< > < >"First of all, this is not your common room, this is the Ravenclaw Common Room, if you've forgotten. Second of all, this is the girl who I have known much longer than you ever will. And finally, third of all, let me pass!" Severus hissed, glancing at Samantha who was too upset too speak at the moment.

< > < >"Give her to me," the seventh year said cautiously.

< > < >"Hardly, yourself! I brought her here on Professor McGonagall's orders and I will not leave until I know she is safely in her dormitory!" Severus said angrily; his lying - about the professor's alleged orders - was only obvious to himself and Samantha, if Samantha was even listening.

< > < >"You, nor any other boy is allowed in a girl's dormitory!"

< > < >"And I don't give a rat's ass!" Severus said fiercely. "Let me pass or I will go straight to Dumbledore himself! And there will be hell to pay then." His last words were just above a whisper, but just as meaningful as everything else.

< > < >The Ravenclaw boy's confidence faltered when he heard and took in the threat. He coughed and turned to his fellow Ravenclaws. "Please move away for your fellow Ravenclaw . . . and friend," he said in a loud voice, turning back to Severus.

< > < >Severus couldn't hold Samantha very well anymore and, without warning to any of them - even Severus himself. "Help me," he said sharply to the prefect as he carefully pulled Samantha into his arms so he could carry her. His muscles felt like they were literally screaming, but Severus ignored the pain.

< > < >Reluctantly, the boy helped Severus in, looking quite repulsed and disgusted at even the though of touching a Slytherin. Severus almost told him this wasn't a time for politics - or the hatred everyone had toward Slytherin.

< > < >The prefect took his hands away as soon as Severus had made it through the entrance and pointed silently toward a corridor that must have led to Samantha's dormitory.

< > < >All the common room inhabitants' faces showed a mixture of astonishment and hatred. They're eyes glowed angrily at the thought of a Slytherin stepping into their common room.

< > < >Severus walked, ignoring them, alone, still holding Samantha in his arms, of course. She seemed oblivious to everything and everyone; or asleep, he guessed, again. Exhaustion had overcome her.

< > < >He nudged open the dormitory door with his foot and pushed through. He found Samantha's ruby encrusted chest immediately - it was one of a kind - and laid her in the bed that it lay at the foot of. He pulled the covers over her.

< > < >Samantha's eyes slowly opened. She looked around, startled, then turned her head toward Severus. Her eyes widened in surprise. "Why - how - when - ?" she asked, blinking.

< > < >"Shh," Severus whispered, bringing a finger to his lips. "I brought you in here just now. The how part was difficult, but I finally made it through. I will say, though, that your fellow Ravenclaws will be happy to see me go." He laughed softly.

< > < >Samantha smiled. She reached out and his hand. "You did that - just for me?"

< > < >Severus nodded slowly, averting his eyes. He wanted to express his love for her, but couldn't. He looked back at her and gripped her hand gently, but firmly. "I . . . I don't know what to say to you."

< > < >Samantha closed her eyes and her arm fell limp, falling slowly - because of Severus's hand - next to her side. "You have done so much for me, Severus? How could I ever repay you?"

< > < >"Sleep," Severus replied quietly, slowly pulling his hand away, so he could stroke her head. "If you just sleep, that will be all I need from you, dear Samantha." He stood up, kissed her hand, and before he left whispered, "Sleep, my love. Sleep."

< > < >Severus hurried out of the dormitory and down the corridor.

< > < >The Ravenclaws were all still in the common room, so quiet that a feather could have fallen, and it would have sounded like an explosion when it touched the floor. They all glared at his back as he crawled quickly out of their precious common room.

< > < >Severus, finally out, hurried to his own common room. He was greeted by applause and excited whispers that erupted as soon as he walked in.

< > < >Dorian ran up to him and turned to everyone. "My best friend - made it into the Ravenclaw Common Room! A first in Hogwarts history! And into a girls' dormitory, too!"

< > < >Severus whirled around, seized short Dorian by the robes, and threw him against the nearest wall, glaring hard into his eyes.

< > < >The common room silenced immediately.

< > < >"You are a fool, Dorian," Severus hissed quietly, but the whole common room heard it. "You idiotic, lunatic, damn fool! My real best friend, Samantha Halloway, a girl I have known for years - her parents were killed, Dorian. By Voldemort! One of the most evil or soon to be most evil wizards that has ever walked the face of this earth! - and all you can say is I made into the Ravenclaw Common Room! Who gives a flying - " Dorian yelped in pain as Severus dug his nails into his neck.

< > < >"Severus!"

< > < >"Samantha was crying in my arms for hours this morning! I was not there for her when she needed me, though, Dorian! All of you were, though! And who cares that she is Ravenclaw? How many of you will wish that Gryffindor or that Hufflepuff were there for you when your parents die?" Severus yelled angrily, dropping Dorian who crumpled in a heap on the floor.

< > < >Severus looked down at him and spit on him. "You disgust me. I helped her all the way to her common room on legs that had not moved position in three hours, carried through her common room, past all of the Ravenclaws, and into her room, to lay her on her bed - for her protection!

< > < >"Samantha is the only friend I truly know - and I will not, do your hear me? I will not hand her off to some prefect, even if he was Ravenclaw, because I cannot! I knew her parents - the only ones she had that are now dead! Does that ring a bell? Death?" he demanded of the room. "How many of you will be crying and laying in bed in grief of your parents, or your sister, or your brother, or your aunts and uncles and cousins, because Voldemort killed them?"

< > < >The silent common room stared at Severus in realization.

< > < >"And mark my words, all of you, when the time comes for your own death, you will regret this. All of it." With that, Severus swept to his dormitory, slamming the door behind him.

< > < >He did not come out for lunch, nor for dinner. Severus had drawn the curtains once again and spent his time staring into space. He knew he should have been studying, but he really didn't care.

< > < >Severus heard Dorian and the other sixth year boys come in after dinner, suddenly quieting their loud voices, when they saw Severus was in the room, or, at least, figured he still was.

< > < >When morning came, Severus was first up. He hurried down to the Great Hall after he had dressed, ate quickly before many students arrived, then headed to the library, wanting to find a quiet, reserved place.

< > < >He had been working for nearly an hour, when someone passing by stopped next to him. Severus looked up, his eyes immediately darkening. "What do you want?" he sneered, looking down at his papers.

< > < >James Potter shifted from one foot to the other uncomfortably. "I - I just wanted to say . . ." Severus looked up, ready to come back with a sarcastic remark. "I just wanted to say what you did - it was really decent of you," James finished defiantly.

< > < >Severus stared at him, then, realizing, turned back to his work. "I suppose the whole school knows if you know," he said in a hard tone.

< > < >James sat down in front of Severus, making him look up. "What do you mean?" he demanded, narrowing his eyes at Severus.

< > < >"What do you think I mean?" Severus sneered.

< > < >"I just came here - " James started to say, his voice rising.

< > < >"To say that what I did was really decent. Yeah, I know. I'm not exactly deaf, am I?" Severus demanded angrily through gritted teeth. "I heard you perfectly, James Potter."

< > < >James's eyes stayed narrowed. "If you must know - your whole house was telling everyone at lunch and at dinner, for those who missed the tale. Are you telling me what they said wasn't true - "

< > < >"Am I supposed to know what they said is true or not?" Severus demanded, slamming his quill down. "I wasn't there - was I? I'm sure at least half of them said I'm crazy - that's why I was in bed all day. Ha! I stayed there because I did not want to talk to any idiots yesterday or today!"

< > < >"They said that you carried that girl - Samantha Halloway - all the way to the common room, yelled at one of the prefects, and walked straight in, and carried her to her room, and your were there for a while," James said.

< > < >"I helped her to her common room door, then carried her, when she started crying again, even though my legs had been bent in the same direction for three hours," Severus said. "And how in hell did my house know about - ?"

< > < >James waved his hand impatiently. "The Ravenclaws, of course. They included their own stories. Stories," he emphasized.

< > < >Severus opened his mouth, then shut it. "No, I'm not saying anymore. It's my personal business and for one thing, what will the Gryffindors think when they find out you spoke to me in an actual conversation?" he demanded. "They'll condemn you for life!" Severus laughed shortly and looked back at his work. "I'm busy," he said in a hard voice.

< > < >James hesitated for a moment, then got up, and turned to leave.

< > < >"James," Severus said, not looking up.

< > < >James turned around slowly.

< > < >"You're lucky, you know," Severus said quietly.

< > < >"Lucky? For what?"

< > < >Severus sighed in hesitation. "You have Lily," he replied softly.

< > < >"And you have Samantha, Severus," James said, then walked away.

< > < >At lunch time, even though it was Sunday, the Great Hall was crowded with people on study breaks.

< > < >Whispering had erupted once again when Severus had walked in, but he gave a glaring glance around the room, and it had returned to semi-normal talk, with staring, of course. Everyone was worried he was going to beat them up like he supposedly did to Dorian.

< > < >Suddenly, near the end of lunch, after a few people had sauntered out, not looking forward to getting back to their studies, two lonely owls swooped into the Great Hall. The whole room went silent.

< > < >One headed to Dumbledore and the other - the other was headed toward Severus. The owl headed toward Dumbledore dropped it in his lap and Severus's letter was dropped right into his hands.

< > < >Severus tore open the letter and a long chain with a small, roughly cut amethyst on it, fell out onto the table. He jumped up, making the chair he was sitting in crash onto the floor behind him.

< > < >Dumbledore jumped up from his own seat, but couldn't move any farther. Everyone was staring at Severus, who was staring open-mouthed at the necklace in pure horror.

< > < >"No," he whispered softly. "No, no, no!" He turned his head to stare at Dumbledore who nodded solemnly. "NO!" Severus shrieked, backing up and falling onto the floor.

< > < >He desperately tried to back up, kicking his legs, but he could barely move. Out of the corner of his eye, Severus saw James leap to his feet, but he was not paying attention to anyone.

< > < >The necklace was on the edge of the table and after a few silent moments, teetered off the table onto the floor, a few inches from Severus's feet. The clang of it hitting the floor echoed through the common room.

< > < >Severus screamed.

< > < >Someone had taken him back to his room, Dorian, with the help of James, probably, Severus figured when he woke up. Everyone probably stared at him, even Sirius, Remus, Peter, and Lily.

< > < >Oh, why? Samantha asked why and now I am asking - why? Severus screamed to no one in his head. He put his hands on his head, trying to block out the pain he felt inside him, but it wouldn't go away, and flopped back on the bed, tears streaming down his cheeks.

< > < >My poor mother . . . how long did she live? How long did she know she was going to die? How long was her pain? How had she held herself when she knew she was dying? Severus had so many questions, with no answers at all, and it nearly killed him.

< > < >His father had died when he was six and now, at age sixteen, ten years later, his mother was dead, too. He had no brothers or sisters, or did he have relatives that he knew of; he was all alone in the world, except for the fact he had Samantha.

< > < >Severus decided to go talk with Hagrid again, despite telling himself it was senile. He left the common room after everyone had gone to bed, slipping through the damp dungeons and drafty corridors, carefully avoiding Argus Filch and his cat.

< > < >He rapped on the door of the hut, whispering, "Hagrid? Hagrid!"

< > < >"W - what?" Hagrid asked sleepily, coming to the door, and opening it. He stared at Severus in surprise. "Severus! What are yeh doin' 'ere?" Hagrid asked, suddenly wide awake.

< > < >Severus looked down and didn't answer.

< > < >"Eh, well, c'mon in," Hagrid said uncertainly, ushering him in.

< > < >"I heard about yer mum," Hagrid said delicately, handing Severus a cup of tea. "Er, I know yeh don't like it, but it's all I got." He looked extremely apologetic.

< > < >"No, no - it's fine. Thank you." Severus took a small sip of tea which felt like heaven in itself to his dry mouth. He looked slowly up at Hagrid, his eyes glistening. "So," he said slowly, "you heard about Mum?"

< > < >Hagrid shifted his weight uncomfortably. "Yeah," he replied finally.

< > < >Severus shook his head in grief. "I had just 'preached,' if you will, to my house about their selfishness and what they would be feeling if they're parents or family died by the hand of Voldemort - " Hagrid absolutely shuddered at the name, he saw, "and it happened to me." Severus stared down at his cup. A tear fell into it, rippling the dark liquid.

< > < >Hagrid slowly pulled an envelope out of his jacket and set it in front of Severus, who stared. "Now, I - I'm not the firs' one to admit, Severus," Hagrid said, making Severus look up at him, "that I don't like Slytherins and I'm sure damn well not going to be the last one, either, you know that. But, I have to say to that yer sure as hell one of the most noble and courageous young men I've met in my entire lifetime. Yer a good man, Severus, yeh really are."

< > < >Severus left Hagrid's hut at dawn; he had slept on the floor, Fang curled up next to him. He hadn't wanted to go back to the castle that night - it was too risky, anyway, Hagrid had realized.

< > < >He walked swiftly across the grounds, the opened letter clutched in his hand protectively. Severus still hadn't read the enclosed and preferred to do it in private. He hurried into the castle, immediately confronted by Professor Dumbledore.

< > < >"Professor Dumbledore?" Severus asked dimly, surprised.

< > < >"Severus, why don't you come to my office? We can talk."

< > < >The professor reached out to take Severus's arm, but Severus whirled away. "With all do respect, sir, I'd rather not," he said, his eyes narrowing. He hated 'talking' to Dumbledore - Dumbledore did all the talking while the student listened, nodded, and would agree, whether or not they did. Severus loathed that aspect.

< > < >Professor Dumbledore stared at him, surprised, yet, really not, in a way, as he had heard this kind of rejection before. He nodded finally. "Well, you'd better be on your way then, Mr. Snape."

< > < >"Yes, sir," Severus replied, hurrying away.

< > < >Severus was walking toward the entrance to his common room, when he was ambushed by a blur of brown hair. Whoever it was threw their arms around his neck, sobbing. He then realized who it was.

< > < >"Samantha!" he yelped, nearly falling backwards.

< > < >"Oh, Severus! I just heard!" Samantha wailed, still hugging him.

< > < >Severus hugged her back tightly, his own tears starting to fall. "They were together, weren't they?" he whispered, knowing the answer as soon as he had asked the question.

< > < >Samantha cried on his shoulder. "Why us, Severus?" she demanded, then laughed sarcastically. "Of course you don't know - I don't know and I'm supposed to know everything! Oh, God, Severus, I wish I was with my parents!"

< > < >Severus hugged her tighter, unsure of what to say. He put his head on her shoulder, tears falling onto her, but she didn't seem to mind or care. She stroked his hair gently, surprising him.

< > < >"A storm is coming, you know," Samantha said quietly, wiping her nose. "I can feel it. And it's definitely coming. But, the question isn't that it's coming, the question is: is it good, or is it evil?"

< > < >"We'll only know when it comes," Severus replied softly.

< > < >Sure enough, Samantha was right. The castle was being pelted by rain and hail and wind in less than an hour, actually.

< > < >The corridors were freezing, fireplaces were lit with roaring fires, but those were only in the common rooms. The classrooms were freezing, especially potions and the astronomy tower.

< > < >No one spoke of the deaths - another student, in Gryffindor, this time, had found out that his sister and father had died - the last bodies to be found in the wreckage - and was devastated. He stayed in his bed, not wanting to talk to anyone.

< > < >Once all of his classes were over, Severus retreated to his common room where he studied until dinner. He dragged his miserable self to the Great Hall and starting eating, suddenly ravenous.

< > < >He was in a position where he could see the doors of the Great Hall and out of the corner of his eye, he saw a girl with long brown hair run by it, not even glancing inside, but he knew who it was.

< > < >Severus jumped to his feet and the room silenced almost instantly. It was a good thing, too, because then no one would have heard the front doors slam shut, with a muffled scream following it.

< > < >"Samantha!" Severus shouted, scrambling over the table, and running out the doors. He slammed into the walls as he ran, deafening shouts of surprise and fear behind him.

< > < >He heard loud footsteps behind him, but he ignored them. Severus threw open the front door and stopped dead at the sight not a hundred feet in front of him. He couldn't move.

< > < >Samantha lay twisted on the ground, wet, and bloodied, a knife sliding slowly from her once delicate hand.

< > < >Severus suddenly felt power come back to his legs and he tore down to Samantha, slipping and sliding in the mud and dark. He fell onto his knees next to her, staring at her in shock and fear.

< > < >Samantha was breathing harshly as she lost blood quickly. She was pale as a ghost, looking up with a blank expression, ignoring the rainwater splashing into her still beautiful eyes. Her grip on the knife was lost and the knife slid into a puddle.

< > < >She did this to herself, he realized suddenly.

< > < >There were gasps of horror behind him.

< > < >"No, no, Samantha!" Severus yelled in anguish, slamming his fist down in the mud. He crawled around to her and brought her limp head into his lap. "No, no, don't leave me! Not here! Not now!" he cried, tears streaming down his cheeks.

< > < >Samantha looked into his eyes, but didn't say anything. She looked . . . happy.

< > < >"No, don't do that! Don't look at me like that. I love you, Samantha!" Severus shrieked, burying his face in his hands. "Don't you understand? Isn't it clear? Why? Oh, why do I have to lose so many people? It's not fair! My father, my mother, and - and now you - my only reason for not taking my own life!"

< > < >Samantha started crying - Severus didn't know if it was the pain or realization. "Oh, Severus," she said, her voice choking up on the blood that was coming up through her throat. "Oh, Severus, I knew! I know, but . . . but my life was over the second Voldemort was conceived! His destiny was to kill my parents and - "

< > < >"My destiny was to be with you!" he yelled back at her, suddenly angry.

< > < >"I love you, too, Severus," Samantha said through tears, her pale, feeble body shaking horribly. "But I can't go on. Not without my family - my parents, I mean."

< > < >"My mother died, you know!" Severus cried. "I - I . . . how do you think I can go on without you?" He cried harder, not wanting to believe the truth right in front of his eyes.

< > < >Samantha managed a weak smile. "What did I ask you once?" she asked.

< > < >Severus stared at her in confusion.

< > < >"I asked you," she continued, "to stay with me."

< > < >"And I . . ." Severus gulped. "I said always and forever."

< > < >Samantha reached up to him and grasped his hand. "Always and forever, Severus, always and forever," she whispered hoarsely, smiling as best she could, despite the pain.

< > < >Severus leaned down and kissed her deeply, never wanting to let go - he couldn't, he knew. He'd never let go. Never.

< > < >The two lovers were oblivious to the people surrounding them - their screams, their crying, their stares of terror, and whimpers of emotional pain. It was just the two of them.

< > < >Samantha died in Severus's arms that stormy night, leaving a lonely, angry man behind in grief of his lost life, which he knew he would never regain, and he knew he never wanted back, because he knew he would lose it again.