A/N - - Last year, for the "Severus Big Bang 50th Birthday Bash" on Live Journal, I wrote a story called "My Journal about My Life and Stephen and Miranda." Written in diary format in the voice of a young American girl, Adela, the fic pairs Severus with Minerva and is posted here on FFN; you can find it on my profile page.

I had such a fun time writing Adela that I've been wanting to do a sequel. Here it is. (You'll probably enjoy this story more if you read the original first.)

My thanks, as always, to my incomparable beta-reader, The Real Snape.

~ o ~ ~ O ~ ~ o ~

December 8, 2000

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Yay, yay, yay! That's what those symbols mean - - yay. The circle is like a head, and the lines are like raising your arms to cheer. My best friend Rosa showed me how to do them, she does computer chats with kids from school, and they use alot of symbols so they don't have to type too many words. (I don't like to do chat because it always takes everybody so long to type anything. I'd rather just talk.)

The reason I'm saying YAY is that Rosa found my journal! This very journal that Dr. Reese gave me for my 13th birthday in September. Rosa called me after dinner last night and said, "Adela, guess what I found!" And I couldn't, because I never even thought of the journal, I thought it was gone forever. But it turned out to be what Rosa found.

I lost it only about a week after my birthday and I was just sick about it. I didn't tell Dad or Pop or anyone except Rosa, because I felt really stupid, and Dad would probably have said something about needing to be more careful. He wouldn't yell or anything, but he'd have been disappointed. He thinks it's important to look after your things, and he's right, but. . .well, anyway, I've got it back now.

It was in a pile of stuff under Rosa's bed that her mother said she had to straighten up or it would get thrown away. And now I remember that I took it to her house when we were going to jot down our plans for our Halloween costumes but didn't get around to it. I never even had a chance to write anything in it. The Halloween plans would have been the first entry.

After I lost it, I tried to write my journal on the computer, but I had to give it up. I just don't like word processors, not for personal writing, I mean. It's fine for school, but I like to write my journal by hand. It's old-fashion, and since I write alot about Stephen and Miranda, and they're sort of old-fashion, too, it fits.

Stephen Smith and Miranda Robinson are the couple that lives next door to me, and they are really interesting. He's all dark and mysterious and sarcastic, and she has glasses and a bun, and they're very formal and reserved. I explain all about them in my other journal.)

I've missed writing a journal. Dr. Reese was right - - if you write things down about your daily life, it can give you good material for stories. Dr. Reese and I still talk about how to be a good writer, and I think I'll get even better now that I can start my journal again.

This fall was a terrible time to lose the journal, because all sorts of interesting and/or bad things and also some fun things have happened since my birthday.

(It was the day after my birthday that I found 100% true evidence that a) Stephen and Miranda are in love with each other even though she is alot older than him, and b) she is definitely not his mother. I did get to tell that story, though, because I still had space in my old journal then.)

And now I can catch up. But I don't want to have to write down every little thing that happened in last few months, so I'll just give the highlights.

(That's what Dad always says when Pop goes into alot of detail about the crazy people in his Media Studies department. "Just the highlights, Tim," Dad says. "There's only so much Media Studies madness I can take. I'm glad people in engineering are saner than you verbal types. We don't have to be talking all the time." And Pop always teases back and says, "Sane? They're all borderline autistic, that's what it is, they can't manage to say three words at a stretch." And then they laugh, and Pop usually says something about how glad he is that I got all my talky genes from his side of the family. ((This is a joke because I am adopted and don't have any of their genes. But I like to talk, and so does Pop.)))

(N.B. - - Ask Dr. Reese if there is a way to put parentheses inside other parentheses without having three in a row. (("N.B." means "nota bene," that's Latin for "note well," and you can use it when you want to remind yourself about something or point something out to other people. I saw it in a book and Miranda told me what it meant. She and Stephen know alot of Latin.)))

Anyway, here are the highlights of what happened to Stephen and Miranda since that night they learned their friend died, and Miranda cried, and then I saw them kissing in their kitchen.* (*N.B.- -See my old journal, September 30, 2000.)

I have never seen them kiss like that again, with their mouths open and everything, because that was private, and they didn't know I was there. But since then, S & M (that's what Pop calls them) have been a little more open about being in love. Sometimes Miranda squeezes Stephen's hand or his shoulder, and when they came to our house for dessert on Pop's birthday, Stephen put his arm around her when they were standing in the front hall waiting for Dad to get their coats.

And one day when I went with Miranda to the shops, Stephen was sitting in the living room when we getting ready to go. She put her hand on his shoulder to tell him we were leaving, and he turned his head and kissed her fingers, just quickly.

So it's true they definitely are in love and sometimes they show it, and that's a nice highlight.

But there are weird highlights, too. Sometimes strange things happen around Stephen and Miranda.

It's not that I think they are spies or aliens any more.* (*N.B. - - see my other journal, August 23, 2000) They explained everything that happened that time. I thought the whisky bottle flew on its own, but it was actually on a pulley, and even though it looked like Miranda made glasses appear out of thin air, it was just a trick that her uncle who was a magician taught her.

Their explanations did make sense, and okay, now that I'm older, I see it was silly to believe they would be aliens - - like Dad said, if aliens came to Earth, wouldn't they want to do something more than just move into an American surburban neighborhood? And as for spies, well, what would they be spying on around here?

So after that night last summer, everything went back to normal, and up till my birthday, I didn't see anything strange with Stephen and Miranda. (Well, I did see them kissing and everything, but that wasn't strange, it was just private.)

BUT - - since my birthday, I have seen some more odd things next store. There is something really mysterious and unusual about Stephen and Miranda, much more than them just being from Scotland and her being older than him and just being old-fashion.

Here's what I think: I think they practice witchcraft. Oh, not like wicked witches on brooms with pointed hats or like Samantha in Bewitched or anything like that, but maybe like a religion. Dr. Reese has a friend who is wiccan, and it's witchcraft, but not dark or evil or anything, it's very spiritual and natural.

Wiccans have rituals and use crystals and pentacles and amulets. Judith (that's Dr. Reese's friend) showed me some of her wiccan things. She believes in real magic, but she says it's not supernatural like ghosts or whatever, it's just using the strength of the mind and the spirit to harness the massive untapped power of the universe.

I think that's what Stephen and Miranda do. And here's why I think it:

Back in October, Stephen had been doing alot of work outside in their yard and garden, getting ready for winter. One afternoon I wanted to go over to see if he needed any help, so I peeked through the space in the fence boards like I always do, to see if he was outside.

He was, and he had a stick in his hand like the one Miranda used last summer when the strange plant attacked Stephen. A mini-blowtorch, she said it was. I thought maybe he was going to set fire to this pile of leaves and twigs on the ground in front of him (you're not supposed to burn leaves in the neighborhood, but some people still do it.) But he didn't - - instead, he just waved the blow-torch thing and said some Latin words.

Then I saw that the leaves and things weren't just all jumbled together the way they'd be if he'd raked them up. The sticks had been laid in a sort of triangle with another stick across it, and the leaves were in three small piles and they were strange colors: one pile was a sort of purple/blue, and another was black. I've never seen black leaves before.

Just then Miranda came out on the step and said, "Don't you think you should use at least a partial obscuro, Sevris?" (That's her pet name for Stephen. I'm not sure what obscuro is, but I'm pretty sure that's what she said).

And he said, "I can't risk it. You know the ingredients can't be exposed to anything except the stably (?) incantation until the moon rises. I don't want to have obscuro even close by."

"Well, you're making yourself quite visible, you know," Miranda said, and came down the steps toward him.

But just before she got to him, she stopped and kind of swayed a little. Stephen put his stick in his pocket and was at her side in a flash and grabbed her and said, "What's wrong?" in a really sharp voice, like he was anxious.

I was worried, too, but Miranda said, "It's nothing, just a moment's light-headedness, that's all," and she kind of pushed his arm away.

Stephen said, "That does it. If this potion doesn't help, I'm calling poppy." (Or he might have said "owling" or "drawing," I'm not sure. None of them make much sense to me, so it must be a wiccan thing.)

Miranda's voice was sharp, too, and she said, "Honestly, it's nothing. I'm fine. You can finish preparing the powder tonight and brew the potion tomorrow, and everything will be fine."

But I could tell Stephen was upset. He walked a few feet away from her and then turned around and folded his arms and said, "Damn it, everything's not fine. Not any longer. Yes, it was a relief at first, to get away, but now I'm tired to death of living like this, always having to watch ourselves, always. . ." His voice trailed off, and then he said, very quietly, "Minerva. It's time to go back."

(He called her Minerva once last summer, too, only at the time, I thought I heard him wrong. I guess it must be his pet name for her. It's a nice one, it's the goddess of wisdom. I looked it up.)

And Miranda walked over to him and put her arms around him and said, "Perhaps you're right."

Then they walked back to the house. They never did see me, but later than night, after it was dark, I looked out my bedroom window and saw Stephen in the back yard again, and he was burning the leaves in a tiny fire.

So that's why I think S & M are wiccans. Because

1. Stephen talked about incantations.

2. He was doing a ritual.

3. He said he and Miranda always have to watch themselves, and Dr. Reese's friend Judith told me that wiccans are often misunderstood, and people are against them and think they are evil Satanists and things when they really aren't at all.

But I also think that Stephen and Miranda are extremely good at being wiccans. I think they must have great magical powers. Judith said some wiccans do, that they are real sorcerers who are in touch with the powers of air, earth, fire, and water. And think about it: Stephen's ritual was about earth and fire, and last summer, the whole business with the dangerous plant had to do fire and earth, too.

Judith said sorcerers have an exceptionally strong Spirit. I asked her a lot of questions about wiccans when I met her, because as soon as she started telling me about it, I thought that being wiccan might explain Stephen and Miranda. And there are all sorts of ancient and mysteriously powerful things in England and Scotland, like Stonehenge. So it's not surprising they might have great abilities.

Miranda even said so about Stephen. I was in their kitchen, and they have a lot of herbs growing in little pots on a shelf. I said how nice they looked, and Miranda said Stephen not only grew them and used them in his research, but he uses them in food, too.

I said I didn't even know he could cook! Miranda just smiled and said, "Stephen is a man of many talents."

When I told Dad and Pop about it later, Pop laughed and said, "I'll just bet he is." He thinks Stephen is "sensually compelling," so sometimes he makes little jokes about him being sexy. But Miranda didn't mean it like that.

At least I don't think she did.

But to get back to wiccans, I know Miranda has powers herself. She admits she can do magic tricks. I know she said her uncle taught her, but she also said last summer that she still practices, that's how she learned to make the glasses seem to appear out of thin air. But she was so good at it! I think she must have learned to harness the untapped power of her spirit and mind so that she actually can make things move by themselves. It can happen. Judith tries to do it, she said it is called teleken-something.

On the night that Miranda got dizzy and I saw Stephen do his ritual in the back yard, I was sure I knew what made Miranda feel light-headed - - I thought she had been trying to move things with her mind, and Stephen was going to make a potion to help her get better at it.

But the dizziness turned out to be something else. That's another highlight I want to talk about, and it's a really scary one. It happened on Halloween, actually, only really late, like about midnight.

I was already asleep, and Pop told me later that he and Dad had just turned out their light when there was this really loud banging on the front door.

It woke me up, and by the time I came out into the hall, Dad was going down the stairs in his bathrobe. Pop was standing in their bedroom doorway with the cordless phone in his hand, and after a few seconds, he yelled down, "What is it? Kids playing tricks?"

But we heard Dad open the door and say, "Stephen! Is anything wrong?"

It was Stephen making all that noise! He said, "My apologies. It's Miranda, she's ill. Could we impose upon you. . .hospital. . ."

He sounded really worried. He and Miranda don't have a car, so that's why he had to come to us. Dad said, "We're happy to drive you, but if she's really ill, an ambulance might be better."

Stephen said, "Yes, fine," which scared me, because I knew he must have thought it was really serious if he wanted an ambulance. Pop immediately started dialing 911, and he tucked the phone under his chin so he could talk to them while he was pulling his pants on.

I wanted to ask Stephen more about Miranda, but by the time I got downstairs, he was already leaving. I heard him say to Dad, "Thank you, I must go. I don't want to leave her."

And he actually ran home across the yard. I never saw Stephen run before.

Pop was giving S & M's address to the 911 people, so I went back to my room and put on my jeans and sweater, just in case. No one was noticing me, which was good, because I didn't want to be told to go back to bed like a little kid. I wanted to know what was happening to Miranda.

When Dad came back upstairs, Pop had hung up the phone and was putting his shoes on. Dad said, "One of us should probably follow them to the hospital. They'll need to get back home eventually."

Pop said, "And they might need help with admissions. God knows if they even have any insurance, they're used to that National Health. I'll go over to the house right now and wait for the ambulance with them."

"I don't know," Dad said. "They might not like that. You know how private they are."

"Oh, come on, this is an emergency," Pop said. "They won't mind. We can't just leave them to deal with it by themselves. She's sick, and they're all alone here."

"Well. . ." said Dad, the way he does when he's about to change his mind. "You're right, maybe they could use the help. I'll get dressed."

Pop was already heading down the stairs, and I started after him.

But Dad spotted me. "And where are you going?"

"I want to see how Miranda is," I said. "I won't get in the way, I promise. I'll be really quiet, they won't even know I'm there. Please!"

Pop had turned back, and he and Dad looked at each other. They both understand how important S & M are to me, and finally Dad said, "You can ride to the hospital with us, Della, but let's not distract the ambulance people, okay? Let them get in and start helping Miranda. Pop will tell us if there's anything else we can do."

Pop nodded at me. "Watch out the window," he said. "I'll come on the porch and give you a thumbs-up after I've seen her."

So that was that. I stood at the side window and saw Pop go in S & M's front door, and then the living room and porch lights came on. The ambulance showed up just a few minutes later.

There were two EMTs, a man and a woman, and another man to drive. They took in a stretcher and some boxes of equipment, and Dad and I could see them going through the living room.

I knew what they'd see when they got upstairs. I was up there once, one day when Miranda asked me to get a book for her. There's two small rooms up there that S & M use as their studies, and one large room that is the bedroom with a big bed and two dressers and more bookshelves.

By the time I saw the bed, I already knew they were in love with each other, but if I'd been able to see it last summer, I would have known alot sooner. People who aren't in love with each other don't sleep together in the same bed. And it's the only bed in their whole house. That's where Miranda would be, of course, if she was sick.

Pop told me later that he stayed downstairs while the EMTs were in the bedroom. Stephen was upstairs, too, but Pop said he didn't seem to mind that Pop had come over.

After a while, we could see people coming down the stairs again, and finally they brought the gurney out. They carried it down the stairs, and then when they got to the front walk, they let the wheels down. There was a white mound strapped on the stretcher, but you couldn't tell it was Miranda. Stephen was right beside her the whole way, and he got in the back with her and the EMTs, and then they drove away with the lights flashing.

Pop stayed behind to lock up the house and turn the lights off, and then he came home.

"She's pretty sick," he said. "High fever. The EMTs said maybe a massive infection. She was as white as the sheets, and I don't think she was really conscious. But Stephen. . ." He shook his head. "The man is beside himself. I hate to think what he'll be like if anything happens to her."

I said, "Is she going to die?" Because honestly, I hadn't realized it could be that serious.

But Pop gave me a hug and said, "I think she'll be fine. Stephen's worried, but not so much that he couldn't be his usual Stephen self. When the first EMT got upstairs, I heard him say, really cheerfully, 'so this is our sick lady, is it?' and Stephen said, 'no, this is the sick lady's grandson.'"

It did sound like typical Stephen, and I felt a little better.

When we got to the hospital, we asked at the Emergency desk, and the lady checked for us and came back to say, "Mr. Smith is in one of the cubicles with the patient. His mother?"

"His wife," Dad said. I was surprised, because Stephen told us last summer that he and Miranda weren't married, but Dad explained later that he didn't want anyone asking questions about Stephen's legal right to be with her or make medical decisions for her. Dad and Pop worry about this sort of thing alot. Dad said they probably wouldn't ask for proof at this stage. And I guess that's true, everybody just assumes older straight couples are married. I did, until Stephen said they weren't.

After about an hour, Dad started to talk about taking me home and coming back later, but luckily Stephen came out to the waiting room before I had to leave. You could see how worried he was. He looked awful, it was like you could see his skull through his skin.

"Some sort of sepsis, they think" he said. (This is an infection.) "They're going to admit her, do some tests. Don't feel you need to stay."

So we did go home, because it was almost three in the morning, and I had school, and Pop had class at nine. But as soon as he dropped us off, Dad went back. He only has one lab on Wednesday afternoons, and besides, he agreed with Pop that Stephen needed someone with him even if he didn't think he did.

It's good that it was Dad. I think Stephen likes him; they're both kind of quiet and science-y, and they don't mind just sitting there and not talking. I don't mean that Stephen doesn't like Pop, not at all, it's just that Pop is really outgoing and Stephen and Dad aren't.

The next day, Dad was at lab when I got in from school, but he came home in time for dinner. He said he'd left the hospital right after breakfast. He tried to get Stephen to come home with him, to have a shower and some food and maybe a nap, but Stephen wouldn't leave Miranda. She was going to be there for a few days, with lots of antibiotics and stuff.

I asked how it all happened, and Dad said Stephen said that Miranda hadn't felt good for a few days and had been taking some of Stephen's home remedies, but then on Halloween night, she "took a fast turn for the worse."

Dad said he would have thought they would both know better than to use home remedies instead of real medicine, but Pop said if there was one thing he'd learned about S & M, it was that they weren't going to do things the usual way.

I didn't say anything about the wiccan ritual or the potion Stephen was going to make. I want to find out for sure that they're wiccans and about their powers and stuff before I tell Dad and Pop. I think it will be fun to surprise them with all my evidence, just like Nancy Drew the girl detective, because last year, when I was trying to figure out if Stephen and Miranda were in love, Pop said, "if there's a story there, Adela will find it." And I did. And I'm going to find out this one, too.

I wanted to go to the hospital and visit Miranda that night, but even Pop said no, let her rest. Dad went back to take Stephen some clean clothes and a toothbrush and things, and he did let me come with him to the house to pack them.

I kept hoping I'd see some family pictures or something to tell me about Stephen and Miranda's mysterious past, or some wiccan pentacles or something, but there was nothing. Their house is just so tidy, they don't even have newspapers or mail or anything laying around.

I looked at their books, too, because that's one thing they do have alot of, and I remember last year, Miranda was reading an old one with symbols in it, and I thought it was a different language, but now I think it was probably a wiccan spell book full of ancient lore or something.

But their books didn't actually turn out to be very interesting, just science and I guess philosophy and some literature like the kind Dr. Reese has. Handbook of Practical Chemistry, that's one title I remember, but I can't really think of any others. It's funny, because I really like to read, but somehow I just never can keep my mind focused on Stephen and Miranda's books.

Anyway, I didn't see Miranda until Saturday, when Pop went to the hospital to bring her and Stephen home. Stephen had stayed there with her the whole time, even at night; he slept on a couch in the lobby.

I made Miranda a welcome-home card, I colored a Scottish tartan background (I looked it up on-line, so I know it was right) and then drew a picture of her and Stephen in front. It was a "silhouette" picture, which means it was just drawn in all-black, like a shadow, because I am not good with faces at all.

I drew Miranda sideways so that you could see that she had her hair in a bun at the back of her head, because if I'd just drawn her straight on, she'd have looked bald. Stephen's hair is easier, just longish with the ends kind of straggly. I drew him from the side, too, so that you could see his crooked nose, which is what helps make him distinctive. Dr. Reese says drawing is like writing - - you find the thing that makes the character or person distinctive.

Dad and I went over when we saw Pop's car pull up, to see if there was anything we could do. Miranda looked extremely pale and tired, and she leaned on Stephen after she got out of the car. He kept his arm around her and was not sarcastic or impatient in the least. But once she got to the porch, she walked on her own, and she wouldn't let anyone help her off with her coat when we got inside. Stephen didn't even try.

Pop wasn't surprised. "They're both the sort of people who probably wish they could have 'DON'T FUSS' tattooed on their foreheads," he said.

But all that was about a month ago, and she seems fine now. Stephen is back to being snarky, but alot of times now he goes with her to the shops and places.

~~End of Chapter 1