There is someone here I am anxious for you to meet. Details when you arrive.
"Anzie! Anzie, wait!"
A month had passed uneventfully. Anzie had fallen into a routine - Hogwarts by day, remedial potions by night.
And even, on occasion, she was bold enough to wake Professor Snape for a game of Skull and Bones. Sometimes he was waiting for her.
Now Anzie was on her way after supper to the dungeons, where Snape would be joining her for potions lessons.
They both called the classes "remedial" but it hadn't taken Anzie long to learn what they really were - werewolf potions.
Someone had called out to her, and Anzie turned to see Justin hurrying down the hallway towards her. He was grinning. "Hey there," he said, panting to a halt in front of her. "How are you?."
Anzie blushed pleasantly. "Pretty good. And you?"
Justin took a deep breath. "Would you like to go with me to Hogsmeade next Saturday?"
She couldn't hold back her grin. "Justin, I would love to I! I - " but then her face fell. Werebreathern. "Oh damn," she said, frantically searching for an excuse. "I promised Professor Snape I would help clean out the old cauldrons."
Justin looked disappointed. "Well, in that case... I was hoping to make this more romantic, at the tea house maybe, but will you go to the Yule Ball with me - as my girlfriend?"
With a yelp of pleasure, Anzie threw her arms around the Head Boy. "Yes!" she nearly shouted. Justin laughed and hugged her back, and then quickly, before anyone else could enter the hallway, he kissed her. Just briefly, a quick, chaste little taste of her lips. And then he was gone.
Anzie stood in the hallway, astonished and delighted at the same time. A grin grew on her face, and she touched her hand to her lips, which were warm with pleasure. She laughed, and danced her way into the potions dungeon. She twirled through the door and made for the supplies cabinet, but froze. She wasn't alone.
Standing behind Snape's desk was a tall, ragged, sandy haired man. He was dressed in shabby robes, but around his waist was a new leather belt which contained, among other things, a mirror. Anzie felt her heart race, and she scrambled for her wand. The stranger looked up from what he had been reading - a file folder with the name
STERN, ANZIEDRA on the front.
Anzie fought the urge to scream and raised her wand. "Who are you?" she demanded.
The stranger smiled. "Ah, yes, I was hoping to talk with you."
"Tell me who are!" Anzie's arm was trembling, but she held her wand level with his throat.
"You won't have heard of me," the stranger said, "Unless you've read more of these files than you ought to -"
Anzie didn't wait for him to finish "Stupe-" she began, but the stranger was too fast.
"Expeliarmus!" The stranger cried, and Anzie felt herself being flung backwards, her wand wrenched from her grip.
She hit the stone wall with a gasp of pain. She slid to the floor in time to see the stranger standing above her, wand drawn and ready.
Anzie threw herself forward to tackle the stranger at the knees. He went down with a yell, smashing the back of his shoulders across Snape's desk on the way down. They landed in a tangle of arms and legs, and Anzie began scratching and biting, trying desperate to claw his face with her fingernails. She succeeded in gouging a long scratch in his cheek before the stranger caught both her wrists and wrestled her to the ground. He pinned her above her head. Their eyes met. "Listen to me," the stranger said. "I'm not trying to ..." his voice trailed off.
Suddenly Anzie noticed how very blue his eyes were, how the pupils were almost slit-like, how his teeth held a dangerous point...
"You're... you're..." Anzie stammered.
"A werewolf." The stranger finished, and released her. "Who did you think I was?"
Anzie swallowed. "A Werebreathren."
The stranger ran his hand through his hair and whistled. "I don't blame you then." His eyes didn't leave hers.
Anzie blushed, embarrassed by the stranger's unrelenting stare. He handed her wand back and she drew her school robes tighter around her, feeling inexplicably exposed. There was an awkward moment of silence, while the stranger seemed to absorb every inch of her. Finally, he extended his hand. "Remus Lupin," he said.
"Anzie Stern," she replied, taking his hand. He helped her to stand, and at that moment, Severus Snape burst into the dungeon.
"Miss Stern - " he started, but stopped abruptly at the sight of Lupin holding her hand. The two werewolves broke apart, looking guilty. Snape's eyes roved over the smashed desk, his scattered potions ingredients, and a pile of dragonsalt which was happily corroding the stone floor. "Lupin," he said coldly. "Explain yourself."
"We'd arranged this meeting previously, Snape," he said coldly. "Miss Stern walked in on me, panicked, and..."
"Your bestial nature overcame your natural senses?" Snape sneered. "Truly, you make a darling couple."
Anzie stiffened. She frowned and made a small curtsey to Lupin. "If you'll excuse me." She turned her back on Snape and stormed out of the dungeons to Snape's office and, presumably, to her staircase.
"Oh, good show, Snivellius," Lupin snapped, once she was gone. "Are you this kind to all your students, or only the werewolves?"
"I base my actions on precedents," Snape said darkly, waving his wand and restoring order to his office. "Now if you'll be so kind, Lupin, I have work to do before tomorrow night." Tomorrow was a full moon, they both knew.
Lupin resisted the urge to hex him. "Who bit her? Why is she here? Why hasn't Dumbledore - "
"The girl is a student here. She was bitten two months ago by a Death Eater werewolf. This will be her second transformation."
"Still painful, then."
Snape stood with his back to Lupin, unwilling to show weakness. "Her screams would wake the dead," he murmured.
Anzie looked for the stranger, Lupin, during school the next day, although she didn't see him. Justin waved to her between classes, and even came to eat lunch with Anzie and her friends. Marie and Brian exchanged knowing looks over their bowls of chowder. Anzie didn't mind. She was flattered by Justin's attention, but preoccupied.
Tonight was her second full moon...
After supper she dressed in an old school gown, borrowed from Dobby, who promised he could patch it up no matter what happened. She suspected Dobby was right - he seemed to be the elf that Dumbledore trusted his more - unique - students to.
She entered Snape's office. Snape was alone.
"Is Mr. Lupin coming tonight?" Anzie asked, tentatively.
"Mr. Lupin has already taken his potion and transformed." Snape held a vial of clear liquid up to the light. "He is hiding in the headmaster's office until he regains human form."
"Oh." Anzie wasn't sure if she was disappointed. She had liked Lupin's wolfish smile. Anzie sat at the potion master's desk, rolling her robe back to one elbow. Taking blood had become routine, and Anzie barely noticed as Snape slit her skin and took his sample. She eyed the potions on his desk - there were four, instead of three. The first three were the same as last month, vile, smoking concoctions, but a crystal wineglass on the far right held a simple, clean, clear liquid.
"In order, Miss Stern," Snape said, indicating the goblet on the far left. Anzie took a deep breath and downed the first three potions as fast as she could, choking all the way. She reached for the last, in the crystal. "Very pretty," she said, smiled at Snape, and toasted him. Snape was startled - but no matter, Anzie was already throwing the potion back, eyes closed in distaste. The final potion burnt like fire, and it hit Anzie's stomach with a burst of pain.
"Ugh," Anzie groaned and held her stomach. After a few sections she tried to stand, but the pain was intensifying.
Snape reached across the desk and steadied her as she stood. "Thank you," she whispered, and began walking toward the door. Don't throw up, she chanted to herself. Don't throw up, don't throw up... The
pain doubled, and doubled again. Anzie clapped a hand over her mouth as she felt bile coursing back up her throat.
She vomited. It was disgusting, she closed her eyes as the acid liquid bubbled between her lips and dripped through her fingers. She drew her hand away from her mouth and opened her eyes - her fingers were coated in red.
Instead of vomit, she had coughed up blood. She retched again, the blood coursing down the front of her robe. She fell to her knees.
Snape, who had snorted in displeasure at the sound of her vomiting - a month's work, down the drain - turned and saw Anzie sink to her knees, coughing up her own life's blood.
"Accio platante!" Snape bellowed, calling for the nearest coagulating potion. He hurried to uncork it.
Frantic, he realized what must have gone wrong. The last potion was designed to dissolve proteins, so that her eyes would retain their normal shape. He had calculated the potion to work after an hour, and had taken account for the way werewolf blood seemed to triple power.
However, he hadn't thought of the fact that the potion was inside a werewolf, being acted on in three dimensions. The potion had gone to work too fast, and now it was eating Anzie from the inside out.
He forced the blood clotting potion to her lips, trembling. Anzie tried to swallow, but choked as another wave of blood poured itself through her lips. Snape put a hand behind her head and tipped the bottle down her throat, muttering every counter wound spell he knew. Something must have worked, and Anzie swallowed, coughed, and swallowed again. Tears leaked from her eyes. Her mind, so vulnerable, flashed images out to the potions master. Justin - Lupin - her mother - Snape himself. Snape pressed the bottle harder to her lips, willing the bleeding to stop.
Anzie took a deep breath, a painful breath, and screamed. "Poison!" she cried, pushing herself away from the potions master. "You tried to kill me!"
"Miss Stern!" Snape barked, standing. "I did not poison you." His hands trembled, as part of his mind whispered that he practically did.
Anzie was delusional. She swayed as she stood, examining her hands. "Blood," she cried. "Blood everywhere. I killed them, killed the wolf, killed myself - monster - now you - the werebreathren -" she sobbed. "I'm going to die, you're killing me."
Snape reached behind him for a draught of living death potion. He took it, uncorked it, and shook some into his pocket handkerchief. Anzie pointed a bloody finger at him as he approached. "Poison..." she breathed. "Murderer."
His dark mark flared hot at her accusation. Snape ignored it and drew the trembling girl to himself, plastering the handkerchief across her nose and mouth. "Don't fight this," Snape said, quietly.
Anzie said something into the handkerchief. "Sleep, Anzie." It was the first time the potions master had called her by her first name. "Sleep." The girl slumped in his arms, unconscious, bloody. "Fawkes," the potions master whispered, suddenly exhausted.
There was a burst of flame and the phoenix appeared. "Get Dumbledore," Snape said through gritted teeth, and the phoenix disappeared. It was only a few seconds before Dumbledore appeared, bursting through the door. His eyes shone in concern as he took the unconscious girl from Severus' arms.
"Severus - " Dumbledore began.
"Take her." Snape backed away, Anzie's accusations still ringing in his ears. "Damn you, Dumbledore, take her!" He turned his back on the headmaster. Dumbledore conjured a stretcher and eased Anzie onto it. He left, leaving Severus alone.
The potion master turned to his desk and swept the crystal wineglass up. Anzie had toasted him - toasted him - as she drank her poison, so trusting. He should have realized what he was doing - he couldn't afford to make mistakes. Not - not with Anzie. He slammed the glass to the floor, where it shattered.
Dumbledore waited a few hours before going back to see Snape. When he did, he found Severus slumped at his desk, an open bottle of Dragon Draught at his left hand and a half full tumbler in his right. As Dumbledore entered Snape raised his head, glared, and threw back the remains of his drink. He poured himself another.
"Severus," Dumbledore began.
"Take her away, Headmaster, I never want to see her again." He took a large swig of his glass, grimacing.
"It's not your fault, Severus."
Snape slammed the glass down on the desk, spilling his drink across a pile of first year moonstone essays. "Don't tell me it wasn't my fault, I damn near killed her." His hand shook.
"Severus. You are not your father. Nor are you a Death Eater. You're closer to curing lycanthropy than you ever have been. In fact, I think all you need is an assistant. A Master's student."
Dumbledore slid a scroll of parchment onto his desk, away from the spilled Dragon Draught. The Headmaster turned and left.
Snape reached for the parchment, feeling his temper rise. A Master's student! At his age! Who on earth did Dumbledore have in mind?
The parchment, in official looking Ministry Script, said:
APPLICATION FOR COMMENCEMENT OF MASTER'S DEGREE IN: POTIONS
Applicant: Anziedra Stern
Professor: Severus Snape
...The rest of the form was blank, waiting for the two of them to fill it in. He stared at the paper for a long time. And then Severus finished his drink, searched for a quill, and began to write.
Anzie coughed, and a trickle of blood slid out from the corner of her mouth. Someone's hand was there with a damp cloth to wipe it away. "Professor?" Anzie breathed.
Lupin frowned. "No - it's Remus. Remus Lupin."
Anzie coughed again, although this time she didn't bleed. "Where's Professor Snape?"
"Upstairs. It's alright. You're fine."
Anzie opened her eyes, slowly. "What happened?"
"Well," Lupin said, folding the cloth over and tucking it away in his robes. "The way I heard the story Professor Snape was trying out a new combination of potions on you, and you didn't like one very much." He smiled, gently.
Anzie gasped quietly, as the memory came rushing back.
"Hungry?" Lupin asked.
"No, but I'm parched." Anzie sat up in bed and accepted the glass of water that Lupin handed her. "Thanks," she said, and drank with a trembling hand. She handed him the empty glass. "What time is it?"
"I can still transform, then, right? Professor Snape shouldn't loose a month because - "
Lupin looked sad as he interrupted. "It's midnight on December 2."
Four days! Anzie thought. "I've been asleep that long?"
"You lost quite a bit of blood." Lupin stood, scraping his chair. "I'll go now. I'm sorry to invade your privacy, but Dumbledore told me to keep an eye on you."
"No, no, it's alright!" Anzie said hurriedly. "Please stay." Lupin was the first werewolf she knew. She had so many questions...
Lupin smiled. "It's not just that, Professor Snape asked me to wake him as soon as you did. He'll be down in a moment." The werewolf left.
Anzie tossed her bedclothes aside. Why on earth was Snape coming to see her? She would at least get dressed and brush her hair. She wanted to look nice when she apologized. Had she really called him a murderer? Ouch. She hurried into her school robes and sat to brush her hair out neatly. She waited for him in her sitting room. There was only time to light a fire before her Professor entered.
"Miss Stern," Snape said, striding forward with a cold look. "Headmaster Dumbledore wishes you to be employed as my Master's student. It would mean another five years of study at Hogwarts, under my tutelage. It is also an excellent ruse to keep you here until the war ends... one way or the other." He spoke quietly. Neither of them were comfortable with the idea of the war ending with Voldemort victorious. "But the papers need to be at the Ministry by midnight tonight. You have eight minutes to decide."
Anzie accepted the roll of parchment with a shaking hand. Another five years at Hogwarts. With Professor Snape.
She thought of her mother and father. Of her friends who were graduating. Of her little house back in Germany. Of Justin.
But she couldn't have those things now. Being a werewolf changed all that. Hogwarts was her home.
Snape had filled out the form. Birthdays, astrological signs, salary, curriculum. The only thing missing was her signature.