XXI

  Severus took her up to a private set of rooms, the front being set up as a personal study and potion's lab.  From there he picked out a bottle that was standing alone from the rest of the organized phials, handing it to her.  Taking the pebble out of her mouth for a moment she took the potion, earning a rather surprised expression from Severus.

  "You should at least ask what it is before taking a potion someone hands you, you know," he chided quietly.

  "I trust you," Britta said, but then became distracted as she looked at the small stone, staring at it with wonder.  She remembered the first time she got it…someone had put it threw the hole, promising to teach her magic.  A flood of other memories quickly followed like an open door, even recalling the two 'Death Eater's' who had managed to sneak her out of Azkaban and had barely escaped several dementors that had tried to go after them as they fled on brooms away from the island.

  Severus sat beside her, expressionlessly watching the wide range of emotions cross her face, mixed with the tears that streamed down her cheeks.  He was very unsure, almost petrified at just how she was going to react to him; knowing he had been there and had known the whole time, wondering if she would be angry for him not telling her sooner.  At last she put the stone back in her mouth and looked up at him, barely able to speak.

  "So…did you ever have a chance to make up your mind?"  She asked slowly.  Severus frowned in puzzlement, tilting his head slightly.  "Am I…someone you'd want to associate with?"  He gazed at her searchingly for a long moment.

  "To be perfectly honest, I was more worried that you would not wish to associate with me," he stated in a low voice.  "Especially with Wood…"

  "Oh, that…that was just a diversion, it never went anywhere, I just…thought it might be healthier than what I was feeling for you," Britta mumbled, feeling uncomfortable.  Severus blinked at her in surprise.  "I guess my heart didn't forget after all," she added.  Timidly she reached her hand out to touch his, and trembling slightly he grasped it.

  "Forgive me for not telling you sooner.  I did not wish to see you get hurt.  I certainly didn't wish to see you cut yourself off from the world from that stupidity."  Severus said softly.

  "I understand.  Knowing you, you probably were busy volunteering for every chancy mission there was, and between that and the Pact you probably thought that I would just end up worrying about you and hurting if anything happened to you," Britta shook her head at him slightly amused.

  "Yes, that and I didn't want to set you up for a fall when you realized the person you thought you knew was in actually a grumpy old professor, who…" Severus suddenly found himself cut off with a gentle kiss that left him completely off balance for a moment as he found himself staring in her eyes that seemed unsure of how he was going to react.  Finally he drew her into his arms, kissing her so passionately it was her turn to be surprised.   After a moment he took the stone out of his mouth and put it in the box around her neck.  "I don't think you need that right now."

 "All I ever needed was you," Britta said softly.  "There was just always a wall in the way."

  "No more walls," Severus said firmly, putting a finger gently to her lips.  "No matter what happens out there, I am not going to let anything or anyone get between us again."   Britta gazed at him for a moment, whispering a few soft words which Severus repeated shakily in return before pulling her closer.  It was the last words spoken for a long time.

  Severus awoke to a pounding noise and auburn hair in his face.  Once he recovered enough from that shocking occurrence to push Britta's hair out of his face and wonder at the incredulity that there was a woman there at all, he recognized the pounding noise as an insistent knock at the door.   Somehow managing to maneuver himself away and throw on a robe he closed the door to his bedroom behind him and answered the front one to see Lucius Malfoy there, looking quite tired.

  "About time you answered, I thought you were a light sleeper.   We've had some world-shaking events, and Dumbledore wants to see you and the rest of the staff as soon as possible in his office.  Did you find Britta?"  Lucius asked.

  "Yes, she's fine, safe.  What do you mean world-shaking?  Are the kids all right, how did the raid go?"  Severus said.  Lucius sighed.

  "Better than expected.  Worse than expected.  Voldemort is gone, but at a serious cost to us," Lucius explained.

  "Gone as in dead?"  Severus asked, suddenly studying his own arm carefully.

  "Gone as in defeated…for now.  But as you can see, the mark is still there, if faint.  Dumbledore doesn't think he is dead.  But the Castle is back in our hands, although heavily damaged and cursed and who knows what it'll take to get it back to its former glory."  Lucius paused as the door to the bedroom opened, his eyes growing wide as he saw Britta step out.

  "Go on, you said there was a serious cost, who did we lose?"  Severus asked.  Lucius looked back over to Severus looking dark.

  "James and Lily," Lucius said quietly.  The color drained out of Severus' face, looking a bit unsteady.  "They had tracked the children to the Stone, somehow they had managed to get all the way through the booby traps.  But Voldemort was there as well, and was going to kill them, starting with Harry, who had the Stone.  James fought him and was killed, and Lily jumped in front to try and save Harry and took the brunt of another curse.   That was when something incredible occurred…when Voldemort tried to hit Harry, the curse bounced off and hit him instead, and the scream echoed through the halls like glass breaking.  I had been leading the Dark forces on the assault on the Great Hall, and by the time I got there, only the kids were alive and Harry was crying over his parents.   Ginny is fine now, all of them are in the hospital ward."  An awkward silence set in and Britta walked over to Severus putting a hand on his arm comfortingly.

  "Let Dumbledore know I'll be right up," Severus told Lucius softly.  Lucius nodded to him, looking thoughtful.

  "There's one other thing," Lucius said after a moment.  "Before we left, James handed me something to give to you in case anything happened to him…" he said, his voice trailing a bit as he took a small package out of his pocket.  "I didn't take him seriously at the time, but I took it."

  Severus carefully unwrapped it to find a deck of cards underneath it, with a small piece of paper attached that simply said, "A deck for Severus."  Frowning slightly, he fanned the cards and a strange sensation came over him.

  "A deck of cards with no spades," Severus said, sounding distant.  "He knew.  Somehow, he knew he wouldn't be coming back."  Britta looked at Severus puzzled, not quite understanding the significance of that.  

  "At least it was not in vain.  We owe a great deal to James and Lily, and Harry, of course.  They will all go down in history this day," Lucius said.  "We now have a much brighter future in store thanks to them."

  "It looks like Fate finally decided to side with us for a change," Britta said slowly.

  "Yes.  Although I started believing that from the moment I first heard your voice," Severus said.  Britta smiled softly at him.

The End

A/N.  Thanks for reading my twisted fate story!  Hope you all liked it.  Now I got to get back to working on Jennifer Craw book 4! Pant-pant.  R/R what you think of the overall story for me.  Thanks!

  PS. To my JC fans, who were wondering …  Of Course it is!  Sillies.  Ya'll need to pay attention to clues. g

 PS2:  To people reading my stuff for the first time:  Please read Jennifer Craw and the Phoenix Wand!  It's an in depth, character filled series that tries to preserve the flavor of the original series.