Servants of V
*~* Servants of V *~*
There was sort of a strange quiet that settled around the school after the visitors had returned to their points of origin... well, most of them. But most of the school was not talking about that. No. Most of the school was gossiping about Professor Snape's girlfriend.
That's what they were calling her - Professor Snape's girlfriend.
Not that Willow minded so much, and not that there had not been gossip like this before. It was just the two of them walking through the whole school arm in arm had confirmed everything. Now the speculation was not 'if' in nature, but 'how long' and 'how' at all and 'when' and even 'why'.
Snape found he was being looked at differently because of this. He was uncertain if he liked it or not. The older boys gave him knowing looks... as if they COULD know. They had no idea what it was to have this creature that was his touch him, to let herself be touched. They had no conception of the beauty of the breakdown. The younger students just looked... confused. The older girls were the true mystery though. The looked at him as if they were trying to see what Professor Rosenberg saw when she looked at him. It seemed a few of them imagined they had. He got tentative smiles instead of barely concealed shudders when he snapped some days.
It was even rumored that a third year Ravenclaw by the name of Orla Quirke had developed a crush on him.
And it had only been a week.
Severus sighed as he stalked past a pack of giggling girls on his way to the infirmary. The Ministry was picking up Peter Pettigrew today, but Severus was to go and administer veritaserum. They weren't even taking the chance of carting him back to the Ministry. His statement was being taken right there in the infirmary with a whole gaggle of Aurors present. Severus was all to happy to administer the potion.
Pettigrew was most vile in Snape's eyes. Not just because he was one of Voldemort's toadies, but because of what the vermin had done to James and Lily Potter and Sirius Black. Not that Severus really cared about any of them save Lily. No, it was the fact that Peter Pettigrew had been lucky enough to have friends and then treated them so ill was what burned Severus. He had never been lucky enough to have people care so about him... until now. Now he had things that were so important, people he would never betray. Not even if it meant his own life. Ironically, the one that placed second to his little red was the daughter of the one of the men who he considered to have made his school days miserable.
Severus breezed through his classroom and towards his storeroom. He stopped suddenly when he noticed the door was ajar. His wand was out instantly, though he hid it in the folds of his black robes. He moved silently to the door frame. He could hear someone moving about inside. Severus whipped around into the doorway, but his hex died on his lips.
Tara was standing on a step ladder organizing his ingredients... just the way he would have if he'd been the one organizing. His abrupt entrance startled her though, and she gave a shout of alarm before jerking so hard she fell off the ladder.
She did not hit the floor though. He managed to dart forward and catch her. He was surprised at the way her arms had settled around his shoulders so easily.
"You frightened me."
"I do apologize. I heard someone moving about in here. I did not expect you to be out of bed."
"I'm pregnant, not terminal."
He chuckled as he finally set her on her own feet.
"I wish everybody would stop tiptoeing around me. I won't break. In fact, I feel better now than I have in months."
"You should. Evil spirits are no longer squatting in your body."
"I know. It's just me, Doyle, and Beatrix in here."
"You, Doyle, and... whom?"
"Do not name that child Beatrix."
"You know like Beatrix Potter."
"Potter has a relative named Beatrix? You're naming her after one of Potter's relatives? Even worse."
"No. Beatrix Potter is not related to Harry. She wrote children's stories. Muggle ones, I guess YOU'D call them. Peter Rabbit stories."
"Beatrix is not good for your daughter."
"Well, what would YOU name her? What would you name your daughter?"
His daughter. Severus's knees nearly buckled. What WOULD he name a child of his own? He'd never even... then it came to him. Like a whisper.
Tara smiled. "Porcelina Francis Black."
Severus blinked. It did work rather well.
"It's gorgeous. Would you mind if we called her that?"
"I..." He didn't know what to say. "It would please me, but I doubt Black would be pleased to know I was the one who helped pick his daughter's name."
"Well, I won't tell him if you won't."
He chuckled. "All right.... why Francis though?"
"It's one of Doyle's names."
"Ah. Nanny Doyle, protector of the Black baby."
Tara gave him a reproachful look that he paid little attention to.
Severus grabbed a vial of veritaserum. "Would you like to accompany me to the infirmary? Your mother's true murderer is about to make his confession and be taken away to face his crimes."
Tara looked at the floor and shuddered. This would mean Sirius's freedom.
"What if he leaves me because he can?" She whispered.
Severus's brow furrowed for a moment. He who? Then it hit him. Black. Of course. After all this was squared away, the man would certainly be free to go wherever he wanted. Why should he stay with her... other than she was having the man's child?
"Then he is an even greater fool than I thought him to be."
"What will I do then?" She was still looking at the floor.
"He will not leave you."
"But if he does?"
"Willow and I will take care of you." Where in the hell had THAT come from?
Tara looked at him sharply. Her eyes were shining with unshed tears. She wasted not a moment after that. She threw her arms around him and hugged him so tight. No one had even hugged him like this. Certainly Willow had hugged him, but her hugs were different. Hers were full of love and lust and desire. Tara's was just full of care and companionship.
He gave her back a few awkward pats. "As long as I draw breath, you and your child will always have a place."
Her arms tightened. He heard a muffled 'thank you' against his chest.
"It won't come to that though. He won't leave you."
Or so he hoped. Merlin, if he took in a pregnant woman who'd been abandoned, his reputation as a bitter, old bachelor who hated children was shot all to hell.
Then again, having a little redheaded girlfriend who was all sunlight where he could be shadows was pretty much shooting down that rep anyhow.
Tara and Severus were the last ones to arrive in the infirmary.
Willow looked at the two of them together oddly. As did Harry. Tara was puzzled by Harry's presence, but she supposed it was his right to see the reason his parents were dead get some punishment. Tara moved to the boy and wrapped her arms around him protectively. Harry held her back.
Tonks and Shacklebolt were two of the Aurors present. Krum was with them. He nodded at Harry. Cornelius Fudge was also present.
It all went by like a dream.
Severus administered the potion.
And Peter Pettigrew spilled his figurative guts.
By the end of this, Tara was openly sobbing. Harry had her head tucked to his shoulder. His eyes were dry, but there was a muscle spasming in his jaw.
"I hate you." Tara hissed. "You stole my life."
"Shhh." Harry said icily. "Don't give him the satisfaction."
Everyone got quiet at Harry's tone.
"I hope they let you sit in Azkaban for at least twelve years before they even consider having a dementor kiss you. It's what you deserve for what you did to Sirius and my father and my mother."
Tara started crying harder. Remus stepped up and pulled her from Harry. She collapsed against him, crying. Anya moved up behind her and started caressing Tara's back.
"How could you do that to them? They were your BEST FRIENDS! The very thought of doing such a thing to Hermione or Ron... EVER... for ANY reason... makes me ill."
"Harry..." Peter rasped. "So like James. You don't-"
Tara had strode forward and cut him off with a staggering backhand. Everyone stood in shock that kind and gentle Tara had eyes that were flashing in violence just now.
"You don't address Harry. Ever. You aren't worth the dirt on MY boots, let alone his. Never speak directly to myself or Harry again, or I will not be responsible for what happens to you." She leaned close to him then. "And, vermin, I may look like spun sugar, but I carry vinegar's bite. I'd just let Faith have you for her punching bag, and when she tried of it, I'd let Drusilla eat you. Did you know she likes to play with her food?"
"Tara, that's enough." Remus said quietly. "I think Peter gets the point."
She backed away... and everyone had the same look on their faces. It clearly said 'when did YOU get so scary?'.
The Aurors put a binding on Pettigrew and prepared to cart him off. There was going to be a trial. Harry seemed to sag in relief.
"I will be issuing a pardon for Sirius Black in light of this testimony." Fudge said. "I am sure he will turn up in these parts soon after... if not already." His eyes darted from Harry to Remus to Dumbledore.
Dumbledore had to hide his chuckles when Tara blatantly patted her belly.
Dumbledore had given their little mismatched group the password to the student guest rooms until Connor could be sorted and Cassie was placed somewhere more permanent. The headmaster was debating trying to sort the muggle girl just to see if it COULD be done. He'd already had Dawn and Lily offer up their dorm room. And Hermione offer up the prefects' room. Ginny had even offered her room, despite the fact that she shared it with some other sixth year girls. Draco Malfoy had jokingly offered to put her up in his bed... with him in it.
But for now Cassie and Connor were in the guest student quarters. Cassie sleeping on the girls side, Connor on the boys side. At present both were in the common room that joined these quarters. Hermione, Ron, Neville, and Ginny had joined them from Gryffindor Tower, and Draco, Lily, and Dawn had joined them from Slytherin.
Much to the protest of Aaron Montague. He was having fits about the amount of time his girlfriend was spending with people who were not him. She would have brought him, but Lily did not feel she could trust Aaron to behave around Cassie, her being a muggle.
Plus, there were also the disturbing thoughts she kept having about Connor Angel. Thoughts she'd been having all week. She knew he was sort of attracted to the rougher, more violent part of her. What she had not realized was that she was attracted to the part of him that reveled in that part of her.
They were all waiting for Harry to return after the Pettigrew arrest.
Dawn was pacing the room like some sort of caged animal.
When Harry finally showed and told them a rather anticlimactic version of events, everyone still seemed to sigh in relief. Part of it was over. If something like this could happen, a name so blackened, no pun intended, could be cleared, then they stood a chance, didn't they?
Draco announced he and Ginny needed some alone time by the lake. Ron tried to protest, but Hermione kept interrupting him. Finally she convinced him that THEY needed some alone time and asked if he'd like to go for a walk himself. Neville said his goodnights and headed back to Gryffindor. Lily announced she was going to hunt down Aaron. Harry decided to stay right where he was... his head in Dawn's lap. She was stroking her fingers through his hair in a comforting manner. Gutterflower had joined them. Though she didn't seem to like Harry as much as Draco, the ferret was still curled up on Harry's chest.
Cassie decided to try and teach Connor to play cards. He was spectacularly bad at it. Or perhaps he was just one of those people who didn't take to 'Go Fish'.
Lily was almost to the Slytherin common room when she was grabbed from behind and dragged into one of the classrooms nearby. She was screaming from behind the hand over her mouth and struggling so hard she had nearly gotten away more than once.
She was flung away from her captor. She spilled to the floor in a swirl of blonde hair. Lily angrily reached for her wand, only to discover it was not in her robes. She spun to face her foe, still in a crouched position.
Lily was quite shocked to see Aaron Montague pointing both his and her wand at her.
"Aaron? What are you doing?"
"Delivering you to my master."
That didn't sound good. "What?"
"Unnatural creature, you are not of this world. I have seduced you, and now I will deliver you to my master, so that he may feed on your life force."
Lily blinked. "You think I'm gonna go with you willingly?"
"No." He smiled evilly. "That's where the fun comes in.... petrificus totalus!"
She dove out of the way when he threw the first hex. Lily rolled behind a heavy desk, breathing harshly. This was bad.
"I love it when they run." Aaron said, likely to himself.
Lily stayed crouched to the floor as she darted over to hide behind another desk. She rested her back against it and hoped he had not seen her. She was thankful she had not decided to spend any time with him alone in the last week or so. In all the confusion of people coming and going, no one might have noticed if Aaron Montague had carted her off.
"I think I'm going to rape you first. He said you didn't need to be pure. Not that a creature like yourself ever could be. Yes, think I'll taste a bit of your impurity. Does that frighten you... or excite you?"
Lily closed her eyes for a brief moment and tried to gather her wits about her. She'd need them to get out of this fix.
Cassie's hands started shaking so violently that she dropped all her cards.
Harry and Dawn looked up at the alarm in Connor's tone. Dawn was up in a flash with Harry right behind her. They crossed the room quickly.
She was shaking and breathing oddly. Then Cassie went rigid. Her mouth sagged open a bit as a hiss of air escaped. Her eyes started rolling in her head. Harry tilted his head to the side as he stared. He'd seen this behavior before.... that time Professor Trelawney had said Wormtail would rejoin Voldemort in his third year after his Divination final. The servant and the master, she'd called them. Harry shivered. How ironic to be reminded of that today of all days.
"She's having a vision."
"How do you-"
Connor was interrupted by Cassie speaking in a deep voice unlike her own. "He has new servants. One is doing his bidding as we sit here. The violent echo of the redheaded witch is in danger."
Cassie sagged back against her chair.
No one moved.
"The violent echo of the redheaded.... Lily." Dawn muttered.
Connor was already moving towards the door. Harry sprinted after him. Dawn cast a look at Cassie. She didn't want to leave her, but Lily needed help.
Cassie's eyes snapped open. "Go. I'll be fine."
Dawn squeezed the Cassie's arm before she sprung to he feet and ran after Harry and Connor... but she stopped at the fire and threw in some of the 'in school' floo powder.
"Connect infirmary." She said before sticking her head in the green fire and shouting so hard she thought her lungs might burst. "MADAM POMFREY!"
Then Dawn was out the door after the two boys. All Poppy Pomfrey saw as she stepped through the floo into the room was the swirl of Dawn's school robes caressing the door frame before the door slammed behind her.