Paris April 1, 1922
a mile of clean
I will write my name here, and the trouble that is in my heart.
I will write the date and place of my birth,
What I was to be,
And who I am.
I will write my forty sins, my thousand follies,
My four unspeakable acts.....
I will write the names of the cities I have fled from,
The names of the men and women I have wronged.
I will write the holy name of her I serve,
And how I serve her ill.
And I will sit on the beach and let the tide come in.
I will watch with peace the great calm tongue of the tide
Licking from the sand the unclean story of my heart.
Edna St. Vincent Millay
This is the final entry in the Viviane Chance stories. I didn’t think I was going to write another
one...but I did. Severus Snape is the
property of J.K. Rowling, Viviane Chance is a character I thought
up. If you would like to read more of
their story, it is up on another site.
Since some of it is NC-17, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to read
it and are at least 18 years old (since it does contain adult fics, I’d rather
not post the site link at SQ,).
As soon as I saw who had been
knocking on my door, I knew he had come about her. Now that all the others
involved in the complicated mess of our youth were dead, the two of us had been
able to forge a sort of accord over our losses and our task of rebuilding after
Harry Sainted Potter fulfilled his destiny and saved the world, or whatever rot
they were flogging these days.
It was an accord gathered
carefully over years; mutual interest in Potions research and herbs, similar
tastes in reading and long arguments on dueling strategies had built up if not
friendship, a pleasant mutual forbearance. An epistolary one; face to face, you
could not find a less congenial pair. Lupin in person meant trouble, and
trouble always meant her. Oh all right, I’ll say it, although I seldom allow
myself to even think her name. Viviane Chance. Devereaux.
Calloway. A travesty, that last one. Calloway, for Merlin’s
sake. I was never able to think of her as the wife of an oafish
Irishman. To me, she was the highwire partner of Remus Lupin, the two of them
perpetually catching each other from falling into any number of abysses.
Viviane and Remus, paired forever in my memories, and now the male half of that
particular equation slid past me and made himself comfortable at my empty
I remained at the door, holding
it open in hopes that he’d change his mind and leave. He showed no sign of
doing so, as he sat with his long legs negligently crossed, looking at me with
no discernable expression in his eyes. Maddening.
Lupin was one of those men whose looks improved with age; what was once bony,
underfed and prematurely gray had softened into elegant, spare movements and an
aura of burnished world weariness. I suspected that the death of Sirius,
instead of breaking him, set him free of a millstone he would never admit
“How have you been, Severus?
Potions classes as painful as usual?”
“What are you doing here, Lupin?
Surely, the Ministry of the Dark Arts wants nothing to do with me, and I am in
no mood for a tete-a-tete. I’m busy.”
He dropped his silly façade and
frowned down at his interlaced fingers. “It has been a year, Severus,” was all
For the thousandth time, I
wondered if the consequences of being bitten by a werewolf included a massive
injection of cheek, spite and gall, or if Lupin had been born with them. I
suspect the latter, but one never knows; he may have been a pleasant human,
before becoming a Dark creature.
“That is not my concern,” I
replied, fury beginning to triumph over exasperation as it occurred to me to
wonder why he thought it mattered. It had been ten years for me. “Why you
wasted your time with this when you know quite well-“
“You didn’t even bother to
attend his funeral.” He primmed up his lips, the hypocrite, in a manner that
could not be outdone, even by Minerva. The memory of her loss only stoked my
anger at Lupin – and her. She should
have been here, fighting by Minerva’s side. She had known that there were still
battles to be fought when she ran away with Rufus Calloway, even if Potter had
managed to finally smite Riddle. I made an heroic
effort to dispel the vision of valiant Minerva falling under a barrage of
curses, lest I start throwing things at Lupin’s head.
“She, may I remind you, left me
to resurrect this place alone, and ran off to Ireland with that talentless
bounder. I owe her nothing, not then, and certainly not now.”
The wretched man pretended to be
lost in thought, then looked me in the eyes with a sickening expression of
“Remember the time Viviane-“
I cut off his stupid attempt to
appeal to whatever feelings he thought I harbored for that traitorous Gallic
nonentity. “No, I do not.”
He at least had enough wit to
subside back into the present. “She tried to salvage your friendship, Severus.
I know she wrote you letter after letter, and yet you-“
“I had no interest in reading
about my ex-lover’s marital bliss.”
“She missed you, grieved for
you. When you wouldn’t speak to her at Minerva’s funeral two years ago, even
Rufus was at his wit’s end at how to relieve her sorrow. She could grieve
through Minerva’s death, but not through your renunciation of her. You
understand her better, perhaps, than anyone ever has, and so she-”
A brief memory of Ishaqi flashed
through my brain – the brain she had invaded without permission, all those
years ago. I understood her all too well.
“And that is exactly why I have
kept my distance, and will continue to do so. If you came here to engineer a
soppy reunion, complete with embraces and tears of joy, you have wasted your
time. I will never see her again, even if her husband did get himself killed
trying to act like a man half his age.”
Lupin got up with a resigned
shrug that managed to insinuate I was a fool. I was reminded of why I only got
on with him by letter.
“I have done my best,” he
commented as he headed for the door. As he opened it, he paused to drop the
invisible bombshell he had been batting around in front of me like a kitten
with a half-killed mouse.
“She left for Europe three
months ago, still dazed with grief over Rufus’ death. I thought the trip was a
good idea, but I haven’t heard a word from her since she left. It worries me.
If she happens to send you a letter, do forward it to me instead of burning it
unopened, like you have in the past. I want to stop imagining horrible scenes
involving Malfoy and assorted torture devices.”
My hand closed over his upper
arm with strength that made him wince.
“Forget Malfoy.” I stared into
his eyes, and I saw he was in the grip of the same memory I was, of the night
Lupin had arrived at my door, a battered and terrified Viviane in his arms.
Neither of us needed to mention Balin. That night, Lupin had resigned her to me
for the job of salvation, and I only was witness to the despair of which
Viviane was capable. Somehow Lupin had guessed how deeply it went, damn him.
He extracted his arm from my
grasp and turned to go. Without looking back, he said, “Have a pleasant trip.
When you find her, be sure to write to me.”
“Cheap Ministry bastard, go find
her yourself,” I screamed after him, then shut the door and sat down to write
my request for leave to Headmistress Sprout.
I had never been to Europe. Too
many crises, one after another, had intervened; the years that a wizard
normally took his European tour, making contacts and friendships across wizard
communities I spent saving Harry Potter from himself to ensure he fulfilled his
Now, I found great satisfaction
in lingering over the wines of Spain, the bookstalls of Paris, the food of
Germany. I sampled other things too, all of them interesting in their way. If
nothing else, Viviane had greatly expanded both my expertise and my curiosity
in intimate conquests. It was freeing, to wander incognito amongst strange
cities and people, none of them whispering behind my back about my past
misdeeds, or speculating about my future actions. To explore the Muggle side of
places, I bought myself sets of soft woolen trousers and plain shirts, and to
my surprise, found in myself a yen for jumpers, if they weren’t too bulky. As a
matter of fact, I liked the Muggle uniform very well; it looked good on me and
was most convenient for traveling, and so I began wearing it even amongst my
own kind. I put from my mind any tiresome meaning shedding my robes might have
beyond the practical, because that sort of thing reminded me of Dumbledore, and
it was bad enough that I had to think of Viviane so often. I tried to remember
that I was only a man enjoying a European tour and, oh yes, looking for a woman
he did not want to find.
Before I left, I had activated
my few contacts amongst the European wizard community, but somehow I knew she
would be traveling as a Muggle, although passing for one would never quite
work, not for her. She was rather uncanny, even to wizards; I smiled as I
imagined the reaction of a poor Muggle hotel clerk to this tall woman radiating
such power and anger that they were almost visible to the naked eye.
Or perhaps only I saw her so
clearly. Perhaps others saw a moderately attractive woman with extravagant
taste, and no more.
I doubted it.
She lived a bit too vividly in
people’s imaginations for that. I was able to trace her easily, from Dover to
Barcelona to Paris to Nice, Venice and now, Prague.
I had done it. I finally ran her
to earth in Prague, that splendidly sinister city crawling across the
floodplains and up the hills from either side of the Vltava. After two months
of traveling and searching (and sending lengthy, trivial letters about my
travels to Lupin, all ending with “and I’m still looking”), I had her. She had
most amusingly chosen a hotel at the end of a cobbled street that, as I found
out from the brochure I read while waiting to talk to the concierge, had been a
13th century convent. Perhaps she was more impressed by the nobleman whose
house it became once the nuns were dispersed? Slaughtered? I wondered what had
happened to them; the brochure was not forthcoming. As the concierge finished
his business with the couple in front of me, I paced the large, square
flagstones of the lobby and indulged in erotic thoughts involving the nobleman
and a harem of women clad only in wimples.
Finally, he waved off the couple
and beckoned to me. He looked like something out of a hackneyed Alpine
guidebook, short and stout with a shock of white hair and shrewd eyes behind
wire-rimmed glasses. I had just begun to describe Viviane when he nodded. “Why
yes, honored sir, the lady you describe is our guest, She is not in the hotel
at this moment, but feeding the swans on the quay.” His old eyes twinkled with
memories of lust as he pointed out the way to go. “She’s a splendid woman, and
there is a flower vendor-“
I walked off without waiting for
him to finish. I was not about to bring her anything.
On my way to the river, I
encountered no one. It was so early that the mist was still lifting from the
towers of Prague Castle, quite the most outrageous building I had ever seen,
one that made Durmstrang seem quaint and harmless. I had spent the night before
sitting on my balcony, entranced by the clouds of bats wheeling around its
steeples in the moonlight. In the morning, the hills surrounding the castle
glowed with the colors of early autumn, and it even smelled like autumn,
despite my being in a city; wood smoke and dying leaves mingled with exhaust
and stale paprika.
Pausing at one of the crumbling
staircases that led down to the quay, I spotted her at once.
She was still tall, still held
her back as straight as a furious dragon, and was still surrounded by damnably
dangerous birds. Swans may seem romantic from a distance, but in reality they
are huge, hungry and aggressive. She stood in the midst of at least ten of the
creatures, tossing breadcrumbs into their gaping beaks. I could not see her
face, but she was dressed in a long gray skirt and green jumper, which no doubt
had the effect of deepening the color of her nondescript eyes.
She didn't seem inclined to look
up, and a swift stab of disappointment was followed by relief, because I wanted
to make my perilous way down the staircase without her scrutiny. A lucky
thought – I had to cling to the railing as concrete crumbled underneath my
As I managed to safely land
myself on the quay, she looked up and saw me. “Severus?” she said, her voice
harsh with surprise.