Cold gusts sent ripples across the lake to splash along the snowy shore.
Freshly fallen snow, undisturbed and perfect, glittered like frosty diamonds
under the brilliant stars. Full and silver, the moon lit the night and cast a
ghostly shadow from the man standing at the waterís edge. Severus Snape, his
hands shoved deep in the pockets of his thick cloak and his head bowed against
the wind, was waiting.
He had left the castle, still lit and smelling of gingerbread, pine, and
peppermint, for this cold bank on winter solstice. He was waiting for an omen.
The Muggles believed Halloween to be a night of sprits and haunts, but if one
truly wanted to look dark things in the face he should wait for the longest
night of the year. In a magical world, this was the chance for things that
shunned the light to frolic, and if there was ever a year for them to celebrate
this was it.
Severus Snape was not a superstitious man. He preferred reason and logic and
saw how one thing led to another. Truth be told he preferred the warmth of the
castle and the twinkle of lights in the boughs of the Christmas tree to the
bitter cold and harsh silver light of the solstice. And yet, for the past
thirteen years he had never missed the witching hour of the darkest night of
He had often wondered, as he pulled on his thick cloak and wrapped a scarf
around his neck, why he came here and stared into the black horizon, waiting
for something ominous to rise. He wondered, as his eyes followed the waves
across the lakeís tumultuous surface, why he still believed that if the
darkness didnít come that everything would be all right in the morning. It was
irrational and there was no cause and effect. But he stayed where he was as
though rooted to the spot.
The clock struck one and the song of the bells broke the icy silence. Severus
Snape waited until the song and its echoes faded away. The hour was ended and
still the omen of darkness had not risen to swallow the world. He wondered at
his surety that this would be the year.
He turned and trudged back through the snow, disturbing its perfect whiteness
with his rough boots. The lights in the castle window beckoned with promises of
warm fires and hot tea and a world of reason and logic.
Then he felt the smoldering burn, never enough to hurt but always present now,
and he knew the omen had come after all. He stopped in his walk and clenched
his fist against the dark mark on his skin. It had risen, not tonight, but long
ago and had never really gone away. On this longest of nights it did not frolic
but whispered its presence and slithered under his clothes to cling to his
Severus Snape began to walk again and stopped thinking such irrational
thoughts. One thing had led to another, and this was not an omen but a warning.
The solution to this would not be found through mystic methods but through more
careful thought than what had put it there.
He opened the door to the castle and its friendly light spilled out on the cold
snow, overpowering the silver moon. Severus Snape kicked the snow from his
boots. The darkness was most certainly coming, there was no denying that, but
it was not here tonight.
The door fell shut against the night and although the moon continued to light
the cold and bitter snow, Severus Snape, heading for a warm blanket and a thick
book, did not notice or care.