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People of the Goddess by Meadowsweet

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There was something cool on her face. There seemed to be a lot of pillows too. Theophany raised a hand.

Don’t touch!

Severus. He was still here. Theophany found herself smiling, though her lips felt cracked. A bubble of happiness and relief floated in her chest. She dropped her hand from the bandage. Everything was still, blessedly still and peaceful. She could hear him moving around the room. Still trapped in her private darkness, Theophany had a childish wish he wasn’t so far away and out of reach. She wanted to hold his hand. Her empty fingers twitched restlessly and explored her surroundings. She was on the carpet. Licking her lips, Theophany tried speaking,

“We do seem to spend an awful lot of time patching each other up, don’t we?”

Her voice sounded hoarse.

“Don’t open your eyes.”

“I won’t.”

“Are they hot or dry? Scratchy?”

For some reason his voice kept making her smile. That little bubble of happiness was trembling just beneath her throat ready to burst. ‘Scratchy’ was a funny word when Severus Snape said it.


“Before you fainted, could you see anything at all?”

Yes, you. And you were just...beautiful.

She didn’t say it aloud. She was so absurdly happy. Probably just the relief making her euphoric. Theophany substituted, “Yes, I saw a little. What’s on my eyes?”

“A cloth doused in dittany. You have scratches from clawing off that blindfold. And I used a few drops of Horklump juice and essence of calendula in your eyes, so keep them closed. I’m going to replace your cloth.”

Theophany felt him bend over her with that sixth sense of nearness. Not quite aural or kinetic, a human ability to sense another person. In her darkness it was almost as good as sight, almost believable she could guess his expression, his movements exactly. If she opened her eyes, would she see the face she had seen in the Pensieve? Anxious and irate?

Theophany kept her eyes closed but found her ears straining as if to hear what she couldn’t see. The cloth lifted, and she felt a draft on her face. She could sense the candle’s glow through her eyelids.


She almost sighed with relief. Then Severus bent over her again, and she no longer noticed the light. There was the smell of old books, and wool, and something unidentifiable. Theophany took a sniff but instantly forgot what she was smelling when she felt featherlight fingertips on her forehead. She held her breath. The light was blocked again and the cloth replaced. With a firm touch she felt his hand lie against the cloth to gently seal the edges against the light. His hand stayed only for a moment, heavy and reassuring. Within the straining echo of her ears Theophany heard her heart began to hammer. This wasn’t like the panic from before. It was fear and joy together. Her hand tensed, about to raise to meet his, but he removed his hand and stepped away.


She was still holding her breath. Theophany released it in a rush. She felt bereft and lost. The darkness was overwhelming again. All the worse because this time she couldn’t hold fast to him.

Don’t go…

Theophany took in another breath. It was panic rising in her chest, but it was also pain and excitement. It pressed on her heart and ribs, and there was nothing she could say. If she tried to speak, her heart would tumble from her mouth and he would run away from these feelings. Under closed lids Theophany’s eyes began to sting.

“I’m sorry, Severus,” she whispered.

“For what?”

I can’t say –

“Ha...” Her laugh was weak but concealed the sob underneath. “For so many things. I’m sorry for fainting. I’m sorry for getting the two of us trapped in that house. I’m sorry for being more hindrance than help and that I couldn’t discover what you needed. I’m sorry, but I really didn’t…”

...mean to like you this much.

Theophany silenced herself. The bald statement was startling even in thought.

“You didn’t…? What? Didn’t think it would be like this? Don’t you want to do this anymore?” The sneer in his voice was heavy. “And you were so eager to help.”

“No! No, I do!” He’d misunderstood. She couldn’t leave him alone, it was too dangerous. “You mean you’ll let me help still?”

“I don’t have much choice. Since my plan failed, things will only become more dire.”

Theophany gratefully seized the subject. These were dire circumstances. No time to examine her private feelings. We’re at war. Calm yourself.

“You wanted to misdirect,” Theophany pointed out, “So did your plan really fail?”

“Misdirect permanently. It only bought us a few weeks.”

“But we know they haven’t learned anything else, otherwise they wouldn’t have been waiting. They can’t have any other leads to – to whatever they're looking for if they were so eager to find us.”

They were looking for someone certainly, and Severus had wanted them to believe that certain someone was a member of a certain family, namely Murgolode’s.

“Did you guess he may be a Death Eater? Is that why you followed me?” Theophany propped herself up on an elbow, “Which was stupid by the way. If you had been caught, it would have been worse for you than for me. Why did you send me anyway if you intended to go yourself? Not that I mind, I knew it would be dangerous, but I didn’t suspect the Death Eaters would be in the house – so I suppose I should say thank you instead of scolding you.. Thank you for being there, Severus.”

“Lie down. You’re dripping dittany on the rug.”

Embarrassed by her babble, Theophany lay down and promised herself to watch her tongue.

Keep it to yourself. He doesn’t want your thanks. So what if you want to throw your arms around his neck and…

The image this thought conjured was so very new and interesting that Theophany thought it best to save it for when she was alone.

“On reflection,” Severus was saying, “I thought it best you have someone outside, in case the house was watched. I was alerted to the situation when I recognized a Death Eater who left shortly after you entered. I knew Arthur Murgolode was a traditionalist but I didn’t expect him to be an active member. However, I highly doubt he bears the mark.”

Theophany nearly sat up again but restrained herself.

“You don’t need a Dark Mark to be a Death Eater. And you don’t need to not have one to not be.”

Like that made sense. Her mind and tongue were so disconnected it was a wonder she could speak at all. Not to mention the distance between what she felt and what she could say.

“I assure you I’m the only example of the latter…” he answered drily.

There was something about the way he said it.

“But you’re hoping that’s not the case?”

There was another silence. She really wanted to see his expression.

“How did you do that?” he asked abruptly.

He was changing the subject, but at least he was talking.


“Keep him from your memories. Are you...do you practice Occlumency?”

What? No, who could I possibly find to teach me that?”

“Still you manged to fight him. He used his wand, not a very practiced Legilimens,” Severus’s tone was dismissive, “but you managed to repel his attack. How?”

“I just realized that he could only see what I focused on, so I just tried to fill my thoughts with something else.”

“He said something about a tone?”

“‘A’ 440. Tuning pitch. My dad taught us to play when we were small, before he married Mum, and I could remember all the pitches by ear–”

“Are you some kind of savant?” he snapped exasperatedly.

“No, no, I doubt it. I was completely useless at playing. I just chose the memory because it was so clear. Dad’s hand on mine. The feel of the key. And of course the sound...something that would fill me up.”

“Almost like you were summoning a Patronus.”

Theophany twisted her head around, forgetting she couldn’t see him.

“Can you do that? Of course you can, that was the doe that fetched me, wasn’t it? Can you teach me?”


“Why not? I’ve already seen your Patronus, haven’t I?”

“I don’t have time to play school with you–”

“Of course.”

Theophany turned on her side. She couldn’t see him, but he could see her, and she mustn’t let her face betray her.

“Someday, though. Please show me.”

Severus got up. Was he leaving? Theophany nearly flung out an arm, plea on her lips, but he stopped at the table and she sighed with relief.

“While we’re on the subject of can and can’t do. That broken leg today. And that day in the shed when Jugens and Crowe snatched you. You’ve broken two necks since I’ve met you. Not forgetting the exploding cabinet. It’s the same jinx, isn’t it?”

“Yes. That one just...comes easy. I told you my magic was volatile when I was small. Before I knew the incantation, I could make things...er, come apart.”

“Well, I sincerely hope you didn’t kill anyone.”

“Broke a man’s legs once. He was shouting at Mum, wanted to evict us even though we’d paid. Like I said, it wasn’t easy on Mum having a child like me around.”

There was a silence.


The silence sharpened, he was listening.

“Just checking that you’re still here.”


Please talk a little more.

“We’re at Spinner’s End, aren’t we?”

“Regrettably.” He drew the out the word with as much distaste as he would a worm from an apple.

Theophany kept her face turned away but had to smile.

“You’re funny,” she whispered.

Apparently he didn’t know how to answer that.

“I’m getting you a calming draught. You should let your eyes rest as long as possible, so it would be best if you slept. And the couch would be better than the floor.”

“It’s surprisingly comfortable.”

“Given your disoriented state, I thought it best not to move you unnecessarily. Will you be able to stand up?”

Theophany slowly sat up, one hand holding the cool cloth on her eyes. She moved as if balancing something fragile on her head. There was a black pit at her feet and, the moment she moved, the void would swallow her.

“I am...I am going to need a little help.”

Theophany stretched out a hand into the darkness. She felt him take it. Long fingers. He pulled steadily and she got to her feet. He didn’t let go yet.


“Not so much. But just give me a moment.”

Their hands were clasped, the only thing separating them. Theophany’s shoulders were tense and her whole body locked. She probably looked defensive or uncomfortable, but Theophany Knapp was actually very happy. Delirious even. Part of her warned these feelings were bad news, while the greater part of Theophany happily acknowledged that it felt very nice.

“Alright, lead on.”

Severus turned her away from him and walked alongside her, their clasped hands ahead of them and his other hand holding her elbow. Theophany held herself stiffly and didn’t let herself lean on him too much. She felt her knees bump the couch and felt her way to the seat but didn’t release his hand until she was supine with a pillow behind her head. When he let go of her hand, the bereft feeling came back.

“I’m sorry for making such a fuss. It’s a kind of phobia for me. Blindness. Feeling so trapped.”

It was the truth. She had panicked and lost her head at Murgolode’s house. If Severus hadn’t been there, she would have never had the presence of mind to even try escaping.

“A fear of blindness? Interesting to see a Boggart manage that,” Severus drawled.

“You are funny.”

Theophany couldn't have hid her delight at discovering this if she’d tried. Suddenly every fact and thought pertaining to Severus Snape was fascinating and to be dwelled on at leisure with great enjoyment. She wanted to know everything. Theophany squinched her eyes, they felt entirely normal, but she continued to keep them closed.

“Though,” she mused, “these days I think we all have the same Boggart. We all fear to lose the ones we love.”


“Ah!” Theophany sat up. “And I thought you said you had sacrificed everything. But you do have something to lose!”

A glass of something was pushed into her hand.

“Drink,” he snapped.

Theophany obeyed, the better to hide her smug smile.

“What do I do next, Severus?”

“Sleep. Your eyes will need more time. What were you using my pearlwort for?”

For a moment Theophany was confused.

“Oh, the warming draft! It was all pretty basic ingredients, Dragon’s claw and nettle, but because of the circumstances I need to warm you specifically against ice. So Yiyiren, or Job’s Tears, for the moon. Pearlwort–

“–for water. But you didn’t want to give me more water.”

“No, no. It’s a question of essences. Sometimes you give something of the essence you want to draw out. Like a magnet.”

“You were factoring the elements present into the potion?”

“It’s what I was taught.”

“Your mother, I remember. And where did your mother learn?”

“From her mother, who learned from an old wizard who taught the community. I don’t know where he learned.”

“From his parents, most likely. All the way back to Queen Maeve, I’m sure.”

Theophany sniggered. “We’d like to think so. Sounds so posh.”

“Sleep. If you can.”

He was moving away. Theophany made fists of her hands. Don’t reach out to him, don’t hold him, don’t–

“Where will you be, Severus?” she whispered.

“Too much time has been lost these last few days –”

“Don’t leave me. Please, don’t go anywhere until I can see.”

“There are many things I need to do...”

“Then please wait until I fall asleep.”

“...very well.”

“Thank you – I’m really sorry, but thank you.

“I shouldn’t have made you Apparate,” Severus said abruptly. “You said you were dizzy, and I should have realized you had completely lost your equilibrium. Apparating was...thoughtless.”

Theophany both cursed the cloth and blessed it. She wanted to see him so badly, but then again, what would he see in her face? She kept it averted.

“There wasn’t much choice. They would have found us. Anyway – thank you, Severus.”

It took a little time but Theophany fell asleep. She was recovering from not only the curse but a state of extreme panic. Her apologies had been profuse but unnecessary. The only one who had erred was him. He had pinned too much hope on his forged research. Moreover he had nearly sent his only ally to her death. Given the circumstances, Theophany had done well. But was he right to use her? The plan relied on no one else knowing he was a spy.

Severus made sure the house was securely locked and warded before lighting the fire. He threw some Floo powder on the fire, speaking softly as not to wake Theophany.

“Headmaster’s Office, Hogwarts School.”

“Severus!” the portrait cried as he stepped from the hearth. “Is it done? Is all well?”

The office looked untouched. Most likely no one was aware he’d been gone.



He raised his wand over his head.

“I, Severus Snape, Headmaster of this school, require you to sleep.”

With the rustle of an audience before a concert, the portraits settled themselves in their respective frames. Resuming seats and removing hats, in some cases wigs, or troublesome frilled collars and heavy jewelry. The portrait of Albus Dumbledore removed his spectacles and closed his book.

“Except you, Albus.”

With a good natured twinkle Albus replaced his spectacles and cocked his head expectantly. These were the times Severus was most aware of the deficiencies of the portrait. To see even a painted likeness of Albus Dumbledore obey so mildly was disconcerting. The proxy school board were insisting Severus’s own headmaster portrait be painted. Perhaps he would charm it with a garrulous and sunny disposition as a final revenge.

When it was just Severus and the portrait, and all possible painted witness were snoring gently, Severus drew closer.

“I have done as you said. Potter now has the sword.”

“And he doesn’t know it came from you?”

“No, we had no contact. He is still without the information I’m to provide concerning Nagini...and his death.”

“That’s as it should be. Too soon could ruin everything.”

“Too late should be our worry!” Severus retorted. “What would you have me do?”

“All the instructions I have for you, I have already given you in life.”

“But is there nothing else? After I turned over the sword, I hoped you would explain more–”

“All the instructions I have for you, I have already–”

“Yes, yes, so you said.”

Severus watched the portrait, a finger tracing his mouth. Perhaps if he approached things from a different angle, he could receive a different response. Could it be the answers were buried there and he hadn’t yet asked the right question?

“How am I to know when to approach Potter if it’s to be neither too soon nor too late?”

“His mission will be complete.”

“He will come out of hiding?”

The portrait considered this. “If the best way to attack Tom Riddle means he must remain in hiding, then no, he will not.”

“Then how will I know his mission is complete?”

“I could only see so far, Severus.” Albus smiled sadly. “What signs there will be are up for you to see. For your interpretation and wisdom.”

“My wisdom?” Severus repeated flatly.

He walked around the desk and retrieved a chair. The back legs scraped over the stone floor and shuddered over the carpet as he dragged it back to the portrait. Sitting down, he continued in a tight voice, “My wisdom has done little to help myself or anyone. My instincts are not to be trusted. We – we the Order – have only ever relied on your leadership, your instincts. Now at the final hour we must rely on mine?

“I always did,” the portrait replied blandly.

“You what? No, it was never my job to make suggestions. I only relayed information–”

“Severus,” Albus laughed, “how can I, a mere painting, convince you of what I could never convince you in life? Yes, I have constantly relied on your instinct and your knowledge, but you would never accept that and preferred to think of yourself as a pawn–”

“Damn you, don’t turn this around! Even as a painting you prefer to play mind games instead of giving a straight answer!”

“Then here it is straight. You must wait, Severus. There is nothing else to be done until Harry completes his mission. I have no doubt that he will. Wait, have patience, and protect this school.”

Severus’s hand was over his mouth, eyes boring through the painting.

“What about the Elder Wand?”

“Your ‘paper trail’ didn’t deceive?”

“Only delayed. The only certainty is he has no other leads. He was relying on discovering who forged the paper on Arcus’s bloodline and torture information from them.”

He didn’t like to think how close Theophany had come to true torture. Should he ask if it was alright to use an accomplice? Had Albus ever even considered the possibility? Severus certainly hadn’t. The Order believed him a murderer, and the Hogwarts staff had to believe the same for their own protection.

“Albus, if Potter’s mission is so essential, what difference does the Elder Wand make?”

“It could make a great deal, or none at all.” Albus frowned. “A wand that, united with the Cloak and the Stone of Resurrection, makes the owner master of Death. Supposedly. Obviously it wasn’t the case for me.”

“You never held all three at once.”

“If that is the key, then neither will Tom Riddle. But will the Elder Wand make Tom impossible to defeat? Or only at a cost which I still cannot bear to consider…”

“Tell me where the Elder Wand is now.”

The portrait sighed. “The only instructions I have to give you I have already given–”

“I know!” Severus clutched his head. “Merlin! It’s like having a broken record for company!”

“I do apologize, Severus. It is, however, only with certain topics that I was created with a lack of responses. Should you wish to discuss anything else or reminisce about your time at Hogwarts, either as a teacher or student, you will find me quite lifelike. For instance, this is the first Christmas in a long time you have not joined in for leftover gingersnaps and coffee in the staff room.”

Severus was holding his head in his hands. “Don’t make me sound like a willing participant.”

“Not at first, no. At first it was too easy and enjoyable to annoy you, so of course I dragged you along. Then it simply became a tradition in its own right. Oh well. Traditions change. It’s not surprising. I’m dead. As for you, offering to share gingersnaps with the staff wouldn’t do much for your public image as a Death Eater–”

“Albus,” Severus cut in, “did you leave me no specific instructions as to the safeguarding of the school because you were uncertain? Were you afraid any instructions you left would become obsolete but I would obey them anyway? Were there simply too many possible outcomes for you to predict them all?”

“Why, Severus,” Albus chuckled in surprise, “why would I do all that when you’re here?”

Severus looked at the portrait blankly.

“I had to rely on you to fulfill certain tasks,” Albus continued soberly. “Tasks which I had originally intended to complete myself. No one but I should have had to bear this burden, but it was too late. But surely these tasks, these instructions, are enough? Indeed, I knew they were too much. I have already entrusted you with the thing most precious to me.”

Severus stared at the portrait.

“All of this.” Albus’s gaze went beyond the room. “All of my children. This year, and the next, and the next. Keep them safe, Severus.”

Slowly, Severus lowered his hands and let them hang loosely from his arms, elbows on knees. He bowed his head and stared at the floor.

“Then that is what I shall do.”

“You may have been my only choice, Severus, but that was because you were my first choice. There are no further instructions because I entrusted Hogwarts to you to protect as your instinct directs you. That is what it means to be Headmaster.”

Severus folded his hands tightly.

“I will. It has seemed inevitable that I would – one day – be again a free agent. So I will do as I see fit to protect Hogwarts. To do my utmost by whatever means I deem necessary and right.”

“You’re planning something in particular, Severus?”

“Something terrible. And desperate.”

He fell silent. Even though he had, in a way, received permission to proceed, Severus still hesitated. The question wasn’t only could he, but should he? He was no longer alone. Perhaps it wasn’t impossible.


“Go on, Severus.”

“Tell me about Gellert Grindelwald.”

“He was brilliant and sociopathic. Talented but twisted.”

“No, tell me.”

The portrait steadily returned his gaze.

“Gellert was indeed the Darkest, most powerful wizard before Tom Riddle. But Gellert, unlike Tom, didn’t surround himself with sycophants and cobbled-together doctrines. Gellert truly believed not just in the right of wizards to rule but in his future as the founder of a new world order. It wasn’t just something he desired or planned, it was something he knew. Tom is always afraid of failure – always proving himself greater, better. Tom is paranoid. Gellert was gifted. An egomaniac and manipulative to the point of uncanniness, but gifted.

“Also, unlike Tom, Gellert didn’t enjoy violence in itself. It was a regrettable necessity. A tool only. But he would murder with as little hesitation as Tom or even Lestrange. It was a curious dichotomy. Gellert believed he worked for the good of all, truly wanted to eradicate suffering, yet he was able to induce so – so much pain without guilt.”

The painting was silent for a moment. Severus let it proceed as it wished.

“Perhaps it was a switch in his mind. Empathy turned on or off for convenience. For he was capable of empathy. Not merely going through the motions, as a self-aware sociopath might only act caring. Nor did he do so for the self-gratification of thinking of himself as a “good” person doing “good” things. If I have any ability to read a man at all, I am certain that I saw true compassion in him…that is why he is so dangerous.”

Albus fixed Severus with a familiar blue-eyed stare and leaned forward.

“This is the most important thing, Severus. You must not forget it. Gellert loved. He is as different from Tom Riddle as you or I in that he has and does love. But,” here the blue gaze turned fiery, “he will not be swayed by it! No appeals to his better nature or his capacity for love can or will convince him or change his actions. His fervent ideology is protected from his heart and conscience by his own brilliant mind. That is his tragedy.”

Severus listened a little longer, but it seemed Albus had finished. The portrait watched him stand and move the chair back to the desk. While his back was still turned, it spoke again.

“It is also, besides your choices, perhaps the largest difference between you. Gellert never had to sacrifice conscience for his ambitions. He could simply disregard it. He believes he is whole but lives with a soul in pieces. You sold your conscience for your ambitions and have since worked to regain it to become whole again —butonly whole enough to prove yourself. You are afraid of regaining too much life, Severus.”

“It’s too late now, old man.” Severus didn’t turn around. The painting wasn’t telling him anything he didn’t know. “I could have tried to carve out a life these past years, but instead I was living each day waiting for this. Now it isn’t life for which I need to prepare.”

The portrait spoke, and it was unlike any time it had spoken before. Albus’s voice, no longer soft and strong, wavered.


Severus turned around. The portrait looked much the same, a little sad and serious. But he couldn’t shake the certainty that nobody else would have heard it speak in that voice. The voice of Albus a year ago, weakened and dying. Could it be possible that those few words had been left expressly for him?

“Albus…” Severus averted his eyes from the painting, frustrated. “If I could tell you – I hope you knew that I chose this. Never mind whatever I said in the beginning; I chose this.”

The portrait had no answer. It couldn’t help him communicate beyond the grave. Severus took a shuddering breath. It wouldn’t be long, he supposed, before he could tell him in person. He would be patient.

By the time he took the Floo back, it was after sunset and Spinner’s End was dark. The library was still when he stepped from the hearth. Perhaps Theophany Knapp had regained her sanity and escaped before he returned and involved her further.


Her voice floated from behind the couch.



“Welcome home.”

“What are you doing back there?”

“Long story.”

He lit the lamps and pocketed his wand. Walking around to the back of the couch, he found Theophany sitting on the floor, her back against the couch and legs extended in front of her. The cloth was still firmly in place over her eyes.

“Hide and Seek?” Severus couldn’t help but ask.

Beneath the mask of the dittany cloth, she smiled wryly.

“Something like that. I woke up a little discombobulated. I guess the calming draught wore off because my heart was racing even before I remembered you told me this house was known to both sides. After that I couldn’t stop thinking what if someone came looking for you and I couldn’t see...”

It must have been terrifying.

“Anyway, in the end I tried to find somewhere out of sight of the door in case you got a visitor, but I only made it to the end of the couch before the vertigo hit again. Then I either passed out or fell asleep. So I’m really really glad it’s you and not someone else.”

Despite the cheerful words that last bit sounded desperately sincere.

“The house is securely warded. I’m sorry I couldn’t be here.”

“Oh! No, it’s fine – I’m fine! You were kind enough to stay while I fell asleep, I could hardly expect you to be there when I woke up too.”

“Do you need assistance getting up?”

“Yes – no! Rather, can we take this off now? Then I wouldn’t need any help.”

Severus snuffed the candles, leaving only the farthest burning. Carefully peeling back the edge of the cloth, he could see the scratches were all but gone.

“Alright. Open slowly.”

Theophany blinked at him.

“Hmm, gritty. May I rub?”

“Let me get you a clean cloth–”

“I have a handkerchief.”

After wiping her eyes she refocused on him. Stared at him. Severus bore it a moment longer before snapping, “What?”

She averted her eyes and shook her head.

“Sorry, it’s nothing. It’s just, last night I assume it must have been quite dark in here but you were – I could see you just fine. Now, even with the candle lit, everything’s a bit dim.”

“It is dim. There’s no lasting damage. Last night your eyes were particularly sensitive to light; they were probably taking in far more than usual.”

“‘No lasting damage’.” Theophany folded her handkerchief and cleared her throat. “That’s good to hear. Thank you.”

“I did very little.”

He stood up and heard Theophany add, in a small voice, “What about you? Are you alright?”

Severus looked down at her, but she kept her face lowered. What was this? More shame about being captured at Murgolode house?

“I was uninjured.”

Theophany scrambled to her feet.

“Sorry, I mean you just now. Are you alright? You seem a bit...not my business. May I ask what you plan to do now?”

Severus turned to face her. He had to be sure before going on.

“Are you prepared to assist in any way you can? Do you put success before your own personal safety?”

She looked back directly which made Legilimency easier. Theophany didn’t seem to be hiding anything, in fact her eyes seemed to be boring back into his with their own communication, but he couldn’t decipher it.


“Will you ever betray me–”


Severus could detect no lie. Albus’s words came back to him. Not just his only choice but his first choice. Theophany could be that for him. To speak the words, make a contract, might be redundant, but he wanted complete clarity.

“Then I am going to ask you to help me. Can you swear that you will put the mission first, and not interfere with my plans? Wait, I’m not finished–”

Theophany quieted and bit her lip.

“Furthermore, can you promise to do all this without having or requiring explanations?”

She paused. She wasn’t unintelligent. She would see all that was unfair and potentially dangerous in his demands. Would it be too much? Theophany raised her lowered eyes to look at him. She was incapable of both Occlumency and Legilimency, he reminded himself. He wasn’t sure what she was looking for, but something decided her.

“Yes. I promise.”

No going back now. It would be as he saw fit.

“I need to find a hidden place.”

“Any hidden place? or…?”

“A particular place. Extremely dangerous and kept hidden for a great many years.”


“I hoped, with your particular background and contacts, that you might be exactly the right person to help find it.”

Theophany didn’t leap to agree but looked troubled, if anything.

“That could be true.”

She held his gaze and said gravely, “In that case, I’ll do my best.”

“We might need more than that.”

Theophany raised her chin. “Then I’ll give it all I’ve got.”