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Journey To Passion by RickyRoo
Chapter 2 : Bolt From the Blue
 
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Chapter Two


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Justin Penny
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2002-10-23T06:34:00Z
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Chapter
Two – Bolt from the Blue

 

The first dawn of November came with a crisp cool
breeze. The chill of the night left a blanket of white frost over the grounds
of Hogwarts that glistened in the early sunlight. A cloud of fog hovered over
the lake making it impossible to see anything beyond the water's edge.

In the opposite direction, the frost-covered trees
lining the beginning of the Dark Forest waved their branches and flapped their
leaves in rhythm with the breeze. The birds could faintly be heard singing
their morning songs to each other as they welcomed the new day. Amidst it all,
a narrow draught of smoke could be seen rising from the chimney of Hagrid’s
little hut beside the Dark Forest.

Standing at the railing of his office
balcony appreciating the beautiful landscape, Albus Dumbledore took a deep
breath of the fresh morning air and then closed his eyes as he slowly sipped
his tea. When he set his teacup back on its saucer plate, it made a tiny
ringing sound. At that same time, he heard his office door open softly and then
close again.

The Headmaster finished the last of his
tea before he turned around and stepped back inside. He set his empty teacup
and saucer on his desk and then smiled as he went to welcome his visitor.

“Jessica! Good morning, my dear,” he
greeted and held his arms out to her.

She smiled back at him and stepped into
his embrace. “Good morning,” she said before kissing his cheek and giving him a
hug.

“How are you, Darling?” he asked and
stepped back to look at her. She was dressed in another slender floor length
gown with long sleeves and a v-neck. It was midnight blue with gold cosmic
trimming to match the golden accessories she had weaved into her hair.

“I’m quite well,” she answered. “I’m
not disturbing you, am I?”

“Heavens no,” Dumbledore said and
batted his hand to the side. “Come have a seat. I was just having a cup of tea
before going to breakfast. Have you eaten already?”

“Yes, I have.” Jessica sat down on the
couch opposite of him and then soothingly rubbed her hands up and down her arms
after a gust of cold air came sweeping through the window. “The children up in
the Hospital Wing are having theirs right now. I haven’t seen you for a couple
of days, so Madam Pomfrey said I could slip away and speak to you for a moment
while they eat.”

“Why how thoughtful of you,” he said
with a smile. “Are you still enjoying your work with Poppy?” He saw that the
breeze was too cold for Jessica and pointed his wand at the window to close it.
He turned his hand towards the fireplace and then ignited a roaring fire with
only a simple wave. The room was warmed almost instantly once the flames
settled back to a normal blaze.

“Yes I am,” Jessica answered. “It keeps
me busy, and the children like to ask lots of questions. Except for the
Muggle-born students number of them are quite unfamiliar with the practice I
use.”

“That they are,” he agreed. “But there
are also many ways of using magic to concoct medical treatments that the
students are unaware of.” He began to walk over to his desk but then stopped
and looked back at her. “I hope none of them have been reluctant to accept your
assistance.”

Jessica nodded and let out a sigh.
“No,” she said. “At least none of the students have. I had one particularly
averse patient late last night. After spending a couple of minutes yelling at
me for every little thing I did, he decided that he’d rather spend the night in
bleeding agony than let me stitch him up.”

Dumbledore chuckled softly and began to
stroke the end of his long white beard between his finger and thumb. “Well, I’m
glad Severus made an effort to give you a chance to help him. It wasn’t an easy
decision for him to make, I’m sure. Severus can be especially stubborn and he
doesn’t like to show signs of weakness.”

“Do you mean Professor Snape?” Jessica
asked, not knowing if this was his first name.

“Yes,” he said and adjusted his
crescent shaped glasses.

“How did you know it was he who came
last night?” Jessica asked curiously.

“I know many things,” he said and
showed her a good-humoured smile. “Severus didn’t look well at all when I last
saw him yesterday.”

Jessica smiled back and nodded. “I see.
Then you must know all about the little accident he’d gotten himself into last
night. What in the world did that to him?” she asked and leaned forward,
putting her elbows over her knees. “He was very reluctant to share anything
with me. I tried my best not to pry, but I can’t help but be curious.”

Dumbledore chuckled again and gently
bounced his foot. “I do know many things,” he said again, “but whatever
happened to him last night is a tale for only him to share. When he feels the
time is right, I’m quite certain the mystery will be revealed.”

“Ah, then you don’t know what happened
to him last night,” Jessica concluded aloud. “Well, whatever it was, I hope it
taught him a good lesson.”

“ Perhaps,” was all Dumbledore said. “I
hope that one day he’ll tell you all about it.”

“Sure,” Jessica agreed sarcastically
before leaning back into the couch. “He was quite adamant when he insisted that
whatever it was isn’t any of my business. It wasn’t difficult to sense his
disinclination. His behaviour didn’t suggest that he has an intention to speak
to me any time soon. I suppose it’s mostly because he’s still upset with me for
tearing his pants to shreds last night.”

Dumbledore quietly laughed again and
shook his head. “Jessica my dear, behind all that intimidation and apprehension
lies a truly magnificent man. You’ll just have to be patient in the search for
that side of him.”

“What makes you think I desire to do
such a thing?” Jessica asked.

“Dearest, your life has changed a lot
this year,” Dumbledore began. He stopped for a moment when he saw Jessica’s
eyes turn to the floor as she remembered how different things were before she
came to Hogwarts only a few months ago. His heart began to ache when he saw
that his reminder stirred up some unpleasant memories. “Adapting to change is
something Severus knows a lot about,” he continued slowly in a comforting voice
full of love and warmth. “And until it’s safe for you to return to London,
Hogwarts is going to be your home. Thus, you should do your best to make some
friends among the people here - unless you fancy the idea of spending all of
your time chatting with Madam Pomfrey and myself.”

Jessica nodded in agreement but then
rolled her eyes at the thought of having to talk to him again. Part of her
wanted to know the unmasked Severus Snape at a deeper level, but another part
of her felt that the journey wasn’t worth the effort it would take to reach the
destination. “He seems so insubordinate and cruel,” Jessica said aloud. “Do you
know that he called his students stupid and careless last night? With one of
them present nonetheless.”

Dumbledore began to chuckle quietly
until he saw the look of confusion appear on her face. “Jessica Darling,
Severus may be a quick-tempered man, but he would readily give his life to save
any one of his students. He proved that last night when he opted to take on the
mountain troll.”

Regardless of how difficult it was to
imagine such things as that, Jessica always found herself believing in
Dumbledore’s judgement. After all, Professor Snape did put himself at a greater
risk last night than anyone realized.

“Well my dear,” Dumbledore began and
stood up from his chair. “It’s best I be going. We’ve got a busy day to look
forward to.”

Jessica stood up after him and began
walking with him towards the door. “The Quidditch game?” Jessica asked.

“Yes,” he answered with a nod. “You
haven’t seen a match before. How would you like to accompany me to the field
this morning?”

Jessica would have liked to see a real
game of Quidditch, but she knew that it would have to wait until another day.
“I’d like to,” she admitted, “but I told the Madam I would be available in the
Hospital Wing this morning. She said that after each game is when she’s most
busy.”

“Very well then,” Dumbledore said
before letting Jessica out of his office. “But if you don’t find someone to
bring you to the next match, I would very much like the honour.”

“All right,” Jessica agreed. “I’m
looking forward to it.”

“Good,” Dumbledore said and closed his
office door behind him. “Now go on Dearest and get all of that practice you’ve
been pining for.”

Jessica smiled and leaned over to give
him another hug. “All right,” she said. “Thank you, Uncle Albus.”

“You’re welcome, Jessica. You’re
welcome.”

 

*        *        *

 

The Great Hall was only occupied by
half its usual number of students that morning, but just by listening to the
amount of chatter would have suggested it was twice as full as a normal
mealtime. Only the first Quidditch game of the season had the capability to
excite so many students into getting out of bed so early on a Saturday morning.

Dumbledore smiled at each of the
students as he slowly made his way up to the head table next to Minerva
McGonagall. He ate his breakfast in peace and made pleasant small talk with the
Transfigurations professor. When she cleared her plate, Professor McGonagall
politely excused herself from the table and made way back to her quarters
before going out to the Quidditch field.

The Headmaster took a few more minutes
to finish his scrambled eggs before leaving the Great Hall. On his way out he
wished some of the Quidditch players good luck and gave young Harry Potter an
extra wink when he passed the Gryffindor Seeker’s table.

Just outside of the Great Hall,
Dumbledore saw Professor Snape walking towards him with a little bit of a limp.
The professor smiled respectfully and nodded his head when he approached the
Headmaster.

“Good morning, Sir.”

“Good morning, Severus.” Dumbledore
returned the smile and held his hand out to stop Snape from going into the
Great Hall just yet. “I was really quite pleased to hear that you have met my
lovely grandniece,” he said.

Snape’s eyebrows rose curiously. “Your
grandniece?”

“Yes,” Dumbledore confirmed with a
gentle nod. “Jessica tells me you stopped by the Hospital Wing last night. I
hope everything is all right.”

For a moment, Snape forgot to keep
breathing. He almost couldn’t believe what he had just heard. Of course the
relation would explain why Jessica was at Hogwarts, but it certainly didn’t
explain why she lacked the common knowledge of magic. How could a Muggle be the
descendant of the legendary Albus Dumbledore?

“The nurse, Jessica. She’s your
grandniece?” Snape questioned, still blown away by how something so
unconventional could be so.

“Yes,” Dumbledore said and nodded once
more. “She’s the granddaughter of my eldest sister, Guinevere. Heaven rest her
soul.”

Snape knew very well who Guinevere De
Marquis was, and she certainly wasn’t a Muggle. She was in fact a very well
known witch in her time. Of course, what witch or wizard who was or was once a
Dumbledore wasn’t a legend?

Jessica. That’s who.

“Forgive me for being blunt, Sir,”
Snape began when he saw that the Headmaster was giving him a curious look.
“Jessica’s a Muggle, is she not?”

“Oh no, not at all,” Dumbledore assured
immediately.

“She told me she doesn’t know any
magic,” Snape recalled. “Her ways of treatment are not like ours. If she is not
a Muggle, then for what reason has she been taught their ways?”

Dumbledore slowly put his hand over
Snape’s arm and leaned a little bit closer to him. “For sufficient reasons,” he
said. “Perhaps it would be best for Jessica to enlighten you herself.”

 

*        *        *

 

It was just as Madam Pomfrey had
promised. The end of the Quidditch match brought a few more patients to the
Hospital Wing. Jessica spent a couple of hours assessing each student and then
preparing them for the magical works of Madam Pomfrey. By the end of it all,
Jessica was exhausted. She decided to go for a walk around the castle and set
her mind free while she familiarized herself with a few more corners of
Hogwarts.

Although she had no idea where the
halls would lead her, Jessica leisurely made her way around admiring the
assortment of decorations and furnishings that appeared around every corner.
Knights in armour bowed and saluted her as she passed by, and while going up a
case of stairs, a voice sounded and an unexpected greeting gave her a sudden
shock.

Jessica jumped and looked in the
direction she thought she heard the voice coming from. Although she saw no one
in front or behind her, the appearance of an old woman in a painting caught her
eye. She was standing in a field of flowers waving at Jessica.

“Good afternoon, my lady,” the woman in
the painting greeted again.

“Gracious,” Jessica whispered to
herself and almost couldn’t believe she was waving back at a painting.

On closer inspection, Jessica noticed
that a number of the paintings around her were either moving or speaking! In
one picture there was a man riding on horseback, and in another a young boy was
tossing a stick to his pet dog. Jessica smiled at the enthralment of it all and
then courteously continued on her way.

The chatter from all of the paintings
slowly began to fade as Jessica made her way down another corridor. It was
almost empty except for a narrow passage leading to a spiral staircase. It was
poorly lit, but curiosity lured Jessica in its direction. It wasn’t clear to
her why she wanted to see what was at the bottom of the staircase, but
Jessica’s eagerness to give it the once-over had the best of her.

Standing at the head of the stairs,
Jessica slowly leaned her head over the railing and looked for the bottom of
the staircase. It appeared that the stairs only went one floor down.

The railing along the wall felt cold
when Jessica touched her fingers to it. She took her first step down and let
her hand glide along the stone railing as she descended one step at a time. The
heels of her shoes clicked against each step and echoed against the stone
walls.

Her fascination with the expanse of the
castle lasted only until she reached the bottom of the staircase. It was cold,
dark and empty. Jessica took one look around and then quickly decided to turn
around and go back up to where it was less unsettling.

She took one step up and then jumped at
the sound of a loud slam. It echoed throughout the corridor and then slowly
faded back to nothing. Jessica stepped off of the staircase and peaked down the
way. She didn’t see anyone or anything. Not even a painting or a suit of
armour.

Footsteps. Now she could hear heavy
footsteps heading her way. They were quiet at first but grew louder with every
step.

“Hello?” Jessica called and walked a
bit further down the corridor. She made her way over to where she thought the
footsteps were coming from and then came to the opening of another corridor.
Small torches hanging from both walls brightly lit the way. Jessica could see
all the way to the end but still couldn’t see where the footsteps were coming
from, nor could she sense the presence of another human being.

Perhaps it was just another
enchantment. By now Jessica knew that Hogwarts was just the place where nothing
was ever what it seemed. The footsteps very well could have been a charm or
sounding from the floor above or below her.

Jessica began to turn around to go back
upstairs but screamed as she ran into a solid shroud of black. Her body bounced
back a couple of steps and nearly fell to the floor before a pair of arms
wrapped tightly around her waist and held her steady.

“Jessica?” she heard a familiar voice
say.

Once she gained her balance again,
Jessica looked up knowing she’d see Professor Snape in front of her. “Oh my
goodness,” she managed to say as she felt a surge of dizziness sweep over her.

With newfound respect for her, Snape
took his hands off of the Headmaster’s grandniece as soon as he could and took
one step back. His head tilted slightly to the side and his expression twisted
in confusion. “Jessica, what in bloody carnations do you think you’re doing
down here?” he asked her.

“It’s a pleasure to see you too,
Professor,” Jessica said, feeling quite surprised that her presence clearly
bothered him him.

“You’re a long way away from the
Hospital Wing,” Snape told her.

Jessica pulled her dress straight and
adjusted her long sleeves. “Yes, I am,” she agreed. “You’re quite the
perceptive detective.”

Although her comment didn’t amuse him,
Snape decided to let it slide and moved on with his investigation. “Are you
lost?” he asked uncaringly.

“No. I can find my way back.” Jessica
felt quite confident that she did know the way back to the Hospital Wing from
where she was standing. She pushed some loose strands of hair out of her face
and casually looked Snape over from head to toe. In his overcoat she spotted a
large deranged hole with fringed threads outlining the opening. “What the
bugger happened to you?” she asked and picked up the corner of his overcoat to
take a closer look at the mangled material.

Snape immediately pulled the overcoat
out of Jessica’s hands and swept it behind him. “It’s none of your concern,” he
said. “That’s what it is.”

“Well excuse me, Professor Snappy,”
Jessica said, altering his name as she saw fit.

“Don’t ridicule my name,” Snape
ordered, each one of his words trickling with disapproval. “I asked you what
you’re doing down here. You shouldn’t be wandering about in this part of the
castle.”

“No, I don’t suppose I should be,”
Jessica agreed and took one more look around the gloomy secluded area. “Then
what are you doing wandering around here?”

“I’m not wandering,” Snape assured.
“This area belongs to Slytherin, my domain.”

“Wow,” Jessica said softly. “It’s so
homey,” she added afterward and wrapped her hands around her arms.

Snape resented the sarcasm in her voice
and glared at her for it. “As much as you may think otherwise, your wittiness
no longer amuses me.” He stepped around Jessica and proceeded down the
corridor. “I’m going to my quarters. Be on your way.”

“Gladly,” Jessica said and turned
around to head back to the spiral staircase. She stopped abruptly and felt a
cold shiver race up her spine. “Hey!” she exclaimed and reached her hand out to
touch the wall where she could have sworn the staircase had been only moments
ago. “The stairs, they’re gone!”

Snape merely looked back at her over
his shoulder as he continued to walk. “Now who’s the perceptive detective?”

Jessica opened her mouth to speak, but
couldn’t find the right words to say in time. She watched him walk away and
felt the distinct impression he wasn’t going to all of a sudden stop and go
back to help her.

“Professor, wait,” she found herself
shouting after him. Snape didn’t stop and the rhythm of his footsteps didn’t
halt or slow down. “Stop!” she called and began chasing after him.

Snape looked back to see her running
towards him and finally stopped. “What’s the matter?” he asked. “As I recall,
you said you could find your way back.”

Jessica finally caught up to Snape and
went to stand in front of him. “Yes well, that was before my way back suddenly
disappeared. How can I get back to the Hospital Wing?”

Snape looked back at the solid wall
where the stairs once was. He pointed in that direction and then looked back at
Jessica. A wicked smile spread across his face. “The same way you came,” he
said and then continued heading towards his quarters. “You’re from a line of
extremely powerful wizards, I’m sure you and your wand can easily find a way
back through.”

“I’ve no use for a wand,” Jessica told
him. “I’ve never held one before in my life.”

“Then you’ll just have to wait a couple
of hours until the staircase decides to reappear.” Snape turned his head
Jessica’s way and turned the corner of his lip into a snarling smile.

“A couple of hours?” Jessica repeated
and kept up with him. “I’m not waiting around here for a couple of hours.”

“Well you’re just going to have to
tough it out,” Snape told her. “I won’t be on my way back up until I’m ready
for lunch.”

“Then until that time, you’re
just going to have to put up with me,” Jessica said and walked at his side down
the dark corridor. “We’ll sit down and you can tell me all about that silly
little stunt you pulled last night and that enormous hole you’ve managed to
burn into your clothes.”

Snape chuckled at her and kept his eyes
looking straight as he walked. “Right now Jessica, you’re the last person I’d
care to spend my afternoon with.”

Jessica stopped in her tracks and
looked curiously over at Snape. To her surprise, he stopped as well and turned
back to look at her. She scowled at him and crossed her arms over her chest.
“Why am I the last?” she questioned.

Snape took two powerful steps towards
Jessica and looked down at her with the darkest pair of eyes she had ever seen
before. “Why?” he repeated. “Because I flat out don’t like you,” he
said, although he wasn’t quite sure if that was really true. Even Jessica could
sense that he wasn’t quite being honest with her. “You’re annoying,” he
continued anyway, “you’re arrogant, sarcastic, and quite meddlesome. And on top
of that, I don’t fancy the idea of spending the next few hours alone in my
quarters with a spoiled little girl like you whose only protection from bigotry
is her family tree. If you think I’m going to bow down at your feet just
because of who you are, you’re quite wrong. Your great uncle is accomplished,
admirable and humble; nothing like you. I honestly see no resemblance between
the two of you. Is he proud to call you his niece? Are your parents even proud
of the girl they’ve raised?”

He stopped when he saw the somewhat
heartbroken look appearing on her face. Jessica blinked slowly and then turned
her gaze away from him. “I know you don’t mean all of those things you just
said,” Jessica assured. “But the fact that you think you can belittle anyone
you please makes you the epitome of abysmal, Professor Snape.” There was a long
pause and then Jessica stooped herself around and began walking back. “Why did
I even bother?” Snape heard her ask herself as she went to look for another way
out of the repulsive Slytherin territory.

Snape watched her go and then started
to think about what he had just said to her… to his Headmaster’s grandniece.
What would Dumbledore say if he found out his trustworthy Potions Master had
said such cruel words to Jessica and then just left her alone and lost in the
dungeons?

After all the things Dumbledore had
done for him in the past, and after all the times he had bent over backwards
for him, this is how Snape repaid him. By making his beloved grandniece sit
alone, probably even a little frightened, and lost in the depths of the cold
wet corner of Slytherin.

“Jessica,” Snape called out warmly
after envisioning the look Dumbledore would have had on his face if he had
witnessed all that had just happened.

Just as he previously ignored her,
Jessica ignored Snape and his newfound willingness to negotiate with her. She
walked with heavy steps, her arms still folded across her chest. Snape knew
that if she turned around now he’d probably see a stream of tears flowing down
her cheeks.

Snape opened his mouth to call after
her again but decided against it. The damage was already done and he didn’t
feel that an apology would do any good right now. So with a deep sigh, Snape
pulled his own wand out from his cloak and pointed it down Jessica’s way. He
closed his eyes and turned his head away as a bright yellow beam jolted out
from the end of his wand and struck the wall where the stairs once were.

Instantly the staircase appeared, and
without looking back at him, Jessica began climbing back up to a friendlier
atmosphere.

 


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