The China Garden
Summary: He knew of her since her birth. She knew nothing of her past. He held everything in his hands, and she was the key to his happiness. AU.
Disclaimer: The characters do not belong to me, but the names and this plot is mine. All information is found at HP-Encyclopedia (please Google!). Name is from the book, The China Garden by Liz Berry. Only the name is from the book; neither the plot nor the characters will be included in this story.
AN2: Thanks to mia madwyn for pointing out an error! You saved me from a lot of embarrassment, so thanks!
Chapter 1 – Before
Hermione Jean Granger stepped into the Great Hall with the rest of her yearmates, staring nervously at the staff table, hoping that she would be able to please her teachers.
'You must do well, bella,' her father had advised her this morning. 'We know nothing of this world, so you must prove that you will do just as well as any other witch.'
With that piece of advice firmly in mind, she prepared herself.
She stepped up to the stool with confidence, placed the Sorting Hat on her head, and sat primly, waiting.
'Interesting … you are not what you seem to be. You would do well in Slytherin, with all your cunning and brains. Perhaps Ravenclaw would better suit your intelligence … Hufflepuff would not do at all, oh, no. You are loyal, but your heart is too courageous and proud to be a mere Hufflepuff. I think we can expect great things from you, heiress … great things. So will it be Slytherin … or Gryffindor?'
Hermione spoke back to the Hat in her head. 'If you please, sir, why did you call me heiress? I am just the daughter of two Muggle dentists.'
The Sorting Hat chuckled. 'You are very intelligent, aren't you. You've already figured out how to converse with me. Well, my little princess, you shall be fine in GRYFFINDOR!'
Everyone gaped as the Muggle-born witch – word had spread like fire about her blood heritage when the Sorting Hat took more than ten minutes to place her – took off the hat and joined the Gryffindor table, who stared back at her.
She sat closer to the edge of the table, where she would be alone, and waited for the rest of the Sorting to commence.
At the High Table, Severus Snape glanced curiously at the newest addition to the House of Gryffindor. He wondered what had taken so long in the Sorting.
As he peered at her curiously, she turned towards the Staff Table to gaze at the Headmaster, who had begun speaking, and was startled to see her piercing brown eyes flash blue for a moment – and then they were brown again.
Severus sat stiffly. What had he just seen?
Dear Mamma and Papa,
I have been sorted into the House of Gryffindor. Do you remember my explaining the differences between each of the four houses? Gryffindor is the house in which courage and bravery are the exemplary qualities. I do hope that I live up to the expectations of Godric Gryffindor, the founder of my illustrious House!
The dorms are quite lovely. I share a room with four other girls, Parvati Patil, Lavender Brown, Patricia Stimpson, and Victoria Frobisher. Parvati and Lavender seem like pleasant girls, while Patricia and Victoria are quite snobby. Perhaps it is due to the nature of my blood that these girls look down upon me?
I am still enjoying Hogwarts, regardless. The food is amazing, and since we have a breakfast, lunch, and dinner slot in our schedules, I won't be skipping meals! I feel at home here, almost, and I do hope to make more friends soon.
The professors here seem extremely intelligent. Since I have yet to go to classes, I will find out soon, and be able to inform you of my luck at attending a school with prominent professors!
I love you both very much.
P.S. – someone spoke to me of being an heiress, and he sounded quite positive. Do you know what this could mean? He also called me "a little princess." Grazie!
Hermione ended her letter with a flourish, tacking the post-script at the end as she suddenly remembered the odd comment.
'Oh, well,' she thought, before sitting up from her desk and rummaging through her chest for her pajamas. 'It will reveal itself to me soon.'
As she lay in bed, hearing the other girls softly snoring, she clutched her stuffed Winnie-the-Pooh bear close to her, and kissed her heart birthmark for good luck before falling asleep.
In another part of the castle, Severus Snape, the feared Potions Master and Professor of Hogwarts, sat at his desk, sipping brandy. He was irked that the Potter boy had finally found his way to Hogwarts (he was Lily's son, all right, with his shy demeanor, but his outward appearance just screamed of the Potter bloodline), but he was intrigued by the brown-haired Gryffindor with those warm cinnamon eyes.
He sat back into his chair, closing his eyes and sighing deeply. He reflected on his day, something that he hadn't been able to do in such a long time …
Suddenly, he remembered that during the Welcoming Feast, her eyes had flashed blue for a moment. He had rubbed his eyes, thinking he had seen things, and when he looked back at her, they were still brown. Brushing it off as nothing, he didn't think much of it at dinner.
But now, reflecting on her eyes being blue for but a moment, he recognized them. He remembered those eyes from somewhere, and he knew that before long, it would come to him.
On January 9, 1960, Severus Tobias Snape was born to the Snape-Prince line.
Before it all began, he knew of her. He knew that one day, as a Prince, he would have to marry a Giordano, a prominent Wizarding Pureblood family in Italy. When he was born, the two families promised that he would marry the first daughter of the Giordanos.
La Principessa, he nicknamed the non-existent daughter when he was five and learned of her.
His father, Tobias Snape, and the rest of the Snape line had accepted the Prince family's betrothal of the Prince line to the Giordano line – how could they object to two powerful families connecting through marriage?
Carlotta Aurelia Giordano was born six winters after Severus was, but that winter was harsh and cold. No matter what they did, not even the best Healer saved the life of the tiny infant. Carlotta did not live to see her second winter.
After that, the Giordanos lost faith. The promise was all but broken; when the young Snape became a Deatheater against the wishes of the Giordanos, it was hanging by a mere thread. Severus was also nearing 21 – the age in which the contract specifically stated that "in the case the Giordanos do not give birth to a healthy heiress by the age of 21 years of Severus Tobias Snape, this contract is henceforth set as null and void."
In January of 1979, two years from the nullification of the contract, the Giordanos announced the pregnancy of Baroness Giordano, who was aging and seriously concerned for the welfare of the daughter in her womb. She took special precautions, and made sure that the heiress to the Giordano fortune and future mistress of the Snape-Prince estates would be born safely.
September 19, 1979 – the day was nothing special. The weather was crisp, the wind chilly, and Baroness Giordano could not help but fear for the life of her daughter on this very day. Her water broke in the early afternoon, a whole month earlier than what everyone had expected. She was immediately taken to bed, a Healer coming to help her give birth.
Elisabetta Hermia Giordano entered the world a squalling infant, her little hands grabbing at anything while she shrieked. Madam Giordano cried at the sight of her beautiful baby girl, who had soft brown curls and – oh! Her father's piercing blue eyes peeked out for but a moment under those long brown eyelashes.
The Giordanos cooed over the darling, who calmed down considerably after latching onto her mother, and the Mediwitch had proclaimed that Elisabetta would probably live out her years; she was much healthier than the previous child, and so the Giordanos informed the Princes of the birth of their daughter.
Eileen Prince winced as her son's almost-matured voice boomed throughout the sitting parlor.
"Darling …" she said, reaching out to her son.
"Mother," he seethed, his fists clenched angrily. "Are you to tell me that La Principessa has finally been born? And a healthy girl?"
Tobias Snape sat back, smoking a cigar. This was Prince matters, so he wisely stayed quiet.
"Darling, I am ever so sorry," she said, her voice apologetic. "But you know the contract didn't release you until you were twenty-one, and since you're only nineteen, there isn't much that can stop the contract from having to take place …"
"Mother," he said through gritted teeth. "My wife will be nineteen years my junior. NINETEEN! How will I have sexual relations with anyone? I've held off since I thought I would be released soon, but now that my future wife is born, I shall have to wait an extra seventeen years before she reaches the age of consent! How can I be a 36-year-old virgin?!"
Here, Tobias put down his cigar, and snapped, "Do not speak to your mother of such matters, or in that tone. You will do well to remember who is still the head of the Prince line, and who is the head of this family."
Severus glared at his father, and turned back to his mother. "My apologies," he growled. "What is to be expected of me now?"
"Her christening will be on Halloween," Eileen said. "Even though she already has a name, it will be made formal and she will be introduced as your future bride."
Severus groaned. He could see it already – it would be splashed all over the society pages, and James Potter – that prat – along with the rest of those blasted Marauders would find out and tease him mercilessly.
And no witch would ever come near him, knowing that he was already betrothed to an infant!
This was not his day at all.
At the christening, he was extremely embarrassed to be there as the babe's future husband. Tall, lanky, and not quite so handsome, he stood off to the side. He wore dark grey, the only person to wear dark colors to the light-themed christening of his future bride.
He fingered his wand lovingly. A recent graduate of Hogwarts, he was now prepared to reach Mastery in Potions through continued study, and his Dark Lord was very rewarding for his experiments. He reveled in the power that being a Death Eater seemed to entail, and quite enjoyed it.
He was a new recruit, but he was doing well – he had been a Death Eater for over a year now, and everyone knew. The Giordanos were quite unhappy with that, but there was nothing they could do – there was nothing in the contract that said anything about his becoming a Death Eater.
One of the skills he boasted as a Death Eater was his ability to spot something wrong immediately in a crowd. Today, he was relaxed, as he was in the company of family and family friends – what could possibly go wrong?
He should have noticed the other person costumed in black, the only other person at the party to wear dark colors. He should have noticed the person slowly whip out his wand, and point it at the babe.
He did notice when his future bride started shrieking at the top of her lungs when a dark green light engulfed her.
"Stand back!" he yelled, charging forward. "STAND BACK!"
People started screaming and shoving each other to get out of the way. The person in black whispered an incantation in Latin, his lips moving too quickly for Severus to make out what he was saying.
"Amor vincit omnia," the man concluded, the only part that Severus could hear, and with that, he Disapparated.
Severus cursed himself for not throwing up Anti-Apparition wards, but it was too late. He ran to the cradle, where his bride had been, praying and hoping that the babe was still safe. It was not a matter of love – it was simply a matter of protecting an innocent child.
The Giordanos were already there, weeping as they stared into the empty cradle.
Severus stood by the cradle, his wand by his side.
"MORSMORDRE!" he heard someone yell.
He whipped around, and eyes widening, he saw his colleague, Lucius Malfoy, throw off his black hood and yell, "PUREBLOODS FOREVER!"
With that, he disappeared again.
Severus stiffened. So it was Voldemort. He should have been pleased that his Lord had taken away the burden in his life …
And yet he still felt bound and guilty.
He went to the Giordanos and informed them that he would do anything to find the babe. He was bound by the contract, after all, to wed the girl that was born to the Giordanos.
The only thing he remembered of his bride was her brilliant blue eyes, her soft brown curls, and a small birthmark on the inside of her wrist, in the shape of a small heart.
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