And there she was.
Lit by the dim light coming from the splintered sliding glass door, a woman with dark brown hair lay on the floor without movement or color. Severus could only stare at her.
It was the second time within the decade Severus Snape had seen the dead body of someone he loved. The first time for a lover, this time for a friend.
Around Severus there was a bookcase on the ground surrounded by glass and a curtain torn into pieces near the window. The couch was out of place, upside down, and ripped. Shredded papers were strewn about and the light fixture had burst, sparking to give just enough light to the bloodstains leading down the hallway.
Dumbledore, who was standing beside Severus, took a step forward. “Andrew—”
“She’s dead,” came the firm voice of a man sitting next to the body. He was staring at the woman with a blue gaze that was full of plans and calculation. In fact, it looked as if the man was staring off into space.
“And the children?” Dumbledore asked.
“Alive,” Andrew said, “but as always they came with an unforeseeable advantage.”
“Who?” Severus demanded. It was an effort to keep his voice even as he remembered Adrianna—the dead woman in front of him—squaring off with the insanity that was Bellatrix Lestrange. The deranged witch had condemned this family that day, despite the lack of one at the time.
“Lestrange,” Andrew spoke. The confirmation made Severus grow tense. “Lestrange and that mutt, Greyback. I assume he came to get back at me.”
“Can you tell us what happened?” Dumbledore said, talking to the Ravenclaw like he was a student at Hogwarts again. Andrew sighed and staggered to his feet. From that movement alone, Severus could tell the bloodstains on the carpet just to the left of them belonged to the Ravenclaw in the room.
“Follow me,” he said, limping forward. “I will have to be brief. The Ministry will be on their way as soon as they notice the Dark Mark.” Severus scoffed as they followed him.
“The one you conjured, no doubt?” he spat bitterly. Greyback didn’t have the brains or the authority and to Bellatrix, this was personal. Andrew stopped closer to the Potions Master, gazing at him.
“I had to,” he told them as any Ravenclaw would tell a fact. “It was the only way to stop the Ministry from sticking their noses where they don’t belong. If they just think it is some stray Death Eater attack on a well-off magical family—"
“A lie,” Severus hissed. “Lestrange has been planning this for years. But I suppose you have some reason to let the wizarding world believe Adrianna was weaker than a few petty Death Eaters.”
“Come now, Severus—” Dumbledore attempted
But Severus refused to be placated. “You may have been a genius at school, but even you could hardly deny her wellbeing was not the only thing you concerned yourself with when you heard this might happen.”
“Why would I deny it?” Andrew asked, that familiar ferocious gaze the only indication of his irritation. Otherwise, this all seemed like a huge inconvenience and that was all. “I did not know her as long as you did nor did I marry her specifically for love, but what does that matter? Considering your choice of ‘friends,’ I would think you would at least understand the importance of family ties.” Severus glared at him. This Ravenclaw was pushing his patience. A lot.
“Andrew,” Dumbledore said without raising his voice even a bit. “Where are the children?” Andrew’s gaze broke from Severus’s and turned to the Headmaster.
Without a word he moved past both professors, limping into the other room. Severus followed him into a large bedroom decorated with green and silver. A bed was in the corner with dressers and other normal furniture. In the middle of the room, however, were four very different figures.
“I had to make them sleep; the shock would have done them more harm than good,” Andrew explained, shuffling over to their side.
Taking a closer look, Severus saw what they were. While a normal five year old lay sprawled out on the far right with blood smeared on her face, three creatures were beside her. A young white canine no larger than a normal-sized book was in the middle, while a gray foal on its side breathed next to the pup, taking up much of the space with its disproportionally long legs.
Finally he came to the third creature, a black snake. Whatever flames ate at him before turned to ice as he gazed upon the animal of his Hogwarts house. Imagining the young girl in her human form—the spitting image of her mother—he thought, Amanda.
Severus could still remember visiting Adrianna just once at St. Mungo’s, where she had been for a few weeks once it was known there was not one, not two, but three children ready to be born. With Adrianna being on the smaller side, Severus had heard the birth hadn’t gone well at all, but that was not the reason he had shown up. It was a letter delivered by owl to which asked him to witness the changing of inheritance from Elena, Adrianna’s oldest daughter, to her second oldest, Amanda. Severus had been ready to warn Adrianna for choosing so soon, but Andrew had stopped him in the hallway, explaining the form Amanda was to take when she grew. Severus had known at that point that Adrianna was not changing her mind.
Andrew knelt next to the foal, staring once again with those calculations and plans.
“They had a few years left at least for this to happen naturally, so I refrained from telling them about it. At such a young age, being in these forms for a year could alter their personalities and growth in ways even I can’t predict.”
“What, dare I ask, caused the curse to react with them so early?” Dumbledore asked. “And why has your youngest stayed the same?” Andrew sighed with fire dancing in his eyes. The man didn’t even have to speak to tell Severus he was thinking of the werewolf the Ravenclaw had so often fought during the war.
“Greyback attacked her,” the man said. “From what I could tell, her older sisters just answered their instinct. Greyback was unconscious the next thing I knew. Judging by the breed of snake Amanda is, she was the one that did it.”
Severus asked, “What of Bellatrix?”
“After I saw Greyback on the floor I searched for her, but she was gone. She got what she came for,” Andrew answered. As he continued staring at the foal, Severus caught a few emotions flitting behind the machine that was Andrew Coppin.
“What is it you called us for? They do not seem injured or in any immediate harm,” Dumbledore said, his grandfatherly tone sending irritation through Snape’s spine.
Andrew’s gaze raised before he replied, “I need you to keep them from the Notts.”
“What do you mean, my boy?” Dumbledore asked.
“I want them to go to Augusta Longbottom—she knows enough about Adrianna and I to take care of them,” the Ravenclaw explained. “If all goes well, she will even accept Jessica the way she is.” Severus’s eyes narrowed tightly as he set the pieces into place.
“You are a coward,” the potions master stated. “You plan to leave your children with a stranger rather than take care of them yourself.” Not that Severus was truly bothered about the other three, but Andrew was yet again trying to get away with avoiding true responsibility and Amanda needed to be with her relatives.
Andrew’s gaze didn’t falter.
“I cannot take care of these children, Severus. I have creatures to attend to, places to be, plans to figure out—”
“And a limited time to do so,” Severus stated coldly. Andrew’s anger showed full force at that—it looked as if he were ready to bare his teeth and charge at Severus.
“This is not as simple as giving normal children to a friend, Andrew,” Dumbledore reasoned, speaking before the Ravenclaw had a chance to. “Your children will never be the same as other magical children. If you had to leave them, would it not be more reasonable to give them to someone who knows them?”
“They will be normal enough when they become human again, and I can arrange payments for Wolfsbane for Severus,” Andrew growled back.
“Out of Adrianna’s vaults, no doubt,” Severus said.
“She was not the only one born into influential bloodlines, if you don’t remember,” Andrew said lowly. His eyes reminded Severus of an eagle’s. A very spineless, pathetic eagle.
“Is your hatred of the Nott family so significant that you would deny them their nieces?” Dumbledore asked. Andrew scoffed.
“If that family was not a bunch of Death Eaters, I wouldn’t even consider taking them to Augusta,” the Ravenclaw hissed. “I will not have Audrey or any of them raised like those murderers no matter what clever scheme you have set up for their future if they were to be raised there, especially so soon after the war.”
“What of Amanda?” Snape asked at last. “Adrianna wanted her to grow into the expectation of carrying on her Pureblood—”
“I know very well what she wanted,” Andrew interrupted. His voice had grown cold now. “However, I will not make exceptions. These three must stay together, no matter what Adrianna wished for. If you want Elena to stay there permanently, fine—she isn’t mine anyway. But you know what these three could do and why breaking them apart would be devastating to their potential.”
Severus scoffed, but Dumbledore stopped his retort.
“If it is your wish,” Dumbledore answered.
Severus, tense, asked, “Amanda would at least be allowed to visit the Notts and other Slytherin families, I assume?”
Andrew shrugged. “There isn’t much I can do about that. If you care enough to carry out Adrianna’s wishes in a round-about way, be my guest. I only want them grow up together in a house not infested with Death Eaters.”
“I will do what I must,” Severus answered.
“I appreciate that,” Andrew said stiffly, taking out his wand. He waved it, causing a long glass snake to come floating over. He gently lifted Amanda’s snake form and set her in his pocket. Then he took the flexible clear glass snake and set it on the other three, making sure they were touching it.
“Greyback is in the kitchen,” Andrew said.
He set a hand on the portkey and disappeared.