There is a Tide
by Seriana Ritani
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.
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
The Tragedy of
Julius Caesar, Act IV, Scene II
Part I: Styx
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
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 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.
Dumbledore tumble over the parapet again . . . and again . . . and again . .
. Severus . . . please . . .
away from Draco, his knees shaking, reached for a tree but missed and fell to
his knees. Please . . .
Avada Kedavra . . .
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
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 . . .”
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.”
sniffling. “Thank you, sir.”
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 . . .