Disclaimer: All characters belong to J.K. Rowling, except Giselle-the protagonist, who is my creation.

Summary: Instead of Harry Potter, my story will have a female protagonist. I won't call her a typical female!Harry because she is different from him.

This story is NOT a SLASH or a romance between snape and my protagonis. So don't expect that... It has dark themes but the value of light comes from the lack of it!

My story revolves around Giselle Potter and her life after going through a terrible series of events. Broken and battered, stuck in an undesirable situation like never before. And who is assigned to 'aid' her? A certain dour Potions Master.

The story follows canon till OoTP, but not the followimg summer and thereafter.

WARNING: This story is rated M. It has themes of self-harm, physical abuse and rape (though nothing graphic in the early chapters). It has some amount of profanity, as well. No graphic description will be given without a prior warning.

A/N: At the end.

THTP*****THTP*****

Chapter 15: A Way To Go Forward

Dear Severus,

Healer Bronze wrote to me the other day, informing me of Giselle's reluctance towards getting medical care. I realised what you were referring to when you came to see me, about a mind-healer. I would advise you to go on as you have thought. Perhaps, you can prove to be of greater help to her that way. But don't forget, my boy, that the war is what she ultimately needs to be prepared for.

I wish you well.

-A. Dumbledore.

Albus looked at the letter and gave a nod in satisfaction to himself. He folded the letter and slipped it into an envelope neatly.

"Fawkes," he called. The phoenix came and perched on his shoulder. "Please, deliver this letter to Severus for me," he said to the bird. It nibbled on his finger before taking the letter into its beak. The old Headmaster could not risk sending the letter by an ordinary owl in case a Death Eater were to track the movements. But Fawkes was too clever to fall prey to their nasty tricks.

He watched as Fawkes took its flight, vanishing with a sudden bout of fire. He slid the drawer to his study table open, picking the can of candies out. He needed sweets to remain calm at times when his mind worked too quick for his old heart, to fathom with the conclusions that he drew out of peculiar situations. Currently, his mind had to process guilt...

People were of the perspective that Albus Dumbledore did not know suffering. He smiled sadly at the thought. Suffering—he had an old relation with suffering...

Severus would probably only frown at the letter that he was sending. He had probably even started looking for an apt mind-healer for Giselle. Severus was not the one to follow Albus' rules, but the young man's discretion had often helped them. He had chosen the right man to prepare Giselle.

Albus popped a few candies into his mouth and kept the can back in. Severus would help Giselle in ways that I could not. If anybody could, it was Severus...

Albus closed his eyes leaning back into his seat, suddenly recalling the night his youngest employee retrieved Giselle from the very clutches of Tom Riddle...

*****THTP*****THTP

As per Albus' orders, Moody, Kingsley, Arthur and Tonks were standing on guard outside the Malfoy Manor. They were to send signals in case they needed more Order members to help them. In the Hospital Wing, he himself sat in Poppy's office, along with Molly and the medi-witch, anxiously waiting for Severus and Giselle to arrive.

He had never followed any religion or prayed to any Gods, but that day, he wished he knew who exactly to address his prayers to...

He was well-aware of the dangers and the probability of their safe return... Severus had given them a brief idea of what to expect in the worst case scenario. If he could not make it, the War will be lost. But not only the War, Giselle and Severus, will be lost, too. And he did not think his old heart could handle more loss.

Minerva entered the office, looking just as agitated. "My apologies, Albus. There was some ruckus in the Tower..."

"That is alright, Minerva," he said calmly. "We are only waiting. Have a seat."

The Deputy Headmistress sat beside Poppy. "Did they send any signals?" She asked. Albus shook his head silently.

"I was thinking..." Poppy spoke. All of them turned to face her. "What if she needs to be taken to St. Mungo's? Or Severus, if he's too injured?"

"We cannot risk that, can we now?" Minerva sighed, looking at the Headmaster.

"I will call more Healers from St. Mungo's, Poppy," he said. "I do have some trustworthy friends there."

"I hope we don't need any of that," Molly mumbled.

"Where are the children?" Poppy asked suddenly.

Minerva blinked at her before replying, "Oh, they are all in their common room. We have placed wards to indicate if anyone of them steps out for the night. Also, Filius and Panoma are on rounds along with Mr. Filch and Mrs. Norris."

Just then, somebody knocked at the office door. Poppy leaped to her feet to open the door, followed by the others. The medi-witch pulled the door open but huffed. "You both?"

"Thank you for the warm welcome, Madam," Fred said.

"Fred? George?" Molly went to the door, ushering the boys in while the others kept their seats. "Did you get any signals?"

"Nothing at all," George shrugged. "But Bill and the others are still on the castle gates."

"Professor," Fred said to Dumbledore, "Do you think we should check on them?"

Albus glanced at the clock. "No, not yet. We will wait."

"But what if they're in danger?" George frowned.

"They are in danger," Dumbledore simply said, conjuring two chairs for the twins. They sighed and sat down.

"Oh, Merlin!" Minerva huffed. "Somebody is out of the Gryffindor Tower."

"We'll go and check," the twins said almost in unison.

"Keep them all in," Molly said. "Nobody is supposed to see Severus or Giselle as they come."

"Roger!" They strode out of the office hurriedly.

Molly glanced at the clock with a worried look plastered on her face. "It's been hours since Severus went..."

"He had to attend a meeting first, Mrs. Weasley," Poppy reminded her. "That could have taken a little longer, perhaps."

"I hope so," the lady murmured, walking to the window. Rain drops tricked down the glass, making the view outside blurry. She forlornly caressed the cold glass, looking out.

"Keep calm, Molly," Albus said politely. "Giselle will need you strong."

"And I will be right here for her," she mumbled, but with determination.

The door to the office was pushed open again, but without a knock that time. Ron and Hermione stepped in behind the Weasley twins.

"I should have known," Minerva muttered under her breath.

"We are not leaving," Ron stated. But as Hermione nudged him, he added, "Professor."

"That is alright, Mr. Weasley," Albus said simply. "You may remain here."

"But, Albus..." Molly whispered from where she stood by the window.

"We're not children anymore, Mom!" Ron retorted, getting the indication.

"Yes, Mrs. Weasley, we...we know what worst to expect..." Hermione added.

Molly sighed, turning to face the window again. Ron quirked an eye at his brothers, worried about his mother's resignation. The twins only shook his head.

"Is there anything that we can help with when they arrive?" Hermione asked with sincerely.

"Perhaps..." Albus said distractedly. He checked the clock again. He was stuck in a dilemma of whether to send a signal from their side to Severus, just in case.., But it could cause him unwanted trouble...

"What did you guys tell the other students why didn't Giselle return for the year?" Free asked.

"Professor McGonagall told them that her Aunt is hospitalised, so she will return after a few weeks," Hermione told them. "The word is already spread."

"How long to wait for them?" Ron quietly asked his brothers.

"Don't know," one of them replied.

"I think I see someone there!" Molly suddenly cried.

Albus pushed his chair away and strode to the window, followed by the others. Molly shifted to give him space. He peered out of the drenched glass—the visibility was very poor, but he could see a silhouette walking to the Gates. From inside, he watched as the other Order members rushed to the gates, too, and opened them.

"Poppy, prepare two beds, Minerva, send a word to Moody that they have arrived," he commanded, striding out of the office, to the Hospital Wing.

"Fred, George, help them up!" Molly ordered, rushing to help the medi-witch.

Albus waited anxiously at the door of the Infirmary for them to arrive. He did not know if both of them had returned or... But he kept those thoughts away for the time being.

"Will she be okay?" Albus heard Ron ask. "Pray," Hermione replied.

Pray...

His head shot up as he saw Severus running up the stairs, carrying a seemingly unconscious Giselle in his arms. Water dripped from their clothes, making a trail. Behind them, the others followed.

"Severus!" Albus could not control himself further and called. He ran a wrinkled hand down his beard. The others came and stood right behind him.

"Move! Move!" Severus began shouting even before entering the infirmary. Everyone, including the Headmaster, moved to give them way.

"Bring her here, Severus," Poppy called, standing by a bed.

As his Potions Master passed by him, carrying the girl, Albus saw a glimpse of her bruised face. He heard Hermione and Ron gasp as the pair passed by them.

"Sweet Merlin!" Poppy cried as Severus gingerly laid the girl on the bed. Molly rushed to the bed, clutching her mouth.

"Jesus Christ!" Hermione's voice broke.

"Away, everyone!" Poppy ordered, drawing the curtains, leaving everyone except Molly out.

Albus did not dare to see Giselle... Not after hearing the verbal response the others gave. He ducked his head and turned away from everyone, stepping out of the infirmary.

He was vaguely reminded of his sister, Ariana. When she was retrieved after the attacks that those Muggles had perpetrated, her eyes were wide open in shock with tears rolling down her pale, bruised cheeks.

That night, he had lost the sister he knew.

"Albus." Severus' raspy voice startled him. Dumbledore turned to face his employee.

"How did...it go?" He asked, eliminating any other emotion that he felt.

"My covers are blown," he told him in a tone that hid a lot behind its neutral charade.

"But for a cause," Albus simply added. "Very well down, my boy."

"We were too late," Severus said, eyeing him.

"But she is alive," Dumbledore said as matter-of-fact.

"Is that all you wanted?" He hissed.

"That was the least I could expect." The Headmaster patted Severus' shoulder. "Are you injured?"

"I am fine," he spat, turning away and back inside.

Albus closed his eyes, leaning against a wall.

Ariana...

Flashes of the little girl with terrorised eyes plagued him. He opened his eyes and sighed resignedly.

When he heard the curtains drawing back, Albus went inside.

"I want everybody to leave," Poppy ordered. "Professors can stay. Rest everyone, out."

"But how's she?" Ron demanded.

"She will be fine if you let her rest," Poppy said sternly. "Please, cooperate and leave."

"Come, Ron," Hermione whispered, a knowing look in her eyes. He led him out, followed by the others—none of whom protested.

Albus could hear Molly murmuring some soothing words to Giselle from behind the curtains. Minerva stood with Severus near a bed, looking morose.

"Poppy?" Albus asked.

The medi-witch shook her head. "Tortured under a number of dark curses, including the Cruciatus... She has the...Dark Mark on her forearm, too."

"Yes, yes, Severus had told us about that," he nodded but Minerva interrupted, "And?"

Poppy glanced at the drawn curtain, "And raped—several times."

Nobody spoke, nobody could. Horror flashed through Minerva's face and something akin to cognisance through that of Severus. Albus, however, remained transfixed.

Silence was broken by Minerva's dreaded hiss of "Sweet Merlin!"

Albus noticed as Severus clenched and unclenched his fists, thriving hard to keep his expressions smooth.

"Can I see her?" Dumbledore asked.

"She's unconscious, but..." She nodded, stepping aside. He opened the curtain slightly to see Giselle laying still on the bed as Molly stroked her hair, tears leaking out of her eyes. Giselle's pale face bore marks and bruises, adding on to the scar on her forehead, also given by Tom Riddle.

He wanted to tell the child how truly apologetic he was, but could not bring himself to...

Severus and Minerva stepped behind him. "The Dark Lord can control her through the Mark," the Potions Master informed him. "It needs to be removed." At that, Molly looked up at him with teary eyes. "How?"

"I can do that," Dumbledore said in a low whisper.

"Don't cause her more pain that she is already in," she said almost pleadingly.

"I will try."

Poppy folded up the sleeve of Giselle's gown, revealing a wretched Dark Mark on her pale skin. Behind him, Minerva inhaled sharply.

Albus pointed his wand at the skull and serpent that corrupted her being. "Hold her," he asked the two woman. The two glanced at each other before Molly restrained her shoulders and Poppy her legs.

"Tenebris Tollere!" He muttered, pressing the tip of his elder wand into her skin. As red light left his wand, the light shreds covered the Mark completely.

Giselle screamed. She gave a heart wrenching scream, trying to wriggle away. Minerva, too, helped the two women to keep Giselle still. Her screams intensified as Albus' magic began to erase the Mark from her arm.

"It's almost done, dear," Molly kept muttering soothingly to her.

Tears of agony rolled down her temples and her face remained scrunched in excruciating pain that racked her body. When screams suddenly subsided, Giselle's body went into a violent seizure. But Dumbledore could not afford to stop the procedure in the middle.

"What is happening?" Molly asked in concern.

"Keep your hold tight," Poppy did not answer.

He heard Severus cursing behind him before walking away for a bit. He returned with a spoon in his hand. Albus watched as Severus, somehow, opened her mouth and slid the spoon between Giselle's teeth as her seizure continued.

"Is this normal?" Minerva asked, eyeing Severus. The Potions Master nodded sullenly.

Finally when Giselle's forearm was left clean of the Dark Mark, Albus lifted the spell. Her arm bore a nasty, red scar but it was harmless.

"Give her an Anti-Seizure, quick!" Severus demanded.

Poppy summoned a vial from the cupboard. She spelled the potion into her system with expertise. Gradually, the seizure subsided, leaving the girl drained. Her limp body laid almost lifeless. Molly summoned a cool washcloth and began gently soothing it over Giselle's tearstained face.

"Oh, child..." Molly stroked her hair comfortingly.

Albus gave one last glance at her before looking away. Nothing had reminded him of Ariana more... He felt guilty for indulging in his own sorrows when that of Giselle's were simply incomparable...

"I think, we all must take some rest," he said hastily, turning away. As he left the Hospital Wing, nobody interrupted him.

*****THTP*****THTP

Snape pulled back from Potter's mind, returning to the sick room. Potter still laid in front of him, but her eyes were fluttering. Snape sighed, rubbing his temples. "Giselle?"

The girl opened her eyes, finally, and Snape noted that just like before, they were hard and dry. But at least, Potter was back.

She peered at him, befuddled, before a sudden realisation struck her.

"Welcome back, Potter," Snape muttered, getting to his feet.

"What the-" Giselle bolted up, eyeing Snape who himself got to his feet. "What did- You invaded my memories—again!"

Snape folded his arms over his chest. "A pleasant way of expressing gratitude."

"Who gave you the right!" The timbre of her voice increased by the last word.

"I have had enough drama for a day, Potter," he said smoothly.

"You tricked me! How could you trick me!" She shouted. "You manipulated me!"

"I merely retrieved you, revived you," Snape remained calm, his voice sounding banal.

"You did that deliberately!" She said accusingly.

"Of course," Snape drawled. "I do nary a thing without purpose."

She regarded incredulously. "Why would you- You're a...you're a...horrible person, Snape!"

"I do get that a lot," he said smoothly.

"I don't wanna be here—not for another moment!" She declared. "I wanna go back to Hogwarts!"

"Oh, but I believe that is not what you said when I asked you just a moment ago," Snape leaned against the wall, arms still crossed.

"Who gave you the right to invade my memories!" She shrieked. "Have you got no ounce of shame?!"

Snape raised his eyebrows, "Says the one who trespassed into my pensieve?"

"You did it as a revenge?" She said exasperatedly. "What a terrible person you are! Christ!"

"I cannot stoop so low, sorry to disappoint you," he said casually.

"I hate you! I so fucking hate you!" She started groping around the bed. "Where's my wand?"

"I have it," he said casually.

"I want my wand back," she demanded.

"Do you think that after pulling the little stunt yesterday, you deserve to keep it." Snape said slowly and smoothly. When Potter opened her mouth to speak, he said, "It was rhetorical question, Potter."

"But that's my wand! You can't keep it!"

"Oh, but I can." Snape drawled.

"You!" She looked around frantically before grasping a pillow in her hand. She threw it at Snape forcefully.

Snape stopped it midair, without even his wand. He made sure to plaster a bored look on his face. "Really, Potter? What are you? A toddler?"

"I HATE YOU!" She shrieked, throwing another pillow—which, too, met with the same conclusion at his hands.

"So you have said," he kept his voice calm.

"Who asked you to interrupt me last night?!" She accusingly said. "Who do you think you are to decide for me."

"It would have been quite distasteful to find a corpse in my house the first thing in the morning today." He said.

Potter shook her head in disbelief. "I do not want to be in your house. I am leaving."

"And going where exactly? To hire a room at the Leaky Cauldron like you did the year a murderer was after you?" He said with his eyebrows raised.

"What are you? A stalker?" She spat.

"A vigilant stalker, yes, who saved your friends and you from your pet warewolf," he said slowly.

"Wow, great! So now it seems you've taken it upon yourself to be my 'protector'," she rolled her eyes in spite.

Precisely.

"You have an hour to tend to yourself. I expect you in the garden, then," he ordered. "Lolly will bring some food to your room. Which reminds me to inform you that I have reinstated the wards on your room to allow me entrance at any given time. The rest is just as it was."

"I don't take orders from you." Potter retorted, laying back on her bed, and pulling the covers well over her head.

"You will, if you desire to, ever, get custody of your wand," he said smoothly.

"Go to hell, Snape." He heard the muffled words before turning back, unaffected. "And, Potter, do not be late. A conversation is in order."

He stalked out of the sick room, weaving in his mind how exactly he was about to begin the said conversation.

*****THTP*****THTP

Giselle sat with her head resting on top of her knees. Her arms were wrapped around her legs, providing her some kind of defence against her own thoughts.

The glass of the window was cold to the touch but as she leaned her forehead to it, it provided some relief to the slight burn in her scar. The aroma of chicken stew protruded her nostrils and her stomach gave signals of its need to eat but as always, she had no appetite, whatsoever.

If only the nosy Potions Master hadn't interfered with her plans, she would have been free...

She looked back at the wall where the goblet full of her herbs was tossed to—the place was spotless. Snape had spelled most of the things unbreakable in her room, not that she had the energy to check for herself, but she could feel the magic lingering on the new mirror in her bathroom, as well as on the window.

She begrudgingly wondered what obsession could the man have with saving her life! It was not his job to keep her alive! It was not like had something happened to Giselle, Dumbledore would have blamed Snape. Then, she suddenly felt very awkward at that thought. She owed him for saving her life, didn't she?

"No way!" She muttered to herself. Snape could never understand her plight—not that she expected him to, anyway.

Giselle closed her eyes to stop the flow of thoughts. It was too painful to think on those lines because whenever she did, she met with a deadlock. She could see no future for herself. The idea of carrying on in a life that posed so many challenges threatened her, so much so that it became hard to breathe.

Life had always posed challenges, but the kind of hopelessness that she possessed now was not present before.

She looked up, at the wall clock. It was around half past five—she was twenty minutes late in meeting Snape in the garden. Twenty minutes were good enough to make him understand I still didn't follow his commands. But with that thought, she finally made her way out.

Leaving the fire burning in the hearth and her food untouched on the table, she left her room. It was only her wand for which she was going. It irked her to no limits to think of Snape tormenting her in ways like those.

When she finally did step out of the main door, into the verandah, Giselle unconsciously took a deep breath in the open. She vaguely realised that since coming to the Manor, she had not once gotten out. Giselle loved the green, and it was almost disturbing to think how she had not once felt the need to leave the four walls of the Manor.

She had first come to terms with gardening on Aunt Petunia's demand of her to tend to the garden at Number Four, Privet Drive. It had started like a chore, the first of many. But soon, it had become more of a catharsis than a chore. Just like flying—which, too, she had not indulged into since Umbridge had banned her from Quidditch.

She looked around to find Snape sitting on the cemented patch, by the marble fountain. His face was hidden behind the Potions Journal that he read. Giselle crossed to where he was leisurely enjoying himself sitting on the cane-chair, while Giselle was losing her temper.

She strode to Snape and stood in front of him with her arms crossed to her chest. But the Professor never rose his head from the Journal. Giselle was pretty sure that all the noise that she was deliberately making with her feet was enough to disturb him but the man was ignoring her on purpose.

"Give me my wand back." She made it sound like a command.

"With an attitude like that, do not expect me to entertain your wishes," he said in a calm voice, from behind his Journal.

Giselle huffed. "Alright. Please, give my wand back." She was eyeing the man with hot loathe.

"Sit down, Potter," he gestured towards the chair opposite his, finally keeping his Journal down beside a small plant that was kept on the table in an earthen pot.

"My wand," she held out her hand in clear defiance, refusing to follow any order that he gave.

"You heard me, Miss Potter," he spoke in the same calm tone that infuriated Giselle even further. "Improve your attitude before demanding anything."

She took her hand back, reclaiming her previous posture with folded arms. "Who do you think you are to confiscate my wand!"

"The owner of the house where you tried to perpetrate suicide," with acerbity lacing his tone, he said in a smooth fashion.

"It was not suicide," she said defensively. "I had reasons—still have. And I don't expect you to understand, anyway."

"Oh, I see," he said mockingly. "But I insist that you make me understand exactly why you are after claiming your life, as it was not the first time you have tried the said act, if my memory serves me correctly."

"Listen, Snape, I am compelled to stay here does not mean that I have to tell you anything that I do." She stated.

"Compelled by whom, exactly?" He raised his eyebrows.

To that, Giselle had no convincing reply. That point always ruled over all her claims and negated them. Because she, herself, had consented to stay in that house! She, instead, fixed her gaze on the plant on the table and vaguely registered the dry mud in which it was rooted.

"Sit down, Potter," he said, ignoring the previous question. "We have a long conversation in order."

"I'm fine here." She said bluntly. At the back of her head, however, she knew that she was being childish at best. Sitting down and having a civilised conversation and then taking her wand back was a way better option, also due to her head that still felt fuzzy.

"Alright, remain standing for all I care," he rolled his eyes, leaning back in his chair himself. "Miss Potter," Snape began, sounding professional, "How do you feel about the act that you pulled last night?"

Giselle stared at him for long minutes, examining the other connotations of the question, before replying. "What do you want me to say? That I felt badly about it?" Snape sounded like an elementary school headmaster enquiring children after they had pulled some mischief in class.

"Feel bad."

"Huh?" She narrowed her eyes in question.

"One does not feel 'badly', Potter, one feels 'bad'," he said casually.

Giselle rolled her eyes, "Alright, then. I don't feel 'bad' about it, anyway."

"So how do you feel?" Snape remained his voice low.

Again, she stared at him before answering, "I regret."

"Do you?" Snape challenged.

"I regret not having finished what I meant to do." Giselle's voice was laced with defiance.

"Enlighten me, Miss Potter," he sat upright, leaning a bit forward, "What exactly it was that you were expecting to accomplish by consuming those herbs?"

"You exactly know what I want," she said flatly—unapologetically.

"To take your own life? Yes, I am aware of your motives," Snape said smoothly.

She eyed him straight but only for a moment, "Not my life."

"Oh? Then?" Snape said sarcastically. He tilted his head slightly sideways, as if examining her.

"Is that why you've called me? To harass me with your stupid questions?" She said, gritting her teeth. The man was deliberately being a bastard, compelling her to indulge in the uncomfortable conversation.

"No, Potter, I can do that almost anywhere," he said casually. "I wanted to merely converse with you so as to reach a consensus."

She quirked her eyebrows in question but waited for him to elaborate.

_THTP_THTP

"The Headmaster requests that I train you, Miss Potter, for the upcoming battle," he began. "He would like you to be trained in nonverbal defences and offences, in shielding yourself, in throwing powerful curses, as well as in attaining a fluency in spells that are prohibited to be used by the Ministry. He wants you to attain the extensive training and knowledge that you require to fight in the battle—so as to win." He paused. Snape took a moment to observe the girl who seemed wary. When he did stop, she looked up from where her eyes were struck to her hands, wordlessly expecting him to continue. Satisfied that his words were not falling to deaf ears, again, Snape continued.

"And I, Potter, can also enlighten you with the exact methods the Dark Lord and his cabal will doubtlessly use in the war." By then, Snape's voice had adapted a mysterious aura. "Each spell, each hex that they use, I am well versed with. Some of them, I have trained in my days as a spy."

"You have?" Potter was gaping somewhat floored.

"Yes." Was the clear reply.

"Why would you...do that?" Her face screwed and Snape could tell how she was judging him—something that most of the people did after hearing of his past.

"I was a double agent, Potter." That was all the allusion Snape needed to give. Potter nodded in weary acknowledgment. "I can be of pivotal help to you, but why would I waste my time on you if you eventually are planning to claim your own life?"

"Why'd you waste your time on me, anyway, Professor?" She never met his eye—a habit, Snape surmised after noting her behavioural patterns for quite a few days.

"Because deny as much as we would like, you are destined to bring an end to the war," Snape said clearly.

"Destined? Yeah, right." She murmured bitterly. Potter pointed at the tumbler kept on the table. "Can I?" Snape gestured for her to continue. She poured some water in the goblet but instead of drinking it, she poured it in the pot, watering the plant. Snape narrowed his eyes at her. "It was drying up..." She mumbled.

"I am told that you are acquainted with what the Prophecy said," Snape said.

"Just because some dumb and overrated Prophecy says that I can send the bad guys away, doesn't actually mean that I can." Potter shrugged.

"Yes, correct," he agreed. "But that also does not claim that you cannot."

"Anyone can, then, why just me?" She folded her arms in a defensive posture. "Why don't you ask Neville to do it, instead. Maybe the Prophecy was about him all along and you've all Chosen the wrong One."

"But I surmise, Potter, it was you and not Mr. Longbottom who-"

"Survived the Killing Curse? It wasn't me, it was my Mum," she said exasperatingly.

"...Who fought that halfwit Quirrell, the Basilisk, the dragon, the Dark Lord in the graveyard," he drawled, adapting a bored tone. "Remind me if I forgot to mention some of your achievements."

"Yeah, you did," she said coldly. "You forgot to mention me fighting your Dark Lord in the Malfoy Manor and how I bravely and strongly defeated him and killed his Death Eaters and flee the Manor. That one was an important achievement, yes."

"I can, although, remember something on the similar lines that happened in the graveyard and the Department of Mysteries," he countered.

"Yeah, when I got two innocent people killed," she laughed without humour. "Some achievement it was."

"If you tell me you have survivor's guilt, Potter-"

"Won't you have it after getting four people killed—who were trying to save you!" She exclaimed.

"No," he said simply. "I would not disrespect their sacrifice by digging myself into self pity."

Potter glared at him with anger, breathing hard. She opened her mouth to say something but restrained herself. She pursed her lips tightly.

"Speak."

"It's easy for you to say, but only if you were in my shoes, even for a minute, you would have understood the reasons behind everything that I ever do!" By the end, she was nearly shrieking. "I want to go back to Hogwarts!"

"And do what?" He quirked his eyebrow.

After a long pause, she finally spoke, "If you think that I can—still—fight and win, lemme remind you how well I protected myself against Vol- him in that Manor!"

"Can you tell me, Miss Potter, what were the reasons you could not defend yourself there?" He maintained a neutral tone.

She cocked head, gazing at him in disbelief. "It's quite clear really, isn't it? He's a very strong dark wizard and I...I couldn't...his spells- No, wait! I didn't even have my wand then so there was no point, anyway."

"Yes, exactly," he said, sitting back in his chair. "So what is that skill that would have aided you, had you been-"

"Wandless magic!" The girl nearly shrieked. She covered her gaping mouth with her slightly shaking hands. "If I knew wandless magic...I wouldn't have to...go through... How did I never notice!" When green eyes rose to meet the Professor's, they were filled with a haunted realisation and very bleak traces of hope.

The first sign.

"Do you want to learn the subtle skill of wandless magic, Miss Potter?" Snape raised his eyebrow.

"You can...teach me?" In a very small voice, Potter asked. Snape noticed her contorting her hands.

"I assuredly can," he said smoothly. "But the question is—why would I?"

Potter frowned, "But you just said-"

"I said, Potter, that why would I waste my time and energy on somebody who does not as much as respect her own life? Why would I teach you, Potter, if tomorrow you claim your life, thus leading all my efforts into nowheresville."

"I was not trying to kill myself!" She exclaimed.

"Perhaps that was not your primary intention, but you were foolish enough not to examine the effects of your actions." He stated smoothly. "Or did you not as much as cared that your actions would have cost you your life!"

_THTP_THTP

"I was forced to remedy my problem because you all failed!" She spat accusingly. "If your World is so incapable to handle something as easy as an abortion, let me find help in my ways!" Right after finishing the sentence, realisation drew on her face. She averted her eyed to the ground, again. SHIT! She had never spoke so openly about...the problem to anyone... She had no intentions of opening up to Snape—whatsoever!

"Sit down, Potter." It did not come out as an order. With a sigh, she finally sat down.

"Perhaps, I should explain to you why exactly did we fail," he began. "Potter, what do you know about the Magical Core?"

"It's where our magic comes from," she mumbled tersely.

"Oversimplified, but correct," he said. "Every child who is born a witch or wizard, do possess that Core. The Magical Core starts to develop in one's body from the very point of conception. But a child is ready to use magic in a full-fledged fashion only about ten years after the birth—when the Magical Core attains considerable majority. Before that, all a child shows are the signs of accidental magic."

She nodded, vaguely stroking her the leaves of the small plant. All that Snape was telling her was at some point repeated by Hermione, she was certain.

"But some children are very powerful, since even before birth," Snape explained. "Their Magical Cores are too developed from the beginning, thus giving them a benefit over the others. There were only a handful of cases reported in the Wizarding World so far."

"What are you trying to say?" She asked rather bluntly, finding herself at a loss.

"I am trying to establish that, Potter, a child so excessively powerful as yours cannot be terminated." He concluded.

"It's NOT mine!" She shouted, looking directly at him. Her face took up a greenish hue at the mere mention of it. The feeling of being trapped overpowered her again. "I want to get rid of it!" She furiously hit the tumbler with hand, throwing it on the ground.

"Potter-"

"Just answer me, Snape, can you help me get rid of it?" She asked in a fiercely low voice. "I will do whatever training you want, I won't hurt myself, I'll even fight in whatever battle Dumbledore tells me to, just get me rid of it!"

_THTP_THTP

Snape studied the desperation in her voice. "Do you not see a reason to fight the battle other than the Headmaster's wishes?"

"Right now, I don't see any reasons." She said firmly. "Will you or will you not help me?"

"If I agree, will you-"

"Yes!" She said in desperation even without hearing him out. Snape could see the beginning of a panic attack.

"Alright, Potter," he said calmly. He set the tumbler back on the table and offered a goblet to the girl. "I do have an idea." At that, her eyes set on him with hope. She even took the offered goblet unconsciously.

"What? Is there a way?"

"I'm afraid, there is no way to eliminate the...foetus at this stage, but I can help you give the child up for adoption once it is born," he offered. Somewhere, he regretted putting up such an offer altogether...

"Why am I supposed to suffer for months because of something I'm not responsible for!" She slapped the table with her hand in frustration.

"Because there is no other choice that you have," he said. "Understand this, Potter, the death of the child will mean your own demise, and I doubt you would want to, so blatantly, disrespect your mother's sacrifice for you and die without avenging what the Dark Lord did to your parents and to your own self."

That took time to sink in. Giselle had unconsciously taken to stroking the leaves of the plants while contemplating what Snape had said. She could never think in those lines in times of desperations. When the reality of her situation hit her, she lost the more logical edge of her thoughts, driving into the more reckless measures. "Can't my magic protect me if..."

"When Healer Bronze tried the procedure of magical termination at Hogwarts, you started having seizures," Snape told her. Giselle was unaware of what actually had happened to cause them to stop the procedure. "That was the result of the child's magic trying to save itself, fighting against that of the Healer. The two forces worked against your body, thus the seizures. Meanwhile, your own magic was unable to fight against either of the forces."

"Yeah, right, even that bloody thing is stronger that I am." She muttered bitterly, not expecting Snape to hear it. But he did. In turn, he leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees and peering at her carefully, "Do you know, Potter, why is it that the child has extensive powers?"

"Because it has Dark powers that are way stronger that what I can ever have!" She spat. Anything of that monster would be as dark as his soul—that thought threatened to bring a bout of nausea.

"Dark powers? I hope you do not think that Dark Magic is inherited by wizards." he raised an eyebrow.

Giselle looked up at him questioningly.

Snape rolled his eyes, "It is not inherited. Dark Arts are skills to be learnt, by a person himself. A child does not possess Dark Magic, Potter."

"Then why is it so difficult to get rid of it?!" She demanded.

"Because of the parentage of the child," Snape explained. Giselle only frowned. "How many wizards or witches do you know who have chased a thousand dementors away at the age of...thirteen?"

When her frown deepened, Snape huffed, "You are a very powerful witch, Potter, if you come to use your powers in the most beneficial way possible. And as for the Dark Lord-" Giselle cringed, "-it is needless to say the sane for him."

The mere prospect of it made her sick. "So you're telling me that other than giving it up when it's...here, there's nothing more that I can do?"

"Yes," was the simple reply.

"Alright, then, I want to get rid of this...thing the moment it's here." She declared.

"Potter, I will keep my side of the bargain, only if you keep your side," he said. "I will help finding a suitable party to adopt the child if and only if, you agree on getting the training I intend to give you and you give me your word that you will not attempt to claim your life again."

"Fine." She instantly agreed. "But you have to keep your side, no matter what anyone else says—even Dumbledore!"

Snape narrowed his eyes, "Why would the Headmaster interfere in your personal choices?"

"Because he has always interfered, hasn't he?" Giselle muttered, unapologetically.

_THTP_THTP

Snape frowned at the unabashed manner in which the girl had accused Albus. But it did not come as a shock. With the insensitivity Albus had shown to her in the past years, how long did he think she would follow him blindly?

Potter was no longer eleven, a naive child in the Wizarding World. She did have an understanding that the Headmaster had his own motives due to which he had been manipulating her into living her life on the lines established by him. But Snape had warned the old man, several times, that the girl would soon open her eyes to his blatant manipulations if he did not change his ways.

"Nobody can manipulate me into that, be assured." He said firmly.

"I have some demands," she said. Snape quirked his eyebrow at her in question. "I will not be...burdened with the responsibility of it from the very moment it's here. It'll be sent away, far away from here, where I never come in contact with it. I don't care who takes it, they should be under the oath of secrecy about...my involvement... In short," she released a sharp breath, "I want nothing to do with it—ever."

Snape efficiently covered the sudden flash of shock that crossed his mind at the vindictiveness of that statement. But he could not whole-heartedly blame the girl, in truth. Potter was only sixteen. "Alright." Snape said. "In return, you will follow my instructions, Potter. I give you my word, all I will ever ask you to do will only be in your favour. I will never require you to do something that would bring harm to you."

Potter looked at him and nodded. "Do we have a deal?"

Snape saw the refreshing flash of determination and a tinge of hope in the otherwise empty eyes. "Indeed."

A/N: A reader, weirdhead, asked me if Giselle will have a romantic partner in the story. So, here's a reply to that: Yes, Giselle will have one. I have all of it planned out. But it will take some time. The romantic partner WILL NOT be Severus, of course. But somebody else—from canon. I won't reveal who. But I'm pretty sure you will like it! :)

And to all the others who have reviewed my work, thanks a lot!

Thanks for reading! Have a good day! :)