JK Rowling's characters and Wizarding Universe are all uniquely hers. Plot, new characters, new magical terms and abilities etc. are my intellectual property. If you want to borrow then please kindly ask. I do not make any money from this.

ALTERNATE UNIVERSE. If you are looking for strict Canon or even a slight deviation from Canon you won't find it here.

Summary: The War is finally over and Snape finds that the world he knows has nothing to offer him. He finds himself drawn to a new world; one steeped in traditions of its own not known to the wizarding world. Will he take the risks needed for his own salvation?

Rated M for Sexual Situations, Language, Some Violence.

Author's Notes: My inspiration comes from the novel and film WHALE RIDER. Regarding the NZ slang – I am using several online resources including those from the U of NZ and some local to specific areas of NZ including the one in which this story is set.

SALVATION

Chapter 010: Backwards and Forwards

'Earth to Paikea,' Snape said, giving Pai a gentle squeeze as they walked home hand-in-hand.

'Hmm?'

'You have been lost in thought since we left your uncle's.'

'What? Oh, I'm sorry – my mind is elsewhere…'

'Yes, so I'd noticed,' Snape commented with a smile.

'Pop's leaving…tomorrow.'

'Tomorrow? I know he's been here for quite some time and it was inevitable that he would return – but this is rather out-of-the-blue isn't it?'

'Not really. I'm surprised he stayed this long even with everything that's happened. He's got a life in England now and I think talking to Janie tonight made him realise just how much he was needed back there. He's been missing her like you wouldn't believe.'

'Janie – his intended?'

'Yes; she called tonight while I was there – it was her I was on the phone with when you turned up.'

'Oh? What was she like?'

'Quite nice, actually. Nervous talking to me, but I could tell she really, really missed him and how much she loves him. You know, she actually broke down crying over the phone and I could completely understand what she was feeling. I'm glad he's finally found someone who brings him peace and sounds like he's much the same for her. She's even speaking Te Reo Maori really good with a proper Kiwi accent! Pop wasn't exaggerating when he told me how good she is with it.'

'You aren't feeling any insecurity at all? You aren't even the least bit angry that he is committing himself to raising a family with this woman when he couldn't rise to the challenge of being a proper father to his only surviving child knowing what you were in for being left with your grandparents?'

'Michael…'

'No Paikea! No! Your father is a decent man in many respects and I do owe him quite a lot. But I would never, ever abandon a child of mine and especially to a situation that I myself could not bear! Your life would have been very different had he stepped up to the responsibility of being a proper father to you!'

'Maybe…'

'No "maybe"! It is entirely possible that…'

'Michael we don't know, not really! Pop could have been a very different man and not in a good way if he had stayed here. In a lot of ways he did me a favour – because I learned to rely on myself and be strong under pressure. I couldn't depend on anyone to protect me from my grandfather and things would have been that much more complicated and painful if Pop had still been here. You know what Koro is like – the district would have been an out-and-out battleground because of the whole issue of succession on top of me being the one that lived instead of my brother. Dad doesn't want to be Koro. Ever. But my grandfather would never leave him in peace about it – what I've gone through is nothing compared to what would have been if my father hadn't left. He wouldn't be the man that he is now!'

'So you will just accept the happy little family that your father will have with this woman?'

'I don't really have a choice now do I?! If wasn't her it would be someone else sooner or later! I'll take my hat off to him for not doing just shacking up with someone and squeezing out kid after kid like a lot of other people do! Yes, I always wanted a proper family and to not have to deal with the bullshit that I was raised with; but it didn't happen for me and I'm too tired to rail against what I didn't have anymore. The glass isn't anywhere near half-empty – I do have a lot to be thankful for!'

Paikea looked up at Snape in the bright moonlight.

'You still hate them don't you? Your parents… and especially your father.'

The only answer was a terse "yes".

Pai and Snape continued their walk in silence and didn't say anything until they reached home and were in a small room near the kitchen which served as her office.

'I told Pop I'd sort out his tickets since our internet is up and running…'

'Fine; I will get ready for bed…' Snape mumbled as he turned away from her.

'Michael?'

'Yes?'

'I'm very happy with my life now. More than you might ever understand. It hasn't been easy – I know it hasn't; but if having the good life growing up would mean that I couldn't be here now with you… well then I'm very happy to have not had the perfect life. And if having an easy time of it now meant that I would have to lose you – then I still choose you. I will go through whatever I have to; all I care about is that we are together and that you still love me.'

'I do love you – very much,' Snape said facing her. 'I wish…'

'What?'

'Nothing…'

'Don't do that. I hate it when you do that… tell me – what do you wish?'

'I wish I had your capacity to focus on what you have, rather than what you do not. I wish that I could forget what it was that drove me here…and I really do hope that I prove to be worthy of the love and loyalty you give me.'

'Oh Michael,' Pai said reaching up and taking his face in her hands. 'I'm not always that good at being so confident – you know that. Sometimes my mind goes where it shouldn't and it's never worth the misery that causes. You know – you are like Janie in a way; you came into my life when you were needed the most and fortunately I had the sense enough to see it and to accept it. Maybe I needed to go through all that so that I could be ready for you. I would do whatever I had to for my own sake even if you weren't in my life – but having you beside me makes so much difference. I'm too happy now to resent what I can't change. You are the best thing that's ever happened to me – so no more doubts please.'

'I say the same about you, quite often. I just...have not been able to let go of certain things.'

'I don't think anyone who has had a difficult life can just shake it off so easily. But we have each other and it doesn't have to hurt so much anymore. Maybe I'll feel different when I lay eyes on Janie or find out that I'm going to get a half-brother or sister… But somehow I'd like to think that I'll be too busy living my life with you to resent my father for his and for needing to put his own needs ahead of mine.'

Snape pulled Paikea into his arms and held on tight. She was right – it was too easy to focus on everything that had been wrong in his life to the detriment of what was actually quite good now. He had a wonderful woman and beautiful home. He was actually quite content with his lot in New Zealand. As much as he had loved and been loved once upon a time it would not have been like this. It was too much of its time; and those times were so very dark indeed. He needed to stop bringing his chequered past into his present. He was blessed that Paikea didn't hold what she didn't know against him.

'Don't be too long,' he sighed as he pulled away reluctantly.

But as soon as he said it the phone began to ring.

'I'll go make some tea for us to take up with us…' Snape said softly as she picked up the receiver and said 'hello'.

'Oh hi Pop! I was just about to look for flights and… What?'

The look on Pai's face and the tone of her voice made the former Potions Master stop dead in his tracks.

"Don't worry about it. I'm not afraid of him and I'll deal with it. It's best that you get back to England…" Pai blinked hard a few times before excusing herself for a moment. She stood stock-still clenching a fist. She couldn't bring herself to look at Snape – fearing the penetrating look she expected to see in his eyes. She wouldn't be able to blow him off as casually as she could her father. 'Pop honestly…! Alright, alright… in the morning, yes.'

Pai hung up the phone and took a deep breath.

'He wants to leave early so we can get to Auckland by late morning… make the most of the day and not have a last-minute rush…' she grumbled.

'Why don't you run a hot bath – and I will brew a pot of Earl Grey for us,' Snape said gently, deciding to err on the side of caution and not comment on her obvious upset.

Pai nodded her agreement, still unable to look at him.

Snape moved so that he was directly in front of her and then tilted her face up.

'I love you…' he said simply before taking her in his arms. '…and I am not going anywhere. No matter what happens or how bad things get.'

Pai looked at him with moist eyes and nodded "yes".

'Now go on – and I will bring up a tray…'

Pai nodded yes again and started to walk out her office to leave her in peace with her father.

'Paikea…?'

'Yes?'

'You have me now – for always…'

The only response was a nod – and Snape couldn't blame Pai for her reluctance to be vocal. He mulled it over only for a moment, and then made his final decision about what to do next.

xxxOOOxxx

Snape entered his and Paikea's bedroom and set the tea tray down on the bed. He looked over at the ensuite bathroom door and could see a faint golden glow. Paikea had lit her scented candles and put on some quiet music in an effort to calm down.

Everything happens for a reason, he thought; and the situation with Witi gave him the courage to do what he had wanted to do for some time. He didn't need to wait; didn't need for there to be some grand "a-ha" moment. He already knew that he wanted to be with Paikea for the rest of his life and he felt fairly confident that she was like-minded.

Being a wizard had its advantages even here and so he had been able to Apparate into town and back in a matter of ten minutes, knowing that Paikea would still be in the bath.

He took a few more minutes to arrange the room, wanting everything to be perfect.

xxxOOOxxx

Snape walked over to the bathroom door and then paused. He could hear faint noises inside – noises that didn't sound right. He knocked on the bathroom door and then opened it.

Paikea was sitting in the tub with her arms wrapped around her legs, crying softly.

Only for a brief moment was he thrown back in time…

xxxoooxxx

Nina hadn't come back down to him and as the minutes ticked away he became uneasy. He took to his stairs two at a time and then hesitated outside the bathroom door. 'Nina?' he called out to her. There was no response. He called again and again there was nothing but silence. He opened the door slowly and found Nina hunched over in the tub, sobbing quietly.

'Is something wrong?' he asked, trying not to panic before it was necessary to do so.

''Severus… I…I'm sorry!' she blurted out.

'You have no reason to apologise to me?' he said kneeling by the tub and turning her face to his.

'Whatever you want me to do…I'll do it!'

Snape looked at her in disbelief. Whatever this was about – she seemed to have already made up her mind about what she thought he would do and whatever that was upsetting her profoundly.

'I didn't do it on purpose!'

'You didn't do what love?'

'I'm pregnant! I'm four months pregnant!'

Snape literally fell back against the toilet and just looked at her at first.

'You and I… are going to have a child?' he rasped finally.

Nina shook her head yes and couldn't hold back the tears streaming down her cheeks. The look on her face – he would never forget it, not ever…

xxxoooxxx

'Paikea, don't…' he said quietly as he knelt down next to the tub.

Pai let him put his arms around her and continued to cry.

'I'm sorry – I'm just being stupid as usual…' she sobbed.

'Never. It would not do either of us any good and besides; I don't believe it's that simple. It never is when it comes to your grandfather – and that is what your father's phone call was about.'

Snape eased himself up and took off his clothes. He aimed his wand at the cool water and made it as hot as he thought Pai could withstand and stepped into the tub behind her and sat down. Pai eased herself back and settled herself between his legs. He took his time; washing her hair and then her back and arms. Pai lay against him and closed her eyes as his hands moved over her body and then between her legs.

'Your turn now,' she said softly after a while even though she didn't want his ministrations to end.

They switched positions and then it was Paikea's turn to take care of him, even though it wasn't necessary. Not for the first time she reminded him of Nina in the way that she considered and looked after him.

'You have such beautiful hair…' she murmured as she began to rinse it of shampoo and combed her fingers through it.

Then it was his turn to be washed and afterwards he lay back against her for a while, enjoying it immensely as her fingers idly moved up and down his arms then his torso.

'The water is getting cold again,' he commented.

He stood up and stepped out of the tub and into his robe and then helped Paikea up and out. He dried her off and then held open her robe while she slipped into it.

'You're so good to me…' Pai observed contentedly as she opened the bathroom door.

'I always will be,' Snape promised softly as he watched Pai walk into their bedroom.

His beloved was in shock as she took in candles of different shapes and colours spread across the length and breadth of the room; a selection of her favourite flowers artfully arranged; the deep red silky bed linens and pillows.

And there in the centre of their new bed was an ornate black box and single red rose.

He reached out to one of their built-in shelves and after a moment the sensuous voice of Keith Washington washed over them singing "Kissing You". Michael Stuart-Clark had not struck Pai as a particularly romantic man and it had been enough just to know that she had his love. But this – this was something very special. She felt herself going week in the knees as she looked at him standing in front of her now with blazing eyes.

Snape held out his hand and led her to the bed. He motioned for her to sit and Pai did as he wanted and scooted back, unable to take her eyes off him.

'I have rarely been one for grand gestures, particularly in the form of the hearts and flowers your sex sets so much store in,' Snape began. 'And it has cost me dearly. But you, my dear Paikea, if I have learnt but one thing it is that I never want to let real love slip through my fingers ever again. What you have given me, what you have been for me – I do not have the words to speak of…'

He paused and took her trembling hands into his.

'I love you, Paikea. I truly and passionately love and adore you. It would be the greatest honour I could ever have if you would consent to be my wife. It's you I want to spend whatever time it is that I have left with. Please… say 'yes'…'

Snape removed his hands from hers and opened the box on the bed. Pai gasped as she laid eyes on the two rings inside. One was a white gold band of diamonds and rubies and the other was a diamond ring.

'This eternity ring is my promise to you that I will always love and cherish you. You are not alone anymore – and I will care for you as a man should do the woman he loves,' Snape said as he slid the band on the ring finger of her left hand. 'And this…' he said as he took the Tiffany-mounted 2-carot ring from its place and slid it on after the band, '…this is my betrothal gift to you – if you are in agreement that you can tolerate being married to me.'

Pai moved her mouth but nothing come out at first.

'Paikea?'

'Yes!' she rasped.

'Will you…?'

Yes, yes, YES!!!' Pai cried out as tears began streaming down her face.

'I'm sorry it wasn't quite the romantic setting you might have wanted and I wasn't on bended knee but…'

'Shut up!' Pai laughed before she pushed him down on the bed, jumped on him and kissed him.

'I can accept this as a sign of your consent then…' Snape said chuckling.

He reached up with one hand and traced her jawline and then untied her robe. His eyes burned into hers as he pushed the robe off and sat up enough to take off his own. The former Potions Master never took his eyes off of the woman he loved as she sank down into the pillows.

'What are you thinking about?' he asked as he lay on his side and looked over at Pai.

'I don't want a big fancy wedding. I know that's what I'm supposed to want, but it's not for me…'

'You will get no objection from me,' Snape replied. 'All that fuss and madness for a few hours of one day… Ridiculous amounts of money spent on clothes and ornaments never to be seen after the event… Only to end up moaning about the debt…'

Pai let Snape gather her into his arms and let out a deep contented sigh.

'I'm happy enough to just have the people closest to us be a part of it. We can have the ceremony on the beach and then have a quiet meal somewhere… One day of complete happiness…'

'You say that as though you are expecting very difficult times ahead Paikea.'

'Your wedding day is supposed to be the happiest day of your life, isn't it?'

'You were alluding to far more than that – don't try to deny it.'

'I didn't mean anything by it…' Pai said with a frown.

'Your father's phone call – there was a great deal more to it than the usual problems with Koro…'

'Michael please, let's not ruin this by getting into an argument – and about my grandfather of all people! He's a pain in the arse but I can't spend my life worrying about his scheming!'

Snape started to speak but shook his head defeatedly instead.

'OK, my love… But do remember you do not have to bear your burdens alone.'

'I can say the same to you Michael. Here we are getting married and I don't know that much more about you now than I did when we first met. You're a Wizard, you hate your parents and your father can give Koro a run for his money…'

'You must have a great deal of faith in me a man to have consigned your lot with me. Maybe you are right – perhaps you are making a mistake having so much blind faith.'

'I didn't say that and don't put words in my mouth. You know almost everything there is to know about me. I don't even know your real name or what drove you to come here…'

Snape blinked his eyes quickly.

'I can't… I'm not… I'm not ready to have this conversation, Paikea.'

'I know you're not; which is why I've never forced the issue. But don't think that because I don't have the factual truth of your life in Britain that I'm some saddo with no standards. I'm with you because you are a good man and I've never had any reason to not have faith in you. For Nana, my father and my uncle to think so much of you, believe me that doesn't happen every day.'

'I know but…'

'No buts Michael. I'm not stupid. I know you can be a really nasty piece of work. And I daresay you've had the kind of life that made it necessary for you be quite tough. It kept you alive. And if you had to revisit that life, you'd probably have to go back to being that way in some respects for whatever reason. I don't hold it against and you have my promise that I never will. You still are the best thing that's ever happened to me no matter what,' Pai said firmly.

'I don't deserve you...' Snape began.

'Do you want to call it off?' Pai interrupted.

'No – I most definitely don't!'

'Then let's stop this foolishness! I meant what I said – I just want our wedding day to be the happiest day of our lives. I think we both deserve it.'

'We deserve far better than either of us has ever allowed ourselves to have!'

'Then let's stop sabotaging this relationship by worrying endlessly about Koro…' Pai said through a yawn. 'We need our sleep since leaving so early…'

Within a few minute Snape was left to lie awake, stewing in his own thoughts as Pai slept. Koro was up to something, he was as sure of it as he was his real name. He would back off for now to keep the peace with Pai, but he was determined to find out the truth.