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A/N: This is a filler chapter to get this story rolling. I just wanted everyone to know that this is just some back story and things of that nature to get this story lined up for where it needs to be. Future chapters will be similar to what you saw with the first part of Jaded. And I just want you to plan on reading more of Severus Snape (I hope everyone’s all right with that) than I had previously intended. :-) The quote on the snapshot of Madeline up there is from the first chapter of this story, for anyone who was interested.



A Mother’s Worst Fear


It was a long trip, with few answers, more questions, and a broken heart Madeline returned home in preparation for the new school year. She feared Sereth may have been right when he asked Severus, “We’re never going to see you again, are we?”

They arrived late and spoke to no one until the following day, the day it all started. Madeline had come in her office early, as she often did. Venya, Madeline’s sister-in-law, had insisted on taking Sereth for the day and Madeline had agreed telling Venya to let Isaac know that she would be after him later in the day. She was still tired and recovering from the time difference as she dipped into her office before anyone was around to catch her.

She sat behind the black lacquered desk and stared at her reflection in the polished obsidian colored surface for some time. She had forced herself to feel nothing for so long that she was almost numb to the world. It had been a rough couple of weeks.

“Sit up straight.”

Madeline’s eyes darted up to a familiar face that made her heart sink and her stomach turn. “Hello Mother.”

“Well,” The tall woman pointed her nose in the air and turned away snootily. “You’re still slouching.”

Madeline pressed her shoulders down and leaned up in the chair, “What brings you here?”

“You, of course. Venya had Sereth so I knew where to find you.” She widened her eyes, glancing at Madeline briefly. “How was your trip over seas?”

“Lovely,” Madeline lied. She knew her mother, standing there with nothing less than confidence, would ask for no other reaction – regardless of the amount of truth in her response. “You never give the impression that anything is out of the ordinary,” she had been instructed as a little girl, and it stuck with her.

The tall woman swept across the office and ran her hand along one of the many displayed animal skeleton’s spinal cord as she nodded sharply, “Excellent. Then you’ve done as you were to do?” Mrs. Alcott turned and peered down her long nose at her daughter.

Madeline looked at her hands folded in her lap, “Mother…”

“Of course you didn’t!” Mrs. Alcott was at the foot of Madeline’s desk in an instant. She was glaring angrily at her daughter through narrow eyes. She didn’t blink, not once as Madeline did her best not to breathe. Madeline bit her bottom lip.

“Ask me how I know?” Mrs. Alcott leaned over the desk and tightened the little bit of space between them.

Madeline raised her chin and said clearly, “How did you know?”

Mrs. Alcott was breathing fire as she paused for several long seconds. Finally she pulled back, apparently Madeline had reacted appropriately because she didn’t scold her. However the fury was still present, she simply reached in her sleeve and extracted a rolled parchment tied with a black ribbon. She whipped the scroll on Madeline’s desk so hard it gave a loud and sudden snap. Madeline didn’t even bat an eye, she held in the urge to jump at the crisp noise that echoed in the previously silent room.

Mrs. Alcott pointed an irate finger, so much so that it was shaking, at the scroll, “That’s how! That! You left it behind! Or perhaps you just forgot!”

“Lower your voice,” Madeline hissed, “you’re making a scene.”

“I’m making a scene? There’s no one here to make a scene for!”

“I’m here,” Madeline raised an eyebrow as she reached for the paper but drawing back before taking it up. She knew what was in there, she knew what her mother wanted, and what her mother thought she was going to England for – and it all laid in that paper.

“Yes, I can see that!” Mrs. Alcott snapped. “But…why…what…?” She sputtered for a few moments before Madeline smoothed the folds of her robe in her lap.

“I have a family Mother, it’s not easily tossed away. Not by you.”

“Do you know why I didn’t ask that you make an Unbreakable Vow with Severus on your wedding day?” Mrs. Alcott’s tone calmed and she pretended to smile.

“Why Mother?”

Again, Madeline had the right response because Mrs. Alcott went on, once more turning on her fury and she jabbed her long bony finger at the scroll, “So that one day you could ask for a divorce!”

“Enough,” Madeline got to her feet, raising her voice to match her mother’s.

“Don’t even take that tone with me Madeline!” Mrs. Alcott roared. “I’m doing what is best for you.”

“I think I can decide what is best for me, Mom.”

“Well Severus isn’t it.” She spat. Then, taking several deep breaths, she calmly went on, more gently, “You have such a bright future but you’re being dragged down by the dead weight of a husband who doesn’t care for you. You could get out of this school and move on with your life if you’d just do some reorganizing.”

“I like working here.”

“It was suitable for your brother, Elijah, but you’re better than all of this.”

“Better than what?” Madeline wrinkled her nose. “Mom I went to this school. This is the best school on the east coast. We have some of the best students because of the complicated, difficult, and selective application process.”

“I know that,” Mrs. Alcott stiffened. “But, it’s still teaching. There are so many more noble things that you could be doing.”

Madeline restrained the urge to roll her eyes, “What would you have me do?”

“Considering that you decided to have children I would have you be a mother!” Then she audibly mumbled something that sounded very much along the lines of Severus’s worthlessness.

“That is one label for me, but not the only. And I don’t know if you’ve noticed but Severus and I are expecting a second child. I would appreciate it if you didn’t speak ill of him.”

“Don’t get sassy with me,” Mrs. Alcott shook her head viciously. “I had hoped there was some other explanation.”

“Mother!” Madeline looked appalled as she sank back into her seat. “I would never consider…”

“Well,” the nasty woman cut her off sharply as she sniffed, “I can only tell you again that I didn’t make you promise your life away in an Unbreakable Vow so I hoped…”

“I would never consider such a thing and I’m completely offended that you would even suggest it.” Madeline was certain her face was red despite her attempt at calmness.

“I don’t have the energy for this just now. Madam Gast has requested your presence; I told her I’d pass the information on.” She reached out and tapped the scroll, “Get that started right away Madeline. I promise it will be best for you and your children. Remember, you are my first concern. Oh, and have Brent removed that horrible thing from Sereth’s arm and get him to fix your face…I can’t even believe you left home like that.”

She didn’t bother asking how Madam Gast knew she had returned as her mother vanished behind the door. Madeline sank deeper into her chair, never in all of her life would she believe the words “you are my first concern” from her mother. She knew her mother’s intentions must be malicious and she wouldn’t be surprised if the old bat had already auctioned her off to some rich mage who was closer to home. She could do without the distance between herself and Severus but she wasn’t unhappy.

Finally she reached into her desk and pulled out a silvery wand and a heavy leather belt with tiny pouches lining it. She couldn’t even dream of fitting the belt around her waistline at the moment, however she reached into one of the sacks and dusked the scroll with the powder she extracted and then hissed something that sounded like, “Shirak” and the parchment sizzled and then disintegrated in a poof of flames.

It was only a matter of minutes before she was knocking on a door that was labeled with the title: Madam Michelle Gast, Vice Principle, Head Sorceress, 5th Ranked Mage.

“Come.”

Madeline pushed the door open, to what appeared to be the outdoors. Madam Gast’s office was enchanted by several forms of magic that gave the ongoing impression that it was a perfectly clear day at noontime no matter what hour of the day it actually was. Her desk was fashioned out of a misshapen old oak tree with a nearby stump serving as the chair. One would never be able to tell they had just come from a monument of consumerism in this serene forest-like landscape. Madeline knew the actual office didn’t reach past a few feet in each direction, but it appeared that the woods went on for miles.

“Madeline! I’ve been expecting you. Heavens Mad, you look awful.”

“Thank you,” Madeline nodded mockingly.

“Please sit,” The tall thickly build, middle aged woman hustled Madeline onto one of the many landscape friendly pseudo chairs rather than commenting on her poor form. This one happened to be a tree branch that hung very low to the ground. “The fresh air’ll help you feel better.”

“My mother said you’d asked me to come.”

“Oh yes, Josephine stopped by this morning, I knew she’d be to see you…she was in quite a fluster now wasn’t she?”

“Quite,” Madeline agreed trying to sit steady, but her head was feeling very heavy all of sudden.

“I’ve called you here to update you on the happenings while you were out gallivanting.” The woman chuckled in a guttural belly laugh that made Madeline want to curse her. There was nothing to laugh about at the moment.

“Yes?” Madeline asked sharply.

“Well,” Madam Gast cleared her throat and stifled her jolly attitude, “Things have been better, that’s for sure. It could be worse though. However, the Wizarding Republic Government has offered aid to a dispute request issued by the Ministry of Magic. There are apparently horrible things going on over there. They’re asking for volunteers, I thought maybe -”

“No,” Madeline didn’t need to hear anymore. Slowly she picked herself up on wobbly legs, she stumbled a little and she felt Madam Gast catch her at the elbows. “Michelle, contact Brent…I think I need him.”

Her head was spinning, nothing had gone right for days. There was stress and pain, she remembered being told to push, Brent’s gentle voice telling her she’d be okay, the bright sterile lights of the hospital, and being asked what she wanted to name the brand new baby girl that was being deposited into her arms. She held the tiny child for a matter of seconds before she felt her body start to get weak, “Eileen,” she had said to those around her and then blackness.

She blinked her eyes open. She had no idea what day it was, or how long she’d been asleep. It all seemed like a bad dream; a very surreal existence, and for a very brief moment she thought she was still a teenager, sleeping in a little late for class and then almost leapt from the bed, but a hand came down gently on her forehead, “Mad, you’re awake.”

She tried to focus on the face before her, she recognized the voice. “Brent,” her voice came out awkward and dry, as if she hadn’t used it in days. “Please tell me I’ve dreamt the last, oh, eight years.”

“I wish I could,” there was something in his voice, something she’d never heard before…perhaps a tinge of fear.

She tried to sit up, but he pressed her shoulders down. “Brent, where’s Sereth and Eileen…I gave birth to her didn’t I? I vaguely remember it. The pain would suggest yes.” She tried to smile, “How long have I been asleep?”

“You’ve been through a lot, from what Sereth tells me. We got him all fixed up, like new…and that scratch on your face won’t even scar.” Brent said pouring her a glass of water. “You’ve overworked yourself far too much, hence the early delivery of Eileen.” There it was again, the fearful tone, or maybe it was pain, she couldn’t place it. “You shouldn’t have been doing it all. Stress is bad.”

“That’s life Brent,” Madeline retorted accepting the offered glass. “I was due in a couple of weeks, it's not that early Brent. Where are they?”

“Sereth is with Isaac and Venya.”

“And Eileen?”

She could see him now, clearly. He stood and paced to the other side of the room, “She’s gone Mad.”

“What?!” Madeline shot up in her bed so fast she’d forgotten she was only in a nightgown. She didn’t care though as she implored him, “How do you mean, gone?”

“Two nights ago, they day you delivered her, she was stolen from the nursery. She’s gone Madeline and we don’t know who took her.”

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