A/N: Special thanks to redvelvetcanopy, my wonderful beta!
Chapter two: Travelling Through Time and Over Seas
Severus Snape had made several probes into the past but to no avail; the message still gleamed upon his door. It surprised him that in the past, the room itself was still as empty as the day he had moved in. He was beginning to think that this room had been designed with himself in mind. Yet with each hundred year turn of the Time Turner, he felt his patience with this whole drama wearing thin. Was Sorcha really worth this? Well, he had no desire to face her as a thousand year old witch, that was for certain. He knew she would wait for him if he didn’t come; and if she had to wait for him to be born and grow up, she would throw the worst of her clumsy sorcery at him. Perhaps worse, history would be completely altered.
Each twist of the Time Turner plunged him in to utter darkness. The routine of ‘Turn – “Lumos!” – Moment of disappointment – Turn…’ was frankly irritating him to the high heavens. But as long as those words were scrawled over the back of his door, he would continue, as if searching for a delinquent student who had vandalised his property. It seemed like an age before the words finally vanished, though it struck him that at any point in this century she could have marked the door. Of course Severus Snape was no fool, he cut down the lengths of time systematically, in half, and then half again, until he finally reached the year the message had been written.
He looked at the shimmering black words and traced a potion-calloused hand over them; a slight curl of the Potions Master’s lips indicated that he was reminiscing the finer points of his relationship with the clumsy elf. Sorcha was one of a kind, and she was his. Suddenly snapping back to his task, he immediately made to Apparate. Though, it soon became apparent that he had forgotten one of the fundamental attributes to the castle itself; he couldn’t very well Apparate from within its walls. Carefully he opened the door, creeping as silently as he could into the dark and empty corridor. The echoing corridors all appeared quite empty. Severus Snape escaped the castle and grounds unseen. As soon as he could, he Apparated away from his position quite near to the castle, and out of sight of those whose futures he could alter. ~*~
He found himself Apparating to places that in his own time were built up, densely populated areas. Yet here, they were green, there was nothing, and it was quiet. It hadn’t registered in his mind that he had, in fact, never been to Ireland in any time period. It was unlikely he would be able to Apparate to a place he did not know, even if he could Apparate over seas. He had not considered how long this would take him upon leaving Hogwarts some thousand years into the future.
He had upon him only his wand and his few supplies, but they would be of little use in crossing water. He knew of few people who could walk on water, and unfortunately, he was not among that number. Severus Snape would have to travel by boat, and he knew the very place to find one.
He remembered the small village well. Manorbier was on the south-western coast of Wales, a place he had often visited as a child. It was well known to most wizarding families, as they had houses there, away from prying Muggle eyes and bitter persecution. He knew for a fact it would be there now; the village had grown close to a castle, one said to be a thousand years old. He Apparated onto one of the nearby bays, and watched the sea sweep in and out. It was the same and yet different. The land as he knew it was visibly bigger, as if it slowly shrank over the centuries. Many of his fondest memories had been here, away from the brutality of his father, and into the peaceful seclusion of never ending green. And yet, it held painful memories too. This was where his beloved mother had died.
He pulled away from his mind and began to walk through the long grasses, back towards land. The tide was coming in and of all people, Severus Snape did not need to be told twice about the dangers of raging water; vivid memories of Sorcha hoodwinking him to visiting the Giant Squid, who lived in Hogwarts’ lake, floated languidly in his mind. He was rather content to stay put on land, where sea monsters couldn’t reach him. ~*~
He walked for most of the day, still garbed in his black robes and fluttering black cloak. It was one of those rare days where the sun shone in Wales, and yet was pleasantly cool. He should have reached the castle that day, but the terrain was far different to that he recalled. The soils were soft beneath the soles of his shoes, the relief of the land was far less even than he was used to, and quite possibly, he just wasn’t as young as he had been. He found his thoughts often wandering to his roving wife. She had said that Elves had once lived in Wales, near the mountains in the north; however, he had no desire to walk much further than he had to. The sun was beginning to set and Manorbier’s great castle was still far off.
Tired and still not certain as to how he would bargain his way across the sea, he settled down beneath the stars, recognising none of those he had learnt so long ago upon the Hogwarts battlements as a student. He frowned suddenly, realising his lack of a bed. So, somewhat disgruntled he curled up beneath his great black cloak and slept. The morning could not be more welcome.
He awoke to mass prodding, and a voice shouting:
“Da! Da, I’ve found someone!”
Still in the cloudy clutches of sleep, Snape struggled to come to terms with what was happening. He leaped up immediately as something solid penetrated the ground next to his head.
“Who are you?” the man grunted, placing a hand on his son’s shoulder. The man frowned untrustingly at Snape in his black attire, crooked nose and black eyes. Snape could hear Sorcha’s voice in his mind saying, “The greasy hair probably doesn’t help either.”
Snape surveyed the man before him. He was very tall, shaggy brown hair curled down past his shoulders, and his face was speckled with dirt as if he had been working intensely for many hours. He met the man’s eyes, puddles of grey in his hard face, which was lined faintly with the lines of pressure and age. His clothing was simple; he was clearly not a rich man. Snape chose to speak.
“My name is Severus Snape. I am looking for Manorbier Castle – perhaps you could help me?” he said through clenched teeth, unsuccessfully hiding the irritation of being awoken so barbarically.
“Snape?” the man asked, pulling his shovel from the damp soil. “You’re one of those damn bastards atop the hill?” he asked, pointing behind them at a somewhat shabby, but once grand, house on the top of the hill. So the Snapes had once been overseers.
“No, the name is just coincidence, I assure you. I’m looking for passage across the sea.”
The man laughed. “No offence, Sir, but dressed like that you’ll be mistaken for Black Guy, and there ain’t a soul around here who’d trust that god-forsaken murderer. You’ll be needing some diffr’nt clothes,” he said. Looking at Snape’s hair, he added, “Probably a good scrub too. I can help you there, then set you off to the castle, alright,” he finished. “Come on then.”
Severus Snape, confounded by the man’s bluntness and hospitality, followed behind in a daze. Of course, it could have been a trap, but Severus Snape, being who he was, knew he could handle anything. ~*~
It wasn’t a trap. Snape frowned at the sight of the dwelling. It was little better than Hagrid’s hut. Yet, he was in no position to complain – he had nowhere else to go. It seemed to be made up of crudely cut stones, but was no doubt one of the better homes in the area.
“Merrie!” the man called, walking through the door. When he got no answer, he roared, “MERRIE!”
A young woman walked out of one of the side rooms, looking irritable in a brown dress that did very little for her. It could have been made from potato sacks. Again in his mind’s ear he could hear Sorcha scolding him, “That is no way to speak of your hosts – look what an insufferable fool they’ve been kind enough to put up with.”
“Draw up a bath, brought back a friend.”
She scurried off. “Don’t mind her, she’s growin’ up – you know what kids are like.” The man chuckled. “I never gave you my name, did I? Gwyddions my name, this is Tom, my son,” he said, motioning to the boy who had prodded him awake.
“Do you not have a wife?” Snape enquired.
“’Fraid she died giving birth to Tom here, but not a day goes by I don’t think of her,” he answered solemnly. “Enough about me, you’ll need some fresh clothes. Don’t have much but, they’ll do,” he said, changing the topic. He walked into another room. “Sit down,” he called back. It was only then that Severus noticed the boy was gone too.
He remained standing all the same, and as Gwyddion re-emerged with a set of clothes, so did his daughter, who announced the tub was full and that he should find it around the back. He voiced his thanks to the pair and left to wash. It was truly wonderful to be keeping clean. He washed his hair with the scrap of soap the girl had left, but he knew that it would soon be back to its slick state. He dried himself with a simple wave of his wand and dressed in the clothes he had been given.
Severus had to admit they were a close fit. He walked around to the front of the house, and was suddenly aware of a hushed argument between father and daughter.
“None of that funny stuff, Merr, I’m telling you – the man is of high birth, if he finds out you can do that stuff, you’ll be burned as a witch, you hear me?”
“Yes, Da, I hear you. I won’t be lightin’ no fires, promise.”
“There’s a good lass, be on with you. Is there anything we can spare for the man’s journey?”
“I’ll see to it, Da,” she whispered back.
It was at that moment Severus chose to enter the hut. It was awkward indeed, as they both looked at him. Gwyddion was on his knees in a flash.
“My Lord, please, she’s just a kid, she don’t know what she’s doin’. She’s no Witch,” he pleaded.
“I am not a lord,” Severus began, realising the mistake he’d made, though initially he’d thought he could help, it became apparent, he had neither the time nor resources to train her. “I am a Wizard myself,” he admitted.
Gwyddion and his daughter both were taken aback. Relief painted wildly across their faces. The man slowly stood. “Then, why did you not say something before,” he said with a laugh, trying to ease the mood.
“It’s not something you openly discuss where I come from,” Snape retorted. “As much as I would like to offer your daughter aid, I have other more pressing matters, and not enough time in which to do them. I must cross the sea,” he said.
Some exchange went on between the pair; Snape wondered what was going on. Finally Merrie stepped forward, “I will take you,” she said confidently.
“You will? How?”
“I can walk on water,” she said.
“You have a wand?” he enquired.
“A wand? No, Sir, I just do magic, it’s easy,” she said, looking utterly baffled.
“When can we go?”
“In the morning,” Gwyddion answered. “Meredith, start about dinner.” He looked to Severus, “Are you willing to lend a hand? I’m no magician – that was my wife, the roof has a leak, you see.”
“I will do what I can.” Snape exited the house and went about his task. ~*~
The entire household sat before the fire that night, the flames dancing happily in the grate. The small hut seemed so much more inviting when there was nothing but night on the other side of its walls. Meredith put on an extraordinary show in the fire itself; a tale of dragons and knights, trolls and giants rolling about in the flames: steady streams of smoke puffing out from the bloody battlefields, and outbursts of flames where dragons fried potential vanquishers. Snape wondered what it would be like if his life were so simple as this. Then curiosity piqued by talk of battles, he asked the only thing he could remember about Sorcha’s travels through time.
“Have you every heard of the Fianna?”
Meredith’s eyes widened.
“But of course! They are the most famous army to ride the land, their stories travel far,” she rushed, “were I so lucky as to marry Finn MacCumhail!” She sighed in longing. “He is so…” she spoke wistfully, reminding Snape of his own monstrosity of a daughter.
“Do they not have a Witch in their company?”
“Of course, they say that she is not from this world – that she is one of the great Celtic gods made into flesh – her deeds are unmatched by any,” Meredith whispered dramatically.
“Does she have a name?”
“But of course, Sorcha the Sly, they call her. She oft spies on the enemies of the Fianna, striking their enemies at the heart before the Army descends upon them. Why do you ask?”
“I have heard many stories of her also,” he lied.
“She is brave,” Meredith sulked. “No woman has such an honour, to ride in battle as she does.”
It was not long before they retired leaving Snape before the hearth. He slept deeply, dreaming of his wife… Sorcha the Sly indeed!
He dreamt that Sorcha was his mother, and he was but a small child smoothing down the rough woollen shirt on his chest as he complained.
“I liked my other clothes,” he stomped.
“Don’t be ridiculous – imagine what people would think seeing you with that great black cloak of yours flying out behind you!”
She looked at him sincerely eyes full of love and compassion, “Severus, they’d think you were Lucifer come to claim their souls…”
Certainly that had woken Severus, tearing him from sleep as forcefully as a sledge hammer. He stood and exited the house, sitting on a log unbroken for its use to feed the fire. He didn’t feel himself – being around a more conventional family than his own, left him somewhat jealous. He did, of course blame Sorcha, but it was hardly her fault he was as receptive as a brick wall. The sun was beginning to rise in the east, he watched as its fiery rays chased the stars from view and heralded their path west to the sea, to Ireland and to Sorcha the Sly. He would never put this one to rest… ~*~
The rest of the house woke not long after himself and was a carnival of hurried preparations. Once they were packed with supplies, they were off, traipsing across hills and fields, each greener than the next. The sun beat down, but was soon replaced by great grey clouds; it would undoubtedly rain. As the smell of salty water came ever more distinguishable, Severus regrettably acknowledged that they would get very wet as they crossed to Ireland. The coast was like he had never seen it, the waves were low, washing silently up on the shore rather than crashing, as would befit the type of storm he expected.
“We’ll need to go quickly, the storm will come before sundown,” Meredith said, surveying the clouds. In the distance – very far in the distance – Severus could see lightening; he wandered vaguely if wizards could look through time as they did space. But dark thoughts of that imbecile Trelawney came to mind, and he mentally laughed off any prospects for divination.
The small party stood uneasily, and as Gwyddion and Tom, said their farewells to Meredith, she hugged them both fiercely, and was grateful for their promise to wait for her here upon her return. Severus turned uneasily; never one to successfully give thanks to anyone, no matter how deserving, he frowned then bit his lip, and then furrowed his brow. Eventually sticking out a rigid hand and firmly clasped Gwyddion’s own.
He could feel his heart swelling in his chest and a lump rising in his throat. Severus Snape blamed it on his nerves, after all – it couldn’t be humility… could it?
“Thank you,” he said, trying hard not to make matters worse. He was grateful, but shows of gratitude were not his specialty.
“Say nothing of it. Glad we could help. T’was nice to meet you, Severus Snape – Good luck to ye,” he said smiling. All at once the nerves left him and he felt markedly relaxed.
“It has been a… pleasure. I am grateful,” he replied, just as Sorcha would have put it: “As burned out as a stone cold campfire. Have a heart!”
They separated swiftly, and for that Severus Snape was thankful, but if he thought walking on water would be easy he had another thing coming. Meredith, though undoubtedly a stronger witch than he was wizard, had difficulty stabilising her magic. Unlike Sorcha, who would only solidify the air above the waters surface in patches, Meredith made the water’s surface a thick film and it far larger patches than was perhaps necessary. It felt as if they were walking through a marsh, and one recently flooded at that. Severus was rapidly doubting he would ever see land again, but all the same protected them from the spray of waves which some how filtered over Meredith’s barrier.
Another ten minutes and he had had enough of the squelching feeling beneath his soles. He didn’t blame the girl, after all, for an untrained witch without a wand, she was doing rather well, but if she could just ‘do magic’ perhaps he could suggest Sorcha’s method for easier travel. He managed after many near falls, to reach her, the noise of the waves as they grew in size and ferocity made communicating near impossible.
“MEREDITH!” he roared. “MEREDITH!” She turned around carefully.
“What is it? What’s wrong?” she said, Severus seeing, rather than hearing the words.
“Try this – imagine the air above the water is a solid platform.”
She nodded, and Severus felt the barrier of the water’s skin break. As he fell he could just make out Meredith’s face, stricken with shock and terror as he slipped from her sight. His chest racked for breath as the chill water engulfed him. The water taking him under, stealing his breath, as each watery claw of waves dragged him further down and away from life. ~*~
But Severus Snape was not dead. Looking rather like a drowned rat, wearing what he was coming to call ‘peasant rags’, he furiously wondered how Sorcha could ever travel like this. However if it made him anymore sympathetic towards her, such notions would really never see the light of day. He felt like a corpse, nothing but dead weight as he tried to lift himself to a seated position, he flopped back down, as helpless a baby – he was hallucinating too, the merry tinkle of Sorcha’s laugh echoed around in his head as if some great bell had been struck from within.
“Don’t try and move, you nearly drowned,” said a soft voice he recognised.
“Meredith?” he choked, sounding far more feeble than he would ever let anyone hear again.
“I got you out of the water, and I imagined that we had reached the far coast, the way I had seen in like, from when I sat on the beach before,” her teeth chattered, no doubt she was cold and tired just as he was. “Then somehow we were here, on the shore.”
“You Apparated here,” he mumbled rolling onto his back, but even such small movement caused him to lag with fatigue. “That’s what wizards call it when they transport themselves from one place to another with magic,” he finished.
He could make out her head nodding, but she said no more.
“I had a black case with me, is it still here?” he enquired.
“Yes it is, and the sand-timer too, I managed to grab it before it floated away,” she said softly. He heart hammered – he had almost lost the Time-Turner!
“Open the case there should be a green bottle – take a sip, and pass it to me.” She did as she was told and passed on the bottle. It contained a Revitalising Draft and would give them strength enough to move away from the shore and set up a fire to keep them warm. Meredith returned all his belongings to him, and he thanked her weakly for the trouble she went to regarding the Time-Turner. When she asked why it was so important, he replied that it was his only way home. Silence fell over them as the built up a fire not far from the beach. They slept soundly, trusting their safety to chance.