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People of the Goddess by Meadowsweet

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Severus Snape was studying a map. Rather, he’d finished studying it and was still staring at it while he ran scenarios. There were many respected witches and wizards in Durham and a good number of the opposite. Which would Malfoy have been sent to consult? Academic or criminal? It would be better to approach it from the other end and pinpoint the disturbance they’d caused. Draco had said they were forced off the road and into the woods; that could only mean they were by the College.

While there may not be witnesses to the fight, the Dark Lord was unlikely to let resistance go unpunished. Especially if it occurred in pursuit of the Elder Wand. He would send more Death Eaters, those experienced in rooting out local pockets of dissent.

Additionally Draco had left without accomplishing his goal, so Snape was doubly certain another attempt would be made soon. There was the problem. He had to be there to discover if this mission did in fact concern the Elder Wand, but he couldn’t afford the time or risk of surveillance. Would he have to rely solely on guess work?

“No problem is insurmountable, Severus. What are you working on? Is it that young witch who evaded you so easily?”

“I wish you wouldn’t — it was pure luck on her part! Anyway, she’s no longer a concern.”

“Forgive me, Severus, but by that you mean…?”

“Not dead. I had to restrain her and wipe her memories, but there should be no long term damage.”

“Then what’s troubling you?”

“Unlike you, I don’t have a spy. I don’t have resources. I must discover everything for myself but not be seen to be looking.”

“So use the sources you do have.”

“I can hardly set Death Eaters to watching other Death Eaters. If there is a mission to Durham, it is my duty as an obedient servant of the Dark Lord to shut my eyes and ears and ask no questions.”

“However where Draco is concerned, you might be seen to take liberties.”

“I might, just might, be able to bring this resistance movement to the others' attention and on the pretext of protecting Draco ask any sightings of people wearing this mark to be reported to me.”


Snape winced and clutched his arm. The mark burned. He dismissed the map with a wave of his wand.

“If I present these people as a threat, it could lead to their eradication.”

“Always the question. Who do we risk in trying to preserve lives?”

“Who do I risk. I must bear it. You’re dead.”

He glanced at the clock. Almost midnight. Why these late summons? They no longer needed to operate under cover of darkness. He opened the window and the portrait called after him.

“What are you going to do, Severus?”

“I have a plan.”

It was cold and the wind cut cruelly. After a long season of rain and frost it had finally snowed. Winter. And was Potter any closer? To what? The sword was a heavy burden, constantly on his mind. Whatever progress Potter made would be curtailed if he couldn’t use the sword, but for what? Dumbledore’s portrait would not specify. Snape stopped himself from thinking, imagining, what Potter was seeking. Potter was supposed to be in hiding; no one would believe he was actively seeking a way to defeat the Dark Lord. As Headmaster of Hogwarts there was no reason for him to be thinking of the boy.

He landed at Malfoy Manor with a mind properly full of Hogwarts, Reform, and the Education Initiative for a New Order. He now had letters from the board of governors, those who had been allowed to remain on the board, pledging their support to the new direction of the school. While sundry reports were made, Snape could appear pleased; his work at least was successful. Any Legilimency quietly at work would reveal only smug satisfaction.

The Dark Lord was preoccupied. These random meetings were more to keep his disciples on edge. A formality. After the first searching gaze around the table, when Snape could feel his mind being seared open, Voldemort lost interest and stopped listening. More important to him were the whispers in his ear from the unnamed spies who passed freely through the manor and the infrequent owls he eagerly awaited.

The Elder Wand. Why was he so certain he needed it? Was this desperation, or simply lust for power? Snape had wondered this only at his most secure and private times. Here, his mind was a box with a tightly sealed inner compartment and nothing could pass from one to the other in the Dark Lord’s company. Snape didn’t allow any change of emotion to wrinkle his mind until they were dismissed and had bowed from their master’s presence. As Death Eaters poured silently out of the manor into the night, Snape caught up with Lucius. Around them wizards were taking flight or Disapparating as they crossed the barrier warding the manor.

“How’s Draco?”

“Gone again.” Lucius glanced around them and added in a fierce whisper, “He’s being intentionally removed from my influence. As if I – I am not loyal! I raised him to be the valuable servant that he is!”

Snape silenced him. Dolohov and Birtwhistle were close.

“Dolohov,” Snape said quietly. “A word?”

Dolohov seemed reluctant to stop, but Birtwhistle was always a brown noser and readily stopped to talk. Snape raised his wand and was amused to see the involuntary twitch the others made towards their own wands. In the air he cut a glowing vertical line. From its middle he made two parallel lines branching to the left.

“There are some exceedingly foolish individuals hindering the work of the Dark Lord and his servants. They hide their faces and wear this mark on their arm. Dolohov, am I right in assuming you are still Lestrange’s watchdog? Sniffing out traitors and rebellion for her to purge?”

The Auror bristled.

“I serve our lord, not Lestrange. This group is obviously too small to be relevant or a threat, or of course I would have known long before””

“A threat? I doubt it,” Snape said smoothly. “I wouldn’t expect you to waste time or resources. Only they did cause trouble for Macnair and Draco recently. Draco must not be seen to fail; there are a jealous few who would take advantage. Foolishness, after he’s proved so valuable to our lord.”

There it was, the personal motive. Propping up the godson. Envious of Draco’s popularity though they may be, they could not be seen to work against him. Dolohov would do the bare minimum to assist and then wash his hands of the matter.

“What does the mark mean?” Birtwhistle asked.

“That depends. It’s an ogham rune, Dagda. It represents the oak tree.” Snape grimaced. “But its meaning depends on what field of mythology or divination one prefers. I never cared for such studies.”

Dolohov mumbled something about keeping in touch and moved on.

“I’m overseeing different teams of Snatchers,” Birtwhistle volunteered. “If we find anyone or see anything, I’d be only too happy…”

Snape bowed and walked away, leaving Birtwhistle still bubbling enthusiastically. Lucius hurried after him.

“Why just Dolohov, why not inform everyone?”

“Because, Lucius, it isn’t a grave threat and the Dark Lord has made his priorities clear.” Snape lowered his voice. No need to lose his only ally, such as he was. “You should not be seen to be acting contrary or hindering our master’s plans, even for the sake of your son.”

Malfoy blanched but set his jaw.

“If it saved him...I would do it.”

Snape stopped short and caught Lucius by the robes urgently.

“Don’t say that again. Don’t even think it, Lucius.” He added slowly, “Now is a very dangerous time.”

Most everyone else had left; to linger longer might raise suspicion. Snape told Lucius to return quickly before his absence was noticed and flew back to Hogwarts School.

It was five a.m. Theophany wasn’t sure if she was more desperate for food or sleep. Maybe just a cup of tea.

“I find tea is always best,” Silyn agreed.

“Did you just read my mind, or did I say that out loud?”

Silyn laughed. “You were talking to yourself.”

“Merlin, that’s no good on a mission, is it?”

They were stumbling down the path to The Mill. Theophany had been prepared for anything but not, as it turned out, for nothing. From dusk until the wee hours she and five others had hidden themselves in a place called Little High Wood. There were other approaches to the area, but the house of interest to them could only be approached by the south road. The far side of the wood gave way to undevelopment country. A strategic weak point. Sitting stiffly and overly alert, Theophany had watched the back field with Maevan.

“You did fine,” Silyn reassured her. “Tomorrow night, er, I guess that’s tonight actually, we’ll be patrol and the others will take watch.”

No one had told Theophany what or who they were protecting. What they were watching for didn’t need explaining. She frowned, and Silyn caught the look.

“As far as I know,” Silyn volunteered, “someone alerted a friend, or a friend of a friend, who knows our person in the Ministry. However it happened, we prevented them from being kidnapped the other night, but we lost contact after they went to ground somewhere in the area. Now we have to locate him before we can move him. You can be sure we’re not the only ones watching.”

“Should you be telling me this?” Theophany asked, sagging against the door jamb while Silyn unlocked the door.

“Probably not,” he answered with a straight face, “but something tells me you can keep a secret.”

“Shut up.”

Ike, bless him, had stayed up. The fire was lit and the warm kettle was whistling in a few minutes.

“Good morning, sir!” Ike shrilled to Mr. Knapp as he entered the kitchen.

“Oh Dad, did we wake you?” Theophany asked.

Mr. Knapp kissed his daughter.

“Not at all. The kettle was perfectly timed. My alarm didn’t go off this morning.”

He placed a banana on the table. It was ticking.

“Is that…?” Silyn wondered.

“My alarm clock, yes. I found it a little disturbing so thought I would leave it here until it, er, reverts.”

The latest in a long line of clocks gone bonkers at The Mill, the banana chimed the quarter hour. Silyn started laughing, which set Theophany off, and they sagged against each other in helpless giggles.

“I think it’s perfectly reasonable not to want a ticking fruit on one’s bedside,” Mr. Knapp huffed. “I mean, how would I stop the alarm if it rang?”

“Stop, stop!” Theophany gasped.

Ike handed her a tea towel to wipe her eyes. Weak-kneed, Theophany declined the tea and stumbled upstairs. A few minutes later Silyn knocked on her door, already clad in pajamas and robe, to deliver a beaker of sleeping draught.

“That stuff makes my head feel stuffed with wool,” Theophany sighed.

“You won’t sleep without it. Tonight may be our last night, so at least get a few hours sleep.”

Theophany sank gratefully into bed, hoping that indeed this would be the last night in Durham.

It wasn’t the last night. Not by four more nights. On the third night Theophany had been relieved. Silyn insisted it was best to use as many fresh volunteers as possible. She was afraid of receiving preferential treatment but, as Silyn pointed out, all new recruits needed rest.

Theophany was paired with Isha Korrapati tonight, the fifth night. Durham was quiet after dark, at least on this tree-covered road winding through the colleges. They both used the Disillusionment Charm and moved in the shadows. With their hoods pulled low over their faces there was little chance of recognition. Besides, they would spot anyone abroad before they were seen. At least that was the idea.

Somewhere between Grey College and St Mary’s the moon came out in full brightness. The recent snow had covered enough ground to create a resplendent reflection casting light back up towards the heavens and splashing the reserved brick houses with silver.

Revealed in the sudden light, Theophany and Korrapati froze. Less than twenty meters ahead another figure, equally exposed, stood still and vulnerable. The pointed hood cast slowly side to side. He had apparently been walking ahead of them. As he looked over his shoulder Theophany saw the mask with snake-like slits for eyes. Death Eater.

Korrapati’s wand came up, but Theophany grabbed him by the elbow to pull him flat against the wall. Too late, the motion had caught the Death Eater’s eye. He sent a hex flashing towards them which Korrapati blocked. It was two to one, but the Death Eater came running towards them, and Theophany realized he wasn’t shouting for reinforcements.

As her returning hex lit up the road, Theophany hissed, “I think he’s alone. Keep him from—”

Too late. The Death Eater’s pace changed from a sprint to a glide and in a moment he was a curling black blur rising towards the moon.


“He’ll be fetching reinforcements,” Theophany pointed out. “If he was the reconnaissance, we can assume they are moving in tonight.”

The rendezvous point was in Little High Wood. It was neither thick nor large but with the proper spells could provide proper cover. Maevan was waiting for patrol pairs to check in. Briefly Korrapati explained the situation. Maevan raised his wand and, without speaking, conjured a Patronus. Theophany watched the flickering fox with envy while Maevan spoke his message and dismissed it.

“You two watch the rowhouse. As each patrol receives the message, I’ll send them in. We need to move now before the Eaters arrive. Theophany, if there’s any way Silyn can figure out which house is the right one…?”

Theophany nodded. With Korrapati she cut through Little High Wood to the south road. On the wooded side of the street, facing the row house, Silyn crouched by the tumbled stone wall. Though he had cast a Disillusionment Charm, Theophany knew where he would be.

“Death Eaters,” she whispered. “One spotted us and left in a hurry. We don’t have a lot of time. Maevan was wondering if you could take a look.”

SIlyn nodded.

“Isha, we need a watch set in both directions. You head north up the road, Tiff, south.”

Korrapati nodded once and slipped away, running low along the wall.

“Anyone in hiding for this many days must be terrified, not to mention impatient,” Silyn continued to his sister. “But the problem is, luv, everyone’s scared these days. Muggles too. I can’t pick up on anyone inordinately afraid nearby.”

“So...I’m not really taking the south end.”

“Afraid not, you have to babysit me. The next one Maevan sends along can play lookout.” Silyn leaned back against the tree behind him and closed his eyes. “If I start talking, shut me up but please”, he opened an eye, “no gags or socks.”

Theophany made to retort, but Silyn had slumped forward and she nearly didn’t catch him. His eyes flickered beneath their lids and his breathing deepened. Then without warning he convulsed. Theophany, poised to move, had caught his arms before he hurt himself. Silyn’s eyes snapped open; their pale gray reflected the moonlight like flat coins. He started whispering. He seemed to be counting. Theophany knew to disregard most of what he said, it hardly ever made sense while using the sight. He had never prophesied that the family knew of.


Theophany struggled against him as he tried to sit up. Why hadn’t anyone else checked in yet? Maevan should have sent others by now.

“...two sixes is twelve, three sixes is eighteen.”

Times tables? Theophany released one arm to gently shake his shoulder. Non-responsive. He was too deeply engaged. The seconds ticked by as Silyn counted higher. His inflection changed, catching his sister’s attention.

“One hundred and three. One hundred and three.” He had been repeating it for some time. “Remember one hundred and three.”

Was he talking to her or himself?

“Blue room, blue chair. Blue room...very, very tired.”

He finally fell silent, but his body was still rigid, still trying to flail.



But he was still under. Was he aware she was there?

“One hundred and three.” He paused. “He’s coming.”

Silyn went limp. Theophany released him. He would come around in a minute. There was a flash of light across the wall. Headlights? But there was no car motor. Theophany cautiously crawled to the wall and looked over. Nothing in the street. Then a spark crackled through the woods some distance behind her. Another crackle and a spell arched above the trees. In its light Theophany saw two figures facing each other, wands drawn, and behind them the flickering light of distant spellwork. The Death Eaters had arrived with uncharacteristic silence and stealth.

“Silyn, come on!”

Theophany shook her brother hard. It was usually only a minute before he woke, but tonight he stayed unconscious.

Damn it, damn it!

She couldn’t leave him, nor could she leave their mission. Theophany pointed her wand.


Silyn lifted into the air, dangling loosely from his shoulders. Theophany kept her wand low, which forced Silyn’s feet to scrape along the ground. Keeping this low profile, she moved him north along the road. If the Death Eaters had attacked the checkpoint in the wood, hopefully they hadn’t split up yet. As the road began to twist north-east, Theophany spotted Korrapati ahead, crouched behind the ruined wall.

“It’s me,” she said softly.

“Who are the sons of Conmac?” he whispered, wand ready.

“The Conmaicne of Connacht,” Theophany replied.

Korrapati clambered down from the wall and hurried over.

“Is Silyn hurt? What happened?”

“He’s unconscious. But I think he got it. One hundred and three. That’s the house, I think. Look for a blue room with blue furniture.”

“Where’s everyone—?”

“We’re under attack. I can’t leave him, but I can cover you while you enter the house.”

Korrapati hesitated for only a second.

“Keep Silyn close. I’ll only need a minute to get in.”

Theophany grinned.

“I’ll be fine. Just snatch whoever it is that we’re protecting and sound the retreat.”

Leaving the road behind, they approached the one hundred block from the other side. This meant leaving the sheltering wood behind and working their way through St. Mary’s. When they got within sight of the brick row house, Korrapati motioned Theophany to stop. She lowered Silyn as comfortably as she could. Korrapati crawled forward past the wall to get a good look around before slithering back.

“One hundred and three is the opposite end from us,” he whispered, “This is one hundred and seven. I’m going to go around back. Hopefully everyone’s keeping the Eaters busy across the street and they haven’t crossed the road from High Wood yet. I need you to keep an eye on the front. If there’s another way in, I’ll take it but shouldn’t count on it.”

“I won’t engage anyone if they don’t see me or you. If they do, I can hold them off long enough for you to get in. I can keep the front busy, so plan on leaving out the back.”

The light show in Little High Wood was closer than when Theophany left. No way of telling how many were the Dagda. Korrapati stepped slowly onto the open lawn. Turning, he winked at Theophany and loped off. Theophany looked back at Silyn. Still comatose. She hadn’t seen him in a trance this long. Was this common? His breathing was light, no cause for concern.

Keeping an ear tuned to his breathing, Theophany watch the road with her wand at her side. How long would it take for the fighting to break out of the wood and reach the road? Ten minutes? Fifteen? Unless Maevan was intentionally holding back the Dagda, hoping that Korrapati and the Knapps would complete the mission.

A shadow moved around the far corner of the building. Korrapati. He slid up to the front door, unlocked it, and edged inside.

Theophany shifted her weight, trying to remember Silyn’s advice. Don’t lock your knees, relax, be ready. Count to four, inhale. How much time had passed? Count to four, exhale. There were other attack jinxes she could use, but ever since her lost duel with Snape she was reluctant to try anything elaborate. Keep it simple.

She felt a few drops fall on her neck and wand hand. There hadn’t been any mention of rain or snow on the wireless. Theophany frowned. The moon was so bright, there couldn’t be clouds. Slowly she raised her head. The branches above her were rustling. Just falling snow then. But why weren’t any of the trees in Little High Wood moving too?

The rustling grew stronger and a rush of wind swept across the treetops. Someone had flown over. Theophany threw herself on the ground and pressed against the inside of the stone wall. Looking up through the skeletal branches, she saw them whip back as three black figures flew over. Whoever had flown by first must have landed; she didn’t hear them continue over the road into Little High Wood. Until the moonlight caught them, Theophany couldn’t see the next two until they were right over the trees. These she heard land in the road only a few meters on. They talked together in low voices and were hailed by the first three.

Theophany twisted slowly in the dirt, finding a crevice in the wall to peer through. Yes, there were five. Where was the first? A creaking overhead announced a late arrival. Theophany didn’t move and saw him land only from the back. He didn’t wear a hood. Slight, blond. And, when he spoke, she realized, ridiculously young.

“I didn’t realize you’d be here, Dolohov.”

“Our master has entrusted the recovery of Professor Oglethorpe to me.”

“Then I’m here on sufferance?”

“You’re here as a favor to your godfather.”

The blond boy turned away slightly as if the speaker was beneath his notice.

“They are stationed in the wood? Do they have the professor?”

“The professor hasn’t been sighted. It’s our guess they have as little idea where he’s hidden as we do.”

“So then.”

The boy drew his wand and strode towards Little High Wood. The one called Dolohov called after him.

“An organized search might be more profitable—”

“Do as you please,” the boy said calmly, and the wood swallowed him up.

Dolohov muttered something and jerked his head at his companions. One went up the road east, the other south, and the last stationed himself with Dolohov outside the house.

“What do you think? It’s a little obvious isn’t it?”

“There are only a few private residences around. Of course we have to take a possible Fidelius Charm into account,” Dolohov replied. “Check the woods around and behind.”

Theophany braced herself. The Death Eater might walk by, or he might scrupulously look through the underbrush. If he saw Silyn, she had to be ready. Dolohov hung back watching the house, so effectively the odds were even. As the wizard crossed the wall, he studied the house, looking for exits, movements. The woods weren’t his main concern. She noticed he didn’t use a light. They didn’t know the numbers of their enemy and were wary of attracting attention. He’d reached the back corner when somewhere a door creaked. Theophany held her breath.

Not now, Korrapati. Don’t come out!

The Death Eater turned and motioned silently to Dolohov. Together they pulled down their masks and hoods. Theophany pulled herself up to a crouch. They were well in sight of her but facing away, looking behind the house, but when the fighting started, the others would come running. If only Korrapati would wait long enough.

But the door squeaked again and an elderly voiced gasped and was quickly silenced. The two Death Eaters moved as one. Wand hands came up to strike as they slithered around the corner, using the shadow as cover for as long as possible.

Theophany followed them. Her mind was reaching for the incantation, her breathing still regulated and steady, but one of them glanced back. Theophany lashed out and the Stunning Spell hit him squarely. He crumpled, and the other, Dolohov she thought, pressed in to attack. Theophany quickly deflected his spell. Where was Korrapati? She couldn’t get a good look behind her opponent, who moved erratically and swiftly.

Dolohov was pushing her towards the front of the house, to the road. His spellwork was exploratory. He’d try a different attack each time, getting her measure. She nearly caught him once but only because he took the time to raise his wand and emit bright sparks into the air. Theophany’s back was to the road, she wouldn’t see who came at her from behind. She gritted her teeth.

Don’t get flustered. Breathe in and count to four…

Her Full Body Bind ricocheted off of Dolohov’s shield and burned past her shoulder.

Focus. One...two…

The hairs on the back of her neck lifted; his reinforcements would be here in any minute. Dolohov’s attacks were almost lazy. He wasn’t even trying to beat her, just waiting her out. If Korrapati was in trouble, she was the only one close enough to help, but she couldn’t get to him.


If she was surrounded, she’d be cut off from Silyn. Theophany stumbled. She lost count and her breath came quickly. Dolohov pressed in and she knocked aside his curse with a flick of her hand.

Silyn. I can’t let that happen.

Her wand came up. Theophany forgot to keep a rhythm. She whipped the Stupefying Jinx from her wand tip. As the spell left her wand, she was bringing her other hand up, shattering the crumbling wall nearest the Eater. Dolohov sidestepped, but flying stone fragments caught him on the shoulder. Theophany’s next curse almost broke through his hasty Shield Charm. Dolohov parried wildly for a minute while retreating; then, before Theophany could gain further ground, he Disapparated. Theophany ran from the road and scrambled over the wall. Silyn was still sleeping. She checked his pulse.


Her wand was still in her hand and she brought it up so quickly she nearly took out Korrapati’s eye.

“Where have you been?” she whispered.

Korrapati joined her and crouched by the sleeping Silyn.

“He was right, blue room and all. Professor Oglethorpe is very elderly and moves like it. We couldn’t Disapparate in the house, so I had to get him out first. Sorry it took so long. He’s at Maevan’s cottage now.”

“And Maevan?”

Korrapati jerked his chin at the wood opposite.

“Fight’s still going strong in there. First we need to get Silyn safe.”

“If you help me lift him—”

“I think you should put him down,” suggested a third voice pleasantly.

They were caught from all sides. Crouched on the ground, neither could make any sudden moves. A tall Death Eater leaned over the wall, his wand pointed at them. Ivory tusks curled delicately from his silver mask. From the trees around emerged three others. One was Dolohov, cradling his right arm gingerly. Korrapati stood up slowly, keeping his hands in sight.

“This man is injured.”

“I really don’t care,” the speaker said conversationally. “But if you care, then you should do what I say or he won’t wake up again. Now, where is the professor?”

“Had to get your friends, did you?” Theophany addressed Dolohov with a confidence she didn’t feel. “Was I playing too rough?”

Dolohov barely glanced at her. He kept his eyes on the Death Eater who had assumed command. This was someone higher ranking. Someone he feared.

“I need you to pay attention,” the masked Eater continued. He casually flicked his wand and Korrapati flew back from the wall, crashing through the foliage. He might have been seriously injured, but his body slowed suddenly before he drifted gently to the ground.

Dolohov and the others glanced around. Theophany’s wand quickly left Korrapati and pointed at the leader, but her left hand moved to Dolohov and the other three — they cried out and collapsed in quick succession. The tall Death Eater drew his wand but hesitated while the others struggled to summon breath to heal their broken legs. The leader was staring at Theophany’s left hand. Theophany didn’t give him a pause and scaled the wall. Through the slits in his mask she saw his eyes slide towards Silyn.


Fear forgotten, Theophany leapt from the wall. She hadn’t even decided on a hex but she knew, somehow, Stunning Spells were not an option. This would be a fight to the death. Korrapati could manage himself long enough, though they were outnumbered. She would have to make this fast.


A red light grew at the end of her wand with a high pitched buzz. It lengthened and shot towards the Death Eater, who scrambled out of the way. Her spell left a smoking burn in the road where he’d been standing.

Theophany wasn’t monitoring her own wand work or using the focus techniques SIlyn had taught her; all she knew was she was furious. The Death Eater dodged the next hex that sliced off a bit of his cloak. Theophany blocked his attack impatiently and gestured again with her hand. Gravel from the drive flew in his face and he cursed, spitting. Even so he didn’t falter.

Somewhere behind her Korrapati shouted. She had no time. They were in the road, in plain sight of the enemy. Theophany sped up her attacks. She used Ammentum again, and this time the light lengthened a few meters, lashing out in burning sparks. Hard pressed, the Death Eater called out, but Theophany sliced her wand and his voice gurgled to a stop. He fell to his knees and then pitched forward.

Theophany ran back to the woods. Silyn was there. Korrapati must have drawn the others deeper into the forest. Theophany pulled her hood over her face to hide the gleam of her skin and moved as quietly as she could into the trees.

It was unlikely they had all followed Korrapati; someone was bound to have stayed to capture Silyn or herself, should their leader prove unsuccessful. She heard the first one before she saw him. He was pacing a perimeter from the house to the wall, keeping an eye on both fights probably. Theophany slowly raised her wand, but before she could Stun him, a dark figure passed between them. It swept through the trees with arrogance and no pretence of stealth, moving purposefully. The Death Eater had turned and began to speak but crumpled to the ground. The figure paused and listened before moving on. Impossible to make him out in the dark, but Theophany had a hunch, so she followed at a distance.

The figure circumvented another body; Korrapati had accounted for one of his pursuers. That would leave Dolohov and one other. The ground rose a little and the wood thinned. Ahead of them the remaining two Death Eaters crouched on the slope, using a downed tree for cover. One was Dolohov, still favoring his other leg. His fellow Death Eater was half standing, sending hexes and curses up the hill towards an outcropping where, Theophany presumed, Korrapati had gone to ground.

The figure watched Dolohov painfully start to crawl from behind the log. With Korrapati pinned down by his companion, Dolohov could approach from the other side. The figure raised his wand and with an irate flick knocked the two Death Eaters aside. The standing one knocked his head painfully on the log and collapsed. Dolohov was flung deep into the brush. With a quick Stunning Spell he was unconscious before he even knew what had happened.

The wizard turned to look over his shoulder and moonlight caught him clearly. Theophany froze. He didn’t see her. But Korrapati did. Coming cautiously out of cover, Korrapati momentarily froze at sight of the wizard, then drew his wand and shouted for Theophany to duck. Instead Theophany hit him with a Stunning Spell and he crumpled.

She stepped into sight and pulled back her hood. She gave herself a minute to relish his expression before saying, “Hullo, Severus Snape.”

Her smile widened.