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Oh there's lots that I could say,
But just hold me now,
'
Cause our love will light the way
BRYAN ADAMS: Heaven




Perhaps if she was lucky, Voldemort’s killing curse would finally kill her tomorrow, or the day after…or even the day after that, and save her all the trouble and her friends too.

She had been stupid. Stupid and naïve, to even have thought such hopeful thoughts. Death was nowhere near. And at this point, she would have welcomed it.

Alex looked at her small calendar that had been granted to her when she first arrived at the Black mansion. March. March already.

It had been weeks since she had been commanded to brew five potions in one week. It had been weeks ago that she tried drinking them, one straight after the other, to no avail. They did nothing, except result in her collapsing painfully to the ground, and waking up days later, only to be hit with the killing curse yet again.

And then barely a day or two later, right when she thought things couldn't get worse, Voldemort had shown up with a copy of the Muggle newspaper, and flung it at her.

"The world grieves your passing, Princess," he spat. "When will we get to that part?"

Alex looked at the paper in horror, as the words flashed out at her, Princess Alexandria Dead. She skimmed through the paper, before looking back at Voldemort in rage. "You did this?!"

"I? No, of course not. That's what loyal servants are for," Voldemort drawled viciously, encircling her. "And I must say…my faith in them was well placed. Quite the scandal they generated with a little bit of polyjuice potion, even made it plausible with the whole motorcycle accident…Although, your precious brother has some trouble accepting it. If he continues to deny your death, he might need to be removed from the picture…"

"I'm trying everything I can!" Alex yelled, no more energy left to even try making a smart or bold response. "It's not working! Something is missing, something is wrong…"


Weeks ago. And then there was another article about her missing body. She couldn't even imagine her friends' reactions or responses, and frankly she tried to not imagine them. Trying to picture their horror and pain just made things worse. Every week, Voldemort or one of the Death Eaters never failed to bring in another paper or magazine, with more articles about her, her suspicious death, and missing corpse, and dozens of other little stories. Alex wasn't even sure anymore how much of it the Death Eaters actually orchestrated, and how much was just the normal reaction and over-exaggeration of the media. Week by week, more stories, gossip and scandal—some recent, some from the past, though a large percentage made up or set up—appeared in the papers. Voldemort was ruining her name, and attacking the last shred of dignity her father had with regards to his daughter.

And the cycle kept on: brew, drink, fail, Avada kedavra. Sometimes a few days in between were spent unconscious, only for Alex to awake in pain and harshly brought back to reality. Time dragged on, wearily and slowly, but surely. And still, even though the potions kept getting more potent, and definitely close, no success. She was still alive, and had come no closer to unlocking the secret behind the release of the orb.

And here I am, Alex thought miserably. Trying this again.

Again.

Something crackled in the corner of the dark room. She whipped around to face it, expecting to see Voldemort or one of the Death Eaters. What she did not expect was to be seized by strong arms. Alex struggled against the hand that suddenly closed over her mouth.

“Don’t yell.”

She stopped. She knew that voice. She'd recognize it anywhere. The hand uncovered her mouth and she slowly turned to look behind her. "Severus?

He nodded back through the darkness. “We’re getting you out of here.”

“We? Who’s we?” Alex asked quietly, her voice sounding unnaturally hoarse. It felt like she hadn't used it in ages.

“Regulus, but he's with his parents somewhere so they’re all covered and safe—alibi, you know.”

“And the Death Eaters outside the door?”

He smirked. “Taken care of. Now we need to get out of here while the house is empty still.”

Alex blinked, completely dumbfounded. She opened her mouth to ask more questions but Snape only took her hand and started dragging her towards the door. “I’ll explain later…we need to go…now.”

“What about Voldemort? He’s here usually all the time…”

“The Dark Lord is indisposed at the moment,” Severus said, but upon receiving a look from Alex he continued, “There’s some big fight going on somewhere, now lets go.”

They were at the door when Alex stopped. “Wait—can you destroy those five cauldrons? Blow them up or something, make my escape look like I did it myself…”

He gave her a questioning glance but nodded and instantly the room was a war zone, with shredded fabrics, broken furniture and brightly coloured potions splashing out from every which way. Without another word, they ran down the stairs and out the door, disapparating as soon as they were in the clear.

They reappeared in Hogsmeade, and Alex breathed the cool fresh air deeply, holding onto Snape for support. The cold air seemed almost foreign to her now, and coupled with her bruised and sore body, it rushed down her throat in painful bursts. “Now where?”

“Up to the castle…quickly, while its dark still.” Snape half-carried Alex to the gates of the castle, Alex weaker with each step and breathing deeper, “Almost there…just hold on a bit more.”

“I think I can help,” a voice cut through the night air suddenly, and they stopped in their tracks, staring through the gate at the man who spoke. The gate opened soundlessly, and he walked towards them. Not bothering to say anything to Snape he placed a disillusionment charm on the both of them before levitating Alex as if on invisible stretchers, and heading towards the castle, the gate closing behind them once more.

Snape wasn’t sure what to say or do. The silence was unbearable, and though he didn’t have anything to say, he couldn’t take it any longer.

“Professor Dumbledore, I—"

“Save your breath, Severus,” Dumbledore replied quietly. “We will discuss this later. First Miss Edwards needs to be seen by Mdm Pomfrey, then we will hide her.”

Severus paused. Then he asked the question he couldn't help asking, “How did you know, sir?”

“I didn’t, but I suspected something was going on when you decided to go home for Spring Break—something you never do. Is Regulus alright?”

“I think so…he should be back tomorrow night,” Snape replied, walking by Alex’s side and staring at her. The past two months had not been to her advantage at all—dark circles were under her eyes, her hair which had grown longer was tied back but tangled and frizzy. Bruises spotted her entire body and she was thinner than ever before, sallow and sickly pale. “What did they do to her?”

His voice was quiet; barely a whisper, but Dumbledore had heard it. “Not to worry, Severus. Alex will be back to full health in no time.”

They were soon at the infirmary, and Mdm Pomfrey scooted over and started working on her patient at once, mumbling and muttering under her breath. Dumbledore made his own diagnosis and gave his own treatment, before sitting by her side with Snape, silently. In the early hours of the morning, long after she had been carried in, the two men still sat by her. Finally Dumbledore said, “You have had a long day. Perhaps you ought to get some rest.”

“I want to be here when she wakes up. I need to explain,” Severus replied quietly.

“There will be plenty of time to explain, and I doubt Alex will wake anytime soon—she has much sleep to catch up on, and the sleeping draught is taking it’s effect as well,” Dumbledore continued, his voice laced with reason. “When she is in better form we will move her to a safer location, and you can talk with her there.”

Snape wanted to protest, but after another moment of silence, got up and headed towards the Slytherin dormitory, feeling slightly relieved that Alex was safe once again, but much guiltier seeing her beaten up the way she was.

It was partially his fault.

When Alex awoke three days later, she was surprised to find herself in a familiar setting of red and gold, in a comfortable bed with a fire blazing and bright sunlight streaming in through the windows. Panicking all of the sudden, it took her a few moments to remember she had been rescued, and was now presumably back at Hogwarts. She stretched, and was relieved to not feel the soreness of her aching body anymore. But her happy thoughts were soon discarded in favour of worries—where was Severus? Was he alright? What about Regulus and his family? What was Voldemort doing? What about Dev and Adrian and Darcy?

“Good morning,” a voice interrupted. “I brought you some breakfast.”

“Professor Dumbledore,” she said, finding it strange to hear her voice returning to normal, though still a bit crackly. “So I am back at Hogwarts?”

“Yes, indeed, thanks to Severus and Regulus—both of whom are safe,” Dumbledore replied with a smile.

“What about Voldemort? And my friends in London—"

She stopped as Dumbledore held up a hand. “Don’t over exert yourself, Alex. Just take it easy, you’ve been through too much the past two and a half months.”

He waited until she was calm and eating her breakfast before he started to answer her questions. “Dev and Adrian are fine. We’ve been keeping an eye out for them and Darcy since you disappeared—couldn’t have Voldemort take them hostage. Lord Voldemort is rather furious at your miraculous escape, and seeing the mess you created, I believe he thinks you destroyed the orb.”

“But I didn’t,” Alex whispered. “I think I may still have it.”

“Don’t worry about that at the moment,” Dumbledore said softly. “What matters now is that you are safe and alive. And if you are well enough, I think you have some guests.”

Her eyes flickered to the opening door and her face lit up as Snape and Regulus appeared in the doorway. She scrambled out of bed, and ignoring Dumbledore’s cautions and the massive head rush, she stumbled over to the two of them, engulfing them both in a giant hug, tears starting to well up in her eyes.

“Thank you, thank you so much you two!” she barely managed to say, adoring the both of them with a million kisses to the cheeks. “I owe you my life.”

Dumbledore slowly inched out the door, leaving the three alone.

“You owe me nothing, Alex…” Snape started to say. “I’m just glad you’re alright.”

“Of course I’m alright!”

"No, you're not." Snape pulled away from her embrace and sat her back down on the bed. “Alex, listen. I know you’ll probably hate me forever, but that Hogsmeade we went to the apothecary together…I’m so incredibly sorry, but I knew you were going to get hurt. I agreed to take you so that they could test out whatever hypothesis they had. Only I didn’t know how bad it would be. If I knew you would have came so close to death….that they were going to…to take you and put you through all that I would never have…You know I wouldn't have…”

Alex paled as the force of his words hit her.

He had betrayed her.

That was what he had tried apologizing for the morning in the infirmary after the explosion accident. Even worse, he had been part of the whole thing…But she found her voice and interrupted his rambling. “Severus, I don’t hate you. You made a mistake, but you saved me. I think we’re pretty much square.”

He scowled, “You take it way too lightly, Alex. You could have died, and it would have been on my head—"

“Stop it. I think I know what I went through, alright?” she yelled, all of the sudden angry. She tried to calm herself down. “I know what could have happened, what should have happened…but whatever you did doesn’t matter. You saved my life. Is that not enough to make up for your guilt?”

“I’ve caused you pain,” he said quietly. “It would be fair if I went through the same.”

“Listen to me, Severus Snape. I’m thanking you for rescuing me; not condemning you for being part of a psycho’s plan for lord knows what. So just shut up.” She looked at Regulus. “Thank you, Regulus. I know how much you put at stake to help me, and I’m sorry if your parents are paying for it now.”

“Nah,” Regulus said dismissively with a grin. “You made a brilliant escape that wasn’t our fault, and my parents are fine…Besides, things weren’t the same without you here.”

She smiled back at him, “Of course they weren’t. Oh, and where exactly am I?”

“Room of Requirement,” he answered. “Don’t worry. You’re completely safe in here.”

“I know,” Alex replied, her mind drifting to memories spent in the exact room. “How’s everybody doing?”

“Alright. We’ll get Remus and them to come see you tonight, is that ok?”

“Yeah I would love that. But not Sirius, alright? I think I need some more time…”

Regulus nodded. “Well we better get going. Class starts soon. Come on Sev.”

“Bye guys! Love you!” she yelled at their retreating backs, before gobbling down the rest of her breakfast which magically had kept itself warm. She was so preoccupied eating her breakfast she didn’t notice Dumbledore coming back inside until he sat down beside her.

“The boys have asked me to not reveal how you returned here to your other friends, so if anybody asks you were rescued but you’re not sure by whom,” he said softly with a smile. “Would you like more guests to come by tonight?”

“Yeah, I think I can handle a few more people,” Alex replied. “Er, professor, I know that it would probably be best if I remain…hidden, per se, for now…but can I still finish school, somehow?”

“I’m already arranging it with your other teachers.”

“And uh…do you think I can drop by Dev and Adrian’s place sometime?”

“Darcy is on his way over, and he’s bringing them along.”

Alex gaped. “They’re coming here?! But do they know…I mean…”

“It’s alright, Alex. I explained the situation to them a few days ago, and will leave the rest to you,” Dumbledore said. You see, I knew you would want to see them, but I didn’t think you going to London would be best at the moment.”

Alex nodded, still in shock at Dev and Adrian knowing what she was and coming to Hogwarts. It wasn’t that she hadn’t planned on telling them she was a witch, but rather just the fact that the moment had arrived much sooner than later.

“Well I think they should be here any moment, so I better go back to my office for now,” Dumbledore said and stood up once more. “Also, when you feel strong enough, and I don’t just mean physically, I would like to talk about what happened while you were captive.”

Alex nodded once more, thankful that he understood enough to let her be. She was not at all in the mood to talk about what she had gone through. And she still felt tired. In fact she fell asleep right after eating her breakfast.

She awoke an hour later, and barely had enough time to change from her pyjamas when a knock at the door sounded and three boys entered.

“Darcy! Dev, Adrian!” she yelled and ran to them, hugging them all. “You’re alright! Thank god, I was so worried they would hurt you.”

“You were worried about us?” Darcy asked after he regained his voice. “Lexy, we thought you were dead.”

“I know, and I’m so sorry I put you guys through all that,” she whispered, tears starting to well in her eyes as she embraced the three of them once more.

“You really are alive, aren’t you?” Adrian asked uncertainly, unbelievingly.

Alex nodded with a small smile. “Not rid of me yet, guys.”

“That’s not funny Alex,” Dev said, and Alex immediately felt horrible again. Dev had maybe only ever once taken that tone, and she knew that meant he had been hurting. Badly. It made her feel all the worse because as much as she loved both of them, it always felt as if Dev and her shared a deeper friendship. “You have no idea what it was like seeing your dead—or whatever it was—body, thinking you were gone forever and then your body went missing and now you’re alive? And we find out you’re a witch.”

“Why didn’t you tell us?” Adrian asked.

“It was sorta against the rules, and I thought it would be better that way,” Alex said quietly with a sigh. “I guess I was wrong, though. I’m sorry.”

There was a silence where the two brothers stared at her with slight hesitation. Finally, Dev smiled a small crooked smile and said, “Well at least that explains some of your weirdness and not being able to find a phone in the surrounding area.”

She smiled, happy to see Dev getting back to his normal self again, and hugged them once more.

“Yeah, this is so like…medieval. A castle with torches and moving stairs and what’s with that whole floo powder thing?” Adrian asked.

“I guess I have a lot to explain,” Alex said wandering towards the couch. “Too bad I can’t give you guys a tour though. I’m kinda stuck in this room—in hiding, you know.”

They sat and joked and Alex talked about the magical world, all three boys listening with an avid interest (Darcy was after all, a bit of a stranger too), until Dumbledore came back a good 3 hours later and told them it was time to leave.

She ate her dinner with Regulus (the table in her room was now enchanted to appear with food just as in the great hall) who talked animatedly trying to catch her up on all the happenings of Hogwarts, the magical and muggle world while she was away. Alex listened and reacted at all the right parts, but her mind wandered to thoughts of Sirius. She had longed for him when she was kept at the Black house, but knowing he was far away she was able to keep herself under control. Now that they were in the same castle and only a floor away, she was becoming an emotional wreck, conflicted with wanting to see him right away, and wanting to wait until she was calmer.

Regulus left, and she was alone for less than an hour when James, Remus and Lily entered behind Dumbledore. The three of them stopped in their tracks and stared at Alex, unbelieving and confused. Nobody made a move in either direction for close to three minutes, before Remus finally took four giant strides and closed the gap between them, enveloping her in a warm hug.

“You’re alive. I knew you were alive, you couldn’t be dead. You just couldn’t,” he whispered, holding Alex and stroking through her hair as she started to cry. “Don’t cry, everything is fine now. Shh, it’s alright…”

She couldn’t find her voice, and instead just embraced him tighter, as Lily and James ran up to her.

“Bloody hell, you’re one tough princess,” James said as he hugged her.

“Oh Alex, we thought you weren’t ever coming back,” Lily cried.

Alex tried to grin, “And what, leave you all here to fend for yourselves? How could I possibly…”

Lily chuckled through her tears as she wiped at her eyes, and the four friends sat down on the couch as they started talking all at once about everything, anything and nothing in particular. Until the subject of Sirius came up.

“When do you plan on seeing Sirius?” Remus asked cautiously.

“I…I don’t know,” Alex whispered, feeling the familiar butterflies in her stomach start up again.

“Soon, I should hope, before he completely looses his mind,” James said with a grin. “Maybe we should bring him later tonig—“

“NO!” Alex yelled, interrupting a very stunned James. “Not yet. I think…I need some more time.”

“Oh…well…alright, whatever you say,” James answered coming out of his stupor.

A pause overcame them with just the fire crackling behind them, and then Alex spoke. “How…how is he?”

Another pause, though this time it wasn’t nearly as comfortable as they all tried to find a way to break her the news that Sirius was only this close to being carted off to St. Mungos.

“Better, now,” Remus finally said. “The first couple of weeks you were missing, he was going insane—he just took it all silently. It’s like he wasn’t there, just this empty shell. Then Regulus told him you were alright and he calmed down a bit. But then…well…”

“The muggle newspaper had an article about your death, and he saw that,” Lily carried on slowly. “And when Dumbledore didn’t want to confirm or deny it, he completely lost it—spent a week and some in the infirmary…”

Alex put her head in her hands, tears springing to her eyes and her heart aching as she realized all the pain she had caused for him and everyone close to her.

“…After the second article came up, the one about your missing body, he changed,” Lily finished, and Alex looked at her.

“What do you mean?”

“I think he took it as a sign that you might still be alive or something, and then he started being more normal again,” James continued. “Except he spent so much time in the library researching nobody knows what that it couldn't possibly be normal. But it's like something possessed him—a completely different person, driven only to find whatever he was looking for. You included.”

Alex smiled at them, “I’m so sorry for putting you all through this…and thank you, for being there for Sirius.”

For a moment it looked like they wanted to protest to her apologies, but Alex continued. “Sirius’ birthday is next week. I was thinking maybe we can make him a surprise party…here.”

Their faces lit up at the idea. “Yeah that sounds great!” James agreed at once. “We’ll get him up here somehow.”

They spent the next half hour planning Sirius’ party, before the Gryffindors left Alex alone to her thoughts once more. And for the first time since she had been captured and then rescued, she cried. Cried really hard and for close to an hour she couldn’t stop. They were tears of sadness, joy, pain, fear and hope, and it felt good to finally let out her bottled emotions. She cried herself to sleep.

                                                             * * *

She couldn’t take the anticipation any longer. She walked from one side of the room to the other, muttering to herself as she kept pulling her long hair back and forth over her shoulder. Just when she thought she’d run outside the Room or Requirement and go find Sirius herself, the door opened, and somebody stepped into the room, before the door slammed shut.

“This isn’t funny you guys,” he yelled. “Let me out of here.”

She closed her eyes as the voice echoed in the room and sent shivers down her spine, her heart starting to pound hard. Sirius…

“When I get out of here I’m going to kill you both,” Sirius threatened. She saw him trying to reach for his wand, before kicking the door with an angry “FINE!”

Then he turned around, and her eyes found his, though she was quite sure he didn’t really know who he was looking at just yet. But he started talking as she started to walk towards him. “Who are you? Look, I don’t know why you’re here and why I’m here but whatever James and Remus told you—"

“James and Remus told me you might like to see me,” she said softly, her voice not sounding her own. She saw his shoulders stiffen and his body tense as his voice hit him.

Time seemed to stand still.  Neither moved, or said a word.  They barely even breathed.

…Alex…?” Sirius finally said, though the one word came out quietly and broken, disbelieving.

“Happy Birthday, Sirius,” Alex whispered, staring at him with a faint smile.

Sirius was rooted in place. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing and hearing. Alex. Alive. Alive and in front of him, only a few steps away. Move feet, move! But he couldn’t move. He couldn’t even speak. All he could do was stare at her as tears started to well up in his eyes. Alex stood, not breaking eye contact, waiting for him to make some sort of move. Her heart was beating a thousand times too fast as she counted the seconds.

“…Alex…” he repeated.

“Yeah, it’s me,” she replied with another smile.

He closed his eyes, as the past two months replayed on fast forward in his mind’s eye. He didn’t feel the tears starting to stream down his face. What he did feel, was her arms suddenly around his neck and her lips crashing into his. His mind was still trying to figure everything out, but his body and heart reacted immediately. He wrapped her in his arms and deepened the kiss, feeling in it every single emotion he thought possible. When she finally broke away, though still holding on to his neck tightly, he opened his eyes and looked at her again.

Though hardly able to believe it, there she was before him, staring up at him with a huge grin on her face and streaks of tears on her cheeks. He brought his hands up to her face, running them through her hair, as he smiled back down to her.

She wanted to say so much to him, but all she could do was look at him. She couldn’t find her voice, and neither could he. But to them, it seemed like everything that they wanted to say was being said already. They didn’t need to use their voices for the other to understand. Finally Alex collapsed against his shoulder, embracing him tightly.

This was how it was meant to be. The two of them together, in each others arms.

And that is how it'll stay.





Author's Note:  So...whats the verdict?  I get an A+ for updating so quickly though right? haha.

Please review.  I really appreciate any comments on the chapter or the story in general, especially now that I'm bringing it to a close...I'm not very good with endings.

Almost done!  Now Alex is finally back with Sirius at Hogwarts, and all is well with the world once more.  Or is it...? Tune in next time to find out.

Thanks to everybody reading and/or reviewing!  I hope you enjoyed this chapter.
Cheers.

~Saint

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