was just around the corner. A blanket of snow had covered the grounds of
Hogwarts and the banks of the lake had turned to ice. Only a scarce number of
students remained over the holiday break. Most had gone home to be with their
emptiness of the castle had Severus in his glory… if it could be called that.
While Jessica worked in the Hospital Wing with Madam Pomfrey, Severus spent
every afternoon alone in the solitude of the dungeons concocting his supply of
potions to store in the security of his office. It was in the middle of brewing
another aloe vera remedy for Jessica in case of another incident with the
hooded phantom that Dumbledore silently walked into the Potions classroom.
Potions Master looked up at his visitor for one brief moment as he added the
last of the yerba mate extracts. “Headmaster,” was his unadorned greeting.
approached the pewter cauldron set upon the far counter and peered into it. He
held his spectacles out and watched as the pintsized bubbles forced themselves
one after another through the thickness of the clear liquid and exploded with
relief once they reached the surface of the brew. “Ah, Aloeveras. An excellent
choice for tackling sunburns. I myself am quite sensitive to the sun right on
the button of my nose.” Dumbledore rubbed the tip of his nose and chuckled as
he did so. “A wondrous discovery it is. No doubt this particular concoction is
one to be added to the collection intended for your own private use.”
doubt,” Severus lied.
saw right through him and chuckled softly again. “I very much appreciate the
time you’ve taken to care for my grandniece. Jessica has been inflicted with
more pain in the last twenty-five years than most witches her age will endure
throughout their entire lifetime.”
barely looked at the Headmaster as he continued to perfect the intricacies of
his Aloeveras potion. With great care and precision, he added the final
ingredients one by one. “Jessica is a strong girl,” he said as he sprinkled the
batter with powdered guano. “There is no pain great enough that will ever make
her give in to her father’s desires. She would fight him to her death if she
she would,” Dumbledore agreed. “But we both know that Voldemort’s followers are
capable of inflicting more than just pain upon their victims. I fear that she
may not be able to withstand another assault if she’s detained again. That’s
why she’s has been brought here, and that’s why I’m pleased to hear your
courtship with her has thus far been a success.”
tolerable,” Severus declared quietly. “And she’s got a rare advantage. Unlike
anyone else around here, she knows when I’m in no mood for company or
conversation.” The Potions Master cast a look at the Headmaster that revealed
much more than just a subtle hint.
sound of Dumbledore’s jolly chuckle sometimes drove Severus mad. It wasn’t just
his overpowering rank, but the grandfatherly look in Dumbledore’s baby blue
eyes that had the power to keep Severus from letting his distasteful tongue
erupt with vulgar blaspheme.
you any plans for Christmas?” Dumbledore asked curiously and pushed his
spectacles back up the bridge of his nose.
shook his head once back and forth. “None other than the plans I have to
restock before the new year.”
will you be making the trip to Diagon Alley?”
expression appeared on Severus’ face. It was easily understandable why such a
question puzzled him. Severus always went for supplies on the
twenty-fourth. “The same as usual,” he said blandly. “I leave tomorrow at
Dumbledore said and nodded. “I have a favour to ask.”
fresh supply of Lemon Drops?” Severus guessed. His sarcasm didn’t go unnoticed
but inspired another small chuckle.
no Lemon Drops, however I do appreciate the thoughtfulness,” Dumbledore said.
“What I’d like is for you to take Jessica with you to Diagon Alley tomorrow. As
long as the two of you haven’t made plans, I’d like to let her spend Christmas
Eve with her mother’s family.”
Jessica had been standing next to him, she would have felt the spell of
disappointment that shuttered through Severus’ body at that moment. True, they
hadn’t made any Christmas plans together, but he had just assumed that she
wouldn’t be leaving the grounds of Hogwarts for any reason.
are some things I must do here before joining them for a lovely Christmas Eve
dinner,” Dumbledore continued. “My niece is a splendid cook you know, I’m sure
Jessica will fancy having you join her to meet some of the Van Eden’s if your
her to Diagon Alley,” Severus said immediately. All the sweet talk in the world
wouldn’t be enough to convince him to sit down to a holiday dinner with
Jessica’s family. He wasn’t a part of her family, and he certainly wasn’t going
to mingle with Van Eden’s and Dumbledore’s who were probably all quite well
aware of Severus’ past.
appreciate it, Severus. I’ll have someone meet you at the Leaky Cauldron.”
Dumbledore gave the Aloeveras a once over and then cheerfully nodded his head
approvingly as if to assure Severus that his intricate potion was brewed
successfully. “Very well then, I’ll be on my way.”
be safe?” Severus questioned before Dumbledore had a chance to turn around.
no place as safe as Hogwarts,” Dumbledore reminded. “As long as she’s within
the boundary of Hogwarts, they cannot touch her. However-”
touch her?” Severus repeated angrily. “She was attacked only weeks ago. Did you
not see the slashes on her back?”
have not seen the scars from her last attack, however,” Dumbledore said again
and lifted his finger knowledgably before gracefully placed his hand over top
of Severus’ long sleeve. “I can assure you that what happened to her then is
nothing in comparison to what they could do to her should she be captured
again. What attacked her was not human.”
it caused her physical harm!” Severus very rarely raised his voice with the
Headmaster. Angry blotches of colour appeared on his face and Dumbledore saw
the blazing look in the cross professor’s eyes. He quite obviously feared that
Jessica’s safety would be jeopardized if she stepped one foot beyond the
grounds of Hogwarts.
I’m going to tell you a little secret,” Dumbledore said and rubbed his fingers
against his temples for a moment. He closed his eyes for a short moment and
then adjusted his spectacles again. “You know very well that Jessica has a
number of hidden talents and capabilities.”
Severus reassured and nodded his head.
one of the abilities she is capable of that you are not aware of is her ability
to inflict physical harm upon others.” With a trace of discomfort on his face,
Dumbledore continued. “Her mind is so sophisticated she has the ability to do
so with nothing more than the simple thought, even if there are miles
separating her from her victim. That is another reason we cannot let her fall
into the hands of the Death Eaters again. They would extract the ability from
her and use it to harm anyone they pleased.”
eyes narrowed in a mixture of disbelief and mystification. His head tilted
gently to the side and he sighed in frustration. “I’ve never heard of
extracting talents or abilities. It sounds as ludicrous as believing one can sell
his soul to the devil. I don’t believe anything of the sort can be done.”
raised his hands to calm the Potions Master. “Severus, you’ve misunderstood me.
I don’t mean to say that they can extract her ability like they could a vital
organ. What I’m trying to convey is that under a certain curse, they can
control Jessica. A simple dictation could have her inflicting pain on either of
us against her will.”
nodded his head once in comprehension. “The Imperious Curse,” he determined
without a single doubt lingering in his mind.
Dumbledore assured. The corner of his mouth twitched before he continued.
“However, it’s unfortunate that her father is acting out of his own will when
he sets the manifestation of the Dark Lord upon her.”
her father has the same ability,” Severus assumed. “That’s how he was able to
harm her without physically being near her.”
Dumbledore said with a gentle nod. “Only her father cannot inflict the same
sort of pain upon others. Jessica is the only person he’s able to have this
silkily put on a pair of dragon-hide gloves and removed the cauldron from the
heat. He blew out the flame and then casually asked the Headmaster another
question. “If Jessica’s father is the only one capable of setting the phantom
upon her, and it’s Voldemort’s manifestation that she sees, do you mean to tell
me that Voldemort is her father?” He eyed the professor very closely as he
smoothly pulled the gloves off. The certainty
Snape felt that he had accurately named Jessica’s father shone prominently in
didn’t mean to imply that,” Dumbledore said. “Her father could very well
project an image of you or I if he wished. Her father chooses to project the
image of Voldemort because of the fear and intimidation he drives into her.”
relieved to hear that,” Snape admitted although it was very seldom that his
assumptions were wrong, and when they were, a rupture of stubborn fury often
accompanied the occasion.
there’s one more thing I have to say before I leave,” Dumbledore announced. “As
much as I feel it is necessary for you to understand how this is being done to
Jessica, I need to ask for you to not repeat what I have told you to her. This
is one of the few abilities she is capable of but is unaware of. Several years
ago when the vastness of her abilities were maturing she attacked a Muggle. It
wasn’t intentional of course, but like I said, the simple thought is all it
takes for her to make it happen. I can’t take the capability away, but I did
perform a simple memory charm. Jessica no longer remembers what happened to the
Muggle boy or the fact that she’s capable of such a thing.”
could only imagine what he’d do if he had an ability like that. If he were in
Jessica's shoes, he’d consider that the best ability of all. That was probably
the very reason Dumbledore felt that Jessica shouldn’t be burdened with such a
grave responsibility. Not even a saint could resist such temptation, especially
when being surrounded by foolish wand-waving children all the time.
she be susceptible to another attack while away from the castle?” Severus asked
feared for her safety I wouldn’t allow her to make this trip to see her
family,” Dumbledore assured. “But as it is that I will be joining her, I see no
reason to be so concerned. I’ll even be escorting her back to Hogwarts myself
the following afternoon,” Dumbledore assured. “Fear not Severus,” the
Headmaster tapped his hand against the professor’s arm twice and smiled at him
through the thickness of his silver beard. “I’ll have her back in your arms
well before supper time.”
friendly blue eyes were met with the dark disapproving stare left behind the
narrow squint of Severus’ scowl. The Headmaster chuckled once more after
hearing a faint grumble sounding somewhere from the back of Severus’ throat. He
turned around and began walking towards the door. Severus watched him as he
went and then decided to voice a question he’d been longing to ask for a very
he began and watched Dumbledore turn around at the door. “The man who raped
Espiranza Van Eden, do I know him by name?”
nodded his head gently. “Yes, you’ve heard of him. And you’ve met him.”
Dumbledore’s voice carried on no hint of delight. Severus was silent, but
Dumbledore could see the struggle eating away at him. Severus couldn’t decide
if he wanted to know or not which one of his former allies had been haunting
Jessica’s dreams and causing her harm all these years. “I would rather not, but
if you truly wish it, I will enlighten you,” he offered.
you do, I’ll make it my vow to destroy him,” Severus assured.
the violation he committed against my niece twenty six years ago?” Dumbledore
asked. “Is Jessica really that aggravating?”
course not!” Severus found it insulting that Dumbledore could find humour while
discussing such a serious matter. “It’s nothing to do with Espiranza. Jessica
has spent her whole life living in fear because of this man! He haunts her
dreams and causes her merciless pain. She’ll never be free of him until he has
nodded in agreement. He sighed and then cupped his hands in front of him. “Then
it’s best I don’t tell you. I cannot allow you to take that vow.”
the years he had known Dumbledore, Severus had never once questioned his
judgement or asked him to explain his reasons no matter how absurd they seemed.
Dumbledore always had his reasons.
* * *
way to meet Jessica up in the Hospital Wing, Severus made one stop at one of
the classrooms. The Dark Arts classroom was a wide-open room that was very
poorly lit. Quirrell’s office was on the far end of the classroom up a flight
of stone stairs. The door atop the stone staircase was open and Snape could see
that the office was empty. It was in the staff room that Snape was able to find
was quiet letting himself in through the oak door. Quirrell was there standing
with his back to his guest and mumbled quietly to himself. Severus quietly took
two steps closer to the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, whom he loathed
and envied dearly, and then coldly called him by his first name.
threw his hands in the air and let out a frightening cry before turning around
to face Snape. With his hands curling up at the collar and his bottom lip
quivering, Quirrell chortled uncomfortably and unnervingly returned the
should you have been,” said Snape silkily. “No matter, you and I need to have a
little chat. Sit down.” Snape pointed at the nearest chair and Quirrell quickly
paced around the room a little with his arms folded across his chest and then
stopped just a few feet away from the him and let his tall, slender body loom
over the timid professor. “As you probably already know, I’m leaving tomorrow
afternoon for Diagon Alley to acquire my supplies for the coming term.” Snape
raised his eyebrows and watched the expression on Quirrell’s face dance. After
a long pause, Snape placed the heels of his hands on each arm of the chair
Quirrell was sitting in and locked him in his place. “That will give you an
awful lot of time to try and get past that three-headed dog of Hagrid’s, won’t
unusual silence fell upon the room after Snape’s little speech. Like many of
his Potions students, Quirrell found it impossible to resist looking through
the dark tunnels that were Snape’s cold, unfriendly eyes – especially when he
was looming over him like that. His effortless ability to captivate Quirrell’s
attention and drive fear into his frail being was all too simple.
makes you think that I- I w-would want t-to do s-such a thing?” Quirrell
stuttered and turned his body away from Snape as if to protect himself from the
Potions Master’s overbearing presence.
be a fool,” Snape demanded in his icy cold voice. He slowly began to stand up
straight but didn’t take one step back. “You know very well what makes me think
such a thing.” He spoke in barely more than a whisper and moved his hands about
so slowly Quirrell thought that Snape was going to grasp him around the throat
at any moment.
c-could be k-killed.”
you very well could be,” Snape agreed. “But it’s worth your life, isn’t it? The
chance to become infallible, unstoppable, invincible, and even omnipotent. Or
perhaps there’s someone else you’d rather see come to such power.” Snape looked
as if he was going to continue. Quirrell whimpered cowardly when Snape swiftly
whipped his hand out to grab Quirrell’s purple robes by the collar. Pulling him
out of his seat and holding the terrified professor no less than a foot away
from him, Snape stared coldly into Quirrell’s petrified eyes and narrowed his
own. “You’ll never get past me,” he whispered so quietly Quirrell could barely
hear his solemn threat.
quick release, Snape let go of Quirrell’s robes and pushed him back into the
chair. “S-Severus, I wouldn’t d-dream of ch-challenging you,” Quirrell
spluttered as he hesitantly straightened his robes.
clever decision,” Snape assured. “But I think you will, especially when I won’t
be here to be challenged. As such, I think it will be best if the two of us
embark together tomorrow. It would be a pity to come back only to find you up
in the Hospital Wing lying in a matchbox.”
heavy footsteps made way for the door. He turned his head over his shoulder and
looked once more at the frightened professor. “We’ll make way tomorrow at noon.
And don’t think that I won’t have my eye on you until then.”
he pushed the door open, Snape felt an unusual thump on the other side. After
pushing the door open as wide as he could, Snape stepped out of the staff room
and peered around the door. A small boy was adjusting his glasses and searched
frantically as if looking for a place to run and hide.
Snape growled and slammed the staff room door shut. “What do you think you’re
Harry stared up at his least favorite teacher and hobbled backwards a couple of
steps. “I- I was looking for Professor Dumbledore,” he quickly made up.
lip curled and his eyebrows bent into the most terrifying shape Harry had ever
seen. Snape’s face twisted into a ferocious scowl and a hand emerged from his
dark robes. “Off with you!” he hollered and pointed a finger down the hall.
immediately did as he was told and scurried off back towards the Gryffindor
tower to tell his friend Ron what he had just overheard.
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