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Chapter 34
A Soul’s Journey




They waited in Felicity’s dungeon rooms for news of what had happened at the Ministry of Magic. Severus pretended to read a book at first then gave it up and paced back and forth muttering to himself. Felicity looked off into space, or held onto his arm for comfort when he deemed to sit down next to her. The house elves had magically sent food that sat on a small table untouched. They soberly waited for news of the dead.

Finally, nearing two in the morning, Felicity couldn’t take the stress of waiting any longer and began to cry softly. Severus, who had been wearing a groove in the floor stopped and growled at her. She ignored him and sniffled quietly.

“We’ll know soon, Felicity,” he said coldly. “Quit that infernal crying this instant.”

She tried to gulp down her tears but it only caused her to make more noise hiccupping.

He silently bent over her, took her hand in his and dragged her to her feet. “Stop blubbering, Felicity. Crying does no good. It weakens you.”

She looked up at him sadly. “What if something happens to him?” she whispered. “What if I’ve sent him to his death?” She convulsed with tears again, burying her face in his robes. “I’ll never forgive myself.” She was miserable.

Snape tried not to notice that she was slobbering all over his good robe and gently hugged her to him. “I wouldn’t worry,” he said softly. “You have my luck with women and Marauders on your side. Lupin will come back to you. As you Americans will say, I’m never the one who gets the girl, nor am I ever able to rid myself of those blasted Marauders. I often think that they’re gone, only to have them return with a vengeance in one form or another.”

She couldn’t help but laugh at him. She wiped her eyes with her fingers knowing he’d have a conniption if she soiled his robes any more than she had. “You’re very sweet to cheer me up with humour, Severus.”

He raised an eyebrow. “I wasn’t joking. I’m friggin’ cursed.”

She kissed him lightly on the lips, finding comfort there despite his disapproval of her show of emotion.

“I released him, Severus.” Her face crumpled with fresh tears. “Remus is not coming back to me.” She buried her face in his chest again and even as he soothed her with his arms rubbing her back, he rolled his eyes at her flagrant disregard for civilized composure.

“Don’t be ridiculous, woman. You can’t just release a man. Once you’re in love, then that’s what it is. Love is not a spell. Love is not something that can just be conjured.” He stopped himself. “Well, there are love potions, of course, and certain spells work for awhile, but nothing lasting and nothing real.”

She’d stopped crying and was looking at him with an incredulous look. “How would you know?”

“Now you’re just being spiteful because I never fell in love with you.”

“That’s what you think.” She smirked at his ignorance. She had half a mind to tell him just how in love with her that he’d been. “You practically mauled me this morning, you were so happy to see me.”

“That’s not love and you know it. I like you just fine, you’re good company. I’m most attracted to you. You’re constantly parading around looking seductive. Why shouldn’t I find you attractive?” He shook his head. “No, that isn’t love when someone tricks you, nor if one, well, lusts after you for want of a better word.” He looked thoroughly uncomfortable with the whole conversation. “Love is something that you run screaming from until it snatches you up and swallows you.”

She gawped at him.

“You’ll catch flies if you don’t get that look off your face,” he said smugly.

He was a constant surprise. She forgot her misery as she debated the meaning of love with, of all people, Severus Snape. She pushed slightly away from him. “How would you know that?”

“I’ve been in love.” He narrowed his eyes daring her to challenge him.

She knew him better than he did. She knew that it wasn’t Narcissa Malfoy that he loved. He had been in love, when he was younger. That love bound him still, years later. Love could be as binding as blood magic amongst wizards and witches.

“That’s why you’re protecting Harry Potter whom you despise.”

“One, I don’t wish to discuss it and two, it’s none of your business, and three, I only brought it up to distract you from your dithering self-pity. Remus Lupin, if I know the man and I think that I do, is not going anywhere. He’ll come back to you, damn him.”

She bit her lip and the tears flowed silently again. She knew better than he that Remus would not because she wouldn’t allow it.

Severus gave up trying to talk sense into her and ushered her into the bedroom. Fully clothed and shushing with disapproval, he gently shoved her onto the bed and crawled in after her. He tucked a blanket over her, doused the lamps with a flick of his wand and lay down on his side. “You need your beauty sleep. You’re a puffy whimpering mess. Dumbledore will call us when he returns.” With that said, he closed his eyes.

“Severus?”

“Go to sleep.”

“I’m not human.”

“This is not news.”

“I thought I was, at least partly human, but I’m not. I’m not a dragon, either. I’m something apart.”

“Is this self observation necessary?”

“I’m dangerous to humans.” She spoke into the dark.

Severus brought his face very close to hers. She felt his warm breath on her ear. “Yes, you are, as I’ve told everyone who’ll listen.” He paused. “You bend people with some magic wit within you and pretend to yourself that you do it out of love. You can’t manipulate people and not pay the price for it. Trust me, I’m the great manipulator, I know.”

“I thought that I knew all about love. I’m beginning to realize that what I see as love isn’t a human’s kind of love at all.” She said it and realized it was true. Human love was something she had no inkling of. She’d been too young when she’d changed. Her visceral memories were of the dragon-people kind. She was a temptress, a lover, a healer and a friend. She was no life partner. She’d been shaped and trained to be a dragon woman. It was no wonder that her father had a difficult time recognizing her as his daughter.

Severus moved his arm to rest on her waist. He had the unerring feeling that he’d laid next to her before. “You’re saving grace is that you care for those that you manipulate. Lose that and you’ll be a monster just as the Dark Lord.” He kissed her cheek. “Now, go to sleep, dragon. I’m suddenly shattered.”

They drifted off to sleep, exhausted from waiting for news.

It was well into the next morning when Albus Dumbledore found them asleep in Felicity’s rooms. He stood watching them as they both started to stir.

“Ah, you’re awake, then. Good, it’s time,” he said calmly.

Severus had been curled up in a deep sleep, his arm around Felicity, and his face in her hair. Dumbledore’s voice startled him awake and he jumped out of bed as if he’d been pinched. “What news have you, sir?” he asked stumbling before he was fully awake.

Felicity sat up quickly. “Remus? He’s alive. Please tell me that he’s alive!”

Dumbledore nodded sadly. “He’s alive, Felicity, and unhurt, at least physically…but Sirius Black… is dead,” he looked hard at Snape, “and Tomasina Tall, and Boris Leech. They’re all dead.”

Severus sat down hard on the bed, an inscrutable look on his face. “Are you sure Black is dead?”

Dumbledore only paused for a second. “Yes, Severus, he’s dead. Bellatrix LeStrange hit him with a curse that knocked him through the Veil.”

Snape head came up. “The Veil?”

Dumbledore nodded.

“And the children, Albus,” asked Felicity. “Hermione and Harry, are they all right?”

He smiled. “They’re in Madame Pomfrey’s capable hands.” He looked from one to the other. “The Ministry has finally acknowledged their error in judgment. Voldemort was there for all to see.”

Snape grimaced. “Did he gain the prophecy?”

“No, he didn’t.” Dumbledore ignored Snape then. “I’ve a favor to ask, Felicity, my dear.”

“Yes, sir,” she said rising from the bed. “Anything.”

“I wonder if you wouldn’t mind meeting me in the forest in a short while. Our wayward Dolores Umbridge has gotten herself carried off by the centaurs. For political reasons, I’d rather not have to attack them outright. She seems to have infuriated them with her prejudices, my dear.” He sighed. “If you would meet me in the forest to help retrieve her, I’d be grateful.”

“Of course, sir.”

“Severus and I will have a little chat and then I’ll be right along, Felicity.”

Felicity looked from one to the other. Severus sat with his face in his hands on the bed while Albus stood waiting for her to leave. The headmaster’s eyes seemed tired. She moved from the room feeling a little lost. It was, after all, her rooms that she was being asked to leave.

Snape looked up from the bed after several seconds of silence.

“Voldemort did not hear the prophecy but Harry has now,” offered Dumbledore to his silent question.

Snape allowed a small sneer. “Not having been allowed to hear it myself, I can only surmise that it will add fire to his insufferable ego.” A feeling of pure hatred seethed in him. “He is his father’s son.”

“Leave this attitude at once, Severus!” Albus voice was stern. “It’s not the boy’s fault.”

“But it is, sir! It is!” he cried in real frustration and anger. Old wounds surfaced and in his fatigue, he didn’t even try to squash them down. “Potter did not even attempt to block the Dark Lord’s visions. He was devious, spiteful and full of hate. I did as you asked and was met with obstinate malice at every turn. He spied on my most intimately agonizing moments. That our futures are somehow linked to his abilities infuriates me!”

“In so very many ways, he reminds me of you, Severus. All save one.” Albus paused until he had Severus’ full attention. The potion’s master gained his composure and sat stone-faced, waiting for Dumbledore’s words. “Harry Potter has the ability to inspire others to greatness under the most stressful conditions, Severus. He is a born leader, whereas you are most certainly, not.”

Snape ground his teeth in silence waiting.

“The prophecy is simply that Harry Potter is destined to end Voldemort’s life once and for all. They cannot both exist. One must die and it must be Harry who kills Voldemort, Severus. It’s our destiny to help him in doing it. You must teach him how to defeat your Dark Lord, Severus.”

Snape’s face contorted as if the Headmaster had stuck him with a red-hot poker. “I cannot teach dumb! He’s a talentless prat. It is God’s cruel joke that our existence depends on a boy who can’t memorize the simplest of charms, let alone execute them.”

“ENOUGH!” bellowed Dumbledore. He looked sternly at the much younger man. “You and I both know that that is simply not true. Harry Potter, whether you can accept his destiny or not, has escaped Voldemort and the death he wielded on numerous occasions. It is time that you showed your true loyalties, Severus Snape. Will you protect and serve Lily’s son as you promised her or will you betray us all and die a traitor? Those are your choices.”

Severus Snape stood up and starred without any sign of his emotions at Albus Dumbledore. “You know that I have no choice,” he said.

“There is always a choice,” answered Dumbledore not unkindly, “always a way around a spell.”

A flashback of his promise long ago threatened to surface in him but he refused more of that scene then the look of pleading anguish on Lily’s lovely face. “I would not change my destiny, sir, and you know it.”

Dumbledore sighed. “Nor would I, my old friend, nor would I.”

“You can trust me, sir.”

“I have always known it, Severus,” said Dumbledore quietly. “And that’s why I can tell you now that it has come time for you to go to him.”

Snape’s head snapped up in surprise. “What?”

“You’ll be the Defense against the Dark Arts professor next year.”

“But…”

“Yes, it’s cursed. You won’t last the year, but you’ll teach Harry as much as he’ll need to know, as will I.” Dumbledore’s face held a profound sadness. He watched Severus take in the information with a mixture of horror and pride. “By the end of the year, you’ll certainly either be dead or with your master. You must ready the path for Harry to find him. It will be dangerous, my old friend, but I have a plan.” Tears welled in his tired face. “Tonight, I feel older than I have ever felt, Severus. I do believe that I may welcome the end of this.”

Severus cocked his head and smirked. “What are you saying, sir? Is this plan something that you’ll be telling me?”

“You’ll have to trust me, Severus.”

The two men smiled knowing smiles. “Yes, sir, I do trust you, sir,” answered Severus.





Felicity waited in the shadowy darkness of the Forbidden Forest. She had walked deep within the dense growth of trees without fear, and without thought. She’d been so consumed by recent events. Her world had forever changed and though she had weathered hardships before, she had never felt quite so broken by them. In a burst of self-realization the night before she had left her human and dragon duality behind and now, in the shadow of the trees, she felt it keenly. It was as if she would never love as intensely, never feel as human, or as dragon, again.

A snap of a twig in the distance shook her out of her internal melancholy. An eerie sensation of danger crept out at her seemingly from the roots of the trees. Not a bird chirped. The world had become silent and watchful. In an instant her instinct took over and in a whirl of urgency she stepped into the dragon pose and transformed. Her self and self vibrated with magic light becoming dragon just as the arrows shot toward her, and the clip clop of hoofs running on hard packed earth sounded.

The centaurs surrounded her, their bows cocked and their arrows aimed. She was careful not to expose her chest or the top of her head. She roared at them and flapped her wings lunging forward to ward them back.

A large centaur with a black mane whistled and raised his hand. “What trick, human, do you play at?”

She angled her large triangular head looking at him with her great lizard eyes.

“You’re but a witch’s illusion of a dragon,” said the centaur in a disgusted tone. “It is so very typical of you humans to hide behind the identity of a great and noble being.”

She had no experience with centaurs. Their minds were different than humans, old with deep caverns in the synapses where worry, energy and doubt were found in humans. She could not read or enter his mind. She was perplexed at that and curious. Her beast usually spoke, felt or communicated with another beast. The centaur was fundamentally different. She felt a kinship. Just as she was, he looked part human but was not.

On the other hand, he wasn’t a particularly nice non-human kin.

She shook her head at him menacingly and blew fire into the ground to frighten him. The dirt blackened and swirled with smoke.

The centaur stepped back looking wary.

For many moments they contemplated each other.

“There is a story of a dragon told in the stars,” said the Centaur, finally. “Perhaps, you are this dragon. A dragon too confused by humans who died of a broken heart only to be reborn as another,” he said. “This dragon finds a secret life which will help the humans render a fatal blow to a terrible evil.”

She waved her head closer to him and snorted through her nostrils. Tendrils of smoke billowed up into the trees. She felt angry at his presumptuousness and prophesy. What did this centaur know of her broken heart?

“Bane!” called Albus Dumbledore’s voice from the trees. “Felicity is here at my request.” He walked calmly through the throng of centaurs to stand beside Felicity’s great dragon form. “You have something that belongs to me, Bane. I’d like to retrieve it.”

“We’ve had no quarrel with you, but your kind has trampled our stand once too often. A sacrifice must be made.” The centaur’s head rose with an arrogance and he looked to his brethren who all nodded in agreement. “You house an outcast, a traitor to our own. It is an even trade.”

“You are not murderers, Bane. Where is the professor, Bane?” asked Albus calmly. He flicked his wand wordlessly.

Bane looked defiant for a moment but wavered, shook his head angrily and then tipped his face toward the forest. Two enormous centaurs carried professor Umbridge like a heavy sack of potatoes. Each one held either arms or legs. She was not conscious. They came forward and threw the professor on the ground.

“Thank you, Bane,” said Albus.

“Wait!” roared Bane shaking his mane of hair fiercely. Felicity stepped over Dolores Umbridge’s unconscious form, protecting her like a prize. “This is another wizard’s trick!”

Felicity roared at him forcing him to step back.

“No, Bane,” said Albus. He stepped between Felicity and Bane. “You can’t stop time, nor can you pretend that you didn’t know this moment beforehand. A dragon, a wizard and this unconscious person, your kind always knows, Bane.

He raised his head proudly. “We do.”

“So you knew it would be that you wouldn’t kill her.”

Bane nodded slowly and looked directly at Felicity. “This dragon cannot stay.”

“She won’t return, Bane. I promise you.”

He nodded his head and jumped into the air once and galloped deeper into the forest with the others following them.

Albus Dumbledore watched them go then looked down at Dolores Umbridge’s unconscious and rather disheveled form. “Felicity?” he said sadly.

Felicity stepped away from Umbridge and changed back into her form measuring the rhythms to keep conscious. “Sir?” She said finally, standing before him in her human form.

“My dear, you can’t stay, here.” He watched her serenely. “You must leave.”

“I know, but what of Voldemort, and Severus? How will I protect him, sir?”

Albus stepped closer to her and put his hand on his shoulder. “You can’t protect any of us any longer, Felicity. Our path must be self-made. Our destinies are woven together but are not the same ones.” He peered at her over his spectacles. “I’ve something else for you to do for us.” He smiled. “I believe it will bring you closer to your father.”

Felicity was surprised. “My father? What has he to do with this?”

The very old wizard and the young dragon woman stood eye to eye for several minutes. Not a word was spoken. Only a slight breeze moved under the dark canopy of trees where they stood. They were like statues in the stillness.

Finally, when in the silence they had spoken all that could be said, Albus whispered, “Go and say good-bye to Remus Lupin, my dear.”

Albus wordlessly raised Umbridge as if on a magic stretcher and motored her out of the forest.






Remus Lupin was undone. He was completely and utterly without a path to follow. He had no place to go but St. Mungo’s and there he had sat in Tonk’s hospital room never leaving her side. Tonks hadn’t minded. Most of the Order had been in to see her, but she had needed only Remus near her. Sirius’ death had devastated her, as it had Remus. She clung to him in her grief as he did to her. They were both broken and they only had each other.

That’s how Felicity found them. Two broken souls clinging to each other for no other reason than it seemed natural and it seemed right.

She walked quietly into the room after Mad-eye Moody had let her pass through. Remus was holding Tonk’s hand as she lay recovering from her wounds and Felicity could see instantly the emotional pain on her lover’s face. It was almost unbearable not to reverse her spell and run to comfort him. She took a deep breath and moved closer.

“I’m so sorry about Sirius,” she said quietly.

Remus looked up from his quiet talking to Tonks. He’d been sitting on a chair very close to her. As soon as he saw Felicity, he raised instantly, a feeling of anticipation mounting in him. He should feel something more but somehow, he didn’t. What was this thing that was gone?

“Felicity!” he said not knowing what more to say.

Felicity heart fluttered but she squashed her joy down fiercely at seeing his face and turned her attention to Tonks. Tonks was happy to see her, and yet, not. Felicity could feel the disappointment in her and was actually glad. Remus would not be alone. “Are you going to be all right, Tonks?” she said kindly.

“I think so,” she said, her voice hoarse. “I’m hard to kill the healers tell me.”

Felicity reached over to her and kissed her forehead. “I’m glad that you’re all right.” She sat on the bed holding her other hand. Remus still held the other. Felicity turned and looked toward him. “You’ll need each other in the months to come.”

Tonks, who had no idea about Felicity’s abilities, was taken aback. “What are you talking about, Felicity?”

“I’m to leave England soon,” she said smiling. “I’ve a task that must be done and I’m supposedly the only one that can perform this particular feat of magic.” She smirked and winked at Remus who looked stricken.

“You can’t just leave, Felicity!” he said.

She let go of Tonk’s hand and stood up. Slowly, she moved around the bed and took Remus’ free hand in hers. “I can and I will, Remus,” she said sadly. “There’s a war on, as you well know. All of us have our parts to play. I’ve something to do that must be done.” She looked toward Tonks who was crying and looking at Remus still holding her hand. She was so young and Remus so serious. They would make a beautiful couple if Tonks could only talk him into it. It made her happy to think of them together. “You look to each other while I’m gone, Remus.” She laughed her beautiful ringing laugh. “There are so few of us left to love and you’ll need a little love with the Death Eaters about wreaking havoc.”

She turned away from him, from her and walked to the door.

“But Felicity,” called Remus after her. “Where are you going? When will you come back?”

She turned and laughed again. She blew them both a kiss and winked again. “It’s a secret, luv. I’ll not be telling and I’ll not be back.” She walked through the door without another word. Her heart, her mind, her love, now broken, shattered in too many pieces to ever count.

She walked down the hall feeling dead. She walked out of the hospital not seeing another soul though many surrounded her. Before she could stop herself, before she could turn back, she apparated to a place farther than she’d ever done before. She barely made the stretch of space. As she collapsed in physical exhaustion and grief onto the hard packed ground, she looked up to the great mountains beyond the temple. She was home.






2 months later





Roland Wood stood on the train platform in Berlin waiting for Felicity’s train. It was ridiculously late. Only his wayward daughter would have had the audacity to choose muggle transportation. She could have flown from Tibet in a tenth of the time it took by train. At this rate, she would surely miss the Durmstrang Institute’s train.

With a wave of relief the train he’d been waiting for an hour for pulled into the station. He’d been the English Ambassador for only a few months and though he’d personally arranged for Felicity to teach at Durmstrang at Dumbledore’s request, he was outraged at the idea of her in a mostly male school.

He was still fuming about it as Felicity calmly sauntered down the platform turning heads as she went. She had a self-satisfied half smile on her face. “Hello, father,” she said. “I see that you’re irritated with me, as usual.”

“Don’t start with me, young lady. You’re here to do a job and that’s it.” He rolled his eyes. “I cannot imagine what the Headmaster was thinking about in sending you to that place filled with men.”

“Are you worried about my honor then, dad? How sweet of you!” She smirked and then kissed him on the cheek and hugged him. “I’m glad to see you, too.”

He endured her hug for a moment and then shoved a tube of parchment at her. “You’ve letters in this, or so I’m told from your various conquests.” He grabbed her arm pushing her to a separate platform where she would be boarding the school train to Durmstrang. “You haven’t much time, you nearly missed your connection taking that muggle monstrosity that they call transportation.”

Felicity stopped dead in her tracks, excited. “I’ve letters? From Remus and Severus?” She’d not had a word of news the entire time in Tibet.

He grabbed her arm again. “Yes, yes, among others, now get a move on.” He rushed her through the window that was the barrier from the muggle trains and there on the platform stood the great black beast of a train bound for Durmstrang. There were students and parents in abundance on the platform readying for departure.

Roland stopped near a stone post and grabbed her close. “Now listen, daughter,” he whispered furiously, afraid that anyone might hear them. “Igor Karkaroff is dead. The Death Eaters are already there.” He whispered close to her ear. “Be very careful. It’s all been arranged but we’ve no idea who our friends are. Find the thing and destroy it.”

He looked seriously at his daughter’s face holding her chin in his hand. She hadn’t aged a day, it seemed since she was sixteen and yet she was over thirty-five. “Trust no one.”

Felicity laughed and patted her worried dad. “Daddy, really, what could a few dark wizards possibly do to me?” Her eyes twinkled daring him to argue. “I’ll be very good, you’ll see. I’ll not get involved with anyone. I’ll find the Horcrux and burn it to a crisp, explode it in a fiery blaze, or crush it to bits. Don’t you worry about me.” She pinched his disbelieving face. It was nice to see him caring so much.

“I’ll be up to visit you in a few weeks,” he answered warily. “See that you keep well away from any sexual liaisons this time, young lady.”

“Oh, pish-posh, father,” she said lightly as she climbed up into the train.




She was settled down, alone in a comfortable compartment in no time. Eagerly, she extracted the letters to find several from Remus, two from Tonks, one from Dumbledore and three from Severus. She hugged them close in anticipation of reading them. Though much had happened and she felt invigorated and transformed by being at home for the summer, she had missed them all so much.

The door to her compartment slid open and a tall man in an overly heavy fur robe stood in the opening. He was gaunt, handsome, with high cheekbones, vivid blue eyes and his hair was very white, though he was young. It was cropped short. “Do you mind, if I sit with you?” he asked in German. “It’s mostly students on the train.”

“No, I don’t mind. Please sit your self,” she answered in kind and gestured for him to sit down opposite her.

He threw a satchel casually onto the overhead and sat down with a large book to read.

Felicity watched him as he pretended to read. He was thinking of her. He thought her very pretty and was wondering what a beautiful woman was doing on a train to such a hell-forsaken school. Perhaps, her letters might wait.

She laughed delightedly, which caused him to look up startled. “You’ve only to ask me and I’ll tell you why I’m going to Durmstrang,” she said still laughing at him.

He was shocked. “You’re a very presumptuous young woman,” he said obviously disapproving.

His tone hit her and ushered forward a small pang of remembrance. She thought of Severus, and missed him acutely. “Yes,” she said more humbly. “I’ve been told that before. It’s very true and you’re right to say it. I shan’t hold it against you.”

She winked at the handsome young man, thinking that she would have some fun at this new school as she searched for that which she must not fail to find. She tucked her letters back inside her robes and smiled. “So, go ahead,” she said. His face was inscrutable and he was frowning. “Ask me why I’m going to Durmstrang.” She laughed. “I won’t bite you!”


The End

******
Thank you, all of you who’ve read and reviewed this story. I’ve enjoyed writing it very much. I would so appreciate hearing what you think, as always. Bye for now, Pru Prior



You can always contact me via my contact button or at prudenceprior@harrypotterfanfiction.com if you have any problems with the archives or any questions, at all. For a little while, I’ll be writing for the new original fiction site, the Crones site and wherever I can get my original work published. Thanks so much for all your wonderful reviews. You’re great! Cheers, Pru Prior

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