a strange young man and though he reminded Remus of Harry in some ways, he was not Harry. Every time the boy was near him his werewolf instincts became heightened and he felt as if he was being watched.

“Dad,” said Kate. “May Barnabus and I go with you tomorrow? Mum said you’d be going to the north.”

John looked surprised. He and Remus had been visiting every house in the county checking for any information of outside intruders. It was slow work but it was imperative if Voldemort and his Death Eaters planned to use Wolvin’s haven as a base of operations. “Why in the world would you two want to come?” he asked.

“No special reason,” said Kate evasively. “We just thought it might be fun to go with you.”

“Don’t you have school work to do?” asked John.

Kate shrugged. “Not really,” she said looking sheepishly at Remus. “Exams aren’t for ages yet and it’s too cold for flying.” She looked over at Barnabus who’d been the one to suggest that they ask to go. He was looking at his shoes and said nothing. “We just thought it would be fun and Barnabus hasn’t seen the northern part of the county yet.”

Remus watched Barnabus. The boy looked down at the ground. Even in class he was silent and never looked him in the eye. When he did his spells and incantations he hardly ever faltered, though. He was a talented young wizard but there was something odd about him. It niggled, the odd sensation of awareness of threat whenever the boy was nearby.

“Would you really like to come with us, Barnabus?” he asked prodding the boy. “What could possibly be of interest?”

The boy looked up at Remus surprised to be called upon for an opinion. Remus smiled at the startled boy suddenly feeling guilty for his suspicions. He was only a youngster unsure of himself and terribly shy. Remus could certainly remember the angst of his own teenage years.

“I-I just thought that we could travel a little,” said Barnabus.

“It’s very isolated up there isn’t it, John?” said Remus. “Only a few families.”

“Only a few up there, that’s right. But you never know and I haven’t seen one of the families in more than a year. I think that we’ll be gone all day, Kate.” He laughed at his daughter’s pouting face. “You’re bound to get bored and I won’t take kindly to your whinging.”

“I promise that I won’t complain, father,” said Kate.

“All right then, we’ll leave in the morning,” said John. Kate hugged her father in thanks and both she and Barnabus left the room with her skipping and he plodding slowly behind.

“He’s a rather troubled young man, isn’t he?” said Remus after they’d gone.

“He’s had a hard life that boy, I think,” said John. “His father was killed by a muggle in a hunting accident and then his mother disappeared soon after from what I understand. He won’t talk about it. He just showed up one day and well, you know Agatha. She wasn’t about to turn the poor boy away. No werewolf should be without a pack.” He allowed a half smile thinking of his wife’s generosity.

Remus laughed. How he admired the Gray’s and their life together. “She has a munificent spirit,” he said.

John chuckled. “That and a liberal gift of the gab,” he said.



The next morning the four headed north in the car. Remus was again impressed by the mode of transportation. John could certainly apparate but as he explained to Remus, it was more personal by car and you could see more of the countryside. If there were any changes out there in Wolvin County then he’d better spot them while traveling by car. Remus had to admit that it made sense. He’d become more and more acclimated to the muggle ways that even the wizard’s had in Wolvin. They used muggle money, and even had radios and telephones.

By afternoon they’d visited five families and had found only the usual rumors of some who had seen the wizard Malfoy with the long white hair and the cane in town. No other stranger had been noticed and as far as they could find all was right in the northern part of the county. It looked as if Voldemort hadn’t come to Wolvin after all. Their last stop was a small enclave known as Hidden Fist. It was in the most northern corner and the most isolated.

“I don’t know how many people are still there,” said John sadly. “I haven’t seen the old man at a run in ages. He and his brother were the only werewolves. Both married outsiders and lived up here. They used to come down to town for the change so as their family would be safe but he hasn’t come for a long while. I think the children moved away. Agatha’s been on at me to check in on the family.”

The car trudged up a steep lane for a distance then leveled almost immediately onto a wide plain of frozen grass where small groupings of sheep picked at a few scattered mounds of feed grass. There was a large outcropping that rose from the plain that looked like a gnarled fist with two houses built into the rock. A large barn and a few smaller outbuildings completed the pretty picture of a hidden little community.

“It’s beautiful, dad,” exclaimed Kate from the back seat.

An old man, his hair gray and his back bending in a stoop came out to greet them. John stopped the car and got out to shake the man’s hand. “Glad to see you well, Hank,” he said smiling. “We haven’t seen you into town for quite the while.”

“Nah, it’d be too far for these old legs, friend,” said the man, his voice hoarse and gravely. “The family is all gone on to their ways and I’ve no reason no more to leave.”

The children and Remus gathered around them and John made the introductions. “So you’re up here alone then?” asked John concerned for the old man.

“Me daughter lives in the next county,” said Hank. “They come by to check on their old Dad on occasion. We’ve the phone up here, mind you, lad. We muggles have our ways.” He laughed at Remus’ shocked face. He’d never heard a muggle refer to himself as one. “I’m never far away.”

“Agatha will want to hear that you’ve family about you still.”

“Aye, tell her not to worry,” said the old man chuckling. “I know how it is with wives. You come into the house for tea, then.” He started to creak toward one of the houses. It was then that Remus realized that the other house was closed up tight and had been for a long while. All the shutters were closed and the once stately porch looked uneven, the paint pealed from the railing and the steps looked dangerous. In contrast the smaller house looked neat and well kept.

As they settled into the kitchen at the table and the man tottered around readying the tea, Remus was struck by the similarity to the kitchen at Grimmauld Place. It had the same sort of central table and the same corner fire. Remus was guilt stricken suddenly thinking that this ancient old man had the same lonely pallor as Sirius. His friend was a sad lonely old man before his time.

It was hard to shake the feeling of dread through the entire rest of the visit. Though the old man had been suitably warned about Voldemort and had not seen any outsiders come his way, Remus couldn’t shake the overwhelming feeling of disaster that seemed to sit upon his heart. Something was very wrong with him. The melancholy was even noticed by Kate, who commented about his silence on the way home.

“Professor Lupin,” she said shyly. “You’re very quiet. Are you all right?”

The young girl had leaned forward in her seat and placed a hand on his shoulder. He smiled thinking that no student at Hogwarts would have dared touch a teacher in sympathy or concern. Wolvin was a much more familial place where caring between others was encouraged. He patted her hand. “No child,” he said smiling at her. “I’m just suddenly thinking of old friends, those that are also alone as the gentleman we’ve just visited.” He gently removed his shoulder from the girl’s hand. It was then that he noticed Barnabus glaring at him.

He tried not to chuckle at the boy’s obvious jealousy and was about to say something to make the boy feel better when John interrupted. “So you’ll be going back for a while, I imagine,” he said, his eyes still on the road ahead. “You’ll be going to your friend.”

Remus thought. He’d only been back for a short visit two weeks before. It wasn’t as if he hadn’t seen Sirius recently but he’d last visited for a meeting and there had been many people about. He hadn’t been alone to talk with him since Christmas and his letters had been more than a little gloomy the last few times. It was mid-February and though spring was just around the corner, it was still the cold and lonely winter with long nights where a man alone might dwell upon his lot in life.

“I think I might just leave for a few days,” said Remus finally. “We’ve found no sign of the Death Eaters and I’m concerned for my friends.” He smiled. “After all, as Kate pointed out earlier,” he looked over his shoulder at her, “we’ve ages until exam time.” Both he and John chuckled.



**********************





When Remus arrived in the kitchen at Grimmauld Place a few days later, he panicked at what he saw. Neither Molly nor any of the others had been about recently, it appeared as the kitchen table was littered with dirty plates and glasses. No fire burned in the hearth and it was cold and dark in the house. There was a musty smell mixed with the earthy odor of cigar. He stood in the center of the empty room dumbstruck by the squalor and loneliness and the difference from the warm and happy home that he’d just left.

A shadow moved and he was aware of being watched. Remus fingered his wand bringing out and ready. “Come out,” he said sternly.

Nothing happened. The shadow was still.

“Lumos!” shouted Remus and a bright light filled the dark kitchen.

Kreacher cowered in a corner, his skeletal elf body clothed in dark dirty rags.

Remus lowered his wand and the kitchen darkened again. “Where’s Sirius?”

“The thing asks us a question likes it deserves an answer,” mumbled the elf.

“I said, where is Sirius?”

The elf stepped from the shadows looking defiant.

A rage emerged in Remus that he rarely allowed. “Clean up this mess,” he bellowed. “You’re a useless excuse for a servant and you’ll see a curse on you from me if you don’t start taking care of your master.” He raised his wand and pointed it at the creature.

Kreacher threw himself prone on the floor shaking miserably. “It kills us! It kills us!”

A terrible guilt immediately consumed him and Remus lowered his wand. He’d lost his temper because of his own feelings of guilt and helplessness for his friend’s sake. He rushed from the room and hurdled up the stairs shouting for Sirius now afraid something horrible had happened to him.

“Padfoot! Padfoot!” he shouted.

Sirius wasn’t in his room. Remus bolted up to the attic shouting.

He slammed open the door into the attic room startling Buckbeak who hopped up and started squawking as if Remus were attacking it. Sirius, who’d been reading in a chair by the window jumped up to soothe the creature.

“What the hell?” growled Sirius at Remus. “What’re you shouting about?”

Remus hung his head instantly embarrassed. He’d panicked. In his imagination, he’d visualized Sirius half dead and alone with no one but the creature Kreacher to gloat over his wasting body. “I’m sorry, Padfoot,” he said sheepishly. “I thought something was wrong. Kreacher was downstairs and the place was a pit of a mess, mate. I thought …”

“You thought I was dying and you were coming to rescue me?” A thin ironic smile appeared on Sirius’ unshaven face. “I’ll admit that I’ve been better.” He walked over and threw the book that he still had in his hands onto a pile of volumes stacked next to the chair.

It was then that Remus noticed the glasses on his friend’s face. “Have you been reading?” he asked incredulously.

“Don’t you go looking so shocked,” said Sirius grimly. He threw himself into his chair. “Hermione left them for me at Christmas time. She thought that I should do a bit of reading to take my mind off things. I think she worries about my sanity.”

Remus ran a hand through his hair laughing with relief. He walked over and sat in the chair opposite Sirius. “I’d no idea that you read much. You’ve always taken the piss out of me when I did.”

Sirius smirked. “The glasses help,” he said. “And there’s only so much of Kreacher’s company that I can stomach.”

Remus laughed again. Sirius was not so bad off as he’d imagined. He was too thin still and a little grayer but he was a sight better than after he’d escaped from Azkaban. “So what are you being so studious about?” he asked.

“I’ve been reading muggle literature,” said Sirius casually. “I’d never bothered with the stuff before and I let’s face it, I don’t know much about muggles in general.” He looked at the large pile of books. “Hermione said that it would do me good to read about other people’s lives and well, it has helped the loneliness a bit.” He laughed. “I’ve been reading an American bloke’s book. It’s my kind of story, really. All about war and the like. Hemingway is his name. I like this stuff. We should have it in the wizarding world. I wonder why there isn’t much in the way of fiction.”

“Well, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle,” said Remus in disbelief.

“What?”

“Dunno,” answered Remus. “I just never thought that I’d see the day that you would read anything for pleasure.”

“There wasn’t much to read in Azkaban,” said Sirius frowning. “At least in this prison I can come up here to see the sun shine and escape into stories of someone else’s life.”

“I always said that Hermione was a very clever witch,” said Remus.

“The poetry’s rubbish, mind you, but the stories are damned good,” said Sirius cheerily. “Dumbledore’s even condescended to send me some of his books. It figures that he’d read the muggles.”

“You never cease to amaze, Padfoot,” said Remus.

“Hmmm…” said Sirius musing.

Remus watched his friend with a secret grin. “I’ve become pretty adept with the muggles these last few months myself, Padfoot. In Wolvin, most of the people aren’t wizards at all. I’m famished. Fancy a curry, do you?”

“A what?”

“There’s this food that every muggle Englishman eats. It’s called curry. It’s quite good.”

“Food in general sounds tasty. I can’t say that I’m much of a cook. Kreacher’s hopeless.”

“How about if we send a quick owl to Tonks and have us a makeshift party?” said Remus happily. “I haven’t seen her in ages.”

“She’s busy watching at the Malfoy’s,” said sourly. “There’s something going on there this weekend.”

“What?”

“You don’t want to know.” His friend’s face closed up.

“What? Tell me.”

“Felicity’s there, at the Malfoys,” said Sirius grinding his teeth. “With Snape.”

“You’re joking.”

“I don’t joke about Snivellus, mate,” said Sirius narrowing his eyes on his friend. “Felicity’s all right and all but this supposed friendship between she and Snape strikes me as odd.”

Remus grimaced. “Yes, it’s odd. That would be an understatement.” He vividly remembered Felicity’s opening up her soul to him. He knew what was in her heart. “I’d be more worried about why they were at the Malfoy’s at this particular time. Voldemort and his Death Eaters have been strangely quiet since their escape from Azkaban. They aren’t in Wolvin as we thought that they would be. It’s just odd that she’s not allowed to leave Hogwarts to even attend a secret meeting of the Order or to visit her father and yet she’s at the Malfoy’s this weekend. Why?”

“Interesting…perhaps the Death Eaters have finally gathered?”

“Where’s Tonks stationed?” Asked Remus concerned now.

“In the tree,” Sirius snickered, “she hates being stuck in that tree for hours on end.”

“It means that I can’t get close to her without being seen.” He smiled. “It’s times like these that I wish that I was an animagus.”

Sirius perked up. “I’d be happy to…”

“Don’t be daft, man. Malfoy’s the one that spotted you at the station. Everyone knows that you’re a black dog.” Remus thought hard. Maybe a simple levitation spell was all that was really needed. “Perhaps I’ll just go and hang about for a while just in case,” he said rising. “I won’t be long and I’ll bring you back a curry. You’ll like it.” He strode for the door worried about Felicity now that Sirius looked fine enough.

He turned at the door to see his friend’s face glaring at him. “Everyone’s always leaving me,” he said sullenly.

“Read your stories, Padfoot,” said Remus. “I’ll be back with food.” He closed the door behind him and raced back down the stairs.



*************

Cheers, Pru Prior :----)


Chapter 25: The Feral One
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If you haven’t read the sixth book, please be warned that there will be some not-so-subtle spoilers from this chapter onwards. I love to keep stories within HP canon wherever possible and the sixth book fit with this story so nicely that I’ll admit that I danced a little jig when I read it.

Chapter 25
The Feral One




Remus watched from a hidden spot beyond a wall. He could see the tree from where he was but couldn’t see Tonks. She would be hidden under the invisibility cloak, he gathered astutely. He looked around for something to get her attention and spotted a smooth round rock on the ground. Using a simple levitation spell he aimed his wand and pointed the rock toward the tree that he knew she was perched on. The house was quiet as the rock made its way silently moving toward her.

Tonks meantime, was bored mindless. She couldn’t see a thing going on inside the house. She was only able to hear all that went on thanks to the Weasley twin’s extendable ears. Lucius was being a twit and droning on at Snape about loyalties to the Dark Lord. It was all so very him. He grated on her nerves. She imagined herself hexing the git in several different ways as she watched the empty ballroom at the back of the house.

Suddenly, a rock hit her in the head. “Oy!” she said before she could stop herself. She looked around for the culprit and spotted the brown on brown of Remus’ tattered robe just before it ducked behind a tree in the neighboring garden. She growled under her breath. A simple whisper on the wind spell would have sufficed to get her attention.

Slowly, she drew her cramped body to a standing position and climbed down from the tree. Apparating was out of the question while she was so close to the Malfoy’s house. They could have any number of magic detectors near the house. Lupin may have already set one off with his silly rock.

She tiptoed closer to Remus intent on startling him. He stood with his back against the tree looking strong, calm and casual, as usual. She was determined to startle his composure. A feeling of warmth enveloped her. She’d get him this time.

Just as she was about to reach out to muss up his hair, however, she tripped on the edge of the invisibility cloak and went flying into him with a groan.

“Oops!” she exclaimed.

Remus grabbed at the sound she made and caught her by the waist lifting her into the air to hold her like a bride. Tonk’s heart leaped in surprise as he lifted her. “Got you,” he laughed, carrying her out of sight of the house. “You really ought not to try to sneak up on a werewolf, Tonks.” He set her down on the ground and smiled down at her as she grumpily removed the cloak.

“Sod it, I almost got you that time. My flipping feet are a nuisance.” She cocked her and smiled at him. “What are you doing here, Remus?” she asked. Tonks had always liked working with Remus and had secretly hoped that she’d have been sent with him to Wolvin instead of hanging about at the ridiculous Malfoy’s manor of looney-tunes. She would have loved to stay at the Gray’s house in Wolvin.

“I heard that you were here and came to check on you,” whispered Remus. He rubbed her arm.

Tonks gave him a sly grin. “Couldn’t be because you heard that your lady love was visiting the Malfoy’s, surely?”

He laughed. “Perhaps, yes.” He still held her by the arms, glad to see her happy face. It had been a month, at least. She’d let her hair go to what he guessed was her normal color of a soft brown. “I like your hair, Tonks. You look almost respectable.”

She punched his arm. “Never you mind, my hair.”

“So what’s happening inside, then?”

“Nothing and mostly nothing all day and yesterday.” She rubbed her hand frowning. “I’ve no idea why they’re here. They seem to be waiting for someone but I don’t think that it’s you-know-who that’s coming.” She winked up at Remus’ handsome face. “Felicity has been very quiet listening to Malfoy and Snape blather on about their brave and wonderful muggle free world. If she’s smart, she’s fallen asleep with her eyes open. I don’t know how Sevvie kisses up to that man. He’s slime.”

“We do what we must do for the Order, Tonks,” said Remus seriously. He hated that they must again sacrifice perhaps their lives to stop the maniac that was Voldemort. He looked into Tonk’s young and pretty face and felt sadness for them all. Voldemort shouldn’t have lived, shouldn’t have been able to beat death. It was inconceivable. Impetuously, he kissed her on the forehead and gave her a spontaneous hug. “I wish that you didn’t have to do this, Tonks,” he whispered.

Tonks was taken aback but surprisingly not in an awkward or bad way. Remus was a nice person. Sometimes, he felt things more strongly than the others and he smelt lovely of faint musk and leather. She giggled. “You’re such a sentimentalist, Lupin,” she said. “I can’t imagine Mad Eye ever grabbing me for a hug.”

“Sorry,” said Remus. “I just suddenly realized how young you are, Tonks, and how much danger we’re all in, that’s all.”

She punched him again. “I’m not that young, mister, and you’re not that old. Even if you ARE going a bit gray about the edges.”

They both laughed.




Felicity, meanwhile, was bored to tears listening to Lucius Malfoy as he airily lamented the state of the world from a Death Eater’s point of view. What she’d ever seen in the man stymied her. He was a delusional snob of the worst kind. He was impeccably mannered and handsome, but a cruel and heartless megalomaniac. If he said vile and mudblooded scum together in one more sentence she was going to sprout her dragon wings and shish kabob him with her magic fire.

Severus, for his part, was used to Lucius and his ways. He admired the man. Lucius was everything that Severus had aspired to become but didn’t have the means or the personality. He chanced a glance at Narcissa. She sat next to Felicity on a small sofa next to the fire, a pout on her lips. He wanted to smile but held it back. Narcissa hated Felicity, blamed her for her husband’s infidelity and suspected the liaison between himself and the dragon. It was more than a little titillating to his ego that these two women vied for his affection. He allowed a smug curl of the lip. Malfoy should be as lucky in love as he had been lately.

“What are you thinking, friend?” asked Lucius spotting the change in Snape’s countenance.

“Only that our guests are taking an exceedingly long while to arrive,” said Snape glowering that he’d been caught out in a self-indulgent moment. “Are you sure they’re coming? And, why, pray tell, won’t you tell us who you’re expecting?” It was the third time that he’d asked. Snape hated Malfoy’s coyness.

“You’ve just a little while to wait,” said Lucius indulgently. He was enjoying vexing Snape. The man hated not knowing what was to come. “It does you a world of good not having complete control of your universe at all times, old chum. You really must relax and enjoy your life.”

“I find little to relax about in these unstable times, Malfoy,” sneered Snape.

They sat for another twenty minutes sipping wine and picking at the canapés until finally they heard three loud pops in the foyer.

Narcissa rose nervously and walked out of the now silent room. Felicity, Snape and Lucius waited in silence for the appearance of the new arrivals. They listened to murmurings in the hall and then Narcissa appeared with a woman with dark lank hair and a hard, once pretty face. She led the woman into the room linked to her arm. There were two men behind them.

It took a moment to recognize the face, but Felicity recognized the woman. Bellatrix Lestrange had been with Voldemort when she had escaped from him the first time, years before. She had been a young and inexperienced dragon then. Bella had been a young and pompous beauty. Her flight to Tibet flashed before her. She had turned into a dragon in a panic, scorching Bella with her fire in an effort to flee from the Dark Lord. She smirked at the memory of Bella’s shocked face and singed hair. She had been no giggling witch at a dragon’s fire. The bloody woman probably held grudges as tenaciously as her sister, Narcissa.

“I have so looked forward to meeting you again, dragon,” sneered Bella immediately. She had nodded to Malfoy and glared at Snape, but her true target was Felicity. She left her sister to stand before Felicity, who hadn’t bothered to rise at first but now stood regally. She looked down with disdain at the shorter woman. “You smell of burning charcoal, beast woman.”

“You’ve not changed your manners in all these years, Bella,” said Felicity raising an eyebrow menacingly. “You’re still as rude and presumptuous as ever, I see.” Bella’s robe looked muggle made and she certainly didn’t look the fashionable witch that she remembered. “I see that Azkaban had taken its toll on your looks, as well.”

“You should hold your tongue amongst your betters, dragon,” said Bella coldly.

Felicity was about to answer when she felt a jolt of recognition toward one of the men who had entered the room behind Bella and Narcissa. He stood watching her, knowing that he’d caught her attention. His yellow eyes were hungry and he licked his lips in a bloodthirsty way that made her reel with the danger of him. He was a large man, scruffy, gray haired and feral looking. Her dragon self almost formed instantaneously in defense, the call of him was so overwhelming. He reeked with the putrid smell of one that kills for pleasure and it was all she could do not to change into her full dragon and attack him.

He was werewolf. He was wild and mad as a hatter. She felt it viscerally and whirled away from Bella walking toward the smell of him. Her protective instincts had come alive. Beast to beast, she pushed the other man into a chair and out of the way. She barely even looked at him; she was so fixated on the werewolf. She grabbed the evil man by the neck, turning him around in the air and bringing his arms up behind his back. He howled in protest and tried to wriggle from her grasp but she was the stronger beast. She roared into his ear. “I hear your thoughts, creature,” she said in her dragon voice. It was loud, graveling and eerily mesmerizing. “You will not touch me, nor will I allow you to feast on human flesh. I will burn you alive if you come within ten feet of me or him.”

The wolf howled in anger. “The Dark Lord will kill you.”

“Not before I destroy you,” sneered Felicity. Her dragon’s tongue was beginning to fork, her dragon emerging. “I know that your lord will send you to me first. He never puts himself in danger. You will die.”

“ENOUGH!!!” shouted Snape in the background. Both Felicity and the werewolf turned their heads toward the bellowing sound of his voice. Felicity had nearly changed to her dragon and had forgotten the humans in the room; her instincts to protect had become so strong.

The humans stood with wands raised, all of them. Snape, Malfoy, Narcissa, Bella and the other man stood in a group with Snape at the forefront sneering at her. “Felicity, put him down,” said Snape sternly. He held his wand in an offensive stance, ready to strike her. She blinked, her dragon’s eyes opalescent and her face almost reptilian. Certainly, she no longer looked quite human though she stood on two arms and two legs. It took her a moment to take in what was happening. She held the wolf man in the air. Her lover, her friend, the man she was protecting was about to attack her.

“Felicity, put that man down,” said Snape again. His voice was cold. Felicity felt wounded by it. She was confused.

She pushed the wolf onto the floor but stood over him, her foot holding down his prone body. She was still fearful of his menace.

“Your pet obeys you, Severus,” snipped Bella. “How sweet.” The woman looked very pleased with herself.

“Shut up, Bellatrix,” answered Snape. He watched Felicity. She could feel the shock and repulsion emanating from him.

She felt the pain of rejection wash over her. It was a new and strange emotion. He was rejecting her help, rejecting her love, she repulsed him, and he loathed her. She looked at the humans. Bella looked triumphant, as did Malfoy. They’d planned this. She saw it plainly on their faces. They’d known that this would happen. Narcissa stood behind Snape shivering in fear; he held his free arm protectively in front of her. Severus’ eyes narrowed. “Get out,” he said coldly. “Get out of here, now.”

Her heart broke. She backed away from the cluster of Death Eaters releasing the vile wolf who sprang to his feet to stand with the others. He laughed at her. It was an evil horrible sound.

“I never want to see you again,” said Snape. “Go back to your damned Dumbledore and tell him to send you back to Tibet.” His voice was hard and full of hate.

Felicity shook with a deepening sorrow and dismay at his cold and heartless voice. Her Severus was rejecting her, utterly. She reached out with her mind to him and pleaded but she saw only the horror of her in his mind. He’d not even seen her fully dragon, but he saw that she was not human finally and fully. It sickened him.

She ran from the room hurtling out the door and into the street. He had turned her away and rejected her. Their bond was repugnant to him. She ran into the street. Her flight was like the wounded animal that she was. Dragons are emotional creatures, they exist to love and create harmony and peace for those they love. He hated her. It cut like a knife into her soul. He hated her.

She had run three blocks away before she even realized that she was running. She looked up, the tears still streaming down her face to look at a park before her and walked to the nearest bench. She sat with her head buried in her hands. Her dragon had balled itself up inside her, leaving the human Felicity in a state of confusion. Her misery overwhelmed her and she cried convulsively without even trying to stop the flow. He hated her.




Remus and Tonks had been unaware of the exchange within the Malfoy’s house. They’d been standing behind a tree in the next garden, too far from the house to hear what was happening inside. It had been Tonks who had spotted Felicity racing up the street, seemingly in terror. Her Auror’s instincts had kicked in and she’d run off after her leaving Remus mid-sentence in conversation. He raced after her, not knowing what they were charging for until he spotted the fast moving figure of Felicity ahead of them. He recognized the flapping length of her long braid.

Felicity was too fast for Tonks and had moved farther and farther ahead. Remus, feeling suddenly cloddish and old, trailed behind the two racing women. By the time he caught sight of them, he was panting heavily and still a block away. Tonks was leaning over Felicity sitting on a park bench, speaking to her soothingly.

“Felicity, are you all right?” asked Tonks. She placed a soothing hand on Felicity shoulder. “Did they hurt you?”

Felicity looked up into the face of the young woman. Her heart shaped face and kind eyes were not immediately recognizable in her miserable state of mind but she knew immediately that she was a friend to her. Tonks, her name was Tonks. “He hated me,” she said numbly, still confused. “He told me to go. He doesn’t want my protection.”

“Who did?” asked Tonks.

“Severus,” whispered Felicity. “They planned it. They knew that he would reject me.” Felicity was starting to think more clearly, just as Remus had run up to them. He bent over with his hands on his knees, panting.

“A-Are you all r-right?” he said between breaths.

Her emotions surged at his voice. This man loved her. He’d seen her dragon and loved her still. “I’m okay,” she said quietly.

“What about Snape?” said Tonks urgently. “Does he need our help?”

“No,” said Felicity vacantly. “They separated us on purpose. They brought a feral wolf with them.”

“Who?” asked Tonks. “Who was there?”

“Bella, another man, and the werewolf,” said Felicity. “He was evil and challenged me. I rose out of instinct to protect Severus. They’d planned it. Voldemort had sent them to separate Snape from me. He knew that Severus would react as he did.” Her mind began to think with more impassive reasoning to what had just happened. She shut off her misery of Severus’ rejection by stuffing it into a corner of her mind. She would deal with her pain at another time.

“A werewolf? There was a werewolf with them?” asked Remus. He sat next to her on the bench and brought his arm lovingly around her shoulder. Tonks stood up watching them.

Felicity leaned into Remus for comfort but looked up to Tonks. A look on the young woman’s face alerted her. Tonks was uncomfortable. She was tempted to search within her but refrained. “Are you afraid of werewolves?” she asked Tonks.

Tonks smiled impishly. “Not as far as I can throw them,” she laughed.

“Tonks knows that I’m a werewolf, Felicity,” said Remus quietly. “Tonks and I have worked together frequently. She’s been to Wolvin.”

She did remember. It had been at one of the Order of the Phoenix meetings. When Remus first went to Wolvin, he went with Tonks. Felicity looked from Tonks to Remus and back again. The young woman blushed. “I see,” said Felicity seeing why Tonks had been uncomfortable. She nearly laughed out loud in relief. Tonks liked her Remus. It was written in the woman’s blush. Felicity smiled broadly at the woman who now looked as if she wanted to hide under a rock. Her embarrassment endeared her to Felicity.

“I should probably get back and make sure Snape is still in one piece,” said Tonks.

“No,” answered Felicity. “He may have just rejected my help but I’m still bonded to him. He’s fine. I can feel his relief that I’ve left them.” She looked at Remus. He was oblivious to the girl’s feelings. Human men seemed to be the last to sense such things, even a werewolf human. “Dumbledore should be warned about this new werewolf. He’s a wild thing who kills frequently. I felt an intense danger from him.”

“There’s a two-way mirror at Grimmauld Place,” offered Tonks.

“Let’s go,” said Remus standing up. He wasn’t about to let Felicity go back to Hogwarts just yet. Not now that he had her so near again. The two-way mirror was an excellent idea and if that didn’t work, then one of the paintings in the bedrooms had a connection to Dumbledore’s tower.

“We’ve just time to stop for curry on the way,” he said, remembering his promise to Sirius.

Both women starred at him. “Curry?” They said together.

Remus grinned boyishly. “I promised Padfoot that I’d bring back food. You two fine ladies will be a welcome addition.”

Tonks tilted her head. “Why do I suddenly feel like the pudding?” she said sarcastically.

Felicity laughed gaily. This Tonks was a wonderful woman. She liked her very much.



***************
I’m so sorry to have taken so long to write this chapter. Forgive me. I’ve been stuck in summer school Azkaban. My time has been taken up in writing excruciatingly boring papers and making not so glib presentations. I’ll update more quickly from now on. Cheers, Pru


Chapter 26: Dumbledore's Plan
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Chapter 26
Dumbledore’s Plan




The head masters, the paintings that lined the walls of Dumbledore’s office, were in an uproar. The room was filled with shouting. Phineas Black especially, roared above the fray. Certainly, none of them were sleeping, though it was dark, and the hour late.

“The very idea!” sneered Phineas disgusted. “The man’s a popinjay.”

Roland Wood stood in the tower room of Dumbledore’s office. He would have chuckled at the cacophony of protect voiced all around him if it weren’t so serious a situation. The old paintings looked ridiculous but they had a point. Cornelius Fudge was an idiot to try to undermine Albus Dumbledore while He-Who-Should-Not-Be-Named was creeping out from whatever rock that he’d been hiding under in the great beyond. It was a crime and would only fuel the Death Eater’s fire. It was a scandal.

“Fudge is planning to move in a few weeks, Albus,” said Roland. “He told me that he only needed proof of a conspiracy and he was very close to getting that proof.” The paintings began shouting again, but Dumbledore raised his hand to still them. They stopped immediately and listened.

Albus looked at Roland through half moon spectacles. He was calculating the list of odd ends and pursuits of leads that he wanted to accomplish before the Ministry invaded Hogwarts. His plan would surely work. It would save many lives in the long run if all went well. “It will be fine, Roland,” he said calmly. “I’ve been expecting the Ministry to interfere. Your warning only gives us a time frame to prepare for.” Albus tucked his beard back into his belt and rose to stroke Fawkes’ head.

“This administrator,” began Roland, “the one they have put in place here, this Umbridge woman.” He sighed meaningfully. “I’ve dealt with her type throughout my entire career, Albus. She will use any means to achieve the political agenda. Professional ethics mean nothing to her kind. She’s dedicated, ruthless, and I might add, damned ugly, as well.” He smirked. “Being ugly makes them bitter and more ambitious, I think.”

Albus chuckled. “Let’s be charitable, Ambassador!”

“My daughter has spoken of her. She says that she’s treacherous and devious.” All politicians had the potential to be dangerous because they always claimed to be acting for the people when mostly they had their own agenda that they were working on. More fodder for the masses is what they were all about. He knew he was a politician himself.

Albus was surprised that the man had mentioned his daughter. “I’m happy to hear that you’ve made amends with Felicity, Roland,” he said returning to his seat at the desk. He offered a lemon drop to the ambassador, who leaned over in his chair to pluck it from the coffer.

“I wouldn’t exactly say that we’ve made amends, Professor,” he said. He sucked on the sour sweetness of the lemon drop. “She’s a trial but I trust her dragon instincts. There’s no denying her perceptions when there’s a danger. She has the animal instincts.”

“Someone like Cornelius Fudge always attracts the ambitious and ruthless to be near them. It’s why he insisted on using the Dementors to guard Azkaban. His insistence on controlling the press will be his undoing.”

They sat in silence for some moments, both lost in thought. Roland Wood had come secretly to Dumbledore to warn him that Cornelius Fudge was planning on arresting him. Fudge’s woman Dolores Umbridge was planning to embark on getting rid of his teachers first. She had informed the Minister that her spies were very close to discovering a secret that would give Cornelius cause for Dumbledore’s dismissal. Albus hadn’t seemed too terribly surprised by his news.

Cornelius was a fool. To deny that there was a possibility that what Dumbledore said was one thing, but to go out of your way to discredit such a powerful wizard was insane. It was political suicide.

A voice sounded and broke the two men from their separate thoughts. It came from the case of silver implements and gadgets on the other side of the room. “Albus!” It said. “Headmaster!”

Dumbledore got up from his seat. He was energetic for one so very old. He walked lightly to the case and pulled a plain silver mirror from it. “Remus,” he said to the reflection. “What a pleasant surprise!”

“Headmaster, I have Felicity here at the house, sir,” said Remus.

Roland looked up at the mention of his daughter.

“There’s been a visit to Malfoy Manor from the Death Eaters.”

“Remus, you sound out of breath!” said Dumbledore calmly. He returned to the desk but stood in front of Roland so that he would be able to see the person speaking, as well.

Roland recognized the man his daughter had had to the house immediately. He sighed deeply. The werewolf, of all people to attract her attention, it had to be a werewolf. His daughter was going to be the death of him.

Dumbledore smiled as if reading Roland’s thoughts. “Let us speak with Felicity, Remus,” he said.

There was a jumble of images in the mirror as it was passed and Felicity’s face appeared. “I’m here, sir.” Her voice was like her mother’s, Roland suddenly realized. Her voice had changed to an almost a seductive song when she’d melded with her damned dragon. He mourned the change for years, but now he detected a hint of his wife’s nature still there. He was surprised.

“Felicity, it’s your father,” he said gruffly.

“Dad?” she said surprised. “What are you doing there?” The strain and worry could be heard plainly in the rise of cadence as she spoke. Felicity was distressed.

“He’s here keeping me company,” said Dumbledore soothingly, calming her. “What’s happened, my dear?”

Felicity bit her lip. “Bella, another Death Eater that I didn’t recognize, and,” she paused gulping, “a feral werewolf,” she whispered. “He was a murderer, a fiend. I could smell it on him. The death, his wanting to kill me, to attack them all was blatant. I tried to protect them, but it was a trap. They’d brought him on purpose to test Severus.” The tears welled in her eyes at the thought of his rejection of her. “He hated me. He told me to leave him. He’s become one of them.”

Dumbledore paused for only a slight moment in thought before he said anything. “Felicity, dear,” he said. “Our Severus Snape will never be one of them.”

“His thoughts were to protect them from me,” she countered. Her pain was plain on her face. “He was only thinking of them and he told me to tell you that he never wanted to see me again, that you should send me back to Tibet.” She wiped a tear from her eye.

At Grimmauld Place, Tonks, Remus and Sirius were sitting about the fire in the kitchen listening to the conversation between Felicity and Dumbledore in great earnest. Tonks and Sirius looked to each other with raised eyebrows while Remus looked stricken at the thought of Felicity leaving.

On the other side of the mirror, Dumbledore smiled indulgently. “We need you here, Felicity,” he said. “I’ll not be sending you back.”

“I want to go home, sir,” she whispered.

The listeners on both sides of the mirror looked aghast except for Felicity and Dumbledore. “Why is that, my dear?” asked Dumbledore. “Do you want Voldemort to win, now?”

“I want to go home, sir,” she said again. “He doesn’t want to see me. I can’t live any longer in this state. I must fly. I must…”

Remus went to her and put an arm around her shoulder. She leaned into him for comfort.

“I must be what I am,” she whispered.

Roland sat wounded by the plea in Felicity’s voice. His baby daughter, the dragon she had become, it cut him to hear her sadness, her desperation. He’d never realized. He’d only thought of how inconvenient, no, how ridiculous it was that she was a friggin dragon until that moment. He had always remembered the impetuous, vibrant sixteen-year-old daughter that he had mourned for years whenever he looked at her now. An imposter dragon had taken her place. He realized, unexpectedly, that she was still his own flesh and blood. She was still his Felicity.

“Don’t go, daughter,” he said aloud, his voice rough and trembling. “A Wood never runs from a fight.”

Dumbledore smiled. “Did you hear that, my dear? You must stay with us.”

Felicity nodded and looked up into Remus’ face for support.

“Stay there this evening, Felicity. Come back in the morning as you’d planned it. I’ll handle Severus. He’ll meet with Voldemort tonight. Don’t, under any circumstances, go to him.” Dumbledore merely smiled at Felicity’s alarmed expression. “Yes, he will seek an audience with him. Both he and I had hoped that it would happen this week end.”

“You knew?”

“I suspected.”

“How?”

Dumbledore ignored her question. “This werewolf? What did he look like?”

Felicity was flustered by the question. “I barely remember what he looked like. I was blinded by his malice and smell more than anything. His teeth were pointed, not human. He was older, I think. Evil, he was evil.”

“Hmmmm…. yes,” mused Dumbledore. “You stay the night, my dear, and come to the tower when you arrive.”

He closed off the mirror with a snap of his fingers and quietly went to put the mirror in the case.



Roland sat ashen faced in his chair. He felt very old. “Who was it?” he asked hoarsely. “Who was the werewolf?” But even before the Headmaster replied, he knew the answer.

“You know who it was, Roland,” said Dumbledore sadly. “He’s the only one it could be.”

“I thought he was dead. Fenrir Greyback is surely dead.”

“Apparently, not.” Dumbledore stroked his beard thoughtfully and slipped back into his chair. He looked at Roland Wood afresh. “It seems many of our old enemies have only been waiting for Voldemort’s return.” Roland winced at the mention of He-Who-Should-Not-Be-Named. Dumbledore fixed his eyes on the man before him. “I would like a favor, Ambassador.”

“Anything,” said Roland still stunned over Greyback. He was an animal. He killed children, maimed people purposely. It was a shock.

“Someone that we both know has gone into hiding and I wish to find him.”

“Merlin’s testis, not another Death Eater?”

“No, your old professor, Horace Slughorn has disappeared.”

Roland was relieved and visibly relaxed. “Old Sluggy?” he chuckled. “I haven’t seen that old blowhard in years.” Professor Slughorn had been his potion’s professor during his school years. They’d kept in touch with each other since leaving school. He’d seen him at more than a few Ministry parties. Sluggy liked to know people who know people and after all, Roland Wood knew almost everyone. He hadn’t seen or heard of him in a good five years, however. Frankly, he’d thought the old man was dead.

“I would like you to find him.” Dumbledore’s expression was unreadable.

“I’ll do my best,” said Roland.

“He won’t want to be found. You’ll need to be discreet.”

“Of course.” He waited for Dumbledore to say more but the old man said nothing.

“Why?” said Roland finally. “Why are we looking for him?”

“Because Voldemort is looking for him,” said Dumbledore quietly. “I’d like to know why.”



Felicity handed the mirror back to Sirius dully. The four said nothing for a moment. Remus comforted Felicity by putting his arm around her. Sirius and Tonks looked at each other and shrugged. They felt uncomfortable, both of them for different reasons.

“Well, I suppose that I should be getting back to my tree,” said Tonks. “Mad-Eye will have a hissy fit if he’s found me gone.” She rose to go.

“No, don’t go back there,” said Felicity. “Dumbledore planned this, somehow. I don’t know why, even. He doesn’t want us to interfere. You should stay.”

“And we’ve the curry to eat,” said Remus rising. He clattered around the kitchen fetching bowls and cutlery. Sirius joined him only to avoid looking at Felicity. He would never understand her connection to Snivellus nor why Remus seemed to not care about it.

Tonks sat uncomfortably next to her trying to think of something to say. She shifted uneasily.

“So what is it between you and Sevvie, anyways?” she asked finally.

Felicity looked at the younger woman and grinned. “We’re bound for life. I saved his life in an unusual way.” She shook her head. “He’s pretty aggravated with me.”

“I’ll bet,” said Tonks. “I can’t imagine that old Sevvie would like the ball and chain part much. He’s such a git.”

They both laughed.

“Severus Snape is difficult,” said Felicity seriously. “He’s been uncooperative, snarling and arrogant, but he’s a great wizard and a genius. I’m devastated that he was so repulsed by me.”

“You’re hardly repulsive. He’s an idiot,” said Tonks, disgusted. “You’re a beautiful, wonderful woman and only Severus Snape would find fault in that.”

Felicity leaned over and touched her arm. Tonks was struck by the seductive nature of her suddenly. The woman was mesmerizing. She shivered involuntarily as she tried to remember Mad-Eye saying something about her after an Order of the Phoenix meeting. She was different, not like them, he’d said.

“Agatha Gray told me that you’re a Metamorphmagus,” said Felicity. “That’s very rare.”

“I am, it is, rare, that is,” said Tonks. She expected the usual questioning gaze filled with curiosity and suspicion but Felicity only smiled.

“I’m different, as well,” she said. “It’s why Severus hates me.” She rose as Remus beckoned them to the table to eat.

“Come now, you two, while it’s still tepid,” he said jovially.

“I’m a dragon and not entirely human,” said Felicity casually to Tonks. “Severus doesn’t care for mixing bloods.”

Tonks stopped. “You’re a what?” she asked. Both Sirius and Remus eyed each other and chuckled.

“You should see her, cousin,” said Sirius. “She’s wondrous to see. She’s got wings.”

Felicity laughed melodiously. She so loved these people.

“You knew?” demanded Tonks. “You both knew and never said?”

“It never came up,” said Sirius still chuckling. “What’d you want me to say? Oh, by the way, isn’t it special that Felicity is a dragon and Remus is a werewolf? They make a nice couple for not being quite human, don’t you think?”

They all sat about the long table. Felicity, who sat next to Remus, patted Tonk’s hand across the way. “It’s a secret, dear. The Ministry would not take kindly to a dragon here.” She explained what she was to Tonks who listened to the story with rapt attention.

“So, you became the dragon that you are right there in Malfoy’s parlor and then Severus threw you out of the house?” asked Tonks finally as they finished dinner. “He doesn’t like mudbloods, Metamorphmagus’, Animagus’, werewolves or dragons. The man’s a git, as I’ve always said.”

Sirius drained his glass. “Here, here, Snivellus is a git!!” he sang out.

“But he isn’t,” said Felicity. “He’s a very brave man.”

Remus, Sirius and Tonks all three snorted together.

“You don’t need to defend him, Felicity,” said Remus. “We know that Dumbledore trusts him. We just don’t like him much. We’ve had issues with him. He hasn’t been very kind to Harry.”

“You weren’t very kind to him, were you?” snapped Felicity. “Harry reminds him too much of your old friend whom he hates.

“That’s hardly fair,” said Sirius, his voice rising.

“You were cruel!” said Felicity stubbornly. “He’s only afraid of the animal in us. He has memories that he tries to shut out.” She frowned at Sirius. “Memories that you put there. You bullied him, Sirius.”

“It wasn’t as if he didn’t do the same, Felicity!” yelled Sirius. Remus was becoming alarmed at their argument.

“It’s true, Felicity,” he said quietly. “Severus tried to hex us whenever he got the chance. We had to watch him constantly.”

Felicity instantly calmed down. It was silly to argue over events that happened years ago that she had nothing to do with.

Tonks looked confused. “He’s never liked me, either. I’m a mudblooded weirdo as far as old Sevvie is concerned.”

“But he’s…” Felicity stopped mid-sentence. They weren’t her memories to tell. “He has nothing against people that aren’t purebloods,” she said finally. “He was loved by someone who wasn’t a pureblood. It ended tragically. He carries remorse with him and loss. It was very sad.”

All three mouths at the table fell open.

“It’s not possible,” said Sirius, finally. “I’ll never believe that he has a heart. Who was it?”

Felicity pursed her lips. They’d never understand even if she did tell them. Really, Master Tong would send her back to the caves for weeks if she didn’t start acting like a dragon should. “I’ve said too much,” she said. “He’s a good man.”

“You said that he was one of them to Dumbledore,” said Sirius stubbornly.

“I did?”

“Yes, you did. We all heard you.”

Remus had had enough. “Leave her alone, Padfoot.” He said it casually but there was an edge to the way that he said it. “It’s been a difficult evening for all of us and we mustn’t forget that Dumbledore trusts him implicitly. I, for one, trust his judgment. If he says that Snape’s to be trusted then I trust him.” He waited for Sirius to protest but Sirius didn’t want to waste a good dinner arguing about Snivellus.

“I still say he’s a git,” he said sticking a spoon in the pudding with a vengeance. He changed the subject to a book that he’d just read about pirates and adventure. It would be much more fun to talk about.





Several hours later, Severus Snape stood calmly before Albus Dumbledore.

“It’s done, sir,” he said stonily.

“He believes you?”

Severus nodded. He was exhausted. The entire affair had been tedious. He had a long day ahead of him. Monday brought his extra duties with Potter. The boy’s progress was dismal. Voldemort would eat the imbecile for lunch.

“Fenrir was unexpected,” said Albus conversationally. His eyes watched. Snape avoided them but it didn’t much matter. The old man read him like a book.

“He’s gotten worse. He’s a violent animal not a man anymore,” answered Snape. “I should have let Felicity kill him. He’ll give us trouble.”

“Yes, especially in Wolvin.”

Snape’s lip curled ever so lightly into a scowl.

“I believe that the Dark Lord is already in residence there.” He starred hard at Dumbledore. “The stench of animal was difficult to ignore. The house, the room that he inhabited was different then before. It was not in a city, certainly.”

“We must wait for the right time to strike him,” said Dumbledore kindly.

Severus sighed heavily. “My life is a payment for my sins.”

“We will need patience, my friend,” said Dumbledore. “If we’re to solve the riddle of the man who is no longer a man, we need patience.” Albus chuckled at his little joke. Severus rolled his eyes.

“It is hardly the time for frivolity, sir,” said Severus dryly.

“You should try it, Severus.” Dumbledore’s eyes twinkled. Professor Snape had a leg made for pulling.

“I imagine that Felicity was a drama queen about my performance,” asked Snape fishing.

“Come now, professor,” said Dumbledore seriously. “To her credit, it was hardly a performance.”
Snape grimaced. “It was difficult to watch. I wasn’t prepared for it, but I imagine that had been your plan all along. She’s dangerous.”

“She is beautiful and terrifying. Yes, I’ve seen them before. The dragon people are a magnificent race.” Dumbledore’s eyes crinkled in amusement. “I certainly hope that I’ll see her in flight before she returns home.”

“I hope that it’s soon. I don’t relish seeing her again. She unsettles me.”

“Patience, my friend,” said Dumbledore. It was critical that Severus be in control of his emotions. “Be kind to her. She cares greatly for you.”

Snape practiced being a statue.

“Have you anything more to tell me?” asked Dumbledore looking questioningly at the potion master’s gray stony face.

“Only what I always say, sir,” said Severus coldly. “The boy isn’t ready. The Dark Lord grows stronger daily and your supposed chosen one is a juvenile simpleton. Potter isn’t ready.”

“He will be, my friend,” said Albus knowingly. “He will be when we need him to be.”

“You say that but I have seen inside the boy’s mind, sir,” said Snape. This point particularly always made him uneasy. “He sees what the Dark Lord sees. He’s as dangerous because of his closeness to him. Tonight, the Dark Lord told me that he’d seen me. He knows, sees me and can see through Potter’s eyes. I can’t protect our secret with Potter involved. He’s uncontrollable.”

“It is imperative that you teach him Occlumency. Try, you must try. I cannot do it myself. You must be patient. Our plan is daring but given enough time, it will work. Patience.”

Snape tried to freeze his features but move his mouth. “That word should be written on my gravestone,” he said and turned to leave the room.




Chapter 27: Dragon March
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Chapter 27
Dragon March




She didn’t want to wake up. The mountains stretched to the heavens. It was the roof of the world, habitat of dragons, and her home. She clenched her eyes shut wanting the images to carry on. She imagined the wind in her nostrils, the air under her wings and that wonderful buoyancy in her center as she soared through the valley toward her home. She saw her beloved valley framed as always by the peaks of the Himalayas. The small green swatch of the fields and the village sitting at the top of gray and forbidding rocks. The flags were waving in the ever-howling wind. She could see the happy eye of the temple. She had nearly reached it, if only she could stay asleep, she’d be there soon.

But the cool stonewalls of Hogwarts castle beckoned her. The sun had risen and it was time to be awake. Her stomach rumbled to be fed. How she hated Hogwarts now. It was unwelcome and cold. Severus hadn’t looked in her direction once in the few days since he’d thrown her from Malfoy Manor. She was still so hurt by his rejection that she hadn’t dared intrude on him.

She opened her eyes and tumbled out of bed stiffly. The rough and hardened pads of her feet slapped loudly on the cool hardness of the stone floor. She scratched the surface with her talons and flapped her wings against the stale dungeon air. For a split second of wickedness, she was tempted to torch her surroundings. If only she could go home. She snaked out her long neck wanting to roar out her misery. The knowledge that she would have to leave Remus behind if she left England could not keep her from wishing it. It wasn’t has if she’d ever be allowed to see him much, she thought petulantly. She was imprisoned and despondent. Severus had rejected her and would keep a constant vigilance against her. She was alone.

She’d not seen the headmaster, either. The castle was an entirely empty and forbidding place for her. Dragons don’t function well in such conditions. They’re social creatures by nature just as humans are. They thrive on love. Her loneliness weighted her down, making her feel ill at ease and nauseous.

She’d also been under siege by the toady patrol as soon as she’d returned to the castle. Umbridge had stepped up her efforts to catch her out, presumably in order to sack her. The moment that she’d begun classes on Monday morning, the evil Inquisitor had been attending her lectures, clipboard in hand. Her only respite was that she wasn’t the only one that the bug-eyed nutcase was after. She had often wished that she could stuff that clipboard down her throat.

Her world was empty and devoid of warmth. Severus never wanted to speak to her again. He’d said it. She felt as if she was withering up. Hogwarts had become an alien place.

At breakfast she picked dully at her food. She no longer cared that Hogwarts fed her so heartily. Though her stomach rumbled to be fed, she tasted little of it and took no pleasure from its taste. She wanted to die.

“You really are pathetic,” said Severus sitting next to her. He crossed his arms and looked at her sideways with a disgusted expression on his face.

She didn’t have the energy to care. “I’m unhappy,” she said poking a sausage with her fork.

“That’s obvious,” he snorted. “You look like a dejected lover. Why don’t you announce to the world that you’re in misery? Haven’t you any pride? Really, Felicity, I’m very surprised at you.”

She looked at him then, her anger rising inside. He smiled smugly at her.

“How dare you be so arrogant!” she hissed.

“Finally, some fire from the dragon woman.”

Her mouth dropped at his manner. “You…” she stumbled for words… “You pompous prick!”

He raised a superior eyebrow. “Language, Miss Wood. There are children present.” He shifted in his chair and faced her. “I had to throw you out of that house, Felicity. You gave me no choice.”

“You may have done it with a little less disgust.”

“I was acting.”

“That was not acting. Don’t forget that I’m able to read you. I know you, Severus, all too well.” She was confused. Was he softening?

“Yes, I’m softening.” A corner of his mouth raised in a half smile. “Two can play at the art of reading images in the mind, Felicity. I’m a Legilimence remember? You’re like an open book at the moment. Your heart is on your sleeve. Frankly, I thought dragons were made of stronger stuff. Are you weakening? People are watching; wizards who are looking for any excuse to be rid of you. You’re endangering yourself and me along with you with this ridiculous show of your emotions.”

Felicity was tongue tied in shock. She looked about the Great Hall. It was early. Few students were about. Not more than twenty were scattered about the house tables. No other teachers were having breakfast.

“You’re very cruel, Professor Snape,” she said finally. “Or are you just gloating over the inferior half-human?” She wanted to hate him.

“I have my reasons for behaving as I do, Felicity,” he said grimly, his face set. “I have an abhorrence of animals mixed with humans.” He was whispering, barely moving his lips. He was looking about the room making sure that no person was interested in their conversation. His eyes fixed on Draco Malfoy and a few other Slytherins as they strutted through the door. “It is, in point of fact, a very well known part of my personality. There are those who expect me to act in particular ways.” He drew his eyes from watching the Slytherins to stare directly into her gaze. “We are always in danger now, Felicity. Our friends and enemies all want a piece of what we are. My past always haunts me. We walk a tightrope here at Hogwarts.”

She took a moment to think about what he was saying. “We? Severus, are you saying we?”

“Yes, dear dragon.” He fixed his eyes on her. “We.” His lip curled in condescension. “Don’t be a dolt.”

The light dawned suddenly on Felicity. She timidly fished about inside of him for what he was trying to say without saying. Something had happened at Malfoy Manor beyond the obvious. A bargain had been struck, Narcissa had aligned herself with Snape as her protector, Lucius had been fooled and…she saw Voldemort clearly in his mind.

Images that she hadn’t seen before appeared in a stream. She felt his pain and guilt. There was a ransacked room and the body of a woman. She looked like a rag doll flung into a corner.

“He doesn’t know!” she spoke out loud.

“Shhh!” Severus fairly spit at her. “Say nothing.”

Voldemort hadn’t known. He hadn’t trusted Severus because of it. There’d been holes in his memory and he hadn’t been sure about Severus’ part in his past. When Severus had failed to bring him the dragon, he’d begun to wonder what else Severus had failed at…holes in Voldemort’s memory. They’d seen him dead and yet…Voldemort did not know it. What did it mean?

“We don’t know,” said Severus pretending an interest in his toast.

The final chunk of information entered his mind. Voldemort should not be alive. Severus had seen him dead. He’d been there! How had he kept that from her? She saw what he’d seen. A flash of memory filled with strong emotions of loss and guilt centered on the dead in the room. How was it possible for Voldemort to be alive?

“We don’t know,” said Severus again. His eyes patrolled the room again and this time he’d seen Draco looking in his direction. He threw down an offending piece of toast and rose in feigned disgust. “Really, Miss Wood. Your persistent pestering is appalling,” he said in his normal, dry and dismissive tone of voice.

He moved from the table and strode down the aisle past the Slytherin table. He stopped at where Malfoy sat with his idiot friends, Crabbe and Goyle. He hovered above Goyle looking dangerous. “Mr. Goyle,” he said slowly. “You must pay more attention to your attire.” He pointed to a stain down the front of the boy’s robe. “There’s such a thing as house pride.”

Goyle gulped. Malfoy smirked. He’d distracted them nicely. Snape turned and marched out of the hall with a flourish of black robe waving behind him.

Felicity sat in stunned disbelief while in her mind she saw the memory he had kept from her. Did he have a secret Pensieve? She thought of Lucius’ son at Hogwarts watching, Narcissa’s want of his protection, Lucius and his usual self-serving cunning, Bellatrix and her plotting…the werewolf to alarm her…and finally…that Voldemort had been dead. She saw it clearly: the ashes blowing in an unseen wind past the body of a woman, a child’s still form, alive but barely. Had he come upon the scene in aftermath or had he killed them that night? She was sure that he’d killed someone that night. She’d felt his guilt and his triumph. There was remorse in the memory.

Severus had only shared this partial memory to show her that he’d been in a different sort of danger at the Malfoy’s. She’d been a decoy of the subtler political variety. She’d missed the danger entirely and had walked directly into the trap. A trap that had saved him from Voldemort’s prodding suspicions.

She’d inadvertently saved Severus by instinctually turning into her dragon self. Voldemort considered her a threat now and had surely given the order for her extinction. While her Professor Snape was safe, she was most likely marked for sport. He was warning her to be more careful. It was only a matter of time before a Death Eater would come after her. She smiled smugly confident. Let them try it.

Her eyes wandered the room searching as Severus had for any adversary. A new energy gripped her. She’d been a fool to think that Hogwarts was just a safe and stale prison while the war waged outside. There was danger here from Voldemort. Umbridge’s political moves for power were the least of her worries. Her gaze settled on a pair of green eyes looking at her with a questioning look. How long had Harry Potter been watching her?

She suddenly realized with dread why Dumbledore had warned her to stay away from him, why Snape was… yes, it was true…why Severus Snape was afraid of him. The boy was dangerous, though he certainly didn’t know it. The young man was oblivious of his own potential. He was the boy that had lived. He’d been a witness to what had happened that night. Voldemort didn’t know that Severus had been there, but Harry did.

Albus Dumbledore would tell her what she must do.

Felicity rose distracted. Harry watched as she rushed away from the head table. He wondered idly what had spooked her. She’d suddenly jumped up and run like a scared rabbit. Snape had most likely been his usual mean and vindictive self.

Harry went back to thinking of his own problems. Things were going well enough if he discounted the dreams. He’d call a meeting of the D.A. soon. They were nearly able to perform their Patronus charms. It was quite exciting. His head hurt a little. He wished that Ron would just get over it. He’d been whinging constantly over Quidditch and Harry resented that he’d never be able to play again. It just wasn’t fair.

He didn’t notice as Felicity nearly tripped and fell over the threshold out of the Great Hall in her hurry to reach Dumbledore’s stairwell as fast as she was able. He had turned his thoughts already to his own many dilemmas.

The headmaster had not been there. Her efforts to gain access were denied. She wouldn’t see him for another week. Instead of being able to act on her new knowledge, she was forced to be patient and wait. That first week in March seemed like four weeks. Her classes bored her rigid. She’d come very close to murdering Theodore Nott. Only the fact that she’d be caught kept her from squashing him like a bug. The Slytherins had taken on an air of bullying belligerence even toward their professors. They’d become swaggering and flippant. She began to wish that she’d been sorted into Hufflepuff.

It was a war zone with Dolores Umbridge always underfoot. The cow seemed to take constant delight in disarming and disrupting. Felicity couldn’t believe it was only March. She felt as if the school year had been in session for many years. It seemed to go on and on without end.

Severus still avoided her. She was barred from his classroom, his room. She felt alone, adrift again and miserable, but this time, she didn’t show it. She had taken Severus’ warning seriously. She knew that he avoided her to protect them both. There was danger everywhere and could come from anyone.

The war zone exploded the second week in March with a woman’s screaming that rang through the halls and up the great stairwell. Felicity had been in her office, well into the dinner hour with two of her students from Ravenclaw. They’d gone running in the direction of the sound, ending up in the entrance hall. The balconies and stairs surrounding had begun to fill with others who’d heard the screaming and come running. Professor Trelawney stood screaming on the stair. She was hysterical and blubbering incomprehensibly. Minerva and another teacher were trying to console her. Then Felicity saw the pink toad.

A pulsating feeling of dread came upon her as she watched and began to understand what was happening. Dolores Umbridge stood in conquest as she taunted Trelawney. She asked her why she hadn’t been able to predict her expulsion with that syrupy sweet voice that Felicity so hated. The woman was loathsome to the extreme and actually acted thrilled at the poor terrified Trelawney. Felicity was weeping in sympathy for the poor woman, though she’d hardly seen her all year and didn’t know much about her. She’d always thought her strange. Whenever Trelawney had gotten near her, the woman had scurried away as if spooked.

Then, as she watched from the balcony over the great entrance hall, Albus Dumbledore appeared from nowhere at the front entryway. The great oak doors opened dramatically and he walked casually forward as if he’d been out for an evening stroll. She hadn’t seen hide nor hair of the man in two weeks and yet there he was looking calm and in control. It gave her pause. He was a great and powerful wizard. She was in awe of his power.

As the drama of Trelawney’s predicament unfolded before her, Felicity searched the crowd of students and teachers for Severus. She found him at the top of the stair from the dungeons. He was standing on the landing with Harry Potter. He didn’t look in her direction but was absorbed in the spectacle of the Madame Inquisitor making her play for power at Trelawney’s expense. His face looked stone cold and impassive. Even at this distance, though, she could tell that he was disturbed by what was happening.

Dumbledore then brought the centaur named Firenze forward and announced that he’d already employed him to take Professor Trelawney’s place. She’d searched out Severus’ face again and found him looking directly at her with a small crooked smile.

His look of amusement at Dumbledore’s surprise trump caused her to celebrate. His raised eyebrow in her direction at the irony of yet another half human creature coming into the fold made her chuckle. It gave her hope. She didn’t feel so alone any longer suddenly. No matter how often he avoided her, he was still with her. They were bound. He smirked at her grin. She loved him, still.

As he leaned toward Harry Potter, dismissing the boy with a sneer, he looked again at her before turning back toward the dungeon. His look was grim, serious and then perhaps she’d been mistaken, but she could swear that she’d seen him wink.




March, the month crawled along and nothing seemed on the horizon. Emptiness surrounded her again. There was no news from Remus. No word of feral werewolves or Voldemort, who must have invaded Wolvin. She had seen no one from the Order of the Phoenix. Dumbledore had again become unreachable. The world had gone strangely quiet. It was eerily like a calm before a storm.

Much of her time, when she was not in class, was given to meditation. She spent larger and larger amounts of it in her dragon form while locked in her rooms. She was isolated, but aware and ever watching. She began to understand the pattern of the danger that she felt all around her. Umbridge was looking for the perfect moment to take over, to turn the tides of power to her favor. Dumbledore was invisible while Umbridge was seen everywhere and into everyone’s business. Poor, loveable Hagrid was taking the brunt of her wrath. The unfortunate man avoided the castle entirely in an effort to keep away from Umbridge. The devil of a woman had come to almost every one of her own classes, as well. Felicity began to see a real pattern to the woman’s plan. She was afraid of Firenze, had been blocked by Dumbledore in her attack on Trelawney, so she was going for broke with Hagrid. Felicity was merely her next victim. She would follow Hagrid onto the Inquisitor’s chopping block.

Severus would still not speak to her. He’d shunned her entirely. Often, she had felt him leave the castle entirely. She envied him his ability to escape unnoticed. She would love to see Remus, if only for a moment. She would give anything to feel his touch and gaze into his eyes. She was calcifying in her loneliness.

Then on the last night of the month of March as she’d just returned to her rooms, she felt Severus’ presence hovering at her door. There was no knock, no sound, but she knew it was he.

She took out her wand, doused the candles throughout the room and opened the door soundlessly. A shadow slipped inside.

“Severus?” she whispered.

“Shhhhh,” he said silencing her with his hand to her lips. She breathed in his essence. She’d missed his touch.

They waited a few minutes in the dark as his eyes adjusted. He moved her to the sofa. She could feel his heart pounding; feel the rhythm of his thoughts. She gave herself to his unspoken images. He’d received a message from Narcissa. Lucius had been traveling frequently for short periods of time. The Death Eaters were gaining strength and had come closer to their goal at the Department of Mysteries. Severus had been called and had traveled to meet again with Voldemort.

Felicity felt what Severus felt. In the dark, with no words spoken, her melding with him was somehow more profound and she was aware of not only his thoughts but also his senses, even the touch of Narcissa in his touch. It was thrilling…then she smelled the danger and her dragon senses reeled. She saw the place that Voldemort was in, that Severus had been to more than once. She gripped Severus’ hand in instant terror. Voldemort was in Wolvin, as they’d feared he would be. The community was under imminent attack. Remus…he was there.

Severus held her hand and brought it up tenderly to his lips willing her not to panic. Without a word spoken he was commanding her to constrict her feelings and listen to him. There was much to do.


Chapter 28: Fools and Traitors
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Chapter 28

Fools & Traitors




Albus sorted his thoughts while pacing back and forth in his tower. When he’d been young, his constant need of movement to match his thinking had driven his classmates crazy. His brother Aberforth had gotten so irritated at him one day that he’d hexed him with the jelly leg and had caught him unawares right in the Gryffindor common room. It had been the last time that he’d been surprised by his brother. He’d learned as he always did from his mistakes.

He listened to the walls pulsating with thoughts and emotions. The students and teachers movements and the smatterings of their thoughts rose up to him. The paintings had started rumbling, too. His spies had begun appearing. It had begun. It humored him that it was the muggle holiday called April Fools Day. It inspired a chuckle. We are all fools walking on this earth.

“The girl in Ravenclaw, sir,” said a young woman dressed in a hoop skirt and a matching knit cap. She stood in master Phineas’ portrait. Only Phineas Black’s profile could be seen with an arm reaching to pinch the young lady. “Oooo!” she winced and glared. “The girl has finished dinner and is walking toward that awful woman’s office, sir.” She stuck her tongue out at Phineas, who smirked arrogantly.

“Would you mind terribly fetching Minerva, my dear?”

“Tis a pleasure, sir,” she replied with a curtsey. She kicked Headmaster Black before exiting the portrait. He stood again looking very full of himself.

Dumbledore ignored him for a moment.

“It’s time, Phineas,” he said finally. “The young informer is about to confess. Alert Sirius, if you please, that I’ll be arriving soon. And, if you wouldn’t mind asking him to alert Kingsley, as well, I would appreciate it. The Ministry should be here by this evening.”

“Had I known that this existence would entail an ever constant trail between the Black seat and Hogwarts, I might have decided not to sit for this portrait.” He moved from the frame before Albus could comment.

Albus thought a moment then looked up at the portrait of his mentor, Professor Dippet. “I wonder if you might walk over to ask Severus to come quickly, Headmaster?” he asked politely. “I’d like to speak with him before I leave.”

“Leave?” said Professor Dippet grumpily. “I don’t remember any plan involving you leaving being discussed, Albus.”

“It’s only for a while. I’ll return shortly.”

“But why?”

“Severus Snape, if you would, sir? I believe we have very little time.”

As Dippet left, Albus called for quiet from the gallery. He needed to concentrate on where particular personalities were in the castle. Harry, Hermione and Ron were walking from their common room late for the evening meal. The Weasley twins were in a closet storing items near the third floor of the stairwell…no doubt they were planning something festive…Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle were in the Great Hall…

He guessed that he had perhaps an hour, at the most two, to be ready to depart.

There was a knock at the door. “Come in, Minerva, Severus,” he said quietly.

Minerva rushed in the door while Severus took his time taking his spot next to her in front of the Headmaster’s desk.

“What’s happened?” she said nervously.

Albus raised both hands in a soothing manner. “Nothing unexpected, Minerva.” He looked at Severus expectantly. “Felicity has left for Wolvin in good order?”

Severus nodded and looked down at the shocked face of Minerva.

She looked fearful at Albus Dumbledore to explain. “I sent Felicity to Wolvin early this morning, my dear.” He looked at Severus who stood rigid and straight backed. “Our esteemed retired Professor Landseer has kindly agreed to return and teach the Runes curriculum in her place for a short duration.” He eyed Severus. “She’s come down with a nasty case of sneezelboutitus. Poppy has sent her home to her father, or so we’ve told our Madame Inquisitor. Felicity has gone to Wolvin because Voldemort is now there.”

Minerva’s eyes widened. “He’s…he’s in Wolvin, then?” Her voice whispered as if the air had stopped in her throat.

Dumbledore nodded. “And, I’ll be leaving shortly, Minerva.” He looked hardened and resolved. “It will be up to you and Severus to persevere in protecting the students.” He directed his gaze to Severus. “The Ministry will be here soon. There will things said about me. Your house has aligned itself with them as we expected. It could not be helped.” His eyes pierced Severus with an icy blue intensity. “You must not be seen to support me. It’s inevitable now. The final maneuver is in place. Stay clear of the skirmishes that inevitably will occur, my old friend.” He closed his eyes and sighed. “I’ve asked much of you, and will again before we’re through.”

Dumbledore did something unusual then. He reached out with his hand. Severus, too, as if he knew what was expected, as if he and Dumbledore had always said good-bye thus, reached out and they grasped each other, not by the hand as a muggle might, but by the forearms. They stood with arms entwined for a few moments and then released. Severus turned with the slightest of nods in Professor McGonagall’s direction and strode for the door.

Professor Snape had not uttered a single word during the entire interview.





The Dark Lord was only minimally satisfied with his new form. For perhaps a little less than a year he had been housed within the skeletal body. In all that time the cold had been his nemesis. It grated on him that this form had been less than expected. He blamed his minions for not having secured that Potter boy properly.

“Wormtail,” he called lightly. There was no need to shout. His servant was always aware of his master. His thin lips curled as the fat little creature hovered. “I’m cold, servant. Again.”

Peter Pettigrew turned to stoke up the flames of the fire with his wand. The flames roared with simple flick and swish of a spell. He bowed, and then returned to writing in the book for his master. The boy had become persistent. He wanted to come to his mother and asked over and over why he couldn’t when she was so close by. Since they had come to live on the farm in Wolvin, he had written several times a day begging to see his mother.

The Dark Lord had long since given over the job of placating and putting off the idiot boy. Soon he would have to be gotten rid of.

“Bellatrix is with the old man, Wormtail,” said Voldemort. “Fetch her for me.”

Peter bowed respectfully and scurried from the room. He stepped over the ever-present snake that no longer needed to be before the fire because it was so very warm. The snake had curled itself at the door like a sentry. Peter let out an involuntary shudder as he stepped over it.

Peter had been dying in the extreme heat and walking out into the open air was a welcome release. He usually liked the dark warmth of Voldemort’s rooms but lately his lord had seen fit to raise the temperatures ever higher. It was stifling in his presence.

He stood on the stair of the house to sniff the air and gaze about the bucolic scene with rheumy eyes. It was a pleasant place, with green fields made even greener by the spring rains and warming climate. The dwindling flock of sheep grazed lazily just beyond the old man’s house.

“Watch this, Gryffindor scum,” said Bella the instant Peter entered the old geezer’s kitchen. She was sitting at the kitchen table with her feet slung around the back of a chair. She was pointing her wand at the old man who stood strangely frozen in the middle of the room. The old man had been put under the Imperius Curse on their arrival and Bellatrix had entertained herself with making him do tricks.

“Dance,” she commanded and twitched the wand.

The rickety old man did a small soft shoe shuffle.

“The Dark Lord is asking for you,” said Peter avoiding looking at the pathetic man. “You really shouldn’t do that.” He didn’t know why he’d bothered saying it and wished immediately that he’d not.

Bella turned her face to sneer at Peter, her wand still guiding the unfortunate old man. “I wouldn’t dare act so superior, Gryffindor,” she said snidely. Her face had a harsh, ugly look. The basic structure was made for a pretty face but it was as if the years in Azkaban had frozen her meanness to her very features. She was frightening not because she was ugly, but because she was so obviously cruel.

“I’m not acting any way at all, Bella,” said Peter defensively.

“Yes, you are,” she said narrowing her gaze. “It’s a little thing to make an old man dance. He’ll never remember it if he manages to live.” She smiled casually, knowing Peter was by far an inferior. “A man who betrays his only friends will always be remembered for it and will never be trusted, even by the one that he did it for. You’ll always be a traitor for whatever side you pretend you’re with.”

Peter shifted his eyes to the old man who still shuffled. He had no desire to argue his loyalty with Bella. They would never accept him, this old guard to the Dark Lord, no matter how he ingratiated himself to them. He only wanted to fade into the woodwork when any of the Death Eaters were around. How he hated his lot in life. He would escape if he thought that he could get away.

Bella made a disgusted sound then got up and walked from the room. As she released the old man, he crumpled to the floor in a heap, spluttering with exhaustion. Peter looked down at him with no compassion. It never occurred to him to help the man to his feet, or maybe to sit him in a chair with a cup of tea. He walked after Bella. The unlucky geezer had nothing to do with him.




Felicity arrived at the Gray’s beautiful house and grounds with a crack. She stretched out her hands to the place, breathing in the fresh air and feeling wonderful. She was free. Dumbledore had sent her to a Wolvin under siege but the terror of imminent attack didn’t dissuade her from the joy of being there. In fact, she would relish a real battle. The dragon hungered for a fight. Months of being the quiet protector, the subtlety of dodging Umbridge and her malice had built up a violence in her that needed release. Let them come. She would protect this place with all her might.

Remus was just up those steps and behind that door. The warmth and acceptance of the Gray’s and their family was there, as well. She drank in the anticipation of them, then walked to the door and knocked. They weren’t expecting her and she loved surprises.

Kate answered the door almost immediately. “It’s Felicity!” she yelled to anyone who could hear her. “Felicity is here!” The sweet young woman threw her arms in welcome around Felicity’s neck. “I’m so glad that you’ve come! Remus has been such a grumpy guts without you.”

“I take offense at that observation of my character, young miss,” said the deep resonant voice of Remus Lupin from the hall. He stood looking pleased as punch and as if Felicity arrived at the door every day.

Kate released her and Felicity ran to him throwing her arms around him and knocking him into the wall. They both were laughing. “Are you surprised to see me?” she said breathlessly.

“Very surprised, my dear,” said Remus happily. “And, very pleased, as well. You’re a sight for sore eyes.”

By that time, a crowd had gathered in the hall with Agatha, John and Barnabus, who had all been having lunch in the kitchen. They’d come to see what the commotion at the door had been.

Agatha gave a sigh of delight. “My dear girl,” she said graciously taking her hands from Remus. “It’s wonderful to see you.” She kissed her on both cheeks in welcome. “We had no hope that Dumbledore would allow you to visit us for the full moon.”

“It’s not a visit that I’ve been sent for, Agatha,” she said suddenly serious.

John moved forward. “So it’s time is it, finally?” he said grimly. “He’s here somewhere? Or coming? Dumbledore has said it?”

John Gray had that look of a leader whose only thought is to protect his community. Felicity felt instant empathy for the man.

“Dumbledore thinks he’s already here, John,” she said quietly. “He said to tell you that Fenrir Greyback is with Voldemort now.” Agatha gasped and drew her daughter closer in panic. John’s face suddenly paled with shock. Evidently, they knew the feral wolf. “I’ve met him,” continued Felicity, “and he’s purely evil in his cruel viciousness. We are in great danger.”

Barnabus started shaking uncontrollably. He backed away from the group in obvious terror. His mouth lost all moistness in instant fear. “Fenrir Greyback,” he whispered, “is with him?”

Felicity, and all of them stared at the boy.

“Barnabus?” asked Agatha concerned. “Do you know this werewolf?”

Barnabus’ eyes widened in horror and all in the hall looked at him with real alarm. He gulped and ran from them, down the hall, through the kitchen and out the back door. He ran as if his life depended on it.

They all stood in shock for a minute and then Agatha nudged Kate forward. “You go fetch him back, daughter,” she said. “He must know Fenrir and that would upset anyone.”

Felicity, however, snapped to attention. “No,” she said sternly realizing what was really wrong. She looked directly at Remus. “I smell his fear, but I also smell danger.” She looked at the stunned Gray’s. “Remus and I will find him. You stay here.”

She and Remus started down the hall and then she stopped at the threshold and turned. “Alert everyone, John. Voldemort is here in Wolvin and that boy knows where he is.”

Kate’s jaw dropped in shock while John’s set in a teeth-grinding shudder. “I should have seen that coming,” he said. “I should have seen the signs.” he was talking to himself rather than to his wife and daughter. “We’ll put out the call.”

“But mother,” said Kate turning in disbelief. “Who is this Fenrir Greyback? Why is he so dangerous?”

Agatha hugged her daughter tightly to her, the tears stinging her eyes as John, with a look of frigid resolve, strode out the front door. “He’s an evil werewolf, dear daughter,” she whispered watching her husband. “Who favors young victims and…is feral. In the last war, he aligned himself secretly to the One-Who-Should-Not-Be-Named, and we didn’t find it out until it was too late. He killed …and made werewolves of so many of the young, child. He enjoys hurting humans and has no respect for our peaceful ways.” She let out a strangled gasp. “And,” the tears flowed with terror and sadness combined in one emotion, “he’s your father’s older brother, child. He was once called Fenrir Gray and he’s a traitor to our family.”





Bella entered the overbearingly hot room with her head held high until she stood before the great one and bowed low.

“Bella, my dear,” said Voldemort solicitously. “You were in that prison much too long. Do not exhaust the werewolf with your play. We may need him in future for purposes other than your entertainment.”

“Forgive me, lord,” said Bella bending lower. “I’ll do anything you ask, always. I am your most faithful servant.”

“So you have said many times, my dear.” There was no emotion in the high voice. “Though you waste my time with your maneuvering for power amongst my followers.”

“It was I who brought Rookwood to you and we discovered that Avery had lied.” She bowed lower fully expecting a curse flung in her direction for her insolence.

“Look at me,” said Voldemort coldly.

Bella lifted her head though she kept her body prone. She welcomed her lord’s probing into her thoughts with a vaulted rush of joy.

“Stop your vile grasping for my favor at once, Bellatrix. I see everything. I have no need of your protection from my own loyal followers.” His red slanted eyes pierced hers and she felt suddenly that she could not breathe. Her lord had seen fit to punish her for her ambition.

“Ack.ack,ack.” She gasped, her mind suddenly filled only with vivid pain. She relished it and so did he.

Voldemort released her and she fell to the floor.

“Peter Pettigrew, Severus Snape and the all others that you bark at continually are my loyal subjects. That’s not for you to question. I trust them, as I trust you, my dear, because I control them. Just as I control you.”

Bella said nothing. She could only feel her heart beating and the adrenalin flowing through her veins. The lord was without peer in his abilities. It was glorious to follow him. She looked up, inviting him to read the loyalty and admiration in her eyes.

“I am the Dark Lord and I have no need of your feeble advice, Bella.” That said he released his hold on her mind. “It’s time to put out the call,” he said casually. “When I’ve gathered all my followers in this ridiculous backfield that we call a sanctuary, you’ll lead them to the heart of Wolvin.” His licked his lips tasting the imagined salt of victory. “I’m not referring to that town, either, but the so-called school for their werepups and the Gray family home. They must all be exterminated. Within this place we will be safe in our assault on the Ministry. The boy Potter is nearly there.” Voldemort smiled. “The door has opened and I’ve only to bait the trap to bring him to me.” He closed his eyes. He was so close. Soon Dumbledore would be thrown in Azkaban and the way would be clear. Though, he cautioned himself, Dumbledore was no fool. He would be pleasantly surprised if the idiots at the Ministry could actually capture and hold Dumbledore but he wouldn’t be celebrating until that was actually accomplished. A sudden feeling of absolute loathing for Dumbledore escaped from him and he lashed out at the only available subject.

Bella fell to the ground unconscious. The last thought she experienced before blanking out was not really a thought at all but an acknowledgment of a surprising and sudden charge of exhilarating pain.





Remus and Felicity ran very fast after the boy who’d run along the path past the barn where they’d witnessed the birth of a thestral only a few months before. They thundered down the path but were too late. The boy had disappeared into the dark forest.

“Barnabus! Barnabus!” yelled Remus after him, but it did no good. The boy had gone in without looking back. By the time they reached the forest edge there was no sound. Even the birds had quieted, sensing that there were predators nearby.

“Are you sure, Felicity?” panted Remus. “That the boy knows where Voldemort is?” His face showed intense anguish. Betrayal by those he trusted was particularly hard for this man. Treachery was too familiar and too painful.

“We cannot let him escape, Remus,” said Felicity breathlessly. She was out of shape and it surprised her. She’d never experienced such a lack of oxygen, having the heart of a dragon. She should be able to outrun any human in this form.

Then she realized that it was the shock of sudden adrenalin racing through her body and the danger mechanism, both dragon and human, was overloading her system. Her human form couldn’t take the strain. She could feel her body swelling.

“I must change, Remus,” she panted. “You flush him out of the forest and I’ll fly above. If he leaves, I’ll be able to pick him up.” She stepped away as Remus watched. He was frozen at her sickened look. She was so obviously in pain. His first instinct was to protect her.

“Felicity, what’s wrong? Are you all right?”

“Go!” she managed to strangle out. “My body needs to change. We…must…find…him.” Her voice sounded desperate and pleading.

As she threw herself into the dragon pose for the change, she watched as Remus sprang into action. He turned from her and ran into the forest with his wand out and a fierce look of resolve on his face.




Remus walked stealthily, letting his body acclimate to the darkness of the dense forest. He listened for any sign of movement and whispered a small finding spell. His wand lit at the tip. It would guide him.

The forest was deadly quiet. He moved along cautiously following the wand but also his instincts. He could feel the path that Barnabus had strode on. It was as if the warm pads of the boy’s feet had left a mark and the aroma of his blood could still be sensed in the air. Remus felt invigorated. Life amongst the werewolves had taught him to trust his natural abilities. It was exhilarating to hunt. He embraced what he was.

He came upon the boy finally deep in the forest. Barnabus was trying to tempt a Thestral to come forward. Remus realized that the boy would escape from him if he was able to mount the beast but he was hesitant at using a binding spell on the boy.

He boldly stepped out of the dark underbrush with his wand held up and ready. “Barnabus,” he said soothingly. “It’s all right, son. You don’t have to run. We’re your friends.”

Barnabus, started at the sudden emergence of Remus from the forest. He froze in fright and hesitation. “You don’t understand, Professor,” he said in a strained voice.

“But we do, my boy. We know that you’ve been in contact with Voldemort.”

The boy winced at the name as he always did. He looked around in panic as if the mere mention of the Dark Lord’s true name would herald him. “I…did it…for my mother,” the boy started. “He told me that she was ill in Azkaban and that if I would this one thing…he would release her. He promised that he wouldn’t hurt them.”

Remus winced this time. He was only a child and it broke his heart to hear how Voldemort had tricked him so. “Voldemort is a liar, Barnabus.”

“But he did release her! I know he did.”

“How do you know?”

“He told me things…things that she would know and that she was so very sick…and I had to help him so that she could be near me…and…” the boy was crying with frustrated tears as even he realized the lie of it. “But he didn’t tell me about Fenrir…he would know those same things.” He let out a strangled cry of frustration. “He would know and my mother would never have stood having him near her.”

“Barnabus, come back to the house. We will talk there. You’ll be safe with us. We’ll find your mother.” He tried to make his voice as calm as possible. The boy was nearing hysterics and would bolt. He still held his wand at the ready in case he did start to run again.

“You don’t understand,” he cried. “She would never have allowed him near her.”

“Barnabus, calm down. It’s all right. We will work it out. You must help us find Voldemort.”

“No,” said Barnabus, his face strained. “She’s dead. My beautiful mother is dead. He would have killed her as he will kill me. The Dark Lord lied.” He let out a cry and jumped onto the Thestral.

Remus sent out a spell but the boy blocked him and the Thestral jumped into the air. It flew through a clearing in the forest ceiling.

Remus stood shooting spells after him and cursing himself for teaching the boy to block so well but he flew out of sight.




Voldemort contemplated his next move. The boy, Harry Potter was agitated. He felt for his mind. He needed to be very careful how he approached the boy because the path led both ways. Harry Potter must not know this fact.

He probed and prodded, meditating on a spot just above the eye. He focused there, and inflicted intentional pain for spite. He’d found that he could almost control the boy but it took some effort at such a great distance.

He saw a room and vaguely recognized it through a cloudy haze that was the idiotic boy’s feeble brain. The image wavered as if he were seeing it in waves. Then suddenly, he recognized his nemesis before him. Albus Dumbledore’s face came into clear focus. Voldemort reached out with all the venom and hatred within him. If only he could just reach out to Dumbledore, he’d obliterate him with a killing curse.

The dark and fiendish would-be conqueror let out a strangled cry of frustration. “Arrrggghhh!” He’d been so close. The images from Harry Potter were gone.

**********

This is where I'm biting my fingernails and the story writes itself. I love the battles...Those of you who've read Over the Hill know this about me. I'll post again soon. Take a minute to review, if you please. I'm all ears.

Chapter 29: The Battle Ground
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Chapter 28
The Battle Ground




Sirius was irritated with Kreacher. There was no denying that there was something not quite right about the servant. Sirius, for want of a better description, was getting frustrated, not just with this living vestige of his suffocating upbringing but with every aspect of being trapped in a house that reminded him continually of his Black heritage. He was trapped, incarcerated, imprisoned and whatever word that there could be in the English language to describe his miserable state.

He’d thrown a glass down on the floor in anger.

“Clean up this mess at once!” he yelled stomping off to his room. It was late and he may as well be in bed. Heaven forbid it if he didn’t get enough rest in order to do nothing tomorrow again. It was worse than being in Azkaban. At least in prison he’d had his revenge against Peter to look forward to and keep him going.

He threw himself on the bed flicking his wand to light the lamp next to his bed. He’d read until he fell asleep. He would die of boredom if something didn’t happen soon.

“I’ve been waiting for your esteemed presence for nearly an hour, young man,” said the portrait of Phineas Black snootily. He stood in his frame across the room with his arms folded. The portrait wore that familiar and handsome Black family severity that Sirius knew so well. He had the like on his own face.

“What’s happened?” said Sirius excited. Dumbledore only sent Phineas Black when something important had happened.

“I’m not sure,” said Phineas with a sniff. “I’ve missed most of the excitement while waiting for you to saunter through that door.”

Sirius gritted his teeth. “Please tell me why you’ve been sent, sir.” The portrait was as much a pain as the real Black must have been.

Phineas smiled smugly. “He’s told me to tell you that he’s coming soon.”

“Dumbledore? When?”

“I imagine it should be fairly quickly since you took an age and a day to come up to your rooms.”

“You could have called from a portrait downstairs. We’ve seemingly dozens of relatives down there,” said Sirius not even attempting to hide his impatience.

“Your dear mother and I don’t get along,” said Phineas. “I hesitate to wake the lady.”

Sirius laughed out loud with a release. “You and me, both, sir,” he said. “Now, why’s he coming?”

“I’ve no idea.” Phineas appraised his nails with some interest.

“Of course, you do.”

“I imagine that I might have heard a thing or two.”

“And?”

“There’s the possibility that the Ministry of Magic is going to let Dumbledore go.”

“Dumbledore sacked? No!”

Phineas looked up disgusted. “Young man, I’m not accustomed to relaying false stories.”

Sirius snorted.

“He asked me to ask you to alert Kingsley Shacklebolt at the Ministry, as well.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?” spat Sirius suddenly panicked. “I hope it’s not too late!” He started to head for the door.

“You needn’t bother, as I’ve already taken care of the matter,” said Phineas. He was looking at Sirius strangely.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean that I took the time before arriving to hasten to a small and insignificant portrait of myself at the Ministry where I held a position before becoming Headmaster at Hogwarts. From there, I was able to convey the information.”

Sirius waited for a broader explanation.

“I wished to speak to you before things got, well, too involved.” Phineas narrowed his gaze and lifted his nose to give emphasis to the gravity of his behavior.

Sirius moved closer to the portrait. He couldn’t help being suspicious. It was a habit of his upbringing to be wary any other Black’s agenda. The portrait was behaving strangely. “What do you want to talk about?”

“Your heritage,” said Phineas severely. “You are the last male in a long line. You have responsibilities to your family name.”

Sirius’ mouth dropped. “You’re joking.”

“I do not joke, young man.” Phineas wagged a threatening finger at Sirius. “There are other Blacks but frankly, they are women. They cannot carry on the Black name and from what I’ve seen they are nefarious in character or in other ways unacceptable. To put it bluntly, I didn’t have much hope at all until you proved yourself heroic. It’s a less than appropriate Gryffindor trait albeit, but more commendable then being a slave to that Voldemort creature. The point is that you must see to it that the line is carried on. I must overlook your often less desirable qualities due your being sorted into Gryffindor. The Black blood is in your veins. Blood will prevail, you’ve only to procreate.”

Sirius chuckled good-naturedly. “How would you propose that I accomplish this?”

“You’re a Black. There must be innumerable young women of appropriate blood to marry.”

Sirius sat on the bed, his mouth open until he doubled over with laughter.

“I fail to see the humor in your situation,” said Phineas dangerously. “The Headmaster will back be up, won’t you, Albus?”

Albus Dumbledore had quietly appeared at the door. He ignored the portrait to enjoy a rare moment of Sirius in laughter. “It’s good to see you laughing again, Sirius,” he said. His eye twinkled with merriment.

Sirius jumped up. “What’s happened, sir? Is Harry all right?”

“He’s fine, fine. May I come in?”

“Of course, but wouldn’t you be more comfortable downstairs?”

“No, no,” said Dumbledore accepting an offered chair and nodding to Phineas. “I wish Phineas to hear our conversation so that he might report back to the others.” Albus had created a complicated network of knowledgeable spies throughout the castle and he wished them to be informed in order to continue to be his eyes and ears while he was away.

“What is your concern, Phineas?” asked Dumbledore with a little smile forming on his lips.

“Nothing that need concern you.” Phineas folded his arms petulantly and looked away.

“He’s decided that I have a responsibility to my heritage,” said Sirius bitterly. “The Black’s need a male heir, you see.” Sirius laughed, but this time the sound was stained with self-pity. “As if that was possible trapped as I am in this mausoleum.”

Dumbledore’s expression changed to one of concern. “It’s important that you stay here, Sirius. You mustn’t let yourself be caught or bring any attention to Grimmauld Place, for Harry’s sake.”

“I’m doing him no bloody good cooped up here!” His frustration was bubbling over again.

“Ah, but you are,” said Dumbledore calmly. “You are. He finds comfort in knowing that you’re safe. You’re the most important person in Harry’s life and he needs you.”

Sirius said nothing.

“You might consider Harry as your heir. That would make your bond as guardian even stronger. He needs you, Sirius. I could arrange for the papers to be drawn up.”

Sirius looked thoughtful, happier even.

“He’s not a Black!” said Phineas beyond them.

Sirius grinned. “No, he’s not a Black but he’s my godson.”

Satisfied, Dumbledore relaxed a bit and they discussed recent events at the castle. The Ministry had arrived when they’d discovered Harry and his friends in the Room of Requirement. It had been a planned coup orchestrated by Dolores Umbridge and Cornelius Fudge. Dumbledore had taken the blame for Dumbledore’s Army and been sacked. It was nothing that he hadn’t seen coming or planned for. “You must stay alert while I’m in Wolvin, Sirius,” said Dumbledore.

“I should be there with you! You know it!” Sirius hated always being left behind. “Wolvin is protected from the Ministry. If Voldemort can hide there, then why can’t I? I need to fight, Albus.” He was a desperate man. “Pettigrew would be there with him. Give me the chance to avenge James and my wasted life.”

Dumbledore was stern. “Harry needs you here, Sirius. You can’t be risked.” His face softened. “You’re all he has left in the world. You must be patient.”

“That word should be written on my gravestone,” said Sirius bitterly.

Dumbledore grimaced. He stared hard at Sirius. “Severus said those exact words to me, recently. You’ve more in common then you’ll admit with him, my friend.”

Sirius said nothing. He stared off into space resenting his life. Severus was a git bugger out there enjoying his life while he wasted away to nothing in his the tomb of his childhood. He’d rather face Voldemort.



*************************************



Felicity was in hunting mode and felt exhilarated. Every fiber of her body was alive with the adrenalin of the chase. As she floated in the sky with the breeze lifting in her wings and the moist rush of cloud in her nostrils, she felt alive and free. It was glorious.

She circled the forest waiting for her prey. If Remus tracked down Barnabus, which he surely would, he would either talk him into returning with them or flush him out. She would see him running from this height. A dragon’s eyesight is precise. Like a hawk floating in the wind, she waited above. She would see anything that emerged from the forest.

As she waited, she contemplated her place in the world. Long hours in flight meditation came back to her. This is what had been missing from her life. This was what had led to her misery at Hogwarts. A dragon must fly, if only to commune with the wind, and the clouds. She twitched her wings to catch an updraft and considered never returning to the school. It would be so easy. Severus barely needed her, now. The students were bored with what she was forced to teach them anyway. She hated Dolores Umbridge and was horrid at all the diplomatic dodging that the zealot required. She could stay here in Wolvin and be of more use to the Order’s cause.

Suddenly, Felicity saw movement and all thoughts of self disappeared. Her instincts kicked in. Prey! Prey in flight! She swooped down toward it with a lightning speed, her head in a dive and her wings held close. She dropped out of the sky so fast that the thestral had barely topped the trees and she was upon them.

Memories, dragon memories of hunting cautioned Felicity against plucking the prey out of the sky. Felicity was fearless in many things but she remembered her near death experience when she’d become she, when girl had become dragon. Felicity and Felicity had become who they were because of such a hunt. She circled the thestral that reared in terror when she brushed it with her great wing. A thestral had an eerie call when in distress. It was high pitched and hurt Felicity’s sensitive hearing. She roared in response.

Barnabus held onto the thestral with a look of fright on his face. The dragon circled, pushing the pair in a herding way. She tried to steer the thestral away from where it’s rider wanted it to go. The thestral became confused and panicked. It circled erratically crying out with alarm. The great dragon flapped its wings and held itself vertically in the air. It roared ferociously. The thestral turned in the direction that Felicity was heralding it to fly.

Felicity had spotted a crowd gathering on the back lawn of the Gray’s house. She aimed the thestral there. Her mind reached out to the frightened creature and she tried to soothingly coax it onward toward the crowd on the ground.

Barnabus seemed to find his wits when he realized that Felicity was controlling the thestral. He turned his wand toward Felicity, who laughed with a dragon’s laugh at the insignificant spells the boy was throwing at her. A dragon cannot be touched by the weak kneed threats of an underage wizard!

She reared then. An underaged wizard in the sky would alert the ministry to the existence of Wolvin! The fool! She roared with magic fire at the idiot child who was putting them all in danger. Before she realized what she’d done, both thestral and rider were falling from the sky, wounded and burnt.

Felicity bent her head and dove for them. Snatching both in her talons and flapping her wings with great effort to gently bring them to the ground. The load was almost too much for her. She had to compensate with a spell to lighten them, something very difficult to do in her dragon form. By the time she finally reached the ground, just behind the Gray’s barn, she was panting with fatigue and her quarry were as limp as rags.

The crowd of people had witnessed the fight above and come running. Felicity limped away from them too weak to change. She was furious at herself. She would never survive Voldemort if a mere pup of a boy could wear her out like this. It was only the exertion of the weight that had weakened her but now she was certain that she needed to gather her strength, not as a human, but as a dragon. Her human form had weakened her.
She searched the jumble of humans that gathered about the limp forms of the thestral and Barnabus to find Remus and mewed to him. It was the pitiful sound of a young dragon for its mate or its mother. She was deeply ashamed of her disability and felt guilt at harming the foolish child.

Remus turned from the horrific scene of the burnt form of the boy. It sickened him. Some sort of fire had damaged half of the boy’s body. Wizards weren’t burnt by fire! Every school-aged child knew that.

Felicity called him again and he hastened toward her. Though he’d seen Felicity as a dragon, he’d never seen her complete while he was in his fully human form. She frightened him. She was an animal, brutal and deadly. He was ashamed of himself. He moved tentatively toward her. She bent her head in submission and guilt. She’d not meant to hurt the boy, only stop him from endangering the safety of Wolvin from the Ministry.

Remus felt her thoughts reaching out to him and softened, touching her head with his hand. She mewed the pitiful sound of her guilt again, a dragon in abeyance.

“It’s all right, Felicity,” said Remus gently. “You were protecting us. I think I understand, now. I only hope he’ll live. I’ve no experience of these wounds. Will he? Will he make it?”

He would live, she thought bitterly; the foolish child. She wanted to help him but she could not change yet. She needed to regroup, to restore herself as a full dragon. Dumbledore, she thought and transferred the image to Remus’ mind. Dumbledore could help the boy. He was on his way.

Remus nodded in understanding and Felicity turned from him. She would need a large rock or a warm perch somewhere high to gather her strength and shed the weaknesses of her human form. She turned one last time to look at the man that she loved and who loved her. The wolf, a predator like herself, he was standing alone and looking forlorn. She could not help him now, not without gaining her dragon strength back. A larger predator than both of them lurked now within Wolvin.

Turning, she willed herself into the sky. She knew that she would have to find a rock that rose high in the sky. She would warm herself when the sun rose from the east. Her instincts guided her. The sky was darkening. Night had come. She went out alone to become a strong dragon once again. Voldemort was waiting out there somewhere. She must be ready.



********************************************


The night was the darker kind where the starlight is shrouded by deep and ominous storm clouds that blanket the sky. The moon was almost full and somewhere in the world it could be seen in its bright globe glory but not here, not in Wolvin, not on this night. Albus Dumbledore arrived in Wolvin late. It was well after midnight when he apparated to the front lawn of the Gray’s expansive house. He’d not been there in many years.

The great wizard paused on the threshold communing with the place. Though it was late, he could feel many awake and agitated souls within the house. It was alive with the worry and adrenalin of those readying for an attack. Felicity had certainly alerted them and they were gathering, readying to protect themselves. His heart constricted in remorse. Who would lose a life? So many had already been lost. This war was not to be. This war should not have happened. Voldemort should already be dead. Only the prophecy had led him to suspect otherwise for all these years. As he had watched Harry Potter grow into a young man, he had waited for it to reveal a path, knowing that Tom Riddle, the fiend that was Voldemort was still out there somewhere.

Voldemort had not died that night in Godric’s Hallow, and was like a cat with many lives. How many lives? The diary had given him his first clue of Voldemort’s hold on immortality. It made his blood harden in his veins to accept what Voldemort must have done to create it. Tom Riddle had lived in that diary and he’d created it with a blood magic of the very worst, most sinister kind when he’d only been sixteen years old. Dumbledore had suspected a Horcrux when Harry had explained how he’d saving the Ginny Weasley. When the nature of the diary had been revealed but the concept was so revolting to his very nature that he’d taken longer than he should have to come to the conclusion that he had. To halve your own soul for immortality was a death worse than death. The question now remained. How many Horcruxes had Tom Riddle created and what form had he used? So many lives were at risk on the battlefield being prepared this night and yet they might all die in vain if even one Horcrux still existed.

Albus stood on the threshold of the Gray’s household. He let the damp dark air caress his face. Were he a younger man, he may have been less patient. He was not.

A bat sent out a trill.

He was not young.

A soft rustle in a tree near the house revealed a nesting bird alerted to his presence.

He was patient.

Dumbledore turned and opened the door into a room in an uproar. A sea of faces turned when he entered. People were talking all at once and John Gray, who was standing in the hall with the crowd that spilled into the parlor looked up to see Albus Dumbledore enter. John raised his hands for quiet.

“You’ve come,” he said to Dumbledore. “Thank you.”

Dumbledore looked seriously from face to face in the room. He recognized none of them but John, who he hadn’t seen in many a year. The room had silenced. Albus Dumbledore had that effect on people. “I’m sorry that our circumstances are as they are, my old friend,” he said.

John nodded. “We need you upstairs,” he said. He turned to one of his sons standing next to him. “Get started,” he said simply and abruptly went up the wide staircase toward the bedrooms expecting the headmaster to follow. At times of crisis neither man stood on ceremony. A boy’s life and all their lives were at stake.

Albus followed up the stairs until they came to a lavatory room. It was a large and tiled room with the fittings and accoutrements of any fine bathroom. Remus sat in a chair beside the claw footed tub looking completely out of place in his tattered brown robe. He was dirty, as if he’d crawled through mud and had the cuts on his face as he often did after a full moon. But it was not yet moon night. He stood and smiled sadly at Dumbledore’s entrance.

Agatha, who was tending to the boy in the bath looked up as the men entered the room and instantly burst into tears upon seeing Dumbledore. She ran to him and it was then that Albus saw Barnabus, a boy he’d never seen, lying naked and burned in the bath.

“Albus,” she cried into his shoulder. “Do something, please. It’s magic fire. I don’t know what to do. The potion in the bath should heal him and revive him. It’s as if I’d never been a healer. He won’t wake up.”

Albus looked past the crying woman in his arms to Remus. “Felicity did this?” he said surprised.

Remus sighed and looked down at the boy. “He knew where Voldemort was,” he said quietly. “Felicity and I drove him into the forest where I found him and tried to convince him to come back to help us but he escaped into the air on a thestral.” He stared hard into Albus’ face. “She was herding he and the beast back to the ground when he started casting spells at her. She reacted instinctually, not wanting to alert the ministry to Wolvin. They were high above the shielding spells.”

“I see.” Albus looked down at the boy while Agatha still whimpered in his arms. “There, there, now Agatha, my dear,” he said softly. He kindly shifted her with a squeeze to her husband and leaned over the boy in the tub. The water was a pale blue hue that glowed and smelled of lavender. He smelled the parts of the potion sensing its strength. “Did you use the Weasles Wort?”

Agatha nodded. “I gather it in the forest and dry it myself every year. I used the alcohol base.”

“And the lavender?”

“The short form, and crushed, sir.”

Dumbledore stroked his beard. He looked at the boy thinking hard, and then opened his robe to reveal containers, just as Felicity had in her robes. He chose a silver vial that sparkled when touched and withdrew it. He dumped the contents into the bath. The pale blue water began to swirl. Dumbledore hummed to himself as he drew out his wand and swished it as if he were guiding the water to swirl faster. It did swirl faster and began to boil and churn and spit sparks.

The boy moaned as if waking. His head was held magically above the potion on a pillow while the rest of his body was completely submerged. Then the potion began smoking and spurting so much that nothing could be seen of Barnabus at all. Agatha, John and Remus stood transfixed as Albus calmly hummed to himself a strange jumpy tune and swished and flicked his wand. After a good five minutes the potion began to change color, to darken and then after another five minutes it slowed and began to die down to reveal a vividly black goop in the tub.

Barnabus’ head still rested on the pillow looking now completely serene but bizarre sticking as it did out of the thick inky pool.

His eyes flew open suddenly and he gasped for air in a panic. He sat bolt upright and then stood. The potion ran down his body in a black brackish mess. Barnabus starred wildly at Albus.

Agatha gasped when she saw his naked skin. “He’s completely healed,” she cried. She grabbed a robe from the door and went to cover the boy.

“Don’t touch him,” said Albus in a faraway voice. He stood watching Barnabus with a strange and stern look on his face while Barnabus had not moved and stood starring back. It was surreal to witness.

They waited.

The black mess dripped from the boy’s body and no one in that lavatory moved a muscle. The boy stood with his mouth open and his eyes wide in a trance. Dumbledore never broke eye contact.

Then it was over. Albus flicked and swished with his wand once more and the blackness was gone. As if in an elaborate day, the boy stepped gracefully from the tub and walked past them down the hall. Agatha with a single nod to Dumbledore went after him.

The three men stood around the now white tub.

“What just happened, Albus?” said John.

Remus nodded in agreement.

Dumbledore smiled serenely. “The boy’s been duped. He’s been through a great deal.” He smiled at John. “Voldemort promised him his mother’s life. It was a lie, most likely, but Tom will say anything to intimidate the young and helpless. Felicity was right to stop him. He would have died if he’d reached where Voldemort is hiding.” His face darkened. “I’ll have to discuss her methods of persuasion, however. If I hadn’t come tonight, the boy might have been permanently maimed.”

“But Barnabus’ mother is dead,” said John. “He told us his family was all dead.”

Dumbledore said nothing.

“Did you find out where he is, Albus?” Asked Remus excitedly. “Did you see it in his mind?”

“I did.”

Both Remus and John cried out at the same time, “Where?”

“A great stone fist with two houses built into the rock base.”

“Of course,” said John grimly. “It’ll be the farm at Hidden Fist, then. Poor old Hank.”

“We must go. We should attack them at once!” cried Remus.

Albus smiled. “No, Remus, we must wait. It’s not possible to surprise a wizard such as Tom, and he will flee before we have a chance to wound him.”

“Wound him?” strangled Remus, so suddenly angry that he nearly lost his voice. “Wound him? We must kill him, Albus! You can do it. I know that you can. You killed the wizard Grindelwald. If anyone can rid this world of an evil wizard such as Voldemort, it’s you.”

Albus kept his face impassive. He wanted to smile. It would have been ludicrous that they were standing in a bathroom if it weren’t so serious a situation. So much emotion twirled within the room. The young always thought victory so simple. Kill the bad one and all would be right in the world again. Albus Dumbledore had lived too long and seen too much. Ridding the world of Tom Riddle would not be as easy as that. It had not been that simple with the wizard Grindelwald and it would be worse with Voldemort. It would be much, much worse this time, for he had no idea how many times it would need to be done.




Chapter 30: Battle for Wolvin
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Chapter 30

Battle for Wolvin




The sun had risen from the east and Felicity had instinctually folded her wings to absorb the solar rays. Her dragon form naturally camouflaged with the rock that she slept on. She’d been exhausted the night before and hadn’t had the energy to fly very far in search of a resting place. In the night she had managed to find a rock that was high above the ground and had nestled into it, dropping off into a deep sleep.

She awoke to the muffled sound of human voices. She dared not move. She was still weak but the sun, which had luckily broken through the clouds, was shining. It drugged her with its warmth. Her mind struggled to hear the sounds and translate them into understandable words. There was tinkling of female laughter.

“You’re really quite obscene, Fenrir,” said a woman’s voice. “Why do you act the animal?” Felicity heard the haughty high sound and instantly recognized it.

“It’s no act, Bella,” said Fenrir Greyback. “I am what I am. There’s nothing so exciting has delving into freshly caught prey.”

Felicity hazarded a peek at the people below her. She opened a slit of eye.

The werewolf Fenrir and Bellatrix LeStrange stood on a path below her that connected two houses built into the rock on which she rested. Though she was in no danger of being seen unless she moved, she still felt the quickening of her pulse. Somehow she’d landed herself in the midst of where Voldemort had hidden.

She wasn’t ready to face him. She felt weak and needed to replenish her dragon stores with food. A fat ugly man joined the humans below. Her hunger increased suddenly. She’d never actually eaten a human but he looked tasty somehow. The human within Felicity struggled against the hungry dragon. She was sickened with herself but still ravenous.

“What is it, Geekindor?” snapped Bella at the fat man.

“Nothing,” sneered the man. “But if Voldemort finds out that you’ve been dancing about gossiping with Greyback out here, he’ll be displeased with the both of you. You could be seen.” As if he were a rodent, he sniffed the air.

Fenrir growled deep in throat, making Peter Pettigrew jump.

“Y-you don’t frighten me,” said Peter trying to sound aloof but failing miserably. His voice shook. He’d spent too many years as a rat to not feel the frozen fear of a nearby predator.

“Ha!” said Fenrir. “You should fear me you little pest. Your hide might be toughened with age but your blood would taste sweet.” Fenrir bared his sharpened teeth and barked at Peter, who jumped farther back and scurried off to one of the houses.

“You are remarkably disgusting,” said Bella watching Peter hurry toward the house.

Fenrir grunted gruffly.

“Why are you so ridiculous? You were born a wizard. Why the act? You don’t even carry a wand. Why not?” Bella was unafraid of anyone and this wolf man both repulsed and fascinated her. After spending so many years in Azkaban, little entertained her more than cruelty and power but this beast person did. He was so yellowed and grotesque.

Fenrir turned fierce eyes on her. There was wildness there. Sometimes, he seemed to struggle with remembering that he was mostly human and a wolf only once a month. “You wouldn’t understand, being who you are, a witch and follower of the Dark Lord.”

“And you’re not?” said Bella angrily. “You wear the mark, as I do.”

“Do I?” Fenrir bared his teeth. “Think again. Your master doesn’t rule Fenrir Greyback. I haven’t sold my flesh to your lord.”

“Shhh!” said Bella suddenly afraid. “You mustn’t talk like that. He’ll know. He knows everything.” She tucked her head down as if Voldemort might strike her from above for the blasphemy he spoke.

“Bah!” Fenrir waved a dismissive hand at her. “He knows where my loyalties lie. That’s why he likes me. He uses me and I use him. Someday he’ll kill me but I’ll die knowing my revenge and IT will be worth all of it.”

Bella looked at him strangely. She’d wondered why Voldemort had thought to enlist this horrid creature. Again, as always, her master was wise and powerful. She looked toward the house. “When the others arrive, I’d keep my mouth shut if I were you. They’re powerful wizards.”

“And you think that I care?” Fenrir growled and held up gnarled hands as if he might claw her. “You say that I carry no wand but you’re wrong. These are my wands.” He wiggled his fingers at her. Each one was topped with strikingly strong nails that looked like short claws. He’d implanted parts of his wand in his nails.

Bella was nauseated. “You’re insane.”

“Am I? You just watch and learn witch. Not everything magic is learned at your precious Hogwarts. Your master knows that better than anyone. You’re a fool to think otherwise.” He marched off toward one of the houses.

Bella watched him walk away. Her face showed her anger and she mumbled a wish under her breath that her lord would rid them of both he and Pettigrew. She shook herself and stepped toward the opposite house.

Felicity, motionless and hidden in plain view on the rock above them had watched the exchange with a growing horror. The fiend Fenrir was a danger to her Remus and to all of Wolvin. A man or beast bent on revenge was dangerous to them all.

She closed her eye and meditated on her center. She must gain her strength back by feeding her dragon and do that she must escape the rock without being seen. Voldemort was most likely just below her. He’d not be fooled by her natural camouflage. He would surely attack her in her vulnerable state. She crept slowly along the back of the rock. She was careful not disturb any small rocks with her claws. It wasn’t easy, as she was clumsy when not flying in the sky. It’d been too long without any exercise in her dragon form and she found it hard to balance.

She’d just crept over the top and was hanging off the western side of the outcropping when she heard human voices again, this time from the sky. She froze and melded into the rock face. The voices were arguing somewhere beyond in the north and fast approaching from the air.

“This is ridiculous coming on broomsticks.”

“So you’ve said about a hundred and one times, sister.”

“Well, it’s true.”

“Stop being such a priss.”

“It’s ludicrous when we could’ve easily Apparated.”

“Now you’re the one being ridiculous. HE ordered us to use our brooms. What we carry is too important. Shut it, Alecto. I’d like to live a little longer, if you please.”

“Amycus Carrows, you’re a lily livered lumpwort.”

Felicity listened to the ongoing argument from two figures on broomsticks still far away but coming nearer quickly. Her keen sense of hearing allowed her some warning of them as they approached and she clung to the rock in hiding. They would never see her. She listened in fascination at their inane banter.
“It’s ridiculous.”

“Enough!”

“Make me.”

They whooshed just over Felicity’s head and then down onto the path between the houses.

“I hope you’re happy, now,” said the squat looking man that his companion had called Amycus Carrows. “If HE has heard you’re inane prattle, he’ll have our guts for garters.”

“Don’t be a coward, brother. It doesn’t become you.” The woman’s voice sounded mean.

Felicity couldn’t see from her side of the rock but she could hear their footfalls on the gravel path as they walked toward one of the houses. She held her breath until she heard a door open and close. The Death Eaters were gathering. She must escape.

Only the bleating of the sheep in the field sounded. The sheep sensed her presence and were restless. Her hunger stabbed her fiercely but she dared not give herself away by grabbing one of the animals so close to the house. She threw all caution to the wind as she pitched herself into the air toward the west and away from that dangerous place. She must find food. It was her most fervent thought. She gave in to her true self with joy. A dragon must be a dragon. The reality that she might have to return to this place and face Voldemort faded from her mind as she caught wind and flew into her hunt.




Remus had hardly slept the night before. He’d spent the evening in front of the fire in the parlor with John Gray and Albus Dumbledore. All the wizards in the area had been in and out all night. Most of the village, muggles and wizards, were camping on the back lawn in wizard’s tents. All the werewolves had gathered at the Gray’s property. It wasn’t safe to face the Death Eaters alone. A pack hunted together. It was their strength and they knew it.

Others from outside had arrived that morning. Tonks, Kingsley Shacklebolt, Bill Weasley, Mad Eye, Tomasina Tall and a few more from the Order of the Phoenix. They were downstairs in the kitchen while Remus lay in a daze on the bed in his room. He felt a jumble of emotions that he needed to sort out before the Death Eaters descended upon them. The attack was inevitable. It was just a matter of hours tonight or tomorrow.

Felicity’s assault on Barnabus had profoundly disturbed him and he felt the need to sort out the why of it alone. She had been protecting them but her reaction had been so furious and severe that he hated himself for his response to it. Her power was frightening. Barnabus was just a boy. A part of him had rejected her. He was filled with guilt. He, of all people had no right to judge her for being what she was.

The room was silent. A slight breeze filtered through the sheers on the window.

The full moon was closing in, only a few days away. If Voldemort attacked at the full moon the pack would be stronger but without the help of the Order. Few wizards could act quickly enough to harm a werewolf in full heat from the moon. The Death Eaters would have the advantage if they attacked soon, just before the moon. Remus hoped that the pack far out numbered them. He hoped they would crush them. He wanted so much for a chance at happiness. He and Felicity together in a world without war here in Wolvin…

With that thought, Remus drifted off into a deep sleep.




There was a tap-tap and slowly the door opened. Though it was full and bright outside, Remus had shaded the room to dark.

“Remus?” came a whisper. “Are you awake?”

Tonks tiptoed into the room, not sure if she should enter. Mad-eye had ordered her to wake up Remus but as she entered the room and looked down on his sleeping form, she felt the intruder. He looked so peaceful. He slept with one tucked under his head and a lock of his hair had fallen across his face. She couldn’t help herself as she softly brushed it away from his eyes. He was so handsome and so serene as he slept. She wished that Mad-Eye had sent Bill Weasley instead to wake him.

“Remus?” she said softly.

He sighed deeply and opened his eyes, a lazy smile on his lips.

“What a beautiful face to wake up to, Tonks.”

She blushed severely. “Mad-Eye’s wanting a meeting. He thinks it’s happening soon.”

Remus sat up quickly suddenly alarmed. “Are they here?”

“No! No!” cried Tonks settling him with her palms on his shoulders. She walked away and sat on the end of the bed pulling her legs up under her. “He just wants to be ready. You know how he is.” She hung her head. “He’s coming unhinged down there waiting for them. I would have volunteered to get you just to get away from him.” She frowned. “He’s a nutter.”

“How long have I been asleep?” asked Remus relaxing back against the headboard of the bed.

“Hours. It’s afternoon. Albus Dumbledore has been pacing so much that he’s worn a path in the parlor carpet and Mad-Eye is as skittish as a cat. He wants to attack the Death Eaters at that rock they call the Fist but Dumbledore keeps telling him that it isn’t time yet. John and Agatha are keeping busy rallying the werewolves. They’ve corralled all the thestrals to use in the fight. They’re amazing people, Remus. Kingsley Shacklebolt has been so impressed that he’s vowing that Wolvin should be welcomed into the Ministry.”

Remus raised an amused eyebrow. “What do the Gray’s say to that?”

Tonks shrugged. “They’re not having it, of course.” She grinned. “John said that he has no love of the wizarding world in general and is perfectly content where he is. He blames the Ministry, I think for Voldemort in the first place. They’ve been arguing all day about why Voldemort is still alive.”

“It’s a hard one to answer,” Remus sighed. “What about Felicity? Has she come back yet?”

Tonks shook her head. “No, and no one will talk about it. I asked but Dumbledore pretends not to hear me or gets distracted. Agatha won’t talk to me about it, either. What happened, anyway?” Her face was pleading. She was curious.

Remus’ face hardened at first but Tonk’s sincere and worried features softened him. “She was protecting the Gray’s from detection by the Ministry when Barnabus, the boy that was working with Voldemort tried to escape. He’s underage and was using magic outside the protections of the school. She attacked and burned him pretty badly. He almost died, I think.” He looked off into the empty space in the room. What would he say to Felicity? How would he face her?

“He looks okay now,” said Tonks surprised. “He’s in the far bedroom. Kate’s been with him constantly. Dumbledore’s got some sort of hold spell on him, I think.” She shrugged. “I don’t know why nobody could tell me about it.” She chewed on her lower lip. “I wish Felicity would come back soon. I’m getting nervous.”

Remus smiled indulgently with a look of concern for his friend. “You’re young yet, Tonks. You’re a trained Auror. You’ll be fine.”

She frowned. “Why is it that you and Sirius always act like you’re old as the hills all the time? You’re not that much older than I am!” She smirked. “You’re a bunch of bloody ageists!”

Mad-Eye barged in through the door. “I told you to wake him up not debrief the man, girl!” He stood on the threshold like a crazy bull about to charge. It was obvious that Mad-Eye was wound up and ready to battle.

“Now, there’s someone who’s really old,” said Tonks dryly. She jumped up and winked at Remus.

He laughed and slapped her lightly on the bum as he followed her out the door. “I’ve told you before young lady that you should have more respect for your elders,” he said facetiously.

Mad-Eye shook his head in disgust and stomped off leading them down the stairs. “We’ve no bleeding time for such frivolity,” he grumbled. “The storms upon us. We’ll be facing the devil himself soon enough.”





Mad-Eye Moody was right. That evening it began to rain buckets. It was if the heavens had opened up with weeping for what was to come. The world of Wolvin was blanketed with dark clouds that were lit from behind by the moon. There was a raw wildness in the air. The rain came down in sheets that were ripped and torn by a howling wind.

Then, just when the storm lulled for some minutes, the intruders invaded. They came with the dark, sneaking from beyond the forest and from the air. There were forty of them or perhaps even more. In the dark, no one could tell. It was difficult to see anything in the mayhem that ensued. The people of Wolvin luckily outnumbered them but the attackers had stealth, silence and more magic on their side. The intruders struck and disappeared and then struck again.

It happened so quickly that no one saw it coming though they had waited all day for it. One minute there was the wind and the rain and in the next there were explosions, fire and screaming. The wizards in the kitchen heard a horrible scream outside, and then the tents were ablaze with fire before they even bolted up from their seats. Both Remus and John jumped as one man up onto the table and flew by sheer energy out the door above the others. Bill Weasley, Tonks and Tomasina were close behind them. Mad-Eye, having the most experience Apparated out of the room and scared the living daylights out two Death Eater would-be arsonists lighting one of the tents afire. He knocked them cold with a double stun spell and then jumped over them to his next victims.

Dumbledore was the only one left standing in the kitchen. It was a cacophony of sound outside.

Albus Dumbledore stood watching with his mind while the others fought. Voldemort had not come and he felt the disappointment of it. He had suspected as much. Voldemort wouldn’t endanger himself when he could send his servants instead to clear the village of the werewolves. The enormity of Tom Riddle’s damaging reach sickened him. He could recognize many of the Death Eaters in his mind. An overwhelming sadness enveloped him. It was happening just as he’d feared. Many would lose their lives or be wounded tonight and it would all do little good. The most he could hope for would be Voldemort’s fleeing from Wolvin. No, the larger battle was beyond them in time just as the Sybil had foretold it. Harry and the Horcruxes held the key to their collective futures. He just couldn’t make out the look of it. The great wizard set his face with a grind of his jaw. This was wrong, all so very wrong. He stepped out the kitchen door into the fray.

Someone had let the thestrals out of the pen and they were in frenzy from the smell of burning flesh and blood. The black robed Death Eaters had come on brooms or apparated and carried weapons beyond just their wands. There was a spray of a burning potion that the werewolves who were not wizards seemed particularly damaged by. Their skin burned and though it may not have hit them directly, the fumes burned their lungs and made them faint. Agatha and many of those not directly fighting made a spontaneous triage unit in the kitchen for those who were falling. It was already filling up with the wounded.

The muggles among them had brought guns and rifles. It made for loudness and mayhem but the muggle weaponry didn’t help much with the battle. Wizards had charms against the crude armaments. It worked much better to sneak up close enough to bash them in the head with the gun. Surprise and brute force took them down. Quite a few were stopped in that way.

Remus, John and two of his sons chased six of the Death Eaters toward the forest. They shot spells at them that ricocheted into the darkness. One fell and then another. Then just as they had reached the trees the tables abruptly turned. It had been too late for them to see the trap. Fenrir Greyback had been lying in wait just inside the trees. He had scraped his claws across John’s face before they’d known that they were not in pursuit but were instead being attacked. The Death Eaters had dropped back and surrounded them and in frenzy of attacks back and forth, John ended up writhing on the ground while both his sons had been felled and were lying frozen stiff from the Petrificus Totalus curse. Amycus had pinned Remus onto a tree. The ropes of the Incarcerous spell held him firm and he roared with a rage.

“Who’s your friend, little brother?” sneered Fenrir down at John Gray. Remus struggled against his bonds. Amycus laughed at him. The other Death Eaters ran back to the tents after any others to attack.

John glared up at the creature that he had once called family. Blood streamed from the wounds on his face and he was feeling crazed from the pain. “Traitor!” was all he could manage to utter. He spat it out in disgust. “How…could…you?”
“With great pleasure, John,” said Fenrir. “You threw me out of the pack, remember? Your own brother dumped like so much garbage. I owe you squat all.” He raised his hands and clawed the air. “Crucio!”

John stiffened with the pain of the curse his brother cast on him. “Aaarrrrggggh!” he yelled in extreme agony.

“You’ll die by my hand tonight but rest assured that I’ll take especially good care of your pack. Little Katie should be…”

But before Fenrir finished his sentence a great large creature seemed to fall between the trees above to sit right on top of him. He was crushed beneath the weight of the dragon Felicity. He lost consciousness instantly. She roared at Amycus spraying him with her magic fire as he sprinted out of her reach into the darkness of the forest.

“Felicity! Thank heavens!” said the relieved Remus. He was overjoyed to see her. All his agonizing over how he felt about her was forgotten. “Accio wand!” he yelled and was out of his bonds and helping John up in seconds.

“They’re dying,” John said pleading as he struggled to his feet barely able to stand.

“Felicity, they need you,” urged Remus.

She was of two minds. She had no will to leave Remus unprotected. Though the werewolf beneath her was unconscious, he wasn’t dead and her instinct was to kill him first. She hesitated.

“Go, Felicity! The muggles, the werewolves are almost defenseless against them. Tonks is there and Dumbledore!”

She reached out to him with love in her heart and Remus returned the emotion in kind. He limped with John back out of the woods toward the fighting while she flapped her wings and with some difficulty flew up between the trees toward the house.

On the grounds, the tents and the house were on fire. People were everywhere running and many lay prone on the ground where they’d fallen in battle. Felicity spotted three wizards in the air on broomsticks that were wielding spells from above picking off people running. Though Tonks, Bill Weasley and Mad-Eye were on the ground throwing up counter spell after counter spell the Death Eaters kept the onslaught coming.

Albus Dumbledore stood near the tents wielding spells to keep the whole house from going up in flames. Every so often he flicked his wand and another Death Eater fell from their broom or fell flat on their face.

The storm above them decided to deluge the countryside again. The heavy winds were making it difficult for Felicity to stay aloft. The same was true for those on broomsticks. She flew as straight as she could at the attackers scattering them and spraying the air with fire. It didn’t take long for the flyers to realize that they were no match for her.

The battle was then over as suddenly as it’d begun. All that was left were the dying embers of fires scattered on the lawn and the moaning of those who’d survived.

Felicity landed before Tonks, Dumbledore and Mad-Eye Moody and roared in frustration. She wanted to go after the Death Eaters. She knew where they were going. Her mind screamed toward Dumbledore. Mad-Eye went to attack her but Dumbledore raised his hand to stop him.

“No, Felicity,” said Dumbledore loudly. “We know where he is. He’ll be gone when we get there.”

“Heh?” said Mad-Eye looking baffled. “What’d you call it?”

Dumbledore looked drolly at the Auror. There just wasn’t time to explain. Too many needed help. “Felicity, Agatha, and the others need your help with healing.”

Felicity sighed knowing that what he said was true. Her body ached from the emotions of pain all around her. It took only a few moments of her shimmering change for Felicity to stand before them in her human form.

Mad-Eye Moody’s jaw had long since dropped. “Well, I’ll be a monkey’s…” he started. “I KNEW it!! I KNEW there was something not right about her!” He crossed his arms in triumph and said an “uh-uh” to Tonks who shrugged back at him too tired to care. She was crying. Bill had his arm around her comforting. It was her first big battle, her first battle against so many Death Eaters and she was just thankful to be still standing. Dumbledore lifted a robe around Felicity’s shoulders and they all turned to go back to the house.

“It happened so fast,” mumbled Tonks in disbelief. “I can’t believe how quickly it all exploded and then it was done. We were lucky we were ready.”

“It wasn’t luck, girl,” said Mad-Eye grimly. He’d seen plenty of battles with Death Eaters in his day. He’d lost many a friend. “We were ready, but no one’s ever really ready. There were a lot of them and we got a few, stopped a few, but so did they.”

As they walked across the grass to the house little pockets of soft wailing and crying filled the air. The rain had miraculously stopped. The bright moon was peaking out from behind the clouds.

Remus stood in the light of the house waiting for them. He was shattered by the enormity of what a few wizards with bad intentions could wield on a multitude of under protected muggles. He stood tall and proud as he waited but deep down he wanted to fall to the ground and cry like a baby. He still held his wand in his hand unwilling to let go of it as if the Death Eaters would return at any moment.

Felicity ran to him leaving the others to trudge up the lawn. She got within reach of him and stopped. They stood staring at each other in wonderment that they were both still alive.

“I didn’t mean to hurt him,” said Felicity feeling guilty.

“I know.” Remus’ voice was husky with emotion.

“You’re all right?” Her voice was small and unsure.

He opened his arms to her and she threw herself into them, kissing his cheeks, his chin, and his lips. “I’m all right, now,” he said into her throat, her hair, hugging her as hard as he could without breaking her. “Thank you for saving my life.”

She pulled up from him and smiled into his face. “My pleasure, my love. Anytime.” They let life wash over them before turning together to follow the others inside.




I would love to hear what you think of the story.


Chapter 31: Creating Swamps and Quagmires
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Chapter 31
Creating Swamps and Quagmires




He stood quite still looking up at the light. It came from a small window, the only one in the dungeon classroom. It was his only reminder that life existed outside. Strangely enough he longed to go out there to breathe the air and feel alive, a part of him did anyway. April was fading and May almost begun. Spring had finally come to the far north, finally reached what had been a cold and bitter winter. He had once had a few happy spring days so very long ago. They were mere dreams, now.

Severus Snape let out an audible sigh. It was the utter failure of his existence that rankled him. All his plans seemed to have come apart. His life was as a slip of muggle paper drifting in a stream. Fate had swept it away and the glue that had held him together was dissolving.

Dumbledore was sorely disappointed in him, he knew. He’d refused to teach the Potter cretin Occlumency. To Hades with him! Dumbledore could not make him help the pompous sneak any more than he was bound to. Any contact with the boy’s mind put them all in danger anyway, most especially himself. Potter had seen his memory, an agonizingly embarrassing moment to be sure but what if he’d seen something else? Harry Potter was connected to the Dark Lord, there was no longer any doubt of it. He was spy, for pity’s sake! He’d seen his master in Potter’s eyes! He couldn’t risk the exposure of his duplicity, let alone his more dangerous or intimate memories to a heedless fool. The idiotic young man was both his nemesis and his albatross. How he hated the sainted Potter. His life was cursed. James’ son was a little thief and just as arrogant as his father. He could only thank his stars that the little nitwit hadn’t seen the rest of it. Better that he’d seen his father for the condescending berk that he was. Better that than the other memories.

A small cough sounded behind him.

He was loath to turn around having recognized the sound. His life was a misery.

The cough came again accompanied by a clearing of the throat.

Snape rolled his eyes in exasperation before turning around.

The large toad woman, Dolores Umbridge smiled her wide mirthless lips. “Professor Snape,” she began acting all business. “I must speak with you.”

Snape stiffened and clamped down on the martyr’s sigh that threatened to emerge from him. “Headmistress,” he said nearly gagging on the word. He indicated that she should come nearer.

“This is intolerable,” she began. “You must help me enter the tower.” Her syrupy voice was incongruous to her shape or her personality. She should croak.

“I have no control in this castle, as you are no doubt aware, Dolores.” His voice was smooth. He chose his words carefully. He bowed slightly in abeyance.

“Albus Dumbledore is a criminal! When we find him, he shall be thrown into Azkaban where I will personally see to it that his soul is sucked out by the Dementors!” She stomped a pudgy foot in frustration. It was no secret that she’d spent the last few weeks of Easter Holiday trying to enter the Headmaster’s tower. She had spent the entire school year vying for power with that one ambition, to rid Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry of Albus Dumbledore and sit on the seat of power herself. That she could not now enter the tower was laughable to all but her. Her ambitions were a sham. She was no match for the likes of the greatest wizard in the world.

“I’m not political, m’am. I am but a professor of potions. I have no idea what separate magic prohibits you from entering the tower.” He shrugged with a studied unconcern and flipped a stray strand of long black hair from his eye. “I would help you if I could.”

A quick malevolent glare came onto her face even as she smiled. She looked grotesque. “You’re lying,” she said viciously. “You would help me if I brought back your little friend.”

“I beg your pardon? What friend?” He was truly stymied. The pig of woman was galling.

“Professor Wood.” A look of triumph spread on the hideous mug. “You and she were quite a little number. I’ll allow her return if you would help me get into the tower, Severus.”

A stab of emotional pain entered Snape’s brain. He’d missed Felicity. Her quirky ways and irritating verbal diarrhea had lightened the mood of his existence on occasion. She’d made his life imprisoned in his promises somewhat bearable. The night that he’d sent her away had haunted him and intensified his unceasing loneliness. He’d kissed her then and her lips had yielded to him even as she’d feared for her insipid lover, Lupin.

A loathing for Umbridge swept him up. She and her kind were the dirt beneath his feet. Her petty ambitions were much more than just a nuisance.

“I think you overstep your position, Madame,” he snarled. “How DARE you insinuate that I would have a relationship with Miss Wood beyond the accepted. My personal friendships are my own affair!”

Dolores Umbridge fumed and glared. She’d developed a twitch in her eye. She was oblivious to the dangerousness of Severus Snape. She was too lost in the frustrations of her position and wanted in that tower. She sneered at him. “I’m not the fool you professors take me for, Snape. I WILL prevail. The Ministry is in charge of Hogwarts now and I am the Ministry! You’d best fall into line.”

She stood waiting for him to rage against her but Severus was a survivor, a man who knew when to bend until that glorious moment when he could break her neck. “I bow to your power, Headmistress, but in truth I have no idea how to enter the Headmaster’s tower.” He cocked his head to the side and tossed his hand out with a sweeping gesture.

She could nothing though she looked as if she were about to explode. The veins in her fat neck were plainly visible; she was grinding her teeth so hard. All she could do, however, was stamp her foot again before turning to clomp out of the room.

He turned back to his window, a signature Severus Snape smirk spreading across his face. It was all too easy at times.




For weeks after the battle for Wolvin Village between the werewolves and the Death Eaters, the Gray’s house and the school were enveloped in a dreary gloom. Dealing with death was not easy. That it had come roughly riding on broomsticks and was wielded by magic folk bent on extermination made living with it all the harder.

The people of the village took their dead and went home. The wounded, about fifteen in all, stayed with the Gray’s to be treated by Agatha, Felicity and when he was available, Albus Dumbledore. They were the only healers in the area.

The Death Eaters had disappeared. It was a success of a kind. The werewolves had rid their hamlet of the threat to their existence, but they had paid a steep price for what might be only temporary. Voldemort’s Death Eaters had left the houses at the farm of Hidden Fist burning in ruin. There was nothing left and for the werewolves, it was a hollow and sad victory. If they were not destroyed, the Death Eaters would return someday to finish their extermination.

War, the battles, the skirmishes, and all the dastardly intrigue were a cruel and ugly human frailty. Albus had seen it before. Years ago, in the muggle’s great war he had watched in horror as the wizard world and the muggle world had collided in the turmoil that was WWII. Now again, power, evil and the lust to eradicate others brewed the same putrid potion. Whatever and whomever Voldemort touched was contaminated by his evil. It was the real and horrible kind. Even Albus Dumbledore, who saw the good in all men, had long since given up any hope of allowing Tom Riddle’s soul to roam free. Riddle had sealed his fate when he’d chosen to split his soul. He no longer human and had become as muggle legends: a demon, evil incarnate and forever apart. He must be stopped no matter what sacrifices must be made. This was a fact and Dumbledore knew it.

Albus looked out the window toward the common green on the Gray’s estate. It was late afternoon and the world was bucolic. The evil seemed far away again. As always, life rolled on and happiness, beauty and love could be seen everywhere rising from the ashes of war.

Remus, Felicity, Tonks, Kate and the young man, Barnabus had laid out a blanket and were having a picnic in the warm spring sun. Though he had no wish to join them, he did enjoy watching them in their play. Remus and Felicity seemed a very happy couple though he sensed a tension there. It was inevitable. The dragon people were difficult to understand. He had known Remus Lupin since he was a child and the he had become the best kind of man, one with a large and accommodating heart. He would make every effort to fathom the dragon and her ways, but even a great love has its limits. Remus would be tested.

Albus shook his head partly humored and saddened by the same realization. Felicity was a dragon that would mature for centuries more and would never become a domesticated being. It was not in her nature. She was a wild one. Her heart, too, was large and loving, but it belonged soaring in the clouds. He laughed. He watched as Remus did a trick that had infuriated both Tonks and Felicity. They’d both pounced on him in delighted laughter. The group of adults was wrestling about while the younger Kate and Barnabus looked on confused. To be young again would be so sweet. He sighed.

Whatever happened, they were all happy in this single moment. And that in its self was strikingly beautiful.

“You look deep in thought, Albus,” said the deep voice of the weary leader of the pack, John Gray. He stood next to the old wizard. Their eyes met. He’d lost a son to them. His own brother, Fenrir had killed him.

“I cannot help, even in our sadness, but watch the young with a lightening of my heart,” answered Albus.

John looked out at the picnickers. Tonks and Felicity were hugging each other in laughter as Remus danced a jig for them. Even Barnabus was smiling up at him. John shook his head. “Even though we’ve rid our land of them, Albus,” he said soberly. “They’ll be back unless you stop them. No one is safe. It’s just as before. As that maniac gains power, we all suffer.” A lone tear appeared in his eye.

“I’m sorry, John,” said the wizard kindly.

“So am I,” said John. He sucked in a brave breath. “You’ve got to find a way to stop him, Albus. This can’t happen again. My people haven’t fully recovered from the last time. If we have to go into hiding again, life in this village will never be the same.” His face was rigid.

Albus bowed his head to John’s grief. “I’ll do my best, my friend. I’ve a plan that’s formed. We’ve a few key advantages this time around.” He looked out the window. “The dead have left behind valuable allies. They’ve made sure to leave a promise to keep and a quest of truth for the living. We’ll prevail. I might not live to see it, but we’ll win this fight once and for all.”

He smiled indulgently at the inquiring features of the werewolf. He often saw that look in others. “Don’t worry,” he assured the troubled leader. “I’ll leave Felicity with you for the time being. She and Remus can have their time together. You’ll be protected. Voldemort and his followers won’t return unless we fail entirely.” He looked again at the happy gathering on the lawn. “By April’s end, Remus should return to London. I’ll send for Felicity sometime after that.” He squinted at the scene before them. “You’ll see. It only seems a quagmire because we’re in the trenches trying to get out. It will be all right.”

The two old men, one stocky and strong, the other slightly stooped and frail, stood watching the fading sun set behind the band of revelers for a long time after.




“You’ve got to admit it’s pure brilliance on my part,” said Fred. He’d shoved the last item into the closet, a secret storage area that they’d used for their entire career at Hogwarts.

“And mine, brother,” answered George.

“We truly are geniuses, you know?”

“Bloody brilliant.”

“Yes, that, too.”

Fred and George Weasley had been working on a big change for their lives and careers. They had goals. They had motivation and ambition. As they walked the stairs congratulating themselves, however, their sister, Ginny ran up behind them. “George? Fred?” she said panting from the climb.

“Little sister,” answered George turning around.

“Don’t stress, Gin,” said Fred observing her flushed features and mused up red hair.

“What’s up?” They said together.

Ginny stopped with them on the landing while catching her breath. “Harry needs some help,” she began. “He needs you to occupy Professor Umbridge…”

“I do believe the toad woman wishes…” interrupted George.

“…to be called Headmistress toad woman, Ginny,” finished Fred. They both laughed at their own witticism.

Ginny rolled her eyes. Really, the twins were so often ridiculous. They were both brilliant and bonkers at the same time. “He needs to talk with a friend,” she continued with a wink to emphasize that the friend was a certain secret member of the Order of the Phoenix named Sirius Black.

“Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, George,” said Fred. “That’d be a code, that wink.” He did an exaggerated wink for his brother.

George laughed out loud. “You kill me.” He put his arm around Ginny’s shoulder. “Say no more, luv. We’ll volunteer our services for the lad.”

“Consider it done, sis.”

“Yes, done.”

Ginny smiled at her elder brothers thinking them good sports and how she was lucky to be related to them, until she saw some surly Slytherins come down the stairs from class. She looked up the stair to see Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle grinning maliciously at the gaggle of red hair on the landing.

For his part, Malfoy thought that they’d got Ron and Ginny just in time to torture with their new powerful positions on the inquisitor squad. He hadn’t seen his mistake, at first.

“Oy, Weasles!” called Malfoy to Ginny from above. He was about to use his wand on Ron until the other redhead turned to look up and he spotted that it was one of the twins, Fred or George. He stopped short and buried his wand in his robes. Crabbe and Goyle, as always, followed what Malfoy did. No one messed with the twins. They had more dirty tricks up their sleeves than Peeves the ghost and they were much more clever than he was. Malfoy had crossed them just last month by saying something snide about Quidditch being pleasanter without two redheaded beaters and he’d woken up with purple hair and a fat lip that resembled a spotted trout. Those were two Weasleys to stay well wide of.

It became a standoff. The three Slytherins stood above eyeing the three Gryffindors below, both sides deciding on what was the other’s intent. Hogwart’s School had nearly sunk to civil war since Dumbledore’s leaving. When the Ministry had discovered the existence of Harry Potter’s Dark Arts Club, the Grand Inquisitor, Dolores Umbridge had taken over as Headmistress. She’d recruited the loosely formed inquisitor squad to be a roving band of goons. Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle were the chief contributors of muscle and force. They’d taken to the job with relish. Still, it wasn’t done to mess about with the Weasley twins.

Finally, the Slytherins silently stomped on down the stairs with Fred and George eyeing them with almost regret. Marking Malfoy for mischief was a satisfying sort of fun for them.

George sighed as the Slytherins reached the bottom landing and scuttled quickly out of sight. “I’m going to miss him when we’re done,” he said.

Ginny looked at him as if he’d grown a second head. “You’re joking.”

“He is,” said Fred. “But I know what he means. There’s something strangely satisfying about tussling with Malfoy and his little gang.” Fred sighed, as well.

Ginny shook her head disgusted. “So, you’ll help Harry then?”

“Oh, yeah,” said Fred.

“We’ve just the thing to help him, you’ll see.”

They smirked knowingly at each other and sauntered up the stair toward the Gryffindor common room leaving Ginny contemplating whether to follow them or go back to the library. She opted for the library.

A few days later, all hell broke loose at the castle. It was the stuff of legends and even Severus Snape was impressed. When Fred and George Weasley created the swamp on the 5th floor and exited Hogwarts with a sensational ruckus and hullabaloo, he’d been whispering with McGonagall about an upcoming Order of the Phoenix meeting in the third floor corridor. They’d sprinted together to the scene just as the rascals were about to get trounced on by Filch the caretaker. Both McGonagall and Snape had eyed each other with a look of restrained glee. It wouldn’t do for either of them to show pride or triumph at the Weasley’s actions, but it was an entirely satisfying experience to watch the dreadful Umbridge turn purple with rage as the boy’s brooms flew to them.

“I do believe,” said McGonagall quietly to Snape. “That they’ve learned their lessons more expertly than I’d given them credit for.” She raised an eyebrow in Snape’s direction.

He smirked down at her.

“It’s really too bad,” she continued. “As I’ve no experience with such magic. It’s an ecosystem of some sort, isn’t it? It looks very complicated. I doubt that I’d be able to get rid of it. Pity.” She allowed a small smile. No one was looking but Snape. The Weasley’s were on their brooms announcing something about a shop in Diagon Alley. Snape wanted to laugh out loud. Those two would be causing trouble at Hogwarts for decades to come with their inventions. Shopkeepers, indeed!

“I have no talent for such complicated spell work, either,” he said bowing low so that only Minerva could hear him. “I always knew that those two had more talent than they’d let on.”

Minerva looked at him surprised. “Severus! Are you softening?”

“Hardly,” he sneered. “I’m merely stating the obvious.”

The students were cheering and clapping. A group of Hufflepuff girls nearby were giggling and jumping up and down with such glee that they were in danger of falling into the swamp. Minerva rushed over to sternly hold them back and calm them down.

Snape surveyed the crowd. Across the swamp, a livid Dolores Umbridge was sputtering with anger and shouting that something must be done. Filch was looking miserable and distraught beside her. It was quite humorous to watch. He would be quite pleased to relay the event at the upcoming meeting. It would lighten up what would certainly be more dreary news of the bloody werewolves. He loathed the Order of the Phoenix meetings almost as much as he loathed… his eye rested on Harry Potter. He stood just above Umbridge and Filch. Severus’ mood immediately darkened. Even from the other side of the corridor, he could tell that Potter had been up to something. His face was flushed and he looked exceedingly furtive.

Severus watched him for several moments. He was so much like his father and yet worse, somehow. Where James had been irritatingly arrogant, his son was that and angry, so angry that it nearly boiled over threatening to scald all around him. Good. The prat would need to be good and angry when he faced what was to come. Snape caught Harry’s eye and he smiled smugly. The boy looked nervous and disconcerted by the contact and quickly looked away.

Snape glowered toward him across the swamp and watched as Harry sank back away into the shadow. He was a sneak, that one. The little berk wouldn’t be up to the task when it came and they would all die because of it, surely. Severus seethed at the thought. The favored Potter would weaken in the end, he would not be able to control his selfishness and he would leave them all holding the short stick. He hated that. Hated that his life should be held in the hands of one so unworthy. Death wouldn’t come soon enough at the end, he was sure of it.



******************
I wish that I could update more quickly but I can’t. Gone are the days when I was able to write a thousand words a day. Forgive me. Thank you all, who are reading and reviewing this story. You’re very kind and it means a lot to me. I’ve only two more chapters…maybe three. I might be able to finish by Thanksgiving if I’m lucky!


Chapter 32: The Long Goodbye
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Chapter 32
The Long Good-bye



The heart is easily fooled. Listen for truth’s whisper; it resides in your soul. If you do not heed its warning, beware, for your heart may break.
Master Tong, Teachings: Sayings of a Master Dragon, Wizard Edition. Foreward by Albus Dumbledore, 1920. London, England.





Remus had traveled back and forth between Wolvin and London for most of the springtime. It was not going well in the fight against the Death Eaters. Though they’d generally been quiet except for the attack against Wolvin, everyone knew that sooner or later Voldemort and his followers would try something big. They were determined to steal the secret in the Department of Mysteries, just as the Order of the Phoenix was determined to stop them. Remus feared, more than anything else, that they would hurt Harry somehow. He agonized over it. He knew that the secret at the Ministry had something to do with Harry.

“Severus will protect him,” Felicity told him impatiently. They were strolling around the edge of the forest as the sun was setting. It was the same walk that they had rushed along to find Barnabus the night Felicity had stopped him from going to Voldemort. It had become their nightly ritual to spend time in the evening alone together whenever Remus was in Wolvin.

She put her arm in his lovingly. She was feeling instantly guilty for being impatient with his constant worrying. He was so caring and kind. “He’s sworn to protect him, dearest. Severus might be self-serving at times, but he has no choice. He’ll protect Harry Potter with his life.”

Remus grimaced. “You’re too trusting of him, Felicity. Let’s not forget that I was there at Grimmauld Place when Harry told us what sort of protecting Severus was up to. Dumbledore ordered him to teach Harry Occlumency and he’s refused. Harry must keep Voldemort out of his mind and Snape has purposely put him in harm’s way by refusing to teach him. He’s just being spiteful. Snape has always been selfish and scheming. I’m sorry, my dear, but you don’t know him as I do.”

Felicity frowned. She knew Severus better than any other. They didn’t understand him at all. They were all too busy suspecting him and hadn’t the faintest idea what drove him. And when it came to the young wizard, Harry Potter, none of the Order was very sensible, at all. It was as if the teenager were some essential piece in a puzzle with several parts missing. Certainly, Harry was significant and yes, he had a connection of some sort to Voldemort, but most of the Order treated him as if he was their savior. They were ridiculous to put all their hopes in an untried young man whose only real credentials were that he’d escaped Voldemort’s wrath on more than a few occasions. He was just a nice young man who was caught up in Voldemort’s mess like the rest of them.

“I’m sorry, dear,” she said sweetly. “I don’t want to fight about it.”

Remus smiled down at her. “Are we fighting, dear? I can’t imagine ever bickering with you.” He stopped and drew her to him. She felt that magnetic pull and love that made her melt into his arms. She loved him, madly.

He kissed her lips. She was beautiful and charming. Hugging her toward him, the two stood in the dying light for several moments embracing. “I love you,” whispered Remus.

“I love you more, I think,” answered Felicity. She winked at him and laughed impishly swatting him on the backside. They resumed their walk, linking arms.

“You’re a brat sometimes, my dear.” Remus looked down at her trying mightily to stifle a grin. “I do believe that I should take you over my knee and spank you, sometimes.” He pretended to be very interested in the bench that they always sat on and flicked a few forgotten spring flowers off of it. He sat down, crossing his long legs and holding the back of his head nonchalantly.

Felicity laughed out loud. “You smug prat. I think that I should sit on you and squash you like a bug.” She threw herself onto him hard enough to knock the air out of his lungs.

“Cor! Felicity, you’re not a light one!” Remus laughed and struggled to shift her over onto the bench. She fought his efforts and instead rose onto her knees straddling him in triumph while flipping her braid behind her.

She ran her fingers through his long hair, a look of coquettish victory on her face. “You know that we dragons cannot be defeated, my love.” She kissed him tenderly on the forehead. “We are a superior race.” She laughed lightly.

Remus’ face darkened suddenly. She panicked at his look. “What’s wrong, Remus?”

He buried his face in her chest and hugged her to him with such need that her fear intensified.

“I haven’t been honest with you, my darling.”

“Don’t be absurd.”

“No, I haven’t, I’m sorry.” He looked up at her miserably. She was tempted to enter his mind rather than wait for him to articulate his feelings but held herself in check. She vaguely sensed his struggle.

Rising up, she settled herself next to him on the bench, looping her arm in his and patting his knee. “Tell me, dearest. You must.”

He looked at her silently with concern and then turned his head to the dying sun. “They talked about you at the meeting,” he began. “Mad-Eye insisted that we discuss what he called ‘the dragon problem.’ He acted as if you weren’t even human.”

“But I’m not, darling,” she said being helpful. “I’m not very human at all, not really. He’s partly right.”

Remus let out a sigh. “He said that you were a danger, that you were too uncontrollable and that if Voldemort were to capture you, then it would be the end of our fight.”

“Well, that’s partly true, isn’t it?” She sat back satisfied that Remus was just worrying too much again. “Voldemort could never capture me.”

“Are you so sure?” Her greatest love looked at her with grave doubt.

“Well, mostly sure. Albus must have told them about me. He would have told them that Voldemort couldn’t turn me. He knows.”

Remus looked away. “No, it was Severus, who did.”

“Severus?”

“Yes, he defended you. Not Albus,” he exhaled his regret, “and not me.”

“You feel guilty for doubting me, don’t you?”

“I do, my darling. I should have been the one to stand up for you. I should have told them all that you would die before Voldemort would turn you, but I didn’t.

“Because you weren’t…aren’t…really sure, are you?” She cocked her head, watching him.

He was hurting, she could tell. It was killing him to admit that he doubted her ability to defy the dark wizard. “Don’t be so upset, Remus,” she said soothingly. “It’s human to wonder and question. But you’ve seen my power as a dragon. You should know that Voldemort couldn’t persuade me. I would fight him to the death.”

“That’s what Severus said.” Remus looked wounded. He ached to be her hero and yet he’d held back. He’d seen her attack a nearly defenseless Barnabus and then turn her back on him when she could have saved the boy.

“Remus,” said Felicity sternly. “You haven’t betrayed me because you didn’t defend me to your friends. You have doubts. I can see that and it’s okay. I’m a dragon. Very few wizards could possibly understand us. Please don’t beat yourself up because of it.” She smiled bravely to reassure him. He was such a worrywart. Gads.

“Mad-Eye said that we should send you packing. He said that you should be told to return to Tibet. He’d done some reading up on the so-called Dragon People, he said, and that in war, their allegiances shifted like the wind.”

Felicity giggled. “Doesn’t sound like he likes me much, does it?”

“It wasn’t funny, Felicity. It was a very sobering lecture.”

She clucked her tongue. “He’s right, really, he is. The dragons are war creatures when they have to be but they won’t serve from any sort of human loyalty. We love strongly but we won’t support human frailties. I wouldn’t lift a finger let alone a talon for the ministry. I’m not loyal to Dumbledore because I have to be. I owe him a debt, yes, but I’m helping him, all of you, because of me, because of my family and those that died long ago. I’m helping because I want to rid the world of Voldemort but that isn’t because I don’t understand or even sympathize with him sometimes. He’s evil, and corrupt because of the human, however small that’s left in him. His power, his magic, those I understand more than you realize, it’s how he uses it that he must be destroyed for.”

Remus looked stunned by her. “You should have been there to defend yourself. They would have listened. I’ve failed you.”

Felicity rolled her eyes. Really, Remus was such a serious soldier, sometimes. “What did Severus say? How is it that he defended my so-called honor when others did not?” A breeze had come and she pulled her cloak closer with petulance.

Remus smiled. “He said that we were being ludicrous and that his old granny had had more gumption than the lot of us.”

“Ha! Good old Severus. Always a surprise when you least expect it.” She laughed at her other love. Dear Severus whom no one liked. Her heart yearned for him, if only to talk to him. She relished the image of everyone hating him as he defended her. “Most likely, he only defended me because it gave him an opportunity to call you all old ladies.” She laughed at that. “What else did he say?”

Remus laughed, too. “Well, he said that you had stood up to the Dark Lord twice to save his life.” He lowered his voice to a whisper. It was as if he was afraid that someone might hear his words. “He said that you had bound him with magic, that you would never betray him or the Order. That you would die, first.”

Felicity doubled over with laughter. “Ha, ha, ha, ha,” she couldn’t stop.

“It’s hardly that funny, dear,” said Remus alarmed. “Everyone was shocked.”

She caught her breath and patted him again. Poor Remus, he was such a good man. “Darling, I’m sorry but Severus is so funny sometimes that I can’t help it.”

“I don’t understand.” Remus was frowning. “Snape was hardly saying it to be funny and I think you should be worried about what was said. He was being honest with them and it only made them more alarmed.”

Her eyes were twinkling. “And you don’t think that Severus wouldn’t have known that? You don’t really believe that he was telling them all that I had saved his life, which they loathe, and bound him with magic, blood magic, mind you, in order to alarm them further?” She shook her head. “No, my dear Severus knew exactly what he was doing and it wasn’t defending me.”

Remus paused. He mulled over what she’d said. “They told Dumbledore that you should be sent away after that.” He looked down at the ground. “That’s when I finally found my voice and told them that they were wrong. That we needed you and that you could be the very power that might turn the tide in our favor.” She leaned over and kissed his cheek. “I said that you were protecting the werewolves of Wolvin, that you had fought bravely and that we might not have chased the Death Eaters away if you’d not been there.”

Tears were in his eyes. She reached up and pulled his face closer, kissing his cheek tenderly. “You defended me, dearest.”

“Only because I couldn’t bear to lose you.”

She found his eyes so full of remorse. He really felt that he’d been selfish rather than noble and he hated himself for it. “Remus, darling. You defended me. You are my hero.”

He smiled weakly. “I want to keep you with me always. I love you more than the world. When they started to talk about sending…”

She put her hand to his lips. “Remus, no, stop.” She sat up straighter and turned him to her by the shoulders. “Darling, you cannot keep me,” she said as sternly as she could muster in the face of his love. She had to tell him the truth. He was too good a man and she loved him too much. “I’ll have to go someday and it may be sooner rather than later, my love. You might never see me again, or I might be your eldest child’s godmother, I just don’t know. I must return home at some point. I will not ever be any more than your lover,” she stroked his cheek, “or, your dearest friend. I cannot be a wife and I cannot be a mother. I am a dragon. If we get through this and live, then I will be there at your death, I will see your children’s children grow old. You cannot keep me, luv. Even if I wanted to be kept, it’s not in my nature.”

“Felicity, I…”

“Our love is a hello and one long good-bye, my darling.”

“How can you say that? I…”

“Yes, you love me and I love you, but I’ll be a memory someday.” She smirked, more at her self than him. “A fond memory, I hope.” She turned away and looked to the ground, now. Suddenly, she felt a shame of self wash over her as she’d never felt it before. She’d been so selfish. Severus and she had that in common, certainly. “I love you more than I’ve ever loved anyone, if I must put it in human terms for you to understand then know that you mean more to me than my life.” She kicked a pebble and looked out at the now darkened evening. “I always knew that our time would be temporary, darling. It was I who pursued you. I, who risked Albus Dumbledore’s trust to be with you. I was brought here to protect Severus and I defied my oath to my people, and my promises to both Severus and Dumbledore in order to hold you close.” She dared to look at him. He did not believe her. She could tell. His face told her that he only loved her more. He still felt he’d had free will and had chosen her. “You fell in love with me because I wanted you to, Remus. You, the man, the werewolf, had no choice.”

He smiled lovingly. He pulled her to him and hugged her. She buried her face in his chest, wrapping her arms around him and breathing in his scent. She reveled in his strong arms. “That’s all love ever is, darling,” he said. “You made me want to love you. You forced me to against my will and I did fall for you, gladly.”

Felicity began to cry. She cried, as she hadn’t in a long time. Had her heart broken like this before? She couldn’t remember. Had she felt this way when she’d taken Severus’ memory? She hadn’t a thought. All she could think about was that Remus didn’t understand what she’d said to him. That he would never understand that she’d seduced him with her dragon’s magic. She knew that he would love her always, as he did not, unless she was brave enough, dragon enough…to let him go.

She cried from the very heart of her. It was a chasm deep and dark that she’d found herself in. For she’d realized, as surely as she loved this man, that he was more human than she would ever be. Suddenly, in the comfort of his arms, she knew just how dangerous she really was to all of them. Mad-Eye Moody had been right to voice his fear of her. They should be afraid. Severus was right to tell them what she’d done, even as he’d said it for his own reasons. Severus knew, as she did, that only love separated what she was from the Dark Lord. She remembered Voldemort’s inhuman eyes and voice and shivered. Embraced as she was in Remus’ warmth, her blood ran cold. She had bent them to her will because she’d wanted to and they’d been powerless. She and Voldemort shared that in common. It was all too awful to think about.

Master Tong had warned her not to be selfish and headstrong. He’d warned that she would hurt others and her self in the process. He’d told her that to love is to give and give without want. She felt the bitterness of her foolishness and mourned for all them.

“Don’t cry, my love,” comforted Remus patiently. “It’s not your fault that you are what you are.”

But it was, dear Remus, it was her fault. More so than she’d ever realized.

The night sky had darkened except for the winking of the stars. It was a clear night and the moon was rising. There was such beauty in the world. The lovers clung to each other as lovers will do, lost in each other, desperate for each other, living in the moment that would soon pass much too quickly.




*******
I’ve been trying to write this chapter in one form or another for ages. I’ve finally done it. Tell me what you think, as I always ask. Thanks to you all, Pru





Chapter 33: Shake, Shake, Shake, Rattle and Roll
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Chapter 33
Shake, Shake, Shake, Rattle and Roll


Heroes are admired for their brave and noble deeds. Martyrs suffer death rather than give up their faith or principal. Sometimes, they’re the same.




Shake




“I really don’t much care anymore,” said Sirius irritably.

“I think you do care,” answered Remus raising his voice an octave in frustration.

“So do I, Sirius,” added Felicity.

“And I,” chimed in Tonks. “You’re a stubborn cuss, with a bad temper and you’re starting to act the old fart, I think.” She tapped the table with her wand, which suddenly made suspicious noises resembling gas escaping a posterior.

Felicity along with Remus roared with laughter until Sirius couldn’t help but join in. “Oh, all bloody all right!” he shouted in disgust. He threw a handful of chips onto the pile on the table. “I call! Now show me your friggin’ cards.”

Remus took his time, a look of triumph spreading across his face crinkling his features. “I knew you couldn’t resist, Padfoot,” he said. He laid down three swords with relish. “Beat that, mongrel.”

The group had been playing wizard poker for most of the evening. At two in the morning, they were starting to yawn between hands. A mischievous grin appeared on Sirius face.

“I think he’s got the better of you, Remus,” said Tonks watching him. She nudged Felicity with her elbow.

Sirius sat up straight and put down one card at a time. “I’ve got Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Slytherin, and Hufflepuff.” he paused to stick his tongue out at Remus, “and the phoenix.” He sat back in the chair and crossed his arms. The figures of the founders on the cards were all clapping excitedly as if they knew that he’d won the pot. “You thought that I was bluffing. Ha!”

Remus shook his head. “I was convinced that you had nothing.”

Felicity rose to make another pot of tea. Though they were up late playing cards, this was no party. The Order had been brought on high alert; something had happened though they didn’t know what it was as yet. There’d been a cryptic message from Shacklebolt that said there was bad news and that they should stay awake at headquarters. Tonks had arrived just after eleven having been watching the Malfoys. She’d been told to leave her post though no one was coming to relieve her. That in its self was strange because someone had watched the house for months at all hours.

Both Remus and Felicity had arrived shortly after that. They’d all been trying to enjoy themselves but there was a worried edge to their pleasure. “It’s the waiting that I find difficult,” said Remus to no one in particular.

Sirius shot him a knowing look. “Try years of it,” he frowned.

“Sorry, Padfoot,” sighed Remus.

Tonks patted Sirius on the knee and rose to stand with Felicity to help her make the tea. Felicity was lost in thought watching the water come to a boil muggle fashion. She linked arms with Tonks. “Sometimes it’s easier to wait when you’ve a task to do that stretches time. My Master Tong says that watching water boil can calm the soul.”

“I wonder what it’s like, Felicity,” said Tonks with a little wistfulness in her voice. “To be you. You’ve been so many places and done so many things.”

Felicity kissed Tonks on the cheek fondly. “You and I are both the special ones, my dear, with our unique gifts.”

“I’m hardly unique.” Tonks absently touched her hand to her pink spiked hair.

“But you are! You’re more unique and special than I am, Tonks. You were born the way you are. You can become anyone, disguise yourself or disappear within a crowd, all with your own magic. What you are is amazing.”

“I suppose.” Tonks looked unconvinced.

She was so young, her heart shaped face and lively eyes were so charming. Felicity thought that Tonks’ usual assured demeanor was a disguise. “You’re lovely, you know that?” she said hugging her and kissing her cheek.

Tonks smiled shyly.

The front door slammed shut waking up the portrait of Sirius’ mother who yelled “Traitor! Traitor!” but was instantly quieted by the person pounding down the hall toward them. Everyone froze watching the door.

Mad-Eye Moody swung through it and stopped. He starred around the room in silence. Tonks put her hand on her hip and shook her head.

“Well?” demanded Tonks. She was never one to be intimidated by the old codger’s gloom.

“That crazy cow at Hogwarts has attacked Minerva. She’s up at St. Mungo’s. It’s pretty bad. She took four stunners. Bloody cowards, the lot of them!”

Everyone’s mouth dropped.

Remus was the first to recover. “Will she be all right?”

“I don’t know.” Mad-Eye’s one good eye settled on Sirius. “And Hagrid’s gone off to hide in that cave of yours.” He growled softly. “This whole thing’s going to hell in a hand basket. Only Snape’s left up at Hogwarts and you all know how I feel about his nefarious nibs.”

“Cor,” said Tonks finding her voice. She whistled. “You’re quite the doomsayer, aren’t you?”

“I’ll take some of that tea if you’re making a pot.” He hadn’t moved from the entrance but watched, as they all did in silence as Felicity tipped the kettle and poured the scalding liquid into a large teapot.

Tonks walked over and grabbed Mad-Eye’s sleeve pulling him toward the table. “Come on, then and tell us what’s happened.”

As they all settled down around the table gripping their cups, Mad-Eye related the story of what had been happening at Hogwarts. He was disgusted with how Dolores Umbridge had cowardly tried to hustle Hagrid out of school in the dark. “They attacked the poor man’s dog, for pity’s sake! It’s a crime.”

Finally, after the telling, Mad-Eye focused his good eye on Felicity. She met his gaze unflinchingly. If he was suspicious of her, he held it privately. “Dumbledore’s arriving in London tomorrow night or the next morning. He and your father are off looking for something important. Things are grave at the school and he’s rightfully worried. He’s said that you’re to get your dragon arse back to Hogwarts by morning to make sure all hell doesn’t break loose.”

Tonks rolled her eyes and pushed his shoulder in disgust. “And I imagine that Dumbledore worded it just as colorfully,” she said sarcastically.

“Words to that effect!” he insisted fiercely. “I’ll not tolerate your sass, miss. It’s begun. Voldemort is about to make his move and I’m guessing it’ll be here in London this time. He’ll be going after the prophecy, I’d bet my life on it. You’re to go to St. Mungo’s and watch over Minerva. I’m fetching Kingsley who’s been busy elsewhere. We’ve got someone at the Ministry watching that room at all hours. It’s become more dangerous to watch the Department of Mysteries, if that’s possible.” Both his good and his magical eye rolled in separate direction causing him to look mad as a hatter. “We’re meeting here at headquarters at eight o’clock in the evening to wait for Dumbledore and to decide what to do about that loon up at Hogwarts.” He then sat back looking glum, done with his telling.

No one said anything for several minutes while they sipped tea in silence. All were wondering if it really had begun, after all.




The next morning, early, a fog had settled in the streets. It was still dark as Remus walked Felicity toward the spot that had become their place to say good-bye. “I’ll miss you terribly, my love,” he said. His arm held her waist that he squeezed to emphasize his thoughts. “We’ve been together more in these last weeks then in the whole time that I’ve known you. I’ve gotten used to having you with me.”

“It seems years already since that meeting where I first saw you.” She squeezed him back, stopped and hugged him. “I’ll never be sorry.”

“Sorry?”

Felicity smiled up at him though what she felt was not happiness. She was mourning him already inside. “We may be apart for a long time, Remus.”

“The term’s almost ended. Harry should be finishing his exams up today, in fact.” He laughed. “If the doom doesn’t descend on us as Moody seems to think then you and I might spend most of the summer in Wolvin.”

“That would be nice.” Her voice was faint and unsure. The fog swirled was heavier than usual and moved in the slight wind sluggishly.

“What’s wrong?” Remus was worried again. She’d been hiding a deeper sadness since their conversation days before in Wolvin. He knew that she held no hope for their relationship but he just couldn’t accept it. “Tell me, Felicity, before you leave. What’s so wrong? Why are you acting as if all is lost when you’ll only be away for a short while?”

“Most likely, I won’t be returning,” she answered calmly.

“What?” She might as well have slapped him he was so stricken.

“I’ll have to return to Tibet whether Voldemort appears or not. The Ministry may discover my true nature if I return to Hogwarts. Dolores Umbridge might not let me return. She hates me and knows that I’m close to Albus. Remus, I doubt that I’ll be allowed to stay in England once more people know what I am.”

Remus shook his head. “Don’t go then.”

“I have to go.”

“No, you don’t. Stay here, Albus will understand.” He felt a panic rising in him. He couldn’t live without her. They were in love and should be together always. That’s what people in love should do.

Felicity felt his panic and knew she had no choice, not if she loved him. It was cruel, otherwise. She resolved then to release him. It was inevitable. She was only prolonging what must happen. She took out her wand. “I’ve got to go. I want to go. The students might need me. I must do my duty, Remus. You of all people know about duty.”

He sadly nodded his head. “I know.” He felt a pain of longing. “I love you.”

She brought her hands around his neck and smiled. “You’ll not even notice that I’m gone, luv,” she whispered kissing him tenderly. He closed his eyes and for a moment the world stood still. There wasn’t a sound, though they stood on a street in London. His heart calmed down and a warm feeling of peace surrounded him.

When they released, Felicity stood back from him quickly and apparated to the gates of Hogwarts before Remus could focus on her face. She was gone.

Remus stood looking at the spot she’d left for several minutes. He felt stunned, changed somehow but he couldn’t quite say how. The pain of longing was gone. He shrugged and rushed back to Grimmauld Place. He couldn’t shake a feeling of foreboding that something awful was happening that would present itself abruptly before he was ready. It was the story of his life.



Shake




Felicity arrived at the gates of Hogwarts blubbering like a madwoman who’d lost everything. In a way, she had. The stone gate stood before her and she had only to walk through it but she found that she couldn’t. There was a stone bench next to the gate dedicated some past wizard that she’d never heard of. She read the inscription through her tears. Life’s journey is long and arduous but eased by a friend’s companionship. Plopping herself on the bench, she convulsed in more tears, holding her face in her knees. It was over and the tears that flowed came almost with a joy of release. She’d released her greatest love.

“I am always amazed at your capacity for self-indulgence, Miss Wood,” said a familiar voice.

Severus stood beside her, tall, dark and with a look of the utmost distaste on his face. She wiped her tears quickly and grinned at him. “I always feel that it’s best to let the emotions out, Severus. Otherwise, I might become an angry old crone wearing black and glowering at everyone around me.”

He smirked down at her, of course. “Rubbish, as usual, Felicity.”

Severus moved over and sat beside her with a sigh. “Black told me that you’d be coming.” He looked sideways at her and shook his head in disgust. “You look frightful. What’s the bloody cawler-walling about?” He handed her a handkerchief.

Blowing her nose, she laughed and ignored his question. “So, what have I missed? I’ve been gone ages. Did you even notice?” She reached out and touched his hand knowing that he’d missed her and would never in a million years admit it out loud.

“It’s a free-for-all in that school. She’ll not let you return, Felicity.”

“You could put in a good word for me.”

“I suppose,” he said slowly. “Though I doubt it would do you much good. My house has become her roving band of enforcers. Our blonde hero is leading them, of course.”

“Of course, he is.” She grimaced. “I take it that there are spies everywhere and nothing can be said in the open then.”

“Quite right.” He reached over, held her hand in his and fixed his black eyes on her.

I’ve missed you.

Have you?

Don’t be coy, dragon.

Dumbledore wants me here.

I’ve heard.

You must get her to accept me back.

Perhaps.

Severus?

Yes?

I’ve missed you, too.


He broke off from her eyes but she could still hear him agree with a sadness that spoke volumes. They both rose and Snape tucked her hand into the crook of his arm. “Let’s go see if the bloody woman is awake, then if you’re done being pitiful,” he sneered.

Walking across the lawn in the early morning, with the dew still glistening on the grass and the sun rising lifted her spirits. The world was beautiful, that at least, was a constant. They said nothing to each other because nothing need be said. They strolled along enjoying the morning and ignoring what would surely be a dismal future.

Dolores Umbridge, headmistress, Madame Inquisitor, and loathsome pink troglodyte met them in the grand hall as if she expected them. She did not look at all friendly.

“So, miss,” she began immediately. “You think that you can just waltz in at the end of term, do you?” There was a slight hysteria to her that Felicity hadn’t seen before. The woman had been under pressure, was obviously frustrated and therefore treacherous. Felicity removed her arm from Severus’ who stood impenetrable next to her.

She straightened her back but kept her posture humble. “I’m sorry, headmistress. I’ve been ill. I never meant to be gone so long.”

Umbridge narrowed her gaze on Felicity’s humble look. “There’s nothing to forgive for you won’t be returning.” She looked at Severus searching his face that remained impassive. “Unless, someone helps me enter a certain door.”

“I’ve told you,” said Severus keeping his voice even and in tight control. “I have no idea how to enter the tower, m’am.”

Umbridge gritted her teeth and Felicity was alarmed to see a wild twitch in her eye. The woman was becoming unhinged, driven mad by frustrated ambitions. “You won’t be returning, miss Wood. You’re sacked and that’s final.”

“At least let me pack my things, headmistress.” Felicity fixed her voice to appear submissive and repentant.

Umbridge’s eye twitched again as if a vein might burst there. “Your things! Yes, you, too! Your door was closed to me.” The crazy woman had tried to enter Felicity’s rooms while she was away and couldn’t. “I want your things out of here this very day. I want no trace of you. No door in this institution will be closed to me, do I make myself clear?”

“Yes, m’am,” said Felicity. “I’ll gather my things as quickly as I can manage.”

Dolores turned on her heel abruptly and strode off.

They both watched her go. Finally, looked sideways at her with a sardonic look. “I know a cave nearby that you could go to, my dear. There’s a large oaf there now that would take you in. He likes dragons.”

Felicity laughed despite his intended meanness. “Just what I need, dear Severus.” She winked at him mischievously. “I’d love to be somebody’s pet. You’re an evil man.”

“So some have told me. Come on then, miss Wood.” He took her arm again and they strolled together slowly down the corridor toward the dungeon. The students passed by them with curious glances. It wasn’t every day that they saw two professors walk arm in arm at Hogwarts.

“You didn’t try very hard to speak for me, Severus,” said Felicity.

“No, my dear, I didn’t, did I?” He smiled satisfied. “You might be missed but you’re still dangerous.”

“Then why was I sent back here?”

They stood at the door as she performed the spell to unlock her rooms. He waited until they were inside and the door was closed to answer her. Silently, without expression, he grabbed her, pulled her to him and tipped head back to bring his face close. Her heart jumped in surprise. He could be so thrilling. “You were sent back here because I asked for you to be,” he said harshly. “You’re very presence is a threat to our cause. You’re too attractive to the Dark Lord, too distracting to certain members of the order and I made it clear that you would be in my way. I’m very important to the cause, my dear.”

She half closed her eyes waiting, watching him. She knew what he would do.

He kissed her hungrily with a heedless ferocity that she embraced with an equal vengeance. She trilled in response. He was just what she needed to ease her pain.




Shake




Remus walked swiftly back to the house. For a while he puttered in the kitchen fixing tea, being anxious, feeling adrift. Sirius sat by the fire staring into it. They said nothing. Remus couldn’t shake a cold, unpleasant emptiness, and a weird void of feeling that had come upon him. Without a word, he lumbered upstairs and crawled into bed, falling asleep instantly.

By two o’clock, he rose and came downstairs to find Sirius still sitting in the same spot. He went to put the kettle on, waiting for Sirius to stir from his marathon contemplation of the fire.

“I’ll fix you lunch, Padfoot,” said Remus finally. “You don’t look as if you’ve slept very well. Have you eaten anything?”

“I feel fine, I always look like this, now. Nothing ever changes and I’m forever cooped up in this prison of a mausoleum.” He frowned miserably.

“We’re just trying to keep you alive, my friend.”

“Sometimes, being alive isn’t good enough.”

“Well, sometimes you’re a miserable bastard that should stop feeling so sorry for himself!” shouted Remus. His frustration and anxiousness had boiled over. He was just sick and tired of Sirius grumbling all the time. “You have to stay alive, you horse’s arse! You’re all I have left. We’ll capture that traitor Peter and you’ll be cleared. If you can just be patient for once in your bloody life, you’ll be free again.”

Sirius looked up surprised. “What set you off, mate? Fight with the wife?”

“What’re you gaffing about?” Lupin sat down next to Sirius by the fire. He’d completely forgotten about making lunch and was now thoroughly out of sorts. “I just want you to understand, Padfoot that we’re in this together and we’re both suffering loss and loneliness here.”

Sirius suddenly realized that something was wrong with the world as he’d painted it. “What are you on about? You’re not alone. You have Felicity, you have me and you have that whole friggin village filled with lovely werewolves, damn you.”

For once, a real clarity of what was going on came to Lupin in a flash of insight. “I think Felicity’s gone, Sirius, she as much as said good-bye to me this morning.” He let out a heavyhearted sigh. He should feel worse than he did. “And as for Wolvin, yes, it’s a lovely village filled with wonderful people but I don’t belong there. I belong with you, here, finishing what was started long ago.” He smiled fondly at his oldest and dearest friend. “You and I are as much as married, mate. Bizarre as that is, James brought us together and he holds us together still through his son.”

“Harry,” whispered Sirius.

“Yes, Harry, who we’ve sworn to keep safe and we will.”

“He’s probably taking his exams now. Remember?”

“All too well.”

“I didn’t do too badly at History of Magic, I recall.”

“Yes, remember how you…” There was an ear splitting scream from upstairs that sent them both bolting for the stairs.

Remus was close behind Sirius as they ran up two flights to where they could now hear Buckbeak screeching and throwing about his room in a rage. Sirius opened the door and there was blood and feathers everywhere. Buckbeak lunged for him but recognized him at the last minute and turned away. In his hysteria, Buckbeak flailed about the room trying to fly. There was a large gash at his wing and chest and he was bleeding profusely.

“Calm him, Sirius!” Remus called out. “He’ll bleed to death if we don’t stop up the wound.

“There, there, Buckbeak,” cried Sirius trying to calm the poor beast.

It took them most of two hours to get Buckbeak settled, the wound sealed and the wreaked room cleaned up. By four o’clock, with no food in either of them, Remus and Sirius were exhausted and starving. As they came down the stair and straggled into the kitchen, they were greeted with the intoxicating smell of Chinese food.

Tonks was standing at the table unpacking white boxes from a bag. “You lads never have any food in this place so I thought you’d be hungry before the meeting.” She stood by the feast smiling at them.

“Huzzah!!!” they both cried raising their hands in the air.

“You’re a good girl, Tonks,” cried Sirius immediately tucking into one of the boxes.

Remus reached out in his ravenous joy at the smell of food and spun her like a top. He wrapped his arms around her and danced around the kitchen lifting her into the air. She squealed with delight. He set her down and spontaneously kissed the crook of her neck saying, “You don’t know how happy you’ve made us, luv. We’re absolutely famished!” He sat down to the table and looked through the boxes.

Tonks stood stunned watching them, her body tingling. It took her a minute to gain her composure. Remus had literally taken her breath away. “If I’d known that you were that hungry,” she said finally. “I’d have brought more food.”

Remus reached out for her hand. “Come sit and join us, Tonks.”

She obeyed, still breathless.



Rattle




By nine o’clock the meeting was in full swing and everyone was talking at once. Kingsley Shacklebolt, Tonks, Mad-Eye Moody, Sirius and Remus were actually the only ones present. Two members, Tomasina Tall and Boris Leechmark were guarding the Department of Mysteries and yet another member had been posted at the Malfoys again. Though there was much conversation, little was being accomplished or decided on. Albus Dumbledore was due to arrive at any moment.

Mad-Eye was again pontificating on the ineptitude of the Ministry with Shacklebolt pursing his lips trying not to yell when Tonks did yell. “Shhhhhhh! I hear a voice,” she shouted above the fray.

They all quieted. A muffled sound of someone cussing in several languages was issuing from a drawer.

Sirius jumped up suddenly and slammed over to the other side of the kitchen. “Shite!” He yelled. “I’d forgotten that I’d put Snape’s mirror in a drawer.” He looked sheepishly over at the group. “He and I don’t get on, as you all are aware.” He pulled out the mirror and held it at arm’s length while Snape’s face spewed every swear word under the sun.

“You’re an imbecile, Black!” he finally finished. “I’ve been trying to reach you for half an hour!”

Black refused to get sucked into yet another argument with Snape. “What’s happened, Snape? Shut it and tell us. I’ve the Order here.”

There was a moment while all watched Snape’s livid face reconfigure to its usual stoicism in the thirty-centimeter mirror. “I’ve been trying to reach you because I believe that Potter has somehow become delusional and is headed for the Ministry of Magic.”

Most in the room yelled, “What!!??” and stood up. They all moved to stand nearer the mirror that Sirius still held.

“I said that I believe Potter has been persuaded by the Dark Lord to go to the Department of Mysteries. When he bothered to try at Occlumency, I saw visions of the room there.”

“You bastard! You should never have stopped teaching him,” yelled Sirius livid with anger. “You put him in danger on purpose.”

“For Merlin’s sake, man, let the man tell us what’s happened!” said Remus harshly.

Snape’s face had become both calm and inscrutable. “Your precious charge has broken rule after rule at this school, not unlike his father. Now, he’s gone and got himself sucked up in the delusion of going to the Department of Mysteries, most likely urged by some false reason to save someone there.I believe that he thinks it's Black. He's an idiot! Potter is forever seeking glory in saving someone whether they want to be saved or not. The Dark Lord is no one to scoff at, people. Your prized protégé has been led to his doom and has taken us along with him. He’s a stupid crowd pleasing egotist.”

There was a commotion on both sides of the mirror. Someone grabbed the mirror from Snape as Remus wrestled the mirror from Sirius. “Really, Padfoot,” reasoned Lupin. “Harry’s in great danger if what he says is true.”

“Remus,” said the fluted voice of Felicity. Her face looked tired and concerned. “Remus, listen.”

“Felicity,” gulped Remus.

“Hermione and Harry went into the forest with Umbridge, then some other students went in after them. Severus said that Harry tried to warn about something. He said that he had Padfoot in the room that he’d been seeing.” Remus tried not to think about how he should be seeing her with his heart broken and yet it wasn’t, in fact, broken. “I went into the forest after them, but they’re gone, Remus, they’re not in there.” She bit her lip. “Severus thinks that they’ve gone to London. He thinks that Harry thinks that Voldemort has Sirius. It’s a trap. Those children are walking into a trap.”

“But how is that possible?” asked Tonks from behind Remus. “They’re too young to apparate! They’ve only just started lessons.”

Felicity’s face wrinkled in pain. “They’ve taken the thestrals.”

“How do you know that, Felicity?” demanded Remus.

“I heard them call. They were in flight. Remus, Severus is right. They’ve gone to London.”

Snape grabbed the mirror from Felicity. A caricature of an angry potions master came into view. Snape was beside himself. “Lupin, listen to me. Potter has endangered us all! If he dies at the hands of the Dark Lord because of your lack of faith in my deduction, I will personally use an Unforgivable on your sorry hairy hide. Dumbledore says the boy must live and the idiot has consistently put himself in harm’s way. Do you not wonder why the prophecy has the name of Potter and the Dark Lord on it? Have you never wondered why Dumbledore wants us to guard the bloody bottle, or why the Dark Lord wants it? It’s that good for nothing, egotistic little grandstanding twit that’s important. The Dark Lord must not hear that prophecy!!!!!”

That galvanized them. The Order of the Phoenix officially adjourned and Snape’s mirror was thrown down on the kitchen counter. Shacklebolt immediately took charge as the senior member and they gathered robes and wands racing to the door. Mad-Eye turned to speak into a tiny light that he held in his hands. “There’s no answer. Tomasina!” he shook his head. “No answer.” Real worry creased his face.

At the door, all were ready in mere minutes, including Sirius. Mad-Eye turned on him. “Sirius Black you aren’t coming! Damn you, man!”

“Don’t be an idiot,” said Black with a steel edge in his voice. “I’m coming.”

Remus put his arm on his friend’s shoulder. “No, Padfoot, you can’t endanger yourself in this way.”

Sirius Black pushed his hand away. He was a force of nature in his vehemence. “I WILL NOT BE CODDLED!” he raged. “HARRY IS IN DANGER! I’M GOING WHETHER YOU BLOODY WELL LIKE IT OR NOT!”

At that, the portrait of Sirius’ mother started a screaming tirade. Mad-Eye and Shacklebolt growled and bolted out the door.

Tonks reached over and grabbed Sirius’ hand. “Come on, then, cousin,” she said with a crooked smile. “Let’s escape your mother together then.”

Remus brought up the rear. He was worried but there was nothing that he could do about Sirius. Secretly, he was glad.



And Roll!




They arrived at the Ministry and knew instantly that something was wrong. Aurors have a secret way of entering the offices without being seen. The Auror’s office, however always had someone present, day and night and there was no one there.

Tonks ran over to the reception desk and found Leech crumpled in a corner. He’d been hit in the chest. His wand still in his hand, his eyes wide open with a look of horror that Tonks knew she would never forget. “He’s dead,” she said, her voice hollow. “He’s dead.”

“Come on,” growled Mad-Eye who ran out the door with Shacklebolt and Sirius.

Remus bent over Tonks. “Come, Tonks,” he said gently reaching for her hand. “We’ve a job to do.”

She looked up at him with tears in her eyes. “We were in school together,” she whispered. “He asked me to the Christmas Ball.”

“Tonks, think of the living, luv,” said Remus knowing full well her pain.

She jumped up then, finding strength in his words and they ran for the door.

Rather than run for the elevator, everyone ran down the stairs. It was many flights but the lifts couldn’t be trusted. It was eerily quiet on every floor. Usually there would be a few lone souls throughout the building working in the evening hours but no one was about.

“They’re bound to be in the Department of Mysteries!” yelled Mad-Eye cursing as he hurled himself down the flights of stairs.

They all stood at the landing catching their breath. The doors of the hall before them, they listened. Distantly, they heard yelling. There was a battle of some sort nearby.

“They’re in the room of the Veil!” shouted Shacklebolt terrified and running for the doors. With his wand out, he motioned for Tonks to take the next door. “On my mark,” he ordered.

She nodded.

“Now!” he shouted and they bolted through the door.

Tonks immediately focused on Lucius Malfoy, his blonde mane of hair was difficult to miss. She hurled a charge at him without pause. She jumped down from their high entrance and was immediately attacked by her aunt Bellatrix whose face was contorted in a mad anger. She ducked a curse and rolled out of the way while blasting the witch with a stunner as she went.

Remus focused on Malfoy, who had recovered all too quickly from Tonk’s stun and was moving toward Harry. The boy looked all right but Neville Longbottom, nearby, did not. He could see Harry struggle toward Neville. Remus threw a spell with vehemence toward Lucius who was still moving in that direction but missed. The floor exploded very close to Harry and he realized with terror that he could have killed him in his efforts to get Malfoy. He scrambled down after them. One of the Death Eaters shot a stun out nowhere and he dropped his wand. Shacklebolt hit his attacker who went flying through the air as Remus groped for his wand. It was mayhem. Spells and curses were flying everywhere but Remus was focused on reaching Harry. Malfoy had both Neville and Harry in a stranglehold and all Remus could think about was that his legs couldn’t fly fast enough to reach them. It was only seconds but just as he’d gotten close enough, Harry had shouted an Impedimenta curse and blasted Malfoy backwards. Remus stood between them then and shouted for Harry to run.

It was then that Dumbledore appeared out of nowhere. Remus had wrapped the now unconscious Malfoy up with a roping spell and looked up as he heard Neville yell that Dumbledore had come. He’d never seen him so angry. The power of the great wizard filled the room and many in the entire giant area stood watching as he calmly waved his wand and wordlessly wrapped the now terrified Death Eaters up with long tendrils of magic ropes. Only Bellatrix battling with Padfoot seemed to be oblivious to the wizard’s presence.

In quick and mounting horror, Remus stood transfixed as he watched his best friend shot in the chest by Bella. He would never forget the look on Sirius’ face, he would forever relive the guilt that he could have been closer, could have prevented it, could have…Sirius was gone through the Veil in an instant.

It was only as Harry went flying past him down the steps toward the Veil that Remus became painfully awake. He raced after Harry and caught him just as he’d jumped onto the dais. Harry roared at him in protest, but he held onto the boy, wrapping his arms around his chest and dragging him from the dais. He didn’t remember what he said. His pain was too great. His heart was breaking in two and he held onto Harry as if his life depended on it.

“It’s too late, Harry,” he kept repeating over and over, not realizing if he’d said it out loud or not. Harry was screaming out his rage, struggling to get away from him. Remus kept his voice calm, even as Harry bellowed that Sirius could not be dead. Inside he was thinking the same thing. He could not be dead. Sirius was not dead.

Remus held onto Harry, dragging him to the stairs and away from what had become a battle between Bella and Shacklebolt. Sirius, where are you, mate?

Gone. He was gone.

Remus tried to reason with Harry and kept a hold onto his shoulder as they gathered Neville Longbottom from the stair and he undid the spell on the poor boy. His body and mind had become numb. His heart was shattered, beyond repair. His life was ending even as he tried to stop Harry from surging after Bellatrix.

“She killed Sirius!” Harry shouted as he wriggled from his grip and raced to attack Bella. She was up the stairs and out the door away from Dumbledore’s binding ropes in a flash. Harry was in hot pursuit. Remus ran after them but Dumbledore stopped him.

“Take care of the others, Remus,” said Dumbledore, his voice tight with a menace that was beyond any power that Remus had ever seen before. As Harry raced from the room behind Bella, Dumbledore purposely went after them.

Remus turned stunned to gaze at the room. He stood at the top of the stairs and took it all in. Shacklebolt was picking himself off the floor and dusting himself off. Mad-Eye was walking back into the room with Ginny, Luna, Hermione and what looked like it might be Ron, covered in a strange flesh-colored mass. The Death Eaters groaned and cursed struggling against their unbreakable ropes.

It was then that Remus saw Tonks crumpled in a pile of ruins. She wasn’t moving. Her pink hair was dusted to a gray and he could see her lovely young face gray and stone like. He jumped the stairs three at a time racing for her.

“Tonks,” he cried, picking her up in his arms. She lay like a rag doll. “Tonks, please, Tonks, not you, too.” He kissed her cheeks, his tears mixing with the dust on her face. “Please, luv, don’t leave me alone.” He cried out to her, kissing her again and again in his terror and realization that he was alone and that Sirius was gone. He was beyond redemption, beyond caring, and the misery swallowed him with no end. “Tonks,” he whispered. He drew out his wand, touching it to her chest. “Envenerate!” he sobbed with his very soul.

Tonk’s body shivered and she gulped for air as it rushed into her lungs. She woke up to find Remus Lupin crying over her. She was enveloped in his muscular arms. He was kissing her face. She’d died, surely, and gone to heaven.

“Remus?” she said hoarsely.

In his relief at her voice he hugged her tighter, kissing her forehead tenderly. “Ahhh, darling Tonks, I thought I’d lost you.”

She smiled into his chest and managed to utter, “Ouch, too tight…”

Remus laughed. “Sorry, are you all right?”

Tonks couldn’t help herself. The man was a dream, so endearing, so tender and so strong. She knew that the stone had crushed her foot and she couldn’t feel one of her hands. “I’m fine, Remus,” she said. “Just hold me for a minute longer.”





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Just take a breath for the next little ride, my friends. We’re nearly there. I definitely would like to hear what you thought of this chapter. And,*smods* forgive me but canon rules.:--) Pru


Chapter 34: A Soul's Journey
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Chapter 34
A Soul’s Journey




They waited in Felicity’s dungeon rooms for news of what had happened at the Ministry of Magic. Severus pretended to read a book at first then gave it up and paced back and forth muttering to himself. Felicity looked off into space, or held onto his arm for comfort when he deemed to sit down next to her. The house elves had magically sent food that sat on a small table untouched. They soberly waited for news of the dead.

Finally, nearing two in the morning, Felicity couldn’t take the stress of waiting any longer and began to cry softly. Severus, who had been wearing a groove in the floor stopped and growled at her. She ignored him and sniffled quietly.

“We’ll know soon, Felicity,” he said coldly. “Quit that infernal crying this instant.”

She tried to gulp down her tears but it only caused her to make more noise hiccupping.

He silently bent over her, took her hand in his and dragged her to her feet. “Stop blubbering, Felicity. Crying does no good. It weakens you.”

She looked up at him sadly. “What if something happens to him?” she whispered. “What if I’ve sent him to his death?” She convulsed with tears again, burying her face in his robes. “I’ll never forgive myself.” She was miserable.

Snape tried not to notice that she was slobbering all over his good robe and gently hugged her to him. “I wouldn’t worry,” he said softly. “You have my luck with women and Marauders on your side. Lupin will come back to you. As you Americans will say, I’m never the one who gets the girl, nor am I ever able to rid myself of those blasted Marauders. I often think that they’re gone, only to have them return with a vengeance in one form or another.”

She couldn’t help but laugh at him. She wiped her eyes with her fingers knowing he’d have a conniption if she soiled his robes any more than she had. “You’re very sweet to cheer me up with humour, Severus.”

He raised an eyebrow. “I wasn’t joking. I’m friggin’ cursed.”

She kissed him lightly on the lips, finding comfort there despite his disapproval of her show of emotion.

“I released him, Severus.” Her face crumpled with fresh tears. “Remus is not coming back to me.” She buried her face in his chest again and even as he soothed her with his arms rubbing her back, he rolled his eyes at her flagrant disregard for civilized composure.

“Don’t be ridiculous, woman. You can’t just release a man. Once you’re in love, then that’s what it is. Love is not a spell. Love is not something that can just be conjured.” He stopped himself. “Well, there are love potions, of course, and certain spells work for awhile, but nothing lasting and nothing real.”

She’d stopped crying and was looking at him with an incredulous look. “How would you know?”

“Now you’re just being spiteful because I never fell in love with you.”

“That’s what you think.” She smirked at his ignorance. She had half a mind to tell him just how in love with her that he’d been. “You practically mauled me this morning, you were so happy to see me.”

“That’s not love and you know it. I like you just fine, you’re good company. I’m most attracted to you. You’re constantly parading around looking seductive. Why shouldn’t I find you attractive?” He shook his head. “No, that isn’t love when someone tricks you, nor if one, well, lusts after you for want of a better word.” He looked thoroughly uncomfortable with the whole conversation. “Love is something that you run screaming from until it snatches you up and swallows you.”

She gawped at him.

“You’ll catch flies if you don’t get that look off your face,” he said smugly.

He was a constant surprise. She forgot her misery as she debated the meaning of love with, of all people, Severus Snape. She pushed slightly away from him. “How would you know that?”

“I’ve been in love.” He narrowed his eyes daring her to challenge him.

She knew him better than he did. She knew that it wasn’t Narcissa Malfoy that he loved. He had been in love, when he was younger. That love bound him still, years later. Love could be as binding as blood magic amongst wizards and witches.

“That’s why you’re protecting Harry Potter whom you despise.”

“One, I don’t wish to discuss it and two, it’s none of your business, and three, I only brought it up to distract you from your dithering self-pity. Remus Lupin, if I know the man and I think that I do, is not going anywhere. He’ll come back to you, damn him.”

She bit her lip and the tears flowed silently again. She knew better than he that Remus would not because she wouldn’t allow it.

Severus gave up trying to talk sense into her and ushered her into the bedroom. Fully clothed and shushing with disapproval, he gently shoved her onto the bed and crawled in after her. He tucked a blanket over her, doused the lamps with a flick of his wand and lay down on his side. “You need your beauty sleep. You’re a puffy whimpering mess. Dumbledore will call us when he returns.” With that said, he closed his eyes.

“Severus?”

“Go to sleep.”

“I’m not human.”

“This is not news.”

“I thought I was, at least partly human, but I’m not. I’m not a dragon, either. I’m something apart.”

“Is this self observation necessary?”

“I’m dangerous to humans.” She spoke into the dark.

Severus brought his face very close to hers. She felt his warm breath on her ear. “Yes, you are, as I’ve told everyone who’ll listen.” He paused. “You bend people with some magic wit within you and pretend to yourself that you do it out of love. You can’t manipulate people and not pay the price for it. Trust me, I’m the great manipulator, I know.”

“I thought that I knew all about love. I’m beginning to realize that what I see as love isn’t a human’s kind of love at all.” She said it and realized it was true. Human love was something she had no inkling of. She’d been too young when she’d changed. Her visceral memories were of the dragon-people kind. She was a temptress, a lover, a healer and a friend. She was no life partner. She’d been shaped and trained to be a dragon woman. It was no wonder that her father had a difficult time recognizing her as his daughter.

Severus moved his arm to rest on her waist. He had the unerring feeling that he’d laid next to her before. “You’re saving grace is that you care for those that you manipulate. Lose that and you’ll be a monster just as the Dark Lord.” He kissed her cheek. “Now, go to sleep, dragon. I’m suddenly shattered.”

They drifted off to sleep, exhausted from waiting for news.

It was well into the next morning when Albus Dumbledore found them asleep in Felicity’s rooms. He stood watching them as they both started to stir.

“Ah, you’re awake, then. Good, it’s time,” he said calmly.

Severus had been curled up in a deep sleep, his arm around Felicity, and his face in her hair. Dumbledore’s voice startled him awake and he jumped out of bed as if he’d been pinched. “What news have you, sir?” he asked stumbling before he was fully awake.

Felicity sat up quickly. “Remus? He’s alive. Please tell me that he’s alive!”

Dumbledore nodded sadly. “He’s alive, Felicity, and unhurt, at least physically…but Sirius Black… is dead,” he looked hard at Snape, “and Tomasina Tall, and Boris Leech. They’re all dead.”

Severus sat down hard on the bed, an inscrutable look on his face. “Are you sure Black is dead?”

Dumbledore only paused for a second. “Yes, Severus, he’s dead. Bellatrix LeStrange hit him with a curse that knocked him through the Veil.”

Snape head came up. “The Veil?”

Dumbledore nodded.

“And the children, Albus,” asked Felicity. “Hermione and Harry, are they all right?”

He smiled. “They’re in Madame Pomfrey’s capable hands.” He looked from one to the other. “The Ministry has finally acknowledged their error in judgment. Voldemort was there for all to see.”

Snape grimaced. “Did he gain the prophecy?”

“No, he didn’t.” Dumbledore ignored Snape then. “I’ve a favor to ask, Felicity, my dear.”

“Yes, sir,” she said rising from the bed. “Anything.”

“I wonder if you wouldn’t mind meeting me in the forest in a short while. Our wayward Dolores Umbridge has gotten herself carried off by the centaurs. For political reasons, I’d rather not have to attack them outright. She seems to have infuriated them with her prejudices, my dear.” He sighed. “If you would meet me in the forest to help retrieve her, I’d be grateful.”

“Of course, sir.”

“Severus and I will have a little chat and then I’ll be right along, Felicity.”

Felicity looked from one to the other. Severus sat with his face in his hands on the bed while Albus stood waiting for her to leave. The headmaster’s eyes seemed tired. She moved from the room feeling a little lost. It was, after all, her rooms that she was being asked to leave.

Snape looked up from the bed after several seconds of silence.

“Voldemort did not hear the prophecy but Harry has now,” offered Dumbledore to his silent question.

Snape allowed a small sneer. “Not having been allowed to hear it myself, I can only surmise that it will add fire to his insufferable ego.” A feeling of pure hatred seethed in him. “He is his father’s son.”

“Leave this attitude at once, Severus!” Albus voice was stern. “It’s not the boy’s fault.”

“But it is, sir! It is!” he cried in real frustration and anger. Old wounds surfaced and in his fatigue, he didn’t even try to squash them down. “Potter did not even attempt to block the Dark Lord’s visions. He was devious, spiteful and full of hate. I did as you asked and was met with obstinate malice at every turn. He spied on my most intimately agonizing moments. That our futures are somehow linked to his abilities infuriates me!”

“In so very many ways, he reminds me of you, Severus. All save one.” Albus paused until he had Severus’ full attention. The potion’s master gained his composure and sat stone-faced, waiting for Dumbledore’s words. “Harry Potter has the ability to inspire others to greatness under the most stressful conditions, Severus. He is a born leader, whereas you are most certainly, not.”

Snape ground his teeth in silence waiting.

“The prophecy is simply that Harry Potter is destined to end Voldemort’s life once and for all. They cannot both exist. One must die and it must be Harry who kills Voldemort, Severus. It’s our destiny to help him in doing it. You must teach him how to defeat your Dark Lord, Severus.”

Snape’s face contorted as if the Headmaster had stuck him with a red-hot poker. “I cannot teach dumb! He’s a talentless prat. It is God’s cruel joke that our existence depends on a boy who can’t memorize the simplest of charms, let alone execute them.”

“ENOUGH!” bellowed Dumbledore. He looked sternly at the much younger man. “You and I both know that that is simply not true. Harry Potter, whether you can accept his destiny or not, has escaped Voldemort and the death he wielded on numerous occasions. It is time that you showed your true loyalties, Severus Snape. Will you protect and serve Lily’s son as you promised her or will you betray us all and die a traitor? Those are your choices.”

Severus Snape stood up and starred without any sign of his emotions at Albus Dumbledore. “You know that I have no choice,” he said.

“There is always a choice,” answered Dumbledore not unkindly, “always a way around a spell.”

A flashback of his promise long ago threatened to surface in him but he refused more of that scene then the look of pleading anguish on Lily’s lovely face. “I would not change my destiny, sir, and you know it.”

Dumbledore sighed. “Nor would I, my old friend, nor would I.”

“You can trust me, sir.”

“I have always known it, Severus,” said Dumbledore quietly. “And that’s why I can tell you now that it has come time for you to go to him.”

Snape’s head snapped up in surprise. “What?”

“You’ll be the Defense against the Dark Arts professor next year.”

“But…”

“Yes, it’s cursed. You won’t last the year, but you’ll teach Harry as much as he’ll need to know, as will I.” Dumbledore’s face held a profound sadness. He watched Severus take in the information with a mixture of horror and pride. “By the end of the year, you’ll certainly either be dead or with your master. You must ready the path for Harry to find him. It will be dangerous, my old friend, but I have a plan.” Tears welled in his tired face. “Tonight, I feel older than I have ever felt, Severus. I do believe that I may welcome the end of this.”

Severus cocked his head and smirked. “What are you saying, sir? Is this plan something that you’ll be telling me?”

“You’ll have to trust me, Severus.”

The two men smiled knowing smiles. “Yes, sir, I do trust you, sir,” answered Severus.





Felicity waited in the shadowy darkness of the Forbidden Forest. She had walked deep within the dense growth of trees without fear, and without thought. She’d been so consumed by recent events. Her world had forever changed and though she had weathered hardships before, she had never felt quite so broken by them. In a burst of self-realization the night before she had left her human and dragon duality behind and now, in the shadow of the trees, she felt it keenly. It was as if she would never love as intensely, never feel as human, or as dragon, again.

A snap of a twig in the distance shook her out of her internal melancholy. An eerie sensation of danger crept out at her seemingly from the roots of the trees. Not a bird chirped. The world had become silent and watchful. In an instant her instinct took over and in a whirl of urgency she stepped into the dragon pose and transformed. Her self and self vibrated with magic light becoming dragon just as the arrows shot toward her, and the clip clop of hoofs running on hard packed earth sounded.

The centaurs surrounded her, their bows cocked and their arrows aimed. She was careful not to expose her chest or the top of her head. She roared at them and flapped her wings lunging forward to ward them back.

A large centaur with a black mane whistled and raised his hand. “What trick, human, do you play at?”

She angled her large triangular head looking at him with her great lizard eyes.

“You’re but a witch’s illusion of a dragon,” said the centaur in a disgusted tone. “It is so very typical of you humans to hide behind the identity of a great and noble being.”

She had no experience with centaurs. Their minds were different than humans, old with deep caverns in the synapses where worry, energy and doubt were found in humans. She could not read or enter his mind. She was perplexed at that and curious. Her beast usually spoke, felt or communicated with another beast. The centaur was fundamentally different. She felt a kinship. Just as she was, he looked part human but was not.

On the other hand, he wasn’t a particularly nice non-human kin.

She shook her head at him menacingly and blew fire into the ground to frighten him. The dirt blackened and swirled with smoke.

The centaur stepped back looking wary.

For many moments they contemplated each other.

“There is a story of a dragon told in the stars,” said the Centaur, finally. “Perhaps, you are this dragon. A dragon too confused by humans who died of a broken heart only to be reborn as another,” he said. “This dragon finds a secret life which will help the humans render a fatal blow to a terrible evil.”

She waved her head closer to him and snorted through her nostrils. Tendrils of smoke billowed up into the trees. She felt angry at his presumptuousness and prophesy. What did this centaur know of her broken heart?

“Bane!” called Albus Dumbledore’s voice from the trees. “Felicity is here at my request.” He walked calmly through the throng of centaurs to stand beside Felicity’s great dragon form. “You have something that belongs to me, Bane. I’d like to retrieve it.”

“We’ve had no quarrel with you, but your kind has trampled our stand once too often. A sacrifice must be made.” The centaur’s head rose with an arrogance and he looked to his brethren who all nodded in agreement. “You house an outcast, a traitor to our own. It is an even trade.”

“You are not murderers, Bane. Where is the professor, Bane?” asked Albus calmly. He flicked his wand wordlessly.

Bane looked defiant for a moment but wavered, shook his head angrily and then tipped his face toward the forest. Two enormous centaurs carried professor Umbridge like a heavy sack of potatoes. Each one held either arms or legs. She was not conscious. They came forward and threw the professor on the ground.

“Thank you, Bane,” said Albus.

“Wait!” roared Bane shaking his mane of hair fiercely. Felicity stepped over Dolores Umbridge’s unconscious form, protecting her like a prize. “This is another wizard’s trick!”

Felicity roared at him forcing him to step back.

“No, Bane,” said Albus. He stepped between Felicity and Bane. “You can’t stop time, nor can you pretend that you didn’t know this moment beforehand. A dragon, a wizard and this unconscious person, your kind always knows, Bane.

He raised his head proudly. “We do.”

“So you knew it would be that you wouldn’t kill her.”

Bane nodded slowly and looked directly at Felicity. “This dragon cannot stay.”

“She won’t return, Bane. I promise you.”

He nodded his head and jumped into the air once and galloped deeper into the forest with the others following them.

Albus Dumbledore watched them go then looked down at Dolores Umbridge’s unconscious and rather disheveled form. “Felicity?” he said sadly.

Felicity stepped away from Umbridge and changed back into her form measuring the rhythms to keep conscious. “Sir?” She said finally, standing before him in her human form.

“My dear, you can’t stay, here.” He watched her serenely. “You must leave.”

“I know, but what of Voldemort, and Severus? How will I protect him, sir?”

Albus stepped closer to her and put his hand on his shoulder. “You can’t protect any of us any longer, Felicity. Our path must be self-made. Our destinies are woven together but are not the same ones.” He peered at her over his spectacles. “I’ve something else for you to do for us.” He smiled. “I believe it will bring you closer to your father.”

Felicity was surprised. “My father? What has he to do with this?”

The very old wizard and the young dragon woman stood eye to eye for several minutes. Not a word was spoken. Only a slight breeze moved under the dark canopy of trees where they stood. They were like statues in the stillness.

Finally, when in the silence they had spoken all that could be said, Albus whispered, “Go and say good-bye to Remus Lupin, my dear.”

Albus wordlessly raised Umbridge as if on a magic stretcher and motored her out of the forest.






Remus Lupin was undone. He was completely and utterly without a path to follow. He had no place to go but St. Mungo’s and there he had sat in Tonk’s hospital room never leaving her side. Tonks hadn’t minded. Most of the Order had been in to see her, but she had needed only Remus near her. Sirius’ death had devastated her, as it had Remus. She clung to him in her grief as he did to her. They were both broken and they only had each other.

That’s how Felicity found them. Two broken souls clinging to each other for no other reason than it seemed natural and it seemed right.

She walked quietly into the room after Mad-eye Moody had let her pass through. Remus was holding Tonk’s hand as she lay recovering from her wounds and Felicity could see instantly the emotional pain on her lover’s face. It was almost unbearable not to reverse her spell and run to comfort him. She took a deep breath and moved closer.

“I’m so sorry about Sirius,” she said quietly.

Remus looked up from his quiet talking to Tonks. He’d been sitting on a chair very close to her. As soon as he saw Felicity, he raised instantly, a feeling of anticipation mounting in him. He should feel something more but somehow, he didn’t. What was this thing that was gone?

“Felicity!” he said not knowing what more to say.

Felicity heart fluttered but she squashed her joy down fiercely at seeing his face and turned her attention to Tonks. Tonks was happy to see her, and yet, not. Felicity could feel the disappointment in her and was actually glad. Remus would not be alone. “Are you going to be all right, Tonks?” she said kindly.

“I think so,” she said, her voice hoarse. “I’m hard to kill the healers tell me.”

Felicity reached over to her and kissed her forehead. “I’m glad that you’re all right.” She sat on the bed holding her other hand. Remus still held the other. Felicity turned and looked toward him. “You’ll need each other in the months to come.”

Tonks, who had no idea about Felicity’s abilities, was taken aback. “What are you talking about, Felicity?”

“I’m to leave England soon,” she said smiling. “I’ve a task that must be done and I’m supposedly the only one that can perform this particular feat of magic.” She smirked and winked at Remus who looked stricken.

“You can’t just leave, Felicity!” he said.

She let go of Tonk’s hand and stood up. Slowly, she moved around the bed and took Remus’ free hand in hers. “I can and I will, Remus,” she said sadly. “There’s a war on, as you well know. All of us have our parts to play. I’ve something to do that must be done.” She looked toward Tonks who was crying and looking at Remus still holding her hand. She was so young and Remus so serious. They would make a beautiful couple if Tonks could only talk him into it. It made her happy to think of them together. “You look to each other while I’m gone, Remus.” She laughed her beautiful ringing laugh. “There are so few of us left to love and you’ll need a little love with the Death Eaters about wreaking havoc.”

She turned away from him, from her and walked to the door.

“But Felicity,” called Remus after her. “Where are you going? When will you come back?”

She turned and laughed again. She blew them both a kiss and winked again. “It’s a secret, luv. I’ll not be telling and I’ll not be back.” She walked through the door without another word. Her heart, her mind, her love, now broken, shattered in too many pieces to ever count.

She walked down the hall feeling dead. She walked out of the hospital not seeing another soul though many surrounded her. Before she could stop herself, before she could turn back, she apparated to a place farther than she’d ever done before. She barely made the stretch of space. As she collapsed in physical exhaustion and grief onto the hard packed ground, she looked up to the great mountains beyond the temple. She was home.






2 months later





Roland Wood stood on the train platform in Berlin waiting for Felicity’s train. It was ridiculously late. Only his wayward daughter would have had the audacity to choose muggle transportation. She could have flown from Tibet in a tenth of the time it took by train. At this rate, she would surely miss the Durmstrang Institute’s train.

With a wave of relief the train he’d been waiting for an hour for pulled into the station. He’d been the English Ambassador for only a few months and though he’d personally arranged for Felicity to teach at Durmstrang at Dumbledore’s request, he was outraged at the idea of her in a mostly male school.

He was still fuming about it as Felicity calmly sauntered down the platform turning heads as she went. She had a self-satisfied half smile on her face. “Hello, father,” she said. “I see that you’re irritated with me, as usual.”

“Don’t start with me, young lady. You’re here to do a job and that’s it.” He rolled his eyes. “I cannot imagine what the Headmaster was thinking about in sending you to that place filled with men.”

“Are you worried about my honor then, dad? How sweet of you!” She smirked and then kissed him on the cheek and hugged him. “I’m glad to see you, too.”

He endured her hug for a moment and then shoved a tube of parchment at her. “You’ve letters in this, or so I’m told from your various conquests.” He grabbed her arm pushing her to a separate platform where she would be boarding the school train to Durmstrang. “You haven’t much time, you nearly missed your connection taking that muggle monstrosity that they call transportation.”

Felicity stopped dead in her tracks, excited. “I’ve letters? From Remus and Severus?” She’d not had a word of news the entire time in Tibet.

He grabbed her arm again. “Yes, yes, among others, now get a move on.” He rushed her through the window that was the barrier from the muggle trains and there on the platform stood the great black beast of a train bound for Durmstrang. There were students and parents in abundance on the platform readying for departure.

Roland stopped near a stone post and grabbed her close. “Now listen, daughter,” he whispered furiously, afraid that anyone might hear them. “Igor Karkaroff is dead. The Death Eaters are already there.” He whispered close to her ear. “Be very careful. It’s all been arranged but we’ve no idea who our friends are. Find the thing and destroy it.”

He looked seriously at his daughter’s face holding her chin in his hand. She hadn’t aged a day, it seemed since she was sixteen and yet she was over thirty-five. “Trust no one.”

Felicity laughed and patted her worried dad. “Daddy, really, what could a few dark wizards possibly do to me?” Her eyes twinkled daring him to argue. “I’ll be very good, you’ll see. I’ll not get involved with anyone. I’ll find the Horcrux and burn it to a crisp, explode it in a fiery blaze, or crush it to bits. Don’t you worry about me.” She pinched his disbelieving face. It was nice to see him caring so much.

“I’ll be up to visit you in a few weeks,” he answered warily. “See that you keep well away from any sexual liaisons this time, young lady.”

“Oh, pish-posh, father,” she said lightly as she climbed up into the train.




She was settled down, alone in a comfortable compartment in no time. Eagerly, she extracted the letters to find several from Remus, two from Tonks, one from Dumbledore and three from Severus. She hugged them close in anticipation of reading them. Though much had happened and she felt invigorated and transformed by being at home for the summer, she had missed them all so much.

The door to her compartment slid open and a tall man in an overly heavy fur robe stood in the opening. He was gaunt, handsome, with high cheekbones, vivid blue eyes and his hair was very white, though he was young. It was cropped short. “Do you mind, if I sit with you?” he asked in German. “It’s mostly students on the train.”

“No, I don’t mind. Please sit your self,” she answered in kind and gestured for him to sit down opposite her.

He threw a satchel casually onto the overhead and sat down with a large book to read.

Felicity watched him as he pretended to read. He was thinking of her. He thought her very pretty and was wondering what a beautiful woman was doing on a train to such a hell-forsaken school. Perhaps, her letters might wait.

She laughed delightedly, which caused him to look up startled. “You’ve only to ask me and I’ll tell you why I’m going to Durmstrang,” she said still laughing at him.

He was shocked. “You’re a very presumptuous young woman,” he said obviously disapproving.

His tone hit her and ushered forward a small pang of remembrance. She thought of Severus, and missed him acutely. “Yes,” she said more humbly. “I’ve been told that before. It’s very true and you’re right to say it. I shan’t hold it against you.”

She winked at the handsome young man, thinking that she would have some fun at this new school as she searched for that which she must not fail to find. She tucked her letters back inside her robes and smiled. “So, go ahead,” she said. His face was inscrutable and he was frowning. “Ask me why I’m going to Durmstrang.” She laughed. “I won’t bite you!”


The End

******
Thank you, all of you who’ve read and reviewed this story. I’ve enjoyed writing it very much. I would so appreciate hearing what you think, as always. Bye for now, Pru Prior



You can always contact me via my contact button or at prudenceprior@harrypotterfanfiction.com if you have any problems with the archives or any questions, at all. For a little while, I’ll be writing for the new original fiction site, the Crones site and wherever I can get my original work published. Thanks so much for all your wonderful reviews. You’re great! Cheers, Pru Prior


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