Episode 12: Winter Blues

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Written and Directed by Humaira K and Gill P

Guest starring
Victor Garber as Jack Bristow
Eliza Dushku as Faith Lehane
Keshia Castle Hughes as Sienna Oyster
Mia Maestro as Nadia Santos
Monica Potter as Otrere Sanders
Natalia Tena as Nymphadora Tonks
David Thewlis as Remus Lupin
Michael Vartan as Michael Vaughn

The day after the Yule Ball saw the students heading home for the holidays. Spirits were jubilant as they discussed their plans for Christmas. Harry, Ron and Hermione were not staying at Hogwarts for Christmas as usual. Harry had an invitation to stay with Anastasia for the holidays and was nervously looking forward to it. He hadn’t decided what to give her for Christmas yet and had cornered Meliza to help him do some last minute Christmas shopping before they left.

“Have yourself a merry little Christmas/Let your heart be light/From now on/our troubles will be out of sight/Have yourself a merry little Christmas/Make the Yule-tide gay/From now on/our troubles will be miles away.”

The pair scoured shops until Harry and Meliza finally agreed on a gold pendant with Anastasia’s initials intertwined with Harry’s. The shop said they could deliver on Christmas day and Harry really hoped Anastasia would like it. Meliza was doing her own Christmas shopping for Seamus. They had decided to exchange gifts before they left so she and Harry found a poster of the Irish Quidditch team that Seamus religiously followed as well as some socks. Meliza reasoned that feet needed to stay warm, as Harry had rolled his eyes. Shopping for Ron and Hermione had been easy. He got Ron a season ticket to see The Chudley Cannons and a first edition Potions Book for Hermione. The shop keeper had near enough given it away for free after he saw Harry browsing, even after Harry’s protests to pay in full.

Finally the pair snuck back into Hogwarts and separated wishing the other a merry Christmas. Harry packed his purchases away and the feeling of sadness hit him. This was his last year at Hogwarts and he wasn’t going to be spending it with his friends.

He had not forgotten his older friends and had carefully picked out a dress for Buffy with Meliza’s help, a pack of blood for Angel, Spell books for Willow and Wesley as well as a small gift for Faith even though he didn’t know her that well. He’d also sent over a novelty eye patch for Xander and a photo frame with a picture of Otrere and Xander taken when they hadn’t been looking to Otrere.

“Through the years we all will be together/If the Fates allow/Hang a shining star upon the highest bough/And have yourself a merry little Christmas now.”

Christmas was going to be different this year, but he had a feeling it might be one of his happiest yet.

* * *

Vaughn and Jack quietly crept into the warehouse, flanking Sydney. She stuck one finger in the air, making eye contact with her cohorts through her night-vision goggles, and gestured to the front door of the warehouse. She kicked it open as Vaughn and Jack went to the side doors and did the same, guns in hands. There was no time for secrecy, for the cloak and dagger routine. Severus had been missing for almost 48 hours. If they waited any longer, he might very well be dead.

There were three simultaneous loud crashes, muffled because the kidnappers and their prey were in an underground bunker of the warehouse.

“They’re here son,” Lucius said, knowing without even checking to see. Julian turned off the water torture contraption and nodded silently. Severus shivered, and was too weak to see Julian and Lucius disappear in a cloud of smoke. He was weak, so weak. He could feel himself falling, dying inside because of the horror and pain.

Sydney flicked on her flashlight with her left hand, and with it, propped up her right hand, which held her gun. She led the way through the warehouse.

“All clear!” Vaughn called out, after checking a room beside the one Sydney had just gone into.

“All clear!” Jack added, after investigating another empty room.

“My skin is like a map, of where my heart has been/And I can’t hide the marks, but it’s not a negative thing/So I let down my guard, drop my defences, down by my clothes/I’m learning to fall, with no safety net, to cushion the blow.”

They investigated each room they passed, until they found a room with a flight of stairs.

Sydney didn’t care what was happening anymore. She ran down the steps, her gun, goggles, flashlight, forgotten.

“Severus!” she screamed at the top of her lungs. “Where are you?”

Severus thought he heard a familiar voice in the murkiness of the water, but he couldn’t quite place it. He was falling deeper still.

Sydney screamed when she saw her lover, his silky black hair floating like a halo around his head, his eyes fluttering, his hands locked in a metal embrace above his head. Vaughn and Jack bolted towards the stairs.

Everything happened in slow motion now. She began to weep, her body racked with sobs, as she undid the cuff links, throwing them aside. He was visibly weakened, and couldn’t focus on her face. She tried desperately to lift his soaking wet and dangerously cold body from the water.

“I bruise easily, so be gentle when you handle me/There’s a mark you leave, like a love heart carved on a tree/I bruise easily, can’t scratch the surface without moving me/Underneath I bruise easily, I bruise easily.”

He slipped. Once. Twice. Three times from her eager arms, the arms that wanted to hold him close forever.

“Severus,” she whispered. “Stay with me. Please, stay with me.”

* * *

Vaughn watched as they carted off Severus to the nearest hospital, little knowing that Severus was really going to Hogwarts. Sydney had wanted to go with Severus, but her father had been firm about the fact that she couldn’t do him much good if she was falling to pieces. Sydney seemed broken about her friend, a lot more broken than she should be even if he was a close person in her life.

He didn’t know what he should do. Comfort Sydney and try to get their friendship back on track or leave her to get on with her life with her friend. He wasn’t blind; he could see this Severus meant more to Sydney than she let on to him. Even Jack was looking grimmer than usual.

“Hey Sydney,” he said approaching her on the plane back to Scotland.

She looked up at him with dead eyes. Jack walked off leaving the pair alone.

“Hey,” she finally replied in a listless voice, watching the night as they passed it by.

They sat in silence for a while before Vaughn attempted to comfort her, “He’ll be fine. He seems like a strong guy.”

Sydney’s face crumpled as she was once again haunted by Severus lying motionless in the water. “I thought I’d lost him…Nothing would matter…It’s all my fault…”

“What is your fault? That Sark kidnapped him because he knew you?” asked Vaughn confused. The details hadn’t been explained to him and he was trying to understand why Sydney was so broken up.

“I…Where do I even start? I didn’t tell you the truth Vaughn. Severus…he’s my boyfriend, my partner, my soul mate. Ever since I met him I found the piece of me that was missing. He made me come back to life by daring me to live and to confront my demons. I confronted those demons all right, I even attacked a student. Yet he took the whole guilt onto himself for not being able to help me. He even brought me my dad when I needed him most, even though they hate each other,” started Sydney, “But when I found out what he’d done for me…and my sister…he tried to trade intel on the Circumference so that Sark and his father would leave us alone. Turned out it was old intel and he got kidnapped because of it.”

Sydney heaved a choking sob before she continued, “When my dad told me my only thought was I never told him how much I loved him for being there for me. And his life was in danger for trying to protect me…”

Vaughn moved to crouch next to her as he held the sobbing woman in his arms, “Sounds like this guy really deserves you Syd.” He lifted her chin up and kissed her lips.

“As soon as we land I’m going back to the States. Be happy Syd, it’s all I could ever want for you.”

Sydney kissed him back and then kissed his forehead. “What about Lauren?”

“She’s languishing in federal prison after her antics with Sark were confirmed. I was hoping you’d come back…but you never did…truth is I haven’t even been dating because I thought you’d come back and I couldn’t bear to hurt you a second time,” said Vaughn with a sad smile.

Sydney stared at him for a while and said in a calm voice, “Let me go Michael. You had me and the time we spent I’ll cherish forever but you can’t love a ghost and that’s what I am. A ghost of the person you loved. Let me go.”

With that Sydney stood up as the pilot announced that they were landing soon and went to join her father.

* * *

“What about Christmas at Hogwarts?” Nadia Santos began sweetly. She had long ago learned that she would have to use her Derevko wiles to get what she wanted in the Black house.

Remus Lupin sighed, trying to concentrate on some papers he had been sent by courier. He knew where she was going with this.

“Remus, please,” Nadia continued. “I haven’t seen my sister in months. I’ve been very patient with everyone, allowing the Order to lock me up in this house for so long. Can’t you talk to Professor Dumbledore for me? He’d listen to you!”

“Greeting cards have all been sent/The Christmas rush is through/But I still have one more wish to make/A special one for you.”

Nymphadora Tonks flicked her wand, and the washcloth she had it pointed at began cleaning the table. She smiled to herself, singing a silly Muggle lullaby her father had sung to her when she was a child. “Lupin, she has a point.”

“It’s still too dangerous,” Lupin replied.

Nadia tucked a piece of stray hair behind her left ear. “Dangerous to whom? You told me yourself that You-Know-Who wasn’t a threat anymore.”

“According to the papers, someone has taken up his mantle: Bellatrix Lestrange. I don’t expect you’d know her, but the rumours say she’s gaining attention as the next You-Know-Who.”

“She attacked Harry and Anastasia again,” Tonks added. “Do you remember them?”

“Harry and Anastasia,” Nadia whispered to herself. She hadn’t gotten a chance to really speak to them during the short time she had spent at Hogwarts, but Sydney spoke so highly of them. She noticed her sister’s face becoming proud when she told Nadia stories about what they had done that year.

“Mind you, I’m not saying no, but I’m just wondering if it would be safe for you to step out in the current state the wizarding world is in,” Lupin replied.

Nadia’s lower lip came out and she began to pout. She had become somewhat of a little sister to him and Tonks during their time together, and she knew what buttons to push.

“No, don’t do that!” Lupin began, as Nadia tilted her head to the side. Tonks morphed her face into a sad puppy dog and joined Nadia.

“Okay fine!” Lupin said, slamming his papers down, with a tiny smile on his haggard face. “I’ll speak to the Headmaster. But I make no promises!”

“Yay!” Nadia said, running over to hug him. “That’s all I ask.”

“That girl will be the death of me, won’t she?” Lupin asked.

“Merry Christmas Darling/We’re apart that’s true/But I can dream and in my dreams/I’m Christmas-ing with you.”

Tonks patted him on the arm. “Most probably.”

* * *

Buffy ran to meet her haggard friend and father at the airport followed by a sad looking man. As soon as she saw Sydney she hugged her fiercely letting her best friend be comforted by the compassion, hope and strength she could give.

They didn’t need introductions as they bundled Sydney away into a car hired by Jack, leaving the sad looking man alone watching their exit.

“You must be Sydney’s dad, I’m Buffy Summers,” said Buffy introducing herself during the awkward silence.

“Jack Bristow,” was all he said before staring ahead blankly.

“He’s not much of a talker is he? Well I guess that’s why you’re so passionate, kinda have to balance out the stoicness,” observed Buffy. Sydney graced her with the ghost of a smile.

They sat in silence for the rest of the journey to the train station and boarded the Hogwarts Express. Being the only passengers on board was unnerving. Jack continued to stay silent and Sydney just stopped caring about anything.

When they arrived at the station, the horseless carriages waited for them. Jack raised an eyebrow but Buffy shrugged. This was the least of the strange things he’d encounter at Hogsmeade. Rolling into the castle they were greeted by their friends. Ron, Harry and Hermione had left but the rest of the teachers and remaining students were there to greet them. Sydney gave them all a small smile and they noticed the intense grief on the woman’s face. Even Dumbledore had no words of comfort for her, which suited Sydney fine. She didn’t think she could take any more well wishes.

Their quarters were a painful reminder of Severus’s absence and Sydney broke down once again as soon as she entered them. She didn’t know if he was dead or alive, the Healers had said it wasn’t looking too good. He might not make it at all.

A knock sounded on her door and Wesley strolled in with a grim look on his face. He didn’t say a word as they sat together in companionable silence waiting for news of Severus. Sydney wasn’t allowed to go to St. Mungos until they heard anything. The Healers were adamant that in her already fragile state seeing Severus would undo all their hard work.

Then another knock and Faith came in and sat down with them. One by one most of the staff sat with Sydney and she was grateful, they were all worried about Severus. He might not think he had many friends but this show of support proved him wrong.

‘Please wake up Severus,’ she thought as they all sat in silence.

* * *

Otrere Sanders bounded from the Hogwarts Express, hand-in-hand with her little sister, Sienna, towards the invisible carriages, a huge smile on her face. The rest of the New Orleans clan decided to stay behind, and this would be her first major holiday without them. The threat of demons was too great for them to leave. The almost half year she had been away was crazy and busy, and she was looking forward to unwinding for a few weeks with her Hogwarts family.

“Hello?” she called, as she entered the expansive castle, luggage in hand. She dropped it on the floor and looked around, listening. It was empty, and strangely quiet.

“Where is everyone?” Sienna asked. Otrere had spent the last few months dropping stories and hints about her life here. It intrigued her to realize that a wizarding world existed. She herself was a witch, and had gotten into her own scrapes trying to balance that life with her Muggle one. Her parents never permitted her to attend the wizarding school, and she was trapped in Muggle mediocrity. Deep inside, Sienna was hoping that someone would teach her about this world.

“Here we are as in olden days/happy golden days of yore/Faithful friends who are dear to us/gather near to us once more.”

“I don’t know,” Otrere said, pushing her messy blonde hair aside. A sad looking face emerged from the top of the stairs. “Buffy!” she blurted out.

Buffy looked up, and her face lit up. “Otrere! I forgot you were coming!” she said, leaping over the trick step, and engulfing Otrere in a hug.

“I’m that forgettable?” Otrere teased. Buffy pulled away to look at her friend. She had changed so much. The letter she had received by owl made her happy to know that Otrere had found her place in the world.

“Oh Buffy, this is my sister, Sienna,” she continued, gesturing to the skinny dark-haired girl beside her.

Sienna smiled shyly and shook Buffy’s hand. “Nice to meet you.”

“I hope Otrere is being good to you. I know when she was in my body, she was good to my sister Dawn,” Buffy said. Sienna smiled and nodded.

“Where is everybody?” Otrere asked.

“Oh,” Buffy began, her face fading to black again. “You remember Professor Snape, right?”

“Of course. Not the nicest gentleman, but he was decent enough.”

“He was kidnapped, and tortured by the Malfoys. Do you remember them? We’ve been with Sydney, and most of the kids have gone home for the holidays.”

“Can we go to her?” Otrere asked. She did indeed remember the Malfoys. The lightning, Stonehenge, the kidnappings. Those memories would never fade, and she knew that the Malfoys were major players in that event last year.

“I’ll take you to her.”

Otrere and Sienna silently followed Buffy to Sydney and Severus’ rooms. Otrere silently nodded at the other professors she knew, and noticed some people she didn’t even know.

“Through the years we all will be together/If the Fates allow/Hang a shining star upon the highest bough/And have yourself a merry little Christmas now.”

Sydney was still in shock, and didn’t even notice when Otrere took a seat beside her. The silence was just what she needed. Something was gnawing at her, and she couldn’t shake it. She was in love with Severus. She couldn’t deny it any longer. During this difficult time away from him, she knew that wanted to spend the rest of her life with him, no matter what.

* * *

Severus could feel blackness pressing against him, all sides of him. The blackness engulfed him even as he tried to find some source of light. He didn’t even think as to why he wasn’t embracing it, something told him he had to find the light. Someone was waiting for him at the other end.

Slowly, Severus cracked open an eye, it was blindingly dark and he couldn’t see a thing. Fearing he was still in the blackness, he willed himself to open his other eye. As he saw his surroundings, memories crashed into him nearly crushing any source of sense he could make of them. Images of blonde hair, brown eyes and a woman’s weeping kept making themselves prominent into his battered conscious. One word kept leaping out at him and as soon as he could muster up the strength he blurted out, “Sydney!” hoping the name would bring him closer to the light.

“Sitting on the doorstep of the house I can’t afford/I can feel you there/Thinking of a reason, well, it’s really not very hard/to love you even though you nearly lost my heart/How can I explain the meaning of our love?It fits so tight, closer than a glove.”

Someone was coming nearer and then there was light, blinding light. He thought he heard a “Lumos”, but he couldn’t be sure. “Severus, you’re awake,” said the Healer coming closer. With a wave of their wand and a whispered spell a strange sensation overtook Severus’s body. It was like every part of him was bright with light. Like this person could see into his soul.

“Well, you’re still weak, and I’m not too happy with how long you were in the coma, but other than that you seem all right. Only time will tell what else has gone wrong. For now though, would you like a glass of water?”

Severus found it an effort to talk and knew he needed the water. Blinking his eyes rapidly told the Healer what they wanted to know. She scurried off to get the water leaving Severus to his thoughts. What had happened? He couldn’t remember much apart from some blonde man’s angry face before everything went black. A name kept popping itself into his unconscious and then several invaded at once. Malfoy. Sydney. Julian. Lucius. Jack. They seemed to have some meaning to him, but the only one he could conjure solidly was Sydney, a beautiful woman’s face made it’s way into his mind. He saw her laughing, smiling, weary, angry and worse then that an empty shell. Who was this woman he seemed to be connected to?

“Sitting on a pebble by the river playing guitar/Wond’ring if we’re really ever gonna get that far/Do you know there’s something wrong?/’Cause I’ve felt it all along.”

A scurrying of footsteps alerted him that the Healer was coming back with his water, along with someone else. The woman from his mind. Sydney.

The Healer helped him to sit up and he greedily drank the water as the woman watched anxiously. Sydney.

He wanted more water, so the Healer went to get some more. Sydney stared at him with tears in her eyes. He seemed so weak and fragile as he watched her warily. And then something truly awful entered her brain.

“Severus,” she said gulping down her fear, “Do you know who I am?”

He stared at her for a moment before he asked, “Sydney?”

All her fears came crashing down at once. The electric therapy, the coma and everything else had made him an amnesiac. And now he”d never know who she was.

“I – Sydney – I – where am I? Who am I?” asked Severus.

Sydney sat down beside the man and grasped his hand, “Your name is Severus Snape, you teach Potions at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. You were involved in an incident and are now at St. Mungos Hospital for Magical Maladies. I’m Sydney Bristow, your girlfriend.”

Severus took a moment to digest everything as more images hurtled into his mind sometimes accompanied by words and sometimes not. What this woman, his girlfriend, was saying appeared to be true from what his mind was throwing up at her words, but it was all such a jumble.

“There are a lot of people worried about you. Is it OK if I go and tell them you’re awake? I promise no-one except for me and the Healers will come in until you’re ready.”

Severus nodded trustingly at her as she made her way to the Floo Network fireplace which she’d arrived in so hurriedly after hearing that Severus was awake.

“I can see your face in the mirrors of my mind/Will you still be there?/We’re really not so clever as we seem to think we are/We’ve always got our troubles so we solve them in the bar/As the days go by, we seem to drift apart/If I could only find a way to keep hold of your heart.”

After lighting the fire she told her anxious friends and colleagues that Severus was awake, but his memory wasn’t. He seemed to have lost most of it after what happened. She’d keep them updated, and would they please not tell the children till they came back. At least they could have a happy Christmas.

Her news was met with joyful cheering and then sadness. Dumbledore and McGonagall scurried off to start the Christmas celebrations with the joyful news that Severus was awake. No one wanted to accept the possibility that Severus might not be himself. Jack looked at her over the hubbub and she nodded. She could do this. She could be there for Severus even if he didn’t know who he was.

* * *

“As you know,” Wesley began, his glass raised, “there are some of us who could not attend this celebration.”

Though many things had happened at Hogwarts and abroad so far this year, they all agreed to get together and forget their troubles for a few hours. Buffy and Dawn were inseparable since she, Kennedy, and Willow’s arrival from Hawaii. Otrere and Sienna were set up in Wesley’s house. McGonagall and Dumbledore had decorated the Great Hall as best as they could for their remaining students and their new guests. Wesley was having a private toast for the Alliance of Destiny in the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom before joining the festivities in the Great Hall. Faith, Ron, Hermione, Meliza, Harry, Anastasia (who both snuck away for a few hours), Sienna, Otrere, Kennedy, Dawn, and Buffy were standing
around Wesley in a sombre circle, Butterbeer in hand. Jack Bristow had returned to LA, even though Professor Dumbledore insisted he stay.

“I found your fingerprints/On a glass of wine/Do you know you’re leaving them/All over this heart of mine too/But if I never take this leap of faith/I’ll never know/So I’m learning to fall/With no safety net to cushion the blow.”

Wesley ticked off the list. “Angel, and of course, Sydney and Professor Snape. We wish them the best, particularly for the speedy recovery of Professor Snape. But I would like to add that just because we are divided in numbers does not mean that we are alone on this Christmas day.”

“You’re beginning to sound like Professor Dumbledore,” Ron cracked. A gentle laughter swept through the group.

“I’ll give you that, Mr. Weasley,” Wesley said with a smile on his face. “We are all united in this journey. We’ve come together from all over the world and taken up this worthy cause to protect others less fortunate to have our resources and power. We have committed ourselves to the preservation of peace during these troubled times, and for that, I am glad, no, proud to be here, alongside you all. Salut.”

“Salut,” the group echoed, as they drank the soothing liquid.

“Let’s eat!” Faith announced. She hung back as the others crowded the door. “That was a mighty fine speech Professor.”

“I always try to speak from the heart. I didn’t sound too bookish, did I?” he asked.

“Yeah you did. You rip off Shakespeare or what?”

He chuckled. “No. I suppose I should lay off on the recreational reading though.” He thought faintly of Fred and he tried to shake it off.

As they came upon the Great Hall, the remaining members of the Alliance of Destiny joined the celebration. Students were mixing with professors, and just generally having a great time, despite the despair that hung over their heads like a veil.

“Ooh,” Hermione began. “Faith! Look up!”

Faith was still by Wesley’s side, and they both looked up from the buffet table spread out before them. It was a sprig of mistletoe. They both blushed when they realized what it was.

“Kiss, kiss!” the immediate crowd encouraged them. “Kiss!”

“No, we don’t have to do that, I thought that was a Muggle thing,” Faith said, trying to regain her composure.

“I personally put it there for moments like this,” Professor Dumbledore said, his eyes bright.

“Well, if the Headmaster approved it,” Wesley said, adjusting his glasses, “then I suppose it’s okay.”

“I bruise easily/So be gentle when you handle me/There’s a mark you leave/Like a love heart carved on a tree/I bruise easily/Can’t scratch the surface/Without moving me underneath/I bruise easily/I bruise easily.”

Faith shrugged, leaned over, and Wesley kissed her gently on the lips. For a moment, it seemed the world had stopped. As they pulled away, they looked at each other, as though something more had happened. The crowd cheered, and went about their celebration. But neither one could shake the feeling that the mistletoe kiss was more than it was.

Fade out

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