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The Wise One

The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool. William Shakespeare, "As You Like It", Act 5 scene 1 …

She is there again, like she has been since she knew she was returning home. Her breathing is quickening as yet again she sees his face against hers, feels his breath against her skin. The smell, the taste of him is unforgettable, even in her deep slumber. She will never be rid of him entirely. But this time it is different. This time she sees a chink of light at the door. This time someone is walking in to save her from her fate. This time she sees a hint of promise, and wave of black robes as the door begins to open. This time they can hear her screams. So near, and yet so far away from her, she reaches out with her hand while pushing him away. All the time she pushed him away. Every time. She calls out to her saviour, but the door begins to close again. He cannot hear her. He must hear her or else all is lost. He must hear her now for she has come for him, to save him. Save him from himself. But the door closes again and she is subjected to the nightmare that she lived so long ago. And then back to the clearing. They are there with her, but they do not hear her either. She knows they are in danger. Why will no one listen to her? Why must they always ignore her pleas? She tried to save them. She tried to save herself. She must save her brother. She must right the wrongs of the past.


“Sorry Miss. I did knock. I just came in to see if you were alright. I heard voices you see. Sounded like you had trouble. Just thought I‘d bring in your breakfast for you, as you looked a little peaky when you came in last night. A good breakfast is what you‘ll be needing, I said when I saw you.”

Silvana gathered the crumpled sheets around her and sat upright in the unfamiliar bed, blinking in shock at the maid before her. The night had been a restless one throughout, and the arduous journey down to Hogsmeade had not helped in the slightest. Weary from her sleep, irritated by the intrusion, she waved the girl away, though, unlike her brother, she smiled kindly as she did so, and muttered a genuine ‘Thank you‘ as she saw the breakfast tray. The mark of the difference between them. He was their father’s son; she was her mother’s daughter, and yet there was an essence in them that was identical. They had lived the same early life, experienced the same hardships, been dealt the same tribulations, until that day in September. And then they became so very different. And yet the certain similarity was still there.

Silvana rubbed her eyes, and sighed as she ran her hand through her long hair, still matted a little from the night’s slumber. The tea and toast looked unappetising as she bent across to see what the maid had left for her, and instead she rose out of her bed and walked across the room, pulling back the curtains to witness the day ahead. She had a clear view of the main street of Hogsmeade, and the bustling crowd of shopkeepers dealing with their deliveries brought a sense of security to her, which she was grateful for. It had been so long since she had been this close to Wizards in this proximity, and she was wary of their presence. And yet she was a Witch. She bit her lip down, chewing at the inner corner of her mouth as she watched them silently go about their day, unaware of the dark, penetrating stare above them.

Having had her reassuring glance, she returned to the crumpled bed, and decided to begin the breakfast to see if her stomach would settle. The butterflies within had been ceaseless since she had stepped off the train at the station, and nothing seemed to help. The room she was in was a little bare for her tastes, and its blandness reflected the dry toast she now chewed upon, forcing herself to eat, though her stomach begged to differ. Her insides rumbled in protest. In the depths of her mind there was a cry for freedom, and one that she had to ignore. This was her home now, until she moved to the new place, and her visitor would be here soon.

As she chewed and swallowed her final bite of toast, and washed it down with the tea, she pondered as to how Dumbledore would tell her brother of the news of her arrival. Did he already know? She thought he must. Was he angry with her for making Dumbledore lie all these years? Yes, if he were the man the boy implied he would be, he would be furious. Just as her father had been when she left. Oh how her brother must have suffered. How they had both suffered, in their own way.

Placing her tea tray down on the bedside cabinet, she grasped at the robe draped across the wicker chair next to her, and rose to have a shower. Untying her long hair from its clip, she felt the freedom as it fell to her shoulders and tickled the sensitive skin. Turning the shower on to warm she undressed, letting the garments fall to the floor as she tentatively reached into the jet of water to check its warmth. Once it had warmed enough she stepped in, and let the spray caress her face, relaxing a little as it did so. This was not enough. She turned the dial to strengthen the power of the water jets, letting the water pummel her aching muscles. It was only a temporary solution to her stresses and concerns, but for now it would have to do.

Rubbing the lavender scented shampoo into her hair, she massaged her scalp, and the scent reminded her of the garden where she and her brother had once played when they were small. That was such a peaceful time, when their father was away and their mother was in charge of them. There had been a small herb garden that their mother had used to brew all sorts of potions and concoctions for the children, and the smells hit her senses as if she were there. It was laid out in small, even squares, edged with box hedging It was all expertly planted, clipped, weeded and kept in pristine fashion, until her death. And then he had grassed it over, as if it had never existed. She recalled her brother’s cries of joy as he ran around the garden, and then tears of sadness as he fell, and grazed his knee on the pebbled pathway to the house. He always ran to Silvana, even then. Their mother was often too ill to be there for him. A wave of nauseous guilt ran over her body, and she felt a shiver run down her spine. She had left him alone. What chance did he ever have when she left? She had protected him, mothered him, and then she left him. Abandoned him without a seconds thought, and yet she had to. She knew she could not stay, and he had known that too.

Towelling herself off, she began to dress and prepare for her visitor. An elegant, buttoned blouse, cream in colour, never white. She never wore white. A full-length skirt, dark velvet and soft against her skin. She stepped into the skirt, pulling it up to fasten, and buttoned the blouse up to her neck, wincing slightly as the last button constricted her neck a little. She must have gained weight, she thought. Glancing in the mirror, she smoothed down the skirt and straightened her spine, staring at her reflection. This was her now. And she was home. There was one thing missing and that was safely tucked away in a small box, in the office of the man who was to greet her but twenty minutes later.

She had anticipated his arrival in her mind for some time. It had been a while since anyone had visited her by Floo, but she was ready for the familiar sounds, though the magic made her a little nervous now. So, when Silvana heard a knock at the door, she found herself somewhat surprised to see Dumbledore stood in the corridor waiting for her to answer his call. She smiled apprehensively, and bowed her head a little to the great wizard before her in a show of utter respect as she let him in to her room.

Watching him as he moved, she realised he had aged much since her school days, but his elegance remained, and today he looked particularly calm and resplendent in robes of the deepest amethyst colour. His snowy white beard and hair contrasted against the youth in his eyes, and Silvana looked upon him, knowing her fears were unfounded with him. With Dumbledore she always felt safe. She always had.

Waving her hand forwards, she ushered him to sit down in the chair. After the normal pleasantries, and asking him if she should order tea, which she did, Silvana perched herself on the bed, crossing her legs and arms as she did so, still uncomfortable in his presence. He sensed her discomfort and smiled.

“And how does it feel to be home amongst us again, Silvana? A little daunting I suspect.”

She shrugged her shoulders and shuffled her feet, balancing on her hands slightly to tuck her feet underneath the edge of the bed. She felt like the young, shy pupil once again. “ I have to admit it is a little nerve-wracking.”

Dumbledore nodded and sighed. “Yes, I feared as much, which is why I chose not to Floo here. A little difficult in these times too. You cannot be too careful. You never know who is watching and waiting. However, I did not wish to scare you half to death on your first day back. I am sure you have some questions for me.”

The awkwardness of the conversation was interrupted by a knock at the door, and the young maid who had brought Silvana breakfast that morning arrived with a steaming hot pot of tea, which she poured for the guests. Both Dumbledore and Silvana thanked her for her kindness, and she bid a hasty retreat, sensing her intrusion. Silvana cupped the china in her hand and sipped the warm liquid as she began the conversation again.

“You answered many of them for me the last time we met. I am still uncertain as to why my presence is required after all this time. Why must you protect my brother so? Is it because of the Potter boy? Have you seen his fate now…my brother‘s that is?”

“No. Harry will have to face Voldemort whatever path your brother chooses to take. Severus faces choices. He has to make his own decisions, and I cannot spare the time to supervise him as much as I would like to, and indeed have done in the past. He is in need of your guidance now, not mine. He is an important part of the team that I cannot afford to lose.”

Silvana looked across at her old Headmaster and noticed the weary expression driven into his craggy and yet kind face. She didn’t know whether to be angry with him for bringing her back, or whether to thank him wholeheartedly. Only time would tell. She pondered his words, and tried to visualise her brother’s face, wondering how he looked now. Would she still even recognise him? Shy, and uncomfortable, she looked down at her china cup, watching the steam from the tea rise, swirling through the air, and she frowned.

“I have missed so much with Severus. He was but 17 years old when I left him behind, just as old as Harry is now and as old as Colm was back then…when he…”

Witnessing her pain, Dumbledore interrupted her thoughts and spoke in a soothing tone. “Your brother is still, in essence, the boy you left behind. He just thought he was a man all those years ago. Indeed he fought as a man back then, but I watched as the young boy within the façade he created wept for those he had killed, and for his own life that he had forsaken in joining Lucius Malfoy, and Voldemort. He tried to redeem himself, with my guidance, being by my side and following my lead. His choice of career was all my doing. I fear now he has regrets. His bitterness is too much to just ignore.”

Silvana placed the cup into the saucer, her hand shaking a little now on the mention of that man’s name. “Are you saying he is undecided? That he will return to Voldemort?”

Dumbledore sipped his tea, and nodded to Silvana. “There is a conflict within him which has strengthened on Voldemorts return, yes. He lives his life in fear, though his fears are silent. Those who fear can be manipulated. Severus will always obey, just as your father taught him to, and to his leader Severus will be loyal without question but…”

“Which leader will he trust in?”

“Quite.” Dumbledore lowered his face to allow the glasses to slip down his nose, and he peered over at Silvana to gauge her reaction. She was deep in thought for a while, looking towards the window as if the answers all appeared to her there. He smiled as her gaze returned to meet his. She whispered her answer to him.

“I can feel his sorrow, even though we have been apart.”

Her companion nodded in agreement. He understood her. “Yes, I had thought as much. You always had a strong bond, you two. All the years of silent thoughts and secret messages in your childhood made a connection that even now is unbreakable. He became a skilled Occlumens, and I believe a lot of that is down to you, Silvana. You taught him how to cope with your father, and you lived for so long in your own private world. Adversity brings out the most curious strengths in us all. I saw it with you and your brother, with James and the Marauders; at least most of them, and now the bonds between Harry and his friends are just as strong. Binds that tie, and bonds that cannot be broken. That is why you are here, why I asked you to come home.”

“To persuade him to follow you still?” she questioned him, though she thought she already knew the answer.

“To help choose the right path for him. To make his own choices and to ensure history does not repeat itself. To build his own future, while he is still able to have one. Plus there is Remus Lupin to consider.”

The name startled her a little. “Remus? What do I have to do with him? Apart from the transformations, which I still find so shocking. I never knew, until you told me recently.”

The old wizard smiled kindly. “Yes, we all have our secrets, Silvana. It will be shocking at first. Remus is a lonely soul, when by nature he needs friends around him, a group, a pack, if you will. He struggles with Harry, just as he struggled a little with James and Sirius. Discipline is not a strong point of his, but then I am a little soft with the boy myself. He loves Harry, but the boy is an angry young man, frustrated with his life. He is angry with us all. You will understand, I think.”

Silvana frowned, and looked deeper into those bright blue eyes. “ Understand Harry? Because of Severus or Colm?”

“Both. And, of course, you will assist with his transformations as you rightly mentioned. You have read all the literature that Poppy Pomfrey sent you, I trust?”

Silvana nodded with enthusiasm. “Yes. I am amazed there is so much to learn. I knew him, and yet I didn’t. Severus never told me, but I knew he hated him. Well, all of them, actually.” She bit at her lower lip, a little embarrassed on her brother’s behalf, remembering how he used to complain about them, and how she would shake her head at him for not trying harder to get along with them as she did, though she knew deep down it was an impossible task. He would never see them with the same eyes that she did. Dumbledore smiled, recalling the past in his mind.

“Mmm. Your brother was sworn to secrecy later in his school years. There was an unfortunate incident with Sirius Black.”

Silvana giggled at her own memories and glanced over at the Headmaster. “Tell me a time when there wasn’t! I don’t know how many times I covered for those Marauders when I was a prefect.” Her smile faded as she reminded herself of the task ahead this afternoon. Sirius’ memorial. “ Poor Sirius. Such a bright light to fade away so cruelly.”

“Indeed Silvana. The horrors of years in Azkaban may have dimmed the light within, but Sirius was still as vibrant as the star he was named after.”

Pursing her lips together, Silvana shrugged her shoulders and sighed once more. ! I wish I could have seen him.”

“He would probably prefer you to remember him for the boy he was, not the man he became. I seem to recall that you and he had an understanding.” Dumbledore winked suggestively, and Silvana finally relaxed, grinning from ear to ear as she did so.

“Ha! If you mean I turned a blind eye to half of his pranks, then yes! The agreement was that I did that as long as he helped me with my Transfiguration homework. He was always good at that.” Again the old wizard smirked at the woman he was so fond of.

“Yes. More than you can imagine, my dear. I seem to remember he caused a slight scandal by asking you to the Yule Ball one year, too.”

“Only to annoy Severus, and I refused him. He was so cheeky, bless him. And Harry? Is he like James?”

Dumbledore sighed wearily, as if the weight of the world was on his shoulders. “Yes, he is though he also has his mother’s temperament and nature too.”

“A curious mix. But I find children often are a mixture. I know Colm was. He had his father’s eyes and temper. Too much like him for my liking.” She swallowed the bitter taste that had risen in her mouth. Even now the memory saddened her. Would it ever fade away? Dumbledore smiled kindly, feeling her grief within.

“It must have been hard for you, when they died.”

“It was, though time heals a little, but never enough.”

Dumbledore slowly rose from his seat and smiled as Silvana rose with him. He took her hand in his own, and raising it to his lips he kissed it with great affection.

“Now I must return. You will come to the service later?” Silvana nodded to confirm her intentions.

“Yes, I will be there. And my brother?” Dumbledore shook his head.

“In the school, but not in the service. I think perhaps it is for the best.”

“Am I to understand they were still enemies, he and Sirius?”

“Yes, and he has made one of young Harry too, I’m afraid.”

Silvana shook her head in disbelief. Was her brother so like their father now? “Unfortunate. I will see what I can do.”

“Thank you, my dear. And now I must do for you what I have waited to do for a very long time.”

He reached into his robes and pulled out a slender wooden box, made of the darkest oak. Handing it to Silvana gently, she looked up at him with a slight smile and took the box tentatively. He knew her hesitation, and smiled at her with a reassuring glance. Opening the box, shaking a little as she did, she removed its contents and the feeling rose within her that she had forgotten all these years. This was her wand. It was still a part of her, and he had kept it for her, though she had discarded it as she left the wizarding world to make her own life. Feeling apprehensive, she looked down at her trembling arm, her hand still holding the slim wand. Her heart pounded so much she felt she would faint.

“I hardly know whether it’s of any use to me now. It feels too strange. And yet I know it is right.” Dumbledore placed his hand upon her shoulder and her breathing calmed a little.

“It is your wand Silvana. However much you deny it to yourself, however much twenty years difference has made to your life, there is one thing that remains. You are a witch. A witch with powers that you cannot forget, or ignore forever. Embrace them, Silvana. They are who you are - a part of you. They are you, Silvana. This is where you belong.”

She looked up as he opened the door to leave her, and she smiled at him, just as he did the same. “Thank you, Dumbledore. I will see you later.”

“Thank you Silvana. And welcome home.”

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