A/N: I hate my computer. Happy birthday, Linny.. assuming i get get this to work before your next birthday.. lol
Chapter 12: Confession
That evening, Severus was sitting at his desk, filing away his paperwork. The next afternoon, he would catch the last Hogwart's Express ride out, to his summer home in Hogsmeade, where several other teachers would be staying as well.
"Severus?" there was a light knock at the door.
"Come in, Rakka," he called back. The heavy old door creaked open.
She was out of uniform, for only the third time he had seen her that way, the second time that didn't involve her bleeding all over herself. She wore a long, black skirt, and a black shirt that zipped up the front, just high enough to sustain a classy look, not high enough to make it look like something from Professor McGonagall's closet. On the bare skin just above where the shirt parted, she wore her grandmother's necklace, and above it, her belt collar, as always. She walked up to the desk, reaching into her small black bag with the green and white Slytherin emblem on the front, pulling out a green and white scarf.
"I started this over Christmas break," she said softly, putting it on the desk. "I'm not that great with knitting, so it took awhile, and I'm afraid it's a bit out of season now, but perhaps you could wear it next winter. You wear so much black, Severus, you could do with a little Slytherin colors."
Severus smiled, picking up the soft scarf. "I love it. Thank you. I'd wear it now, but I might die of heatstroke."
Rakka laughed, then looked at the floor, seeming the most nervous he had ever seen her.
"Rakka, is there something wrong?"
"Professor, I.. I feel like there are some things about me, about my family, that you should know," she said softly, sitting down in the thick leather chair across from the desk.
"Go on," he said calmly, though a bit worried.
"I.. you have a right to know.. after all, secrets can only be kept so long, and when there are lives at stake.. we never thought it would come to this.. but after Gannor... I'm not so sure.."
Snape moved, sitting on the front of his desk instead of behind it, afraid to miss something important in her murmuring.
"I... I talked to Tomas and Zeke, and Isamu and Michael.. we all agreed it would be for the best.. Michael even talked to Bill and Charlie.. they agreed, too.."
"Bill and Charlie Weasely? From Gryffindor?"
"Yeah. They're cousins of ours, the only ones not in Slytherin. Ok, well, sitting here beating around the bush isn't helping. I might as well be out with it."
"Ok, go on, I'm listening," Severus nodded. Rakka took a deep breath.
"You know my mother and Aunt Trista, and no doubt their little sister, Aunt Molly, and perhaps you know Aunt Ghendra, she's a few years older, married to Kurt Swinder, they're Michael's parents.. he was quite disappointed when he learned we were related," she chuckled slightly. "They're all sisters, of course. Grandma and Grandpa Argent only had girls, as far as everyone else knew. They had one son, but he was a jerk, Balsur Argent. He was their first child, and the only one that didn't use magic, but only because he didn't want to. He wanted nothing to do with the family, since we had magic. Off and married some woman named Lanelle."
"He changed his last name before he married her, not wanting anyone to ever learn that he was from a magical family. They had a son, and they named him Tom. Tom M. Riddle."
Snape's heart stopped, then jumpstarted itself at a furious pound. "Tom Riddle?" he choked. "The Tom Riddle?"
"Tom, the one and only. He wanted us to call him 'Voldy.' It never took, you see, since we didn't see him."
Severus sat back a little on his desk, still in shock.
"When Grandpa Argent first married Grandma, he didn't have much faith in our kind, really, just like his son, but he ended up getting over his fear of wizards when he realized he partially to blame for the magic in his children's veins.. he was of a long line of squibs. There hadn't been any of them able to use magic for so long, they never mentioned it to him as a child, not wanting to get his hopes up. Grandma was from a long line of wizards, and all his children were witches and a wizard, and good ones at that - save for Uncle Balsur, who refused to even see if he could work magic - and so was the next generation. Well, by 'good' I guess I really meant powerful.. since Tom was anything but good..."
She shuddered, then looked up at Snape.
"When Uncle Balsur denied his family, we denied him as well. And then he left his own son in the end, as he had left the rest of us, for being a wizard. A bit of a dirtbag, Uncle Balsur was, so we never admitted to him. Grandma pitied her grandson, feeling terrible that her son had abandoned his own blood, when he was likely the cause of the magic in the boy's blood. Mother felt bad, too, and offered to take him from his mother, to raise him with the rest of us, but he... he was terrible, a smug little fiend. When he... he killed my father, when he refused to join him... but Grandma was a tough old bird, and threw him out of the family for good. I was at Hogwarts at the time. When my father died. We all were here, save for my littlest sister, Rhiannon, who was but a month or two from being born, and our younger cousins. It was my third year. To come home on Christmas break.. and find out my father had died... mother wouldn't tell us how it happened. She didn't want Zeke or Tomas or Zackary, who was a seventh year at the time, to go off and do something stupid.."
Severus rested a hand gently on Rakka's shoulder.
"We didn't find out until after mother died, complications when she was giving birth to Rhia, most likely a time delayed curse intended to kill mother without harming Rhia. It was then that Tom started with the letters.
"Owl post, every week. Asking us all how we were, saying he had heard about mother's death. He offered to take care of us, said he owed it to our parents. Grandma threw a fit, she was watching us, with some help from the Potters, who had only been out of school a year or two. they lived near us, Mrs. Potter had a little boy about the same time mother had died, and helped us take care of Rhia.
"We never wrote back to Tom, and it was a good thing we didn't, because Grandma told us what he had done, how he had killed our father. Zackary and Eve tried to find him, but it was no good. We couldn't track him down.. not until the night he killed the Potters. The only survivor was their son.. but I'm sure you knew that. What many people don't know is that we think that.. the reason he tried to kill him.. was because he thought little Harry Potter was our brother. See, he never knew whether Rhia had been a boy or a girl, but he did know from one of his spies that the Potters were helping to raise our little sibling, and when Grandma refused to let him take us and twist us into his own evil children, Tom had a fit and since has been after the whole family, at first with an emphasis on Rhia, who he had apparently spared before her birth so that he could mold her mind by his own hands. Besides, if you know about the old prophesy, you know that Voldemort went after Potter, supposedly, because he was the child of parents who had stood against him three times... well, mom and dad fit the category as well. Two birds with one stone, I guess he had assumed. The death of the Potters is a great pain to the hearts of our whole family. It has been for the past four years. Our family, Harry's godfather, Sirius, we all tried to take him in, it was the least we could do, but Dumbledore insisted on sending him to live with his Muggle relatives. Perhaps it was all for the best.
"The same night Tom.. Voldemort.. call him what you will, the night he killed the Potters, he had also killed Grandma and Aunt Trista and her husband, all of whom had been protecting us, and little Isamu. He took off to the Potters' when he realized Rhia wasn't there... if only he had tried to hurt us before he left, one of us would bear the burden of that scar instead, and Mr. and Mrs. Potter would still be here. But Harry is not the only orphan. We were alone as well, thanks to him. But I don't think he was too keen on letting us live, despite how he left us that first night in the apparently capable hands of his servants, all of whom ended up dead from trying to kill us, none of them powerful enough to leave so much as a scratch on us. We've had a few attempts on our lives since then.. but none in school."
"So your cousin, when he couldn't bring you to his side.. decided to kill you all? His own blood?"
"We denied him. We disowned him. And he had a very childish temper attached to all that power. He killed his own Grandmother."
Snape shuddered at the thought. It was too easy to picture Voldemort mercilessly killing off his own family. He had been that twisted.
"Gannor.. he wasn't technically the first attack on school grounds. The first one was even closer to being sucessful."
Severus looked over to her, his eyes turning from remorse to burning anger. "Someone else on this school's grounds tried to kill you?"
Without another word, Rakka stood and reached for the belt around her neck, unclasping it and sliding it off, resting it on Severus' desk, her fingers brushing against his leg, which he almost didn't notice. His eyes were fixed on the gleaming white scar, reaching from where her neck met her collarbone on the left up under her right ear, a clean, pearl line.
"Durrendell. He was trying to sneak off to kill Dumbledore. I found out. He left me for dead at the password locked door to the headmaster's office. If Dumbledore hadn't heard my screams... if he hadn't found me, I would have died."
Severus hugged Rakka gently, letting her rest her temple just below his collarbone as he sat on the desk, sliding his left leg back, bent, to let her sit on the edge beside him, nestled in the bend of his leg and curled in his arms.
"Dumbledore.. he made you Head Girl out of gratitude, didn't he? You nearly gave your own life to save his."
Rakka nodded. "My own cousin... killing every adult who ever cared for us.. sending people to kill us as well, and anyone who protected us. He's too afraid to kill us himself. He doesn't want to suffer the reversal of his own curses again.. after Grandma and Aunt Trista and Uncle Lumis all died for us.. can't be sure if it would be stronger than Harry's defense because there were three of them, or if it would be weaker because there are seven of us splitting it. I don't think he wants to find out, the filthy bastard."
"Stay here," Severus said quietly. "I'll help Dumbledore defend you. He owes you his life. I'm sure he can find you a job.. perhaps you can help Hagrid or something."
"No.. hiding here won't help anything, and I can't endanger Dumbledore again, or the students here...or you."
"Please... stay," Severus held her tightly. "If not for Dumbledore.. then for me."
Rakka looked up at Severus, a bit confused. He smiled lightly.
"Come now, Rakka, don't play a fool, it doesn't work with me. I love you, and you know it. You've known it all along."
"Severus... I.." she wrapped one arm loosely around his neck, her fingers toying with his hair, which was only about five or six inches shorter than her own, brushing the bottom of his shoulder blades.
She stuttered, and he didn't have the patience to let her finish her thought. He kissed her, slow and as soft as he could bear to, finally succombing to the temptation he'd felt since that first afternoon, in that very same office.
Rakka closed her eyes, kissing him back, firmly responding to his touch, her fingers working up into his hair, along his scalp at the base of his neck, making him shudder.
"I love you, too," she whispered. She stood up, sliding her right hip off the desk, which she had been somewhat resting on. He stood as well, not taking his arms off from around her, one hand on her shoulder, the other on the small of her back, the ends of her curls brushing his fingertips. He guided her gently into the next room, closing the door behind them, sealing it with a quick spell.
He awoke the next morning, expecting to see Rakka beside him. But when he rolled over, all he found was a note.
I love you, and I know you love me, and I'm sorry I had to leave, but when I told you what I did yesterday, it was because I wanted you to know why I was leaving. I'm sorry, Severus. I want to be with you more than anything in the world, but by staying, I will only hurt you more. Loving anyone of our bloodline is dangerous, and too many have died already. I know you would give up your job, or even your life for me, you would follow me to the ends of the earth, just so we could be together.. but I could never ask that of you.
Last night never should have happened, and I'm sorry to do that to you. To leave you after that is something that will haunt me, as will every tear you ever shed for me. It kills me to leave, Sev, and as much as it hurts, I want you to go on without me. Don't suffer in my name, too much suffering has already been felt because of me. I hope that you can look back on last night as a fond memory, but nothing more.
Don't try to follow, I'll be gone with the first whistle of the Hogwarts Express. And don't worry, Grandma, Aunt Trista, and Uncle Perrellfoot cast one hell of a protection spell, so I don't think I'll get into any trouble I can't handle.
Missing you already.
"No.." he murmured. This couldn't be happening, not now, when it seemed things were finally going right for both of them. How could she leave? What if something happened, with no one there to protect her? Even the deaths of her family may not be enough to Protect her from the Dark Lord!
"The first whistle of the Hogwarts Express... " Severus turned to the clock in the corner. "I still have time."
"I'm sorry to see you go, Rakka dear," Dumbledore smiled halfheartedly. "Are you sure you wouldn't rather stay here? Hagrid's got alot of work. He could use an assistant. Or if you're up to a challenge, Professor Snape has been wanting to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts, and you would make an excellent Potions teacher."
"No, thank you, Professor Dumbledore," Rakka smiled with a light, quiet laugh. "I think I've hidden here too long already."
"Well, do be careful, my dear," he smiled.
"I will," she promised, giving her old headmaster a hug. "Oh, and Professor Dumbledore? Could you do me one last favor? I'd greatly appreciate it."
"Surely," he nodded.
"If.. well, more likely, when you see Professor Snape.. he's firmly said how he feels about me leaving.. tell him.. tell him it's all for the best."
Dumbledore nodded carefully. "You're a fine young woman, Rakka. You've got good judgement. Better than anyone else I know, myself included. Do stay safe."
"Of course," she smiled gratefully, as the last boarding bell rang. "Well, I'd best be off. Farewell, Professor!"
"Goodbye, Rakka, don't forget to visit," Dumbledore waved as she climbed aboard the train. As the whistles of the Hogwarts Express gave a merry little toot, the train rolled out of the station, the many sounds of the great locomotive echoing off the flagstone.
As the train rolled out of the station, Professor Snape, half dressed, ran at top speed across the flagstone, coming to a dead stop a few dozen feet behind Dumbledore. It was too late. She was gone.
"She told me to tell you that this is all for the best," Dumbledore said, just loud enough for Severus to hear him.
Snape's heart leapt into his throat. "It.. it's not what you think it is.. I.."
"No, it is what I think it is," Dumbledore turned to face Snape, his face not showing any signs of intending to reprimand the heartbroken young teacher. "It's two young, respectable adults falling prey to the one magic no wizard can control."
Dumbledore smiled, and Severus finally let out the breath he'd been holding. "You're not going to kick me out?"
"After you and Rakka put all that effort in all year, sitting there biting your tongues, going mad, just so that you'd be respecting my rules? Why on earth should I do that? You waited long enough, old sport! It was breaking my heart just to watch you two. You did absolutely nothing wrong."
For the first time since he'd woken up that morning, Severus managed a small smile.
"Thank you, Professor.."
"You've proven yourself again, Severus. I've got no reason not to trust you. I knew, if we just gave you a second chance, you'd prove yourself. Everyone deserves a second chance.. even Death Eaters. Right, Severus?"
Serverus said nothing, stuck on his own memories, recalling the first time Dumbledore had put trust in him, his left hand absentmindedly rubbing at his right forearm.
"Go pack your things, professor," Dumbledore smiled. "You'd best be ready to leave by the next train."
Severus nodded, returning to his office. It seemed darker and colder than usual, though he was accustomed to spending so much time in the dungeon. He gathered his things off his desk, pausing when he spotted a familliar, square, silver belt buckle, gleaming in the light thrown by a blue fire in the lantern hanging overhead. He picked up the small belt, which had been around Rakka's neck only the evening before, holding it so close he could smell the vanilla perfume still on it. With a heavy sigh, he put it in his bag, along with all his other belongings, and headed off for the train.
September came with false promise on the cooling breeze as Severus watched all the upperclassmen climbing off the Hogwarts Express, the same train that had dropped Rakka into his life.. and so brutally torn her away. He stood off to the side, with his arms crossed, one hand raised to pull absentmindedly at a strand of his hair, which he had chopped up to his shoulders, in some strange effort to get his mind off of her during the summer. After all, he needed to start fresh, and his hair had been a terrible mess to take care of. In the sea of students, he spotted an emerald green headband, stuck cleanly into a head of auburn blonde hair. The emerald eyes that matched caught sight of him, and Isamu Perrelfoot, now a third year, waved happily, pushing gently through the crowds to him.
"Professor Snape!" she beamed.
"Hello, Ms. Perrelfoot," Snape said cooly, nodding an acknowledgement.
"What did you do to your hair?"
"It was unprofessional," he frowned. "Tough to take care of. Got in my way."
"Sorry to hear that," she frowned a bit as well. "It looks nice, though it was lovely long. I got an owl post from Rakka last month. She told me to give you this."
Isamu held out a small, gleaming silver pin, about the size to hold a cloak closed. It was a celtic knot, formed by a snake, who's eyes were gleaming bits of emerald.
"To remember her, you know, as a keepsake," Isamu shrugged. "She said you gave her a wonderful gift, and she had to give you something in return, for rememberance."
Severus took the clasp, nodding a thank you to Isamu.
"Well, I'll see you in the Great Hall," she smiled. "I've got to be off. Bye, Professor!"
"Goodbye, Isamu," he said quietly, watching her bounce off excitedly into the crowd. Severus looked down at the clasp, smiling the slightest bit. She didn't need to give him such things for rememberance. She was the one person he could never forget.