The Swan and the Doe

...

Bella Swan fumbled her way up the stairs, desperate to reach her room. The area became ransacked in minutes, as she tore her way through her belongings.

"Come on...where are you?" she mumbled as she picked through her old trunk for the fourth time.

After another ten minutes of searching, she slumped to the ground, accepting what she already knew-it was gone.

Her gaze slid to the window, noting the quickly approaching dusk. She was grateful for the rare sunlight, which was truthfully the only reason she was alive right now. The vampires' need for secrecy was important-as she well knew-and was what kept Victoria from coming for her now.

She was lucky when Laurent cornered her that the wolves were there, but with Jacob's recent decision to ignore her, she knew she couldn't rely on them. Her last hope had been finding one of the two items she had once kept on her at all times, but now seemed to have been lost during the move.

There was only one option left for her now, but she wasn't quite sure she would be able to pull it off. It would be hard enough to accomplish after months of grieving over a broken heart, but to do so without a conduit? Such a feat seemed impossible.

Negative thoughts aren't going to make this easier, she reprimanded herself.

Taking a deep breath, she delved into those memories she sought to bury but never forget, and allowed one to wash over her. The knowledge that her actions would soon yield that heart wrenching pain she had grown accustomed to in the beginning, did nothing to diminish the delight of the memory at the moment.

She thought the words and with a wave of her hand, her beloved swan appeared, head tilted demurely as she waited for instruction. The success was bittersweet, as the restraint of her patronus after going so long without being called made her heart break a little. She fought to suppress the guilt.

"Seek out someone in The Order. Tell them I need help, or I will be dead when the sun sets on the Fork," she told the swan softly, already feeling the drain of casting the wandless patronus seeping in.

The swan nodded before stretching its wings and elegantly flying out the window in a shimmer of light.

She slid back down to the floor as the fatigue became even more prevalent, and her rapidly fogging mind struggled to bombard her with worries-mainly that whoever her swan found would be unfamiliar with the code she had used in her message.

Leave it to Dumbledore to keep that close to his chest too, she thought tiredly.

...

Severus Snape sat in the Headmaster's office-his office-staring into a cup of tea that he had no will to drink. His loss of appetite could be attributed to his required presence at the High Table not too long ago, bearing the brunt of both his colleagues' scorn and the students loathing.

Although he had dealt with such looks his entire life, the recently justified hate he was regarded with was a little harder to handle. The Carrows doled out punishment like Albus did sweets and despite all of his efforts to protect the students from the worst of it, he knew he was not doing nearly enough.

He was pleased, however, with the recent efforts of one Neville Longbottom, even if a great many of them were extremely foolish. While reestablishing Dumbledore's Army was undoubtedly one of his stupidest, the intent behind it was not.

The war was fast approaching and if he could count on one thing, it was that the final battle would take place on Hogwarts grounds. The Dark Lord was rather covetous of the old school, a fact Albus often theorized had everything to do with Hogwarts being his first real home and inarguable evidence of his superiority over the Muggles.

Regardless of the reason, the fight would undoubtedly be brought here. The more the students knew how to defend themselves, the better their already meager chances of survival would be.

His thoughts were interrupted by the arrival of a patronus-the first he had received since Albus's death. The patronus was further surprising in the way it shimmered, evidence of such pure magic that it could not have been cast by a wand. The knowledge that someone had cast a patronus wandless-and to him, no less-had his mind reeling.

The swan fluttered slowly to his desk, lowering its elegant head to stare piercingly at Severus Snape. A soft voice he didn't recognize filled the room.

"I need help, or I will be dead when the sun sets on the Fork."

The voice echoed once before the swan stretched its elongated neck to move within an inch of his face, its eyes trying to convey the desperation of the caster, before fading out of existence with a shimmer.

"I had hoped it wouldn't come to this," Albus Dumbledore's portrait sighed.

Severus whipped around to glare at the image of the man who even in death, was still pulling strings like all the world was a marionette show and he was merely the dutiful puppeteer.

"Come to what?" he demanded.

"You must go to her, my boy."

"Ignoring the fact that I have no idea who or where this person is, you expect me to go gallivanting off to rescue some girl? What of the school? What of your precious students?" he sneered.

"She is in Washington, of course," the portrait stated, as if the answer was obvious.

"America?" he asked, raising an eyebrow.

"Yes, and if I am not mistaken, dusk should be within minutes."

"Minutes!" he exclaimed incredulously. "Even by apparition, that's hardly enough time to locate her-"

"Ah," the portrait interrupted, smiling benignly. "But I have a portkey."

Severus narrowed his eyes at the image of the old man, suspicious.

"Who is this girl, Albus?"

"My granddaughter," the portrait replied, eyes twinkling.


(gasp)
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