Part 13:

"Why did you come?" she asked as they shared a pint of butterbeer in Hogsmead.

Neville shrugged, "he asked me to keep an eye on you, tell him if you behaved oddly." He sent her an apologetic look, somewhat ashamed of himself.

She waved it off, "understandable. He doesn't quite trust me."

"Yes, he doesn't appear to trust either of you. Or anyone. Anyway, when I told him that Draco Malfoy had given you something, he go very quiet, very still. Then he told me to inform him if you ever left the castle alone, which I did."

"And he came. Lord Voldemort must be very suspicious of Narcissa to go to such lengths. Anything else?"

Here the Gryffindor hesitated, but spoke up under the encouraging look she gave him. 'He killed off a few of the higher ups in his organization, it almost seems like he's purging the ranks of his older servants to clear a path for younger ones."

She nodded, "Professor Snape suspected as much. He doesn't trust those who hid in plain sight, saying they were forced into his service. Nor does he feel safe with those who escaped, their memories of him being slightly skewered by their time there."

"Meaning?"

"He's going to leave himself with a bare force of followers to fight and protect him. The Dark Lord's completely convinced of his own immortality and he's crazy," she surmised, stiffening. "Run, Neville!" She hissed and pushed him towards the door.

Trusting that Neville was leaving, she rose to her feet. Fingering her knife loosely, she smirked at the eavesdropper. "Well, well, well, if it isn't Igor Karkaroff. Still listening into conversations that have nothing to do with you? Hasn't anyone ever told you that that's terribly bad form?"

"So is betraying the Dark Lord, but you don't seem to mind that," a voice hissed form behind her.

"Ah, Lestrange. How good of you to come and join the fun." She drawled, not moving, "I must ask why you would think that I would betray our lord? It should be obvious that I am not."

A cold hand traced her neck with a familiar intent, she remained unmoved. "Do you really expect us to believe that after seeing you with that Gryffindor whelp?"

"You mean Lord Voldemort's new whipping boy?" she let the words roll off her tongue, allowing them to process them. Then the knife flicked up and into Lestrange's side while the mug slammed Nott's face.

***

Neville approached the castle and ran down the stairs, "Professor Snape! Come quick!"

The office door flung open and without a word, the dark professor followed his nephew into the forest. As they ran, Neville filled him in on the events leading up to this mad dash.

"Go back to the castle. Let Headmaster Dumbledore know what's going on. I know you want to help but you can't be of much use if the Ministry gets you. We'll need you to be the eyes, ears, and saboteur for us."

"That bad?" the boy trembled.

Strong hands rested on his shoulders, almost as if to grant him courage. "Neville, you can do this. I have the utmost faith in you. Gryffindor is your house for a reason. Hurry now."

Eyes shinning with fear, pride, and something else glistened for a moment before disappearing into the fading light.

Firm steps carried Severus into the bar and he pushed the door open, almost afraid to look in. When he did, he barely held back a laugh. Amidst the mess of over turned tables, broken chairs, spilled blood, and bodies was his sister, calmly walking towards him. "You know, I never realized how easy it was to divert the attention of our fellow assassins towards each other. All I did was throw a little fog in their eyes and get out of the way. Lovely evening for a bloodbath, wouldn't you say?"

"Absolutely. Are you all right?" he asked, not quite covering his concern.

"Never better, though I can't say the same for our friends. They seem a little dead, wouldn't you agree?"

"Just one minute," Moody's voice startled them. "I have a few questions for you, if you wouldn't mind."

"Of course not," Severus lied smoothly, hand on Septina's back. "Where would you like to begin?"

"How about my office?" Briskly he led them to a fireplace in Rosemereta's and watched as they went through, following them after he made sure they weren't seen. "What are you doing here? We were led to believe that you were dead."

"To all intents and purposes, Moody, I was."

Surprisingly, it was the auror who flinched away from the blank eyes. "Want to tell me what happened?"

"Do I want to? No. Do I need to so that you can cover my backside? Only because I have to." In as few words as possible, she spoke of her imprisonment, the torture, and what she'd done since her release.

He fixed his eye on Severus Snape one she'd finished, making him uncomfortable. "Why did you not tell me of this development?"

"Headmaster Dumbledore required absolute silence on the matter. I answer to him alone," most of the time, he added silently.

"Come now, Snape, do you expect me to believe that?" he was skeptical of this excuse. The Slytherin may be known for his allegiance to the Headmaster, but did he honestly expect him to believe what he said just like that?

"Yes, Alastair, he does." Dumbledore's cool voice answered from the door. Poppy was with him and shoved him aside when she saw the condition Septina's outfit was in. "Why have you detained my potions professor and his sister? The last thing we need is for Minister Fudge to see her."

"Quit it. The blood isn't mine," she hissed.

"Oh, no?" Poppy challenged the spy, "what of this?" Her fingers pointed to several long gashes on her throat and face, "what of these?"

"They're only scratches."

"Which could become infected, so hush up and let me do my job."

"They were at the site of a call I received from Andy. I thought it best to remove them before Fudge's toadies arrived. But you can't keep this a secret forever," Moody growled, frustrated. In his mind, the only reason for secrecy was that Albus didn't trust him.

"I don't intend to, things were spiraling out of my control. Very few know of this occurrence," Albus sat beside his potions master. "But this isn't the time nor is it the place to discuss this."

"What of the owner?" Severus asked, turning the conversation back to why they were all there. "He will surely speak of what occurred this night."

Albus gave a twisted half-grin, "Lily decided to handle things in that quarter."

"How is Mrs. Potter?" Moody asked, opening his flask and taking a swig of it.

It was only Albus' warning glare that froze the reply on Severus' lips. Once the flask was set aside, he answered with one word, "American."

Moody blinked, "what?"

"Lily has acquired a body of flesh and bones. She's also an American," Severus replied dutifully.

"Do I even want to know how such a thing is possible?" he groaned.

"Probably not, so we won't bother to tell you." Severus spoke, turning to face his sister, "you okay?"

"Grand. You?" She asked, turning away from Poppy's ever tuned eye.

"Hungry."

"For food or vengeance?"

"Blood," he deadpanned.

"My favorite," she grinned.

"Children, behave."

Twin eyes looked at him, curiosity in the bottomless wells. "I thought we were behaving, Sev."

"We are, you misbehaved earlier," he reminded her.

"Is that what I was doing? I thought I was playing. Misbehaving is anything I do with Black," she mused. "At least, that's what he says."

"Children," Albus warned again.

"Oh, very well, Albus. There's no need to get huffy," Severus sighed, mentally sharing a mind eye roll with his sister. 'And they say I need to regain my sense of humor.'

'May be our brand is just to subtle for them to catch.' With a smile, she directed her gaze on the tableau before them. "What do we do now?"

"Trust me, only me." Lily answered, appearing in their midst, glancing at Moody apologetically. "Sorry, didn't mean to startle you, Alastair. After clearing up the mess you so generously left for me."

"I aim to please," Septina quipped.

"I spoke with Pen*Dir, he who is the oldest and wisest of the dragons. The final battle is to be on the ground's of the source's choosing," She paused, "in other words, how do you feel about a field trip to the Hellmouth?"

"I hope I have enough vampire attractors," he couldn't resist saying it. Though the others stared at him, appalled by this rather bland statement, his sister laughed and squeezed his hand.

"Make sure you bring enough for me, Sev."

"Always," he replied with a small smile. "Are we done?"

"No," Alastair snapped. "I need to question the witness. Or are you the perpetrator?"

"I ask for Mrs. Potter to stay as my counsel," she requested.

"Fine," he was irritated and his head ached. Now the auror remembered why he didn't like talking to the twins, they never stayed on the subject seriously.

Then the alarm sounded. He glared at his company, "you will stay here. Albus, I release Professor Snape into your care."

A warning glance, then Albus spoke with quiet sincerity. "We will be out of your way when you return."

He gave a curt nod, then was gone.

Severus stayed where he was, eyes closed, mind searching. "Narcissa has joined her husband, as has Bellatrix."

"Joint killing? Or?" she let it drop into silence.

"Or."

"Voldemort's cutting his own ties, one by one." Lily surmised, "I wonder if he even realizes it."

Severus shrugged, "probably not. He's not thinking clearly."

"And you?"

"He'll hang onto us until the end," Severus answered, leaving the rest of his sentence unspoken. It went without question that the Dark Lord would take them with him when he left.

**

Considering all the planning, the fear that was engendered, the sheer number of years it took to build this foundation, the fall of Voldemort was anticlimactic.

At the perimeter of the field, waited both sets of twins. A thin braided rope twisted around their hands, binding them magically. Dumbledore waited with his army, awaiting Lily's signal. The Potters had left earlier, drawing the Dark Lord after them like a beacon.

"Harry will be fine," Remus observed to Sirius as they waited with Moody. He was worried by Paddy's blank staring off into space and pinched him.

"He's a seventeen year old boy who has never really lived," he hissed back. "Snape was right, we're all cowards. We relied on one boy to save us from the nightmare we created."

"Careful, Siri," Remus cautioned. "There are those who wouldn't appreciate the implications in such a statement."

"Why not? It's true-prophesied child or not, we should never have laid the burden squarely on his shoulders," Sirius bitterly spoke. But he said no more, though the bile rose in his throat, demanding release. Remus was right, as usual.

"What are you going to do about Lily and Severus?"

"Nothing," he replied. "You didn't see her eyes when I objected to their union. I'd rather face a pack of rabid werewolves than try to change her mind. At least with them, I'd have a shot of success. Besides, Harry seems happy. Severus Snape isn't the same man I thought he was."

"And Septina?"

Instantly, his face closed. "There's nothing there. Leave it alone, Remus."

"Nothing? You are a fool, Siri," he muttered, letting it drop. Who was he to push when his friend didn't want to be pushed? His friend, that's who. The professor was resolved to do something about the situation when this was over.

From somewhere in the dark night, a shrieking tear was heard. A great roar sounded, a circling cloud formed-and a dark robed figure emerged into their midst. Black eyes stared at them before pinpointing two of them. Endless moments the three pairs of eyes stared at each other, one was harsh with the pain of betrayal. Finally, it spoke, low and hard. "You betrayed me," he hissed. His great staff whipped out and slammed into the two. "Why have you done so?" he questioned, towering over them.

"We have need of you here, Sauron-and be warned. Do you so much as lay another harmful hand on them, your existence will known no beginning nor end of pain." Lily approached him, backhanding him. She was unsurprised-but still hurt-when the twins rushed to his side.

"I was living again," he whispered, as he rose.

"You were fading," she corrected harshly. "There was none of your former glory or existence. You were nothing. The ring deceived you as it deceives all others. Your children saved you."

The dark trio walked away, not bothering to deny or accept what was heard. They were spoken. They were true. What need had they for words now? Fred and George exchanged glances and shrugged, following them.

Pen*Dir and the elders reshaped the mirror and waited for their moment.

In another part of town was Buffy with her army, battling to keep the horde of uber*vampires at bay. Giles was distracting the source, using various incantations he'd learned from the translated text. It took some doing, but they led them into the clearing.

There was a faint trace of sulfur swirling in the air around them. The wind pulsated with the heat of rage. Lily smiled grimly, feeling it surround her. She embraced it, letting it envelope her before pushing it aside. "It begins. Take care, Harry."

With the practice of months in their hands, Fred, George, Severus, and Septina, wove their powers in, out, and through each other. Burnished golds and shimmering silvers surrounded them, drawing upon their strengths, filling the gaps their weaknesses caused. Once the field was secure, George went to Severus, even as Fred went to Septina. Drawing wands out, they revealed the dark mark and waited.

Harry watched, waiting. It was up to him to take out the dark unicorn. He feared to do so for only a desperate person would kill one so pure. But Pen*Dir had given him the key to doing so without endangering his own soul. The Gryffindor hoped he had the strength to use it.

Out of the night, Voldemort came with his small army. Beside him, the unicorn stood. His heart wretched him, this beautiful creature was twisted. No innocence remained in her eyes and he steeled himself for what he must do.

Lily faced Voldemort, Sauron aiding her ably with his inner knowledge of all things truly dark. As he fell, his connections snapped by the Weasley twins, he only had one source to grab onto. The Snapes.

They felt themselves pulled away from their allies and didn't fight it. They welcomed the oblivion promised by death. Sauron watched in horror, these were his children. In that moment, blinding clarity hit him. Throwing the full weight of his power at them, he ripped the dark mark from their skin and branded himself.

Twin shrieks of pain and heart rending anguish soared into the night. Black eyes stared blankly at the empty space before them as they faltered, then fell to their knees. Hands grasped together as sorrow battered them. Lily rushed to Severus, Sirius looked at Septina, wanting to offer comfort. Both turned away, shattered. With deliberate steps, they rose and left the battlefield.

"Pendragon, your blood is needed," Pen*Dir's voice cut through the haze clouding her mind. She nodded and went towards them, letting her blood be used to seal the source. Never again would it be free.

"Is everyone gone from town?" No one within the sound of her voice could tell that her heart had turned to dust.

Buffy nodded, "yes."

"Pen*Dir, remove us." Once airborne, her arms rose and slashed viciously down. Water lifted itself from the ocean and swept into the town, swallowing all in its path. Reaching into her mind, she removed something and flung it down.

Flashing. Dancing. Spinning. It disappeared into the depths. "It is done," she spoke in reply to the unspoken questions she could hear in her companions heads. "Sealed in my blood forever. None shall remove the seal until it is time for his return."

"What do you mean?" Remus asked once they were on the ground again.

"The world is not ready for the return of the dragons. Nor is it prepared for the brand of power I hold," Lily was quiet. Her shoulders began to shake as she finally let go of the fullness of her power. "Severus. What have I done to you?"

Sirius reached out, clasping her hand in his. "What you had to do. They never expected to live, you must've known that."

Lily was inconsolable. "I betrayed them.

"They knew what was to be."

"Knowing and living through it are two different things," Remus quietly observed.

George approached them, "are you taking about Professor Snape and Septina? Where did they go? To death?"

Lily sniffed, "no. They chose to go and live their other lives."

Fred was confused, "what?"

Albus replied for them, sparing them the necessity of doing so. "They fulfilled their purpose here. Now, they face a choice they never thought they would. Stay here and build lives without their Middle Earth connection and escape. Or stay there."

"I don't understand. Why couldn't they continue as they have been?" George asked.

"I suppose that it was killing them to be separated into two lives," Hermione spoke.

Lily nodded, then her eyes hardened like jade. "He's not going. I won't let him."

"Shouldn't that be his choice?" Albus asked.

"No," the red head shook emphatically. "This decision is ours."

"Why bother talking her out of it?" Remus asked, not expecting an answer. "She won't listen." Whatever else he might've said was cut off when she apparated away from them. "See?"

"Where's my mum?" Harry asked, finally joining them From the look on his face, they could see that he was afraid of loosing her now that he'd regained her. They could also tell the moment he noticed his missing professor and his sister. "Where's pater? And Septina? Are they okay? Are they together? What's going on?"

Albus rested a hind on Harry's shoulder, squeezing gently. "She's fine. They all are. Severus is leaving us."

"The devil he is," Harry snapped. Before anyone could think to question his intentions, he was following his mum.

Draco shook his head, "well. That was entirely expected."

"What do you mean?" Ron demanded. "And just what are you doing here anyway?"

"I'm on your side, Weasley," he drolly announced, moving forward. "And you should know the answer to that. Did you not hear how he addressed Professor Snape.

Hermione slapped her forehead, "Pater. Its Latin for father."

Draco nodded, turning to Sirius. "Why are you still here?"

Sirius blinked, "where else would I be?"

"Where you belong, dolt," he snapped.

Remus smiled, "I have to agree with Draco on this, Siri."

He didn't even pretend to misunderstand them. "I told you, there's nothing there."

Remus shook his head, "everything is there. It has always been there. Why do you persist in denying it?"

"Why do you insist there is something there?" He demanded, obstinately.

"Your life has practically revolved around both of them since third year. And you faced a potentially life threatening mission in the very lair of Voldemort to keep an eye on Septina. Since she came back, you hardly ever leave her side." Remus lifted a hand, silencing his friend. "Yeah, I know. She needed you to be her eyes. Won't work, you've seen that she can get around quite easily without any aid."

Draco snorted, "I never figured you for a coward."

The Gryffindor didn't know what to do, but found the choice was taken out of his hands. Whether it was by his design, or another's, he found himself following after the Potters. It was a familiar spot. This was where he'd appeared when Lily sent him on that mission, the first time he'd seen Septina in another guise. Almost as if his thoughts brought her, he saw her standing betwixt the worlds.

She didn't face him, "give me a reason to go with you, Sirius." There was a tiny, almost unnoticeable, break in her voice.

Carefully approaching her, he rested a hand on her shoulder. After thinking for a moment, he smiled. "I've come to tolerate you."

It was silent for several moments and he tensed, the smile dropping from his face. Her lack of reaction either way frightening him. Then, low and sweet, she laughed. "It'll do, Sirius. It will do."

As one, they returned to Hogwarts. Pausing for a moment, he pulled her to a stop. She waited, knowing what his question would be. But she was not giving him an easy out, he needed to speak. "Where's Severus?" he finally asked.

"In Middle Earth," she squeezed his hand, "with Lily and Harry. He knew what my choice would be."

"Harry? Will he finish Hogwarts?"

"He will. By the way, you do realize that I have quite a reputation to live up to?"

"What?"

She smirked, "you are looking at the new potions professor. And, believe me, I am nothing like my brother. As usual, the pupil has surpassed the teacher."

Sirius groaned, feeling a great deal of pity for the students.

"So, if you wouldn't mind, I need to get ready for my class."

"Septina Snape, you are going to kill those students!" he hollered after her.

Turning around, she grinned, "I can try."

The End.

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You didn't really think I'd leave it there, did you? Shame on you.

Lily and Severus waited for a moment before turning away. "Look at it this way, at least you'll be able to go back to Hogwarts as the dour potions master."

Severus sighed, "I know. But, why him?"

"Now, Sev, I have no explanation for that,"

Holding her hand against his heart, he smiled sadly. "I miss her."

"We can go back," Lily pointed out. On the plains before them, Harry laughed as he chased Hedwig exultantly.

"No. I have obligations here to meet," he watched with her. "Besides, Harry deserves this. A world were he can just be."

Lily nodded, "you're an old softie, Severus."

He growled, but said nothing. Then, with a smirk, he spoke, "by the way, how do you feel about being a queen?"

The End.

Author's Note: Sorry about the rather cheesy Voldemort defeat scene, my mind couldn't handle the strain of this story anymore and snapped under the strain. So, any guesses on who the twins are in Middle Earth?