Ora Pro Nobis
Author’s Note: Chronologically this is an early story, set before all others in the series Waifs and strays. I do not own Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, Harry Potter nor Highlander. Thanks very much to my Beta, Letomo. The following ways of notation may be found in this story. This is excluding whatever I need to represent chatting, texting and stuff like that. And you can thank Twilightwanderer for the Abbott and Costello. Speech:
“Who’s on first.” Thought:
*What’s on second.
#I-don’t-know’s on third.# Reviews are much appreciated, they inspire me. Ora pro nobis peccatoribus Paris, 1993
Severus Snape had a few habits he himself barely understood. He’d once been raised in the Anglican tradition, in the little house on Spinner’s End. He’d visited churches as a child and learned the hollowness of organized religion at his father’s knees. Or more accurately, by his father’s hands, as the church had been unable to protect him, and unwilling as well.
Yet occasionally he found a need to talk, to talk without fear of having his deeds be disseminated. And for that the Catholic church had provided the Sacrament of the confession. And for that Severus Snape travelled to an ancient church in Paris once a year, very rarely more, to speak with the ascetic and hermetic priest who lived there, never leaving the sanctified grounds.
Severus had first visited the church shortly after the First Wizarding War, after the disappearance of Riddle and the death of Lily. He’d gone into the church a raging, angry drunk. And come out again, sober and reflective. The otherworldly priest he’d come to shock with his horrible deeds, his betrayal, his murders, had sat quietly and given him counsel, not just the empty penance that was placed upon him by shuddering, wide eyed frightened men, empty because no matter how many Hail Mary’s he spoke, on his knees or of them, he would never receive absolution. He lacked faith and he lacked remorse. If he felt remorse, he could not do what he still had to do. If he felt guilt, he could not do what had to be done. Until his work was done, there was no Severus Snape, the man. There was no Severus Snape, teacher, there was no Severus Snape, potions master. There was only Severus Snape, spy and traitor.
He was wearing a pair of jeans, a light grey sweater and a long, black leather duster. His wand was in a modified dueling holster on his arm and he wore a pair of comfortable boots. His hair was clean and tied at the nape of his neck with a small leather band. Not the sort of outfit people would associate with Severus Snape. He’d travelled to the continent by ferry and to Paris by train, eschewing the new Tunnel. His old, battered canvas and leather duffle bag was hung over his shoulder. Just a Muggle Englishman, traveling through Europe. He’d changed his accent, falling back into the horrid Northern dialect of his youth, the accent his mother had worked so hard to wean him from.
He entered the church, looking at the ancient, scarred wood of the doors, doors that had hung since before the French Revolution. Darius was kneeling in front of the altar and lost in prayer. Severus put his duffle down and sat in one of the stalls, waiting for his friend to finish. Darius knew he was there. But he and Severus had know each other long enough that Darius knew that younger man would not mind waiting, would not mind if the priest finished his prayers properly.
After waiting for five minutes Severus saw the priest rise and cross himself. Then he came and sat beside Severus.
“Will you be staying here? Or in a hotel?”
Severus sneered. “Have you finally succumbed to the notion of indoor plumbing and hot and cold running water?”
Darius let out a long suffering sigh. “Not I. But the church council did. Someone
told them the value of the property would increase considerably if it was at least partially modernized.”
Severus gave the older man a smug look. “Oh dear. That must be terribly inconvenient for you.”
“Yes. I wonder who arranged for that particular brochure, and the application for special dispensation on building works in a graded and listed building.” Darius said dryly. Then he very lightly rubbed Severus on the back of the head. “I told you. I don’t need the comforts to stay warm, or to keep healthy.”
“Darius, you’re not getting any younger…”
Darius gave the young man, young for a wizard a thoughtful look.
“Severus. Take your wand and cast a Hex on me.”
Severus blinked. “W-what?”
“When you first came here, you were drunk. You told me everything, not just about that you killed people, but how. Now, use that one you invented. The Cutting curse.”
Severus Snape was at a loss for words. “I told you and you believed
“Severus, I’ve know about magic for a very long time. Cast the spell.”
Severus shook his head. “No. If you want proof of magic, I won’t give it to you like that.”
Darius smiled. “I don’t need proof of magic. I’ve know about it for longer than you are alive. Much longer.” He opened his eyes again and sighed. “Well then, hand me your pen knife.”
Severus, with some hesitation, did so. The other man gravely accepted it and opened it, balancing the small tool.
“Watch carefully.” Before Severus could stop him the man had cut across his own palm, a deep, bloody cut, down to the bone. Darius barely winced. He held his hand up and Severus’ eyes widened as the wound started to close, the edges being pulled together by small lightning bolts that arced across flesh and skin. After a minute or so there was nothing left to show Darius had been injured but the blood on his skin and robes.
Darius looked down ruefully. “By now I really should have learned to do that over a bowl and not my clothes.”
Severus shook himself and took out his wand, casting a quick cleansing charm every Death Eater learned in the first week. Blood was hard to deny to an Auror, after all.
“Ah, yes, I’d forgotten how useful that could be.” Darius looked a bit ill.
“I’m sorry, I did not intend to shock you.”
“Severus…you are not the only one with dark deeds to his name. The last time one of your kind cast spells for me…let’s say there are ways to break an adept’s will that do not require magic.” Darius looked deeply saddened. “They just take time, determination and a complete lack of conscience. All of which I had a plenty.”
Severus swallowed. He could feel the darkness and regret flowing of the man beside him. It suddenly became clear why he had understood so well, had been so unshakeable and resolute in the face of Severus’ crimes.
“I see. I once read about a strange people, the book called them the Warriors of Lightning…”
Darius blinked. “Now there is a term I’ve not heard in a millennium or more…”
Severus let out a breath. “So its true. Immortal warriors, guarding and guiding humanity. Fighting the great evils, harnessing men’s will to oppose evil.”
Darius snorted in wry amusement. “Lord above…what book did you read that in? Except for the Immortal warriors part, most of us are only concerned with keeping alive and maintain a more than comfortable lifestyle. Or with garnering wealth and power and dominating mortals.”
“Ah. I believe it was in an early eighteenth century edition of the Tales of Beedle Bard
. It’s a set of Fairy tales. I think this particular tale was cut from later editions because it did not paint wizards in a very good light and, well, that is no longer popular among wizard kind.”
“A fairy tale…well at least among your kind we were a kind sort of fairy tale, we’re mostly Bogey men among the mortals”
“You are immortal…How old are you?”
“As a race? I don’t know. Personally…About two thousand years. I can’t tell you more exactly than that, I was born in the foothills of the Ural Mountains when neither record keeping or calendars, beyond the reigns of chieftains and the sowing of the crops, were very popular.”
“Two thousand…Did you…”
Darius grinned. “No, I did not see the Crucifixion. I was in Rome at the time. Rather more comfortable. I was a Roman Auxiliary for many years, eager to learn as much strategy and tactics as I could. Which I later used to bring them down.”
“You brought down the Roman Empire?”
Darius pursed his lips. “Well, me and a lot of other circumstances. But my armies nipping at their flanks for centuries were not conducive to its continued existence.”
Severus shook his head in disbelief. “Two thousand years…”
“Hmm. I repented of my sins after five hundred or so. Since then I suppose I have
been guiding mankind, and Immortal kind, in a way.” He mused. “Maybe your book was not all wrong.”
Severus leaned back. “Well. Voldemort has returned, if not in flesh.”
Darius pursed his lips. “I see. Let’s go to the rectory and discuss it in greater depth.”
It was not a good night to be Hunter. They had expected that the old Immortal would be alone. That expectation had been proven false. They had expected him to be praying. That had been proven false as well. They had expected him not to fight back, sworn as he was to non-violence. That expectation was proving to be true.
Regrettably, it was not true of the man’s companion, a lean, muscled, snarling and sneering death machine. Out of the six men who’d entered the Rectory, five were incapacitated, four of them by unknown means, one by a very well aimed and very hard kick to his groin.
Now the last one was spilling his guts. The old priest looked on disapprovingly. “Really Severus…”
“I did not spill any blood.” The lanky man responded, his wand pressed elegantly below the ear of the babbling fool who’d dared to threaten one of the few friends he had.
“No, you merely bludgeoned them with a choir stool. And my prayer stool. And my prayer book. That was a gift from the pope, you know.” Darius said dryly.
“Which one?” Severus replied, listening mostly to the scared man in front of him. Very scared, if Severus’ nose did not deceive him.
“Errr…Sometime in the seventeenth century.” Darius blinked. “Maybe I should start writing things down…” Suddenly he turned sharp eyes on the frightened, babbling captive. “Did he just say Watcher?”
Kneeling by one of the unconscious men he quickly stripped back the sleeve and revealed a tattoo in green and black ink on the inside of the man’s wrist.
“The Gilgamesh Council.”
“And that is?”
“A group of mortals who observe Immortals. Apparently they’ve decided that observing is no longer sufficient.”
The door from the Rectory burst open and a man rushed in, sword in hand. Darius and Severus raised an equally annoyed eyebrow.
“Really, Duncan, that door is three hundred years old. And a bit of comportment wouldn’t go amiss.” Darius chided gently.
Severus had holstered his wand while Darius’ words distracted Duncan, and now held his shaking victim lightly by his neck.
Duncan put his sword away and looked awkwardly at Severus. “Errr…Duncan McLeod.”
“Severus Snape.” Snape nodded his head in greeting. “Forgive if I do not offer my hand.” He tightened his around his prisoner’s neck. The man fainted. Severus rolled his eyes. “Amateur.”
Duncan felt his lips move in a smile despite the seriousness of the situation. “I’m an old friend of Darius’…”
“I’m merely a friend. Not old.” The sly look the man gave him made Duncan realize that Snape knew what he was, and what Darius was. Snape nodded at the men on the ground. “I think this is a…family matter. I will see you next year, Darius.” He bowed gracefully to Darius and Duncan and, grabbing his duffle, left the rectory.
Darius smiled after him and then at the worried looking Highlander. “You need not worry about Severus, Duncan. He is nothing if not discreet.”
Duncan MacLeod looked after the man departing into the night for a few seconds and then turned to the unconscious ones on the old stone floor of the Rectory. There was work to be done. End note: No one asked how Darius survived to be mentioned by Methos as a possible teacher for Carol, here is the reason.