The Hogwarts grounds lay now behind; the sun stood full above the horizon and sent golden light over the treetops. Severus took Leonor’s arm firmly; the holdall hung over his shoulder. They looked both well rested though it had been late. Hattie’s compliment about it made them smile. Leonor forced the Pensieve from her mind; the bubbling anger wouldn’t ruin that weekend and Severus appeared grateful to give the past a rest.
“Are you ready?” Severus said with a worried expression.
“Let’s apparate,” grinned Leonor. She had not been in such a good mood for a long time. Her stomach growled without breakfast as usual, but the lime green drops allowed lunch, and Hattie prepared a large pack of sandwiches. She looked forward.
A forceful pull jerked them into a slipstream; Leonor could tell that the landscape changed significantly. They landed behind a muggle bus shelter in between a group of young pine trees. Severus took the wand out and secured the area.
Leonor breathed the fresh air and suppressed the slight nausea from managing the distance in minimal time. The road lay quiet; one muggle car passed the witch and wizard. Opposite the road grazed sheep behind high hedges. A notice displayed a changed timetable of the bus. The rural environment had something peaceful.
“We need to walk from here,” said Severus and pointed the direction. A small path wound through some common heather and straight to a strip of broadleaf forest.
“Can we meet muggles here? The bus operates regularly.”
“Unlikely. The next village is miles away.”
“But the bus stop?”
“There is a farmhouse behind the blind corner. They sell cheese and other homemade products, goat’s milk if you like.” Severus made a face.
“It’s nice here.” Leonor tried to espy the blue sky under a large purple beech. The place was quiet and cool.
“Tourist area?” she bored deeper, getting nosier about Severus’ plan with the minute.
“Yes, but secluded. Only long-distance walkers may pass in summer.” Severus hurried further.
Leonor called now, “Wait, walk with me.”
“The area is secure.”
Leonor captured Severus from behind. “I’ve not expected anything else if I’m on a date with you,” she exulted. It didn’t take the unease from Severus. “Nervous?” she asked.
Severus just shook his head. “Come, it’s going to be better.”
They exited under the trees and the path led them across a sandy patch overgrown with beachgrass swaying in gusty wind. The sea brawled vilely afar. The path continued to the right and left along a steep coast above the blue ocean. Green grass seamed the rolling hills till sky, sea and land touched at the horizon. Only in front of them stood an old, weather beaten kissing gate with a long fence. Red and white warning signs spoke of a hazardous area, dangerous cliffs slipped down into the sea. Boulders lay in the depth washed round from the wild waves. It must have been a long time when livestock browsed the area behind the gate. The area appeared chilly, different from the beautiful weather in the small forest.
Severus walked through the gate, balancing on the narrow ridge above the water, a boyish grin on his face.
Leonor’s heart raced looking down and then Severus dragged her a step further. For a split-second Leonor saw herself falling but then the dangerous area resolved in grassland. A path led through a hollow to a white beach. The air felt warm and mild, the gusty wind changed to a mild summery breeze.
Severus put his hand in the small of Leonor’s back. “Is that better?” he asked.
“A muggle and wizard repelling charm hides the area.” She realized it smiling.
“Yes, if you step on the large rock above the unstable slope the spell is lifted, and you see the real nature.”
“Can we go to the beach and have our picnic?” Leonor jumped further down, running few steps towards the water.
“Who’s first with the feet in the water? No magic!” commanded Leonor.
They run down the path, tottered in the deep, soft sand and fell exhausted down. The water many meters away; the long dark wizarding gowns an insurmountable obstacle for running on a warm day.
Leonor reached out for Severus, kissing him fervently. He answered rather subdued; he was still serious. The lightness of the situation didn’t jump over. He hated himself that he was unable to hide it when Leonor gave him a searching look, while taking off the cloak and formal dress. She changed it to a pair of shorts and a shirt from the overnight bag.
“Sorry to appear in my sleeping clothe, but otherwise I die from heat stroke.”
Severus only grinned and removed also his shoes and clothes except the long black pair of trousers. He lay backwards in the warm sand, eyes closed.
“Lunch is ready,” said Leonor after a while. Sandwiches and pumpkin juice stood on a conjured picnic blanket.
They ate the lunch in silence.
“The beach is beautiful. I’ve not seen such a place in England before,” mentioned Leonor after a pause with a side glance at Severus.
He answered absentmindedly, “The coast of Wales offers many unspoiled beaches, though that one is special. The repelling charm keeps everybody away. I doubt that wizards have been here in the last decades.”
“Your thoughts are elsewhere,” said Leonor.
Severus answered only after a long while, playing reflectively with small pieces of driftwood. “There are only two weeks before term end. Something must happen by then.”
“How far has the curse progressed to Dumbledore’s heart?”
“He stopped taking the Pestilent Aqua and refuses to talk about it. It’s the final stadium; the aqua helps not forever. He knows that.”
“Maybe there are more weeks left during the break?”
“The murder needs an audience. When Potter is moved from Little Whinging to a safe place, the Dark Lord will try to catch the boy. It will happen on thirty-first of July the latest. Then the Dark Lord will overthrow the ministry. The deadline for Dumbledore and Draco is before that. Hogwarts will be different after the summer.”
“Let’s walk a bit. You have to think of other things.”
“Indeed. I have to show you more,” said Severus and got up holding his hand out to pull Leonor up.
The beach was white, the water clear and the sand fine without sharp pebbles. High cliffs bordered the bay. The sun shone at its brightest peak. Gulls flew along the coastline and enjoyed the aerodynamic lift. Leonor could have walked through the soft sand and the cool waves forever. Time stood still for a moment.
“Swallows, Swifts, House Martins and Sand Martins all nest on such cliff faces in summer. You must find out which species of birds nest here.”
“I have to find it out?” asked Leonor incredulously.
“You will have time to discover,” replied Severus, and he looked for the first time straight to Leonor’s eyes since they arrived at the coast.
“Where are we?”
“You know that coast well?”
“I’ve been here a couple of times. You can take a boat trip to one of the offshore islands. With some luck you see Puffins. There are several villages at St. Brides bay. A few wizarding families live in the next village. It’s about an hour to walk.” Severus pointed in the direction to something that looked like a fishing cutter starting from an invisible harbour.
“And why do you tell me all that, if we are just here for an afternoon?”
Severus frowned and took a worn photograph from the back pocket and handed it to Leonor.
“That is from your grandmother. I took it from the cardboard box. I remembered that rock. It is about two miles away.”
“I searched for the house of your grandmother.”
“I don’t mind if it does not exist. I gave up the search long time ago, Severus. No need to sulk.”
Severus smiled mischievously. “It is there, just on top of the cliffs.”
Leonor looked upwards into the blue sky. “You are joking, there is nothing.”
“It is under the Fidelius Charm and I need to tell you the location.” Severus handed Leonor a piece of paper. “Remember it and keep the paper for the midwife.”
“I only believe it when I see it.”
“Read it,” shrugged Severus.
Leonor looked upwards and read. A house materialized slowly on the cliffs, an old, creaky cottage with deeply weathered wood at the outside.
“Come, we go inside.” They walked now faster, still hand in hand along the path to the upper cliffs.
“You did the Fidelius Charm?”
“Yep. I am the Secret Keeper. When I die, all who know the location will become Secret Keepers too. That is important. Be careful whom you tell the address. In case the times are safe you can lift the charm and the house is detectable and the repelling charm remains the only security measure.”
Leonor was speechless.
“Your grandmother or her husband charmed the area. I’m sure nobody found it in all those years. I searched the coast for weeks and then I stepped on the right stone. It is a very ancient repelling charm. I will explain to you how to lift it, but for now it is very safe.”
“I’ve never met somebody like you,” said Leonor proudly.
“You make me stronger,” smiled Severus.
He said to Leonor, “Go in,” and she opened the house with the name plate “Above the Cliffs” on the door.
Two broomsticks and a pair of wellington boots stood in a narrow corridor. A corkscrew stair on the left led to the upper floor. To the right was a room either used as pantry or storeroom. Empty high shelves stood along the walls. Straight ahead Leonor entered a roomy kitchen with a large fireplace, a stove, an ample table and all necessary cupboards. Windows framed the room and a cushioned sofa run along the walls like a window seat. The view was breath-taking. To the right stood another door open and it revealed a large bedroom. The room was brightly lit by the large windows, fully furnished and with a brick stone mantelpiece in the middle.
“I don’t know what to say,” uttered Leonor after inspecting the lower floor again and again.
“Then say nothing.” Severus embraced her from behind and rested his chin on her shoulder. “Do you like it?”
“I’ve always dreamed of an English cottage and that is it. It’s authentic. How come that everything is in such a good condition?”
“Well, it’s one of those old wizarding houses. Time does not destroy it if unused.”
“You did something, didn’t you?”
Severus just held his hand up surrendering, “No. It is like your grandparents left it. I dusted it a bit, checked the roof, but it is in best order. The previous owner built it under very clever spells. It is worthwhile to study a little and make sure to keep it that way. The weather and wind are fierce in the area in winter.”
“And the upper floor?”
“A nice bathroom and two more bedrooms, no furniture.”
“Any personal belongings?”
Severus just shook his head and said, “Nothing, except that.” He took a notebook from a bedside cabinet. “I cannot read it, but maybe you can.”
Leonor looked at it, “Spanish. It’s kind of diary of my grandfather. His name is on the cover sheet. There’s an old photograph of the two.”
“Whatever information you discover in it, at least it confirmed that I found the right cottage.”
“I still cannot believe it.” Leonor cast the book aside and embraced Severus, resting her head on his chest.
“Move here,” he said quietly, “it is secluded but safe. It is yours, I’m sure you are the heiress and your papers prove it. You’ll find a way to do your business without divulging the location to everybody.”
“I will. The apothecary and my house in London are good, nice places to live, but that cottage and the view is extraordinary.”
He lifted her chin slowly towards his lips. His kiss was long and deep and satisfying. They removed the few remaining clothes without a rush, taking in the sight of their naked bodies. He gently laid her down on the soft bed. It was just right for them, here and now. He traced his fingers along her collarbone, kissed her eyes and nose to finish another fierce kiss on the already swollen lips.
“Sev, let me,” moaned Leonor, feeling his hard-on pushing against her hips.
“Wait,” he whispered and rained more kisses down her body. Two pale perfect breasts gleamed in the sunlight. He traced his fingers around and around the sensitive skin, sucking the rosy nipples with pleasure. He loved that body and even more the female curves from the pregnancy. It made him weak and all the walls fell so easily, a feeling of freedom eased his heart. The desire became torture for both, and Severus turned on his back, still holding her hand.
“Now, come on here, if you want.”
She wrapped silky thighs around his waist trusting herself that she could do it without his warm embrace. With his look on her naked body she rode them to the top. They drank the taste of each other, felt like one and ended quivering in each other’s arms. He kissed her forehead and held her close until she stopped shaking.
“I love you, Leo,” said Severus quietly, “I will always love you.”
“I love you too, Sev.”
He was happy.
The sun was about to sink in the sea soon and tinted the bedroom in a mild orange glow.
“We need to stop talking. You know now everything what I found out about the repelling charm, the house, the village where you might even find help from our kind of people.”
“I don’t want to stop, Severus. Why not another hour?”
“You know why. I shall fetch our stuff from the beach before it gets too dark.”
Severus got up, collecting the abandoned pair of trousers from the floor.
“Take my shirt, likely it is already cool outside.”
He shook his head and disappeared.
Leonor wrapped herself in a blanket and walked to the windows in the kitchen. Severus walked along the path, and she saw him collecting the picnic and the bag.
Leonor returned to the bedroom and dressed in underwear before looking out of the window front to the other side. In the distance she saw the top of the church tower and the lights of the village Severus mentioned. The night replaced the golden shimmer of the landscape. Long black shadows made the details of the grassland invisible. Stars appeared faintly between some scattered clouds.
A door creaked. Severus returned.
“Sev,” called Leonor. “Look at that.”
“It’s that vision, Cathy Greengrass’ vision. I’ve seen us in that house with that view in the darkness. It looked like our dark robes in front of the bright windows. We’ve not been alone. We had children.”
Severus embraced her from behind. That house could not mean any danger. He was sure of it. It was a safe place to raise a child.
“It is a nice view even if it is dark.”
“You say it as if you knew it all along.”
“No, I didn’t. But the house is good. I trust the vision meant no harm.”
“I said to Martina that it feels like a happy memory and now we have our memory.”
“Yes, we do.” Severus embraced Leonor.
“Severus, do you remember what Sybill Trelawney said to me, at Christmas about three years ago?”
Severus looked suddenly embarrassed and Leonor continued.
“She said something like ‘a prince brings the joy of a long-lost dream’. She spoke about you, the house, the baby. It’s two dreams that have been lost. You are my prince, Sev.”
“I do not believe in those things.” Severus pinched his nose awkwardly.
“It has not much to do with belief if Sybill is a real seer.”
“I’m grown up with a few fairy tales. My mother had a liking of it. She had ‘Sleeping Beauty’ on her nightstand and read it again and again. It didn’t change the ugly appearance of my father when he was drunk.” Severus shrugged, before he continued with a grin on his face, “Don’t tell me that you like cheap literature were the prince always saves the princess?”
“No, I don’t, though some cliché is quite relaxing to read,” said Leonor smiling.
“You are my queen; a prince is not enough for you.” Severus blushed, hiding it snuggling his face into her hair and pressing light kisses to Leonor’s ear and neck.
“Don’t distract me from Sybill. You said she made one prediction that came true. You showed me in the Pensieve.”
“Yes, I said that.”
“And you think that one is nonsense?”
“I don’t know Leonor. There’s so much ahead of us. Let me bring you home now.”
“I think Sybill was right until you prove the contrary,” argued Leonor and dressed finally in her formal wizarding robes.
They soon left the house behind and apparated into Leonor’s garden and the last thing Severus said, before he left was, “My mother’s maiden name was Prince and I used to secretly call me ‘The Half-Blood Prince’ at school. I neither wanted to associate with my father nor with the ideology of Slytherin. I hated both worlds when studying in Hogwarts. It came different. The House of Slytherin showed me first that I was a capable wizard. I lied to myself.”
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