The Sugar Quill
Author: Seriana Ritani  Story: There is a Tide, Part 1: Styx  Chapter: Introduction
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There is a Tide

There is a Tide

by Seriana Ritani

 

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Summary: Severus Snape, the last of the Princes, returns at age eleven to the wizarding world, but the escalation of a schoolboy’s rivalry sends him into a dangerous maze of conspiracy, treachery, and murder, where a single misstep could mean death for him or those he cares for most.

 

***

The character of Kirrian Hawthorne is dedicated to my patient and faithful roommates, whose tolerance of my ‘Snape moods’ allowed it to be written.

 

My endless thanks to Zsenya, Beta-Reader Extraordinaire, the hardworking folks at the Harry Potter Lexicon, Felicia who lets me read out loud for hours on end, and my family, who think that I am a much better writer than I think I am.

 

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There is a tide in the affairs of men

Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;

Omitted, all the voyage of their life

Is bound in shallows and in miseries.

On such a full sea are we now afloat,

And we must take the current when it serves,

Or lose our ventures.

 

Marcus Brutus

The Tragedy of Julius Caesar, Act IV, Scene II

 

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Part I: Styx

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Introduction: 3 June 1997

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When Severus reached the edge of the Forbidden Forest, he was beyond exhausted.  He’d nearly killed himself, sprinting from the Hogwarts gates to the shadows of the trees in what had to be record time, desperate to reach safety before the hippogriff  recovered from his Confundus Charm.  The creature had left long, bleeding gashes on his arms, shoulders, and back, so that he was slippery and sticky all over with blood, the reek of it mixing with the far-off smell of burning and the closer stench of death.  There was no time to heal himself right now.  The marks on the grass indicated that Draco had panicked and bolted for the Forest instead of achieving the presence of mind for a more effective escape, and after all Severus had endured for the boy he refused to let him be eaten by an acromantula.  The poor, stupid idiot would probably run headlong into their colony if Severus didn’t catch up with him.

 

Dumbledore’s plea was still ringing in his head, fresh material for a thousand nightmares.  Severus hated him more in death than he’d ever managed in all their long, antagonistic aquaintance.  He hated Dumbledore for doing this to him, for doing this to Draco, hated him for begging, hated him for dying.

 

If he hadn’t long ago learned how to control and deny his panic, he would certainly have been panicking.  He’d murdered Albus Dumbledore.  If that wasn’t a reason to panic, he didn’t know what was.  But before he permitted himself to lose control, he had to find Draco. 

 

Draco wasn’t hard to find -- that white-blond hair was impossible to miss in the dark.  He’d only made it about two hundred yards into the Forest before tripping on something, falling on his face, and staying there.  Severus could hear him crying, but he didn’t seem to be hurt otherwise.

 

Severus saw Dumbledore tumble over the parapet again . . . and again . . . and again . . .  Severus . . . please . . .

 

Severus stumbled away from Draco, his knees shaking, reached for a tree but missed and fell to his knees.  Please . . .

 

Avada Kedavra . . .

 

Saliva suddenly filled his mouth, his throat contracted, the muscles of his abdomen and neck wrenched about in the wrong direction, and he was sick.

 

When he looked up again, he saw that Draco was staring at him, his face covered with tears and dirt and his mouth hanging open in horrified surprise.  “P-Professor?”

 

Severus spat out the foul, burning taste and wiped his mouth on his sleeve.  “Never mind,” he said, his voice croaking and harsh.  “When it comes to your first kill, you’ll understand.”

 

“Your . . . your first?”

 

Severus pointedly ignored this question, drawing his wand to heal the cuts the hippogriff had left.  A Charm would stop the bleeding, but without a Contusion Cream they continued to throb.  He had some in his office -- but he was never going to see his office again, any more than he was going to see Dumbledore, or the defeat of the Dark Lord.  Everything was over, and his had been the hand that ended it.  Throbbing wounds were the least of his pains.

 

Turning to Draco, he asked, “Are you hurt?”

 

Draco shook his head.  “No, sir.  I . . . I think I can Disapparate.  I just . . . I can’t . . . in just a minute, I mean . . .”

 

“Take your time.  No one will think to look for us out here.”  Severus stood up and took stock of the Forest.  It was strangely, unnaturally quiet.  He’d be able to hear anyone coming long before they spotted the fugitives.  “Seeing death for the first time is difficult to bear, and you’ll need to be in control of your emotions before you face the Dark Lord again.  We’re safe enough, for a while.  Take what time you need.”

 

Draco nodded, sniffling.  “Thank you, sir.”

 

“Don’t condescend to offer me your gratitude,” Severus snapped at him.  “You forced my hand, and destroyed more than you will ever comprehend with your selfish stubbornness.  Believe me, I do not want your thanks.”

 

He walked a few steps into the darkness until, looking back, he could only faintly see the blond hair through the gloom.  The boy would have an easier time grieving alone than he would with an audience.

 

He sat down with his back against a pine tree, wincing as the rough bark scraped on his newly-healed cuts, and settled in to wait.  He had no desire to hurry back to headquarters, either, even though the faint prickle in his left arm told him he would soon be wanted.  He couldn’t face the Dark Order, not yet.  Everything hurt too much.  Not just the murder, but everything, twenty-five years of pain and anger that all seemed to converge on him tonight, weighing him down, dragging him backwards to live it all again, to understand when, how, everything had gone wrong . . .

//
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