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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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