Blood Ties and Betrayal

BY : burynr08
Category: HP Canon Characters paired with Original Characters > Het - Male/Female
Dragon prints: 1360
Disclaimer: I do not own JK Rowling's world of Harry Potter or make a profit from this story.

Cassie was in Hagrid's arms when she came to with a start. The first thing she had asked, and rather shrilly, was "The letter? Where is it, Hagrid?"

"I have it, Cassie, it's safe," the voice of Severus Snape answered her, and she let her head hang back, breathing a sigh of relief, knowing that it wasn't in the hands of some random student. If the magical community wanted a reason to fly off the handle, this certainly would have been it. Snape was gliding along beside Hagrid, matching the half-giant's long strides as they moved quickly through the castle and away from the stares of the student body.

"We're goin' ter the hospital wing," Hagrid told her gruffly.

"No, no, Hagrid," Cassie said, and she started to wriggle in his grasp to try to free herself. "I don't need to go there, I'm fine, honest."

"Cass," Hagrid said sternly, "Yer passed out, almost landed right on yer noggin!"

"Actually," Snape said smoothly, "I think it would be more advantageous to get her to the Headmaster's office for the time being."

"And I can walk there," Cassie continued relieved that he was on the same page as her. Hagrid had stopped, looking between the two of them, and then let out a long, irritated puff.

"Fine, we'll go ter the Headmaster's, if that's what yer Head o' House wants," he said, changing direction, and off they went, "but yer not walkin'!"

When they got there, the gamekeeper set Cassie down on her feet as gingerly as he could, and then he pulled out a bar of chocolate from his pocket, forcing her to take it with her.

"Hagrid, you're very kind," Cassie told him softly, trying to smile at him to demonstrate that she was, indeed, grateful for his help even though she might not be cooperating at this very moment, and then she squeaked when he pulled her into a powerful, one-armed hug.

"I dunno what's all goin' on with ya," he said quietly, patting her on the head with his large hand, "I jus' know yer got a lot goin' on, with yer classes, and the bit with the centaurs, and the other day when you were cryin' but you were pretendin' like ya weren' when I asked yer about it. But take care of yerself, hear me?"

"I'll try," Cassie wheezed when he let her go. She watched him shoot a knowing look at Snape, and he turned to leave the two of them alone.

As they entered Dumbledore's office, Snape couldn't help himself, and had pulled Bellatrix's letter out of his robes to study it, his eyes still skimming the words as they approached the Headmaster's desk. Cassie sat down, nodding to Dumbledore politely, tearing open the chocolate the Hagrid had gifted her.

"Miss Black, are you feeling a bit better?" Dumbledore asked her gently, and she nodded again as she shoved an entire square of the candy into her mouth.

"Does it look like her handwriting to you?" Snape asked then, thrusting the letter over to Cassie, and she tentatively took it from him, as if somehow the ink and parchment were going to bite her. As she started to look over it again, hearing her mother's crazed voice read the words as if she were there, Dumbledore started to dig through a drawer in his desk.

"I haven't seen her handwriting in quite a while," Cassie disclosed, setting the letter on Dumbledore's desk, wanting it away from her for the time being. "Anything I might still have of hers is at Malfoy Manor, and I don't make it a habit of reading any of it. Brings back bad memories."

"But does it remind you of her penmanship?" Snape pressed, and she glared at him.

"I don't know, Severus, I was a child the last time I've gotten a card or anything of the sort from her, and I've never been lucky enough to receive a letter from Azkaban until this morning, so it's hard to recall!" she snapped. Dumbledore had pulled a small gold trinket from his desk and had laid it near the letter, and had now stood to start digging through a set of files on the other side of the room. Snape and Cassie hardly noticed what he was doing, however.

"You're lying," he sneered, turning in his chair and leaning towards her, his dark eyes flashing dangerously, his temper flaring to match her own. "You wouldn't have blacked out if you hadn't had some initial gut reaction to seeing that, had some subliminal recognition."

"So what, then, Severus? You think I'm in denial?"

"I am suspecting that, yes! And that's not going to help us come to a proper conclusion!" he spat.

"Well, forgive me, oh perfect one, for being a bit caught off guard by this whole thing! I wasn't expecting to get a letter from my criminally insane mother this morning when I was eating breakfast!" She broke off another piece of chocolate and put it in her mouth, and Snape looked like he was about to retort, when Dumbledore cleared his throat, having come back to his desk.

"The two of you spat," he said, sounding rather bemused, "like an old married couple." The words that Snape were about to say must have died in this throat, because suddenly, his skin looked very sallow, and he straightened out in his chair, eyeing the older wizard dubiously. Cassie, on the other hand, almost choked on her mouthful of chocolate, and Snape pulled his eyes away from the Headmaster long enough to reach over and pound her on the back a few times.

As though he took no notice of the reaction he had caused in his two visitors, Dumbledore then picked up the golden trinket and placed it in his eye, the round piece making it look like he was wearing an eye patch. Then, he picked up the letter Cassie had received that morning, along with another piece of parchment he had found in his files, looking between the two for a few minutes.

"Well," he said finally, setting the papers down, and popping the gold piece out, not looking so much like a pirate anymore. "After comparing the letter with a piece of Bellatrix's old homework, it appears that the script was indeed, written by the same hand. Granted, the recent letter's handwriting is a bit shakier, although I doubt she gets the chance to write very much while being contained in prison."

"So what does it mean?" Cassie asked. Dumbledore had slid her mother's letter over to her, but she shoved it back, not wanting to look at it again.

"Miss Black, we can't say why she sent it," he said gently.

"I don't care why," Cassie said sharply. "Someone offered her the chance, and she took it. But who helped her?" She caught the two wizards exchange a glance, and then she felt much more aggravated, the knowledge that they frequently held discussions about her making her want to sucker punch them both for always keeping her in the dark. "The Ministry controls Azkaban, right?"

"Yes," Snape answered her. She could tell he was watching her apprehensively now, looking for signs that she was going lose control.

"So why did someone who works for the Ministry help her send me something?" she asked. "What's their game?"

"One can't be entirely sure, Miss Black," Dumbledore said. "But my hypothesis, is that someone in the Ministry is trying to tempt you to do something you shouldn't."

"Like what?"

"Talk to your mother."

"But how? How would I send a letter to Azkaban?" she asked. "I don't understand."

"It's likely that there will be more letters coming, Miss Black, and possibly instructions how to reach her if you would so choose. But I believe that whoever is orchestrating this, is waiting for you to try, and then will use it against you," Dumbledore said. He was calm, collected, like always. Cassie, however, was not. She shook her head, then buried her face in her hands. "I know it's not fair, Miss Black - "

"Of course it isn't!" Snape snarled, answering for her. "Have they nothing better to do then sit around and think of ways to try and ruin her life?"

"Again, this is just my theory," Dumbledore continued. "I wouldn't say 'they', so much as it's our dear Minister Fudge, operating out of fear."

Cassie slowly looked up from her hands, the tears glistening in her eyes blurring her vision as she looked at her Headmaster. "Fear of what? I've done nothing! Nothing has happened since that day in Hogsmeade, and supposedly I've been cleared of that in his eyes!"

The Headmaster and Head of Slytherin House looked at each other again, and Cassie was so fed up with the reticence, of them possessing knowledge that they chose to keep from her. She stood up from her chair, wanting so badly to leave the office and be out of their presence, but knowing she really shouldn't at that point. "You're not telling me something!" she accused them, standing behind her chair, placing her hands on the back of it, trying to ground herself so she wouldn't unintentionally start breaking Dumbledore's possessions. Snape and Dumbledore looked at each other again, and she closed her eyes, taking a deep breath. "I promise, I will try to stay calm. You two are treating me like I'm an imbecile, like I'm too fragile to handle whatever it is!"

"You should know, Miss Black, that neither of us think of you that way," Dumbledore replied, and the look she gave him shot daggers.

"Enough. I want to know!"

Both wizards were silent for a few seconds, and then Cassie's glare fell on Snape. His black eyes were on her, his gaze unfaltering, and it almost broke her heart just looking at him just then. She could tell that he was internally debating with himself, that whatever he was about to say was going to be painful; whether it was going be for her or for him, she didn't know.

"Cassie," he started softly, and she came to sit back down in her chair beside him, hoping that being next to him again would pacify her vexation. "There is a prophecy in regards to you, located in the Department of Mysteries. It was made by Sybill Trelawney."

"Okay," Cassie replied, taking a shaky breath, "When?"

"A long time ago. When you were a small child."

She broke her eye contact with him, looking at Dumbledore now, not willing to allow him to sit idly by while Snape took the blame for whatever this was. "How long have you known?"

"Since the prophecy was made," Dumbledore told her. He had his hands folded on the desk, looking quite somber. "Sybill didn't even realize she had done it, which is usually how she makes her predictions, I'm afraid. I beg you not to be distrustful of her."

"So you have known for that long, and didn't tell me?" Cassie whispered to the Headmaster, disbelieving in his ability to continue to deceive her.

"I've known as well," Snape said, and she turned back to him, blinking back tears and her heart falling in disappointment, not expecting him to say that. Wanting to slap him, she took another slow breath instead, in an effort to keep her hands to herself.

"What does the prophecy say?"

"Fundamentally," Snape said slowly, "What you learned from the centaurs that night in the forest."

"Wait," Cassie said, and then she stood up quickly, her emotions getting the best of her. Snape stood as well, reaching out to grab her, but she took a step back, not letting him get near her. "So when I came to you that night, pouring my heart out to you, and you were more concerned about the fact that I went and saw the centaurs, instead of what I had learned from them, it was because you already knew? And you didn't tell me?"

"Cassie," Snape said lowly, taking a step forward, and she took another step away from him, "I was going to that night, until I learned where you had gone. I didn't think it would be beneficial to do it then, not after everything you'd been through."

"Well, thanks for sparing my feelings!" she snarled. "It's not like you haven't had plenty chances to tell me the truth since then!" She turned towards Dumbledore, who was still seated, serenely watching the scene unfold. "And you, that night on the Astronomy Tower, would have been the perfect chance to mention it!" She felt the red-hot anger, the one that made buildings rumble and glass shatter start to coarse through her, and for a second, she was willing to just let it run its coarse, because it would feel so good to have that release. But then she remembered that she had promised them that she would try to keep it under control. So she closed her eyes again, slowed her breathing, and cleared her mind. Like Snape had taught her.

When she felt the red-hot rage dispel after several silent minutes, she opened her eyes again, and there he was, standing in front of her still. She resisted the urge to break down, knowing now that he had kept something that imperative from her, when she had done nothing but canonize him for the past several months. "So that's it, then?" she continued finally, both them still watching her attentively. "Fudge knows of this prophecy, that I'm destined for destruction, and that's why I have a target on my back."

"Fudge doesn't necessarily take the prophecies seriously," Dumbledore responded, "At least from what I've heard from those who work with him. But it doesn't mean yours doesn't make him uneasy."

"I'm screwed then, aren't I?" Cassie said, running a hand through her thick hair, starting to feel absolutely defeated. "He's never going to let me be. Never let me work for the Ministry."

"We don't know that for sure," Snape said softly. She wished he would stop looking at her like that, like he was in so much anguish, when she was the one who had been slighted.

"Not for sure, but likely," Cassie replied, and then she barked out a laugh as another thought crossed her mind. "Oh, Headmaster, don't tell me that this isn't what you wanted," she said, smiling sardonically at Dumbledore then.

"Cassiopeia, I have said nothing of the sort," Dumbledore replied coolly, a warning flashing in his blue eyes as he observed her. It was the look he gave her when she was stepping out of bounds, and she knew she had probably earned it much earlier in this conversation, but she didn't care.

"But if I can't become an Auror, then I'm free to go to your little training, aren't I?" she pressed on, coming to stand in front of his desk, leaning forward to challenge him, blue eyes meeting blue. "Isn't that convenient?"

"Miss Black, are you attempting to implicate me in something?" Dumbledore asked lightly.

"Can you blame me, after what you've been keeping from me all these years?" she hissed.

"I was merely exploring other options for you, knowing that Fudge may not let you become an Auror, knowing that you'd benefit from some formal education," he replied. "If he will still allow you into the program, I will not stop you."

"I don't believe you," Cassie said, and then she felt Snape's hand on her shoulder. She shrugged it off roughly, snarling, "Don't touch me!"

"Cassie!" he said sharply, "You are being completely disrespectful to the Headmaster!"

"She is under a lot of stress, Severus," Dumbledore interjected, "one can hardly blame her for lashing out. Perhaps she would benefit from continuing this conversation at a later time."

"Stop talking about me," Cassie said through gritted teeth, "Like I am not here!" She turned around then, disgusted with the both of them, unable to look at the Headmaster any longer. "Lord knows that's how you two are used to conducting yourselves!"

"This discussion may end, only after we agree on what to do if more letters arrive," Snape countered gruffly, and he grabbed Cassie's forearm roughly, stopping her in her tracks, because she was headed towards the door. "And since you've been insisting that you be including from now on, you are not going anywhere!" Her eyes were shooting daggers at him, but she stayed in place, ready to be done with this miserable interaction in Dumbledore's office, ready to be away from it.

"Fine," she said, turning back towards Dumbledore. "What do you want me to do?"

"I think, for the time being, Miss Black, we let as many arrive as we can, see how far Bellatrix and whomever is assisting her will take it. If their goal is to get you to respond, then I'd like to see what lengths they'll go to appeal to your emotions," Dumbledore said.

"And what if I am tempted?" Cassie asked, suddenly feeling deflated. Dumbledore, for the first time during this conversation, looked like he was at a loss, like he hadn't considered it a possibility.

"You will show every letter to Professor Snape, straight away," he replied gently. "No exceptions. Do I make myself clear?"

"Yes, sir," Cassie replied. She was dejected, sick of looking at him, fed up with everyone disregarding her emotions and the fact that no one was considering the fact that Bellatrix was her mother after all. Cassie had feelings; of course there would be the risk of her wanting to talk to her after all these years. "May I be excused?"

"Yes, Miss Black, you may go. And Professor Snape shall go as well, so you will be assured that we are not discussing you without your knowledge," Dumbledore said. He said it with an air of sincerity, but Cassie had had enough at that point. She left in a hurried pace then, heading down to the dungeons, not caring that Snape was right behind her.

She considered going to the Slytherin common room and straight to her dormitory, as it would likely be empty now with it being mid-morning. But her heart was in turmoil right now; a curious mix of never wanting to see Snape again, and wanting to be with him, to seek comfort from him and never let him go. So she battled out her conflicts in her head as she walked, and when she neared the point in the hallway where she needed to make a choice on which direction to go, she suddenly stopped walking and turned around. Snape almost smashed right into her, he had been following her so closely.

"Can I come to your rooms?" she asked quietly, knowing that he wouldn't want any staff or students to overhear them in the corridor. He looked at her in obvious bewilderment, but nodded in agreement. They continued on in silence, and once they were in the safety of Snape's living room and could speak freely, Cassie started in. "This doesn't mean I'm not fucking pissed at you!"

"Cassie, I was going to tell you, but after you came out of the forest, I didn't think it was an opportune time," he replied quietly, looking somber as he stood in the center of the room.

"Severus, when is it an opportune time to share something like that? Please, indulge me!" she said, exasperated. "I've been with you, day in and day out, sharing your bed, spending time with you, and you never once thought that it might be a good idea to tell me?"

"'Never once thought'?" he quipped, his voice growing louder as she provoked him. "Of course I've thought about it, every single day! But you know what stopped me, Cassie? Picturing your reaction to it! Because I knew you'd act like a damn martyr, throw another dramatic pity party!"

"Oh, so it's my getting upset to your lies that's the problem!" she seethed. "Yes, that's what's wrong with this whole picture, Severus! Not the fact that you've known, since I was a child, that I was going to play some giant part in my father's war! You saw how devastated I was when I heard it from Firenze! Did you think it would go well when I found out that you already knew?"

"So when I was supposed to tell you? When you started your first year at Hogwarts at age eleven? Or perhaps when you turned fourteen, because then you're so very mature and ready to handle something like that? Tell me, what age, when you're still a bloody teenager to this day, is appropriate for me to drop something like that on you?" he yelled. "You've barely had a childhood as it is!"

"You don't have to remind me!" she retorted. "God, Severus, I wouldn't have expected you to tell me that years ago! Why I'm mad is that you didn't bother to mention it now! I don't want secrets kept between us!"

"Why?" he barked, his black eyes glimmering with embitterment, his entire body tense as he defensively observed the pacing girl in his chambers. Perhaps he had entered the argument intending to remain calm, but as soon as Cassie flew into a rage, it was nearly impossible for him not to match her semblance.

"Because I love you!" she cried, "And I wouldn't have expected you to keep something like that from me, not after everything!"

"You what?" he nearly shouted in response, and what came out of his mouth was a knee-jerk reaction. His incredibly astute mind must not have fully comprehended what she had said right away, because he seemed to freeze in place for a few seconds, his jaw falling open in awe, no words coming forth to form a response.

"I love you, Severus Snape!" Cassie repeated passionately, coming up to him then, her face inches from his as she stood on her tip-toes. "So none of this secretive crap any longer, do you hear me? We're in this together."

He nodded slowly, and she pressed her lips to his. The contact seemed to reanimate him then, because he encased her hand in his, slowly leading her to the loveseat and sat down, indicating for her to join him. "How can you say that," he started slowly, his words delicate, as if he were still trying to process what she had said, "When I betrayed your trust so recently?"

"Because I do, regardless," Cassie explained gently. "I think I have for a while."

"Me, too," he said quietly, and Cassie smiled at him, taking his hands in hers and squeezing them. "I love you, too, Cassie."

"You don't have to say it just because I did - " she started to say, but he silenced her by leaning forwards and pressing his lips to hers.

"I'm saying it because I feel it too, you silly thing," he reassured her, the rich tones of his voice resonating through her very being. He had classes to teach, she had lessons to attend, but neither of them paid their responsibilities any mind as they made their way from the living area to the bedroom at a leisurely pace. It was a song they had danced to numerous times, the touching of skin on skin, the pressing of lips to fevered flesh, but this time it was different. Perhaps it was knowing that the secret between them had now come to the surface, was no longer a source of potential destruction to their union, but they seemed to be freed of some sort of imperceptible meddler, some weight they hadn't realized had been pressing upon them and putting tension on their bond.

When they were done and Snape was holding Cassie in his arms, lying warm and comfortable in his bed, they exchanged those three little words again. It made her smile, her heart dance, feel so complete that all the troubles from earlier in the day seemed almost nonexistent. But eventually, the couple had to leave the contentment of being together in the bed, and started to make themselves look presentable so they could go about the rest of their day.

They were both abnormally quiet as they put on their clothing, their normal sprightly banter absent as their minds wandered in thought. The conversation that had taken place in Dumbledore's office, while feeling like a lifetime ago now, had taken place only hours earlier.

Cassie was the first to speak as she shrugged her school robes over her uniform. Snape was almost fully dressed, going to retrieve his black cloak from its resting place near his bedroom door and pull it over his shoulders, when the words came out of her mouth. "Severus?"

"Hmm?"

"I should talk to Dumbledore about that training, shouldn't I?"

He pulled his billowing cape on, ever looking like the cold, intimidating Potions Master that Cassie had grown to find so familiar and comforting, despite his frightening reputation. In the span of a few months, he had gone from her friend and sometimes confidant, to her best supporter, her lover, her everything. So when he turned to her, his black eyes communicating uneasiness and gravity all in one, she knew she couldn't take his answer lightly.

"Yes."


As the days went by, Cassie did her best to fall into what one would consider a normal routine of classes and studying once again, peppered with making sure Quirrell wasn't up to anything virulent, and of course, seeing Snape when she could. Both she and the black-haired professor were continuing to function under quite a bit of stress and on little sleep, something that was partially their fault, as they couldn't seem to be in the same room without starting to grope each other. But ever since the revelation of their true feelings for one another, they seemed to handle the constant pressures a lot better. Over all, they were operating much more smoothly as an entity, especially when it came to tracking down Potter to ensure his safety, or corner an even gaunter-looking DADA professor.

It was the morning of the next Gryffindor Quidditch match, when Cassie received her next letter from Bellatrix. Ever since the initial one, she had been dreading the sight of an owl coming her way at breakfast, and each morning she held her breath as the students around her had their mail delivered to them, thankful that she was spared again for another day. But on this day, the one that they had a plan in place to make sure Potter wasn't going to be in grave danger and Cassie needed to be on alert, was the day that the large barn owl decided to bequeath her the anticipated message.

Knowing it wasn't the owl's fault that the letter had arrived on that specific day, she let it nibble on her waffle. Her appetite had suddenly left her at that moment, anyway. She debated opening it at the table, but then recalling how she had reacted after reading the last one, she decided to wait until she was alone with Snape. She allowed him a few more minutes to finish his own breakfast, and then she stared up at him, catching his eye. He seemed to notice what was in her hands right away, and nodded slightly.

"Today, of all days," he muttered, echoing her own acerbic thoughts on the rather rude timing as they crossed the threshold into the entry hall. Cassie knew his mood was volatile, anticipating the upcoming match, knowing that Potter could be in real danger in only hours' time. Snape pulled the enchanted bracelet out of his robes to give it a quick glance and then stuffed it back in for safe keeping; sunny yellow, a safe color for now.

They quickly made their way to the dungeons, as Snape wanted to be situated on the Quidditch field soon. The plan was for him to referee the match, and Dumbledore was even attending, hopefully ensuring that the same antics on Potter's broom would dare not be repeated. Cassie, however, was going to remain in the castle to make sure no one was going to try to breech the third floor corridor.

Stopping in the Potions classroom, Cassie made to open the letter, her hands shaking, and then she passed it off to Snape. "You read it first."

"Cassie - "

"Please." She looked at him, her blue eyes imploring his aid, and with a sigh, he started to open it. She watched his face anxiously, but his expression didn't give her any clues as to what the written words said as he read it. Finally, he spoke.

"No instructions on how to reply," he said slowly.

"That's good, right?"

"That likely indicates there's at least another coming," he replied quietly. He handed it to her then, and she took a deep, cleansing breath before accepting it.

Cassiopeia,

I do hope that this finds you in good health. No doubt, my last attempt at communication startled you. I suspect that the general public tries to poison your thoughts of me.

I want nothing more than to hug you, to give you a kiss, my sweet girl. Would that please you, as well? This is a dark, lonely place. My thoughts of you are all that keep me rational.

Remember, that loyalty is everything.

Bella

Cassie immediately started to fold the parchment up as soon as she was done, stuffing it into her pocket and trying to force the words from her mind.

"You need to keep your focus today," Snape reminded her, not unkindly, and her blue eyes shot up to his face.

"I don't need to focus," she grumbled. "I just need to plant myself in front of the third floor corridor, and if Quirrell wants to get in, he'll have to go through me." Rather than fall to pieces, she was feeling impassable, almost willing Quirrell to try something that day. If he did, she could finally deal with him how she wanted to, and not keep dancing around the issue like Dumbledore kept insisting they do.

They parted ways in the entrance hall, Snape heading down the Quidditch pitch along with the majority of the student body and staff. Cassie headed straight to the third floor and planted herself in front of the door that contained the cerberus. As far as she, Snape, and the Headmaster knew, Quirrell had indicated that he was going to go down to the game like everyone else. So if he was going to show up here, she was expecting that it would be later, well into the match.

She was a bit caught off guard, then, when she had only been there for a few minutes, and suddenly a figure came around the corner. It was a pale, quavering shape, one topped off with a large, purple turban. When they locked eyes, both of them paused for a few moments, sizing one another up.

"Professor Quirrell," Cassie said, giving him a single nod. She was a bit stunned at his appearance, seeing him up close just now. His skin was incredibly pasty, his frame emaciated, and he was sporting large, dark circles under both eyes, to the point that he almost looked like he had been punched multiple times.

"M-Miss B-Black," he said, and even his voice was hoarse, raspy. "W-what are y-you - "

"I think you know the answer to that," she said sharply. Her wand was still stored in the robe of her pockets, but the way he looked now, she wasn't sure she'd even need it.

He took a few strained breaths, and she thought maybe he'd just fall over right then. "D-dumbledore out on the p-pitch, and y-you're w-wandering a-around h-here?"

"Yeah, he's there in case he needed to interfere with Harry's possessed broom," Cassie said, looking him up and down, because now he was using the wall to brace himself. "Don't try to tell me you weren't anticipating that."

"M-maybe I'll h-have t-to t-t-tell him th-that - " Quirrell started, and then he winced, like he was in sudden pain. Cassie watched him in confusion, wondering if taking him to the hospital wing would be too much of a mercy.

"Tell him what?"

"Th-that y-you w-were after the - " This time, he cried out, doubling over in pain. He straightened back up after a few seconds, and then his eyes flitted to the wall, like he was intently listening to something.

"Professor," Cassie said slowly, "I don't think you're in any form to threaten me. And I'm not moving away from the door. So, unless you feel like trying to make me, and I kind of hope you do try, then I suggest you go find a place to lie down."

Quirrell looked at her then, looking like he was intently weighing his options, and then he wheezed, "I'm sorry," before whimpering a bit. Cassie raised an eyebrow at him, watching him as he turned and started to slowly make his way back down the corridor. With the sorry shape that the wizard was in, Cassie knew that the Stone was safe for the time being, that there was no way he'd be getting past the three-headed dog without getting ripped to pieces. Even so, she stayed in her spot, knowing that was the plan, that Snape would be less than thrilled if she abandoned her post early. She was elated then, when the Gryffindor versus Hufflepuff match seemed to end rather quickly, and students started to flood the castle again.

She found Snape in his office, and he was livid, looking like he was ready to attack at a moment's notice.

"So the little rat knew that Dumbledore would be out of the castle and used the opportunity to go after the Stone?" he spat.

"Isn't that what we planned for?" Cassie pointed out, trying to calm the agitated wizard, as he was ready to tear someone's throat out. "That's why I stayed here!"

"Yes, but had I known that's what he was going to do, I'd have to stayed here, not put you in harm's way!"

"Severus, I'm fine!" Cassie said, reaching out for his arm, and he growled, but he didn't shrug off her touch. "And would you have rather he tried to kill Potter again?"

"No, of course not!"

"Well, then there's no winning, is there?" she said.

"I suppose not!" he snarled.

"He looked awful, Severus. Like he's gravely ill, or something's sapping his powers. Even if he'd attacked me," and the Potions Master snorted at her, obviously appalled that she was bringing up the matter, "I'd barely even have had to lift my pinky and I'd have fought him off."

"If he's gravely ill, then he might be more aggressive in going after the Stone," Snape muttered, and he stopped pacing, pulling the girl towards him, starting to rub her upper arms. He looked contemplative, even as he used the familiarity of her form to find composure.

"I think it's more than that," Cassie said, resting the side of her face on his chest as she wrapped her arms around him, "there's got to be. He just seemed so undulating, almost like he's possessed."

"Yes, there's something I can't quite put my finger on," Snape replied.

"Don't you think there's something that Dumbledore isn't telling us? Like he's known all along and he just isn't letting on?" she asked, and her lover suddenly pulled away, enough to look her in the eyes somberly.

"Indeed. I'd expect nothing less from Dumbledore."

Cassie thought back to the recent meeting she had with the Headmaster, where they had discussed in detail, the advanced education he wanted her to attend in Brazil, and she felt anxious, unsure. She had mentioned to Snape that the Headmaster probably had an unsaid agenda, one that he wouldn't share with either of them. "But you trust him?"

"Yes."

Cassie didn't trust the Headmaster's intentions, mainly because he obviously wasn't openly sharing everything with them. But she knew Snape did, so for now, her trust in the Head of Slytherin's judgment would have to do.



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