Severus had never felt such a rush of relief in his entire life. Against some powerful odds, Harry was going to live. Severus' son had skirted death once again.
His mouth felt as dry as cotton, but Severus did manage to numbly thank the Isangoma, Mzilikazi.
Mzilikazi acknowledge Severus' gratitude with a slight nod. "It is only a matter of the Ingane resting. I will suggest to your Umlengokazi that he be given a private room once he awakens on his own. He is in no more danger from Ubuhlungu but the see-zures,"Mzilikazi struck his chest, indicating Harry's lungs. "He is bruised here. Your boy can still fall ill with…"
"Pneumonia?" Severus offered when Mzilikazi seemed to struggle for the word. It was a common illness to be wary of when a patient suffered pulmonary injury.
The Isangoma nodded. "Yes, new-mon-ya," Mzilikazi enunciated. "Your Umlengokazi, Poppy, can treat him with the proper potions, but the boy will still need his rest for a few days."
"I can't thank you enough, Isangoma," Severus said gratefully. "If there is ever anything I can do for you, I would be honoured."
"No, Ubaba. There is no need for you to thank me." Mzilikazi smiled, showing his small, gleaming, white teeth. "It is the least I can do for the Inganebusisia. Even in my country, we are aware of how he stopped the spread of evil and that he will be needed again someday, if that evil is to be vanquished once and for good."
Severus felt as if his gut were full of lead. He had always known that Albus was playing some deep game where Harry was concerned. Mzilikazi seemed to know something about Harry. True, there wasn't much about Harry that the witchdoctor could not have found out by simply flipping through a modern history book. But before Severus could query him, the Isangoma had said his goodbyes and informed him he would still be in the country for a couple more days should they need him, then vanished through the Floo in Poppy's office.
"Since I know better than to ask you to go to your quarters and get some rest, Severus, I'll take it upon myself to bring you a change of clothing and some personal effects."
Severus had nearly forgotten that Albus and Lupin were still behind him, also waiting for word about Harry.
Exhaustion from the day's emotional chaos was beginning to catch up with Severus. Normally he would not have accepted Albus' help for such a simple matter as packing an overnight bag. But frankly, at the moment, Severus didn't have the energy or will to do it himself. "Thank you, Albus. I appreciate it," he said flatly.
"Severus, now that Harry is stable, perhaps I should go talk to Sirius?" Lupin's voice turned the statement into a question. He was obviously fearful of how Severus would react.
Severus sighed deeply. He honestly had no desire to deal with an overly emotional Black. In a perfect world he wouldn't have to deal with Black at all, and no doubt the mutt would find some way to blame Harry's situation on Severus. But life wasn't perfect and as much as Severus hated to admit it, Black needed to be told or else he would make life even more difficult for Severus later on.
"Go tell him," Severus said reluctantly. "But he cannot visit Harry yet. It's too dangerous."
"You know what he'll say," Lupin said in warning.
"I don't give a rat's ar…"
Albus interrupted Severus before he could finish his tirade. "Remus, I must agree with Severus on this matter. Sirius is still a wanted man and he could jeopardize more than just his freedom if he is recognised."
"I'll do what I can," Lupin said sceptically, then left.
After Lupin had gone, Albus turned to Severus. "Severus, with your permission, whilst I'm gathering your effects, I'd like to search your quarters."
"Why ever for?"
"On the off-chance that Mr Goyle or a cohort managed to slip past your wards and sabotage your living space."
"Albus, you would have difficulty entering my quarters without my permission. I doubt very seriously that a student could—."
"I'd prefer not to make assumptions. Please, indulge an old man's request," Albus beseeched.
Severus nodded his approval, but before he could give it voice one of the wide hospital doors opened just a foot or two and a small, squat, silver animal trotted in. As it approached them, Severus could tell it was an English bulldog, Pomona Sprout's Patronus.
Pomona's soft voice spoke from the spectre-like dog. "Albus, Magda Goyle and her brother are here to claim her son."
As a parent, Severus would have felt pity for Magda, if he hadn't known she had fully supported her husband's Death Eater involvement. As the only girl born to the Selwyns, she had been indoctrinated to the importance of breeding the next generation of pure-blooded wizards and witches. Severus knew that her older brother, Claudius, was already a member of the Dark Lord's inner circle and that, with Claude and David's help, she had been encouraging her only son and younger brother to do the same. Severus wondered if she would see her son's death as a sign of the madness of Voldemort's cause, or a worthy sacrifice in the name of pure-blood supremacy. But what good was pure-blood supremacy if it sacrificed its children? Severus wondered if many Death Eaters pondered that little paradox. He doubted that the Goyles or Selwyns did. They were almost as fanatical over bloodlines as the Blacks. In the early days, Severus thought it odd that Magda hadn't taken on the Mark herself, but in the days following the first war the reasons became apparent—Culpable Ignorance, or at least the appearance of it. It was a defence that kept many involved pure-blood families intact when Ministry head-hunters came knocking after the Dark Lord's initial downfall.
Albus sighed heavily and said to the Patronus, "I'll be there in a moment." He then turned back to Severus and said, "I'll see to your jim-jams when I'm finished dealing with Mr Goyle's family. Is there anything else I can get for you?"
"As a matter of fact, there is, Albus. A book…."
Severus told Albus the book he wanted, and where he should find it. His mentor agreed to oblige him, but Severus suddenly felt very guilty for asking Albus to make the extra effort.
Albus met Severus' eyes with his. Exhaustion had taken its toll on the venerable wizard almost as much as it had Severus. Behind the half-moon glasses, Albus' sparkling, deep-blue eyes suddenly seemed very pale and tired. He had to attend to Magda Goyle first.
"Be thankful you are not headmaster, Severus. It is times like these that I truly hate my job," he said wearily.
Severus swallowed hard. He wondered how many times over his long tenure the headmaster had to inform parents about the death of their child.
It would be another two hours before Severus found any rest. Minerva was back and she had come to check on Harry and his friends after making the rounds in Gryffindor tower to check on the wellbeing of her lions.
The students were confined to their common rooms whilst the school was being checked for additional sabotage, and then there would be the eventual interrogation of Goyle's acquaintances. Severus hoped that Albus could convince the Aurors to hold off on the questioning until Harry was stronger. Severus wanted to be there: not only for the grim pleasure of watching any co-conspirators being hauled off to Azkaban, but he also needed to insure that the innocent were protected. After all, Severus knew damn well that near all—if not all—of the suspects would come from Slytherin House. Over ninety-eight percent of those questioned would have no connections with Death Eaters, but the Ministry was infamous for finding suspects guilty until proven innocent. But as far as Severus was aware, Goyle never sought social interaction outside his own house so, once again, Slytherin would be blamed for the ills of the Wizarding world.
Minerva had informed Severus that Harry's housemates had voiced concern over his condition, as well as asked about Mr Weasley and Ms Granger, as they had not yet returned to the tower.
For the first time, Severus looked over at Harry's friends with true concern. He had overheard Poppy speak to Albus of their situation, but he had been too worried over Harry to care much. But now that Harry was on his way to recovery, Severus could afford to turn some of his attention to Ms Granger and Mr Weasley.
Severus had never much considered Harry's relationship with his friends. Other than Lily, Severus had never put his trust in any of his schoolmates to develop any bonds strong enough to call friendship. But today Mr Weasley and Ms Granger had proven exactly how much Harry meant to them.
Mr Weasley was still in the chair where he had fallen asleep. Poppy said he could go back to his House as soon as he woke up. Although he had never let go of Ms Granger's hand, he stayed in a position where he could keep his eyes on Harry and quietly watched everything that happened until the boy gave into his own exhaustion.
Ms Granger was another matter. With her best friend nearly dying in her arms, she had gone into an emotional shock. The poor girl was white and shaken when she was brought into the hospital just after Harry. Poppy practically doused Ms Granger with enough Calming Draught to knock over an Erumpent before the girl was calm enough to give into sleep.
Lupin suggested the possibility that while she was assisting Harry's breathing, Ms Granger might have been poisoned herself in trying to resuscitate Harry. Lupin was not familiar with Muggle mouth-to-mouth. Severus wasn't much more familiar than he. He had heard of the process, but it was obsolete when one was a talented wizard who knew the correct spell. But Mzilikazi and Poppy had both assured everyone that Ms Granger could not have been poisoned by performing CPR and mouth-to-mouth on Harry.
"Have Ms Granger's parents been contacted?" Severus asked.
Severus and Minerva both looked over to where Harry's friends were sleeping. "There's no need," Minerva said. "She'll be back with her classmates by lunchtime tomorrow."
In the past, Severus would have agreed with the Deputy Headmistress, but things were different now.
"I assure you, Minerva, as a parent, if I were not to hear that my child had a stay in the hospital wing, no matter what his condition, and I had not been told, there would be hell to pay," Severus told her.
Minerva's lips tightened into a thin line. She did not like being corrected on a matter that should have been so obvious, but she nodded her head in agreement.
Minerva sighed, "I suppose you're right, Severus. It just didn't seem so important considering the seriousness of Harry's condition and seeing that she's in no danger."
"Trust me, Minerva—it's important."
"I'll contact them myself as soon as Albus has finished his business with the Goyles." She gave Severus a wan smile and placed an aged hand on his shoulder. "I cannot tell you how glad I am to know Harry's going to be okay, for both of your sakes. I have never seen either one of you as happy as you have been this summer."
Severus had returned her half-smile but said nothing as she left. Minerva was right. Severus had been happy. This summer had been his happiest since Lily was alive. He had been happier than he deserved to be. The fact that Harry had been happy too was nothing less than a minor miracle as far as Severus was concerned.
Had Harry been so desperate for family, for any kind of parental love and guidance, that he was so easily willing to forgive Severus for four years of what was nothing less than bullying? As much as Severus was grateful for Harry and the trust and love the boy so obviously felt for him, Severus could not help but feel angry at the Dursleys because of it. Harry should have never have been so desperate for love.
It occurred to Severus that he had been desperate, too. After years of convincing others that he was incapable of any tender emotion, he had nearly convinced himself. He had forgotten what it meant to love someone and truly thought that he never needed to again after Lily was gone. It had left him hard and bitter. But how easily had that façade melted away when he had realized that the child that Lily had borne was his own. Severus had not known how desperately he wanted to love again until he realized how empty his life had been without it. The embodiment of all Severus ever loved lived in his son, Harry. As Harry lay still fighting for his life, Severus willed his own strength to his son. He would not need it if Harry didn't live.
Several hours later, Severus did not know how many, he found himself waking up in the chair next to Harry's bed. He had nearly forgotten that Albus had transfigured the hard, straight chair into a comfortable recliner. On the floor next to him was a black leather satchel.
Severus picked up his overnight bag and placed it on the side table next to him. On top of his pyjamas and a clean set of robes was the book he had asked for, The Black Pearl. The pages were long yellowed and smelled dusty, but he could not help but smile for the fond memories the tome invoked. He needed this respite as much as Harry.
After Minerva had left, the day had continued to go pear-shaped. Lupin had failed to keep Black in his kennel.
The mangy black cur had trotted into the hospital wing as bold as brass with Lupin close at his heels, hoping that no one had noticed.
"What is he doing here?" Severus asked, attempting to keep his voice down. "Did the Goyles see him?"
The headmaster followed directly behind Black and Lupin. He shut and warded the massive hospital door behind him. "No," Albus said too calmly. "The Goyles left with young Greg about five minutes before Sirius arrived in my floo."
Severus was livid. The idiot had nearly been seen by a Death Eater family and he had the audacity to transfigure back into his human form with Poppy just inside her office. Severus just managed to cast a Muffliato spell at her door before Black noisily started in on his tirade. Of course Black accused Severus of being a negligent parent and wanted to know why he hadn't been informed of Harry's condition immediately. Albus and Lupin had warned him that the situation was too dangerous and that he should leave. He would be kept apprised of Harry's situation.
It was obvious the extent in which Black was upset. Like all Gryffindors, he wore his heart on his sleeve. Through tears held back by anger he said, "I don't understand. Why is it he can stay and I cannot?" Black pointed an accusing finger at Severus.
It was all Severus could do to keep from punching Black. "I am Harry's father and you are a fugitive from Azkaban," Severus said.
Severus had hit a sore spot with Black and he knew it. Black's face turned crimson and Severus noticed that he was pumping his fist. He, too, was trying to keep his anger in check for Harry's benefit. A part of Severus reluctantly understood what his rival was feeling. As distasteful as it was for him to do it, Severus would offer a compromise to the rabid mutt for the sake of his son.
Severus looked down at his ill son. Harry's breathing had become more even and it had the effect of a balm on his raw nerves, so it was easier to be charitable to Black. "Black, I will make you a deal. Leave now, and once Harry is stable enough to be moved to a private room, you may visit as often as you like. But for now you need to leave. If you are seen… if the wrong people realize how close you are to Harry, not only will you have to worry about the Ministry, but the Dark Lord himself."
"I'm not afraid of Voldemort," Black nearly spat. "I want to be here for Harry. I'm willing to take that chance!"
Severus shot back in return, "But I'm not! I know you're a self-centred git but this is about neither you nor me. This is about Harry's safety! The more you expose yourself, the more vulnerable you make him. We are desperately trying to keep as many doors closed to our enemies as possible. We don't need you to open anymore."
"Black," Severus said through gritted teeth, "I believe that my offer is more than generous. You may either leave of your own accord now, or I will have you escorted out, and I will have you barred from seeing Harry anywhere outside Headquarters."
Black looked to Albus for help. "He can't do that!"
"I'm afraid he can, Sirius. He is Harry's father," Albus said sympathetically. "And Severus is right. The more danger you put yourself in, the harder it is for us to protect Harry. But I will agree to his compromise. You can visit Harry once we move him into a secure private room.
Black finally conceded defeat, practically making Severus promise just short of an Unbreakable Vow that he could visit Harry once he was moved.
Severus watched as Lupin escorted the great black dog out of the room. Severus had never seen such a sad-looking creature in his life. "He is not a happy man," Severus mused.
"I suppose he wouldn't be." Albus agreed. "We must remember that these past years have taken their toll on the poor man. Once I'm confident that the children are safe from forces both in and outside of Hogwarts, I will devote the time to see him exonerated. If he had not gone on the run last year, I would have seen that these matters would have already been taken care of. But as it is… I now have other, more pressing, matters to contend with."
It wasn't long after Albus had gone that Severus had afforded himself some sleep. He had not noticed his bag in Albus' hands when he came in chasing after Sirius Black. The headmaster must have returned after Severus fell asleep.
Severus put the satchel back down on the floor, but kept the book. He was about to read it when he heard the distinct padding of bare feet across the floor. One of the children had awakened.
There was no way that Ms Granger had recovered from so many potions, so that just left…
"Mr Weasley, you may see him." Severus laid the book on his lap and waited.
A freckled face crowned with messy red hair peeked around the privacy curtain.
"Um… I'm sorry, Professor," the boy said warily. "I don't want to intrude, but didn't mean to fall asleep. I was wondering about Harry."
Mr Weasley took a cautious step forward. Poppy had transfigured his school robes into pyjamas.
"His full recovery will take time," Severus said as he gently grasped Harry's arm, reassuring himself that his son was still alive. "He will live."
Mr Weasley was still standing by the partition, seemingly still too scared to move any closer to Severus. He seemed fixated on Severus' hand lying on Harry's arm. The boy's Adam's apple bobbed nervously.
Mr Weasley looked back to where the girl was sleeping. "How is she?"
"Madam Pomfrey gave her a Calming Draught and some Dreamless Sleep," Severus said. "She was in a bit of a state of shock, but she will be just fine. I believe Professor McGonagall has made arrangements for her parents to see her in the morning."
A bit of tension seemed to leave Ronald's shoulders. "Hermione will like that," he said wearily.
"How are you feeling, Mr Weasley?"
Severus' question seemed to catch the boy off centre. "Um… I'm fine. A bit tired s'all."
"It's been an emotionally draining day for us all," Severus admitted, ignoring the teenager's sloppy speech. "I see Madam Pomfrey has readied you for bed, and as it is after curfew, you might as well wait until morning to go back to your common room."
"Thank you, sir."
Severus nodded. He considered the tall, lanky boy before him. He seemed as if he were ready to fall over, so Severus conjured a padded chair and offered it to him. "If you don't feel like going back to sleep yet, Mr Weasley, you may sit and join me for a while."
Ronald turned his head, as if Severus were speaking to someone behind him. Mr Weasley pointed at his own chest and barely muttered, "Me?"
"Whilst I realize there must be about dozen 'Mr Weasleys' roaming the grounds of the school, at present you are the only one here." Severus' mouth gave a wry quirk as he turned to gently lift Harry's head with one hand and fluff his son's pillow with the other.
Severus gave a deep chuckle. Severus couldn't blame the boy for feeling uncomfortable, but his fidgeting was rather comical. The confused look on his face and his reluctance to sit in the chair seemed as though Ronald expected the chair to explode as soon as his arse sat down. Although he had spent time at Severus' home, the boy looked as though he were ready to run for his life at any given moment.
As amusing as Severus found the boy's nervousness to be, it was time to put him at ease again. "Mr Weasley—Ronald—you must know by now that you have nothing to fear from me."
"No… of course not, sir." Mr Weasley hardly sounded convinced, but he did look more comfortable, if only slightly.
Now that Ronald had settled down, it was Severus who felt out of sorts. He needed to state why he wanted Harry's friend to stay, but he was at an uncharacteristic loss for words. After all, there were just as many years of animosity to break through with this boy as there were with Harry. Since Severus couldn't find a way to ease into the conversation, he did what he always found best to do—he went straight to the point.
"I wish to thank you, Mr Weasley—and Ms Granger as well."
"I don't think I understand, sir?"
"Your quick thinking managed to save Harry's life."
Mr Weasley said dismissively, "There was no thinking involved in it, sir. After all of these years hanging around Harry, it sort of becomes second nature. Besides, Hermione did all the hard work. I just ran for help."
"It seems that your instinct serves you well. You knew where we would be. Had we been any later reaching Harry, today could have had a much sadder outcome."
Ronald went pale as if in a momentary state of shock himself. Severus supposed he understood. He rarely complimented students, and never another Gryffindor, with the recent exception of his own son. The boy was positively dumbstruck. Severus' next statement should floor the boy.
"Your instinct was also correct about Mr Goyle. It was he who planted the venom-laced quill in Harry's bag."
But Ronald Weasley was expressing an altogether different emotion than Severus expected. "That son of a bitch," the boy said under his breath, digging his fingers into the arm of his chair until his knuckles turned white.
Normally, Severus would have jumped at the chance to take a hundred points from one of Harry's Gryffindor friends for using such language. But now, Severus felt a new kinship towards Ronald Weasley.
"Do they put underage wizards in Azkaban?" Ronald asked, "Because expulsion isn't good enough."
"Justice was swift in this case, Mr Weasley—and although the headmaster would be disinclined to agree with me— I feel it was apposite. Mr Goyle suffered the same death he intended for Harry."
Ronald closed his eyes tightly. "I'm glad."
Severus could tell that the boy had conflicting feelings for being happy at another's death. But the truth was the truth and sometimes it was ugly.
"I understand how you feel." Severus truly did relate to how the boy felt, though Severus felt no shame at his own feelings. His innocence was lost long ago, but something inside mourned for the lost innocence of Harry's friend.
Ronald wiped away a guilty tear from his eye and Severus felt awkward again. He had difficulty counselling his own son, much less someone else's.
Perhaps he should contact the boy's father. Yes—Severus would Floo-call Arthur Weasley in the afternoon. All the better for the elder Mr Weasley to deal with his son's angst. Severus had his hands full with Harry.
But there was something else Severus needed to discuss with Ronald Weasley. It was perhaps the most difficult subject of all.
"There is something else I wanted to thank you for, Mr Weasley."
Ronald looked at him quizzically, "Really? What's that?"
"For sticking by Harry all of these years," Severus said, swallowing hard on his guilt. "I have seen your unwavering devotion to him. You and Ms Granger have given him comfort and support where the adults in his life clearly failed him."
"I was a right git to him last year during the tournament," Ronald said quietly. "I was jealous."
"You also thought he had kept a secret from you," Severus said knowingly. He had watched the drama unfold the year before. He overheard the gossip from the student body and had surmised what had happened to the best friends. "That is a valid reason to be angry with a friend. You obviously saw your error because the two of you have made amends, but it is just as obvious that you never betrayed Harry's trust during the entire ordeal. That is the hallmark of a true friend."
Ronald nodded, then took a deep breath. He seemed to be mustering his Gryffindor courage.
"Professor Snape, I know that you feel bad for the way you've treated Harry all of those years—and really, you should," the boy added. "But don't dwell on it too long, because this is the happiest I've ever seen Harry—ever. And if he can forgive you, then I guess I can, too."
Severus looked over to Harry. It was the second time today that someone had mentioned how happy Harry was. Was the boy really happy? Had he really forgiven him? Had Severus made such a difference in his life so quickly?
Ronald continued, "Hermione and me—we've always tried to help him when we could, but we're not adults. Harry needed an adult he could trust—he needed a parent. And sir, take it from a kid with two of them—you've been a good parent to Harry. You're a good dad to him. And I thank you for that, sir. You've surprised us all."
Severus could only smile wanly. "Trust me, Mr Weasley. No one is more surprised than I."
After a few moments of awkward silence, Severus decided that it was time to change the maudlin subject. He coughed nervously and said, "I was just about to read to Harry… you may stay and listen if you like."
"Sure… why not." Ronald squirmed in his chair, apparently glad to change the topic as well. The whole exchange had been awkward for Severus. He could only imagine how discomfited the boy must feel after sharing such personal sensibilities with Hogwarts' dreaded Potions Master.
"What are you going to read?" Ronald finally asked.
"The Black Pearl. It was my favourite book in my youth."
"Really?" Ron said with genuine curiosity. "I have never heard of it."
Severus held back the remark that he doubted the boy ever read anything other than a Quidditch magazine. "I doubt you would have heard of it Mr Weasley. It's a Muggle book."
"Yes. Really. My father was a Muggle, I'll have you know. This particular book was a gift from Harry's maternal grandparents to me. They were Muggles as well."
The boy mumbled something that Severus did not catch. He had an odd look on his face, as if recalling something humorous.
"I beg your pardon, Mr Weasley?"
"Oh… nothing… nothing, sir," the boy said almost too quickly. "It's just I've always pegged you for a pure-blood. Though admittedly, I've never heard of the Snapes."
"It must be the 'Death Eater thing'," Severus said dryly. Most people assumed that Death Eaters were exclusively pure-blood. The Dark Lord was certainly fanatical about it.
Severus was actually surprised, and admittedly a bit stung, that Harry had not told his friend about his family. Then it occurred to Severus that he had never told Harry much about their family tree. Albeit, Severus found that his family on both sides had been nothing to be proud of, but it was still something that Harry should be aware of. It was his right to know.
Ronald chuckled nervously. "Yeah… that must be it."
Although Death Eaters are never a pleasant topic to discuss, Severus had a sneaking suspicion that that wasn't 'it'. Severus would never know that Ronald wasn't imagining him in Death Eater robes, but rather, singing Muggle tunes.
Severus glared at Ronald sceptically, but decided not to push the subject. "As I was saying. The book."
"Yes, sir," Mr Weasley said too enthusiastically. Severus was getting concerned about the boy. He almost looked as though he were holding back a laugh, but for the life of him, Severus couldn't think of anything that was that funny.
Seeing that the conversation was now ended, Severus finally began the coming-of-age morality tale.
Severus read the story to his unconscious son and his son's semi-conscious friend for an hour and a half, the cadence of his voice rising and falling as he read on.
Ronald seemed to have a keen interest in the story at first, but the longer Severus read, the drowsier the boy became, until he fell asleep in the chair. It was the second time that day Ronald Weasley fell asleep sitting up.
Severus decided to keep reading to Harry, and discovered an altogether opposite effect.
"Hi, Dad," said a familiar but weak voice
Severus stopped his reading. In fact, his heart nearly stopped, or was it about to jump out of his chest? He breathed a sigh of relief and looked down at his son. Fever had caused Harry's raven hair to stick uncomfortably to his forehead and Severus gently brushed it away with a calloused finger. Severus placed a soft kiss above Harry's brow, then touched his forehead to his boy's.
Severus did not bother to hide his tears as he whispered hoarsely, "Hi, son."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~To Be Continued~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
First, I cannot apologise enough for taking so horribly long to update. I have a few good reasons and many bad excuses so I won't even bother to list them. I just beg your forgiveness and thank each and every one of you who have continued your interest in this story and your encouragement to keep writing. And a huge thanks to Badgerlady, who continues to beta so quickly, despite my sluggishness.
As for my other updates, I am over half-way through the next chapter of The Unexpected Snape and I know no one is happier to hear that than my partner, Luck. Hopefully chapter 4 will be up sometime this weekend and even the next chapter of Severus Snape and the Potion Master's Daughter is under way, so I hope to have that done in a couple of weeks.
I won't make promises that I won't take so long to update again, life is too chaotic to make such promises. But I do promise to try to the best of my ability never to have you wait so long for an update again and not to abandon my stories. They mean too much to me.
Thank you, all again. It's good to be back.