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People of the Goddess by Meadowsweet

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Chapter Notes: All belongs to the author, J.K. Rowling. I'm just playing with what she has so graciously shared. The lyrics quoted in this chapter are from the song 'Vogue' by Madonna. Released 1990. I am, shockingly enough, not Madonna and don't own the song or lyrics in any way. Enjoy!

Malfoy Manor was dark. A house-elf opened the door for Snape, and when he inquired after its master, it fearfully answered in the negative. In their grubby assorted rags he could never tell the sex of the Malfoy elves. They could have five or fifty and he wouldn't know, interchangeable in their terrified expressions and lowered ears. He swept past the unfortunate elf, and it didn’t dare contradict him. It knew he bore the mark.

“And what of the young Mr. Malfoy?”

“Please sir, I don’t know, sir,” it squeaked in distress, “only that he left this morning with t-two others.”

Draco was on some errand then. He dismissed the elf and made his own way to the library. Even in the half dark of a winter evening he knew this manor well enough. He remembered being brought to this same library when just out of school. A large part of their biography and history collection was particular to their ancestry only. But he only needed a name, a likely culprit. A contender for the Elder Wand.

The pace was slow. He didn’t want to leave indicators of his line of research, so he reshelved volumes as he read, forced to retrieve them to cross-reference, and even to take notes. He doubted anyone could keep so many second cousins three times removed without quill and parchment. Scratching another date, Snape was struck by a memory of Lucius, already a prefect, standing over him in the Slytherin common room.

“It shows you have a Muggle parent, taking notes by hand like that. I mean it’s alright in class, the professors don’t want us fooling around with self writing quills or writing with wands. But if you do it in here…”

Snape had primarily been wary. Why was the pureblood golden boy speaking to him?

“My notes are more accurate than anyone else’s. Anyway, writing things out aids memorization”.

That’s what he’d said. Not that he enjoyed it, not that the smell of parchment was still new to him, a boy born and raised among Muggles. Or that it gave him an excuse to be alone, to look preoccupied. He didn’t even register having to lie. He had already accepted never saying what he really thought or felt.

Snape paused over his notes of lineages and land rights. How foolish he’d been then, thinking he was being so cautious. Hearing footsteps, Snape rolled his parchment up and opened a book on mushroom species, an innocuous red herring. It was Lucius, and he looked terrible. Snape marked his place with his parchment. No trying to slip it out of sight, no subterfuge.

“I hoped it was you. Couldn’t see any of my regular guests using the library.”

“Careful, Lucius.”

Malfoy raised a still perfect eyebrow but his eyes were bloodshot.

“Not going to lecture me? Bellatrix informs me it’s an honor to be...host to our Lord.”

“You should know better than to compare me to that.”

Lucius restlessly turned through the books on the desk. Snape saw his nails were bitten and ragged.

“No, Severus, you were never a fanatic.”

Snape waited. Malfoy kept his head down but his shoulders were tense.

“Lucius, did you want something?”

“Lots.” The master of the manor gave a hacking laugh. “But...Severus? Do you know where my son is right now?”

“No, I—”

“Neither do I! Draco’s my son and I’m forbidden to ask. I thought the Dark Lord was pleased with him. Draco did everything—everything he was told! I hoped he’d escaped being tarnished by my failures, but he is being sent away over and over on these useless missions. Speaking to obscure mystics and kidnapping scholars…what is happening Severus? I thought victory was ours.”

“The Dark Lord is not victorious until—”

“I know, yes, this fixation with the ‘boy who lived’. And why must he be the one to kill Potter? Mulciber is on their trail, why not let him take care of it?”

Severus studied the carpet.

“Lucius. Do you know how you fly?”

“By the power of the Dark Lord,” Lucius said as easily as a child recited a lesson.

“But how?”

“Er—I just intend to fly. The power to do so is with him, I suppose. We just use that power through our obedience.”

“Just so. The Dark Lord has undergone transformations and experiences so deep into the arcane arts that we cannot imagine them. If he says something must be done just so, I will believe it.”

“Don’t believe I doubt him, Severus!” Lucius begged, a little panic in his voice. “It is only that I fear for Draco. I tried to convince him to return to school, but he said it didn’t matter now. But I would be much happier if I knew he was at Hogwarts where you could still watch over him.”

Snape opened his book and dipped his quill.

“Draco has refused my help, I didn’t even realize his plans for the vanishing cabinet. He has stepped out from under us both, Lucius. Never again will he obey me as he did.”

His tone was brusque; effectively signaling the end of the conversation. Lucius hovered a moment longer, then retired to the armchair by the fire. He sat looking more scarecrow than sanguine, hunched, face thinned by worry.

Snape continued to work steadily. He made no attempt to hide the sort of books he was using; Lucius would never notice. Some time must have passed in silence. After a time Snape noticed Lucius's chin was resting on his chest; he was probably sleeping very little.

The next volume of interest was entitled A Treaty on Land Ordinances of the 19th century: Effects and Repercussions to Wizarding Families of Property and Title...purebloods in other words. He was stifling an anticipatory yawn when a noise rattled the inkpot and raked across the back of his neck. He blinked stupidly while Lucius scrambled to his feet. It was a scream.

Snape had heard something like it only once before. He drew his wand and ran to the door. Ever since Voldemort had chosen Malfoy Manor as headquarters, the immediate grounds and interior were spelled against Apparition. Lucius grabbed his arm,

“Wait!” He snapped his fingers once. A house-elf appeared. This one was more wretched than ever, wringing its hands sore and sniveling horribly.

“P-Please, sir, it—it’s the young master—”

“Take us!”

House-elves could Apparate whenever and wherever they wished. Spells could not prevent them. Without letting go of Snape’s arm, Lucius caught the elf by the scruff of the neck. With a crack and a sudden enormous pressure they were in the entry hall. Like every room in the Manor, it was excessively lofty, filled with dark corners the candle light could not reach and seeming to dwarf the people huddled in the center.

Narcissa was screaming. Macnair was bent over something on the floor. The two Death Eaters with him were still hooded. Lucius dropped the elf and ran to Narcissa and caught hold of her arm, but she shook him off, pointing frantically, never stopping her hysterical screams. Lucius cried out, but Snape had already seen the faint shimmer of pale hair under Macnair’s arm. He swooped on Macnair and pushed him aside.

Lying on the stone floor, the boy was barely alive. Draco was pale and losing more color as they watched. A terrible bluish tint was gathering around his nose and mouth. Snape knelt and placed his hand over the boy’s mouth. He could feel nothing.

Aspiro.

“You don’t think I tried that?” Macnair sneered, “It only gets him breathing for about a minute. He got hit with something. His chest went cold, he said, then he stopped talking—”

Draco!” Narcissa wailed.

Snape was thinking furiously.

“Lucius, Lucius?” The man seemed Stupefied. Snape had to keep his wand on Draco, keep him breathing. “Lucius! Open his robes.”

He was obeyed. When Draco’s collar was unbuttoned it revealed a welt across his neck and chest. The frosty blue tint was creeping vein by vein up his neck to his mouth and face.

“What is this?” Lucius whispered.

Draco’s breathing was fading again.

Aspiro! I haven’t seen it before. Do you have Bitterroot? Bezoar? Powdered bicorn?”

Lucius kept shaking his head. Snape wasn’t even sure he had heard the question. Draco twitched suddenly and was still again.

“I already tried a Reversing Charm,” Macnair said noncommittally.

He seemed to view the situation as purely academic. They were out of time. Something had to be done now.

“Hold him still.”

Snape placed his wand on Draco’s chest, over the welt, and held his free hand against his own chest.

Epotavi!” he barked.

The chill bit into him so savagely he felt his lungs empty with a rush. Some species of Smothering Jinx, he thought clinically, even while he gasped for air, that copies symptoms of hypothermia. Even now the spell was still clinging to Draco,

Epotavi...” he hissed again.

He pulled his wand slowly away from the boy’s chest. Draco gasped, choking down air. Snape couldn’t examine him closely, as a new wave of cold was attacking his spine, running up to the backs of his eye sockets and blurring his vision. He cast about for a target. The entrance was only sparsely furnished, but the hearth was large enough for several small trees. Snape raised his hand and the kindling started to flare alight.

“Out of the way!” he snarled.

Macnair was already hanging back, only mildly interested. But Lucius had to force Narcissa away from Draco. From the tip of his wand to the center of his chest Snape could feel the cold thrumming. As he forced it from his heart back towards his wand, he whipped his hand towards the fire and the spell spun from the wand tip. It smashed into the flames, snuffing them out completely and knocking ash from the chimney, but the spell had been spent.

For a moment the only sound was the tinkling of ash and Draco coughing. Narcissa would have rushed to him, but Snape kept her back with a look. The skin on Draco’s throat was slowly flushing pink and the blue tinge had left his face. Snape rolled him onto his side and placed a hand against his back.

“Deep breath.”

Draco sucked in air and started coughing again.

“Slowly.”

Snape felt the boy’s ribs lift. It seemed his lungs were filling fully. Snape sat back on his heels. Narcissa ran forward, Lucius only a step behind.

“What did you use?” Macnair asked idly.

“A Draining Charm. It will draw and contain most things into any receptacle. Though not often applied to charms or other spellwork—”

Macnair made a face.

Enough, Professor. Merlin’s beard, you do like to lecture.”

The Malfoys were in a tight huddle over their son, who hadn’t spoken yet. Snape got to his feet. Macnair pulled his hood on.

“I have a report to make. Though next time I want a lesson, I know where to come, can always get a free seminar out of you, Professor.”

“We all serve in our own way,” Snape responded blandly.

Always ready for blood, Macnair didn’t really fear him. His own barbarism prevented him seeing Severus Snape, the fussy academic, as a threat. Snape watched him gather his two cohorts and leave, mostly so he didn’t have to turn and face the Malfoys.

“Severus?” Narcissa’s voice was damp.

Snape didn’t turn.

“Is Draco still breathing?”

“Professor.”

Snape turned. Draco was sitting up. Narcissa clung to him, but Draco managed to look like he didn’t notice her or his father, who was hovering at his shoulder.

“Thank you, Professor.”

For that moment it was as if the last year hadn’t happened, not Hogwarts burning or the terrible flight after Albus’s death. As if Draco still trusted him.

“Severus, if you hadn’t—”

Snape cut Lucius off.

“What happened, Draco?”

The boy’s face shuttered closed. The moment was over.

“I can’t tell you that.”

“I’m not asking you to reveal your mission. I want to know who attacked you.”

“We don’t know.”

Snape’s voice grew quieter.

“Where were you and what did they look like?”

Draco averted his face and tried to get shakily to his feet. Lucius gripped his shoulder. The boy’s breathing was labored still.

“Surely this is no betrayal? We need to counter any attack efficiently.”

“Well, sir, you have always been efficient.” Draco’s lip curled. “We were in Durham. Six of them Apparated, they knew exactly where we were…” He paused for breath. “We were forced into a dead end, so we left the road and ran for the wood. It was two to one. I don’t know what happened after I got hit. They were masked, so I didn’t see their faces. But they wore armbands. Just a white cloth with a mark on it, like a backwards F.”

“I’m not familiar...I would suppose then someone alerted them to your location. Perhaps whomever you were seeing in Durham?”

Draco set his jaw. Lucius quickly intervened.

“Surely that’s enough, Severus. He needs to rest.”

“Of course,” Snape smiled tightly, “I’ll just collect my notes from the library.”

Narcissa seemed to think the sudden coldness on the part of her son should be smoothed.

“We are so grateful to you, Severus. Please don’t doubt—Draco’s just such a conscientious boy. He know’s you’re only concerned for him—”

“What notes?” Draco's voice was sharp, though he was still unsteady on his feet. “What were you doing here anyway?”

“Yes, Narcissa, I see what you mean. Very grateful.” Snape let his sarcasm snake out like a whip. “Don’t wait up. I’ll see myself out.”

He returned to the library. After fooling McGonagall and turning the rest of the staff against him, it was easy to play his part with the Malfoys. But he didn’t want to alert any suspicions in Draco, who could barely contain his disgust for Snape. His parents assumed it was some kind of general disdain for a spy, perhaps even jealousy that Snape had stolen Draco’s glory in killing Dumbledore.

Snape knew otherwise. It was the murder of Albus Dumbledore alone. Draco was revolted to find Snape was capable of killing someone who had put their trust in him. Someone who had, apparently, begged him. It was the most cheering thing Snape had realized for a long time. There was hope for the boy after all.

Slowly and deliberately he finished his search in the library; he had only limited time for research before he would have to act. He collected the most helpful volumes to take with him. Lucius would never notice. Now he had an additional task: discover who it was in Durham that Draco had been sent to find. It would be someone who Voldemort thought could lead him to the Elder Wand.

Theophany was so sick of resting that she insisted on getting out of bed before dinner. The twins' desperate pleas that they be allowed to cook curry were gladly agreed to, much to their surprise. Theophany sat comfortably by the fire while Ike supervised the curry, the house-elf graciously ignoring the extensive mess they were making. Their enthusiasm was furthered by being allowed to listen to their music on the wireless, Theophany gamely singing along when invited.

“Oh, you got to let you body move to the music,
“Oh, you’ve got to just go with the flow,
“Oooh, you’ve got to vogue.”


Mr. Knapp was doing chores, so the volume was turned up, causing Merryn to leave the kitchen in mock horror while the twins giggled fiendishly, their feet jigging and tapping along even as their hands whisked and chopped. A large portion of curry was set aside for Silyn and anyone else who might appear after dinner. Silyn was known to bring unexpected guests, and The Mill was generally accepted as a meeting place. Theophany had learned to copy her mother’s habit of keeping food ready.

Dad was bringing the sheep in from the lower meadow, and Theophany waved to him on her way to the barn. She climbed into the loft and lit the lamp with her wand. This time of year the hayloft was full, and she had to climb over scratchy, square bales to the far end where, dangling grotesquely from a rafter, was a pillowcase dummy. Old straw poked through the cloth, and a pillow head lolled from the hanging rope. Some older brother had painted a squiggle of a mouth and X’s for eyes. Theophany untied the other end of the rope and lowered the dummy to the barn floor below. The barn door slid open, and Mr. Knapp watched the dummy descend.

“Been awhile since I’ve seen him,” he said blandly as his daughter scrambled back down from the loft.

“Yeah. Not since Concord was a kid.”

“Getting in a little extra practice?”

Theophany picked straw off her robes, then sighed and faced her father.

“Someone got around me, Dad. I messed up.”

If it was in fact someone else who had wiped her memories and not herself.

“And you think throwing spells at a pillow will improve you?”

“I’ll get Concord to duel with me, Silyn too if he has time.” Theophany looked over her shoulder at the dueling dummy. “It does feel a little childish though, at my age.”

Mr. Knapp scoffed.

“When you’re my age remembering being your age, you can talk like that. Here, I’ll swing him for you.”

“Thanks, Dad.”

Mr. Knapp raised and lowered the rope, causing the dummy to jump and jig. Each time Theophany hit it with a spell, the manikin spun crazily. The goal was to hit it again before it made a complete revolution, simulating an opponent’s response time. It would have been a quiet practice were it not for Theophany. She hissed, she growled, she shouted and cursed. After a while Concord poked his head around the door to find the source of the noise.

“I thought Tiff was murdering someone. But I see it’s just you, Dad.”

Mr. Knapp let the rope slide from his fingers.

“Concord, get in here and fight your sister.”

Concord glanced at his sister. Theophany was breathing quickly, her hair wild and eyes on fire.

“Nope. Make Silyn do it.”

His father swatted at him.

“Don’t let a fragile old Muggle make you look bad. Me and the pillowcase were putting up a good fight.”

Concord gave a teenaged sigh.

“Fine, give me a minute.”

Mr. Knapp waited until he had left before turning back to Theophany.

“Be careful about pushing yourself.”

She seemed to hear him from a great distance.

“What? Oh. Okay, I’ll be careful.”

“You remind me of her. Kind, but ferocious when threatened.”

Theophany looked up, the fog of battle falling from her like a popped bubble.

“Mum? I always thought Silyn was most like her.”

Her father came and leaned against the wall, indicating a low stool. Theophany sat down obediently.

“That’s true. Your mother told me once that I reminded her of you. Though you were only a little girl when I met your mum. Maybe it’s because we’re so similar, you and I, that she married me, Muggle and all.” He rested a hand on her head. “She told me to ‘watch out for Theophany; she could get in trouble one day’.”

Mr. Knapp tilted Theophany’s head back to look her in the eye.

“I don’t know what’s going on, love. And I know you don’t know either; just remember you’re at your strongest when fighting to protect those you love, but don’t let it rush you into danger. For our sake.”

Concord came loping back into the barn. He was wearing an old Keeper’s helmet and knee pads.

“Alright,” he said. “Let’s get the beating over with.”

Despite his grumbling Concord was more than proficient for his age. Theophany had to work hard to get past his defense, but her victory was always just a matter of time. She wasn’t sure how long they had been fighting when Silyn joined them. Concord had just been flung onto his back.

“Silyn! Brother! Save me!” he gasped from the floor. “She just shattered my Shield Charm.”

Silyn pulled Concord to his feet.

“Lucky for you, Tiff has an appointment tonight.”

“Huh? No fair! I wanted to watch you take a turn, you can actually beat her.”

“Go take a shower. You’re sweaty and gross.”

“Well, Tiff isn't much better—”

“She’ll be in in a minute.”

Concord raised an exaggerated eyebrow at Theophany and left with pointed diffidence.

“Hey, Tiff,” Silyn said quietly, suddenly serious. “If you want practice, you should come with us tomorrow. We could use you.”

Theophany wiped her face on her sleeve.

“If I’m not unhinged by what I see tonight, I’m in.”

“Good.”

He reached into his pocket and tossed her a piece of white cloth. Theophany unfolded the arm band so the distinctive mark showed starkly.

“Whose was this?”

He shook his head.

“I don’t know everyone’s names. It’s better that way.”

From some deep reserve Silyn retrieved a reassuring smile. Theophany, somewhat calmer but exhausted, followed him back to the house to change.

Curiosity and anxiety took turns leaving goosebumps across her arms and neck. She had never entered the Pensieve of the Tuatha; it was used for very specific duties and ceremonies that hadn’t occurred in generations.

The problem of an oral tradition is things get a bit muddled. Sometime in the 1100’s the Tuatha decided a Pensieve, stocked with ancestral memories, would guide their posterity. Ancient memories, passed down, were locked within the basin, which was sunk deep underground within a forest. There were only a few such Pensieves. No one knew which was the first.

One such forest sheltered the village of Frog’s Hollow, once known as the Vale of Dagda. Around each Pensieve a small community had grown, attracting other outcasts and wanderers. Each Pensieve had a keeper, each community a Secret-Keeper. But as far as Theophany knew, the Secret-Keeper had no right to access the Pensieve. She was there on Jacka’s sufferance and authority.

The air felt like snow, heavy and hushed. It was nearly December, and very little snow had fallen to cover the frozen ground. Even the weather, Theophany thought standing on the front step, isn’t the same. The world is wrong.

“Hey!” The door behind her opened, and Concord stepped out, shivering.

“Silyn sent me out. You forgot.”

Theophany accepted the scarf and wound it around her neck and face.

“He says he and Dad will be waiting for you. They were going to walk to Jacka’s with you but thought perhaps you’d prefer not. Putting on a show of confidence for them, all that.”

“Thanks,” she mumbled through the scarf.

“Is this about your….memories? Are you trying to get them back?”

“Fingers crossed.”

The cold quiet invited Theophany to take her time, but a peaceful walk was impossible this side of the Pensieve. She needed to know and quickly. At the end of the lane she Disapparated. The oak wood was familiar from childhood, but tonight, from recent events, it felt sinister.

Theophany didn’t stop until she climbed the earthen stairs, panting slightly, to Jacka’s door. The Honeysett woman opened at her knock. Even though there was no where else to go, Theophany was a little surprised they were still here. Many would rather risk detection than stay with a werewolf.

“Good evening. I’m sorry, am I early?”

“Not at all,” Mrs. Honeysett replied evenly. “Mr. Jacka is late.”

She said his name gently, like it was fragile. Theophany was sat by the fire and was given tea which she couldn’t drink. She found her stomach was clenching and rolling. For a moment it was awkwardly silent.

“I need to apologize—”

“I’m so sorry—”

They both stopped in embarrassment. Mrs. Honeysett coughed.

“I need to say I’m sorry about my earlier behaviour. It was selfish to be worried when you have been so—so horribly attacked.”

Theophany waved her hands.

“No, no, of course. Mrs. Honeysett, you’ve done nothing wrong. You have a son, he must come first. Of course you must be worried. I’m so sorry that I’ve put you in this situation. But if you can believe me, after all that’s happened, please believe we will keep you both safe. After tonight we'll have a better idea how to proceed.”

“Jacka won’t say how you plan to do that. I suppose—?”

“Not my secret to tell.”

Mrs. Honeysett nodded. The silence was more comfortable this time.

“May I ask,” Mrs. Honeysett said shyly, “what is Mr. Jacka’s first name?”

Was it just the fire making her face glow?

“Jacka is Jacka.” Theophany proceeded cautiously. “It’s the only name he had when he came to us. I was seventeen. Col was five.”

Something about the expression of the other woman caused Theophany to continue.

“He came from a...clan of werewolves. The most brutalized and stigmatized coming together in a kind of pact or community. They felt the world had abandoned them. They became self-destructive, refusing to try and live in society, engaging in ritual biting. He tried to run away with Col when he was little and still unbitten. But they caught them.”

Theophany caught Mrs. Honeysett’s eye and held it. This woman needed to know. She couldn’t say Jacka’s name like that, look like that, and not know. If she couldn’t accept everything about Jacka, Theophany wanted this stopped sooner than later.

“They locked Jacka in a room with his little boy at full moon.”

“Oh God, no. Col? Oh, how could they? What about his mother?”

“Turned the key on them.”

Theophany watched her shudder in horror. Leaning forward she lowered her voice.

“Mrs. Honeysett. I was seventeen when I accepted Jacka into the protection of the valley; my protection. I was young enough to be his daughter, but he still whole-heartedly accepted me as Secret-Keeper. Long before there was this war, he was my first refugee. I will hurt anyone who harms him. I am very protective.”

Mrs. Honeysett removed her hand from her mouth just as the door swung open. Jacka clumped loudly into the room, shedding his cloak and hat.

“I see you’re here, Theophany. Are you ready? I need only collect your things from the cellar.”

Theophany’s stomach, briefly forgotten, took a dive. She stood up wordlessly. Mrs. Honeysett hurried to the coat rack by the door. A bag was hanging there.

“Just a thermos of tea and some sandwiches.” She blushed under Theophany’s gaze.

“Thank you,” Jacka said sincerely.

Mrs. Honeysett turned purple. As Jacka descended into the cellar she whispered to Theophany, “No matter what happens tonight, if you remember us or not, I know we’re safe with you. Both of you. But I know we can’t stay here long term; it wouldn’t be fair to Jacka or Col.”

Theophany could only nod, a little taken aback. Jacka returned with the old satchel.

“We may be out late. Good night, Mrs. Honeysett.”

“Good night,” she returned, “and please,” aside to Theophany, “call me Lavinia.”

“Good night, Lavinia.”

Jacka held the door for Theophany. She stepped out and caught her breath, pulling up her hood. It had started to snow.

They were headed for the oldest part of the forest, the true forest, some said. It was primarily an oak wood, and deeper in, the trees were thick and heavy with age. The snow made a soft rattle as it fell onto the crisp leaves and frosted undergrowth. The sinister looming was gone, now that she was with Jacka, yet Theophany still had to quash a childish urge to hold his hand.

“Have you ever used the Pensieve?”

“Yes.”

“What’s it like?”

“Disconcerting. It doesn’t show bias, or emotion. You will see only what happened; your actions will be presented honestly, objectively.”

“Terrifying.”

Jacka smiled. They moved on in silence. Theophany could detect no path, but Jacka was sure-footed. At last the ground begin to rise slightly and then steeply until they left the trees behind and stood on a small hill. Half buried stones marked a ring on the bald top. A tightness in the air that had nothing to do with the modest elevation made Theophany’s blood thrum. It grew stronger as they approached the stone circle. It wasn’t exactly dread, but there was a curious sense of resistance pushing against her that made her move slowly.

Jacka stepped in first before giving Theophany a hand to step over the barrier. She felt a pressure almost like Apparition as she entered the circle and found the pressure was gone. Jacka pulled her to the center and raised his wand.

With an earthy groan the stones shifted, scraping through the frozen soil. The ground beneath them lurched, and Theophany unashamedly clutched Jacka’s arm with both hands. They were lowering slowly into the hill, and Theophany wasn’t sure what they were standing on, if anything at all. The rocks above moved faster until they spun in their circle with a grating thrum. Inside the hill it was even colder and lit only dimly. Beneath their feet was a soft silver light, shifting on the walls like water, but there was no sound other than the rasp of stone against stone. At last her boot struck stone and they stood in the center of the hill.

The circular opening above appeared no bigger than the palm of her hand. Jacka moved forward and spoke a word. Torches lit around them, burning with the same silver light that shone from below. Theophany realized she was only at the edge of the room and followed Jacka towards the source of light. The chamber was entirely of stone and her steps were loud.

Jacka descended out of sight and she hurried forward. There was a short flight of stairs and at the bottom a pool. But it wasn’t. Theophany paused. About four feet across it was a basin of silver set into the stone floor. It seemed a small thing for such a large chamber, but its light carried far into the blackness and up the cold walls. Jacka was waiting for her.

“It’s beautiful,” she said.

“It’s safe.”

“I’m not afraid of it; I’m afraid of what I’ll see.”

Jacka pointed and Theophany knelt at the Pensieve edge. Jacka placed the satchel gently by her and moved to the far side where he sat cross legged. In the shifting light he was barely discernible.

“I don’t know what I’ve done,” Theophany whispered.

He lowered his head.

“Only what you thought best. I will stay here. You may trust me not to look into the Pensieve. I am merely the keeper.”

Theophany steeled herself and opened the satchel. The odd collection of bottles and vials winked up at her, contents glittering. She chose one and saw a number three scratched on the cap. She’d had time to prepare, apparently. Finding the vial with a number one inked on the top, she uncorked it and poured the strand within into the swirling Pensieve. The mists thickened and cleared. She was looking into a street at dusk. Theophany took a deep breath and lowered her face into the Pensieve. Her breath made tiny ripples across the surface, and then the floor gave way and she was falling.
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