A lady looked up from her breakfast as a large barn owl swooped through her window carrying a newspaper. The owl dropped the paper into her hands and landed beside her, waiting to be paid. The woman began digging through her money pouch, but her hand froze as she read the headline of the paper.
Albus Dumbledore Murdered At Hands Of Trusted Professor
Alarmed, the lady read on.
Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, was murdered last night by a teacher at his own school, Severus Snape.
The lady's hand remained still, every part of her incapable of movement except her eyes, which traveled across the rest of the page.
Severus Snape was the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor at Hogwarts. Dumbledore had vouched for Snape when he had been charged as a former Death Eater, saying that he had changed sides, but unknown to the former Headmaster, Snape had always still been under You-Know-Who's rule. Apparently, the son of Lucius Malfoy (who is currently residing in Azkaban), Draco Malfoy, and Snape had been plotting all year to dispose of Dumbledore. They brought in Death Eaters to the school last night and attacked. The specifics are unclear, as no students or professors were available for comment.
Dumbledore had been one of the world's most powerful wizards. Born in 1841, he first…
The article went on to talk about Dumbledore, but the lady's eyes simply dived over it and reread the first sentence of the passage over and over, as though looking at it again and again would somehow change what was there.
"Ow!" the woman said, as the owl pecked her hand. "What's your problem? Are you mad because I'm not paying you? 'Cause if that's your biggest problem, pal, then you don't have anything to worry about, and you can just – "
She stopped abruptly. Taking out her anger on an owl was not going to solve her problems. Taking her anger out on anyone wouldn't solve her problems. She sighed, gave the owl a treat as a way of apology, and sat back down, reading the first sentence of the article over and over: Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, was murdered last night by a teacher at his own school, Severus Snape. Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, was murdered last night by a teacher at his own school, Severus Snape. Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, was murdered last night by a teacher at his own school, Severus Snape…
She sighed and put her head in her hands. She had trusted him, she had thought she knew him. She had cared about him, and was nearly convinced that he cared about her…but now she could never see how she could love him again. He had betrayed her. He had been working for You-Know-Who all along. Why had she ever believed he had changed? The answer was easy enough: she wanted to. She needed to. She had always thought he could change, but she was wrong. No matter how she looked at it though, the truth remained:
Severus Snape had killed Dumbledore. Severus Snape had betrayed all who had trusted him. Severus Snape was still a Death Eater and had always been so. And Severus Snape, whether she liked it or not, was still her brother.
They had always been different, but she had loved him all the same. They were all that they had at times. Sure, they had fought, but she had always cared. But with another unpleasant jolt, she realized she cared no more.
She, Selena Snape, was one year younger than her brother. Her appearance more resembled their mother, with her straight brown hair that waved insanely in no particular order around the ends, brown eyes, and a slightly pointed nose. She had the same pale skin as her brother, and she had also been sorted into Slytherin; but she had never been taken with the Dark Side.
What had gone differently for the two of them? They had grown up in the same house; it wasn't as though they were raised any differently…. Selena had always tried to understand Severus, but it had always been nearly impossible as they got older. Although after Severus had rejoined the right side (or so everyone thought), the two had become closer; writing letters and visiting occasionally. Selena had been so convinced that her brother had turned around, but apparently not…
She got out parchment and a quill to write a letter to Severus. She knew that she would probably never send it, and even if she did it would probably not get to him, as he'd be on the run now. But she needed to do this, so she dipped her quill into her ink and wrote:
I can't even begin to express how angry I am with you. To throw away trust so easily, as you have done, is something that is despicable. I had thought better of you, I had thought that it had finally gotten across to you that You-Know-Who is not on the right side. You-Know-Who is not someone to look up to or to follow. I thought you knew that. It shows how wrong I was, and I feel like a complete fool now. Don't you even try to tell me to butt out of your life, because like it or not, I'm in your life. I'm your sister. The Prophet will probably be over here soon to question me, not to mention the Ministry. My name, or our name I should say, (as much as I am repulsed to now link myself with you in any way) follows me everywhere.
I'm just as mad at myself as I am at you. I feel partly responsible for your actions, even though you were deep in the Dark Arts long before I could stop you. I guess it's a natural thing, as I'm a part of your family. Does even a tiny part of you regret anything you've done? If so, that's good. You should feel that way. You chose the wrong way and now you have to deal with it. You had a chance, Severus, you had a few opportunities. But you missed them all, too proud to admit your mistakes.
She rolled up the parchment. When Apollo, her owl, saw this, he immediately flew down onto the table surface and stuck out his leg. She hesitated, but she knew that she would not be content with herself if she did not do this.
"It's for Severus," said Selena, tying the parchment to his leg. "But I doubt that you – if you can't find him, that's alright."
Apollo hooted in response and flew out the window.
Selena sat back down, her appetite lost. She pushed away her half-eaten porridge and placed her head in one hand.
What had happened that made her and Severus so different? Why had he joined the Dark Side? Was it something that she'd had some control of? Or would it have happened no matter what?
Selena could remember the day that Severus had gotten his Hogwarts letter. At first, it was uncertain whether he would be allowed to go, as their father was a Muggle and hated all magical things. Their mother had not told him she was a witch until after they had married, and he didn't take the news too well. Thankfully, their mum took a stand (for once) and so Severus was allowed to attend Hogwarts, as was Selena the next year.
"Snape, Selena!" McGonagall called. Selena nervously stepped towards the stool, and McGonagall placed the hat on her head.
"Hmm," said a small voice as the hat slid over Selena's face and obscured her vision with darkness. "Interesting…plenty of determination and ambition…cunning, clever…but also very loyal…very…yes…. Now…where should I put you?"
Slytherin, Selena thought silently. Put me in Slytherin
"You want to be in Slytherin, do you?" the tiny voice replied. "Are you sure? I was rather thinking Hufflepuff…you're fair and committed…or even Gryffindor, if you like…your bursts of recklessness can be quite daring…"
It's got to be Slytherin, Selena thought desperately. Put me in Slytherin.
"You have Slytherin traits, this is true," the voice responded. "Yet I feel that is not your proper place. Any reason in particular that Slytherin feels like the right House?"
Because that's where my brother is, Selena replied. She couldn't quite see herself not being in the same House as him.
"Well, if that's what you want," said the small voice. "You'll be able to watch your brother easier, I suppose…yes, Slytherin will be good for you on second thought…very good…yes, you'll do well in SLYTHERIN!"
The hat shouted the last word to everyone, causing all at the Slytherin table to clap, and Selena hopped off the stool and slid into a seat across from Severus, who was looking at her almost appraisingly.
After everyone had been Sorted, food suddenly appeared on the once empty golden plates. The food was wonderful, but Selena couldn't enjoy it fully. She was having second thoughts about insisting so on being sorted in Slytherin, as one often does after they have made a important decision. Perhaps the hat was right, perhaps she didn't really belong here. She looked over at the Hufflepuff table, the place she had almost been put, but they didn't look much different, aside from the fact that their ties on their uniforms were yellow and black instead of green and gray. Maybe she'd be alright here.
Once all the food was gone and the Headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, had made a speech and bade them goodnight, Selena followed the Prefect who was shouting for the first years down to the dormitory. The Prefect pointed out the girl's dormitories and the boy's, and Selena gave Severus a quick wave and headed up the steps.
Selena met the other girls in her dormitory as they picked their beds and changed into their pajamas. There was Darcy Nott, Narcissa Black, Rosemary Flint, and Melissa Cooper. Darcy, Narcissa, and Rosemary, Selena was disappointed to find out, all were from pureblood families and seemed to fit what her brother had said was the 'typical Slytherin' – having the attitude that anyone who was not pureblood wasn't fit to live amongst other witches and wizards. Selena quickly took her brother's advice, and 'forgot' to mention the fact that her father was a Muggle. It seemed Melissa was rather uncomfortable around them as well, and as the other three girls began talking amongst themselves about purebloods, she leaned over to Selena, tossed her dark red hair out of her face, and with an uneasy glance at the gossiping girls, whispered, "Actually, my mum's Muggleborn. Both my parents were in Ravenclaw, I don't think they'll like that I've gotten into Slytherin, it's got a pretty bad reputation…everyone says it always turns out Dark wizards and witches…" Melissa trailed off uneasily, her sea-green eyes nervously watching the others.
"Well, that won't be the case with us, will it?" Selena said briskly, and Melissa gave her a small smile.
"What about you?" Melissa asked. "Are you pureblood?"
Selena glanced over at the other girls, who were thankfully still absorbed in a conversation about blood relations. "My dad's a Muggle," Selena said in a barely audible voice. "It's a miracle he let me and my brother come to Hogwarts – he hates anything magic. My mum didn't exactly tell him she was a witch 'til after their wedding day."
"I'll bet that was a nice wedding present for him," said Melissa, grinning. If only you knew, Selena found herself thinking. But she forced a smile onto her face that matched the other girl's, and climbed into bed.
As the memory of her first day faded, Selena realized that she was late for work, having been distracted by the morning events. She hastily jumped up and Apparated to St. Mungo's, breaking into a run as she realized she was fifteen minutes behind schedule. She ran towards floor four, where she was treating a man with flowers sprouting from his ears, when she collided with someone coming out of a ward, causing Selena to drop all her paperwork.
"Sorry!" said Selena quickly, bending down to pick her stuff up.
"Selena! I – I'm sorry, I didn't – didn't see – I'm sorry – " Selena glanced up to see who she had crashed into. It was one of her co-workers, Jennifer Trunk. She looked positively terrified, and her voice seemed to be a pitch above normal.
"Jennifer, what happened?" Selena asked, stuffing the last of her papers back into her folder and standing up. "Is everything okay?"
"Fine!" Jennifer said, her dark eyes diving nervously around, and Selena could've sworn that Jennifer almost started stepping backwards. "Just fine!"
Selena gave her a quizzical look. It wasn't as though her and Jennifer were best friends, but they had always been on good terms.
"Is it a patient?" Selena asked.
"Everyone's fine," said Jennifer quickly. "Well, I've got to go – that man with the wings, you know – bye!"
Selena opened her mouth to reply, but Jennifer had already dashed away.
Frowning, Selena hurried on to Kenneth Eber's room. The flowers, to her dismay, were still in full bloom. She tried to comfort her patient, but it did not seem to have any effect. If anything, Mr. Eber's face grew more and more disgusted the longer Selena talked about how the potion would take effect and eradicate the flowers from their current position.
"There you are!" a voice said behind her. Turning, Selena saw Melissa Bones (formerly Cooper) step into the ward.
"Hey, Melissa," said Selena.
"Where've you been?" Melissa wanted to know, coming towards her. "You're a little behind, you know."
"I know, I know," said Selena, waving a hand airily and turning back to Kenneth. Selena quickly mixed up another dose of his potion (Kenneth look repulsed as he took the glass) and headed down the hall with Melissa. Selena was relieved that Melissa seemed to have plenty to say about her work, because Selena really did not want to start in on anything about her morning.
As they walked down the halls, Selena observed the other Healers and staff members. Most of them were acting rather peculiar: shooting her glares, dropping their gaze to their feet, or falling silent as they walked by, then buzzing to one another.
"What is going on with everyone?" Selena finally said to Melissa. "Everyone's acting like I've – like I've done something terrible!" In all truth, she was fairly certain she knew what was going on, but she did not feel ready to admit it.
Melissa looked uncomfortable. "I'm sure it's nothing, Selena," she said, and quickly tried to change the subject. Selena wouldn't let her.
"I'm sure it's nothing, too," Selena said sarcastically.
"Well," said Melissa, as they turned into the long term ward. She hesitated, then said, "I'm sure you got today's paper?"
It was like being smacked hard in the face, maybe worse. She had known, of course, but to have it confirmed by Melissa put it in new perspective…. But the truth was unavoidable now.
"I don't believe it," said Selena quietly, as she headed over to Frank Longbottom. "They think…because we share a name…they assume…"
Her nerves completely shot, Selena yelled, "DAMN IT!" and then proceeded to curse with every word under the sun beneath her breath.
"Selena," said Melissa pleadingly. "They're idiots, the lot of them…they don't know you, if they did, they wouldn't think – "
"I wouldn't want people like that to know me anyway," Selena snarled, slamming her paperwork on a nightstand. "I wouldn't want – they're all just ba – "
"Maybe you should take a break," Melissa said gently. Selena sighed, covered her face with her hands, and shook her head slowly.
"No…no, I'm good," said Selena, and she made her face move to a smile, removing her hands to try and prove her point to Melissa. "I'm okay."
The two women did not speak for a long time. Instead they worked silently and efficiently in the ward; together, but not.
"When's the funeral?" Selena asked suddenly, after nearly forty minutes.
"What?" said Melissa absently, busy trying to settle Alice Longbottom into her bed.
"The funeral…Dum – Dumbledore's funeral."
"I think the paper said in a week," said Melissa, giving Selena a sideways glance.
Selena paused for a moment. "I'm going to go."
"To the funeral?"
"Mm-hmm," said Selena, and as though someone had flicked a switch, she suddenly looked quite pleased and content. She now dusted off Gilderoy Lockhart's photos of himself with more enthusiasm. "I've got a few sick days still, I can go."
"But…don't you think…I mean…"
"Lots of people are going. It's not that strange."
"Well, no, not for most people…"
"I see no reason why it'd be different for me then," Selena said with a absolute note of finality in her voice. "Are you going to go?"
"Well, if you're going I suppose so," said Melissa slowly, looking at Selena carefully. "It's always good to go back to Hogwarts…"
"Great," said Selena, a sort of satisfied sneer creeping onto her face. "We'll go then."
"Are you sure you're going to be okay with this?" Melissa said uncertainly.
"Why wouldn't I be?" Selena asked, giving Melissa a hard stare. Melissa grinned at her.
"That's the Selena I know," she said cheerfully. "Come on, I've got to see Wilber and you've got to check in on Diane."
"Right, see you!" Selena called, as they turned opposite ways.
As she headed off, Selena wondered if she was making the right choice. Would she really be able to attend Dumbledore's funeral?
No one has to know my name, she thought. There will be thousands of people there, no one's going to focus on me.
Even though Selena tried to make herself believe this, she knew she really did not. But she kept telling the lie to herself. It was all she could do.