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Valora walked down the dusty road, her cloak swishing comfortably around her ankles as she made her way towards the Burrow. Molly had invited her over for dinner and after the woman’s kind reaction to the somewhat startling news of what exactly had happened in the war Valora was in no position to refuse. Sirius was having dinner with Andromeda, helping with Teddy and also helping to settle the plans for his cousin’s trip to Italy. A warm breeze blew through Valora’s dark brown loose curls and for a moment she thought she heard a faint whispering but dismissed it as she knocked on the door. Immediately she was met with the sight of a smiling George.

“Hello, darling.” He said, leaning in the place a kiss on her cheek before letting her in. Valora handed him her cloak and went to say hello to the rest of the family and of course Harry. Valora took her seat between Harry and Percy as Molly waved her wand and set the plates before them.

“Where’s Hermione tonight, Ron?” Valora asked, taking a bite of her food. Ron swallowed the mouthful he had been chewing.

“She’s with her parents. They just got their memories back, so now she has to explain everything. She’s actually going back to school in September with Ginny.” Ron explained. Mrs. Weasley bristled visibly and Valora could feel the argument starting before they even began.

“You and Harry with be returning as well, Ronald.” Molly said, her voice leaving no room for argument. Valora, not in the mood to deal with a family squabble, and also knowing full well that Harry wouldn’t be returning to Hogwarts, excused herself muttering something about fresh air.

As she stepped into the backyard she took a deep breath and heard the noise again. It was a distant whispering, too far away to understand. She closed her eyes and leaned her head against the side of the house. It smelled like lavender, a lovely smell. Valora used to keep fresh lavender on her windowsill when she was younger, but soon it became impractical.

----------------

Valora was quiet in her bed and waited patiently for the tell tale sound of steady breathing to come from her roommate’s beds before throwing her covers aside. She was supposed to meet Severus at midnight. The air was warm and she didn’t bother changing out of the shorts and tank top she had worn to bed, still she needed flip flops or something to keep her feet from freezing on the stone floor. As she searched blindly in the dark for her other flip flop her elbow knocked the tiny crystal vase on the windowsill that held her lavender. Quick action kept the thing from shattering on the floor but Valora found herself drenched in lavender water. She groaned quietly and placed the thing back on the damn sill before rushing out of the room. If she was late she would never hear the end of it. Normally, Valora would have simply used her wand to dry herself off, but all five of the marauders had gotten their wands confiscated by McGonagall for twenty-four hours after having a transfiguration duel in which Remus ended up with tulips for ears, Peter’s arms were replaced with tentacles, and Sirius was covered in feathers. Only James and Valora had walked away unscathed but were still involved.

As she reached the Room of Requirement she began pacing and soon was granted access into the room. Severus was sitting on the couch with his copy of ‘Advanced Potion Making’ in his hands. As she closed the door he looked up and raised an eyebrow at her damp appearance.

“Swimming?” He asked before returning to his work. Valora rolled her eyes.

“No. I knocked over my vase and I don’t have a wand to dry myself.” She said going to stand over him. The ends of her hair began dripping onto his hand and he pulled it away, wrinkling his nose.

“Don’t get it on me.” He said. Valora narrowed her eyes and shook her head hard like a dog, spraying his face and robes with lavender water. When she was finished she flipped her hair away from her face, smiling at his serious frown. Severus glared at her.

“Is that supposed to be funny?” He said, his voice dangerously soft. Valora smiled like a five-year-old.

“Yes.” She said, taking the book from him and placing it on the side table and leaned over him. He only continued to glare at her.

“What do you want?” He asked annoyed. Valora rolled her eyes and looked at her own damp clothing and then at his, which was barely wet.

“I think we should get out of these clothes before we catch cold.” She told him with a mischievous light in her eyes. Severus had her in his arms carrying her towards the bedroom before she could blink.

~~~

The next day in class Valora yawned with a smile, not minding that fact that she had traded a good night’s sleep for a few hours in Severus’s arms. She hid her smile expertly when Severus came in. He looked displeased and in the next few seconds she understood why. James and Sirius waltzed in behind him, using their newly regained wands to toss flower petals at his feet.

“What are you two doing?” Remus asked, looking just as confused by their actions as Valora was. James did a tiny twirl.

“Snivelly’s wearing perfume.” He said in a girlish tone. Valora cringed inwardly.

“What?” Peter asked, not quite understanding.

“Lavender, if I’m not mistaken, right Snivells?” Sirius said, chucking another batch of flower petals at him. Valora bit her cheek tight to keep from laughing, but was unable to hide her amusement. Severus caught her eye and she knew she was going to be in a world of trouble later but she couldn’t help herself from letting out a burst of laughter.
Sirius, encouraged by Valora’s laughter wrapped an arm around her shoulders and rested his head on her shoulders. He wrinkled his nose before pulling back.

“You smell.” He said simply. Valora bristled slightly.

“It’s called being clean. I realize you probably aren’t accustomed to it-“

“No. You’re hair. It smells like lavender.” Sirius told her. Valora didn’t need to look up. She knew Severus had heard and now the muscles in his hands and neck were beginning to tense, as were hers. Playing it off, Valora just shrugged.

“It’s a very popular brand. Maybe Snape and I order from the same magazine. If he wants I can lend him some bath salt.” She said, glancing up to see his reaction. He met her gaze but said nothing. It was an agreement they had decided on from the beginning. They wouldn’t hold what was said in front of others as truth. The teasing, the barbs, they were all a façade. None of it mattered. Valora began to bite her cheek and for a moment stopped shielding her mind from Severus. He felt the change and allowed himself to peer into her mind, a rare thing she allowed.

Valora’s mind raced through last night, tangled in the bed sheets, laughing and smiling. The memory of Severus’s grey eyes locked onto hers. The smell of lavender and warm night air surrounding them. Vaguely, she wondered if the sheets would still smell like tiny purple flowers.

Severus cleared his throat and quickly retreated from her memories. The professor then walked in and class began.


----------------

Valora smiled to herself before turning and walking back into the house. It seemed as though the fight had not calmed down but instead escalated. Victoria took her seat, ignoring the nervous looks from Mrs. Weasley and Harry at her return. As she ate silently she listened to Molly berate the boys.

"What do you think you two could possibly do without finishing your education?" The older woman demanded. Harry and Ron looked nervously at each other.

"We were gonna look into Auror training, Mum." Ron told her sheepishly. Ginny ducked her shoulders and focused intently on her plate, as did Percy and George. Arthur sucked in a breath while Molly seemed for a moment not to breathe at all. Everyone was preparing for the fury that Valora hadn't realized would come out so...loudly.

"WHAT?!" She screeched, so loudly that Valora dropped her fork in shock, forcing George to stifle laughter. Valora picked the utensil up and quietly washed it in the sink as Molly went on with her ranting of the various reason that neither boy was to be an Auror. It was a good ten minutes before Valora spoke up.

"Where would live? No one is going to rent out a flat to two children! Who would take care of you?" Molly continued her interrogation.

"With me." Valora said clearly as she finished her meal. Everyone turned to look at her, and Harry smiled. Molly had clearly been caught off guard because she shook her head and stuttered for a moment before finding a reasonable excuse to continue with her opposition, however her voice was softer now.

"Valora don't be silly. You couldn't possibly-"

"I don't live far from the Ministry, I could help them with their training so they won't fail, and the apartment is certainly big enough." Valora told her.

"You don't have room for all of these children!" Molly told her. Valora's eyes flashed in warning and Molly pursed her lips and flushed slightly, realizing her near slip of the tongue. Harry and Ron both froze for a moment. George looked confused for a minute.

"There's only two of them." He said. Molly quieted down after that, and just said they would talk about it later, but Valora had the sneaking suspicion that the older witch would give in.

----------------

Valora was sipping mint tea quietly in the living room Molly had just walked out of. She felt slightly guilty but not much, so she just drank her tea quietly for a moment before looking up at the two boys.

"Ron, go convince your mother that you aren't abandoning her." Valora instructed. Ron nodded and left to go find his mother, who had finally and reluctantly agreed to everything. When Ron left Harry left his place on the couch to sit beside his godmother.

"So you're serious then about me and Ron moving in with you?" He asked. Valora arched an eyebrow at him.

"No, now that I've gotten Molly to agree to let you leave I plan on making you two live on the streets. Muah-hahaha." She said sarcastically. Harry laughed and then hugged the woman, which caught her off-guard and almost made her spill her tea.

"Well, when Mrs. Weasley mentioned the space I just kind of....well with the....you know..." Harry tried to say. Valora laid a hand on his shoulder.

"There is plenty of room." She assured him. Harry looked around to make sure they wouldn't be overheard.

"Does she know?" He asked. Valora nodded, remembering her complete collapse a few days ago and the sudden burst of information the woman had taken so easily. Well, as easily as circumstances would allow.

"You, Ron, Hermione, and now Molly." Valora confirmed.

"No one else?" He checked. Valora shook her heard.

"No."

"You do realize that people will eventually figure it out." Harry reminded her. Valora leaned back, taking another sip of her tea.

"I'll worry about that later."

It wasn't long after her chat with Harry that Valora left, apparating back to her own apartment.

----------------

Early afternoon sunlight streamed through the open window in Sirius's apartment located very close to Soho square. It was another day spent doing nothing with Valora lying on the couch as Harry and Sirius playing chess. She had been feeling increasingly tired lately, probably because of the vivid nightmares that made her afraid to close her eyes at night. Now she could feel herself falling to sleep, Sirius's lumpy couch felt like a cloud and even in the well lit room everything seemed to be dimming as her heavy lids closed over golden eyes. Soon her even breathing was background noise to the sound of the boys telling their pieces where to go on the board. Sirius glanced over at the sleeping woman as she snored lightly and rolled over onto her side.

"What's with her lately? She's been acting so strange." He said quietly as one of his knights knocked Harry's pawn off the board. Harry too, looked over at his godmother and then back at Sirius. The older man was watching her carefully, taking note of the way her chest rose and fell with every breath the tiny twitches she was unaware of in her unconscious state.

"It's going to take a while for her to readjust, I guess. We're all having a hard time with it, Padfoot." Harry said. Sirius considered this and returned to the game, glancing over at Valora every so often as her movements became even more erratic.

"She's having a nightmare." He noted. Harry raised an eyebrow and looked at Valora. She seemed restless and unable to get comfortable, but otherwise normal to him.

"How can you tell?" He asked.

"Her fingers." Sirius explained, nodding towards her hands. "See the way they're flexing like that. She wants her wand, and she only tenses her wrist like that when she's fighting. She's having a nightmare." He said again.

"Should we wake her?" Harry asked. Sirius smiled to himself.

"Last time I woke her up from having a nightmare she almost broke my nose. No, it's best to just let her sleep through it. Besides, she wouldn't like it if she thought we knew what she was thinking." Sirius said.

Valora tossed and turned as images swept through her mind. A dark tunnel. The tremors she struggled to suppress as a cold, high voice spoke clearly, sentencing Severus to death. Nagini's cage capturing him. Severus's feet struggling to keep him upright and at the same time run away. The loud sound of his body collapsing onto the cold floor of the shack. Valora's hands, caked with blood as she tried to stop the flow of red gushing from the gaping wound in his neck.

"No." she murmured, sleepily. "No."

Harry and Sirius both looked over at the choked sounds she was making.

"This isn't that moment." She was saying, her face scrunched up as tears began to build.

Harry looked nervously at Sirius who was staring as he listened to Valora's sleep talking.
"Please don't leave me." She begged. "You promised. You promised to marry me."

As she spoke, Harry tensed, remembering the words from the night in the shack. Memories still haunted him of Valora crying over Snape's lifeless body. It was the kind of thing that made him want to hold Ginny and never let go. He hoped he would never have to experience that kind of pain. It broke his heart to remember, and he couldn't even begin to fathom what Valora felt. Glancing at Sirius he saw his godfather's eyes zero in on the engagement ring she wore on her left hand. He had assumed it was just a ring, never putting meaning to it. Now he stared at it as the pieces of a puzzle he didn't want to know about came together.

"Please, please don't make me do this alone. I can't exist without you. I don't want to." she pleaded, in her mind seeing his grey eyes preparing to close. Tears ran down her cheeks as her best friend and her godson watched in horror while Valora relived the worst moment of her life.

"Tell me what to do. I'll do anything. I love you so much. Stay with me, Severus." She whispered. Harry looked quickly to see Sirius's reaction. He turned away and focused on his game, as though he hadn't heard, but it was obvious from the way he clenched his jaw that he was struggling to remain calm.

"Severus, please. Sev. Sev?" Valora began asking as her world grew dark and turned to black. "Severus! Where are you? Sev? Sev!" She was screaming. In a second she was sitting bolt upright looking frantically around, her breathing was shallow and her face was covered in tears and a thin layer of sweat. she turned to catch Harry's eye. He said nothing and lowered his eyes. Valora's cheeks burned, knowing they probably realized what and who she was dreaming of. Sirius had mentioned her talking in her sleep before and so had Severus. Glancing at her best friend now she could see his eyes were cold and his jaw tight. She swallowed the lump in her throat and quickly wiped the tears from her cheeks before pulling on her jacket. Without a word she rushed from the apartment. As the door slammed close Harry debated going after her but then decided it would be better to give her space.

It was a long silence as he and Sirius played the game. Finally Sirius spoke.

"How can you stand it?" He asked, his voice deadly.

"Stand what?" Harry asked innocently. Sirius glared at him.

"You know what. The idea of her loving Snivellus of all people. It makes me sick." Sirius said, the venom in his voice adding evidence to how much he loathed the idea of Snape and Valora. Harry shook his head sadly.

"You weren't there, Sirius. You didn't see them together." Harry said quietly. After seeing Snape's memories and the way he was in his last moments it was impossible to hate him. How could he hate anyone who loved his godmother so much? Who sacrificed everything for her?

Sirius fumed quietly. "Check."

Harry moved another piece. "Checkmate."

----------------

Valora stormed into her apartment, completely furious with herself. She shouldn't have fallen asleep. She couldn't get Sirius's face out of her mind. He hadn't even been able to look at her. As she threw her things onto the sofa she yearned for a drink. A sweet, strong drink to numb her, to make her forget everything. Simultaneously she felt a quick movement from her middle and the spike of a fresh headache. It was like her body was rejecting the idea of her drinking.

"I get the picture." She muttered rubbing her temples. Walking into her study she smiled at the picture of her and Severus before picking up the mail she had neglected to read earlier. There wasn't much. A letter from Hagrid, wishing her well and hoping everything was going okay. They were dried spots on the rumpled parchment where fang had drooled. Valora smiled weakly and placed the letter to the side; she would reply when she was in a better mood. Next was a reply from Kinglsey:

Valora,

Why doesn't it surprise me that you're ready to dive right back into the field? You know, perhaps better than most, how much we have had to sacrifice to attain peace and safety. Can you really be so ready to dive back into that life after not even two months? If Moody and Tonks were here they would both be telling you the same thing I am about to tell you. You need to readjust to a normal life, Valora. This is one game you've been playing too long. You are the perfect candidate for the job to be sure, but the fact of the matter is that I don't think you're ready to handle it yet. I'm sure you'll want to argue this point, as you so often do, so I've made an appointment for you to come in and discuss this with me...


Valora crumpled the note and threw it across the room, disgusted with the idea of not being able to do the one thing she was best at. Moody had trained her, she probably had more field experience than most Aurors who worked there. She had been the original double agent between Death Eaters and the Order! How could he possibly think she wasn't ready for this job? Fed up, she grabbed the Daily Prophet which had been posting stories of optimism and reform since the end of the war and Kinglsey's induction. As she flipped through she saw something she had not expected. A picture of Severus. The caption said it was taken during Harry's fourth year. Valora had been in Italy. This was before he had come looking for her. He looked sullen, moody and beautiful. Valora's eyes jumped to the headline.

RITA SKEETER'S UPCOMING NOVEL: "Snape: Scoundrel or Saint?"

Valora's jaw dropped in horror as she read the report on the vile woman's new work. A gritty look at the life of Severus. Fury boiled inside of her and exploded in a high, piercing scream. How dare they?! How could Rita Skeeter of all people presume to write a book on someone she didn't know. Nobody knew Severus! Nobody but Valora and she wasn't about to go write and book about it. Nobody should! It was disgusting to even think about. Valora held the paper, ready to tear it in half, but paused. Very carefully she took out a pair of scissors and clipped out the picture of Severus. Tossing the rest of paper aside she carried the picture to her bedroom and using her wand stuck it to her mirror along with the other two. Her headache pulsed steadily. She leaned against the bureau and looked at the three different faces of her lost love.

"I'll fight it." She told him. "I'm going to do my best to make sure that book never hits the shelves, I don't care if it means burning down every book store here to Hampshire. I'm not going to let you become another source of income for someone like Rita fucking Skeeter. No way in hell." she said. The headache softened and Valora felt a little bit better. Reaching into her beside drawer she pulled out Severus's sleeping draught. There had been plenty of it in his rooms and she knew that if she didn't take some she wouldn't be able to sleep tonight.

"I love you." she whispered as she turned out her light. The headache, which was now just a dull ache pulsed and she felt another tiny shift. Placing a hand on her stomach, she drowsily said,

"I love you both."

--------

A.N.: I'm sorry I haven't updated in a while. Please forgive a busy college student! I'll try and be better about it. The writer's block fog is beginning to lift and hopefully soon we'll be in the clear. I have a feeling by chapter 5 or 7 I'll be back in the swing of things. There are reasons I choose those chapters but I'll keep my secrets to myself. Please R&R!

(smiles)
Evelyn Grey

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