Chapter 17 : Repentance and Sorrow
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Chapter Seventeen – Repentance and Sorrow
To walk into the cold, dark Potions
classroom the morning after Christmas and find Professor Severus Snape in the
far corner looming over a hot cauldron certainly wasn’t anything unusual. Sure
enough, at nine thirty on December twenty-sixth, there he was quietly hovering
over a particularly large cauldron concocting another potion he’d need for the
coming school term. Albus Dumbledore stood silently in the doorway watching the
Potions Master for a moment before proceeding to the back of the classroom.
“Severus,” he plainly acknowledged.
“Headmaster,” he replied in a mere
whisper. The tall, black haired, black robed professor didn’t turn his head or
even fidget. His white knuckled hands clasped the edge of the counter and his
head was slung down over his chest. The reflection of the flickering blue
firelight beneath the cauldron waved in his empty eyes. His vacant expression
certainly hadn’t gone unnoticed by the elderly Headmaster.
Dumbledore cautiously set a hand down
on the counter beside Snape’s and waited one moment before speaking. He raised
a finger to his temple and delicately began rubbing. “As I understand, your
evening with my grandniece ended in an unpleasant manner.”
Snape gripped the sides of the counter and sighed irritably as he tucked his chin tight against his chest. “Headmaster, with all due respect, I am not going to discuss anything about last night with you.” Snape turned his back to the Headmaster in discomfort and lifted his head up. He began lifting a long, narrow tube from its rack and measured the perfect amount of purple fluid called Belua Sanguis. “I have no doubts that Jessica has already told you enough.”
Dumbledore gently nodded his head. “Jessica hasn’t
been able to speak to me at all today,” he said. “I’ve just come from her
quarters. Poppy is there with her now.”
The Headmaster watched the despondent
professor and hoped that he’d at least care enough to inquire why the school
nurse would need to be with Jessica in her quarters. Snape only kept himself at
an angle where Dumbledore wouldn’t be able to look him in the eye. His raven
black hair hung lifelessly in his face to make his miserable expression even
“Severus, I’ve come to ask for your
help,” Dumbledore said after a long moment of silence. “Will you come back with
me to her quarters?”
Dumbledore saw the back of his head
shake. “No,” Severus answered. “I have no wish to speak to her again.”
“Severus,” Dumbledore called out
firmly. The seriousness in his voice was enough to drive a tiny shock of fear
and intimidation into the Potions Master. “I’m sorry about whatever happened or
didn’t happen last night, I truly am. But if you’re unwilling to help her, none
of us may be able to speak to her again. You may be the only one capable
of saving her.”
Snape stood up to his full height and
abruptly looked right into the eyes of the Headmaster. His head tilted gently
to the side and his eyes narrowed into a look of sheer apprehension. “What has
happened to her?” he demanded.
Dumbledore nodded once in vast approval
and held a hand out towards the Potions Master. “That’s more like it, now come
Snape’s quick and eager strides nearly
left the Headmaster behind in the dust. He rushed up to Jessica’s chambers and
was shocked to see Madam Pomfrey and Professor McGonagall on either side of
Jessica’s bed. He stood at the doorway staring in disbelief at Jessica’s
motionless body. His feet felt as if they’d been frozen to the floor and his
heart felt as if it had sunk into the pit of his stomach.
McGonagall spared Snape a look of sympathy and
clutched her hands against her chest. Dumbledore came up behind him and she
looked back and forth at each of them. “Oh Albus,” she cried. “What could have
done this to her?”
“Dark Magic, Minerva,” Dumbledore said.
Finally able to move his legs again,
Snape approached Jessica’s bed and stood at the foot of the king sized
four-poster. Jessica was lying on her back in the centre of the bed. Still
dressed in her pink evening gown beneath her robe, Snape could see the
petrified look in her open eyes. Her knees we bent up behind her in what looked
like a very uncomfortable position. She lay motionless, her arms raised
slightly above her head and her fingers curled naturally into her palms.
“Is she…?” Snape couldn’t quite bring
himself to finish the sentence. Jessica looked so… lifeless.
“No, she’s still alive,” Dumbledore
assured. “She’s been cursed. Suspended in a slumber far beyond the Draught of
“Her eyes are open,” Snape pointed out,
although everyone had already noticed. “No potion or poison to my knowledge
will do this.”
“She was supposed to meet me in the
Hospital Wing at nine o’clock,” Madam Pomfrey told Snape. He glanced at her,
his mouth open in awe and then looked back at Jessica. “It was nearly twenty
minutes past when I found her like this.”
Dumbledore came up behind Snape again.
His warm, encouraging hand rested on Snape’s shoulder. “I know how much of a
shock this is to you,” he said. “It was a terrible shock for all of us.”
“Please Headmaster,” Snape cut in
before Dumbledore could humiliate him in front of the witches.
“My apologies Severus,” Dumbledore said
and took his hand away. He took a couple of steps back and then cupped his
hands before him. “We’ve done all we can. You were one of the last to speak
with her last night, is there something you can tell us that will perhaps help
“One of the last?” Snape
promptly repeated. He turned sharply towards the Headmaster and eagerly awaited
another name. “Who else had spoken to her?” he asked impatiently.
Dumbledore raised his hands in front of
him in a manner of peace. “I caught a student out of bed last night,” was all
he told the Potions Master. “He said he’d spoken to Jessica before she’d gone
to her chambers.”
“Who?” Snape demanded again.
“That’s not important at this time,”
Dumbledore assured. “Right now our main concern should be Jessica. Unless we
find the one responsible for this, you may be our only hope. If there’s
anything you can tell us-”
“Very well,” Snape interrupted. “I will
speak to you in the privacy of your office later. Right now I wish to be left
alone with Jessica.”
Dumbledore nodded respectfully. “As you
wish,” he said and motioned with his hands for the women to stand. Both Madam
Pomfrey and Professor McGonagall stood and began walking towards the bedroom
door. Dumbledore followed after them and bared a tiny nod to the Potions Master
before closing the door.
Snape sat down on the edge of the bed.
He cautiously put a hand to Jessica’s forehead and began brushing her hair
back. After a few strokes across her head, Snape gently ran his fingers over
her lids and closed her eyes for her. She looked much more at peace that way.
The locket she wore around her neck
hadn’t gone unnoticed. Snape picked the piece of jewellery up into his hand and
looked closely at it. He remembered how happy she was to receive it. Her
mother’s locket brought her comfort.
“Your mother would be very happy to see
this belong around your neck,” he said aloud. “There isn’t another place in the
world she would rather see it.”
He gradually reached around her body
and straightened her legs. Then after propping up some pillows, Snape tucked
Jessica comfortably under her blankets and crossed her arms over her waist. He
sat next to her all morning watching her, whispering to her, and conjuring up a
plan that might bring her out of this cursed spell. It angered him knowing that
this particular curse was out of his hands.
That afternoon Snape found his way up
to Dumbledore’s office. Leaving out the intimate details of their engagement,
he willingly told the Headmaster what had happened to Jessica and all that
she’d told him about her encounter with Lucius Malfoy.
“Perhaps you suppose Malfoy is behind
this, do you Headmaster?” Snape questioned.
Dumbledore immediately began shaking
his head. He lifted a small cup of tea to his lips and took a small sip of his
steamy beverage. “No, I don’t. I’ve known all along that Lucius knew about
Voldemort’s intentions for Jessica and her chosen mate. Such information is old
news to a small number of wizards.” Dumbledore took another sip of tea and a
bite of his sugar cookie.
“And who might this ‘chosen one’ be?”
Snape asked grudgingly.
Dumbledore shook his head. “I cannot be
certain. In fact, I can’t even guarantee that one particular man exists.
Voldemort has no need for another to extract her abilities. He could very well
do it himself by simply possessing any man he pleases.”
“Headmaster,” Snape began
uncomfortably, “perhaps Voldemort is this chosen one. I do not see why he would
give any other man the opportunity to take control of her abilities. Magical
gifts like hers, he will most certainly use for himself.”
Dumbledore set his tea aside and looked
Snape right in the eye. “Severus, I’m certain Voldemort is not the man you’re
thinking of simply because…” his hand shook faintly as he debated whether or
not Snape was ready to hear the truth.
“Because why?” Snape egged on.
“Because,” Dumbledore began again, “it
was Voldemort who impregnated Espiranza Van Eden. Jessica is his daughter.”
* * *
Until the start of the new term Snape
spent every last minute he could either on Jessica’s bedside, or alone in the
depths of his domain. He’d tear through book after book looking for anything
that could help revive Jessica. After hours he’d retire to the library, explore
every shelf of the Restricted Section looking for something new. There had to
be something he could do! It was just a matter of finding out what.
Days went by where he could think of
nothing but Jessica and the way he had treated her on Christmas Day. He took
his anger and frustration out on the students, even docking House points from
his own students, the Slytherins. Even the other professors were amazed at his
sudden change in behaviour. He spent practically every mealtime alone in his
quarters and only attended the Gryffindor Quidditch matches.
The only ones who started seeing more
of the Potions Master rather than less of him were Professor Quirrell and Harry
Potter. It seemed that every time Snape turned around a corner, he’d see Harry
alone or with his brat friends.
The frequent rendezvous with Quirrell
on the other hand were rather intentional. Snape kept a good eye on him and
watched closely for anything suspicious. Although he had nothing to prove it
with, Quirrell was Snape’s prime suspect. He had been plotting to get his hands
on the Philosopher’s Stone, so he may just as well have devised a plot against
Jessica. Perhaps he even had intentions to personally hand her over to the
It didn’t make any sense.
There were some nights where Snape
found himself wanting to be at Jessica’s side rather than hovering over books
and counter-spells. Perhaps the very
answer he needed was right in front of him…
Her room was dark. Snape lit enough
candles so that he could see her. The quilts were pulled up to her breasts and
her arms lay folded over her body. Her breath was so shallow Snape could not
see her chest rise and fall beneath the covers. He put a hand to her cheek and
tilted her head towards him.
He looked deep into her eyes and
wondered what she’d have to say to him now if she could sense the way he felt.
“I suppose you think I am to blame for this,” he started off. “Well, you maybe
right. You told me that something like this would happen. You should have told
me a lot sooner than you did, Jessica. Perhaps then, this would not have
happened. You would be wide-awake, maybe even looking at me right now.
“We could have stopped this from
happening, you know that. But instead you let me believe that you wanted me
just as badly as I wanted you. Now look at what you have done. How can I
forgive you for this, Jessica? How? You have not changed since the day we met.
You are still that naďve girl you have always been, thinking that you always
know what’s best. This time, this time you were wrong.
“I will not say that I am sorry for
what has happened to you, I simply will not do it. I am not sorry because you
should have known better to tell me before we…” Snape stopped for a moment. He looked
down at the gentle curves beneath her sheets and ran his hand down along the
side of her body. His fist clutched the blankets over thigh and he squeezed his
eyes shut for one brief moment. “It no longer matters,” he finished. “I
certainly have no pity for you, but that does not mean I am not going to try my
damnedest to find out what has happened to you. You’ll come back and I will be
right here waiting for you. And don’t think for one moment that I won’t be all
up in arms about this when you do. I am going to sit you down and you will
listen to every damned word I have to say to you, my darling.
“I had to sit and listen to another one
of your uncle’s speeches the other day. He told me about your father.” His eyes
turned down again and he rubbed the soft material of the top quilt between his
fingers. “Voldemort,” he whispered softly. “I should have known. The daughter
of a Death Eater. Huh. The daughter of the Dark Lord. You knew it all along,
didn’t you? Perhaps you weren’t willing to admit it, but I am sure that
somewhere in the back of your mind you always knew it to be true. That is why
you never wanted to hear it, isn’t it? You were so determined to deny it; you
couldn’t handle hearing the truth because you dread it so much. But you know it
now, you must. And if you don’t, you can be sure that I will make it very clear
to you who you are when we speak again. Fear of his name only gives him
strength. You have got to stand up for who you are and believe that you are
better than he is. The Headmaster told me that a long time ago. It isn’t easy,
I can tell you that much. It would be far easier to just give up and give in.
But you are not going to give up Jessica. I haven’t given up and neither will
you. You have got to be strong. I know you can fight whatever has done this to
Snape slowly reached his hands up and
gripped Jessica at the shoulders. He looked right through her closed eyelids
and then kissed her forehead.
“You can do it Jessica,” he whispered
and kissed her once more. “Come back to me. Please.”
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