moreDisclaimer: not mine
The Death of a Generation
Severus Snape walked back to the castle. Having just returned from a Death Eaters meeting he was tired, sore and weary. Too many sleepless nights, too many whiskey-laden meetings, and too many deaths laid heavily on his soul.
He had taken the Dark Mark at an age when youth was still upon him. Youth is foolish, hungry, and ready to change the world. Youth hears with different ears, yearning to believe, and wanting a cause to get behind. He, and dozens like him, found the cause in a dark wizard who promised prosperity. They found their path to a lord who freed them of their childhood restraints and looked to a prophet that predicted greatness, power and advancement, only to die following a tyrant.
Severus Snape had been one of the lucky ones, for he had survived. Although, he had discovered too late to help the one person he loved, the evil in the cause, he lived, and in the living found a new cause.
He carried his mask in one hand and wiped the blood off his face with the other. He knew that Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts Academy of Witchcraft and Wizardry, would be waiting for his report. He was finding it harder to see the old wizard with each return as he saw the old man's slumped shoulders and sad continence become weaker with each account of the horrors and the lives lost.
Albus had left the Gargoyle open on the stairs to his office. He knew Professor Snape hated the sugarcoated words when announcing more deaths. Severus was as close as to a son as Albus could have hoped for. Having taken him in when Severus had tuned from the Dark Lord and placed his trust in the dark haired lanky youth he had thought to be disappointed. However, over the years when proved wrong, the trust had turned to friendship.
"Well, my boy." Albus greeted Severus. "I am glad to see you are able to by-pass Poppy tonight."
"Albus, I am in no mood for this." Severus sat heavily in the chair opposite Albus and reached for the glass of firewhiskey already poured in front of him. He put the glass to his lips and knocked it back in a single gulp.
"So, what is Riddle up to Severus?" Albus peered over his glasses.
"He ordered three attacks on Muggles families. He gave no reason. He is beyond even his own reasoning now." Severus raked his hand through his hair. "They had no magical children and no contacts with the Wizarding world that I could discern. Albus, he gets worse every day."
"How bad Severus?" Albus asked quietly.
"I don't know about the others. I came back directly from the slaughter." He reached for the bottle and poured another two fingers worth of liquor.
"It was a family of five, the children were to be taken to the Dark Lord, I don't know why Albus. He does not seem to trust me as he used to." He finished off his second glass of liquid amber. "Maybe he needs fresh food for his snake."
"Did any of them survive?" Albus asked evenly.
"When I got there, I found four children. I managed to get only one out. It is an infant. The Dark Lord had no knowledge of her yet," he said with a sigh, then leaned back in his chair. "Don't worry Albus, she is someplace safe."
"I am sorry Severus," Albus said sadly. "I know what this does to you."
"Darien Royal was killed tonight," Severus said flatly, as he looked at Albus for a reaction.
"Was he not one of your classmates Severus?" Albus frowned.
"His older brother was," Severus said, leaning forward, placing his arms on his legs and looking at the floor. "There is no one left from my year in Slytherin. They all took the mark, they are all dead."
"They made their decision." Albus pointed out.
"Did they old man?" Severus raised his eyes to look at Albus. "Who was there to stop them? Who knew then how bad things would become? Who warned them old man?"
"Severus, you were all warned, every one that passed through these halls knew," Albus said angrily.
"All we knew is that the dark arts were to be avoided. Hogwarts taught us to avoid Muggles, sex, firewhiskey and the Dark Lord. By Merlin, no one thought he was any worse then any of the rest." Severus stood and started to pace. "Have you seen your old students Albus? Have you seen his minions? They are dead and don't even know it. Look at their eyes Albus, they are already dead."
"Severus, please sit. We can talk if you feel the need."
"No, I need sleep." He turned to the door, then walked back and grabbed the bottle of firewhiskey from Albus' desk. "I will take this for company. It is all I can stand to be around tonight."
With a billow of robes, he stalked out of the Headmaster's office and returned to his quarters in the Dungeons where he tossed his robes on the floor and threw his mask on the top shelf of his closet. Grabbing a clean nightshirt, he headed for the shower.
Feeling more relaxed after standing under the hot stream of water, letting it course over his body and wash the nights work away, he sighed as he pulled on his nightshirt. Avoiding his bed he grabbed the bottle and dropped into his chair, propped his feet up on the ottoman, and finished the whiskey. Finally able to forget the nights work, he laid his wand within easy reach and allowed himself to sleep.
Severus woke at his regular time, and rose as soon as his eyes opened to begin dressing. With no thought of what to wear, he pulled a pair of Muggle jeans and a loosely fit white shirt from his closet, hurrying to be gone. Tying his lank black hair back with a leather strap, he left the dungeons in long angry strides and headed to Hogsmeade. He had an errand to complete this morning and needed to be ready as soon as the Muggle Police station opened for the day shift.
He enjoyed the walk. It took longer than the floo, but gave him time to ignore his daily troubles and to clear his mind. All too soon, he was knocking on Rosmerta's door. The bleary-eyed witch opened the door, and seeing who it was, stepped aside to let him enter.
"Tell me again why I agreed to this," she moaned. "I was up all night feeding her and changing nappies. If I wanted this I would have remarried and had my own children."
"Indeed," he smirked.
"Nope," she scoffed, "none of this for me."
She disappeared into another room and shortly reappeared with a tiny infant wrapped in a pink blanket. Handing him the bundle she frowned.
"Sure," she quipped, "now she sleeps."
"I thank you," he nodded to her. "I could not take her to Hogwarts."
"Someday they will find out that you are not the evil git of the dungeons you know." She narrowed her eyes and scowled at him.
"Until that time I trust I have your silence?" He looked down his nose at her, feeling his lip twitch.
"Just don't make a habit of it," she said. "Now get out of here, I need sleep."
As he walked to the apparation point, he pulled the blanket up around the infant's head. Taking out his wand, he placed a silencing spell abound the baby, and another one around them both. Turning on the spot, he spun out to London, arriving only two blocks from his intended destination. Walking briskly, he entered the police station and strode up to the reception area.
"I need to see Officer Cummings," Severus said, looking down at a middle-aged woman.
"Who shall I say is here?" She asked, not looking up from her fingernails that she was intent on painting.
"Tell him it is a delivery…one that comes with a riddle," Severus smirked.
Looking up at the familiar introduction, she waved him back. "You know the way," she said, returning to her fingernails.
Officer Cummings was a squib. He had left the Wizarding world with his parents when he did not get a letter to Hogwarts. It was not safe to be a squib. Severus thought it would only be a matter of time before this outside contact was also gone, and suddenly thought to have Albus find a back up.
"Severus, Severus Snape." Edward Cummings stood, greeting him with a curt nod.
"Cummings," Severus returned coldly. "I have something to leave with you. I trust you to get it to the proper place."
Edward took the infant, uncovering her and peering into her face.
"How many does this make?" Edward said solemnly, "Forty-Eight if memory serves."
"I count it differently Cummings." Severus spat angrily, "Ninety-six dead parents, along with one hundred twenty-four siblings."
"This is not a game of Quidditch," Edward sighed, walking back to his desk and sitting down with the baby. "The higher score does not always mean victory."
"Do you have any thing for the Headmaster or am I free to leave now?" Severus was still feeling the sting of his anger.
"Just the newspapers he wants." Edward handed Severus a few Muggle newspapers that had reports of mysterious deaths in them.
Severus flicked his wand, shirking the papers and then tucked them in his pocket.
Severus turned on his heel and left without any form of a polite good bye. He felt the air stale and oppressive here. Cummings knew he carried the Dark Mark, and avoided the slightest touch when transferring the bundles he brought in, trying to cover his dislike for Severus but only managing to make them more pronounced. He walked back to the apparation point and once again cast his silencing spell, this time turning to Diagon Alley.
He walked quickly to Flourish and Blotts where he had ordered a book some time ago and had hopes they had it in stock by now. A small hooded witch stepped out of a store into his path. He saw her too late to stop knocking into her, but immediately threw up his arms to stop her fall. Cursing his stupidity, he guided her out of the way of the other shoppers.
"Madame, are you alright?" he asked impatiently. "You should not run out without looking, these walkways are busy at this time."
"Severus? Severus Snape?" The older witch pushed back her hood and looked up to him.
"Mrs. Royal is it not?" he said, recognizing her at once.
"Thank you for remembering an old woman, Severus. I am sorry Severus," she said, brushing away her tears with the back of her hand. "I am here to make arrangements for Darien. He was my youngest you know. Douglas was your age, but Darien was the baby."
"I am sorry for your loss." Severus wanted to get away from this witch and sought a way to end this. "I wish I had more time Mrs. Royal, however, I am in somewhat of a hurry."
"Of course you are." She looked at him knowing he was trying to avoid her eyes. "I am sorry to bother you. It is just that I have no one to talk to about this. A Death Eater's mother knows she will bury her sons. She knows she will stand alone at the grave."
She turned to leave. Severus rolled his eyes and took her arm, guiding her to one of the benches along the pavement.
"I thought you were in a hurry young man," she said
"I have time," he sighed, sitting down beside her, trying to be patient.
"No son, you go on," she said as she patted his leg. "I am sure that you have friends you need to see."
"No, I have no one." He wondered why he was talking to this old woman, or why he had made this admission.
"You must," she said, looking up at him. "Who will bury you?"
"What?" he asked, not believing she would ask this.
"I am sure your hearing if fine young man." She shook her finger at him. "You mark my words, when a wizard dies around here the first thing they do his check his left arm. If he carries the mark, his mother only has 24 hours to retrieve the body and bury it. If the body is not claimed it is burnt by the Ministry."
He looked at her and saw her sadness. She had once been a beautiful witch, not he saw a pale shadow of what her former self. She had lost her husband, and two sons, to an ideal she did not believe in, on a journey she would not take.
"They should just bury the mothers you know. Have a funeral for us, for our hearts," she mused, "As soon as a son takes the mark, we lose our lives. All we have left is to plan the funerals."
She stood up slowly, as if all strength had left her. Severus stood, and then leaned down to kiss her cheek.
She reached up, patted his cheek in return, and sighed, shaking her head and leaving him alone on the pavement as she walked to the undertakers alone.
Severus found himself running after her, taking her arm and turning her to look at him.
"Surely you have grandchildren?" He gave his statement as a question, holding her by her arm and demanding a response.
"Grandchildren?" she said and tried to laughed. "From a Death Eater son? Who would have his children? If he had lived long enough, who would have him? Who would love my son?"
He let go of her arm as if scalded, and walked away, unable to answer her questions. No longer interested in his potions book, he returned to Hogwarts.
The next morning, he sat at the head table eating breakfast, looking out at the sea of faces. They haunted him this morning, more then they had on other days, as he wondered how many would be alive in ten years, in five. He looked to his house and saw only the sons of Death Eater families. Those families that did not follow the Dark Lord had already removed their children to keep them safe. He saw students whose older brothers were already dead, or had lost fathers to the monsters cause. He wondered if any would have children of their own, or if the next generation would die with this last handful of sacrifices.
He had taken his mark when the Dark Lord was a man, charismatic and enticing. His classmates had followed Tom Riddle willingly, often going against their family's wishes, they had flocked to the epitome of greatness. These faces looking back at him today only knew the terror, the deaths, and pain. His Slytherins were forced to join the dark forces, by fathers unwilling to admit to their own errors. This was the generation sacrificed to the war, this second generation, the children.
His godson sat at that table, as typical 5th year he was full of the spoiled arrogance of a pure blood family. He wondered about his future and dreaded what would become of his life if his father forced him to follow the path he had planned. He looked at the faces of his house again, and saw them morph into death masks laughing back at him. Suddenly losing his appetite, he threw his napkin down on his plate, and pushing his chair from the table, he left, letting his robe billow behind him.
He had no classes today since it was Monday, and his free day for grading papers and recording grades. He stormed to his chambers, grabbed a bottle, sat in his chair, and began to drink, not caring about the hour. Her words kept coming to him. No matter how much he drank, he heard Darien's mother in his mind. Her questions nagged at him, 'Who will bury you? Who would love my son?'
He hurled the bottle at the fireplace and closed his eyes as the glass shattered. Who would love a Death Eater?
Severus's floo activated and Albus stepped out in front of the Potions Master.
"Well, my boy." Albus stroked his long beard, "you are off to an early start."
"I met Darien Royal's mother yesterday in Diagon Alley," Severus told Albus with no preamble. "She asked me a strange question."
"Oh?" was all Albus offered.
"She asked who would bury me," Severus said with a smirk.
"How did you answer?" Albus asked softly.
"I didn't." Severus leaned his head back against the chair and sighed. "I won't be buried will I Albus?"
"Severus, we don't need to talk of this now," he said sternly.
"No?" Severus laughed, "You cannot do it. You would blow my cover, and we must not let the Dark Lord know I am, or was, a spy. He does not claim the bodies of his Death Eaters, and I have no family. So tell me old man, who will bury me?"
The two wizards sat in silence looking at each other until at last Albus looked away and gazed into the fireplace.
"What do you want Severus? What is this about?" Albus asked.
"I want someone to help the mothers of the Death Eaters bury their dead. I want to make sure my godson does not take the mark." Severus looked at Albus steadily.
"Is that all Severus? If this all I will make arrangements for you," Albus said, frowning. "I will talk to Molly, she will arrange with the undertaker to find help for the mothers of your friends. And …I promise you, to do every thing in my power to save Draco. There is something else?" Albus gently coaxed.
"Albus, I am losing my soul," he said seriously. "I want someone to bury me."
Albus sat with the young wizard for a while, as they watched the fire together, and morning turned to afternoon. Albus stayed in deep thought, until Severus laid his head back and closed his eyes. Making sure that Severus slept, he left.
Albus knew that he asked too much of the wizard he had just left. When Severus had first come to him, he had accepted him, and turned to him for information. A spy in the Dark Lords service was an unheard of boon. This chance would not come again and he had grabbed it.
Severus was to carry on in his role as Death Eater, gathering information and bringing it home to the Order. In the beginning, this arrangement was innocent enough. However, as Severus rose through the ranks, his obligations to the Dark Lord rose also. Unable to leave, Severus had been forced to take part in the murder and havoc created by the beast or lose his position, and possibly his life.
With each return Albus saw, his Potions Professor slip further and further away and watched as he fell deeper into despair. Occasionally Severus could inflict a small act of redemption onto his soul. He could save a child, or offer a quick death instead of the Dark Lords slow torture of entertainment. However, it was these very acts of kindness that were ripping the Potions Master apart, although Albus would never admit this. Instead of allowing his heart to die, these acts fed it with hope, keeping it alive to feel again. Albus knew it would be better if Severus could let go completely.
Severus woke well after dinnertime. He looked at his bottle tipped on its side, spilling out onto the floor, and carefully picked it up. Recapping the remaining amber liquid, he stood and put the bottle back in the liquor cabinet, then walked to his desk and pulled out the essays to begin grading. It was late when he finished, and having missed the evening meal decided to walk into Hogsmeade for a sandwich or a bowl of stew at Three Broomsticks. He threw his cloak over his arm and started walking. As he neared the Inn, he felt someone fall in step with him. Looking down he saw an unfamiliar witch. She frowned up at him, pulling her wrap closer.
"I had run down the street for some change, Rosmerta needs it." She offered up by means of explanation. "I know it is silly, but nights scare me out here. I thought I would just walk along with you."
He nodded at her, taking her elbow and guiding her along.
"Always the gentleman, Snape?" She laughed up at him, looking shyly and then dropping her eyes back down.
"Yes," he quipped as he sneered down at her, surprised she knew who he was, "the only thing to worry about tonight is tripping in the dark."
Together they walked the last few blocks in a comfortable silence. When they reached The Three Broomsticks, Severus released her elbow, and allowed her to enter the pub first. Witches usually avoided him, going as far as to cross the street if they saw him on the pavement. Knowing that this witch may be embarrassed, now that she was safely inside, he allowed her to pass through the door first then after a moment followed.
Severus sat eating his stew quietly. He sat at a table in the shadows, keeping his head down to the food in front of him, in no mood for the looks he got from the curiosity seekers or the drunks who wanted to brag of talking to the feared Professor Snape. Seeing a figure sit down opposite him he looked up to find the strange witch had joined him.
"It's slow tonight." She waved her hand indicating the small crowd. "Mind if I sit with you? That lout over there will not leave me alone."
"So, you plan on scaring him off with me?" Severus snarled.
"You or any other wizard not drunk enough to stand," she said, jerking her head sideways to indicate whom she was avoiding.
Seeing the leer a drunken wizard was giving Rosmerta, who stood behind the bar serving drinks, Severus raised his eyebrow. He nodded his understanding, and continued to eat.
"A real conversationalist aren't you," she stated flatly.
"Since we were outside at the same time, simple chit chat about the weather seems foolish," he said as he finished his stew and laid his spoon down.
"Yep, just like I suspected, you're a real charmer." She gave him a real smile. "Tell me Snape, what do you do around here anyway? All I ever see you do is coming in here maybe once a month, or picking up ingredients for some potion."
"Does it surprise you that I have a job?" he said with a smirk.
"No, just wondering," Her brows came together as she thought. "So, did the delivery go well?"
"Who are you?" he asked bluntly, worried as to how much this witch knew.
"Olivia, Olivia Shaffer." She smiled at him. "I am Rosmerta's niece. I spend the summers with her. Anyway, I just got here last night, after you dropped off the package."
"Yes, however, we should not speak of such things here," Severus said, looking around suspiciously.
"Fine, perhaps some time over a cup of tea?" she asked, getting to her feet. "We close at ten tonight, if you would like to grab a cuppa."
"That will be fine," he said evenly, surprising himself. "I shall be back to collect you."
Severus could not breathe in the pub any longer. He needed air. He needed to walk. As he made his way back to Hogwarts, taking long strides, he angrily berated himself for accepting an invitation for tea. He never accepted invitations, he thought to himself. He may join Albus and Minerva; perhaps occasionally Poppy would ask him if he wanted to join her, but never a single good-looking witch. Never had anyone out side of Hogwarts or the enclave of Death Eaters ever wanted his company.
He was not sure why he had accepted. He was not sure why he was suddenly nervous. Surely, she would change her mind. Rosmerta would warn her, and she would find herself suddenly busy.
He found himself again walking into the Three Broomsticks at ten, and standing by the door awkwardly. Olivia was leaning over the bar talking to Rosmerta when he came in and turned to flash him a smile as she stood up. Grabbing her wrap from the stool next to her, she hurried over to him.
"Rosmerta is having company tonight, so if you would rather not do this … or how about I buy you a cup of coffee instead. I've had enough tea for today. We could go the Leaky Cauldron, there isn't much open around here." She looked at him hesitantly.
"If you would rather not do this I will understand." Severus stood stiffly.
"Not at all," she said, taking his elbow and pulling him toward the apparation point. "I just don't feel like watching the two love birds fawning on each other all night."
"Then please allow me." He reached down removing her hand from his arm and taking her elbow, guided her the rest of the way.
As they prepared to apparate, he suddenly reached out and grabbed her, pulling her to him as he spun and in a crack of thunder apparated to Diagon Alley. As soon as their feet hit the ground, he made sure she was steady, and then released her stepping back. She smoothed her dress down with both hands, and bit her lip as a soft blush spread over her face. Severus noticed her reaction with a bit of relief, glad that she had not stepped back in fear. Again grasping her elbow, he led her to the Leaky Cauldron, where Tom waved them over to a vacant booth as soon as they walked in.
"Well Snape, I don't often see you on a school night," Tom said easily, handing them each a menu.
"I believe we will just be enjoying your coffee tonight," he said, looking at Olivia who offered a small nod, "and perhaps two of you treacle tarts."
Olivia nodded her consent, and took off her cape, tossing it into the booth before sliding in herself. She was not a slender witch, nor was she fat. She was the size of a full-grown woman. Well past the time of craving the thinness of the young witches at Hogwarts. She looked comfortable in her body, self assured and graceful.
Severus looked at her as she sat opposite him. She was in her late twenty's. Her hair was pulled back, and swept up, held with a hair clip which allowed stray strands to fall out, and fly down her neck. The deep brown of her hair, was touched with a hint of red and although her eyes were mostly brown, there were just enough golden flecks to make them light up when she smiled at him. Severus found her beautiful.
"You said you visit your Aunt during your summers," Severus said, starting up a conversation. "I have never seen you at the Three Broomsticks before."
"I didn't make it the last few summers, and before that I guess we just missed each other. I moved here permanently a few weeks ago." A small frown appeared briefly then left her face as Tom appeared with their order.
"Excuse me," Tom said, looking at Olivia with a scowl. "I just keep thinking I've seen you someplace before. Are you Olivia Shaffer?"
"Yes," she said uneasily. "The tarts look wonderful, thank you."
Tom looked at her oddly, and then with a raised eyebrow he looked at Severus, before walking back toward the kitchen.
Severus poured milk in his coffee watching her closely. She pushed her tart back and brought her coffee cup to her mouth sipping the hot black liquid.
"Listen, Severus," she said softly. "If you want to go, just leave. I will get myself home just fine."
"I have not finished my coffee," he said with a smirk. "However, now that I have tasted Tom's brew, I may never finish it."
"It's not that bad," she grinned.
"Then why would you have me leave before I have drunk it?"
"You really don't know?" She looked up at him in surprise.
"No, if what ever this is, happened before you walked next to me tonight it does not matter," he said, locking his eyes to hers.
"Not now," he said, quickly cutting her off. "I am enjoying my coffee."
She sighed heavily, and pushed her cup back. "This was a mistake. I should have told you who I am."
"I know you are not one of the Dark Lords followers. I also know that you will keep Rosmerta's part in … her job secrete. You are not a witch just out of school, so I would imagine you have a past that you consider painful and embarrassing. How am I doing so far?"
She gave him a bright smile and pulled her tart back. Picking up her fork, she made short work of the treat. Draining their coffee cups, as they chatted about school and exchanged childhood stories, Severus looked around to find Toms eyes, holding up his cup to signal his need for more.
Tom picked up the coffee pot, then looked at Severus coldly and turned his eyes on Olivia. With a sneer Tom, set the pot back on the hot plate and turned away from them, making not attempt to refill their cups.
"Severus, it's fine, let's just go, please," she whispered seeing anger flash in his eyes at Tom's insult.
She stood throwing her cloak around her shoulders heading for the door, as Severus went to settle the bill.
"Tom," Severus said to his old friend darkly. "I expected better from you."
"Snape, do you know anything of her?" Tom said looking straight at the dour Potions Master.
"No, nor does she of I," he said coldly.
"Ask her then." Tom handed Severus his change. "Then tell me she is the type of witch to be seen with. It is you that I thought better of."
Severus put the change in his pocket and walked out the back door, finding Olivia waiting in the shadows.
"Olivia?" he said softly. "Are you alright?"
"Of course I am," she said. "It is getting late, I should be leaving."
"I will accompany you back," he said frowning.
"Severus, please let it be," she said, as her eyes filled with tears. "Just forget this whole thing and let me be."
"No, now we walk, if you feel the need to talk, now would be a good time." He grabbed her arm and pulled her into the deserted streets of Diagon Alley.
They walked in silence for a few minutes, stopping to look in the windows of the darkened and closed shops. She was forming her words, how to put it, how to tell him.
"Severus, I don't know how to do this," she sighed.
Walking her to the same bench he had shared with Mrs. Royal, he pulled her down next to him.
"Then perhaps if I started first," he said coldly.
"No, Severus, you have no needed to." She sighed, looking away from him. "I know you were a Death Eater, I know you are still working for them, and for Albus."
"You do not know what I do when I am with them." He looked at her, wondering why she still sat there.
"I know what they do, and I know what you do to stop them," she said with a shrug of her shoulders. "It is enough."
"How would you know what I do?" he asked, his back going cold.
She stood and began walking slowly, her arms wrapped around her waist, her head bowed. Severus hurried to her, walking by her side. She spoke softly, but loud enough for him to hear.
"The waiter in the Cauldron, he remembers me from the papers. There was this man… he didn't tell me he was married, or what he did for a living, I knew he worked for the Ministry but not exactly what department." She kept walking as she paused. "I didn't know he was a Death Eater. I had no idea then that the Dark Lord had integrated himself into the Ministry so fully. Looking back on it, now … I cannot even say … truthfully, that it would have made a difference. That was before… before all this really started in earnest and I was so young I wouldn't have cared. I met a man who made me feel… special... he said he loved me. When a young girl hears that, she wants to believe it's true.
I know now that he was cruel. If I were the least bit late to meet him, he would become furious, and hit me. He used to beat me over the smallest things, but I somehow began to believe everything he did to me was my fault, that I deserved it." She looked up to him looking for some response.
"It is a method of control, Olivia," he sighed deeply. "Some wizards use sort of a mind control on their witches. They claim that if the witch loves them, they will submit."
She nodded and looked down again.
"He did that. He said he loved me." She wiped at her eyes with the heel of her hand. "My parents had just died and my bother had left for America, I guess I was just alone. Sometimes I pretend he used a potion on me, but that would be a lie.
Anyway," she said, going on with her story, "We were only together a few months. He left when I told him I was pregnant. Or rather, he put me out on the streets. I had the baby, but then he took it to the Dark Lord. He said he needed it for some ritual, which was the only reason he would have a cheap whore like me. I tried to stop him, but he was stronger then me. I couldn't stop him. I..."
She stopped and sunk down covering her face with her hands, sobs breaking out from between her fingers. Severus knelt down next to her, not attempting to stop her, but staying close and listening.
"I guess somehow the Ministry found out that he was a Death Eater, or maybe they knew all along, I don't know. I don't know who turned him in, but they must have followed him, and broke up the ritual and saved the baby." She sighed deeply. "But, they said it was me, that I allowed it, and that I had the baby only because the Dark Lord wanted it."
Severus helped her up from the pavement. Turning her to face him, she kept her head down.
"He was let go, he denied the baby was his, but he was the only man I have ever been with." She looked up at him pleading with him to believe her, seeing his nod she continued.
"The Ministry kept her. They said I was unfit to have children. They took me to St. Mungo's and the Healer there gave me a potion that they made me drink… I can't have any more children." She turned her tear-streaked eyes away from him ashamed of her admission.
"I spent six months in Azkaban and when I got out I couldn't find her. I tried, but no one would tell me where she is. " Her breath hitched as she attempted to breathe though her tears. "The Daily Prophet put my picture on the front page, they said that I was hired to have the baby, to have a Death Eaters baby, they said that I was paid to have …."
"That is enough! You need not say what that filthy rag wrote. I am well aware of their methods," he said, seeing she was unable to continue.
Severus's mind was reeling with this information. Had the witch picked him out to help her find her missing child? Did she think that a former Death Eater, now a spy for the Order, could offer some information she wanted?
Olivia was using him, of that, he was sure. She had no intent of spending the evening with him. If the story she told were true, she only wanted to send him to the Dark Lord's lair for information. Perhaps she would beg him to go to the Ministry to hunt for files. He was done with this.
"I shall take you home now," he backed away from her a step, but offered his arm to her.
"No, that is perfectly alright Severus. I will see myself home." She smiled at him bravely, feeling his rejection. "I should be over this by now, it been nearly ten years, but sometimes I still get the reaction you saw in Tom. I didn't mean to bore you."
"Ten years? You would have been but a child." His eyes turned hard as he spoke.
"Severus, let it go. I don't want to talk of this anymore." She wrapped her cloak abound her, reaching for her hood she put a false smile on her face. "Well, I guess this is where we lie to each other and say we had a lovely time."
"Olivia, I can not leave you here on your own," he spat, grabbing her elbow and pulling her with him to the apparation point.
Once there he did not release his hold on her until they were back in Hogsmeade, then he all but pushed her away.
"Good night Professor Snape, I am sorry the evening turned out this way." She lifted her chin, straightened her spine as she walked away from him.
He walked back to Hogwarts to sit in his chair with a bottle in hand. He sat and drank as he watched the embers die. Cursing himself for his foolishness, thinking a witch would want his company.
He thought of Olivia occasionally, over the course of the next four days. During class he would find his mind wandering, he would see her as he did at the Leaky Cauldron. He imagined her smiles were for him. Then he would curse himself for being so stupid, yet again. He should have known a woman would only want to be with him if they were after something.
He found himself in the library late one night, reading old copies of the Daily Prophet, seeing her seventeen -year-old face on the front page. She looked and saw the camera, then lowered her head and brought her arm up to cover her face. Again and again, she looked, lowered and covered. He could not tell if she was covering her eyes in shame, or if she brought up her arm to hide her tears.
She looked so young. Barely seventeen years old, and already the Ministry had taken her baby. He paused, considering what sort of wizard would have taken a fifteen or sixteen -year-old child, as she must have been when all this started. He had fifth and sixth year students in his classes, the same age she had been. He was sickened at the thought that a man had taken her trust so completely and used her in this way.
She was only seventeen years of age and did not even warrant a trial. The evidence was enough to convict her. However, the only evidence given seemed to the statement of guilt from the Ministry and the word of a known Death Eater. The Death Eater, a Mr. Long had been employed by the Ministry at the time. Severus frowned at the lack of information on Mr. Long, and searched his memory for the name. Unable to find any information on him, and knowing that the name Long had never been one of the Dark Lords faithful followers, he also knew the name was a fake so it was not surprising that the Ministry had never pressed charges against him.
Saturday was a Hogsmeade day for the students and Severus had to follow along as a chaperone. His main objective was that of an authoritative figure, as the students so feared him he seldom had to correct them or intercede in some small infraction. The chaperone's would take their lunch at the Three Broomsticks, taking turns to make sure one of them was on the streets at all times. They normally worked in pairs, but since this time five staff members were available, Severus had gladly consented to eat alone. He preferred silence to the mindless chatter of his fellow staff members.
He was relieved to see Olivia was not in the pub when he entered and headed for his favourite table in the back. Rosmerta saw him, and with hands on hips, she stormed over to his table.
"So, you finally come around do you?" she said angrily.
"What ever are you on about?" he said with a sneer. .
"Olivia has not gone out of the house all week, she just lies in bed." Rosmerta placed her palms on the table and leaned down to hiss at him. "So help me Merlin, if you laid a hand on her I will kill you myself. Someone else had his way with her and if you have done the same I won't go to the Ministry with it, I will finish it myself!"
"I did not touch her!" He spat out between gritted teeth.
"Then you tell me why she lays there crying every night?" She spat at him, "She was doing just fine for a change. Then you show up and here we go again."
"I assure you I did nothing." He sighed, running his hand through his hair. "I have no idea why she is upset."
Casting a look over the shoulder, Rosmerta sat down opposite him. "Listen Snape, I don't know why she wanted to meet you. I just know she has had a crush on you since she was twelve years old. She finally got up her nerve and now she is in tears. You have no idea how hard it was for her to start talking to you."
"We had a bad time at the Leaky Cauldron. Someone recognized her," he said evenly.
"Those lousy gits!" Rosmerta spat angrily. "I need to get back to work. The lunch crowd is always in a hurry, should I send your usual? "
"That would be fine," he said stiffly.
He sat eating, not seeing or hearing anything around him, but replaying Rosmerta's comments in this head. She had said Olivia had a crush since the age of twelve. It was not unusual, he thought, a homesick first-year developing a bond toward one of the staff. However she was no longer a young witch, she was an adult.
He thought of the way she had walked up to him in the street the first night. He almost grinned when he realized what she had done. She had used a lie she had worked out earlier as the small branch office of Gringotts was already closed, and Rosmerta had not needed change. He went up to the bar to settle his bill as he remembered how she had taken his arm with no hesitation.
"Sorry about earlier Snape, she has me worried this time is all," Rosmerta sighed. "She gets in her moods and I can't get her out of that damned bed. She hardly eats, and doesn't even want to get dressed."
"I shall collect her for breakfast in the morning. Have her ready or she will come in her night clothes." He smirked as he turned to leave, not seeing the smile on Rosmerta's face.
That night Severus did not sit drinking in front of the fire as was his habit. He graded papers and essays, trying to keep his mind of the coming morning. Finally, after patrolling the hallways he was able to go to bed and fall into a fitful sleep.
Severus took extra care in dressing the next morning. He put on his newest robes, which he had neatly pressed for the occasion. He made sure his shoes had a fresh shine and that neatly tied his hair back with a thin leather strap. Feeling like a hormonal teenager getting ready for a date, he sneered at his reflection in the mirror then left for Hogsmeade, and then cursed himself for feeling so. Arriving outside Rosmerta's apartment door he raised his hand to knock as voice came to him from the rooms inside.
"But you don't understand, Ro," Olivia's voice pleaded. "You didn't see his face. He looked disgusted to be with me. "
"Olivia, he will be here any minute," Rosmerta argued back.
"Ro, please," Olivia said. "He must think what's in the papers is true."
"Then tell him to shove off, but you do it. Not me."
Severus pushed the door open without knocking and stepped into the room. Rosmerta instinctively reached out and pushed Olivia behind her, as she pulled her wand out of her pocket.
"I told you to get changed," Rosmerta said, laughing when she saw it was Snape. "Now you are on your own."
"I overheard what you said," he smirked, walking up to Olivia. "If you didn't want to be over heard you should have closed your window and used a silencing spell."
"Professor Snape, I… " She lifted her chin and clenched her jaw.
"Do not finish whatever you plan on saying," he said, folding his arms. "Now, since this is the first time you have disobeyed me I will allow you five minutes to change."
Olivia flew from the room untying her robe belt as she went. Rosmerta was standing just inside her bedroom door holding up her clothes for her. As Olivia dressed, Rosmerta cast spells to brush her hair, and apply a faint dusting of powder to her face before Olivia all but flew back into the living room.
When she again stood in front of him, Severus scowled at her. This was not going the way he had planned. He had been prepared for her to be ready to go out or staunchly refuse to go with him. He had given her an order, expecting her to argue with him, he had his side already planned out. However, she had just submitted and hurried to get ready as he had demand.
"Sit!" he roared pointing to the sofa. She sat.
Pacing around the small apartment, he ran his hands through his hair as he watched her sitting nervously and waiting for him to speak.
"Olivia," he sighed. "Did you want to sit?"
"Umm, no," she smiled shyly up at him.
"Then why did you?" he asked glaring at her.
"Because, you told me to?"
"Do you do everything a wizard tells you to do?"
"Severus Snape that is enough," Rosmerta chided him as she came into the room.
"I think not." He stood looking down at Olivia. "Answer me witch."
Olivia looked up at him, willing her tears not to come. She used the back of her hand and brushed them away.
"If I ask something of you, answer me truthfully," he said. "If any wizard asks you to do something you do not want to do, you say NO."
He was furious, but if at himself or her he was not sure. He began his pacing again and wondered why he was here and why he should care that a wizard could so easily control her. She had been taken advantage of once and he did not want it to be repeated.
"It is as simple as that girl, or as hard," Rosmerta said, smiling a little sadly. "I've tried to tell her Snape. Maybe she will listen to you. I am just old Auntie Ro-who-doesn't-know-anything."
"Now that we have that cleared up do you want to go out and eat with me?" Severus asked, crossing his arms.
"Nope," Olivia said and then grinned at him. "I would rather give you a home cooked meal."
"That would be adequate," he smirked. She walked into the kitchen to prepare breakfast the Muggle way. He followed, sitting at the table to watch her. Rosmerta left for work as they ate and exchanged childhood stories, passing the morning together. For the first time in years, he felt at peace.
They passed the rest of the term seeing each other on Hogsmeade Days, the occasional meal taken together at the Hogs Head, and twice they had home cooked meals at Rosmerta's walk up apartment. They took walks along the shores of the lake, he showed her Hogwarts, and introduced her to Minerva and Poppy. Soon he found himself wanting to see her every day. He missed her even as he walked back to Hogwarts, being out of her company for even a few moments.
As they were going to Diagon Alley to check on his potions book, he again pulled her to him to apparate with her. He wanted to feel her as her heart quickened, and they spun toward the Alley, squeezed together in apparation. When they landed, he did not release her, but bent down and found her mouth.
She allowed him a moment, as she started to part her lips, to allow him to enter. Then both her hands came up to his chest and he felt her shaking her head. He stepped back and looked at her.
"I am sorry Olivia," he said as he ran his hand though his hair. "I did not intend for that to happen."
"I know Severus," she said, looking down. "I get scared. I know you would not hurt me, I just can't explain it."
"You do not have to." He smirked at her. "But know that I plan on continuing to try. We will just have to keep practicing."
Minerva had given in to Albus' request for her to assist the undertaker when dealing with the Death Eater funerals. She had not been aware of the situations facing the families.
A family not loyal to the Dark Lord stood alone. Who would go to the funeral of a Death Eater? Who but their mother would bury them? Once she was aware of the devastation these young boys left behind, she enlisted Rosmerta to help, who in turn would take Olivia to hold the mother's hand.
Olivia found the saddest cases, those with no family to grieve. She, Rosmerta and Minerva would stand together, the only witness to the passing of a life. She would return late at night exhausted and drained by the emotions she could not turn off. Returning, after one such night, she found Severus waiting on the steps outside the apartment and fell into his arms crying. He consoled her, the best he could, making quiet shushing sounds while she vented.
"This is a hard thing to do," she sobbed, "We clean the body, and then we rub on the oil. Then the spells are given, and the blessings to the old gods. Severus, when they lay there, and their mother's are weeping, I do not see a Death Eater, I see a mother's son.
I know it's selfish. But, when I see them, I think of her, my baby. I never named her you know. Sometimes during Hogsmeade days, I sit in the window thinking I would recognize her. She will be a first year this coming term. She is getting her letter this week," she said between sobs as he held her.
"I will talk to Albus. I will find out if any of the incoming girls are adopted," he said softly, his lips in her hair.
She turned and looked up at him, suddenly hopeful. Placing her hand on his cheek she nodded then clung to him burying her face in his neck.
"Severus," she said softly, "promise me, if you find her you won't tell me which one she is. I couldn't stand knowing who she is and knowing I could never talk to her, never touch her. Just tell me if she is happy."
"That is all you want?" he said incredulously.
"It's all I have ever wanted for her," she said softly, pulling back to look at him. "I could never take her from a family that loves her and she must never know that the baby in the paper was her."
"I will do what I can," Severus sighed, and pulled her closer.
"What do you want Severus?" she asked after a while. "When all this started, what did you want?"
He brushed his lips across her mouth lightly, feeling her heart quicken against his chest.
"If I live beyond the final battle, I want you to be my wife," he said, looking into her golden-flecked eyes.
"No Severus, I'll never marry." She looked up at him sadly. "I can never give a husband a family, an heir, a real home. The Ministry saw to that."
He put two fingers under her chin and tipped her face to his. Kissing her hungrily, he felt her arms reach around him, her mouth opened, letting him taste her. He pushed her back, letting her go before he went too far.
"I used to wish for those things, but no longer. Just you … just you would be enough," he said, looking at her. "Dreams have become a lot simpler as of late."
"What do you dream for now?" she asked, amused at his seriousness.
"To have someone who cares enough to bury me," he told her honestly. "If I should fall in the final battle, just to be buried."
"No Severus." She fell forward resting her forehead on his chest, bringing his hands to her lips and kissing his fingers. "Please no."
"Will you bury me?" he asked as he looked at her evenly. "Will you bury me if I fall?"
"Yes, if it comes to that." She tried to look at Severus, but could not see through the blur of her tears.