Title: Mothers, Witches, and Bargains Made
Author: Kiristeen ke Alaya
Series: most likely not
Codes: het, graphic sex, first time, Challenge response
Rating: PG-13
Pairing: SS/HG
Setting: Begins during the gang's 7th year.
Feedback: Yes, Oh, yes! : )~ r/r or to Kiristeen@kiristeen.com

A/N: Not fluff, but not violentl and dark either - somewhere in between. Intrigue and double crosses abound. Desperate people do desperate things, and sometimes that leads to destruction, sometimes to happiness. This time, it leads to both.

Summary: Sybil Trelawney dreams a prophesy. A recurring dream speaks of her death and she will do *anything* to prevent it from happening, including going along with Mrs. Snape who feels it's high time her only son married. There's just one problem. Severus Snape disagrees. Resenting the intrusions into his private life, he balks, creating new and unexpected problems, and ultimately fulfilling the prophesy Sybil so dreaded.

Disclaimer: Nothing you recognize belongs to me. It belongs to JK Rowling. I intend no disrespect nor copyright infringement with this story. It is for entertainment value alone, and I will make no money from it.




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Prologue
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Sybil Trelawney startled awake, shaking, sweat dripping down the sides of her face. Her hand fluttering to her chest, her heart pounding rapidly against her ribs, she panted, desperately trying to calm herself. **Damn!** she thought with growing fear, **Not again!** This was the seventh night in a row it had come. That the dream was back was bad enough. That it refused to go away, no matter what she did to change the path her life had taken was worse. That it now seemed to be becoming a nightly event was more than she could handle.

Knowing full well she wasn't going to get anymore sleep tonight, past experience having taught her that, Sybil threw back the bed covers. Only one thing helped these days, and it was less and less effective the longer the dream came. Tea; she needed warming, soothing tea. Silently she padded across the room, not bothering to put on either robe or slippers, not caring about the cold of the stone beneath her feet, nor the chill in the pre-dawn air.

There was ritual here; picking up the ancient ceramic tea pot, setting it and the tiny tea cup on the low standing table she kept beside the fireplace, filling the kettle slowly with water to just the right level, gliding back across the room to pick up her wand, turning to face the cold fireplace.

"Incendio," she murmured quietly, crossing toward the low flames her spell had created and carefully hanging the kettle over the heat. Sinking to the floor, she stared into the fire. It had always entranced her, and tonight was no different, the hypnotic dance of the multi-colored flames held sway as she focused inward, her mind pushing aside extraneous sensations.

The night before she had graduated had been the last time she'd had the dream -- the first time around. She had always attributed that to her last minute decision to go against her family's wishes. Graduation night, she and three other friends had joked about seeing the world. All four of them had been fascinated with the idea of the muggle world none of them had ever been to. She'd stared at her desert, picking at it uneasily and in a moment changed her life.

"I'm going to do it," she'd said. Her friends had stared at her incredulously, but she'd not been swayed.

Predictably, her father had been furious. Her mother had tried to 'talk some sense into her'. Neither of them had changed her mind.

She laughed, the sound just this side of hysterical. Her friends had thought she'd gone crazy and had taken their turn trying to talk her out of it. They hadn't changed her mind either. The dream hadn't come that night, or the next, or the next. She'd spent the next several years carefree and happy, jumping between the muggle world and the wizarding one with ease, and spending her nights free from the recurring dream that had plagued her since she'd begun school.

Of course, despite her parents fears, she'd continued her education; though, she could hardly say it had been a traditional one. She'd taken courses at both wizarding universities and muggle ones -- a class here and a class there, never worrying about how long it was taking. Some of her interests had contributed toward actually graduating, others had not, but she hadn't cared. She studied what she wanted, when she wanted. And even with her haphazard approach she had finally graduated.

For reasons she could not understand, that event had been what convinced her that she'd altered her life-path enough to avoid the fate in her dream and she'd allowed the nightmare to slip into the realm of memory, stored alongside all her other childhood fears. It was then she'd heard about the opening at Hogwarts. They had needed a divination professor, and she had wanted a job. She'd applied.

The interview had been . . . strange for several reasons, the first being that the school's Headmaster had not met her in his office, but rather off the school grounds entirely. That had made her nervous. Actually meeting him had momentarily terrified her. He looked *exactly* like he had in that long buried nightmare. That had almost made her turn down the position even before finishing the interview. Instead, a vision had overtaken her, and Albus Dumbledore had hired her on the spot.

Teetering between accepting and running for her life, Sybil had finally decided to accept. She could always run again if the dream returned. Just because she'd met *one* of the participants in the dream, didn't mean she'd meet the others. It didn't mean it was going to happen. When her nights remained prophecy free, she'd eventually relaxed.

Of course, there'd been 'conditions' on her hire. She understood them. She even agreed with them, even when the held her up to ridicule and scorn. All of her colleagues -- except Albus -- thought her a hoax, a charlatan. She encouraged that idea no matter how much she hated it, no matter how lonely it made her. It was necessary to protect herself, Harry Potter, and everyone else vital to the destruction of Voldemort. Her visions, infrequent though they may be, were a key part of the light's defense, but the only reason they were so effective was only two people knew about them.

Lifting herself to her knees, the sounds of the kettle on the fire alerting her to the fact that it was nearly at a boil, Sybil removed it from the heat. She rose slowly and continued her soothing ritual, the movements by now so familiar that she need not concentrate.

Shortly after her arrival at Hogwarts as the newest professor of divination, she'd, quite literally, run into Severus Snape. She'd gasped, and he'd scowled. He'd snarled some question or other that she really hadn't heard, and she'd fainted. That was something that she would *never* live down, not even when the truth about her gift was finally revealed. For weeks afterward she'd thought about quitting. She'd thought about telling Albus she simply couldn't do it, while going to bed each night dreading the return of her dream.

It hadn't returned, and she'd relaxed yet again, believing she was still safe.

The night she'd heard Hermione Granger's name called during the sorting ceremony had been another heart-stopping moment. She'd finally met all three of the main participants in her nightmare. Grateful to have been sitting at the time, she'd passed off her overt reactions as some ridiculous vision or other. She couldn't even remember now what she'd said it had been about.

She'd gone to bed that night fully intending on leaving Hogwarts far behind her, but the dream stayed away. Wary, but hopeful, she'd stayed, taking her decision one day a time. When the girl came year after year, and the dream did not, Sybil once again felt certain it was gone for good.

Nearly four months ago that had all changed. Hermione Granger's seventh year at Hogwarts found the girl vastly different than before. Gone was the long, uncontrollable hair. It now fell in soft curls to just below her shoulders, the color darker with just a hint of red.

Sybil frowned, remembering the welcoming feast all too clearly. Apparently, the disrespectful girl had decided she no longer liked the way she looked, and over summer break had indulged herself with a make-over. While Sybil had no clue whether the chit had used magic or muggle methods to change her appearance, the overall effect was startling. It had left the girl looking *exactly* as she had in Sybil's long ago nightmare, a nightmare dreamt before the child had even been born, and it had taken every ounce of Sybil's self control to keep her in her seat, to keep her from running as fast and as a far as she could.

That had been the night the dream returned. It returned in all its vivid, frightening glory. That had been the beginning of her ritual; though the pattern of her thoughts during it changed often. Only one thing was consistent. She always tried to find ways to defeat the prophecy. She could leave, she knew. It *was* the surest way. There was only one problem with that. Despite the problems, the deceptions, and all the pretense, she had built a life here, a good life, and she wanted to keep it. Over the years Hogwarts had become her home, and she had no intention of being run out of it. She would simply have to find another way to prevent it.

She laughed sourly, sipping her finally finished tea. At first she'd thought that it was possible the dour Professor would seduce the student. With Miss Granger's incredible thirst for knowledge, it probably wouldn't have been difficult. All he would have had to do was show the girl a little favoritism -- after all, what teacher doesn't appreciate a brilliant student who excels in their class? But as the girl matured Sybil had seen no sign of it -- and yes, she'd watched. She'd watched the two of them *very* carefully. As the girl grew, Severus Snape had continued to treat her with utter contempt, her and her two friends seeming to receive the brunt of his often foul temper.

Sybil sighed heavily. She wished the bastard *had* seduced the girl. It would have been perfect. She'd have gotten him fired in a heartbeat, separating the two of them and making it impossible for her nightmare to become reality. As it stood now-- She shook her head. It didn't seem possible really. It was quite obvious to anyone who looked that Severus loathed Miss Granger, and that Miss Granger returned the feeling full fold.

Unfortunately, she knew without doubt that if she did not find a way to stop it, Severus Snape would marry Hermione Granger and she -- Sybil Trelawney -- would die on their wedding day. Time was running out and she was getting desperate. If something didn't change soon, she would be forced to leave. Sometimes, in the dead of night, she considered . . . darker paths, paths that only surfaced immediately following another front row seat to her own death. If she hadn't know for certain that both were vital to ensure the destruction of Voldemort. . . .

//After all,// said the frightened girl deep inside her, //aren't you allowed to defend yourself?//

Sybil shivered at the dreadful words that slithered tauntingly through her thoughts.

//Is your life less important than theirs?//

**No!** she denied. She had as much right to survive as they did.

//All it would take--//

"No!" Sybil shouted, shattering the silence and her trance. "I'll find another way," she vowed, these words whispered fiercely. One last shudder waved through her as she pushed away the insidiously tempting ideas. **No,** she thought again, she would run, leaving behind everything she knew before she took that step.

Blinking, she turned her gaze outward, noticing -- gratefully -- that it was finally dawn, the light clearing away the thoughts best kept in the dark recesses of the night and her mind. She stretched as she rose slowly to her feet. She had time. This was the last day before winter break, and nothing could happen between the two of them with Miss Granger safely tucked away in the muggle world and Severus here at Hogwarts, after all.

**Yes,** she thought, hope rising with the sun. **There is time.**

TBC
Kiristeen
Feedback: Food of the Muses. : )
Kiristeen@kiristeen.com

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