Chapter 26 : One Last Vow
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"Well? Do I pass?" she asked with a smile. Severus smiled and nodded. She squealed and jumped out of the chair, dancing around the room a bit to celebrate her victory before throwing her arms around Severus.
"Want to know what I'm thinking?" She asked coyly. Snape raised an eyebrow.
"Alright..." He conceded.
"Too bad!" She said planting a quick kiss on his cheek before twirling away. Severus watched her with a bemused expression. She had thrown off her robes and was now only in a plain black t-shirt and those leather pants with stiletto heels. Completely unprofessional and not at all what a Hogwarts professor should be wearing, but it suited her perfectly. When she danced close to him he reached out and grabbed her, holding her close to him and she giggled, still giddy from victory.
"I'm very proud of you, Valora." He said sincerely. She smiled up at him, her golden eyes shining. With the heels she didn't have to lean up as far to capture his lips with her own. Severus tightened his grip on her, crushing her against him. Valora twisted her fingers into his dark hair pulling him closer to her. His hand slid beneath the flimsy shirt to roam across the smooth, pale skin beneath it.
A knock at the door made them jump apart. Severus nodded toward the bedroom and Valora walked in and made sure to stay out of sight. Severus closed the door softly and she frowned. She didn't mind hiding but she doubted whoever knocked was going to inspect the room; the door could have stayed open. She pressed her ear against the thick wood door in an attempt to hear what was going on. She could just barely make out the unmistakable sounds of Severus's curt greeting. The other voice sounded familiar too, and young but she couldn't place it. She did note how pompous the other voice sounded. Like they were gloating about something. The conversation didn't last very long and soon she heard the door shut. Valora hurried away from the door and dove onto the bed, acting casual. Severus walked in the next minute and raised an eyebrow at her obviously posed form.
"Eavesdropping?' He asked with a wry smile.
"I wish. The door was too thick to hear anything. Was it a student?" She asked, sitting up as Severus walked over to the bed.
"Just Malfoy." Severus said dissmissively as he pulled her closer to him by the waistband of her pants.
"What did he want?' Valora asked as she began to unbutton his shirt, her fingers flying with a learned dexterity.
"No idea." Severus said shrugging off the shirt and climbing on top of her. Valora laughed at him before twisting so she was on top. She felt lightheaded but at the same time had a slight worry in the back of her mind, because in her experiance, nothing this good ever lasted. She paused for a moment and Severus used the oppurtunity to once more flip her beneath him, she smiled and then grabbed his face forcing him to look at her.
"I love you." She told him. He smiled down at her, kissing her softly, completely different from how they had been kissing only a moment ago.
"I love you too." he said quietly. Valora beamed up at him again.
"Good." She said, slipping her own shirt over her head and tossing it carelessly onto the floor. In only minutes Severus made sure the rest of their clothes followed, her leather pants were the last thing to go.
Valora was tossing and turning something dreadful. another nightmare must have taken hold because this simply couldn't be reality and she was sure that it wasn't a memory. She was walking through a dark alley and she could see a faint light up ahead. Walking towards it she saw James and Lily's house in Godric's Hollow. A dark cloaked figure was approaching and through the front window Valora could see Lily taking Harry up to bed with James stretched leisurely on the couch, so trusting of his friends, blind to the danger that was fast approaching his door. Valora made to run towards the house; to warn them; to save them. Strong arms held her back and she felt something lower tug at her cloak. Turning around she saw Severus holding her, preventing her from saving them with Sirius, in his shaggy dog form biting down on her cloak. They were stopping her.
Suddenly the scene shifted and she was sitting on a stool in front of the Order and the Death Eaters. McGonagall placed the sorting hat upon her head.
"Slytherin would have given you an easy path. You both would have had an easy path." the hat spoke, but in Voldemort's voice. She look across the room to Severus who was smirking at her. Then towards the Gryffindor table where James, Remus, Lily, Harry, and Sirius sat, smiling at her. Both expecting to be chosen. How could she choose? Black or White? Love or Friendship? War or Peace?
The next thing she knew she was running through the halls which were quickly dissolving in a grey abyss and all she could hear were screams, terrible screams of children...no, not children...students. Why were students screaming? She ran, trying to find them but all she saw was grey.
Valora woke with a start, sitting up and hugging the sheet to her naked body. She rubbed her eyes with a cool hand. Just a nightmare. A silly nightmare. Then suddenly a very real scream pierced the darkness of Severus's bedroom. Valora froze for a moment not knowing whether or not to believe her ears, when another shrill scream rang through the night. Valora then noted Severus, fully dressed sitting on the edge of the bed, his mouth resting on white knuckles.
"Sev?" she asked carefully, reaching forward and placing a hand on his shoulder. He jumped, as though she had startled him. Standing up and walked over he sat beside her for a moment planting a chaste, if not guilty kiss on her pale cheek. Valora's eyes were wide with fear and confusion.
"What's happening?" She asked. Severus stood again and turned his face away from, to ashamed to look her in the eye.
"Death Eaters are attacking Hogwarts." He said flatly. Valora's jaw dropped and she let out a short laugh of disbelief.
"Nobody would attack Hogwarts." She said simply. Severus wheeled around.
"Can you think of no one? Not one person who is insane enough to do that? The Dark Lord sent them to attack. He's going to take over the school." Severus told her, his face grim. Valora could barely process what he was saying but it did click. Voldemort wanted control of the school, and also this is where Harry was. Harry! Valora immediatley dressed, throwing on her clothes faster than she had ever done before. Severus watched her, his eyes swimming with guilt.
"What are you doing just sitting here! Letting me sleep! Sleeping at all when you knew we were going to be attacked!" She accused, her blood boiling with hurt and confusion.
"I didn't know it would be tonight." Severus tried to explain.
"Is Malfoy in on this? Is that what he came to tell you? To give you a heads up that they were attacking tonight? And then you and I just- AGH!" She screamed at him, pulling her boots on angrily.
"I swear to you this happened completely without my knowledge." He tried to tell her. Valora scoffed loudly.
"What kind of double agent are you if you can't even give us information like this!? Severus Snape I can't believe you-"
Severus cut her off with a passionate kiss that clouded her mind. She was still hurt. How could he have let this happen? This was his job, to make sure things like this didn't happen. Valora was angry and upset but all she wanted right now was him to comfort her, to keep explaining himself, to make everything okay again. She wrapped her arms around him and when their lips broke apart he kept her tight to him, her head resting on his shoulder. She could feel him trembling slightly. She finally pulled back from him.
"Severus, I don't understand." Valora admitted. Severus looked down at her carefully, his fingers resting along her slightly blushing cheek.
"I know and I'm sorry. You promised to trust me. Please, Valora. You know there's more than what you see." He said.
"Explain it to me then." She demanded desperately, her voice a tone higher than usual as tears constricted her throat. Severus shook his head sadly.
"There's no time love." He said quietly. Valora bit down hard on her lower lip and then slipped her hand into his as they walked out of the bedroom. Valora stared at the chair where only hours ago she had completed her Occlumency, the room she had danced around, then room she had spent the better part of the year with Severus, falling deeper in love with him than she ever thought possible.
"We need to go." Severus said quietly. Valora's face scrunched up a bit as tears began to overflow. She didn't want to leave the safety of the little world they had created here.
"No." She choked. Severus frowned at her, fighting back tears of his own before sweeping her into another kiss, this one salted with tears, but whether they were hers or his neither knew. A creak of a door and a tiny gasp made Valora spin around to see Flitwick standing in the doorway with an expression of pure shock on his face to see the surly potions master with the beautful DADA professor in his arms. Valora grabbed her wand and reacted on instinct.
"Stupefy!" She yelled, sending the little man flying across the hall until he came to rest unconciously on the ground. Severus raised an eyebrow as he looked down at her, clearly unhappy. Valora merely shrugged.
"Oops?" She tried. Severus just shook his head and went to obliviate that little encounter from Flitwick's memory while he remained unconcious. Valora glanced into the mirror on the wall and wiped away all traces of her tears. There was no reason to cry. The Order would be here soon if they weren't already, besides Severus said it was just Death Eaters. As for Harry, well he had been with Dumbledore when she'd last seen him, mere hours ago. How much safer could he be? Valora could only hope the old man still had her godson beneath his wing and that they were safe. Looking back at Severus she felt her throat tighten again, but she wouldn't cry. She knew now that they wouldn't be fighting on the same side tonight. That's why he'd let her sleep. He didn't want to shorten some of the last moments of peace they would have had. Valora could no longer blame him. She wanted nothing more than to be asleep in his bed with his arms around her, blissfully unaware of the war and lies that surrounded them. Severus let out a breath and opened his arms to her, the same he had the night of the Yule Ball all those years ago. Valora smiled and ran to him, throwing her arms around his neck while he gripped her tight. They kissed and then Valora leaned in so her lips were brushing his ear.
"I love you. I trust you. I'll find you." She said in a voice that was low and undeniably sincere. He pulled away from her and ran his fingers along her jaw before taking off down the corridor. Valora watched him until he turned a corner and then set off in the opposite direction. She hadn't gotten very far before she almost collided with Hermione and Luna.
"Have you seen Professor Snape?" Luna asked, sounding unnaturally cheerful for the situation. Valora shook her head no.
"If you girls could go down there and try to revive Professor Flitwick it would probably more beneficial than looking for Severus." she said. She couldn't help but cover his ass one last time. No need to expose him immediatley.
When she reached the fighting Valora's eyes widened. Students fighting Death Eaters. Valora saw Travers raise his wand towards one of the kids and Valora blasted it out of his hand. Soon Yaxley was by his side. She drew her wand and found herself dueling them both simultaneously. It had been a long time since she dueled but she found that it was like riding a bicycle - you never really lost the skill. It wasn't long before she managed to knock Travers out, but Yaxely was still going strong. Valora noted a swift, dark shape out of the corner of her eye and heard a mutter of 'sectumsempra' before Yaxely fell to the ground, writhing in pain, seemingly from Valora, but her eyes were full of Severus as he ran after the Carrows and Fenrir Greyback. Valora could only think of one person who could attarct all that attention: Harry.
She managed a full body-binidng curse on Yaxely before running to the tower. She stuck to the shadows and managed to peek around. Albus was slumped against the wall, panting for air, and Harry was nowhere in sight. Dumbledore was saying something; pleading. It should have been a relief to see Severus, she thought. Then she noted that Snape's wand was still pointed towards the older man. Valora watched in mute horror as the man she loved said the two words she had never wanted to hear him say.
"Avada Kedavra!" Severus said, sending Dumbledore now feeble looking body over the tower wall. Valora clasped a hand over her mouth, thinking she was going to be sick. Valora managed to practically dissapear into the shadows and went unnoticed as he ran by, no doubt he was going to get Draco beyond the perimeter and apparate to safety. She wasn't letting him get away that easy. She ran after him and then turned off towards the portrait of Irene of Ipswich. The portrait raised an eyebrow at her frazzled form.
"Can I help you?" It asked snootily. Valora glared at it.
"Ipski Octavio." Valora muttered, easily remembering the password. This was a passageway she had discovered in her fourth year. It took you just behind a large oak tree on the edge of the Forbidden Forest, right by the gates. It was a long tunnel but if she ran, maybe she'd meet him at the gate. She just prayed he'd be slowed down. The portrait of Irene swung forward and Valora practically dove into the darkness, she skidded down the first few steps and lost her footing, falling the rest of the way. Sprawled at the bottom of the stone stairs she pushed through the throbbing pain she felt in her left shoulder.
"Lumos." She said as she ran, one hand touching the wall as she felt for the turns she knew were there. After what seemed like forever she came to the second set of stairs that led up.Without falling this time she doused her wand and pushed open the trapdoor that was disguised as the forest floor. She hauled herself out of the tunnel and hid behind the oak tree, watching as Draco sped past her. Daring to peek around she saw Severus following not far behind. Lucky for her he was running close to the trees. It was almost nothing for her to reach and and grab him by the collar, pulling him into the privacy the oak offered. In less than a second he had his wand pressed against her throat and hers hovered directly over his heart. Severus slowly lowered his wand and Valora did the same. He looked so unbelievably torn. She just stared at him.
"I saw. On the tower." She admitted. Severus closed his eyes for a moment and when he opened them again he was concentrating on the ground beneath them. Valora stared at the top of his head.
"Why?" she asked, and suddenly the dam broke and all of her confusion and anger came forth. "Why did you do that!? They'll never let us be together now. At least before, we stood a chance, but now..." She trailed off as tears overwhelmed her. Balling her hands into fists she began to beat his chest and arms, hitting him repeatedly, all the time asking him. "Why?"
Severus stilled her fists and crushed her against him, and like before she let him hold her. Severus rocked her slightly as she cried against him.
"Soon. I promise you. Soon you'll understand." he whispered. Valora just sobbed harder. She wanted to understand now. She was so tired of secrets and she had worked so hard to make them go away but now here she stood, in the arms of a murderer she would never be able to stop loving. Pulling a little ways away from him she leaned up and kissed him, pulling him in by his collar, making it last as long as she could. When they finally broke apart Severus's grey eyes bore into her tawny ones.
"I love you Valora. I would never endanger you- and I know what Harry means to you. I've watched over him, like you asked me to, for sixteen eyars. I know it doesn't seem like I'm doing the right thing but please, don't stop trusting me now." He implored her. Valora reached up to touch the side of his face and took a deep breath.
"I love you. I trust you." She choked out. Severus took her hand and kissed her palm.
"I'll find you." He promised her, then without another word he was off, a fugitive on the run. Valora watched until he dissaparated out of sight. She didn't remember how she managed to get back into the tunnel and find her way to the corridor. The entire castle was still in a state of chaos. Valora passed through the crowds like a ghost. Nobody had even noticed she was gone.
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