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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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