Disclaimer: I don't own the recognizable characters.  Sabra however, is my own creation.  I am making no money from this, so please don't sue me.

"Sabra."


Sabra stood in the center of the floor, for once unsure how to continue.  Her luggage was still clasped in each hand and she let it fall with a loud thud.  "Albus," Sabra said at last with a small smile, "So surprised to see me?"

A small frown, more likely brought on by suspicion than true anger, darkened Albus's face.  Clasping his hands behind his back, trying to keep any hostility out of his voice, he said softly, "What are you doing here, Sabra?"

Sabra took two short steps forward before stopping and placing her hand on the chair before the desk.  She looked up at find Albus still watching her.  "May I?" she asked, indicating the chair.  At Albus's nod, she sat, crossing one leg over the other, and then motioned for him to sit as well. 

"Well, Albus," Sabra began with a deep breath, "It is not everyday that someone returns from the dead."  She saw Albus tense and quickly rushed on before he could reply.  "I wish to see him.  Please."

Albus closed his eyes for a moment.  "Why?" he asked.

Surprised at his question, Sabra desperately searched for an answer.  Something that Albus would like to hear.  Sabra looked at her hands, clasped in her lap.  "He is my son too, Albus," she whispered.

Something flashed through Albus's eyes.  "Really," he replied with a dark sarcasm she could rarely remember from him, "Why the sudden change of heart?"

Sabra colored brightly in anger and embarrassment.  After everything he had done, how dare he decide to pass judgement on her actions!  "Sarcasm doesn't become you," she hissed, moving on the defensive, "I thought you'd be pleased with my interest in him."

Albus open his mouth to reply, then stopped.  His lips pressed into a thin line and he shook his head once, sharply.  "Sabra," he said, took a deep breath and leaned forward before starting again.  "Sabra, I won't let you hurt him. Not again."

Sabra found that she couldn't keep eye contact and dropped her eyes to the floor.  She hadn't expected that accusation to hurt so much.  "That is unfair," she said at last, "That was a long time ago. And he's older now."

"Older, yes," Albus agreed in that lecturing 'Professor' tone that Sabra well remembered, "But he is still very young. Still very much a child in wizarding terms."

Sabra wanted to scream, 'He can speak in full, complex sentences!  He can think abstractly and bloody feed himself!'  But instead she smiled and said, "I think we get along fine."

It therefor startled her when Albus laughed and shook his head in amusement.  "You don't know Severus," he said.

Sabra jumped onto that phrase, it was the best opening he'd given her.  "That's what I want to change, Albus," she insisted.

Albus starred at her again, and Sabra quickly, but discreetly as she could, closed off her mind to him.  She preferred to keep her thoughts to herself.

Albus stood and made his way over to the window that overlooked the Hogwarts grounds.  Sabra let him alone, knowing that he would speak when he was ready.  Sure enough, after a few minutes of long silence, he turned back.  "Why are you here?" he asked again.

Sabra rose slowly from the chair and went over to him, placing one hand on his arm in old familiarity.  "I would like a second chance with him," she lied, not breaking eye contact.

Then she moved closer, wrapping her arms around him in a gentle embrace.  "I've missed you," she whispered, "Both of you."  For a second it seemed as though her gambled move would backfire, but then Albus briefly returned the gesture before stepping back and away from her.

"We shall see," he said. Then, before the silence got awkward, "I was about to go downstairs and collect Severus for dinner. You are welcome to join us."

Sabra smiled a little, but shook her head. She needed to regroup and go over the notes she had received on Severus before she saw him.  "I'd like to unpack first," she said, "But I would appreciate if you'd bring him by after."

Albus walked back to his desk, nodding.  "As you wish," he said as he summoned a House Elf.   

Sabra didn't pay much attention to what he said to the small creature, only taking note of where her rooms were.  Then she returned his smile and watched him leave the office.

"Follow us, please," the House Elf squeaked.

Sabra took one more look around the office.  When her eyes fell on Fawkes, resting beautifully on his perch, the Phoenix gave an angry screech.  Sabra smirked at him then turned on her heel to follow the House Elf, baggage in hand. 

She had successfully accomplished step one.


***

Minerva McGonagall took great pride in her patience level.  She could stay calm and wait quietly when other people could not.  But when the Headmaster and his son were ten minutes late to the Head Table for the evening meal, she found that she could sit still no longer.

While it was not surprising to find Severus late or altogether absent at a meal, the Headmaster's absence was uncommon and caused her some concern.

A quick decision and, leaving the table and her plate, she headed towards the dungeons, figuring that the Headmaster was most likely there with Severus.  That's where he usually was when he didn't show up.  If he wasn't there, Severus was either sure to know where he was or successfully tear up the castle looking for him.

It was interesting, really.  Both were highly protective of the other.  Though if Severus was ever somehow separated from the older wizard, he seemed more like the lost child wailing for his parent to find him than anything else.

Shaking her head, McGonagall realized that she had been standing before the door to Severus's quarters for at least five minutes.  "Severus," she muttered under her breath, "You're going to be the death of all of us for sure."  Then she knocked on the door.  She only had to wait a moment before it opened for her.

"Severus?" McGonagall called as she entered and looked around the empty room.  "Severus? Are you here?"

"Severus isn't talking to anyone at the moment."

Well, that at least solved the question of the Headmaster's whereabouts.  McGonagall moved further into the room, stopping to right an overturned chair, and spotted Dumbledore sitting in front of the closed door to Severus's washroom.

Dumbledore was smiling, but it was an empty gesture and the light did not reach his eyes.  "Observe," he said.  Turning slightly, he knocked on the door. "Severus?" he called, "Child, will you please come out and talk to me?"

"Go away!" they heard Severus shout, punctuating it by throwing something heavy at the door.  McGonagall sighed and took a seat on the floor next to her friend.

Why the Headmaster put up with Severus's antics often escaped most of the staff, but she liked to think she understood why he humored the Slytherin Professor.  Severus was still only beginning to heal from the old scars left from his precieved childhood abandonment.  Antisocial and paranoid, McGonagall knew that it was still going to take the Headmaster several more decades to reteach Severus.

"Well," McGonagall said briskly, "What has upset him this time?"

But Dumbledore didn't smile and acknowledge the playful tone.  Instead he sighed and leaned his head back against the closed door. Just as McGonagall was beginning to think that he wasn't going to answer her, Dumbledore said very softly, as if he didn't anyone else to hear him, "Sabra's here."

McGonagall's hand flew to her mouth.  She felt disbelief.  Sabra would never…but Dumbledore sounded so serious.  He would never joke about something like this.  "Here?" she gasped at last, "Why?"

"She said that she's here to see Severus," Dumbledore replied slowly, almost as if he was trying to convince himself.  "Severus knew at once that something was bothering me.  He asked and-" he gestured to the still closed door.

McGonagall bit her lip uncertainly. Call it what you like: jealousy, concern, fear…but she did not like the idea of Sabra seeing Severus.  As far as she knew, Sabra had never forgiven the child that had disrupted her preferred routine of life.  Indeed, Sabra had disliked Severus from day one.


*flashback*


McGonagall cradled the new born Dumbledore child in her arms and smiled warmly down at him.  In all the world, of all the wonders both magical and natural, there was nothing more joyous than the start of a new life.  She looked up to see her friend, the father of the child, standing at her side and knew that he agreed with her.  "He's beautiful, Albus," she whispered.

Dumbledore seemed to be caught between stunned amazement and complete happiness.  Gently, reverently, he eased the blue fleece blanket away from the small face so that he could touch the baby's soft cheek. At his touch, the baby stirred and opened his eyes.

The rest of the Hogwarts staff leaned closer to see the child.  A holiday had been called when they had learned of the birth and the staff of Hogwarts had hurried over as soon as it was possible, leaving three very put out teachers back at the school to watch the students.  "Oh Albus," McGonagall said, "Look, he has your eyes."

Dumbledore took his son from McGonagall, obviously relieved to have the child back in his personal possession. "My little Severus," he whispered, eyes shining with adoration. As though he knew that they were talking about him, Severus opened his eyes again and tried to focus on the person holding him.

When it was time to return to Hogwarts, McGonagall was the last Professor to leave.  She had just kissed Severus goodbye and was reaching for the floo powder when the door on the other side of the room opened and Sabra came slowly into the room.

Dumbledore at once looked concerned.  "Sabra," he said, surprised, "You should still be asleep."

McGonagall had to agree with him. The birth had been a difficult one and Sabra hadn't fully recovered.  She looked tired, her normally sharp look faulted by her wrinkled robes and hair that was falling out of whatever style she had tried to arrange it in.

Sabra leaned heavily against the doorframe and yawned. "He needs to be fed soon, Albus," she said, her voice low with a sleepy, exhausted timber.

"Right," Dumbledore agreed.  "Here Minerva."  He handed Severus back to McGonagall, causing the child's eyes to open during the transfer. "I will be right back," he said to the baby.

"Where are you going?" McGonagall asked, confused.

Dumbledore smiled and shrugged. "Sabra has chosen to bottle feed Severus so that she can go back to work." he said, and then disappeared out the door towards the kitchen.

Severus stayed quiet in McGonagall's arms until his father was out the door.  Then, as if he knew that the wizard was there, as if he could no longer sense his presence, Severus began to squirm and cry. McGonagall tried to calm him, but he wouldn't be appeased. McGonagall smiled and shook her head. This was not the job for strangers. The baby sought to be pacified only by his parents. "Here Sabra," she said, turning and offering the silent woman the child, "He wants you."

But Sabra didn't move forward to take Severus from her. She just stood and starred right through them as though they didn't exist. McGonagall began to feel awkward standing there, and the child began to wail louder. He certainly had a healthy pair of lungs at least. "Sabra?" McGonagall asked, uncertain.

"Here, give him to me," Dumbledore said, shattering the odd atmosphere and refilling the room with light as he reentered with the bottle. McGonagall handed Severus to him and the child's crying instantly dimmed. Did not stop, but at least got a little quieter. Dumbledore laughed quietly and settled down in a nearby chair to feed his little son.

McGonagall smiled; he was so good with children.  Then she looked back at Sabra. For a brief instant the cold neutrality faded and McGonagall saw pure hatred and jealousy on the other woman's face as she watched her husband with their child. Then the look was gone, leaving McGonagall to wonder if she ever really saw it there at all.


*end flashback*


McGonagall jumped in surprise when she heard the lock on Severus's door being undone.  Exchanging a quick look with Dumbledore, they both stood and moved back a little to allow Severus his space.  Slowly the door opened. 

Severus blinked at seeing both of them there and then folded his arms across his chest and leaned against the doorframe, glaring at them.  "Why are you still here?" he snarled at Dumbledore, ignoring McGonagalls's presence for the moment.

"I am worried about you," Dumbledore answered truthfully.  "Severus, I would have told you if I knew she was coming."

"You can't make me like her," Severus snarled in return, not caring that he hurt his father's feelings when he pulled away when he tried to touch him

"I'm not asking you to like her," Dumbledore said patiently, "I'm not even asking you to be polite, which you should appreciate."  Severus's glare intensified.  Dumbledore sighed and shook his head helplessly.  "Child, she just wants to see you, to talk to you." 

Severus was silent for a long moment, his breathing harsh and angry.  Then he straightened and brushed his long hair out of his eyes.  "Fine," he snapped. 

"Thank you," Dumbledore said.


******************************************************************************

Sabra was reading when she heard a knock on her door.  It had to be them.  Odd, she thought that she would be more nervous.  "Enter," Sabra called, taking the time to mark her place before rising to face her visitors. 

The speech she had ready to welcome Severus died on her lips.  Instead, she stood frozen in place.  The person in front of her eyes simply wouldn't comply with her memories. 

Indeed, if it hadn't been for the bright blue eyes and hair that brought a relief to the black clothing and darkness he wore like a mantel, she would have thought him more a living shadow or odd phantom of the mind rather than a young wizard.  "Severus," she said, remembering to smile. 

Moody's description had not done him justice.  Severus was indeed tall, held himself with an aristocratic elegance, and possessed many of his father's traits (those damn eyes, for example), but there was also something harder and unforgiving in both his manner and appearance that gave her pause.

"Severus," she said again, breaking the deafening silence.  Deciding to take charge of the situation, she moved forward, her arms out.  "It's been a long time." 

But Severus, his face twisting as though he had tasted something terribly bitter, stepped away from her, not allowing her to touch him.  "Yes," he said coldly.  "It has."  His long, pale hands drifted up to play with the chain around his neck for a moment, an obviously nervous habit, before he demanded, "What is it that you want?" 

Sabra smiled again and reached a hand to caress his face.  "Can not a mother have the desire to see her child?" 

But that had anything but the right effect.  Severus caught her wrist before she could touch him.  "Do not touch me, Sabra," he hissed as his eyes flashed and his hand constricted around her slender wrist. 

Sabra tried to pull back, but Severus only tightened his grip like a snake around its prey.  "You will unhand me," Sabra yelled, an odd fear churning in her stomach. 

Severus smiled, a nasty little smile, and stepped back, letting go and raising his hands in mocking surrender.  "As you wish," he replied with a sneer.  Then he turned and headed for the door. 

It was only sheer reflex and knowing that her job was not completed that kept Sabra from washing her hands of him.  "I am not finished speaking to you," Sabra exclaimed in outrage. 

"Tomorrow," Severus shouted back, and swept out the door in a while of black robes, slamming it shut behind him.  The sound reverberated loudly, making their ears ring with the silence left in his wake. 

"Well," Dumbledore said finally and cheerfully when Sabra turned to glare at him from his spot against the wall, "That's our Severus.

TBC

Author's Note: Don't forget to sign up for the mailing list if you'd like to know about updates for this or my other stories.

~Jazz