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A/N: This chapter has been fixed up and edited a lot. I couldn’t leave it up with the way it was because it was mostly sloppy so I have gone back and fixed it all up. There was a little bit of a plot problem I really needed to address, so it was down for a little bit…but I’ve got it all smoothed over and stuff. Anyhow, thank you for reading I really appreciate it. Please review if you have a moment.

A Hunter


Pounding. He tried to sleep through it, no doubt the soon-to-be 8th grade first year Healing focus kids (who had returned a week early for classes starting the following week) downstairs were blowing things up with the spells they’d learned over the last school year; it was nothing. But it persisted and Brent was forced to sit up, Sereth was sleeping in the room next to his and he was ‘supposed’ to stop them if they were being too loud. However, Brent encouraged his students to try new things, the other cleric teachers on his floor hated that about him, because it often ended in them bustling downstairs in their nightdress serving detentions for something one of the other instructors asked of them. As such Brent had told all his kids to make sure the noise stopped after eleven at night so he didn’t have to fill out the paperwork to revoke their detentions – but currently it was 2am. He wondered absently as he moseyed sleepily to the door why one of the other teachers hadn’t gone down there already.

As he pulled the door open he was shocked to find that it wasn’t students exploding things, but someone beating on his door. He smiled stupidly, with tufts of sleep affected hair sticking out at odd angles all over his head, “Hello Severus.”

“Where is she?” He snarled with no warning.

“Whoa,” Brent held up his hand like a police officer directing traffic, “I thought we could start with some nice hello’s, then maybe I could scrounge up some tea, you know, friendly stuff…oh and I could wake up all little before you bite my head off.”

“My apologies,” Severus hissed with no indication of actual sorry in his tone as he swooped into Brent’s third floor apartment. Severus had been there before. The whole apartment complex called Sundance Apartments was owned by the Academy of Alchemy and served as the dorms for the students. There was one building designated for each focus set, with the exception of Evocation. Since most students went into Evocation there was a building for each subgroup of the Evocation focus (Pyromancy, Aquamancy, Electromancy, Terramancy, and Wind Control). Two separate buildings sat on the edge of the complex for the 6th and 7th graders who didn’t have a focus yet. “She’s not in the Necromancy building, I assumed you would know where to find her.”

Brent heaved a great breath and ran his hand through his wild hair, “You’re gonna want to sit down.”

“I’ll stand,” Severus snapped.

“Suit yourself,” Brent shrugged and shuffled into the kitchen. He let Severus brew in the living room for a few moments while he whipped up a cup of coffee. When he returned Severus was puffing angrily but still standing.

“Do you know where she is?”

“First, what are you doing here?”

“I thought it was clear? I’m looking for Madeline.”

“That’s it?”

“Yes, she looked close to delivery; she must be due soon. I wanted to be here when it happened.” Severus sniffed. He didn’t bother mentioning how difficult it was to leave England for the time being, nor the lies he had to fabricate to slip away for this time.

Brent nodded, obviously accepting Severus’s answer. Feeling as though he needn’t answer questions, as it was, Snape appeared to get even more irritated.

“She’s not here Severus,” Brent said.

“I didn’t expect her to be here,” Severus said slowly in a low tone that hovered on malice. “I expected that you would know where I could find her.”

Brent sipped his steaming coffee, as he sank into one of his comfy chairs. He stared at the liquid swirling in the black cup. “I haven’t heard from her in three days.”

“But you have seen her since she returned?”

“Yes.” Brent took another deep breath, “She wasn’t well.”

“Excuse me?” Severus’s jaw went rigid and he wore an expression of serious contempt. He made it clear that Brent was treading on dangerous ground, but the young cleric didn’t bother to notice as he tipped his coffee cup up and drained it.

“Sick, you know, unwell,” Brent reiterated.

“I heard you,” Severus barked hastily.

“Well,” Brent got to his feet and nodded to Severus, “you can go on back home now.”

“What?” The aggravation rose in Snape as he stared unrelenting at Brent.

“You’ve missed your purpose, she had the baby nearly a week ago.”

“You found it necessary to keep that information from me?” Severus accused more than questioned.

“Look,” Brent said in earnest, “way I see it, you need my help. To get it you’ll have to accept my hospitality. Now sit and I’ll make you some tea and explain. It’s the middle of the night Severus, you won’t get anywhere now – except maybe dead in the war that’s raging out there.”

“Are you implying that I’ve never experience war? Nor that I could handle it?” Severus was stretching his patience as he knew he did, in fact, need Brent’s help.

“I never insinuated either of those things. Now please, I think I can answer some of your questions. Also, mind your voice; Sereth is sleeping in that room there.” He pointed across the way when he got up and went back into the kitchen as Severus was left with a sour grimace at the news of his son’s presence in this house.

Brent returned with a cup of tea that he handed to Severus. Severus sipped it without complaint, despite the fact that American tea was never as good as what he was used to.

“Well, she gave birth to Eileen five days -”

“Eileen?” Severus queried unsteadily. He stifled the pride that welled in his chest and refrained from allowing it to show outwardly at all.

“Yes,” Brent nodded. “That very night Eileen was kidnapped.”

“Kidnapped?” Severus repeated sharply. “How?”

“We don’t know, nor by whom.” Brent added.

“You mean you weren’t watching her?”

“I’m sorry Severus I was too busy trying to keep your wife alive, the healthy baby was secondary in my mind. Besides we have nurses who take watch over the newborns. It would appear that a minor shift change which was scheduled improperly allowed for the disappearance of Eileen.”

Severus didn’t respond he simply pinched his lips in a mean looking frown and went silent, doing his best not to do something he would soon regret. The tinge of jealousy reared its angry head in Severus’s mind, this man should not be so close to his wife.

“Anyway, I had to be the barer of bad news when Mad woke two days later. She went insane. Completely mad and left Sereth with me while she went for Eileen.”

“She has some idea who has the child then?” Severus’s thin patience were fighting his sanity as he tried to grasp the wholeness of the events surround Madeline and Eileen’s disappearance.

“No. That’s the problem.”

“Why did she leave Sereth with you?” Severus cocked his head and tried not to look displeased, but failed dismally.

“Because she knew her family would go berserk over Eileen missing. And, of course, she was right; they have. She didn’t want Sereth in that environment. They’ve been coming and going looking for her. The Academy is organizing a full search if they doesn’t turn up in a couple of days.”

“Why haven’t you gone looking for her?” A devilish smile played on Severus’s mouth and the nasty remarks that would follow about Brent trying to be a hero were reserved, for the time being.

“I know what I’ll find and I couldn’t bear it. Even in her annoyingly haughty, cocky, and obnoxiously arrogant way she’s still my best friend. I love her Severus, as much as you do in a different way. Besides she wanted me to care for her son, and I will take her wishes and carry them out. Anyhow, you’re here now.”

“Yes and I’ll be taking Sereth.”

“Don’t be ridiculous, he’s safe here. You need to find Madeline.”

“I have the intention of doing just that,” Severus sneered. This man, who sat across from him, casually chatting it up was infuriating. He threw around that word he, Severus, couldn’t even express and spoke as if he were allowed to discuss such a topic with as much ease.

“Leave Sereth with me, go find her, and by God please bring her back,” Brent’s face lost some of its charm and worry passed over it. “I’ve not seen her like that many times. If there’s one thing Madeline is, it’s predictable. She’s always so irritatingly proper that I could choke her, but she was nearly beyond any semblance of sanity. I can only think of one other time that she was that erratic.” It was as if Brent has slipped into a distance past that pained him to think of as he stared uncomfortably in his empty cup.

“Erratic?”

“Yes. Completely irrational…”

---


Madeline clicked the knob to her parent’s downtown Victorian style home. It was nestled in the heart of a sleepy town that had sprawling trees that sent shadows onto the tiny two lane road where exciting things never seemed to happen. Children played with their dogs in sprinklers running water into the hot July afternoon and on a very rare occasion a car might pass by with the window rolled down where the driver would wave at the people cultivating their perfectly edged driveways.

They would never know that behind the door of the Alcotts, who seemed a perfectly normal couple if not a little prissy, would exist a vast mansion because of the magic infused with it. It looked as charming and delicate as the other four or five bedroom houses that lined the road in neat little rows, but when one stepped through the threshold of the abode a beautiful and ancient mansion awaited them.

She and Brent had just arrived for a small vacation from Advanced Training in their respective fields. They had spent two years in Washington DC learning intense variants of Necromancy and Healing with few breaks since their graduation from the Academy of Alchemy. Both were delighted to arrive on familiar soil where the air was sticky with humidity and the sun burned more amazingly than in the steely concrete and mortar city. This was home. Cool spring waters and roaring oceans surrounded every aspect of this life, it was the one thing Brent knew his young companion would yield to. She would kick back, relax, and toss her shoes to the side while she sat back and soaked in the glorious heat of summer in Florida. She called it a weakness he told her it was charm.

“Come on Mad! Why do you want to stop here, when the beach is calling?” A very young and spunky version of the future mellow cleric asked.

“Be patient,” She warned him lowering her eyes and gracefully floating across the shiny polished wooden floor to a thick, heavily ornamented banister. “Or you’ll be going alone.”

“Right,” Brent snorted, “that’s an empty threat.”

“What do you know of empty threats?” She hissed looking down the bridge of her nose on him from the first step leading to the next floor.

“Cut it out creepy, you look like your mother.”

“Good,” Madeline gave a sharp cocky nod.

Brent just rolled his eyes and made to follow her up the stairs but she stopped and he nearly plowed her over. “What now?” He moaned. “It’s calling me Mad, the beach…”

“Sssshhhhh - ” she waved her hand and when he started to protest again she smack her hand over his mouth, “Silence!”

Her face lost all expression and then color as she dug her nails into his cheek.

“Ouch!” Brent pried her hand from his face. “Madeline?”

She blinked and shook her head gently. “No…no, no, NO! It can’t be.”

“Can’t be what?” Brent was saying but she had already grabbed up a handful of skirts, hiked them up over her knees, and was taking the stairs two at a time. “Madeline, wait up!” He was trying to keep up as she ran the long hall throwing doors open left and right as she went. She was muttering something but he couldn’t tell what. Her look was wild as her hands frantically traced along the wall as she dashed the long corridor.

She stopped suddenly and swung on him, she was searching his face for something. His blank look made her mouth turn down and twist in a crooked frown. “Damn!”

“What?” He asked again almost annoyed.

Her breath caught awkwardly as she dropped to her knee, “Give me some Anything Powder.” When he continued to stand stalk still she shouted, “NOW!”

Fumbling in his pockets Brent dug for the one universal component among the foci. His fingers brushed a pouch and he quickly snatched it out and tossed it to her. She sprinkled some on the wooden floor and whispered a few random words and waited as the powder twinkled then turned to white smoke.

Slowly Brent was cautiously stepping backward, “Madeline….?”

She looked quite feral as she watched the smoke turn to various shapes he couldn’t identify. With each new symbol she looked as if she’d explode right there until finally she ran her hand through the swirling translucent mist and shouted, “I’ve seen enough!” Brent thought for a moment she was going to rip his throat out, and for a moment, a brief moment, she scared him enough to cause him to distrust her.

“Mad…” he questioned, taking another step back.

She lunged at him, grabbing him by the shoulders and shaking him as violently as she could, “I’m going to kill him,” she said in a low voice, “I must.”

“Kill? What is this kill?” Brent was mostly mouthing and looking like some overgrown fish as he did so.

“It’s a Horcrux, in this house. HE BROUGHT THAT EVIL INTO THIS HOUSE!”


---


“Erratic,” Brent repeated. “She lost it, and she kept that word…she killed him. It was the first real one she’d seen, and it scared the hell out of her. Did she ever tell you that her original intention was to be a Hunter?”

“No.” Severus said sharply.

Brent smiled and gave a reluctant smirk, “Yeah, that dream left right away after that incident. She had spent most of her time in DC studying them, she had planned on moving to the city where she could work in the government being a Hunter. She doesn’t even talk about it anymore, in fact after that occurrence she doesn’t even tell people that her first two years in Advanced Training was focused in Horcruxes. She shifted quickly and picked up that Vampire path thingy in her final year.”

“Am I to understand a Hunter seeks Horcruxes?” Severus asked.

“Yep, that’s right. There are hell’a dark mages out there who’ve made ‘em then gotten themselves killed. All those Horcruxes are just sitting out there, being benignly dangerous. But,” Brent shrugged, “that’s why we have Hunters. Making the world safer one dark wizard at a time.” He smiled like some idiot special announcement speaker at a Quidditch match.

Severus reflected for a brief moment on this new information. She clearly knew something at Malfoy Mansion that she wasn’t sharing. He shook the aggravation of it from his mind, he already knew that. Severus stood, “I’m going for her and my daughter.”

“Severus, stay the night.” Brent encouraged him. “Sleep, even if for just a few hours. It’s going to be rough out there.”

Severus thought on it only for a matter of seconds, “Yes, that would be wise. I would appreciate it if you would mention to no one that I’ve come.”

“Done.”

“Even Sereth, for now.”

Brent nodded, “Agreed.”

“It will be best if I have the advantage of surprise.”

Brent nodded as he pointed to a door next to Sereth’s, “You can stay in that room. If I were you, I’d try Cassadaga first. It’s a community that specializes in the supernatural, you’ll find Wraiths there, they sometimes have knowledge that we don’t.”

Severus simply turned and headed for the room, but he paused before entering, “I expect that excellent care will be taken of Sereth.”

“You have my word.”

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