She had arrived that morning, early; Snape watched her from one of the many arched windows and wondered vaguely who she was and why she was there. He hadn't thought about her again until she showed up in Potions class. She was very polite, didn't interfere and didn't ask any questions, though clearly she was interested in the tasks the students were performing. He thought perhaps she was a parent, interested in sending a child to Hogwarts; it was not unheard-of, Magicals overseas opting to send their children here, though he'd never heard of one from her...Nation...attending. But as he studied her, he noticed her rings. While each finger, and both thumbs, bore rings, none of them indicated a marriage.

Then he began to be a little bothered. There was something familiar about her. He couldn't imagine why then, and he can't imagine why now.

He tries not to watch her as she carefully examines the contents of the jars on his shelves, and while he was slightly irritated that she entered his lab without knocking, he's not too upset about it, because really, when was the last time a girl actually wanted to be in his lab? While he was in it? Ok, so she's not a girl. Young woman, then, he thinks. She's beautiful, and exotic-looking; her long, silky black hair has small, beaded braids here and there, some of which are tied off with feathered cords. Her clothing appears finely made, perhaps even taylored, though she makes no effort to conceal the fact that she has a tribal ancestry. But then, why should she?

He grits his teeth and looks down at the papers on his desk, not because she's done something to offend him, but because he just can not figure her out. Why does he feel like he knows her? He couldn't possibly. She is so very respectful with his belongings, he notes; she touches nothing, though she seems to want to. Some of the specimens are still alive in their murky jars, their lives magically supported, and some of them thump themselves against the glass at her. She doesn't even flinch. Rather, she grins, even laughs, and her laugh makes him feels very light somehow. Disconcertingly so.

After she looks at nearly everything in his lab, she finally turns her attention to him. Then he realizes just how beautiful she truly is, and how familiar. "I am sorry to disturb you, Professor, I know that you prefer solitude," she says with a slight bow. She is still just as polite as she was in Potions class this morning, and he appreciates that, but he has the sense that she wants something from him. That thought does not necessarily bother him...something somewhere deep inside him says, say something clever, idiot! He tells her suddenly, "if the company is choice, I welcome it." She smiles, glancing at one of the jars containing a live specimen. "I hope mine is choice enough," she says, and he retorts, "I haven't asked you to leave, have I?"

She laughs again, smiling that winning smile. "No, and I hope you don't." He looks at her, trying to meet her gaze...there's something he wishes to impress upon her. "If I asked you to leave, would you?" She looks down, her hands clasped behind her, and bows again slightly. "Yes, Professor, I would." He twirls his quill between his thumb and forefinger, thinking. "Well then," he says, "who are you, and why are you here?" She takes a step forward, that smile still lingering on her pretty face. "My name is Eleah, I'm an Auror." Ah, he thinks, and there it is. He straightens and his face reverts to its previous stony expression. "Have you come to remove me?" Her brows knit suddenly and she takes another step forward.

"No, Professor, I have not. No one wishes to remove you. Hogwarts is your home." He relaxes, just a bit. "Then why are you here?" She sighs and takes a third step forward, stopping right at his desk. "My father asked me to come." She looks up at him, and that's when it happens. Her eyes...

Gods, those eyes...

It's so odd, Snape thinks, to see such extraordinary eyes, of that exact shape and color, in her lovely, dark-complected face. "Your eyes," he says, his voice much softer than he intends it, and she chuckles. "Yes, my eyes. In all ways I am like my mother, except for them. I have my father's eyes." Slowly, he places his quill back in its inkwell, and she gently brushes it with her right hand. "Meadow owl," she says, and he notices something on her wrist. On the pulsepoint. "What...what is that mark?" She smiles again and tells him, "ohinyan. A Lakota friend of mine gave it to me. It means 'forever'. My mother was Mohawk, Professor. My mother's tongue is a very complicated one; trying to get one of our Elders to give me a word for 'always' nearly drove me mad."

He stares at her, his heart pounding in his chest. He's sure she can hear it, but if she does, she gives no indication. In fact, she seems almost unable to bear the weight of his gaze, but he can't help it. It's been so long since he's seen those eyes...she looks away, and his hands tremble. He wants to bring those eyes back to his. He is confused, a state he doesn't like to be in, but he can't sort things out. She's not only American, but Native American, an Auror, and here because her father asked her to come. And she has those eyes. "I've been offered a position with the Auror Office here if I decide to stay," she says off-handedly, as if to derail his train of thought. Or her own.

"Stay?" He shakes his head slightly and she tells him that her mother was a Woman of Power, and when her mother died her father returned to Devonshire, but she remained, as she herself is a Woman of Power. "I talk to spirits, you see. That's why I became an Auror, I have a unique gift." Her smile returns and he asks her, "you came all this way to see me because your father asked you to?" She nods and says, "only partly, there's something I have been wanting to do, and circumstances have made it not only possible, but necessary." She rests her hands on his desk, not looking at him, and says that her father asked her to come to Hogwarts and give him a message, because he just couldn't do it himself. "First, though, Professor, I want to thank you for everything you did for my grandfather."

Snape sees a tear fall from her cheek and he reaches a hand tentatively to her, then stops. She wipes her face and he withdraws his hand. In a shakey voice he asks her who her father is, and she looks up at him; at last her stunning green eyes return to his black ones. "Albus Severus Potter," she says softly. In the span of a second, he feels as though he hasn't breath in his body. "Professor," she says, and he shakes his head. "No," he says softly, "not 'professor' from you...my name, please..." They look at each other for what seems like an eternity before she finally tells him.

"Severus, my grandfather passed away yesterday morning." Snape knows she didn't say what he thinks she just said. And yet, he knows she did. Slowly, he sits down and has to put his head in his hands. "Harry...? How...?" She comes around the corner of the desk but stops just short of him, wanting to give him his space, but wanting to be near him if he needed..."Rastaban Lestrange," she says, her voice low, "it was a year or so after Voldemort's fall, Harry and two other Aurors caught and killed Lestrange, but not before Lestrange cursed him. The injury never healed right, no matter what Molly did for him. And as the years wore on, and a few more curses, well..." she shrugs, "these last few years it was very bad. After my grandmother died, he just...didn't want to deal with the pain anymore."

She moves a little closer, and Snape covers his face. Lily Evans' son was gone. Yet, here beside him was this beautiful young woman with her eyes... He can feel her looking at him, and he wants to reach for her, to tell her so many things, but he just can't. He doesn't know what he's going to do now. "Severus," she says softly, "thank you for having the courage to go on. I owe you so much--" he shifts in his seat suddenly and looks up at her, his face tearstreaked. "No," he says firmly, "you don't owe me anything," but she insists that she does. "Every one of Harry Potter's descendants does, and he didn't let us forget that. I am alive because of you," she says, and he covers his face again, wiping his eyes.

"But I don't want you to feel that you do, I just want--" She moves closer to him, and as he struggles to express what he's feeling, she strokes his hair. He freezes. His heart skips a beat. He looks up at her, complete and utter astonishment replacing the expression of torment on his face. "You can touch me?" She brushes a stray lock out of his face. She smiles. "How can you touch me?" Her brow arches and her smile widens. "That is part of my gift, Severus. I was born on November first, while the Veil between the Worlds is thinest. And I was born in the caul." She looks deeply into him, and he into her, then she says, "I was born between worlds, and you are stuck between them."

He hears her, he absolutely does, but he is far too enchanted by the fact that they can touch to reply. He caresses her cheek and she giggles, actually giggles, and his whole demeanor brightens. "My mother was Wolf Clan, and so am I," she tells him. "The Clan Mothers told me that because of your sacrifice, I had to be the one to come to you. But I had already decided that it would be so." His brightness falters slightly and he drops his gaze. "My sacrifice," he mutters, and she touches him again. "When you swore to protect my grandfather, Severus, you didn't make that vow to Dumbledore, you made it to Lily, and your love for her was so powerful, your courage so great that even after your body died, all the Good in you that you made Dumbledore swear never to reveal to anyone, your True Heart, made your Essence live on. And you Continued, because you felt the need to, because Lily's Son still lived, and you couldn't let go of that Vow. You refused to."

He rises and turns away from her, looking slowly at everything in his lab. "And all these years, you've been alone, except for those very special ones who could see you and speak to you." He nods and says absently, "the Scamanders, yes," and she beams. "I adore Luna's family. Wonderful people." When he turns back to her, his old dark look has returned. "It's time for me to go, isn't it?" She looks at him in askance. "Go where, Severus?" He seems to look at an imagined door, then back at her. "On, or wherever," he says, his voice full of hurt. She rises and takes his hands, then leads him back to his chair. He sits back down and she tells him, "you don't have to go anywhere if you do not wish to. No one here at Hogwarts wants you to go if you don't want to. This will always be your home, Severus. I didn't come to take you away, I only came," she sighs, "to give you my father's message, and to thank you."

She rises and caresses his face, gazes deeply into his black eyes as if comitting his face to memory. "You're leaving..." he says and his voice sounds hollow. "Where are you going?" Her eyes tear up a little and she tells him she wants to travel after family matters are settled. "The funeral is tomorrow morning, there's family coming from France and Romania, so even the 'family only' part of the services are going to be packed. There's going to be a public service later. Harry would have wanted something very small but...all things considered..." She straightens and steps back from him, and all he wants is to pull her back to him. "I have to go out to the house now and pick up my inheritance." He shakes his head as if to clear it. "Your inheritance?" He thinks the word sounds strange coming from her, until she answers.

"Yes," she says, then places a finger under his chin and lifts his gaze back up to hers. "Your pensieve. Harry kept it. It was very precious to him, Severus. It proved your innocence, after the War, and helped him clear your name. It helped him shut that awful Rita Skeeter down once and for all, and helped the Auror Office take down most of Voldemort's surviving supporters. Years ago he told the family that when the time came I was the one to be its caretaker, because I was the one who could appreciate it most." She takes another step back from him and he looks down at her hands. "You're alone? You...you've not married?" She takes in a sharp breath and tries not to cry. "No," she says, then tells him, "the man I love died nearly sixty years ago."

His breath catches in his throat and his eyes well up. "What?" She shuts her eyes tightly, squeezing out her tears and gives a tiny nod. She meets his gaze and says, "I love you, Severus Snape." He blinks, stunned to hear the words, and she adds quietly, "I've been waiting twenty years to tell you that." He reaches for her suddenly, before she can take another step back and can't believe how good that touch feels. She doesn't pull away, not that he expected her to, but right at this moment he doesn't know what he would do if she did. "I was six, the first time I saw you. In fact, it was my sixth birthday. My father showed me a picture of you and told me that you were a very brave man. I told my mother that I loved you, and she told me you were dead."

She shrugs. "Dead meant nothing to me then. I was six! I talked to the horse that died the year before I was born, I played with the cat that died the month before my birthday. I told her someday I would find you and tell you..." He gently pulls her a little closer to him. "My mother's father said my eyes were the Mark of your Love, proof of the goodness in your heart, and that when I came to you I would be that love returning to you." He pulls her closer still. "And you were going to leave without telling me this?" She tells him she's not sure what she was going to do. "I was afraid I would influence you...if you wished to Go On after all this time, I didn't want you staying because of me. You've sacrificed enough--"

He pulls her into his arms and holds her, and she seems to melt against him. "But your mother's father said you would be my reward." He gazes into her green eyes. "I want my reward." A slight blush rises on her cheeks. She kisses him. It's a long, deep kiss, one worth a lifetime of waiting for. When their lips part, he whispers, "the only place I want to be is with you." She brushes his lips with hers, then pulls him up as she rises. "Then we should be going. I'm expected tonight, and it's probably late already." He wants to ask her a thousand things, but all he can say is, "tell me again, Eleah, I want to hear it again."

She smiles up at him. "I love you." He likes the sound of that, a lot. He looks around his lab, and at the things in jars, some of which are at least two hundred years old, now. He doesn't even want to contemplate exactly how much time he's spent in this room, with these things. How could they possibly stack up against I love you? "I can come back, if I chose?" He asks only because he's him. She nods. "Absolutely you can. It's yours." He pushes the papers back into their place. How long ago did these students graduate? He can not now recall. "They won't change anything?" She laughs. "Od's Teeth, if they did, Professor Longbottom would have a coniption." He laughs, and for the first time since he was a boy, it feels natural to him.

He asks her softly, "how long...how long can I stay with you?" She tells him as they reach the threshold of his lab, "as long as you wish, Severus." He rubs the mark on her wrist, then brings her wrist to his lips. He kisses the mark. "Ohinyan," he says, smiling, gazing once more into those wonderfully green eyes. "Ohinyan."