The Sugar Quill
Author: Juliane (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Once More, With Feeling  Chapter: Chapter One
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Once More, With Feeling

Once More, With Feeling

 

 

 

Paris April 1, 1922

 

a mile of clean sand

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 juliane1b@yahoo.com 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,).

 

Chapter One

 

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 hearthside.

 

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 bearing.

 

“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 he said.

 

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 false sentiment.

 

“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 destined heroics.

 

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 feet.

 

As I managed to safely land myself on the quay, she looked up and saw me. “Severus?” she said, her voice harsh with surprise.

//
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