Chapter 2: Wounds
A/N: This Chapter 2 is mostly the same as the original, but I tried to edit it for better formatting/consistency with the new chapter 1. :) if you're reading my story, please leave me some feedback so I know how I'm doing. This is my first contribution to fanfiction in a long time and I'm really attached to this idea. Happy writing, dears!
***Screams pierced the brisk September night and a streak of green light shot through the living room. "Get down!" she shrieked, but it was too late. "Mare!" the lifeless body of her best friend crumpled before her, her brown eyes staring in horror at something now unseen. This was a high muggle area...someone from the Ministry would be here any minute...right? Another jet of green light shattered the living room window. Charnette dove under the coffee table as it splintered to pieces above her. A flash of orange and flames lapped around her. Should she cry out for help? No...then Tom..no no...not Tom, he was gone, only Voldemort lived now and he would know she was in there, alive, if she made a sound. She curled herself into a tight ball and pretended she was dead, knowing that soon, she wouldn't have to pretend anymore. Again and again, she heard Mariya's scream. The snake on her forearm throbbed like it was going to crawl right out of her skin. It burned-he was angry.
Then, Charnette was in the arms of a man with short brown hair and a lime green bowler hat. He held her close to him as he said a healing spell over her burns. "It's okay...you're safe now," he murmured softly. ***
Dolores Umbridge jolted awake and found herself wrapped in her sheets in a cold sweat. She'd had the dream again. She rolled back over on her back and sighed. Today, she returned to Hogwarts for the start of the school year. In a way, it would be a bit refreshing-she'd spent the summer getting certified to teach Astronomy, but in a fearful haze, nearly afraid to check the Daily Prophet each day thinking that there'd be a Rita Skeeter article about Charnette Lestrange's survival. Meanwhile, the Mark grew darker and stronger by the day. She knew she'd be safe at Hogwarts, but she worried about how she would be received, both by students and staff alike. She was ready to turn over a new leaf, but she didn't know if they were.
Dolores Umbridge selected a deep red dress for the occasion, paired with a long-sleeved black jacket that hid the Mark from view. She put on a pair of scarlet pumps and let her brown curly hair fall past her shoulders. With some makeup, she was no longer recognizable as Dolores Umbridge. She knew she might be taking a chance, but she brushed the thought away. To the world, Charnette Lestrange was long dead. They'd have no need to be suspicious of anyone that resembled her, there were hundreds of brunettes that wore red-she was just being silly. Although...she took another look in the mirror at the little tattoo on her chest-a black raven holding a rose in its talons. Maybe she should cover it up? No. She wanted him to see. She wanted him to know she hadn't changed.
When she boarded the teacher's car of the Hogwarts Express, she hurriedly stowed her things and found a compartment by herself. She'd rather be alone than face them-the stares, the accusations, the rumors. She closed her eyes slowly, thinking she'd use the time to get some rest she hoped would not be impeded by the usual nightmares. The compartment door slid open and she opened her eyes, instinctively gripping her wand (new-11 inches, black walnut wood, dragon heartstring). Then, she saw who it was and relaxed.
"Oh...it's you," she murmured. Severus Snape just gave her a puzzled look.
"Mind if I sit here?" he asked, but sat down across from her before she could reply. Dolores Umbridge nodded, but went back to staring out the window.
Severus Snape did not know what possessed him to sit with her. Well, he did know. He always sat by himself in this very compartment, but she'd beaten him to it this time. He watched Dolores Umbridge...no...Charnette curiously. She twirled her hair with her finger as she always had a habit of doing and looked out the window almost longingly as the little towns flashed by. Peaceful. As she'd never been.
His mind wandered to his own time at Hogwarts, how Charnette used to follow he, Rodolphus, and Lucius around. She tried so hard to be one of them. Her best friend was Bellatrix Black, who would later become her sister in-law, but not by Bellatrix's own doing. Her parents would arrange for her to marry Rodolphus Lestrange, a wealthy pureblood suitor, not knowing that her heart belonged to Tom Riddle, the man who would become the Dark Lord. But Charnette...silly Charnette. She would have given anything to be with him, but he loved Lily. And at first, Lily loved him, too. He willed himself not to think about that. Think about Charnette. Her one forest green eye, one mahogany brown. She wasn't that bad, he reasoned. Annoying, then, but in the bigger picture, not a bad person. For he'd known truly bad people. Her turning towards him broke him out of his memories. He felt something he couldn't quite place...he didn't like seeing her like this...so hopeless...so broken. She wasn't Charnette, but then again, she wasn't quite Umbridge either. She was different...-dare he think it- pretty. Her chestnut curls fell across her face like a curtain, lightly defining the high arch of her cheekbone. She looked about ten years younger and the dress...was a Charnette pick, not a Dolores Umbridge one. His eyes came to rest on a darkly inked tattoo just below her left clavicle-a raven holding a rose, spreading its wings.
"So you really are back, then?" he found himself asking.
"Depends on what you mean, but yes," she said, but didn't meet his eyes. They were silent again for a short time. "Do you think the Dark Lord is angry at people like us? You know, deserters," she asked suddenly and Snape stiffened.
"I would expect that the Dark Lord has a bit more on his plate right now than tracking down old Death Eaters that didn't come back. He has new followers now," he replied stoically.
"Did you hear about the wandmaker, Ollivander? Prophet says he's disappeared," she remarked. "Now what could he have had that the Dark Lord wanted?" Snape didn't answer her. He knew exactly what the Dark Lord wanted, but he couldn't tell her.
"I believe he wanted to know of the best wand he could use to kill Harry Potter," he said curtly. Now, it was Umbridge's turn to be quiet. Harry Potter. Snape presumed she was wondering how Potter would react at seeing her again and if she would she be able to handle teaching him without getting upset with him. "Potter's arrogance rivals only his father's. While he may have all of the other teachers at this school wrapped around his finger, I'm not and you don't have to be." The compartment door slid open.
"Anything off the cart, professors?" the plump witch asked and Snape turned to Umbridge expectantly. She shook her head.
"I'm alright," she replied, but she was looking rather pale.
"A chocolate frog, if you will," Snape said and handed a few silver sickles to the witch. Chocolate frogs had been Charnette's favorite. He tossed her the frog casually and she smiled. "Don't mention it," he mumbled and looked at the sun setting out the train window.
"I expect we'll be arriving soon." Umbridge's expression turned from pleased to sour as she looked down at her Chocolate Frogs card. "He's taken over that, too," she hissed and handed Snape the card. Even he frowned looking at it, for in his palm, was a Dark Lord Famous Witches and Wizards card. "I expect he thinks if he can get them young and brainwash them, he's all set," she murmured just as the compartment door opened once more.
"We're not hungry," he snapped, but it was not the witch pushing the trolley. Minerva McGonagall stood in the doorway in an emerald traveling cloak, looking down upon him.
"Why Severus, I only meant to ask-oh!"McGonagall looked shocked that Snape was not alone in the compartment. "New astronomy teacher, I presume? Professor Sinistra is pregnant, you know. Due in May," she remarked and Umbridge turned shyly to face her.
"Perhaps we can start over, Minerva," she said with a smile and extended her hand. Something must have clicked in McGonagall's mind because she scoffed and did not shake Umbridge's hand.
"Back for another year, Dolores? I don't know what it is you're playing at, but mark my words, the headmaster is going to have his eye on you-as will I," she snapped darkly and slid the compartment door shut. Umbridge sighed and Snape found himself placing a hand on her knee.
"They'll come around. Perhaps not right away, but they'll come around." She smiled faintly, but otherwise didn't respond. "Dolores-Doe? Everything's going to be alright," he assured her and that time, definitely caught a smile that reached her eyes. He wasn't quite sure where this gentle Severus Snape was coming from, but strangely enough, he was okay with it. It felt right and...a lot less lonely.
~Sew every shimmer you get to your skin
And let every whisper come rushing back in
And pick up the stitches and start to mend~