The Black Rose

Chapter III

            Severus and Domenica lay in their bed that night, completely racked with grief.  Their bed was one of the few places where they could truly be themselves, bodies, hearts, and souls bared to each other, be like the two students they once were in Hogwarts, shedding the armor they were forced to wear.  Their quiet tears for their children were all that got them through the night.  They knew all too well that they would be summoned to Voldemort the next day, which could very well be the last of their lives.

            When morning came, the sound of pouring rain and thunder could be heard echoing throughout the castle.  As expected, Severus and Domenica had very little sleep if any that night.  Now it was just a matter of counting down the hours until they had to go to Knockturn Alley.  Staying in their quarters, dwelling over the misery that had been caused was not a possibility.  Severus had locked himself within his Potions lab, concocting some substance that he believed would help them if necessary.  Domenica though was not as lucky.  She at first started to walk around the castle, as if she were already dead and one of the ghosts inhabiting it.

            She gazed into the Great Hall where most of the students were having breakfast.  Dumbledore had undoubtedly told them by now what had happened.  When she saw the concerned looks of Harry, Hermione, and Ron come in her direction, tears welled up in her eyes and she quickly shook them away.  She could not be weak today – Voldemort was already targeting them.  Eventually, walking through the castle was causing too much pain as she saw her children playing around every corner.  Domenica could not easily sit through this any longer and she ran down to her office at top speed.  By Merlin, she was glad she had remembered all the secret passages from the Marauders' map.  She crept quietly into her office and tilted the statue of the dragon on top to open the fireplace and the passage way that wound its way all through the castle, if only to escape for a short time and lose herself as well. 

            After breakfast, even though Potions classes were cancelled for the day, Harry, Hermione, and Ron found themselves in the Potions corridor.  They were thoroughly surprised to find the door to the classroom open but the lab door shut.  The three of them looked at each other in fearful worry.  Had Snape been so upset that he would forget to close both doors or did he want someone to come in?  They knew that they were taking their lives into their hands as the walked into the vacant classroom.  Harry and Ron pissed off the Potions master enough during normal circumstances – what would happen now if they said the wrong thing?

            Carefully, they knocked on the closed Potions lab door and were greeted with an almost absent 'come in.'  Harry opened the door first and was followed close behind by his two friends.  Severus did not even look up from the potion he was brewing in the small cauldron in front of him, despite how foul it smelled.

            "We just wanted to say how sorry we were to hear what happened to your kids.  Everyone loves them here and misses them," Hermione said first.

            "Are you saying that you are responsible for this?" Snape growled as his gaze turned into a glare at the three Gryffindors.  "Because if you are…so help me…you will find yourself out of this school before you knew what hit you."

            "No sir, it's nothing like that," Harry spoke up quickly before Snape positively exploded.  "We saw how Professor Knight was doing and we wanted to see how you were and if we could help in some way.  It's not fair at what happened – not to anyone – especially little kids."

            At the truly heartfelt statement from Harry, Severus almost broke right then on the spot.  He was doing all he could not to lose his emotional control completely.  "Thank you very much, Mr. Potter," he replied in a very calm but sad tone.  He sighed deeply as his gaze turned away from his simmering potion to the three students.  His eyes showed his exhaustion and emotional turmoil.  "This should have never happened.  This is why we hid them.  They are only babies.  My children are innocent and should have never had to face him."

            The Gryffindors could clearly see Snape was a father in distress and nearly at his breaking point.  Never before had they seen their teacher in such a state.  "If there is anything we can do, all you have to do is ask," Harry said.  "We think your kids are great and we'll even baby sit if you needed us to."

            Snape actually smiled at the warm sentiment he received from the Gryffindor trio.  "Thank you.  I will keep that in mind, especially when Balthazar wants to play a bit rougher.  But you should probably get going for now.  Not that I don't appreciate you coming, it's just I have a lot of work to do on this potion and even though my class is cancelled, I do believe you all have work to do for it."

            Harry, Hermione, and Ron got the hint and wished the Potions master luck and bid him good-bye.  They were almost tempted to find Professor Knight and have her check to see if her husband was sick since he was actually NICE to Gryffindors.  But then wrote it off as stress, even though they wouldn't exactly mind keeping this Snape around.

            Hours past and the sun was seemingly moving faster across the sky, counting down to the inevitable showdown.  All day, Severus had been creating his mood altering potion, just a small concoction, that when the vial is thrown at its target, will produce an extreme state of euphoria and completely blank out their mind for a few moments.  A good tactic for escape if needed.   When it was finished, he bottled it and stuck a few in his robes for later on.

            Domenica had eventually found herself back in their quarters, where she set herself on the couch to await Severus' return.  During the time she was alone there, her mind began to spin.  They could not go together.  If they came in two separate ways, they could also escape in two ways.  Domenica knew she could get there better if she flew on her broom since apparition was not a possibility from Hogwarts.  Severus could go by floo and then they could take Voldemort on from two fronts.

            Just before the moment the sun slipped beneath the horizon which was blocked by Hogwarts impressive towers, Severus returned to their rooms and kissed Domenica with more passion than he had ever done before – almost as if it could be their last.  She saw the fire in the fireplace reflecting in his eyes and nearly lost herself in it as she touched his cheek with her hand.  She had never been rough with him, knowing that after years of torture, he needed a gentle hand to love him like no other would.  Then with unspoken words, both Severus and Domenica turned towards the window to see a bloodied sun vanish and in its wake laid a night blacker than no other where the darkness called out to them.  They reluctantly broke apart to set off on their journey into Hell itself.  Domenica summoned her Firebolt; always one to have the best money could buy, and stepped up on the window sill and kicked it open with one shove of her heeled boot.  The winds whipped around her, billowing her black dress and Cloak of Shadows around her as she turned back to the fireplace where Severus was stepping in.  They mouthed the words 'I love you forever…' and then turned away from each other.  As Domenica kicked off on her broom, she felt the sickening heat of the green flame on the back of her neck as she knew Severus had departed to Knockturn Alley as well.

            With her cloak tightly pulled around her, Domenica soared through the night's shadows faster than ever before for darkness always traveled faster than light.  The lights of the wizarding world slowly vanished only to let her senses be assaulted by the putridness of Knockturn Alley when she landed.  Here she was a Gryffindor, though married to a Slytherin and becoming darker with every year, in a realm only reserved for wizards with the blackest of blood and she knew she was not welcome.  She removed the hood of her cloak to reveal herself and what she could only call vipers started to prowl around her, trying to push the Gryffindor Lioness back where she belonged.

            "Go back to your own kind, bitch.  You have no place here unless you want to join with those that are all powerful," one witch taunted her as she breathed the foulest breath in Domenica's face.

            Fire burned in Domenica's eyes as she clasped the vile witch's throat and slammed her against the wall with powerful force.  "Take heed to who you are talking to old woman or else you may not live to see the next moon," she growled at her with a clear warning as she flung her to the ground.  "If you dare speak to me in such a tone again, I assure you that no amount of magic will be able to identify what is left of your charred remains so be gone!"

            The woman slithered back into the shadows and Domenica redoned her cloak to hunt down Voldemort, her children, and her husband.  She opened her senses and her still pure heart to find the sensations she felt from the ones she loved, warmth and unending love that could never be snuffed out.  She found them quickly and followed them blindly through the increasingly dark streets to the abandoned apothecary's shop.  Domenica found it very fitting and yet very ironic that Voldemort would choose such a place to hold a Potion master's children.

            She opened the door with her wand cocked in her hand, ready to damn near eliminate anything that would come into her path.  She illuminated a small fireball in her hand and found Severus coming out of the shadows just opposite of her.  They moved together silently and peered in the back room where they saw the object of their anger- Voldemort.  They surveyed the area quickly and found where he had to be keeping Balthazar and Andronica, a small covered box that when he kicked it let out a few scared cries.  It took all of their restraints not to storm out there that instant and use the Killing curse on him to end it all.  If they wanted their children to come out alive, they had to be tactful and somewhat slick.

            Severus and Domenica stepped out of the shadows and approached Voldemort head on, facing him with something he would not expect from his followers – nerve.  They approached him boldly, not even caring that they were taking their lives into their own hand.  Severus stopped in front of him while Domenica kept walking over to the covered box where her children were.

            "It's about damned time you got here.  I expect my followers to be prompt – SEVERUS…" Voldemort hissed at them as they moved forward.

            "Now give us what is ours or face death for a second time!" Domenica cried out as she started to advance towards her children.

            "Now, now Enigma…that damned Gryffindor bravery will only get you in trouble," Voldemort scolded her like she was an insolent child as he took out his wand and reinforced the ward around the Snape children.  "You never did learn when to back down did you?"

            Domenica glared venomously at him, feeling her temperature start to rise as she wanted to set him ablaze in a volcanic inferno.

            "But now…to even up these odds…two on one is most definitely unfair…but which to choose?" Voldemort pondered as he removed the cloak that covered the children to reveal their frightened little faces with tears running down their cheeks as Balthazar kept a hold of his little sister to try to protect her.  Voldemort watched both Severus and Domenica carefully for their reactions to see their babies.  Domenica was nearly read to bolt for them and melt the cage around them while Severus had kept his furious gaze locked on the Dark Lord, ready to kill him at the slightest move.  A murderous gleam came into his eye as he raised his wand and pointed it a Severus once more and shouted out, "CRUCIO!"

            Severus was quickly doubled over in pure agony as he fell to the floor.  Domenica screamed and started to turn to rush to her husband's side when she was halted and picked up in a strangling hold on her throat by the bastard himself.  She let out such a blood curdling scream that one could think that she was facing Avada Kedavra.  As the scream echoed not only in her ears but throughout all of Knockturn Alley as well, Domenica caught her children's cries as well when she started to try to struggle to get out of Voldemort's grasp.

            "Let her go!" Severus cried as he was struggling to get up on his knees.

            "I don't think so.  This is far too much fun," Voldemort sneered as he cast the Cruciatus curse once more, sending Severus to the floor.

            As Voldemort was summarily occupied with Severus, Domenica found her one opportunity for a defense.  She balled up her fists and closed her eyes, calling the fires that burned within her to the surface to raise her body temperature to a point that was just shy of combustion where her skin would burn whoever touched it.  As her temperature began to rise, Domenica opened her eyes and focused them on a spot within her view as the winds produced by flames began to swirl around her.  Blood tinged sweat began to drip down her skin as the temperature in the room was also greatly increasing.  Severus could feel the intense heat radiating from her as he wiped the sweat from his brow and staggered to his feet.  Voldemort felt the sudden change from the icy feel that the room had before and then turned to his captive and saw the flames flickering in her dark eyes and feeling the skin of his withered hand beginning to burn.  Just as he was about to hex her into oblivion two voices came from the adjoining doors.

            "Put her down now!"

            "Or face our version of justice!"

            Domenica and Severus recognized those voices quite well and they both craned their necks to see Remus Lupin and Sirius Black standing there with their wands drawn. 

            Voldemort hissed in disgust as he flung Domenica to the floor and rounded on Remus and Sirius.  Two hexes were shot from his wand which the two Marauders promptly dodged and managed to get Severus and Domenica with them.

            Severus had regained his rational thought and even accepted the help of Lupin and Black, which was so freely offered because of their continued friendship with Domenica.  He spoke in quiet tones and quickly to get his task accomplished.  He directed Domenica to get Balthazar and Andronica out and move them to safety while he, Lupin, and Black would face the Dark Lord head on.

            Domenica slipped her cloak back on and moved swiftly over to the cage which held her children and whispered 'Alohamora' and popped the door open.  The two small children jumped into their mother's open arms with cries of pure delight as she hugged them both tightly.

            "Now, you two listen to me," Domenica whispered gently to her babies as she gathered them together and started to remove her cloak.  "Mommy needs to help Daddy out, so I want you to stay right here under Mommy's cloak so that the bad wizard over there can't see you."

            Balthazar and Andronica nodded silently as they held on to each other when their mother draped her Cloak of Shadows over them and then turned back to the trio of wizards that were trying to hit Voldemort with every hex they could think of.  She saw that they were failing miserably and something had to be done.

            "Severus…do it now!" Domenica screamed as she moved her cloak and draped it over herself and her children.

            Severus looked up when he heard her voice and remembered the potion vile in his pocket.  He lifted the red liquid from the folds of his robe and then told Remus and Sirius to cover themselves with their cloaks.

            The two Marauders looked at his quizzically at first and then received a 'do-what-I-say-or-else-you-will-be-in-serious-trouble' glare from the Potions master and the abruptly complied.

            Severus through the vile and hit Voldemort square in the chest, causing the vile to explode and encase the Dark Lord in a red cloud.  This red cloud not only prevented him from moving better than a body bind but it also rendered him powerless, making him weaker than an invalid Muggle.

            Now, time was precious.  This potion could only be used to heed their escape and it had a clock.  Severus turned to Remus and Sirius as Domenica uncovered herself and the children.  He looked over to the people who were most dear to him in his life and made a very difficult decision.

            "Take my children and Domenica and apparate out of here back to Hogwarts where they'll be safe," he said in a gravely serious tone to Remus and Sirius.

            "You can't take on Voldemort by yourself," Remus protested.

            "Please," Severus pleaded.  "They are the most important people in my life and I would owe you more than my life to make sure that they were safe.  I trust you with this because Domenica has always trusted you.  Please, I wouldn't ask if I didn't think that you could keep my children safe."

            Remus and Sirius looked at each other and then over to Balthazar and Andronica, who were staying close by their mother for protection, and then they turned back to Snape.  A silent nod from Sirius and a look that said all that was in their past would stay in their past gave Severus his answer as they went over to his children.  Sirius picked up Balthazar and Remus held Andronica as they disapparated in a quick cloud of smoke from the dust.

            Time was growing short and the red cloud was starting to clear and Voldemort was coming back to power.  Snape looked over once more to where Domenica and his children had been for a bit of courage but received a frightening shock when the smoke finally cleared from when Black and Lupin had left.  There stood Domenica, wand drawn, walking back towards her husband with her eyes saying she was not going to back down.

            "Damn your Gryffindor bravery…" he muttered under his breath to her as she approached him

            "Did you actually think I was going to leave you alone?" she retorted back.  "I have been with you this long and I am not going to stand idly by now."

            Severus was quite upset with his wife for not leaving with the children but deep inside he knew that the two men would keep them safe. Not for his sake but for hers and this was not the time to discuss such matters.  The red cloud had lifted and the Dark Lord was back at full strength and pissed as all hell.

Once again the curses started flying back and forth between Domenica, Severus, and Voldemort.

"Crucio!" Severus yelled as he put what he could behind it causing Voldemort to fall to his knees.

Domenica saw the Dark Lord weakening and now there was only one shot for them to get out of this alive.  One spell to end it all.

"We have to do it," she said as she reached for her husband's hand.

"You do realize it has never been fully cast before. We don't know what the consequences will be."

"We don't have the time to worry about the consequences. It is the only way the children will ever be safe," she said as he looked deeply into his eyes as she withdrew a blade from the sleeve of her robes and cut a diagonal line across the palm of her right hand, drawing blood, and then tossing it to Severus.

Knowing how determined she was by this point he slit his own hand and grasped his wife's. There they stood with their hands joined and they started chanting quietly at first and as they continued they increased the volume, slowly building up the power behind the spell without letting it get away from them. As they cast the spell they completely focused their minds and strengths on its purpose.  Two powerful bloods merging into one and conjuring the purest form of magic to defeat the darkest – love beyond all boundaries to destroy the purest evil.  As their concentration focused on the spell, Voldemort slowly rose to his feet and pointed his wand at Domenica.

Finally, with all the power they could drain from themselves built up together, more powerful that the forces of nature it self, they concluded, "By the blood of Gryffindor and the Blood of Slytherin…a bridge formed is never broken…"

A blinding white light flashed from their joined hands, throwing them both backwards with such a force that their joined hands split apart.  The force of the magic was so powerful that it nearly made them both black out.

It was well after midnight when Remus and Sirius had gotten back to Hogwarts with the Snape children.  The two Marauders had gotten the kids ready for bed and let them sleep on the couch in the living room so they could watch over them.  This was the first real time that they had been in the living quarters of the Head of Slytherin and they wondered how Domenica had survived in all this green and silver.

"I'm surprised that Dory hadn't added any red and gold to all of this.  I guess she lost that battle," Sirius commented as he gazed around, just trying to fill the silence until Snape and Domenica returned.

"She may not have had not had the option," Remus replied.

The silence was damn near deafening to the two former Gryffindors.  They were about to try to find a way to get back to them when a loud thud and an irritated voice cut through the air.

"Damn floo…" Severus muttered as he painfully got to his knees on the floor.

"Daddy!"

The sound of their father's voice instantly woke up the two children and Remus and Sirius could do nothing to stop them.  Balthazar and Andronica flew into their father's open arms, hugging him tightly.

Severus held his children as tight as he could to him, afraid of having them taken again as he calmed them down.  Then he looked up at Remus and Sirius.  He could not see Domenica any where.

"Where is she?" he demanded.

"We thought she was with you," Remus replied.

"We were separated.  I thought she would have made it back by now."

Now this had become a great deal more serious.  Had the magic been so powerful that something could have happened to her?

Several more hours had passed and Severus sat quietly on the couch, disguising his fear from his two sleeping children, waiting with the former Marauders for Domenica to return.  Every second seemed like an eternity and he could not control it.  He was finally starting to nod off when the clock struck three in the morning.  As Severus was just shy of falling asleep, he heard a loud thud come from the fireplace in his lab and he went running to see what it had been.

When Severus got into his potions lab, he could not have been prepared for what he had found.  There, on the floor, was Domenica.  He rushed to her side and gathered her into his arms and told her how much he loved her.  But something was wrong.  Her skin was cold and her eyes closed.  She did not respond at all when she was picked up and there was blood dripping from her mouth.  Severus feared the absolute worst when he felt her neck.

"NOOOOO!" he cried out in grief, tears rolling down his cheeks.

Domenica was dead…her life lost in taking the Dark Lord's.

Remus and Sirius heard Severus scream and came running in with the two little children behind them.  When they saw Snape crying desperately as he held Domenica's body close to his, their hearts sank and tears formed in their eyes as they viewed the body of their dead friend.

That's when Balthazar and Andronica stepped forward and getting stopped in their tracks when they saw their mother.

"Mommy…" Balthazar whispered quietly before he started to cry.  He was afraid to move any closer and then he turned to Sirius and held on to his leg while Andronica had run to Remus.

Remus picked up Andronica and let her cry as his own tears run down his cheeks silently.  Then he noticed something lying next to Domenica's lifeless hand…a broken wand.  But it wasn't hers.  He knew Domenica Knight's wand as well as he knew his own - willow that was painted black with a Unicorn Hair core, 10 inches long.  This one had a piece of a phoenix feather in its core.  Remus was then positively sure what it was.  At the cost of her life, she had killed Voldemort and brought back his broken wand for proof.

~~~***~~~

Dumbledore allowed two days to pass before he called the school together for a memorial to Professor Domenica Knight.  He allowed time for Severus and his children to grieve in private before even thinking of facing the school.  All classes before that day and on that day had been cancelled out of mourning.  Then it was time.

One chilly November morning, Dumbledore called the school together in the Great Hall to conduct the memorial.  The students slowly filed in and the Headmaster could see some of the reddened eyes of the students who had been mourning their Professor.  Dumbledore's heart went out to Harry, Hermione, and Ron, who were some of the closest students to Domenica and who were taking it very hard.

He was just about to start his memorial when Professor McGonagall walked in.

"Albus, hold up for a few minutes.  Severus is coming," she said quietly to him.

"He is?  I hadn't expected him and the children to be up to so many people so soon."  Dumbledore was genuinely surprised at this fact.

"I went down there this morning to inform him and he said that he felt he should be there for her.  She was his wife and he wanted to give their children a chance to say good bye before the funeral," McGonagall replied.

"Have you heard how he has been doing for the past few days?  No one has been able to see him and you know Severus, never lets on about anything," Dumbledore inquired.

"I had managed to track down one of his house elves to check up on him and the children.  This poor elf said he had dismissed all of them after Domenica had died but they just couldn't leave him because they were concerned for Severus, Balthazar, and Andronica.  The elf said he had not slept much and when he did, it was after he cried himself to sleep.  He had been letting the children sleep in bed with him to comfort them.  He made sure that they were taken care of before he did himself.  He really is a doting father, despite what people may think.  He had only been eating a little but who could blame him.  I truly did feel bad about going down to the Dungeons to get him after I had heard this and I felt worse when he had answered the door.  I think I had woken him up," McGonagall explained as gently as she could.  This was not a side of Severus Snape that many were allowed to see.  Vulnerability and emotion was not something Severus showed often.

As McGonagall and Dumbledore were talking, Remus and Sirius had snuck quietly into the Great Hall.  Dressed in black mourning robes and their eyes reddened from tears of grief, everyone who saw them knew how much Domenica's death had affected them.  Another one of their friends had died at Voldemort's hands. 

Then Severus came in.  He still walked silently and did not want to attract any more attention then he would already be getting.  He carried Andronica in one arm and Balthazar held his hand as he walked by his father's side.  He started to head up to the Professors' table but then stopped.  He remembered that Domenica had let them sit with the students if they wanted to.

"Do you want to sit with the student today or up with me?" he asked Balthazar and Andronica as gently as he could.  His voice was already strained with emotion.

"We'll stay with you, Daddy.  Maybe we will see our friends later," Balthazar said tearfully as he followed his father up to his seat.  When Severus had taken his seat with Andronica on his lap and Balthazar in Domenica's chair, Dumbledore began.

            "I called you all together today to honor the memory of a very dear person to us, Professor Domenica Knight," he began over a hushed room, except for the sound of a few silenced cries.  "She was a member of Gryffindor House in the class of 1978 and embodied everything that her House symbolized.  After her graduation, she honored us by taking a position as out Ancient Magic and Spells professor, a position which no one could fill like she could.  She was the devoted wife of Severus Snape and loving mother of their two children, Balthazar and Andronica.  Her laughter will always be felt in these halls and her spirit will always watch over the school where she spent most of her life.  To this I propose a toast in her memory…to Domenica Knight…may you always fly high on the back of the wind and into the moonlight," Dumbledore stated as he raised his glass to the fallen Domenica.

            By the time Dumbledore had finished, Severus had tears rolling down his cheeks once again as he held on to his children.  As he gazed around the room, he was genuinely touched by how many others in the room were crying as well.  He had never realized how much everyone had cared about her and it made him miss her so much more.

            After her funeral, Severus had tried to go on with his life.  He returned to his classes with his children by his side.  He had gone back to his duties as the Potions master but there was something different about him.  Now that he was a single father and had lost the love of his life, the harshness that he was famous for just wasn't there.  It was like he had taken a page out of Domenica's book.  Severus Snape was actually a bit kinder to his students.  His life would never be the same now that he had found his love and had to say good bye to her.  But he vowed to himself that no matter what, his children would be protected and happy and know how great of a woman their mother was.

Finito

Author's Notes:  This story was an interesting one for me to write.  I had not written something this dark in a while and it was a new form for me.  This was my interpretation on what could have happened if A Broken Bridge between Two Houses went in another direction.  This is what the future could have been if Domenica (Dory) had chosen Snape over Remus.  I would like to thank brighteyes632210 and AnglMscOG for their help and contributions with this chapter.  I possibly have plans for a sequel but your reviews will tell me if I should proceed with them.  Let me know what you think.

~Elizabeth Bathory ~ December 30, 2002~