The marsh glowed an eerie green under the misty moonlight. The shadows were long and thick and the silence heavy. Rowan blinked at wondering how on earth she had gotten her. Had she teleported herself in her sleep?
Something large moves behind her causing Rowan to reach for her wand to only find that she was wandless. A large, giant black shape slithers out of the mist to reveal a familiar glittering giant pale white albino snake glowing in the moonlight. The blue sapphire glows especially bright on the Great Horned Serpent as her horns curve neatly back.
"Pardon me, mother snake, but aren't you already dead?" Rowan whispered in disbelief.
"Yes, and no, snake speaker," whispered the Great Horned Serpent. "This is the dreamscape neither the past, present nor the future."
"Okay then," Rowan slowly said, "just what am I doing here?"
"Your friend is dead at the hands of the Hydra," the Great Horned Serpent angrily hissed.
"Alphard's dead then," Rowan softly whispered out loud.
Raising her gaze to meet that of the giant magical snake, Rowan asks, "For what purpose am I here then?"
"The Hydra will come for the Princes. You must be ready, he will come, soon," the Great Horned Serpent muttered as she kept an eye on the edge of the shadows.
"Mother snake, you said time moves strangely here," Rowan muttered. "How soon are we talking about? Months, a year, or more?"
"I can't say," the Great Horned Serpent whispered. "But it is time to awaken, he's coming."Something powerful moved in the distance as the Great Horned Serpent stood up as Rowan woke up to a loud, "Meow," right in her ear.
Startling awake, Rowan blinked to find the purring form of Alchemy next to her on her bed. Letting out a sigh of relief, she mutters, "You're lucky, you're so cute."
Alchemy's tail swishes as if to say, "Why of course. I'm handsome, charming, and did I already mention handsome?"
It was Boxing Day and since it was the night right after the Yule Ball everyone was still in bed. Putting on her bed robe, she wandered out only briefly glancing at the clock that read, seven o'clock. Rowan sat down in the common area as she knew it was only a matter of time until Professor Slughorn came in to grab Regulus. Bram would need somewhere to stay during Regulus's absence. That and she was enjoying a nice hot cup of tea to wake her up that morning from the snack table conveniently located in the common room that the house elves had already prepared early that morning with the usual piping hot, varieties of tea and platters of snacks.
Not long after Professor Slughorn hurried inside and let out a rather high-pitched squeak at finding Rowan sitting in the shadows. "Goodness me, child! What are you doing awake at this hour?!" Slughorn gasped as he clutched his painfully beating chest.
"Alchemy woke me up," Rowan replied like that answered everything. Professor Slughorn nods his understanding as Alchemy was the unspoken ruler of the Slytherin realm. Everyone knew that.
"Well, breakfast will be served soon, Miss Prince," Professor Slughorn said, before pulling his warm thick robe around him and hurried up the boy dorms. Not long after, he returned with the sleepy, rather bewildered from of Regulus.
Yawning Regulus easily spots Rowan in the common room. "Rowan, will you look after Bram for me? Professor Slughorn says, my parents are waiting for me upstairs in Professor Dumbledore's office. I wonder if my grandfather finally passed away?"
Waving goodbye, after having cleaned up after herself, Rowan went straight upstairs into the boy's dorms. Luckily Regulus's roommates were still asleep as Rowan wrinkled her nose at the mess. She much preferred her tidy area. Not that all girls were tidy, but with Bethanie around, it always was. Grabbing the basket of the adorable sleeping white cat, she takes Bram with her. Tiffany was going to be so pleased.
It was still snowing, when Regulus and Sirius, both returned the day right before the start of the term after New Year. Regulus quietly thanked Rowan for taking care of Bram, before curling up with him in the common rooms. Bethanie quietly remained at his side offering the sole comfort that she could. While Bram allowed himself to be hugged and squeezed by his master.
Sirius was rather quiet and out on the ground walking with the other Marauders. Rowan had been dragged outside into the wet, cold by Severus. According to Severus, she wasn't getting any exercise. As if he knew anything, she exercised at least three times a week in the room of requirement!
Eventually one of them started a snow fight leaving Rowan to take a seat on a bench far away to watch. She watched Severus and Terry team up against the marauders. Surprisingly the two of them were doing rather well despite being outnumbered. But then again, Terry was a tactician, and Severus had plenty of experience from their primary school days on how to dodge snowballs with rocks in them.
Sirius breathlessly left the group and jogged over to where she was sitting. Rowan warily watched him lest he throws some sort of snowball at her. Breathing hard, Sirius sat down next to her and said, "Whew, that was fun!"
"It doesn't look like it," Rowan grumbled at seeing his soaking wet figure.
"You're just no fun at times, Rowan," Sirius grumbled back.
"I beg to differ," Rowan sniffed. "You really should see what we Slytherins get up to. Trust me, it makes the Gryffindor's seem tame when in comparison." Sirius looks rather curious but deems it more prudent not to ask. And yes, miracles do occur every once in a while.
Sirius tugs on his wet Gryffindor scarf and says, "My favorite uncle is dead, you know. He was a spy despite being ill. And he was a Slytherin!" Sirius seemed to be rather proud and surprised at that fact.
"I don't know why you seem so surprised that a Slytherin can be brave?" Rowan snorted. "It's not as if Slytherins are all bad, Sirius. We just tend to be more complicated than most. We wear many faces and sometimes we tend to wear one mask more than others."
"I know," Sirius croaked as he sniffed. "But he really was sick, and mother was really worried about him, all the time. And now, he's dead! He was really brave, but I've never seen mother, so sad. She was actually crying at the funeral and later! And I've never seen her cry before!"
"You seem shocked to learn that we Slytherins have feelings," Rowan ironically muttered. It was something that Slytherins tried to pretend that they didn't possess. But they were as much human as everyone else.
Sirius murmurs, "I know that! I've seen you and Severus. And I've got Regulus, and he's all soft and kitten-like if not for being so annoying at times."
"It's just, I wish I could do something about mother. We don't really talk about in our feeling, you know. And Uncle Alphard was always the one to hug us and give us affection when we were younger."
"Well, it sounds like that's your answer," Rowan matter-of-factly stated. "Just because Severus and I rarely hug in public that doesn't mean we don't do so in private. We're even a bit touchy-feely at times too, you know."
Turning to gaze, Sirius in the face, she adds, "It's okay to hug your mother, Sirius. Even my grandfather and Aunt Georgine hug Severus and me. And they rarely ever show public affection, but they still do despite being mortified half of the time."
"A hug, huh?" Sirius muttered to himself. "Think I should start practicing with Regulus?""That's what younger siblings are for," Rowan smirked back.
In that instant, they both devilishly chuckled in agreement. After all, the two of them were the oldest sibling. And what the use of a sibling if not to have fun with them? (Usually at the younger sibling's expense.)
"Thanks, Rowan, you're always a good friend," Sirius beamed at her, before rushing off to join the snow fight. At this point, Terry and Severus had somehow managed to corner the three marauders. Sirius bravely entered the fray to no avail only to tragically perish as a martyr.