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For Our Parents Willed So

Blind as a Bat

Practically all the students of all three schools were gathered on the school grounds near the edge of the Forbidden Forest. They eyed curiously the bright-coloured line on the ground, marking a circle. Inside the circle there were only three people -- the competitors.

The Marauders were all standing close to each other, watching Severus closely. The blind boy himself seemed unaffected by all the noise and life around, standing as calmly as either of the others. Hansa Leiktor glared at the two other competitors, while Alexander Malfoy was just as graceful and noble as one might expect from somebody with that name, standing tall and proud, his blond head held high. They all listened, though, as Professor Dumbledore stepped forward to announce the rules for the first task.

"A path has been cleared into the Forbidden Forest," he announced, and at that moment, everybody could see two clear entrances into the woods. "This task is a race. The first one to complete that path and return into this circle will be the one to win. Be ware, though -- many dangers lurk about."

"Are they mad?" roared James. "Severus cannot see anything! He'll fall and kill himself right away!"

"Calm down, James," said Remus sharply. "Severus will be fine. He can take care of himself."

"But -" the bespectacled boy still tried to protest, but was silenced by a weighty glance from the werewolf.

Soon enough the competitors were set to leave. James watched with worry as the three hurried towards the edge of the forest. At the moment Severus seemed to be following the others steadily enough, his wand at ready all the time, but what would happen when they got in the woods? Would he trip over a root or fall from the path in a curve? What if something simply managed to surprise him as he didn't see it coming? Even as the others cheered, James bit his lip.

He couldn't bear it if Severus got hurt. Not now, not ever. He simply couldn't live without his fiancé; no, he refused to do so. Without Severus by his side, he could just as well die.

For now, the audience couldn't do anything but wait. Every now and then they saw the glow of magic from somewhere within the forest or heard an unidentifiable sound from the distance. For the most part, however, they knew nothing of what was going on with the three who had entered the Forest.

"Severus is going to be all right, you know," Sirius said as though he had sensed his friend's distress. "He's a survivor. If anybody's going to die this year, it's going to be that girl."

"That's easy for you to say," James hissed. "It's not your fiancé who is putting his neck on line. People have died before in the tournament, and those have been perfectly healthy, seeing people!"

"And you are saying that Severus is less capable than them, then?" Sirius said calmly. "Trust me, he's going to be fine. I'd be more worried about myself if I were you -- he's not going to be happy to know that you have doubted his capabilities so."

"I'm not doubting him," sighed James. "I'm just very, very worried."

Now, Sirius didn't say anything, merely patted him on the shoulder in a silent gesture of support. Then they both turned their eyes back towards the Forbidden Forest and waited.

Time ticked by. The audience began talking as they waited for something to actually happen that they could see. Suddenly, however, the somewhat relaxed atmosphere was broken by a scream.

"A bat!" shrieked a girl near the goal circle. "Take it away!"

"Shut up," snapped James, his eyes locked at the edge of the forest. "The bat's not going to eat you." Suddenly, a form departed from the trees' shadows. Joy flowed in James's heart, only to die immediately as he saw the person running nearer. It was the Dumstrang's girl.

"Looks like Hansa Leiktor is going to win the first task," they heard the commentator's voice. "Let's applause, people!" All Dumstrang's students started yelling to their competitor, cheering and shouting.

"Not so fast," said Remus to his friends, a twinkle in his eyes. "I think that Hogwarts is going to take this task!"

Just then, the bat landed on the ground, exactly in the middle of the marked circle. After a second, Severus stood in its place. "I think it was me who won," he said calmly, not even opening his eyes. Not that it'd made any difference if he had done that, of course.

The applause from the Dumstrang's students died away. For a moment, it was silent. Even Leiktor stopped on her traces as she saw Severus.

Then, a roar rose from the Hogwarts students. People ran towards Severus, almost knocking him down as they all hurried to hug him or pat him on the back. James had to fight his way to his fiancé through the crowd, Remus, Sirius, and Peter right on his heels.

"Excellent!" roared the commentator. "It looks like Hogwarts now has one Animagus more! What else could we expect from a member of the infamous Marauders? Severus Snape brings the victory of the first task to Hogwarts with his incredible transformation!"

"Why does it sound to me like that guy's from Hogwarts?" muttered Lucius to himself, smirking a bit. Then, however, he concentrated on watching as his best friend was being celebrated. He may have been one of the very few who had been certain Severus would win.

"A bat?" said James for about the hundredth time in the last half an hour. "Your Animagus form is a bat?"

"Well, it's the most fitting, isn't it?" asked Severus with a grin. "They're maybe not blind, but almost. I couldn't see anyway, so it's a good thing I have a form that is capable of moving about without relying on their sight."

"Get over it, James," advised Peter. "He's a bat, big deal. Now, say something else at last."

"You didn't even tell me you had completed your transformation!" exclaimed James, indeed changing the subject. "How could you not tell me?"

"Well, we thought it might be a nice surprise to you," Remus said. "Don't you like surprises?"

"Not when they involve scaring me out of my wits," muttered the bespectacled boy. "I was almost certain you wouldn't make it through the forest alive!"

"So nice to know that you care," the Slytherin said with a smirk, then raised a hand to lightly caress James' cheek. "Don't worry, James. I'm very well capable of looking after myself."

"I know that," James sighed. "Still, I can't help but worry."

"Well, don't." Smiling at his fiancé, Severus gave James a soft kiss on the cheek. "I promise I won't die."

"You'd better not." Now, James seemed to cheer up a bit. "Did they say what the next task is going to be?"

"Apparently they lacked some imagination," Severus said, smirking. "They're going to set three races all consisting of three rooms. Each of us has to design a task for one of the rooms. The catch is, everybody has to pass all the same tasks; it can't be impossible to pass, because otherwise you'll be stuck yourself. And, of course, the first one to get through all the three rooms wins."

"So, do you have any idea of what you are going to do, yet?" asked Remus. He seemed rather curious about the whole thing.

"Oh, yes, I do," Severus said. "It's a secret, though." His smirk got even broader. "You'll see it when the time for the next task comes!"

"Let's just hope neither of them decides to simply drop you out of the game," muttered Peter. "Otherwise they might just make a door that opens when you read the word written over it. Or better even -- how about a door that opens only when you say the secret password? Nobody else could pass it but the one who locked the door!"

"They can't do that," Severus said confidently. "The rules are that it has to be possible to pass. As I couldn't pass a task depending on sight, they can't make something like that just to drop me out. Just the same way I can't set a door that only lets men through to close off Leiktor. Fair game -- presumably."

"Fair game, foul play," Remus said quietly. Nobody disagreed with him.

Next chapter:

Despite being both in the tournament, Severus and Alexander Malfoy manage to get along.