A Time For A Change

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Re: A Time For A Change

Post by Admin on Tue Sep 22, 2015 6:19 pm

Severus had planned on leaving after he checked Avalon's wards but when she told him how much time he had before he had to be at The Burrow, he relaxed a bit more and nodded with a small smile.

"I would love a cup of coffee if you don't mind and if you have any.  If not, cider will do as well.  Thank you.  I'll be around your grounds checking those wards.  You indeed have done an excellent job on them Avalon.  I am skilled in wards but nothing like what I have just experienced.   I have sensed magic I am not familiar with and I would like to learn more about this.  I shall return shortly."

He turned and left out the door that they entered the home through and he then wandered back and forth over the very large grounds.  He made his way around the barn and then back along the river, then around the house.  His wand never changed hue or flickered one bit as he finished with his examination.  Her wards were exceptionally strong and good.  She would be safe here.  He was able to fully breathe for the first time since realizing that Avalon might be in danger.  She still might be in danger, but she would be safe in her home.  He then walked back over to the river and watched the water rush by over the rocks and fallen logs for a while.  The rushing water was relaxing for him and the sound was extremely soothing to him.  He moved his gaze from the water to the woods along the side of the house.  With the gentle warm breeze rustling the pine boughs and the leaves on the giant oaks and maple trees, he felt that Avalon was indeed fortunate to live in such a peaceful setting.  He gave the grounds one last appreciative sweep with his eyes and headed back to the house.

Entering her home again, he found the kitchen and watched Avalon putter there, fixing beverages for them.  Remembering what she had said about Bill Weasley, he simply had to ask.

"How do you know Bill Weasley?  I am curious.  He has been a curse-breaker in the past.  I've not been in real touch with the Weasley family in a while so I'm not sure if he is still doing that work."

He was leaning up against the entryway into Avalon's kitchen and he had his arms and legs crossed.  He also was wearing a small smile.  He looked casual and somewhat amused.  He simply HAD to get to know this woman more.  She was fascinating on top of being very attractive!

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Re: A Time For A Change

Post by CallaHaruka on Wed Sep 23, 2015 10:59 am

Coffee. Coffee... Does she know how to make it? Yes. However, is she prepared? Not quite. After offering, she realizes that he might not take it black...and though she has sugar and milk, she has no half and half or cream. Hm. Well, this is problematic...

Watching him leave the house, she begins setting up...and as soon as he's a fair distance from the house, she Apparates directly to the market in Hogsmeade, buys both cream and half and half, and pops right back to her place.

Looking out the kitchen window, she spots Severus, none the wiser, and she smiles. For herself, she puts the kettle on for some cider and simply waits for the coffee to brew in the Muggle coffee pot, and the water to boil.

Quietly, she watches him as she waits. He's very thorough, and she appreciates that. When he's out of sight, she closes her eyes and continues to wait, tending to things as they become ready.

By the time he returns, she's pouring him a cup of coffee. Smiling at his question, she gestures for him to sit at the more comfortable chairs at the kitchen table, instead of the bar stools at the side of the marble kitchen counter, and brings sugar, cream, milk, and half and half to the table in their cartons so he can see what everything is and choose what he likes.

"Well...I know OF him, but we've never met; I know that he is--or was--a curse-breaker for Gringott's. He has no idea who I am...but he knows my work," she says with an entertained smile. Looking at Severus, she raises both eyebrows, "I did some work for the Goblins, as well, but in a different capacity. They hired me to work on some of their vaults. Specifically, I would create the wards, and then the Goblins and I would hide behind one-way glass and watch Bill work, to see if he could break my wards and curses. So...if I made the wards, and Bill couldn't get in, we had a successful vault. Even if someone got to the vault, itself, after going through the labyrinthine maze, they'd then have to deal with me, essentially, at the end." Smiling wryly, she shrugs, going now to tend to her cider.

Mug in hand, she leans against the counter casually. "At any rate, watching him work sharpened my own skills." At a thought, however, she looks at Severus curiously, "Actually, I'd be happy to work on Hogwarts' wards, as well--or, at least give them a look to make sure the school's all shored up. I'd say that we shouldn't have to worry about anything happening, after the war, and I don't doubt the professors' capabilities, but since Alecto's out..." Giving Severus a meaningful look, her point is clear: just in case, it would be prudent to ensure the castle's safety, and she's just the Witch to do it.

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Re: A Time For A Change

Post by Admin on Wed Sep 23, 2015 7:34 pm

Severus poured a fairly large amount of cream in his coffee and sipped while listening to Avalon talk about the work she did with wards.  This was fascinating!  She did some amazing work with Gringotts and the Goblins!  They were not an easy lot to work with let alone please.  That they accepted her work as "final" in providing protection for their vaults spoke highly of her ability, her reputation and her integrity.  He was further intrigued and wanted to know more, not only about her work.

He finished his coffee and nodded when he thought about Avalon's words about the wards at Hogwarts.

"Indeed.  It sounds like you had quite the job at Gringotts with the Goblins.  Good work.  They are not an easy folk to work with or for.  I'm impressed that you were able to build a trust with them enough for them to allow you to enter their vaulted areas.  They are not a trusting lot.  It speaks highly of your skill and discretion.  And speaking of skill, I believe your concerns regarding Hogwarts could be very valid.  That is a very good idea...........checking the wards at the school.   I'll bring that up at the meeting I attend tonight.  There is really no way to truly know Alecto's scope of creating chaos and havoc if she is on a path for revenge and destruction.  Children and staff at the school could be in danger."

He held out his cup for another refill and poured more cream into his cup.

"Have you ever met Minerva McGonagall?  She is quite the formidable woman on some levels and on others.............quite the soft-hearted, sentimental and caring woman.  I believe she will be at the meeting this evening and I will mention your concerns to her.  If you have not ever had the privilege of meeting her, I shall surely introduce you.  She is a good ally and a good friend to me.  She is not bad at dueling either.  We have had our............scuffles............in the past."

He snorted softly into his coffee cup as he drained the second cup in memory of his last "scuffle" he had with Minerva in the Great Hall at Hogwarts just before the final battle.  He left so he would not injure her but he had other plans as well.   He applauded her backbone in trying to take him on. Had he not had another agenda at the time, he would have enjoyed sparring with her.

Setting his empty cup down and rising, he stood and smiled at Avalon while fastening his cloak around his neck against the night air.

"Thank you for the coffee and allowing me into your home.  I feel your skill at wards far surpasses mine but it does relieve my mind that all is well with you, your home and your menagerie."

 He gave Turk a final pat..............the hairy beast had not left Severus' side since he entered the home.

"I must be going but I shall be in touch to inform you of what our next steps shall be.  Thank you again for your company this evening..............though not exactly what I had planned, I enjoyed spending my time with you.  Until later Avalon."

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Re: A Time For A Change

Post by CallaHaruka on Thu Sep 24, 2015 12:15 am

So, Severus likes a little coffee with his cream. Got it. Her thoughts are playful, as she's seen people turn their coffee to that pale shade, before. Still...shudder-worthy.

"Indeed, I did have quite the job with them, and thank you--after the first vault, they were going to do the Goblin equivalent of a memory charm on me, but I then reasoned that no one would know how to get into that particular vault. After Bill couldn't get it, they kept me on. I especially do a lot of long-term vaults for them, when they don't expect anyone to come by for a long time--and I'm the only one who can open those. They've been very careful to blindfold me so I don't know the way to the vaults, I never see what number vault I'm working on, and I never see what is inside. With all of that, they feel fairly confident that I'm not a threat, and am just like any other bank employee. Well, contractor, in my case. Ah, and in the event of my death, there are...fail-safes, let's say. The vaults can still be accessed, but...it's a bit tricky. At any rate, the Goblins are rather interested in keeping me alive," she smiles wryly. Oh, indeed...their lives would be much more difficult if she were to die unexpectedly.

"Ah, and yes, I thought of that, as well--Alecto might be intending to revisit the school. It's hard telling, really." Refilling Severus' cup, she moves with a fluid grace, and it feels rather natural to be talking to him like this.

At the thought of the former Transfigurations professor, she grins widely, "Indeed, I had Professor McGonagall all seven years through Hogwarts. In truth, I adored her--though I was careful not to let that show to my fellow Slytherins. I always craved earning her approval, and I was quite pleased to earn it." Here, she scowls a bit, as though there might be something distasteful on her tongue, "I never liked or trusted Professor Slughorn. He was a bit eager to have me in his collection, and I didn't want to be a part of it." Softening once more, she smiles, speaking quietly, "Minerva was kind to me. There were a few times we spoke in private, and..." Trailing off, she shrugs, smiling a bit more, "As I said, she was kind."

She has no doubt that Severus and Minerva had their scuffles--and they were probably verbal as well as magical duels. Ah, it would be entertaining to watch them, to say the least. Slytherins and Gryffindors are automatically at odds, of course, but Avalon's always wondered about the dynamics between professors, especially behind closed doors.

As she finishes her cider, she watches her guest rise. "You're most welcome, and you're certainly welcome to come again. Just...owl me, first, and I'll come get you," she chuckles, as yes, it is needed to gain access to the place. No one's decided to just, 'drop by,' before, but just in case... "Oh, and you can Disapparate from anywhere on the grounds or in the house, so no worries about that."

Smiling softly at Turk, she then sets her cup down and steps a bit closer to the dark-haired man. "Yes, please do be in touch. I enjoyed myself, as well--even though it wasn't what we expected, I was certainly glad to help. Also, thank you very much for checking on the place. It's a relief to know that if I didn't have skill in the field of wards, I'd have help. So...until later." With a slightly lopsided smile, she reaches out and squeezes his arm, adding with an earnest look: "Be careful. I know I don't have to say it, but still--I'd be remiss if I didn't, and I don't want to seem a dick after you've been so kind." Grinning at that, she chuckles and draws back, crossing her arms.

A part of her wonders how she's doing on that whole friendship front. She's hoping she's presenting herself well, but in some ways she feels like they're at that stage where they're both still putting their best feet forward. That said, it's only the second day of really getting to know each other. Also, she doesn't really make friends often or easily. Acquaintances, certainly, but actual friendship is a lot harder to come by.

Everything else will fall into place, in time. The first time a fart is emitted on purpose, they'll probably get somewhere, and really break that ice. Her lips twitch upward at the thought. She looks forward to it, really. Severus is a Wizard with layers. They're both being quite careful. Ah, indeed, time and ridiculous behavior will fix that.

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Re: A Time For A Change

Post by Admin on Fri Sep 25, 2015 9:06 pm

Severus smiled a smile that Avalon hasn't seen yet as she touched his arm in the small gesture that illustrated the sincerity of her words.  Departing with her words about being a dick............he nodded and his grin widened.  Watching her deeply with his eyes, he took a step back, twisted and was gone, apparating to The Burrow.

*******************************************************************************

Severus popped up into the yard outside The Burrow and glanced up at the tall home with it's odd angles and struts.  He always looked briefly at the house before entering as it always appeared as though it might fall down at any moment.  The bang of his arrival at that moment prompted the opening of the front door by Arthur Weasley and he held it open for Severus and nodded as he walked through.

As Severus entered the home, he was assailed by the smell of coffee and cinnamon rolls......and his mouth watered immediately.  He also felt a bit honored as he knew that Molly knew that cinnamon rolls were one of his favorite sweet treats.

Arthur took his cloak as he walked into the main living area where he looked quickly round the room and nodded respectively at Ron Weasley, Hermione Weasley, Minerva McGonagall, Neville Longbottom, Luna Lovegood, Ginny Potter, Molly and Arthur Weasley, Filius Flitwick, Hagrid who was hunched in the corner, and Kingsley Shacklebolt.

Arthur pulled up a comfortable chair for Severus and began the meeting by asking Severus if he was OK.

"I am fine as is my dinner guest and my house elf.  It was determined that the food I prepared for our meal was poisoned, specifically the chicken which was purchased in Hogsmeade at Higgenborough's Butchery.  My house elf ordered and purchased the meat there upon my direction.  The food was delivered by who we believe to be Alecto Carrow who had perhaps taken polyjuice potion to disguise herself as an old lady who was employed by the butchery.  If it hadn't been for the quick thinking of my dinner guest, we might be very ill or worse at this moment.  I am grateful to her."

There were a few murmurs of concern as well as more than a few eyebrows rising at the mention of Severus entertaining a "she".  Severus ignored them.

Kingsley came out of the shadows at that moment and nodded at Severus and then addressed the group.

"Alecto Carrow was released from Azkaban legally and lawfully three days ago.  She was released in London."

Ron snorted his disapproval and Hermione swatted his leg at his outburst.  Ron glared at her.  Obviously they were at odds over the decision to release Alecto.  Kingsley continued his explanation.

"The new laws that went into effect last year regarding rehabilitation and updating of the laws governing Azkaban and it's prisoners is an advance that was long over due in my opinion.  Hermione had much to do with these changes and demanded that fair and humane treatment be given to anyone who was housed in the prison for any period of time.  Alecto had been a model prisoner and participated in all that was asked of her.  There was no reason to keep her in prison after her sentence had been fulfilled.  All the legalities of her release had been met."

Kingsley paused and then looked around the room.

"She might not have been a pillar of our community and she was a known Death Eater, but she deserved to have her case reviewed after all her rehabilitation requirements had been filled.  The governors of the Azkaban board granted her release.  End of story.  Now, if it is she who has committed this attempted murder, then she will go back into Azkaban and spend the rest of her life there................according to the law."

Ron was still scowling but kept his peace.  Hermione looked satisfied and nodded enthusiastically while Kingsley was speaking.

Minerval McGonagall sat up straight in her chair and appeared appalled.

"I'm not so sure I approve of this release program Minister.  The Death Eaters had an agenda for years and those that have been or are being released will continue to have their agenda.  If indeed she tried to kill Severus, what about the safety of our students when they return in September?  What about protecting Severus now?  Where in Merlin's beard did she obtain polyjuice in 3 days?"

Hermione spoke up at that moment.

"She could have purchased the potion at any wizarding brew shop or apothecary from London to Edinburgh.  There is also a popular and well-established shop in Hogsmeade and that's close to where Severus lives."

Severus sat up straight and added quickly.

"Rand is no longer the proprietor of the apothecary shop in Hogsmeade.  It is now owned and well-run by it's new proprietor, who happened to be my dinner guest at the time.  Her name is Avalon.  She is a graduated student of Hogwarts, Slytherin House."

Ron piped up just then.

"So Rand is gone, this new person just happens to be there around the same time where someone tries to off you..............?"

Everyone in the room looked at Severus then, as they must have been thinking the same thing.  He was just about to speak and lay any concerns regarding Avalon aside when a bang was heard outside and soon, Harry walked in the door.  He looked grim.

"The owner of Higgenborough's Butchery is dead.  His body was found in one of his back coolers.  We have his wife at St. Mungo's now.  She is, of course, overwrought with grief.  The body looked as though it had been untouched and unmarked so I suspect the unforgivable."

Molly Weasley clapped her hand to her mouth in shock.  The butchery had been the only place where she had purchased her meats for many, many years.

Harry then looked at Severus.

"Severus you are in danger.  Someone is targeting you.  I strongly suggest you take precautions and keep yourself safe."

Severus nodded and immediately thought of Avalon and her safety, not his.

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Re: A Time For A Change

Post by CallaHaruka on Sat Sep 26, 2015 1:44 am

After Severus takes his leave, Avalon goes about the rest of her evening, making sure her menagerie is happy. Still, as she settles down for the evening, changing into her nightclothes, she worries about Severus. Brows furrowed, she pauses and looks out the windows toward where she knows his home to be. Having an innate sense of direction, she stares that way for quite some time.

So...Alecto is out for him. The furrow in her brows deepens, and she can't bring herself to sit down in bed. Not yet.

Avalon can help him. She knows she can. She can shore up his home, at the very least.

Sighing inwardly, she truly doesn't want to bother him in the middle of a meeting, but perhaps it might be prudent. Also, her Patronus is a bit...distinctive, and she's a little self-conscious about it. Perhaps she should use an owl? Yet, her Patronus would be faster... Damn.

Casting it, she gives it directions to go to Severus and give him a message. As it glides away, she looks at it fondly. In some ways, she almost wishes it could have been a platypus or a raven or something, to match her eccentricity in the case of the former, or her intelligence in the latter. Almost...

No...it had to be something that really does match her personality.

***

Shortly after Harry's arrival at the Burrow, Avalon's Patronus arrives, as well. Its head alone is probably three-quarters the size of the wall it pokes through, and the rest of its body lays outside on the grass: a dragon. A true-to-scale, life-size dragon. It rather looks as though it crawled out of the legends of old. "Fucking hell..." Ron's voice utters what everyone else is probably thinking.

When Avalon first cast the corporeal Patronus, she damn near pissed herself. Yet, she laughed. She nearly cried, she was so happy. She loves her Patronus dearly, and yes, she would have one for a pet, if she could.

At any rate, the eyes at The Burrow are all...taking in this unusual creature. Some may very well be pissing themselves, one way or another. Hagrid may or may not have an erection. If Charlie were here, he'd probably have one, too.

Avalon's directions were clear: let no one else hear the message, except Severus. As such, the Patronus delivers the message gently into Severus' mind, and no one else's, for the man's privacy:

"I should have offered before you left, but would you like me to ward your home, tonight? I wouldn't mind. I want you safe. Let me know." Avalon's voice is quiet, calm, gentle, and clear. Indeed, she does want him safe.

Waiting for Severus to tell it a response, the dragon blows steam from its nostrils. If there is consternation in the room, the great beast takes no notice. It's a very well-mannered dragon, to be sure.

There is one set of large eyes that doesn't seem to be as surprised as the rest. Sliding her eyes to Severus', Minerva raises an eyebrow.

"I know this Patronus. You mentioned her name, Severus. There has only been one Avalon in all my years of teaching. Avalon...Tremain?" She keeps her expression carefully controlled. There might be hope there, that the Muggle-born Slytherin might have survived the war. There were so many individuals to keep track of.

She'd heard that Rand left, as he sent her a letter saying the shop would be in good hands for the students when school came into session. He mentioned the first name of the new proprietor, but not the surname; Minerva fervently hoped that it was the same person. If it IS the same person...Severus may have met his match in the woman.

"You know her?" Asks Harry, and Minerva shoots him a sardonic look.

"Potter, I've taught every Witch and Wizard from the United Kingdom for decades. Of course I know her."

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Re: A Time For A Change

Post by Admin on Sat Sep 26, 2015 10:26 pm

Severus stood slowly as the enormous dragon head popped through the front wall and sent him a mental image with Avalon's magical signature and voice.  He walked slowly to the patronus and ignoring everyone else was stunned and in awe of the magic and power needed to produce a working and near-solid corporeal patronus.

Stopping face to face with the enormous magical creature he nodded and smiled.  This was the inner being of Avalon.  This was who she WAS inside and he was still in awe.  Catching the questions behind him he turned and answered Minerva.

"Yes, Tremain is the last name."  

Turning back to the patronus, he cast his mind to the dragon's mind to send a message on to Avalon.

"Ward my home as you see fit.  Keep yourself safe."

He then sent a small mental essence of himself as a show of trust and as gift to say thank you for her work..............the essence of his patronus which was now a large blue-black Raven.  He gave the dragon the image and then sent it on its way with his blessings.

As soon as the dragon pulled it's head back through the wall, he turned and faced the group, which was staring at him.............all with different unspoken questions and different looks on their faces.  Only Harry eyed Severus with a smug look.  Harry sensed Severus' inner workings now that he had shared his memories and mind often in the past.  He simple crossed his arms and then raised his eyebrows at the man.  

Severus cleared his throat and shrugged a bit.

"Interesting patronus.  I don't believe I've ever seen one so large."

Minerva cleared her throat as well.  "And.....................??"

"And what Minny?  If there is something on your mind then spit it out.  Don't waste my time with your senile mumbling."

Minerva stood at that moment, slowly, but she stood nevertheless and walked up to Severus with a strong and steady gait.

"Don't pull that senile woman tripe on me Severus Snape.  That was Avalon Tremains' patronus and she came here for a reason.  To see you and give you a message.    You are in a great deal of danger as is Avalon and we are here to help.  Now what is going on?"

Severus stood up to Minerva and didn't back down, but glared at her as he stood his ground.

"She is going to ward my home properly.  Wards are her specialty and she is quite good at it.  I've never seen such powerful ward work before."

Ron stood then and though he didn't walk towards the two, he was nevertheless upset.

"So this strange woman shows up at the same time that Rand dies and then you let her go to your home to "ward" the place?   And you're not curious or concerned about this?  Don't you find it ironic that she basically shows up just as you are being poisoned????"

Harry turned to Ron and replied just as heatedly.

"Someone who is bad or evil can't produce a patronus, Ron.  If she had bad intentions directed towards Severus, she wouldn't have been sending a patronus to him to ask permission to ward his house.....................though I am somewhat interested in why she would go to your home when you are gone.  She will be IN your house Severus.  Do you know her well enough for her to be in your home?  Using powerful magic?  Without you there?"

He then walked up to Severus and spoke softly to him so nobody else could hear him.

"Sev, I sense you are..............interested in her but is this wise?"

He then backed away and sat next to Ginny.  He scrubbed his face with his hand.  It was getting late and he was tired.

Severus looked around the group and then back to Harry.  He was torn.  He knew Harry was correct about being cautious.............but Minerva seemed to know Avalon.

He sat back down and Molly then hopped up to being serving coffee and cinnamon rolls.  Severus took his roll and coffee and looked to Minerva who had also seated herself.

"So tell me then Minny, who is she?  What do you know of her?  Enlighten me."

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Re: A Time For A Change

Post by CallaHaruka on Sun Sep 27, 2015 3:03 am

"MUST you call me that in front of everyone else?" Minerva huffs indignantly. Still, she can't be too angry. Turning, she goes to sit down, as this will be quite the story to tell.

"Avalon is her middle name," she begins, looking at Severus meaningfully, "Her first name is...a bit more noteworthy--and I'll let you discover that for yourself, Severus. At any rate, she was smart to go by her middle name, else she would have had a hell of a time, otherwise." Shaking her head at the thoughts of what could have been, she then softens.

"She is...one of my favorites--and I'll thank you not to tell her that. She knows..." Here, she has to swallow a bit of emotion, but she presses on with wry humor, "Ah, and yes, as a Gryffindor, that was hard for me to admit. Take that to your graves, all of you." Facts. Taking a breath, she collects herself. There is much more to their personal story, but she will divulge...only the essentials.

"Slytherin. Born in 1964--so four years behind you, Severus. Let's see... What year is it, now? 2000? So that puts her at 36 years old. Now, then, pay attention: she's a Muggle-born. Let me repeat: she's a Muggle-born Slytherin." Here, she gives Ron a look, "If you have any idea how awkward that might have been...let me remind you of the tumult and imminent danger that was Lord Voldemort, at the time." Returning her gaze back to Severus, she raises an eyebrow.

"She severed ties with her Muggle family--likely for her protection, as well as theirs...and ran away her fourth year. Albus never told me the full story, but he said not to worry about it. He said she actually built herself a stone cottage somewhere. Drove me mad with worry. Yet, she always showed up on September first; neat, tidy, and eager to learn. She was like you, Hermione...only quiet," she adds with a bit of a smile.

"She is a voracious learner. Into absolutely everything. She has the innate and uncanny ability to appear right beside you when you least expect it, or disappear without you realizing it--like a bloody ninja; especially when she was young." Scrubbing her forehead, she sighs. "She is...remote. An expert duelist. Though, I won't tell you why. You'll have to find out for yourself--though, I hope none of you have the bad manners to go against her or give her cause to defend herself against you." Giving a warning to all with a look, she sits back and folds her hands.

"During the first war, she disappeared; on my recommendation. She hid her capabilities well, so the Death Eaters weren't interested in her. That was her exact design, in school. She did everything to the letter, but never spoke about her achievements, ignored praise, and hid from most everyone. She's an escape artist. She especially loathed Horace Slughorn, and I wish she could have been in Gryffindor or Ravenclaw, but Slytherin actually protected her and hid her from the Death Eaters' wrath. Indeed, she could only have been in Slytherin...for more than one reason." Rubbing her temples, she sighs once more.

"In the second war...she was a smuggler." Looking at Neville and Luna pointedly, she nods, "All the medical supplies--the herbs and whatnot--that came via the portrait? She harvested them, gave them to Rand free of charge, and he gave the lion's share to Aberforth, sending it down the hidden passageway to the Room of Requirement. So...everything the students said they needed, traveled by word of mouth from Aberforth to Rand, to her, and she supplied." Trying to think of what more to tell them, she closes her eyes a moment.

"Her job--up until recently--has been self-employment, as far as I know; she harvests potions ingredients and then sells them. I suspect that's how she supported herself when she didn't return to her family's home after her fourth year." Looking at Severus once more, her expression is simple, "I believe Rand was an excellent customer."

After a moment, her expression becomes remote, vacant, and her voice is barely heard, "She saved my life. More than once. I am...thrilled she's still alive." A bit of moisture comes to her eyes, but she clears her throat and promptly begins devouring a cinnamon roll.

Harry, who isn't quite as thick as some when it comes to emotional discomfort, decides to pipe up, "Right. So...if she were out to kill Severus, she could've just allowed the poison to take effect. She handed us each a bezoar--including Severus' House Elf. What kind of hardcore Death Eater would trouble themselves to save a House Elf? Plus, it would make no sense to save Severus and myself. Alecto would have been thrilled to kill us both."

***

When her dragon returns, she nuzzles the almost tangible energy that flows over the beasts muzzle. Hearing Severus' reply and seeing his Patronus, she grins. A raven... Of course. She gives the bird a pet before it and the dragon swirl away.

She's beaming as she dons very dark clothing, working her spells through the cloth to make even herself undetectable. It's almost as though she can weave an invisibility cloak out of thin air, though this has the added benefit of armor, as well.

Apparating to Severus' home, she knocks on the door to let Minky know that she'll be working on the house, and that she has Severus' approval to do so. Minky will be able to see her, as she's up close. With increased distance comes near invisibility.

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Re: A Time For A Change

Post by Admin on Sun Sep 27, 2015 12:42 pm

The Weasley living room became very quiet after Minerva spoke her peace.  Ron especially looked somewhat mollified, though you could tell he was still somewhat suspicious.

Kinglsey cleared his throat to break the tension and spoke softly.

"Perhaps the war has made us cynical...........and still wary.  Perhaps it is not evil that brings this woman to Severus at such a time............perhaps it is good fortune.  Be that as it may, it might behoove you Severus to introduce Avalon to us and your circle of acquaintances if she is to be.............a part of your life."

He held up his hand and shook his head quickly at Severus' glare and appalled expression of "it's none of your fucking business".

"I know you live and wish to continue to live a secluded and private life Severus, especially after all that has happened to you...............and to us.  The truth is that we are a community.  We are tied to each other and we care about one another.  Please spare us your more private comings and goings, but also be aware that this woman, if she is to be a part of your life or our community, also needs to make herself known to us so we may welcome her and know her as friend and not foe."

Severus sat and then looked around at all the faces in the group............and nodded slightly.  He saw the truth of Kingsley's statement and it was true..........he wanted to know Avalon better.........much, much better and if she also wished to share his life, she would have to be known to his friends and allies.  He couldn't keep her a secret, though he suspected that she would wish for a deeply private life just as he did.

That being said, Severus re-addressed the group at large.

"Interesting information Minerva.  Thank you for sharing.  You shared a great deal and left a great deal out as well.  I'm curious but I won't press.  We each must keep our own council and secrets at times."

"So what is our plan with Alecto?"

Harry stood and began to pace the room while raking his hand through his hair.

"We have people out looking and setting traps.  We have turned over the murder of Higgenborough to Magical Law Enforcement.  The investigation of the cooler and surrounding area shows no intruder forced entry.  It's as though she knew his schedule and waited for him.  There was no theft from the property.  The breweries, apothecaries and potion-supply shops and businesses are being watched.  Avalon is re-warding Severus' house.  I believe that for now, we wait.  She will discover that Severus and his house elf are alive.  She will then make another move and we will watch.  Severus, tread cautiously."

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Re: A Time For A Change

Post by CallaHaruka on Sun Sep 27, 2015 2:28 pm

Oh, good, so Severus picked up on the fact that Minerva left a lot of things out. "I'll tell you, later," she says quietly, in regards to any questions he might have.

She knows him well enough now that she can open up about...some things. Not all, certainly, but some things. Potter, Granger (Weasley, she reminds herself), and Weasley, she still can't bring herself to say certain things around them, as they're still too fresh out of Hogwarts--still too young.

Listening to Potter go on about the plan, she nods quietly. However, at the recurrence of a certain phrase, he looks at Severus once more. It's...interesting that the lad would admit that someone's skills are higher than his--no matter what skill that might be.

"If she is who I think she is--and not a Polyjuiced version of the Avalon I know--and you trust her enough to ward YOUR house, Severus, then I want her to have a look at the school, as well--but YES, Kingsley, only after she checks out," she placates King with the stipulation, seeing that he was about to remark.

"Avalon also had the idea to lure Alecto out, by putting one of us in St. Mungo's," Harry pipes up, "To have us play vulnerable so that Alecto might be tempted to come in an finish the job. It would bring her to us, instead of waiting, but it would be risky."

"Bloody Slytherin," says Ron, but there's a definite note of approval at the idea.

"We still don't know if it's Alecto," says Hermione, trying to be reasonable, "It could be any Death Eater that has a grudge against Severus."

"Plus, there's no telling how long we'd be waiting for them at the hospital," Kingsley adds his two cents.

"However," Minerva pipes up, looking at Severus, "If your new friend is as good at wards as stated, no doubt she could devise a trap of sorts, for anyone...unauthorized, let's say, who gets too close?"

***

Minky answers the door, and looks relieved to see Avalon. The Witch puts a reassuring had on the House Elf's shoulder and squeezes gently. Telling her that she's there to increase the wards, she then gets to work. The wards will identify Minky, and anyone else Severus might allow into his home, but they will have to be escorted in by Severus, personally, the first time. She'll wait long enough to tell him that, as well as work his being into the wards so that it is seamless.

Diligently, she works, brows furrowed with effort. Indeed, she's putting her own wards around the existing ones. There will be no way in hell anyone could get past both of them, once she's finished.

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Re: A Time For A Change

Post by Admin on Mon Sep 28, 2015 6:03 pm

Conversation within the group ebbed and flowed with ideas, concerns and some small arguments about how to trap the person who was trying to kill Severus.  Cinnamon rolls and coffee came and went until all was gone.  It was very late and Ginny had already left to tend to her child.  Hagrid was yawning in the corner and Luna was getting ready to leave as well.

Severus stood and made ready to leave as well when Arthur approached him privately.

"Severus, please be careful.............I am.............concerned."

With that, he turned and handed Severus his cloak and walked to the front door to let people out.  Severus quickly donned his cloak, nodded to those still gathered in the living room and walked out of the front door with his cloak billowing out behind him.  He was not happy, but he really didn't have a logical reason to be upset.  He searched his feelings and he felt that his ill mood was coming from those that were questioning Avalon's intentions. Had he lost his edge?  Why was he not concerned about her?  Why were the other's so concerned?  Why WAS he putting so much trust in someone he just recently met?  Was Minerva correct?  Was Rand correct in his letter?

These and more questions came to him and he knew what he had to do.  He had to go visit Rand to have some of his questions answered.  

He conjured his patronus to find Avalon and to tell her and Minky that he would not be home directly.

He checked the time and apparated to a place he knew in the Florida Keys.  He arrived in the very early morning in the states eastern coast.  He took out his wand and cast a spell that allowed him to look like a muggle tourist.  He was wearing khaki jams and a black t-shirt with leather sandals.  His hair was pulled back and he started walking down the beach, enjoying the soft deep blue sky that heralded the dawn.  The crash of the waves along the beach was soothing to Severus and it helped clear his mind.

After he watched the sun come up, he conjured his patronus once again and asked it to find and contact Rand and to let him know that he wanted to visit since he was "just in the area."

He sent his patronus off and continued to walk along the water waiting to hear from Rand.

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Re: A Time For A Change

Post by CallaHaruka on Mon Sep 28, 2015 8:09 pm

After Severus leaves, the debate continues. It seems as though Harry is willing to believe Minerva's take on Avalon, without question. He has a fairly good feel for people, and it seems as though Avalon checks out all right--no red flags are going off.

Minerva feels slightly heated, as though her judgment is being called into question. If this is a case of simple, stupid bigotry against Slytherins, she will hex the lot of them. Severus has had to deal with this for far too long, and she doesn't want to see Avalon suffer as he did. She feels incredibly defensive FOR them.

"We just want to make sure that that is, in fact, Avalon--and not a Polyjuiced version of her," Harry tells Minerva. He supposes that is, really the thing.

The Headmistress sighs. She supposes that is fair. If it IS an imposter, there will be hell to pay.

***

Seeing the raven once more, Avalon smiles. Even though it doesn't have to adhere to physics or gravity like a regular animal of this variety, she still holds up her arm. Stroking the bird's neck, she listens to the message. Indeed? What on Earth are they doing? No matter, she still has work to do.

Inventive. That would be one way to describe this little venture. Inventive...

***

Ah...what a lovely morning. Every morning is just...yes. He chose well. In his kitchen, shaving a coconut, he sees an ethereal figure gliding toward him. A Patronus! Oh, yes, he knew this would be happening. Asking the raven to lead him to Severus, he sets out, feet bare, smiling and whistling merrily.

In no time, he sees a familiar figure. The younger man always wears SOMETHING black. Grinning widely, he raises a hand in greeting.

"Severus! Severus, my boy! How are you? How's the shop? It hasn't burnt down yet, has it?" Come to think of it, he looks at Severus' face to read him. Is all well...?

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Re: A Time For A Change

Post by Admin on Tue Sep 29, 2015 8:35 pm

Severus spotted Rand coming down the beach with a wave and sped up to reach him.  He held out his hand to the handsome, older gentleman and shook it firmly.

"Rand, the shop hasn't burned down......................yet............but we need to talk."

Rand's face instantly fell and he became all business quickly.  

"Follow me."

They walked down the beach a short ways, then cut to the right at a small cabana with a patio sitting next to the house facing the water.  The house was open totally to the air and sea breeze.  Even in the early morning air, the day was promising to be a hot one.

Rand walked up the short stairs next to the patio and then on into the house.  As soon as Severus entered the house, Rand magically closed all the windows and the fans on the ceiling started whirling.  They were both standing in a small but cozy living room with comfortable chairs.

"Sit Severus.  Talk to me."

Severus sat next to one of the windows and Rand sat across from him.

"I have met Avalon and she is an interesting woman to say the very least.  She is exceptional at what she does.............and I have learned a little bit about her from others who know her as well.............but...............life has become a bit complicated and my life is in danger.  Alecto Carrow, we believe, is trying to kill me and Avalon may be in danger as well. "

Severus paused and looked at his toes for a moment, took a deep breath and then looked at Rand once again.

"There are some that believe that she could also...........be trying to harm me or in league with the person who IS trying to kill me.  So, I need information.  I read your letter.......you were vague at best.  I need some specifics on her character and her past.  I need information I can verify and present to people who are suspicious of her.  Can you help me?"

He leaned forward and looked earnestly at Rand.

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Re: A Time For A Change

Post by CallaHaruka on Tue Sep 29, 2015 9:49 pm

Oh, bollocks. Rand remembers everything that went on at the castle, of course. Everyone in Hogsmeade knew of the Carrows.

If Alecto is after Severus, that is one thing, but Avalon...? What does Avalon have to do with...? OH. Oh... Indeed? So! Severus took his advice and befriended the Witch? How extraordinary.

Wait, what? Oh, what a cluster-fuck this could be... Scrubbing his face, he sighs hugely as he sits back in his chair and crosses his arms.

"Well, where to begin? First off, Avalon isn't the type to be recruited by a Death Eater--let alone a Death Eater on a vendetta spree. She actively hid from the Death Eaters during both wars, or slid beneath their radar. For one, she's a Muggle-born, and Muggle-born Slytherins, as you know, are extremely rare...as they were often targeted and sometimes even killed by the Slytherin Pureblood contingents." Sighing again, he looks at Severus. What to tell him? How much to tell him?

"Now, I know I said in my letter to not piss her off, but she would never harm anyone, unless they were a real threat to her. You, my friend, are not a real threat to her, and she knows this--the thought has probably never crossed her mind." Is he being helpful? Is he giving Severus information he needs? Wracking his mind, he tries to find something useful. Her past, Severus said...

"She first came to me, the way all Hogwarts students do: in her third year, she came to Hogsmeade. She came in for potions ingredients, of course, but toward the end of that year...she came to me with a cloth satchel filled with Lacewing Flies--she told me she noticed that I was running low, and asked if she could barter. I took a look, curious as hell, and sure enough...I WAS low, and the Lacewings she had were good, and fresh." Taking a moment to collect his thoughts, he rubs his chin in thought.

"When she came for her fourth year, she showed up again--asked if I minded." Here, he shakes his head and chuckles, "In truth, she brought me fresher ingredients than the suppliers I bought from did. I actually had a meeting with Albus, as I was concerned about offering a student money. She was only fourteen, for Merlin's sake. Yet...oddly enough, he allowed it. By the end of that year, she had earned a right tidy little sum, from me. I never asked what she did with the money. Anyway, that was officially her first year as one of my suppliers. As she got older, and especially when she received her Apparation license, she was able to go further afield, and she started to become my main supplier--she was bringing me ingredients I usually got from three different people; so, as such, I dropped the other three, because her ingredients were superior. As a result, she earned even more money. Ugh, but she was a right mess the first time she came to me with an Erumpent horn in hand. Good lord..." She could have been killed. Still...she made it.

"Ah, and to be clear, I didn't request the more dangerous substances...not until after she graduated. At any rate, I would wager at least twenty-five percent of your ingredients I sold you came from her." At a thought, he leans forward, as though just remembering something, "After her fourth year...I saw her over the summer, as well--and all summers after that. She said she lived in the area, but I don't think I ever met her parents. Come to think of it, she never talked about family." Leaning back once more, he shakes his head.

"I don't know what to say, more than that, Sev... She's a good egg. That's all I know. If you want to know more about her, ask Minerva McGonagall--they adore each other. Avalon spoke of her like she was her mother." Looking at the younger man, he tilts his head to the side.

"Do you have any specific questions? I'll try to answer whatever I might know."

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Re: A Time For A Change

Post by Admin on Wed Sep 30, 2015 6:12 pm

Severus leaned back in his chair and rubbed his chin in thought.  He was even more impressed with Avalon...........as she sounded quite enterprising..............a typical Slytherin for sure, but she was also bright...............very bright indeed.  

"A muggle-born Slytherin, that would indeed be rare.  Do you know anything else of her family at all or anything of her before she came to Hogwarts?  Where is her family from originally?  I could always do some research on my own so to speak.  Also, do you know if she has any siblings?"

Severus knew as soon as his questions were answered, he would be heading straight for Minerva McGonagall.  He was very curious indeed about how Avalon would think of Minny as a mother-figure.  Minerva adores Avalon?  He can't imagine Minny adoring anyone, the crusty old biddy!

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Re: A Time For A Change

Post by CallaHaruka on Thu Oct 01, 2015 12:43 am

Rand rubs his nose before crossing his arms again and settling back into his chair. Closing his eyes, he ducks his head, brows furrowing a great deal in thought.

"You know, in some ways, I'm embarrassed to say that even though I know and trust her well enough to run the shop, and I know her agenda for her future and whatnot--which, by the way, is to keep doing exactly what she's doing: harvesting--I know next to nothing about her personal life." Looking back up at Severus, he shakes his head thoughtfully, "We spoke of school matters. We spoke of potions, ingredients, and the goings on of the Wizarding World. I know her political leanings--liberal, she thinks highly of Minister Shacklebolt." Heaving a sigh, he tries to remember the specifics Severus asked for.

"As far as where she's from, she sounds like she's from Yorkshire, by her accent. She never spoke of her childhood, so I don't know anything about her life prior to Hogwarts. Whenever I asked about family matters, she would always either clam up, or say the same thing: 'I'd rather not say.' She would then give me a tight, small smile, and carry on. If I ever pressed a matter, she withdrew. You and she are alike, in many ways, Severus. Frustrating as all hell, sometimes," he chuckles, before taking another breath.

"She plays her cards close to her chest, and has a hell of a poker face. Still, I can tell you in absolutely certain terms: she and Alecto would have nothing to say to each other. During the Carrows' occupation of Hogwarts...she and I spoke of ways to dispatch the twins, somehow. However, we came to the same conclusion: if the Carrows were taken out of the picture, someone else would take their place. To paraphrase: if it would have been feasible, she could have--and would have--killed the Carrows. So, believe me when I say she would have no affiliation with Alecto." At a thought, his brows perk up.

"You know, for all our discussions in that vein, she never once targeted you, or concocted any sort of plan to take you out of commission. It's like she knew your allegiance, despite appearances. I brought you up, once, just to see what she'd say; she told me that she wouldn't bother to try to plot against you because you'd be able to spot any attempts at poisoning." After a moment of staring sightlessly ahead of him, he shakes his head.

"Really, that's all I can think of. I'm sorry I haven't been more help. If she was a little less tight-lipped, I'd have more to share."

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Re: A Time For A Change

Post by Admin on Thu Oct 01, 2015 8:19 pm

Severus also heaved a heavy sigh and nodded at Rand's words.  He was relieved to hear them and they offered him a little reassurance.  He also knew that The Order would want more specifics and he just didn't have quite enough information to please all those questions that could be asked about Avalon's intentions and past.  He wondered, not for the first time, if Avalon would be willing to take Veritaserum with Harry and/or Kingsley present.  That would end this matter.  But before he would even subject her to that question, he would find out as much as he could.  Nodding to Rand he then stood.

"Thank you.  I appreciate your time and sharing what you know.  Perhaps I can put a rest to the suspicions with your information."

Severus turned to leave but then turned back to Rand.

"I was furious with your departure from the shop you know.  I almost hunted you down immediately after reading your letter and I'm afraid I wasn't very courteous, initially, to Avalon.  But................now I'm not so sure whether to still be angry with you..................or to thank you.  We shall see. I will return to enjoy your hospitality and your view at some time if you will allow me to do so.  It's lovely here.  Lucky Bastard!"

He turned and left the small home.  As he opened the door, the hot and humid morning assailed him immediately and he breathed in the moist ocean air.  He loved the heat and was saddened that he couldn't stay to swim in the ocean and lay in the sun.  Business first but soon,  he would return here.

He walked down the beach and making sure there were no muggles in the vicinity, he apparated outside to the gates of Hogwarts.  He was immediately chilled in the late afternoon air of Scotland and changed his clothes promptly to what was expected of the prior headmaster of Hogwarts.  His clothing, all black, and his cloak billowing out behind him almost made him smile.  Only a small handful of students would remember his tenure here, if there were any left when school started in September.  He opened the gates with a flick of his wand and strode up to the heavy oak doors.  He pushed one of the doors opened and walked in, inhaling deeply of the smell that could only mean the grand marble staircase and previous meals in the Great Hall, still lingering weeks after the year had ended in June.

He noticed that there were no students, as it was still late summer.  Classes wouldn't start for another 2 weeks but he knew that Minerva would be here somewhere.  He found his way to the hidden portal that would take him up to the headmistresses office and living quarters and he felt his heart skip a beat.  He had so many memories here.  So much heartache and pain but so much personal pride for a job well done cascaded through Severus mind that it was almost overwhelming at first.  He had been back to Hogwarts only 2 other times after the war and seeing such painfully familiar territory still tugged at his deep emotions.  The only place he had not been to in the two years since the war ended, was the boathouse, where Nagini and Voldemort left him for dead.................and he still bore the scars of that attack.  He had no intentions of ever being in that building again.  

He tapped his wand on the right of the hidden door and the phoenix with the revolving staircase appeared.  Damn woman hadn't changed the password since he had been here last.   Shoddy and careless of her.

Riding up the staircase and being deposited in the large foyer with another great door in his way, this time he walked slowly up to the door and used the large knocker, clanging the knocker three times.  It would have been rude and bad form if he simply walked in.  He no longer had that right...........but he almost walked in unannounced because he knew it would piss off Minerva.  A small smile tugged at the corner of his mouth just thinking of pissing her off but didn't have long to ponder that idea as the door opened slowly.

Minerva stood at the opened door and nodded at Severus.

"I knew you would be here sooner rather than later.  Come in.  Have a biscuit and ask your questions.  I believe I can reassure you AND the Order."

Severus walked through the door and kept his eyes straight ahead of him.  He still found it very hard to look upon some of the small objects that puffed and spun that used to be owned by Albus.

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Re: A Time For A Change

Post by CallaHaruka on Fri Oct 02, 2015 1:51 am

Rand can only hope that Severus will find what he needs, information-wise. In fact, his brows rise, "Hell, come back when you find out more about her--as I've been curious for years. So help me, if you get more information out of her in a week than in all the years I've known her, I'm going to be right well pissed off!" He's smirking as he says it, of course. With himself being a Ravenclaw, he knows that Slytherins have their ways... Perhaps she will feel comfortable confiding in someone just as secretive as she is.

Lucky bastard, indeed. "Sod off, you," he says with a haphazard wave of his hand, though he can't quite keep the smile from his face. It's true, he's always favored Severus, the intense git. Even when he was younger. So much angst...but Rand cared, all the same. "Be careful." Watching Severus Disapparate away, he returns to his paradise, rather content with the world...except for the fact that Severus is in danger. Avalon, as well, likely. Alecto Carrow was a sly bitch, but no match for the white-haired Witch.

***

As soon as she opens the door to let Severus pass, she looks at his face. He's still ill-at-ease in this room, and it's no wonder. With a gentle, but firm hand, she guides him to sit before the lit fireplace. Sliding him a cup of tea, she sits in another chair close by, angled to face each other. Heaving an exasperated sigh, she takes a biscuit for herself and fairly well attacks it, still irritated over the meeting at the Weasleys'.

"I am sick and tired of the anti-Slytherin stigmas that seem to be pervading our world at the moment. It's like you lot are instantly vilified, and I hate it. I absolutely loathe. It." She draws out the last two words before crossing her legs primly and sipping her tea. "After you left, I nearly hexed the lot of them," she grumbles. "They know you just fine, but an unknown Slytherin is instantly dangerous, to them. A couple mentioned that they think of you as a Gryffindor--and I bloody well corrected them that you are NOT, and to say that you are is an insult. There is nothing. Wrong. With being a Slytherin." For a moment, she looks as though she's ready to throw her teacup into the fireplace, but she would never do anything so improper. So, she just seethes, instead. After a few moments, she works her jaws loose and takes a sip of tea.

"Now...I know you have some specific questions. Let me tell you a few things, first, and then you may ask." She takes a moment as though gathering what she wishes to say, then looks at him earnestly, "Avalon couldn't stand her family. Any of them. She needed out of that situation, as it was getting ugly. I didn't know this at the time, but Albus did. In her third year, she started spending more and more time out along the farthest reaches of the grounds. She started bartering with Rand. We didn't know what she was doing until we asked Madam Pince what kinds of books Avalon was checking out from the library." Squeezing her forehead with one hand, she looks at Severus directly.

"She was checking out books on magical building--construction. Stonework. Woodwork. Insulation. Plumbing. Insulation. Also, she was checking out books on wards. I thought she was getting ready to learn a trade--something for her future. Then, as I've said, she ran away after her fourth year. I THOUGHT she went home. This was not the case. As it turned out...she got off the train. She owled her parents and told them she was staying over at the school for the summer. In fact, she had been building herself a home, all that time, and stayed THERE all summer. Went to the market at Hogsmeade to buy food with the money she earned from Rand. Used the Knight Bus to get to Diagon Alley to get her school supplies, spent the night at The Leaky Cauldron, and caught the Hogwarts Express the next day back to Hogwarts." She's rubbing both temples, now. Damn kids!

"Albus! Stop pretending to be sleeping! I'm still furious at you for this!" She scowls at the former Headmaster's portrait, mouth set in a thin, grim line. Returning her hard eyes back to Severus, she's still hot about the whole ordeal, no doubt. "Had I known--had Albus TOLD me--I would have tried to help, and then that would have made her a target for the other Slytherins, for one. For another, Albus insisted that I not interfere by telling her parents. YES, I understand the logic of it, but for Merlin's sake, she was ONLY fourteen!"

"Nearly fifteen," says an aged, familiar voice that sounds slightly amused, but with undoubted earnestness. Albus. Eyes twinkling from over his half-moon glasses, he then prudently goes back to dozing when Minerva glares at him.

"At any rate, she stayed there during the summers from then on, and attended school the rest of the time," she says as she sets her empty teacup down. "Now. What details do you need filled in?"

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Re: A Time For A Change

Post by Admin on Fri Oct 02, 2015 7:32 pm

Severus nodded on occasion at Minerva's words and sympathized with what anyone that would have been identified as being a muggle-born Slytherin in the climate of hatred and war 2 years ago..............especially in Slytherin House.  

He also sympathized with the vilification of anyone from Slytherin House, even now.  He had lived with the subtle forms of hatred and discrimination for years.  It was only now that he was able to escape it so thoroughly, but Avalon was certainly a distant victim of it from some of the members of the Order.  Minerva was right.  It would have been an insult to be called and named anything but Slytherin for her AND for Severus.  It was who he was and he knew it was deeply who Avalon was as well.  

He felt he was now able to understand Avalon a little better as he heard more and more of what Minerva was telling him.  She was a survivor.  She was brilliant and fearless in many ways.  He wondered what made her leave her home with her family, regardless of her hatred of them.  Was she physically abused?  Was she sexually abused?  Though abuse was rare in the wizardly world, it was not totally unheard of even in this modern post-war world.  Was she neglected?  What could have happened?

Severus glanced up at Albus as he "woke" from his pretended slumber and spoke.  The familiar voice almost send a shiver along his arms.  He didn't think he would ever be able to get over the fact that he killed Albus.............the great Albus Dumbledore.  It didn't matter that the death was planned and calculated and most importantly, begged for by Albus.  He would never get over the fact that Albus trusted him so deeply that he allowed him to take his life.  He would spend his life honoring that gift from a man who changed his life.

Focusing back on Minerva, he nodded one final time with her question.

"What do you know about her family of origin?  Do you know why she left them at such a young age?  Also, you mentioned once that she saved your life?  What was that about?  Why do you admire her so deeply and vice versa?"

He leaned over and grabbed a biscuit and munched.  He loved Minerva's Scottish Shortbread and listened with great anticipation in what she would say.

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Re: A Time For A Change

Post by CallaHaruka on Sat Oct 03, 2015 2:16 am

Indeed, Avalon had to survive the first Wizarding war, as well, when Voldemort and his reign of terror was at its height. When the madman first came to power, she thought for certain her secret would be found out, and that she would be killed. It is certainly true that being in Slytherin House shielded her from suspicion, and it saved her life, in both the first Wizarding war and the second.

Minerva has been trying to prepare herself for these questions. She knew they would come. In a way, she's glad Albus is here, because there are some things Avalon still hasn't told her, but Albus knows.

"She's from Yorkshire," she says with surety. "Muggle parents. Muggle brother--older." Here, she pauses, as though unsure of how to proceed. "I could never...quite get her to say why she left, but I have my suspicions." Swallowing thickly, she returns her gaze to the portrait above them. "Albus."

"There was abuse, yes," says the aged Wizard from his portrait. "The father was the loud type who was never wrong--to the point of being verbally abusive. The mother was verbally and occasionally physically abusive, with some inappropriate contact, as well. The brother teased her incessantly--they all did. Thought nothing of it." Sighing heavily, he shifts in his chair, looking out at both of them.

"When I looked at her...I saw a very intelligent Witch...who was quickly becoming a very angry intelligent Witch. Hurt. With a fuse that was quickly running out. She told me that she first tried to run away when she was five years old. She was...extraordinarily unhappy. I knew, that if we made her return to her family, year after year, it would do more harm than good. Truly. I was terrified that she might actively seek out the Death Eaters and join them so she could have free reign for revenge, but as I watched her, I knew that that wouldn't be the case. No, I knew that it would have gone another way: self-destruction. She would have killed herself. There were no other extended family members who could have taken her in. Hers was an extreme case." Pinching the bridge of his nose, he takes another breath.

"Her third year, when she was allowed into Hogsmeade...there was a fire in her. There was a fledgling independence, and she craved it. I was shocked when I heard she was bartering with Rand. I started taking walks in the direction we saw her going...and, lo and behold...sat a little stone cottage. Not perfect. Not perfect by far. She burst into tears when she saw me. Oh, it broke my heart. She was terrified that I was going to make her give it up. Instead...I gave her tips and helpful hints about her construction techniques...and it was like magic. She opened up to me. She told me everything. I told her that her house wouldn't be ready by summer, and she said that was fine--that it would be ready by the next summer. So...from then on, during the school year, I kept visiting and checking on her progress--we called it, her, 'extra credit project'--and she just flourished. When she began her fourth year, she was driven...and by the end of it, it was complete. Fourteen, nearly fifteen years old, with her own small home; because she was thrifty, she had enough money for food during the summer, as well--she showed me. I couldn't take that from her. Any of it. She also reasoned that she would be safer, there, because it's so close to the school, and her family would have been targeted, had her Muggle-born status been found out. Truth be told, I think that argument was only for show. Still, it was a reason in her favor, and she used it." Sighing, he shakes his head.

"I let her keep it, and I let her live there over the summers. I even offered to let her live here at Hogwarts, but she wanted to try and survive on her own. She did. I stipulated that during the school years, she had to live at the castle full time, and she agreed. She knew she had to keep up the appearances that she was just a regular student. I did, however, allow her to work on her home on Hogsmeade weekends, and as the years went by, the structure grew, became more refined, and from what I understand from one of the previous headmasters--whose portrait connects to the Ministry--she now owns that bit of property. She was happy, and a crisis was averted," he says simply, though the whole ordeal wasn't nearly so easy, or simple.

Minerva sits, staring absently out into the shadows. So...she was correct. This is the first time Albus came clean with her on the matter, but it is a lot to take in. She will reflect on this, later, but for now, she works on regrouping and answering Severus' other questions.

"As you heard me say at The Burrow, tonight, I likened her to Hermione, in some ways. To put it succinctly, she was the brightest Witch of her age, but considering the times, she kept mum about her capabilities. While Hermione was downright obnoxious in some ways, Avalon was quiet, and didn't draw attention to herself. She was stealthy as hell about her learning, for all her voracity. She earned top marks, always, but never once acknowledged praise. It was like water off a duck's back, for her." Brows furrowed, she then smiles and shakes her head.

"At the end of her first year, she slid into my office and thanked me. We talked a little bit, and then she snuck out, again. At the beginning of her second year, it was as though we never had that conversation--she was as remote as ever. Then, when her second year ended, same thing: she came in and thanked me, and we talked a little more. After that, she came to see me a few times here and there during the school year, as well, but she was careful to never let anyone see or suspect. Ah, but on top of those visits, every year, on the last day, she kept up the tradition of coming to thank me, and we'd have one last chat before she left for the summer. I admit, I looked forward to them. All seven years, she presented one face to her schoolmates, and one to me. I will also admit a bit of pride in that she came to me, instead of Horace," she smirks, still quite chuffed, but softens after a moment.

"The last day of her seventh year...I wasn't sure if she'd come. By that time, she'd been to see me dozens and dozens of times throughout the years. I watched the Hogwarts Express leave, and I cried. She didn't come to see me before she boarded, and I thought I would never see her again. Then, a few hours later, she Apparated just outside the gates--having obtained her license the year before--marched into the castle, found me, and gave me one of the biggest hugs of my life. She told me she had to ride the Hogwarts Express one more time, but now that she was an adult, had her own home, was no longer a student, and with the Dark Lord defeated the year before, we could chat as we pleased--and so we did, off and on for about fifteen years." Here, her expression turns dour, and she looks wryly at Severus.

"Do you remember those stunners I took to the chest in Harry's fifth year--when Umbridge's mongrels hexed me, and I was sent to St. Mungo's? Who showed up at the hospital? Avalon. She warded my room, and somewhere along the line, she learned some healing spells, because she sat down beside my hospital bed and worked on me, as well, as an afterthought to what the formal healers did, initially. For years, I wanted her in the Order, but she was in her sixth year when the Dark Lord was defeated the first time, and there was no need for any new members after that. Around the time of the second uprising, I tried to convince Albus to let her join, but he argued it would be too dangerous for her--he worried that she would want to be a double-agent, like you, Severus. So, we kept her out of it. Ah, and during your tenure as Headmaster, when the Carrows were here, I had many Slytherin students try to poison me. I told Avalon to go into hiding, and we had very limited contact, but she still sent bezoars and other things my way, via Rand and Aberforth, along with the occasional note--news and whatnot." Pausing, she feels as though fairly much all has been said, except the obvious.

"She is...very dear to me. For many reasons. She has become a friend. A real friend. Granted, with the upheaval of the war, the dust has been settling for both of us--she did, indeed, go into hiding, and I lost track of her. To hear that she is alive, well, and near, is a great relief to me, and I look forward to seeing her soon. Believe me, if it isn't her, I would know immediately...and if that bitch, Alecto, is using her for Polyjuice, there will be hell to pay...and if she has harmed her, I will kill Alecto, myself. Understood?" She looks at Severus meaningfully, and there would be brooking no argument on this.

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Re: A Time For A Change

Post by Admin on Sat Oct 03, 2015 2:49 pm

Severus became very still inside as he listened to the depth of Avalon's story from Minerva and Albus.  He also felt his insides clench when he heard that she was abused in her family as well.  His impulse was to hunt the bastards down and destroy them slowly, but he also knew this was a foolish indulgence.  If they ever crossed his path though.............that would be another story.

He was quite surprised hearing that Avalon had something to do with Minerva's healing.  The old biddy was near death after the Carrow's attack on her.  He was unable to visit her in St. Mungo's due to Umbridge and the Ministry's watch on him and others at the time but he was aggrieved to know she was so close to death at the time.  He was grateful for Avalon's skills and friendship to the Headmistress and now understood their connection.

After Minerva finished, he looked down at his hands at his attempt to control his feelings which were fraught with conflicts, as usual.  He was deeply impressed with what he had learned of Avalon and her skills and determination.  He was also greatly touched by the extent to which Avalon was fighting behind the scenes in the war...........always fighting and doing what she could against the insanity of Voldemort and all that he stood for then.  He looked up and nodded solemnly.

"She belongs in the Order.  She saved lives and fought as hard and honorably as any who held a wand at that time.  King and Harry need to know that she is no threat and has nothing to do with Alecto's attack."

He then stood and nodded respectfully at Albus and then smiled at Minerva.

"Thank you for sharing with me Minerva.  What you have told me is vital in protecting Avalon as well as myself.  I will share only what is needed with other members of the Order, to protect Avalon's privacy.  I suspect she would be infuriated if I shared the totality of what you just told me..............to others, no matter who they were or are in our Order.  She, as much as I, hold privacy as sacred."

He turned to leave and then looked back at Minerva.

"She is a very special woman and I value her.  I will not allow harm to come to her.  Thank you."

He left the Headmistresses office then and after wending his way through the castle and off the grounds, apparated to his home.  Walking into his house, he looked around and knew that Avalon was there, he could feel her presence and smell her scent.  Perhaps she was upstairs.

"Minky?  Avalon?"

He would check to see how she was doing on the wards, then would talk to King and Harry.  It was imperative that they get off her case.  She was no more a threat to him or the Order than Harry's new babe was.

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Re: A Time For A Change

Post by CallaHaruka on Sat Oct 03, 2015 11:49 pm

Minerva finds herself surprised that Severus is so interested in Avalon. What has transpired between them? When Severus finds his voice once more, she nods.

"Yes...I think it is time for her to finally join. You can't be the only Slytherin any longer." Also...Severus' allegiance has been exposed. Avalon's hasn't. If need be, she could act as a kind of double agent; Minerva would never want her to be like a Death Eater--and with the Dark Lord's demise, that would never be possible, thank Merlin--but Avalon would still be able to gather more information from the Slytherin side of things. Something tells her not to mention this at the moment, however.

"Harry has come round, it seems. It's the REST of that lot I worry about," she says hotly, still irritated at the Order members at The Burrow, tonight. "They just need solid proof, Severus. Give her Veritaserum in front of them, and that should solve everything." Though, she's probably strong enough that she could get around that. Again, she keeps quiet on this fact, too. Quickly, Minerva trains her mind back to the matter at hand.

"Severus, be very careful with what you share. With as private a person she is, you are correct: she would be infuriated if others knew her story. She's been careful to keep it from everyone, all her life. Each of us knows a facet of her, but only she knows her entire story." Oh, this could go very wrong...but she believes that Severus knows how to be discreet. As Severus makes to leave, her brows are still furrowed, but she softens when she sees a little glimmer of something more in Severus Snape. Indeed...?

"Severus, when you take her to actually see King and Harry, send your Patronus to me. I want to be there. If anyone can verify that it is her, and not a Polyjuiced version of her, it is me. I know the exact questions to ask." With that, she watches him walk away, with a great deal on both their minds.

***

Minky skitters into the room and bows before whispering to him, "This way, Master Snape, Sir!" Leading the way, the House Elf brings him to his living room, where Avalon is curled up on his couch, asleep.

It's a very light sleep, however, and even now, she's rising through the layers of it, as she senses movement approaching her from nearby. Opening her eyes, she smiles when she sees Severus and sits up slowly. Wondering how long she's been out, and how long he's been standing there, she looks sheepishly up at him.

"Ah, sorry about that," she says, her voice low and rough from waking. "I hope you haven't been waiting long. Let's see..." Regrouping herself, she stands as though giving him a formal report, "I gave you another layer of protection--but the last step is tying the magic to you, personally. When a being passes through this specific barrier--it's like a bubble about thirty yards around your house--you will be able to feel it, yourself, no matter where in the world you are. Now, the magic is empathic, meaning: you will be able to discern their emotional state or intent. If they're happy-go-lucky like Harry, you'll be able to feel that. If they're angry, evil, or murderous, you'll be able to feel that, as well. Now, there's a second layer to this: another bubble, about twenty yards from your house. This is the rebuffing bubble, and it reacts to your reaction to the first bubble. Now, let's say it's Harry, and Harry poses no threat, so you don't go into fight-or-flight mode, internally. The inner bubble will allow Harry in. If it's Alecto, and you feel her malice, and your body reacts to prepare to fight or flight, the second bubble will react similarly, and will repel her like a hard shell--it would take a great deal of time for her to break through, and that would give you time to summon help or escape." Giving him a moment to digest all of that, she considers a moment before continuing.

"That's the best I can do, tonight. However, if you want me to put up wards similar to my own home, it will take me a couple of days. I'm more than willing to do that, but I wanted to do at least this much, tonight." Looking at him simply, she doesn't ask how the meeting went, knowing he's probably not at liberty to speak about it.

"If you have any information you wish to share with me that will help me protect you, I encourage you to let me know. Yet, I know I'm still an unknown entity, and I understand if you have to keep quiet on some things. At the very least, do I have your permission to complete the wards I put up, by tying the two bubbles into your consciousness? I promise, it's not invasive. It doesn't feel like anything is running into you. If I were to assign a sense to it, it's more like hearing, or knowing, than physically feeling. Though...you will feel it innately, if that makes any sense. Forgive me, I'm still sleep-addled, perhaps." Looking at him quietly, she hopes he will do this, for his own sake.

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Re: A Time For A Change

Post by Admin on Sun Oct 04, 2015 1:58 pm

Following Minky into his living room, he found Avalon asleep on his couch.  Minky stood next to him quietly and Severus simply watched Avalon sleep for a bit.  She was beautiful and looked so innocent and..............sweet.........as she slept.  He had no delusions that she was"sweet" as she was more than capable of taking care of herself and anyone else for that matter.

He didn't have the opportunity to watch her for long as she awakened fairly soon after they arrived.  He smiled softly at her as he listened to what she had done for his home and became then very curious about the wards she had just placed.  This was very advanced magic and he wondered where she had learned the spells.

"You do not need to apologize for sleeping.  The magical work you obviously have been doing is exhausting, I understand exhaustion in hard magical work.  You may complete the wards as you wish.  Your magic is very advanced and wards are not something necessarily taught at Hogwarts, or at least not in the way that you are constructing them.  May I ask where you learned them?"

He held up his hand for a moment and then paused...............how was he to explain to her while allowing her to keep her dignity in her valued privacy?

"Before you start, I have been doing a bit of research into our current, rather dangerous, situation.  I have been to speak to Rand, your previous employer, and have just returned from speaking with Minerva McGonagall at Hogwarts in regards to your current placement at the shop.  I have also been to speak to members of the Order.  I believe that in this current time of suspicion and doubt, I need to ask something of you......and am hoping that you will consider my request."

He paused to let all of that sink in, then, seeing she was attentive as usual, he continued.

"Would you be willing to take Veritaserum with myself, Kingsley Shacklebolt and Harry Potter to verify that you are not a polyjuiced version of Avalon and to affirm MY belief that you are to be trusted implicitly?"

He awaited her answer while studying her face carefully.  He didn't want to risk loosing her and the fragile beginnings of a friendship that they were constructing.  He fervently hoped she would understand the request.

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Re: A Time For A Change

Post by CallaHaruka on Sun Oct 04, 2015 3:12 pm

At his first question, her mouth works soundlessly for a moment. She doesn't want to tell him that necessity is the mother of invention. Regaining her composure with a shrug, she smiles a bit.

"Books," she says vaguely. While this is true, she did gain a great deal of her knowledge in regards to wards by way of ancient tomes, she won't say which. "I also was able to extrapolate some notions and create some things on my own--experimenting on a small scale, at first, and then applying them to the larger scale."

About to commence, her brows rise when he holds up his hand. Research? Indeed? She expected him to talk to Rand at some point, but not in regards to their situation.

Oh! He spoke to Minerva?! Her heart lifts, and she doesn't even make the connection that Severus was trying to find out more about her.

Puzzled at what he might ask of her, she cants her head. What request might he make? Ah, but she would imagine that the Order might suspect her, even if Severus, Harry, and Minerva vouch for her. She can now guess what he's going to ask, and she's already nodding as he says the words.

"Yes, of course." At least they don't think she's in league with Alecto. It sounds as though Minerva and Rand were able to persuade them of that much. She isn't offended by the question, actually. It's the only logical thing to do, in a situation like this, and she doesn't blame them. Taking it all in simply, as though she were just jumping through hoops in filling out a Muggle application complete with fingerprinting, this is the way she looks at it.

"If you want to be completely sure, bring in Professor McGonagall. She knows me the best, and would know the exact questions to trip me up--or, rather, anyone who isn't me." Still waking up, she stretches, then looks up at him.

"I'm ready whenever you lot are ready." Of course, if she were Alecto, she could kill Severus right now. She could have killed Harry, too, as well as Minky. They all know this. Perhaps they wonder if she's waiting for bigger fish? Kingsley Shacklebolt, perhaps? Really, though, that would be overkill, but she might see where they would think that's where she-as-Alecto might be headed, as a possible assassin.

In truth, she's not going to think about it any longer. It's futile to reason with the thought-processess of others when they suspect you. She knows to just go with it, and when they see that she is who she really is, all will be well. Plus, it will be wonderful to see Professor McGonagall, again. She misses her.

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Re: A Time For A Change

Post by Admin on Sun Oct 04, 2015 3:30 pm

Severus nodded with a great deal of relief at her acceptance of taking the Veritaserum.  He was worried that she might feel insulted at the request, but then again, she understood clearly that this was the only logical precaution that could be taken considering the Order, its past and what they had all fought against 2 years ago.

"Thank you Avalon.  I appreciate your gracious acceptance of the situation.  Let me make the arrangements and we shall convene at Hogwarts in Minerva's office if you don't mind."

He turned and moved to his fireplace and sent three notes via floo, one to Harry, Kingsley and Minerva, that they would be meeting shortly at Hogwarts.  He then left to enter the storage area where Avalon first dropped off his potion ingredients and tapped a large wardrobe-looking cabinet with his wand.  The old oak doors snapped opened and on the top shelf, he took down a small, cobalt blue but ornate bottle, read the label three times to be absolutely sure it was Veritaserum, placed the bottle in one of his robe pockets, then shut the doors once again.  With a tap of his wand, the doors locked again with a loud snap.

Walking back into the living room, he informed Minky that he would be gone for a few hours and would she please take care of her usual daily tasks.  Minky enthusiastically nodded and rushed off to start cleaning the upstairs bedrooms.

Looking to Avalon he gestured to his front door for them to leave.

"Shall we?"

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Re: A Time For A Change

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