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Chapter Six

Conversations with Friends and Devils

Severus Snape had completely gotten control of his anger by the morning after the meeting of the Order of the Phoenix. Truly, he was done being aggravated by the silly woman and her wanton behavior toward the werewolf after ten minutes. He entered the great hall early for breakfast. She was already there and just to show her that he was above her accusation that he’d acted jealously, he seated himself next to her at the head table.

“Good morning, Professor Wood,” he said. “Did you sleep well?”

Felicity looked up surprised. Not once in the three weeks that she’d practically thrown herself at him in every friendly way in order to get close to him, had he barely acknowledged her existence. Now, suddenly after having a shouting match with him on the streets of London and he’d become sweet as pie. “You realize, Severus that you confuse me no end,” she said.

“That was not an answer to my question.”

“I slept well,” she said grinning at him. He was truly a wonderful example of the stuffed shirt. “Did you? Sleep well, I mean?”

“Superbly. In fact, I believe it was the most relaxing sleep that I’ve had in several months.” He wore his smug and aloof exterior like an old glove.

“Isn’t it interesting, Severus, how letting out a little of that aggression you continually bottle up inside you, can help you sleep at night?” She smiled sweetly at him raising her mug of coffee to her lips. She was half tempted to bat her eyelids but thought better of it. He might hex her.

“Don’t be impertinent, Felicity,” said Snape narrowing his gaze at her. “I’ve merely forgiven you for your unseemly behavior last evening. You showed rash judgment that is most probably typical of your character.”

She glared right back at him and added a growl for good measure, but he ignored her. Eventually, she gave up on him and continued with her breakfast of ham and eggs with pancakes. She was going to get fat if the house elves kept feeding her what she loved to eat.

The hall began to fill with students lumbering in for breakfast. The poor dears always looked so tired in the mornings, as if they’d spent the entire night with their noses in their books. Severus occupied himself immediately with glaring at them, especially the Gryffindors and especially Harry Potter and his friends. The man was a habitual menace. It was no wonder the students thought he was a vampire. Sometimes, she wondered how he ever aspired to teaching children at all. He seemed to loathe them so much.

Felicity noticed that they were the only teachers at breakfast. It was as if the entire school was under siege and all the teachers were actively avoiding public places where they might have to endure the roaming pink cow from the Ministry of Magic, Dolores Umbridge. Now, there was someone to truly loathe.

The mail began to arrive. Swooping owls flew through the hall with newspapers, packages and letters. It was an amazing sight. Snape raised an eyebrow ready to judge, as an owl dropped a package before Felicity. As she opened it she felt a little thrill of excitement. It was from Remus Lupin. The small charm with the magically glittering and iridescent moon fell from the package. She picked it up and held it laughing with delight.

Severus let out an ever so slight grunt of disgust but before he could say anything snide, another owl dropped a letter into his lap. It was a summons from Malfoy Manor. Lucius wrote that he insisted he come that evening and would take no excuses. It was an order that he couldn’t refuse.

The familiar feeling of emptiness and doom that Severus had felt for most of the summer hit him right between the eyes. It would no longer be possible to avoid the Dark Lord. Lucius Malfoy would certainly never allow it and he would descend into his old and familiar roll of spy within the Death Eaters. Severus, for only a moment, allowed some fear, some sadness, and some self-pity to seep into his well-protected interior but only for an instant. Any more and the floodgates would open.

“It does not mean that you’ll die, Severus,” said Felicity watching him. “You are very good at Legilimency and Occlumency, more so than he realizes.”

He looked at her in alarm. This time he knew she knew his thoughts somehow.“Obviously, I am not as good as I thought, Miss Wood! Tell me, if you would, how you are able to know what I am thinking?” he asked sternly.

“My training is in different disciplines than yours, Severus,” she said knowing that he finally understood that he could not hide from her. “I have ways of listening and you can’t shut me out.”

“How dare you!” he hissed.

“How dare I what?” she said irritated. “Care for you? Help you? Protect you? What?” She looked at him defiant. Albus Dumbledore had set her a ridiculous task. It was useless. He resented everything about her. No one got along with the man. He didn’t want any of her help. She got up to leave. He might have forgiven her for her behavior last evening but she had not forgiven him. She headed out the door stomping past the student’s table. Both Hermione and Harry looked up at her in alarm. She ignored their concerned faces and rushed out the door toward Dumbledore’s tower room.

There were soft voices in deep debate just beyond Dumbledore’s door when she knocked.

“Come in, Felicity!” called Dumbledore from inside.

There was no one in the room but the Headmaster. All the paintings of past Headmasters watched her, some pretending to be asleep. They must be forever giving him advice.

Albus Dumbledore was smiling pleasantly at her as she walked into his circular receiving room. He sat at the desk writing on a parchment. Dumbledore always looked so agreeable and open, as if nothing in the world fazed him. But the old man was uncanny. He had known it was she at the door just as he seemed to know most things. “Tell me, Headmaster,” she said standing before him. “Did you ever study in Tibet?” She’d meant to start on a different tack but Dumbledore was so much more than he seemed and she was suddenly curious about his background.

Albus chuckled as he put the finishing touching on a parchment. “I was in Tibet for five long years more than seventy years ago, my dear.”

She realized then how he had known about her. “So, you understand the third eye, the witness of us all, sir? You have the sight, sir?” she said. That’s how he understood.

“I do.”

“And you know more about the dragon people then you led me to believe.” Of course, it made perfect sense. His immense power had to be based on a universal of knowledge of all the disciplines. It would explain his mystery. He was very old and had most likely traveled widely just as she hoped to. He must have also discussed her with Master Tong. “Have you even been to the temple school?”

“I have not misled you, Felicity.” Dumbledore looked at her with amused eyes of scrutiny over his half moon glasses.

“I do indeed understand your particular uniqueness. After all, I believe that I wrote the book on the twelve uses of dragon’s blood in my youth. Master Tong and I are old friends and we have discussed you, my dear, at length. You are here with his full blessing. He is as sure as I that you will be able to help our Professor Snape.”

Felicity groaned. “Headmaster, I realize that you’ve asked me to help you protect Severus Snape from the Dark Lord because you believe he needs my expertise.”

“Yes, Felicity.”

“I cannot do it, sir,” she said with a sigh. “Not unless you tell him what is planned for him. I can’t carry on this charade. He’s too cunning, too suspicious and…”

There was a loud knock on the door.

“…too irascible.”

Dumbledore eyed Felicity over his spectacles smiling gently. “He’s at the door, my dear. Shall we let him in?” He gestured that she sit down in a chair and nodded to her encouragingly. “He seems to be angry.”

“Yes, as always,” she sighed sadly. “I just seem to make him worse. I feel that I’ve failed you, sir.” She let her body bend to the chair and indulged her feeling of helplessness.

“Nonsense, my dear. As you’ve said, he’s a bit of a hard case.” Dumbledore smiled encouragingly.

The knock came again, harder and louder.

“Come in, Professor Snape!” called Dumbledore.

The door flew open and Snape flew in intent on ranting about Professor Wood only to find her sitting in a chair in Dumbledore’s office. “I must protest, Headmaster,” he said sneering in Felicity’s direction. “You have enlisted this woman for some purpose without my knowledge.”

“Yes, Professor Snape, I have enlisted our dear Felicity to help you.”

“And why have you done this outrage without consulting me?” asked Snape. Dumbledore took unfair advantage of his position, certainly.

“It is hardly an outrage, Professor Snape. I have only done it because you needed her help. Sit down, please Professor and we’ll discuss this.” He indicated another chair.

“I have not given you any reason to have me watched, Headmaster,” grumbled Snape, sitting in the chair. “I have resisted the Dark Lord’s call, I have been loyal in the face of great obstacles.”

Dumbledore shook his head sadly. “Severus, Severus, I do not question your loyalty. You are a wizard of innumerable talents and virtues. I only wished to aid you in your fight against Voldemort. He has returned, my friend. The evil fiend who has killed so many has returned to challenge us once again. These are dark times that we enter. It will be worse, as last time, before it can get better. Felicity was willing to do as I asked and help you resist him. She is not instructed to watch you.”

Snape looked at Felicity who was sadly looking at her shoes and scrunched into the chair as if she were a teenager in trouble. In fact, she hardly looked her thirty-five years and looked eighteen. He found it hard to believe that this woman could possibly save him from the Dark Lord’s shrewdness.

“I can if you will only let me,” said Felicity looking at him proudly.

“But, why?” He had no idea how she did it. How did she see his thoughts so clearly?

“She sees your thoughts because I asked her to, Severus,” said Dumbledore. It made Snape’s head spin. He was an accomplished Occlumence and everyone seemed to be inside his head.

“I asked her to help you, Severus, because you are one of my most important allies,” sighed Dumbledore. “You are a man who will be asked to perform insurmountable tasks, my friend. Voldemort will seek you out. He knows that you are here at Hogwarts with me. He will use you in any way he can.” Dumbledore fixed his eyes on Snape. “We cannot afford to lose you. Felicity has successfully eluded him in the past. She has talents to escape his grip. She will be able to help you.”

“I have training and knowledge in what you call the Dark Arts, Severus,” said Felicity sadly. “I am more of an expert in certain practices than the Dark Lord himself.”

Snape gasped. What had she done to him to make the mark stop calling him to the Dark Lord? “Sir,” he said, turning to Dumbledore. “Lucius Malfoy has summoned me to Malfoy Manor. He says that I am to come to dinner but I have no doubts that I am to be led to the Dark Lord’s door.”

“It was only a matter of time, my friend,” replied Dumbledore grimly. “You are the one wizard in this world that is closest to me, Severus. He will want to know that you are still the Death Eater of old. You must fool him at all costs.”

“Yes, sir.” Severus was certainly lost. A great weight of melancholy sat on his shoulders.

“Let Felicity help you, Severus. Lean on her. I ask you to. You are very important, as I’ve said and she will give you strength.” Dumbledore sighed deeply. He was not happy about sending his friends into harms way. Though he had confidence in Severus Snape and knew that he would be able to resist Voldemort, it was certainly not doing any good for the poor man’s soul.

Snape apparated directly to the front garden of Malfoy Manor that evening as he had so many times in the past. He stood on the front walk, breathing in the lovely aroma of the flowers that Lucius’ wife. Narcissa always had growing in the garden no matter what the season. Felicity had given him a potion that had calmed him and as she had put it in her own infuriately vague way: thickened his blood so that he would be entirely in control of all that he was. Sometimes, she prattled on just like Trelawney. He had only allowed the potion because Dumbedore had asked him to. He was entirely capable controlling his emotions; in fact he was famous for it.

He walked up the walk and into the front vestibule where he waited for the house elf to find him. Instead, it was Lucius himself who came forward and greeted him with that wicked half smile that was his signature.

“Severus, my old friend,” he drawled deliberately emphasizing and elongating the words. “It’s been too long.” Lucius clasped his hand firmly and held his shoulder in welcome.

“The start of term has been busy, Lucius,” said Severus coldly. “I could not get away for a social call without raising suspicions. Dumbledore watches me most closely these days and there is an abomination disguised as the Dark Arts Professor from the Ministry of Magic that is underfoot and spying on my every move.”

“So, I’ve heard, my friend,” said Lucius leading him to the drawing room and pulling close the pocket doors behind them. “ You know, I’ve been hard at work at the Ministry for our special friend.” He winked meaningfully at Snape.

“If you’d like, I’ll mention to Minister Fudge that you should be exempt from this woman’s spying. After all, you are Head of Slytherin House and therefore above question.”

“I would certainly appreciate that, Lucius,” said Snape watching him as he went to the small discreet bar in the corner, poured cocktails and without asking if he’d even like it, handed him one.

Lucius Malfoy was the perfect example of what pureblood genetics could do for a wizard. He stood erect and his handsome features were always in the perfect order. He was not one to make faces unless one counted curling a lip in a sneer as a face. His long white blonde hair, as well as his perfectly portioned and experienced hands seemed to drive women wild. He was cunning, self assured, subtle, and ambitious, if not a little given to acts of cruelty.

Overall, he was the perfect example of what a pureblood Slytherin should be. Frankly, Severus Snape envied him in every way, something that made them the perfect friends. Lucius Malfoy, above all else, enjoyed the envy of others.

“So how is our special friend, Lucius?” Severus said evenly. Even though he indulged the ever so slight dread of the Dark Lord’s presence, he knew it was best to bring it up first. “Are we seeing him tonight? He’s been calling and the pain was excruciating. Dumbledore forced some poultice on me a few weeks ago and has been watching me ceaselessly.”

“Has he now?” Lucius sat in a plush chair to relax, his drink dangling in his hand. He indicated that Severus do the same with a graceful gesture. “We wondered why you didn’t answer the summons. Of course, I told him that it was most likely Dumbledore, but you know how he can be. Believe me, old friend that one has not changed. Only the skin is different.” Lucius laughed at his own joke. “Ha! Most literally!”

Snape only smirked. It was best to let Lucius carry on with his own entertainment.

“I wouldn’t worry about Dumbledore for too much longer.” Lucius raised his drink as if to toast his own genius. He flashed his gray eyes at Severus in delight. “I’ve managed to work up that idiot Fudge into a froth over the injustice of Dumbledore’s ambitions for his job. The man has become completely obsessed with getting rid of him. I’m telling you that the imbecile will do our whole job for us. It’s really rich.”

“I can hardly wait,” said Severus coolly. “The old goat has been having me watched. He’s enlisted some young woman that is constantly underfoot.”

“Do tell, is she pretty?”


“You should enjoy yourself, Snape. Believe me, there’s nothing so delicious as a woman who thinks she’s spying on you for duties sake. It adds so much to the experience.” Lucius smiled at some memory and then returned to business. “We must, in fact, go and see him tonight. He’s most insistent. I’ve a portkey all arranged as he’s so paranoid of being found out.” Lucius sighed, the weight of the world on his shoulders as second in command to the great lord. "I’ll be happier when our numbers are larger, between you and I.” He indulged a pout. “I’ve been trooping all over hell and gone enlisting endless beings and all the while keeping my foot firmly planted in that foul Fudge’s buttock.”

“I haven’t exactly been swanning on the lake up at the castle, my friend.” Snape couldn’t help but roll his eyes. Lucius was such a whiner. Rolling in gold, with everything he wanted and still he found time to complain.

“I know, I know, dear friend,” said Lucius flashing a smile of perfect teeth at Snape. Yet another thing Snape envied. “I’m just vexed because I’ve got to go down to some flee bitten village in the Lake District tomorrow and talk to some werewolves.”

“Foul creatures.” And, Snape meant it, too.

They finished their drinks and Lucius rose to leave.

“We may as well get on with it, friend,” said Lucius. “I swear his temper gets worse by the minute. If the rest don’t break free from Azka….well, you know where…I don’t know what he’ll do.”

“Why are we using a portkey? I thought they were traceable,” said Snape as he reached for it with Lucius.

“Not if you’re sleeping with the Administrator’s secretary, my friend. Honestly, the things I must do…” and they were gone.

Voldemort sat waiting for them by a roaring fire. It was stifling hot in the room. He sat imperiously watching as they entered the room. He’d been expecting them. Snape followed Lucius in and stood next to him. They both bowed to Voldemort gracefully in unison. Voldemort had always loved the pomp part of his enormous power. It was a fact that both Severus and Lucius had practiced the finer points of groveling before the Dark Lord.

“I have called and called and yet no one comes to see me, Snape,” said Voldemort in what could have been a sneer but Snape found it hard to tell. The Dark Lord could no longer be described as a man. He was more a skeletal figure with skin and red evil eyes that seemed to see directly inside what he was looking at. Severus clamped down hard on any emotion or any memory that may have strayed to the forefront of his mind.

“I apologize for my delay, sir,” he said distantly.

“My most ardent followers are temporarily being held in Azkaban. What is your excuse?”

“Dumbledore has been having me watched twenty-four hours a day and he applied a poultice that kept me from you,Lord.”

“Poultice? Poultice? That’s not possible.” He leaned forward extending a skeletal hand. “Let me see my mark upon you, servant.”

Snape bowed and came forward extending his arm to be held in the fiend’s grip. Voldemort ran his clammy hands along the mark in almost a caress, searching for what the magic was that made it. “What has Dumbledore been up to Snape?” he asked as he examined it.

Severus’ clamped down on any revulsion he may have felt as the Dark Lord gripped his arm. “He’s started the Order of the Phoenix again to fight you, sire,” said Snape smoothly. He was in danger of retching.

“Fools,” said Voldemort dismissively. “A secret society of miscreant misfits. They’re nothing but a bunch of mudbloods. Dumbledore was never one for the subtle tactics needed to lead the mighty.”

Lucius laughed.

Voldemort released Snape’s arm and looked into his eyes suspiciously. “Leave us, Lucius,” he said. “I want a word with this one alone.”

If Lucius Malfoy felt any criticism in his dismissal, he was too in control to show it. He left the room quietly.

“That is a magic that Dumbledore would never allow, Snape,” sneered the Dark Lord nastily. He pointed to Snape’s arm. “Those bleeding hearts at Hogwarts would rather die than perform the Dark Arts. Who did this for you? You can’t have done it yourself. It’s only possible done by a particular type of wizard. I’ve actually never seen it done and that, my servant, is unusual.” Voldemort watched Snape for any reaction, any fear. Though he had been trustworthy in the past and like Malfoy was able to keep one step ahead of the enemy, such magic was extreme and therefore something to be wary of. Snape had also not come when he’d been called. Voldemort insisted on compliance to his will at all times.

“We have a young woman from the East teaching Ancient Runes who made a poultice is all that I understand.” Snape kept his voice even. Years of practice had given him the ability to mask all outward emotion or opinion. The Dark

Lord could not ‘read’ much from him and thought him a very cold fish. Snape would never allow himself to feel fear in the Dark Lord’s presence, but he did fleetingly remember that Felicity had said she was once of interest to Voldemort.

Voldemort’s hideous eyes narrowed on him. “What is the name of this professor?”

Snape only hesitated for a second. “Felicity Wood.”

“This Miss Wood is there with you at Hogwarts? Really?” The Dark Lord seemed suddenly amused.

“Yes.” Snape could feel the lord’s excitement and it filled him with feelings of dread.

“You must bring her to me,” said Voldemort fiercely.

Snape squashed any panic that he may have instinctually felt. “She will not come willingly, sir,” he said icily. “She’s told me that you’ve killed her family.”

“Did she tell you anything else, Snape?” said Voldemort watching him.

“She said that she was special when I asked her why she’d be of interest to you, Lord.” His face did not move a muscle and he was completely in the moment, anything less and he would lose control of his composure.

“And that’s all she told you?”


“She has never once told you why she would be special to me, Snape?”

“No.” This line of questioning would have had Snape sneering and snarling at any other questioner long before but this was the Dark Lord. He offended easily and then you suffered.

“Bring her to me.

“I told you that she would not come willingly, sir. The castle is guarded against kidnapping.”

“Persuade her, Snape. Get her to Hogsmeade, go down to the pub and drug her if you have to. I’ll warn you to use a strong drug on that one. I want her here.” The skeletal face of the dark lord licked his lips as if in anticipation of lunch. “Your proof of loyalty and therefore your life, depend on it.”

“Why, sir?”

“Don’t be impertinent,” said Voldemort harshly. He looked at Snape, observing his servant shrewdly. “You do not know why she is important, I can understand that. You would not approve, certainly.” He laughed. It was the amused cackle of a flock of crows. “She is cunning, that one. Beware of her, servant. Watch her closely.” The Dark Lord let out a low and sinister snigger. “Dumbledore must know about her. Otherwise, he’s less of an obstacle than I’ve thought.”

He waved his hand in dismissal of Snape. “Go, and bring her to me. Whatever it takes, do it!”

Snape backed away and removed himself from the room. Lucius Malfoy was standing outside leaning on his cane looking bored. “Done, are we?” he drawled.

“Very,” sneered Snape. He relaxed in Lucius presence. The berk could not distinguish thoughts in another. “Let’s leave here.”

“To Malfoy manor, then old friend? We’ll have another drink before you return to the castle.”

“No, I’ll return to Malfoy Manor, but I’ll leave straight away for Hogwarts,” said Snape realizing where he needed to be. “The Dark Lord has given me an errand that I must attend to.”

“Pity,” smiled Lucius. “I so hoped for more of a chat about what is transpiring at Hogwarts. Narcissa will be narked at me for not discussing Draco, of course. You must come to dine properly with us so that we may discuss our futures under better circumstances, Snape. Next week, I insist.” Lucius fixed his piercing eyes on him. It was an order and Snape knew it.

“Next week, then, Lucius,” said Snape. They took the portkey back to Malfoy Manor and then Snape apparated to the gates of Hogwarts with barely a nod at Lucius before he left.

He raced across the grounds from the front gate and into the castle. Filch was doing his night rounds but he barely stopped to acknowledge him. He had one purpose and one purpose only. Running down the steps to the dungeon, he then banged on her door. To hell with anyone in Slytherin House who may have heard the sound, he needed to know. She must tell him.

There was a muffled sound behind the door. He waited impatiently for several minutes and was just about to bang more loudly when the door opened. Felicity stood in her robe. She was covered in a thin layer of powder. Even her hair was white with it.

“Has something happened?” she asked concerned.

“Yes,” he hissed at her. “We must talk. May I come in?”

She opened the door wider to allow him to enter her suite. It was a room fit for a Slytherin queen. The walls were draped with tapestries, the furniture looked straight out of a Persian boudoir and the fire lamps were all shaded in stain glass. Everything in the room was a shade of green to gold. He stood mesmerized for a moment before turning his intense black eyes on her.

“Why are you covered in powder?” he asked realizing she looked strangely like a ghost. The only part of her not white was her robe that she had obviously draped about herself in haste as it hung loosely open in the front exposing her skin. If it weren’t for the white mess about her, he may have been aroused.

She gathered her robe closer together realizing she was practically naked. She had changed from her dragon self so quickly that she’d neglected to clean her skin dust. Master Tong had told her again and again that she should not rush her change and that she would suffer the consequences if she were hasty. But Snape’s knocking had felt so panicked that she’d needed to respond. Felicity had a slight bit of vertigo and she swooned into Snape’s arms before she realized it. “So sorry,” she said slumping into him.

He caught her and tried to lift her to take her to the couch but she weighed a ton. Snape was attempting to drag her but he gave up and laid her on the rug in the middle of the room. The woman was only a little shorter than he and slim, but the weight of her was surprisingly absurd.

Snape grabbed his wand and pointed it at her. “Ennervate” he said quickly.

She blinked her eyes open and starred up at him. “What happened?” she said panicked.

“You fainted,” said Snape, helping her to sit up. Whatever was on her skin was getting all over his black robes.

Both he and she were now a mess. He sat on the floor with her plopping down with a thud. The absurdity of the situation coupled with the stress of his encounter with the Dark Lord made him finally lose control. He began shaking with laugher. He’d run from the Dark Lord to see her and accuse her of deceiving him once again, only to have her faint on him. His handprints were all over her body and the white dust was everywhere. It was starting to make him sneeze. He lay down next to her on the rug panting from the exertion of trying to lift her. He was alive, he had faced the Dark Lord and here he was a white dusty mess lying on Felicity’s floor. Felicity’s panicked face only made him laugh all the harder. He was alive!

Felicity jumped up, pulled her wand from robe and cleaned them both up with a swish and a flick. She pulled Severus to his feet. He was still laughing like a mad man and scaring her half to death. It was unhealthy for a man like him to laugh. It looked so unnatural it was unnerving her. She put her hands to his forehead and cheek checking for fever.

Severus abruptly seized both her hands in a fierce grip and frowned at her suspiciously. He fixed his black eyes on her forcing himself into her mind but she wouldn’t let him in. “What are you to the Dark Lord?” he said vehemently.

“He knows your name. Why?”

She tried to wriggle from his grip but he had clamped hard to her wrists knowing that she was strong. “Please let go of me, Severus. It hurts.”

“No,” he answered coldly. “Answer my question.”

“I told you that I was special.” She held her chin up boldly. “He wants my powers on his side. I nearly lost to him the last time we met but was able to get free. I was much younger and inexperienced. His Dark Arts curses do not kill me, they only weaken me.”

“How is that possible?”

She smiled wickedly at him. He was really so dominating sometimes that he was almost fun. “I have a very thick skin.”

He gripped her all the harder, thinking he might squeeze some sense out of her and then let her go. She stood rubbing her wrists watching him. There was something about this man that made her want to consume his fire. He seethed with an intensity shown only below the surface. It was tantalizing.

“Who are you?” he asked.

“That’s not the right question.”

“What are you?” he whispered.

“You don’t want to know, Severus.”

“But I do, I must know, Felicity,” he said curling his lip in a sneer. “You are so powerful that the Dark Lord is giddy with excitement at the very thought of you here at Hogwarts. He has told me that I must bring you to him, my dear. Or, he will kill me.” He watched her composure change.

Her face blanched. “Severus, what have you done?”

“He saw the Dark Mark. He asked who had done the sealing against him. You did not tell me that your name would elicit such an unusual response. He laughed at me, Felicity because I did not know who you are.” He grabbed her again, desperate to get a straight answer out of her. “I want to know why!”

“I am a dragon woman, Severus.” Her face was sad and wistful.

He gripped her harder. “What exactly is that?”

“My blood is mixed with dragon’s blood. I am only partly human, I share my very soul with a dragon.” She knew how he would react. She could have won money on it.

He released her in horror. He’d had that same look of revulsion on his face when he had talked of Remus Lupin. She wanted to spit on him.

“I warned you that you didn’t want to know,” she said turning from the look on his face. “You needn’t act so shocked. I wouldn’t feel so superior with the memories and deeds that you’ve done, Professor. You’re the way you are because you have much to hide.” She turned back to see him hating her but she lifted her chin in pride. “You’ve much to atone for. It’s no wonder that you’re so desperate to please Headmaster Dumbledore. You know that he will win now but once you thought it would be the Dark Lord.” She moved closer to him. “I only made a pact to share my life with a dragon so that I might live while you sold your soul to a crazy power hungry maniac because you thought it would improve your position in society. Who was the fool?”

The truth of her words wounded him so deeply that he slapped her hard on the face. By instinct she pushed him so forcefully that he flew into the wall knocking the wind right out of him. He slumped to the floor. “Do not fight me,

Severus. You will not win,” she said sadly touching her bruising cheek. She walked over to help him up holding out her hand. “Don’t fight me, Severus,” she repeated more softly. “I want only to help you win against him.”

He took her hand and let her help him to his feet. He stood staring at her. His look of hate and revulsion replaced with a look of shock. She patted his cheek. “It’s not contagious, Snape, dear,” she said kindly. “I’m only dangerous to those that aren’t my friends. Even if I bit you, which I admit is highly tempting at times; you still wouldn’t become a dragon. Unlike a werewolf, I am fully conscious of myself as a dragon or a woman. I share my life with my dragon. We are one.”

He raised an eyebrow at the irony of his position. “We are at an impasse, then,” he said. “You and I must help each other now.”

“Yes,” she said smiling at him. He really was an amazing man. Truly, he was worth saving. “And I guess that I must now face the devil himself in order to save your soul, my friend.”

Snape’s force of will broke at her statement. He was a man in distress. There can be no other explanation for going against all that he’d ever believed in. He reached out to her, a man drowning in his own sea of despair. He hugged the dragon woman for all she was worth. He was a man holding onto a new hope.

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