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There was an unearthly hush in Mapledurham. If the widows who populated the village were crying into their pillows, they were doing it very quietly. If there were arguments, they were going on behind closed doors. If there was singing, or sex, or natural exuberance of any kind, it was evidently stifled out of respect for the mourners.  

Morry wasn't used to quiet nights. In Rio, there had been fireworks. In West Africa, there had been drums. In California, there had been bullfrogs. But here, there was just the silence, punctuated by the endless polyester rustling of the sea.

He flew up to Poppy's window on a broomstick, ignoring her outraged whispers as she leaned out.

"They're already suspicious of you!" she hissed.


"The…" Poppy hesitated, trying to find a polite word for the embittered village matriarchs. She must have decided it would be kindest to deal with them one by one, because she continued: "Mrs Reynolds, and Sally - ,"

"You mean the black widows?"

She stepped back from the window to give him room to clamber in, but her arms were folded over her chest, and she was breathing heavily through her nostrils. "They know you weren't at the Front," she snapped. "They're not completely stupid."

Morry shrugged. "I'll tell them I was a code-breaker, or a translator for the Ministry of Defence. Clerks helped to win this war too, you know."

Poppy massaged her temples wearily. "Not as far as Mrs Reynolds is concerned."

"Anyway, nobody saw me. I cast a Disillusionment Charm before I took off."

"I saw you!" she protested.

He gave her a wry smile. "Not everybody pays as much attention to me as you do, Poppy."

She gave in. She would have to, after that charming smile. Back in the real world, Morry had been renowned for his charming smile. But, in the intervening years – or centuries, or whatever it had been – too many people had ignored him. The idea that he finally had someone's undivided attention was intoxicating. Who knew where a feeling like that could take you?   

He dug his hands into his pockets, and produced a packet of cigarettes, and a packet of Bertie Botts' Every Flavour Beans. Poppy gave him a reluctant smile.

Her attic-bedroom was an echo chamber. It collected all the sounds of the house below: the gurgling of pipes, the creaking of floorboards, the incessant arguments of her parents in the kitchen. They sat on the floor, smoking and eating Bertie Botts' Every-Flavour Beans, and listened to the argument. It was something to do with who was supposed to have put the tea-spoons away. Once or twice, Morry chanced a glance at Poppy's face, but she was completely serene. It didn't seem to distress her anymore. He had to remind himself that she'd been at the Front, and had therefore seen worse fights.

If she'd had reservations about letting him into her bedroom, she didn't show them. They were both too tired and disillusioned for sex. Not just at this moment in time, but constitutionally. Morry, wandering unseen through other people's nightmares, hadn't thought about his body in years. It was probably gathering dust in a hospital bed somewhere. And Poppy… well, who knew what she wanted? But, whatever her feelings were towards him, she seemed to crave distance from human beings above all else.   

She held her cigarette close to her mouth, and cupped her elbow in her palm, as though she didn't want the arm supporting the cigarette to get too tired. It was clearly a life-line, of sorts.

"Do you miss magic?" he asked hesitantly.

She shrugged, and took another drag on her cigarette.

"Have you ever thought of moving to Canada?" he persisted. "They offered a general Amnesty to anyone who helped muggles using magic during the war."

Poppy shrugged stiffly. "My family's here."

There was a silence, in which a saucepan, accompanied by a barrage of swear-words, clattered about in the kitchen below.

"Yes," said Morry politely. "Of course. How silly of me."

She ignored him. It wasn't as bad as the way he'd been ignored before. In fact, coming from Poppy, it was quite charming.

Poppy Pomfrey grimaced. No matter how many years she had been home from the war, every time she opened a packet of Bertie Botts's Every-Flavour Beans, they were flavoured with blood. She swallowed them straight down without chewing, hoping that the taste of cigarette-smoke would overpower everything else.  

And, as the companionable silence in the attic deepened, she and Morry gradually began to discern the sound of singing.

There was a gathering in The Shipwreck, to which she was never invited. It was called the Wake. A wake with no bodies, but an awful lot of drinking and collective reminiscing. At first, Poppy had thought of it as therapeutic, but now it just seemed masochistic. Just a way of reopening old wounds. But it was a vigil, they said, for 'our lads'. And nothing could be argued with if it was for 'our lads'. Because Poppy had never lost a husband or a son – even though she'd held the hands of many husbands and sons while they lay dying – she wasn't invited. She wouldn't understand, they said. She hadn't argued. She didn't want company in her grief anyway.

At this gathering, they sang the Lyke-Wake Dirge – a Yorkshire folk-song which had been sung at wakes in that part of the country for centuries. It was all about the soul's journey through Purgatory, on its way to heaven, and how this was the dead person's last night in a warm, living home.

This ae nighte, this ae nighte,
Every nighte and alle,
Fire and fleet and candle-lighte,
And Christe receive thy saule.

True, at some point the Reformation had rolled over the Yorkshire dales, white-washing the church walls, disposing of the priests and the painted images, and insisting that Purgatory was only a papal invention, but nothing could displace the Lyke-Wake Dirge, or stop the inhabitants of Mapledurham holding vigils for the dead.

Poppy had never liked the sound of communal singing. In the French military hospitals, the soldiers had sung to keep their spirits up, and any echo of that time infallibly made her spirits sink. It was a sound that smelled of gangrene and disinfectant, and always preceded death.

But this singing was flat and atonal – more like chanting than anything else. The dialect words fitted around the syllables of their accents beautifully. The village women had never sounded like masters of language before. Perhaps it was because Poppy had been taught English with a view to losing her accent, but the villagers had always sounded as though their speech had been uncomfortably rammed into the English language, and the bits that wouldn't fit were always spilling over or sticking out.

But, when they sang the Lyke-Wake dirge, they sounded eloquent. It reminded her of practicing incantations in the Charms classroom at Hogwarts – every syllable had power. Every diphthong was a declaration of intent.

"What's it about?" Morry whispered, after they had listened to five minutes of the eerie song.

Poppy, who'd been letting ash accumulate on the end of her cigarette, shook it loose and took another drag. "It's supposed to guide the newly-dead spirit over the rough terrain of purgatory.  They imagine purgatory like a bramble-heath. And, if you performed acts of kindness before you died, you get shoes and socks to keep the brambles from tearing at your bare skin. But it's their own purgatory they're singing about."  

"How do you mean?"

"Well," she shrugged, and exhaled the smoke, "their grief is like purgatory. It's a kind of painful ordeal that they need to push through, before they can get on with their lives."

"And how long have they been pushing through it?" he asked mischievously.

Poppy shrugged. "You know, some Catholics believe the soul can suffer in purgatory for thousands of years before it moves on."

Morry was silent for a while, listening to the chanting. "There's one important difference," he said at last. "From the real purgatory, the only way is up, right? If you were going to hell, you would have gone there straight away. In purgatory, the only choices are 'more purgatory' or 'heaven'. But these women could go up or down."

Poppy frowned reprovingly. "That isn't very nice. They're trying to support each other through their grief."

"It doesn't sound very warm or supportive to me. I can't imagine them singing it round a camp-fire with a cup of cocoa and a bun. And, anyway, you don't really believe that. You've got to admit there's a possibility that they're just doing this to let their resentment fester. "

Poppy gave him one of her fabulously non-committal shrugs. Even for a shrug, it was ambivalent. Then she focused her full attention once more on the cigarette.    

Morry shifted forwards, unconsciously trying to make sure he was in her eye-line. Untold years of being ignored, and now the veil had finally been lifted. A strange, quiet, haunted-looking woman was paying attention to him. You could forgive him for being jumpy about the nightmarish solitude coming back.  

"Why do you always voice arguments that you don't believe?" he persisted. "Why are you always playing devil's advocate?"

"They're not devils!" she snapped, as though the word had stung her. "They're just people! Just like us!"

"They're not like you."

"What does that mean?"

"Put simply, my darling – and make of it what you will – they would never cure a German. You would. It's a big difference. Huge. Astronomical."

"You don't know that."

Morry pointedly put his finger to his lips and said. "Listen."

If meat or drink thou ne'er gav'st nane,
Every night and all
The fire will burn thee to the bare bane;
And Christe receive thy saule.

"Why are you always defending them?" he went on. "Are you afraid of hating them? They've never made you feel welcome here, but I don't expect you're the easiest woman to welcome into the fold."  

"Why are you so unbearably nosy?" she demanded.

Morry shrugged. "I'm a traveler. I study other ways of life – other perspectives. It's the same as being a healer, only I don't have to understand. Only observe. You healers have your work cut out for you."

"I don't want to talk about this anymore."

"Really?" said Morry sarcastically. "You astonish me."

"Please leave."

He looked at her. And for the first time, amongst all his twinkly-eyed, shrugging indifference, there was a grain of anger. "People have been ignoring me for my entire life – and that, Poppy Pomfrey, is longer than any life should have been. I am extremely intelligent and experienced, and you will ignore me at your peril."

Poppy raised her eyebrows, but he didn't even give her time to shrug before continuing.

"You see, I know you," he went on urgently. "When you've seen as much of the world as I have, you come to realize that the same stories, the same characters, repeat themselves every few hundred miles, or every few hundred years. There's nothing new under the sun. And even though this god-forsaken place doesn't seem to have a sun, you are not unique in your sufferings. You're always defending these women because you're afraid of yourself in them. You're afraid of your anger and resentment. You're afraid you're so angry that you despise half the world for things they haven't personally done. But you are not like these women. You've taken a few steps towards them, that's all. You're angry, resentful and full of grief, but these feelings don't own you. And hiding away from them only makes them seem more powerful."

"You don't know what I've seen," she hissed.

Morry stared at her in astonishment. Could he ever explain to her what he'd seen? Was there a monster, or a form of torture, that the human imagination could devise which he hadn't encountered? And nobody had listened to him. He'd shouted himself hoarse, and waved his hands in front of the dreamers' eyes until his arms ached. He'd had to watch, every single time, while they were eaten by their own terror. At least she had been able to help her soldiers.

But he didn't say any of that, because decades of loneliness had made him patient.  

"It doesn't matter what you've seen," he said gently. "You're still you. You're still in charge of your own actions. The past doesn't own you."  

It was ever so sudden. And then ever so slow. Poppy's hand flew to her mouth as though she'd just remembered something, and then, by gradual, gasping increments, she started to cry. It was like one of those moments when you knock over a glass bottle, and you watch it topple and fall as though in slow-motion, half-unable to believe that it's really going to shatter. You can't quite believe that the world is going to do something as melodramatic as smash your glass bottle.  

That was how Poppy unraveled. She couldn't control her breathing. She was gasping – drawing quick, shuddering breaths to support the frantic sobs. "Oh god," she panted. "There was so much blood!"

Stiff and shuddering, with arms that were obviously not accustomed to embracing, she held on to him. "Oh god," she repeated. "What do I do?"

Morry tried to get his lips to move. "Don't blame yourself," he muttered.  

She shook her head frantically. "You don't understand. There were people I could have saved before I decided to use magic to heal them. It was such a waste. They snapped my wand anyway, and I could have helped more of them. They died because I was a coward!"

She wouldn't shout. The need to avoid attention was too deeply ingrained. But the effort of keeping her voice low was shredding her vocal chords. Every syllable was strangled and twisted beyond recognition, and he could feel her trembling with suppressed emotion under his hands.  

"It's not your fault."

"It doesn't matter whose fault it was," she groaned. "My actions made the difference between life and death to those people! I was a coward."

"So don't be a coward again," he said evenly. "That's the only thing you can do about it now."  

She was grinding her teeth to try and keep the sobs in, and Morry held on to her, numb and lost and inconsolable, feeling her tears soak into his shirt. He hadn't felt tears on his skin for decades. This sudden human contact was shocking beyond belief. He felt as though someone had reached right to the bottom of his stomach, and turned it inside out.  

He helped her to stay quiet. He held her close and let her bury her face in his shoulder, so that the sobs were muffled. The people who'd been deafening her for decades wouldn't hear a peep out of her. They would never know she was suffering. That was important, somehow.

Oddly, it was the sound of her parents arguing that seemed to soothe her in the end. They started up again, to the everlasting accompaniment of those clattering saucepans, and Poppy gave one last, miserable shudder, and then fell silent. But Morry still held onto her. He felt wide awake. He couldn't believe that the feel of those tears soaking into his shirt had been part of a dream – let alone a nightmare. And when Poppy fell asleep in his arms, he was finally sure that everything else he'd ever thought or felt had been the dream, and this was the waking up.    

Severus didn't have any nightmares that night. He must have been too tired. Either that, or the presence of Lily's sleeping form in the bed next to his was too reassuring for any nightmare to get a look in.  

When he awoke, it was to find a beaming and once-more flat-chested Claudia Kitson wringing Lily's hand, and thanking her, again and again, for her help. Lily was protesting – in an increasingly hysterical voice – that she hadn't actually done anything. It was Meg and Mary who'd cast the charms that deflated her chest. But Claudia insisted that she was being too modest – that she was the brains behind the whole operation. The whole ceremony of politeness might have gone on all morning – and Lily would definitely have started to cry – if Severus hadn't coughed loudly and lit up a cigarette. What was the point in being a man if you couldn't put an insensitive end to girly conversations?  

Lily blinked at him, half-exasperated and half-grateful. "There's no smoking in here, Severus."

Severus took his time stubbing out the cigarette, while Lily glared, and Claudia Kitson gave him a smile of polite incomprehension.

"Care to explain the ash-tray that's sitting on the desk in Madam Pomfrey's Office?" he asked lightly.

"That's a -," Lily hesitated. "I'm sure it's a souvenir, or something. Anyway, there's no smoking in here anymore."

"Is this one of your assistants?" Claudia asked. It was difficult to work out whether she was being malicious, or just plain stupid. Surely the entire school had heard the rumours about the Soulless Redhead dating the Slytherin Sneak?   

"Actually, he's more of a consultant," said Lily, her voice hardening. "He knows more about poisons and antidotes than most fully-qualified Healers. He helped me diagnose Regulus Black when he was brought in here with Jincan-poisoning."

Claudia gave a polite shrug, as though to imply that there probably were useful Slytherins in the world, but she hadn't personally encountered any.

"Well, I'd better be going," she said cheerfully. "Thank you again and again for your help."

Lily shook her head frantically, but Severus's bad-temper came to her rescue again.

"Next time you come in, we'll see about treating that yeast infection," he said.

Lily turned away from them, pretending to busy herself with the potion-bottles stacked on the side-board, but her shoulders were shaking, and it was clear that she was either concealing laughter or anger. Knowing Lily, it was probably both.  

Claudia Kitson gave him a suspicious frown as she left, and Severus slid off his bed to get the worst of Lily's anger over and done with.

She still had her back to him, but he put a hesitant hand on her shoulder. "I know," he said, with tender sarcasm. "She's really nice. She invents different kinds of pastries, and names them after the traumatic events of her life. She has apple-red cheeks and she's always smiling. But, you've got to admit, she's a bit of an idiot."

Lily gave a sound that was somewhere between a laugh and a sob, and Snape felt his stomach tighten. She was going away today, and he didn't trust her, on her own, with all that misery. She would turn it in on herself. The hand that he'd placed on her shoulder tightened possessively.

He was feeling edgy. The dreamless sleep had been badly needed, but it put more pressure on the following nights. He didn't know how much time he had before Madam Pomfrey's nightmare was going to go up in smoke.

Bruiser turned up outside the school gates, in his red Ferrari, at nine o'clock. There wasn't time for a return visit to the Room of Requirement, but Severus and Lily shared a rather panicky kiss goodbye in the Entrance Hall. Neither of them were sure if they'd ever see each other again.

He cast a Shield Charm around her as she walked down the hill to the gates. And he was disturbed to find that he wasn't the only one doing so. He overheard Potter, who was watching from the open window of the Charms classroom, mutter the incantation. Still using verbal spells, Severus thought, with irritable contempt, but there was – unfortunately – no denying that they were powerful. A bird swooping over Lily's head was suddenly knocked out on thin air.

No, the thing that really annoyed him was that James Potter's Shield Charm had a longer reach. Snape had to cut his out as soon as she got through the gates, but Potter's filthy spell was close around her shoulders even as she got into the open-topped car and drove off. How was he doing that?  

It was getting nasty. Severus had not been raised to feel sympathy, and James Potter had not been raised to appreciate it. Their animosity was deepening. Severus, for his part, thought Potter was stalking his girlfriend and plotting to snatch her away.

Somehow, the physical riches of the past few days – all the proofs of Lily's love for him – the knowledge that Lily wanted him – had made him even more defensive around Potter. He'd never had anything to lose before. And he'd seen the future. He hadn't resigned himself to it, of course, but it came back to him, even in his happiest moments: the sight of Lily lying stone-dead on the lawn in Godric's Hollow, with those open, empty eyes.   

And the fact that Potter's face was lined, and his hair was even messier than usual – well, it just meant he was up to something. He was losing sleep over some dastardly scheme to snatch her away. But he wasn't going to snatch her away. Severus had Occlumency lessons, Death Eater meetings, Nastily Exhausting Wizarding Tests, and reconnaissance missions in a post-war dreamscape, but he was not going to let Potter take Lily away.

She was all alone in the world now. Suddenly, a boyfriend who was rich, pure-blooded and popular – a boyfriend who nobody dared to contradict – might seem appealing. Potter could make sure she was accepted in the wizarding world. He could give her a House Elf, to do all her charms for her. Lily wouldn't be happy with that, of course – she always wanted to do everything herself – but she had been… uncertain lately. Almost submissive. If Potter caught her in that mood, and started boasting about all his bloody Galleons, maybe she would be tempted.

Every spare moment he got, he was thinking about Plan B. It would come to Plan B, he knew it. Lily would never, ever forgive him, but it would stop that nightmarish future from coming to pass. How was Potter going to father the child of prophecy from beyond the grave?

It wasn't ideal, but Severus had never had the luxury of ideals. It was what you could live with. A cell in Azkaban; a life-long exile from the woman he loved – these were alternatives he could stand; they were futures he could contemplate. But the thought of Lily lying dead on the lawn in Godric's Hollow… Anything was better than that.

And so, when Dumbledore offered him an alternative – little as he trusted Dumbledore's 'alternatives' – he jumped at it.

One evening after Occlumency classes, when the Headmaster had been dipping into his memories like a bag of sherbet lemons, he suddenly piped up with the legend: "There is a spell in Sympathetic Magic which might be efficacious."

Severus said nothing. It made his skin blister with resentment to think that Dumbledore could still tell what he was thinking about, even after all these classes. He shouldn't have allowed his thoughts to dwell on Lily. His inner monologue got undisciplined when he was tired.

"Oh, it wasn't a lapse in your Occlumency skills," Dumbledore explained. "They are, as ever, excellent. It was merely an educated guess. I was thinking about her predicament too."

It took Severus a while to reply. It wasn't easy to unclench his jaw, or think of any response besides a torrent of abuse. Finally, and very stiffly, he said: "If it's a spell in Sympathetic Magic, Lily would have already thought of it. She knows that book off-by-heart."  

"It isn't directly related to her condition," Dumbledore explained. "Just something which might help to prepare the ground for her recovery."

He steepled his fingers and peered at Severus over the top of them. "Witches and wizards who've performed the spell in the past tend to describe it as… something of an ordeal. It is very complex and dangerous. I would not entrust it to anyone but you."

Severus glared at him. "Dumbledore, is this one of those lessons where you educate your students by letting them dangle over the precipice of certain death for a few hours? Because, if it is, I've learnt it."

Dumbledore chuckled with delight. "What I like about you, Severus Snape, is the way you pay attention. But, no, this isn't one of those. This particular Charm is unlikely to kill you. When I described the process as an ordeal, I was merely referring to the fact that it requires the extraction of emotionally potent memories. And blood – but that will hardly be of consequence to you. If you think I don't know who concocted the Blood-Feud potion which hospitalized Sirius Black in his second-year, you are very much mistaken."

Severus kept his face carefully impassive. Dumbledore was always trying to trick him like that. He would pretend it was all a game until you allowed yourself to relax, and then you would find yourself serving six-months'-worth of detentions.  

Students at Hogwarts seldom worked with human blood, and never their own. It was too dangerous. Forget about blood-poisoning, if a single drop went astray, your class-mates could perform hideous spells on you. They could turn you inside-out. They could twitch your nerves like puppet-strings. Of course, Dumbledore didn't think they actually would. He preferred to think the best of people, and that meant never giving them a chance to prove you wrong.

And if potion ingredients got into your blood-stream, you could find yourself sneezing green fire for the rest of your life. There was even a name for the condition. Nasal napalm.

It was perfectly safe if you cast a few precautionary charms beforehand, but school-children tended to be squeamish, unruly and impatient. You couldn't trust them not to blow themselves up at the best of times. So blood-potions were off the curriculum at Hogwarts. It wasn't the case at Durmstrang, or even at Beauxbatons, but Dumbledore needed to have his delusions about human decency preserved.  

"Charms don't normally require blood," he said cautiously.

"This is a Charm which first requires the brewing of a potion," Dumbledore said happily. "It's very advanced magic and, as such, takes what you might call an… inter-disciplinary approach."  

Severus glared at him again. He might as well have said: This Charm irresistibly compels all red-headed witches to take their clothes off. The possibility of experimenting with advanced, dangerous potion-making was enticing.

But it was unwise to betray enthusiasm of any kind in front of Dumbledore. The old man found it easy enough to exploit him as it was. So he stayed close to the work-benches that lined the office, with their busily-whirring silver-instruments. Severus often stood beside these. From time to time, their puffs of steam would hide him completely from view.

"Tell me more about it," he said.  

"You have heard of the amusingly-named Unforgettable Curses?" Dumbledore paused, but it wasn't really a question. He knew every teenage boy had heard of them, and the pause was only a concession to politeness. You didn't go around assuming that someone had heard of the Unforgettable Curses, because they tended to get huffy and outraged about it.

"They were actually designed as Healing Spells," Dumbledore went on. "The writer of Sympathetic Magic masterminded them – or perhaps I should say mistress-minded them, for she was, as so often appears to be the case with Healers, a woman. They are the direct opposites of the Unforgivable Curses – not curses at all, but rather charms which give precisely what the Unforgivable Curses take away. The counterpart of the Cruciatus Curse is the Rapturus Charm – which has earned an understandably bad reputation in recent times."

Snape raised his eyebrows. It was another one of Dumbledore's infuriating understatements. The Rapturus Charm – a charm which gave instant pleasure to the person it was cast upon – had been banned outright after a Daily-Prophet-inspired panic about its unregulated use in schools. Generally, parents were happier for their teenage children to learn the Unforgivable Curses than the Unforgettable ones.

"But the counterpart of the Imperius Curse is known as the Liberus Charm: a piece of magic which, instead of controlling the individual, instills them with a feeling of independence and self-confidence. It is a highly personal, highly intellectual, form of magic – and it was this which I had in mind to improve Lily's condition."

"Improving her condition isn't the same as restoring her magic," said Snape suspiciously.

Dumbledore spread his hands. "As a teacher, I have learned that magic is invariably strengthened by self-confidence. I do not know if it can restore her magic, but I would venture to suggest that it couldn't hurt. It's a spell that most healers tend to shy away from, to be quite honest. Apart from being tarred by the same brush as the Rapturus Charm, it is a good deal too personal for the majority of tastes. There needs to be a strong bond between the wizard who casts the charm and the patient who receives its benefit. And, of course, it has historically been outlawed as a most dangerous gift. In the days of feudal loyalties, who knew what certain classes of people would do with independence?"

Snape hesitated uneasily. Lily was hundreds of miles away from him, living with a girl who hero-worshipped James Potter. The last thing he needed was for her to suffer a sudden bout of independence.  

Was he enjoying the idea that she needed him? He had always wanted her to need him just a little bit more than she did. It was the most intoxicating feeling, when he put out a spider for her, or told her something she didn't already know.

But he couldn't be with her all the time. Who was going to protect her from the thoughts that had prompted her to grind her knuckles against the flagstones?

That was the worst part of it. She was feeling helpless and angry, and she was miles away. He didn't trust her with those feelings. If she put on wet clothes and tried to freeze herself in the Valance House, she might not be discovered until it was too late. Bruiser could protect her from dark wizards, but not from dark thoughts.

And then, the more she needed someone, the more vulnerable she would be to Potter's sick mind-games. He could imagine how it would go.

He's just a friend, Sev. He's someone to talk to. And he's been so unhappy. He says not even Quidditch cheers him up anymore.

Oh, yes. That was the way to ensnare a Healer. Pretend to be dying – pretend to be wasting away for love. The manipulative bastard!

But, out loud, he said: "I'll think about it. I don't know if you're aware of this, but I'm rather busy these days."

Dumbledore chuckled again. "Marvelous. It's page eighty-seven."

Severus had heard worse things. He'd heard his father calling his mother a bitch. He'd endured the jeering and catcalls of the entire school while being dangled upside-down by Potter and his cronies. But nothing infuriated him as much as a chuckling, twinkly-eyed Dumbledore saying: 'Marvellous. It's page eight-seven.'

In later years, whenever he thought about that moment, he would never be sure how he'd managed to get out of the Headmaster's Office without cursing him. His legs must have got him out of there on auto-pilot, while his fingers were still straying towards his wand. Because, changeable and manipulative as Dumbledore was, he was all Severus had.

The figures which represented his hope were always annoying. The Boggart-Lily was a prime example. Every time she opened her mouth, he wanted to strangle her, and yet she represented a future where he got to be with Lily.

Severus Snape had never had the luxury of ideals. It was just what you could stand. And, somehow, contrary to all expectations, he could stand Dumbledore.
Continuing from Two More Romantic Reunions. [link]

Sev's joke about the yeast-infection is a call-back from twenty chapters ago (!), to the remarks he made about Claudia Kitson when she first appeared in 'Miss Morgan' [link]

Extreme kudos to anyone who remembered it! There may even be a prize. (NB Can't offer prizes of health-insurance for your favourite characters! :giggle:)

As ever, thank you for reading. Wasn't terribly confident about starting a chapter with Poppy and Morry, because they're not the most popular characters, so thank you if you persevered!

Oh, I almost forgot! If you want to see the whole Lyke-Wake Dirge, you can find it here: [link]
Add a Comment:
Teme-chan-Uchiha Featured By Owner Jun 24, 2011
"What was the point in being a man if you couldn't put an insensitive end to girly conversations?"
Oh Sev. He just has this wonderful sense of dry, sarcastic humor all through-out this chapter that I just adore. And after all the emotional turmoil of Lily losing her magic and almost dying, this chapter was a nice break with just a lot of amusing conversations and some Poppy and Morry time. (Who, by the way, I find to be ADORABLE. I know it is silly, but they just seem so cute. I really hope they beat the current odds stacked against them.)
ls269 Featured By Owner Jun 24, 2011
Thank you! :hug: If I had my way, the story would be entirely made up of meandering conversations between Sev and Lily, and Poppy and Morry. It wouldn't be very exciting, but it would satisfy my insatiable need for writing the interactions between these two couples! :heart:
shyfoxling Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2010
How was Potter going to father the child of prophecy from beyond the grave?

Potter couldn't, perhaps (although this is wizard stuff; I wouldn't put it past the weirdness of the universe!), but he needn't for Lily to bear one. It's not Potter's sperm that makes the child the subject of the prophecy. Think, Severus!

Hmmm, now what would that third Unforgettable Curse be....?
ls269 Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2010
Yes, he's focusing too much on the Potter-centric bit of the tragic future - but I suppose that's understandable, given how much he hates the guy!

I think the third Unforgettable curse is only mythical, rather like the Deathly Hallows - it might exist, but nobody has found it yet! (And Voldemort isn't interested because it would be a life-giving spell, and he's got no time for that kind of nonsense! ;))
WeAreSevenStudios Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2010  Professional Artisan Crafter
"Dumbledore, is this one of those lessons where you educate your students by letting them dangle over the precipice of certain death for a few hours? Because, if it is, I've learnt it."
Burn! :w00t:

There's a real, growing tension in this story regarding Morry and Pomfrey now that we're more aware of how the curse works. Like Severus and Lily, their relationship is precarious, and a breakup for either couple could have truly life-threatening results. I feel like something must be about to explode.

All things considered, Severus seems to be keeping his obsessive paranoia and control issues pretty well in hand (i.e., he hasn't set a date to kill Potter). I hope he can keep it up.
ls269 Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2010
:hug: Thank you! You're right, I'm proud of him for holding off Plan B for this long, it must be a very tempting plan to someone who's had to endure all Potter's bullying! But he's a pragmatic Slytherin, and always thinking about consequences! :heart:

I really like the idea of Poppy and Morry (and the whole village they live in) being about to explode. That's exactly the atmosphere I was hoping for. As we know (but Poppy and Morry don't) explosions are imminient...
Melorik Featured By Owner Jun 10, 2010
I'm not sure what to really pick out in this chapter. As usual it has your distinct writing style of foreshadowing the future... this time with how Sev will think back on this event. I always wonder when you're going to throw one of those in again :D.

On a lighter note, I think Sev might actually decide to put his inventive mind to work and actually invent a spell that makes all red headed witches drop their clothes ;).

I love the concept behind the Rapturus charm. I guess wizarding society can be just as puritanical as the muggles :p. Still... I can see how it would be dangerous in the hands of someone like Potter. Hogwards would be a hedonist colony within a week :P.

This chapter didn't really advance the plot all that much, but don't take that as a criticism. Not all of them have, or should, for that matter. I do look forward to your next one though to see how more of it unfolds.

Cheers as always,

ls269 Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2010
Thanks, Sam. :hug: Sometimes I feel like writing a plot-less chapter, just to kind of reconnect with the characters, and hang out with them for a bit. (Those dark, aimless Sev-monologues are comfort-writing to me, somehow).

I should stop foreshadowing the future of the characters, really, since I haven't even decided what that future will be! :blushes: I figured, whatever happens, Severus will be infuriated with Dumbledore for a long time!
Melorik Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2010
Sev being infuriated with DD is like foreshadowing that it will rain in the UK. It is inevitable ;)
ls269 Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2010
:giggle: Well, since it rained yesterday, I guess I have no right to argue with that! ;)
FlameoftheWest7 Featured By Owner Jun 10, 2010
The Mapledurham part was as historical-feeling, intriguing, and charming as ever! I like Poppy and Morry.

Good point about how Lily might decide she needs an alliance with a rich pureblood now...I can see how Sev would fret over that (as usual).

This bit was awesome:

Oh, yes. That was the way to ensnare a Healer. Pretend to be dying – pretend to be wasting away for love. The manipulative bastard!

Haha! Great work. I can't believe I'm the first to post--usually it takes me forever, because I haven't been able to check DA as frequently lately!
ls269 Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2010
:hug: :heart: Thank you, my dear. I'm so happy to hear that there is at least one fan of Poppy and Morry out there! ;) I feel as though they're not as dastardly as some of the villains, or as charismatic as some of the good guys (i.e. the infuriating Dumbledore! :giggle:)

Glad you liked the Potter-abuse too. That's something I always enjoy writing, as you know. I'm trying to bring James Potter into the story more, but he does depress me (by depressing Sev) whenever he arrives!

Thanks again for your comment, I was so happy to see it! :)
FlameoftheWest7 Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2010
Yes, James really is such an infantile, grinning, cheeseball twirp! I don't understand how Lily falls for him.
ls269 Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2010
:giggle: Hee hee, I love this description: an infantile, grinning, cheeseball twirp. Severus would award ten points to whichever House you belong to for that remark!
Melorik Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2010
Stockholme Syndrome? :P
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