“Madeline?” McGonagall asked, squinting at the figure.
“Minerva,” the woman said jerking her hood off, even in the rain. She called over the echo of the heavy down pour, “Yes it’s me. Please let us in.”
“Go away Madeline,” McGonagall growled, “you’re not welcome here!”
At first the three had started to let their wands fall, but at the new tone in the old woman’s words they all went stiff again.
A whimper came from the small person next to the woman called Madeline. Shivering it clutched at her leg after clearly fighting the cold for some time. She raised her chin to the four, with water dripping from her nose, eyelashes, and chin she went on, “I was told to come here if things went badly. Things are going badly!”
“I said you are unwelcome in this house!” McGonagall reiterated.
Madeline stepped forward, “I must have answers.”
“We have none,” McGonagall sniffed.
“Please,” Madeline said, with absolutely no inflection, “we’ve come so far.”
There was a pause and Molly dropped her wand and hurried around McGonagall throwing the door open the whole way, “For heavens sake Minerva she has a child in the rain. Let them in.”
“As do many Death Eaters,” McGonagall snapped sharply as her nostril’s flared.
Madeline stepped in after the tiny boy. She seemed to have missed McGonagall’s accusation or she was purposely ignoring her sassy attitude. Remus and Tonks both let their wands drop by their sides, however neither was so hasty as to put their wands completely away.
Once completely inside Madeline dropped to her knee next to the little boy. She quickly unfastened his heavy black rain cloak and swept it off. He was shivering under the thick material. She pulled him close and rubbed his tiny body until his quivering subsided. Being a mother herself Molly recognized the bond between the two and knew first hand Madeline’s concern for the little tyke.
Upon better inspection Molly saw a handsome family. The child didn’t look a day over three. He was thin but appeared to be well cared for in his fine clothes. He had clearly inherited his mother’s bronzy skin. He had dark hair and huge matching inky black eyes that were silently taking in the surrounds. Molly recognized his inquisitive expression but she couldn’t place it.
Finally Madeline got to her feet. She appeared to be in her late twenties. She was petite, looking quite dwarfed next to the extraordinarily tall Minerva McGonagall. She strangely resembled McGonagall. Her sharp features mirrored the old witch in many ways. However, where Minerva’s features made her look severe Madeline’s were prim if not arrogantly haughty. It was as she removed her hooded rain cloak that Molly was truly relieved that she asked them in; despite her lithe frame Madeline was carrying a heavy swollen abdomen under her fine crimson robes.
She looked over to Minerva, “I can assure you, I’m not a ‘Death Eater’. I have no need to meddle in your affairs, I’m here for news. Forgive me,” she gave a slight bow to other three, “I’m Madeline Alcott.” She placed a hand on either of the boy’s shoulders, “This is my son, Sereth.”
As she, Remus, and Tonks exchanged introductions Molly was better able to hear Madeline’s proper dialect. It was clear that her accent was American without the interference of the pounding rain.
“It’s a pleasure,” Madeline produced a slim smile. “Now, please, any information you can give me about the status of Hogwarts would be helpful. I’ve been in a frightful worry. I have heard nothing in months and all my letters to the school have been returned.”
“Surely you’re not serious,” McGonagall said in sheer disbelief.
“I would not risk my children’s safety by throwing them into an active war zone were I not absolutely serious.”
She needed to hear nothing more, McGonagall bowed her head briefly. “Molly,” she said, turning her gaze firmly on Madeline again, “perhaps you should take Sereth into the living room where he can warm by the fire.”
It was clear that the thought to argue passed over Madeline’s face but McGonagall reached out and placed a hand on her arm. Taking a deep breath Madeline knelt next to her son, “Sereth, go with Mrs. Weasley just for a few moments.”
The child gave a tiny, almost unperceivable, nod.
Gently she said, “I’m sorry, I don’t understand you.”
“Yes, mommy,” His tiny voice amended his action.
Madeline took his hands and squeezed them, “Thank you.”
Quickly he leaned over and pressed his lips to hers and then reached way up placing his hand in Molly’s. Madeline watched for a moment while he trotted swiftly alongside her to keep up. She stood and smoothed her robes before turning back to them.
“How old is he?” Tonks asked.
“He’s just turned three.”
“Please,” McGonagall gestured in the other direction and they started to make their way toward the kitchen. “If you are speaking true and you honestly don’t know the circumstances surrounding Hogwarts then you most certainly are in grave danger.”
“Goodness Minerva, you make it sound as if someone’s died.”
Everyone stopped just long enough for Madeline to realize she’d made a verbal error. She saw pain in McGonagall’s eyes and a clear expression of melancholy on both faces of Remus and Tonks.
As they stepped into the kitchen Madeline whispered, “Good God, what’s happened?”
“I’m afraid there’s no gentle way to say this,” McGonagall began. “Severus Snape is responsible for the death of Albus Dumbledore; while on the Hogwarts grounds.”
Despite her proud manner and obnoxiously prim etiquette Remus had to catch Madeline rather suddenly at these words. She recovered almost instantly. She nodded a quick thank you to Remus before shaking her head and pointing her nose in the air, “Impossible.”
“It’s true,” Remus confirmed.
“I don’t believe you,” she sniffed.
“Maybe you should sit Madeline,” Tonks offered, drawing a chair away from the kitchen table for her. Madeline shook her head, cradling her belly as she sat. Her mind was reeling. She thought surely she’d spill her last meal on the floor in front of them. She knew she had to pull it together; she had to focus and get answers. Thousands of miles away from home in the presence of near strangers was not the place to loose her composure. Surely there was some explanation for all of this misunderstanding.
After sitting in rigid silence McGonagall cleared her throat and went on rather uncomfortably, “Madeline…you knew nothing of this?”
She should have seen it coming, but she didn’t and it hit her like a ton of bricks falling from a skyscraper. Again she remained calm as she shook her head, “No, I didn’t. He mentioned nothing of the sort over Christmas.”
“Are we to understand that you are familiar with Severus?” Remus queried awkwardly.
Madeline arched an eyebrow at him, an expression that gave her a very stern look, “I would have to say so. We’re married.”
Tonks snorted, then proceeded to cough from behind a teacup she had just raised to her lips. She lowered the cup and stifled her choking coughs, masking them very poorly before adding, “Forgive me. How were we unaware that Severus was married?”
“There were a select few that knew the conditions of our union. Minerva was one of those individuals. Our relationship is very delicate. Severus lives here in England while I remain in the United States. We are both teachers and as such we spend holidays together. Some might find our style odd but for us it works nicely. I was under the impression that Severus had a fear of the Dark Lord. He asked me not to take his name for my safety. We had decided that once this war was settled we’d make our family sedentary somewhere; as I would have it. I think he’s been intentionally hiding me. Whether for my safety, as he would have me believe, or because of his fear of what the Dark Lord might say or do to him remains to be seen.”
“Does he know of the child?” Remus asked quickly, indicating her belly.
“No. I spent two days over Christmas at Hogwarts. That’s when this happened. I haven’t spoken to him since.”
“Your owls were returned from Christmas on?” McGonagall asked.
“Yes, that’s right.”
“I’m still a little unclear on how this happened,” Tonks was pacing the length of the table with her hand pressed to her forehead. “When did you meet?” She stopped abruptly and looked, disbelieving, at Mrs. Snape.
Madeline looked over to Tonks, “It was the summer of 1990, and I was as naïve as I could be. I was twenty years old, fresh out of advanced schooling, had been offered and accepted a teaching position at the Academy of Alchemy, where the administrators thought it would be wise to send some of us for additional training at seminars around the world. As you know, magic is practiced differently across the world and would be advantageous for us, as instructors, to understand better for versatility. Hogwarts was my team’s final stop. Albus Dumbledore had offered several courses that had been approved by the Ministry of Magic for the summer world wide, event. Like many of your regular students, I’m sure, I’ll never forget the first moment I set foot through those castle doors…”
“Come on Madeline, we don’t want to loose you in this place.”
Madeline Alcott was one of five who were visitors from the Academy of Alchemy that would be learning a little more about the practices of the most prestigious school in England, and maybe even the world. She had seen many magnificent things on her trip from Australia to China, then north through Russia, across to Germany, then France, and now England, but nothing as breathtaking as the view from the Great Hall in Hogwarts castle. She was looking curiously out one of the tall windows that overlooked the grounds when a voice interrupted her.
“Magnificent, isn’t it?”
Madeline turned to see who had addressed her. She found herself faced with a tall, ancient man, she immediately recognized as Albus Dumbledore. She nodded stiffly, “I concur, I’ve never seen its equal.”
“You’re young, you have time.” He bowed his head, “Albus Dumbledore.”
“Madeline Alcott, it’s a pleasure to meet you.”
“The pleasure is mine,” Dumbledore said passing by and going to the next person to greet. Unfazed by his odd behavior Madeline went back to appraising the lush lawn that extended out to a lake, which was overhung by a giant tree. She stayed there until Dumbledore called the group to attention.
“Please, join us here, at the table.” Dumbledore said, gesturing to a long table that was prepared for nine spots at the very end.
The five foreign instructors took their seats next to one another while Dumbledore sat across from them, surrounded by a tall, slim, old witch, an unnaturally large man, and a surly looking guy dressed in black.
“I trust your journeys have been kind and earned you much knowledge,” Dumbledore began. “I’d like you to meet Hogwarts' deputy headmistress Minerva McGonagall, she will be showing you a little about transfiguration,” he gestured to the only female among them. Next he pointed down the row to the gloomy looking figure, “Professor Snape is our Potions Master, he will be demonstrating for you Alchemists a few advanced potions and he will also be giving a few basic lessons in the area of Defense Against the Dark Arts.” At this Madeline narrowed her eyes and turned from him quickly glancing down the table to the last man to be introduced, “And finally our game keeper and grounds supervisor, Rubeus Hagrid.”
The large man gave an awkward, but friendly wave to the group.
“Now, as I understand it you five are from a school that has particular focus bases: meaning that you know limited general magic and more-so focus your strengths in one discipline.”
They all affirmed what Dumbledore had said.
“Our courses will broaden your understanding of magic in general, as you know these events are meant to; for our professors to better understand your way of educating let us explain and examine this issue. Here,” Dumbledore offered to the first Academy instructor, “is Cooper Bishop, his focus is…”
As Dumbledore let the words hang Cooper cleared his throat, “Uh…my focus is evocation, specifically Electromancy. I harness and use electrical currents offensively and defensively.” He nervously shifted, indicating he was finished speaking.
Taking her cue the next in line went. She was more excited and at ease when speaking to the group, “I’m also in evocation. I’m Kantela Bailey. My area of expertise in evocation is Pyromancy. My abilities mirror Warrens only rather than electric I can manage fire.”
“Carlyn Menard,” the third spoke, barely over a whisper, “My focus is Illusionary and Enchantment. My abilities are mostly defensive, I can control a crowd through mesmerizes and confusion spells, among others. More narrowly I am in the field of control, I can levitate multiple objects and managed their different directions all at once.”
“Hey. Mullins, Brent Mullins,” the fourth, quite mellow, gave a lazy wave, “I’m the main Healing instructor. I mostly speed up the convalescent process. My focus is medicinal in nature, it’s that simple really.”
All eyes fell on Madeline. Sitting very still, with her hands folded delicately in her lap, she met the eyes of each at table across from her before she spoke. She knew, when she started speaking someone, on either side, would become adversarial and she expected it to the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. “My focus,” she raised an eyebrow, passing her stern look on Severus, “is in a discipline I was strictly instructed not to practice, nor demonstrate while on these ground. The Minister of Magic himself addressed me personally and warned me that I would be tossed into Azkaban, is it, without the batting of an eye should I step out of line in the least. It would seem that you’re going to have your hands full Mr. Snape, I’m a Necromancer. My art by nature is dark.” She waited for a flinch or sneer from what she mistook as the official Defense Against the Dark Arts professor. She had come to know that most people of magical origins gave her a wide berth when they found her wizarding strengths. When she received no reaction she went on, “My secondary skill is evocation, in the Pyromancy range because I was brought onto the team to manage a local vampire infestation; though my first education is an expertise in skeletal rising.”
“You must understand the way we see it, it isn’t the magic that makes the individual evil or dark, it’s the individual themselves that manage that,” Carlyn added as if to give an excuse for Madeline’s presence in the castle.
“Right,” Kantela snapped under her breath.
“Right,” Madeline confirmed haughtily, “my skills have been your saving grace more than once.”
“Kantela,” Brent barked before she had time to rebuttal. “Madeline’s right, she’s rescued you too many times to count, and you owe her for that even if you fear her focus set.”
Nostrils flaring Kantela stood down from the argument, and Madeline turned her head, still held high, away from others. She knew one of them would break, her line of work could be touchy at times. Kantela was still bitter about a trap she’s fallen into by the vampires just before leaving the U.S. and her aggression had been misguided at her savior – the young Necromancer who arrogantly frowned on the others.
“Well,” Dumbledore said clapping his hands together, “It’s lovely to have you here. Your rooms have been made up for you, you’ll find your belongings there now. The rest of the night you may rest, we will have supper at sunset, and lessons will commence tomorrow.”
She needed a map, but would never try and find someone to help direct her. She couldn’t remember which corridor she’d taken last. Hagrid had told her that she couldn’t miss it when he gave them all instruction on how to get to their rooms.
“Can’t miss it,” she sniffed, aggravated, stomping her foot in frustration.
“What is it that you can’t miss?”
Madeline swung to see the stern looking Potions Master. She glanced up to him, desperately hoping that the lost expression she was certain she was had been wearing was gone. She stiffened and produced a coy smile, “Come to lecture me in private on the wicked ways of my existence?”
“Hardly,” He hissed.
There was a momentary silence that turned into understanding. When Severus offered his arm to the woman, she took it. She would be better suited being led by someone who knew the castle then sulkily being lost on her own. “I’m hoping that you’ll be able to give me an advantage by knowing the way my adversaries will see me, in your Defense Against the Dark Arts seminars.”
“I see,” he said guiding her smoothly down an adjacent corridor. “I know there are institutions throughout Europe that give lessons in the Dark Arts but I had no idea that there were places that turned out actual Necromancers.”
“Clearly you haven’t done enough research then.”
“You needn’t be so defensive Madeline,” he said suddenly. “I find it necessary to tell you, I’m not judging you by your profession. On the contrary, I’m fascinated by it.”
“So that you would use me as an example in your next Defense Against the Dark Arts lesson? No,” she snapped, “I will not be your test subject on which to conduct your little experiments.”
“You misunderstand,” he said plainly, taking another turn. “I’m only standing in as the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor because I understand the Dark Arts intimately. My true position is Potions Master, and that alone.”
“I see,” Madeline didn’t offer an apology, though it was understood between them.
“Here we are,” Severus said suddenly, stopping in front of a door.
“Where?” She looked up to him with wide eyes, momentarily letting her guard down and for a brief instance allowing him see her innocence.
He dropped her arm, “Your room.” And with that, he turned and headed back down the hall. She watched him in awe, he hadn’t needed to point out her conundrum and his advantage over her, instead he fixed the situation without making her look foolish – a feat that impressed her. In that moment, knowing that he had respected her pride, Madeline found instant infatuation. It was something she had never experienced before. And, as it stood, she wasn’t sure if she liked it or not.
As the days past, her crush grew. She found herself daydreaming and following along after the Potions Master if just to get a passing glance. She knew nothing of appearance, her feelings had transcended physical, she loved him for his proud manner.
“Madeline,” Severus looked up from his desk in the office that was across from the potions dungeon, “you’re here, again.”
“Yes,” she said briefly, then grasping for something to discuss she went on, “I understand the theories of...”
“You understand everything,” he said, “you have no need to discuss if further. You are a gifted Alchemist and that translates admirably to Potions.” He didn’t ask why she’d come, it would be breeching that ever condescending pride she carried with her.
“Severus,” she said finally, “I’ve brought you something I thought you might enjoy.” She extended a thick leather bound book to him. Across the front were the words, Advanced Necromancy. “I just finished reading it. It’s an excellent guide for those of us who are fascinated by my profession. I thought it might give you a better understanding of me.”
He looked at the crisp cover on the book, his fingers itching to open it right there. He fought the urge and gently placed the book on the desk, “Thank you.”
“I would like to understand you Madeline. And though this book might be an excellent representation of what you do it does not make you.”
She looked affronted, “It is what I most identify with.”
He raised a hand, “Again, you misunderstand me. Though I look forward to reading this book, I would like more to understand you by talking with you. Would you consider a private dinner with me tonight?”
A brief smile passed over her lips, “I would be delighted to join you.”
Tonks looked completely appalled at the idea that Snape was married and more so that there was a ‘dating’ period that befell the murderer, but Madeline didn’t seem to notice.
“We were married by Christmas. There never seemed to be a more appropriate match then ours.”
“Yes, and now you can see our hesitation,” Remus remarked, uncharacteristically bitter.
“I understand your questioning of me. But you must also understand it is not my business, my place, or my interest to join in this war.”
“Surely Voldemort could use a witch of your talents,” McGonagall interjected. “And so could we.”
“No,” she said with some sort of finality. “You know Minerva, though I am good at what you call the Dark Arts I have many failings in your basic magic. My purpose in magic differs from yours and as such I would, in fact, be at a disadvantage.”
“He’s using Inferi, you have the skills to manage them,” McGonagall added.
“Yes,” she said plainly, “but I must remind you, this is not my war. I will not yield either way. I’m sorry. I’ve come to find my husband, and I plan on doing just that. Now, though, it would seem I have more questions than answers. I have no intention of fighting against you either Minerva. Know that I have no plan of joining Severus, if what you say is true. However, I do want answers from him. My concern and decision not to join is strictly for the safety of my children, you must understand. My opinion and answer to you might be different had I nothing to concern myself with except myself.”
McGonagall nodded in a conciliatory manner, “Should you change your mind…”
“I’ll know where to look,” she said climbing to her feet. “Thank you, for you hospitality and your information.”
“Where will you go next?” Tonks asked.
“I have a pretty good idea.”
A/N: Thank you for checking out chapter 2. I hope you enjoy this chapter. I would be greatly appreciative if you would be kind enough to let me know what you think when you’re done reading. This story has been plaguing me and I just had to tell it. As we go through this search with Madeline you will see many snippets of Snape's life...that is what this story is intended to be...a collage of Snape's life. Again, thank you for reading and please let me know what you think if you have a moment.
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