Author's Note: Finnnnnalllllyyyyyy, an UPDATE!!!!!! I am soooo sorry about the long wait (over a month!), but my life has been crazy, and I have had no time to write at all. Add on the fact that I re-wrote this chapter three times because I had a hard time keeping it from being totally confusing, and you can see why it took so long. A big thanks to everyone who's reviewed, and to everyone who reads this despite my lack of updates. I love you guys, and am glad I have people who are enjoying this as much as I am! A note about the timeline and translations: I added the timeline to get rid of any confusion about when events are taking place, so if you get lost just look at the dates (the story starts on the Saturday following the Thursday night Hermione watches Severus play, and ends on the Friday morning after that Thursday night.) Also, the translations from English to Italian were done with an on-line translator, so sorry to any Italian speakers if the grammar is completely off! And remember: no beta = spelling and grammar mistakes, so watch out! Thx again to everyone, and PLEASE KEEP REVIEWING!!!
Saturday, Oct. 9th
Professor Snape's Office
The heavy wooden door to Snape's office creaked open, revealing a very nervous Hermione Granger. She stepped inside, eyes cast downward and hands clenched behind her back. Her lower lip was caught between her teeth, and her hair was pulled back from her face in a messy braid. She simply radiated discomfort and anxiety, and looked for all the world that she would rather be scrubbing encrusted cauldrons with her toothbrush than standing in Snape's office.
"Take a seat, Miss Granger" said Dumbledore kindly, motioning her closer with a wave of his hand. "We have much to discuss with Professor Snape".
Hermione walked forward hesitantly, and slowly raised her eyes enough to see where she was going. She could feel Snape looking at her, his gaze like a knife upon her skin. Her cheeks were burning, and her legs felt as though someone had transfigured them into jelly. She did not want to have this conversation with, did not want to help Dumbledore explain something that she could scarcely believe herself.
In less than fourty-eight hours, Hermione's life had turned upside down. Things she had taken as solid fact had been melted down and remolded into childish fictions she was ashamed to have believed in. In an almsot brutally quick fashion, a teacher she had once considered nothing more than a carboard cut out of a man had become painfully three-dimensional. It was cruel of the headmaster to ask for her assistance, when he knew what was happening to her, what had happened to her. How could Dumbledore expect her to look the potions master in the face after he had carried her in his arms, after all she knew about his past, and especially after that awful dream she had about him?
Oh yes, the dream. The terrible dream that frightened and disgusted and excited her all at the same time. The dream that turned Severus Snape from a greasy bastard into a vailiant hero, the dream that by every law of magic she should not have had. Did the Heasmaster really mean for her to tell Snape about that?
Still refusing to bring her eyes up, Hermione seated herself in the open armchair in front of the desk. She chewed furiously on her bottom lip, and waited for Dumbledore to begin.
"Now that Miss Granger is settled, would you mind giving me your answer, Severus? Are you prepared to listen without needless interuption, and to take what I am about to suggest seriously?"
Hermione finally looked up enough to watch Snape's face out of the corner of her eye. His eyes were hard, and his mouth was set in a thin line. He's going to refuse, she thought desperately, I'm not going to have to do this after all! But then, to her horror, she saw the spark of curiosity in his black eyes, and watched with dread as it spread across his face like wildfire. Snape looked to the Headmaster.
"You have my word, Albus. I will listen, if for nothing more than to quench my own curiosity."
Hermione's heart fell to her stomach.
* * *
WInd sweeps across the brown moor, blowing the grass away from the dirt like long hair blown away from a face. The air is thick, muggy, and dark clouds obscure the shining sun. But the sun, ever constant and persistent, pierces through the cloud-blanket in little rays, raining down blessings on the patches of earth lucky enough to be touched by light.
In the center of the moor stands three pillars, tall and strong, made of ancient white marble that is weathered to the color of soft gray. They make a triangle, each pillar marking a vertex of the shape. The Romans built these pillars, when they came to conquer the British isles long ago. It was a symbol of the first triumvirate of Caesar, Crassus, and Pompey, from which sprang the new and powerful Roman Empire. It was a tribute to change, and the power that came with it.
But the Romans fell, as was inevitable, and the pillars passed into new hands. The mages of Britain took them as their own, and used them for magical rites and rituals. They charmed and warded the pillars, charging the stone with earth magic that would remain long after their deaths.
And the magic still remains, hundreds of years later. Those who know the secrets of the pillars, (and there are few left), use them to accomplish great things. In fact, it is believed by the few who Know that the key to defeating the Dark lies within those magic structures.
Now, on the top of the pillars, nearly twenty feet in the air, stand three mages. One wears robes of deep blue and black, another robes of brown and yellow, and the last wears robes of brilliant crimson and gold. Each has their arms outstretched, raised high above their heads with their wands held in their right hand. Eyes closed, they chant in a foregin tongue.
The wind picks up, and soon the few rays of sun are gone, as the clouds darked and grow heavy with rain. The robes whip around the bodies of the mages, making them look like great birds flapping their wings.
In the center of the triangle, there stands a man. Whether he was always there, or just arrived, is uncertain, but now he too is chanting, though he holds no wand in his hand. He wears no robes, either, just plain black pants without any shirt. He must be cold, for the wind is biting, but he does not shiver; he must be afraid, for the mages atop the pillars are an itimidating sight, but he does not cower. Instead, he stands tall, back straight, and arms lose at his sides. His bare feet are planted firmly on the ground, and his eyes are closed.
The wind is violent now, beating against the man with brutal force, and torrents of rain pound agianst his bare chest. His muscles are scultped and taut, but no amount of physical strenth can withstand the wrath of the elements for very long. Still he stands tall, and continues to chant, his voice difficult to hear above the howling wind and rain.
Suddenly, a bolt of lightening pierces the sky, and the mages atop the pillars capture it with their wands, forming an acutal triangle of energy with their wandtips. Then, the mage in the crimson and gold robes waves his left hand, and the wind and rain cease abruptly. With a powerful, boombing voice that echoes for miles, he chants:
"Anima dal mio fondatore, il leone-padre, l'anima antica di magia non vista mai, resa diretto puro me, presso me e da me, assegno al saviour, per pulire la sua anima alterata e per liberare la sua alimentazione dentro. Lucidi l'anima antica."*
The mage in the blue and black robes speaks next, his voice small and squeaky but still ringing with power:
"Anima dal mio fondatore, la merlo-madre, l'anima antica di magia non vista mai, resa diretto puro me, presso me e da me, assegno al saviour, per pulire la sua anima alterata e per liberare la sua alimentazione dentro. Lucidi l'anima antica."**
Finally, the mage in the brown and yellow robes speaks. Her voice is soft, motherly, and full of compassion and hope:
"Anima dal mio fondatore, la tasso-madre, l'anima antica di magia non vista mai, resa diretto puro me, presso me e da me, assegno al saviour, per pulire la sua anima alterata e per liberare la sua alimentazione dentro. Lucidi l'anima antica."***
Then, as one , the mages throw their arms down and point their wands at the man in the center of the triangle. The bolt of energy the had been suspended shoots down, down on to the man, and courses through his being. He is shaking, frantically shaking, and he sinks to his knees, crying out in agony as the terrible energy assualts his system. The mages watch from above, doing nothing to to easy his pain.
After a time, his shaking stops, and the man lays prone, motionless, on the wet grass. He is curled onto his side, and his arms lay limply across his body. He is breathing his labored, but his eyes are open, albeit unseeing and blank.
Suddenly, so quite that it is almost discernable, the man rasps out:
"L'anima del mio fondatore, serpente-padre, scuro ed alterato poichè la nostra linea è stata sempre, ora è resa pulita con l'anima degli amici allineare. Il limite in me è le anime uguali del serpente-padre, della tasso-madre, del leone-padre e della merlo-madre ed avrò il potere di arrestare la nerezza. Ma scelgo rimanere un serpente. Lucidi l'anima antica."****
As soon as the last word is spoken, a girl comes running out into the middle of the triangle, her shoes slogging through the damp grass. She throws herself down by the man, and cradles his head in her lap, storking his pale face with soft fingers and murmering into his ear. Her face is tearstained and dirty, but shines with undilutated joy.
"My love," she murmurs, voice trembling slightly. "My love". The girl bends down, pushing her mop of bushy brown curls out of her face, and touches her lips to his.
*Blood from my Founder, lion-father, the ancient blood of magic never seen, made pure through me, within me, and by me, I grant to the Saviour, to cleanse his tainted soul and unleash his power within. Shine the Ancient Blood.
**Same as *, only "lion-father" is changed to "raven-mother".
***Same as *, only "lion-father" is changed to "badger-mother".
****Blood of my founder, snake-father, dark and tainted as our line has always been, now is made clean
through the blood of true friends. Bound in me are the equal bloods of snake-father, badger-mother, lion-father,and blackbird-mother, and I will have power to stop the Darkness. But I choose to stay a snake.
Shine the Ancient Blood.
* * *
Friday, Oct. 8th
The Howarts Infirmary
The peaceful form of Hermione Granger lay on the infirmary bed, her breathing shallow and her face at ease. In essence, she was the perfect model of a person under the influence of Dreamless Sleep Potion. Well, almost perfect. Everything about her form screamed enchanted sleep, save for the sublte fluttering of her eyelids. The slight movement of her eyes behind the closed lids was proof that the Dreamless Sleep Potion she had taken earlier was not so dreamless after all.
Soon, the eyelid fluttering gave way to face contortions and heavy breathing, as Hermione reacted to whatever it was she was seeing in her sleep. Her body lurched against the bed, and sweat began to creep out from under her hairline. Soft moans escaped her lips, as she mumbled nonsense words into her pillow.
This continued for a few moments, until suddenly, Hermione's movements stopped. She was completley still on the bed, and her face dropped into a look of disbelief and confusion. She lay prone for only instant, before snapping her eyes open and sitting up straight in bed. She looked wildly around her, breathing once again heavy and uneven. With a look of disgust, she raised her hand to mouth and frantically wiped it off.
Hermione's mind was felt like it was spinning in circles. What the hell had just happened? Why did she have a dream, when she had taken a good amount of Dreamless Sleep Potion and she was only supposed to have a deep healing sleep? And if she had to have a dream, why, why did it have to be about kissing Professor Snape? Granted, there had been a good many other things going on in the dream, but the image of her lips pressed to her teacher's kept burning into her brain. Everytime she replayed the image in her mind, she felt confused and disgusted, but at the same time, strangely warm on the inside. She had stroked his face, and told him she loved, and it made her feel fuzzy all over? Since when was she harboring subconcious longing for Professor Snape?
Concentrating, Hermione tried to recall other elements of her dream. She remembered the pillars, and the wizards who stood atop, and she remembered that they had been peforming some kind of ceremony. Closing her eyes, she brought forth a mental picture, and realized with a start that she could remember the events of the dream with perfect clarity. She saw the faces of the three mages clearly in her mind, and she recognized each of them. The one in the crimson and gold robes was Professor Dumbledore, the blue and black robed wizard was Professor Flitwick, and the woman clad in brown and yellow was Professor Sprout. Furthermore, she could remember the exact words that they had chanted while doing the ceremony, though she did not know what they meant or what language they belonged to. Hermione had a sneeking suspicion it was some form of Italian, but she wouldn't know until she researched in the library.
But even the prospect of library research could not draw Hermione away from the fact that she had also kissed Professor Snape in her dream. To her, this seemed like a pivotal point, like the whole purpose of the dream centered around that kiss at the end. Hermione had sudden urge to seek out Harry and Ron, and talk to them about her crazy night and even crazier dream. But then she checked the impulse, for though she badly wanted to tell the boys about her dream and laugh hysterically at the lunacy of it all, she also feared the embarassment and snide comments she knew would follow, especially from Ron.
Just as she was deciding it would be best not to tell the boys, Madame Pomfrey walked into room carrying a large tray loaded with vials of Pepper-Up Potion. When she saw Hermione sitting up in her bed, obviously wide awake, she dropped the tray in shock. The bottles of potion crashed against the floor, as she rushed to Hermione's bedside.
"Good gracious, child, what on earth are you doing up?" asked Pomfrey, the broken vials and ruined potion forgotten for the moment.
"I had a dream," Hermione answered plainly, giving away no details.
Pomfrey's eyes became as large as dinner plates. "A dream, you say? Are you quite certain?"
"Yes, m'am, I am very certain." Hermione looked at the oder woman's face, and becamed a bit concerned about the absolute lack of color in her cheeks. "Is something wrong, Madame Pomfrey? It was jsut a dream. I mean, I know I took Dreamless Sleep Potion, but maybe I just didn't get a strong enough dose. Or maybe the potion was faulty."
Madame Pomfrey seemd to have collected herself, and offered Hermione a comforting smile. "No, the potion was not faulty, my dear. Professor Snape made it himself, and you know that he prides himself on his flawless brewing abilities." Pomfrey raised her hand to cut off Hermione before she restated her other theory. "And I gave you a very strong dose, so there is no chance that it did not effect you as it should."
"Well, then how did I have a dream? I don't want to be disrespectful, but something had to have gone amiss with the potion. There is no other explanation." Hermione sounded slightly frustrated, for she desperatley wanted an reasonable explanation.
"There is one other option, Miss Granger." Hermione looked over to the door of the Infirmary, to see Albus Dumbledore leaning into the frame. How long has he been standing there? she thought. And how does he always seem to know exactly whats going on in the castle?
"What would that be, Albus?" asked Madame Pomfrey, her eyebrow raised. "I'm afraid that I have to agree with Hermione, I am aware of no other explanation."
Professor Dumbldore walked into the room, and stood next Hermione's bedside. He looked deep into her eyes, as though he was searching for something. After a moment, he smiled, seeming very satisfied. He gave Hermione an approving look before raising his eyes to Madame Pomfrey.
"If I'm not mistaken, Poppy, I believe our Head Girl just experienced her first vision of the future. Congratulations, Miss Granger, on being the newest Seer in Britain."