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The Silver Thread



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Old July 5th, 2008, 1:34 pm
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The Silver Thread

This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.


Prologue - 1960

Three women began to appear in the street, hints of ghosts that gradually took on substance. Draped in white gowns that shone in the moonlight like a unicorn’s coat, the folds clung to them coils of sliver holding them in place, giving curving shape to their womanhood. They were three sisters, but had anyone seen them looked more like one person caught at different moments of their life. Clo was the young one: hopeful, full of promise, on the brink of womanhood. Aisa wizened, crouched a little but firm despite her apparent frailty. She had a heart of diamond: clear, cold, hard; these were the things that made her, marked her as the precious but terrible. Lach stood between them in many ways: older than one, younger than the other. In her summer was ripe, she knew, and felt still the joys of womanhood. Like Grecian women of old they stood in this old factory town, moonlight dancing through them still, immune to the smog that clawed at the throats of mortals. No one had ever seen women such as these here, not that this was their first visit; far from it. As their forms solidified stillness caught the air, and the snow froze on its tumbling path to the ground.

This was a street that had never known wealth; poverty clung to it much like the birds clung to the roofs seeking shelter from the wind behind the chimneys. Here even the white of snow dulled to grey, and its crispness turned to slush. They walked slowly along the road, away from the sullied river towards the little row of red bricked houses that faced it with dark, unseeing windows. With purpose they moved towards one house; it looked little different from its neighbours, but it was only this house that drew them, or more accurately, it was the new born baby in the little back bedroom of the house that called them.

The front door opened as the sisters approached and closed again silently behind them. Through the living room and up the steep stairs they went until they found themselves at the door to the room they sought. The women shared a look and then that door too opened for them without a touch. They entered in order, as they always did: Clo, Lach then Aisa behind them. The door swung shut with the tiniest nose of a latch clicking shut, holding the door firm. How fitting, Aisa thought. A noise filled with finality.

The three women gathered round the crib, assessing eyes fixed on the baby. He in return regarded them, his smile escaping the drool covered fist that had taken up residence in his mouth. Somehow a warm gurgle escaped and danced through the air.

Clo smiled at him.

The eldest of the three women looked at her sister’s young face and sighed, “Don’t get carried away. We’re here to do a job.”

Clo’s face ordered itself. “I don’t get carried away.”

Aisa, noticing a slight hint of reproach in her sister’s voice, raised her eyebrows; a mix of amusement and challenge danced in her eyes. “Well, we’d better get on with it. Clo…”

The sisters turned to the youngest expectantly as Clo pulled a spindle from the air and started turning the raw material into thread. Her fingers worked the growing strand, turning raw material into slivers; slivers into rovings; rovings into thread. It grew finer and finer as her hands played with the spindle, pulling and twisting it into shape. Her eyes regarded the thread with the insight of a crafts woman. She saw what no one other than her sisters would see, fibres of different colours, thicknesses, texture wound together laying out the pattern of the baby’s life. Concern started to fill her mind. The thread was not what she would have chosen for this babe. From beginning to end it was too dark, the odd bright fibre showed here and there but disappeared all too soon. Clo found her fingers itching to add something more, something to balance out the dark.

Her sisters also took in the measure of the thread. As it was, Lach would have little choice how to measure it, Aisa none where to cut it; not that Aisa ever wanted that choice. Lach’s eyes caught Clo’s, filled with maternal warmth as they always were, only this time they were shaded with pity. Clo felt a sudden jolt of certainty – she would change the thread.

The spindle and its thread slipped from her hands and dropped to the floor. Her sisters gasped as one; this did not happen. Ever. Clo stooped and fumbled to pick up her work. Somehow she took a silver thread out of her girdle and hid it in her hand. The thread, not yet strong enough to hold its shape on its own, had started to unravel. Clo started to correct her mistake: both her apparent clumsiness and the darkness of the thread, silently mixing the silver with the dark. A little hope was a small gift, she mused.

Finished with her spinning she handed the thread to Lach. She regarded it, looking for the spot that had been so obvious, the point where it would end. She did not find it. There were marks where it had once been but, now it seemed different. She turned to Aisa, wordlessly showing her the thread, questioning and confused; threads did not change.

Aisa, in turn, looked at Clo. “What have you done?”

“Nothing” she lied

“Indeed nothing. Do you think you can change it all? Is that our job?

“No.” She hoped she was wrong.

“Well, time will tell…”


-------

Well, I hoped you enjoyed The prologue! Please give me feedback, it would be much appreciated! The link is below...

http://www.cosforums.com/showthread....46#post5076946



Last edited by kittling; July 13th, 2008 at 12:01 pm.
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  #2  
Old July 12th, 2008, 3:53 pm
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Re: The Silver Thread

Chapter One

Summer - 1976 (Sixteen and half years later.)

The June sun blazed through the window of the small box-room. A scraggy boy at the brink of manhood lay on the bed, spindly fingers holding a large book. His dark eyes, set in a pinched face, were trained on the book with a grim determination. They failed yet again to follow the smooth lines of the text. His mind was too distracted. He pushed the book away and rubbed his face, a heartfelt sigh echoing in the small bare room.

A light knock at the door drew his attention back to the bedroom. His mother entered. A ghost of a woman, he thought, bitterly as he saw her. It constricted his heart; nowadays he could hardly bear to see her. It always brought to mind the arguments and…
“Severus, what wrong?” Her voice broke through his reminiscence.
“Nothing.” He tried to shrug off her concern, grateful for the black curtain of hair that hid most of his face. He knew that she would probably see through his charade but let it pass anyway; that was how things worked in this house. For once his mother cut through the pretence, mistaken about the reason; her eventual assessment proved unerringly correct nonetheless. “You don’t want to be here, do you?” She spoke softly, trying to keep any edge of grief firmly out of her voice.
He nodded his head in assent, his throat constricting, convinced that this admission was a betrayal. He hated the thought of her alone with his father but hated the idea of being actively ignored by Lily again more. He hated himself for his selfishness.
Her hand gently brushed his hair out of his face, and she looked into his eyes. These moments were rare, and he treasured every one of them. Her quiet smile changed her careworn face, and sometimes he thought that this was how she looked at him when she cradled him as a baby. “I’ve been talking to your uncle. If you wanted, you could work in the Ministry in one of the Potions departments. You’d only be running errands, but you’d be paid, and the experience might be good.” She hated this: sending him away. All she wanted to do was hold him close and keep him safe, but away was the only place she could be sure that he would be safe.

In the end it was decided. His father had agreed only because he would then be free of paying for his son’s school books next year. The thought of Severus working for people like that had sorely rankled Tobias, but Eileen had converted the wage into Muggle money, and he had felt his objections disappear. Muggles don’t get that kind of pay, he thought bitterly, ignoring the fact that the pay outside the factory towns of the north was substantially better for everyone, magical and Muggle alike.

***

Severus, his dark hair brushing his shoulders, looked at the laboratory in front of him. The room was hot, stiflingly so, but with the rows of cauldrons that were burning that was hardly surprising. The walls were covered with shelves, floor to ceiling; jars, bottles, boxes, all filled with potion ingredients, some of which he recognised, some he did not and so longing to investigate. Severus felt certain that if a few charms had not been placed on the shelves they would have broken from the impossible weight they carried.

His first few days he had done nothing more exciting than learn the cataloguing system for the ingredients; even so, he was content. By the middle of the week he was fetching things for the potioneers, and then he was allowed to weigh and prepare ingredients. He was aware that his every move was watched, his technique assessed, but the pressure suited him. He relished the seriousness the people here took in their work, the discussions about how a project was to be done, or why it had failed. At first the theory had at times been beyond even him, but he bought and borrowed books, asked questions, and people seemed to appreciate his efforts. The one thing that irked him continually was the equipment; more precisely it was the scales that irked him. They were old and battered, but that did not worry him; his were too, but his scales were accurate. He had worked hard to get and keep them at a point of precision he was happy with. The scales here were, in his opinion, far from satisfactory in that respect. After a few days of constant irritation he decided to bring his own to work with him. When he had packed them, he also put in a few other instruments he thought would be an improvement upon the Ministry-issued equipment.

The following day he felt a sense of calm returning as he used his own scales. As he stood sorting and weighing out the ingredients from his list for the morning he became aware of a smell surrounding him. Roses and lavender balanced wonderfully; the aroma was almost heady. Then came the prickling feeling in his shoulders that meant someone was watching him. He turned around.

Behind him a young woman was staring intently at his scales, her concentration broken by his movement. She had tousled brown hair was loosely pulled back into a pony tail, from which it seemed intent on escaping. Her charcoal blue eyes so recently focused intently on his scale now caught him. He tried to put an age to her and wondered if she was actually of age at all as she turned to look at him, reddening slightly. “Where did you find those scales?” Her words were a little faltering, but she had a gentle edge to her voice that lent it a slight musical quality. He tried to remember if he had seen her here before but realised he had been too intent on learning where things were and what was expected of him to take much notice of faces. “They’re my own. I brought them in; didn’t like the ones here.” His voice sounded harsh and overly blunt to him.
“I thought about that, but I chickened out.” She smiled. “Wish I hadn’t,” she added ruefully, wrinkling her noise. For a moment they stood facing each other silently, each waiting for the other to say something.
The girl stuck her hand out, smiling again. “I’m Sal”
Severus went cold for a second then wiped his stained hand on his apron. He shook the proffered hand. “Severus. I’m here for the summer; work experience.” He had no idea what he was saying; her attitude of gentle friendliness wrong footed him. All he was aware of was feeling intensely awkward. New people were an unknown quantity. He tried to swallow down his nervousness.
She continued to smile “Me too. I’m so glad to get away from home. I just can’t get over this place.” She stopped and a small frown momentarily crossed her face “When did you start?”
“Last Tuesday.” He struggled to keep the defensiveness he felt out of his voice.
“Oh, I was away last week; don’t ask!” She smiled again, this time a broad warm smile. Severus felt the tension in his shoulders loosen. “Do you know where the Hellebore is? I always seem to struggle to find it,” she said, shrugging.
Severus wasn’t entirely sure if she was embarrassed or joking so decided a smile was both pleasant and noncommittal enough to avoid making either her uncomfortable or him look stupid. “It’s over here.” He led her to the spot where it was kept and climbed the ladder to the seventh shelf. He called down to her, “Which variety do you want?”
“The black please.”
He drew two jars forward “Rhizomes or dried leaves?”
“Rhizomes” He passed down the jar of roots to her. “Thank you.”
He watched her walk off, and just before she left the room she turned round and called to him, “See you at lunch”. With that she was gone.

The rest of the morning soon settled back into its regular pattern. At ten o’clock, Sorley, the potioneers who had asked him to assist in the preparation of ingredients that morning, started discussing how they should be mixed for different effects, questioning and testing him. Severus almost felt like he was at school again except this was more complicated that anything they had or probably would work on at Hogwarts. After what seemed like hours of this Sorley, having coaxed his potion to a translucent saffron colour, turned to Severus, taking off his apron. “Right. That needs exactly thirty-five sequences – eight clockwise turns, two counter clockwise. Understand?” His hazel eyes looked very directly at Severus.
“Yes, sir.” Shock had almost rendered him silent, but he shook it off. “Eight clockwise turns, two anticlockwise, repeat thirty-five times,” he said, anxious to sound confident.
Sorley smiled at his enthusiasm “Exactly. Now don’t rush the stirs; they need an even pacing: smooth and consistent. Each one should take about…eight seconds.” Sorley gave him another appraising look. Severus nodded. “Right then; I’ll be back soon.”

Suddenly Severus realised he was alone with the cauldron. His stomach lurched; excitement and fear in equal measure sharpened his mind. He settled to the task, counting each turn until he developed a rhythm he was comfortable with. As he began the sixth cycle he noticed the liquid becoming denser; it seemed to be losing its opaque quality. He made a concerted effort to keep his pace steady, heartened by his apparent success. By the time Sorley had returned, Severus had nearly finished. The liquid was now a dark red that bordered on brown, its texture sluggish and dull.
“Not bad, Severus.” Severus looked up at Sorley “Well, don’t stop, boy. You’ll ruin it.” Severus returned to stirring, silently cursing his foolishness. “How many cycles have you done?” Sorley was now peering over Severus’s shoulder.
“I’ll be starting the last one in 3 more stirs”
“Excellent. Now when you’ve finished the last counter clockwise stir I need you to switch to a figure of eight pattern.” Severus glanced at him and nodded.

As he changed patterns, Sorley stood on the other side of the work bench gradually adding another ingredient: something shimmering. Perhaps damselfly wings, Severus thought. He watched the vapour slowly change – it started coiling in different directions, and a distinct sparkle began to emerge in the liquid which was again becoming translucent as it shifted to a bright scarlet colour. Once the last of the new ingredient was added and the mixture seemed set in its new state, Severus and Sorley regarded it. “Right well, that’s it then. Job done. Nice work, Severus.” Severus was struck by the sparkle in Sorley’s eyes as he noticed the old man looking over his shoulder. “You’d better go to lunch; looks like someone’s waiting for you.”
He nodded towards the door where Sal was standing. As Severus looked up she waved. “I’ll just clear this up,” he said, moving to grab a cloth. Sorley picked it up before he reached it.
“Go to lunch,” he whispered firmly, smiling at Severus’s awkwardness.

Sal dragged Severus to one of the cafés on Diagon Ally where they ate outside underneath a colourful umbrella. The sun was a little too bright for his eyes, but he didn’t feel like creating a fuss. After ordering their lunch Sal began chattering to him; Severus let it wash over him as he thought about his work that morning. His reverie was broken by the arrival of two pumpkin juices, and he became aware of Sal’s questioning gaze.
She smiled. “I asked what you were doing.” She waited. “When I went to meet you?” Severus, again wrong footed, hesitated. “It looked like Sorley had you making a potion,” she added lightly.
He exhaled before he realised he’d been holding his breath “Yes,” he relaxed a little and started explaining the process, caught up in his own interest and trying to deduce the function of the potion from Sorley’s questions and the ingredients used. To his surprise Sal started asking questions: astute ones. Between the two of them they began concocting a list of possibilities; at least they did once Sal got over her indignation that he had been allowed to actually work on a potion so soon. Apparently it had taken her over three weeks before she had been trusted with a similar task. Secretly Severus was please that he had done so well and so soon.
As they were finishing the last of their soup Sal changed the topic. “So where do you study?”
“Hogwarts. I haven’t seen you there – what school do you go to?”
“Home school; Grandmother has views on Hogwarts,” she whispered conspiratorially. “Ever since Dumbledore rearranged the library; apparently the family left a load of books to the library back in…” She sighed, pulling a face as she struggled to remember a date. “Oh! I can’t remember when. Ages ago, anyway. Apparently some of the books can’t be found anymore; they suddenly disappeared one day. Gran’s convinced he’s pinched them. So, of course she’s been furious with him ever since.” As she spoke he thought bitterly of the old man who played favourites, even to the point of leaving students lives in danger. Still he wasn’t convinced by the idea of Dumbledore stealing books, but he found he was relieved to find that Sal was not one of the many who fell over themselves at the mention of his name. “Anyway, what’s it like? I’ve read about it, but it’s never the same it is. In real life, I mean.” Severus spent the rest of his lunch break telling her about the school, its grounds, and the other students, though he omitted one or two people. In the last few weeks he had finally felt a sense of belonging without a constant fear of unexpected hexes or names gnawing at him, and he found he had no wish to share such moments with his new colleague. It turned out that she knew Professor Slughorn. Apparently he had taken on the role of tutor last summer, and it was that had prompted her to seek a residency at the Ministry this year. Her desire to avoid him seemed, to Severus, to be her main motivating factor. When he questioned her about it she had the grace to look a little shame faced, though she fervently denied it was the only reason she had sought out the placement, although she failed to clarify her reasons for avoiding him. Listening to her talking about potions, he found it easy to believe she’d like the subject almost as much as he did.

The lunch break drew to an end much sooner that he was expecting. Checking his watch he found that almost the full hour had passed and that they were in danger of being late back. Severus, wishing he could Apparate, rushed them back to the Ministry. They arrived back with a few minutes to spare; just as she was leaving she turned to him. “Oh Severus? Do you want to go for lunch tomorrow?” Her voice had that hint of hesitancy he had noticed the first time she had spoken to him. He thought about it for a moment, and found himself agreeing.

***

That night as he drifted to sleep, he dreamt of the Potions lab, full of the smell of Lily, sunshine and honey, as vapour coils around itself in spell binding patterns. His name on her lips as they worked together in unison. When he woke he remembered little of his dream, save the vague recollection of Lily’s bright green eyes seen through the mist.

---------------------------------
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Last edited by kittling; July 12th, 2008 at 4:56 pm.
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Old July 25th, 2008, 12:09 pm
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Re: The Silver Thread

Chapter 2

Sal stood in a play park with a young woman who was pushing a little girl on a swing. The girl, wrapped up against the wet of this British summer day and Macintosh hood pulled up over her head, giggled. Sal ran in front of the swing’s path and held her arms out to the girl, calling to her, “Dora, come on! Dora!”
“Sal. Stop trying to get her to fly! Someone will see.” The woman laughed as she pushed the swing just a little harder. Dora put out her stubby arms, laughing as Sal failed again to catch the swing as it reached the top of its path and she swung back to her mother. The games continued for some time: first the swing then the slide until the woman looked at her watch. She picked up Dora and put her in the pushchair.
“Andy, can’t we stay a bit longer?” She looked at the little girl and said enthusiastically, “You want to stay, don’t you, Dora?”
Dora giggled and shouted, “More. More!”
“No, Sal, we have to leave now.” Her voice was firm. “I don’t want to bump into anyone; not with you here. You know how people talk. You’ll get into trouble if anyone finds out, and then you won’t be able to come and see us again.” She walked toward the road, and Sal followed her.
“It doesn’t matter; it’s not like I’m family.”
“Really.” Andy arched an eyebrow and gave Sal a pointed look. “I’m not sure Aunt Walburga will see it that way.”
Sal smiled, almost laughing. “Didn’t you hear?” As she looked at Andy fear crept into Sal’s heart. No, he’s alright. Isn’t he? She searched Andy’s face: no grief, no anger. Sal relaxed again as it became clear Andromeda didn’t know. “I thought he would have been in touch with you.” Andy merely continued to look bemused. “Sirius left home a few weeks ago. Your aunt blasted him off the family tree. The contract’s broken, and neither of seem to have incurred any of the penalties.”
Andy looked at her incredulously “Neither of you are hurt?”
“We’re both fine.”
“How?”
“I don’t know, maybe it wasn’t done right; it can’t have been or…maybe Sirius found a way around it? Hasn’t he said anything to you about it?”
“No, I haven’t heard from him.” Andy looked a little hurt.
“I’m sure he’d love to hear from you. He probably doesn’t know where you live now. Nobody speaks about it so how would he?”
“Maybe,” she replied dismissively.
Sal could see the Black stubbornness flair up in her; she was so like her sisters, especially Bella, but she was the quiet one of the two: less showy, better at getting what she wanted. “He’s staying with that friend of his: Potter. Floo him or send him an owl; do something. Remember how you were when you left?” The memory was not a good one; it should have been, it had been her wedding day, but the church had been too empty. Her side had been unbalanced with the wealth of the groom’s family and friends on the other; hers had only two people, Sirius and Sal had stood alone on the bride’s side of the church.
Andy opened her front door then looked at Sal. “You could come with me?”
Sal put her arms around Andy. “I’m sorry.” She kissed her cheek. “You know I love you, but…” She paused and pulled away, looking a little rueful. “If I turn up there he’ll probably have a heart attack or think I’m going to hold him to the contract. Or he’ll just do something vile, as normal!”
Andromeda laughed. “You still haven’t forgiven him for that? After all this time?”
“It wasn’t just the once. Anyway, he’s your cousin not mine. Go and see him. At least send him an owl.”
“Why do you care? It’s not like you like him. Isn’t that what you keep telling me?” Her tone is teasing and a little testing. All her sisters were the same; they all wanted Sal and Sirius to work. Whether they did because they wanted to see her happy or insure she would be part of the family was a question Sal had wondered about as a child. She remembered Cissy gushing, ‘It would be so romantic!’ The next day Sirius put itching powder in her dress. As she grew older she realised they had only wanted her happiness. The union was assured; the covenant had seen to that. Its magic tied them. They may as well have been married the moment Walberga and Magda formalised the betrothal.
“I care about you, Andy, and I know you miss the family. Get in touch. Now, what are we going to feed you this afternoon, young lady?” She looked at Dora whose hair, now free of its hood, changed colour.
“I want jelly and angle delight and five fish fingers and carriks and ice cream and gravy.”
Andy, seeming a little bemused by the list, sighed and looked at Sal who was suppressing a giggle; both women laughed.
“Well let’s look in the kitchen and see what we’ve got, shall we?” Andy held out her hand to Dora, and the two made their way to the kitchen. Sal arrived just in time to hear Andy proclaim excitedly “Ha! We’ve got carriks!” and see her trying to tickle Dora with the fronds of a bunch of carrots.
Fish fingers were not available, or at least that’s what Dora was told, instead they decided on toad in the hole. Before long the kitchen started to fill with the aroma of gravy and toad in the hole, and unsurprisingly Ted, Andy’s husband, appeared. He was packed off to the dining room with orders to set the table. Sirius was forgotten, for now, as the merry family broke bread and shared their stories.
At times Sal let the conversation wash over her. She looked at Ted thoughtfully, realising that now she understood why Andy had chosen him, despite the cost. He was a warm man; she saw that now. She saw past the shabby clothes, the tousled hair and the fact he was a mudb...muggleborn, she mentally corrected herself. His eyes were warm, and when he looked at Andy the rest of the world disappeared. Sal found herself wondering what that felt like.
“So, what’s this job like? Enjoying it?” Ted asked before pushing a heavily loaded fork into his mouth. Sal started telling them about the Potions department she worked in and about the people she worked with. Both Ted and Andy noticed a name occurring a little more often than any of her other colleagues. Ted smiled at Sal’s apparent obliviousness to the undercurrent of her own conversation. It brought back memories from school. Andy had been also been as unaware of what two people could be to each other. He remembered the evening she had finally admitted that she loved him and, blushing slightly, he looked at his wife again to find she was already looking at him with the same fierce misty expression that had just come to his mind. He knew sometimes it pained her that her life had had no room in it for human tenderness. Being a Black was more than just having better blood than everyone else. It was about living up to ideals even if it meant sacrificing what you are and what made you happy in the name of duty. Maybe it wasn’t being a Black that did that, he thought as he looked at Sal, suddenly overwhelmed by the fear that this young woman would not make the escape his wife had managed.

---------------

Have I mentioned that this is my first attempt at a fanfic?

You know it’s never going to improve without some constructive Feedback; so go on you know you want to really


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My Fanfic - The Silver Thread - (WIP) updated 03/07/09

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Old July 31st, 2008, 3:06 pm
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Re: The Silver Thread

Chapter 3


August; later the same year

Despite his reticence Severus had found over the first few weeks of his acquaintance with Sal that he started to look forward to their lunch breaks. Before long they had simply fallen in to the habit of taking lunch together, the need to agree to a meeting forgotten. It just seemed to happen most days. Her conversation appealed to him, she had an eager mind: quick and bright, and home schooling didn’t seem to have done any harm. In some areas she had obviously been taught more than him and others less thoroughly; however she knew little about Hogwarts. She knew the history well enough but little about the day to day functioning of any school, let alone Hogwarts. He found himself telling her more and more about it, filling her in on the reality of the different houses as opposed to their history, the ghosts, and the various portraits, and all details she devoured. She was curious and hungry to know more. He enjoyed such times, the feeling of having knowledge that was desired by someone else; he had forgotten how that felt, how much he relished it. Moreover she was happy to share what she knew, and they had spent many of their lunch breaks debating magical theory. It transpired that they had some serious differences in the subjects they were taught. Transfiguration, Charms, Potions, Ancient Runes, Arithmancy, Herbology, and History of Magic were subjects they had both studied. She had been taught a smattering of many different subjects; the major difference, and the one that interested him the most, was that her Dark Arts studies focused as much on understanding the Dark Arts as on countering them. She, on the other hand, was bemused by the emphasis that Hogwarts had on only teaching Defence Against the Dark Arts. It had lead to several long debates on how certain creatures should be understood and the basis behind the counter curses he had learnt at school. Although he hoped she shared his interest he did not detect any real commitment to the Dark Arts; she seemed more perturbed by what she saw as the inefficiency of Hogwarts’ in its determination to teach nothing but defence. At least that had been his initial impression.

A few weeks later she had lent him a book that made him question his assumptions on that matter. It was not a book that would be found in either Hogwarts nor, he suspected, on Diagon Ally. The title was almost illegible, it was so worn. Each page had a thickness and texture he had not seen before, and he suspected they were not made of paper.
“The third chapter is where it gets really interesting; it talks about the intention behind the creation and casting of hexes, jinks & curses, and the fifth chapter talks about consequence and cost of casting which is often overloo….” She looked at him flicking through the book and as the waiter came close she said quietly, “Put it away.” Her voice lifted to a normal level as she continued. “Keep it in the box and try not to expose it to sunlight; it’s getting brittle, and Grandmother will have my guts for garters if it gets damaged. I’ll have to put it back tomorrow.” She paused while the waiter gave them their food. “Let me know what you make of it. I think the intention is one of the keys to understanding the construction of a curse, and there are various ways it can be shaped. Anyway, you read it – I’ll try and shut up.” She winked. She had changed the subject then. That night he had read the book, writing questions and taking notes. The first few chapters seemed, in some ways, to be a beginner’s guide, but then it changed, going into depth about the structure of the formation of intention. The concepts differed dramatically from anything he had heard about before, and it seemed to him that there was an implicit suggestion in the work that, while the effects of two spells could seem identical, the intention behind them could change how it should be countered. With that he felt his mind twisting, the hypothesis reworking previous knowledge, thoughts, and ideas. He began to question assumptions he had held for years. Sleep did not come easily that night. His mind burned, and his dreams echoed the confusion and excitement he felt.

When the next lunch break came he met Sal as was now their custom. He was eager to talk to her about the book she had lent him, but she seemed distracted; her focus wandered constantly. He decided against mentioning it and fell back on distraction, changing subjects until he found a way past her mood and she began to relax and smile once more. The story about the billywig escape in his second year and Pettigrew’s unfortunate encounter with them had had her in gales of laughter when he heard a familiar voice behind him. The loose, regal drawl calling his name could only be one person. He turned smiling and stood to greet him. “Lucius, how are you?”
Sal’s breath caught as she examined the young gentleman who was certainly extremely handsome. His grey eyes and icy blond hair lent a magnetic quality to him. He had an easy manner as if he knew or expected everyone would want his society. She heard Severus introduce her and looked Lucius in the eye, “Mr Malfoy, a pleasure.” There were the normal pleasantries and the enquiring eye hidden behind the expected niceties. She was, she could hardly deny, assessing this young man. He had been, after all, so nearly a relative. The thought brought her back to the conversations of the previous evening and she looked at Lucius again; after all they might still become relatives. The augury’s words returned to her, as they had all morning, The Covenant does not specify who the individual is only that the bond is with the heir of the family. Her heart constricted. Sal didn’t know why; after all she had always preferred Reggie. She should be relieved, but somehow a stone had sunk into the depth of her stomach, and the weight of it pulled at her. She ended up only half listening to the conversation, concentrating more on stirring her drink and watching a ladybird crawl around the table. She was half aware of them arranging a meeting that night but thought little of it, being too preoccupied with her own thoughts. She was brought out of her reverie when Lucius turned and spoke to her “A pleasure to have met you. Good day.” And with a curt nod he left.

As they were about to leave the Leaky Cauldron on their way back to the Ministry, Severus realised that they had neither spoken about the book nor had he returned it to Sal. He paused for a moment and pulled her into an unoccupied nook by the muggle entrance. “Sal.” Their eyes caught each other’s. “I forgot to give this back to you.” He held out the book, biting back the urge to ask to keep it longer. As she took it her hand slipped over his. She seemed confused when he handed it to her, as if she’d forgotten it altogether despite her insistence it be returned before its absence was noticed. She murmured her thanks and clutched it reverently to her, but made no other comment. Eventually she broke the silence between them, as she shook herself into a semblance of normality. “We’d better go or we’ll be late”. As they walked back to the Ministry Severus became aware that he was distinctly disappointed.

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  #5  
Old August 14th, 2008, 5:32 pm
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Re: The Silver Thread

Chapter 4

Sept 1976 – Jan 1977

Throughout the first week of term he had been torn. Find her, hide from her, find her, hide from her; the thoughts seemed to dominate not just his waking hours but his dreams as well. Then on the Friday morning he had had double Potions and there she had been: Lily. She was sitting just one desk away from him, refusing to acknowledge him. Still he was captivated. Whenever the light caught her hair it glowed like the dying sun in autumn. As she bent to examine her text book she would slip a stray lock of that hair behind her ear, letting the rest slip through her fingers until the very end remained caught there and she would play with it, absentmindedly twisting it. He wondered what it felt like. His insides twisted. This had been his favourite class, now it was two hours of torture. Yet despite this he longed for the next class which would again be hellish, but he would see her, and maybe one day she would turn around and talk to him again.

The N.E.W.T.’s it seemed were well named; he was deluged with work and thankful for it. His mind seemed to find rest when he followed the smooth lines of the text, converting his thoughts into notes. The little spare time he had spare was spent either working on new spells, potions or theories or with his housemates. Wilkes had brought Regulus into the fold properly now; it seemed his promotion to the heir of the Black family had open doors for him. Severus felt his lip curl at the thought: a typical Black, never having to work for anything. Hogsmead weekends now became a time to meet with others: quiet, dark meetings in an upstairs room of The Hog’s Head. Sometimes Lucius would even be there. Severus was not yet sure he would be accepted; unlike his housemates he was not pure blood, although the magical blood he had was good. The Princes were a well respected family; not that they included him in their ranks if they could help it. He knew if he could get in, he could make his mark, win the recognition he deserved. Lucius had proved that to him when he had first come to Hogwarts. He had valued him for what he knew and could do, looking past his lack of connections. Many in his house were accepted because of long standing friendship or their family ties, often with those already accepted by The Dark Lord; some despite alarming ineptitude. Severus had found it hard to build connections in such an insular group; however there was a grudging respect for his ability which, at times, led to a camaraderie of sorts.

Quickly Severus had understood the pace of the next two years would be just like this. An unending struggle, school work, housemates, Lily; everything was gong to be uphill. He had longed for something easy, something comfortable. In his third week he sat at breakfast, trying not to listen to Regulus chatting up one of the forth year girls, watching Lily smiling with her friends. For a second she had looked up at him. Just for a moment he forgot they had argued and smiled at her. She had scowled at him and turned back to her friends. He stabbed at the sausage on his plate. He had hoped that over the summer she would have forgotten the argument, that her bitterness towards him would fade. It had not. He was lost in his thoughts when the sound of wing beats and hooting announced the arrival of the post. He steadfastly ignored it until a light breasted barn owl landed in front of him. It dropped a letter by his plate and stared unblinking into his eyes. Severus saw his own dark eyes reflected in the deep black orbs of the owls; he was transfixed. As suddenly as it arrived it left taking flight almost soundlessly. He picked up the letter and seeing who it was from he put it in his satchel to read later. He missed the piercing look Regulus Black gave him.

During the morning break Severus retuned to his dormitory, sat on his bed and drew the curtains. He pulled the letter out of his bag. The soft aroma of roses and lavender clung to it, and he smiled, opening it quickly. His eyes devoured the large lopping text; its tone was warm and friendly. Although she was not the best writer in the world the letter eased him. He smiled at her reminiscences, wishing that he too was back in that little café in Diagon Ally or working in the Ministry again. She shared her fears about the increased workload and told him about her new tutor and the new theories she was learning, sometimes checking her thoughts about it with him or soliciting his opinion. She had even included a logic puzzle, having learnt on their last meeting that he enjoyed such things, although the problem itself was hardly demanding. The next evening he wrote a reply, and so their regular lunches changed to regular exchanging of letters. Lily still haunted his dreams, work was still heaped upon him, and he still felt uncomfortable in the Hog’s Head meetings: out of place, the poor relation, but now something was easy. Someone had recognised him.

***

Just before Christmas a rumour started that Regulus had been received into the Death Eaters. Certainly Rosier and Wilkes were spending more time with Reg, and their treatment of him was better than it had been; better than they treated him, Severus noted bitterly.

***

Severus had hoped to meet Sal over the Christmas holidays, but he had to go back to Spinners End. Christmas with his parents made him anxious to be back at school, and the absence of letters concerned him. He wrote three times but received no reply. His birthday that year was on the first full day of the school term. He was excited about the approach of his seventeenth birthday and the freedom it would bring him. When it finally came his father had almost ignored it, but his mother had bought him an old gold watch. He wondered how she’d managed to afford it and tried not to notice its shabbiness. Surprisingly, a few of his housemates marked the day, and he had woken to find cards and presents, most of which were better that the watch his mother had given him. When the post arrived he found himself looking for a barn owl, hoping to hear some news from his friend, and there it was in the throng of birds, carrying a package. He gave the owl some of his bacon, and it hooted warmly at him before it left. Severus unwrapped the package, only to find another layer of wrapping underneath held in place with ribbon. Between the two layers of wrapping he found a small note. On one side it simply said:
Sorry about Christmas, been hectic!
The other side had a slightly longer message:

Happy Birthday, Sev!
I hope you like the present – I’ve charmed it so it won’t cause any trouble!
Love
Sal
– “Beadle the Bard! Who gave you that, a maiden aunt?”
– “Ouch! Kiddie’s book! Bad luck old chap.”

He looked at the book; while everyone else apparently saw a copy of The Tales of Beadle the Bard he saw only a small plain brown book with no title on its soft padded cover. He brushed his fingers over it, savouring the texture of the kids leather. He started to flick through it and saw that it was written in Sal’s own handwriting. Frowning slightly he started to read bits of it. A small, slightly greedy smile crept into the corner of his mouth as he realised what it was. The book he had borrowed for a single night, unable it read it all. He could remember the regret he felt having to return it so soon, and here was a copy of it. Someone threw a bread roll across the table, and fearing that the book might get damaged Severus put it in his bag. This time he noticed Regulus Black looking at him.


***

That night he dreams of Lily in a garden, a huge rambling garden that goes on forever. It is filled with the old, blousy flowers of the old wives’ garden. The sun is like fire on her hair. Bees flock to the scent of flowers and honey that shrouds the garden. Lily is enchanted by the roses; their soft petals brush her skin as she smells them and looks up at him smiling. He gathers her bunches of them as she laughs delightedly at him. She takes them: soft, violet roses, rapt in their scent. She pricks her finger on a thorn. He holds her hand gently, as if it is as delicate as the blossom she holds in the other hand. He kisses the crimson pinprick the thorn has made in her ivory skin and hears her voice sigh his name, “Oh, Severus,” and falls into the deep green of her eyes.

When he wakes he remembers little, only the smell of roses, the taste of blood and the sound of her voice whispering,
“Oh, Severus”

------------

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  #6  
Old September 6th, 2008, 12:18 pm
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Re: The Silver Thread

Chapter 5

Easter 1977


Severus felt uneasy in his borrowed dress robes. It only served to remind him that he was out of place here. Had Lucius not insisted that he come to the ball he would be elsewhere, studying or trying to earn some money. However, Lucius had been insistent, telling him that it was an important occasion; he was apparently announcing his engagement. He had also said that there would be guests at the party he wanted Severus to meet. It looked as if Lucius Malfoy had made a decision, and Severus would simply have to comply. He envied Lucius’ simple outlook on life. There was never a question in Lucius’s mind; if he wanted something he would have it. So here he was in borrowed dress robes which were beyond a doubt finer than any he could ever afford. He supposed he ought to be grateful.

He took a deep breath and entered the Malfoy’s ballroom. He was reminded of the old muggle films, and he expected to see Audrey Hepburn sweeping past him singing about love and dancing. God, he hoped there wouldn’t be singing; the dancing was trial enough. Amongst the black and white of dress robes and the bright colours of the women’s gowns, he looked for a face he recognised. In the distance he saw Mulciber and Avery talking and made his way over to them.

Severus found himself falling into the role of observer. He had already seen Bellatrix Lestrange and her husband, Rodolphus, skulking as always in her impressive shadow. He had seen them both before at the Hog’s Head meetings. She already carried the Dark Mark and had quickly become one of the Dark Lord’s most trusted lieutenants. She had the fire of a revolutionary in her belly and the expectation of authority of an aristocrat. It was a potent combination but still he saw her for what she was: a Black. His distrust of her was almost instinctual, encouraged only by her distaste for his half-blood status.

Across the room he saw Regulus Black looking cool and confident. The younger Black was so similar to Sirius that, unless Snape could actually see who was talking to him, he felt that uncomfortable tensing that Sirius’ presence evoked at the sound of either’s voice. In looks they too shared a great deal; both were effortlessly handsome. Though until recently Regulus had not shared his brother’s boundless self assurance, it seemed his rise in stature to spare to heir had endowed him with a new found confidence that only served to increase his resemblance to his elder brother. Severus noted that the woman with him was not the blond forth year he had been become entangled with of late. This woman had dark hair, a deep chestnut colour that contrasted the soft fiery orange of her gown: too deep a colour to be a pastel, too soft for the fire it brought to his mind. Severus noticed Regulus’s hand snake around her waist in a proprietary manner, and though others may not have noticed he saw her shoulders tense for a moment and then relax as if under conscious control. He was taken aback at how grown up Regulus looked. Nobody would have mistaken him for the school boy he was.

The ball was much as he had expected. Most people here were in pairs and the conversation was primarily idle chitchat and gossip. The families of many of his housemates were here: the Notts, the Averys, the Mulcibers, the Rosiers, and the Blacks were all here, to mention but a few. He had already spotted several dignitaries, including the Minister of Magic, The Bagnold’s, Glinda Crook, and Professor Marchbanks. There were also some more familiar faces. Mr Ollivander for one, and of course Horace Slughorn was here holding court in one corner with several of his favourite students and graduates. He marvelled that so many people of such stature could spend their time so apparently vacuously. It was hard to pair what he saw with the knowledge that there were important things happening here: conversations in quiet corners or side rooms which would have an impact on the whole of the wizarding world.

In time Severus began to feel more at ease and began mingling. He began to spot the tells for the quiet conversations that might be interesting and marking those guests who had no grand reputation, yet seemed welcomed, sometimes even deferred to, by those he knew to be the great and the good. He marked them and sought out more information. As well as those he recognised from The Prophet there were also certain elders that seemed notable. He turned to Avery for information about them.
“So who’s that: the old lady over there with the pearls?” Severus thought he saw some resemblance to Bellatrix in her. “Is she a Black?”
“The Black. Matriarch of the family: Walburga Black; not a lady to annoy.” Avery smirked slightly, “You’ve heard her before though. Remember that howler Sirius got last year?”
“That’s his mother, then.” He marked her and decided he would make a note of those she deigned worthy of her time. “And the woman with her?”
“Don’t recognise her, but if Walburga Black has been talking with her all evening she must be someone. Have you noticed several of the Blacks seem to be paying her attention as well this evening? I wish I could place her. I wonder what that’s about. They’re probably still dealing with the fallout from his latest stunt; I imagine his departure has created a fair few problems.”
“Whose stunt?” came a voice from behind them. Lucius was staring pointedly at Avery. “A topic for another day, I think,” he commented quietly as he raised his head and smiled warmly at the approach of his fiancée. “Narcissa, my darling, you remember Mr Snape.”
“Of course, although I’m not sure I would have recognised you, Mr. Snape. It’s been such a long time.”
“Indeed. It is a pleasure to see you again, Miss Black.” He remembered that she had always been a pretty girl, but the last few years had polished her. She stood out from her sister’s shadow now. Bellatrix might outstrip her in fire, but Narcissa possessed elegance and refinement Bella lacked. Her face was finely chiselled, and Severus thought she had more of the look of a Rosier than a Black. Perhaps that explained her air of self-discipline and restraint and the shocking crystal blue of her eyes. “May I offer my congratulations to you both.” He raised his glass to them. The couple exchanged glances, and Severus thought he noticed some signs of real feeling between the two. That is a surprise, he thought darkly.

Sal, finally free of her escort, had been looking for Narcissa with little success until she saw her standing in a small group with her fiancée and two other men. She caught her eye over the shoulder of her dark-haired companion. Narcissa smiled and beckoned her to join them. As she approached Cissy took hold of her hand and drew her close, turning to Lucius. “Lucius, this is Salus Arduina Aylward.”
For a moment he blinked at her, then smiling said, “I believe we have meet, though only briefly.” This time he took her hand and bowing, kissed it.
“Yes, I apologise if I w...”
“There is no need, Miss Aylward. You were, I assume, concerned for your friend. From everything Cissy has told me about you, I would expect nothing else.”
“Thank you; you are most kind, Mr Malfoy”
“Lucius, please. Of course you know Mr Snape.” Sal turned and came face to face with Severus. In the intervening year he had changed. Not only was he considerably taller than she remembered, his body had filled out a little. His face, neck and shoulders had begun to broaden; he now had the appearance of a young man. His eyes, however, were as dark and piercing as they had always been. “And this is Mr. Avery,” Lucius continued.
Sal greeted this new man and followed through on all the formalities before turning to her friend. “Severus, it’s good to see you again. I wondered if you would be here. Did you receive the book I sent you?”
“Yes, Beadle the Bard, I seem to recall.” He raised an eyebrow, his tone tinder dry.
“I do hope you can forgive me; it was perhaps not the best idea I’ve had.” She smiled at him innocently, though he caught the impish glint in her eye.
“I believe that my dorm mates have nearly forgotten about it.” He made a small sigh “It was however an interesting translation; not one I had read before.” He tried to sound casual but was unsure whether he managed it or not.
“You read it?
“It seemed churlish not to.” A hint of a smile caught the corner of his mouth.
“And you forgive me for my joke?”
“I’ll consider the matter.” He looked at her, and for the first time took in more than her face and the perfume that always seemed to envelop her. “How have you been?” He noticed the sheen of her hair and the jewels sparkling within it. Emeralds encased in gold decorated her ears and throat, contrasting with the soft, deep orange of her dress, a distinctive colour that reminded him of flames. He realised he had seen it before earlier that night as the memory of Regalus’s arm snaking round her waist came unbidden to his mind.
“Busy.” Her eyes held his. “But I don’t want to talk about that.” Her eyes darted over his shoulder. “Ask me to dance.” Her voice was hushed as she asked him.
“I can’t dance.”
“It doesn’t matter. Ask me, please.” Her voice, still quiet, rang with a sense of urgency.
Severus frowned slightly. “If I end up looking like a fool you know I won’t forgive you, don’t you?” he said archly. She nodded at him, and his voice smoothed to a silky propriety as he capitulated and offered her his arm. “Very well. Miss Aylward, would you do me the honour?”
As she took his arm with one hand, she flicked her fan in a peculiar fashion. Severus looked at it and noticed that Sal’s wand was attached to one of the main arms of the fan as he felt the familiar shiver of a charm fall over him. He shot Sal a questioning glance. She simply smiled at him as he laid his hand on her back and took her hand in his other. As they joined the others on the dance floor, Severus was surprised to find that he, or at least his body, seemed to know what it was doing. He had not become the most graceful dancer, but the effects of the charm were certainly adequate. Sal smiled cheekily. “I promised you wouldn’t look like a fool.” She then made an apologetic smile to someone behind him. As they spun around he saw Regulus Black watching them dance together.
“Why are you avoiding Regulus Black?” His tone seemed impassive, but the cold glint in his eye was steely.
“Perhaps I just wanted to dance with my friend?”
His grip on her had stiffened slightly, “Or perhaps you asked me when you saw him heading in our direction.” The cold edge of steel spread to his voice.
“Maybe,” she admitted very quietly “But I did want to talk to you. I just knew he’d drag me off to talk to someone else and ...” She dropped her gaze, her expression rueful until she shook it off a second later. “Anyway, I can’t talk properly to you with everyone listening.” She noted his body had relaxed again, and the cold look had left his eyes “I take it you liked the book?”
“I thought I had mentioned that in my letters. Of course I did.” The carefree tone of their summer returned as the two friends danced together. The rest of the world slipped away.

A hand tapped Severus’s shoulder. “You don’t mind if I cut in, do you? Malfoy wants you over there.” Regulus tipped his head in the direction of Lucius, who was waiting at the edge of the dance floor, as he took Sal’s hand.
Severus turned to her, and formality settled into his tone and stance. “If you will excuse me, Miss Aylward, it seems I am needed elsewhere.” He gave a curt bow and left her with Regulas. As he walked away, he took a moment to dispel Sal’s charm then greeted Lucius.
“They’re ready to see you. Come with me.”

Severus followed as Lucius paused and knocked gently on the door of his own library before entering. Severus had seen this room before, with its deep Persian rugs, dark mahogany furniture and books floor to ceiling. It looked much like any gentlemen’s library. Standing around the desk at its centre, leaning over it to examine something: a map, Severus guessed, were several people. One, draped in black, head bent so far over that it was obscured, had his back to Severus, but the other three he recognised: Dolohov, and the fathers of Rosier and Mulciber. His heart pounded; these were the people Lucius wanted him to meet. Severus straightened slightly as a small smile played on his lips; his chance had come.

No one appeared to take any notice of his arrival. Lucius gave him a quiet look and headed to the desk to say something to people gathered around it. Dolohov looked at Severus briefly then retuned to the discussion. A few minutes later the parchment was rolled up, and the forth member of the group rose, turned around, and regarded Severus. He was transfixed by gleaming scarlet eyes cut through by the dark slits at their heart. A smile caught the edge of his cold, lipless mouth as he held Severus’s gaze for a second before his eyes darted fractionally to the ground and back to Severus’s face. Severus, freed suddenly of the chill that had feathered through his mind, dropped to his knee and bowed his head. “My Lord.” He hoped the tremor he felt in his chest was not evident in his voice.

When The Dark Lord finally spoke his voice was cold and lazy “Mr Snape, Lucius has mentioned you to me. I believe you have some talent in potion making.” He paused as if measuring Snape reaction. Something pleased him, a slight smile caught the edge of his mouth again and his cold, high voice broke the silence again. “I have need of someone to perform a few small tasks. Would you offer your services?”

“To you, My Lord?” Severus swallowed, caught between hope and terror, he tried to master himself. “Of course My Lord ; it would be an honour.”

“Excellent” There was a sibilant quality to his voice. “I’ll leave the details with Lucius.” He turned his attention away from Snape to some other business, acting as if he were not kneeling on the carpet. Severus, at a loss, had no idea what to do until he felt a tap on his foot and saw Lucuis beckoning him to leave. He rose swiftly and followed Lucius out of the library.

***

That night his dreams start full of darkness. Lily stood in the middle of the ballroom alone, her silken hair tumbling out of its neat arrangement, fiery coils of it shimmering on her neck. She is lost, trapped by the darkness that surrounds the ballroom, leaking through the windows and oozing under the doors. He strides through it as if it was smoke, and it’s dispelled. As he approaches her, the lights begin to dance across the ballroom as they should, and Lily looks at him, lost for words. They are dancing, with a grace that proves that this must be a dream. She is in his arms like willow bending into him, and they are lost in the music and the lights and the heady smell of roses and lavender drifts in from the garden.

-------------


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Last edited by kittling; September 23rd, 2008 at 11:53 pm.
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Old September 23rd, 2008, 11:41 pm
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Re: The Silver Thread

Chapter 6
End of year exams 1977


Sal was surprised at her own calm; she had expected to make this trip with nerves jangling constantly, but here she was walking up the staircase to the Headmaster’s office, and she felt perfectly calm. Perhaps it was making the decision that was the difficult part, although she doubted that hopeful little thought was true. As her guide, a tall austere woman, knocked on the door of the office, her throat dried; perhaps she was not so calm after all.

The office was a bright, cheery, circular room, large and full of ticking, whirring instruments. To one side of the desk was a large phoenix that billed gently at her. Her throat eased a little, and she regarded the Headmaster.
“Welcome, Miss Aylward. Please take a seat.” She was struck by his eyes: clear blue and with a mischievous youth to them that somehow suited this elderly gentleman well. His voice too was warm and gentle, not what she had expected from the hero of Nurmengard. “I received an owl from Professor Hinderley about your request to use our library. Andromeda Tonks also mentioned you to me last week, so I find myself wondering which reason brings you here today.”
“Both, Professor Dumbledore, but is this best place for such a conversation?” She eyed the portraits, taking particular note of Phineas Nigellus Black, who she thought was taking an interest in the conversation despite his façade of reading a scroll.
“Well then, perhaps some tea?” He smiled cordially “I assure you we can talk here; it is perfectly safe.”
“Andromeda tells me that you are involved in ..” She looked for a way of continuing the sentence, forgetting the speech she had been rehearsing on the journey.
“The resistance against Lord Voldemort.”
She flinched slightly at the sound of his name. “Yes, exactly.” Her reply was quiet; hearing it used so plainly subdued her somewhat.
“Indeed, I am running such an endeavour. That is hardly a secret, Miss Aylward.” His eyes examined her, piercing blue looking past her appearance as if he could weigh her soul simply by looking at her. “I assume that is what you wish to discuss.”
“Yes, I…” Now that the moment had come she faltered, wondering fleetingly if this was the right path to follow; she knew all she needed was to find the words. Ironic that after years of being taught how to craft them in any situation no matter how awkward that now when she needed them so much, they appeared to have evaporated. “As you no doubt know, I am received into circles in which I doubt the members of your resistance are cordially received.” She detected a slight smile on Dumbledore’s face. “I would like to help.” She swallowed. “While the information I can gather is unlikely to be as complete...” She sounded the word delicately, hoping it would suffice “...as you might wish, nevertheless I suspect it would be an improvement on your current sources.”
A house elf appeared, carrying a tray. “Ah, tea, wonderful!” He took the tray, and the elf vanished. “Do you take sugar?” Tea was poured and handed to her with all the normal ceremony. “Would you care for a tea cake? They really are most delicious.” She nodded, wishing that they could finish this conversation. Eventually, tea in hand, he continued. “This is an interesting situation, is it not?” he said genially “It is certainly a rather unique proposal. However, given the circles in which you are, as you say, received I find myself wondering if I should trust you in this matter.”
“My family has always remained neutral.”
“Until today, it would seem.”
“True. Perhaps this would help?” Sal pulled a large roll of parchment out of her bag. “There is, however, one condition to my offer of which you should be aware. I am not willing to attend any meeting or have any contact with any members of your resistance other than yourself and Andromeda. Neither do I wish my involvement to be known to any other person. I trust that would not be too much of a problem?” She held the parchment out to him, just beyond easy reach.
“That would seem to be a very sensible precaution.”
“Is that an agreement?” He nodded, and she handed to document to him. “I have tried to indicate where information is conjecture and the basis for that conjecture. I have also, I think, clarified which are merely rumours. The majority is accurate - I believe.” She held his eye contact despite the manner in which they lanced through her. After a moment Dumbledore smiled, picked up his quill and wrote a short note. “Here is a pass for the library. Show it to Madam Pince; I believe it will suffice. Would you mind leaving this with me?” His had rested gently on the scroll. “We can talk later when you’ve finished in the Library, maybe?”

***
Four boys were making their way out of the library, laughing together, when one of them noticed Sal. He looked curiously at her for a moment then, after a quick word to one of his friends, he took a deep breath and approached her.“Sal? What are you doing here?” he said bending down to look her in the eyes.
“What’s wrong, Sirius, worried I’m looking for you?”
“As if. I…”
She cut in before he had a chance to finish. “Oh, he learns! At last!”
Now Sirius was making a concerted effort to stay calm. “Sal, I know you’re angry, and I’m sorry, but I had to leave. You don’t know…
“Oh yes, you ran away; as if I could forget.” For a moment silence was suspended between them, and Sirius did not know whether she was angry or sad. Until a split second later when she broke the silence with an accusation. “Have you ever thought about anyone else?
“You didn’t want it any more than I did; now you’re free of me. What’s the problem?”
“The problem is that I’m not free – I am still tied to the contract.”
“I thought maybe that wouldn’t happen.” his gaze darted away from her face for a moment.
Her face was caught reflecting the thought as it slowly sank in. “You checked the contract.” Anger took hold, and she continued through gritted teeth, “You slimy little toe rag, you knew what would happen. You got yourself out and left me still…”
“It wasn’t like that!”
“Like what? You weren’t just thinking about your self? You ran away thinking it would actually help me?”
He looked back at her, but he was only just managing to contain the famous Black temper, and she knew it. Sal leaned forward and barely audibly hissed, “No, I didn’t think so. Thanks to your little stunt I’m left in an even worse position. At least we had come to an arrangement – I can’t really see that happening now! Can you?”
“Reg’s not that bad.”
“Not good enough for you to stick around for him, though.”
His fingers snapped towards his wand, pulling it loose.
Her voice returned to normal. “Go, on. I’m sure they don’t mind hexing in the library.”
“Oh sod off!”
For a moment she seemed hurt and sighed gently. Then she looked up at Sirius. “Do you know what I’ve always admired about you, Sirius?” Her voice was honey smooth.
“What?”
She held his gaze mischievously. “Your shining wit,” she said quietly but quite distinctly and then left the words hanging between them. Behind them someone s******ed.
“Come on, Padfoot, get a move on, we’ll be late.”
He put his wand back deliberately then lent forward over Sal. “You’re just as bad as the rest of them.” And with that he stalked off, past Severus, who was leaning against a bookshelf and raised an eyebrow at him as he passed. Sirius, for once, ignored him.

Severus was surprised to see anyone baiting Sirius Black, let alone a girl; a pleasant surprise to say the least. When he realise Sal was the person riling Sirius, he was frankly astounded. He had caught only the tail end of the exchange, but it was enough to amuse him. He had, however, seen Sirius draw his wand and from that point on Severus had kept a firm hold of his own in case it was needed. When Sirius stalked past him without a word, despite having delivered one of his darker glares, he noticed Sal’s eyes trained on his back. She watched the door even after Sirius had left, biting on her fingernail with an air of distraction.

“You seem to have a habit of turning up in unexpected places,” he said. Sal’s head whipped around, displeasure clearly marked on her face until she saw who had spoken to her. For a moment she looked nonplussed. “Sev?” Then a broad smile greeted him. “It is you.” He had never been used to overt expressions of emotion, and since returning to school he had again become used to the cool manner of the Slytherins so was a little bemused by her evident pleasure at seeing him. She pushed out the chair next to her for him. “How have you been?”
“Well enough,” he said sitting down. Sal looked at him. “Busy,” he admitted. “And you?”
“Busy. Gran hired a new tutor, Professor Hinderley. He’s awful, and now he’s finally worked out that I don’t really understand how to deduce the final element in antidote preparation.”
“Really? You don’t know ho…” His voice betrayed his disbelief.
“Yes, really.”
“I thought you knew what you were doing,” came his brusque reply.
“Well, we can’t all have your gift for potions, Severus. Some of us have to work at it,” Her tone slipped from exasperation to something more despondent. “Besides Hinderley doesn’t explain it; he just keeps giving me different poisons to analyze, which is as much help as a chocolate cauldron. I can use Scarpin’s revelaspell, and I know Glopalott’s third law; I just don’t see how it helps.”
“It’s not that difficult,” he said smirking slightly.
“Are you just going to gloat, or are you going to help me?”
Severus’s smirk dropped from his face as he quietly pulled his Potions text book out of his bag and opened it to the chapter on Antidotes.

***

Sal was spared lunch in the Great Hall; a blessing, she thought, though she pretended otherwise to Severus. She did not want to see either Black. Both were too full of their own ideas of who or what she was and what she should do. She should have been used to it; her life was spent living up to others expectations of her. They judged her on her blood, and she knew it, sometimes even hated them for it. Last year she longed to return to her childhood, to summers spent in the country with her mother and father still with her, with Andy, Bella, Cissy, & Reg; even Sirius and the toad spawn he kept putting in her favourite shoes seemed better than what lay ahead. But things were changing. She supposed they had to. Not all of the changes were bad; over the summer she had learnt what it was to be judged on her merits. It was harder work, but she had relished it. But then there was Bella, an image of her spinning and spinning, arms outstretched, drifted through Sal’s mind. Bella had been thirteen at the time. She had always been full of life; she was the risk taker, the adventurer, the dare devil. But now if Sal looked at what she’d become, she worried. She’d tried not to tell Andy, but Andy always found out in the end, and she would want to know: was this story true, or that one? Any of them? All of them? Sal didn’t lie, not to Andy. Yes, Probably.

She shook off the thoughts and tried to clear her mind. It did not do to dwell on these things; better to take action. She knocked on the door of the Headmaster’s office and was called in. Professor Dumbledore seemed a graver man than he had that morning. It did not surprise Sal; she knew the contents of the scroll well enough to expect its reader to have such a reaction. He looked at her, gesturing to the chair she had occupied previously. As she took her seat he asked her, “Did you write this yourself?” His voice seemed grave, and now it held a trace of his age.
“Yes, I did”
“You didn’t dictate it?”
Sal smiled “No, I did not think it advisable.” She kept her voice quiet and level.
“Or use a spelled quill?”
“No, I thought it an unwise option; my Grandmother has, on occasion, checked on such things.”
“Hmm I see. I may, I presume, keep this?”
“Of course.”
“And perform any tests I might deem advisable?”
“If you wish to; it is yours after all. If I'm to be frank, I thought that you would have done so already.”
He smiled at her. “Indeed, it is a very interesting document, and as we are being frank, I have to tell you that I am unsure of your veracity in coming to me today.”
“I suppose that was to be expected,” Sal almost whispered. “You know already that I have maintained my friendship with Andromeda. Am I to assume that is not enough?”
“It is certainly suggestive, but if I am to rely on the information you give me and risk the lives of others, then I would need something more compelling.”
“You want to know why I should care what happens to muggle-borns?”
“That might help”

Sal looked round the room apprehensively. “Is there a way to show you? That would be…I’d prefer that.”
“Would a Pensieve suffice?” Sal, her body stiff now, avoided his eyes as she nodded curtly. The bowl was placed before her, and she looked at its pale silver contents thoughtfully. A sad smile passed her face as she held her wand to her temple and drew out three gossamer strands one at a time, letting them fall gently into the Pensieve. “I’ll wait here, Professor.”

***

The first thing Albus Dumbledore noticed were the shards of sunlight cutting through the gloom of an old house. There seemed to be an absence of straight lines in here; the floor, doors, walls, everything has settled into its own twisted grace. The air was thick with the scent of age and polish. A young girl stood in the hallway by a door, ear pressed against it. Albus smiled at who he knew to be a young Miss Aylward, too young for Hogwarts judging by her height but only just. Suddenly she started and ducked behind the floor length curtain to her left.

A woman at the beginning of middle age strode out of the room. She had Sal’s eyes: sharp, determined, charcoal blue and blazing with fury. She walked hurriedly away, followed by an elderly woman Albus knew only too well. Mrs. Aylward looked every bit as fierce as she had in his office all those years ago, only now Albus thought he spied a sign of fear and grief in her demeanour as well.
“…you have to, Althea. If you stay with him they’ll come for you.” She followed the younger woman down the corridor.
“I can’t, Magda. I can’t leave Gaspard.”
“Then don’t take the child. Leave Sal with me.”
“Sal? You want to take my little Sally?“
“If she goes with you and him, she’ll be in danger. Do you think they’ll spare her?”
The argument continued as the two women walked away. Sal peaked out from behind the curtain, her eyes large and solemn, and walked slowly upstairs.

The scene shifted and faded, reforming around Albus. He became aware of crispness in the air as a white clad world formed around him. In the near distance he saw Sal standing under the cover of an old, snow covered church. She seemed no older than she had only a moment before and was dressed all in black. Around her was a forest of headstones. From under a spreading yew tree Albus watched as she walked over to two gravestones and knelt in front of them. With black-mittened hands she wiped the snow off first one and then the other. Albus moved closer and read their inscriptions over her shoulder, realising she was visiting her parents. How tragic he thought, to lose both parents in such a short space of time.

And then the scene dissolved a second time. The cold disappeared and before an image could form he found himself surrounded by green flames. As they subsided he found himself standing next to Sal in a sizable fireplace. When he stepped out of it, he discovered himself in a large, open, farmhouse kitchen. It was the height of summer, judging by the heat and the smell of lavender hanging in the air. The floor was covered in cool, stone slabs, and Albus could hear the sound of a number of people outside in the courtyard. Sal stepped through him, carrying a brown suitcase; she was older, maybe a fourth year, he thought. She put down her suitcase and called, “Mum! Hello! Mum…”
A small child, perhaps five, appeared in the door way and barrelled towards Sal, who swept her up, kissing her and swinging her around, laughing and failing to notice the jar that was knocked off the large kitchen table. She put the little girl down saying, “Myriam, comment allez-vous?” The girl smiled and ran outside, calling her mother. Soon she returned, pulling a woman into the kitchen. Albus recognised Althea Golddwyn with a start. Sal’s mother enveloped her, smiling, and for a moment Albus wondered if she’d let go, but she did. She took out her wand and vanished the suitcase before taking her daughter out into the courtyard, a look of contentment suffusing them both.

The landscape was a dry green and heavy with the smell of sun, hay and lavender. In the courtyard a large group of people surrounded tables heavily laden with food. They mixed happily, children clamouring at grandparents for attention, groups of adults chatting merrily, for once relived of the pressure of the constant vigilance of parenthood. To all intents this would have seemed like a normal family gathering if it weren’t for the odd mixture of muggle and wizard dress. A man, sandy-haired and stoop-shouldered, smiled as he greeted Sal and drew her into the gathering.

Albus rose above the scene; it was over, and he emerged in his office again. Nothing had changed; Sal was still waiting for him. She gave him a nervous half smile. “I suppose you have some questions.”
“There are one or two points I should like to clarify: your mother for one. I assume she is alive and well despite public rumour.”
Yes. She met Gaspard Chauncey two years after my father died. They’re both healers. He’s a muggle-born from France and wanted to improve his English, so he got a job at St Mungo’s for a year. That’s where they met.”
“The young girl…”
Now Sal was smiling “Myriam, one of my sisters; she’s the eldest. Aimee is the other. She’s magical, but Myriam--it doesn’t look like she is, probably because Gaspard’s Muggle-born.” She looked Dumbledore in the eye. “Perhaps now you understand why I am here.”
“I hope you understand that I will have to verify what I have learnt. Perhaps you could visit the library here from time to time. I am sure you’ll find it worth your while.”
“Certainly.”
“Just one more thing, Miss Aylward, in future I would rather you didn’t enter into disputes with my students on your visits,” he said, his blue eyes carrying their accustomed glint of mischief.

***

That night Severus dreams that he is in the library with Lily, bent over a textbook, heads bowed together again, working as one on an antidote. Her perfume drifts in the air making his head spin; the smell of it, the roses and lavender, fills him with the urge to reach out to her. Gingerly he slips his hand over the book and gently covers hers with it. She looks at him, smiling, her eyes, widening, flick their gaze to his lips and back to his eyes. She fills his sight; her green eyes and soft brown hair tumbling from its bonds fill his heart until he thinks it can hold no more. Then her other hand lands gently on his, her creamy white fingers hold his hand, grip it so he can’t escape as she leans toward him and presses her lips to his.

When he wakes he only remembers the feel of her lips and the way the smell of roses and lavender makes his head spin.



-------------


Well I know people are reading this because the views counter says so But it would be sooooo good to hear what you thought, not just praise - althought complements are very nice

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My Fanfic - The Silver Thread - (WIP) updated 03/07/09

Sig by the most professional, clever & witty Boushh
(Original photo-manipulation of AR by helin)

Last edited by kittling; September 23rd, 2008 at 11:53 pm.
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Old October 19th, 2008, 4:15 pm
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Re: The Silver Thread

Chapter 7

The first week of the summer hols - 1977

Day One – Saturday


Sal was cold. The British summer had once again gone into hiding, leaving behind a thunderstorm. Not the refreshing, clear the humidity away kind of thunderstorm; just the make your life miserable for a day or two kind. She recharged her heating charm and tried to remember why she had agreed to come to a Quidditch match. She’d managed to reach the age of seventeen without ever having it inflicted upon her; homeschooling had its advantages. Yet here she was. The first few hours had been …tolerable, but it had been significantly longer than that now, and tolerable was fast becoming too much of an understatement. Reggie did not seem to share her qualms about Quidditch. Quite the contrary; even after five hours he was still captivated. The one thing Sal found interesting was watching him. He had always been so proper, more so since Sirius had left, but here he was a very different person. He had shed his contained propriety and melded seamlessly with the other fans. The loosening of his restraint suited him; it gave a chance for his strength to shine through which made him seem even more the rightful heir. The thought made her smile. Then she realised Reggie was looking at her. He smiled at her, slipping his arm around her shoulder and drawing her closer. She rested her head on his shoulder for a moment as he turned and absentmindedly, one eye still on the game, kissed her forehead.
“Gods, you’re freezing.” He let go of her and reached in to a large bag to withdraw a bottle, opening it and passing it to her. “Here, have some of this.” Sal took a tentative sip from the dark brown bottle: mulled wine; that improved matters a little.

***


Sunday

The next evening had started well. Regulus had somehow managed to get hold of tickets for Hobson Pickly’s talk ‘An eclectic or integrative approach to combating The Dark Arts?’ which had been sold out for months. He had, despite appearances to the contrary, realised that Sal had not enjoyed the Quidditch match and so had decided to find something that she would enjoy tonight. He remembered her attempts to obtain a ticket for the lecture. It was an irony, he thought, that so many Death Eaters would be there. However, it had made procuring tickets easier. His kindness had touched her. It had given her hope. She had feared that, whereas Sirius would have approached the marriage with dislike, it would, at least, have been tempered with honesty. They had long since reached an understanding: hearts and romance would never have to be a part of their marriage, but once the necessities were in place they would have allowed each other as much freedom as was possible given the circumstances. She had feared such an arrangement would be impossible with Regulus; now she wondered if it would be necessary. It had reminded her of one autumn when she was about six and the Blacks had been visiting them at the country house. She had been sent to bed early without supper for…She couldn’t remember what she had done, but she did remember Reggie smuggling an apple and crushed bread roll to her and insisting on leaving Dog to look after her because he thought she looked sad. The thought of that old, battered, threadbare toy brought a smile to her lips.

Sal’s summer tutor had come to see the lecture as had many of Regulus’ friends. Sal had taken note of the people Regulus had introduced her to; few of them seemed young enough to be friends from school. She was starting to understand what Sirius may have been hinting at; it seemed to her that the Black family was falling into dark company. Eventually Regulus left Sal talking with her tutor while he dealt with some business. In retrospect that, she thought, was where the trouble had started. Severus had also attended the talk and had chosen that time to introduce himself. Her tutor had accepted him genially into their company and introduced himself as Aleck. Sal had been surprised by his informality; however, the three fell into an easy and animated discussion. By the time Regulus had returned they had become engrossed in their examination of the possibilities of integrating the practices of two distinct disciplines. No one had noticed his return until he had coughed pointedly.

The journey home had been an exceptionally quiet one. Regulus’s temper had never been like his brother’s; he did not flare with white hot anger. Then again his approach to everything had been different. He was the one who quietly studied a situation, considered everything silently on his own, but when he reached his conclusion he was resolute. He clung to propriety as if it was air and by the time they had retuned home he had finished considering her.
“I know what I’ve seen.” He was so calm that if a stranger had witnessed the scene they would never have guessed that he was bordering on rage. True, his voice was firm and held a hint of accusation, but Sal knew him well enough to know the truth about his mood. She tried to keep her voice calm, prepared to play whatever role was needed. “It’s not like that; he’s just been helping me with my studies. I’ve really struggled this year. Hinderly’s useless, and if I hadn’t had his help I’d have been lost.”
“Have you thought about how it looks?”
“I don’t understand.” She had a nasty feeling she did.
“For Merlin’s sake, Sal, he’s half-blood; you can’t just go around … Sal, you’re lucky, you haven’t had to go to Hogwarts and mix with the scum they let in that place these days. The idea of you having to mix with mudbloods makes me sick.”
“But he’s not one of them.”
“He’s one step away from one, Sal.”
“Lucius doesn’t seem to mind. Cissy said tha…”
“Malfoy has his own reasons.” He took her hand and led her to the sofa, deciding to take a different approach; she had obviously failed to see his point. He couldn’t blame her for her naiveté. She had been sheltered, and it was rather endearing. He would just have to explain things to her simply. “If you keep this up, what will happen?” She looked at him blankly. “Sal, sooner or later if you keep up this kind of friendship with him you’re going to end up mixing with Muggles. His family are Muggles. Do you understand?”
“But I…” Sal wasn’t sure how to proceed, so she thought for a while. Regulus gave her the time to absorb what he was trying to tell her. “I see…” She pondered what he had said, “but I really do need the extra help, though, Reggie. Isn’t there something…” She looked at him, hoping she looked pleading and helpless enough.
His face softened. “I’m not telling you never to see him again; just not so much. I just want you to be careful.”
“I know you’re right. I’ll try, but couldn’t we talk about something else?” She smiled at him and touched his hand gently as it lay on the sofa between them. “You’ve been away all term, and we’ve hardly spent any time together, not just the two of us.” She half bit her lower lip as she gazed into his eyes. “I’ve missed you.”
He smiled and kissed her hand.

***


Monday

Severus was waiting at their old table outside a café in Diagon Ally. The street was somewhat quieter than last year. It seemed to lack the hubbub that normally clung to it. Still, shops were open and doing a reasonable trade. She sat down opposite Severus. “Am I late?”
“No, I was early. I ordered a pumpkin juice for you.”
Sal looked at curiously “You ordered for me?”
“Yes.” Doubt flickered in his eyes. “Shouldn’t I have?”
“It’s fine.” She smiled, blushing slightly. “Are you working at the Ministry again?”
“No, I’m working in an apothecary’s off Knockturn Alley this summer.”
“You’re not back at the Ministry? Why not? Sorley was hoping he’d see you there.”
“I needed the extra time; I have a lot to do this summer. Anyway, they included board and lodging in the wage, so I don’t have to live with my uncle this year.” He paused as if he just realised what she had said. “Sorley wanted to see me? Really?”
“Yeah. He’s moved departments. He’s in research and development now, though. That was why he hadn’t heard you weren’t working in the Ministry this summer or that you hadn’t applied for the old post. I think he was planning to get someone to move you to his department. You should go and see him at least, have lunch with him or something.”
“I don’t think I’ll have a lot of spare time this summer, and I have been trying to keep my lunch break free.” He shot her a brief, cautious look as he picked up his glass and drank from it.
“Sev, I’m sorry. I can’t have lunch with you like we did last year; not as much, anyway.”
“Why not?”
“I’m studying up in Edmonton, and it’s further away. I don’t think I can make the journey, have lunch and get back on time.”
Severus raised an eyebrow. “You hadn’t thought of apparating?” His face was stony. Sal reddened and looked at her glass. “What’s the real reason?”
“It’s not you.”
His lips curled. “Obviously.”
Sal looked down again, clearly uncomfortable. When she raised her head Severus thought her eyes seemed larger and somehow brighter. The realisation hit him: tears. She was fighting back tears. The pieces fell into place. “Black.” Sal froze; clearly he was right. He continued, cold and precise, “What has he said?”
“Just that he didn’t want me spending as much time with you.”
They sat in silence, both busy with their thoughts. Severus tried to find something to say other than the question he’d been avoiding since Easter and realised that whatever question he asked it would result in the answer he was hiding from. “Why should it matter what he thinks?” he asked calmly.
Her reply when it came was quiet. “We’re supposed to be getting married when he finishes at Hogwarts.”
He stared at Sal inscrutably as she sat, face downcast. He had been almost convinced the two were involved, but this was beyond anything he suspected. The thought brought the taste of bile to his throat. He took another sip of his juice. “You and he are engaged.” The statement was phrased evenly, and even he was impressed at the neutrality of his tone.
“Not yet but as good as, I suppose.”
“Then let me congratulate you, Miss Aylward,” he said, raising his glass to her. After taking as sip he added curtly, “I suppose the heir of the House of Black is an excellent catch.”
“Severus, don’t. Please.” She looked at him, openly pained “I couldn’t bear to lose my friend.” She reached for his hand on the table between them.
Severus stopped and regarded her for a moment. The bitterness that marked his face receded. “You won’t,” he relented. “I just wish you’d told me earlier.” He ignored her hand as if he hadn’t seen it. Severus finished his drink in silence; he hated these moments: watching friends slipping away, knowing what would happen and being unable to do anything to stop it. It was Lily all over again. This time, he thought, he was going to keeping his distance. It would be easier eventually. Sal seemed unwilling to break the silence and so in an attempt to move to an easier topic he spoke, trying to banish his despondency. “So what are you studying in Edmonton?”
“It’s more with whom than what I’m studying. Professor Witling”
“Aleck Witling?”
“I know; it’s so exiting. I think he must have spent that last sixty years studying the obscure branches of magic, and well, you saw he’s fascin….”
“What do you mean, ‘I saw’?”
“At the talk. Aleck; that was him.” Severus’s jaw dropped. “He really knows his stuff. At the moment we’re just going through some basics so he can get an idea of what I’ll be any good at. It’s not like I can say what I want to learn – I haven’t heard of half of it anywhere else. I’m not even sure what I want to learn; I haven’t even heard of some of the things he could teach me.”
“Professor Aleck Witling! I can’t believe how lucky you are. What have you been looking at?”
“Legilimency, Sermomency and Occlumency mainly, but he keeps throwing bits of really odd theory at me and never tells me what it’s about.”
“I’ve come across Legilimency and Occlumency. I read about them in a couple of articles he wrote. His explanations are sublime …”
With that they sat, heads bent, in a long discussion of the obscure branches of magic; their arguments seemingly forgotten as they revelled in their discourse.

***


That night Severus dreams that he is in a corridor at night looking at the Fat Lady’s portrait.

He feels his stomach knot, and his mind screams, No, not here, not now, anything but this!

Soft light floods the corridor, and a silhouette appears in the portrait hole. Her presence is enough to take his breath away. His stomach drops; terror grips him and blinds him.

Everything runs as it always does; sorry is never enough; she is implacable in her fury. No excuse will pacify her. This is where she leaves him. This is where it all ends. He wants to escape from this dream or to change it. He does not realise Lily’s eyes are soft blue or that her hair is not deep red that should glow with fire in the light from the portrait hole behind her.

When he wakes the leaden feeling in his stomach lends him the certain knowledge that he has had the same nightmare again: that Lily is gone.


***


The following day Sal had visited Grimmauld Place and found Regulus in the study. “Thank Merlin you’re here.” He neither looked nor sounded happy as he pushed the ledger away, knocking several of the scrolls that littered the desk on to the floor.
Sal bent and picked them up and handed them back to Regulus, smiling. “School work in the middle of the summer? Don’t they give you any time off?”
“I wish it was homework. Father has been showing me how the family accounts work, and I’m starting to remember why I hated Arithmancy; numbers are not my friends.” He rubbed his eyes before looking at Sal ruefully; eventually he sighed again. “Does this make any sense to you?”

“Let me see.” She leant over the desk and started looking at the accounts. Regulus looked up at her, watching her staring intently at the ledger. The worry that had snapped at his heels again raised its head and spurred him to speak, but eloquence failed him. “Sal, I know you weren’t expecting… us, you know.” He looked pained, “I wasn’t either but, I...I think we could make it work.” His eyes filled with concern, making a silent plea, but instead of listening to them he made a pledge. “You know I’ll try to, don’t you?”
She tried to smile but was so overwhelmed by his awkward sincerity that the need to fight back tears made it impossible, taking the strength from her voice and leaving nothing but a whisper. “Yes, Reggie, I know.”
“You’re not too disappointed are you? I mean Sirius is…”
“Are you?”
He blushed and looked at her earnestly. “No, it was a shoc…surprise and--” He looked at the desk over laden with scrolls and ledgers. “It’s all a bit daunting. But…” His eyes turned back to Sal, and for a moment he was seized by the courage to speak his mind. “I think we could be...” He swallowed. “We could be good.” He held her gaze momentarily then looked away trying to hide his nerves and changed the subject just enough to quell his embarrassment. “It’s everything else I worry about. I keep thinking that I won’t do a good enough job. Most people have ages to learn this stuff. Father used to have Sirius working on stuff like this years ago; I feel like I’ve been thrown in the deep end and I’m going to let everyone down.”
“I don’t think you will.” This is why you were my favourite, she thought, “Maybe you’re not great with numbers, but there’s more to looking after the estate than just the accounts, and I’m sure you’re up to it. Anyway, the most important thing is that you care, and you do. Not just about the family but about …all of it: the house, the staff, the estate, how we fit into things. I’m not making any sense am I?”
“I think you are, and I am--trying to do my best I mean to make a better world for us; all of us, the family, you and me.” He looked at her and added tentatively, “Our children.” He looked so grave that Sal lent down and kissed Regulus gently on the temple, and for a moment she was reminded of the boy he used to be. He turned and looked into her face. Their eyes met, and he held her in his gaze, smiling slightly. His hand skimmed along her jaw and around her neck. He pulled her to him and kissed her full on the lips. Sal was surprised by the smoothness of it, aware of his hand on her neck, hers on his shoulder. Besides that and their lips, nothing else touched. As they parted Sal looked at his face again, her breath even. She searched for the man he would be but saw only Reggie. “You’ll be good,” she tried to reassure him. “And anyway I can always help with the accounts.” She suddenly looked mischievous. “You have to leave something for me to do or I might get bored.”
Reggie smiled. “Sirius didn’t know how lucky he was.”

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  #9  
Old November 22nd, 2008, 10:04 pm
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Re: The Silver Thread

Chapter 8 (Part one)

Middle of summer hols 1977


Although Sal had tried to reduce the amount she spent with Severus with some success, now only meeting for lunch on a Wednesday, she found she missed his company. At lunch times she would feel drawn to Diagon Ally, and when she succumbed to the impulse she found herself looking at the cafes or the bookshops or the cauldron shop, hoping to see him. Their correspondence continued unabated. Her lessons with Professor Witling proved one of the few distractions that held any certainty of capturing her attention. They had quickly reached an understanding that a certain amount of work and progress was expected, but as long as such progress was clearly evident the professor did not seem adverse to tangents on related subjects. Soon a rapport had developed between them and Sal had come to think of him more as a mentor and a friend than as her teacher. The only problem that they encountered in the lessons was simply that Professor Witling was exceeding good at both defending his mind and at cutting through the defence of others. It had become almost second nature to him, and so Sal had found him a difficult person with whom to practice. However, there was a distinct lack of suitable candidates as the there were few Legilimens or Occlumens in England, let alone London, a situation exacerbated by the rarity with which the Professor took on students. It did not take long, though, for Sal to think of a solution. Her idea had several potential benefits and two potential obstacles. The first obstacle and the most easily dealt with being gaining the cooperation of Professor Witling; the second was Severus Snape.

Sal was well aware that Severus would appreciate the chance to study with Professor Witling. However he would be unlikely to accept anyone paying for his lessons, and Sal doubted he had the resources to pay for them himself. She was also worried about him working in Knockturn Ally; it did not sit well with her, especially given his apparent interest in the Dark Arts. Not that that such an interest was in itself a bad thing as far as Sal was concerned, but she could see a hunger in him and feared that he might be drawn too far into it for his own good. So far the subtle hints had not seemed to help; in fact she rather feared that he had failed to see the warnings implicit in the book she had given him and had instead used it to feed a growing obsession. At least, she reasoned with herself, he is working in an apothecary’s; it could after all be far worse. If he could be convinced to come to some lessons it would be less time he could spend on other pursuits, and besides it would be pleasant to see more of him, and if it were kept private no-one would object.

On Saturday morning Severus was woken by a tapping on his window. Exhaustion still clung to him from a night’s work brewing potions that had dragged on into the earlier hours of the morning. He was so insistent on proving himself that he had taken more care and time over the preparation of his ingredients, and one potion simply had not conformed to his exacting standards, so he had decided to make a new one instead. Now all he wanted was sleep. He pulled his pillow over his head as he tried to ignore it, but the noise had become more insistent until sleep became impossible. Severus dragged himself out of bed and opened his window, letting in Sal’s barn owl. “Bladud, it’s too early.” The owl flew in and landed on the bedside table, dropping his letter by the clock, which read nine thirty, and ruffled his feathers. Severus was unimpressed. “Your point?” he asked dryly. Bladud pushed the letter forward with his beak. “All right,” he muttered irascibly as he picked up the letter. As he read it he yawned then reread it, and, frowning slightly, he then scribbled, ‘Will floo you later, Sev.’ on a note and gave it Bladud to deliver before he started searching for the Invigoration Draught he had taken to keeping to hand since the spring.

When, after having eaten breakfast, washed and dressed, Severus flooed Sal he was slightly bewildered to find himself addressing a quite unknown face. It’s diminutive stature, bat like ears and huge amber tennis ball-like eyes made it clear that he was faced with a house-elf. Severus felt his lip curl; their attitude of abject worthlessness rankled him. It reminded him of his father’s family who had been so accepting of their place and despised anyone they deemed to be acting above their station. Fortunately the house elf was keen to be about its business and so did not delay or press its company on him. Soon Sal’s face appeared in the grate with a look of polite welcome until she recognised Severus, and her face broke into a broad smile. “Severus, I didn’t think you’d call back so soon.” It did little to improve his mood. Her request was without a doubt tempting, but it seemed contrary to her instructions from Black, and something about it simply felt wrong although he couldn’t be more exact about how or why. Severus attempted to keep his features impassive but only managed to look grim. The smile dropped from Sal’s face. “You’re going to tell me you can’t help aren’t you?” He thought he detected real disappointment in Sal’s expression and found he was gratified by it.
He forced himself to remain stoic and raised an eyebrow. “It seems you were right; you are having problems with Legilimency, aren’t you.”
Her smile returned. “So you will help?”
He sighed briefly. “You said you wanted me to help with practical’s, but I am at a loss to see what I could do.”
Sal bit the corner of her bottom lip and frowned slightly. “Well, Professor Witling would be supervising, and obviously he would have to give you some of the preliminaries; otherwise there’d be not point.”
Something fell into place in Severus’ mind, and his voice took on a silky hew. “So I wouldn’t need to attend any lessons or learn any of the theory to be able to practice Legilimency?”
“No, apparently not.” Severus was annoyed by her apparent innocence when she spoke. Her inconsistency had however given him a reason to trust the sense of unease that had been bothering him since he had first read the letter.
Quietly and rather pointedly the words slipped from his tongue. “Then why do you need to study it?”
Severus noticed something guarded and possibly uneasy flashed through Sal’s eyes. She sighed. “Well, the idea is that I’ll be continuing with lessons when you return to Hogwarts, and as I said in the letter the Professor and are vastly mismatched. So I need to get someone I can practice with. Once I’ve had some practice I’ll have a better chance of being able to benefit from working with Professor Witling; at the moment it’s a bit demoralising.”
Now, having been given a half answer to his question, he was certain she was evading him. “Does that actually answer my question, Sal?”
“Yes, because the theory is more necessary for later study; we’d just be learning the basics of guarding the mind from intrusion and probing minds. I guess it’s like the difference between learning to walk and learning to dance.”
“And what does your Mr Black think of this idea?”
“I haven’t told him about it.”
“And when he finds out?”
Sal’s patience snapped, and her exasperation became obvious in her tone. “This is ridiculous,” she snapped as she grabbed a silvered jar from the mantle above the grate and took out a handful of floo powder. “Get out of the grate; I’m coming through.”
Severus barely had time to move before the grate flared green and Sal strode out of it. Her bearing was quite unlike he had ever seen it before. An image of his father about to fly into a rage flashed through his mind. Ruthlessly he pushed it aside as he took a few steps back from Sal.
Her eyes smoky blue eyes flashed as if stars were caught in the depths of the great lake at dusk, and he realised she was not angry, but he struggled to place her mood.
Sal took a deep breath and plunged in with something that was far closer to the truth than she had ever intended. “Look, Severus, you are one of my best friends; I have hated not seeing you, and I am sorry, but I didn’t know what else to do. This is a chance for us to see each other, and, no, I haven’t told Reggie, and I probably won’t, but frankly I can’t see that he would have much to worry about when Professor Witling’s going to be there all the time anyway. It’ll be like having a chaperone.” She ran out of breath and paused for a moment, looking at his slightly shocked face. When she continued it was at a slower pace and sounded to Severus almost like a confession. “I know I should probably be more honest, but is it really wrong of me to want to spend time with my best-friend?”
“Best-friend.” The word took him by surprise, and he had parroted it back to her almost without realising it. He had only ever had one best-friend: Lily. Not that she thought of him as her friend anymore.
Sal reddened a little and smiled shyly. “Yes.”
“You have lots of friends and…” He had no idea what he was trying to say, so he stopped mid sentence.
Sal, now sitting on the only chair in the room, was caught between its back and the desk; she looked small and somehow frail. “Sev, I know a lot of people but most of them are more interested in my name than me. You’ve seen what a difference it can make, but you’ve always just been my friend, and I don’t know anyone else who has and...” She shrugged lost for words.
Severus frowned and passed her a handkerchief; desperately trying to ignore the tears that she was suppressing, he turned his back on her and rearranged something on the mantle piece.
“I’m sorry; I didn’t mean to embarrass you.”
“You didn’t,” he lied as he turned to look at Sal who was looking at him with a small smile. He realised that the smile was echoed on his own face. The intensity of the moment scarred him, and he looked away. He fell back to changing the subject. “So when are these practicals?” he asked brusquely, forgetting his concerns about the idea.

***

Severus was feeling exceedingly tired. For over half an hour he had been attempting the wand movements and the casting phrase for Legilimency. Normally this would not have fatigued him, but the genial Aleck Witling seemed to have disappeared and been replaced by a strict taskmaster. The professor corrected every nuance of Severus’s wand work and enunciation, drilling him through it, refusing him room for annoyance, impatience or any emotional reaction for that matter. Sal had been left working at a desk in the bay on the far side of the large practice room. The only noise in the room was the scratching of her nib on parchment, the occasional sigh of turning pages, and the ticking of a clock.
“Again.”
Severus kept his mind as calm as he could, his thumb resting on the top of his wand, stretched along its length. “Legilimens.” A thin hand slid under his right arm and down to his hand, smoothing out the slight bend in his wrist and relaxing the hand a little more.
This time the command was given in a voice that was soft, smooth as silk and as gentle as the hand that smoothed Severus’s wrist. “There. Try again.”
Severus again went through the process of trying to cast the spell at no-one, but now it felt different. With that slight extra give in his wrist he felt something thrilling though his mind into his arm where it flowed like a rushing stream on through his arm, wrist and fingers into his wand. The feeling took his breath away and energised him all at once. He paused, taking in the feel of what had just happened when Alecks voice came again softly. “Again just like that; three more times, Mr Snape.”
The feeling grew stronger as he relaxed into it; in the years to come he would learn to direct the flow of power with subtly, but for now he rejoiced in his ability to conjure and direct it. The feeling was distinctly different from the other spells and charms he had learnt; its flow and root were quite new as was the way it thrummed through him – it almost had a flavour, and it was one he enjoyed.

Once he had finished casting it the third time he became aware that the only sound in the room was the regular ticking of the clock. Both the professor and Sal were watching him. He looked from one to the other; Witling’s genial edge had reappeared, although his face was almost completely impassive save for the slight smile that seemed to be tugging at the edge of his mouth. Sal’s seemed intent and curious, almost as it had the first time they’d met.
The moment Professor Witling turned around to look at her Sal’s head snapped back over her parchment. “It’s alright, Miss Alyward; I think its time for you to join us anyway. Have you prepared?”
“Yes, Sir.”
Sal stepped forward and stood in front of Severus, and looked him in the eye as he raised his wand at her. She calmed her mind, prepared for the sharp knife like tearing through her defences. Instead cool fingers touched her mind, caressing it, sliding between the memories, and she felt herself for a fraction of a moment relaxing into it. The room disappeared. She was four and scrambling onto her parent’s bed to be engulfed in the warmth of a hug between them…She was seven and watching with angry relish as one of her favourite red shoes flew through the air and hit a young Sirius Black on the head covering him in frog spawn …She was ten and crying as she was led away from her parents grave by her grandmother as mourners mumbled condolences at her…Sal was dizzy as Bella swung her round and round, dark eyes gleaming in the gloom of the hayloft…She was seventeen and intently watching a scraggy boy in black robes weighing out ingredients…Regulus’s tone was accusatory; anger warped his features. “...the idea of you having to mix with mudbloods makes me sick.”
“But he’s not one of them.”

With a thrill of panic Sal realised what was happening and fortified her defences, sliding away from the caress of cool fingers in her mind…The scene shifted slightly as she tried to block Severus. She was looking at Regulus, half biting her lip. “I’ve missed you.” He smiled and kissed her hand…She turned her thoughts, shaping them, smoothing them, removing the chinks until it felt like a marble, and the cool hands slipped over the top sensing nothing more that the slightest surface thought. Still they ran over the surface, stroking, prying, gently probing but slithering off the smooth surface of her mind. Eventually they retreated, and the room came back into focus. Severus stood opposite her, wand raised, pointing at her, his face slightly flushed but otherwise impassive.
She looked away embarrassed. “I lost control.”
“Yes, you did,” Witlings voice was measured. “But you regained it and didn’t resort to theatrics to repel Mr Snape’s incursion which is something. The question is why did you not stop him in the first place – I expected better of you.”
“It was different; it didn’t feel like it did when you…”
“Let that be a lesson, young lady. People are unique, and each person’s intrusion will be experienced differently.” His eyes flashed up to the clock. He let out a small sigh, and when he spoke again his voice had lost its chiding tone. “Now you’d better pick up your things.” He inclined his head to a cupboard built into one of the alcoves of the classroom.

As Sal walked over to the cupboard Professor Witling directed his attention to Severus. “How do you think that went, Mr Snape?” His tone seemed to hold a mild curiosity.
Severus frowned slightly as he thought. He had nothing with which to compare his efforts and felt unsure as to how he was supposed to gauge his attempt. “Well, to be honest I’m not sure. I saw some things but …” His voice trailed off as his nerves caught up with him. He became intensely aware of the stature of the person to whom he was speaking. “You’d probably have a better idea of how I did.”
“To have seen anything on your first attempt is promising, Mr Snape. Now do you have a free hour following this class?”
Severus swallowed and nodded.
“Good. Now there’s a rather nice little muggle café around the corner.” He paused and shot Severus an appraising glance and continued in a conspiratorial tone, “I suppose you could ensure privacy if needed?” and winked.
“Yes, Sir.” Over the Professor’s shoulder he could see Sal still bent over the stone bowl, using her wand.
“Excellent.”
“Sir? What’s Sal doing? What is that?” He indicated the stone bowl that Sal was using.
“That is a Pensieve, and I will introduce you to it properly next week. The most important thing for you to remember about it is that its contents during these lessons will be our secrets, the things too precious or painful to share. So we will always treat them with the respect both they and our friends deserve. At no time will either of you ask about the memories the other chooses to put in the Pensieve. Neither will you watch them unless invited to do so by their owner – is that clear, young man?”
Severus solemnly nodded his assent.
The professor smiled at him warmly. “Now I want you to do two things for next week. First, the exercises I taught you at the beginning of the lesson; practice them at least once a day. Second, have a think about any memories you might not want anyone to see. Not everything, mind you; just a few – you need to have a reason to repel intrusions, but if there is anything that is particularly private...”
By the time he had finished his speech Sal was walking over to join them. Professor Witling reached out his arm and, hand on her shoulder, pulled her into a huddle. Simultaneously he put a hand on Severus shoulder. Severus flinched. Witling gave him a gentle glance, and Severus managed to relax.
“Now, you two, there’s a little place; I’ve told young Severus here about it so you won’t have any problems finding it. Go there for a bit and talk about what happened; compare notes. Legilimency’s not just about what you see; it’s about learning to interpret it. Becoming skilled at Occlumency is not just about blocking someone; it’s about knowing how you did it, how many other ways you could have blocked them and choosing the right method. So you two talk, and you will be each other’s best assets in developing your skills.”

***

When they reached the café Sal stopped and stared at the building. “Severus, that’s a Muggle café.”
“Yes, I know.” Severus, noticing her nervousness, took charge, affecting an air of nonchalance despite his own concerns about being seen in a muggle shop.
“But I haven’t got any Muggle money, and...”
He stopped her. “Don’t worry; I’ll take care of it.” He opened the café door. “It’s not that hard, anyway. It’s only a café.” Holding the door open for her, he shot her a questioning look. “Coming?”
The challenge was unmistakeable, and Sal was not about to be out dared; after all she had grown up with Bellatrix and Sirius – if she could cope with them she was certainly not going to be afraid of a Muggle shop! She took a deep breath and walked through the door with a distinctly haughty air. Severus, torn between admiration and the desire to laugh, followed her and pointed out a corner table at the back of the shop. As they made themselves comfortable Severus cast a charm to guarantee they would not be overheard or attract any particular attention.
The menu proved to be another problem for Sal – she simply hadn’t come across most of the options. For a moment he was reminded of his first few days at Hogwarts. Eventually, once drinks had been ordered, they sat, each waiting for the other to begin. Eventually Sal broke the dead lock; her bravado of the last five minutes seemed to have infected her, and she asked the one question that most concerned her.
“Did you see everything I saw??”
He shot her a withering look but tried to bite back the urge to say any of the responses in his mind. Now he was here he felt a reluctance to have this conversation. The experience had left him unsettled. His friendship with Lily had taught him that not all families were like his. The first time he visited her home had been a shock for him. Petunia had always seemed so natural to him: dislikeable but normal for a Muggle. Her parents however…in time he had realised that they genuinely cared about both their children. They were even interested in him just because he was Lily’s friend – their kindness had made him feel awkward. He had never really liked his home, but he knew what to expect there. The feeling of Sal climbing into her parent’s bed, the warmth and love there echoed in his mind, and with it came a wave of bitterness.
“I don’t know what you saw so how can I say?” Severus snapped.
It was only when he saw her reaction: shocked and somewhat hurt – it reminded him of his mother reaction to his father’s biting derision – that he realised how harsh it he had sounded. He smoothed his tone. “You said it felt different – my Legilimency – from the professor’s. What did you mean? How was it different?”
“Well, with Aleck, it feels...” She paused with a sight frown, lost in memories as she recalled the myriad times he broken through her defences. “It’s like a knife but sharper and hot and nothing stops it. It’s like you make a brick wall and it melts like snow. It doesn’t hurt; it just reminds me of heat. Does that make any sense?”
“But how was that different from...” He suddenly didn’t know how to ask the question; every wording that came to mind was too personal. “Today?” He was amazed how the warmth of the tea had raised his own temperature as he quickly sipped some to divert his attention.
“Well, this time it felt...” Again the memories caught her attention; a slight smile caught the corner of her mouth, and Severus noticed it reflected in her eyes. “It was cool, gentle almost… I don’t know; it’s hard to describe.” She looked away. “Do you think it’s because of, well, just that different people are different – like they look different, so they feel different, or that it’s about how they try to break through your Occlumency?”
Severus considered the idea, preferring the intellectual challenge of it to the markedly emotional nature the conversation was in danger of taking. On secure ground again they began discussing the idea, dissecting the possibilities and looking for ways to test different hypotheses. That was until Severus mentioned the change in texture of Sal’s defences, and realised he had inadvertently mentioned the thing he had wanted to avoid: Regulus Black.

The moment opened up like a gulf between them, and he realised that she was as nervous of the subject as he was. Severus remembered the note of panic he had felt in her as the scene began, how that had lead to the fortifying of her defences. He realised Regulus must have been talking about him. Judging by the look on Sal’s face he thought that the realisation must have shown on his face.
“Sev, it wasn’t...” Sal swallowed, her voice was soft and sad. “...it wasn’t what it looked like.”
“Really?” he said cynically.
“It was just something he said; it he didn’t mean that you were, were a…” She couldn’t bring herself to say the word; it stuck in her throat.
She looked at Severus; his face was cold and impassive yet his eyes contained a glint of anger at the heart of them.
“It was after Pickly’s talk and...”
“So that was why I’ve hardly seen you this summer; because he thinks I’m a mudblood.”
“He doesn’t, Severus. Since Sirius left things have been really difficu…”
“Oh, please! Don’t tell me life’s been hard for poor, little Reggie! I can just imagine how difficult it must be with everyone bending backwards to help you. It must be such a strugg…”
Suddenly Sal’s tone was hard as she cut across his vitriol. “Severus, either you can listen to me or you can shout at me, but if you want to know what happened you’re going to have to shut up and listen. It’s one or the other!”
Severus shot her a tight lipped glare. After a moment he raised a quizzical eyebrow and waited for her response.
Sal found herself wishing fervently that she had let him continue. The thought of explaining the situation terrified her. “I don’t intend to justify what he said. It was wrong, and it was cruel, but it was not about your blood status, whatever you heard. That was just--Sev, it was just something he said to get his own way, to make a point without saying what he probably wanted to say.” She looked at Severus and realised he was actually listening to her; something seemed to have quelled his anger at least a little. “It was after Pickly’s talk, and he was...he was not happy that I had … It’s been a problem from the start, I think. He thinks that he should be in charge, that he should be...I don’t know, smarter, more important, more…” Listening, Severus was reminded of his mother, her tone and her excuses; he’d heard them before or at least different versions of them. His anger mingled with fear in a way that was too familiar to him. He found himself searching for the signs his mother showed whenever things were bad at home, wondering...He cut the thought off, knowing where it would lead him. Instead he found himself running through the exercise Witling had set him as he listened to Sal.
“He’s so much younger, and sometimes I think he feels it. Sirius always treated him like the baby, and now he’s working really hard to fill his shoes. At the talk, some of it was beyond him, I think. I suppose he hadn’t covered the theories at Hogwarts yet, and when I didn’t notice him because I was talking to Aleck and you, he felt...” She sighed. “He felt like I was rubbing it in, I guess. But he couldn’t say any of the reasons why it annoyed him without…” She gave a sad smile. “He just used something he thought he could get away with, that I couldn’t argue with.”
“Why are you marrying him if things are that bad?”
“Oh, Severus, he won’t always be young, and he’s a good person; always has been. Everything will be fine with a little time; that’s all it needs: just a little time and everything will settle down again.”
They fell into silence, concentrating on their drinks until Severus started frowning into his mug.
After a moment he looked up at Sal.
“There’s something I don’t understand; how did the frogspawn get in a shoe?”
Sal laughed.
“Those were my favourite shoes; I loved them they were so pretty. Then Sirius put the frogspawn in one of them. I think it was his idea of a joke. He ruined them.”


----------------

Hoped you enjoyed the new chapter - why not let me know what you thought on the Feedback thread.


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My Fanfic - The Silver Thread - (WIP) updated 03/07/09

Sig by the most professional, clever & witty Boushh
(Original photo-manipulation of AR by helin)

Last edited by kittling; November 23rd, 2008 at 12:27 am.
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  #10  
Old December 5th, 2008, 10:17 pm
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kittling  Female.gif kittling is offline
Assistant to Professor Snape
 
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Location: UK
Posts: 1,071
Re: The Silver Thread

Chapter 8 (part 2)

Sal walked away from the café with her head still reeling. She made her way to Andy’s house longing for the security of her friendship, needing the warmth of her embrace. When she remembered what she had seen in the lesson it chilled her. Occlumency had shown her that she and Severus had very different family experiences. To her it had always been a safe haven. To him…Her throat constricted around a growing knot, and the physical ache of it echoed the pain in her heart as she remembered the Occlumency lesson and touching his mind for the first time. It had been like sliding into frozen water; shards of ice cut at her as memories raced past her. It took time for her to focus. At first all she was aware of were random flashes of information, until Sal managed to focus. Then she heard a small boy crying in a darkened corner as the voice of man bellowed above her at a cowering woman. Sal tried to reach the boy, pushing past shards of ice that slashed at her. By the time she reached him he was a teenager. She was alone with him in a small bare box room as he stared at a book, bitterly determined to ignore the sounds from below as the man’s voice raked the air with bitterness and anger. A solid, dark thud followed a sharp slapping noise. He heard the sound through the floor, which was still vibrating to the echo of a falling body, as he grabbed his wand and ran to the door. He stopped, frozen, as a woman’s voice called out to someone called Tobias – he hesitated petrified by indecision. She shook off the memories as she knocked on Andy’s front door.

Ted’s cheerful face appeared as the door opened, and he beckoned her in. The quiet of the house relaxed her, and she let out a heartfelt sigh as she looked around for Andy.
“She’s gone away,” he said, catching her searching gaze. “My sister’s expecting so Andy went to stay with her for a bit; took Dora with her and left me here on my own. That’s what you get for being indispensible at work.” He chuckled.
“Andy’s not here?”
Ted cast a calculating look at Sal then smiled. “Want some tea? Kettle’s just boiled.”
Sal followed Ted into the kitchen, listening to his chatter.
Once the tea was made and they had settled round the kitchen table, Ted let Sal drift into a thoughtful silence.

“Give you a knut for them.”
Sal startled out of her reverie and looked at Ted’s gently smiling expression but said nothing.
“I know I’m not Andy, but I’m here if you want me – you know that don’t you?”
“I don’t know what I can say.” Sal sighed, and just as Ted thought he’d lost her to her thoughts again she broke the silence. “What were your parents like?”
“My parents? Why?”
“I just wondered. Mum and dad were always so…” Memories flitted through her mind, stalling her voice. Each one echoed the warmth and security Severus had seen only days before. None of them came near what she had seen in his past. Again the sound of the man’s voice reverberated in her memory; she shivered.
“Sal, are you ok?”
“I’m ok. Just...” She remembered Aleck’s insistence on privacy. “I always assumed that everyone had parents who looked after them. Home’s supposed to be a place where you feel safe. I used to think I was so lucky getting to stay at home. I always felt sorry for Cissy and Andy that they had to leave home and live at the school.”
“Not Bella?”
Sal smiled as she shook her head. “No, not Bella! I was three, I think, when she went to Hogwarts. She used to write to me abut how good it was and all these exciting things that happened there. I don’t think she really missed her family. But Andy and Cissy; they did, and I suppose I was old enough then to understand.” Sal looked Ted in the eye. “Do you think some people are glad to go there just to get away from home?”
Ted gave a sad nod of his head. “Not many but some.”
“I can’t imagine being scared of Dad.”
Silence filled the kitchen with its heavy weight. Eventually Sal looked up at Ted as if she was looking for a way out of her thoughts.
Ted let the moments pass then glanced at his watch. “What are you dong tonight?” he said suddenly.
“Nothing much; just some homework.”
“Good. We’ll call your Gran and tell her you’re staying here tonight. We’re going out!”
Sal was bewildered by the sudden change. “What? Where?”
“A little place I know. I bought the tickets ages ago. I was going to take Andy, but I think you need this right now.”
“Tickets for what?”
“A Muggle singer. She’s fantastic; you’ll love her.”

***

Sal had thought about not going. She had nearly walked away when they had reached the door and Ted had shown the tickets. Now she couldn’t move. Her breath was suspended, her vision blurred; nothing existed except for a sixty-year-old, black Muggle woman who held her enthralled with the power of her voice alone.

Sal had spotted her at the edge of the stage; she seemed so quiet, as if the thought of stepping out on to the stage terrified her. Isolated from everyone she had stood at the side of the stage until with a determined air she had walked out on to the stage. The moment the spot light hit her everything changed; it was as if she had suddenly found herself at home. The tension had evaporated, and now her body seemed alive. Then she had started to sing. It had been clear the audience knew what to expect. Ted had given his ‘You’ll see’ look in his vaguely irritating manner, but the moment the woman had opened her mouth everything else faded away.

Something about the woman’s voice cut through everything and drew out and melded with the memory of the day’s lesson, which came back to Sal as she listened to the singer. The thrill of slipping into Severus’s mind prickled over her spine. After all she had seen she had searched for something else in his memories. She had detected the slightest sense of heat and followed it. Ice had formed in front of her, trying to bar her way, but she formed the Legilimens incantation into heat and the ice melted. Sal found the warmth she sought for in a park where the sun had warmed her skin as summer danced on the air. Severus, looking perhaps nine years old, was hiding behind a bush. Sal had walked up to him and put her hand on his shoulder, but it passed straight through him as if she were a ghost. Instead she followed his gaze and realised he was watching someone. A girl with dark red hair, which blazed like fire in the sun, was bent over a broken tulip. Its stem had almost broken in two, and the tulip’s head rested on the earth. The girl reached out her hand and set the flower upright, balancing on its broken stem. It fell back. She tried again. The second time she held it for a moment and concentrated. Looking at it, she gently pulled her hands away. This time the tulip stayed upright, reaching for the sun with its petals; now whole it swayed slightly in the breeze. When Sal looked at Severus she saw greed in his eyes as he watched the red haired girl. Sal moved on…next she had found herself in a classroom, only a few years later, and the girl with the red hair was there too. When she turned around and smiled at Severus, who was caught in her bright green eyes, the girl next to her elbowed her, whispering harshly, “Lily.”…At the sound of the name a force hit her, driving Sal out of Severus’s memories.

It was the pain of this moment that the singer called to. Sal could still feel the aching in her chest, but now she was unsure if it was the force Severus had used in repelling her or what she had seen that caused it. Quietly she wiped a tear from her cheek and tried to focus on the stage, but the voice of the singer twined around her pain and drew it out once more as her jealousy of the green eyed girl and the way she had already captured Severus bit at her heart.


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My Fanfic - The Silver Thread - (WIP) updated 03/07/09

Sig by the most professional, clever & witty Boushh
(Original photo-manipulation of AR by helin)

Last edited by kittling; December 19th, 2008 at 5:15 pm.
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  #11  
Old December 19th, 2008, 5:10 pm
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Re: The Silver Thread

Chapter 9

September 1977



The summer had been a refuge for Severus. In London he had not had to face his parents or Lily. For the first time in his life he had been able to run his own affairs, and secretly he was pleased with the results. His potion making had improved; he’d learnt things this summer, in the small rundown apothecary on Knockturn Ally that he would never have been taught at Hogwarts or by Sorley. Last year when he had worked in the Ministry it seemed to Severus that his being a half blood was not as much of a problem in real life as life at school and the Hogshead meetings had lead him to believe. Now he found that this was also true, at least largely so, of the political meetings that he attended in London, and so he felt less out of place there. In part he had attributed it to the fact that his work for The Dark Lord was being well received; the complexity of the potions had certainly increased. Indeed the only person who still seemed to hold his blood status against him was Regulus Black who barely deigned to acknowledge him, a fact Severus was more amused than insulted by. The amusement was spurred by the fact that Severus suspected Regulus now saw him as a threat rather than the inferior he had obviously seen him as last year. On occasion he even found he rather enjoyed the new view Regulus had taken of him, and the sense of power that came with it was a relatively new experience for Severus, one he found pleasant.

On the Hogwarts Express he had, for the first time, not changed into his school uniform at the first opportunity. Instead he had remained in the clothes he had bought himself this summer. They marked another first for him: clothes he could wear without feeling ridiculous or self conscious. They were simple, but Severus liked them for their plainness and the sense of formality with which they imbued him. He also had two packed lunches, one he had expected and a second, which had been delivered to him at Kings Cross Station. The memory of Tweeny tugging at his robes brought a flicker of a smile to his face. Reflexively he slipped his hand into his pocket and felt the card that had come with it. Avery said something to him and pulled him out of his reverie. The majority of his fellow Slytherin housemates seemed to have changed in their attitude over the summer, and he felt more included sitting here in the train carriage with them than he had in the previous six years.

Sorting, lessons, meals, trips to Hogsmeade; everything settled into its old familiar routines. At the beginning of the year things with Lily started much the same as they had been all of the previous year, except now he was starting to get used to her silence. It was starting to lose the sharpness of its sting. Severus had almost become used to it when he began to notice that she seemed to be spending more time with Potter, and Severus found his fears of betrayal taking a solid shape. At first he tried to put it down to them being forced together now they were Head Boy and Girl, but the looks Potter threw at him made that increasingly difficult. Within the space of a few months he saw them holding hands. He had expected to be haunted by the picture, thought that the pain would overwhelm him but as the words him, why him? echoed through his mind he detached from the horror of the moment. His fears over the last few years that this would happen insulated him, and he watched life through a glass pane just as he had once done at home. It lasted for just over a week.

He was preparing a new potion, one he had not tried before. When Lucius had given him the order, his heart had quickened. The potion was new to him and complex. After some study he began to realise that if he collected the ingredients and brewed the potion correctly, paying strict notice of concordances, it could be far more effective, and slight changes in the concordances of the ingredients or their preparation could actually change the effects of the potion. Its versatility amazed him so much that he took little account of the fact that the only uses such a potion could be put to were malign. He had just returned from the Forbidden Forest one lunchtime, where he had been searching for several plants that Madam Sprout was unlikely to be growing or that would arouse too much suspicion if he asked for them, and so was anxious not to been seen when he heard someone approaching. He ducked into an open classroom to wait for them to pass. As he stood behind the door he realised that there were two people, and instead of passing they had stopped. Severus didn’t have to strain his ears to work out what was happening; a couple had obviously wandered down one of the less used corridors in the hope of spending a little time alone together. It was hardly unusual. Wondering if he could sneak past them, he risked peeking out of the doorway. There pressed against the wall was Lily, a strangers hand caught in her deep red hair; it was all he could see of her, but he would have recognised it anywhere. No one had hair that was quite that shade of red. The boy with her moved his head back and gazed into her eyes. The moment the scruffy dark hair had appeared from behind Lily Severus’s stomach had lurched. The thought of anyone touching Lily pained him, but James Potter – that was ... Instinctively he gripped the doorframe, his knuckles whitening. Severus pulled back inside the classroom and leaned against the wall gulping at the air which had become too thin and wiping at his stinging eyes. By the time he had calmed down there was no sign of anyone in the corridor, and he started to make his way back. As Snape swept into one of the main corridors a third year student, in Ravenclaw’s distinctive blue and silver, walked straight into him. Severus glared down at the boy, his eyes flashing dangerously. The boy, struck by the full force of Severus’s anger, stuttered at him incoherently then ran away. Snape watched as the boy fled, slightly taken aback by the boy’s fear. Some of the tension in his shoulders loosened, and a slight smile twisted the corner of his lips. After that things quickly took the shape he had expected. Lily and Potter became inseparable, and for the first time Severus changed from trying to uncover Potter’s rule breaking to hexing him at every opportunity. He hadn’t been completely innocent of such activities in the past, but now it had taken on a new pace, and the hexes were of a new darker flavour.

Sal and he, due to Sal’s concerns about Regulus, had now developed two methods of communication. Bladud still brought him a regular series of letters, although they were dramatically less frequent than they had been. These letters were formal, consisting of almost nothing personal. Instead they were business like, full of questions about studies and theory; the only time they drifted into the personal was to complain about Professor Hinderly who, it seemed, was still her teacher and little improved. He took to being somewhat careless with these letters and on occasion would even leave them in the main common room. The other letters he guarded carefully. These came monthly tucked into a copy of The Potioneer that Sal would send on to him via a hired owl. These letters were lively and personal. He would tuck them away until the night came and read them closeted in his bed, curtains drawn, or some secluded spot where no one could spy on him. The letters began to feel almost like reading a diary; they contained a mixture of factual reporting of her day to day life and commentary on it. She told him about the people in her life, the torture of repeated fittings with Narcissa and the rest of her bridal party, the lengths that Cissy’s determination to have the most perfect wedding was driving them all to. Her family members, past and present, were drawn out for him until he felt that they had been a part of his own life. Sal even talked about her dream of following in her mother’s footsteps and becoming a healer and her fear that she would not be allowed to do so. It was as close as she came to mentioning Regulus who was, thankfully, absent from her letters. In return Severus shared some of his hopes for the future, his desire to prove himself, and so encouraged Sal to follow her dreams.
In these letters any conversation about theory so far exceeded those in the other letters that he began to realise that the side of her self she chose to show the rest of the world was beneath her true capabilities. She became his sounding board on his developments in potions and spells, much as he was to her, yet he found himself holding back on some things. He heard Lily’s voice berating him for his love of the Dark Arts and, though he would argue that Sal understood, still he found himself editing out the depth of this love when writing to her. Sal told him more of her lessons with Professor Witling, with whom she was still studying, and the new subjects he was beginning to teach her. She seemed entranced by the detail and often discussed much of it with him; subtle nuances were dissected and analysed, his opinion sought on possible interpretations. The subject that most seemed to capture her imagination was Nomenology. The idea of understanding the base form for any thing that existed seemed to intrigue her. The drawbacks of the subject being so complex that it could never be used to cast instantaneous spells seemed to do nothing to discourage her. At times Severus even thought that was one of the things that had appealed to her. In short these letters were the continuation of their friendship.


----------------

Again thanks to all the people who've been reading hope you've enjoyed the story so far
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My Fanfic - The Silver Thread - (WIP) updated 03/07/09

Sig by the most professional, clever & witty Boushh
(Original photo-manipulation of AR by helin)
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  #12  
Old January 6th, 2009, 12:14 am
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Assistant to Professor Snape
 
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Re: The Silver Thread

Well it’s confession time – I’ve err ‘borrowed’ a few lines from JKR in this chapter; a slightly different context and with appropriate changes to gender but still very ‘borrowed’. Anyway, now I’ve got that off my chest, on with the story.

Chapter 10

1977/78 Christmas hols



Sal paced the guest room, not knowing where to turn, longing for the comfort of home. Narcissa’s ever increasing anxiety about the wedding preparations were reaching ridiculous proportions, and Sal was here, in the depths of Wiltshire in what would soon be Narcissa’s new home, helping with the final preparations, warding off the old maiden aunts and buffering Cissy from her mother, Druella, when all she had really wanted was to spend some time with her grandmother. She hated watching her fade away, illness eating away at the indomitable woman who had stood between her and harm, never leaving. Of all the times for this to happen why did it have to be this week when she was far from home and busy? She had already dismissed the idea of talking to her grandmother about Regulus. Even if she hadn’t been so ill how could Sal tell her grandmother that the marriage contract she had been partly responsible for now bound Sal to... the thought made her nauseous. She struggled to hold the fear at bay. Sal had spent the last year coming to terms with the idea of marrying someone who, sweet as he was, she saw only as her little cousin; he wasn’t actually her cousin, but that was how she saw him, nonetheless. In the last few months she had begun to convince herself that the marriage was a workable proposition and one which might even bring some happiness. Now the idea appalled her. She had thought of talking to Andy, her normal confidant, but as well as being too far away, Sal could not endure the idea of telling her that Reggie was a Death Eater. Andy suffered enough suspecting that Bella followed the same path, and that was hardly unexpected, but Reggie, little Reggie who was scarcely even a man, certainly had not seemed a likely candidate. His words floated through her head “I am. Trying to do my best, I mean, to make a better world for us. All of us.” They had seemed hopeful and reassuring when she had first heard them; now she saw only darkness at the heart of them.

She had been thankful. At the moment when she had seen the snake tattoo, traced it with her finger up his forearm to the skull out of which it slithered she had been so thankful for Professor Witling’s lessons. She had felt her mind calming, burying the desire to scream, the horror, the fear, all of it quietly sliding behind walls until she knew that he would never see it in her eyes. He had watched her explore the mark, his dark eyes fixed on her, cool and confident. She had reached inside his mind, exploring it as she had his arm, fearing to push too deep, reading only the surface, in case he would notice. It had made it easy to know what to do, what he expected, what she could allow herself. He had seen the edge of fear, and so she turned it to trepidation. Her fingers still tracing the mark, a single word escaped her mouth in a whisper. “The Dark Mark?”
His dark eyes shone. “Yes.” He had smiled as he acknowledged his allegiance, so she had turned trepidation to admiration as he had expected, just as he had wanted.
“They accepted you? Even though…”
Regulus stopped her, gently placing a finger over her lips. “The Dark Lord knows who’s worthy; age doesn’t matter.”
She stretched up to kiss him, not knowing what to say. He had held her then, pulling her to him with an assurance he had not shown before, with a passion she tried to match. She had learnt to act the part of late and did so now, returning his fervour, before she pulled away as if embarrassed by her longing, dissembling with maidenly propriety. He had been torn between his approval of her modesty and promise he saw in her desire. His hand caressed her cheek. “A year seems like such a long time,” he murmured.
“Not a year; it’s less than ten months now and then I am yours.” At that he had kissed her.
As they parted Sal looked up at him solemnly. “Reggie, you won’t…I mean.” She swallowed. “It’s dangerous, isn’t it?”
He smiled into her moist, smoky blue eyes. “Don’t worry. I’ll be fine; I can take care of myself, Sal. There’s nothing for you to worry about.”
Her eyes were still fixed on his; concern marked her face with a slight frown. “Are you sure?” Her hand tightened on his fractionally.
He cradled her face in his hand and smiled down at her. “Absolutely.”
Sal weighed his words, and then she looked at the mark again, her fingers tracing it again, drawn irresistibly to it. “It’s not new, is it?” she murmured.

*******

Malfoy Manor seemed over large to Severus. He failed to see how anyone could find it homey, yet Lucius seemed to have no such problems. Despite his complaints, he had to admit that not having to listen to his parents argue here or bear the cutting sarcasm of his father made the stay more enjoyable. He had been surprised when Lucius had asked him if he would be one of the ushers at his wedding. Regulus had bristled, and Severus had of course accepted; there was rarely much choice when Lucius asked for something. Although, happily this time, that had not been a factor. The added advantage of the chance to spend most of the Christmas holidays away from Spinners End was not to be dismissed. It was the one time of the year when he was normally unable to get out of going home. Since Lily had turned her back on him he had become a master at squirming his way out of returning to the town they shared. It was only a few weeks later that Lucius had mentioned that there was a little job or two that needed doing. The little job had turned out not to be so little; admittedly Severus had expected that. However this morning he knew he would be spending most of the rest of the day in a potions lab. That would mean he could avoid having to socialise with Lucius’s other guests, a thought which added to his sense of calm. Even breakfast was better than he had expected. There was an air of mild anticipation. Severus knew the cause; this morning a final reconnaissance was being made of tonight’s target. What that target was Severus did not know, but he had several potions to make for the event. He had been told that if all went well it should take only an hour or so, and afterwards they would be having Lucius’s bachelor party, for which he was also making a potion. After everything Sal had told him about Narcissa’s mood of late he felt it would be advisable for the entirety of the groom’s party to arrive at the final rehearsal looking bright eyed and bushy tailed as opposed to suffering from the effects of over indulgence, which he thought would be the likely consequence if the secret parties that happened in Slytherin were anything to go by.

He looked round the table again wondering where Sal was, hoping that she was simply sleeping late, when Lucius got up and left, taking several of his guests with him, which meant that the majority of the Death Eaters staying at the Manor would be gone. Narcissa followed them. Severus heard the murmur of conversation drifting in from the hallway. Individual words were lost on him until he heard her name, and the soft tone of Sal’s voice followed it. In an attempt to look nonchalant he asked for the coffee, ignoring the hum of conversation coming from the hall. By the time it had arrived and he began pouring it, Narcissa had returned to the table, and Sal was taking a seat at the table opposite him. She settled in her chair, at ease in the company, and shared idle conversation with everyone. Severus tried to vanish into the background again, but the attempt came to nothing when Abraxas Malfoy fixed him with a cold glare. “Not off with Lucius, boy?”
Severus coloured a little. “No, sir. I have some homework, and Lucius said I could use the potions lab to do some revision.”
“Hope you’re not going to get underfoot.”
“No, sir.”
Abraxas was about to say something when Sal’s voice cut across his in breath before he had a chance to speak. As Severus turned he saw that she had fixed her smoky blue eyes on him. “Could you pass the coffee please, Severus?”
Dreading the thought of enduring an inquisition by Lucius’ father, Severus responded smoothly, grateful for the interruption. “Of course. Here.”
She took the coffee pot and poured it slowly and delicately then, as Abraxas took a breath, she asked for the cream and again poured it at a leisurely pace. This time Abraxas waited until she had finished and picked up her cup before he readied himself to speak. Again, just before he opened his mouth, she spoke.
“Did you sleep well, Severus?”
“Yes, I did.” He caught an impish glint in her eye and weighted his next words, knowing she would understand his meaning. “Thank you.” After that he followed her lead, waiting a few moments before returning the question. Between them they kept up a relaxed conversation, managing to make it impossible for Abraxas to continue his line of questioning until Severus quite distinctly heard Sal’s voice say, I think he’s given up now, as he was watched her drink coffee. Severus choked on his toast.
Walburga, who had been watching the exchange, chose this moment to speak. “Regulus mentioned that you wanted to visit Magda today.”
“Yes, she’s still not feeling very well. I know Tweeny is looking after her, but, well, I’d rather see how she is for myself.” Sal turned to look at Druella. “I know you and Cissy have a lot planned today, but is it possible for you to spare me for just a few hours?”
Druella’s cool tone was at odds with the pointed look she gave her daughter. “I’m sure Narcissa won’t mind, will you?” Severus watched as Sal was dragged into the conversation of the table’s matrons.

*******

Seeing her grandmother brought little peace to Sal. It had only made it clear that very soon she would have to be moved to St Mungo’s, and then it was unlikely she would ever come home again. Once she had watched her grandmother drift into sleep, Sal retreated to her own bedroom. Home suddenly seemed to have lost its comfort; instead it felt large and hollow. Never the less she set to writing Dumbledore a letter, outlining the specifics she had learnt the night before; this was likely to be her safest opportunity for some time. Regulus had been pleased to share what he knew with Sal. He regarded her as his already; he had not even imagined that she would be anything other than proud of his achievement, and she had done nothing to dissuade him of that notion. Quite the contrary. Writing the letter had not been easy. She had alternated between pacing her room and writing; at times she would pick up her quill and sit, biting her lip and failing to write a single word, or she would pick the quill up and put it down again. Eventually she had picked up the photograph of her mother and father that sat on her desk and looked at it, wishing she could speak to them. She traced her mother’s cheek with her fingers, sighed, and then she began to write in earnest.

Some of the details posed no problem for her to write; they were to her simple facts. Names and places that meant nothing to her formed the first part of the letter, but when she could no longer put off mentioning people she knew, people she cared for, Sal again began to hesitate. Bella’s involvement had long been suspected by everyone, but somehow the thought of writing her name here in this document brought the taste of bile to her throat. She paused, trying to think of something else to write. Her eyes strayed to the grey-white light of the winter sky as Sal absentmindedly began wringing her fingers.

When she returned to writing, instead of talking about Bella she began to tell Dumbledore that his own school was being used as a recruiting ground. She suspected that each name he read would pain him. Sal also noted with concern that several of Severus’s friends were among the names of those either already joined or potential candidates, including Mr Avery. Severus’s name, fortuitously, was not one Reggie had mentioned. Again she struggled when it came time to add Reggie’s name to the list of students who were already a member of the Death Eaters. From there the rest of the story unfolded, and her writing became consistent. Her pain held at bay, she finished the letter.

*******

After breakfast Severus slipped away and headed straight to the Potions laboratory at the back of the house. It was without doubt the finest lab he had ever worked in. Everything was neat and ordered; even with the shelves liberally stocked, as they always were, there was no sense of chaos or strain about them. Every tool in the room was in perfect condition; each knife blade was ground to its ideal sharpness; measuring spoons were exact, and the scales were as precise as he could have wished them to be even in his most pedantic moods. Knowing all this had instilled him with calm this morning, and coming here had helped him restore it after the incident at breakfast. The recollection of hearing Sal’s voice so clearly when she so obviously could not have been talking still left him filled with curiosity. He pushed the thought aside for the present and turned his attention to the work he had ahead of him.

He measured the water he needed into a cauldron and set it to heat. Next he prepared the ingredients for the potion. The recipe had started life as an invigorating draft, but Severus had altered it so substantially that it bore little resemblance to the original anymore. It occurred to him that he should think of a name for the new potion, but as he was not yet happy with it he pushed the idea away and continued preparing the ingredients. He then left them to steep in the heated water while he set about preparing the potions Lucius wanted for tonight’s raid.

So he passed what was to him an enjoyable morning. He had little thought for the eventual use of the potions except where he considered refinements to the recipe; other than that he only considered how the potions progressed as he worked on them. He was so engrossed in his work that when, a few hours later Sal stood in the doorway, watching him working in his shirtsleeves, he became confused about the aroma of his potion. As he sniffed the potion, hoping to find a distinctive damp mushroom smell, he was disconcerted by a distinctly floral overtone. Sal almost smiled as he frowned and checked his recipe then double checked the potion.
“Having trouble?”
Startled, his head snapped round to face the door. He looked at her and blinked thoughtfully. “It’s you. Come here.” He beckoned her over to his work bench, wiping his hands on a cloth before dropping it casually over the recipe. “Here.” He pointed to the cauldron. “What does this smell like to you?”
Sal wrinkled her nose and pulled her head away from the mixture. “It’s like – I don’t know - mildew or mushroom.”
“Just that, nothing else?”
“No.”
“That’s what I thought,” Severus muttered as he took the cauldron off the heat and started to prepare something in its lee. Sal sat on a tall stool at the next workbench and watched Severus working, even though he was half masked by his still bubbling cauldron. As he carefully added the shredded plant matter to his potion he asked “How were things at your grandmother’s?”
A little crease appeared between her eyes.
“Fine” she replied.
“Not ready to face the others?” he ventured warily.
Sal sighed. “Do you mind?”
He briefly looked at her. “So are you here for entertainment or distraction?” he asked, apparently engrossed in his potion making.
“Distraction.”
Severus looked at her steadily for a moment before pointing at another cauldron across the laboratory with his knife. “Have a look at that. I left it to steep earlier. How is it?”
Sal dipped a ladle into it, decanted some of the deep, yellow liquid into a vial and held it up. “What is it anyway?”
“An invigorating draft I’ve been working on.” Severus looked critically at the vial. “It’s ready; can you strain it and then follow the instructions in that book?”
Sal picked up Severus’s note book and started trying to decipher the instructions written in his distinctive cramped scrawl and covered with crossings out and additional notes as well as being rewritten in its entirety several times. They fell into what was, for the most part, a quiet companionship as each worked at their cauldron.

As Sal worked something Regulus had said drifted through her mind. She looked at Severus as he stirred his potion with studied concentration. The question had finally forced itself back into her consciousness. Was Severus a Death Eater? She mused on the thought as she continued making the potion. He has an interest in the Dark Arts. So do a lot of people; so do I, but I wouldn’t do that. For a while the thought quietened her mind. As she was half way through shredding the Agrimony her doubts began to resurface, and she shooed them away with another excuse. He’s not even left school yet – they wouldn’t take him so young. She found her self snorting with derision at the idea. Regulus is a year younger, and he’s a member; has been for at least a year. The thought that Severus’s age protected him was ridiculous, and Sal began to realise that if he was intending to join that he probably would have done so by now. She absentmindedly chewed her lip as she added the Agrimony to the potion. Regulus certainly made it sound like Sev wasn’t a Death Eater. This idea brought a small smile to her face until it too was banished. Regulus is jealous of my friendship with Severus; anyway would he really tell you something about Sev that he thought was going to make him sound better? She found her self forced to admit that it was highly improbably that Regulus would do anything that made Severus look any better to her. Her annoyance at Regulus’s irrational dislike of Severus distracted her for a while. She ignored her own bitterness towards Lily and its reason, but again her worry about Severus came to the fore, and she reached for a new argument. His father is a muggle. He hates his father. Well he has reason, and anyhow that doesn’t mean he hates all muggles. True, but it doesn’t mean he likes them either. But Severus is friends with a muggleborn; more than friends really. Again she suppressed the bitterness that had started to well up in her, but that brought a new idea to her mind. Was a friend – they’re not friends any more. Whenever she tried to prove to herself that he was not a Death Eater some objection would arise. So the argument continued, spiralling through her mind, unable to come to any resolution.

After Sal had added the last of the ingredients, she looked at the instructions to check she had actually finished. As she moved the cauldron out of the way so she could tidy her workbench she saw Severus bend over his cauldron, still working, his concentration focused on his potion. It occurred to her that there was a way to find out if he had joined the Death Eaters. With her wand she moved the dirtied equipment to the sink behind Severus and put it down gently. As she returned to her counter top she aimed a small nonverbal jinx at the button on Severus’s left sleeve cuff. The thread on the button broke and the cuff began to loosen. Sal continued clearing her workspace, keeping watch on Severus through the corner of her eye.

As she was wiping down the bench top and he was carefully adding a powder slowly to the thickening liquid, the button finally fell off and the cuff, now unrestrained, tumbled loose and caught in the flame. Sal panicked as she saw her simple plan take a dangerous turn and leapt forward to smother the flames with the damp cloth in her hands. As the panic subsided she saw the smooth, pale skin of his inner arm, unblemished under the cloth. Relief flooded her body as her eyes stopped, transfixed by the wiry strength she felt under her fingers and the skin which was so pale it almost shone. For a moment she was frozen, caught in a whirlwind, until she felt Severus’s intense gaze directed at her, and she looked up at him. His dark eyes glittered, drawing hers to them, as she struggled to breath.

Suddenly she realised she was still holding his arm. She dropped it and, blushing, mumbled apologies as she stepped away. In a quiet and measured tone he thanked her for her help, denying that she had any reason to apologise, and Sal watched as he withdrew from her, locking himself away as he had not done for months. Sal, cursing her stupidity, convinced she had offended him, finished the last of her tidying as quickly as she could and left to meet Narcissa and Bellatrix.

Severus watched as Sal closed the door, silenced by shock. Yet the thoughts continued, reaching out to her, touching the soft brown curls of her hair, twining his finger through it, pulling her close…He stopped the thought dead and berated him self. For so long he had clung to Lily, or at least to his idea of her, sworn to be faithful to her memory. Now not only had he betrayed that oath, but he had thought about his best friend, a woman who was soon to be married, unconscionably. It won’t happen again. It’s that simple, he told himself. Severus picked the cloth up from the floor and looked at its tattered remains, remembering the smell of roses and lavender that had embraced him as she held his arm so tenderly. Angry with himself, he threw the charred cloth into the rubbish bin.


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Old January 18th, 2009, 10:13 am
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Re: The Silver Thread

Thank you to everyone who has left feed back Originally this and chapter 10 were one very big chapter but thankfully India my beta pointed out a few problems & one major disaster so I did a big rewrite and this and the chapter 10 was the result. Any problems that are still in the chapter are all mine; anyway hope you enjoy


Chapter 11

1977/78 Christmas hols


Severus had not expected that he would be taking part in a Death Eater raid so soon after leaving Hogwarts for the holidays. The first raid had happened the day after he arrived at Malfoy Manor. Initially it had terrified him; violence and the anger held too many memories for him for him to feel anything else. He was overwhelmed by the urge to hide in a corner somewhere, anywhere, to be away from it all. And then something snapped. Suddenly he simply stepped forward, cold and fury combined chasing away the weak child who had controlled him. Curses flew from his wand, his face as mask like as the one it hid beneath, and for once he was not scared.

His conduct during the raid, once he had found his feet, won him the approbation of the Death Eaters who had also been there. Mulciber had whispered that soon Severus too would be allowed to carry the Mark. After that they had taken him into town, as one of their own, to clubs he had never been to before: places where Death Eaters were welcomed, desired, pandered too, revered even, and, being in the company of Death Eaters, that welcome was extended to him. That had been a novelty for him. Still high on adrenalin from the raid and the power of the dark magic he had used still crackling through his veins he had discovered what it was to be desired. Drunk on success, drink and more besides, the night had slipped away. The next morning he had paid the price. Besides a hangover of epic proportions, memories of the night before would swim into his consciousness. He had wondered for a moment, when he held the red-headed girl, if this was unfaithfulness, but the hollowness of it, the way the pleasure failed to touch his heart, helped him convince himself that it was not. He found in retrospect that he was not well suited to this kind of reckless abandon. With a wry grin he found himself forced to admit that it had its advantages, but it left him feeling ill at ease, unable to shake the incessant feeling that something - something bad - was about to happen.

Within a week it had.

Even the next day his stomach churned when he thought of his actions in the potions laboratory. After Sal had left, Severus had made himself concentrate on finishing his potion, used the work to distract himself, hoping to calm his mind. Once he had finished, he returned to his room and practiced his Occlumency exercises until his mind was finally calm and controlled again. He had given his shirt to the house elf to repair. When it came back Severus noted that Dobby had restored the shirt sleeve so well that the damage could no longer be seen. Almost as if it had never happened, he mused, looking at the cuff.

The raid that night had gone very smoothly, and again he found he could channel his emotion; even discovered that he found a release in focusing the icy rage that he had suppressed for so long. Afterwards, as they changed for Lucius’s bachelor party, Lucius had pulled Severus aside and told him that the next night he was to receive the Mark.

Yet that night, despite everything, he had dreamt of what might have happened in the potions lab and the smell of roses and lavender. That he held her close, tasted her soft flesh, and it had touched his heart when she had looked up at him, her charcoal blue eyes lost in his as she smiled at him. He woke that morning remembering nothing of his dream, noticing only that he felt refreshed and calm and ascribed it to a good night’s sleep.

*******

The bitter taste of the potion he’d taken over an hour before still caught in the back of his throat, yet pain still flooded his body as it had all evening. He had decided it was time to give in and use the aconite salve he’d been avoiding all night. He had most of the ingredients prepared but needed something to use as a base, and that was most likely to be found in the kitchen. He was aware that he could have asked Lucius’ house elf to bring him what he wanted, but as he would rather Lucius didn’t know that he was struggling to cope with the pain it seemed better to make the trip across the house. Besides, he wasn’t fond of house elves anyway. His father’s voice rang through his head. Accept your place, boy. And he had. For years he had accepted being the poor relative, the second class wizard, the half blood, despite his talent. He had bided his time and learnt and worked, constantly pretending not to hear or notice the snubs and comments. But soon, he thought, everything will change. Reflexively his right hand massaged his left forearm, and again he winced. The extra surge of pain brought back the memory of his hand being held out, cold, white fingers wrapping around his wrist, binding it. A lipless mouth turned in a mocking smile as a wand dug into his arm, setting a fire that refused to die. Every nerve in his body had burned like tungsten. Fire had rolled through his body like a tsunami carried through his veins. For a time the pain was all that existed. When he came back to himself he was kneeling on the floor, withered like a wilted flower, white as the hand that gripped his wrist and plastered with cold sweat. Somehow he had turned his arm so that he could kiss the steely hand that restrained it and finished his part of the incantation that sealed the Mark and bound him to his new master. He did not even remember apparating afterwards, let alone who brought him back to the Manor house.

It was a strange night; part of him rejoiced at having succeeded in joining the Death Eaters, knowing that he was now in a position to exceed his lowly beginnings, but the pain gnawed at him and drew any pleasure he might otherwise have felt out of him. Its constant presence hung round him like grief and left him bone weary. Finally he reached the kitchen, entering it; his footsteps took on an echo as stone replaced the wood underfoot. A light smell of beeswax rose from a large table in the centre of the room, the corner of which was bathed in moonlight. He summoned light.

A shrill cry echoed through the room as something shattered on the stone floor.

In a swift move he found he had his wand out, pointed at Sal. Her face was drawn; eyes, squinting against the sudden light, were dark-ringed, and her hands attempted to shade them. At the sight of him she relaxed, half laughing; the words tumbled from her, “Severus, you scared me half to death.”
“Sal?”
“Are you going to use that?” she said, pointing at his still raised wand.
Severus quickly lowered his wand arm. An apology stammered out of his mouth as he took in the sight of a broken cup, its warm dark contents spread across the floor, steaming in the chill of the night air. With a quick charm he cleaned the mess away, using the few seconds it bought him to collect himself. “What are you doing here sitting in the dark?” he called at her back as she moved into the pantry.
Her voice, stilted by her attempt to sound calm, came from the storeroom. “Nothing much. Couldn’t sleep. You?”
“No, neither could I.” He watched her as she came back into the kitchen, carrying milk and a pan.
“Want some? I make a good hot chocolate.”
“That sound nice, thanks.” He watched as Sal pulled the saucepan out of the sink where she had left it and started washing it. “Do you want a hand?”
Sal smiled at him over her shoulder. “No, not enough work for two really. Why don’t you sit down?”
He continued watching her as he took his seat. She still wore her hair up in the same style he had seen her wearing earlier in the day, although now it was slightly loose, and several soft brown locks had fallen out of the once neat arrangement. Under the hem of her dressing gown her robe was visible; the soft blue fabric decorated with a small flower pattern belied her claim to having had trouble sleeping. She had not yet even changed for bed, let alone tried to sleep. He looked at her more closely and saw her hand shake as she poured the milk into the saucepan. She filled the air with idle chatter as she made the drinks for them. He responded to her, although he paid little attention to her words, taking in the slight brittle edge to her voice, worried that she was annoyed with him after what had happened the day before. Since Sal had left the potions laboratory yesterday he had scrutinized her behaviour for any sign that she was angry with him. He had noticed only an attempt to act as if nothing had happened underscored by a slight nervousness on her part, and yet he was waiting for her anger – a torrent of rage that he had come to expect since childhood for even his mildest transgressions. As she passed him a mug full of steaming chocolate their fingers brushed. The contact brought them eye to eye, and though he made no attempt to pry into her mind he felt a hot lance of terror pierce him that he knew was not his own. As she broke the eye contact the feeling disappeared. The quality of the fear reminded him of meeting the Dark Lord for the first time.

Severus held his mug, feeling the warmth of it seeping into his hands, soothed by it and feeling strangely glad that she had made it for him. His mind drifted to a winter long ago when he had come home one evening, chilled to the bone, expecting to find the house empty. As he had stomped the snow off his boots his mother had appeared in the hallway; grim faced and sour she had looked at him. Suddenly she had swept him into the back room. As they entered she flourished her wand, and an old tin bath had swung into place and begun to fill with steaming water. As they waited she had rubbed his thin hands between her own, forcing heat into them. The hot water had finally banished the ice from his veins, and he spent the evening bundled up in a blanket in front of the fire. His mother had even made him cocoa. It would have been a pleasant memory if he hadn’t spent the evening scared his father would come home or that his mother would lose interest in him again and return to her normal fugue.

He looked up at Sal. “It’s nice.” He lifted the mug slightly. “Thank you.” Looking at her, he was appalled. Her face was normally a warm colour with a blush of pink in the cheeks; now it was pale and looked white and thin as paper to him. The edge of fear in her eyes was one many would have missed, but he’d seen it too often in his mother’s eyes to miss it now. He reached into his breast pocket and pulled out a crystal phial. Reaching across the table he put it down in front of her; unsure of how to proceed he simply murmured, “It’ll help.”

Sal picked up the tiny bottle and looked at it curiously. “What is it; a sleeping draft?”

“No. Draft of Peace.” He shrugged awkwardly. “Well, sort of. It’s my own recipe. It helps with…it...” He struggled to find the words. “…you look like you need it. That will make things easier.” As he spoke, not knowing where else to look, he studiously examined his mug, only glancing up at Sal to check she was not annoyed by his suggestion. She wasn’t, although she seemed worried now. “Are you alright?”
“Too anxious, I suppose.” Sal stifled a yawn. “Cissy’s perfect wedding mania is officially out of control. She’s been worse than ever this week. I suppose it’s because the wedding’s tomorrow, and Bella snapped, and they ended up arguing. It was awful. They haven’t been that bad with each other for years. And Granny’s ill.”
“I know you told me. Isn’t she…”
“No. Really ill.” The pain and fear welled up in her eyes as she looked at him, desperate for him to understand, and suddenly he did; Magda was dying. “I went back this evening, and I think she might...” It was the first time she had tried to admit it to anyone, but she couldn’t. The word refused to come out, so she just looked at Severus, pain and loss in her eyes.
He was struck by the impulse to hold her, which only served to confuse him, so he reminded himself that she a friend and soon to be married. “I’m sorry – I didn’t realise.” He searched for something to say, some way he could help.
“There’s no reason you should. I’ve been trying not to tell anyone, pretending that it’s not serious, but…well it wasn’t going to last forever, was it?” She looked at Severus for a moment. “You won’t tell anyone will you? Granny doesn’t want it to spoil Cissy’s wedding.”
“Of course not. Not if you don’t want me to.” He paused for a moment, looking confused before steeling himself. “Is there anything I can do? If there is, you know I’ll help, don’t you?”
Sal gave a sad smile as she looked at him. “I know; just distract me. All I can do at the moment is to try not to think about it.” This time the yawn escaped. “I’m so tired.”
At last Severus found solid ground; distraction was something he understood. He had practiced it since childhood. He adopted a new firm, brighter tone. “At least you don’t have to endure any more fittings! All the wedding nonsense will be over soon.” He added a mild, chiding edge to his voice “But if you turn up tomorrow looking like you haven’t slept…she’ll be livid!”
“True, but…”
“Go back to your room and take the philtre. It should work quickly and make it easier to sleep.” He gave her a tight lipped smile, not knowing what else to say or do. “Go on, go to bed. If you still can’t sleep, let me know. I might have something else; after all we can’t have Narcissa cross with you.”
She walked over to the sink and dropped the now empty mug into it. “Alright, you’re right; I’ll go.” Sal turned to leave.
As she reached the doorway she turned back to face Severus. For a moment she hesitated. “Sev, if everything went wro… if everyone turned their back on me - you’d still be my friend, wouldn’t you?”
He frowned at her in disbelief. “Why would anyone do that to you?”
Sal gave a sad half smile. “Don’t you know about Sirius and Andromeda?”
Severus almost snorted at the sound of Sirius’s name, amazed that anyone would use it so pityingly. “From what I heard Sirius was the one who walked out. I don’t really know what happened to Andromeda, though – I thought she died.”
“No, she married someone they didn’t approve of, so…” The words dried in her throat, and she looked away.
The silence stood between them until Severus broke it. “Sal, I won’t…I don’t walk out on my friends, and that includes you. Understand?”
Sal took a step towards him. “Promise?”
“I promise.”
With that, Sal smiled for a moment. “Me, too. You know that, don’t you?”
“I know.”
Sal was struck by fear again, the idea of her friend so close to so many people who would, she knew, eventually try to pull him into their personal war to control the wizarding world. She wanted to warn him; to tell him to run from them all but knew she couldn’t. She was only safe now if she kept up the pretence of the dutiful and proud fiancé. “Sev, you’ve been so kind, but you know not everyone’s like that, don’t you?” She was scared she was saying too much yet so desperate to make him understand. “Just be careful.”
He paused knowing that she was trying to tell him something, something important, but the meaning eluded him. A deep crease grew between his eyebrows. He frowned as he looked at her intently, as if somehow it would help him understand. “Is everything alright?”
Sal blushed and found herself examining the stone flag beneath her feet. She looked up. “It will be. I didn’t mean to worry you; I’m sorry. You were probably right. I should go to bed.” She moved towards the door before looking over her shoulder. “Night.”
“Good night.” Severus watched as the door closed behind her.
He was about to start looking through cupboards for the ingredients he needed when the door opened again, and Sal popped her head through the gap with a gentle smile. “Sev. Thanks.”

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  #14  
Old February 1st, 2009, 3:10 pm
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Re: The Silver Thread

Chapter 12

The wedding had allowed him little time to think. The whole day had been filled with mindless trivia that drove him to distraction; the one blessing of the day was that the pain in his forearm had finally subsided. The next day Sal and the other guests left the manor and Severus had to return to Spinners End. New Year did not go well; it never did. As a result his mother withdrew further into herself and nothing he could do seemed to bridge the gap between them. He in turn withdrew to his room where memories that were not his own dominated his thoughts. While he and Sal had been learning Occlumency he had often see her grandmother in her mind. He knew the smell of her hair, the warmth of her embrace, and could still remember the feeling of safety that came just by holding her hand. It seemed he had a hundred memories of this old woman he had never met, and he began to realise how precious they were to him. Sometimes he lived the memories as he dreamt, and he would wake stronger and sadder. He wondered how Sal felt knowing that all she would have of her grandmother soon were memories. It reminded him of the dark days after Lily had ended their friendship, and he hated it.

*******

It had taken half the day trawling round an old muggle antiques market before he found it. When he had left in the morning, he had no idea exactly what he was going to buy, only that it had to be beautiful and gentle and had to have some warmth to it. When he saw the shawl he knew he had found what he was looking for. He reached out to touch it and found it felt as soft as the gentle cream material looked. Its two outside edges were hung with long silky tassels that slipped through his fingers like water. But it was the decoration that caught his eye; the shawl was embroidered with large, blousy roses in light pinks and peaches, which were held together by garlands of flowers and ivy that decorated the outer edges of the shawl.

Once Severus was home he put the shawl carefully into his school trunk, took out several of his books and set to finalising his plans. The next day he sent an owl to Professor Witling setting out his idea as well as requesting his advice and permission to use his Pensieve. The next day was a Sunday and the last day of the holidays. Severus went to visit the professor in London, aware that this was his only chance in the next few months to make his gift, and after a long day’s work it was finished. He had taken the memories he had of Sal’s time with her grandmother and managed, with some help, to disentangle the sensory and emotional threads of them. He had then blended a complex charm and a potion to weave the memories into the shawl. When Severus had finished he looked at Aleck, wanting some reassurance that it and worked. Aleck simply raised his eyebrows in gleeful anticipation.
“Well give it a try, Severus,” he said encouragingly.
Severus took a deep breath and, feeling more than a little silly, put on the shawl. In an instant he felt the warmth of an embrace, the tension flowed out of his shoulders, leaving them relaxed, and a peaceful smile blossomed on his face.

It had worked.

****


Sal thought it had been a good morning in comparison to the last week. Her grandmother had been lucid, and her magic was under control. She was still weak, but other than that it almost seemed as if she was not truly ill. Outside the world was wet and grey, and the light that filled the sickroom was dusky despite the early hour. The constant drumming of the rain lulled Magda back to sleep as Sal sat, watching her, reading another muggle book that Ted had found for her. Once she was sure that her grandmother would sleep on, Sal quietly put down her book and tried to leave the room as stealthily as possible. As she was closing the door behind her she heard the door bell. She listened from the top of the stairs as Tweeny answered the door, hoping that it wasn’t Regulus. Instead she heard the familiar, smooth tones of Severus’s voice.
Sal, starting to head down the stairs, called out in what she hoped was a casual manner, “Tweeny, who’s at the door?”
The house elf turned round, holding a small brown paper parcel. “Master and Mrs Snape is here to see you, mistress.”
Sal smiled broadly for a moment at Tweeny’s words. As approached the open door she looked at house elf.
“Thank you, Tweeny, put that on the side board then go and keep watch on Grandmother, please.”
Turning to the open door way, Sal saw Severus huddled under the lintel, his hair straggled, dripping from the rain. Across the road sat in an old battered car; she saw the tall, slender form of Severus’s mother. Had Sal not seen her often in Severus’s memories she would have thought that the weather was responsible for her gloomy expression. Sal waved at her, and she nodded with her habitual dour expression in return.
“Good grief, Severus, come inside. You’re soaking.” Noticing his reluctance, she took his arm and drew him in. “You’ll catch your death out there.”
“Thank you, but I can’t be long; the train leaves soon.”
“What are you doing here?”
“I just wanted to make sure you received the package and see how you and your gran are.”
“She’s doing well today, but it’s not looking any better, really.” Her voice trailed off as she gathered herself and fixed him with her eyes. “You will write, won’t you, even if I can’t always write back?”
He reassured her in a firm, bright tone. “Of course I will.”
Behind him the car’s horn gave a shrill blast, and Severus looked back at his mother for a moment. “I’d better go.”
“Wait a minute.” She grabbed an umbrella out of its stand, opened it and walked Severus to the car.


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  #15  
Old February 17th, 2009, 3:15 pm
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Re: The Silver Thread

Chapter 13

Spring Term 1978


January was filled with a constant dull ache for Severus. No matter what he did it was there, a constant dull stomach-ache that nothing could touch. Madam Pomfrey’s potions generally failed. Even when they stopped the stomach pain he only felt it somewhere else: his throat, his chest; always there was some deep dull pain.
He wrote to Sal. Her replies were more frequent than he had expected but shorter than they used to be. He admired her when she attempted to be cheerful or brave, and when, on the few occasions it happened, she confessed her sorrow or fear about her grandmother’s imminent death, his pain intensified. Those nights he would cast muffliato on his roommates as they slept so they would not hear his whimpers of pain.

***

The world became a small place for Sal; she moved between her lessons and her grandmother’s sickroom for most of January and barely left the house. There was a small but constant trickle of visitors who would try to provide some rest for Sal or to encourage her to leave the house even if only for a short walk; none of them succeeded. Yet the elite of pure blood society continued in their own quiet way to aid the two women in their last weeks together. In the evenings Sal would read to her grandmother either from old favoured books, the Daily Prophet, or the letters that came for Magda and Sal. Healers came and went at all hours, and Andromeda used these visits as a ruse to justify her own presence at the house. Magda seemed to have forgotten Andy’s disinheritance and was as pleased to see her as Sal was. As the end drew closer there were discussions about moving her to St Mungo’s, but Sal wanted her grandmother to be comfortable in her own home, and so when Magda Aylward finally passed away it was in her own bed.

The next day Regulus arrived. He gently took over the majority of the work that came with death. He sent out notices, dealt with the funeral directors, the solicitors, and the callers. He did all of this yet always deferred to Sal or questioned what she wanted. When his mother tried to take charge and direct how the funeral should take place he calmly and quietly stopped her. The funeral happened on a bright, brisk day, and as they walked out of the graveyard Sal saw crocuses pushing their thin purple and yellow heads into the world; the first flowers of the year. That was when the tears had come at last and Regulus held her. Sal, confused by her gratitude to him and pre-occupied by her grief, remained detached, and Regulus seemed to attribute her reaction to the loss of her grandmother. The day before he was due to return to Hogwarts he brought something for Sal.
She looked down at the tattered, slightly bald toy dog in her lap.
“I thought he could look after you; I know it’s silly, but I hoped it would remind you that there is someone who…”
Sal picked up the toy as Regulus talked. “It’s Dog!”
“Yes” he replied, happy to see a glimmer of a smile on her face at last.
“But Dog? Are you sure?”
“I’m sure. I used to think he looked after me whenever Sirius and our parents argued. I used to cuddle him and pretend everything was going to be ok.” Regulus pulled himself out of a painful reverie and looked at Sal. “I can’t take him to school, and I thought you could look after him.” He looked embarrassed for a moment. “I don’t know; it’s silly, really.”
“No. No, it’s lovely.” Sal took is hand. “Thank you.”

***

Severus wasn’t sure whether or not to be hopeful today. His copy of The Potioneer was due, yet he didn’t know if it would contain a letter for him or not. Even if it did, he didn’t expect it to be long; of late they had been very brief. The last one had simply said, ‘Grandmother died today.’ He had noticed Regulus’ absence that morning just before he received the letter. The following day he read the notice announcing the funeral in The Daily Prophet. He asked for leave from Hogwarts to attend it, but his request was denied, so instead he continued to send letters as he had promised. He was surprised how sad he had felt knowing that someone he had never met before was dead. That week he had been troubled by memories of her. Scenes he had glimpsed in Sal’s mind had replayed in his memories all term with a bittersweet taste. Now they seemed constant and fed the continual ache that had plagued him this term. A few days earlier Regulus had returned in low spirits, and Severus found himself thinking that perhaps Regulus actually cared about Sal. The idea both pleased him and infuriated him, and he pushed it aside resentfully, yet the feeling continued to haunt him.
Yesterday he saw Bladud fly into the great hall and watched as he landed by Regulus and dropped a letter in front of him. Whatever Sal had said in it had not pleased him. He toyed with the idea of asking Regulus about it, knowing that he wouldn’t follow through on the plan. Later he found Black, Avery and Mulciber talking in the common room. As soon as Regulus noticed his presence he changed the subject and then promptly left. It seemed his behaviour amused Severus’s roommates, and before long he had found out that Sal had refused to move in with either Regulus’ parents or his cousins. Well, maybe there is reason to feel hopeful today, he mused, remembering last night’s conversation as he sat down to breakfast.

He had nearly finished his breakfast when the owls arrived. As he expected one flew directly to him and left his copy of The Potioneer. He tucked the journal into his bag, took a last swig of pumpkin juice and went to the library where he made straight for a quiet corner. As soon as he sat down he started to look through the magazine, hoping to find a letter from Sal. The smell of lavender and roses rising from the journal urged him on until he found it.

Dear Severus

I am so sorry I have written so little since Christmas. It has been difficult to find the time or the words. Your letters have given me a little time to pretend that all’s well with the world, and that has brought me and Grandmother some joy – she used to look forward to them almost as much as I did. I know you were worried about my being alone to deal with everything, and I should have told you earlier, but I was rarely alone. A lot of people seemed to be around. Everyone carried a quiet gloom with them, and your letters came, and Grandmother would see me smiling as I read them. So she started to ask me why I was smiling. When I told her, she wanted to know about you. Before long we both looked forward to your letters. It was good to be reminded that the world still existed outside the house.

The house feels so quiet now. Tweeny has taken to leaving the wireless on so the house is filled with some noise. But it doesn’t really make much difference. I can’t bear it here anymore; the house is so big and empty. I can’t open a door without remembering her or, worse, thinking she’ll be there. Then when I open it I just see the empty room, and it’s like she’s ripped away from me again. Thank you again for your gift. I couldn’t wear it at all to begin with, but now I don’t seem to be without it. I hope you don’t mind, but I gave it to Granny to use for a while. She used to get so cold and fret about the slightest thing near the end, but when she wore the shawl it seemed to calm her, and she would look so peaceful for a while. I’ll never be able to tell you how grateful I am to you for that. I wish I could, but there just aren’t any words for it. Saying thank you just doesn’t seem enough.

Narcissa and Lucius have invited me to stay with them. I know she’s worried about me. She shouldn’t be. I’m just sad. That’s normal right now, isn’t it? Still, I can’t cope with the thought of staying with newlyweds. I hate the idea of turning into one of those people who can’t bear to see anyone happy around them, but I think staying with them will be too much, and that’s exactly what will happen. I’ll just turn sour and make everyone else unhappy. I think, though, Narcissa is right; staying here is not doing me any good. I need some fresh air. Professor Hinderly’s not very happy about it. With the exams so near he thinks I should stay and study – I always said he was an idiot. I thought he might have a point, though, about the exams, but I talked to Alex, and he also thinks that a break would do me good. He suggested that I just move my Easter holidays. Hinderly wasn’t impressed, but he has no choice; he knows I can find another tutor more easily than he can find a new student.

I’ve decided to go to France. I know some people there, old colleagues of my mother’s, and their house is beautiful. It’s out in the country, and it’s calm and beautiful there. The land is all green and purple. The spare room catches the breeze, and the whole room is flooded with the smell of the lavender fields next door. The more I think about it, the more I feel the need to get away.

I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be a misery. How are things at Hogwarts? Did the history test go alright? I hated studying Spavin - you see I have been reading your letters, Sev.


All my love,
Sal

He read it hungrily, knowing that soon he had to go to his Potions class. When he finished it, he looked at the paper as if something new might be hiding in it and then tucked it away in his breast pocket. At lunch time he reread it slowly, lingering over it. He wasn’t sure how he felt about someone else having read his letters and frowned as he read that section again. The thought that he had made her happy, if only for a moment, made him smile. As he pictured Sal and her grandmother together, talking about him, the picture felt alien to him, and his face was caught in a paroxysm between joy, grief and confusion. He felt as if he knew the old lady. It was hard sometimes to believe that Sal cared about him, but that a grand dame of the wizarding world, a woman he had never met, looked forward to his letters and talked about him kindly felt…he couldn’t place the feeling, trying to make his throat ache. He turned to the next paragraph and searched it for any mention of Regulus or his mother, and with a knitted brow wondered why she had not mentioned them. Was it a good thing or not? In the past he had felt relieved that Regulus had remained so distant in their correspondence, but now that he knew for certain that something was being hidden from him, it felt different. Despite her assurances he worried about her. He knew the feeling of hating where you live, wanting, needing, to escape. At least it looked like she had somewhere to go. For a moment he pictured her laughing in a field full of lavender. He didn’t like her being so far away, but still the thought made him smile.



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Last edited by kittling; February 17th, 2009 at 7:34 pm.
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Old March 20th, 2009, 12:41 am
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kittling  Female.gif kittling is offline
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Re: The Silver Thread

I am sorry this has taken so long, there were a few things I was struggling to make clear - my thanks go to to India, my beta, for pushing me to clarify things; hopefully I've managed to! Secondly thankyou to you for having the patience with the delay and coming back, I hope you enjoy


Chapter 14


Spring Holiday 1978


A small bird perched on the wing of one of the two large stone boars that stood guarding the main gates to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The bird stretched out its olive wing and started preening the bright yellow feathers that lay underneath. Under the glare of the Easter sun the yellow was quite dazzling. Severus smiled and looked past it to the path that led to Hogsmeade, and, seeing it was still empty, turned back to his book. He had settled under a tree near the edge of the Forbidden Forest. Here the light was dappled, and the cool breeze that drifted from the forest stopped him from overheating. He loved it here; he had never felt so safe or comfortable in the grounds before. Probably because he knew that his normal reasons for being on edge were miles away, enjoying the Easter holidays elsewhere. He was glad he had decided to stay here; he had practically had the run of the library and the rest of the school for that matter and had made the most of it. He was determined to do well in his NEWT’s, knowing that for him a great deal rested on how he did. The wagtail suddenly plunged off the boar’s wing and drifted down towards him, riding an air current, then suddenly rose sharply and disappeared into the forest’s gloom as Severus watch its flight. As he turned back to check the road again he squinted, dazed by the brightness. Spring, it seemed, was determined to give summer a run for its money this year.

Severus had wanted to ask his own head of house about letting someone into the grounds but, as Professor Slughorn had gone to visit one of his old students for the holidays, he had no choice but to ask the deputy head instead. Professor McGonagall had initially been somewhat wary, but when she heard who he was expecting a look of pity briefly flickered in her eye. Severus bit back the surge of resentment that displays of pity often aroused in him. In the stead of his resentment he showed only the deference he knew she expected of him. After that she had been only too glad to give permission and had made sure that the gates would open at his command for the morning, leaving him with instructions to bring his guest to her offices as soon as they arrived. The memory brought back a flicker of irritation, and again he turned his attention to the main gate.

Instead of an empty path he saw Sal trying to look through the bars of the gate. Seeing her standing on tiptoe, looking towards the Quidditch pitch on the other side of the path, brought a smile to his face. He watched her as she craned her neck, looking for him. Her hair slipped off her shoulders and caught in the breeze. After a moment he quietly put his book away and started to walk over to her. When he was almost half way to the gates Sal saw him and, smiling, waved at him, her arm reaching through the railings of the gate. The sight of her smiling and relaxed brought him some relief. All term he had imagined her cheerless, caught in the depths of her grief. He waved back casually and used the incantation the deputy head had given him. Sal, too impatient to wait for them the open fully, slipped through the gap and ran towards him. Before he realised quite what was happening he found himself embraced in a tight hug. For a second he baulked, and then he relaxed and wrapped his arms around Sal briefly, drinking in the warmth of being held, the feel of her in his arms and the familiar smell of roses and lavender that he had come to associate with her. The scant seconds it lasted felt like hours yet end all too soon.

As she pulled away Severus, feeling the return of his emptiness, looked down at her. “You look well.”
Sal smiled shyly. “Much better now.” Holding him at arms length, Sal gazed at him, taking in the changes since January. He still hid beneath a curtain of hair, which almost concealed the strengthened jaw line that testified to the approach of manhood. “It’s so good to see you again. How’ve you been?”
“Fine. Why did you want to see me?”
“I’ve got some news for you, but it’s a bit late.”
“Tell me about on the way.” Severus started to lead her up the path towards the main entrance. “McGonagall wants to see you.”
“Why?”
“She didn’t say. So what’s this late news?”
“Apparently Sorley tried writing to you at the place you were staying when you worked at the Ministry.”
“My uncle’s?”
“Yes. When he didn’t get any reply he began to think that you might not be interested. I only heard about it becau…”
“Interested in what?”
Sal started rummaging for something in her bag. “I had a letter from Sorley. He wrote to me last month, but it got mixed up in the condolence letters, and I missed it, and then I’ve been away, so I only just found it.” Sal looked up from her bag. “Did I tell you I kept in touch with him?” she asked before turning her attention back to the contents of her bag.
“Yes, but what is it that I might be interested in?” Severus reminded her curtly.
Sal stopped and looked up again. “Well, apparently he’s just been given permission to hire an apprentice.” She returned to searching her bag. “After last summer he wasn’t sure if you would be interested or if the message just didn’t get passed on, so he asked me to find out.”
“I don’t have my N.E.W.T.’s yet.”
Sal pulled a slightly crumpled folded piece of paper from her bag with a slight frown, checked it and smiled slightly. “That doesn’t matter. The job won’t start until the summer anyway. The problem is that the interviews are tomorrow, which is why I needed to meet you today. I’m sorry I only got home yesterday, but I talked to him last night, and he’s promised that they’ll hold an interview slot for you until four thirty tomorrow.” Severus visibly baulked. Suspecting that he was about to raise some objection she continued before he had the chance. “I know you don’t have your N.E.W.T.’s yet, but haven’t they given you some kind of predicted grades or something? Even if they haven’t you could take our report cards or something, and anyway they already know you’re good or Sorley wouldn’t have asked about you, would he?”
“I suppose not.” He sounded dubious at best. “But I need permission to leave the school for that and travelling to London, and I’d need somewhere to sta…”
Sal handed Severus the letter smiling warmly. “There, that will get you an overnight pass. I’ve already bought tickets for the express, and you can stay at my house in one of the spare rooms. So. No problems!” She looked at him, hoping that he would look at least a little convinced.
It was something he’d noticed about Sal: her tendency to expect to get what she wanted. It wasn’t like Lucius’ assumption that everyone would do as he dictated, yet the results were astoundingly similar. They both found the world bending round them and seemed to think it as normal as the sun rising. She seemed to have a talent for twisting things to match her will. She could arrange for everything to fall into place so people realised that it suited them to let her have her own way. This time, however, he was on the receiving end.
“So you’ve arranged everything?” he asked brusquely.
Sal’s stomach lurched. “The letter is Sorely’s doing. Look, Sev, I’m really sorry if I’ve overstepped the mark, but I was in a rush, and I probably didn’t think about it properly. All I thought about was that this is a fantastic opportunity, and you’d be brilliant in a job like this.” She looked up at him, her eyes sparkling. “You know you would. And anyway when you get your first pay check you can pay me back for the train ticket, can’t you?”
“And if I don’t get the job?” he said in what Sal thought was a last ditch attempt at resistance.
“I’ve seen you working with potions, and he wouldn’t have asked for you if you didn’t have a good chance. Oh, come on, Sev.”
If I get the job you will accept my repayment for the tickets,” he stated sternly.
“Witch’s honour.”
Finally, although a little waspishly, he relented. “I’ll have to pack a few things and talk to Professor McGonagall about the pass.”
“Just as well she wants to see us then!” she said, smiling broadly.
He waited until she had fastened her bag “Come on, then.” He led the way as they walked up to Hogwarts and soon fell into conversation, both glad to be in each other’s company again.


***

Severus lay in bed, hands behind his head, thinking. Several large, downy pillows lay in a heap next to the bed; only one now remained on the bed. The bed itself was remarkably comfortable. Crisp sheets and down-filled comforters enveloped him, occasionally pulling him towards sleep. At Malfoy Manor the opulence had left him feeling ill at ease, but here in Sal’s home he felt inclined to snuggle into the comfort that surrounded him. He put the difference down to the lack of pretention here, where no effort had been made to prove the position of the owners. Here everything seemed designed to imbue a sense of gentle comfort that he found himself seduced into embracing. Never the less he fought the urge to sleep, worried that if he did he would wake up in his cold, bare room, the horse hair mattress prickling him through a worn sheet.

Occasionally he heard a noise echoing through the wall behind his head board, the sound of someone else preparing for a night’s sleep. He tried to work out what she was doing from the noises he heard until he realised what he was doing and returned to reviewing the day. Getting permission to leave had proved remarkable easy. McGonagall had even wished him luck, an act that still felt odd even now. The train journey had been--Severus smiled as he thought about it--nice. He had heard people complain about the word, how it was bland, a nothing word, yet he delighted in being able to use it. It had almost been like reliving those lunches in Diagon Alley except that then their exams had not hung over their heads. Sal, it seemed, was as determined as he was to do well; it hadn’t surprised him. He had known that she would not want to fall back on her family’s resources to survive, that her thirst to prove herself was something like his, although without the necessity perhaps. They had talked and compared ideas about what to expect in various exams, tested each other, both trying to outdo their companion in a friendly rivalry. The journey had seemed much shorter than normal.

He was worried about the interview tomorrow. Unsure of what to expect, he felt out of his depth. He ran through what he could remember of his time working in the Ministry, trying to make lists in his head, weighing up the possibilities for various questions and the best answers he could give. Severus stopped for a moment, his eyes turned towards the wall behind him as he tried to listen to the tune he could only half hear as it travelled from the room next door. He imagined Sal brushing her hair, singing to herself, and smiled. Realising that he was better trying to get a good night’s sleep he picked up his wand, turned out the lights and listened to a song he couldn’t place as he drifted off to sleep.


***

The next morning Severus sat at the kitchen table, eating breakfast, surprised at how relaxed he felt. He had woken in a remarkably good mood. A cup of tea had been waiting for him on the bedside table, which was almost perfect; a fact that aroused his habitual mistrust. The good mood had remained despite this, and the fact that at some point in the night the house elf, as he always thought of Tweeny, had obviously taken his clothes and done something to them. They looked almost as they had done when he bought them, yet he felt awkward when he put them on, as if they were no longer his own robes. The transfiguration he had used when he had started to outgrow them had somehow been altered or dispelled altogether and replaced by something that he didn’t want to admit worked better than his own efforts.

On leaving his room he had almost walked into Sal. Her hair had been wrapped in a towel and water traced a gleaming track down her neck and along her collar bone. The scent of her perfume had made his head swim. Sal had warned him to give Tweeny time to tidy up the bathroom in such a way that it was clear to him that the normal washing of hands and face was not what was expected. The room, once Tweeny had finished, was tidy and much warmer than he was used to, but then Spinners End still relied on the outdoor privy and a tin bath; morning washing was done at the sink in a distinctly cold kitchen. Here, in Sal’s bathroom, he found himself faced with an array of soaps, shampoos, powders and potions that beggared his belief. He had heard the boys in his house talk about the multitude of concoctions their sisters used but had always assumed that they had been exaggerating; it seemed that, if anything, they might have understated the facts.

“Was your room comfortable?”
Sal’s voice cut through his thoughts. Severus looked up from his plate, swallowing a mouthful of toast. “Fine.” He took another bite of his toast. “Except that elf of yours did something to my robes.”
“Her name is Tweeny, and I asked her to make sure they were ready for this afternoon. I’m sorry. I should have checked with you first. What’s wrong with them? Let me see.”
Severus scowled at her over his tea cup. “Perhaps we could finish breakfast first?”
Sal grinned into her coffee, amused by his snarky retort, and took a mouthful of her tea. “Of course.” Her eyes flicked back to his as they took on a mischievous glint. “But not a minute more.”
His eyes narrowed briefly then he shook his head in mock exasperation before returning to his breakfast. For a while they ate quietly. After the daily owls arrived Sal read through them, putting several larger packets aside and sharing the occasional snippet of information from her letters as he read the morning copy of The Daily Prophet. When she mentioned Lucius and Narcissa had invited her to a dinner party Severus looked up from his paper.
“That reminds me; there’s something I’ve been meaning to ask you.”
“What?” Sal murmured, obviously more intent on reading her letter.
Severus paused until she looked up at him again. “Do you remember that breakfast at Christmas at Lucius’?”
Sal looked vaguely confused “Which one?”
“When his father tried to give me the third degree.” A smirk caught the edge of Sal’s mouth before she suppressed it. “Yes, that one.” His eyes sparkled with humour before settling on her intently. “After that conversation, just before you started talking to Black’s mother...” Sal was holding his gaze as keenly, although Severus thought he saw a slight twinkle in their depth. “I heard your voice.” His voice had dropped to a low, velvet smoothness.
Sal’s breath almost hitched, and she looked away fleetingly. A slight smirk caught the corner of her lips again. “Well, we were talking, Severus.”
His gaze deepened as he ignored her obvious pretence of innocence. “No, you were not talking, you,” he laced the word with delicate stress, “were drinking.”
“I hope you’re not getting ill, Severus.” Her eyes now danced with undisguised humour. “Hallucinations can be very serious.”
His reply when it came was almost whispered. “I was not hallucinating.” Every word was carefully measured with an edge of irritation, yet humour glinted in the depth of his eyes. “It’s related to the other mental disciplines, isn’t it?” Something akin to annoyance passed over his tightly drawn lips as he began work through his question. “If its one of the mental disciplines then it will have the mency ending but the prefix…Talk to the mind, fama? No, that’s more like gossip or trivial chatter...” He paused, and Sal watched as he was lost in his thoughts. “Sermo fits better, to talk, to converse.” He turned to face her again, his face relaxed and a gleam of satisfaction glinted in their depth. “Sermomency.
Sal softly repeated the word back to him in confirmation, knowing that this was the less well known of the triad of mental disciplines, and the simple fact of her having mastered an ability so rare that he had been forced to surmise its name rather than read about it would incite his curiosity.
Quiet wonder filled his voice. “I heard you so clearly!” His mood suddenly shifted. “When did you learn that? And why?”
“Alec started to teach me in mid to late October, I think. He thought that I would be more suited to it. Apparently my Occlumency leaves something to be desired.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. You didn’t seem to have any problem with it last summer.”
“Alec thought I should have done better.” Severus looked at her, his incredulity marked by a raised eyebrow. Sal’s voice dropped under the weight of her embarrassment, not wanting to mention the other practice partners she had worked with since their classes together and, more importantly, before them. “Given the amount of practise I had already had you shouldn’t have been able to break through my defences as you did. Well, apparently one tends to…have an affinity… normally one of the three disciplines will be… more natural that the other two. In my case my ability to project ideas is better than my ability to take them out of other people’s minds.”
Suddenly Severus inundated Sal with questions about the interrelation between Occlumency, Legilimency and Sermomency; about Sermomency itself; its theory, practical uses, what it felt like, how difficult it was. Sal responded, trying to answer his questions and asking his opinion on her own ideas. In the intimacy of the moment everything else fell away, and Sal felt the desire to feel his cool caress rippling through her mind again. She knew she could not allow it without having used a Pensieve to store the memories that would betray her, yet the pull to do it still tugged at her.
Wanting to change the subject, to create some distance, Sal looked at his plate. “You’ve finished your breakfast.” She stood up moved round the table. “Come on, stand up and let me see what Tweeny’s done to your robes.”
Severus groaned. “There’s no need.”
“If my house elf has done something to damage your robes then I have to fix it, don’t I?”
“I did not say they were damaged. I said that she did something to them.”
Sal tried, not particularly successfully, to suppress her amusement. “You’re upset because she got it right?”
“It’s not that,” he protested sullenly. “It’s the tea. She did that too, didn’t she?”
“Yes.” Sal returned to her seat. “I didn’t realise that a cup of tea in the morning would upset you.”
“It’s not that the tea was there that worried me. It that the tea was…exactly right, exactly the way I like tea in the morning even the mug was right, and frankly I don’t think you have any mugs, so how did she know? Doesn’t that worry you at all?”
“No. It’s just one of her talents,” she said, picking up her letter and starting to read it again.
“How does she know?”
“I don’t know.”
The answer shocked him. “How can you not know – haven’t you asked?”
Sal looked up from her letter. A slight frown played across her forehead. “Why would I?” she replied mildly.
“Didn’t you ever wonder? I mean she has to be able to use Legilimency or something to get it that perfect…”
“Severus, you grew up in a muggle house, didn’t you?” He nodded. “So how does electricity work?”
“What does that have to do with house elves?”
“Nothing really. Just answer the question.” Sal smiled one of her impish smiles.
“I don’t know,” he finally admitted curtly, filled with the sense that he didn’t want to hear what she was about to say, especially when her next words came with sugary innocence.
“Didn’t you wonder?” Severus shot her a sour look. “Oh, don’t look like that. It’s the same thing, really. When you were a child people would flick a switch and there would be light or the cooker would heat up or what ever else. It’s just what happens; it’s normal. So you don’t ask any questions. You accept it just like everyone does. Tweeny has always been very good at what she does. It’s normal for her, so I just accepted it.”

Severus didn’t feel particularly convinced by Sal’s response but decided against pressing the point, and the conversation turned to more casual topics. Later Sal seemed reluctant to leave the house, and he wondered if she was trying to stop Regulus finding out she was back in the country. As a result they spent the rest of the day together in the house until it was time for Severus to leave for his interview. In many ways he was thankful that Sal hadn’t insisted on going to the interview with him. Instead she had made sure he had plenty of Floo powder for his return journey, walked with him to the fireplace and wished him luck.

Severus was surprised at how easily he had remembered his way round the Potions department and ended up arriving with ample time to spare. As he sat in the corridor outside the interview room, waiting to be called, he started thinking about what he should say during the interview. In the midst of planning a question occurred to him. How did Sal know about electricity? As his mind started searching for a reason his name was called. Severus looked up to see Mr Sorely standing by the office door ready to take him into his interview.


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  #17  
Old April 7th, 2009, 6:38 pm
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Re: The Silver Thread

Chapter 15

Summer 1978


Sal didn’t particularly like Kings Cross Station, at least not the muggle part of it. The fact that it was full of muggles wasn’t the main problem. The outside of the building, with its red brick, gothic spires and a clock tower that reached to the sky, all of it picked out with warm sandstone detailing, held such promise. She could remember coming here when she was very young to see Bella off to school when everything was a mix of excitement and grief. Sal could remember her mother reading out Bella’s letters describing the school, and in Sal’s imagination Kings Cross Station had been apparated to Scotland and placed in a beautiful rural idle that suited it much better in her mind than its real location, which was beset by the roar of traffic. In reality the promise of the building’s exterior was betrayed by its contents. Sal looked down at the rubbish that littered a grubby floor and wrinkled her nose in distaste. Looking around at the muggles, all of whom were either rushing somewhere or loitering aimlessly, she wondered if anyone would notice a quick cleaning charm. Sal looked at the floor again with its cigarette butts and chewing gum welded into the grime that covered it and realised that even if they tried very hard to ignore it, they couldn’t help but notice. Sal sighed and turned her attention to finding the right platform. She had always assumed she knew Kings Cross Station fairly well, but there were eleven platforms there that she had never used. She had abandoned her original plan of using the muggle notice board as it had not inspired her confidence; it had the same shabby worn out look of the rest of the station. Instead Sal, quite bravely she thought, decided she would ask one of the muggles for directions, and so she looked around for a friendly-looking muggle.

Sal, finally having found the right platform, watched eagerly as a train pulled into the station. She missed the smell of steam and cinders that filled the wizarding platforms. The diesel trains were somehow lacking to her mind but then, she reasoned, one could hardly expect muggle transport to be tinged with the glamour she was used to. As the train slowed Sal tried to look into each compartment as it passed in front of her, hoping for a glimpse of Severus. Her attempts came to nothing as her view was obscured by the film of dirt that covered the unwashed carriage windows. A twinge of worry returned as a throng of people emerged from the train and bustled passed her; what if she was not on the right platform?

Severus made his way off the train and leant against a pillar as he looked for Sal amongst the crowd, and there through the swarm of muggles he saw her. The deep peacock blue robes she wore stood out to him amongst the drabness of the surrounding muggles. He could see her searching for him in the crowd; the look of purpose and excitement in her face was tinged with worry. He wondered, as something in his chest swelled slightly, if he would get used to someone wanting his company or caring about him. Even his friendship with Lily had been marked by ever present fear that soon her interest in him, her compassion for him, would evaporate. He took another drag on his cigarette and watched Sal almost wistfully. The little sunlight that had battled its way through the dirty arched glass ceiling glistened in the soft, lively curls of her hair, and for a moment the image that had haunted his dreams since Christmas came back to him. Reaching out to her, touching the soft brown curls of her hair, twining his finger through it, pulling her close, feeling her body leaning into his as he drew her ever closer and bent to…Right, stop that now! He quickly started to empty his mind, pushing down the pictures that his mind seemed reticent to relinquish. He took a last drag on his cigarette before he threw it to the floor, crushed it under foot, and pulled a packet of mints out of his pocket. He had smoked in secret for several years, and even though he saw it as a filthy muggle habit he still seemed to find himself buying just one more packet. He quickly crunched the mint and rolled the fragments in his his mouth as he pocketed the packet it had come from and set off across the platform to meet Sal.

From Kings Cross they had gone straight to Diagon Ally. On the way, their conversation had drifted through innocuous topics: the train journey, the news, an article in The Potioneer that had interested both of them, but Sal had not once asked about his NEWT results. Severus had expected to be faced with that particular question within moments of their meeting. For two weeks now he had sidestepped them. Of course it was simple while they were only exchanging letters. Today it would not be so easy. He found a certain amount of perverse pleasure in withholding the information, believing that what she really wanted to know was if he would be starting to work at the Ministry, whether her machinations over Easter would bear fruit. He had already accepted the job offer, and his NEWT results had been equal to what they had demanded of him, but he had still wanted to make her wait. Whether it was because he was using it to punish her, because he enjoyed having something over her, or because he wanted to tell her in person, he was not entirely sure. What he did know though was that he would tell her today; that could hardly be avoided, but not just yet.

At Diagon Ally they had visited a few of the shops, and while Sal visited Madam Primpernelle's, Severus visited the two letting agents that were holding lists for him. They had planned to meet again at their usual coffee shop, but when Severus arrived there was no sign of Sal, so he ordered a drink, and as he waited for her to return he started looking though the list of bedsits and flats.
Sal arrived, surprisingly free of bags or any other sign that she had been shopping, over half an hour later and sat down opposite him with a sigh. “I’m sorry I was so long. I bumped into Walburga at Madam Primernelle’s, and she insisted I go to Madam Malkin’s. It took an age to get rid of her. Oh, you’ve finished you drink. Do you want me to get you something while I order?” The words fell out of her mouth in such quick succession that the effect was something like a whirlwind stopping at the table. Severus looked at her for a moment, his face inscrutable.
Sal, feeling puzzled by his behaviour, looked at him then over her shoulder. Despite her confusion, or perhaps because of it, she began to calm down slightly. “What?” she asked him quizzically, her breath finally retuning to an even pace.
A hint of a smile tugged the corners of his mouth, yet still he said nothing.
Sal sighed as she relaxed into her chair and asked him again, this time with a more amused if a little vexed tone. “What is it?”
“I was waiting for you to settle,” he said as he waved a waiter to the table and made his order before looking to Sal for what she wanted.
After giving her order Sal looked at Severus. “Was I really that bad?” she asked ruefully.
Severus smiled and shrugged a little before looking away, trying to find some way of saying ‘yes’ without actually say so. He looked back at her. “Perhaps,” he said dismissively, smirking a little. Quickly he changed the subject. “Where’s all your shopping anyway? I can’t believe you could take that long and not buy anything.”
This time Sal laughed. “True. I asked them to deliver it. I didn’t want to waste time lugging bags about.” Her eyes flicked behind him momentarily. “Oh, ice cream!”
Severus saw their waiter returning and listened as Sal expounded on the importance of enjoying ice cream; after all, how could one enjoy the pleasures of life if one couldn’t enjoy ice cream? It occurred to him that Lucius had said something similar about enjoying the pleasures of life, but Severus doubted he had been referring to anything as innocuous as ice cream. Still he found himself drawn into her merry banter, taking pleasure in the way she used even the most mundane ideas as exercises in critical thinking.
In the end he found himself asking her about her NEWT’s, only to be baffled by her reply.
“I’m not telling you.”
There was no hint of anger or recrimination in her tone, far from it. She was smiling at him mischievously, her eyebrows arched as she slowly sucked her ice cream spoon, relishing the last of the flavour that clung to it. Never-the-less something about it brought to mind his father’s building rage, and that in itself left him feeling disconcerted and unsure of how to respond.
Noticing his sudden hesitancy Sal removed the spoon from her mouth and smiled openly. She tried to keep her voice as light and joking as possible so that it was clear she was only teasing him. “Why should I, Mr Snape, when you...” She tried to resist the urge to point the spoon at him but failed. “...have been ducking the self same question for over two weeks?”
“Perhaps I wanted to tell you in person,” he shot back, wrapping his waspish reply in a veneer of humour.
“Oh, I thought it was because I was horribly tactless and left you feeling railroaded,” she replied with a smirk, “Goes to show what I know!”
Suddenly he could see his father teetering on the edge of exploding, the moment when wrath finally claimed him as its own. His conscious mind still saw Sal’s smile, her innocent blunder into territory he feared, yet his instincts paid no heed. His only concern was flight.
“Sev, I’m not angry with you. I’m just teasing. I know…” Suddenly she lost the words she needed as she felt a sudden rush of suppressed fear, agitation and the desire to flee. Her stomach lay quietly, showing none of the writhing, fluttering feelings she associated with the fear that had only seconds before flooded her senses. Gently her hands slipped across the table and folded themselves around his gently. She could feel the tension in the rigidly held fingers easing at her touch.
“If you were still angry with me, you’d tell me, wouldn’t you?” Her voice, now as gentle as her hands, was all milk and honey to his ears.
His hands rested in hers, the warmth of her skin soaking into his, and he looked up into her face and saw again that expression: the one that made him believe that she still wanted his company and that she wanted to be here with him.
He frowned and shook his head fractionally. “No, no, I’m not.” The words were muttered, but as he spoke he realised that whatever had annoyed him at the time had long since dissolved.

The easiness that had until so recently dominated their conversation steadfastly refused to return. Not knowing what to say the words, “I got two E’s,” came out of her mouth, closely followed by a deep sigh of regret.
Severus looked up, knowing that her regret was far from untruthful, that it could only pain her when she held such high expectations for herself. “What in?”
“Arithmancy and Herbology.”
“Professor Sprout said that the Herbology paper was really difficult this year. Some of the essay questions were hideous,” he said with surety. In a more consolatory, one might even have said confessional, tone he added, “I got an E for Transfiguration.”
Sal gave him a soft smile tinged with sadness before a look of concern clouded her eyes, and Severus felt her fingers tighten fractionally around his own. “What about Potions and Herbology?”
“What do you think?”
Sal noted his slightly piqued tone that invaded his question. “Outstanding?”
Pride sparkled in his eyes as he smiled in acknowledgement. “Of course.”
Before long they were immersed in conversation, again comparing results and revelling in each others’ triumphs. Eventually Sal turned the subject to his plans for the day.
Severus smiled down at her but did not answer immediately. When he did he watched her reactions carefully. “I need to look for some lodgings.”
Briefly, very briefly he had to admit, Sal’s face fell. Severus felt vindicated in his suspicions. She obviously knew that the Ministry job came with lodging and had now deduced the he had not gotten the job. Yet he was more aware that his chest felt lighter, almost as if something inside it inflated. “I took the job, Sal; I just don’t like the idea of living in the rooms they provide. I want something...” He frowned again as he tried to conjure the right word., “...something that’s mine, I suppose.”
Sal beamed, momentarily still. “There’s a letting agency at - ”
“At the end of Diagon Ally. I know.” He pushed his list across the table. “I’ve already been there. I was a bit worried about finding all the places on the list, and I was hoping you would accompany me, make sure I don’t get lost.”
Now it was Sal’s turn to frown. “Well, that depends.”
“On what?”
“Two things. One, I might have to leave suddenly. Tweeny’s keeping an eye on a Quidditch game, and I have to meet someone after it finishes.”
A twitch of irritation caught his eye. “Fine.”
As she continued the serious tone in her voice dissolved and was replaced by suppressed joy. “And secondly, only if you promise me we can meet for lunch like we used to when you’re back at the Ministry. With the two of us working so near to each other it would be a shame to let the opportunity go to waste.”
His irritation disappeared. “You got the job at St Mungo’s?”
A mix of joy and pride shone in her eyes. “Of course.”

-------

I noticed the view counter has been rather busy so hello to all of you who are new to the story!

I hope everyone is enjoying the story so far… but you know you are allowed to tell me what you think of it you just go here! You know you want to really, T


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My Fanfic - The Silver Thread - (WIP) updated 03/07/09

Sig by the most professional, clever & witty Boushh
(Original photo-manipulation of AR by helin)

Last edited by kittling; April 7th, 2009 at 6:47 pm.
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  #18  
Old May 4th, 2009, 7:32 pm
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kittling  Female.gif kittling is offline
Assistant to Professor Snape
 
Joined: 3892 days
Location: UK
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Re: The Silver Thread

I'm sorry this update is a little late, thank you for your patience.

My thanks go the India, my beta, whose help has been invaluable. There are also some English colloquialisms in this chapter so just in case they are new to any of you; here they are.

Treacle (as in ‘treacle tart’) is cockney rhyming slang for ‘sweetheart’
Take the weight off - means sit down (ie take the weight of your feet)
China (as in ‘china plate’) is cockney rhyming slang for ‘mate’

Anyway on with the story...

------

Chapter 16

June 1978


Ted and Andromeda lived in a little, terraced house in a small borough of London. All the houses on their street were fashioned out of a pale stone with a bay window at the front of the house which failed to reach the second floor. Some of the residents had taken to planting flowerboxes on the roof of the bays, so occasionally one would resemble a cheery flower vase stuck to the front of a house. Window boxes were fairly common here. Although the area was not a wealthy one, its residents took pride in their homes, and most had sparkling windows. While the small patch of land between the boundary walls and the front of the houses hardly qualified as a garden, most were filled with tubs overflowing with plants. The sun had risen over the street and shone brightly on all the houses, even Ted and Andromeda’s house. It didn’t look any different to the others. It too had window boxes of flowers in front of its windows and net curtains to deter the prying gaze of passers-by.

Their house looked completely ordinary to any passing muggle, but behind the dark green front door, things were not quite as they should have been. Its narrow hallway somehow allowed two people to pass comfortably. The living room had far more bookcases than was normal, and they reached all the way to the ceiling in a way that, if you looked too long, seemed to stretch just a little further than the should have allowed. And if you looked very closely you might just notice that the television wasn’t plugged in, ever. Nor was the radio, a large old fashioned looking thing that didn’t have the BBC marked anywhere on its dials, whereas you could easily find initials like WWN, to which it was currently tuned.

The lively noise of a sporting match, complete with an excitable commentator and enthusiastic crowd, currently drifted out of its speakers. Two women stood in the living room, hardly listening to it. Sal stood watching Andy, who was half-way up a ladder. Her long fingers tapped the spines of various books as she worked along them, looking for something in particular. She took a book off the shelf and passed it to Sal then moved higher up the ladder until she was able to check the top shelf of the bookcase which reached from floor to ceiling.
“Where is Ted, anyway?” Sal called over the sound of the wireless.
“He’s taken Nymphadora to see her Granny this morning, and then they’re going to pick up her bridesmaid dress. Bless her, she was so excited.” She looked at the clock on the opposite wall. “They should be back soon.”
“Who’s getting married? One of Ted’s relatives?”
Andy, in the process of removing several large tomes from the top of the bookshelves, gave a distracted reply, “No, James.” Andy caught a book as it started to slip, checked its title, frowned slightly at it, and put it on a different shelf. Still distracted by her task, she filled the silence. “You know James Potter, that friend of Sirius’s; the one he stayed with after he left Grimmauld Place?”
“Oh right.” Sal tried to recapture some enthusiasm. “Why did they ask Nymphadora?”
“James and Sirius are very close and Sirius is his best man. Of course he’s talked James into asking Dora to be their bridesmaid. He’s been very sweet since he left Grimmauld Place; Nymphadora practically worships hi…” Andy looked down from the bookshelf, suddenly realising what she was saying. “You’re not upset are you?”
Sal, brushing aside her slightly bruised feelings, smiled. “Who was it who kept telling you to get in touch with him?”
Andy floated the tomes onto the coffee-table and climbed down the ladder. “I know you did, but I hate thinking of you feeling left out.” Seeing Sal’s determination to seem un-phased she pulled the young woman into a hug. “You know we love you, don’t you?”
Sal’s muffled answer was lost in Andy’s shoulder, but whatever it was, Andy laughed before pulling away.
“You’ll see. We’ll have a wonderful afternoon.”
Sal thought she heard an odd tone in Andy’s voice. “What are you up to?”
Andy smirked as she spoke. “You’ll see. Anyway, back to the books.”
Sal frowned slightly. “Andy, what’s going on?”
“You’ll see,” she trilled merrily as she vanished the ladder. “Anyway, these books are some of my old textbooks from when I was a Trainee Healer. I’ve checked, and they’re the ones that are up to date. I want you to have them.”
“Are you sure? I mean …they’re your books.” Sal stood looking at Andy, touched by her friend’s kindness and enthusiasm.
Andy sat on the floor in front of the living room table on which the books now rested and started leafing through them. “Oh, I know you could buy new copies.” She picked up one and frowned at it before holding it out to Sal. “Haven’t you already read this? I’m sure I lent it to you last year.” Sal looked at it and nodded, and Andy put it aside. “But these have notes in them as well. Besides I wanted to give you something special. It’s not every day you pass your NEWT’s and get a new job!”
The sound of Quidditch fans cheering madly erupted from the wireless, and the two women turned in unison to listen to the commentator’s animated description of the latest goal scored.
Relieved that the cheering had signalled a goal, not the Snitch getting caught Sal said, “I never thought Reggie’s passion with Quidditch would be a good thing,” as she turned away from the wireless.
Andy’s face creased with laughter. “Bless him. Do you remember when his Uncle Orion took him to his first match?”
Sal giggled. “And that hat he bought was too big for him! He spent the day with his head tipped back just so he could see where he was going!”
“It didn’t work very well. Remember Aunt Walberga when he broke that vase!?”
Before long Sal and Andy were falling about laughing at the old memories they shared. Their words were so buried by laughter that they became incomprehensible to anyone who did not share their common history.

As their laughter died down, Sal reached into her pocket to get her handkerchief. What she found was it letter tucked into the folds of her handkerchief Sal looked at it, suddenly sober again.
“Andy.”
Sal’s wheedling tone alerted Andy and roused both her curiosity and caution. “What?”
“If something happened in the family you’d want to know, wouldn’t you?”
Andy shut her eyes and took a long breath. When she opened them her demeanour had adopted a regal air as it always did when she was controlling her emotions. “What has Bella done this time?”
“It’s not Bella.” Sal reached forward and handed the letter to Andromeda, “and it’s not bad news.”
Andromeda eyed the letter warily before taking it. Sal watched, worried about how Andy would take the news of Narcissa’s pregnancy. In a normal situation Andy would have been overjoyed, but Sal was anxious that Andy would feel the pain of her ostracising her more strongly now. Sal could still remember how terribly hurt Andy had been when her family had refused to acknowledge Nymphadora’s birth.
Andromeda spent a long time gazing at the letter, the regal air she had adopted earlier sliding away as her eyes devoured her sister’s elegant hand. Sadly she realised that this was the closest they had been for over five years as the smell of Cissy’s perfume gently rose from the pages in Andy’s hand. After a long silence she looked up at Sal. Wonder and pain entwined in her voice as she finally spoke. “I’m going to be an aunt.”

The moment ended with a rattle of keys in the front door.
“Anyone home?”
Andy smiled at Sal. “You tell them.”
“We’re in here.”
Sal’s call was greeted by a shriek of, “Aunty Sal!” closely followed by the sound of two somethings hitting the floor. Within seconds she was held in a fierce hug and nuzzled her head into Nymphadora’s bright pink hair.
Sal looked up to see Ted, shabby as ever, smiling at them. He bent down and planted a kiss on Sal’s forehead. “Wotcher, treacle! ”
“I’m fine, Ted,” she replied, trying to disentangle herself from his daughter. “How are you?”
“Gasping for a cuppa. You fancy one?”
Sal struggled to ignore Nymphadora’s vigorous attempts to grab her attention, “Tea would be lovely, thank you.”
“Right, well, I’d better get the kettle on then, hadn’t I?” he said as he disappeared into the kitchen. As he picked up the kettle he called out, “Dora, why don’t you tell Aunty Sal about Uncle Toney’s Scalextric.”
Andy smirked and quickly followed her husband in what Sal believed was an attempt to avoid a conversation about ‘Scalextric,’ whatever that was.
Dora’s eyes lit up, and Sal was barraged by the enthusiastic recounting of the morning’s games. Soon Sal was asking questions and listening to Dora’s serious and slightly convoluted explanation. Apparently Uncle Toney’s new toy that she had played with at her grandmother’s was a muggle game using toy cars and plastic things like wands that made them travel very fast on tracks. She and Uncle Toney had been racing them all morning. At times Sal struggled to follow Dora’s explanations, whether that was due to fact that Dora was five or that she was in the habit of assuming Sal understood about all things muggle, Sal didn’t know. So at the call of, “Teas ready,” Sal gave a sigh of contented relief as she made her way to the kitchen with Dora still prattling about red and yellow toy cars.

Ted and Andy’s kitchen could hardly be called big but somehow they had managed to fit a small, square table that seated the family comfortably into the space between it and the sitting room. The table was laden with sandwiches, crisps, fruit, fairy cakes, a platter with a family of chocolate blancmange rabbits nestled in green jelly grass and something under a large china cover.
At the sight of it Dora’s eyes flashed with excitement as she turned round to face Sal and cried, closely followed by her parents “Surprise!”
Sal laughed; delighted but the surprise her friends had been planning and relived to finally know what had caused Andromeda’s smirking earlier.
Ted pulled out a chair. Bowing in parody of solemnity he winked, saying, “Take the weight off, china.”
Andy huffed at him with mock irritation. “Ignore him, Sal, and take a seat. He’s like this whenever he spends too long with his brother. I swear Anthony is a Babbling Curse incarnate.”
Ted smiled good naturedly at Sal and rolled his eyes at his wife’s muttering about his brother as he headed to the far side of the kitchen to fetch the tea.
Andy watched her husband for a moment, a slight smile in her eyes. “Anthony’s a dear, really.” She reached across the table and removed the china cover that had sparked Dora’s excitement a few minutes earlier to reveal a magnificent cake.
“Granny Cake!” Dora whispered in hushed awe.
Ted smiled, obviously pleased by his daughter’s reaction, and explained to Sal over his shoulder. “My mother, if you ask her very nicely, makes the most wonderful cakes.”
Andy chimed in, “It’s actually true. At school I used to hear him complain about the food at Hogwarts. Of course,” she cast a wicked look at her husband, “I thought he was just showing off again, but now that I’ve tried his mother’s cooking I have to admit he had a point.”
“I’ve never heard anyone complain about the food at Hogwarts.” Sal commented
“That’s because they’ve never had my mother’s cooking,” he replied proudly, turning back to the table, carrying a bottle of champagne.
Sal gave him a puzzled frown. “I thought you were making tea?”
He gave a heartfelt sigh and slung his arm round Sal’s shoulder. “Well, the thing is, Sal, tea’s not really fitting for a celebration, according to Andy.” He paused and looked at the bottle in his hand thoughtfully for a moment before saying playfully, “Of course, if you’d rather have some tea…”
“No! No, really. I can make do with champagne. You know, just to keep Andy happy, of course!”
Ted laughed and started to open the bottle. Soon there was a sharp pop as the cork flew across the room and a fountain of champagne frothed out of the bottle top.
“Andy, get some glasses quickly!”
Sal and Dora watched as Andy and Ted quickly poured out glasses of champagne, which were handed round, champagne still dripping from them where they had been hastily poured. Even Dora had a glass, although she scowled when her father had quickly charmed all the alcohol out of it. Ted stood at the table, lifting his glass and clearing his throat, preparing to make a toast. Sal realised that everything this afternoon lacked in elegance and refinement, and it was a great deal, it surpassed in something she did not know how to name. Sentimental tears pricked at her eyes, and she realised that somehow it touched her more than even her seventeenth birthday or Narcissa’s wedding had done.

The feast seemed endless but as the plates began to empty Nymphadora started to fidget. She began to give Sal slightly puzzled looks, and as Andy started to clear away the plates Sal noticed her whispering to her father. He looked across the table then back at his daughter and nodded.
"Yes, Dora, you can tell Sal about that."
Dora look at Sal, smiling through icing covered lips. “I’m going to be a bridesmaid,” she announced proudly.
“Really? How lovely!” Sal tried to feign surprise “Who’s getting married then Uncle Toney?”
Dora laughed “Uncle Toney already married!” she told Sal as if she really should have known better. “Uncle Sirius’s friend Mr Potter is getting married and Lily, she’s the other one who’s getting married, said I could be her bridesmaid. It’s in two weeks. I’ve got a new dress and shoes and a hat thing, and I’ll have my own flowers, but I haven’t got those yet. I got the dress and everything today. Shall I show you?”
It was obvious that only one answer would make Dora happy and as Sal needed to talk to Andy and Ted privately she decided to take the opportunity.
“I’d love to see you all dressed up – if you don’t mind the extra effort Nymphadora.” Dora’s smile grew until Sal began to fear she might disappear into it altogether like the Cheshire Cat. She laughed, delighted to see the girl so happy. “I know what. I’ll call Tweeny, and she can help you, and then you can get ready and look just like you will at the wedding and I could see just how special you’ll look. Would that be alright?” Sal’s eye’s flicked up to Andy, hoping she understood the suggestion for what it really was.
Andy nodded. “But she has to wash her hands and face first. Do you understand, madam? I don’t want you getting your dress covered in chocolate.”
“Yes, Mummy, of course.”
With that Tweeny was summoned, and the two of them went upstairs.

Sal began to speak, but Andy shook her head, eyes glued to the stairs, then shouted up them, “Sweetheart, we’ll be waiting in the garden. Oh, and don’t forget: Lily said you are having your hair done especially to go with the hat. Tell Tweeny about it so you can show Aunty Sal properly.”

Once they we in the garden Sal felt suddenly nervous as Ted and Andy looked at her. “While I was in France with Mum I set up a new account in the Paris branch of Gringotts. There’s a large portion of the money I inherited from Grandmother in there and some other money I managed to move around. I wanted some advice...” Sal’s voice died in her throat as she looked at her friends. “I’ve been thinking about how difficult it’s getting for some of the muggleborns here in Britain, and Gaspard said that things are different in Europe. Lately I’ve realised that the money my family has has made a big difference to me, made things easier, and I was just thinking that some people would want to get away, be somewhere safe, but they can’t afford to travel.”

Ted cut in with a tone that ringed with resolve, mingled with hurt pride. “Sal, I know you mean well, but I’m not leaving.” He slipped his arm round his wife defensively.

“No, I didn’t mean that. Not you.” Sal took a breath and looked Ted in the eye. “Remember when we went to see that singer and you explained to me about the underground railway that slaves used when they were trying to escape?” Ted’s eyes widened slightly as he realised what Sal was thinking about doing. “Well, I thought with the money I’ve set aside and what we know between us we might be able to set up the same kind of thing. It’s not just about money,” she added, wanting them both to realise that their help could be incredibly important. “Some people don’t really need the help, but some will need finance and others probably don’t know where to go, what do, that kind of thing. Mum and Gaspard have already said that they’ll start looking for places in Europe for people to stay and where they could find work, but there isn’t anybody here, in England, ,and I was hoping that maybe you would be able to help...”

Sal looked hopefully at Ted and Andy.

“I’m not asking for an answer today, but any help at all would be good, even if you just put me in touch with some people or gave me some advice; anything really.”
Ted and Andromeda looked at Sal, stunned.
In the end it was Andromeda that broke the silence. “You’re asking us to help set this thing up? Help you run it?”
Sal nodded, her courage suddenly absent. “Ideally, yes. I can’t do much hands on work with the people I associate with: Reggie and everyone. I don’t think anyone would trust me even if I could be more active.” For the first time her shame became visible. “Have you talked to Albus?” Ted asked. “I mean he probably does something like this anyway; I would have thought so anyway.”
“No. I know a lot of people trust him, but what about the people who don’t or are too scared to get in touch with him? If I was You-Know-Who I’d be watching who tries to get in touch with the school. Gaspard knows people who used to work for the resistance when Grindelwald was in power, and he said that a lot of small cells are safer than one big organisation.” Sal sighed. “I don’t know. If handing it over to Dumbledore is the only way then I won’t really have much choice, but I think Gaspard is right.”
Ted looked at Andy in unspoken communication, and then he looked back at Sal. “Look Sal, we’ll have to talk about it, and we’ll let you know how much we can do as soon as we can. For what it’s worth, as much as I like Albus, I think Gaspard might have a point. We all know that You-Know-Who’s afraid of him; sooner or later he’s going to do something about it, isn’t he? And then where will we be?”
Andy opened her mouth to speak when Dora walked out into the garden, watched by Tweeny, who hovered in the doorway, torn between her fear of being seen by muggles and wanting to see Dora’s reception.
“Nymphadora, you look beautiful,” Andy called out, shading her eyes against the sun’s glare, before murmuring to Sal, “As Ted said, we’ll let you know.”

Dora walked up the garden very carefully, picking up the hem of her dress to stop it getting dirty. When she finally reached them she looked at Sal’s beaming face questioningly.
“You look lovely, Nymphadora, Really beautiful.”
Dora started pointing out some of different flowers growing up from the hem, naming some and simply explaining to Sal why others were so pretty. The pattern of flowers that seemed to grow up from the hem of the dress stretched up the length of the dress, petering out so that only a few rose up to greet the empire line of the dress, which was picked out with a soft sage green ribbon. The colours of the dress, against an apricot background so soft it almost resembled cream, gave an effect that was partway between the bountifulness of summer and the colouring of autumn.
“Did you see the ribbon?” Dora lifted up the tail of ribbon that fell from the delicate bow above her heart. “It’s velvet. Feel.”
As the afternoon died, the group chatted and admired Nymphadora’s bridesmaid dress until, when it was nearly evening, Sal felt a tug at her sleeve and looked into Tweeny’s large, amber eyes.
“Mistress, the Snitch has been catched. Master Regulus will be coming home.”

---------

As always my feedback thread is here This month the counter has been rather busy so thank you to everyone for reading


__________________


My Fanfic - The Silver Thread - (WIP) updated 03/07/09

Sig by the most professional, clever & witty Boushh
(Original photo-manipulation of AR by helin)

Last edited by kittling; May 6th, 2009 at 6:58 pm.
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Old June 25th, 2009, 6:18 pm
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Re: The Silver Thread

I have to apologise for the long delay in this chapter. As some of you know I have been quite poorly this last month, however now I’m on the mend, and I hope you will forgive me for the wait.

Chapter 17

Late June 1978


Dust, caught in a sunbeam, danced through the large quiet room. In the bay window, haloed by the sun, Sal sat at a desk, bent over a parchment. Her finger traced words as she read them; occasionally she would look up at one of the delicate instruments on her table, checking to see if it corresponded with her writing and, frowning when she failed to find a mistake, her eyes would return to the parchment. Eventually she dropped her scroll on the floor next to her desk, got up to retrieve a book from the library in the next room, and returned to her desk to take out a new piece of parchment. She started the work again, following the same process, this time checking every step with the text in the book.

Professor Witling looked up from his desk and watched Sal for a moment before returning to his own research. The room was quiet; the only sounds were the regular ticking of the clock, the scratching of nib on parchment and the occasional sigh of frustration from Sal. So the two of them worked on steadily and silently until, almost an hour later, Sal pushed her second parchment away from her and started to massage her forehead.
“What’s wrong?”
With her head now masked by her hands, her response was slightly muffled, yet the note of frustration, tinged with hopelessness, still rang out clearly in her voice. “I don’t know.”
Aleck raised his eyebrows in surprise; despondency was not something to which she was normally prey. He summoned the scroll lying discarded on the floor with a simple flick of his wand and started to read through it. His eyes darted over her work, occasionally pausing when caught by some part of the text, only to move on again. Eventually he stopped and looked up at Sal.
“I see no faults in your calculations. So what is distressing you?”
“The results don’t make any sense.”
Aleck frowned. He looked again at the parchment before him, reread it, then summoned the parchment in front of Sal and, after checking through her calculations, started reading through the results only to find they matched the first set practically word for word. As he read various parts of her results he half muttered his replies to him self. “You have all the bases I would expect: human, female, magical.” He looked up. “Are you mistaking an early enchantment?”
Sal rose and walked over to his desk. “No, they’re all listed there.” She pointed them out to him. “Besides it doesn’t look right for that. Look, this is the problem.” Sal indicated a symbol in her results. “The rest of it looks fine but that...” Sal gave an exasperated sigh. “It doesn’t even look like anything else, as far as I can see.”
“Don’t be discouraged; this sort of thing happens in Nomenology. When you’re dealing with raw material of matter, of the meaning of things, you’re bound to find the occasional curiosity; it is nothing to be alarmed about. What are you working on now?”
Sal’s reply was a little tense. “Me.”
Aleck chuckled. “Oh! That, I assume, is why you’re so worried?” The look on her face, torn between pained and scowling, answered his question. Her face looked younger than normal, capturing the worry of a child who believes an instrument broken because of the snapping of a string. Aleck softened. “My hands are aching. Would you go and fetch the potion in the dark blue bottle, please? I’ll check your work properly, and then we can get to the bottom of all this.”

***

The rest of the morning was spent in Aleck’s library. He had, much as he expected, found no faults in Sal’s work, so they had begun their research on the mystery symbol in his own library. Sal relished the time; something about libraries had always appealed to her. The smell of them brought back memories of sitting in her father’s lap, head on his chest, held in a circle of his arms with a book. Her mother would be sitting across the fireplace from them, listening as he read to them, and Sal would be lulled by the sound of his voice reverberating through his chest, accompanied by the steady, constant beat of his heart. She could still remember her mother laughing as she told Aunt Walburga about hunting through the house only to find Sal, eventually, hidden behind her father’s large wing-backed chair, head buried in a book. She could remember the moment her mother’s head had appeared over the back of the chair, looking down at her, relief etched on her face. After he had died his chair was the only place she could fall asleep; for weeks her mother had been forced to let her doze off in the chair before carrying her sleeping body up to her bedroom and tucking her up in bed. Added to the safe memories of childhood was the promise each book held. From some it was adventure or romance, others held knowledge, and some were full of secrets, but all were a sure escape from the world. Aleck’s library, however, was not a place into which she was often invited. Sal suspected that he too felt it to be a refuge from the world and had never trespassed into its realm without invitation. His collection of books, from the little she had seen, was as incredible as his reputation lead her to expect. Sal found the library so filled with information and references to more branches of magic that she realised existed, that had to fight the urge to get side tracked by almost every book she opened.

When the clock struck one, they broke from their investigations to take lunch. As Aleck prepared the lunch, Sal read to him from the Daily Prophet. She would read out a headline, and he would either nod to hear more or call for the next one. Today there was little that interested him in the main news, and so she moved to the announcements.
As she started to read out the deaths, Aleck paused and shook his head.
“Too many young people; move on.”
Sal looked up at him; the sight worried her slightly. He seemed more bent as he leant over the work top, knife in hand, as if tired by the bleak news. He looked older and frailer. Sal kept her voice steady, lightly asking, “Marriages?”
Aleck smiled again and nodded before he retuned to his work. Sal began reading out the marriage announcements instead. As she read down the list, she came upon one that made her voice falter.
“Someone you know?”
“No.” Sal reached for a glass of water and took a slow sip as she tried to clear her mind. She pushed the thought of Severus, the way a pair of green eyes haunted him, the pain and hurt she knew would be hidden in the depth of his eyes as he read the notice, into a dark hole in the deepest parts of her mind. What did she care if Potter was going to marry some muggle-born girl? She focused on that thought, made it light and inconsequential and held it close to the surface until she nearly believed it herself. “I just had something stuck in my throat,” she replied, putting down the glass. “Where was I?”
“Potter and Evans, I believe.”

By the end of the day she had an answer, or at least something that looked like it might fit; not that it made any sense to her. The afternoon had been slow and painful. The tranquillity she normally found buried in a library evaded her. Sal’s thoughts drifted between her worry about what Aleck referred to as her ‘little curiosity’, Aleck himself and Severus. Before he had taken the potion for the pain in his hands, he had looked so old, so tired, that Sal had found herself remembering her grandmother. When she tried to stop thinking about that, her worries about Severus would re-emerge. Somehow she couldn’t see him handling Lily getting married very well. The anxiety gnawed at her. Even locked in the dark recess to which she’d confined it, Sal was aware of it squirming, wriggling about, fighting its way back to the surface. So she would turn back to the research, and every time she picked up a new book she would find herself dreading the answer to the questions that had nagged her throughout the morning. When it finally came it was more puzzling than anything else. Aleck’s Reperio charm found several examples of the glyph; all were linked to myths from ancient Greece and Rome about The Fates. Sal and Aleck had refined the search then, and it had become clear that the glyph did not link to all the Fates but only to one: Clotho.

---------

As always I would love to hear from you on my feedback thread - after all without a few pointers how will I get any better?


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My Fanfic - The Silver Thread - (WIP) updated 03/07/09

Sig by the most professional, clever & witty Boushh
(Original photo-manipulation of AR by helin)

Last edited by kittling; June 25th, 2009 at 7:27 pm.
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Old July 3rd, 2009, 7:06 pm
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kittling  Female.gif kittling is offline
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Re: The Silver Thread

Chapter 18

End of June 1978


He’d just been taking off his mask and cloak when it happened.

It was such a small thing. It was a tiny moment in time; that’s all it was, but it was one of those moments that stretched and distorted until it towered over him, blocking out everything else.

He was still jarred from seeing his father staring at him from across the hallway when Lucius’ voice cut through the haze.

Severus stared at him uncomprehendingly for a moment before he realised what had been said. All he wanted to do was run out into the clear crisp air again – let it freeze out the panic that he could feel boiling up inside, but that was hardly an option, so he murmured a delay, motioning towards the bathroom.

Whatever Lucius had said in reply disappeared in the void that now filled Severus’ head. He went to the bathroom and mechanically locked the door, moved to the sink and turned on the cold tap, proceeding to douse his face in water that would never be cold enough. He looked up at his reflection in the bathroom mirror, and there it was again – his father’s face looked back at him. The expression had changed now. It had been full of cold, barely suppressed fury. Now it had that empty defeated look, which always followed the rages. It was as if at any moment he would turn to his mother and start to beg for forgiveness, promise never to do it again, but he hadn’t done it. He hadn’t berated or beaten his mother – it was never her face he saw. They, the mudbloods and blood traitors, never looked like her, not to him.

Then he understood. That last jigsaw piece just fell into place, and he rushed to the toilet and vomited.

His guts retched as he recognized the person he became beneath his Death Eater mask. The thought left his mind almost blank with horror. He couldn’t understand how it had happened, how he had failed to notice that everything he felt during the raids he had read a thousand times on his father’s face. He wondered what he’d see if he got up and looked at his reflection again.

Cautiously he rose and turned to look in the mirror again. Fear caught on every step as he moved closer to the mirror until, hands resting on the sink’s edge, he leaned forward, his nose mere inches away from the glass. His dark eyes darted over the reflection, taking in the pale skin, the spark of fear in eyes that seemed ready to brim over with water. It was his father’s face no longer, and he wondered if this was how he had looked those nights when he had laid in bed, listening to the shouting downstairs. He recalled the time he had crept down the steep steps and sat on the bottom of the stairs, his ear pressed against the living room door, until … (what?). The thought made his mouth water again as his stomach seethed.

He paused, eyes closed, and took a deep breath.

In his mind’s eye, however, the scene continued. The shouting was interrupted by a loud thud, as if a sack had been dropped. Silence followed for a moment that stretched on into infinity, until it was shattered by the bark of his father’s voice. “Get up!” His mind censored the words that followed even now. Even with all the remoteness and cold distance, he couldn’t bring himself to hear the cruel words his father used to berate his mother, but he could remember the sob that followed a sharp slapping noise. He remembered the way it had broken through his frozen mind. It still seemed, even though he knew that he had risen and opened the door to run the distance to his mother at the other side of the room, as if he had apparated to her. How he had thought he could help still baffled him. He had been nine, and a small nine-year-old, at that. His father had towered over his mother, let alone him, but somehow he had sprung at the man, determined to pull him off his mother. It had ended quickly. His father had thrown him off, and in the fall he had hit the back of his head against the table’s edge. His mother had begged him to go upstairs, to go back to bed. So he had done as she asked and gone away, abandoned her. In the morning the bloodstain on the table was gone, but his pillow bore a dark brown and red stain where blood had soaked into it through the night. His hand reflexively reached up and felt the bump that remained the only testament to that night; it was still there. Lily had seen it the next day and scolded him for not seeing a doctor. A smile caught his lips for the briefest moment as he remembered her marching him back to her house, telling her mum that he had fallen from a tree. When her mum had cleaned the cut, it had stung, but Lily had held his hand, and somehow that had made it different, better. He had known that he was not in danger as her fingers had gripped his hand.

He sighed, annoyed at his indulging such sentimentality, and looked at himself coldly in the mirror again. The shadow of his father still lingered around the reflection. There was nothing to be done about it; no one to hold his hand anymore. For a second Sal flashed through his mind, bringing a snort of derision at the bitter irony. He thanked the Malfoys’ delicate sensibilities for the silencing charm on the bathroom as he flushed the toilet and then rinsed his mouth out, dried his face and left the solitude of the bathroom, ready to face Lucius and any other members of group that had come back to the Manor. He felt the old pretence fall over him; it was like being a child again. He’d mastered a multitude of different ways to stop teachers noticing, or at least stop them interfering, and he slid back into using them with alarming ease.

As he entered the library, Lucius handed him a glass of firewhisky, and Severus knocked it back, glad of the way it burnt his throat and washed away the taste of bile bringing him a little way back to himself. Then he looked at the glass, a large crystal cut tumbler that split the light that fell through it and left tiny rainbows scattered round it. As he looked at the breaking light casting patterns, he realised that he couldn’t remember when he’d started drinking. He felt lost, as if the ground had shifted under his feet and left him stranded in an alien landscape. He thought back to when he was nine and had first met the rest of the Evans family. The nagging doubts he had that other people’s lives were not as hard as his were confirmed that day. He’d gone home with a full stomach and a pack lunch--Mrs Evans had taken pity on him--and then seen his father sprawled across the living room half on, half off, the sofa, unconscious; not sleeping but passed out drunk. He’d sworn that evening that he would never drink.

-------------

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My Fanfic - The Silver Thread - (WIP) updated 03/07/09

Sig by the most professional, clever & witty Boushh
(Original photo-manipulation of AR by helin)
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