Chapter 5 : The Dominion
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The week drew on, and each night Nimueh took Severus to the valley to learn more wandless magic. One day, Severus woke to a painful itch on his forearm. Still half asleep, he scratched the itch. But when it would not subside, he conjured a flame in his hand and examined his arm. It was his tattoo. It was different. There was a vine creeping out of the chalice along side the snake. It was only an inch or two now, but it was eerie how it grew. Severus ran his hand over it and found that it hurt. It felt like a sudden electric shock running up his arm and down his spine.
"Nimueh!" Severus called. "Nimueh!"
"What?" came lazy growl.
"What did you do now?" Severus shouted.
Nimueh came into view, rubbing the sleep out of her eyes. She was dressed only in a thin lace frock. Her skin seemed to glow in the darkness of the cave. Her long black hair framed her small, pale body. Her breasts were perfectly round and rosey pink. She was like a painting.
"What?" she groaned with annoyance.
"My, my, my arm," Severus stammered upon seeing her. He held his arm out at her.
She seemed to perk up at the mention of his arm.
"What's happened with it?"
Severus pulled his eyes away from her stunning image. She leaned down next to him and grabbed a hold of his arm.
She whispered somehting and tiny specks of light twinkled around her head. Enough light to illuminate Severus' tattoo.
"The vine--" Severus began.
"--has started to grow," Nimueh finished. She closely examined the tattoo. When she ran her fingers up his arm, the electric shock came again, and Severus tried to pull his arm away. But she held on too tightly. He ended up pulling her top of him.
She remained on top of him for a moment, as if testing to see what he would do.
He looked in her eyes. There were so wild. They drew him in. Closer and closer. Until finally, their lips touched. And they were in an embrace.
Severus let himself go and combed his hand through her black silky hair. He let his other hand wander down her slender body. He could feel his heart racing. He could feel the heat building inside him.
But then, Nimueh pulled away. She looked at him placidly.
"I will never understand the ways of men," she said, looking at him, "You're love for this other witch is the strongest feeling I have ever felt in a man. And yet," she got up and started walking away, "you let your physical lust take over."
She started walking away. Severus jumped up, furious at her judgement.
"You don't understand!" He yelled.
"I think I do," Nimueh said, not turning around.
"What is this thing on my arm!" Severus cried.
Nimueh turned to him and sighed.
"As I said before, it is the mark of the Silver Sorceress -- my mark. The vine growing alongside the snake indicates a level of magic that you have let loose inside of you. In a sense, it tells me that you are ready for your quest for Merlin. Tomorrow at noon, you will depart."
Severus was left looking at his tattoo. The vine seemed to be blowing in unfelt or unseen wind while the snake slithered around it. Nimueh left Severus to sleep.
~ * ~
Though Severus had fallen asleep in the comfort of Nimueh's cave, he awoke on a pile of leaves in the middle of the forest. A note lay on his forehead. He took it and read it.
Here is the path that shall lead you to Camelot. Follow it north and you will find its gates. When you have successfully received Merlin, call my name out and I shall come. Remember your forms and all that I have taught you. Good luck.
Once read, the middle of the leaf caught on fire. The flames quickly spread to the edges and left the leaf in ashes in Severus' hands.
Severus sat up. At his feet was his wand. He almost had forgotten about it! He picked it up as if it were an abandoned child. When his hand grasped its wooden handle, he felt whole again. A happiness filled his heart. He felt like he could accomplish anything.
Severus stood up and, with the help of his wand, quickly determined which way was north. He was on his way back to Camelot.
It was actually a pleasant journey. It was only a mile or two to Camelot's gates. Severus met no one on the road, but was serenaded with the songs of the blue jays and dusted with spots of sunlight.
When he came near the gates of Camelot, he decided to make himself look horrible. He gave himself a black eye, a broken nose and a sling for his arm. He limped up to the gates.
"Help! Help!" he cried.
"Who goes there!" Shouted a guard, running toward him.
"Severus Snape! Please! Help! I wish to see Merlin!"
"What happened to you?"
The guard looked him seriously in the eye. He called to another guard.
"Get some help! I'll bring him to the physician."
Severus was led off through the gates of Camelot. The guard supported him as they wandered the marble maze of the city to find a little house where the physician lived.
"I need Merlin!" Severus cried.
"I'll find him. Now, let the physician help you," the guard said, tapping on the door of the house.
An old man answered. He looked Severus up and down.
"My word! Come in! Let me have a look."
Severus was led into the house by the guard and gently rested on a cot. The guard ran off to find Merlin.
"Take off your robe, let me see the extent of the damage," the physician said.
Severus knew he couldn't take his robe off. Then, the physician would know that he was in cahoots with Nmueh when he saw the silver chalice -- the mark of the silver sorceress.
"No, please. I'm fine, honestly. It's just this arm," he said, indicating the slinged arm.
"Well, alright. Normally, I'd insist. But the guards have gone to fetch Merlin, so I'm sure you'll be in good hands soon."
The physician looked at Severus' arm and put a few drops of oil on it. He handed Severus some kind of potion -- something close to a sleeping draught, but it was nothing really.
Before Severus could put the potion to his lips, Merlin burst through the door.
"Severus! I was sure I'd never see you again!" Merlin cried, running up to Severus.
"I escaped, but just barely," Severus explained, putting down the potion.
"You must be a very powerful magician. I can't imagine how else you could have escaped from Nimueh," Merlin said.
"Magic? Nimueh? What's all this?" The physician asked.
"I'm sorry Lucio, I'll explain some other time. For now, I'm afraid I have to take your patient away from you," Merlin said to the physician.
"Oh yes, of course. As you wish."
The old physician hobbled off into his house while Merlin grabbed Severus' hand and practically dragged him out of the house and through the streets of Camelot.
They finally came to a rickety old house. It wasn't the same place Merlin had taken Severus before. It seemed displaced among the grandiose marble walls and roads of Camelot.
"Quickly, inside," Merlin said, opening the door and looking around as if someone was watching them. Severus went inside.
It was warm and inviting, very much like a wizard tent.
A woman, who was sitting in a rocking chair by the fire, popped up upon seeing Severus.
She grabbed a few potions and ointments from a cupboard and led him to the rocking chair.
"She's much more efficient at healing than the physician," Merlin explained.
Severus insisted on looking at the potions before she gave them to him, explaining that where he was from, he was an expert at potions.
The first one was a translucent purple. Severus unstopped the top and smelt at pungent scent from it. It was clearly wound-cleaning potion. Severus watched Merlin carefully, waiting for a moment to grab him and call for Nimueh. This woman shouldn't pose a threat.
Just then, a boy cried from outside the door.
"Mama! Mama! Meiand threw a rock at me!"
"I did not!" Came another voice.
The woman got up to get the door.
"Freya, I'll handle this," Merlin said. He opened the door and two children ran in. Well, the boy was pushed in by a little girl.
"What is the meaning of this? Mama and Papa are busy," Merlin said.
Mama and Papa? Severus thought.
"But Meiand threw a rock at me, Papa! Now I'm bleeding!"
Merlin sighed. "Alright, let me take a look at it."
He sat the little boy down on the floor. Severus watched as Freya continued to put oils and ointments on his wounds.
"Is he gonna be ok?" The little girl asked, hovering over Merlin and the boy.
"I think so, but please, Mei, don't do it again."
Merlin put his hands on the little boy's wound -- which was on his chest. He breathed deeply in and out. "Dreyri," he whispered. The wound stopped bleeding and scabbed over.
"Who's he?" The boy whispered, looking at Severus.
"That, Thrain, is our guest. Severus. He's injured too." Merlin said, helping the boy up from the ground.
"Is he gonna be ok?"
"I think so. Now, please leave us to tend to him. Be careful!" Merlin said, patting the dirt off Thrain's shirt.
"Ok!" The boy took the girl's hand and ran back outside.
Could Severus really separate a father from his family? He knew that taking Merlin to Nimueh would mean certain death for Merlin. Could he do that to these children?
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