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A/N: Again with me and my twisted view of the world in which I write. Yes, this is a little more of the heavy, opaque, and strange magical world that exists in my head. And, like before I posted this chapter and took it down; fixed it, looked at it – kicked it a couple times then decided to post it again. I don’t know why I’m having such trouble feeling brave enough to just let it be (I cross my fingers every time I post because I know my view is different), I guess I’m still afraid it’s all too strange - lol. Let me just remind you that I don't own the Potterverse and some themes present are borrowed from White Wolf. Thank you for reading, I really appreciate it!



High Tea


They walked back to the small establishment where Jaselle left her purchases. She had insisted on sending word to the Sluagh in an attempt to find more information.

“Where can I find the vampire nest?” Severus asked sharply.

Jaselle didn’t even bother looking at him. She whipped the paper thin door open so quickly it seemed as if it might snap off the hinges. “They don’t have her.”

“What would give you the impression that they haven’t got her?” Severus queried cocking an eyebrow.

“My grandmother checked that lead out herself, the first day Aunt Mad went missing. That was our exact thought as well. It’s never the obvious one Uncle Sev.” Jaselle frowned as she walked over to the dinky serving counter set in a small, very hot, tiny waiting area. “It’s just me Madam Hannigan,” Jaselle called over the desk as she collected a scrap of paper, that was once a flyer for some local happenings, and a ball point pen from behind the counter. “I’m leaving my stuff.” She hollered as she scribbled on the blank back of the paper. She quickly folded it up and reached behind the counter again retrieving a miniscule amount of silvery dust. She sprinkled it over the paper and mumbled a series of incantations. Instantly the note vanished. “I hope he’s home, if not someone else might get a surprise letter,” Jaselle grinned.

“And in the meantime?” Severus asked, slightly annoyed.

“We wait,” she looked up to him impatiently. “Let’s get out of here.”

As they left the air-condition-less shop, in the heat of August, Jaselle explained, “Remember the Sluagh are Changeling faeries, they’ll be awkward and old fashioned; not to mention obnoxiously quiet so you must listen closely.”

“I am familiar with them,” he stated matter-of-factly.

“Have you ever met one?” Jaselle asked haughtily as they stepped onto the sidewalk. “Because I heard the Ministry of Magic shooed them away years ago.”

“I have not met one,” Severus looked down on his niece with narrow eyes.

“The books don’t do them justice,” she offered apologetically.

At that point a tall, gloomy figure slinked out from behind a nearby tree. He was tall and bony, with shoulder length unkempt, greasy, black hair, pearly white skin and dark, sunken eyes. He looked unnatural, not in an undead vampire sort of way, rather the opposite, in a very alive and almost glowing with magic sort of way. His sudden appearance gave Jaselle a start and she glowered at him.

The individual looked placid, if not unnecessarily depressed. He was young, perhaps in his late teens. He shoved his hand in his pocket and extracted the flyer. His dark tee shirt clung to his exceedingly skinny chest and his black cargo pants looked as though they’d fall off if he removed his belt. He extended it to her.

“You asked for me,” Severus saw his lips move and thought he heard the young man’s voice carry on the wind saying something of that nature though he wasn’t quite sure he’d deciphered it properly. His voice was so soft it almost rang in Severus’s ears like a bell rather than actual words to be interpreted.

“Yes,” Jaselle reached out and took the note back, “that was fast.”

“It was unlikely but convenient, I was in town.” Again it was inaudible and Severus was straining to hear, without appearing to be having any difficulty.

“Well?” Jaselle asked. “Tell me Sleeper, can you get us into a High Tea?”

The young man glanced at Severus, his dark eyes were eerie. They verged on frighteningly depressive. The Sluagh absorbed Severus’s demeanor. His lips moved but this time Severus heard nothing at all.

“Payment?” Jaselle asked. “What sort of payment?”

“I was thinking the sort of a social nature,” Severus took a step closer and he heard the kid’s sing-song voice quietly addressing them again. He would never admit that the young lady at his side was right, he was unprepared for how soft the Sluagh’s voice was, how he looked, and his intensely malcontent demeanor. However, he took it in stride as he did with everything else and he adapted quickly; no one would have ever thought that step nearer was because he couldn’t hear the strange, slouching young man before him.

“Yes, and?” Jaselle asked.

“I will see that you and your friend…” Sleeper paused as he cast those abrasively melancholy eyes on him again, “receive invitations to High Tea this afternoon, should you agree to attend the Homecoming Dance as my companion.”

Jaselle stared at him for several seconds in shock before nodding without a second though, “Fine, done. But you better see that both of us get invitations and make sure nothing is hidden during the meeting.”

“Until later then,” he bowed and stepped off behind the tree.

“Their secrets always come at a price. I should have anticipated such a thing,” Jaselle said looking over her shoulder at Severus.

“I have read that they can ooze under doors, through key holes, and other things of that nature. That is how they retrieve their secrets.”

“Yes, that is true. It’s creepy really. I’ve never seen one do it of course, but I know they can. Then they share all they know at these little get-togethers.” Jaselle shrugged, “It’s like with anything else magical though, all those Mundanes, er – Muggles, out there see they see a juvenile delinquent who wears black and sneers, you see a faerie born of nightmares; only because your disbelief is already suspended.”

“And the other faeries, will we see any of them?”

“Course not,” Jaselle said. “Well not at the tea gathering at least, but they’re everywhere around town. The Sluagh are very protective of their secrets, I’ll be surprised if Sleeper will be able to get us in at all. It’s uncommon, if not unheard of, to allow non-faeries into the gatherings even though we’re magic users. See, we harness the power of magic, where they are the magic. I imagine it would be tough to be a magical creature living in a human body. We think we have it tough managing two very different worlds, imagine being part of two different worlds.”

Just then a tiny child came skidding out of the building straight ahead of them at the end of the road. She was perhaps five, her long dark hair was bouncing as she ran. She stopped short right in front of them, her crazy black hair covering her shadowy, sunken eyes and glowing white skin: her Victorian, gothic, dress astray after the mad dash. She was clearly a very young Sluagh. She dropped to one knee and raised two, heavy, yellowed envelopes to them. If she was saying anything Jaselle didn’t respond or mention it so Severus assumed she wasn’t speaking.

Severus reached out and took the envelopes. In neat, black, calligraphy style, penmanship across the front one read: Mister Severus Snape and the other: Miss Jaselle Marie Alcott. He handed the one addressed in her name to Jaselle. He didn’t bother asking how Sleeper had known who he was he just peeled the item open.

“Did I mention word travels fast in the Sluagh circles?” Jaselle smiled weakly.

“I was aware,” Severus scanned the request for his presence at a fine mid-afternoon High Tea offered by the Lady Morganna and Mistress Black Widow.

~*~*~

It was not far and they arrived ten minutes early to an ancient abode that looked as if it were on its last leg. The wooden frame was crooked, the paint was peeling, and the dying grass, brown shrubs, next to the wilting flowers showed serious signs of neglect. The windows were all closed and the curtains were drawn tight, there was not one welcoming thing about the old house. But it was not at all intimidating to Severus, as many passers-by might be frightened by its uninhabited appearance and ghostly nature.

The bell gave a ring that sounded like a magnificent grandfather clock striking midnight. The door was opened by an exceedingly tall looming figure. His appearance could be described similarly to Sleepers, though this man was aged several years past the dark teenage boy. He extended his hand, palm up, to Severus. Severus handed him the yellowed invitation and the creature gave a slow, graceful bow allowing him to enter without reading the note. The same routine was repeated with Jaselle.

The house could have been beautiful inside. It reminded Severus of his in-laws extensive mansion masked by a quaint little home in suburbia, only covered in years of cobwebs and dust. This house was made of all dark oak. The curtains being drawn made the heat linger in the air and gave the impression of evening outside, despite the fact that they had just come in from a cloudless, blue, two o’clock sun in summer. It smelled of something warm and sweet, as well as flowery and spiced; however it also had an overpowering aroma of putrid and rotten too. The many shelves were covered in cracked nick-knacks of various shapes and sizes, that in their prime might have been of great value, taking up every available space on the walls of the sitting room to the right.

The tall man turned and headed down the hall that led straight ahead. Severus and Jaselle followed without any words. The man’s one step covered two of both Severus and Jaselle, however he seemed to be used to such things as he loped along very slowly and they were able to keep up with his wide gate easily. His slim body gave the illusion that he was much taller than he actually was though Severus figured he was at least six and half feet tall. His long face was situated in a frown and his sunken cheeks matching his black eyes were slightly unnerving.

He brought them into another sitting room where several large cushy, moth eaten chairs awaited them. After sitting down silently, alone, for several minutes a woman arrived. She was like the rest. Her clothes were outdated, ruffled, lacy and black, her hair was long and dark while her porcelain white skin glowed. The shadows around her eyes were heavier and gloomier than the others, but she still carried the glamorous, strange, and magical aura that the rest did.

She carried a misshapen tray, with a steaming chipped teapot and three cracked cups and saucers, with spoons, sugar and cream in little jars, and a plate of stale and possibly rotten pastries. She placed the tray on the coffee table that the chairs surrounded. A wary smile passed momentarily over her thin, dark lips as she nodded. She mouthed a word that looked like ‘Welcome’ and gestured to the tea. Severus looked at the cups and teapot, like the nick-knacks this was probably once a very expensive set of high quality serving dishes. In the books he had read that the Sluagh like things that had outlived their regular wear. It was a symbol of their dreary life. They liked bugs, particularly spiders, and he had no doubt in his mind that the Mistress of this house was named for a spider with reason. The cobwebs that lingered throughout the house were probably made by what the Sluagh who lived here considered ‘friends’, and that’s why the corners were left unclean and full of spider silk.

Severus and Jaselle exchanged quick glances and both reached for a teacup simultaneously as the hostess left them with the china and sweets.

“Don’t expect to feel warmly welcomed,” Jaselle whispered through tight lips as she let Severus pour the tea in her cup, “they are social creatures only among their own, passing off everyone’s gossip in secret. That’s Black Widow, she might give the impression of hospitality but expect her to soon be spiteful, show distaste at our presence, and act politely rude when the other guests arrive.”

Severus didn’t speak to the any of the Sluagh who were beginning to arrive. Occasionally he would nod when a sullen face would greet him similarly, however he mostly sat quietly and sipped his tea. He had been surprised at the quality of the beverage served. He had anticipated the terrible drink he had been given in Brent’s apartment, but this tea was better than any he’d ever had in his lifetime. He figured the faerie Sluagh must use magic when making it to please and entertain their guests, it was the only thing in this place that would actually meet the standard at a Muggle tea. The men, of all ages, came in once fine top hats with heavily jeweled walking canes – missing a stone here and there, while the ladies, also of varying age, wore fancy moth eaten dresses ruffled with yellowed lace and similar well worn fineries – however there was one other commonality among their look, they all were heavily draped in black. Severus often wore black, today was no different, therefore he blended well but Jaselle was like a crimson ruby, in her red robes, thrown into a sea of onyx. She drew the guests’ attention hastily as they entered, whispering to one another in tones so low that no one but their companions could hear.

He wasn’t sure how much time had elapsed but quickly the second sitting room in the warm house was filled with people. Every chair was taken and those that didn’t have seats lined the walls, sipping their tea and whispering to one another. Severus couldn’t hear the specifics in the whispers, however he could rarely (but on occasion) make out a name or place. Once he thought he heard Hogwarts and something with his name in it but he couldn’t be certain. Finally the one who had delivered tea to them stood and the already quiet room, despite the conversations going on around them, went still.

She raised her hands, “Welcome friends.” Her announcing voice was one that he would use when speaking quietly to a companion, but in the motionless room her voice carried just to the walls. Everyone around them smiled in awkward little grins, bowed their heads, and gave brief waves returning the greeting. Her soft voice was almost musical as she went on, “I’m sure you’ve all noticed our outsider guests today. Please welcome Mr. Severus Snape and Miss Jaselle Alcott – ” she paused to allow the crowd of skinny, shallow eyed, gloomy, people to pass whispers about them quickly. She bowed at the waist deeply and said, “I am Mistress Black Widow this is my friend Lady Morganna,” she indicated an aged woman sitting uncomfortably straight in a chair at her left. “We are to understand you seek information.”

“Yes,” Severus said addressing the woman in his own low hiss that was more powerful in this group than the Minister of Magic himself. He placed his teacup and saucer on the small coffee table in front of him, “Madeline Alcott is my wife – ”

One side of the woman’s mouth turned up and Severus paused. “We know, don’t insult me or my guests with such obvious facts. We also know you are looking for her. In fact, we knew you were coming for the birth of Eileen before you did.” She scanned the crowd and another eerie smile came and went over her sullen face. When any of the Sluagh smiled it was more frightening than when they didn’t, it was like a mad clown in a fun house sort of wicked smile.

“I know things about your wife that would make the devil himself blush,” the woman said pacing in front of the coffee table. Her long vestments swept around her twiggy legs. And for the first time since he entered this house he felt awkwardly uncomfortable, but he remained composed as she glanced her sad eyes on him. “Did you ever wonder what she was doing with only Brent in the graveyard on your wedding night? Did you ever consider why Kantela was the one who came back to get help? Brent was asking her, begging her, not to go through with it. She tried to poison her brother Isaac when she was ten because he killed her cat. She wanted to name Eileen after her great grandmother Miranda and she went to find you in England because she missed you while she lied to her mother promising she’d ask you for a divorce.”

Severus just snorted. He cast a disbelieving glance at her. “Gossip,” he snapped.

She raised an eyebrow at him. “Gossip?” She hissed, “How dare you defile this meeting, one you shouldn’t have even been invited to mind you, with your pathetic disbelief…I’ll tell you about gossip!”

“Allow me,” the fragile old lady named Morganna rose to her feet. She looked at him, their eyes met and she didn’t blink. “Once Potions Master Severus Snape, lusting after a position just out of your reach – you went into Defense Against the Dark Arts knowing you would only serve one year, but you don’t know why you knew that. Your will was broken at five when your father busted your nose, let you bleed on the carpet, and then made you clean it up. At eleven you entered Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry where you made instant enemies with a charming man named Black, Sirius. You still hold animosity to popular charismatic men due to the relationship you developed with him. You’re jealous of handsome friendly men because you find them threatening; to you Brent Mullins is one of those people. You held a secret affection for a girl named Lily Evans that manifested into a real crush in your sixteenth year. You never told her, she never noticed, and then married a friend of that charming man you hated; pitching you deeper into hate. You still loathe their son.” She didn’t seem to pause, even to breath. She didn’t blink as her black eyes stayed locked to his. He could feel Jaselle’s gaze on him, but he couldn’t look at her. Lady Morganna continued in her soft, sweet, floating voice, “You spent a good deal of time severing the evil wizard Voldemort, that’s the only thing about you that would be clearly obvious. You’re afraid of Madeline, that she might break your black heart the way the Evans girl did. She is also intimidating to you – and sometimes, in secret, you wonder what she is doing with you. We have wondered this as well. A few months ago you murdered Albus Dumbledore against your will. Shall we talk about the events surrounding the day you received that skull and snake Dark Mark on your arm?”

“No,” he hissed, “that will do.”

Jaselle narrowed her eyes and raised her chin, “Will you tell us where my aunt is?”

“Why should we help you or her, for that matter?” Black Widow cut in. “She has not always been the person she is today. I…we…owe her nothing.”

“On the contrary,” Severus spoke, “without Madeline the vampires might win in your war.”

“A war they started. We never declared war on them, the vampires created this.”

“And that makes it okay to lose?” Jaselle argued.

“You need us as much as we need you witch,” Black Widow said. “Without the faerie magic that holds your school up, your magical residences, and all other places you magic folk go, you would be forced to move away from prying Mundane eyes. Your people will not let them win, you need us.”

“Yes and, likewise, you need us. Help us now,” Jaselle pleaded. “Where is she?”

“She would not do the same for me. I owe her suffering. Oh yes, there was a time, before I was this,” Black Widow touched her bony chest, where her sternum protruded through her shallow skin, “this fits me much better though, when I was on the same path as she. She was evil and vile…”

---


Madeline was leaning on the railing of an upstairs balcony, overlooking an escalator between classes. She was young and lively arrogant. Her dark eyes tinkled with malice as a skinny soft spoken girl in her classes made to head down the stairs.

“Korrigan Keegan,” Madeline poked the awkward girl in the ribs, forcing her to drop a pile of Necromancy books she was already precariously balancing.

“Piss off Alcott,” she whispered with as much conviction as she could when she bent to pick up the astray books.

“Fighting words,” Madeline smiled slapping her foot on one of the covers of the novels Korrigan went to pick up.

“Let go.”

“No, this is fun.”

“What’s fun?” Korrigan looked up to Madeline disgusted. “You’re arrogant and mean. Does being pretty and popular give you the right to act that way?”

“Why yes, it does,” she smiled.

“Fine, descend from your throne and mingle with the common folk, but do it nicely,” Korrigan gritted her teeth and jerked the book out from underneath Madeline’s foot. As she did so Madeline was thrown off balance and tumbled backward. Korrigan let out a pleased, soft snicker.

“Funny is it?” Madeline swooped with instant haste and extracted her wand poking Korrigan in the neck.

“You don’t even know how to use it,” Korrigan hissed quietly.

Madeline poked her harder with it, “No. I took one Wands, Charms and Magic of the Old World class and I don’t remember a damn thing from it, but I could still impale your chin with it!”

“Do it!” Korrigan barked.

“So poor you want to die?” Madeline’s anger rose and she pushed harder.

“It must be nice to have money, though I’ll take the family who loves me any day over what you have. Everyone knows your mother has sold you off to some rich man twice your age as soon as you turn twenty-one.”

“I like Dade, for you information, heathen. He’s the best Hunter the Republic has seen, and together we’ll be rich
and powerful. I’ll serve my purpose without complaint, you should consider doing the same. If it means that the world needs little creatures, like yourself, to walk on so that which is better can rise, so be it! Perhaps you should consider a job so you can come live in the dorms with us – the rest of the real Necromancers. I know a good street corner.”

“You and your pursuit of glory, fame, money, and power; is that all you see?”

“Power,” Madeline stepped back looking Korrigan over with a strange glean in her eyes, “yes, power. I will be the most powerful magic wielder in the world.”

“That’s a scary thought,” Korrigan grumbled.

At that Madeline thrashed out catching the collar of Korrigan’s Academy of Alchemy shirt and swung her around slamming her hard against the balcony railing. “How dare you impugn me you tiny piece of filth. You aren’t worth my time.”

Fear rose in Korrigan like she had never felt before and she knew she’d erred, no one would notice her missing from the crowd. She was terrified that Madeline might actually kill her. It was a silly thought, Madeline wasn’t a killer, just a bully; yet it lingered in her mind. Still she felt strange, cold, like the heat had drained completely from her being, like she was dead. She could feel Madeline’s hands on her, but she wasn’t pushing her anymore; instead it seemed as though Madeline were holding her up, or cradling her. She sort of felt like she was falling or maybe flying…she couldn’t really tell. She could hear Madeline saying something but she couldn’t make out what. Finally the world was returning in strange colorful swirls. The first thing she saw was Madeline leaning over her.

“Korri, are you all right?”

“Yes, I think so…what happened to me?” She questioned and for a brief moment she thought she’d lost her voice completely – she knew she was trying to talk, but it seemed as if nothing had come out.

“I think I scared you to death,” Madeline managed a weak condescending smile. “Or to life, as it were.”

“What do you mean?” Again the breath passed over her lips but she couldn’t hear her own words.

“You’re going to be kicked out of magic school Korri. You’re a Changeling, a faerie, a Sluagh. It looks like I scared you out of your chrysalis and into your dream dance, into your faerie awakening.”

The girl, once named Korrigan, who had always been soft spoken, shy and an outcast now looked on the world a little differently – she was an awakened faerie, no longer a student witch: as simple and as quickly as that. The world was a little brighter and took on a strange magical edge that could not be explained. She could see her pale arms, now somehow a little paler, and she could feel her throat contracting; her voice shrinking.

“They’ve come for you. I called them, you need to be with your own kind right now. The Sluagh will take you away. Don’t be afraid.”

Korrigan’s eyes went to Madeline and she thought for a moment she’d cry. “I don’t want to be a faerie. I don’t want to be magical!”

“Don’t fight it,” Madeline said. “Don’t fight. I’m sorry Korrigan, I really am.”

“Get away from me!”

And with that Madeline stepped away without another word.


---


“I’m better here,” Black Widow scowled at Severus. “She was a nasty, mean, vicious girl, just like the rest of her family, until she killed. I’ve heard killing can make a person; and it did for that horrible waste of skin.”

“Silence,” Morganna hissed. “We owe Madeline for your presence here. She might have tortured you in your young life, but she could have let you die there that day…but she didn’t. We owe her for giving you to us Mistress, even if yours was a late birth into your faerie self. She saved you that day, not destroyed you. And as such we will offer what we know.” Morganna looked to Severus again, this time with less intensity. “She came here, yes, three days ago. We don’t know where the child is, we have heard nothing through the grapevines; however Sabella,” Morganna pointed to a Sluagh hiding in the shadows, “suggested Madeline try Dade, he’s a better investigator than we. She had, at that time, agreed. The most we know is that she left here with the intention of trying him next. Now I suggest you leave this house, you are no longer welcome here banal wizardfolk.”

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