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.
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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