Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or any of the characters associated with the Harry Potter world. I am writing this for my own pleasure, and hopefully for the enjoyment of others.
Author's Note: This story is a sequel to Time Does Not Heal All Wounds, also found on this site and many others. My author name is WendyNat on all sites. It is strongly suggested that you read Time Does Not Heal All Wounds first, as many things will make little to no sense otherwise and I do not plan to do much in the way of explaining things that have already occurred. I will attempt to update twice weekly, and I do make a promise (cross my heart!) to update at least once a week. (Reviews help the muses, hint, hint!) With that said, I hope you enjoy the story! All subsequent Author's Notes will be at the end of each chapter.Some Scars Never Fade
Hermione Granger woke slowly, her eyes blinking blearily in the now softly lit bedroom. She could hear Severus in the other room, moving around. She shook her head, smiling. He woke at an obscenely early hour on most mornings.
Rubbing her face, she ruminated on her current situation. The last month seemed so surreal. So much had happened in those weeks, and now her life was completely altered. Indeed, if someone had told her a month ago that she would be divorced from Viktor and sharing a bed with her ex-Potions Master, she would have talked to them slowly and calmly while she contacted St. Mungo's. But, due to a number of unusual coincidences… here she was. And I couldn't be happier, she thought, closing her eyes.
She opened them again when she felt the bed sink down beside her. "So, you are finally awake?" She shook her head and closed her eyes again, snuggling back under the covers. He chuckled slightly and stroked her hair for a moment. When his hand stilled, she sighed and opened her eyes, looking up at him. They stared at each other for a moment until he lifted one eyebrow and commented, "You do remember that we have an appointment with our next set of werewolves later this morning?" The first two werewolves that had come the previous week were already on their way home, completely cured according to the blood tests and DNA samples they had processed. They had also come closer to finding the key to the Manere potion adjustments, but it would likely take some more time.
"We have hours before we have to appear!" she protested pleadingly. He just scowled at her. "Okay, okay, I'm getting up," she grumbled, sitting up and stretching. She didn't miss the way his eyes followed her as she climbed out of the bed, and she made a point of adding an extra sway to her hips as she headed for the bathroom. She smiled to herself when she heard his footsteps following behind her. Turning the shower on with a whispered word, she felt a pair of arms encircle her from behind. She laughed. "Didn't you already have a shower?"
"Yes, but not as… thorough… of one as I would like" The feel of his breath on her ear caused her to shiver slightly. Turning in his arms, she grinned slyly in response and drew him into the shower with her.
* * * * * *
"Hmm. That's strange." Neville Longbottom stood in the middle of the main Ministry greenhouse, lost in thought. A limp purple-leaved plant sat in front of him, one of a new shipment that had just been received. Prodding it with his wand once more, he whispered another incantation and then shook his head. The plant was completely bare of its magical essence. After receiving an entire shipment of magically stripped plants weeks before, he had made it a point to randomly check a specimen or two from each new shipment.
This one did not pass his inspection.
He sighed heavily. Without testing the entire batch one by one, there was no real way to tell if it was an aberration or if the entire shipment was useless. He sat down and scratched his ear, thinking. I could ask Hermione to borrow Crookshanks, I suppose, he thought to himself. The ginger cat had an unerring ability to sense things amiss, and had proven that ability with the previous shipment of stripped plants. Susan was supposed to meet her for dinner at Hogwarts that night, so the timing was really quite good.
What is causing this? Neville had a difficult time believing it was just teenage pranksters this time. The coincidence was too great – this shipment was from the same French greenhouse as the previously damaged shipment, although it was an entirely different species. It was quite possible that this particular specimen wasn't actually greenhouse bred at all, but grown on the greenhouse's open range. It would explain the wider root systems, which normally gave the plant added magical abilities. Not in this case, however.
Stripped. Useless. Performing more diagnostic spells over the plant, he was startled by a slight yellow glow on some of the leaves after he cast Sensus Uredo. Looking closely, he saw what seemed to be some sort of dried liquid, its bluish tinge almost invisible against the purple leaves… A potion? Could a potion have done this? But how?
Putting his wand arm down, he sat back and rubbed his forehead. He definitely needed to speak with Hermione – and not just to borrow her cat. If his suspicions proved to be accurate, having the two greatest Potions minds in Europe looking in to the problem would be valuable. It wouldn't be a bad idea to speak with Professor Sprout on the issue, also. There was nothing else for it. He would have to accompany Susan to Hogwarts that evening. Even if it meant having dinner with Professor Severus Snape.
* * * * * *
"Tonks, come in, come in – we're just getting started," Kingsley Shacklebolt smiled at Nymphadora Tonks as she raced into the meeting room, breathing heavily.
"Sorry for being late –" she began, but Kingsley waved a hand to stop her.
"No matter. We're still waiting for some others to arrive." Kingsley looked at the young woman. She had brown hair today, which he silently acknowledged as being much more suitable than one of the other wild colors she seemed to prefer. She made her way to the empty chair next to Ronald Weasley, and Kingsley had to swallow a chuckle when she stumbled over it in her haste. For all her clumsiness, she was one of the best Aurors under his command. Not only due to her natural disguise abilities… she was extremely sharp witted, and always willing to do what was needed in order to complete an assignment.
The last two Aurors finally trickled in, and Kingsley cleared his throat to gather everyone's attention. "Okay, people, thank you for coming this morning. I know it's not our regular meeting day, but there have been some… incidents… that the French Ministry has recently informed us of." The room was completely quiet, some of the Aurors actually leaning forward eagerly in their seats. Since the fall of Voldemort, work had been slower than normal and he knew some were bored of the more monotonous tasks that being an Auror involved. While conducting raids on the manors of possible dark wizards was stimulating, it was nothing compared to the exhilaration of hunting down active Death Eaters and facing Voldemort.
Nodding, he continued, "Yes, something a little different from the regular raids. We need everyone to be on high alert for strange cursings of Muggles or wizards. Two Muggles and two wizards were attacked over the last few weeks in Provence, France." Kingsley stopped a moment until the excited murmuring died down. "The curse in question is unknown, but leaves a rather distinctive marking on its victim. All of the European Ministries are conducting research to try and identify the curse - or curses - used."
"What kind of marking?" Ron Weasley asked.
Kingsley acknowledged the question with a nod in the redhead's direction. "Yes, Weasley, I was getting to that. If the victim lives, it leaves a black scar on the skin that does not respond to magical treatment. It is unknown whether the scar will fade naturally. Luckily for three of the victims, there were either Aurors or Mediwitches in the vicinity when they were cursed. The other victim… well, folks, if the victim is not treated quickly death appears to be assured. From the briefing I received, the internal organs literally freeze."
"When was the most recent attack?" Tonks asked.
Kingsley sat back. "Last night."
"Wizard?" Tonks asked. Kingsley nodded, pleased at her insight.
"Do they think it's a localized issue? Why are we being alerted?" another voice asked from the back of the room.
Tonks rolled her eyes and answered the young trainee. "Because the perpetrator isn't likely to stay in Provence for long if the Ministry is after them. And since they're targeting Muggles, who knows where it actually began – maybe they've been lucky all this while in some other countries and France was just the first place where they ran into Aurors right after cursing. Or France was the first place they've targeted wizards."
"Thank you, Tonks. There are parchments here for each of you detailing the French attacks," Kingsley stated, eyeing his Aurors one by one. "Mad-Eye Moody has retired, but I will quote his most beloved line: CONSTANT VIGILANCE, people! I want sweeps, I want research, I want investigation. And I want you to be aware, awake, and alive. Monitor magic usage in largely Muggle populations; see if anyone is performing spells that the trackers can't identify. Scan Muggle hospital records; see if there are any symptoms that seem to be from this curse. Scan death certificates. Scan everything! Is that clear?"
"Yes, sir," the group answered in one voice.
"Good." Kingsley sat back with a smile, pleased at his group's eagerness. "Now – get going!"
* * * * * *
Hermione sat at the dressing table, staring into the mirror… but not at her own reflection. Severus was dressing behind her, and had turned his back towards the mirror to pick up a shirt. The scar she had felt under her hands so often was in plain view. She had caught quick glimpses before, but never had she had time to study it, even at a distance.
She realized at that moment that he must have been making a concerted effort to shield it from her sight. A couple of weeks ago, she had asked him about it – casually - and his answer had been short and clipped – his voice reminding her of the intimidating Potions Master of her youth. A legacy from the Last Battle, he had stated, his tone brooking no further discussion. She had respected his wishes thus far, although curiosity was eating her alive. She may have to break down and ask Harry what he knew of it.
As if aware of her scrutiny, Severus turned and met her eyes in the mirror. She smiled at him shyly and he sighed, walking over to her. "Come," he said, taking her hands and lifting her from the seat. Biting her tongue to hold back any questions, she followed without hesitation as he led her into the study.
With a flick of his wand the fireplace roared to life, casting a warm glow over the room. Hermione smiled. She loved the beautiful patterned rug, thick under her toes, and the rows and rows of bookshelves. She felt the familiar itch in her fingers that appeared whenever she was faced with the magnificent collection. I could spend years in here, and still not read them all, she thought with pleasure.
Her thoughts were interrupted when Severus threw his shirt over one of the chairs that sat in front of the fireplace, and turned his back to her. "Here. Satisfy your curiosity," he said in a low voice.
Swallowing, she walked forward to take a better look. Finally seeing the scar up close, Hermione's breath caught in her throat. A wicked line ran from just under his right shoulder blade to above his left kidney – a long line of black fading to gray. She had seen the scar's color in the mirror's reflection, but assumed that it was a trick of the light. What kind of scar has that kind of color, so many years later? It reminded her horrifyingly of the Dark Mark. Staring at the line of dark shiny skin, her mind raced. What could have done this? Dear Gods, what happened to him?
A/N: Please review! Second chapter is almost complete, and should be up shortly.Sensus Uredo – Latin. Rough translation, according to the online translator I found, is "Sense Plant Blight."
Manere – Latin. Rough translation is "Remain."