Addendum Five - Hermatica & Severus I's Story

"Wisdom is better than weapons of war: but one sinner destroyeth much good." Ecclesiastes 9:18

(One day during the short Christmas visit to Snape Manor, the Christmas after Hermione's 18th Birthday.)

(For those history buffs out there, I apologise for any liberty I've taken with ancient Arab history. There is not a great deal of information out there about the very early Arab and Berber tribes so I've had a lovely time making up whatever I wanted. Please forgive my 'poetic license'.)

Hermione was sitting in the library regarding Hermatica and Severus-the- first as they sat hand in hand with their heads almost touching talking about something in soft voices. Hermione's Snape was planning lessons for the next semester at a nearby table and Hermione had been doing some forward reading for her second semester studies at Hogsbridge. Snow was falling gently outside the long, lead-paned windows and casting a melancholy grey light over the room relieved only by the golden light from the large fireplaces crackling with burning oak.

The heavy text on Arithmancy failed to hold Hermione's attention for once. There were so many formulas and she was not in the mood to analyse them on this cosy, sleepy day. She figured she should have stuck to her advanced herbology texts where she only needed to read and retain.

She glanced over at her Snape to see him frowning darkly over the basic Hogwarts Potion texts. She knew he found it frustrating to be constantly dealing with such basic Potions. He should have been teaching at Hogsbridge or Hogford University, she mused but she knew he taught at Hogwarts out of obligation to Dumbledore. Oddly enough, there was also more prestige in being Hogwarts' Potion Master anyway.

She glanced back at the couple in the painting, so like herself and Severus that it still shocked her to see them together. The only real difference was the ancient style of clothing. Hermatica glanced up from her quiet conversation with Severus-the-first to see Hermione contemplating them. She smiled at her. She genuinely liked Hermione. Hermione regarded them steadily. "You never did tell me your story," she said questioningly, glad for the distraction from her dull text.

Severus looked up sharply from the lesson plans he was preparing at the sound of her soft voice. It had been quiet for so long that it startled him. He followed her gaze to the couple in the painting. He didn't know their story either, he realized.

Hermatica and Severus-the-first glanced at each other. Hermatica gave him a small nod and he turned to face Hermione, drawing himself up in the process. Hermione knew through her Muggle Studies that the ancient Arab and Berber tribes had been great story tellers and she could see Severus- the-first preparing himself to tell his story in the ancient North African style.

*"My name," said Severus-the-first immediately, looking down his hawkish nose at her with a typical arrogant expression, "is Sultan Severus Kidrash Tisroc Calavar Rishti Snape." Hermione didn't even attempt to try to remember such a ridiculous name but nor did she betray her amusement with even the flicker of an eyelash. To do so during the recital of a story by a great, ancient North African Sultan would have been rude beyond telling. "I am the first son of Sultan Khalid Ahoshta Calorman Severus Snape who is descended in a right line from the demon-god Kalash and the first of his wives, Queen Ardeeb Ilsombreh Tarkaan Azaroth Zardeenah who was a Princess from the lands of the Berbers. Thus I was the heir to the great Snape dynasty and one of the few who could stand with my feet within my shoes before the shrine of the demon-god Kalash."

"Impressive", Hermione thought to herself with a hint of amusement.

"My father had conquered many lands during his reign and greatly increased the wealth of our tribe but it was not until I held the throne after his death in battle (and may the peace of the gods rest upon his soul) that my tribe became the most powerful and the wealthiest in North Africa," he continued, his dark eyes shining at the memory in the muted light of the library. "We conquered tribe after tribe in those days," he continued suddenly fierce, clenching his fist and getting up to pace as the memories fired his blood. "Their people became our slaves and once they were set free after serving their time in our land, they became allied to our tribe and fought by our side to increase our wealth."

They must have been well-treated as slaves, Hermione reflected with interest, to want to stay and serve their old masters once they had their freedom.

"By the time I was 25 years old, I had held power for seven years. In that time our tribal lands had doubled and our wealth increased ten fold. It came to pass around that time that a small tribe with a good tract of land on one of our boundaries had not yet fallen to our armies. The sun appeared dark in my eyes because we could not conquer this proud race and add their lands to our kingdom," Severus-the-first continued, his dark gaze turned inward as he remembered.

Hermione noticed that a strange look flickered across Hermatica's face at mention of this small enemy tribe. What was that expression, she wondered? It had come and gone so fast that Hermione could not name it.

"My brother and second in command to the throne had been given these lands to conquer and thus far he had failed," Severus-the-first said with a sneer that Hermione knew all too well. "After several failed attempts, I myself decided to take the matter into my own hands. I knew from traveling merchants that the lands were ruled by a great Queen who was seldom seen. She had many times gained the respect of her enemies by protecting her small tribal lands from invaders. She was said to be clever and quite ruthless. Legends surrounded her including that she was a powerful witch born of two Muggle parents. No-one had seen her palace nor could describe her to me.

"I sent scouts into the tent cities of my enemy to spy and find out their battle plans. My best scouts failed to discover anything for they could find no city that would show where their army was camped. Finally, I took my own horse and disguised as a merchant I penetrated the lands of this mysterious people.

"The lands were desert but for all their desolation I knew they were wealthy from their production of rare spices and fragrances that grew no- where else in the region. Unlike other cities we had conquered, there was no large tent city for traders and no wealthy ruling family living by the tribe's major wells.

"The only person I saw during my time there was a young woman. The desert lands were dotted with hills and gorges. One day as I passed through one of the main thoroughfares in a gorge of sand and stone, I saw a lone figure staring down at me from the highest place in the gorge."

Hermione's eyes darted to Hermatica's face again. Once more, it held that strange expression and Hermione realized with a jolt that Hermatica was looking inward remembering what Severus-the-first spoke of. Hermione suddenly knew the woman on the hill had been Hermatica.

"I knew it was a young girl. Although she was wearing layers of clothing to protect her from desert heat and sand and all I could see was her face, she was still so slender that it could not have been anything else," he continued in his formal style. "I also knew when I saw her face that one day she would be my wife," he said with an arrogance that left Hermione breathless. A small, humorless smile flickered across Hermatica's face as though his words amused her but sorrow out-weighed the amusement.

"I was about to call out to her to ask the way to their city when she disappeared. Although I was on top of that hill less than two minutes later, she had gone and it was a mystery to me where she could be hiding. All around me was sand and rock and nothing else. I waited for a long time, all the rest of that day and all that night but she did not come back. Eventually, I had to leave the land as ignorant as my scouts had been.

"After arriving back in my own tribe, I raised an army and set off once more for those lands. As we had seen no-one, I did not know how an army could fail to capture it. I soon found out for as soon as my army rode into the area on my tribes best war-horses, we were set upon by invisible opponents. From every hill came showers of arrows and rocks. Roads were blocked and we wasted days clearing them meanwhile we were set upon from above. Finally, we withdrew with less than one in ten of my men still alive.

"The sun appeared dark in my eyes not only to suffer my first defeat as a General but also because of the horrific loss of life among my ranks. We had lost most of the tribe's best young men and I could not forgive this race for being so ruthless to my own and I swore revenge." Hermione shivered when she saw Severus-the-first's face as he said this and had no doubt he had made good his threat.

Hermatica looked grim but her posture was relaxed even as her lips thinned and the dark grey eyes burned with some repressed emotion.

"In the end, before I could raise another army to try again a terrible sickness spread through their tribe and nearly all suffered death. The few traders that gained entry to their land and people told us the story of how swiftly the disease had killed them all. My own army were afraid to go back there in case they too were infected. In the end, only a small force went back to claim the lands that were now deserted not just in appearance but in fact. This time, no poisonous darts rained down on us and no shower of rocks split open our skulls. We were able to claim the land and put an army on the borders to protect it.

"For many moons there was peace in this empty land and no reports were heard of rebel groups. It did seem that all the original inhabitants had died or left until one day when one of my soldiers reported that the Queen of this land had been captured near the border. For many days I debated what to do with this prisoner. I was tempted to stake her body in the wilderness and let the vultures eat her alive," he hissed, his deep set eyes glittering with remembered hatred. "But I thought being put in my harem would be more humiliating," he added spitefully. "The humiliation would last longer and all my enemies would hear of this great Queen's downfall."

He had a harem, Hermione thought bemusedly?

"One day soon after, I was strolling through my harem one afternoon and I saw the young girl I had seen in those lands so many months before. I was confused because as far as I knew, none of the people of that land had been captured apart from their Queen and this girl was so young that I knew she could not be that Queen of legend. The thought didn't even enter my head. I remember she glanced up at me to where I was standing on the harem's balcony but her gaze held no curiousity. She turned away again and continued splashing in the courtyard's fountain. It angered me that this beautiful young woman had no regard for her new Master," Severus-the-first said imperiously. Hermione sighed and tried not to roll her eyes. Hermatica shot her a small glance and Hermione wasn't at all sure that she didn't wink. "I held her life in my hands and she turned her back on me!"

"I had my Eunuchs bring her to me in my throne room where my court of advisors was gathered. When she would not kneel she was pushed to the floor. Even then, she merely sat cross legged and regarded me under her eyelashes. The Eunuchs would have struck her but I stopped them. I didn't want her skin marked," he explained haughtily.

Hermione's eyes slid to those of her Snape to see his reaction to this narrative. He was staring disbelievingly at his own ancestor and Hermione nearly smiled. She was sure her Snape would deny having any personality characteristics in common with Severus-the-first after hearing this story but he'd be wrong, she thought.

" "Who are you?" I demanded of her," Severus-the-first hissed. " "Queen Hermatica Avaris Shasta Tashbaana," this young girl replied arrogantly."

Hermione thought he had rather a cheek calling anyone else arrogant.

" "You are not a Queen!" I replied. "You are too young!" This young slip of a girl didn't deign to reply! I said, "you dare not to answer me when I am speaking to you? I could have you killed this very afternoon!" I told her.

" "Why don't you?" she asked, almost curiously. I did not condescend to reply to her question. As King of the most powerful tribe in North Africa, I did not have to answer slaves' questions," Severus-the-first related, drawing himself up to his full height at the memory of this insulting behaviour.

A ghost of a smile passed over Hermatica's lips. Once more, her eyes met Hermione's and a secret knowledge flashed between them. Severus-the-first had not answered the question because he was not ready to face his already strong feelings for the young Queen.

"At that point in time, a messenger arrived for me. All the soldiers I had left in this Queen's lands had died. The wells had been poisoned at the time she had been captured only days before. I was furious! Even within my own walls, she was still killing my tribe! She was a menace and deeply dangerous. I knew that my best course was to kill her that very day. Goodness only knew what damage she would wreck within the very walls of my palace! My advisors felt the same way and I could hear them murmuring as I hesitated. For some reason, I couldn't do it. Perhaps it was because she was so young and so beautiful or perhaps I felt I had finally met an equal, I don't know. In the end, I sent her back to the harem.

"Much later, my court whispered that she had cast a spell on me that had saved her life," Severus-the-first said, "perhaps they were right," he mused. "Although my own magical bloodline was far purer than her own, it turned out that her magic was just as strong as mine.

"I did not approach her for a long time - many moons but I had her watched constantly. She did nothing suspicious. Finally I began sending for her. I wanted to find out how she and her people had evaded my armies for so long. It infuriated me when she refused to answer. She would not tell me the secrets of her warfare nor how to cultivate the rich spices and perfumes that had grown in her land. Any mention of her old kingdom and she would withdraw into herself. I knew it made her sad to think of her lost kingdom and eventually, I could not bear to sadden her by pressing her for information. I should have tortured it out of her!" he added proudly but by that time, Hermione knew it was only bluster.

Suddenly Severus-the-first stopped talking and flung himself moodily back in his chair, his long legs covered in richly embroidered fabrics stretched out before him.

"What happened then?" Hermione asked curiously.

"Oh, I seduced him," Hermatica said frankly and laughed heartily, putting out one hand to caress Severus-the-first's hair.

"Why?" Hermione said, not understanding why she would want to seduce an enemy.

"I wanted to," Hermatica said pleasantly with a shrug. "I had never let anything stand in the way of what I wanted. I wanted Severus," she said, her eyes caressing his profile as he sat slumped sullenly in his chair.

"Wasn't that rather dangerous?" Hermione asked cautiously.

"Probably. I never thought about things like danger," she said carelessly.

"I wanted to marry her. I had never forgotten my premonition the first time I saw her face," Severus-the-first muttered. "They all knew I was planning to regardless of their disapproval of her Muggle blood. Before I could, my treacherous younger brother murdered her. He could not forgive her for having defeated him time and time again. He would not bow to her as Queen nor accept that her children would one day sit on the throne that he wanted. He said it was because she was Muggle-born but that was only part of the reason. My treasonous court co-operated. They were all fed to the vultures and my brother was banished. I found out later that Hermatica had been pregnant with our first son when she died."

Hermione gasped in horror. She glanced at her Snape with wide eyes. His face was pale. It was obviously news to him too. "It's a very tragic history," Hermione murmured.

"Yes but that's exactly what it is - history," Hermatica stressed.

Hermione knew that Sultans had often married a foreign woman in their harem much later in history so it did not surprise her that it had happened in ancient Arab history as well. She also knew that woman could be quite powerful in their tribe and there had been powerful Queens during the same period. For example, the prophet Mohammed had been the much younger husband of just such a powerful and wealthy tribal leader. The tribes had been fighting amongst themselves in that part of the world for centuries before Mohammed had brought them together as a nation under the banner of Islam.

Soon after telling their story, Hermatica and Severus-the-first wandered off hand in hand looking subdued to share their private grief alone.

Hermione was lost in thought when Snape stalked over to her chair. He took her hand and pulled her into his arms and held her hard. "History won't repeat itself," she said reassuringly, sensing his mood immediately and caressing the hair at his nape.

"At least my treacherous family are all dead," he said harshly.

Hermione buried her face against his chest and breathed in his scent. "Nothing is going to part us," she said.

"No, nothing!" he said and suddenly the tone in his voice was so much like that of his violent, autocratic ancestor that Hermione shivered.

* Told in the style adopted from 'The Horse and His Boy" by C. S. Lewis. Several names have been borrowed as well.