Disclaimer: Aurora Sinistra and others are owned by J.K.

A/N: This is a Aurora and Minerva mentor story. It is extremely sad in spots, namely with this chapter. The reasoning behind writing this story is because I don't believe I have delved into the dynamic with these two strong women enough to show their closeness. Plus, I just love Minerva (even more with the last movie) and Aurora, so... it gave me a reason to write it. If you've read Paradise, Family, and Sword of Slytherin, you likely will recognize certain scenes. I guess the best way to describe this fic is giving more backstory (just with more Minerva and Reg this time). This first chapter concerns Aurora's rape. However, I don't show it and I don't describe it.

Serpent Who Was a Secret Lion

Sobbing loudly, a young girl brought her knees up to her chest as she lay in the mud, dark robes covering her body. The skies lit up with streaks of lightning with terrible crashing sounds near her. She, however, made no motion to leave her spot where she was curled into a ball.

"Ah-ha!" shouted a gruff voice a moment later. "Thought you could sneak out of the castle, did you? Well, what do you have to say for yourself now?"

Terrible, heart wrenching sobs wracked the slender frame in response, though. In fact, the noise coming from the young lady only seemed to increase into painful howls as she curled more into herself.

"What are you going on about?" grunted the man, bending down slightly. "Hey, I'm talking to you. Ain't you listening to me?" His hand hovered for a moment over the girl's shoulder before he pulled back sharply at the sight of blood mixed in the mud. "I'm not gonna hurt you, all right?" he said quietly, as if speaking to a wounded animal. "I'm just gonna take you up to Pomfrey, 'kay?" He received no response, though. Gently, he slid and arm under her neck and another under her legs. "Up we go, sweet," he stated before picking her up and carrying her towards the castle. He frowned when he heard her whimpers along with the crackles of raw magic. "Almost there," he whispered.

He carried her through the entrance hall, up the moving staircases, and into the hospital wing. He placed her on the closest cot before he headed into Madam Pomfrey's office. He cleared his throat to gain the matron's attention from the files she was filing.

"Have a student for you, don't know what's wrong with her, but she seems hurt." He then stepped aside when she briskly walked towards him towards her patient. "Found her outside of the gates. I reckon she's been there for awhile with how soaked she looks."

"Thank you, Argus. That'll be all," Madam Pomfrey curtly said, not giving him a second glance. The moment the hospital wing doors closed behind him, she flicked her wand at the doors and locked her infirmary down. She then sent a message to the headmaster for him to come immediately, frowning as she stared at the results of her scans. "Oh, you poor girl," she softly whispered.

"Poppy," a kind voice spoke a moment later as Albus Dumbledore walked out of her office.

"Albus," she briskly replied, inclining her head when he approached. She glanced back towards the young girl who seemed catatonic. "Argus found her outside of the gates."

"I see." His blue eyes glanced over his half-moon spectacles as he sighed. "Can she speak?"

"I'd imagine so. I found no evidence to suggest otherwise, but . . ." She closed her eyes with a pained expression. "She appears to have been sexually assaulted, Albus." She then whispered an apology before she gently rotated the young girl's left arm. "That's His, isn't it?"

"Yes, unfortunately," the headmaster replied quietly with a somber look. He watched as the matron attempted to mend the carved in Dark Mark, closing his eyes when it didn't.

"I don't understand this, Albus. It refuses to heal." She tried again, growling when it remained open. "What did He do to this poor girl?" She held a hand out then, summoning a Calming Draught. Gently, she helped her patient uncurl before assisting the young child in drinking it. She flashed a soft smile towards her, understanding that the fifteen-year-old likely hadn't even noticed it.

"I'll inform her parents."

"NO!" the girl screamed suddenly, latching onto his robes instantly with the first signs of life. "No, don't! Please. Please don't tell them. Please. I beg you. Don't."

Dumbledore glanced towards Madam Pomfrey in response, ensuring that he didn't touch the young girl hanging onto him since it likely would result in a bad reaction. His frown deepened before he sighed and looked back down at her. His face was full of sadness.

"My dear, I must inform them. It is my—"

"No. No," the girl replied, shaking her head frantically. "You don't understand. He knows. Voldemort knows who I am. You can't. You can't tell my parents. Please. Please don't," she cried.

"All right, my dear, I won't."

"Albus!" cried Madam Pomfrey.

"Madam, please," he stated firmly, glancing at her with a somber look.

"Thank you, sir," the young girl cried, pulling away. "You promise, right?"

"Yes."

"Good," she said, bringing her legs to her chest again before resuming her staring off.

"Forgive me, child, but you need to drink this," Madam Pomfrey softly said, holding a bottle of Dreamless sleep. "I need to examine you fully, and it'll be easier for you if you rested."

"Kay," she said, shrugging. She drank the bottle, laying down a moment.

"Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore," growled the matron, glaring daggers at the wizard once her young patient was asleep. "You have to tell her parents! You are the headmaster of this school. It is your sworn duty to do so. And if that wasn't enough, you could lose your position if you don't."

"I am well aware, Madam," he replied quietly. "Though, I believe it is her father she is more concerned about knowing than her mother." He then sighed, staring at her. "If you'll excuse me, I believe I need to speak with Syra."

"Then her parents will know?"

"Only if Syra feels he should know, my dear, and she likely will not inform him of this." He stared down at the little girl, shaking his head. "Orin would likely rush off and kill every Death Eater he could find to avenge her. Syra knows this. Just as she knows that it will likely break his heart to know that his eldest was violated in such a way."

"You think she won't tell him then?"

"I think she will do as she's done for the past fifteen years and protect her family at any cost." Dumbledore then inclined his head before he silently headed out of the hospital wing.

"Oh, you poor child," Pomfrey whispered, running a loving hand over the young girl's head. She then removed the robes that covered her, closing her eyes at the sight of dark bruises on the inner thighs and upper arms. She catalogued every mark, leaving nothing unwritten. A moment later, she frowned, noticing that whoever had violated her used a cleansing spell to remove any fluid and hair left behind. She wouldn't be able to easily identify the attacker now. Swishing her wand in a fairly complex way, she repaired the damage as much as she could. She hoped there wouldn't be scarring, but she wasn't certain at that point. Only time would tell. Glancing towards the child, she found herself brushing back the curls once more. "We will find the one responsible for this somehow, Aurora. I promise you."

~SL~

The very next morning, the fifteen-year-old woke up in one of the cots in the main area of the hospital wing. She rubbed her wrists together, biting her lower lip as she noticed the pajamas she was wearing. She felt dirty, unclean. Drawing in a shaky breath, she glanced around, frowning when she didn't hear Madam Pomfrey bustling about the room.

Slowly, she swung her feet off the edge of the cot before she stood. She needed a shower. There had to be one around here somewhere. So, with that, she headed towards the nearest shower she could find. She was rather surprised when she hadn't heard a word from Madam Pomfrey. She had heard stories how the matron tended to run a very tight infirmary, knowing almost everything that occurred in the hospital wing like, for example, a student attempting to escape.

Frowning, Aurora wrapped her arms tighter around herself before she headed towards the matron's office. She stuck her head inside the room, glancing down when she saw that it was empty. She needed a shower. Madam Pomfrey would understand. She was rather convinced of it. And she wasn't exactly escaping. She'd be back.

Quietly, the fourth-year walked back towards her cot, grabbing her silver wand from the end table. She tapped it once against the pale pajamas, transfiguring them into her robes. She pocketed her wand a moment later before she strode across the main area towards the door. She slipped out without a word, pausing for a moment to hear if there were alarms sounding. She heard nothing, so she continued down to the dungeons.

Nearly three minutes later, she walked through the already opened portrait. She quickly leapt out of the way when several of her housemates walked past without a word. She didn't want to dirty them. She then headed towards the shower that was calling her name.

"Sinistra?" a lanky young man, a year older than her, said, staring at her.

"Severus," she breathed, swallowing. He looked ill to her as if he had been retching all day. "What are you doing here?"

"The same could be said about you," he replied, grimacing as he stood a bit back from her.

"I, um," she started to say, glancing to the floor as her voice lowered. "I'm not feeling well."

"Then you should go see Pomfrey instead of skiving off."

"So should you for that matter," she retorted, raising her eyes to look at him.

"Nothing she could give me would help," he answered softly with a frown. His black eyes then narrowed on her. "You seem fine to me, Sinistra." With a fierce glower, he then stepped forward, throwing his hand up and summoning a book. He thrust it into her hands, clenching his teeth. "Get to class, Sinistra," he growled, "or else I'll inform Slughorn about you sneaking out to go up to that damn tower every night."

"Severus!" she cried.

"Go," he snarled, whirling around a moment later before he stalked towards the boys' dormitory.

She stared at the entryway, trembling. Class was the very last thing on her mind. She glanced down at the floor, inhaling a shaky breath. She knew for certain that he'd tell Slughorn. Severus always carried out his threats.

So, inhaling slowly, she pressed Severus's Potions text against her chest. She could do this. She just needed to focus on brewing instead of everything else. She didn't really have a choice after all. They were already probably really upset with her for . . . for . . .

"Hey, Sin. You all right?" asked one of her classmates as he stumbled up the stairs.

"Yeah, sure, Reg," she quietly lied, wrapping her arms tighter around herself.

"We better get going. You know how Slughorn is." Reg held the portrait open for her, frowning when she didn't move any closer. "Sin . . . ?"

"I'm coming. Sorry." She shook her head, her curls bouncing slightly. She needed to focus or else they'd all know. They'd all know how dirty she was, unclean, filthy, how . . . She rubbed her forearms together then, wincing at the pain that resulted. As she followed Reg out of the Slytherin common room, she gently pushed up her sleeve, inhaling sharply at the bloodied white gauze wrapped around her left arm.

"Sin, you're acting strange today. Are you sure you're all right?" Reg was clearly concerned as he spoke. "If you want, I can—"

"No. It's fine," she replied sharply.

"You sure?" he asked.

"I said I'm fine," she snapped, storming past him into the classroom. She slammed her hands down atop of the table, glaring forward as she gently placed Severus's book down. She flinched slightly when Reg sat next to her. He was too close, but she wasn't going to draw attention to herself.

"Yes, yes, I know," said a smiling wizard as he walked towards the front of the class. "We're all quite happy to be back from the Holidays, not wishing to learn." He chuckled softly. "Therefore, we shall start off with an easy potion today, Pepper-Up. Now, who can tell me what it does?" His eyes moved over the room, grinning when hands shot up. "Yes, Mr. Black?"

"It cures the common cold, sir," Reg answered beside her quietly.

"Wonderful, Mr. Black, five points to Slytherin." His eyes then darted towards Aurora. "Miss Sinistra, if brewed successfully, what happens to the drinker?"

She glanced up at her Head of House, finally pulling herself from her thoughts. She stared at him blankly, not having heard his question.

"I'm sorry, sir," she said softly, shaking her head with a nervous feeling her stomach.

"That's all right. We all get a bit sidetracked, don't we?" He chuckled, which the class followed suit. "Now, if brewed successfully, what happens to the drinker of Pepper-Up potion?"

"Um, steam is released from the ears, sir," she softly said, glancing down and rubbing her wrists together again. There was no way Professor Dumbledore didn't tell him. He knew. He had to. That was why he was asking her such an easy question.

"Excellent, Miss Sinistra, five points to Slytherin." The Potions master's eyes then darted to the other side of the room. "Now, an inexperienced potioneer considers Pepper-Up potion to be synonymous with Invigoration Draught. It is believed that its name states it will grant the drinker some sort of renewed energy in the event of a duel to the death. However, this, dear students, is false. Pepper-Up cures a cold. That is all." He silently walked in between the rows of desks, heading towards the back of the room. "For the remainder of class, you shall all brew a batch of Pepper-Up. When finished, please place your sealed vial on my desk with your name on it to be graded. You'll find the instructions on page 142, and the ingredients on the shelves. Begin."

Aurora inhaled slowly, waiting as everyone headed towards the shelves. She opened her book to the specified page and ran a finger against the spiky handwriting. She knew this was Severus's prized possession. He rarely let it out of his sight. So, clearly he felt extremely ill in order to give it to her. She drew in a breath, though. He had written notes all over the pages, showing off his brilliantness.

"Here, Sin," Reg quietly said, setting down the ingredients near her. "Figured while I was up, I could get these for you." He smiled softly at her.

"Thanks," she whispered, swallowing slowly as she kept her hands on Severus's book. She caught the flicker of hurt in Reg's eyes, but she couldn't. She swallowed slowly, reaching for the ingredients once her housemate sat back down beside her to work on his own potion.

Near the end of class, she stared into her cauldron, frowning as she brushed back her long curls. It felt as if all of her housemates were staring at her, but every time she had glanced up, they were looking down. Did they know? She pulled her robes closer to her, moving a bit further from Reg. She didn't want to sully him. He was her friend, one of the few she could say was.

Her chocolate eyes rose and glanced towards Professor Slughorn. He had remained on the other side of the room throughout class, far from her. Every now and then, though, he would glance towards her with a frown. She, however, quickly glanced back down when he caught her gaze.

"You done with that knife, Sin?" asked Reg quietly, glancing into his own cauldron.

She handed it to him, holding the blade. Almost instantly, she winced when he grabbed the knife without looking and pulled it from her hand. She, however, quickly placed her now cut hand atop of the table, hidden from his line of sight. She knew that he'd make a fuss. Reg always made a fuss whenever she was hurt.

It was heartening to know usually, but she really didn't want him to be all sweet with her. Not now. Not after . . . She shook her head, inhaling sharply. It was dangerous to go down that memory lane. She needed to focus. Focus and she'd survive.

Please don't cry, the voice of pain whispered in her mind. She trembled instantly. No, no. She needed to focus. She shook her head violently. She didn't want to remember the pain . . . Please. She wanted it to stop. She didn't want to remember ever. Attempting to focus on Severus's book, she stared through blurry eyes filled with unshed tears. She could hear laughter around her, echoing sinisterly. She could smell sweat mixed with blood in the air. She didn't want to remember, not ever. She didn't want the pain to return. She . . . I didn't mean to hurt you, the voice spoke near her ear as she felt something heavy on top of her. She held in her whimpers, feeling as if she was still under the Silencing spell.

"An excellently brewed Pepper-up potion," exclaimed a male voice behind her.

She was too far lost in her memories that she didn't recognize the voice as Professor Slughorn's. A hand then landed on her shoulder, causing her to cry out. Not again. She wouldn't let it happen again.

"Miss Sinistra?" The hand moved slightly as if the person was attempting to calm her.

"NO!" she screamed, shooting up out of her seat with her wand drawn. She heard the man's sharp intake before he stepped forward. She instantly sent a Blasting curse at him to get away from him. She didn't want to be hurt again. However, he waved it away effortlessly, still heading towards her. "No! Stay away from me!" she shrieked, sidestepping her 'attacker' before she ran towards the opening door. She screamed when arms wrapped around her, preventing her escape. "NO! LET GO!" She struggled against the hold. She had to get free or else . . . She had to . . . "NO!"

A potion then was pressed against her lips, someone wrenching her mouth open to force her to drink whatever it was. She continued fighting, which spilled some of it onto her chest. The arms, however, kept her pinned against her 'attacker.' Thanks to the careful ministrations to her throat, she swallowed the potion, feeling an eerie sense of calm flood her body.

"No," she cried pitifully, her body slackening slightly as the strength left her.

"Thank you, Mr. Black. That'll be all," a grave voice spoke behind her.

Reg had been here to see it? She whimpered. He was her friend, wasn't he? Why hadn't he stopped it? Why?

She idly felt someone pulling her further away from the door. Was it about to happen again? Had she even managed to escape in the first place or had it all been just a dream? She swallowed harshly when she found herself in a new room and gently placed to sit on a sofa a moment later.

"Why are you doing this?" she cried.

"My dear girl, I'm not doing anything," the soft voice replied. It seemed like forever before the door opened followed by someone walking towards them.

"Horace?"

The man then disappeared from Aurora's line of sight as she stared straight ahead, waiting for the pain to start again. What had she done to deserve this? Was it because she didn't agree with the Dark Lord's ideals? Was that why? She heard the intense whispering between the two people around her, but didn't focus on them. She didn't want to hear their plans for her. She swallowed slowly when the door opened and closed a moment later.

"Hello, Aurora." Green eyes stared into hers.

"Hello." It took her a moment before she realized that the green eyes belonged to Professor McGonagall.

"We're going to head to my office for a chat, all right?"

"Away from," she started to say, swallowing harshly, "away from him, Professor?"

"It'll just be us, Aurora."

"Sure," the fourth-year said quietly. She slowly rose, walking beside the witch.

"I'm going to put my arm around you, all right? The moment we arrive in my office, however, I'll release you." When the witch hesitantly placed an arm around the young girl's shoulder, she gave Aurora a soft smile when the Slytherin flinched. "I'll make this quick, dear." A moment later, after the Floo powder was thrown down, they were whisked away, stepping out not too long afterward.

Professor McGonagall's office was bright as sun shone from the drawn back curtained windows. It was extremely tidy as if she cleaned it daily. There was a picture on her desk, which appeared to be of a smiling young family. Near the window was a gramophone that appeared to work still.

"Please, Aurora, sit." Professor McGonagall then called for a house elf, which brought them both cups of tea before it left again. "I spoke with Madam Pomfrey earlier, and she informed me that you escaped the hospital wing this morning." Her tone was soft, almost motherly.

"I wasn't . . ." The young girl shook her head slowly. "I meant to come back. Honest."

"Well, the question I'm wondering, my dear, is why you felt like leaving in the first place."

Aurora's brown eyes instantly dropped to the floor. She said nothing, drawing in a shaky breath. When she heard clinking across from her, she glanced up slightly and watched the Transfigurations professor set her tea cup back onto the saucer.

"I needed a shower, Professor," she softly answered.

"I see," the usually stern witch replied with a somber frown.

"But—" Aurora snapped her mouth shut a moment later.

"Yes?" Professor McGonagall gently said.

"I, um, I went to class instead."

"Why?" Her voice was soft and soothing as she spoke. It was compelling her young student into answering her questions.

"He said he'd tell Professor Slughorn."

"He?" the professor repeated.

"Severus," whispered Aurora, her eyes downcast again.

"And just what did Mr. Snape say he'd tell Professor Slughorn?" Her frown deepened when Aurora shook her head adamantly. "I assure you that I will not punish you for any wrongdoing, my dear. Please. I just wish to know what he would tell him."

"Severus said he'd tell Professor Slughorn how I'd sneak out of bed sometimes and spend the night up in the Astronomy Tower, Professor. He thought I was skiving off from classes."

"I see. And you were afraid that he would tell Professor Slughorn?"

"He would, Professor. I know he would." She chewed on her bottom lip, wincing slightly as she moved in her chair.

"My dear, I know this is difficult." The Head of Gryffindor then slowly inhaled. "As Deputy Headmistress, my duty is to protect my students, no matter their House affiliation. However, I've failed in this duty. I did not keep you safe. And for that, my dear, I am most apologetic."

"Professor," Aurora started to say, her voice leaving her a moment later.

"You need not argue, my dear. I failed you. I did not protect you, and I should have." She drew in a slow breath, glancing towards the window. "You likely feel guilt, but, Aurora, you have nothing to feel guilty for. You did not ask for that to occur. No woman in her right mind would ask for something as heinous and deplorable as that." She frowned before she glanced back towards the young girl. "It is the protocol of this school to send you to St. Mungo's so that you may deal with your attack with trained Healers."

"No. Hogwarts is my home," Aurora cried. "I don't want to go. Please, Professor."

"Hush, my dear. I am not finished yet." She then sighed. "However, the headmaster has informed me that because of the . . . circumstances of your attack, he does not wish you to be sent there. It is his belief that if your attacker's identity was discovered by the Healers, that you likely would be silenced by His followers soon after. Therefore, Professor Dumbledore has asked me to speak with you to see if there is a witch on staff that you feel . . . comfortable speaking with in terms of your attack."

"I don't have to go?"

"No, dear, you are to remain here under our protection. There is no safer place than Hogwarts." She then frowned. "I am correct to assume your attack did not occur here, yes?"

"It didn't, Professor." Aurora glanced down at the floor, rubbing her arms together again. She winced when she brushed her arm against her bloodied forearm.

"Well, Miss Sinistra, is there a witch here on staff that you would feel comfortable speaking with? Perhaps Professor Scott?" she suggested. "You are rather close to her, are you not?"

The young Slytherin quickly glanced down at the ground. She may have spoken to the Astronomy professor numerous times, but that wasn't because she found the witch enjoyable or anything. To be quite honest, she found her professor to be a complete and utter idiot.

It was so clear that Professor Scott was only there for a paycheck, not because she enjoyed Astronomy whatsoever. She taught her subject with the bare minimum, hardly going into any details. And whenever Aurora answered a question in class, she was immediately shushed after she said the correct answer Professor Scott wanted to hear, not a word more.

She inhaled slowly. She didn't really feel comfortable speaking with any of her other female professors. Professor Sprout likely would cry at any mention of her attack. Madam Hooch was all about Quidditch. Madam Pince hated her. And that was just a few of them. Chewing on her bottom lip, she glanced up.

"Professor McGonagall?"

"Yes, dear, what is it?"

"I . . ." She then hung her head again. "Um, well, could it be you? I mean, um, well . . ."

"You are choosing me?"

"I-I, no, no, you're right." Aurora quickly closed her mouth and felt her insides quiver slightly. It was ridiculous even to think. She was a Slytherin, and Professor McGonagall was the head of a rival house. Slytherins and Gryffindors weren't supposed to get along. That was how it was to be. At least that was what everyone said about Severus and his little Gryffindor twit.

"My dear, look at me." The Transfigurations professor gave her a soft smile. "I am honored that you would consider me, Miss Sinistra." She drew in a slow breath.

"Could I choose you? I mean, I know that Gryffindors hate us, but . . ."

"I don't hate Slytherin. It is a formidable House, but we are all one under Hogwarts in the end."

"Yeah," Aurora said softly, hanging her head. "Um, well, I sort of want to choose you, Professor. I-I, there's no one else on staff here that I, well, that I feel comfortable speaking about." She swallowed slowly. "I'm not even sure if I'll ever feel comfortable with you, but I'm willing to try."

"That's all we can ask for at this point, my dear," Professor McGonagall replied softly. Her eyes then narrowed on Aurora's arm. "Does it hurt?"

"I guess," the fourth-year responded, shrugging slightly. "Not much, though."

"May I see your arm?" At the confusion on Aurora's face, she further explained. "We likely should redress it, my dear, so it doesn't end up infected."

"Oh, yeah, um, sure," she said, nodding slowly. She gently rolled up her sleeve, frowning when she saw the blood soaked gauze. She kept her eyes downcast, knowing that her professor wouldn't be happy with her.

She watched the careful hands remove the dressing, wincing when she saw the bloody carving. Her hand jerked slightly at the tingling as Professor McGonagall's wand slowly passed over the wound. It didn't really hurt. She then inhaled slowly when the blood vanished, showing the carved skull with a snake coming out its mouth. She was branded now . . . forever.

The professor conjured a roll of gauze then, gently wrapping it over the wound. She continued for several moments until it was about a half inch thick. Slowly and a bit hesitantly, she reached for Aurora's hand, holding it a moment later.

"Know that you will never be alone. I will always be here for you, Aurora. Whenever you need to speak, even if it is the dead of night, please don't hesitate to come here."

"What if, um, what if it's past curfew, Professor?"

"Then if you are spotted by a professor, inform him or her that you are wishing to speak with me. I shall inform the majority of the staff that you will sometimes need to speak with me then."

Aurora nodded slowly, glancing away from her wrapped arm. She felt horribly out of sorts, but she guessed that was because now another knew about . . . it. She inhaled slowly, trembling. Professor Dumbledore had given his word not to inform her parents. However, Madam Pomfrey, he, and Professor McGonagall knew. They knew what had happened to her. She felt herself start to choke back a sob.

"I . . . I don't want them to know. Please don't tell the others."

"I shall only inform them that I wish them to bring you to me when you wish to speak. The others will not ask, but if they do, I shall not answer. I give you my word, Aurora. I shall never tell a soul what happened to you. That is not my right, my dear. It is yours to inform whoever you wish, not me, not the headmaster, not anyone. It is yours alone."

~SL~

For several months, Aurora had spoken with Professor McGonagall. Most of the time, their talks didn't concern her attack, however. In fact, they typically talked about Transfigurations or Astronomy. But, occasionally, Aurora would reveal a bit. Though, it was usually said rather quiet, clearly making it hard for the older witch to catch it.

Aurora's forearm had healed throughout that time, leaving behind a thin white scarred Dark Mark. She kept it hidden as best as she could under her robes, knowing how dangerous it would be if she didn't. Professor McGonagall had suggested that she used a wand holster to cover it, but Aurora never did buy one for herself.

Nighttime, Aurora and Professor McGonagall both decided, was the hardest for her. She frequently found herself suffering night terrors that would force her to have to drink a bottle of Dreamless Sleep in order to rest. Though, it was dangerous to do so. Dependency on Dreamless Sleep was something they both tried to avoid. So, they devised a system. For every four days that she took it, she would then not drink any for the next three.

However, after the first three nights they tried this, they learned how she was instinctively casting a Silencing spell on herself in order not to wake her dorm mates. This unfortunately resulted in her losing her voice in addition to damaging her vocal chords. So, she was moved into one of the spare single occupant rooms in the Slytherin dormitory.

The first night of this, Aurora found herself pulling her knees up to chest, afraid to fall asleep. She was alone in the dark room. At least with the dorms she had the sounds of her fellow Slytherins sleeping. However, here, she was all by herself. She wasn't, though, she soon realized after experiencing yet another nightmare. Professor McGonagall had kept her word. Aurora would never be truly alone.

~SL~

Sighing, Aurora ran a hand through her hair before she walked into the Slytherin common room. She frowned when she noticed Reg talking to Severus. She could only imagine what he was saying to him this time. Slowly, she walked towards them.

"For the last time, Black, I don't know," Severus hissed, glaring at the Slytherin.

"You have to know. You know everything else about everyone. What's wrong with Sin?"

"I suggest you ask her yourself, Black." The fifth-year then turned around likely to head to his dorm, only to have his cloak yanked back by the fourth-year.

"If I find out you did something to her, Snape, I'll kill you. Do you understand that?" Reg snarled, his wand pressed against the other's throat. "I don't give a damn about Him and his plans for you. I'll kill you myself."

"Is that so, Black?" Severus spat back, clenching his teeth.

"Yeah, it is."

"How incredibly arrogant, you are, Black," he sneered, "to think that you would be able to kill me." His dark eyes then darted behind the younger Slytherin. A frown quickly passed over his features as he caught Aurora's gaze. "However, a word of advice for you, Black, I would perhaps lower your wand before you end up on your incredibly large arse."

"I know what you are, Snape."

"Do you now?" he drawled, smirking slightly. "Are you forgetting, dear Reg, that I too know the same about you?" He then chuckled softly when he was released. "Well, at least we know that the Sorting Hat wasn't wrong about your Sorting, Black." His dark eyes darted back towards Aurora. "Sinistra," he stated, inclining his head before walking away without another word.

"Sin?" breathed Reg as he whirled around, lowering his wand instantly. "I, um, well—"

"You're lucky he didn't kill you."

"I can take Snape."

"Words spoken by a fool," she stated, frowning.

"Oh, please, I know just as many dark spells as he does, Sin."

"But can you cast them without your wand and nonverbally, though?" she asked, sidestepping him when he came a bit too close for comfort.

"Well, likely not, but it's the thought that counts, right?" Reg then sighed. "Sin, you'd tell me if something happened, wouldn't you?"

"Would you?" She made no reaction when he glanced down. "Then we have our answer." She inhaled slowly before glancing around the common room. It was empty for the most part. "I'll talk to you in the morning, Reg."

"Yeah," he said, frowning, "night."

"Try not to piss Severus off. I'd rather not lose you." She then walked towards her room, closing the door behind her a moment later. Sometimes she found Reg too protective of her. It was at times suffocating the way he made sure she was well. But she did enjoy his company. After all, Severus and Reg were the only Slytherins who talked to her anymore. Everyone else tended to avoid her.

She quickly readied herself for bed, feeling a bit calm for once in a long while. She didn't know why, though. She knew Reg meant his threat to Severus. Maybe was because she knew that if he had wanted to, he could have hurt Reg rather badly, but he didn't for some reason. Or it could just be because she loved watching Severus be his usual self.

She stretched out in her bed, sighing as she closed her eyes. She inhaled and exhaled, attempting to clear her mind as Severus had attempted to show her a few weeks ago. However, every time she did, she found herself imagining those thin lips of his. No wonder she had only lasted through one session of Occlumency with him. He likely knew all about her thoughts. She then snorted. Well, at least he still hung around, if he did. It didn't take long before she was whisked away to her dreamland.

~SL~

A butterbeer sounded good to her at that point. She wasn't even certain why she wanted one so bad. She then sighed. Yes she did. She had gotten into an argument with Severus. She had asked him to brew her one thing, and Mr. Bastard himself got all snippy with her. He had the gall to tell her that he had better things to do than to brew a damn potion that night.

Drawing her robes closer to her, she sighed as she trudged towards the Three Broomsticks. Madam Rosmerta likely would report her to the headmaster for being out of bed. But, well, that was only if the witch saw her. She smiled as she saw the closed door in front of her. One butterbeer com—

The thought died in her mind as a hand suddenly covered her mouth while an arm pinned her against someone. She struggled, squirming in an attempt to get free. It didn't work, though. The person, a man she realized, only held her tighter before he Apparated them far from Hogsmeade.

"My Lord," her captor spoke softly, bowing his head respectfully. "I have found one whose blood is pure, just as you requested."

Aurora inhaled sharply, glancing up. Her eyes widened as she watched the dark wizard slowly descend from his dais towards them. She had heard stories about him from the older students and read articles that detailed the murders carried out in the wizard's name. She did her best not to tremble, but she couldn't help it.

"Yes, so I see," the Dark Lord purred, running a finger down her cheek. He smirked when she turned her head away to escape his touch. "There is no reason to be afraid. I won't harm you." He chuckled when she attempted to move further away. "Yes, I do think he'll enjoy you." He gently grabbed her chin and forced her to look towards him. "You'll be a present for one of my followers. He likely won't hurt you either." He then chuckled in amusement as his eyes narrowed on her. "Tell me, Miss Sinistra. Will you join my cause? I can give you the young man you fancy. You just have to say yes."

"Go wank with yourself, you sick son of a bitch."

"You're perfect," he replied with a chuckle before snapping his fingers. "Bella dear, please make the guest of honor at least semi-presentable for the party."

The witch Bella had cast almost instantly a Stunning spell on her, laughing softly when Aurora went limp in the man's arms. She slowly sauntered forward, smirking as she gently prodded the young Slytherin's head up so they could look at one another.

Aurora found Bella to be a beautiful witch with the blackest of untamable curls that seemed to speak of an underlying madness. Bella's wide eager eyes seemed to drink in her fear and pain. And the feeling around her person, well, it terrified even the bravest Gryffindor instinctively. She felt her stomach knot when the witch laughed darkly again before she slipped an arm around her and pulled her away into a room, humming softly.

"No, no, that just won't do," Bella said softly, brushing back Aurora's curls. With a flick of her wand, Aurora's curls vanished into long straight dark hair. Her fingers then grabbed Aurora's robes, tearing it off her. "Such a pretty girl you are, sweet," she whispered. "But we can't have you looking like you just came from Hogwarts, can we?" She ripped open Aurora's blouse, roughly shoving it off her shoulders. She quickly undid the knot to Aurora's tie, tossing it down a moment later. "Have to make you desirable after all, sweet," she explained. The young girl's jeans then vanished. "My, my, sweet, that won't do either." Her undergarments were quickly altered from white cotton to green and silver lace. "Hmm, sweet, getting there," she said, laughing. She once more flicked her wand towards Aurora, changing the color to auburn. "Now, what to do about your face?" she spoke with a horrible smirk, "your beautiful pureblood face?" A moment later, she changed Aurora's facial features. "My, my, he'll love you, sweet." She cackled softly. "And now the finishing touch," she whispered, her eyes darkening as she pulled a knife from her top. "To make you forever his," she purred. The knife slowly descended near Aurora's left forearm. "Now, now, sweet, Auntie Bella doesn't wish to hear any such cries from you, pretty girl. Lest she mess up her pretty carving she's going to do for you. So be good." The blade pierced her arm a moment later, causing Aurora to scream in her head as the knife sliced through flesh.

~SL~

Almost instantly, the fifteen-year-old woke up, sitting up and screaming. It felt as if the Dark Mark was being carved into her arm all over again. She then caught movement out of the corner of her eye, which made her snatch her wand and send a powerful Blasting curse at whatever it was. She heard a squeak a moment later as what she quickly recognized to be Professor McGonagall's house elf popped away. She felt slightly bad for it, but honestly what was that thing thinking?

The tears that threatened to overtake her did then. She drew her knees up to her chest and rocked back and forth against her headboard. She trembled every time it banged against the wall, not realizing that she was the reason it was.

"Oh, my dear," a soft voice spoke somewhere near her a few moments later. Hands then gently grabbed hers, squeezing them. "I'm here, Aurora. I'm here."

"Professor," the young Slytherin cried before wrapping her arms around the older witch. She sobbed into the woman's shoulder, feeling as if it was happening all over again. That dream had been so vivid, so lifelike . . . so real.

"It's all right, child," Professor McGonagall replied, gently rubbing circles into her back. "You're home. You're safe."

"I couldn't . . . I couldn't scream. She . . . she . . . she silenced me," Aurora cried, holding the witch as if she was her lifeline. "She . . . she cut me, carved it in, smiling, she was smiling." She trembled as more waves of memories flashed past her eyes. "It hurt. It hurt loads, but she kept . . . she kept carving it, saying . . . saying that it made me his forever. Why? What did I do? Why?"

"My dear, you were just in the wrong place at the wrong time."

"She . . . she poured . . . a-a potion down my throat. It . . . it made me groggy. I-I couldn't fight back. I-I tried, but nothing worked." Aurora gulped, inhaling a large breath. "Bella . . . she . . . she . . ."

"You're safe, Aurora. They can't hurt you anymore."

"The door . . . it opened and two people walked in. She . . . she told them that I was ready . . . ready for them." She shook her head violently when she heard the ghostly footsteps in her mind. "The man, um, he was older than, than the one, the one who hurt me. He told . . . told him, whispered something to the other one." She inhaled deeply. "I couldn't-couldn't see his face. He, he wore a mask." She could feel his warm breath against her. "He, um, he didn't say a word . . . a word during it." A steady stream of tears fell down her cheeks, which she angrily wiped away. "He-he was gentle, apologizing actually when he, um, when he hurt me." She inhaled deeply again. "When-when he was done, he whispered 'Don't cry. Please don't cry. I didn't mean to hurt you.' His-his voice, it was so soft as if-as if he was really sorry." She trembled slightly. "He then kissed me and healed me the best he could. And then someone entered the room. The other man said he wanted a go at the pretty little lass." Aurora's voice darkened as she lost herself to the memories. "I never heard his response, but he-he covered my body with his robes and kissed my cheek before he left. I was sent back to the gates then when-when someone, Mr. Filch I think, found me." The tears streamed down her face and continued as she sobbed into Professor McGonagall's robes.

"Shh, Aurora, you're safe." She did her best to calm the sobbing child. It took almost five minutes before the young girl was calm again. "My dear, I apologize for this question, but the second man, did he hurt you also?" She closed her eyes in relief when Aurora shook her head.

"He, the one who-who-who hurt me, I-I think he-he told the other one not to. I-I don't know why the other listened, but it was as if he was—I don't know—respected already or something."

Professor McGonagall held her a bit more, continuing to rub gentle circles on her back. She whispered soft words of encouragement, giving her a soft smile every now and then. Comfortable silence then settled around them soon after.

"Do you think, um, do you think I'll ever be-be . . . ?"

"My dear, what happened to you was heartbreaking. But he, whoever he was, cannot ever take from you what you weren't willing to give." She flashed a soft smile when she caught the look of confusion on the young girl's face. "Your physical wounds have healed, my dear. But no one can take what's in your heart and mind unless you want them to take it."

"Will you . . . never mind," she softly said, hanging her head.

"Will I what, Aurora?" Gently, she pushed the young girl's head up, staring into her eyes.

"Um, well, could you stay—I mean, I know you're probably busy and all—and you likely need to sleep—and—"

"I can stay if that's what you wish."

"You don't have to. I mean, I understand."

"Oh, Aurora," the older witch said, laughing softly as she brushed back a few stray curls. "There is no reason to be ashamed for asking such a thing. I am actually quite glad that you feel comfortable enough to ask." She then flicked her wand towards the ceiling, smiling when it became the night sky. "I shall always be here for you, Aurora, and I will never think differently about you. You, my dear, shall always be my secret brave little lion."

A/N: Aurora learns where her friends' loyalties lie.