Chapter six of Part two
Leah's Big Adventure
Once home, I checked the time. It was still a reasonable hour back in the UK, so I headed over to my fireplace and placed a Floo call. "Minerva McGonagall," I said, placing my head in the fire.
After a second or two, she appeared. "Severus!" She seemed surprised.
"I know it's getting late, but I have a few questions. I felt it would be faster to ask the woman considered an expert on the subject."
She got a smug look on her face. "Of course, Severus. What can I help you with?"
"It's in regard to Shapeshifters." She looked surprised at the subject matter. "From what you know, have you ever heard anything about them imprinting?"
She raised an eyebrow. "Shapeshifters are all believed to have one human that they will imprint on. However, not all Shapeshifters do imprint. The thought is that it's possible that their imprintee could have died, or that they simply haven't met. It does affect them because once they know of imprinting, they are afraid to get close to anyone for fear of hurting that person, if and when they do imprint."
"What exactly does imprinting mean?" I ask.
"Imprinting is like a bond; the imprintor is anything the imprintee needs, like a friend. Most times they become mates once both are mature enough. Imprinting is almost like the effects of a strong love potion; however, the feelings are real. In all tribes that have Shapeshifters, it seems to be the highest law that you cannot kill the Shapeshifter's imprintee because the pain from the loss would be so great it would kill the Shapeshifter. It is believed they cannot go a day without being near their imprintee." She paused, "Why?"
I pondered telling her then. I knew I had to return to England to tell the Weasleys that Ginny has been changed. I felt it was something that needed to be done face to face. I'm not a man without a heart; I wouldn't intentionally cause Miss Clearwater pain. If she can accept that I don't need a lover and can take another role in my life, I will not refuse her. I got the feeling that she and Jacob had very little information on Shapeshifters. "Minerva, I will be returning to England in the morning. I will be joined by Miss Leah Clearwater. Would you like to meet with a live Shapeshifter?"
"A living Shapeshifter? I have never met one personally! Are you sure? How did you meet? They are normally a highly guarded secret!"
"As you know, Ginevra Weasley had been staying with me here."
"Yes. Molly is so excited that Ginevra is getting married!"
"Did Molly tell you about the man Ginny is marrying?" I ask.
"No, why?" she asked. "Was Ginny imprinted on?"
"No. It would seem she has continued her natural attraction to men who are not good for her."
"Severus, what do you mean?"
"Jasper, Ginevra's young man, is an unusual vampire."
Poor Minerva! She looked as horrified as I felt once I realized that Jasper was an extremely deadly vampire. "A vampire? Severus, I thought you were going to look out for the girl!" she scolded me.
"I did a poor job, Minerva. What I am about to tell you, I ask that you don't say a word until I have spoken with the Weasleys."
"What is it, Severus?"
"This family of vampires doesn't feed on humans; instead, they feed on animals. The Weasleys already know this. Now, the other day Ginny was alone when she was raped, beaten, and left for dead. Even between Muggle medicine and magic healing, there was no hope for her. I tried my best." I realized I had tears running down my face. "The only hope for Ginny was to be transformed into a vampire." I am sure I could have knocked her over with a feather at this point. "I am returning to inform the Weasleys of this. Anyway, these vampires know a group of Shapeshifters and that's how I am bringing you one."
"What time will you be here? First thing in the morning?" She now looked truly shaken.
"You are seven hours ahead of us. I would think you will still be able to teach all of your classes for the day. See you tomorrow." I then broke the connection.
It was hard to fall asleep because so much had happened today. Ginevra was proud to be my daughter. That was more than I could have ever hoped for. I know she will at some point be upset with me for not telling her sooner, but I would have to go a year without dealing with the face to face of that. That is, most likely, a good thing.
I wondered if Lily was upset with me. Ginny was so close to joining her on the other side, but I was selfish. I couldn't bear the idea of losing her, but I keep telling myself that Lily had Ginny to herself for nine whole months. There was also the fact that for the first time ever, Ginny was so very happy. No, I did what was right for Ginny; it wasn't about Lily or myself, or even her other parents.
She doesn't want to tell the Weaselys and possibly hurt them. I can respect that; they believe her to be theirs and have done so much for her. Molly even killed to protect Ginevra from Bellatrix. They have raised Ginevra to be a young woman to be proud of. I do feel I owe them a great deal.
Then there is this imprinting that Miss Clearwater has done. I believe what Minerva said about it, but how could I ever care for someone like I did for Lily? I hope what I can offer the young woman will be enough for her. I'm not sure why they are so unaware of who, or what, they are, but that's why I was willing to take her to meet Minvera.
Esme had given me her number so that I could call when I wanted to see Elizabeth. In the morning, I will call her and get Miss Clearwater's number. If what Minerva said is right, Miss Clearwater will be willing to accompany me to the UK in the morning.
Morning arrived long before I had gotten enough sleep, but I knew I could no longer put off speaking with the Weaselys. The first thing I did was call Esme and get Miss Clearwater's phone number.
"Hello?" her voice questioned.
"Miss Clearwater? Severus Snape here."
"Miss Clearwater, I have looked into things and I feel we need to talk."
"Of course. Where would you like to meet; a coffee shop?" she offered.
"I think this might be a better conversation done in private. Would you be willing to come to my apartment?"
She arrived pretty quickly.
I was surprised he called so quickly, but it was a good surprise! I put a lot of effort into how I looked, without looking overdone, before heading over. I don't ever recall being as nervous as I was as I waited to be let in. This could be a total bust for me.
When he opened the door, he did not smile. This filled me with dread.
"Miss Clearwater, please come in," he invited. As I removed my shoes, he offered, "I just made some tea; would you like a cup?"
"Yes, please. That would be nice."
Once we sat down at his dining table, he carefully began, "Miss Clearwater-"
"Leah," I offered again.
"Leah, I have looked into imprinting, and I now have a fuller understanding of it."
"That's good," I carefully say.
"I am going to be honest with you. While most may say otherwise, I am not without a heart. This is, for you, something you have no control over." He paused, "Leah, I do not need a lover, and I can't now, or ever, offer you that, but I will not cause you pain. If you can accept the fact that I am not a people person and I don't make friends easily, I will allow you be around me on a daily basis."
I wasn't sure what he was offering, and I don't even think he was. "Um, okay."
"I have to go back to England today to tell Ginny's parents about what has happened."
"I thought you were her father?" I asked, confused.
He sighed. "It's long story. I meant her adoptive parents. I will explain it all in time; however, today is not that day. I would like to offer you the chance to join me, for I know a woman who would love to meet you."
"Why?" I carefully ask.
"Because she is considered an expert in our world on Shapeshifters."
"Um ok," Maybe she could have some answers to some questions we have had for a long time. "As far as my imprinting goes, I'm not totally sure what you mean."
He looked a little annoyed. "I mean, we will play it by ear. We will figure out what happens as we go."
If this was all he could offer, I had to take it. "So when do we leave?"
"Now? Wait, I don't have my passport or clothing!" Or extra money for a plane ticket!
"We will go by Apparation and will be back tonight."
"Apparation?" I question.
He looks annoyed. "A magical way of getting from one place to another."
"Oh, right," I reply. How could he be pissed at me for not knowing this?
"There is one thing; no one there is aware that Ginevra is my daughter. She and I agreed it should stay that way. Are you ready? We may as well go now."
How could I be ready when I don't even know what Apparation is? "Um, yes, I guess." Once I slipped on my shoes, I asked, "What do I do?"
He rose an eyebrow at me. "You do nothing other than hold on." He offered me his arm.
I gingerly reached out and placed my hand at the apex of his arm. I looked up at his face and looked into his eyes.
"Most people vomit their first time," he warned.
In a flash, I felt as if I was being sucked through a very thin and very long straw that was made of rubber. When we landed(?), I fell to the ground and fought to not throw up.
As I swallowed down the warm running saliva, I felt Severus touch my shoulder. "Miss Clearwater, are you alright?"
"Yeah, I just-" I closed my eyes and started to help myself up. "-didn't expect it to be that intense."
Once I was halfway up, I opened my eyes. Behind a set of large gates stood a grand building. It took a second to realize it was a castle.
"Good, you can see it. I was a bit concerned."
"I can see it?" I asked, probably looking too surprised at this.
He took a deep breath as if trying to calm himself. "Muggles can't see Hogwarts," he explained.
"Hogwarts, the castle?"
"Hogwarts, the School for Witchcraft and Wizardry, is yes, a castle."
"It's beautiful," I said, dusting myself off.
Severus was opening the main gate. "It has looked better. It is still undergoing repairs for the damage the war caused," he explained.
"War?" I questioned. I realized how dumb I must sound, but this is all so new and unbelievable to me.
"You really know nothing, do you?"
"How could I possibly know anything of this?" I fired back at him.
"Do you or do you not have magic in your blood?" he heatedly retorted.
"You call being some freak of nature 'magic'? I call it a major fuck up of my life! If you think I like shifting into a wolf whenever I get mad, you have another thing coming!" I could feel myself getting too mad and if I didn't calm down I would phase. I took a couple of deep breaths and tried to centre myself.
"Self-pity is not very becoming," he snipped at me.
Part of me wanted to continue to fight with him. He has no clue what my life has been like. I bit my tongue, though. "Are we heading to the castle?" I asked, trying to remain calm.
We both seemed to realize that we were better off not talking. So we walked up to the castle in total silence.
As the main doors opened magically for us, Severus began speaking again. "Hogwarts was founded in 990 AD. The castle was built in 993 AD. A couple of the more visually impressive features are the moving staircase and the enchanted ceiling in the Great Hall, as it is enchanted to mirror the outside sky. We will be heading to the Headmaster's tower."
I nod and follow as he gives me a bit of history of the castle. It seems to be a safe subject. As we walk, we are passed by many students. Most seem to know Severus and give him and I a wide amount of space. There are some whispers about him as we pass and I feel that the students' general opinion of him is he is someone they are fearful of.
We come to what seems to be a dead end in front of a stone gargoyle. "Tartan," Severus says and the gargoyle starts to spiral upward, revealing a staircase. He steps onto the stairs and I follow. The stairs move upwards and it seems cool, but at the same time it reminds me of an escalator. Made of stone, though!
When the stairs stop moving, we are in a room that is impressive. There is a large desk with a very stern looking woman sitting behind it. Her hair is all pulled back in a tight bun.
"Severus!" she exclaims. She seems happy to see him.
"Minerva," he replies coldly. Okay, maybe it's not just me. "This is the Shapesifter I told you about, Leah Clearwater. Miss Clearwater, this is Minerva McGonagall."
"You never said you were bringing me a female Shapeshifter!" The excitement in her voice was totally opposite to the way the woman looked. She reached out and shook my hand. "The higher body temperature! Oh, thank you so much for coming!" she gushed.
"Minerva, I have to go to talk to the Weasleys."
"Yes, I am sure that won't be easy."
He then turned and left, without a word to me.
I watched him until I could no longer see him.
"Oh my, you have imprinted on Severus. This won't be easy either."
I was surprised she knew. "You can tell?" I asked.
"Of course I can! I am considered an expert on Shapeshifters! The only one of this time. I have so many questions! I have never met a living Shapeshifter that was female!" she explains.
"There have been other females?" I ask.
"You are very rare, but yes, there have been others. I am sure you have so many questions as well. Shall we have some tea and talk?"
I nodded and then watch as she uses her wand and the desk is gone and replaced with a couple of comfortable chairs and a small table near the fire.
"I assume you are not the leader of your group. I have the only phone that works here at Hogwarts. You may use it to call and ask permission of your leader to tell me your tribe secrets."
I was taken back by what I had heard already, which really was nothing. "Um, I have my own phone," I said as I pulled out my cell phone.
"Most Muggle, or non-magical, technology does not work here at Hogwarts," she explained. "Here is the phone." She led me over to an old rotary dial phone that was almost a pinky grey in colour.
It took Jake all of about a second to give me the all-clear to talk with this woman.
When I rejoined her, she smiled at me. "I hope you don't mind if I take notes."
"No, that's fine," I replied.
"You're Native American, right? From somewhere in the northwestern U.S., or possibly southwest Canada?"
"I am a member of the Quileutes. Our reservation, La Push, is near Forks, Washington, U.S. How did you know?"
She smiles again at me. "I have heard rumoured legends of Shapeshifters out there over time, but it was never for sure. There were pieces of time from which there are stories, then large amounts of time with nothing."
I am surprised she has heard this. "Um, yes."
This old woman let a school-girlish, excited giggle escape, then her composure returns. "Forgive me, but Shapeshifters are so very rare! There is magic in your blood, but it is different from the magic in the blood of the students here. Witches and wizards have long admired the ability to Shapeshift. Some of us have even mastered the art of Transfiguration in order to Shapeshift ourselves."
"Really?" I asked.
"Yes! I am one of a few."
"Can you pick your form?" Now I felt as intrigued as she was!
"No, our form seems connected to personality traits. I, myself, take the form of a house cat. What form does you tribe take?"
"We take the form of wolves."
"Wolves? Hmm, that makes this more difficult," she says, concerned.
"How so?" I ask, unsure of what she means.
"With Severus, in his youth he had a close call with a werewolf."
"Yes, I heard he had issues with werewolves," I state.
"Honestly, most people do unless they have had their beliefs proven otherwise."
"Do you have any more information on female Shapeshifters?"
She nodded as she swallowed her sip of tea. "They are very rare, as I said. Firenze says the stars have to align just right for a female Shapeshifter to be."
"How so?" I push.
She gave me an understanding look. "Firenze is a centaur, and they speak in what we would call riddles most times. He says that the shifting gene would have to be VERY strong in your family, coming from more than one ancestor. I could guess on a great number of things here, but they would be only guesses."
"Have you heard of any female shifters having children?" I ask earnestly.
"Your period has stopped, hasn't it?"
"Yes," I admit.
"It will start again once you stop shifting. Then, once you become pregnant, your body will not shift until after the baby arrives. Your child, or children, will be shifters themselves, and it is vital that they have children. Their genes will be the strongest with the shifting gene."
I had never thought about this! I had worried about not having children, but did I want to pass this on to my children? Did I want them to have to live with this?