The Lady of Shalott

by Ibex's Lyre

Disclaimer: Is applicable to every chapter, although I reserve the right to include additions to the disclaimer in following chapters as I see fit. I do not own any characters you recognize (i.e. Harry Potter and gang)--they of course belong to J.K. Rowling. Nor do I own the poem "The Lady of Shalott" which belongs to Alfred Lord Tennyson. Find it, read it. The story may make more sense. The references to music are references to Loreena McKennitt and her lyrical adaptations of various prose, such as "The Lady of Shalott" and also some of her more original work. As you can guess, I don't own her music, either, and neither does Hermione. Witchwood, unless I am gravely mistaken and it turns out there really is such a tree, belongs to Tad Williams. Yes, it shall be HG/SS, no this is NOT an alternate universe, but sit back; you may find you enjoy it.

I offer no excuses or apologies.

Chapter One: 'Tis the Fairy'

Grass coated the world in green and blue as the moon overhead shown full; the man in black shuddered and could only hope that his Wolfsbane potion was working as it was supposed to. He did not want a repeat of long past childhood pranks, of the fear of near death, the sick feeling of adrenaline that had come with those events; no, he got enough of that as it was. Trapped in a world that bordered between the forces of good and evil, he was lost in the grays with no way to escape the fence he was forced to sit on by others. Life was dangerous enough as it was without having to worry about an errant werewolf turned teacher. On nights like these, Severus Snape truly felt disgusted with his entire world, his entire reality. There had to be something more than this, some answer he was missing, some way to defeat the Dark Lord and escape this hell his existence had been thrown into. He just had to find it...

But then again, it was his fault his life was like this. He had joined Lord Voldemort in the beginning in an attempt to quench his undying thirst for knowledge. He had defected to the other side once he had seen the atrocities. He had put himself in this position, trapped between the two worlds and just as much a victim of war as any other muggle, mudblood, or pureblood. If only... A sigh, deeply forlorn, escaped his thinned lips as he raked one pale hand through his raven hair. As much as he hated this train of thoughts, he could not but continue as if something was forcing him on. If only Lily or even that prat of a husband James had not been killed, they could have finished Voldemort off after Lily's little love charm managed to severely weaken the Dark Lord. If only Lucius Malfoy had been more of a coward instead of picking up the pieces after Voldemort's first fall. Now the wizarding world was a shamble of its former self, and every day the spy called Severus Snape went to a school filled with mostly purebloods, and a few very protected but still mostly orphaned halfblood wizards and witches that had somehow managed to escape first Voldemort's and then Malfoy's Reign of Terror. Maybe, maybe in the entire school there was only one or two mudbloods, and both were in Hufflepuff.

What a shame. What an incredible shame. Hogwarts was only at half capacity, the wizard world was decaying and falling apart, and all because of what? Of some misguided crusade that was ironically eradicating the entire magical population instead of purifying it.

Not that Voldemort cared.

Or Lucius, for that matter. Snape frowned, trying to remember just exactly why he was out here at this cursed time of night? Ah, yes, Albus had some mistaken idea that Snape might find something important here. Hardly likely, he thought bitterly. Probably nothing more than a whore house. Mudblood Entertainment, Lucius calls it. Entertainment indeed. If it turned out that Dumbledore had just sent him here to get a quick shag and make him less irritable, Snape was definitely not going to be happy. Not that Albus would send me to abuse already mistreated witches. He took a sharp intake of breath as the sensation that something was incredibly wrong hit him like a brick wall. Before he could press his mind further to come up with an explanation, the feeling was gone.

Still, there were so many other things he could be doing than watching exploited females... Like thinking up new ways to horrify and humiliate baby Hufflepuffs and Gryffindors. The thought made him smile sinisterly; in the moonlight, he truly resembled something like a bat out of hell with robes billowing and dark, lank hair.

A few minutes later, following the sounds of music weaving through the fully leafed trees, Snape came upon an external stage surrounded by hundreds of filled chairs. Like a Death Eater Convention, he thought sourly and found an empty seat at the very back that was conveniently cloaked in shadows. There was a female up on the stage, slowly taking off her clothes to music and working the crowd for tips that would all go to Lucius, of course. And if she didn't earn enough tips to maintain her keep... well... she would be added to the pile of martyrs, fallen heroes, and slain innocents. This knowledge, however, did not stop him from glaring darkly at the blond haired witch when she came looking for galleons from him. He gave her nothing.

The night was going slowly, and so far Snape had neither seen nor found anything that would have been worth wasting both his and Dumbledore's time. Only enslaved witches (and wizards) doing anything they could to please the crowd and thus ensure their temporary survival. Pathetic looking, all of them. No fight left, no thoughts to struggle against their bondage, only resignation to their situation and no hope of doing anything more than merely 'survive.' Certainly none worth risking his cover to save, as horrid as it sounded. The truth always hurt.

With a snort of disgust, Snape slowly stood up to leave. They were switching acts anyway, so it was not like he was disturbing anyone--not that he cared. Another girl was now standing on stage as the strange--just standing. Standing, and it looked like she was examining the crowd, daring them to make her do her act. Her abnormal defiance sent jeers from the crowd and a look of veiled interest from Snape as he sat back down with his arms folded sourly against his chest. He was annoyed, of course, annoyed that he felt obligated to watch her and see what she would do and what she was made of.

She was nameless, of course--lack of a name and therefore an identity somehow eased Lucius' twisted conscience. She stood ram-rod straight on the stage in a dark blue satin dress that was well tailored to her figure until it got to her hips--where it was allowed to puff out somewhat like a ball gown--and covered her bare feet. On her shoulders draped a very long and thin shawl of the same fabric as the dress that made it look like she was wearing a robe. Although it was hard to tell from this distance, he was sure she had brown eyes; her long curly hair was a coppery auburn held back loosely by a clip. On her lips was a dark shade of lipstick very noticeable against her pale skin, and the only piece of jewelry she had on was a pair of silver hoop earrings. By chance, her scathing gaze brushed through the crowd and locked onto his figure half hidden by shadows, and she narrowed her eyes almost imperceptibly. As if saying, he mused, you may not be leering like the others, but you are just as bad as they are.

Unfortunately for her, the look did not have its intended effect. Rather, her spite amused Snape greatly. He lifted a mocking eyebrow at her and let a smirk form upon his lips. And what makes you so special? his smirk asked silently.

Even from this far away, he could see the fury suddenly blaze into her eyes. The girl snapped her head to the side posed in display of pride, one foot in front of the other, one arm over her head the other behind her back, and the music began. A violin was heard first, other followed. She began to dance, a strange, odd dance that could only be described as possibly a mix between the Gaelic and Gypsy styles. If the dance was not impressive enough, she opened her mouth and began to sing without loosing her breath or faltering her voice.

"A clouded dream on an earthly night
Hangs upon the crescent moon
A voiceless song in an ageless light
Sings at the coming dawn
Birds in flight are calling there
Where the heart moves the stones
It's there that my heart is longing
All for the love of you"

Her eyes were clearly mocking and contemptuous of the crowd as she sang the last two lines of that particular stanza, something that would have probably gotten her killed had they noticed, but Snape was sure he was the only one who recognized the skill it took for her to dance so gracefully and sing at the same time. She was certainly a spiteful one, wasn't she? What amused Snape even more was that she had refused to look at him again, and he knew without a doubt that when she walked the seats looking for tips, she was not going to come near him--no matter how badly she might need the galleons. Yes, she might possibly be worthy of a lost night of sleep--just to watch her snub him.

When that song ended, she paused a moment to catch her breath and take her shawl off because of the heat. She quickly tied it around her waist like a Japanese obi, and it immediately intrigued Snape that she should be so cultured when none of the others who had preceded her onto the stage had been. In a brief lapse of something resembling curiosity, he wondered what she had been before she had become a dancer for Lucius. She didn't look to be really very old--nothing exceeding twenty or twenty one (there was another twinge of wrongness that settled back into oblivion)--so she really couldn't have been very old when Lucius... attained her. And she was most certainly not oriental, either. Curious...

The song ended and she began another dance to the adapted tune of Santiago, an old traditional to which Snape was vaguely familiar with, and when that one was over, came two other song-less dances that Snape did not know. The dancing was more suggestive in its innuendo in an attempt to somewhat please the crowd since she absolutely refused to remove her clothing, but graceful nonetheless. Almost enjoyable. Almost. Indeed, his interest was waning by the end of the fourth song, until he suddenly realized that the slight movements of her fingers mirrored exactly the music. She was responsible for every nonexistent instrument. She had some powerful magic trapped in her frame. A scowl crossed his lips as he sized her up.

Damn Albus and his intuition. He really must be omnipotent… And I'm sure he now expects me to rescue the little dancing brat. Maddeningly enough, the girl on stage suddenly decided to glance at him at this moment of moments, and sneered ever so slightly at him, feeding off the obvious annoyance on his face. Snape's scowl only deepened, to her delight.

The dance ended, and she brushed sweat-plastered hair from her face. It's really too hot out to keep this up, she thought bitterly. But she had to. She had to work much harder than the others in order to work up tips enough to prove her keep to Malfoy. Well, at least they were clapping... or... catcalling, anyway. Her lips pressed tightly together in a guarded expression, she silently went through her list of music in order to come up with something long enough to allow herself to cool down somewhat, but not so long that they would lose interest because of a lack of hip movements and suggestively placed hands. Ah, yes, her adaptation of Alfred Lord Tennyson's "The Lady of Shalott." Moving her hands slightly, she began the music, despite the fact that she felt so incredibly drained... Wandless magic like this look a lot of effort and concentration, but what other choice did she have? Unless she wanted to become a prostitute, which she most certainly did not. She hadn't sunk that low yet.

A quick glance at her shadowed friend told her that he did, indeed recognize the words, and raised his bloody eyebrow again. But she no longer had the energy to sing and sneer, so she just sank into the music and let her mind wander ever so slightly. The nameless Lady of Shalott. Once she had had a name, but now it was gone, just like the Lady. Now whenever anybody wanted her attention, they just called her nymph or fairy, on account of her hair, her eyes, her lips. She wished that there really was some Lancelot for her to look at through her mirror, somebody to come and give her reason to try to escape the curse she was in, to give her reason to climb that boat that sailed down the river that would freeze her blood. Somebody that would say she had a lovely face, but not because they simply wanted to bed her, who would tell her 'God in His mercy learn to grace' to she, the Lady of Shalott. (A/N 'God in His mercy lend her grace')

Quickly, she ended her song and began another dance accompanied by more music. When that was finished with that one, she ended her act by doing two of her more popular numbers, placing her shawl back on her shoulders, and getting off the stage. Time to look for tips.

In her mind, this was the worst part of her entire existence. This was when they tugged at her curls of hair, called her pixie, or fairy, depending on how horny they were. This was when their hands had free range of her body, and there was really nothing she could do about it if she wanted to get any galleons. This was when she was most vulnerable, surrounded by all those men, too exhausted after all that physical and magical effort to really fight back, and bound by their lustful generosity to make a living. What was worse was that out of jealousy or simple meanness, the other dancers had coerced Malfoy into putting her act at the very end of everything, when all of the best paying, most generous tippers had already left, having procured their quick fix, and when all of the others were mostly out of money. To top everything off, now she had to deal with Mr. Holier than Thou Gothic Bastard trying to pretend that nobody could see him when he stood in the shadows like that.

With years of practice, the nameless dancer schooled her face into a mask completely devoid of emotion. Hand out in front of her (not that they ever placed anything in her hands--they liked to stuff the tips down the top of her shirt as they let their own hands wander), she slowly began to walk the aisles. Just as she had feared, people were either fondling her corpse-stiff body or walking off without even pretending they were planning on leaving any tips. The more perverted ones would drop a few knuts or sickles for her, and then try to dry hump her as she bent down to pick them up knowing full well that there was really nothing she could do about it if she wanted to survive. When she had been little, she had absolutely abhorred dresses. Now she was grateful for the scant protection her floor-length fishnet slip supported one gave her from having to feel their nauseating hardness against her buttocks. All she had to do to keep them from lifting up her dress while she bent over was to step on the hem. She worked the crowd from front to back as they ignored her open hand but paid close attention to her chest, carefully ignoring Mr. Holier than Thou, but it seemed that for as hard as she was trying and for as bruised as her tender breasts were feeling, she had gotten very little thanks, indeed. And he seemed to know it! He had that knowing smirk upon his face like her being screwed-over was very entertaining to watch. No, she wasn't even going to attempt to get anything from him. He'd probably just slap her backside for her trouble. Instead, she busied herself picking up the rest of whatever change the others had left on the ground for her.

He was still there when everyone else had left, still sitting there in the shadows, watching her every move. Still smirking. And there was nothing she could do about it, either. She would have to brush past him eventually--the only way to get to her trailer was to walk the small path to his left that disappeared into the forest. Slowly, carefully lest she make him any more aware of her than he already was (he could just be looking through her, not at her,) she stood up straight, and without looking at him, walked past him. Nothing happened. A few feet further, and she turned her head in surprise. He was still smirking, but had not moved a single muscle except to keep her in his sight. In her right hand was a tiny fortune in new, shiny galleons. Before she could say or do anything, he turned around and walked off into the darkness.

It took her a few minutes to collect her utterly confused and whirling mind. To be perfectly honest, she wasn't really sure what had just happened. That man, who had infuriated her so, had goaded her on throughout her entire act, whom she had been so sure was one of the perverts, had made no move on her, no attempt to inflict his lust upon her vulnerable body, had... had given her more money than she had earned in the past month, and had been the only one to place it in her hand, not down her dress.

She glared in the direction he had disappeared to for a good long time before she walked the trail that lead down to where she lived.


Lucius was not a stupid man. In order to keep damage and attempts to literally kill the competition at a minimum, he separated all the trailers from each other by many miles of wood. A hidden portkey known only by the girl (or guy as the case was) who used it transported them to and from the stage. Which, of course promoted shags in the forest as no person trusted any other to take them home for a quick roll in the bed, but that turned out to be not a bad thing, either, because the discomfort of a roll in the leaves and dirt also discouraged unwanted pregnancy. As a bonus, the isolation also hampered organized rebellions (whose house did they meet at if they couldn't even trust one another?) and the temptation to run away.

She had been very little when she had first been picked up by Lucius. When she thought hard about it, she really couldn't have been more then ten or eleven. In fact, she hadn't even known about magic, then. After all, she was a mudblood born to two muggles. Before Lucius had found her, hadn't even known that she was a witch.

Ten. Now that she thought about it, she must have been ten.

Because of the extensive cover-up of Death Eater doings, the muggle community had no idea that they were the target of such vicious hate violence. If they had known... maybe... maybe they would have moved to Australia or Canada or even America--anywhere but stay to be slaughtered like sheep. One more thing to be bitter about, she guessed. Her parents had been dentists. She had had a name. Hermione: Daughter of Helen of Troy. Ironically, the entire city she had lived in had been destroyed by Death Eaters--completely obliterated off the British map, with the entire world obliviated into thinking that it had been a freak maelstrom of weather. Hermione knew the truth. She was living the truth. Malfoy, after Voldemort's 'death' nine years before, had decided to carry on the cause, and had destroyed her small city. Pureblood wizards and witches who stayed out of his way were let to live, their homes untouched. Muggles were immediately killed. The only mudbloods he let survive were the ones with the potential to become profitable entertainment. Somehow... somehow he had known that she was a mudblood. He had let her live.

Oh, the wizarding community had been outraged, of course, if only because Malfoy had given the Ministry one hell of a job to cover up. Under pressure, Malfoy had hidden all of those belonging to his entertainment troupe for a few years in the past. The unexpected happened. Lucius hid them for three years, but for them, seven years had actually passed. And she had learned a lot in seven years.

A pair of Gypsies who had brought the magic of South East Asia with them (despite the fact that Malfoy had taken their wands so long ago) when their great, great, great grandparents had left so many centuries before, had taken pity on her, along with a woman who looked Gaelic in origin. The Gypsies taught her how to dance and how to try to listen to her inner and outer animals. The Gaelic woman had taught her how to command the music of the wind even without a wand, helped her with her dance, and how to listen to the trees and plants. It was an infusion of old ways with even older ways, her only chance for survival in this new world. Never, all three warned her, never offer your body even when it seems like it is the easiest way, because then you lose faith in yourself and lose sight of who you are and your inner animal, lose your hearing of the plants and trees. Never let them know that you can hear the plants and animals, and understand them, because then they will try to use you and then you'll be trapped forever.

That was easy for them to say. They had abandoned her long ago.

Hermione had listened to all that the women had to say, absorbed their knowledge like a sponge. When they had given her all that they knew, she had thirsted for more. Seven years passed, and she forgot her old family and had a new one. Or, at least, for two years she had a new family. As soon as the three women had taught her what they had decided she needed to know to survive, they had tried to run away. Hermione hadn't heard from them since.

And now?

She opened the door to her trailer after unlocking it with a muggle key. Now her greatest possessions were the rare book she managed to save money for and the fierce orange cat that she had found one day.

The cat was sitting on her small bed; when he saw her enter, he began to purr contentedly.

"Hello," she whispered, exhausted, trying to ignore the fact that that man had somehow brought on the odd feeling that something was not quite right. Like she was lost in a dream.

As soon as her door was shut, the young woman stripped her dress off and set it aside for whoever took her laundry to clean it and stepped into the tiny shower. She washed the lipstick off and put her earrings away, content to slip into bed with wet hair and no clothes.


The lights on in the Headmaster's part of the tower told Snape that Dumbledore was waiting up for him. While he had hoped on going to get some precious sleep, this new predicament meant that he would probably be kept up till the dawn hours. At least it's a Saturday, he growled in his mind and slowly trudged up the many flights of stairs to Dumbledore's office. At least the man hadn't waited in the medical hall waiting for him to finish with the Granger girl.

"I presume you wanted to talk to me?" he asked as he eyed the old man to whom apparently sanity was a luxury often forgone.

"Ah, yes, Severus!" The twinkle in Dumbledore's eyes made Snape frown. This did not look like it was going to be a short meeting at all. "Did you have a good time?"

Snape's frown increased at a steady rate as his mind quickly began to flit from possibility to possibility trying to figure out if, perhaps, Dumbledore was omnipotent. "Oh, yes," he began sarcastically. "Charming time. I always do enjoy watching human exploitation at eleven o'clock at night. Now what is the real reason you sent me for? Certainly not for an update on her condition. St. Mungo's made it implicitly clear that she was a hopeless case."

"Actually," Dumbledore returned nonplussed and offered Snape a sticky lemon drop, "I was hoping you'd have more luck than them. You, after all, have much more experience and insight into such matters."

"Luck?" he snorted and ignored the offering. "Miss Granger needs a lot more than simply luck. She is suffering from the after-affects of magical creature and curse-induced psychological warfare. She truly believes that she's some... dancer." His eyes suddenly narrowed as he reviewed his night spent in her trapped mind. "Ten points from Gryffindor, in fact."

"Ten points?" If anything, the twinkle in Dumbledore's eyes grew brighter. "Why?"

"For thinking that I was Mr. Holier than Thou Gothic Bastard."

If Snape hadn't been so serious (and so sensitive), the Headmaster would have laughed outright. However, Snape being who he was, Dumbledore refrained from doing so. He, however, couldn't still the twitch of a smile at his lips. "You do realize, Severus, that how she thinks about you now is not necessarily how she thinks about you in real life, don't you?"

The man cloaked in black stiffly nodded.

"And that you do not give the best of first impressions?"

The scowl on his face deepened. "What do you want, Albus?"

Now it was time to get down to business. "I want to know if she is truly a hopeless case, Severus. If she is doomed to be in that coma for the rest of her life--or if there is something you can do about it?"

Eyes hardened for a slight minute as Snape grimaced and formed the answer in his mind. Then, with a hand raked through his hair in defeat, he changed his expression to a sarcastic sneer. "Yes, she is a hopeless case. She was so convinced, she started to inadvertently affect my thoughts. Being a Gryffindor, she does not well understand or appreciate subterfuge. It will be near impossible for me to get her to see that what she thinks is reality is simply a lie without a stronger potion that will have, of course, greater consequences."

"But there is a chance that you might be able to help her?" the Headmaster pounced immediately on that prospect.

Snape was hesitant for a few seconds, and then sighed. "There is a slight chance," he allowed. "But there are risks involved. For example, I could potentially become trapped in her mind. Unlikely, but I will have to tailor some potions specifically to myself and the girl when I begin to seriously change her mind. And that in itself could lead to some unwanted circumstances."

"Severus, I am completely willing to take the risks if you are."

"You say that now, but what will you do when some..." he shuddered at the thought, "bond forms?" The last thing he wanted was to be attached permanently to the Gryffindor Know-It-All's mind.

"You two are both adults now, who can think for themselves and take care of themselves. Yes, Severus, she is of legal age even if she is a seventh year to be, and there is nothing in the rulebooks saying that two legal adults, albeit one a student and the other a teacher, are not allowed to mingle." Dumbledore added when he saw the disbelieving sneer on Snape's face. "If something like a bond or other relationship does form, I must simply ask both of you to be discreet about it. Besides, Severus, you might find that you actually enjoy human company once in a while."

Snape's snort told the Headmaster he thought otherwise. Stiffly, Snape stood up and exited Dumbledore's office and headed towards the dungeons and his classroom. To his immense disgust, Granger's blasted cat was laying on his desk. For some reason unfathomable to anybody but perhaps Dumbledore, Crookshanks had decided that Snape was a suitable surrogate owner, and spent any time that was not already spent sitting on Hermione's chest in Snape's part of the castle.

"Why don't you go off and get Mrs. Norris laid, you mangy tomcat?" he hissed.

In response to this command, Crookshanks closed his eyes and began to purr. After Snape made sure nobody else was around, he allowed himself a small chuckle and walked over to Crookshanks. "Ah, so I see you've already done that?" he murmured as he began to pet the tomcat. "That explains her behavior. Quite put out, you know. Perhaps you should have given her a mouse as a parting gift? It's a good thing I didn't give you that impotence potion like I planned, then, isn't it?"

One yellow eye opened in slight annoyance, and closed again as Snape began to scratch Crookshanks behind the ears. Well, if truth be told, Snape had planned on gelding Crookshanks when the cat had first taken a liking to the Potions Master, but after Crookshanks had proven himself smart enough to avoid food offerings laced with anything that threatened his ability to create offspring (or poisons, too), Snape had given up. Slowly, he sat down at his desk, moved Crookshanks slightly aside so that the rather large ball of fur was not on his clean parchments, picked up his Slytherin green quill, and began to come up with a list of ingredients he would need. Dragon blood, of course, extract of witchwood... Griffin feathers, newt eyes for consistency... heather, mandrake leaves... tricorn hide, fairywillow wings, avalanche lily petals... Tail hairs of an okapi? Now that would be a hard one to obtain, since muggles have nearly driven that poor creature to extinction. An ingredient, he suspected, St. Mungo's had neglected to add during their own evaluation of the girl's mind. He stared off into oblivion for a long time, his mind revolting the lack of sleep it had been receiving for the past several days.

An imperious meow forced Snape back into the real world. For a moment, he suspected that it had been because he had stopped scratching the obnoxious cat, but instead, the cat had stood up and jumped off the desk. "Trying to tell me to go to bed?" he asked Crookshanks, torn between annoyance and amusement. With a shaky sigh, the Potions Professor stood up and followed the cat to his personal quarters. When he arrived, he gave the cat a disdainful look, and muttered, "Why don't you go spend some quality time with your owner?"

Crookshanks gave him a miffed sniff and sauntered off, presumably towards the medical wing.

Left to himself, Snape entered his quarters and looked around. His personal workroom was just as he had left it hours ago, strewn with opened books, remnants of carefully prepared ingredients on every bench... Organized chaos. Snape was a man of great responsibility. Slowly he began to wash instruments and beakers off in a gargoyle facetted sink, stack open books next to each other so that he would be able to find them when he needed them again, empty out his used cauldron. No, he wouldn't be using that particular potion again. Aside from the fact it had been ineffective for Snape's purposes, it gave Hermione too much control over his thoughts when he had tried to enter her mind. But it had been useful for assessing Hermione's mental condition.

When his workroom was cleaned up, he walked into his bedroom and stripped off his clothes. It was already four in the morning, and there was less than a week left until the new school year started. Dumbledore had exaggerated. Even with Hermione's third year time turner experience, she wouldn't be eighteen until the 19th of September. Mercilessly pushing the thought away, Snape stepped into his bathroom and took a quick shower to rid his body of the oil and sweat that had formed as his body's defense against wearing black on a hot, August day. Damn Voldemort for doing this to a poor, defenseless know-it-all insufferable girl! She should have just come straight to the Headmaster instead of chasing after Potter at the end of the last school year! But no, she had to use her keen intellect and reason out that Potter was being snared by the songs of Voldemort's sirens. She had to come and try to save Potter from sure madness. She had to sacrifice herself like a worthless Gryffindor martyr, and now look where she was!

With a growl of dismay, he turned off the shower and stepped out, wrapping a towel around his lean waist. He would have to get some sleep if he was going to be of any use to the girl.

He climbed into his clean bed and closed his eyes, trying to review what he had learned of her mind quickly before he surrendered to sleep. It was somewhat amusing to recall how she had viewed herself, that blue dress, those songs...


Only reapers, reaping early
In among the bearded barley,
Hear a song that echoes cheerly
From the river winding clearly,
Down to towered Camelot;
And by the moon the reaper weary,
Piling sheaves in uplands airy,
Listening, whispers "'Tis the fairy
Lady of Shalott."

~Alfred Lord Tennyson