A/N: Last chapter! It's a bit longer than previous chapters, simply because it wasn't quite long enough to break into further chapters. I really appreciate the responses I've received; I'm glad everyone has enjoyed this! Part Two is still in the works, but I promise it'll be up here eventually.~Lady Galadriel
It was early in the morning a day later when Selene managed to slip back into Hogwarts. She'd slept the entire time in her cottage, as if in a coma. And yet, when she awoke, she felt just as weary as if she hadn't slept at all, and even more so after the flight back to Hogwarts. However, despite her exhaustion and her aching fingers, she immediately made her way to the dungeons to check the potion. It was eerily silent and empty.
The potion was a deep blue, almost black. Her brow furrowed in concern, she leaned over the cauldron and sniffed. No, it wasn't spoiled. She could discern several scents of the various ingredients that they'd used, except one.
"I haven't added the Winter's Moon yet," a low voice spoke directly behind her.
Startled, she turned around and found herself face to face with Snape. In her weary state, she hadn't even heard him enter the dungeon.
"I thought as much," Selene answered, catching her breath. Then, she noticed his dark expression and the angry glimmer in his black eyes when he noted the broomstick leaning against the table. Her stomach clenched.
"Welcome back," he said icily.
"Severus," she began, reaching for his hand. "I'm so sorry, I—" She saw him notice the bandages on her fingers and quickly pulled her hand away. However, he managed to grab her hand and she winced in pain.
"What happened?" Snape asked quietly.
"Nothing," she lied.
He unwrapped the bandage, revealing her raw, burned fingers. He studied them for a moment and then commented, "I was wondering why I was suddenly short in ingredients for an Ever-Burn Potion."
Selene pulled her hand away and took the bandage from him. "Why were you looking to make an Ever-Burn Potion in the first place?" she asked as she began to wrap her fingers again.
Their eyes locked. A few moments passed in silence before Snape spoke again. "You were gone for two days," he said hoarsely, "and left me nothing more than a note."
Her throat tightened and she stared at the floor. She'd hurt him deeply and hated herself for it. "I'm sorry," she whispered. She fought against the tears that welled in her eyes.
His hand touched the side of her face and she lifted her gaze to look at him. Gently, he drew her into his arms and held her.
"If you love me," he whispered into her ear, "don't ever do that to me again."
"I won't," she promised.
The Ever-Burn Potion had done more damage to her fingers than Selene had expected. It took almost a week before they healed, which prohibited her from doing any work. It was Christmas Eve when she removed the bandages and was able to flex her fingers without any pain.
She sat at the work table in the dungeons, using her knife to cut the last ingredient, witch hazel bark, into thin, fine pieces. When the amount was precisely half an ounce, she placed the pieces in a clay bowl and handed it to Snape. He added the bark, a pinch at a time, then stirred the potion. It bubbled slightly but did not obviously change in color or consistency.
With a sigh, Snape placed the bowl on the table and closed the spell book. He then turned to Selene.
"That's it, then," she said.
He nodded. "It will be ready by next week. I'll have to notify the Dark Lord."
"I know." Though they had not spoken of it, the time when Selene would have to leave was swiftly approaching. Once the potion was complete, she had no viable reason to stay at Hogwarts. She dreaded the thought of leaving.
She began cleaning up her workspace. "What are your plans for Christmas?" she inquired, changing the subject.
"I have none," Snape replied. Her question surprised him. "I assume you'll be spending the day with your family," he added, hardly daring to hope.
"No," Selene said. "I haven't spent Christmas with my parents in six years, ever since I graduated Durmstrang. They usually go abroad and I'm usually too busy. Not much of a loss, though. An evening with a bottle of mulled elf-wine is far better company than they are any day."
She stepped towards him, her eyes a silvery shimmer in the dim light. "Would you like to spend Christmas with me?" she asked, trying not to sound too hopeful.
For a moment Snape did not answer, but merely gazed at her intently. After a long moment of silence, he took her hands in his and gently kissed her healed fingers.
"Yes," he said quietly. "I would like that very much."
"One of the advantages of being a Blackwood—if the only advantage," Selene commented as she warmed a wine bottle with her wand, "is having access to the family vineyard." She poured two glasses of the wine and handed one to Snape. "Happy Christmas," she said with a smile.
"The same to you," Snape returned. They touched glasses and sipped their wine.
She looked incredibly lovely, he thought. Selene wore a long black skirt and a deep midnight blue sweater that highlighted her silver-blue eyes. She'd left her ebon hair down, but he noticed it was held back with silver combs. He himself wore his usual robes, though in a surprising and subtle display of vanity, had cleaned himself up, even trimmed his hair and beard. He felt almost childish by trying to impress her, an act which he'd always deemed beneath him. But such was the effect she had on him and he didn't try to fight it. As he watched her, a spark of hope flared in the back of his mind: that one day, when everything was over, he would be with her.
He might even be happy.
The afternoon sunlight streamed through the window, warming the room in addition to the fire. Something glinted out of the corner of Snape's eye on the table by the couch. He saw a small, elaborately wrapped gift box with 'Selene' written elegantly in silver ink on the gift tag.
"Obligatory Christmas present from my parents," Selene stated when she saw Snape notice the gift. "Mother's handwriting, of course." She took another sip of her wine. "Probably something fancy and shiny and completely useless."
"If you've not opened it, how can you be sure?" Snape queried.
"Because I know my mother," she replied. "Her gifts are always some sort of finery that I have no use for. That's the way she's always been: trying to buy my love rather than freely giving me hers in the first place."
Selene fell silent for a moment, gazing out the window at the snow-covered ground and treetops. She then turned to Snape. "Do you have any family?" she asked quietly.
Snape shook his head. "No."
She set down her glass and moved closer to him. "I realized that I know practically nothing about you."
Snape felt his jaw tighten. "Trust me, there's nothing vital or pertinent worth knowing."
"All the same…" Selene's voice trailed off. "I suppose it just sort of hit me that I'm in love with someone I hardly know."
"I know as little of you as you know of me," he said. "Is that such a terrible thing?"
"No." She gave him a small smile. "Don't suppose you'll ever tell me anything, will you?"
Snape shrugged. "Perhaps."
It wasn't long before the sun set and the sky turned a dark grey. Selene poured another glass of wine. The bottle was now more than halfway empty, and Snape was only on his second glass.
Just as Selene was about to take a sip, she glanced out the window and let out a gasp. "It's snowing!" She rushed to the window to watch as the fluffy flakes of snow fell to the ground.
Snape looked after her in amusement. The elf-wine was clearly having its effect on Selene. Her face had the rosy glow of intoxication and her eyes shined.
Selene grabbed her cloak and scarf. "Come on, then," she said to him as she fastened her cloak.
"I beg your pardon?"
"We're going outside."
"Well, if you're not going, then I'll just go by myself." Her eyes gleamed mischievously, as if to challenge him.
Snape gave a resigned sigh. "Well, if you're going to act like a complete drunken fool, then I might as well look after you."
"I am not drunk." She opened the door and went out.
Snape followed Selene outside onto the grounds. The air was cold and still as the snow fell steadily. Much of the previous snowfall had already been freshly covered. Selene literally skipped down the path to the lake, her dark cloak fluttering behind her.
"It's lovely out," she said, breathless. "Absolutely lovely."
Her head buzzed from the elf-wine. She felt as light as air, her blood racing through her veins. She picked up a handful of snow and began to pack it into a ball. Snape was gazing up at the sky, lost in thought, when she threw the ball and hit him on his side.
Selene turned away, giggling.
Fwap! A cold, solid object hit her right in the back of her head.
She whirled around, gaping in surprise.
He looked at her, his eyebrow raised, his expression completely blank. "What?"
Selene scooped up another snowball and threw it; it landed just short but scattered snow over Snape's boots.
"I think that's quite enough, Selene."
"Nope, don't think so." She threw another one, but Snape stopped it in mid-air with his wand.
"Oh, that's not fair," she declared in disappointment.
Rather than dropping to the ground, Snape gave a flick of his wand and it raced back and hit Selene square in the chest.
"Who says it has to be fair?"
She started laughing. "Now that's just cheating!" She took her own wand from her sleeve and whisked a snowball back.
It soon erupted into a full-blown snowball fight. Selene ran around, occasionally slipping in the snow and throwing snowballs at Snape. Snape managed to dodge some of Selene's snowballs, flinging his own back at her. Finally, she slipped and fell into the snow, laughing hysterically.
Snape walked over to her and held out his hand. She took it and stood, still giggling.
"You're smiling," Selene said.
"I am not," he responded, slightly out of breath.
"Yes, you are." She reached up and touched his face. "I can see it in your eyes. You're smiling."
He leaned forward, pulled her into his arms and kissed her hard.
The snowfall lasted until well past midnight before it stopped. Selene was fast asleep in Snape's arms on the couch, her breathing steady and deep. In the light of the dying fire Snape studied her face; she looked comfortable and peaceful. He hardly dared to move for fear of waking her.
Her intoxicated playfulness had greatly surprised Snape. On any normal occasion he would not have tolerated it, but he'd already accepted the fact that Selene had quite an unexpected effect on him. He'd always felt so much older than he really was and hardly gave a thought to any joy in his life. But all that had changed with her.
She shifted slightly in his arms and gave a sleepy, content sigh. He relaxed comfortably on the couch and held her close.
Just as Snape was beginning to doze off, a sharp scorching sensation on his left arm jolted him awake. A message from the Dark Lord formed in his mind, beckoning him to the Astronomy Tower. The message was full of rage.
Carefully, Snape maneuvered himself from Selene and lowered her gently to the couch. She didn't even stir. He lightly caressed the side of her face, kissed her forehead, and silently stole from the room.
The halls were dark and silent as Snape made his way to the Tower. Luckily, he met no one on his way, though he'd have hardly been questioned by anyone save McGonagall. His arm burned even more as he neared the Tower. At last, he reached the entryway and climbed the ladder into the cold, open air.
A dark cloaked figure awaited him on the Tower. The figure turned to Snape, its red eyes blazing with anger.
"Severus," Voldemort began in a deadly hiss, "where is my potion?"
"It is nearly ready, my Lord," Snape replied calmly.
"How long is 'nearly ready'?" the Dark Lord snapped. "Two weeks? Another month? I required it nearly two months ago!"
"Three days, my Lord," Snape said. "It will be ready in three days."
The Dark Lord said nothing for a moment, but Snape could still sense his fury. "Potter escaped me again, Severus," he whispered. "Tonight, in Godric's Hollow. I was so very close to getting him and he escaped. He must have foreseen my plans." He stepped closer to Snape. "If you had not been so caught up with that Blackwood woman, I might have gotten my potion and killed Potter tonight. I expected better of you, Severus."
Selene awoke to the bright sunlight shining through her window. She felt groggy and out of sorts, and when she sat up her head began to immediately pound. She fell back onto the couch with a groan.
The only wicked thing about elf-wine is the hangovers, she thought.
After a few moments, she finally managed to sit up. She found she was alone and checked her watch. It was just past ten o'clock in the morning.
It didn't surprise her that Snape hadn't stayed; he did have work to do, after all. But she'd been a bit hopeful anyway and was slightly disappointed.
She washed and dressed, then made herself some tea. Her eyes fell upon the gift from her parents. With a sigh of resignation, she removed the wrapping and opened the box. Inside the velvet-lined box was a beautifully crafted silver filigree necklace with cascading drops of moonstone. She took the necklace from the box and held it to the light, allowing the moonstones to reflect their rainbow color. Her mother had fine taste in jewelry, she had to admit. She placed the necklace delicately back in the box and left it on the table.
Selene rubbed her temples. Her head still ached terribly, even after a spoonful of chamomile syrup. She silently reprimanded herself for drinking so much of the elf-wine, especially when it turned out to be quite a potent bottle. At this rate, it would be pointless for her to try and accomplish any of her work; she couldn't even force herself to concentrate on a single thought.
Instead, she prepared a cold compress and reclined back onto the couch, pressing the cloth to her forehead. Immediately, it began to soothe the throbbing. Her mind began to relax, floating into nothingness…
Warm sunshine. Surrounded by trees in the midst of summer. The birds chirping their lovely songs to themselves.
A shadow behind her as she plays. Hard, rough hands grabbing her, pushing her down. Crying for help, begging not to be hurt. The pain, as if she were on fire…
Then, his hands around her neck, crushing her. She couldn't breathe, she was fading into blackness…
Selene woke up with a shriek. Her face and neck dripped with sweat. Gagging, she rushed to the bathroom and vomited into the toilet.
The nightmare had been incredibly vivid, almost real. She hadn't experienced such a nightmare in many years. It made her long for the comfort of her potion, that numb oblivion that had protected her. She still had the ingredients; it wouldn't take long to brew it.
No. As tempted as she was, she couldn't. She'd already stopped running and there was no possible way to start running again. She had to face this, no matter what.
Selene rinsed her mouth clean and splashed cold water on her face. After toweling herself dry, she returned to her room and began sorting through her things in order to keep her mind distracted. As she stacked and organized the spell books in her trunk, she found one that she had not yet returned to the library. Holding the book under her arm, she left her room and turned in the direction of the library.
As Selene descended a staircase and turned down the hall, she nearly ran into Snape.
"Sev—Professor," she quickly corrected.
"Miss Blackwood," he returned coolly. "Perhaps you should be more careful as to where you are walking."
His black eyes searched hers intently. It was clear he could sense something was wrong.
"Excuse me, then," she said, keeping her voice steady. "I was just on my way to return this book to the library."
"Which reminds me that you have also left several books in my office as well," Snape said. "As I am certainly not your housekeeper, I suggest you come back for them and return them yourself."
Selene nodded. "Of course."
As he moved passed her for the stairs, she felt his hand lightly brush hers.
Selene took a deep, calming breath and continued to the library.
Not surprisingly, Madame Pince gave her an unpleasant look while she meticulously inspected the spell book for damage. Once it passed her inspection, she bade Selene good day and resumed her cataloguing.
Selene purposefully kept her pace slow as she headed for Snape's office. So long as she kept calm, she thought, she wouldn't lose control.
She knocked on the oak door and entered before she received an answer. Snape was at his desk, writing on a roll of parchment. He looked up.
"I'm here for the books I left behind," Selene said as she closed the door.
Snape rose from his chair and walked towards her. "There are none," he told her quietly. "I returned them already."
"Then why did you tell me to come here?" she asked, already knowing the answer.
"Do I now need a reason to want to see you?" he responded. "I would have asked you here even if something wasn't wrong."
"Who ever said that anything was wrong?"
Snape folded his arms. "Even for all your skill at Occlumency, you are a terrible liar, Selene."
Selene gave him a small smile. "Perhaps I truly don't want to lie to you, then." She sighed. "It's nothing, I just…had a nightmare this morning." She was thankful he knew enough to not force her to explain.
"I'm sure it's unnecessary for me to ask such an obvious question," Snape began, "but are you all right?"
She nodded. "Yes. I suppose I'm just not used to having them again, that's all."
"No one should be." He took hold of her hand and held it firmly in his.
Later that night, Snape returned to his office. Dumbledore's portrait was waiting patiently for him.
"He needs the Sword, Severus," Dumbledore said.
"Is he still in the Forest of Dean?" Snape asked.
The portrait nodded.
Snape took his wand from his sleeve and prepared to cast a Patronus—his way to lead Harry Potter to the Sword of Gryffindor.
Dumbledore hesitated a moment before he spoke. "It's been some time since you've cast a Patronus, Severus," he said slowly. "Are you sure it will have a strong enough form to lead Harry?"
Snape glanced at the portrait, his eyebrow raised. "I'm certain," he said, barely concealing his annoyance at the former Headmaster's sudden doubt.
In the back of his mind, however, he knew Dumbledore had a point. His Patronus had never clearly defined itself; it had always been a distorted, animal-like shape. Yet at this point, it was the best he could do, aside from sticking up a posted sign in the middle of the Forest of Dean that read, "Here is the Sword of Gryffindor."
Though for Potter, that'd probably be the only way he could find it, Snape thought sardonically.
He searched his thoughts for a happy memory. They were quite rare, which more than likely explained his Patronus' lack of form. Within seconds, however, he thought of Selene, his only source of happiness. Her silken hair through his fingers. Her ethereal silver-blue eyes. The way she felt in his arms when he held her, when he kissed her…
"Expecto Patronum," he declared.
Immediately, a silver-white form sprung from the tip of his wand. He stared at it, shocked.
It was a doe.
They spent as much time together as they could that day and the next—the last two days that Selene would spend at Hogwarts. Both nights Snape visited Selene in her room and they shared dinner together and afterwards reclined on the couch, sometimes talking, sometimes not. Both nights Selene wished he would stay with her, but never mustered the courage to voice it.
Finally, the third day came. It was early in the afternoon when Selene met Snape in the dungeon just as he was pouring the finished potion into a vial. He stared at the midnight-blue liquid and sighed deeply.
"We're to be at the Manor within the hour," he told her. His voice was bereft of emotion. "I expect the Dark Lord will want to speak to you about whatever he has planned next for you."
"I had rather hoped that after this potion was finished he would no longer require me in his services," Selene said. "A naïve presumption, of course."
"Unfortunately, yes," Snape agreed, "but I must admit that I had rather hoped the same myself." His gaze held hers. "You didn't choose this."
"No, I didn't," Selene said. "But I didn't fight it, either."
"Would you have?"
She thought for a moment before she responded. "No," she said finally. "Because then I wouldn't have you."
Snape stared at her, unsure of how to respond.
"Now, however," Selene continued, "I will fight. Before, it made little difference to me. Even though our world still has a great number of faults to amend, it's still better than the terror the Dark Lord would bring, not only to wizards but Muggles as well. And to let him take over without doing a single thing to resist—well, I'd be just as guilty as those who willingly helped him."
"What will you do, then?" Snape asked.
Selene smiled. "It doesn't matter. I'm clever. Whatever he plans for me I'll turn against him." Her smile faded when she saw the look on Snape's face. "Are you worried for me?" she asked quietly.
"Yes," he replied hoarsely.
"I'm just as worried about you."
Snape made a derisive noise. "I think we both know that any concern for me is wasted effort—"
"Severus." The firmness in her tone cut him short. Her eyes gleamed with luminous intensity. "Stop, please."
He slipped the potion into the pocket of his robes. "We should leave for the Manor."
Selene didn't say another word to him. They traveled to Hogsmeade in silence, an unspoken tension between them. She knew that Snape truly believed he would not last the war, and even if he did, he'd only be imprisoned or killed thereafter. As much as she hated to admit it, he was probably right.
But no matter what the cost, she wouldn't let it happen. She'd already suffered enough loss in her life.
They Disapparated and arrived at Malfoy Manor. Selene remained utterly calm, despite the uneasy sensation in her stomach. Snape walked just ahead of her along the path, then opened the main door and held it for her. As he closed it, Selene went ahead and pushed open the door to the drawing room, where Lord Voldemort awaited them.
"Good day, Miss Blackwood," the Dark Lord greeted.
"Good day, my Lord," Selene returned.
Snape entered the room and shut the door. He approached the Dark Lord, reached into his robes, and pulled out the vial.
"Your potion, my Lord," he said.
Voldemort took the vial from Snape's hand. Selene could detect the Dark Lord's masked anger as he examined the potion just as he had done with Selene's potion before. Within moments he drank the potion and threw the vial into the fire.
"My thanks to you both," the Dark Lord said, "though I would have certainly preferred the potion a great deal sooner than this. But no matter, it still meets my satisfaction."
He beckoned to Selene. "Miss Blackwood, approach me. Leave us, Severus," he directed to Snape. "I need to speak to Miss Blackwood privately."
Snape gave a brief nod and departed. He did not look at Selene.
Selene seated herself in the chair next to the Dark Lord. His red eyes bore into hers and she could feel him using his Legilimency against her.
"I offered you the Dark Mark not long ago, Miss Blackwood," he began. "You never gave an answer."
"Given the unexpected length of time it took to create your potion and your recent displeasure with me, I had not realized you still offered it, my Lord," Selene replied.
"I do still offer it," he said. "Aside from the necessary lesson I was forced to give several weeks ago, you still have displayed to me your utmost loyalty." He took out a wand from the sleeve of his robe. "If you wish, then you shall have the Mark."
"I would be honored, my Lord," Selene spoke quietly, pretending to be deferential while she hid her shaking voice.
Yet to her surprise, the Dark Lord put the wand back in the sleeve of his robe. He seemed satisfied.
"You shall have the Dark Mark," he told her, "after the completion of this next mission."
Selene looked at Voldemort, feigning bewilderment. "My Lord?"
He gave her a knowing smile, his lips spread thin across his snakelike face. "My rule over Great Britain is nearly complete, Miss Blackwood," he said. "The changes we make will set a precedent for Wizarding communities around the world.
"I've already begun organizing my followers in numerous other countries, such as your parents," he continued. "I have been cautious with my movements, but I have decided to make a more bold advancement. Since the death of Albus Dumbledore, the International Confederation of Wizards has yet to elect a new Supreme Mugwump. I have heard that they plan to do so within the month. I want you, Miss Blackwood, to secure a job close to the new Supreme Mugwump and work within the Confederation as my spy."
For a brief moment Selene was speechless. "This is unexpected, my Lord," she said slowly. "I must admit I have no prior experience working as a spy."
"I am well aware of that, Miss Blackwood. I've already made arrangements with another one of my spies in Amsterdam to work with you, as a supervisor of sorts. He'll be able to guide you through the security measures within the Confederation, as well as any suspicions that might be aroused."
Selene nodded; inwardly she despaired at the thought. Working as a spy within the International Confederation of Wizards was more than just dangerous, it would mean certain imprisonment—or even execution—as a traitor if she was caught. Now she understood why Voldemort refrained from giving her the Dark Mark. It would have been impossible to hide.
"I've also arranged for your lodgings in Amsterdam. You're expected to arrive no later than ten o'clock tomorrow."
Selene Apparated from Malfoy Manor to the outskirts of Hogsmeade. The sun had already begun to set, leaving the winter sky a pale iron grey. Before she continued along the path, she stood and gazed out at Hogwarts and its landscape; her exhaled breath formed clouds in the cold air. The scene before her was unexpectedly beautiful, the way the fading light fell upon the castle walls and towers, the sparkling snow on the grounds, the way the frozen lake reflected the sun's rays like a mirror. She recalled when, only several months ago, she'd first arrived and looked upon Hogwarts as a prison. Now, she was being forced to leave a place that had almost become home.
She was being forced to leave the man she loved.
With a deep breath, Selene followed the path to Hogwarts for what would probably be the last time. Once within the castle, she moved silently through its halls, speaking to no one. Students passed by, heading to the Great Hall for the evening meal, but hardly any of them seemed to notice her. She traveled the numerous staircases and halls until she reached the Headmaster's Tower on the seventh floor.
"Moonflower," she told the gargoyle, her voice barely above a whisper. It swung aside and revealed the moving staircase. She ascended the stairs to the large oak door. After a moment's pause, in which she gathered her strength, she knocked on the door.
Selene walked into the office and closed the door behind her. The room was dark and quiet; she noticed that none of the portraits displayed their inhabitants, only empty frames. Snape was standing before the fireplace, his hands clasped behind his back. He didn't even glance at her but stared into the fire.
She removed her traveling cloak, laid it on the back of a chair, then went to Snape's side. For several moments they did not speak; the only sound in the room was the crackling of the burning wood.
"It would be best if we ended it now," he said at last. "I won't have you bound to me."
"No," Selene refused quietly. "I won't have you do that. Unless," she added, her voice slightly strained, "you no longer want me."
Snape finally turned to look at her. His face was completely void of expression, save for his eyes, which glittered as they gazed into hers. Despite his many years of living in deception, as well as all the craft and cunning he possessed, this was one lie he could not stand to tell. Though he'd meant to end it for her sake, he could not bear the thought of telling Selene that he didn't want her, that he didn't love her. Perhaps it was selfish of him, but at that moment he did not care.
He gently touched her cheek. "I still want you," he murmured.
"Then stop trying to get rid of me for my sake," Selene told him. "I know the possible consequences of this. I don't need to be saved or protected from them. If you want me, then I'm yours."
Snape saw in her silver-blue eyes that she meant every word. He could not think of anything to say, let alone argue with her.
"What does he want you to do?" he asked.
"I'm to go to Amsterdam," Selene told him, "and work as a spy in the International Confederation of Wizards."
She saw Snape's jaw tighten at the news, but he did not respond.
"I'm expected there by ten o'clock tomorrow morning," she continued softly. "I'm going to be working with another of the Dark Lord's spies."
"In other words, he plans to monitor your every move," Snape concluded.
She gave a heavy sigh. "More than likely."
"Seeing each other will be out of the question."
"We can still write to one another."
Snape shook his head. "They would too easily be intercepted, even if we did charm them to hide their contents."
"You're not exactly making this easy, are you?"
"No one ever said it would be."
Selene rose early from her bed the following morning, though she'd hardly slept at all. She'd stayed with Snape late that night, wanting to prolong every moment she was with him, but finally forced herself to leave. Yet she'd seen the look in his eyes as he kissed her good night and she'd had to quell the desire that coursed through her blood. Afterwards, she'd lay in bed, unable to sleep, wishing she had chosen to stay with him, but knowing that if she had, the parting would have been all the more bitter.
Her belongings were already packed in her trunk and the room returned to its original state before Selene had first arrived at Hogwarts. She gazed out through her window over the grounds, watching the sunrise. Streams of tears flowed unbidden down her cheeks.
Selene could hardly believe that so much had changed in four months. Her entire life had changed. For the first time she felt warm and alive, not cold, numb, and lifeless. Though it came with the great price of the unavoidable pain of her past, it was worth the suffering to feel love.
She heard a knocking at the door.
"Come in," she replied, wiping away her tears.
The door opened and closed, but Selene did not turn to face him. She then felt Snape's warm, familiar arms embrace her around her waist and hold her close. After a few moments, she turned, wrapped her arms around his neck, and kissed him tenderly.
"Are you ready?" he asked her.
"No." She gave him a weak smile and sighed.
"Selene, I—" Snape stopped short and, as much as he tried, could not think of the proper words to continue. However, Selene nodded knowingly and kissed him again.
Finally, she enchanted her trunk and the two walked to Snape's office. When they arrived, Selene found Dumbledore's portrait within its frame, smiling at her kindly. She returned the smile.
With a wave of her wand, she shifted her trunk and set it down by the fireplace. Snape took a small jar from the mantle and tossed a handful of glittering Floo powder into the fire. The flames blazed and turned emerald green.
"Good luck, Miss Blackwood," Dumbledore said.
"Thank you," she replied.
Selene placed her trunk in the hearth and turned to Snape for the final time before she stepped into the flames. His expression was dark and unreadable.
"Be careful, Selene," he told her quietly.
"I will." A brief moment passed before she stepped towards him and fervently pressed her lips to his one last time. Then, she strode into the flames and, her eyes never leaving his, said clearly, "The Nightwatch Inn."
Snape released a shuddering sigh as Selene disappeared in a burst of green flames.