Disclaimer: I do not own anything of the Potter-verse, nor do I own anything else you may recognize. This goes for EVERY chapter.

Also, I need a Beta reader who i can email things too. The one who usually does it is too busy...please email me if you want to be the beta!

Chapter 1: No One Should Be Alone On Christmas...

If anyone had seen the Potions Master as he rushed down the corridor towards the Infirmary carrying the DADA Professor in his arms, cradling her to be more specific, they would have dropped dead of shock right then and there.

There was no sneer, no icy glare that could freeze a volcano, no malice or contempt in his black eyes.

But in his eyes and brow etched deep was worry, and a deep frown graced his pale lips.

And so did fear.

Fear that this woman in his arms would end up dying, or worse.

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She had only come down to dinner for 20 minutes. She ate very little and drank even less. And during those 20 minutes sitting at the staff table she looked at no one, spoke not a word and ignored everything and everyone else.

Not that there were many teachers or students left considering it was the Holidays.

So as the small amount of students sat and ate and did there things while at the staff table, the few remaining teachers sat, quietly eating, discussing, or in Shape's case, trying desperately to ignore a certain gamekeeper/care of magical creature's professor's tries at starting a conversation. The Small amount being Albus Dumbledore, Poppy Pomfry, who'd just left to go and inventory the Infirmary one last time, Rubius Hagrid (obviously) Minerva Magonagal, Sibyl Trelawny, Severus Snape (Big Surprise...NOT) and the young woman who'd just arrived for dinner ten minutes late and only stayed for twenty minutes.

Anya Annalyse Lorien: Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor. This was her first year at Hogwarts, hired by Albus Dumbledore for her "Immense experience in this particular field..."

She also left the table with the silence befitting everyone's favorite Tolkien elf, hoping to go unnoticed.

However, Dumbledore noticed.

"Severus..." The headmaster began, as the potions master had begun to leave mere moments after the Defense expert.

"Yes?" the black haired teacher asked, with some caution and his usual mask.

"Please go and check on Miss Lorien. I fear she may be quite depressed, being alone on Christmas Eve." Dumbledore requested, with an edge of commanding. And a small amount of guilt, for even Severus Snape had some form of family and had received a Christmas letter and 'card' from them earlier that morning.

"Of Course Albus." He replied with a curt nod. And he made his way slowly to her chambers, located behind the water dragon statue next to the DADA classroom.

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At the beginning of the year he had loathed her. Absolutely abhorred this woman who looked so young she could easily pass as a seventh year, and was given the job he'd so longed for as long as he could remember. Dumbledore had, again, told the staff at the beginning of the year, that the young woman had much experience in defensive matters; therefore she was perfect for the position and would hopefully be able to, due to such experience, last more than the previous records of ONE school year.

What Dumbledore had not mentioned were the deep scars her "Experiences" had left her with. To put it lightly, Anya Annalyse Lorien was less sociable than Severus on her bad days. And on her good days? Mild mannered, quick tempered, and sarcastic to a fault.

As Severus neared the statue and muttered the password "Nikolai Kristophe." And watched the water dragon slide to the side silently to allow him access to a small hallway, and then a mahogany door, he seemed to realize how much his loathing had dissipated for her in the past few months. And as his fist gently knocked on the door, it dawned on him that he didn't hate her at all, and truly never had a reason to do so. She'd made it clear more than once she hadn't wanted the position, but had no choice in the matter unless she wanted to lose everything she had left.

He had no reason the hate her. It was a stupid superficial hate. And as the months leading up to the next few moments of his life on Christmas Eve had gone by, his view of her had changed. She was a strong, beautiful, and intelligent woman who WAS in fact greatly experienced and was actually getting through to the brats known as students, with darkened brown eyes akin to those of a war vets. She'd seen something rough, but she hid emotions quite well.

She was his equal and he knew it, albeit he would never end up admitting it to anyone, or out loud for that matter.

But he treated her with a respect that she'd most definitely earned. ( Getting through to those ignorant, uncaring, cowardly brats known as students.)

So when no answer of "Come in." or "Enter." Reached his ears, he amazingly, became a tad bit concerned.

So he knocked again, louder and harder this time with the usual scowl still on his face. She still did not answer. The concern built up more and after another ten minutes of now near pounding on the door, he opened it.

This concerned him more as the door hadn't been locked.

He was not prepared for the sights that greeted him. The color scheme however was only the icing on the cake, while seriously disturbing though it was.

Red. Every shade and hue of the color red as one could imagine existed. But that wasn't what was the most disturbing of all.

Even more worrisome was the thin haze of smoke that hung in the air. The distinct scent of cigarettes was so strong that the potions master who spent most of his days surrounded by fumes found himself coughing for a few moments before using his wand to clear away all the smoke. On the end-tables, (2) nightstands, (2) small table, desk and even bathroom counter sat ashtrays filled with cigarette butts, half of witch still burned, if only the smallest bit. His eyebrows arched in the newly learned fact that Miss Lorien was a chain-smoker. He picked up and empty pack off the crimson colored carpet. "Marlboro. Bad habit, good taste." He muttered darkly to himself. (How he knew that was like the best brand, the world shall hopefully never know...)

As he entered the small kitchen she'd requested, he noticed a few more ashtrays, one of them still smoking. But then another stone of dread stopped into the seemingly emotionless mans stomach.

Bottle after empty bottle of Sake could be seen in the failing light of a few randomly placed candles. They filled most of the sink, covered most of the small table and even stood on the end-tables. There must have been over 20 bottles in the place! All of them completely empty! He picked one of the rather large bottles and looked the label over.

To his actual slight horror, the label told him the alcohol content was 100%.

More confusion set in, though looking at his face the only clue would have been the arched eyebrow.

And then he heard it. A low, faint sobbing. Though even sobbing couldn't really describe it. It was merely a low almost silent really, crying. Following the chilled draft he knew exactly where to find her.

The balcony.

And a sight that shocked him even more than the smoky, alcohol bottled laced rooms he'd entered.

With her back to the railings and her knee's obviously drawn to her chest she sat. She was covered in a thin layer of blood red robes, the chilly winds blowing her long wavy brown locks about her face all but violently. In her mouth, a lit cigarette still burned at the halfway point but she wasn't puffing on it. In her right hand she held a half drunk bottle of Sake but her fingers barely gripped the bottleneck at all and it slipped from her fingers to shatter on the stone floor. She never even blinked.

He knelt in front of her, a very un-Snape thing to do, but she didn't see him. Her eyes were very dull, little life shone in them and they looked out, unseeing. She blinked only sparingly and stared out, through Severus Snape and through the double doors of the balcony. Her vision was blurry through the tears that made a cold trail down her cheeks that she couldn't feel. She saw not the balcony doors or professor in front of her but memories.

Of death, of blood, of loneliness and loss, of fighting battles and beings, of winning at a price she wasn't fully prepared to pay.

She wondered why the images refused to leave her be. "Why wont they fade away..." she whispered through lips that were beginning to take on a more pale and blue-ish hue. Alerting Severus to a new fact: Anya had become lost in whatever had given her such experience that had her teaching the students of this school. She was alive, but only in the sense that she still breathed.

He grabbed the wrist of the empty hand but froze as soon as the contact was made for a moment. He gently pulled his hand away, it was wet. The red of her blood shimmered on his hand and her wrists in the light of the half-moon.

And on the dagger that he now noticed laying next to her left side.

She'd slit her own wrists?? He could scarcely believe it! But the proof was there...Small pools of blood had formed under both wrists. And he silently thanked every god and goddess in existence for the chilly winter, because she'd have lost much more blood had the cold not slowed the blood flow.

"Oh Anya..." he gently (GASP) spoke as he picked her up quickly. Thus taking all to the scene in which this tale began.

Please Review and keep in mind, I am TRYING to keep Snape in character but we all know that when its going to end up a romance, Snape cant stay in character completely.