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This story is No. 4 in the series "One beautiful morning". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: Faith wanders the dark streets of the city of her birth and meets a dark man. Rated because of references to abuse, torture and rape

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Harry Potter > Faith-Centered(Current Donor)vidiconFR18219,4225367,18114 Nov 1213 Feb 13Yes

Darkness over Boston

Author’s Note:

Thanks very much to my Beta, Letomo.

The following ways of notation may be found in this story. This is excluding whatever I need to represent chatting, texting and stuff like that.

Speech: “Who’s on first.”

Thought: *What’s on second.*

Vision: #I-don’t-know’s on third.#

Thanks to StormWarning for recommending this story

Chapter 2: Darkness over Boston

St. Botolph’s, Howard Higgenbotham Ward for the Exceptionally dangerously Insane

Faith had not expected that they'd be locked into the nearest thing that the Hospital had to a high security cell. At least they hadn't been restrained. However she was annoyed enough that she ripped out the bars that had been carefully mortared into the heavy stone window so that she could look out over the mist-covered city without their obstructing her view. The room was on the ninth floor and apparently rainwater was disposed off without drainpipes as it was a straight drop down without any handholds. Faith nonchalantly leaned against the windowsill, idly bending a bar in her hands. “Well, I've been in worse places. At least the water is clean and Greta the Giant doesn't make remarks about my 'purty lips'.”

Snape glared at Faith, who smirked back at him. “You think this will end well, do you, Lehane?”

Faith’s smirk froze, the bar snapping at the sudden twist of her hands. “Don’t call me that, okay, Snapey?”

“Don’t like who you are? Tough. Learn to live with it,” Snape replied. “Do you really think this is going to be all sunshine squeezed out of puppies? It’s easy to admire and forgive a man who’s dead. Now that I’m alive? They’re going to find a lot of things they can still throw me in jail for all of a sudden.”

Faith’s eyes narrowed. “You’ve got no idea what I’ve learned to live with, Snape, so shut up! And least you get some respect! from your people.”

Snape laughed bitterly. “De mortuis nil nisi bonum, Lehane. Of the dead, nothing unless good. I’m no longer dead, so now they can vilify me again.”

Faith scowled and rose. “I told you not to call me that!” she hissed.

Snape rolled his eyes. “If you hate the name, Lehane, change it.”

“I did! I’m Faith, understand?” Faith snapped.

“Yes, Faith Lehane. And I’m Severus Tobias Snape. And from how you act your childhood wasn’t cuddles and kittens either, and from what I know about the Slayer legend, neither is your current life. But denying who you are? That way leads to madness. You’ve done and experienced terrible things? Deal with them! You hate who you are? Change who you are!” Snape had risen and his raspy, grating voice had risen until it almost scraped across Faith’s skin. Anger seemed to crackle off him.

Faith stood toe to toe with him. “Oh yeah? I tried that! It didn’t work! And if you’re so good at it, why were you living in a cardboard box and eating out of a dumpster?”

Snape gave her a long, measuring look. “How many years of evil do you have to atone for, Faith? How many lives have you ruined, people have you killed, raped, tortured, mutilated? Do you remember what happened to you in that basement? I did that to dozens of people, only much, much better than any of those fools except possibly Lestrange could do. And you think you had it bad on that table, girl? You have no idea…”

Faith had backed away from the dark-eyed man and his towering rage. She could feel the pain, the anguish, the anger, palpable on the air, almost as if she could taste them. Faith had met bad men. Hell, the Mayor was one of the worst men that had ever lived and in a strange, warped way she’d loved him like a father. But Snape? Snape was alive with pain and seemed to live of his anger. Then she took a step forward again, invading his personal space. “Still not an answer, Snape. Goose, gander, pot, kettle. Why don’t ya leave all of it behind and run a gas station in South Dakota?”

Snape glared at her. Then his mouth twitched. “South Dakota? And that would be better than living on the streets how?”

Faith had to laugh. “Okay, bad example. But why not?”

Snape leaned forward slightly, his hair falling into his face. “I wasn’t trained to do anything in the Muggle world, except drink.”

Inside Faith’s mind things suddenly clicked. “Me too. Or possibly do drugs. Or whore myself to get them, or…” she swallowed, trying to push away the worst of the memories.

Snape was looking at the floor, seemingly no longer aware she was there. Yet when he spoke, it showed he had heard. “Did she pimp you out?”

Faith sucked in a breath. No-one, not even Dr. D., had ever asked that question straight out. “No. I ran away when she considered it.”

Snape nodded. “Did she beat you?”

“Yeah,” Faith answered curtly. “Don’t want to talk about it.”

“My father beat my mother and me. She was… she couldn’t handle life very well. I tried, you know,” He looked up, his dark eyes once again inscrutable. 

“Tried what?” Faith asked, confused.

“To start again. But I couldn’t. The past wouldn’t let go off me, no matter how much I wanted to let go of it. So I started to drink to try and forget. But it didn’t work,” he gestured at himself. “I’m not very good at claiming redemption; for all that I’ve been trying to atone for twenty years,” Snape coughed. His breath was wheezy. “And they may say they’ve forgiven me, trusted me, but I doubt they ever truly did.”

Faith nodded. “Yeah. I know that feeling,” she shivered. “I need to get out of here. I still need to find whatever’s been leavin’ people with less brains than lettuce.”

“Fewer brains,” Snape absently corrected. “Describe the symptoms for me, please?”

Faith gave him a look. “Why, you wanna help?”

Snape coughed. “Depends. If this is what I think it is, I may have to.”

Faith nodded. “Okay. Well, we’ve been getting reports of people being found drooling and unresponsive, as if they’re just empty, ya know? Some witches over in Salem say that their souls ‘ve been sucked outta them. And something’s doin’ that and I’ve been sent here to put a stop to it.” *And no matter what Giles may say, I'm a Slayer, and I won't let people die.*

 Snape closed his eyes. “Great. Just plain wonderful. I think I know what you’re hunting. It is not something that can be killed by force of arms.”

Faith snorted. “That’s just ‘cause its never faced the force of my arms, Snape,” she looked out of the high window.

Snape laughed. “You think that you're the only one who's ever used a sword or axe against a Dementor? There are spells that drive them away, but I know of none that will kill one. Or I should say, dispose of one, because I don't think that they're truly alive.”

“Okay. So we need a new spell and different weapons,” Faith shrugged. “B. once killed a demon with a missile launcher, and she blew up...” Faith swallowed. “Let's just say I don't think your Dementor things have ever been up close and personal with the marvels of modern-day explosives and firearms.”

Snape's brows rose. “B?”

“Another Slayer. Okay, so can we get some of these Shrivers to help us?” Faith asked, changing the subject.

Snape's long fingers tapped the wand in the long pocket sewn for it in his robes. “Going on the previous records and standards of British and American magical law enforcement? Not a chance. Or at least, not without questioning us for days and by then another dozen Muggles will be dead.”

“Ya know, I think that's probably an offensive term?” Faith noted dryly.

“Dead? Yes very,” Snape replied as he looked over the window. “There’s anti-apparition wards all around this place, tied into the earth’s magical field. Interesting, if annoying.”

Faith rolled her eyes. “No, Muggle. You make it sound like 'nigger'. And I checked that window already. Too high even for me to jump and live, no drain pipes or anything we can use to climb down without being seen. No way you can use that to get down, unless you can fly.”

Snape opened the window and climbed onto the sill and held out a hand. “Good thing I can then, isn't it?”

“Can what?” Faith warily took his hand and suddenly she was lifted up and Snape was out of the window and they were falling... Faith screamed.

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Vinland International Portkey Station, Cross Island, Maine

The wards around the Portkey Arrival area flared bright blue and two men dressed in an Auror's scarlet robes appeared, immediately dropping the old toilet seat that functioned as the portkey, making a sort of sliding landing that ended with their feet spread slightly in a duelling stance and their wands out. One man had messy black hair and intense green eyes and wore a pair of steel-rimmed spectacles, he looked around the room and then relaxed, slightly. The other was redheaded, similarly alert and in similar robes, though with a white stripe that marked him as a member of the Auror Reserve Corps.

 A man who had been waiting bowed slightly at the two arrivals. “Auror Potter, Auror Weasley. Welcome to the United States of Magical America. This is Shriver Sergeant Wundermeyer, I'm Sebastian Quetchley, Chief Shriver,”

Harry smiled politely and held out his hand. “Mr. Quetchley, I'm Harry Potter, this is my friend and colleague, Ron Weasley, pleased to make your acquaintance.”

They shook hands all round and Quetchley led them out of the room. “We've got transportation waiting. We'll try to avoid the crowds.”

Harry nodded, then shivered. Ron was looking around suspiciously. “Dementors still troubling you?”

Quetchely nodded grimly. “We won't open the Floo or Portkey stations again until they're gone or contained. Too dangerous to let in tourists at the moment. They like magical souls a lot more than Muggle ones.”

Ron laughed mirthlessly. “You've got that right, though they will feed upon anything that has a soul. Any idea how they got here?”

Quetchley nodded at Wundermeyer. “Arvid here thinks that the Death Eaters brought them with them to sow more fear and confusion. I tend to agree. One or two might have wandered over as stowaways on Muggle ships, but as many as we think there are here now? Unlikely.”

“Great,” Harry groused. “The Death Eaters are organizing again.”

Ron shook his head. “I don't think they’ve ever stopped being organized, mate. But at least some of them have been caught and it's been far too long since we caught as many as five, or anyone as high up as Rowle or Rookwood.”

Wundermeyer smirked. “Ah, yes Snape and his Slayer friend put a neat spoke in the wheels of at least one of their cells. Apparently they were led by the elder Lestrange, Giauzar. He got away, but the rest of his cell was caught or killed.”

“If it is Snape, and not some impostor,” Harry said sourly. “It wouldn't be the first time.”

“The Death Eaters he dumped on us have been skilfully Obliviated. And he changed into Snape when his Polyjuice potion ran out. And from what I've heard about him, his general disposition is the same,” Wundermeyer looked worried. “I must admit I never considered him being an impostor. Not after taking out Lestrange's group.”

Harry looked thoughtful “Yeah, this Lestrange, Giauzar? He's the father of Rodolphus and Rabastan, right? We never had to deal with him, what's he like?”

“Well, he spent most of his time trying to gain followers for Riddle outside of Britain, mostly in the USMA. He's diplomatic and suave, more than a little bit oily, very polite. Intelligent and he can be forceful. But after the White Witch performed that re-ensoulment spell, his attempts to gain footholds among the Covens and the USMA citizens died a whimpering death. Nobody was going to risk annoying her and her opinions on evil wizards were quite well known.”

“We think Lestrange tried to influence her to the Dark, but that he eventually failed,” Quetchley led the way into a different room and threw some Floo powder in the fire. “Apparition into and near St.Botolph's is blocked, unless you're a Shriver or an employee accompanying a patient. So we've gotta take the Floo. St. Botolph's.”

He stepped through and the others followed. A young Auror with a scar running from her forehead to her chin, just missing her eye, stood waiting, looking apprehensive.

Wundermeyer took one look at her and groaned. “What happened, Shriver Anderson?”

Anderson swallowed. “Errr... Snape and Lehane left, sir.”

“Left? How? I thought they were locked up as safely as we could manage in here!?” Quetchley asked, stunned.

“Lehane ripped the bars from the window and errr... We have reports of a huge bat-like creature with a whooping young woman in his arms flying over Muchu Alley,” Anderson replied diffidently.

Harry grinned. “Snape.”

Ron nodded, slightly grinning as well. “Yeah, definitely Snape. He can fly without a broom.”

“He can?” Wundermeyer asked, surprised. “Wow.”

“Yeah. Okay, so it is Snape. Why would he want to leave?” Harry got to the gist of the matter.

Ron snorted. “This is Snape, Harry. He was put in a room, high up, locked and with no doubt a great big heavy door warded against magic. He was bound to get suspicious of the people who put him there. The only one who ever trusted him was Dumbledore. He got kicked out of Hogwarts, despite everything he did to keep the Carrows off our backs and you alive. The closest things he had to friends were some members of the Order and the Hogwarts staff. And you know what they thought of him before you went public with his memories. And he spent months in Azkaban after the first war. People hated him for killing Dumbledore. He thinks the Ministry is filled with dunderheaded baboons. Need I go on?”

Harry groaned. “He thinks we're gonna put him in jail?”

Ron shrugged. “That or kill him. He did hurt a lot of people, Harry. For the greater good, but still, people hate him.”

“Wonderful, we'll never find him,” Harry concluded morosely.

Ron shrugged. “Not if he doesn't want to be found, no.”

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Sackbutt & Widdershanks, Wands of all sizes, Muchu Alley

Snape was muttering while he swung the seventh wand he'd tried. He was in the shape of a tall, lean young man wearing fashionable robes. The fresh-faced young man who was supposed to be assisting him was spending a lot of his time looking at Faith instead. Faith in the meantime was browsing the wands that were lying in the various display cases.

“Are you sure I can't interest you in a wand, Miss?” The young man asked again, hopefully, his tape measure in hand.

“The lady can't use one, Timothy,” and older voice came from the door. “Miss, sir. I am Garrick Olivander, at your service.” An old, bent looking man with large, owlish eyes and a big, beaky nose and a thin, lined face was looking them over.

“Olivander?” Faith asked. “Not Sackbutt or Widdershanks?”

“No, Sackbutt is my sister. Young Timothy here is her grandson,” the old man smiled. “I'm visiting from Britain. Perhaps you would join me in the back room for a few of our more… special wands?”

Snape gave him a sharp look, then nodded, entering the back room. Olivander hobbled over to a high stool and sat down. Faith wandered in after Snape.

Olivander looked at Snape, his eyes unblinking and his face serene. “I’m not quite sure if I should thank you or hex you, Mister Snape,” he mused.

Snape sat down, wearily. “It matters not. Either way I’ll end up in Azkaban. No doubt they’ll gladly unearth a Dementor for me.”

“Dementors have been declared outlawed, Mr. Snape. Regrettably some of them are over here, which has meant that the authorities have sealed off Magical Boston until they’ve been hunted down. A slight overreaction, but after the inaction in the years before the war, I must admit it was an interesting move. It does mean I’m stuck here for now,” Olivander took out his wand and gestured. “Now, why don’t you introduce me to this charming young lady, have a seat and some tea, we’ll wait until the Polyjuice has run its course and we’ll measure you for a new wand, hmmm?”

Snape blinked. He looked honestly stunned. “You-you’re willing to help me?”   

“Headmaster… you saved a lot of people by your actions. You did the best you could. Oh, you and Albus messed up some things, but with the way the Ministry was acting, it was decided by the Wizengamot, and I agree, that you had little choice. These past few years have been very interesting…” Olivander smiled. “And you were a very interesting lad to find a wand for the first time. I do wonder what wand will choose you now. My sister and cousin have rather different views on wands from me, so the variation of the cores and wand woods is rather larger than you might be accustomed to.”

Snape nodded. “That sounds fine to me. Do you have any lemon?” he asked, hopefully.

Olivander sniffed. “What gentleman would not?”

“It's the fuckin 'invasion of the tweeds,” Faith muttered as the two men sat down to wait for the potion to wear off.

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BostonHarbour, some hours later

The tunnel was half-full of icy cold water, scum from the harbour and unspeakable filth from the millions of inhabitants of the city. The sewers of Boston might no longer cast their effluent laden waste directly into the harbour, even the rainwater that was brought here through the tunnel was laden with pollution.  Faith eyed both tunnel and water with suspicion. “We have to go in there?”

Snape nodded. “It's the sort of place Dementors like and your instincts brought us here. So that's two reasons to go in there.”

“It stinks, it's colder, wetter, slimier and darker than a Fyarl's armpit, so right there that’s five reasons not to,” Faith countered.          

“The breadth of your experiences never ceases to amaze me. However did you come to know about the environmental circumstances in a demon's armpit? And do I even want to know?” Snape replied dryly as he started to cast a few spells on himself.

Faith spluttered, unable to muster a quick reply. She glared at him and decided it might be wise to change the subject. Her eyes fell on his new wand, made of an almost grey wood, seemed to glow in the darkness with a strange glimmering light.

Faith smirked. “Never took you for a virgin, Snapey. Thought unicorns couldn't bear the debauched? So how did you end up with woven unicorn mane and tail as a core?”

Snape gave her a look. “It denotes the steadfastness of the heart. I'm actually more interested in the Ironwood it's made off and what that might signify,” he shot off a series of spells at her, frowned and then addressed her again. “Are you ready?”

Faith sighed and nodded. “I suppose so. Glad I didn't wear anything expensive.”

“Always wise when going into battle,” Snape jumped into the water of the harbour and with a few strong strokes started into the pipe, got his feet under him and started to move against the sluggish current. Faith followed suit, mumbling curses about the smell and that she would never get used to sewers.

The duo moved otherwise in silence, or as much as they could while wading breast of thigh deep in the freezing water.

“This warmin’ spell of yours sucks, Snape,” Faith complained. “I'm cold as hell.”

“You're resistance to magic obviously extends to beneficial spells as well. Unless you are completely sure that no harm will befall you, it blocks or tries to block whatever is happening to you. It's probably a trust issue,” Snape noted.

“Trust issue? What the fuck does that have to do with it?” Faith bristled. “I trust you fine, like I would Red or Buffy!”

“Ah, and that might just be the rub,” Snape gave her a look and then continued to wade.

“Whadda ya mean?” Faith demanded to know.

Snape gave her a long, measuring look. “Apparently you don’t trust those people very much,” and waded onwards, the water parting before his tall form as if it was frightened of him.

Faith shivered. And she wasn’t quite sure it was from the cold. 

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Shriver Headquarters, Muchu Alley, Boston

Harry was looking at the metal-backed magical incident map that Ron was moving magnets up and down on. “These things are awesome, Harry. We ought to get Dad one.”

Wundermeyer coughed. “Mr. Weasley? Are you quite done playing? We are trying to determine to location where the Dementors are holed up…”

Ron looked up from the magnets, tapped the map near the harbour and continued pushing around imaginary Shriver patrols.

Wundermeyer blinked at Harry as Ron kept muttering about prank-suitability and clicking the magnets to the board and each other.

“Is he serious?”

Harry shrugged. “It’s a Ron-thing. Like chess. He’s pants with relationships and book learning, but give him a practical, strategic problem like this? He’s your man. That’s why I asked him to come, he sees patterns.”

Ron glared at his friend. “I’m not pants with relationships!”

Harry grinned. “Sorry mate, but you are. Seventeen girls since you broke up with Hermione? Oh, and one bloke.

“THAT WAS AN ACCIDENT!” Ron yelled, his face going red.

“No, that was Blaise Zabini,” Harry retorted with an even wider grin. “He did say you were the best kisser he’d ever met though.”

“He did?” Ron perked up, then his face became horrified. “He did?”

Harry nodded solemnly. Arvid cleared his throat. “Can you tell me why you think the Dementors are based there, Auror Weasley?”

Ron’s gaze moved back to the map. “You had attacks here, here, here, and here, initially, then in these locations,” he put the magnets back in exactly the places he’d removed them from the board earlier. He tapped the map with his wand and purple points lit up beneath the magnets. “All these are near major sewer overflow points. Dementors like cold, dank places that break the spirit. Most of the attacks have been in the South Side, probably more have gone unreported.”

Ron absently tapped the map again. “The second wave of attacks. You can see that all of them take place within two hundred feet of a sewer or drain exit. Following the pattern of attacks, and the way Dementors normally operate, it’s likely that they are holed up centrally in relation to those locations. To be absolutely sure we need to check if any sewer workers were attacked in that region, and also if Muggle workers have been kept away from there. Do you know where I can get a set of these?” he gestured with the magnets.

“Errr… No. So we need to check those things?” Wundermeyer asked, slightly stunned.

“Yeah, I think George could think up three or four ways to prank with these things in the first half hour,” Ron replied as she stuck the magnets together, his fascinated eyes upon them.

“No, I meant…” Wundermeyer saw Harry’s grin, rolled his eyes and went off to find out how he could check if Muggle workers had been into the location Weasley had pinpointed as the most likely Dementor lair.

Harry very firmly took the magnets from Ron. “We need to contact Minister Shacklebolt.”

Ron nodded. “Think the pardon will hold now that Snape’s alive?”

Harry pursed his lips. “Probably. I mean, he was pretty thorough describing his crimes and the Wizengamot basically whitewashed him for everything. Going back on that now? After all the press he’s had? Political suicide.”

Ron shook his head. “Will he believe that?”

Harry shook his head. “Not from us, no. The Malfoys are still in Azkaban, Draco is still at large after escaping his house arrest. I doubt very much there’s anyone he’d accept it  from.” 

“Dumbledore’s portrait?” Ron suggested after some thought.

Harry snorted. “I almost hexed him last time I spoke to him, what do you think Snape would do? The Greater Fucking Good? What about free will? And if the greater good was so great, why did he chase half of Slytherin into Voldy’s arms by automatically treating them like scum?”

Ron opened his mouth, then closed it again. “I know you’re right. It made absolutely no strategic sense, too. But still I want to argue that Slytherins are a bunch of wankers-”

“Well, you ought to know,” Harry interrupted blandly.

“We just kissed okay!? Nothing more! And I can do without the stupid ‘did you hold his wand’ jokes as well!” Ron growled.

Harry laughed. “Sorry, Ron. In another ten years you’ll laugh right along with us.”

Ron sighed. “Yeah, yeah. I could do without all the jokes from Bill, Charlie and George. Even Percy made a remark about it! Percy, for Merlin’s sake!”

“Well, it is funny, at least from our point of view,” Harry soothed his friend. “Do you think we ought to call this in?”

Ron shook his head. “Not yet. We need to find out what’s going on. If this Lehane is really the Slayer or not.”

“Neville’s gonna be real hurt if she is…” Harry sighed. “Poor bloke can’t catch a break.”

The door opened and Wundermeyer came back in. “Several Muggles disappeared while on work assignment in that area, some time before the attacks in other places began. I think you’re right, Auror Weasley.”

Harry smiled broadly. “That’s our Ron. Always gets his man.”

Ron groaned.

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Sewers

It was far colder in the sewers than it should have been. Their breath came out in little huffs and there was ice floating on what Faith called the Yellow River.

“Are we there yet?” Faith mock-whined.

“If we were, you would know by the fact that a Dementor would be trying to suck out your soul,” Snape replied absently.

“So you think I’ve got one?” Faith pushed a deep frozen turd out of her way with the tip of her sword.

“You feel remorse don’t you?” Snape didn’t look back. “That tends to denote the possession of a soul.”

“Ah. Okay,” Faith started humming.

After about five minutes Snape turned. “I would greatly appreciate if you would stop that infernal noise.”

“What, ya don’t like The Moody Blues? I thought it was fittin’.” Faith smirked.

“I prefer to sneak up on my enemies silently. My musical taste has nothing to do with it,” Snape snarled.

“Aaaawww, but they’re the only Brit Band I know. What about the Bay City Rollers?” Faith asked saccharinely.

Snape gritted his teeth. “Woman, either be silent or we’ll see how well I can silence you!”

“Oooh, gonna stop my mouth? What’re you gonna use to do that?” Faith took a step closer to Snape teasingly.

Snape raised an eyebrow. “A spell, of course.”

Faith pouted. “Oh, what a disappointment. And here I was hoping for a massive-” she whirled and her sword was in her hand and slicing through a black robe and grey-fleshed body.

A sound like the dying of wind filled the tunnel and the cloth drew back together and the ghostly flesh regenerated. Pale, long-fingered hands came up and reached towards the cowl of the robe.

“Expecto Patronum!” Snape called out, and a fine white mist flew from the tip of his wand, finally coalescing into a shimmering, silvery doe. It jumped over Faith’s head and the Dementor retreated.

Faith shivered as the dark thing retreated. “Okay. That was not something I want to repeat. What the fuck was that thing?”

“A Dementor. I take it you sensed it and put on that little performance to distract it?” Snape growled.

Faith smirked and licked her lips. “Maybe. Maybe not.”

Snape snorted. “Well, at any rate I do not think that your weapon or your innate power harms the things, which leaves only my Patronus. I do think that we can conclude that they are indeed using this part of the sewers to congregate.”

“Yeah, as if the cold didn’t tell you that,” Faith shivered. “Come on, let’s get out of here.”

“Oh, I think not. Get them,” a polite British voice spoke from the darkness and a swarm of Dementors flowed into the tunnel from both sides. “You can Kiss the man, but leave the girl. I have need of her.”

“Lestrange,” Snape growled.

“You’re not getting near me, ya freak!” Faith growled.

Lestrange chuckled. “Ah, such vim and vigour. You will make an excellent mother to the Dark Lord. Make sure you take her alive, gentlemen. Let the Dementors take Snape, concentrate on the girl.”

The Dementors closed in. Faith’s sword point started to waver and her eyes widened, she could hear the approach of several people, wading through the sewer. But she couldn’t concentrate, couldn’t keep her mind on the fight.

The room was pokey and the once cheery wallpaper was faded and had come loose in places, hanging down in mildewed festoons. The bed was narrow and the bedclothes were messily piled at the bottom. In the corner of the room, at the top of the bed sat a girl of about fourteen, barefoot, wearing jeans and a tank top and looking with apprehension at the door. She cowered back against the wall when the door opened and a large man dressed in a dark blue tracksuit top and jeans came in. He carefully closed the door and leered at the girl. “Well, your mom has finally left. Time for some quality stepfather-daughter bonding, don’t you think?”    

Faith suppressed a whimper and tried to look defiant. “I think ya should get out of my room before I scream.”

The man chuckled. “Ah, Faith. Do ya honestly think anyone in this building will pay any attention to a girl screaming? And even if someone did, all I’d have to do was to offer a few of them a go as well.” He took a step closer, his hands reaching for the girl.

“I’ll tell Mom!” Faith shouted, scrabbling up against the wall.

“Ya think she’ll believe ya? I think she’ll just think ya’re clamouring for attention. Lying, to cover up your sluttish ways. And ya are, aren’t ya, Faith? Just a little slut. I bet all the boys at school have done ya. Probably a lot of them at the same time. Fucked you good, didn’t they? Bet they thought ya a thing or two,” he walked to the head of the bed, reached for her, grabbed her, ripped at her clothes. Faith screamed. She didn’t stop screaming for a very long time.

********     

It was dark in the alley and the vampires were coming at them from all directions. Faith was enjoying herself, enjoying the hunt, enjoying the sight of B. in her tight trousers. She liked Buffy. A lot. And she thought Buffy quite liked her too. Why else would she be breaking the rules with her, out here? Why else were they fighting together like a smooth, oiled machine. There was something there. Something hot, something tangible. Once this fight was over, she’d take B back to the dance… or maybe, do it here, dance up close to her and kiss her. And take it from there. Faith heard a step behind and swung her stake. She heard a squelching noise. Vampires did not squelch. She turned. It wasn’t a demon. It was a human. Behind her, she heard Buffy gasp.

********

Suddenly there was a bright light and then she was free of the memory and Snape was standing in front of her, blood pouring from a wound on his forehead, his left arm hanging limply down his body and pale as a sheet. There were three bodies bobbing behind him in the fetid waters of the sewer and the tunnel was filled with the light of his Patronus. “Run, Faith. Get the Shrivers. Tell them this is a trap,” he told her in a harsh, gasping voice.

Faith hesitated. Snape turned his back on her, his wand at the ready. Flashes of magic ran along the ceiling, small amounts of marsh gas exploded as they were touched by magical fire and then Lestrange stepped out, wand ready, a smile on his face. “You’re going down, Snape. And we shall bring back the Dark Lord in the child we will beget on the girl.”

Snape chuckled. “Really? You and what army?”

Lestrange lifted an eyebrow. “The one I have with me, of course.”

“Ah. You mean your rag-tag band of men in skirts. Right. Sorry,” Snape sneered. “You obviously want me to die laughing,” he suddenly ducked under a spell that flew from another tunnel opening, launching a counter curse as he hunkered in the freezing filthy water. Someone screamed and there was a splash. “You really shouldn’t have forgotten I’ve got no sense of humour.”

Lestrange growled something and a flash of red light jumped from his wand to Snape, only to be flicked aside negligently by the younger wizard. “Well, I can see where your sons got there skill at magic from,” he sneered.

Faith was about to join the fray again when a yellow light struck Snape’s shield and he staggered back. She closed her eyes. “I’ll be back for you, Snape,” she whispered, and ran.

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Boston, Medal of HonorPark

Harry shivered, even in his Warming charm bespelled Auror’s robes. “Blimey, it’s cold.”

Wundermeyer nodded. “Yeah, this isn’t natural. Looks like we might have found the centre of the Dementor presence.”

“Wonderful,” Ron muttered. “Why do I let you talk me into things like this, Harry?”

Harry shrugged. “Well, you said that working in the shop with George was either boring or far too exciting.”

“Yeah. Suddenly walking into a pail of Peruvian Darkness powder and then hit by a clewd of Puffskeins and a tickling charm is starting to look attractive again,” Ron took out his wand and sighed. “We need to go down there.”

Harry nodded grimly. “Well, let’s go then,” he lifted the sewer grate and dropped down, landing with a soft splash.

Ron wrinkled his nose. “He’s gonna owe me a new pair of boots,” he muttered and followed.

Wundermeyer exchanged looks with his colleagues. Then the Shrivers, spread out over the park, dropped into their respective manholes and started the hunt.

Harry felt the magic on his skin as soon as he dropped down. He could also hear the sound of what seemed to be a fairly heavy spell battle, and the splashing of someone moving through the thigh-high muck at speed. More speed than he would ever be able to manage.

And the curses were a dead giveaway too. They were spoken in a rough Boston accent, but in a wonderful voice, throaty and sensual. 

Suddenly both stopped. There was complete silence. Right until Ron went under, with a yelp and a splash.

Harry cursed and cast a Lumos on the ceiling, and several more, lighting the tunnel as bright, if not brighter, than the day.

“Miss Lehane? My name is Harry Potter!” he called out. “I think you can hear me! We’re here to help, can you take us to-”

There was another loud splash and Ron and Faith shot up out of the water, Ron almost blue with cold and lack of breath, Faith’s hand around his neck, the other around his wand-wrist, but Ron’s wand was pointing up and Harry could feel the power running from it.

“Miss Lehane, please! We’re here to help!” Harry called again.

Faith dropped away from Ron, kicking out with her legs and propelling herself at speed towards Harry, who was too surprised by her action to duck and was struck at shoulder height and slammed against the wall.

The hit was not as hard as it might have been. As she flew passed him, Ron grabbed onto her and it slowed her down. The three of them went down in a welter of limbs, robes and half-frozen sewage.

Faith was the first back on her feet, ready to pounce, ready to tear their throats out. Ron cast a spell at the sewage. “Congelio!” Ice formed around Faith, thick enough to stop her advance, strong enough to hold her as it spread quickly and attached to the walls, of the tunnel. Ron coughed. “Calm down, will you? We’re not here to hurt you. Now, do you know where Snape is?”

Faith’s teeth were chattering and she was glaring at them, with muck and shit and filthy water dripping from her hair and face. She clenched her teeth together, obviously unwilling to say anything. Before Harry could say something Ron had removed the ice and cast a spell at Faith. “It’s just a warming charm, you look perishing cold. We need to get to Snape. He may be one of the best, but even he can’t fight off an army of Dementors on his own.”

Faith glared at them, then blinked as Ron cast a quick scourgify on her, cleaning her hair and face and her sword, flicking his wand to spread a new layer of conjured oil on the blade. 

“Please, Miss Lehane?” Ron asked again. “Let us help.”

Faith looked at the two young men, eyes hard, mouth a thin line. “If ya think I’m gonna hand you Snape, you’ve got another thing coming!” she hissed, raising her sword.

Ron shook his head and lowered his wand. “Miss Lehane, Snape may be a rude, greasy, snarking git, but he’s also a hero. He’s been pardoned, lauded, decorated and there’s a goodly number of witches who think him the most romantic hero ever. Arresting him would be political suicide.”

Faith gave him a look, then flashed a grin. “Snape has groupies?”

Ron looked blank but Harry laughed. “I suppose he does, yeah.”

The Slayer’s shoulders relaxed marginally. “Can I be there when ya tell him that?”

Harry let out a laugh. “Oh, yes. Actually, when we get him back home, we’re going to have to make sure he drops right into a meeting of the Severus Snape Appreciation Society. It’s Memorial now, but I’m sure they’ll change that to Appreciation in minutes when they find out he’s still alive.”

Faith nodded. “Okay. Let’s go and make sure it won’t stay memorial then. And fast. This way, come on,” she halted for a second, looking back over her shoulder at the two Aurors. “And if yer lying, if this is a trick to get Snape? There won’t be enough left of ya to fill a thimble.”

Ron nodded solemnly. “Lead on, beautiful lady.”

Faith raised an eyebrow. “Yeah, make sure to follow, turd-bearer,” and moved off at speed.

Ron blinked, tilting his head. With a soft plop a frozen mass of fecal matter hit the sewage laden fluid they were standing in. Harry snickered. “C’mon Ron. Time enough to compliment the lady once we’ve saved Snape and are all clean again. I for one can’t wait to get out of these sewers.”

Ron nodded and another plop revealed the fact that more sewage fell out of his red curls. “Yeah, me too. You have to admit though mate, as appropriate places to find Death Ponces go, this one has to take the cake. What better place to find pieces of shit?”

Harry laughed again and a soft chuckle from up ahead showed that Faith had heard them. “Are ya gonna move? Or am I gonna have to come back there and drag yer asses through this muck?” she called out.

Ron smiled wryly and started to move as fast as he could.

********

It took them less than five minutes to get near enough to hear the sounds of combat. Harry sent off his Patronus to tell the Shrivers they had made contact.

“What can you tell us about their forces?” Harry whispered to Faith.

Faith gave him a look. “Yer not gonna run in and start fighting without a plan?”

Harry’s returning look was level. “It’s been a couple of years. Plenty of training. I’ve grown up a lot since Snape last knew me.”    

“Well, apparently miracles do happen,” Faith mused. “Well, anyway, they’re led by some guy called Lestrange. I know Snape took out four of them before I left. There are lots and lots of those Dementor things, he was keeping them at bay with some glowy light spel, a deer made of light, ya know?”

“Yes, we know,” Ron told her softly before Harry could answer. “Anything else?”

“I can’t hurt them, the Dementors. I may know of a weapon that can, but getting it… that might be difficult,” Faith spoke quietly. “And certainly not fast. Snape was wounded, wounded bad. We need to get him, and us, out of here before we’re overwhelmed by those Dementor things.” 

Ron looked at Harry. “She’s right Harry.”

Harry nodded. “Yes. And with a bit of luck we can add a few more Death Lickers to the scorecard. Snape isn’t the sort of man to take them alive. Should save on court costs and the possibility of them escaping,” He turned and sent off a silvery sliver that split into several.

Faith gave him a look.

“Message spell,” Harry explained. We need to know if the others are in position.”

Numbers of slivers seemed to arrive at the same time and Harry nodded. “We’re ready. Everyone’s in place.”

Faith frowned. “Okay. Let’s go and kick the everlovin’ shit outta them.”

Ron took a deep breath and pointed his wand down the tunnel, as did Harry. A huge stag and a small yappy Yorkshire terrier flew out of their wands and ran down the corridor.

Faith looked at Ron, who glared at her. “Just shut up, okay?”

“Why? I like small dogs,” Faith grinned. “And big men.”

Ron smirked. “And I like strong women.”

Harry sighed like a teakettle. “Flirt later, fight now,” and ran into the tunnel, casting Lumos spells as he went.

Faith moved quickly and overtook him before he was ten yards in. She heard and saw the flashes of magic, the discharge of spells, she felt the cold retreating a little. The Dementors were fleeing the battle, driven away by two dozen Patronuses, of every size and species. She burst into the tunnel where she’d left Snape, expecting him to be up, mobile, launching spells. She didn’t expect what she was seeing, half a dozen men in black robes launching spells at his body, levitating above the muck, blood dripping from countless wounds, his eyelids shut over what she was sure were empty sockets, his hands a mangled mess of blood and bone. The men were laughing, laughing at Snape’s pain and injuries, apparently thinking it was all good fun. But Faith could hear the hard, desperate edge their laughter. There were seven bodies floating in the sewer. Snape had not gone down easy. Faith growled and grabbed a floating body, hoisted it and threw it with all her strength at two of the Death Eaters, who were thrown off their feet. Then she sprang among them, sword flashing, and two more Death Eaters were down before they knew what hit them.

Ron and Harry were there, launching spells, hard and fast. Harry was using something that sounded like expel your arms, but since all that happened was that their wands flew away from them or that they were flung into walls behind them, that was a bit of a disappointment to Faith. It wasn’t much of a battle either. With no Dementors nearby to drive the fear into their enemies, the Death Eaters went down quickly. Someone had put up a ward against the whole teleporting out-shtick.

Snape fell from the air, hitting the water hard. Faith launched herself at Lestrange, her fist connecting with his jaw so hard that it shattered under the impact. She could feel his tongue being shredded by the shards of knife-sharp bone and felt oddly happy about it.

Suddenly there was silence. “Bloody hell. She really is a Slayer,” she heard Ron whisper.

“Later. WUNDERMEYER! DROP THE WARDS!” Harry shouted. “Oh, Merlin, will you look at him?” Harry’s voice was trembling with anger. “We need to get him to that hospital. And if any of these arseholes are still alive, they’ll regret what they did.”

There was a soft flooshing noise and then Harry grabbed Snape’s mangled body and twisted and was gone. Ron held out a hand to Faith. “Come on. We need to get you to the hospital as well.”

Faith was staring numbly at where Snape had been. “He tol’ me to run…”

Ron gave her a sympathetic look. “Yeah. It’d be a lot easier to think of him as a hero if he didn’t look like he’d run his hair through a frying pan to clean it and was you know, actually civil. I’m gonna side-along apparate us now. You may feel a bit sick. You ready?”

Faith nodded. “Yeah, sure. Whatever.”

There was a pop. Arvid Wundermeyer, on the other side of the tunnel, swallowed slightly as he and his team started to gather up the dead.

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St. Botolph’s, family waiting room, Emergency Department

Faith sat in the waiting room, her robes on the chair beside her, bouncing a small, red rubber ball off the walls. And catching it, absentmindedly, from the air when it passed by her. The waiting room was empty except for her; the others who’d been there had long ago fled the unpredictable rubber projectile.

Occasionally Ron, Harry or a Shriver would look in. Mostly Ron.

The Healers had given her a quick once over, stated that they could do very little for her except offer her a shower and clean clothes and, after having done so, had taken her to this room to wait for news on Snape.

Snape had been taken into the equivalent of a wizarding operating theatre and he’d been in there for the last eight… Faith looked at the clock… make that nine hours. Time passed quickly when you were having fun. Or when you could compartmentalize as well as Faith had learned to do in the Big House. Well, at least she could leave this room if she wanted to. So far she hadn’t   

The door opened and Ron came in, carrying a tray laden with food. Far more food than a girl her size could eat, so it was enough for a very hungry Slayer. Faith suddenly realised how hungry she was. Ron gestured with his wand and a table flew to stand in front of Faith and he put the tray on it.

Faith eyed the food. Coke, spare ribs, fries, hot sauce. Her favourite foods. *Bastards must be able to read my mind.*  

“Any news?” she asked as she hungrily started to feed.

“We caught the entire second and third cells, Lestrange too. He’s alive and being treated. We need his information,” Ron answered. “If we want to catch the other Death Peons any time soon. We think he’s in charge of the American operations at least. Maybe more.”

“So he gets of with a plea bargain?” Faith almost snarled.

Ron shook his head. “Naah, we feed him enough Veritaserum to make him tell us when he first took a wank if we’d want to know. The warrant for that is already out.”

“Veritaserum?” Faith asked, confused.

“Truth potion. Very strong. I think Snape developed an even stronger version,” Ron explained. “He’ll be singing like a lark.”

Faith gnawed on her ribs, looking at Ron, studying him. The shit was gone from his hair and he was clean and smelled faintly of aniseed.

“Ya’ll are a lot different from what I was expecting. Ya seem a lot… looser than I thought ya’d be from talking to Snape. Not as frightened, or as serious.”

Ron nodded. “We’ve had a few breakthroughs. And, well, we got a few new insights into the Deathbeats the past few weeks.”

“Insights?” Faith asked, curious.

Ron shrugged. “We thought they were just about the worst thing in the world. We learned otherwise.”

Faith nodded, thinking back to the days when Kakistos, horrible as he’d been, had been her worst nightmare. Things had certainly changed since then. “And what about the Dementors? We can’t kill them, only drive them away.”

Ron cleared his throat. “Ah, yes… that brings us to my next point. We called in reinforcements. Errr…”

“What sorta reinforcements?” Faith asked, catching a thread of grease as it ran down her chin.

“They’ll be here in a few hours. They had some stuff to do back home, things to set in motion. I’ll introduce you when you get here,” Ron assured her.

Faith nodded and returned to eating.

“So, how long have you been the Slayer?” Ron asked.

Faith gave him a look. “I never been.”

Ron blinked. “I thought you were the Slayer-”

“Yeah. But not THE Slayer. Not the Only girl. Just the second best,” Faith told him, bitterness welling up in her. “Always, just second best. The Side-kick if I was lucky. Always Robin, never Batman.”

Ron gave her a look, signalling he didn’t understand the last bit, but got the general message quite well. “Ah. There’s another Slayer?”

“Yeah. Don’t really wanna talk about it,” Faith grabbed a handful of fries, dipped them in the hotsauce and pushed them in her mouth.

Ron sat silent for a few minutes, looking at his shoes. “I have six older brothers. I was seventeen before I got my first pair of trousers that wasn’t a hand me down. All of them… I thought they were always smarter, better, stronger, better than me,” he gestured at himself. “I was Weasley Six, if I was lucky. And then I met Harry… Everybody knew who Harry was. What his destiny was.”

Ron laughed. “It took me until I was eighteen to realise that what I saw and Harry felt were two completely different things. He would have loved to have brothers and a sister. He would have loved just to have a family and not a destiny. It took me from age eleven to seventeen to figure that one out. I helped destroy Voldemulch, and it wasn’t until Harry stood on the podium at the dedication of Snape’s statue and said he couldn’t have done it without me and Hermione before it really sank in. He couldn’t have. He might have been the only one able to beat Tommy Boy because of that Prophecy, but the road there? We were needed just as much as him.” 

Ron reached out and snatched a fry dipped it in hot sauce and ate it, ignoring Faith’s glare. “I’m sure that the other Slayer, she knows that she couldn’t do this without you, that there were plenty of times when she needed you.”

Faith let out a harsh laugh. “I don’t think so. If she did, I think she’d have told me.”

The door opened and Healer stepped in, covered in blood. “Miss Lehane? Master Snape is in recovery. It will take a few days for him to recover fully, but he should be fine.”

Faith imperceptibly relaxed. “Yeah, but will he ever play the piano again?”

The Healer gave her a look. “If he could before, yes. We paid a lot of attention to his hands. A potion Master without the full use of his hands would go insane rather quickly, I think. And I for one do not want to see an insane Severus Snape. You can see him now if you want.”

Faith nodded and rose, wiping her hands on her jeans. “Okay, let’s go.”

The Healer sighed and cast a few quick cleaning spells at her, then led them into a hallway through two door and finally into a room where a single bed stood. Snape was lying in the bed, sleeping, or at least with his eyes closed. Faith froze.

Ron put his hand into the small of her back and gave her a little push and Faith took a step forward. Snape’s eyes snapped open, flicked over Faith and landed on Ron, his hand still on Faith’s back. “Weasley? Get your hands off that girl or I’ll blast you into smithereens,” his grating voice was gone, and was now as dark and smooth as silk.

Ron snatched his hand back as if Faith was on fire and involuntarily backed away from the bed. Faith glared at Snape and put her fists on her hips. “Okay, listen to me tall, dark and snarky, you’re not the boss of me and ya ain’t my dad. So if I want to kiss Ron, or hold hands with Ron, or hug Ron, I’ll do so, understood?”

Ron coughed. “Errr… actually…”

Snape and Faith turned to him. “What?” Faith asked in a dangerous voice.   

Ron gulped and held up his hands in defence. “Errr… Nothing. Kissing. Holding, hugging, fine by me.”

Faith nodded, glaring at Snape. “Good, that’s settled. Come on Ron, I’ve got another H to satisfy,” she stalked out of the room, but it shut before Ron could leave.

Ron looked around wildly, seeing Snape crooking a finger at him. Ron hesitantly took a step closer. Snape coughed and glared at Ron. “You hurt that girl, Weasley, and you’ll find that neither Dementors nor Death Eaters are the worst things in the world.”

Ron gulped. “Yessir!” He took a step back. Snape let out a contemptuous sniff. Ron’s eyes narrowed and then he took a step forward again. “Sir? May I have your permission to court Miss Lehane?”

Snape gave him a long, measured look, seemingly unsurprised. “Shouldn’t you ask her, Weasley?”

Ron shook his head. “I will later, sir. But I like my balls where they are. And, well… It seems to me that you claimed her, sir. Like her Watcher.”

Snape closed his eyes. “You have my permission. That does not mean your balls are safe, Weasley. Just that I won’t hex them off on principle.”

Ron nodded. “Thank you, sir. Rest well.”

Snape snorted. “So I can go on trial?”

Ron smirked. “No sir, so you’re up to full strength for the ceremony Headmistress McGonagall started planning as soon as she heard you were alive. Awards, honours, the lot.”

Snape opened his eyes again and gave him a long look. “Be off with you, Weasley, and let me contemplate my fate in lonely horror.”

Ron smirked. “Good night, Sir.”

End note:

Well, let me know what you think, hmm?  

 

 

 

 

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