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The fire started out as a smoky trail that crept around the skirting-boards. Then it caught at some of the numerous petticoats, ribbons, sashes and sleeves that trailed over the tiled floor, stirring the dust. From there, it rushed up the walls like a pack of startled monkeys, gnawing at the racks of clothes, eating its way through the rafters. It was like a feeding frenzy. The rich old fabric almost crumbled at the touch of the flames. And, as they burned, the dresses released their own musky kind of incense – almost like their souls.

Severus couldn’t do anything but watch. It was all he ever seemed to do these days. He was fairly sure this was a dream, but that didn’t stop his stomach lurching with fear and excitement when he realized he wasn’t alone. Of course, that was probably down to who his new companion was. He couldn’t train his insides to keep still at the sight of her. His heart and stomach would leap through hoops if she asked them to. And, if anything, the knowledge that she was trying to kill him had made her even more appealing.  

Standing in the middle of the tiled floor, overhung by the fiery canopy, was a woman. She was wearing black. She always did, because she was a widow – and that circumstance was not something she was likely to forget.

She had tangled hair and smudged eye make-up. It might have been from the shimmering waves of dry heat under the domed ceiling. Or it might have been from the energetic, haphazard way she lived her life – always smiling and laughing – admittedly, without warmth or humour, these days.

There was a curious, martyred kind of expression in her electric-green eyes. She looked like a doting parent who’d been forced to discipline her child. She looked as though she was about to say: “This is going to hurt me a lot more than it hurts you, you know.”

Severus made a note of it – because, even in his dreams – there was a part of him which was always standing outside the action, observing, filing things away for future reference. He could never completely melt – and, right now, he was glad of it.

He watched, transfixed, as the flames devoured the sumptuous fabrics hanging around the walls. They looked spectacular in the fire-light. It brought out all their iridescent shimmers. The cloth looked almost as though it was in motion. The embroidered pearls looked like beads of sweat.  

This place had been an empire. Every dress had been a weapon – either to enthrall new captives or keep old ones in their place. Countless generations of Narcissa’s ancestors had shimmered and sneered their way through the world in these outfits. They were conspicuous displays of the Black family’s wealth and splendor. Pure blood must be superior if it was that sumptuous, that awe-inspiring. It sent a message.  

Forget about your ways, your traditions, your culture. Ours is better. Look how it sparkles. Worship us, and maybe we’ll deign to notice you exist from time to time.

And then the dream shifted. The fire became a canopy of electric-bright stars. Severus was standing outside, but the black and white tiles were still under his feet, stretching away from his shoes like an endless chess-board.  

There were two figures in front of him, circling each other. They were both big, but one of them was…disproportionate. He had pointed ears, and a face so long it might have been called a snout. At first, Severus thought his fingers were weirdly elongated, but then he realized they simply ended in six-inch claws. The creature was a snarling heap of muscles and sinew, bristling with matted hair, fetid teeth and filthy claws.

The other fighter was just an old man, knotted with muscles and criss-crossed with scars. He knew it was Bruiser even before the figure turned, to show him those optimistic, sky-blue eyes. He looked just the way he’d looked in the mugggle-baiting ring, when he had pummeled that other muggle into a twitching, bleeding heap on the floor. All that was missing was the roaring crowd, waving their betting-slips in the air.

Bruiser’s attack was clinical. He targeted ribs and joints; he kicked at the creature’s knees, and pummeled the temples, where the skull was softest. It was as though he saw the werewolf as a walking skeleton; a map of weak-spots and vulnerabilities. When you’d physically dismantled as many men as Bruiser had, it was probably difficult to stop seeing people like that. How could you pay attention to their faces, when you’d seen all the lurid, oozing mess – all the muscles and vessels and sinews – that underpinned it?

He dodged the creature’s claws, but Greyback had at least a six-inch reach advantage, and he couldn’t miss every time. There was a sound like tearing fabric when Greyback slashed at Bruiser’s sides – and Severus thought for one wild, incoherent moment that they’d kicked and wrestled their way back into the last dream, and Greyback was shredding one of Narcissa’s dresses. His claws threw up what looked like shreds of crimson silk and glittering red stones.  

But it wouldn’t stop the muggle. This was Bruiser. He’d carved his enemy’s name into his flesh so that his quest for revenge would survive the memory charms his brain was constantly being addled with. He could probably lose half his body-weight in blood and still be able to punch you.

The werewolf made to slash Bruiser with its claws, but he caught the creature’s arm, and with a wrenching sound, forced it backwards, until it was buried six-inches deep in the matted fur. The creature howled, and Bruiser aimed another kick at its temple, but it snapped at his boot, struggling, with a horrible, lop-sided motion, to wrench its claws free from its chest. So Bruiser punched him on the other side of the head, and he keeled over.

It was all very quick: a series of snaps, cracks and lashes that whirled in front of his face for about five seconds, and then collapsed into stillness when the werewolf fell.

And, as Bruiser stood over the creature, the scene shifted again. This time, Severus found his own body in the dream. He’d always been there, of course – but just as a pair of floating eyeballs, watching helplessly, ignored by all the stalking, snarling figures in the dream. Slytherins knew how to fade into the background. You did it by keeping your reactions in check – by stifling the screams and shouts that your instincts told you were a necessary response to horror. They wouldn’t do any good. They’d only make you a target. Just keep your mouth shut and your eyes open. Maybe you could learn something to your advantage.

But now, the fear was scattering his thoughts. He was kneeling on the floor – the same tiled floor that had been the one constant throughout all the shifting stages of this dream. And he didn’t dare to look up. Terror was squeezing all the air out of his lungs.

“You’ve been lying to me, Severus,” said a calm, high-pitched voice, and Snape couldn’t take a breath to deny it. He wanted to look up, but there was a weight on his shoulders, keeping his spine bent forwards in this submissive posture. “You’ve been reporting back to that doddering old fool all this time. I only let you think you’d got away with it because it amused me.”

There was a silence, in which he was clearly supposed to defend himself, but he had no breath left for excuses. He was so tired.   

“I see everything now,” Voldemort went on. “Your debilitating affection for that mudblood, who doesn’t even want you. How embarrassing for you, Severus. You’re going to die here, and she won’t even notice. That wasn’t how it was supposed to happen, was it?”

Severus raised his head slightly, and looked at the flat, furious face above him. Voldemort was wearing the same expression Snape had seen on his face when he’d been controlling the Foe Fire. He was holding back a tidal wave of rage.

There was nothing he couldn’t do, thought Snape numbly. He said tiresomely conventional things; he looked like he’d been punched in the nose until it was flat; and he dressed like a cartoon villain. But none of that mattered, because there was literally nothing he couldn’t do. He had the laws of magic wrapped around his little finger. He didn’t even have to try. He practically exhaled power.

He could turn you inside-out with a flick of his wrist. He’s probably having to concentrate really hard not to.

And all that magic was about to crash over his head. They wouldn’t even be able to find his bones. Nobody would know he’d done this: nobody would know he’d stood up to Voldemort; they would probably think he’d run, just like every other Death Eater who fell out of favour. Lily would think he was a coward.

It would be just as though he’d never existed at all – as though his mother had never drunk the unicorn blood. And Madam Pomfrey would never wake up. And Lily would marry Potter, and have that loathsome child of prophecy, and there would be nothing he could do about it.

But then, who was going to be there to guard the stupid child of prophecy? Even in the darkest of possible futures, there was still a Severus Snape. He had seen his worst nightmare, and it involved living long enough to miss her.

And that, right there, was freedom: staring death in the face and knowing that there was something worse. He would always be able to look into those blood-red eyes and know that this was what he’d chosen: because the alternative didn’t bear thinking about.

When Idris Mulligan had dragged him through those visions of the future, she’d actually given him a wonderful gift: a nightmare that eclipsed all the others. And this didn’t mean he’d stopped fearing Voldemort; he still dreaded those probing eyes; he still sweated at the thought of the pain this man could inflict on him; but it was always going to be better than the nightmare years he’d seen himself living after Lily’s death.  

It was about compromising with fate – choosing your own hell – that was how a Slytherin would do it. No point in tormenting yourself with hopes of a heaven, so choose a hell you could live with – or die with, if it came to it. An ending was never a happy one, sure, but it could be better than the alternatives.

   
Snape awoke to the sound of laughter – and for a few sweaty, breathless moments, he couldn’t remember where he was. When it eventually dawned on him, he almost wished he was back in the dream.

He’d been dozing in an armchair in front of the common-room fire. Regulus and Bellatrix were playing wizard’s chess on the floor in front of him, and Narcissa was in the armchair beside him, playing with Jen Morgan’s hair. Her tears had dried now that she had something to do. This evening had turned into a stake-out and a make-over. With any luck, she could catch a blood traitor and show off her cosmetics tonight.

It would have been quite a charming scene, if you didn’t sense the undercurrents of malice, the casual bullying and belittling that the Black sisters carried out.

Narcissa was smoothing down the ends of Jen Morgan’s hair, until they met under her square jaw, and muttering: “You know, you’d look so pretty, Jen, if only you could keep these split ends under control. I’ll give you a serum for it.” She lowered her voice to a confidential whisper which was actually twice as loud. “It will really help with your flaky scalp too.”

Jen Morgan appeared to be used to these solicitous insults. She was probably bewildered by all the pure-blood attention. She had spent her entire life trying to get noticed by these people, and now they were gathered round her, talking, as though she was a fashionable water-cooler.

Snape thought she looked nervous: but then, for a half-blood in Slytherin House, nervous was your ground-floor emotion. It was wise to start there, before you worked on feeling anything more complicated. Everything else could get you into trouble; but nervousness at least ensured that you were alert.

Bellatrix was cheating at chess. She was watching her Queen beat up Regulus’ Rook with an expression of breathless excitement that turned Snape’s stomach.   

And he himself was just a part of the scenery, like a sour-faced portrait or a brooding gargoyle. He felt profoundly alone all of a sudden. He was frightened, and he missed Lily.

And it wasn’t as though she would have solved any of his problems. If she was here, he’d be busy trying to convince her that he wasn’t frightened. He would have to look casual and pretend he was prepared for everything – and that took a lot of concentration, when you were lying to some of the world’s most powerful wizards.

Only once in his life had he ever wanted company when he was frightened. Only once had he ever let somebody else know just how terrified he was – and that had been in the rooftop garden, when she’d pressed his ear to her heart and just held him there, until his own heart started to emulate the steady rhythm.

But where had that got him? It hadn’t made her think twice about leaving him. Well, it might have made her think twice. She was the kind of girl who thought at least five or six times. But it hadn’t changed anything. She had still gone.  

How could he tell her he was frightened? How could he believe, now, that she wouldn’t judge him or laugh at him? She was watching him. She was testing him. He couldn’t tell her that he needed to talk to her. He couldn’t tell her he was being hunted by her doppelganger, a sensuous redhead who knew everything about him, and who was hell-bent on punishing him for things he hadn’t even done yet. He couldn’t tell her he had to deliver this beautiful apparition to the Dark Lord. She was counting on him to make things right again. He had to impress her, not run, sniveling, into her arms, begging her to take him back.

Everyone was counting on him; everyone wanted something from him. His mother wanted him to befriend the rich and powerful and restore the disgraced name of the Princes. The Death Eaters wanted him to save them from the vengeful maniac who was picking them off one by one. The Dark Lord wanted him to bring in that maniac in chains. And Snape got the feeling that his own life, as well as Lily’s, depended on compliance with this request.

He felt as though these jackals were eating him alive; the bloody scavengers couldn’t even wait until he was dead. And now Lily had joined them. She had made it quite clear that, if he ever wanted her to talk to him again, he was going to have to make himself useful, by curing Madam Pomfrey.

And, in his heart of hearts, despite all the death threats and emotional blackmail, he knew that this last one was his priority. Because he just wanted to see her smile again. She would be pleased to know that desire was a bigger motivator than fear. She had always said you didn’t get anywhere by threatening people – although, up until this moment, all Snape’s experience of the world had conspired to prove her wrong.

He rubbed his eyes, and tried to look alert – although it didn’t really matter how he looked. The giggling pure-bloods carried on without him. Only Regulus seemed to realize that he was actually there, although it was debatable how much Regulus realized when he was in his trance-state. He was currently gazing into the flames of the fireplace with a cross-eyed expression. Half a dozen proverbs were probably queuing up behind those unfocused eyes. Snape was quite impressed that he’d managed to keep them in.
    
He tried to remember when he had last slept. He’d spent the past few nights in the library, or in various deserted classrooms, reading up on Boggarts and curse-healing. He was used to waking up with his face stuck to the pages of an open book, or being gently prodded awake by House Elves who’d come in to do the dusting.

Bella let out an exclamation of triumph as she captured another one of Regulus’ pieces. It was an illegal move, but Bella did it with such confidence and assurance that even an expert wouldn’t be entirely sure she’d broken the rules. She managed to convey with every movement that she was the centre of the universe. And it worked. She drew the eyes magnetically. She had her own gravitational pull. It was how she managed to attract her victims.

“Bishops don’t move like that,” said Snape, barely glancing at the board.

“My ancestors have never paid much attention to the rules,” she muttered.

“And that’s fine,” Severus replied patiently. “I’m sure it’s an incredibly useful trait for sneering at people and marrying your own cousins, but, in order to be good at chess, you have to observe the rules. That’s why they call it a game. Nobody’s interested in how far you can shove the pieces up your opponent’s nose. If they were, you’d probably be regarded as the cleverest witch in the northern hemisphere. And you’re not, are you? So it stands to reason you must be doing something wrong.”  

The majority of this speech had soared straight over Bella’s head. She was still watching her Bishop smashing Regulus’ pawn over the head with his crozier. Snape could feel a mini-portal of despair opening up beneath him: you could never convince idiots that they were idiots: nothing he ever said to Bella would get her attention like a smashed skull or an open wound.

“I’m still winning, though, aren’t I?” she said lazily.

Snape sighed. “It’s meaningless, Bella. It’s like that time you stole Margot Holloway’s exam results and thought that meant you had ten ‘Outstandings’ in your OWLs. You can be the biggest bully in the playground, but it precludes you from being certain other things, like intelligent, or subtle.”

Bella threw one of the chess pieces at him, rather neatly proving his point. The problem was, nobody seemed to care that she was a moron. They’d probably applaud if she attempted to push a knight up her opponent’s nose. They’d say it was an interesting satirical point about the death of chivalry.

Lily really has made you soft, said a voice in his head. You can’t reason with these people. You can’t change them. Just learn how to exploit their flaws, like you used to, back in the days before you thought there was any hope, for either them or you.

It was three in the morning. Even the jittery fifth-years, preparing for their OWLs, had slunk off to bed. Technically, Regulus and Bella were on guard duty, but neither Severus nor Narcissa had gone off to get some sleep. None of them wanted to be alone. Even Bella was casting furtive – or possibly eager – glances into the shadows. Death Eaters weren’t used to feeling hunted. Snape wondered what they’d say if he told them the creature they were so afraid of was muggle-born.  

“You haven’t really thought about it, have you?” Regulus asked abruptly, startling everyone.

“About what?” Snape demanded.

“About what’s going to happen if this maniac gets all the way down to your name?”

Severus stared at him. Much as he hated to admit it, Regulus had a point. He hadn’t given a thought to what the Boggart-Lily would have in store for him.

At the back of his mind, despite all the nasty curses and near-fatal injuries, he still believed that nothing Lily Evans ever did to him could be that bad. Oh, she had hurt him more than any other person in his life – but never on purpose, never by thinking about it. When she neglected her health, or smiled at Potter, it felt as though she was ripping out his intestines, but, when she wanted to be mean… well, she never wanted to be mean. Something always restrained her.

But if Lily Evans – with her sharp mind and soft heart – concentrated all her ingenuity on trying to hurt him – what could she come up with? Every time he thought about it, his mind drew a blank.

No, concentrate, he told himself. You’re not being logical. You’ve idealized her in her absence, because the only people you speak to these days are snobs and murderers. It’s easy to lose perspective, when you’re surrounded by mean-spirited, vacant-eyed bullies, and someone shows you just a little bit of kindness.  

She had meant to hurt him in the past. But always for what she thought of as his own good. The Boggart would do the same. She was unhinged, certainly – and she didn’t have Lily’s softness. But she had Lily’s instincts; she had Lily’s feelings – Lily wanted to set fire to Narcissa’s stupid dresses; she wanted to stab Greyback through the chest with his own claws. Who wouldn’t? It was logical. They deserved it.

What the Boggart didn’t have were Lily’s second thoughts. That little voice in her head which insisted other people had their own reasons, their own problems, their own perspectives – that restless intelligence which was always seeking out a person’s redeeming features, always seeking to walk a mile in their measly, battered, bullying shoes. She didn’t have Lily’s curiosity.

The Boggart-Lily couldn’t do Healing magic, then. Could he use that to his advantage?  He filed it away for future reference, and then let his thoughts wander back to her.

She’ll try to teach you the error of your ways, he thought. That’s what she’s always doing.

Whenever he’d spoken to her before, she had always told him the truth. Oh, she hadn’t sugar-coated it. She hadn’t tried to spare his feelings. Every sentence had been like a whip, but it was always something he could use to his advantage, if he waded through the pain. She helped him understand Lily – and even, to a lesser extent, himself. She claimed to hate him, but she was always giving him useful information – she was always giving him a chance.  

He couldn’t shake the feeling that all of this was for his benefit – the whole thing. It was all some elaborate and terrifying lesson. That was how Lily Evans could bear the idea of hurting him – that was why she’d allowed herself to give in to her feelings – because she thought it would help him.

“I know you’ll stop this guy before he gets to you,” Regulus added casually, moving a piece at random on the chess-board. “But I wonder how interested you are in stopping him before he gets to us.”

Snape raised his eyebrows. “You don’t think an express command from the Dark Lord is enough to get me interested?”

But he wished he hadn’t said it as soon as it was spoken. Regulus paused tactfully – a sure sign that something was wrong, because his family never did anything tactfully – and, in the silence, all of Snape’s doubts about Regulus blossomed into life again. He knew something. Snape had seen the boy looking at him, with that slack, unfocussed expression he always wore in his trance-state, just before he barked out proverbs. But, for some reason, these days, there were no proverbs. His face was just lit with a smile of horrified understanding, as though he was in the grip of some hellish epiphany.   

It was that bloody statue that had scrambled his brains. The Random Wisdom Generator. It had given a rowdy, insensitive, dim-witted boy the appearance of a mystic. How could you talk to someone like that? Someone who watched you with an expression that was half-terrified and half-enlightened?   

“I’m just saying,” Regulus murmured at last, “that I don’t think you’d have this much trouble solving the crime if a certain mudblood’s name was on that list.”

“If you ever want to speak again, you’d better shut your mouth right now,” said Snape grimly.

“Yes, don’t mention that filthy creature, Regulus,” Narcissa purred. “Poor Severus must be embarrassed enough as it is.”  

He took a deep breath, and felt the cold set in. His Occlumency state was used to seizing control whenever Lily was mentioned. His heart pumped tingling ice to every limb.

“Probably more embarrassing to owe your life to a mudblood than to have been out with one,” he said simply.

Narcissa fell silent. Lily had saved her twice now; once from a potion-crazed Lucius Malfoy, and once from a rogue Dementor. She shuddered to think what would happen if this information got out.  

Snape was tempted to go on, because Regulus and Bella had raised their eyebrows. Even Jen Morgan was looking politely curious. But he wouldn’t have any leverage over Narcissa if the story became public knowledge. And, in his Occlumency state, tactical considerations won out over spite every time.

He settled back into his armchair and thought about what Regulus had said. I know you’ll stop this guy before he gets to you…

These people thought he could do it. They weren’t the right people, of course. They were relentlessly irritating; they had their own sick, selfish agendas – but they thought he could do it. And they didn’t think he could do it because they liked him. They thought he could do it because they’d seen how hatred could animate him; they’d seen him forego food and sleep just to teach James Potter a lesson; they’d seen him kidnap a teacher right under Dumbledore’s nose. And, even if it came from a greasy-haired half-blood, you had to respect that kind of persistence.

“I don’t think the attacker’s through with Narcissa yet,” he murmured quietly.

Narcissa sat up in her chair as though she’d been electrocuted. “What do you mean?”

“Just what I said.”

“But… I thought it was one Death Eater, one attack! He can’t…” she trailed off.

“You’re safe here, ‘Cissy,” Bellatrix bellowed. “Even if this creep could get into Hogwarts, he’d never get past all of us.”

Snape’s mind was racing. The Occlumency state didn’t have any problem with thinking uncomfortable things.

The Boggart wouldn’t attack Narcissa. She was too proud. This Boggart wasn’t afraid of getting her hands dirty, but clearly she drew the line at getting them perfumed and powdered.

She wouldn’t touch Narcissa, because Narcissa disgusted her. She wasn’t worth fighting. She would try to take away Narcissa’s crutches – the things that propped up her ego. One of those things was definitely her illustrious family history. And the other… well, it would have to be the men she’d humiliated.

“Where’s Malfoy at the moment?” he asked, trying to sound casual.

Narcissa’s eyes narrowed. “He’s at Malfoy Manor, of course.” She gave her sister a spiteful look and added: “He doesn’t wander around at night anymore.”

But Bella was swooping down on a pawn, and paid no attention.  

Snape, who’d heard more about Malfoy’s night-time exploits than anybody, was half-relieved and half-disappointed by this news. Malfoy’s stories, while occasionally unsettling, were probably the closest he would ever get to seeing a woman naked.

“And the Manor’s under all kinds of enchantments,” Narcissa went on, as though trying to convince herself. “There’s even a Griffin guarding the orchard. Lucius says he’s always finding half-eaten prowlers in there. Apparently, it’s very good for the soil.”

Snape ignored her. He didn’t like the idea of the Boggart going near Lucius Malfoy. There ought to be a rule against two creatures that sexually-charged being allowed within ten miles of each other.

Narcissa was obviously nervous now, because she was gabbling away to herself about Malfoy’s security arrangements. “And, of course, there’s only him and the House Elf in there. And the House Elf’s incompetent but very obedient, he says. One of the first things Lucius did when he inherited the place was break the creature’s spirit, because it had all kinds of dangerous ideas…”

She trailed off, her mouth hanging open, and Severus followed her gaze. Soot was falling out of the chimney, into the smouldering remains of the fire. A moment later, a bird flew in and started circling the room, under the low ceiling. It was Narcissa’s sleek snowy-owl, Artemis, looking soot-blackened but proud. Because the Slytherin common-room was in the dungeons, owls couldn’t easily get in to deliver mail to their owners. Officially, they were supposed to wait in the Owlery until breakfast, but Narcissa, as with most pure-bloods, tended to assume that these rules didn’t apply to her, and so she had trained her owl to come down the chimney.  

Artemis dropped a sooty envelope onto Narcissa’s lap, and then perched on the mantelpiece, expecting praise. She was not expecting the look of iron-clad fury that Narcissa was currently directing at her.

With trembling hands, she opened the letter, and the others, torn between politeness and curiosity, waited. Bellatrix was the first to break the silence. “Well?” she barked.

“It’s from Lucius,” Narcissa whispered. The colour in her cheeks was heightened, but she looked quite calm. “He’s broken off the engagement.”

“Why?”

Narcissa got to her feet. “I think I’ll go for a walk.” She gave Snape a haughty look and said: “I assume it’s alright for me to go outside now? Your friend doesn’t have any more surprises?”

“It’s not my friend,” said Snape quickly. “And I don’t think… he’ll… attack you. Not directly. And probably not at all anymore.”

He fished in his bag for the list and unfolded it. Narcissa’s name had been crossed out twice. The Boggart really didn’t like her.  

He skipped ahead a few lines, to Lucius Malfoy’s name. That had been crossed out too. Clearly, the end of this engagement was supposed to punish both of them. But it wasn’t fair! She couldn’t start attacking them in a random order! How was he supposed to catch her, if he didn’t know who she was going to attack next?

Narcissa glanced at the list serenely, taking in her scribbled-out name. “I think this attacker is a woman,” she said. “And I think you knew that all along.”

Snape looked up at her. She was standing very close. And, underneath the perfume, her skin was giving off a strange, metallic scent. For once in his life, he couldn’t think of anything sarcastic to say.

“I know who it is,” she hissed softly. “And she’d better watch out.”

Snape stared. Ice was creeping through his veins again, and not the ice of his Occlumency state. “Narcissa,” he said quietly. “You don’t know anything. Think about it. How could she - ,”

“Goodnight, Severus,” Narcissa interrupted, striding purposefully towards the portrait-hole. “And don’t worry about this attacker. I’ll take care of her for you.” She gave him a bright, brittle smile and added: “Since you’re clearly not man enough to do the job yourself.”
Another very late sumbission (though maybe this one is long enough to make up for the two-week absence!)
Continuing from The Witch and the Wardrobe: [link]
I was really stuck for a title, and 'smouldering' is an adjective I always associate with Severus Snape! :)
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:iconwearesevenstudios:
WeAreSevenStudios Featured By Owner May 25, 2010  Professional Artisan Crafter
I feel sorry to see the wardrobe burn. It seems like destroying an art museum. :depressed:

And it seems like Narcissa suspects Lily... this could get even more dangerous than it already is. Your plot is so intricate. :worship:
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:iconls269:
ls269 Featured By Owner May 26, 2010
I know, I was sorry to burn the wardrobe too! It was inspired by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, where they have a display of historical costumes. :heart: Maybe I can write some flashback chapters so I can have more fun with the Wardrobe! :)
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:iconhalf-drowneddracula:
Half-drownedDracula Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2009
Ah, I found this series just today, and I've read loads of it - I'm addicted! :D

I can't wait to see more (sorry I haven't got anything more interesting to say...)
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:iconls269:
ls269 Featured By Owner Aug 24, 2009
:hug: Thank you so much, that really means a lot to me! I'm totally addicted to writing it, as you can see from the vast number of chapters! But it always makes me happy to know that there are people out there who like reading it! :)
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:icondronarron:
dronarron Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2009
Another very late sumbission (though maybe this one is long enough to make up for the two-week absence!)

What? Am I the only person who wishes you'd leave longerm between chapters, so there would be a chance to catch up? I can't be the only person whose reading load totals an impossible tens of thousands per day and wishes everyone would slow down to only 10k a month tops.
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:iconls269:
ls269 Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2009
:giggle: I definitely need to edit, no question! But, when I get really into the story, it's hard to leave long gaps between the chapters (because I spend more time on these stories than is really healthy, believe me! ;)). At the moment, though, I'm struggling, so it's actually quite comforting to know that there are people who would like longer gaps between the chapters!
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:iconflameofthewest7:
FlameoftheWest7 Featured By Owner Aug 15, 2009
Narcissa has got to stop this harpy! First she burns her dresses, and now she steals her fiance. I bet she's pretty grateful for that Unbreakable Vow, about this time!
I am dying with curiosity to know how this she-devil got him to break off the engagement. Will be waiting with anticipation for the next installment!

Oh, and I love it when Bellatrix and Snape bicker--it adds so much lovely friendliness to the Slytherin common room :)
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:iconls269:
ls269 Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2009
:giggle: I love it when Snape and Bellatrix bicker too. They were just made for bckering with each other!
The Boggart-Lily has been extremely evil to Narcissa. I think they really push each other's buttons. But we both know it's a mistake to underestimate Narcissa - she can be fiendishly inventive when she wants to be, and especially when she's defending her man! She's not going to take this lying down, don't worry. :)
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:iconmelorik:
Melorik Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2009
Woohoo! Another Chapter!

Oh what a cliffhanger you've left for us again :). I'm anxious to see just how Narcissa attempts to deal with the woman in question. Judging from her comment to Sev about being 'man enough', I suspect she thinks that it's Lily that's responsible. That means that now Sev will probably try to protect her from Narcissa, while protecting Narcissa and the others from the Boggart. Wheels within wheel :P. I'm surprised the guy hasn't gone insane keeping track of it all.

It's interesting, because it looks like the Boggart isn't just teaching Severus a lesson, she seems to be teaching Narcissa a lesson as well. If she's cutting out all of her crutches and supports, it might backfire by making Narcissa a stronger person for it. Same thing for Greyback as well... he just learned a painful lesson about the capabilities of muggles. I dunno if the Boggart herself has thought about that possibility... hmmm. I love how complicated you've made all these characters you know.

On that note.... What's better than scenes with Bruiser?... scenes with Brusier owning a werewolf of course! :D. I especially enjoy chapters whenever he makes an appearance.


On a final note, in a way I'm actually curious how Sev will mantain this delicate game he's playing. I mean eventually, and possibly soon now, he's likely to be in a situation where he might have to take more drastic measures. So far he's never raised his wand against his fellow DE's (except for Lucius that one time), but if Narcissa targets Lily... will Snape raise his wand against her? and if he doesn't, what does that say about his relationship? (although I very much doubt that the likelihood of the latter possibility).

I've noticed that throughout your entire story you've only hinted at just what Snape is capable of when he's angry. Usually that's been in the form of pulling off audacious plots, stone cold bluffs and bald faced lies. We've never actually seen just what he can do in a direct confrontation though. I almost feel sorry for whomever is the first to be on the receiving end (unless it's Potter of course :p)

Really, when it comes to certain things, Severus has balls of steel. How interesting that when it comes to matters of the heart though, he's very much a coward considering his fear of rejection. It's like a lot of men in real life. Soldiers will go into war zones, cops will confront violent criminals, firemen rush into burning buildings... and many have -preferred- to do that rather then open up about their emotions. Severus seems like he'd rather play a game of chicken with death, then face a situation where Lily could reject him.

Lol, see what you made me do? I've written yet another essay in your comment section ;)

As always, I look forward to more of this fantastic story.

Cheers,

Sam
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:iconls269:
ls269 Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2009
Don't apologize, I love your comments! Anytime you want to write me an essay is fine by me! I can't hear enough about these characters (as you can see from the length of this chapter! ;))

You're right, poor Sev has so much to cope with now it's getting difficult to keep track! He's lying to so many people that he's probably not sure what the truth is anymore. I guess that's an occupational hazard for a spy, but he really didn't ask for this. All he wants is to be in the library with Lily, eating chocolate frogs, and swapping stories! :faint:

And I know what you mean about his bravery. He definitely undervalues himself there. I think he's not really frightened of pain anymore; just humiliation. I guess that was one of the advantages of his childhood - he got so used to being beaten up that physical violence doesn't hold any terrors for him. But the idea of Lily rejecting him would be hard to bounce back from. He couldn't contemplate why anyone would love him, so it's difficult for him to trust anyone who claims to! He thinks he needs to earn her, by being powerful and popular. She doesn't have to do anything to be worthy of love, but he does, because he's the man, and he's supposed to take care of her. He's extremely old-fashioned, really!

P.S. I'm glad you liked seeing Bruiser beating up the werewolf! That was fun to write. I'm starting to imagine Bruiser as a Hollywood action-hero these days! I think Bruce Willis could play him to perfection! ;)
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:iconmelorik:
Melorik Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2009
Well that's the funny thing about being old fashioned... in many ways it's true. Being powerful, popular, and secure are all things that are attractive in a guy. The problem with Sev is I don't think he recognizes the attractive qualities he already possesses... so when Lily see's it, he can't quite understand it.

Speaking of Lily.. I wonder what exactly the Boggart did to get Lucius to cancel the engagement? If she's Lily at her core, than I wonder if she added insult to injury by seducing Lucius without the use of any potions at all :D. Seeing as how icy Narcissa is, I'd put my money down on evil-Lily being much better in bed :P.

And yes, Bruice Willis as Bruiser would be awesome. In Sin City, he actually played a cop that forciby castrated a child rapist, which isn't that far off from what Greyback is.

Fenrir: *Rooaaar*

Willis-Bruiser: *cracks knuckles* "so you like young boys huh?!" *POW!*

:D

Cheers,

Sam
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:iconls269:
ls269 Featured By Owner Aug 15, 2009
:giggle: I'm afraid Lucius Malfoy took the Unbreakable Vow to be faithful to Narcissa while he was still under the Amortentia, so if he cheats on her, he actually dies! I also think he genuinely loves her - her icyness is sort of part of the atraction. But what the Boggart did to cancel the engagement will be revealed, if I can actually get off my ass and write it!
I've seen Sin City, it was a cool film (maybe a bit too violent for me - I'm very squeamish, and that yellow bastard freaked me out! - but the look of the film was incredible!) And, yes, I can imagine Bruiser just like Bruce Willis' character in that, except with a cockney accent (not sure how good at the cockney accent Bruce Willis would be, but I'm sure he'd give it a go. ;))
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:iconmelorik:
Melorik Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2009
lol,

I forgot about the unbreakable vow :D. Looks like Narcissa lucked out a bit on that one. Lily will probably be more than a little mortified when she finds out that her boggart somehow took on a life of its own, and acted out her darkest fantasies while on a vengeance spree :P.

As for Bruiser.. you know... I think we should make an art contest. I'll give one of those premium memberships to the best illustration of Bruiser. Special brownie points will be given to any depictions of him in a Bruce Willis likeness, owning Greyback or ruffing Snape's hair :D.
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:iconls269:
ls269 Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2009
Wow, thank you, that's so kind of you! I really don't know if enough artists read this story, but I can mention it in my next journal, and see if anyone's interested. I'll offer to write a fanfiction for the winner too, based on anything they want (I've never taken on a commission before, it might be quite fun). Thanks again, that's a really lovely thing to do! :)
And, you're right, it's going to come as quite a blow to Lily when she realizes her worst fear has taken on a life of its own and is doing all the mean and nasty things she's been trying all her life not to do! I feel sorry for whoever has to break the news to her!
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:iconmelorik:
Melorik Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2009
Well with any luck she'll probably discover it for herself when Narcissa mistakenly comes after her, thinking she's the culprit. Of course... knowing Sev he'll probably end up smack in the middle of the fiercest cat fight in modern wizarding history :D.

.... and yes, we should definately do a contest like that. The invincible one deserves nothing less ;)
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:iconnorthangel27:
northangel27 Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2009  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Oh dear! I'm really worried now. Narcissa can be a dangerous woman when she wants to be. Poor Severus and poor Lily.
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:iconls269:
ls269 Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2009
I agree! She's especially dangerous when you burn her dresses and take Lucius Malfoy away from her! Poor Sev, everyone's trying to kill Lily, and he's not even allowed near her to look after her! :( If he starts spying on her, I expect there will be another fight.
(Obviously, this isn't the get-Severus-back-on-my-side-by-giving-him-a-scene-with-Lily chapter! ;))
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:iconnorthangel27:
northangel27 Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2009  Hobbyist Digital Artist
(Obviously, this isn't the get-Severus-back-on-my-side-by-giving-him-a-scene-with-Lily chapter! )

Apparently not ;-).
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