Categories > Books > Harry Potter > Faerie Craft

Learning as you go

by Try_This 6 reviews

Gloria arrives at Hogwarts

Category: Harry Potter - Rating: R - Genres: Drama, Romance - Characters: Dumbledore, Snape - Warnings: [!] - Published: 2006-07-28 - Updated: 2006-07-28 - 5424 words

Second chapter, I hope you like! Please review! I swear I will love you forever! Sadly, I own nothing.

An invisible hook suddenly latched onto her bellybutton and Gloria was jerked backward. She closed her eyes tightly against the spinning colours that raced past her and the gusting wind that whipped by. Was this was what a tornado felt like? She had heard about them once from a spot underneath the floorboards of the bar, and suddenly was of the belief that she never wanted to find out if it was. Ever.

Nor did she ever want to travel like this again. Ever.

The hook behind her bellybutton suddenly unlatched and let her go. She stood stock-still for a moment or two, letting her mind trickle back into place from where it had undoubtedly splattered on the inside of her skull. Then, she opened her eyes.

She was in the grandest room that she had ever seen. It was circular with bookshelves lining every inch of the walls. On the shelves rested thick books and other oddities, the fireplace that stood across from a large desk and silver stand lighted all silver instruments that whirred and puffed out smoke at odd intervals, and it was dazzling, all rich tones of burgundy and gold... And the hum! All around her was the pulsing rhythm of magic, so loud that for a moment Gloria was unable to focus on anything else. It was the most beautiful sound that she had ever heard, and it saddened her to stop listening and tune it out, but she didn't want to risk angering the two men.

"Please, both of you, take a seat," said Dumbledore. He gestured to two large chairs that stood opposite the desk and Gloria moved quickly to obey, instinct driving her. Severus sat as well, taking the chair next to hers. Dumbledore eased himself into the seat behind the desk and surveyed her with an unnerving sparkle in his eyes, Gloria looked down with a blush. "I have just a few questions for you Gloria before you and Severus go and get you settled in his quarters."

"My quarters?" exclaimed Severus, Gloria flinched away from the loud noise out of practice. "Albus..." he growled warningly

"You have a guest room do you not?" asked Dumbledore evenly "A room that I know for a fact has gone unused for many years Severus. You will not miss it."

Severus scowled but said nothing, leaning back into the chair and directing his glower at Dumbledore.

"Now, Gloria." Dumbledore's voice grew somewhat serious "I need you to answer my questions. You are allowed to speak freely, no one will hurt you here while you are with us. Do you understand?"

Gloria nodded, her small bubble of trust growing a fraction. Dumbledore was truly kind and even though he had barely spoken 2 words to her, Severus was kind as well. Why else would he have agreed to take her on, not as a slave or servant, but as a ward. Someone he would protect. She didn't deserve such treatment.

He asked her many questions, mainly about her crafting ability, how long she had been doing it and how it worked. She answered truthfully, not knowing any other way to respond, and nervously stuttering all the while, trying her best to stifle the reaction. Surprisingly, neither Severus nor Dumbledore appeared to be too annoyed by her stutter, and neither grew frustrated when it became particularly hard for her to get the words out. Dumbledore even encouraged her to speak slowly and to take as much time as she needed! Gloria was floored, her Master had never treated her like this, no one ever had...

She had first started when she was very young and someone had dropped a knut through a crack in the bar-room floor. When she picked up the copper coin everything became instinctive and she just knew what to do.

Fire, from the small fire that her Master allowed her only to keep from freezing in winter, was the element of change. The element that heated up and gave the metal energy, that in time, Gloria found out could be transferred to the owner.

Air was next and was easily taken from all around her, even if it wasn't completely clean. Air helped her to shape the pieces and gave them speed as well as power.

Earth came from the dirt floor below her; it was the stabilizer, the strength in the metal. Earth was the easiest element to work with, it had patterns and limitations whereas Fire, Air and Water were wild.

Water was the last element that Gloria discovered she could use; it came from a small basin that her Master let her have to drink from. It was the most difficult to use but the results were well worth the effort. All of her 'extras' were made of a combination of Water and the other three elements. A sword that could begin to flame on command; Water, Fire and Air. A dagger that could cause trenches to form in the earth; Water and Earth..... The list went on and on. It all depended on what and how much she used.

"I-I n-normally put extras on f-for c-customers that I l-l-like." Gloria said quietly "B-But there have b-been m-more and m-more c-customers that I-I know will use what I m-make for s-s-something b-b-bad, so I've b-been using my ex-extras to w-weaken their weapons."

"Bad people?" questioned Severus "What do you mean?"

She frowned, not knowing how to describe it but not wanting to disappoint him. "M-Men who m-my M-Master act-acted d-differently around, he was sc-scared of them and they knew it. T-They or-ordered horrible w-weapons, all off-offensive and very sh-sharp, s-some edged with p-poison."

Dumbledore's eyes were no longer bright. "Do you remember any names Gloria?" he asked her "This is very important."

"Am-Amycus and Al-Alecto, th-they came in to-together." Gloria answered quickly "An-Another man, L-L-Lucius or s-something like that. I-I can't r-r-r-remember any others... I'm s-s-s-s-sorry." She could feel her face growing hot from the sheer effort that it took to get the words out.

She was certain that she had failed them and that her punishment would be dealt quickly, so she tensed her body, ready for impact.

"What did they order?" Severus merely asked. Gloria blinked in shock, wasn't he going to hit her?

Gloria had to think about that for a minute, it had been about two months ago... "Am-Amycus and Alecto wanted 200 d-daggers, 15 s-sets of b-bows and arrows and 15 s-swords. It took me a m-month to f-forge because I had t-to m-make them so they w-would s-suck energy from who-whoever used them. The other man came in a-after them and w-wanted a c-custom sword. The th-thing was awful to make but I cr-crafted it so if he h-held it for m-more than an hour or so it w-would b-burn your h-hands. Was-" she asked Severus timidly "Was t-that the r-right thing t-to d-do?"

Severus gave her another one of his strange, intent looks and nodded "Yes." he said, "It was the right thing to do."

"Quite brilliant actually." Gloria was taken aback by Dumbledore's words, was he actually referring to her? This was a first... He regarded her with those pale twinkling eyes of his, a smile quirking his moustache "It appears that you have possibly weakened Voldemort's forces single handed. Quite an achievement I must say."

Gloria was feeling oddly comfortable and sated with her two rescuers. Unaccustomed to going for talking for so long without having to dodge a blow or a nasty comment, she was slowly relaxing and allowed herself to frown.

Voldemort was another new word. What did it mean? Was it a person? A place?

"Wh-What's a-a Voldemort?" she asked before she could stop herself. Gloria clapped a hand over her mouth, horrifies at her outburst. If they hadn't hit her before they would surely do it now. Oh, she had ruined everything.... "I'm s-s-sorry s-s-s-sirs, that w-w-was...I d-did-didn't m-m-mean to q-q-question you s-sir- I w-will n-n-never d-do it again. I'm s-so s-sorry-" her stuttering had magnified to a level that left her wanting to do nothing more than to just cut her own tongue out.

"Gloria, stop." Severus commanded and further apologies stopped abruptly in her throat. Gloria cautiously focused her eyes higher up than the floor, picking a spot on his chest, not sure of anything at the moment. "There is no need to apologize for asking questions, let me make that clear." he said evenly, "You have been confined, alone and abused for years, therefore it is expected that you should have some questions, and, as long as they have a purpose, you are permitted and encouraged to ask them."

Gloria nodded meekly, hardly daring to believe what she was hearing. He wanted her to ask.... that was so completely different from the rules that she had lived by so far. Severus was so completely different...

"To answer your question" said Dumbledore, as if nothing had happened. "Voldemort is a very evil wizard who believes that magic should only be used by 'Pure Blooded' wizarding families. He also believes that Muggles and muggle-born witches and wizards are inferior and should be exterminated. He is, unfortunately, not alone in that way of thinking and is gathering an army of followers, wizards we call Death Eaters, to help him."

So it was Voldemort that her least favourite customers were working for.... He was one side of the battle, but who led the other?

"I," he continued "Am the leader of a hidden organization focused on defeating him. We are called the Order of the Phoenix and Severus, along with many others are it's members. The cloaks you made for us are to help us in battle with Death Eaters should the need arise." he reached into his robes and pulled out a small box, a miniature of the one she had made to hold the cloaks. He placed it on the desk and with a flick of his wand, enlarged it back to its full size.

Dumbledore reached in and took one of the dark Dragon Scale cloaks out, laying it out on his desk. "Your craftsmanship is impeccable Gloria." he praised "May I ask what 'extras' you may have bestowed on them?"

Gloria flushed and cleared her throat "T-They give en-energy to the wearer, I-I used a l-lot of F-Fire to j-join the seams t-together you see s-sir, and a lot of E-Earth so that they w-will never t-tear or rip. I used s-some W-Water to make them e-ex-expandable, s-sir, they should be able t-to c-cover a c-couple of p-people at m-most. The pockets sh-should be n-never ending and I-I used Air to m-make them f-feather light. I- I hope you a-app-approve, sir."

Dumbledore smiled, an expression that was still completely new to her "You have done an amazing job Gloria. Isn't that right Severus?"

Severus nodded and Gloria blushed. His silence spoke volumes with the validating look in his eyes. This only served to make Gloria flush further as she tried to bite back a yawn. It had been a very long day, getting up before the sun rose, as usual and working all through the day until Severus and Dumbledore had walked in late at night.

Dumbledore must have seen it though, and Severus as well for they both turned to look at her and then to each other.

"Well," said Dumbledore, returning the heavy cloak to its box "It is late and my other questions can wait until morning. Severus, I believe that you should show Gloria to your chambers and get her settled in your guest room before we continue on with our business from today."

Gloria swallowed compulsively, had she interrupted them? "I'm s-sorry." she said mechanically "I didn't m-m-mean to be a b-bother to you."

"You were nothing of the sort," said Severus finally, a sharp undertone to his voice that made her flinch slightly. He stood and she went along with him as he rose, wincing as her ribs gave a fantastic twinge. "I will be with you shortly Albus. Gloria, Fo-" he paused for a moment "Will you please follow me."

It was a command, true enough, but it was phrased as a question. He was trying not to give her orders? Could it be that he didn't want that kind of power over her? All of his previous actions pointed to yes but Gloria still couldn't be sure. He was puzzling.

Severus strode over to a wooden door, his black robes swirling with the wind generated by the length of his strides. Gloria followed instantly as he opened the door and started down the staircase that was exposed.

She kept her head tucked down unquestioningly, choosing to play by her old rules until Severus told her otherwise. They were in a large uninhabited building, she realized as they walked in silence for a very long time, and it was made of stone if the floor was any indication. She trailed behind him, keeping the hem of his black robes in her line of sight at all times. They descended down another flight of stairs and along more deserted corridors until he finally stopped.

Gloria allowed herself to sneak a look around, they were in a corridor that was made completely of stone and lined with a few doors and... Moving pictures? Wizards' portraits, she realized. She had only seen them a small number of times before this, whenever she was hired out to a wizarding establishment to perform and then, she wasn't focusing on the place itself but on how she could get through the night without angering her Master.

It never worked.

The large painting in front of her now was that of two young people sitting beneath a tree watching the night sky. Both the dark haired man and woman in the picture seemed content and made no noise as they watched the tiny pinpoints of light in the sky, The only way Gloria was able to tell that it was a wizards painting was that occasionally the man or woman would scratch their nose or stretch.

"Donovan, Maria," said Severus, catching the painting-people's attention.

The man stood, helping the woman to do the same. "Hello Severus." Donovan said, politely nodding "Who's this then?" he asked aloofly.

The woman, Maria, elbowed him in the ribs "Don, don't be rude." she scolded, "Hello Severus, is she a guest?" Maria smiled, looking at Gloria with a curious expression.

Severus nodded "Her name is Gloria. She will be staying with me for the foreseeable future so you will treat her with respect. Understood?" they nodded and Maria smiled welcomingly. "You will need a password to enter, Gloria. It is Tempus Fugit Momento Mori. You will not tell it to anyone unless directed to do so by me." Gloria felt the weight of the command settle around her. She could do that, keeping quiet was a talent of hers. When Severus had said the password the painting had swung open to reveal the doorway to a room hidden behind it. He led her in and Gloria took in the sight of his chambers with wide eyes, she would be living here?

The walls were painted a sage green colour, one that Gloria had seen before in a dress she had made. There was a main room, a small kitchen and island, a hallway that led beyond her vision, and a back inserted corner that were all illuminated by soft lamplight. Photographs and paintings of black and white landscapes hung on the walls, all framed in simple black. The main room had a large fireplace made of carved white wood and on the mantle rested many photographs and a few unlit candles. Flanking the fireplace were two large couches that seemed too stuffed but looked amazingly comfortable. One was white linen and the other, black leather, they each had and arrangement of a few white, black and green throw pillows. The kitchen was small, sink, stove and refrigerator and cupboards were all that were there, but all of the appliances were made of a sort of shining brushed silver metal and the countertops were white tile.

It was the back corner that caught and held her attention though. It was lined on all three sides by floor to ceiling shelves that were home to hundreds of books. Books.... Her Master had always preached that books, reading and writing were all things above stupid creatures like her. She didn't know how to read or write but the longing had always been there. He always taunted her with the fact that she was illiterate but she found comfort in the fact that it wasn't her fault, even if the loss still stung. There were two leather armchairs with a small side table between them, begging Gloria to come and read.... To prove that she was not the dumb creature that her Master had labelled her.

Severus cleared his throat "I believe that you should wash up before going to sleep, Gloria." he said. Gloria flushed and looked down at her sooty hands and arms, she shouldn't even be near such finery in her state... "I'll show you the bathroom then return with something for you to sleep in."

Gloria nodded uncertainly then followed him down that side hallway she had noticed before. Four doors led off of the hall, Severus leading her to the first.

"One moment please." He said, sweeping off down the hall and through the third door, leaving her alone for a few moments. He returned holding a bundle of flannel that he handed to her. "I assume you know how to operate a shower?" he asked her somewhat hesitantly, his pale cheeks colouring slightly.

Gloria nodded again, wondering why he was embarrassed that he might have to show her how to use his shower. She always cleaned herself up before she went to perform; her Master had even actually spent money on a few outfits for her to wear. But only when she was in public, he wouldn't have those clothes go anywhere near the workshop.

Cautiously she opened the door to the bathroom and closed it behind her, making sure that it was locked. It was all white with a black shower curtain, sink, toilet and floor. The towels were fluffy and white and the faucets were made of the same silver as the kitchen appliances. A mirror rested above the sink but Gloria didn't dare look in it. She had never been allowed to by her old Master and was actually somewhat afraid of what she might see. Was she really the hideous creature that her Master had described?

She listened for a moment until she heard Severus move away from the door and then proceeded to lay the clothes on the bathroom counter, turn the shower on, undress as it warmed up, and hopped in.

It was a long and hard job, getting all of the soot and grime from her body. Gloria had to practically rub herself raw before her own, far paler skin showed through. Her hair was also difficult to clean as it was inconveniently long (her Master only cut it when he was sure he could get a good profit from selling it) she normally kept it tied back when she worked at her forge so it wouldn't catch on fire.

It took at least 3 lathers of shampoo and conditioner before the water no longer ran black with dirt and for a while afterward she just stood in the path of the spray.

Something was bound to go wrong. Gloria knew it. Everything had gone so perfectly so far and in her experience, nothing good came without a price. Her Master getting sick and not making her work for a day or two was quickly followed by a fierce beating from him for being lazy. Falling blissfully unconscious from exhaustion resulted in the same. Something had to go wrong soon, it was almost a rule or something like that.

Not wanting to encourage that wrong coming, Gloria exited the shower and reverently used one of the fluffy white towels to dry herself off. They were the softest things that she had ever felt against her skin, but used them as quickly as she could, nervous that Severus would be angry with her for taking too long. She slipped on the clothes that Severus had given her and noted that they were only slightly less large than her others but far cleaner and lacking holes. She was in a dark blue button-up flannel shirt and a pair of matching pants that she had to roll up at the waist 10 times before the legs no longer pooled at her feet.

She made her way to exit the room and find out what Severus wanted her to do next but a flash of colour in the mirror caught her eye and she stopped.

That wasn't her. That girl couldn't be her.... she looked so, so.... human.

The girl in the mirror started back at Gloria with large, oddly slanted, eyes that were a colour that she had never seen before. They were a mix of an intense blue and an equally concentrated green, green near the centre, fading outwards to the other colour. Her hair was exceedingly long and straight, falling far past her waist. It was a cascade of a red-brown colour that shone slightly whenever the girl moved her head. Her skin was pale, almost as white as the wall behind her but seemed completely suited to her. She didn't have an extra piece of flesh anywhere on her body; it was all stretched tightly over her protruding bones, as if to hold the starved looking girl together.

Gloria leaned closer to the mirror and the other girl did the same. The shadows under the girls slanting eyes were not all from lack of sleep. There was a vibrant purple and blue bruise around her eye, a more recent bruise on one cheekbone, and a scabbed cut across her small, pert nose. The girls' features were delicate in appearance, a soft mouth, high cheekbones and forehead but her jaw was strong and determined.

Gloria shifted to rest her weight on the sink, the girl across from her following her every move. There were welts, both old and new, on her arms and back visible as the blue shirt that she was wearing fell off her shoulder. Gloria didn't have to look to see that the girl across from her would also have a long, recent bruise on her left shin, a horribly mangled back and a few broken ribs, by now she knew undoubtedly that she was examining her own reflection.

Monster, freak, thing, abomination, beast, eyesore, atrocity, monstrosity.... and yet she looked no different than the girls she made dresses for. It must be that her magic made her a disgrace, tipped people off that she was a half-breed. That she was a monster.

Sharply Gloria turned away from the mirror, gathered up her old clothes and exited the bathroom. She held the disgust she felt toward both herself and her Master at bay. Crying and suchlike didn't get the work done, she had reinforced that motto to herself over and over the years and it had done her well so far. She hadn't cried for eight years, not when she was exhausted, not during or after her Masters beatings, not even when she was sure that her workload was going to kill her. Never.

Severus was sitting on the black couch when she emerged, reading an old leather bound book. He looked up when she entered and his eyes grew wide, Gloria directed her eyes to the floor. Was he so repulsed by what he saw? Severus crossed the room in what seemed like an instant and was standing in front of her almost before she could blink.

She flinched backward when she felt him lift her chin so that she was looking up at him and again when he ran his thumb over her black eye. Every follicle of her being screamed out in protest of the touch. Touch, in her experience, led only to pain. She screwed her eyes shut tightly, tensing her body to bolt if necessary, but his hand was gentle and the pain she was anticipating never came.

Gloria flicked her eyes open and avoided Severus's own eyes purposefully. He looked at her; thin lipped and radiating fury but making no move to strike her. Gloria's stomach squirmed under his scrutinizing stare, wondering why he wasn't hitting her if he was so agitated.

"Was all of that dirt?" he murmured to himself quietly "No wonder I couldn't see these..." he brushed his thumb against the bruise again absently. His black eyes sought hers sharply but she evaded the gaze "Why didn't you tell me that you were hurt?"

Gloria blinked at him "I'm s-s-sorry s-s-s-sir." The apology instinctively popping out of her mouth. Her Master had always demanded 'repentance for her mistakes'. "I-I d-did-didn't want to bother you s-sir. I c-can heal them on m-m-my own, if you w-w-want m-me to that is."

He dropped his hand from her face and Gloria felt a curious sensation from the loss of contact. "What do you mean?" he asked. "You have the power to heal yourself? You do not use any potions?"

Gloria shook her head, fidgeting with a loose string on the cuff of the shirt she was wearing. She didn't really know what potions were but she did know that it was only her own powers doing the healing.

Severus regarded her oddly then gave a small inclination of his head "Sh-" he cut himself off "Could you please show me." It was another one of his odd question-commands.

Gloria nodded and readied herself. She closed her eyes and focused on all of the areas on her skin that hurt the most. Just as she had when she had contacted Dumbledore and Severus before she took in a deep wheezing breath and let it, and a wave of her power go. She coughed long and hard as she began to feel her magic working, fading the lighter bruises on her face, back and the one on her leg. The coughing spasm only served to agitate the things that she couldn't heal, the cuts and deepest bruises on her back and her fractured ribcage made her groan lowly in pain but as it always did, the pain lessened and the coughing stopped, leaving her gasping for breath.

"Are you alright?" Severus asked, frowning. Gloria nodded but his frown remained in place "I though you said you could heal yourself?" he remarked and she flinched, he was displeased...

"I- I c-can heal s-s-some of the older b-br-bruises but I-I don't have enough m-m-magic to spare to d-deal with the new ones, the c-cuts and b-br-broken b-bones. I'm s-s-sorry s-s-sir." she apologized and berated her own weakness.

"Gloria." Severus pinched the bridge of his nose and looked her in the eye seriously. "There is no need to apologize for every thing that I question you about. I am not angry with you, if I ever am trust me that you will know." She bit her lip and went to look down at the floor but his hand caught her chin and gently forced her head once again to rise. She flinched again, damning the reaction, but he held her still. "I will never beat you Gloria. If I am ever angry with you I may tell you to leave the room or may leave myself so that I can settle my temper, I may yell and I may say some things that I do not necessarily mean but you will never bruise, never bleed and never hobble out of my sight."

He paused and Gloria attempted to take in all of the information that he had presented her with but it was all just so much...

"Wait here, please." he added the final word as if it was spoken in another language and swept off down the hallway. Gloria stood exactly where he left her for a few moments, thinking hard. He had said he would never hit her.

But her Master had lied to her, why wouldn't Severus?

Severus was nothing like her Master was though.... he wouldn't lie...

Wouldn't he?

She jerked her head up when she heard Severus coming back. He was holding two glass phials, one in each hand and each containing a different coloured liquid.

"Here," he said, handing her the orange one "This is a potion that will heal most your cuts and fade the lighter scars." Gloria took it in her hands cautiously, what was she supposed to do with it? Her confusion must have shown as Severus raised an eyebrow at her.

"You drink it," he informed her.

"O-Oh. T-Thank you s-sir." she said quietly and tipped the liquid into her mouth, forcing herself not to gag at the burning taste as it made it's way down her throat. He said this would help her but at the moment she wasn't too sure. The burning subsided and Severus took back the empty phial, handing her the second, deep purple one.

"This will begin to mend any broken bones you have." he explained, "From the way you were coughing I assume that it is you ribs?" he asked and she nodded as she obediently took the foul tasting potion. As soon as she had finished swallowing, and Severus had taken the phial back, she could feel some of her bones begin to knit themselves back together and her breathing eased somewhat but she could still tell that her cough remained.

"Good." said Severus, looking her over and pocketing the empty phials. "You should get some sleep now. We shall discuss the rules tomorrow morning before breakfast and afterward we shall have a qualified healer look at you. The potions were only the first step." Gloria's breath quickened slightly, a healer? Severus actually wanted her healed? Abruptly Severus turned and led her down the hallway to the second door. "This will be your room while you are here. You may decorate it however you wish." He said, opening the door and stepping inside.

Gloria stared at the room; it was decorated in the same style as everything else, with a large dresser, desk and the biggest bed that Gloria had ever seen in her life. It was as tall as her waist and had a four-poster canopy of sheer green fabric surrounding it. It was lit by soft lamps on the walls.

"Are y-y-you sure s-sir?" she asked hesitantly, this room was so grand! "It's t-t-too b-beautiful to waste on m-me!"

"I am wasting nothing." said Severus finally, turning on his heel and moving toward the door "I suggest you sleep now Gloria. You have had a long day." and with that he closed the door and left her on her own in the room. In her room. Even at the late hour, light poured in from the crack beneath the door and the lamps lighting the room remained glowing slightly and for that Gloria was thankful. She hated the dark, hated all of the memories she had of it. The years spent in the basement had always been lit by the fire in her forge, darkness had led to pain then. Darkness always led to pain.

It took at least five minutes before she could work up the courage to go anywhere near the bed, afraid that someone was going to storm into the room and yell "Ah Ha!" and tear her away from this fabulous dream. At first Gloria only ran her hand overtop of the decadently soft fabric of the comforter but after that initial touch she ripped back the blankets and climbed (literally) into the bed, snuggling into the squashy comfort of the mattress.

If all of it was a dream, Severus and Dumbledore and even the bed, Gloria planned on enjoying every minute of it. If she had died from her Masters treatment, well, eternity in this bed was everything that she could have ever hoped for and it wasn't so hard to imagine Severus as one of those angels that she had heard about.

Gloria burrowed herself in the multitudes of blankets and was all too glad to obey Severus's request.

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