A/N-I do not own. This is NOT part of the Saving Universe, despite the title. Rather this is a universe of its own. What would happen if Albus died mysteriously and the castle chose a young witch to heal it? This will eventually be a mentor-fic, in a way. And yes, there are relationships of many different types here, none of which are explicit. There is also swearing, eating disorders, self-harm and mentions of child abuse...Voldemort has just been destroyed, Albus is dead and a new witch is in town. Things get interesting fast. No Harry here, but he shall show up quite soon and will perhaps make the castle hell for the rest of the summer...Let me know what you think. This is non-canon complaint and very AU. Meet the female Snape, everyone. Italics are thoughts! X's are scene breaks! Time is noted!
(This chapter has been updated and corrected, but the content is the same.)
This couldn't be happening. It just couldn't. The Headmaster had been dead for all of three days. She had not meant to take on the wards, had not wanted Hogwarts to choose her. It had just...happened. Damn Albus. This is what happened when an old fool was careless! Minerva could not even take the position any more, one that the woman had been more than happy to fulfill. Honestly, the woman was nearly making herself a suspect in his death! Foolish old bat. Oh why did she speak does words, as true as they still were? She had only been teaching here, teaching a healing course, for two years! Two. As a favour to Albus. And now she would be here until she was no longer needed. Dammit to hell.
Five days prior
"Yes, yes, settle down. Another year gone and the castle is once more still standing!" The headmaster stood in the centre of the staff room for a moment, before turning to ease himself into his overstuffed violet armchair. His periwinkle eyes twinkled, moving over the faces of his professors. Only two were absent. One was in the hospital wing, getting ready to be sent to St. Mungos, and the other was...well, actually, he did not know where Sybil was. "Lord Voldemort is destroyed at last, the Weasley twins did not cause any lasting harm with that last prank, and we are once again short of a Defense Professor. All in all, a grand year!" The snort from the corner was not unexpected, the young witch glaring at him from his Potion Master's side was. He wondered briefly what he had done to upset the young teacher but dismissed it as needless, turning to speak to his deputy for a moment.
"Yes, because nearly a dozen injured students, traumatized students, and recklessness in general is merely grand." She growled under her breath, watching the old man with steely gray eyes under the fringe of nearly black hair.
Severus Snape scowled at the girl, she really wasn't much younger than him, next to him. She was right, of course. But there was absolutely nothing that they could do about it. Sometimes he wondered if most of his students would not be safer at their homes than inside this castle, at least while under the watch of one Albus Dumbledore. The year had just ended, thank Merlin. Two months of a nearly silent castle, two months of brewing. He glanced at the headmaster for a moment before exchanging silent smirks with the young woman. Many idiots often wondered if they were related, and while they were not, they could have been. She was merely six or seven years younger than him, in her late twenties, a prodigy in her own right. Her hair was a shade lighter, but it was not very noticeable. Her skin was the same shade, the same pale, sickly white, as if she never went into the sun. She was tall and thin, skinnier than he was, both of them near gaunt. Her eyes were the same shape, her fingers long and slender. If he had not know better, he might even agree that they might be related. Both of them were half-bloods, after all. But she had been born to a family on the continent, specifically Germany. She had not even attended Hogwarts as a child. Her mind was fast, she used wit and sarcasm like a weapon. Their pasts, according to the headmaster, were similar. Although he doubted that Albus knew what he was talking about with most things, it was easy to see it in this girl.
But there were differences too. She had a mastery in Healing and Charms, not Potions and Healing as he did. She was softer, kinder; he used harsh words and a biting tone. He did not bully his students, but they respected him completely, feared him even. His subject was dangerous; hers was too, but much easier to fix or control. His nose was almost hooked, hers was much more slanted, small. His hair was, by nature, greasy looking. Hers merely looked healthy. They were quite similar, it was true. But also different. No wonder his female colleagues kept hoping he would end up together with the young woman. They called her a female version of himself, said he might like her because of that. He did like her, but not in that way. He knew, for the younger woman had snapped it at him one night, that neither of them swung that traditional path. In fact, he knew that the girl was crushing madly on the Astronomy professor. Well, it was better than Sybil, anyway.
"Be that as it may, there is not much that can be done, Alexis." Severus growled softly, turning his eyes back to gaze at the other chatting professors. Such a well organized meeting that they were not even discussing why they were here!
"You are wrong, Severus. Much can be done, if only someone was there to set it in motion." Alexis replied softly, her own eyes scanning the room. She froze suddenly when she felt magic surround her, however briefly that it did so. She strengthened her Occulmacy wards, frowning when it was just a mere brush of warmth. Almost as if the magic was...hugging her. Odd, but then Hogwarts was Sentient, after all. She could feel and sense the magic everywhere, but never like this. Severus quirked an eyebrow at her, but she merely shook her head. It was nothing to worry about. Not right now, at least.
Three days Prior
Professor McGonagall, the very prime and proper woman, looked frazzled. She sunk down into her chair in the staff room, not even bothering to look at her fellow professors. She had summoned them all here and they had come. Now, to only deliver the bad news. It had not really sunken in yet, but in a few days time she would wonder why the wards had not accepted her then and there, why Hogwarts had not become hers. But at the moment, that was not at the forefront of her thoughts. "I am sure you are all wondering why I have called you here, but I have some...unfortunate news. The Headmaster...Albus is dead. Poppy is making the arrangements at the moment." She announced gravelly, not even taking note of Fawkes, who was observing the room from a corner. Dead silence followed her announcement and then her colleagues all started to speak at once, as she knew they would. Well not all of them. Three were silent. The stupid potions-master, Filius, and that dimwitted chit that Albus had hired. Filius, she knew, was probably just dumbstruck that the great Albus Dumbledore was dead. She did not notice the looks that all three of the mentioned were sending her, she was too busy planning her changes. Doing away with Slytherin house, once and for all; no longer having to be Head of House to those little bratty lions; firing the Death Eater and the chit; removing the new course that Albus had started, largely due to the urgings of the board of governors...the list was long and still growing. She sat there plotting as her coworkers grieved and lamented the death of their great leader. That was, until the chit spoke up. And then everything changed.
Minerva was being quite...suspicious, to the eyes of a Slytherin at least. Albus had died...but she made no mention of how or why. Severus knew that he would need to talk to Poppy and soon. McGonagall's eyes even had a gleam of something in them, something that he did not like. He did not like the look she threw him either. He had a feeling that his job might not be safe anymore. Of all the professors here, McGonagall was the only one to never accept his past or him. Filius was quite contemplative himself, but his thoughtful expression and his grief did not hold the same fire that her eyes did. Where was her grief? Her sorrow? Odd indeed. It was then that he caught sight of the songbird, Albus' old familiar. Fawkes, who might attach himself to the new headmistress as he had done Albus. Or who might merely leave and find a new master. But the bird was not watching her at all. No, the bird was watching Alexis, intently so. As if Alexis was about to say or do something extraordinary. He would be shocked, later, at how right he had been.
Alexis' steely gray eyes took in the room. Something did not feel right. Her bones ached and her head felt light. There was a bit of grief there, for a man that she respected, although had not known well. Albus had saved her from a bad situation, she taught as a favour because she owed him, not unlike many of his professors reasons for teaching. But she also knew that something was wrong. She could sense it. Her senses had never failed her before, she felt auras and magic naturally. The castle was...grieving. Grieving so much that it hurt her head and made her ache. But it was also..upset. Something had set Her off, for Hogwarts was a her. "There is much healing to be done." She remarked softly, surprised when every set of eyes turned to look at her. Her voice had carried easily, strangely. And then she felt it, the magic surrounding her again. Gently, warmly. There was a Phoenix, flying toward her and she instinctively held out her arm, allowing him, Fawkes, to land.
"Very well, human kit. She accepts you, she needs you. You will do quite nicely." The Phoenix's voice sounded inside her mind, muffled, confusing. And then the world went black.
"Minerva has been expelled from the school grounds. The wards will not allow her back in." Severus drawled, watching the twenty-six year old who looked just a tad overwhelmed. Granted, Poppy had yet to let her leave the hospital wing and was currently fussing over the girl.
"Really, Poppy! I'm fine. The magical drain was...well not expected but they are thousand year old wards! My magic has adjusted and I can feel them quite well! So please, may I return to my quarters?" Alexis snarled, before turning sharp steel eyes to the Potions Master. "Thank Merlin, Severus. Fawkes told me that she came very near to killing me. Hogwarts expelled her, yes?"
"But of course. If Filius and I have had a choice, she would have not managed to escape. She will not come here again and she is under investigation for the death of the previous Headmaster as well as the attempted murder of the newest." His voice dripped with disdain, watching the girl...no, the new Headmistress, struggle with the mediwitch for another few moments before Poppy huffed and left. "She was not...happy."
"That's the understatement of the century." Alexis muttered, understanding his meaning quite well. Poppy came back with a vial and a file. Damn that wasn't good. "I hope the castle realizes that I have no idea what I am doing." She sighed, raising an eyebrow at the infuriating healer.
The older mediwitch merely chuckled. "You will have all of us to help. I assume you have already chosen a Deputy and he will help you handle the amount of work. Now then, about these tests Alexis..." Poppy trailed off for a moment, glancing at Severus. But at the younger witch's nod she continued. Clearly she was not wrong in her line of thinking after all. Severus would be a solid choice for deputy. No matter how much she had like Minerva, that woman always held the belief that Gryffindors were better than all others, even since she was a child! No wonder the castle rejected her. Poppy sighed, changing her trail of thought, she did have a patient to scold, after all. "Much healthier since you have come to us, but two years is not long enough to heal all the damage. I stand by what we discussed two years ago child. It would be helpful, especially now, to speak with someone. I know quite a few good mind-healers, but I am aware that you do as well. You still need the nutrition potion and if you do not start to eat more, I will ask Pomona and the elves to make sure that you do." She threatened quietly. The child... Headmistress now, was not anemic anymore, but only just. A rough childhood that rivaled Severus', and quite a few other students, eating 'issues', and a bad situation had left the...Headmistress in quite a bad shape two years prior. Poppy frowned at the child's shrug, but dismissed her anyway, after making sure that she downed the vial. "Severus will help you to your new quarters." She added softly. Albus had been buried, privately and quietly, as were his wishes, the day before. As she was neither family nor friend, Alexis had not attended nor been expected to. The girl's things had already been moved to the Headmaster's office and his portrait had joined the others on the wall. He had not seemed surprised at all about what had happened. He had said that Alexis would do well for the school and then promptly fallen asleep. Damn man.
A week later
Alexis sighed, gazing out the window for a long moment. She had yet to speak to the three men who sat in her living quarters. All of the Headmaster's belongings were gone, even the instruments from his office. The pensive was sitting on the dining room table currently, as all three men had just finished reviewing the past few days events. Her own possessions, what few there were, had been moved here. The elves had even decorated for her, but in nice muted tones. Silver, blue, green...nothing as bright as Albus' quarters had been and no yellow anywhere. His will had been read and he had left much to many, including Severus. Including her. Nothing to Minerva, as if he had known that she would betray him eventually. To Severus he had left a cottage and a vault. To her...he had left the pensive and his personal libraries. It was strange, to her at least. Albus had only known her for five years, had only been her boss for two of those. She knew the cottage of course, having been there a few times with Severus and his...friend. Severus had promised that she was still welcome there, a home away from Hogwarts, so it seemed. She finally turned from her vantage point, watching the vacate grounds, to face the three quiet men. She knew that each was contemplating much of which that she was.
"Filius, if it would not offend you, I would like to offer Severus the deputy position. I intend to break up the actual duties but in case something were to happen to me, I would like you, Severus, to be my second." Alexis remarked quietly, finally dropping into an armchair.
"That's fine by me."
"Of course, Alexis. I do accept the post as Deputy." Severus respond solemnly, fighting a shudder as he felt the ancient magic touch and surround him. It was gone quickly, and it was binding. The castle approved, he would be deputy or die trying.
"Good. Remus...would you be willing to be both head of Gryffindor and Defense professor?" She asked, turning to the third man, only a few years her senior. She knew his arguments and she had a solution to them already. She had spent the last several days working out plans and ideas in her mind and on parchment. She had even met with the board of governors twice! Thank the gods that she knew Narcissa Malfoy personally and her husband was quite willing to listen to the new Headmistress, who had informed the board that as they were not in the original Charter and added as a provision that the headmaster could abolish if they so chose, that the board would do well to listen to her. They were actually quite happy that she planned to make changes. Albus had only made one in...thirty years? Something like that. And that was adding back the old class on healing, the one that he had gotten rid of. She was quite good at budgeting and planning, she could make the budget stretch well enough to cover all the new subjects, which she was already looking over applications for, as well as managing to add more teaching staff.
"Due to my condition...I do not see how it is possible or safe." The werewolf sighed, frowning at the younger girl. He looked worn down and, quite frankly, much older than thirty-three. His clothes were patched, his face gaunt, and he was skinnier than both of the ex-anorexics in the room, although not by choice.
"It is both possible and safe. You would be the primary Head of House. As primary Head you would handle the majority of problems and all issues of discipline. If something happens during the full moon, the secondary head will handle anything immediate and will make sure all rules are followed. Actually, it has been advised that all Houses have a primary and secondary Head. With nearly a hundred students in each, two pairs of eyes are much better than one. Aurora will be your second and will help with every day affairs as well. It gives the students two people to come to, instead of one. The board has already approved my proposal, as it does fit with one of their political proposal to reduce restrictions on werewolves. You would teach the majority of the month, with a teaching assistant to fill in right before and after full moons. The head of the DMLE has agreed to allow Aurors to come help us out for a week at a time, on a rotating schedule. It will allow the students to learn much more and to make up for their past defense education, or lack thereof. Would that make it easier for you to accept, or do I need to throw in a years supply of chocolate?"Alexis replied dryly, quirking an eyebrow at the older man.
Remus Lupin stared at the woman, not more than a child really, for a moment before he dissolved into laughter. She had thought of everything and had taunted him while she was at it. He had always thought that young Alexis could be Severus' little sister and this was why. Once he stopped laughing, he became serious once more. "Of course, I will accept the duties of both Head of Gryffindor and the Defense post." He replied as solemnly as Severus had. A small swirl of magic, warm and softly, and then it was gone.
"Good. Now, for the new classes. Healing will obviously still be offered for third years and above. First and second years will also have a new required class. Muggleborns and Muggle-raised will all take Wizarding culture, while those raised in the Wizarding world will take a basic introduction to Muggle studies. Some of the older students will also need to take Wizarding Culture, but I have found a good Professor for that. Charity has agreed to teach Muggle Studies for the little ones, so that is covered. A Latin course will be added for all first years, as well as a course for those who need to brush up on their skills. A course on the different magical communities and uses of magic, everything from house elves to Egyptians, will also be offered for those third year and up. Filius, I need you to visit a raising third year and explain to her that she cannot take all the courses offered and as a muggleborn she will not be allowed to take muggle studies." Alexis took a deep breath, running through the list in her head. She could not remember the child's name, but Filius seemed to know exactly who she meant.
"Ms. Granger is actually a Gryffindor, Alexis. But it would stand to reason that the girl would want to take Muggle Studies." Severus droned, smirking.
"That child should have been a Ravenclaw. Just as Potter should have been in Slytherin." Filius chuckled.
"Harry? Really?" Remus turned to the smaller man, drawing himself into the conversation for the first time since he agreed to Alexis terms.
"The boy is cunning, good at healing himself too. If I didn't know better.." Alexis trailed off, her eyes narrowing. She had only ran into the boy a few times, one of which he had gotten in to an altercation and she had seen him effortlessly heal himself, without even thinking about it.
"I don't like that look, Alexis." Filius murmured, turning sharp eyes on the young woman. He knew where her mind was going, a quick glance at Severus showed that his mind also followed.
"Do you suspect?" She asked sharply, steel meeting brown eyes.
"Only in the last few weeks. Just before the end of term, Potter seemed...quite distressed about going home. Much like a few of my Ravens and Severus' Snakes." Filius replied quietly. He was going to mention it to Albus, before the other man had died, peacefully they said, in his sleep, never expecting the painless poison. He had noticed little signs over the last few weeks, signs that he had seen in other students, although usually much earlier.
"Potter abused? He would have said something by now to Albus or Minerva." Severus snapped, glaring at the wall. His mind was quickly drawing together all the little signs over the past two years. Signs that he had pretty much ignored at the time. The defiance, the posture, the subtle flinching..it was all defensive behaviour. Fucking hell.
Remus had grown quiet, contemplating this. If Harry was abused he would not allow the boy to stay with his relatives. He would not suffer like he had, like his Severus had. The boy needed to have love and support, especially now. He would fight for the child if he had to. And damn it, he would protect the lad.
"Would you have Severus? And when you did, was it taken seriously? I know it sure as hell wasn't when I spoke up in Germany. " Alexis sneered, glaring at the older man. Harry might had said something, and would Minerva do anything about it? The woman had only seen what she wanted to. But surely letting a child be abused... "How many in Hogwarts this past year and why are they not still safe within these walls?" She asked suddenly, turning to Filius and Severus.
"Out of 427 students? In total, fifty-three are abused at home. Only nineteen of those are severe enough, life or death, for Albus to try to remove. Fifteen are living with relatives and the other four have foster families. The fifty-three does not count the neglected or the ones who are not enough to be removed by legal standards. Albus only removed those nineteen because we pushed him to. Otherwise, they would not have survived another summer. Some of them still might not. Fifty-three students could legally be completely removed from their homes. Another twenty-three could use help and support. Of the whole student body, nearly eighty abused and neglected, in varying degrees. Or at least, that what we have found. Many are muggleborns whose families do not understand and fear their magic. Muggleborns are killed every year because of this and Lucius is working toward changing the way the system works so that if they are not wanted at home, they can go to families who will want them or into the care of other muggleborns. Albus would not allow the students to stay in the castle." Severus replied dryly, scowling furiously. His students were hurting at home but the old fool had done little to help it.
"That changes now. I need a list of every student who has suffered any degree of abuse. Does Poppy have the files?" Alexis asked, her tone dangerous. No child in her school would be hurt on her watch. No longer.
"She does." Filius remarked quietly, watching the young woman who wore power and authority like a cloak. Her power level might not be as high as Albus and she might not have the elder wand, which had been destroyed, finally, but she was powerful in her own right. And dangerous. He remembered quite well why Albus had brought her here.
"Good. Severus, if you have free time tonight, I need you to go check on Harry Potter. I don't care if you don't like him, take Remus with you and check on the child." Alexis growled. Neither man argued. Instead, both nodded, standing as one and leaving quickly. She knew Severus quite well, even after so few years, he did not like any child to hurt, especially at the hands of their relatives. Her healing skills had been called in to help a few times over the last two years, but only for a few students. To have nearly eighty students who were left to handle it on their own...in a school of over four hundred, it was just ridiculous. That was nearly a fifth of the student body! Oh the old fool...if he wasn't dead she would hex him so fast!
"Do you have plans on how to handle the hurt students, Alexis?" Filius asked quietly, watching those sharp steel eyes snap and crackle with anger.
"Yes, I do. They need healing and Hogwarts will be here to help them." She replied quietly.
"Hogwarts needs healing and that is what I tend to do. To right the wrongs that have gone on and fix the wounds with more than just a plaster. Hogwarts will be saved, or I will die trying."