Author's Note: This is the last chapter of "Shattered". I hope you enjoy it and remember: A sequel is in the works! I would also like to take this opportunity to recommend a story by white raven called, "Tea with the Black Dragon." It's just amazing! The main characters are Severus Snape and an original character (who is veeeeery cool). It's here on ff.net.
"Shattered" is rated R for language and sexual situations.
'Twas in another lifetime, one of toil and blood
When blackness was a virtue and the road was full of mud
I came in from the wilderness, a creature void of form.
"Come in," she said,
"I'll give you shelter from the storm."
Suddenly I turned around and she was standin' there
With silver bracelets on her wrists and flowers in her hair.
She walked up to me so gracefully and took my crown of thorns.
"Come in," she said,
"I'll give you shelter from the storm."
~From the song, "Shelter from the Storm" by Bob Dylan
Severus popped a sleepy eye open, grimacing at the sunlight that spilled across the comforter on the bed. Giving a lazy stretch, he instinctively reached over to the adjacent pillow and noted that his wife's place was empty. Sitting up, his gaze swept across the bedroom.
Hermione had initially insisted upon decorating their bedroom in bright colours and inevitably, they'd had a frightful row about it. They'd only been married for three months when they decided to change the look of the bedroom and it had been the first big argument of their marriage. There were some things that Severus Snape just couldn't change about himself and a personal aversion to anything cheerful was one of them. In the end, they'd compromised, and the room had been decorated as a study in contrasts . . . deep midnight blues and blacks, a flurry of white, with bright gold rugs and pillows thrown in for a splash of colour. The walls were the colour of the Belize sky at dusk.
As he sat up in bed, he could hear the sound of the shower running in the bathroom next to their chambers. He indulged in a wicked grin as he threw off the bedding and purposefully stalked over to the door, pausing to study his image in the full-length mirror.
He still liked to sleep naked.
Eyeing himself critically, he noted that since the fall of Voldemort, Hermione had worked hard to "fatten" him up, but her attempts had been futile. He was still slender as a rail, his metabolism never changing, even as his existence lost its "Life and Death" stresses. Luckily, the mirrors in their house were all Muggle-made, so he didn't have to suffer rude comments about his "skinny frame". He shrugged with indifference.
It wasn't important . . . Hermione loved him just the way he was, and that was all that mattered to him.
Creeping quietly into the bathroom, he allowed himself a moment to adjust his vision to the steam swirling around his head. Hermione loved hot showers, almost to the point of pain, and he liked to give her a hard time about it. It was a love that they both shared, however.
He silently slid the glass shower door open and stepped inside.
His wife had her back to him and Severus paused to admire her round curves. Since her pregnancy, she'd grown even lovelier, at least in his eyes, but Hermione insisted that she looked like a giant dumpling. The first time she'd said this, Severus had tried to argue with her, telling her that he still thought she was the most beautiful witch on the planet. His sincere compliment had prompted her accusation that he really didn't mean it, it was just his way of getting her to shut up. Then she'd fled from the room, crying hysterically, leaving him to wonder what the hell he'd said wrong. He now knew better than to argue with her about anything, at least while she was pregnant.
But that had been months ago and Hermione had finally settled into her pregnancy with a sense of peace and anticipation, and her crying jags had completely disappeared. While she said she still felt like a fat cow, at least she didn't bite his head off when he told her she was lovely.
Stalking silently behind her, he reached around to caress a breast, causing her to yelp in surprise. Spinning her around, he caught her in his arms as the water bounced off her body to splash him.
"Good morning, my darling," he said softly.
She gave him a sensuous smile and pulled him in for a welcoming kiss.
"Good morning, Severus," she answered. "I thought you were sleeping in."
"I would be, but thoughts of my beautiful wife, erm . . . stimulated me and I just had to seek her out."
Hermione looked down at his growing excitement and gave him a playful smirk.
"So I see," she said smugly, as her hand reached down to grip him firmly. "Well, I have some thoughts on the matter."
Severus reached to pull her close, nipping at her lips as he arched against her. "Enlighten me," he purred.
Hermione let out a soft moan as Severus ran his hands over her rounded abdomen, kissing her ardently. He moved his fingers up to cup a breast.
"You have magnificent breasts," he murmured.
"They're for the baby, you oaf," she teased.
Chuckling, he turned her around gently, pressing himself closer, as she positioned herself to accommodate his passion. He moved her hair off her neck and bit her earlobe playfully, surging forward.
Suddenly they were interrupted by a most unexpected screech.
"Daaaaaady! Daddy! Daddy! Daaaaaaaady!"
Severus felt his manhood shrink at the sound and Hermione stifled a giggle.
Leaning towards the shower door, Severus wiped the misty glass with his hand, creating ever wider circles until he could see a little figure standing in his bathroom, hands on her hips as she patiently waited for his response.
Cautiously sliding the glass door open, Severus regarded his daughter with a stern look.
"Arddun, what has Daddy told you about barging into his rooms? It is most rude, Littleness."
"I know, Daddy, but this is really, really important." She said this very matter-of-factly, as if it explained everything.
What could possibly be so important to a four-year-old?
Severus raised an eyebrow and Ardunn just gave him a pained look. She was the perfect combination of Snape and Granger . . . tall and lanky, with dark, curly chestnut hair and rich black eyes . . . eyes that were shaped like Hermione's. On more than one occasion, Severus had given thanks to the gods that Arddun hadn't taken on some of his more unattractive features.
Like his nose.
Said little nose was turned up in obvious disapproval. Arddun's eyes narrowed as she caught a glimpse of her mother standing behind him, partially hidden.
"Daddy," she said accusingly. "That isn't Mum in the shower with you, is it? Ewwwww!"
Hermione let out a very loud sputter, before smothering her laugh with her hand.
"Arddun," growled Severus, a warning in his voice. Arddun immediately changed tactics, as she tried to convey the idea that the world, as they knew it, was currently ending.
"Daddy, this is im-por-tant," she repeated slowly, as if she was talking to an imbecile. Arddun had just learned the meaning of the word and now everything was "important." For once, Severus was unmoved. His daughter drew herself up and paused dramatically before speaking again.
"It's Mordai," she said, with childlike anguish. "He's thrown up on my bed again."
She gave him her most devastatingly plaintive look.
Mordai was her new puppy, a gift from Uncle Harry. It was just one more reason Severus wanted to hex Harry Potter out of existence.
In his lifetime, he'd survived several Dark Revels, a poisoning, and the Killing Curse, and yet, that puppy was going to be the death of Severus Snape, he was sure of it. He'd almost had a stroke when he'd caught the damned creature chewing on his favorite pair of boots. Hermione said his bellows could be heard for miles.
"And this couldn't wait until later?" he asked Arddun, with mock-harshness.
"No, it couldn't," she said patiently, with a shake of her head. "I have to get ready for Cousin Draco's wedding and now my bed is a mess. After that 'ass-si-dent' with the tadpoles, you said I couldn't do magic by myself," she said soberly. "So I've come to get you."
It was typical Arddun Logic.
Cursing under his breath so his daughter couldn't hear him, he growled, "I'll be out in a minute, Littleness. Run along now." He turned to give Hermione a regretful look.
"I'm afraid we'll have to save this for another time," he whispered, as he reached in to give his wife a final kiss.
"Ah yes," she laughed. "After all, This is IM-POR-TANT," she said, in a perfect imitation of their daughter.
"Isn't everything?" he sighed. "I certainly hope our next child isn't so headstrong."
Hermione grinned at his morose expression. "Cheer up, Severus. The odds are, he'll be even worse. Your mother told me that when it comes to 'Snape Sons', the apple doesn't fall very far from the tree."
Severus shrugged his shoulders in defeat. "If he's anything like me, we're in for a wild ride. I'm sure he'll be telling me to 'fuck off' by the time he's fifteen."
Hermione rubbed his cheek playfully. "At the very least, he'll certainly make our lives interesting."
"That's exactly what I'm afraid of, my love."
The air was warm and still and the humidity was stifling under the summer heat. Two figures hid in the shadows behind a large monument . . . a tribute to the Heroes of the Great War. It was the perfect meeting place, as no one would ever think that such a plan was being hatched at that historical site. It was close to 2:00 a.m. and there was nobody else about.
As an older man approached the pair, he saw that his Partner in Crime was currently in a fierce clench with a woman who looked to be only half-dressed. "She's probably a prostitute," he thought in disgust. They were leaning against the monument and her leather mini-skirt was hitched around her hips, as the young man groped and pinched her generous bottom. She was undulating against him and the smell of cheap whisky assaulted the older man like a slap in the face.
"Get rid of her," he commanded, making the younger man jump in surprise. With a sulky expression, he pushed the whore away, cursing softly. "Another time, love," she crooned, before slipping past him and into the darkness.
The two men regarded each other silently, before the young one spoke.
"He's a pretender to the throne," he sneered, reading the other's mind. "An imposter."
They were united in their hatred, but they had little else in common. The elegant older man regarded his counterpart, as if he were an insect to be squashed.
The young man's hair was his most startling feature: fluorescent green and blue dreadlocks, cascading down a rather sigmoid shaped back. He was pierced and tattooed to within an inch of his life and he was the very picture of disaffected Muggle youth. The perfect disguise.
"Indeed," said the older man. "He grown soft since the war. The only thing he cares about is clothes and parties and his prized flock of hippogriffs. It's ironic, really. I remember him as a skinny, awkward schoolboy. He was always so frightened of the creatures, a fact that irritated Lucius Malfoy to no end. Perhaps that's why he breeds them so enthusiastically now. He's still trying to prove something to Daddy."
"He's a fool."
"No, he's just out of practice. That is why he'll never be King."
They were silent for a moment, before the younger one spoke again. "We're almost ready, my Lord. The wedding is in two days and our Plan is certain to go through without a hitch. Two days and the Monarchy will be no more. And Draco Malfoy--"
The older man finished his sentence. "And Draco Malfoy will be dead." He took a flask from his belt and raised it to the other man.
"Viva La Revoluccion," he said mockingly. He took a swig before handing it to Mr. Dreadlocks.
"In two days," said the young man, "The world will be ours again. Harry Potter will see to it."
"And the beauty of it is, he doesn't even realize it."
The quiet of the night was punctuated by harsh, triumphant laughter, before the older man suddenly barked, "Do shut up, you stupid sod! You'll wake the neighbors."
The laughter ended in a strange squeak.
"Yes, my Lord."
Draco paused before the mirror, taking the time to smooth his hair and arch an eyebrow at his reflection. He was dressed from head to foot in white silk, the only colour being provided by a dramatic, green velvet cloak and the various medals and ribbons pinned on his chest. His cloak was clasped at his neck with an interconnecting row of platinum links and diamonds. He schooled his face into a mask of bored detachment, which wasn't hard, given his present circumstance.
Today was his wedding day, and he was dreading it like no other.
He sighed as he turned to Stefan Harcourte, Vice Chancellor of wizarding Britain.
"Stefan, do I have to wear all these ghastly medals and ribbons? I look like a Muggle clown. The only thing that would complete the outfit would be a big red nose and some bells for my shoes." He turned to look at himself sideways in the mirror. "And perhaps a big horn . . . " he said distractedly.
The Vice Chancellor fought desperately to keep his face somber.
"It's expected, Majesty. You've earned every medal and ribbon and you must display them on this, the most important of occasions."
Draco snorted and turned to his reflection again, as the mirror murmured with a telltale lisp. "You look simply divine, Majesty. The colours go well with your complexion," it simpered, with practiced insincerity.
"Oh, well then," said Draco sarcastically. "That's all that matters, I suppose." He reached to touch one of his medals. "Now, what was this for again, Stefan?"
"You earned that after convening the Council of Nicea, when you helped avoid a war with France."
"I remember that now . . . we sealed the deal with kidney pie. The French hate kidney pie, so I made them eat it. That's one of the reasons I love being Prince. And this?" Draco pointed to another medal.
"That's for your work with the Order of the Phoenix."
Draco smiled sadly. "Ah yes . . . the good ol' days. How could I forget?" He chose another random medal. "What about this one?"
Harcourte's lip twitched. "That's for being named, Polo Player of the Year."
"Oh, I remember that ceremony," Draco said with surprising enthusiasm. "The crème brulee was simply smashing." He pointed to another medal. "And this?"
Stefan Harcourte was beginning to lose his patience. "You can pretend all you want, but the fact of the matter is, you're getting married today and there's nothing you can do to avoid it. You might as well quit stalling, my Lord."
Draco sighed again. He was getting married all right.
It was just to the wrong woman.
There was only one witch on this Earth that Draco Malfoy wanted to marry and she had slipped away from him despite his best efforts to make her happy. He was the most powerful wizard in all of Britain, yet he had been completely powerless to stop Ginny Weasley from walking out on him, all those years ago.
And now it was too late. It was too late for "Happily Ever After."
His shoulders slumped with dejection.
"Let's get this over with."
As he walked over to the giant doors leading from his chambers, they opened magically, and he carried his head high as he stalked into the hallway.
"Mummy, it's Draco! Draaaaaaco!"
Draco could see a little girl, flowers in her dark hair, as she tore away from her mother to run down the hall to greet him.
Arddun Snape was to be the Royal Flower Girl. Draco gave his first genuine smile of the day as he watched his cousin fly down the corridor.
"Pumpkin!" he yelled as she leapt up into his waiting arms. He flung her high in the air as she squealed in delight. Then he spun her around, much to Hermione's dismay.
"Draco! It took me all morning to fix her hair and now you've managed to dishevel it in less than thirty seconds."
"That's what magic is for, Hermione. It doesn't matter, though. My Little Flobberworm is still the most beautiful girl in the world."
Arddun curled her nose in Snape-like disapproval. "Flobberworms are ugly, Draco."
"Don't let the flobberworms hear you say that." Arddun giggled, while Hermione looked at him closely.
"Are you alright, Draco? You look . . . well, you look like a lamb to slaughter, actually. Are you sure you want to do this?"
"As if I have a choice, Hermione. Look, love . . . we've been through this a hundred times. It's time for me to marry and if I can't marry the one I love . . . "
"Marry the one you're with," finished Hermione. "I know, I know. But this is a mistake, Draco. I feel it in my bones."
As they were making this exchange, Severus broke away from a group of servants and if the looks of relief on their faces were any indication, they were very happy to be out of his company. Severus' face was scrunched in a deep scowl. He'd been making sure that everything was ready for the ceremony because as "Best Man" to the Prince of Avalon, it had been his duty to see that Royal Protocol was followed with regard to the matrimonial ritual. It was a job he detested, but he bore it with the usual Snape penance.
After all, he was Draco's closest advisor.
"As if the little bugger listens to anything I have to say," he snorted to himself. He was dead set against this wedding and he had expressed his opinions repeatedly to Draco, but to no avail. Severus approached his nephew, who was busy making Arddun squeal by pulling on her curls. "It's time for us to depart," he said curtly. Draco gave him a pained look and nodded.
"Dead Man Walking!" he yelled, as he led the procession of servants and wedding attendants out of his palace and onto the estate grounds, where the wedding was to be held.
It was a glorious day for a wedding . . . there wasn't a cloud in the sky and the sunlight reflected off the giant quartz crystals that were arrayed in a wide circle around the wedding party and guests.
Draco stood still and erect within a smaller gold circle that had been magically placed on the deep green grass. Behind him stood several white marble pillars, a cascade of pink and white roses draping across each one. As Severus moved to stand next to him, the Prince scanned the small crowd that had gathered.
He was looking for her.
He knew it was futile. There was no way that Ginny Weasley would ever come to his wedding.
He'd long ago gotten into the habit of searching for her bright hair amongst the crowds at various royal gatherings, but she almost never attended them. Still, they'd managed to interact some in recent months and he knew that deep down, she still loved him. It had given him some hope that they could work out their differences and find a way to be together.
But things were very complicated. Incredibly complicated, in fact.
From the moment he'd been crowned the Prince of Avalon, Draco Malfoy's life had ceased to be his own. He belonged to the People now and it was important that he put the needs of wizarding Britain before his own selfish desires. He'd wanted Ginny Weasley more than anything in the world, and he was willing to fight tradition, the royal court, his advisors, his mother . . . everybody, in order to be with her.
However, in the end, Ginny had simply made the decision for him. As far as his broken heart could tell, she'd decided that it just wasn't worth the trouble. A sneaking voice in his soul told him that there was more to it than that, but it was far easier for him to believe that she'd simply rejected him . . . she'd left him and had gone on with her life. And now it was time for him to go on with his.
With someone else.
Shaking himself away from his thoughts, he looked upon the surreal scene of his closest friends and family gathered for what should have been the happiest day of his life. The ceremony they were celebrating that day was actually the first of two ceremonies: An intimate and private one, meant to bind him spiritually to his bride and to those who were dearest to them and then a second one . . . a more elaborate public gathering. That ceremony was meant to bind the new royal couple with the People . . . the "common man".
He watched absently as the small crowd of wizards and witches parted and his future wife walked regally to the center of the circle to stand next to him.
Even Draco had to admit she looked stunning. Interestingly enough, he couldn't take in the details of her dress, only that it was glowingly white, like her skin, and that it contrasted incredibly with her deep raven hair. He immediately met her almond-shaped violet eyes and couldn't help thinking that Blaise Zabini was probably, of all the women in the world, the complete and total opposite of Ginny Weasley. Perhaps that was why he'd chosen her.
"She is the Anti-Ginny," he thought ruefully.
A part of his brain knew he shouldn't be thinking of Ginny Weasley on his wedding day, but he just couldn't help it.
Blaise looked at him adoringly and Draco felt a sense of panic. He broke out into a cold sweat and he had the sudden urge to run away and never look back. He felt himself poised on the edge of the abyss. Should he jump? Should he stay?
As if sensing his inner turmoil, Severus leaned over to him and whispered, "Second thoughts, my Lord?"
Before Draco could retort, there was a stirring in the crowd and a very annoyingly familiar voice rang from the throng.
"Stop! Stop this farce now!"
A dark figure shoved his way through the crowd but Draco knew even before he saw him . . . he knew who'd dared to interrupt the Royal Wedding."
"Dammit, Potter!" he yelled. "How the hell did you get past the wards? I instructed Security that if you were to dare to show your little scarface at my wedding, they were to shoot first and ask questions later!"
"Mummy," Arddun said loudly. "Why is Cousin Draco yelling at Uncle Harry?" Hermione quickly hushed her.
Ignoring everything else around them, Harry focused his angry energy on Draco. "You're a liar!" he roared. "You've been lying to everyone! I think the wizards of Britain have a right to know who and what you really are! Not to mention, your future wife, Majesty!" he spat sarcastically.
Severus was pinching the bridge of his nose, clearly irritated. Hermione gave him a genuinely worried look.
A second voice was heard from the crowd, quiet but steady. "You're wrong, Harry."
Draco sucked in a startled breath, as his heart began to thud painfully.
It was Ginny.
There was an audible gasp from the crowd as she walked to the edge of the circle.
"Oh, Good Lord!" said Draco in exasperation. "Could this day get any weirder?"
Ginny quickly made her way to the inner circle and as she walked past Blaise, the darker girl hissed, "Get away from him, you little bitch!"
Ginny pointedly ignored her.
Taking Draco's hand, she repeated, "You're wrong, Harry. Draco hasn't lied to us. But that doesn't mean that others haven't been lying to him instead." She looked into Draco's eyes and he was surprised to see the stark fear on her face. It was pinched and white, and he almost didn't recognize her.
"You must flee, Draco," she whispered. "You're in great danger."
"W-w-what?" he stammered.
Suddenly the sky darkened and the sun disappeared. A cold breeze descending upon the people and everybody stepped back, as if moved by a great force. The air had a black, ugly energy about it and those who felt it immediately sensed an imminent threat. Ginny cringed at the energy before her grip tightened on Draco's hand.
"We have to get out of here," she said urgently.
Without thinking, Draco pulled her towards him as the dark vibration surged forward, as if ready to strike. Ginny looked to be in a trance as she wrapped her arms around him and murmured a strange spell that Draco had never heard before.
A soft, melodic hum began to emanate from the air immediately surrounding them and suddenly they were enveloped in a white, smoky haze. For several long seconds, nobody could see the couple within that swirl of foggy energy.
And then, from seemingly nowhere, a great wind blew through the crowd and the smoke cleared. People craned their necks to get a look at the spot where Ginny Weasley and the Prince of Avalon had once stood.
They'd simply disappeared.
As if deprived of its very sustenance, the dark energy immediately withdrew from the crowd and they were all left there, blinking abruptly in the bright sunlight. They stared at the empty place within the center of the circle.
The stillness was broken by an anguished scream and everybody turned to look at the ashen faced woman, lying prone on the grass.
Blaise Zabini had fainted dead away.
"Oh gods, Severus. I can't do this again. We can't do this again."
Hermione and Severus were wrapped around each other, safely tucked in their own bed, in their own room. After the strange events of the day, they'd barely had time to process what had happened. The only thing that was certain was that Draco Malfoy had fled his wedding and now the country was in danger of moving into anarchy. They'd spent the better part of the evening calming Arddun, as she had been particularly troubled by what had happened that day. They'd finally managed to get her to bed and the House Elves had vowed to take turns watching over her during the night.
Severus let out a long, audible sigh. "You felt it as well as I did, my love," he said. "That horrible energy . . . I haven't felt such a malevolent, evil presence since . . . "
Severus nodded. "But this was different somehow. I sensed a great anger coming from it, especially when the Prince disappeared. That anger and hatred was directed at Draco and Draco only. I have no idea what this means, or where Ginny Weasley fits into all of this, but you can be sure that I'll find out."
Hermione shook her head sadly. "I'd so gotten used to an uncomplicated existence. I don't know if I have the energy for this, Severus." He drew her closer and kissed the top of her head.
"Of course you do, my dear. You have no choice, in any case." He lifted her chin to look at him and she could see the calm acceptance in his eyes.
"It appears that we have another fight on our hands," he continued, in a soothing voice. "But we can get through anything. We've proven that, haven't we? Besides, no matter what happens, you will always be my shelter and my safe haven, as I am yours. As long as we're together, we can endure anything."
Hermione was moved by his words and she leaned in to kiss him fiercely.
"You're right, my love," she murmured, as she felt their son kicking within her belly. "Together, we're unstoppable."
Severus smiled as he pulled her closer. "Whatever comes our way, Hermione, we'll deal with it."
Hermione nodded and turned to her side as Severus moved in to snuggle her closer. Murmuring words of love to each other, they molded their bodies together in a tight embrace. The last thing Hermione felt before falling asleep was his warm breath on her neck.
It was the most comforting feeling in the world.
Author's Note: Well, there you have it folks! I have such mixed feelings about completing this story. It's been a big part of my life for the last six months and I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the creative process. I enjoyed it so much, that I'm writing a sequel.
"The Prince of Avalon" will be coming to this site sometime in mid to late summer. I know that's a long wait, however, I would like to take time to read "Order of the Phoenix" before starting on this new story. I'm sure there will be things in that book that will shape the details of the sequel. Besides . . . I truly need a break! There are other stories I'd like to read, but just haven't had the time.
And to everybody who has reviewed: (most especially to those who reviewed faithfully) . . . thank you so very, very much. You all were was so kind and encouraging, I really appreciate it. For those of you who especially loved the story, remember that the sequel is coming! It will cover the years immediately following The Final Battle, up to the "almost wedding" depicted in this story . . . and beyond! It's not over for Draco and Ginny.
Not by a long shot.
And Elizabeth will be with me for the sequel. I'm so happy about that! She's the best beta a "writer" could ask for. Thank you, girlie!