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This story is Adult in nature, with explicit language and includes graphic depiction of adult sexual behavior
and some depiction of violence.
"I do not think there is reason for alarm just yet Severus," Dumbledore assured him. They had sent Welkin off to bed with the baby after getting her to recount every detail of her dreams concerning Voldemort.
"There is no indication of harm to either of you in the details that Welkin revealed to us. For the moment I would suggest that we merely let the sleeping dragon lie. Has he summoned you since the child’s birth?" Dumbledore asked.
"No," Snape replied, staring at the wall for a moment before he met Dumbledore’s gaze. "This is my fault," he said. "I should never have become involved with Welkin. It is my fault that she was drawn into this. I was a fool to think that I could have…" Snape didn’t complete his thought - a pained expression was on his face.
"You were a fool to think that you could have what? Love? Happiness? A normal life?" Albus finished for him, turning away to seat himself again in his chair behind his desk. "No, you are not foolish to want any of those things. They are as much your due as they are anyone else’s."
"But I have put Welkin and our child in jeopardy by my selfishness," Severus protested. "If anything happens to her because of my lack of control over my emotions, I do not want to…" Snape trailed off again.
This was the first time that Dumbledore had ever heard Snape refer to himself as selfish, or even admit to a character flaw of any sort. It took him by surprise. Welkin’s influence on Snape appeared to have wrought changes in the man that Dumbledore had never anticipated, but had long hoped to see.
"Then let us both do our best to make sure that nothing does happen to her Severus," Albus said, "For I myself do not wish to be mourning the loss of either of you."
"But I thought Voldemort was dead. Everyone talks about him as if he is, even if they still won’t say his name," Welkin said. "That’s why I didn’t mention anything at first when I started having the dreams and then realized who it might be. I didn’t think there was a reason to worry about it if he was dead."
"He has returned," Snape told her simply. "Most people either do not know it, or do not believe it," he added. "It is best that you do not discuss it with anyone but me or Dumbledore," he insisted, "for reasons I cannot explain to you."
"Returned? Back from the dead? How is that even possible?" Welkin asked.
"The less you know, the safer you will be," Snape told her. "Do not ask me any further questions."
Welkin noticed that Severus was rubbing his arm intermittently as he spoke with her.
"What’s wrong with your arm? You keep rubbing it."
"Nothing," Snape replied, removing his hand from it abruptly.
"Yes there is. Let me see," Welkin insisted. Against his protests she grasped the sleeve of his nightshirt and pushed it up until his forearm was exposed. The Dark Mark had changed from its usual appearance - an angry red scar - to a black image, pulsating against his pale skin as if it were alive.
Snape hastily covered it again. "It is nothing I tell you!"
"He’s summoning you isn’t he?"
Snape was silent, his face turned away, not wanting to answer.
"Isn’t he?" Welkin asked again more firmly.
"Yes," Snape admitted quietly.
"Is that where you’ve gone on those evenings that you’ve told me you suddenly had errands to do?"
"Yes," he answered her a little wearily.
"Are you still a Death Eater Severus?" she asked the question that was uppermost on her mind.
"No! I am not! But I…I cannot explain further!" His agitation was increasing.
"It’s okay. Please don’t get upset. I believe you," Welkin reassured him. She rubbed his back soothingly and pressed a kiss to his cheek. He turned to her with a look of desperation on his face, and she tried to reassure him again. "I know you wouldn’t do anything wrong. You’re not like that."
What good thing had he ever done to deserve Welkin’s devotion? Snape wondered. She trusted him beyond reason and beyond caring about the whispers and innuendo she must surely have heard about him over the months that they had been married during this past year.
"I love you," he told her, not knowing how else to respond. "I want so much to be the man you need me to be." With that honest expression to her, Severus Snape, the man who so often sneered at sentiment and cautioned others to control their emotions, firmly pinned his heart back into place on his own sleeve.
"You already are the man I need you to be," Welkin said. She leaned closer and kissed him on the lips tenderly. "Answer your summons," she told him when their lips parted. "It’s probably not wise, is it - to keep the Dark Lord waiting? But please be careful my only love. I don’t know what I’d do without you, and I have no desire to raise our son alone."
"I hear congratulations are in order Severus," Voldemort greeted him. "Lucius here tells me that a son has been added to the Snape household. Unfortunate that his mother is a mere Muggle of course, but most probably he will inherit his father’s abilities and make a fine Death Eater someday." He studied Snape’s impassive face for any change of expression after his insult to Welkin. It was a game he had been playing with Snape ever since his marriage to Welkin, trying to gauge the depth of his commitment to her.
"And what of the mother? Does she still please you sexually, or has childbirth affected her too much? If that is the case I might suggest that you take her anally instead. That has always been my greatest pleasure personally," Voldemort continued to test him. "Depending upon her proclivities in the past of course, that orifice may still be untouched."
Lucius Malfoy, seated near the fireplace, and shrewdly choosing to stay out of the conversation, quirked an amused smile at Snape, intent on seeing his reaction to the Dark Lord’s goading.
Snape hesitated and quelled any trace of anger that Voldemort’s words had aroused in him.
"Well? What say you to my question Severus? Surely you haven’t developed feelings for the Muggle wench have you? They are all little more than animals after all," Voldemort challenged.
"No, I have not," Snape told him what he wanted to hear. "She still pleases me sexually. That is my only interest in her. I only pretend otherwise to make her more pliant to my desires."
"Good…good," Voldermort said with approval. Lucius has been telling me about her and seemed to think otherwise. He said you positively doted on the creature. I must say that he seems quite interested in her himself - so much so that I find myself growing somewhat curious about her. You must arrange to bring her and your son to meet me. Lucius will host an intimate dinner party and I’m sure it will be a most pleasant and revealing evening. You have no objections of course?"
"Are you…sure that is wise milord," Snape asked, trying to discourage the idea. "Surely the less people whom you expose your existence to at this crucial time in your plans, the better."
"Are you intimating that she might be a threat to me Severus?"
"No, not at all milord. Just that there could be a chance that she might unintentionally let something slip," Severus responded quickly.
"I’m sure that you can keep her in line Severus," Voldermort dismissed his concerns. "I have every confidence in you. You have never failed me in the past."
Snape began to state another objection, but was cut off by Voldemort before he could finish. "I really must insist on this Severus. Is this clear?" The ugly travesty of a smile was back on Voldemort’s inhuman face. "Yes milord," Snape replied, neither his face nor his mind betraying any hint of the panic that he felt.
"Good. Now Lucius, I must ask you to leave us alone. I have other things which I need to discuss with Severus."
Malfoy smirked once more at Snape before leaving them alone in the room. If he played his cards right, Lucius thought, the Dark Lord himself might hand over Welkin to him, to do with as he wished.
As the door closed on Malfoy’s retreating form, Snape began to give his report on Hogwarts, Harry Potter, Dumbledore and other matters of interest to Voldemort.
"I’ll do it, but I’m not taking Sully," Welkin agreed at once with no hesitation.
"Are you sure?" Dumbledore asked. "It will be both difficult and extremely dangerous. If you are unable to shield yourself from Voldemort the consequences could be fatal. He is extremely shrewd and discerning and will penetrate your mind without compunction should he become suspicious of you."
"It will be extremely dangerous for Severus if I don’t go, won’t it be?" Welkin countered. "I’m not afraid of Voldemort anymore," she lied, "but I absolutely refuse to take Sully. He stays here!"
"Of course," Dumbledore assured her. "Severus and I had already agreed on that. Sullivan will be conveniently ill and unable to travel when the day arrives."
"I am against this. I do not wish you to go," Snape told her unnecessarily.
"I know that you are. I would feel the same way if the situation was reversed, but it isn’t and I’m going. It’s my decision and I’ve made it. There’s no use trying to change my mind." Welkin’s jaw was clenched and her lower lip pouted slightly, exhibiting an expression of stubborn resolve that Severus had learned to recognize in the course of their innumerable verbal skirmishes since their marriage began. Once her mind was set thusly, Snape knew that only the most logical and compelling argument could ever make her relent. Unfortunately, he had no such argument at his disposal at the moment.
"So be it," Dumbledore said. "Severus will begin your training in Occlumency immediately. You must learn to shield your mind as best you can before this…"
"Hellish dinner date?" Welkin finished for him. "I’ve been on a few of those before and my date never knew what I was really thinking," she quipped.
"You must take this seriously Welkin," Snape cautioned her, "or we will both be undone."
"No…no, I think that I must do exactly the opposite," she told them both, the beginning of an idea forming as she considered her game plan. "I think that only not taking it so seriously and an overly liberal dose of charm is going to get me through this in one piece. I can be quite the charmer you know, when I want to be, and if the situation calls for it," Welkin added.
"Of that there is no doubt," Albus agreed. Welkin’s charm had even managed to seduce dour Argus Filch. She had brought tasty tidbits to his beloved Mrs. Norris from her supper in the Great Hall and engaged Filch in conversation about the cat for a full 20 minutes one evening in the hallways. Albus doubted that Argus had ever had a conversation that long with anyone since he had first started his duties at Hogwarts. Consequently, Welkin had the run of the castle now, without interference from Filch, and sometimes even with his assistance. Albus pretended not to notice Filch’s catering to Welkin, not wanting to embarrass him. Life was difficult enough for a Squibb.
"What shall I wear?" Welkin pondered. "Something dark and a bit décolleté I think."
"Not too décolleté" Snape frowned, mindful that Lucius was hosting the dinner and might still have designs on Welkin.
"Just décolleté enough," Welkin reassured him. "I want to be just distracting enough to keep the Dark Lord out of my mind, but not so much that I make him suspicious. I’m not looking to incite a gangbang. I’ve played this game before. I know exactly what to do."
"Surely you are not suggesting that you are going to flirt your way through this?" Snape looked both incredulous and worried at the thought.
Welkin smiled her ‘let the games begin’ smile at him.
"Albus, please dissuade her from this…this…insanity!" Snape implored him, using the Headmaster’s given name for the first time in their long acquaintanceship.
"I’m afraid that I cannot Severus. She has already worked her considerable charms on me long ago and I am, as the Muggles say, but ‘putty in her hands’. Brandy anyone?" he asked, pouring himself a stiff draught.