A/N: It’s taken 3 years to get here,
but the rest of the climb is all downhill. Thanks again to my beta, Yolanda,
for her thoughtful suggestions and support. As well, thanks to Matt and Seldes,
because this story would have just been another file on my computer otherwise.
Chapter 1: A Werewolf, a Squib, a Selenai
“Welcome to the Order of the Phoenix,
I nodded and found my voice. “Thank you, sir. It’s an
I spoke the truth.
From the moment I’d found the invitation I’d felt a giddy
sort of admiration for the man who had been elected Supreme
Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards and Chief Warlock of the
Wizengamot. But standing beside him within the bowels of Hogwarts, watching him
address everyone present at this intimate gathering, a phoenix perched on his
shoulder, I was left in no doubt that he was something far beyond even those
titles that served to quantify his greatness. The thought was humbling, and
perhaps even a little frightening.
Now, in addition to his many more
public accomplishments, he’d single handedly managed
to found an Order and keep it operating without the Ministry hearing even the
faintest of whispered rumors. Of this I was certain, because the Watchers
hadn’t known anything, either.
More, I marveled at how deeply Albus Dumbledore had
infiltrated the unsuspecting Ministry, drawing many of the Order’s members from
its numerous departments. I recognized Alastor Moody and the younger female
Auror who occupied the seat next to Remus Lupin’s vacant chair. A little ways
off from them sat a redheaded couple, and I was almost certain the gentleman
was Arthur Weasley, another Ministry official, though of significantly lower
rank. When Albus introduced them as Molly and Arthur, my uncertainty dissolved,
and although Arthur had considerably less hair than his son, who I knew, they
shared a similar facial structure, and emanated the same gentle kindness.
I’d become acquainted with Bill
Weasley on one of my more recent expeditions to Egypt. As a curse-breaker, he’d been through many of the tombs,
and I’d reserved some hope that he might be able to tell me more about the
mysterious tomb my Aunt had stumbled upon. I’d spent a great deal of time with
Bill during those brief weeks in Egypt, admittedly not solely for his
knowledge, but when I’d learned that the one tomb he’d wanted to explore was
off-limits even to him, since an Unspeakable had had an accident there, the
brief flare of hope I’d held had been extinguished.
I didn’t feel any sort of
resentment towards him, not by any means, but the mass of disappointment I’d
felt had deterred me from returning to the curse-breakers camp with the same
frequency I once had. Bill had seemed to understand, and I’d returned to
England shortly thereafter.
My eyes followed in accord with
Albus’s introductions, which had moved on. Beside the Weasleys
were two elderly wizards, Jadrek Ladislov
and Eldwin Kasch, and
beyond them sat Rubeus Hagrid, whose immense
proportions dwarfed the two witches to his right. Minerva McGonagall sat with
her quill poised, and even from my vantage point I could see that the parchment
beneath it was already covered with hastily jotted notes. Arabella Figg was
leaning back in her chair, arms crossed, and offered me a faint smile when
Albus called her name.
I was not surprised that either
was present, and found that I’d been expecting them; Hagrid and Remus as well,
the latter still standing behind me, just out of my field of vision.
Clearly, Albus Dumbledore was far more influential and
powerful than Cornelius Fudge had made him out to be. Or perhaps, I
mused, he truly doesn’t know. I allowed myself to feel a little pride,
then, at being selected to join such an exclusive group, under a much more
capable leader than the one I’d previously been employed. I assiduously ignored
how few of us sat around the table, or how an outsider might look upon the
unusual assembly and see a werewolf, a Squib, a paranoid, retired Auror, a
Muggle-loving pureblood, a half-giant…
Those first thoughts had been fond and fleeting, with no
trace of maliciousness. I found, standing there, looking out at the faces of
people joined in a common purpose, that I would not choose to align myself with
any others had I the option. But the lightness of my thoughts dissipated when the
pleasantries ended and Albus concluded the introductions by excusing Remus and
I back to our seats.
I selected the first vacant chair I could find and sank into
it, almost oblivious to the resumption of questions throw out at the
Headmaster. I had allowed myself to be distracted by the moment, forcing away
all encroaching doubt and fear during the induction. I’d focused
single-mindedly on Albus and the Order, a skill I’d picked up somewhere long
ago, but my defenses were crumbling, and I had no choice but to face the
revelation head on.
Phaenis. Even if Albus had not detailed the rest about the
book or the ability of Selenai to visit Phaenis while they slept, I
would have known beyond all reasonable doubt that he was referring to the snake
I’d spoken with many months ago. Looking back, it seemed like a lifetime had
already passed since the crash on the Express.
But what this meant was: I had my answer, point blank, in my
face. I could deny nothing.
And it changed everything.
An odd sensation overtook me, then, and for a brief moment
it felt as if the chamber around us was vibrating. I looked up and across the
table but no one else seemed to be aware of it; they
were engrossed in whatever Albus was saying. My eyes wandered, lower, and found
my hands, white-knuckled fists, and I realized that it was me. I was trembling.
Fear, shock, anger; they poured through me until the separate emotions were
indiscernible. The enormity of the response left me numb to all else, and I was
torn between an urge to laugh or scream. So much made sense now, and yet even
more had spun vastly beyond the reaches of my comprehension.
Voldemort sought Phaenis.
The Holder could wield Phaenis.
Phaenis was born of hate and betrayal.
Miss Jacobs, we regret to inform you that your Aunt -
is deteriorating rapidly. We have moved her, in accordance
with your previous request
I doubted you even exisssted anymore
Thossse who weren’t killed by the Dark Lord ssserved him
I’m sssure you will not be able to tolerate ssstaying ignorantly on the sside
It seems Albus Dumbledore owns the only remaining copy, go
innocent people die at Hisss handsss
It has come to my attention that Voldemort is in possession
of a rare book
Jessamine Tareneh and Khalid
Atum, two of the Ministry’s ambassadors
Your mother…would not have ssstood
have been murdered.
I am a Selenai.
Severus Snape awoke feeling as if he’d just partaken in a
The Veritaserum had left his mouth tasting foul, and he rose
to remedy that - or tried to – but ended up falling onto his back once again,
helplessly staring up at the dark canopy above him, not bothering to stifle a
groan when his forehead exploded.
He was pleased to see that they’d returned him to his room
once the inquiry had finished. Through the painful fog clouding his memory he
could hear two voices, one, his own, but the words were unintelligible.
He remembered nothing.
It had worked.
He’d spent two torturous nights trying to figure out a way
to convey his message to Dumbledore, knowing he owed the Headmaster an
explanation, but fearing Voldemort would know if he’d done so.
Snape was still not wholly unconvinced of Voldemort’s power.
The entire meeting with the Dark Lord sat uncomfortably with him, though he
could easily hazard a guess as to why. Voldemort was a master puppeteer, he did
not confide in anyone, and only a fool would believe otherwise.
Snape was aware that he was being used, played like a
musical instrument, but wasn’t sure to what extent. Nor did he know how much of
his thoughts were accessible to the Dark Lord, but it would not be ill done to
Legilimency would allow Voldemort access to Snape’s
conscious thoughts, and if the escapade with the book had been any warning, his
powers had gained considerable potency.
Still, Snape prided himself on being a gambler, and he’d
kept Dumbledore in the dark for far too long. He would have to come clean –
At the end of his second sleepless night he’d decided on the
course of action he would take. Memory Obliviation was entirely out of the
question. To a skilled Legilimens like Voldemort, a gaping void of thought in
the subject’s memory (such as the one that would ultimately arise from the
duration of the inquiry) would have aroused a deep suspicion.
But, if the memory was accounted for, but unable to be
consciously recalled by the subject, it stood a better chance of being
overlooked, like a dream. Thus, the Veritaserum.
That night, only days after he’d stolen the Selen Prophecies, Snape had swept into the
Headmaster’s office, wordlessly shown him the Veritaserum (the less he
remembered of the ordeal, the better the chances were that the memories would
evade Voldemort) and proceeded to drink it.
Dumbledore had watched him quietly, and if he’d had any
questions about what was going on, he’d saved them until Snape was under the
Snape remembered nothing more.
He lay motionless for a while, his eyes closed, trying not
to mull over what could have happened in the Headmaster’s Office. But like a
child tonguing the spot his tooth had occupied moments before, his thoughts
turned to the gap in his conscious memory again and again.
Veritaserum was not something to be used frivolously, and
particularly in the case of himself, Snape would have never willingly submitted
to its power in front of any other human being. But Albus Dumbledore had always
trusted him, no matter how often he was told it was misplaced, and had taken
everything Snape had ever said or done with a leap of faith. It was only
fitting for Snape to return the trust in kind.
Soon, as the throbbing of his temples began to subside,
Snape began to drift in and out of consciousness. His sleep was not
exceptionally restful, but the next time he awoke the chamber was suffused in a
dim gray light that trickled in through a gap between the thick curtains
hanging over the windows.
Judging by the strength of the light it was nearing six in
the morning. He’d been abed for roughly ten hours, and that realization was
enough to rouse him from the cocoon of blankets he’d become entangled in.
He sat up, wincing at the protestations of his still-hazy
mind, but found the pain had lessened somewhat. He noticed then that he was
still wearing his robes from the night before, and they were creased with
Steeling himself against the pain, Snape rose with an
effort. He took a tentative step forward and found that his legs weren’t about
to give out beneath him. His balance left him more than a little precarious,
however, and after the few short steps he’d taken to cross his room in the
direction of the lavatory he found himself quite unable to go further, and sat
down heavily in the armchair by the fireplace before the room began to spin.
It was at that moment Arabella Figg poked her head into his
“Oh good, you’re awake.” She let herself in.
Disgruntled, Snape opened his mouth, about to reprimand her
for her blatant lack of consideration of others’ privacy, but found himself
brought short when he saw her expression.
“Albus called an emergency meeting last night,” she said,
settling herself down on the corner of his bed. She ignored the tangled mass of
blankets and sheets.
This did not surprise him. He was about to say as much when
he realized, then, what it was about her expression that had stilled his tongue
in the first place. Arabella, who he’d come to begrudgingly tolerate, had
always been tiny and fierce. There was nothing minutely diminutive or delicate
about her. Bold and brazen, outspoken and obstinate. He’d seen – and been on
the receiving end – of it all. Which was why he permitted her company. Anything
scathing or snappish he said would glance right off her, and she’d give him her
cool, uncannily feline look of boredom, and then continue on as if
Yet here she was, her shoulders slumped in the sign of
universal defeat. When she looked at him, he saw the resignation in her eyes.
“I think it’s too big,” she said softly. “This nonsense
about visiting snakes in dreams and a Holder that can wield –“
“What?” Snape asked sharply. His tone startled her out of
the thoughts she’d been speaking aloud.
“Oh.” She looked abashed. “I suppose I should start at the
Snape gestured impatiently for her to continue. His headache
had returned, and with it a deep feeling of unease. Clearly the meeting was in
response to what he’d told Dumbledore.
He listened, then, to her retelling of the night, about the
deaths of the Ministry ambassadors (which had genuinely surprised him, since he
hadn’t seen it mentioned in the Daily Prophet) and of Voldemort’s search
for an artifact amongst Muggle holy sites.
Arabella’s expression grew graver as she charged on,
explaining (needlessly, but he didn’t correct her) that Voldemort’s true
interest lay with the Selenai, and an artifact of theirs.
He tensed at the mention of the Selenai, and Arabella
mistook it for fear.
“Oh Severus,” she said scornfully, her tone almost returning
to normal, “not you too.” She muttered something under her breath that sounded
suspiciously like baboon, and continued.
But Snape was not afraid of them, not truly. He feared where
this conversation would lead. The one question he’d asked himself repeatedly
since seeing the snake on the cover of the Selen
Prophecies was the one he had no wish to be answered.
What part am I to play in this?
Clearly this association was all part of Voldemort’s
mind-poison, perhaps a form of propaganda, to get him involved thinking he was
part of the whole thing to get results faster. He could not fathom any other
explanation. He resolutely refused to.
And yet, this reasoning was far from satisfying. Perhaps
there was more…
“You keep mentioning the Serpent,” Snape said irritably,
interrupting Arabella’s retelling of the record of the meeting with the Selenai.
He wondered where her first comment found context, because it had resonated
deeply within him. “Did the Headmaster not give you any other information?”
Her eyes blazed. “Yes, he did, I was getting there,” she
snapped. “But you’d be the first to bite my head off if I’d missed something
else that was important.”
Snape conceded her point and lapsed once again into brooding
silence. He felt restless.
“The, well, you know,” she said, attempting to avoid saying Selenai,
probably thinking it was for his sake, “it told him they could see the Serpent
in their dreams, but they’d never seek it out in real life, or they’d go mad.
But it doesn’t end there.” Here, her voice deflated.
“There is one person who can wield the Serpent. The Holder.”
She gave a derisive snort. “The Serpent and the Holder,” she muttered as an
Snape felt a spasm ripple through his body, but Arabella had
not noticed. She was staring at the floor.
The Serpent and the Holder? The Serpent Holder? Ophyres?
Had Voldemort been preparing him for this role since
initiation? Suddenly, it didn’t seem so unlikely. If this plot had been in
motion for nearly two decades, then it only made sense for Voldemort to have
taken Snape back; he wanted to see it completed. But why couldn’t he choose
someone else? Why is it so important that I play this part? The
answer evaded him, and he forced himself to listen to Arabella.
“This Holder can apparently use the Serpent to channel
energy. Magic, I suppose. The raw stuff. Whatever all that means. I wouldn’t
know.” She looked up at Snape with an odd expression on her face, but he
couldn’t read it.
“And if that wasn’t enough,” she continued, “he’s…or
she’s…I guess…got all the Selenai under his or control. If this Serpent
For a few moments there was silence, and Snape stared at
her, waiting for her to add more. Finally, she did, but she spoke softly, in
the same tone she’d used to make her first statement.
“The Holder…everyone reckons it’s You-Know-Who.”
She met Snape’s eyes, and for the first time he could
recall, he saw fear there, and with her next question, understood.
“What do we have to compete against that?”
I lay awake a long time that night, thinking, hopelessly
unable to sleep.
This was my first night without Albus’s herbs, and I’d
purposely not taken them, hoping to curb my reliance on the release they
Which meant I would dream.
When the meeting had ended I’d left immediately, muttering to
Minerva and Arabella that I didn’t feel well, knowing they would pass on my
apologies. There would be time, they’d assured me, to get to know the members
of the Order after tonight.
Truly, I was not concerned about it at that moment.
My mind was full and I felt sick and distraught, lying in my
bed, knowing it was the one place no physical being would disturb me.
I laughed then, but there was little mirth, and thought back
upon the night.
Remus Lupin had accosted me in the stairway, before Arabella
and Minerva’s message could reach him, but he took one look at me and released
my arm, telling me to go on.
He understood. More, he knew.
It all seemed painfully obvious at that point, that Albus
had enlisted him to learn what he could about my condition. The random books
he’d devoured voraciously, day after day, had appeared to have nothing in
common. But that was just it, wasn’t it? Their apparent unlike, the
disarray of genres and languages and subjects, it was all connected to a single
I’d said as much.
“Arienne.” Remus’s voice was soft but firm. He paused,
glancing around for any signs of others, and then took my elbow and led me up
the stairs and into the deserted hallway above.
He looked at me, and his eyes were serious. “ I hope you can
understand that this wasn’t in any way an attempt to alienate you. Albus
thought it would be best if we took an active role in trying to help you
uncover your…well, Talent, really.”
I would have liked to be angry with him. To tell him that
I felt betrayed, that I’d just been some project of his, and that was the only
reason he’d even been interested in getting to know me.
But I was not a petulant child.
And Remus Lupin
was not the sort to molly-coddle, despite his gentle nature. He had merely been
defending the position he and Albus had taken, and had been entirely honest with me, so I could
not respond back with my own frustration and self-pity.
In fact, if I was to be perfectly candid with myself,
something I had achieved very rarely as of late, preferring to bury what I
chose not to deal with at the moment, I was relieved. Immensely. Because I was
Remus knew the truth, all of it, it seemed, even more
than me, and yet he had not recoiled. His voice held a note of urgency, as if
he desperately wanted me to believe him, but all he had to offer were those
words, and would allow me to rebuke him if I felt it necessary. But I took
them. I nodded, showing I understood, and he smiled, his own relief evident.
He gripped my arm, then, just below my shoulder, an
unthinking gesture of camaraderie that moved me far more than he was likely
aware. We stood there for a moment, his eyes saying everything that spoken
reassurances could not, and he promised his help, where it could be given. All
in silence, all with that gesture.
“Remus, there is one thing I need to know,” I said
finally, and he relinquished his hold on my arm.
“Whatever I can answer, I will.”
I nodded, grateful. “Who is Albus’ in?”
For a moment he looked confused, he had not been expecting
that particular question, and I hastily explained myself.
“For him to know…everything that he knows…about…about
Voldemort,” I had taken a page out of Albus’s book, and I was proud of myself
for it, “he has to have someone operating within the Death Eaters. A double
agent. And no one at the meeting really struck me as being the right…sort…”
My unspoken question hung in the air, although I was
almost certain I knew the answer to it.
Remus shook his head, “It isn’t me,” he said gently. “I
doubt the pure-blooded wizards he’s amassed would look twice at me.”
My expression must have given away my reproach. He smiled
“Ah, well, yes, there is that small matter,” he conceded.
“But I think my past affiliation with Albus has ruined any interest Voldemort
may have in recruiting this werewolf. No, Arienne, I’m not Albus’s in.”
“Then?” I asked, trying not to sound like I was prying. I
assumed that sort of thing would be common knowledge amongst the members of the
Order, and although I was a new initiate, surely I deserved to know as well.
Remus appeared to be thinking along the same lines.
“He wasn’t here tonight,” he said slowly, as if that
“But it’s Severus Snape. Snape is our in.”
I should not have been surprised, but I had been. I still
was, though it had ebbed away, little by little.
Albus had spoken for Snape when he’d been captured, fifteen
years ago. He’d been released because of his services to the Ministry and to
Albus himself; passing along whatever information he’d been given, although
very few knew that. As a Watcher I knew the truth, and that they’d released him
on some other pretext, something similar to Lucius Malfoy, the Imperius or
other nonsense. But Malfoy, despite his allegations of “never meaning any of it”, had rekindled his
allegiance with the Dark Lord. I’d overhead that at some point tonight.
Still, Malfoy had money, and money protected him. The
corruptness of our Ministry sickened me, but then again, witches and wizards
were still human. Fear and greed reigned supreme. Why else would people
willingly choose to follow Voldemort?
Idly, I entertained the idea of walking up to Snape and
asking him just that. Why?
Malfoy, it seemed, had played it off as being young an
impressionable. Thrill-seeking. A joke of sorts. Killing people was far too morbid a jest for
my delicate sense of humor.
Had it been the same for Snape? Some sick teenage-angst
I didn’t care what Remus said, despite Snape’s “proof” of
loyalty, he was still a double-agent. He could be playing both fields. He was
clearly skilled if he had managed to fool Voldemort into believing in his
devotion. Yet Albus had given him employment, even though he had a record that
would have seen him in the streets begging for Knuts for the rest of his life. No one
would have ever dreamed of hiring a Death Eater after Voldemort fell.
I became aware then, of an eclipsing anger, at the injustice
of it all, and my own relentless struggle was temporarily displaced. A former
Death Eater was suitable for employment, but a werewolf was not, so much so
that there was actual legislation in
place to prevent a werewolf from ever finding employment. How could people be
so blind? This pervasive fear that had found its way into every werewolf rights
conversation stunned me.
Remus had told me of the circumstances surrounding his
dismissal, though vaguely, as if there was more but he was not certain how much
to tell me yet (although, perhaps, the induction had changed that). It had been
enough to fuel my explosion, however, and as I lay in bed, listening to my own
enraged voice cutting down prejudice and stereotype and a willingness of
society to accept and never question precedent, I felt a deep, lingering
It had been Remus who had soothed my temper, and Remus who
had argued that precedent was a powerful medium to convey impressions; it was
proof, and not everyone was able to make a leap of faith without being
encumbered by the idea that what had happened before could happen again.
Albus Dumbledore, however, was not one of those people. He’d
accepted Remus and given him a chance, but in the end, the truth still stood
that Severus Snape was employed, had respect and stability, and Remus Lupin had
none of these things.
But as my anger began to cool once again, I felt the uneasy
pricklings of guilt. Albus saw potential that most couldn’t see, and it
undermined his judgment to
question him. He could not change what the rest of the wizarding world thought,
but he tried to invoke acceptance within his own sphere, amongst the students
and staff. In regards to Snape and Remus both. The other circumstances were out
of his hands. And, after all, was he not taking a chance with me? What
if someone caught wind of what I was?
Not for the first time, I checked my emotions, my thoughts,
my feelings, wondering if there had ever been any indication that I was a
murderous sub-creation of witch. I didn’t feel any uncontrollable rage, or
bloodlust, but thought: maybe you just snapped one day, and that was that.
You were Selenai and homicidal and pledged to the Dark Lord and there was
nothing else you could do about it.
Deep down, I doubted it. No matter what drove the others to
commit such heinous crimes, there was always choice. There was no full moon or
curse in our blood. The quest for power and domination was purely a human
But what of the Holder? What then? That frightened
me. To know that if someone were to find Phaenis they could use it to control
the Selenai like puppets. But if Voldemort was looking for it, then it
hadn’t been found yet. My mother had been proof enough of that, and the choice
theory. She’d died because she had not joined him – though she must have been Selenai
to be sought out, and for me to have gained Selenai status – the powers
passed on through the maternal genes, I recalled from the little bank of
knowledge I possessed. But why had she not been able to fight off the Death
Eaters? Phaenis had said that full Selenai power could rival the Dark
Lord’s. Had we truly held her back, my father and I? Had we weakened her so
irrevocably? I would never know, but I was sorry all the same.
It was funny, though in a humorless way, that, hours ago, I
had been ravaged by fear and disgust, and now suddenly found myself very
detached from what had been revealed tonight. What it all meant. It was as if I
was sitting outside myself, a formless presence, watching someone else reason
and rationalize, and try to put together a puzzle where more than half of the
pieces were missing. Fear and revulsion and self-pity were slowly giving way to
a mounting curiosity as I began to understand my position more fully. I only
wished that my mother had had time to teach me more. No, that was not entirely
true. I wished a great many things about my family, but that seemed to be the most
However, knowing that I was not alone in this calmed me -
and above that I felt the beginnings of a plan begin to take root. I was not
going to cower behind Albus Dumbledore and his Order. I was still desperately
afraid of where my life was going from this pivotal point, but I also saw
opportunity in the near future, and a sense of obligation and responsibility. I
exalted in the clarity of my thoughts, and knew that with a little more
prodding I would be able to unearth the seed that had taken root in my
I was so engrossed in my introspection that I did not
realize that my body had already fallen asleep. The moment I became aware of
it, however, my stream of thoughts winked out.
I became lucid again some time later, and found myself
standing in darkness, feeling smooth stones beneath my bare feet. A warm breeze
rustled my nightrobes, like a gentle caress of welcome, and I found myself
moving forward, towards a light, towards a pillar, towards my answers.
Because indeed, with acceptance, came more questions. But I