Disclaimer: J. K. Rowling owns everything in this chapter except for Geillis, Codanna, Terrence and Nathan. Oh, and the storyline, too, of course.

Chapter 15

If Ye Love Me

Codanna Tangol stood, still tied to the tree where she had been for the last week and a half. She was cold, hungry, and tired—though at least she'd had some water owing to the perpetually rainy climate of the British Isles—and now, on top of everything else, a huge dog was staring at her, as if to contemplate her suitability as a component in its next meal.

"You found 'er yet, Fang?" asked a loud voice. The dog barked in reply.

"Ah, there she is. I thought that this was the place." A second voice broke through the mist. Codanna tensed; she knew this voice. "Thank you, Hagrid," said Professor Snape.

"No problem, Professor," said Hagrid. "Yer quite welcome."

"Well, Mistress Codanna, what say you now?" sneered the black-clad professor. "Has your week and a half in the forest been any good for you? Would you like to spend another one out here?"

Codanna hissed.

"I suppose it would please you, then, to hear that Geillis is alive and well."

"Codanna glared at him. She glared at him. "She can't be! I killed her!"

"Sorry to disappoint you, Codanna," Geillis said cheerfully as she appeared out of the forest. She was leaning rather heavily on Dumbledore's arm and did not sound in the least bit repentant. Snape walked over to her and wordlessly put an arm about her waist to support her. She smiled her thanks to him, and then looked at Codanna. Her smile faded.

"No!" Codanna screamed. "I killed you over a week ago! Didn't you even have the decency to die?"

Geillis gave a slightly ironic smirk. "We have very different concepts of the meaning of decency, Codanna," she said.

Dumbledore asked, "Is there anything that you would like to say to her, Geillis, before the Aurors come for her?"

Sashara thought for a moment, and Codanna grew worried.

"When they send her to Azkaban," she said, "I would have them let her know all of the good news pertaining to me." She turned to Codanna. "It is likely that that is all the good news that you shall hear while you are there, Codanna. Have you ever heard of Azkaban? I assure you that it is no sanctuary." She paused. "Oh, and one thing more. You probably aren't going to enjoy this, but I feel that for my own well being, I have to say this to you. So—I forgive you now, for what you tried to do to me. I forgive you for the murder of my husband, for the times when you tried to kill me, and for the way that you almost ruined my life."

Snape hadn't expected Codanna's reaction to this statement. "NO!" the woman screamed. The last thing that she wanted was Sashara's forgiveness!

She was still screaming when Dumbledore raised his wand and said, "Dorma". The murderous witch fell asleep.

"How did you know that she would be so upset by your forgiveness?" Severus asked Geillis some time later, as she sat once again in the hospital bed.

"I knew because I know her well enough to know that if I survived her plot, she would at least want me to be incapable of forgiving her. In giving her my forgiveness, I denied her even a small victory."

"You know, Geillis, that was very cruel."

"I'm glad you liked it," she murmured.

Severus was about to say something else when Professor Sinistra burst in through the door. "I'm so sorry!" she sobbed.

"What?" asked Severus and Geillis together.

"I'm the one who stole the handkerchief! I'm the one who sent the notes! I didn't know she planned to kill you, Geillis—or Sashara—or whoever you are! I just thought she wanted to stop you killing Severus—"

"Whoa, Cassiopeia!" said Geillis. "Calm down. What was that again?"

Cassiopeia Sinistra took a deep breath, held it, then let it out again slowly. In a somewhat calmer tone of voice, she told them of the note she had received, the conversation with Codanna, and the eventual plot regarding Lockhart. "I did it because I believed that Severus' life was in danger. I must admit, I was very jealous of you, Geillis. Can either of you ever forgive me?" Her unusual yellow eyes were wide with pleading.

Severus was about to condemn her when Geillis motioned him to be silent. She sang a short spell under her breath and looked into Cassiopeia's eyes. The other witch knew that the truth of her statement was being assessed.

Finally, Geillis spoke. "I cannot speak for Severus," she said softly, "but I can forgive you. You did not know what you were doing."

Cassiopeia bowed her head. "Thank you," she whispered, and left the room.

"Well, that was interesting," remarked Severus, several minutes later, when his surprise had ebbed away enough for him to be able to speak.

"No kidding," said Geillis. "I think she needed to hear that, though."

He only laughed, and then kissed her gently.

After a few moments' silence, Severus spoke again. "I must admit that there is one particular point on which I have wished to question you, Geillis," he said seriously.

"What is it, love?" she asked.

"Well—" he hesitated.

"Severus?" Geillis looked worried.

"Why me?" he asked, the words bursting from his lips. "Why do you love me? Why did you choose me over, say, Lockhart? Why don't you swoon at the sight of him, as almost all of the other women on staff do? Why weren't the rumours true?"

"Well, the answer is fairly complicated, I'm afraid," she said slowly. "But one part of it is that other, previous rumours of the state of my affections were completely true." She smiled at him, and his mouth twitched into a slightly pleased smirk in reply. "Another part of it is that he reminds me of an old flame of mine."

Snape frowned. "One would think that such a resemblance would serve to endear him to you," he said.

"Well, dearest, 'one' is the victim of completely erroneous thought in this case," she said. "Terrence was a self-centred jerk who was very enthusiastic about verbally abusing me and anybody who happened to disagree with him. I thought I could reform him." She snorted. "Quite obviously, I was wrong. We broke up after a year of what I could only describe as Hell. Five years ago, he married—and six months later, he killed his wife when they were arguing. He was given the Canadian equivalent of a Dementor's kiss."

Severus looked at her sharply. This was completely unexpected. "I'm sorry. I never knew."

"I never meant for you to know, Severus, but it's one reason why I fought my feelings for you for so long. I was afraid that I was going to fall into the same trap as I had with Terrence, since you've got such a sharp tongue. For months, I've been trying to convince myself that I wasn't falling in love with another abusive man, that you'd never turn that tongue of yours on me unless we were having an honest argument. You don't know how many times I nearly told the Headmaster that I couldn't stay—and damn Codanna! She could have me if she wanted! I just didn't want to have to endure a Hell like that again. I would rather die than be a victim of abuse again."

Severus was silent for a moment. "Then, what changed your mind—assuming, of course, that it has changed?"

She smiled at him. "You saved my life—not just once now, but twice, and nobody forced you to. It was your own decision. You were the one who brought me back when the poison carried me away. I think it was then that I realized that even though you are often quite severe—your parents named you well, you know—you aren't like Terrence was." She grinned mischievously. "At least you have the advantage of him as far as intellect is concerned. I didn't realize it until I saw his true colours, but Terrence had the approximate IQ of a brain-damaged troll."

He smirked. "I hope that isn't the only advantage that I have over him," he said.

"Of course you do, love, but I'm not going to flatter you by giving you a complete list. We wouldn't want you to become like Lockhart, now, would we?"

Severus shuddered. "No, by Merlin's wand! Geillis, if I ever become anything like that overstuffed fop, you have my full permission to strike me with the killing curse—or at least the cruciatus curse until I come to my senses."

Geillis raised her hand to touch his cheek. "If you'd rather suffer or die than become like Lockhart, I do believe that you shall not be in much danger of it."

Severus said nothing. Instead, he leaned forward and kissed her again.

It had seemed like a good idea at the time.

Severus had been unable to sleep that night. Every time he had tried, nightmares and horrible memories threatened to overwhelm him. Even his habitual evening walk had not managed to soothe him back into his normal state of foul-tempered contentment. He had paced through his dungeon lair so much that he thought he could see the beginnings of a path worn in the stones of the floor. On top of it all, he was out of Dreamless Sleep potion and had neglected to make more.

His last resort was to seek out Geillis. He knew that it would not be unusual for her to be awake at this hour; like him, she was a confirmed bookworm and often read for awhile before going to sleep. In the months following those moments in her sitting room, he had often looked up at her window during his nightly constitutional; frequently he saw her sitting by the window, reading by candlelight. The candle had still been lit when he had taken his walk that night; perhaps she was still awake.

Perhaps he should check on her in any case; she had just been released from the hospital wing that day. He would make sure that she was still doing well, and perhaps that knowledge—and a kiss or two—would ease his mind enough to allow him to sleep.

He made his way up to her rooms and sang the password at the harp. "Zing-aah." Where did she get these, anyway? He had rarely heard a more bizarre password than those which Geillis selected, Dumbledore's fixation on sweets aside.

No light shone in the office or the sitting room. He swore as he nearly tripped over a cat who was lounging on the floor near the sofa. It recognized his voice and, standing up, rubbed at his ankles, purring. After patting the cat on the head, he opened the door which he knew led to the bedroom. He had never been in there before. There was no candlelight in there, either; she was asleep. He knew that he should probably go back to his dungeon, but he didn't.

The moon shone in through the window, two weeks before the full. I'll have to send Lupin that potion again, damn him. Its pale light flowed in, illuminating the room and particularly the bed. He saw bookshelves—why wasn't he surprised?—and a small writing desk. There was a chair by the window; it must be the one that she sat in as she read before going to sleep. He sat down, looking at the figure in the bed.

Ouch! She had left a new sewing project on the chair, and the needle had poked him. Disgusted, he stood up and put the fabric on top of the writing desk. Having done so, he sat down, looking at her.

She wasn't particularly beautiful. Still, he loved to watch her sleep, as he had frequently done after her recovery from Codanna's attack had begun.

Much later, he stood, meaning to go back down to his chambers.

Weariness made him stagger. With uncharacteristic clumsiness, Severus stumbled into the bookshelf and knocked it over. Immediately, all the books tumbled onto the thick green carpet as the shelf itself crashed down. The noise woke Geillis instantly.

"What the—SEVERUS? What in Merlin's name are you doing in here?"

Deciding that honesty would be the best policy, especially in connection with the irate witch in the bed before him, he said, "Um…would you believe that I couldn't sleep, and I just happened to be in the neighbourhood?" All right, it wasn't the whole truth, but it was a start.

She raised an eyebrow.

"All right, so it wasn't as simple as that. The truth is, I was out of Dreamless Sleep potion and I don't have all the necessary ingredients to make more of the blasted stuff. Besides, I was worried about you. Poppy only just released you from the Hospital Wing today. I just thought I'd watch you for awhile."

Geillis sighed. "Severus, I'm all right. Otherwise, Poppy would never have let me out of the Hospital Wing in the first place. Besides, it's not like you haven't been doing this for the last two weeks already. I'd have thought that you would have tired of it by now."

"Let us simply say that I have become accustomed to it," he said, simply. "I have nearly lost you too many times to want to let you out of my sight."

Geillis resisted the impulse to groan, as much as she may have wanted to. She'd thought that Snape the Greasy Git was hard enough to tolerate—but that was before she'd seen Snape the Constantly Worried…

But what could one say to an anxious lover? It amused her as she realized that this was precisely what he was at the moment. There was certainly an irony to the situation.

Still, she had to get him out of her bedroom. But how? You just didn't say "bugger off" to somebody who had professed such deep concern for you. You especially didn't say this to the man who had saved your life twice and with whom you were currently, as the saying went, "walking out". She sighed. "All right, Severus," she said. "You can stay—but you have to sleep in the couch in the other room when you finally get tired. Now, good night."

He smiled. "Good night, Geillis," he said.

It was surprisingly easy for her to fall asleep under Severus' watchful eye; perhaps this was because she had done so quite often in the last couple of weeks.

He yawned. It's time to go to sleep, he thought to himself. He stood. His knees nearly gave out underneath him. Damn! He sat down again before he could cause more damage to the room. How was he supposed to get to the couch in the sitting room?

Finally, he decided that the possibility of annoying Geillis was a better prospect than the certainty of angering her with the destruction of some of her possessions through his weary clumsiness. He stood carefully and walked over to the bed, lifting the blanket slightly and sliding underneath, behind the sleeping woman. He put his arms around Geillis, kissed her once on the cheek, and went to sleep.

The next morning, Geillis awoke to the familiar feeling of loving arms wrapped around her. Nathan, she thought, blissfully. And then, WHAT? She remembered that such a thing was now an impossibility. Nathan was dead!

She turned slightly so she could see the man's face. Severus. The events of the preceding night rushed back to her; she could see the books scattered all over the floor. She tried to be angry with him; he had promised to sleep in the other room! But then she remembered that when he had knocked the bookcase over, it had been an unusual example of clumsiness from him. He must have been extremely sleepy to have done something like that.

She smiled, and snuggled back into the bed with him. She'd pretend to be upset later, so that she wouldn't disappoint him. But for now, she would enjoy the warmth.

Nevertheless, he'd better not make a habit of this, even if she was looking forward to kissing and making up after the argument that they were about to have.

Two weeks passed. Tomorrow the students would arrive for another year of study, and Geillis and Severus were walking by the lake, savouring the last few precious hours of the summer vacation.

"It's been quite a year," mused Geillis as she and Severus sat down to watch the sunset.

"It certainly has," he replied. There was a long silence; he put an arm around her shoulders, and she rested her head on one of his. Eventually, he asked, "Have you many regrets?" He was almost afraid of her answer.

"Yes," she said, and he drew in a quick breath, as if he had been hurt.

She lifted her head from his shoulder and took his face in both of her hands and turned his head so that he was looking at her. "They are all of those weeks when I thought that you hated me because of Lockhart, and all that time when we could not stand to even look at each other."

"Those are my regrets, too," he said, quietly.

They sat in silence for a long, long time; by the time they stood up, the sun had long ago dropped below the horizon and the moon—now full—was showing itself in the sky, along with hundreds of stars. He rose and took her hands, bringing her up to her feet. They gazed into each other's eyes, and slowly, their lips met in a kiss.

Watching them from his window, Albus Dumbledore silently cheered. Seeing them together, he fondly remembered his wife, who had passed away so many years ago…Geillis reminded him of her, and he was glad to see her happy. As for Severus—he loved the younger man like a son, and was likewise glad to see him taking some joy in life for once.

Humming cheerfully, Dumbledore closed his curtains, made himself a cup of oolong tea, and picked up a new book.

When they separated, Severus sighed. "So ends the holiday," he said. "They never last long enough. It's terribly hard work being such a bastard to everybody." He paused. "Not that it isn't fun, though."

Geillis groaned. "Some things never change."

"Would you really want them to?"

"No," she said, and pulled him down for another kiss.


A/N: Well, here it is—the last chapter. It's been fun, for me at least. I hope that anyone who happened to read this story has had even just a fraction of the enjoyment that I had in writing it. =)

Beware: There is a sequel, though I'm not sure if I'll write anything about Geillis after that. I actually like the sequel better, if only because it's funnier, and I'll be posting the first chapter as soon as I can think of a decent title for the thing. =)

As usual, I have a few things that I'd like to explain. The chapter title, "If Ye Love Me", refers to a motet by Thomas Tallis, a sixteenth-century English composer. A midi file of it can be found at http: www. classicalarchives. com /midi/ t.html under "TALLIS, Thomas (c.1505-85)", a short way down the page. It's a beautiful piece and I heartily encourage you to check it out. I'm not sure why its name seemed to be a good name for the final chapter of this story, but nothing else I tried really fit, so I kept it.

Geillis' "Sorry to disappoint you, Codanna" is a paraphrase of one of the recurring lines from the old animated TV series "She-Ra, Princess of Power". Catra was one of She-Ra's enemies, and whenever She-Ra foiled one of Catra's plans, she'd say "Sorry to disappoint you, Catra." It appears that even when I was a child I had some appreciation for sarcasm.

"Dorma" is simply "go to sleep" in Italian. I'm horrible at Latin, having had no lessons in it. I'm only marginally less bad at Italian, but hey—better is better, isn't it? =)

Geillis' lie-detector spell isn't legilimency, as far as I am aware. It's just a magical version of the lie-detector test, and probably a bit more accurate as the polygraph only measures people's reactions to questions, not the truth of the answers that they give.

I figured that Geillis had to have some reason for her intense immediate dislike of Lockhart, hence Terrence the Abusive Boyfriend. And I give no apology for the mushiness of much of the rest of this chapter. After everything that I've put her through, I figure that Geillis deserves a bit of a break. Besides, I thought that it was a nice way to tie up the loose ends and get in a couple of digs at Snape. =)