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Chapter 1

"The Thing That Should Not Be"

Morgan could feel the cold running through her veins. It was dark and raining hard. Her fingers clutched the steering wheel in desperation -she was lost. Damn the map and all those horrible people beside the road, she was lost! Even worse, it was almost past eleven and the rain was so heavy, it wouldn't let her see the road. All she could see was blackness, which stretched out in front of her; no lights, no buildings, only huge dark trees. What had that old lady said? "Turn right and then left" she wondered, that old witch must be laughing her ass off now Morgan thought.

Not that this was new to Morgan. She'd always had such a bad sense of direction that she was always getting lost, ever since childhood. She could never remember which classroom she was supposed to be in at school and was therefore, always late. Her lack of attention had always got her into trouble. But this was serious; she was beginning to get scared.

The heating in the small rental car was not working, she could feel her fingers going numb, her ankles hurt. God! Her entire body hurt, the miles went by until the road was gone and the car was going through a slippery dirt track; after a few minutes she reached a crossroad, there was a tall wooden sign, but she couldn't make out what it said.

Morgan had to get out of the car. The minute she stepped out she was soaked to the bone. She splashed her way to the sign but it was too dark to read it, so she went back to the car. Her coat was so heavy, she almost fell twice. Which way should she go? Right - Left?

Morgan didn't want to make anymore wrong turns so she stayed on the dirt road; the car was beginning to become uncontrollable. On either side, all she could see was a dark forest; occasionally a wolf cry broke the silence. Then suddenly, a dark shadow ran past in front of the car. It looked like a horse and rider. The car slipped and came to a stop as it crashed sideways into a tree. She felt her head banging against the window; it almost knocked her unconscious, she felt dizziness and a searing pain in her forehead.

She got out of the car, fuming with anger, getting wet in that cold rain again. That bloody car was a rental, for God's sake; she was going to have to pay for all the damage. She ran her fingers over her forehead and felt something sticky - blood - she must have hurt herself when the car crashed into the tree. That's all she needed - to pass out on an abandoned dirt road.

The rain kept pouring down around her; she had to get out of there. So she got back inside the car and turned the key but the engine was dead. She tried again, this time the headlights went out. "Oh Lord!" she mumbled. Curse her luck!

Everything was so pitch black that she couldn't even see the road anymore. What the hell was she going to do?

"Think, think..." said Morgan softly.

She would have to get out of the car and find a house - or better yet the castle she was looking for. Otherwise she would freeze to death. She turned her gaze to the passenger seat where a bundle of maps and tourist guides was cluttering the seat. What had possessed her to waste her precious holiday in such a cold, miserable country, looking for these ridiculous places?

Well, she sighed, she had brought it upon herself. Driving alone in a foreign country had been a completely reckless idea, not that she was some Rolly Holy, but never this reckless. It must be her approaching birthday; she was definitely getting old and insane. Well, no point in getting depressed, she had to think of an immediate solution. Her head was pounding, the wound was bleeding, and she was lost.

She grabbed her bag and pulled out her cell phone - there was no signal - Damn it! You couldn't find a signal anywhere in this God - forsaken country. She put it back into her bag, and made a

decision.

Opening the glove compartment, she took out a torch. When she got out of the car again, her head was throbbing with pain. She started walking, the torchlight bouncing around, the heels of her boots sinking in the soft mud. She started cursing whoever invented high heels - and herself for buying them. Morgan continued on her way, like a spider on a greased saucepan.

A few minutes later she didn't feel much pain, just a little dizziness. After what seemed like an eternity to her, Morgan found herself in front of a massive iron gate, flanked on both sides by enormous walls. She stared at the grotesque winged statues, illuminated by her torch. She couldn't make out what they were. The gate didn't seem to be dangerous, so she tried to open it, but nothing happened. "Come on!" she muttered. "Open up, you stupid thing!"

The gate suddenly swung open. She stood for a moment, wondering what to do. Finally she made her way through the open gate. Her torch blinked twice, then died. She walked down the road, in the dark. Tall dark trees stood on either side.

Then, revealed by the lightning, she noticed the top of a huge castle. Morgan hurried a bit and then suddenly stopped, mouth open in wonder from the glorious sight in front of her. It was the most beautiful castle she'd ever seen in her life. With every flash of lighting she saw huge turrets that gave the castle a mysterious beauty. There were many windows, some of which were shining with a dim light, as if there were candles flicking in the distance.

Thick dark forest surrounded the castle like a blanket, and beside it, there was a silvery lake. Morgan ran, fell once in the mud, then got up and continued running.

She could see a huge wooden door in the distance. When she finally reached the door, she noticed that it was adorned in a very unusual way. It had a brass lion, a serpent, a hawk and what appeared to be some sort of rodent.

She knocked with the heavy torch. The thunderous sky echoed her cries for help. She tried to push the door but it was locked. "Come on, open the bloody door!" she screamed in desperation.

The door clicked, and eased open to reveal a stone hall, that was illuminated by many torches.

Morgan's sight started to blur. She stretched out a hand and touched something cold and solid. She turned around and wondered at the beautiful statues next to her. Actually, they were more like gigantic hourglasses each with an enormous creature on top. Where the hell was she?

The hall was as high as a cathedral. She could see a tall wooden door on her right, a shiny marble staircase in front of her and on her left, some stairs leading down somewhere. Not knowing which way to go, she decided to go where there was light, so she turned left. At least the stairs where illuminated with light from the torches.

Her headache was getting murderous, when Morgan reached the bottom of the stairs; she steadied herself leaning against the cold wall. She heard footsteps, her eyes felt heavy. Then through her lashes, she saw a tall man in black, walking towards her. He was holding something in his hand, it looked like a stick. She closed her eyes and finally fell to the cold stone floor.

Snape stared at the woman lying at his feet, she must be a witch, but she was wearing Muggle clothes. Snape crouched beside her, trying to figure out who she might be. Long red hair covered her face, he pulled it up a little to reveal a nasty wound near her hairline. She was bleeding profusely. Snape waved his wand and produced a stretcher; he must take her to the hospital wing before she stained with blood the stone floor.

"Mobilicorpus" whispered Snape pointing his wand at Morgan, but nothing happened, he must have not spoken clearly, he thought. He waved his wand again and repeated "Mobilicorpus."

The woman hadn't moved and inch. What the hell was wrong with him? He couldn't cast an easy spell? Snape angrily waved his wand again and cried out "Mobilicorpus."

The woman's body didn't move and the blood had already stained the stone floor. Snape glanced around suspiciously. What could be preventing his spell from working on this woman? He hesitated a bit, should he even consider touching her?

Snape finally made up his mind; he put his wand inside his cloak and raised the woman in his arms. She wasn't too heavy, in fact, she was very light.

As soon as he put her under Madam Pomfrey's care, he'd go to Dumbledore and inform him of what had happened, he couldn't believe that his spell hadn't work on her. Perhaps there was something strange about this woman?

When Snape reached the first floor, he entered one of its many corridors and walked towards an old tapestry. He muttered a few words, the tapestry moved aside and he barely entered the dark corridor, bending his legs and walking sideways so the woman wouldn't bump her head against the stone wall. Snape moved silently throughout the passage until he reached another tapestry, he pushed it aside and found himself in the hospital wing.

Madam Pomfrey was tending to a first year girl with a bad case of fever, when she saw Professor Severus Snape, entering the hospital wing by one of the many secret passages, carrying... yes, carrying a woman in his arms. She had never, in her many years of work at Hogwarts, seen Professor Snape so close to another human being, at least not in that way.

Snape saw Madam Pomfrey's startled look, her eyes wide with surprise. He cursed himself again for getting into a situation like this.

"I'm sorry to interrupt you Madam Pomfrey, but I found this... woman near the dungeons and she has a nasty cut on her head," said Snape, laying Morgan upon a nearby bed.

Madam Pomfrey prodded Morgan's head with expert fingers. "Thank you Professor Snape, it's nothing, just a little cut, I've seen worse during Quidditch season, I'll take it from here."

Snape nodded and hurried out of the place before she could ask him anything else. He went back to the same dark passage and continued up the moving stairs to Dumbledore's office.

When he reached the huge gargoyle at the entrance, the thing moved to reveal Professor McGonagall coming out of the moving stairs.

"Good evening Professor Snape, is there a problem?" Professor McGonagall asked looking curiously at him. The front of his cloak was a mess. Snape was dripping wet and all muddy, which was rare, he was always composed and clean.

"I found a woman at the dungeons entrance, a witch wearing Muggle clothes. I think Dumbledore should be informed," said Snape trying to rearrange his clothes while brushing off the dried mud with a movement of his wand.

"Why, of course," turning to the gargoyle she said in a clear voice, "Chocolate Frog."

The gargoyle moved aside and both teachers climbed the moving stairs until they reached the heavy oak door. Professor McGonagall quickly knocked and entered Dumbledore's office; most of the paintings were asleep, or pretending to be.

Dumbledore was sitting behind his big desk, reading a book. He was wearing a deep purple robe adorned with little silver stars. "Minerva, did you forget something?" said Dumbledore smiling at her. But as soon as he spotted Snape behind her, his smile was replaced by a deep frown. "Is there something wrong?"

"Headmaster," said Snape approaching Dumbledore's desk, "I'm sorry to disturb you so late, but I found a witch wearing Muggle clothes near the entrance to the dungeons. She was injured, so I took her to the hospital wing."

Dumbledore was about to reply to Snape when the door swung open and a very shaken Madam Pomfrey entered the office; she was wringing her hands together and near to tears.

"Professor Dumbledore! I'm sorry to barge in here like this, but there's a big problem, the woman Professor Snape brought to the hospital wing. She is bleeding profusely and I... I can't make it stop!"

McGonagall and Snape looked at her in shook. She couldn't stop the bleeding? What did she mean by that? Dumbledore rose from his chair with a deep frown on his face.

"Are you sure Poppy? Have you tried...?"

"Yes Professor, I've tried everything, but she just keeps bleeding! I can't stop it. I couldn't close the wound either," she said between sobs.

Dumbledore walked towards her and took her hand. "Don't worry, we'll help. Severus," he said turning to face Snape, "is there something you could produce to help her?"

Snape thought about the potions he had been working on ever since he joined the Order.

"Why don't we take her to St. Mungo's?" said Professor McGonagall anxiously.

"She won't make it," said Madam Pomfrey crying, "She's lost too much blood, and ... I don't....know how long...."

"There, there, Poppy," said Dumbledore patting her shoulder and handing her a handkerchief. "Severus?"

Snape didn't know how to answer Dumbledore's question, he hadn't tried any of his experiments on anyone, so he wasn't sure if they would work. But the look on Dumbledore's face brought him to a decision. The Headmaster trusted him. Snape would never let him down.

"Yes Headmaster. I can produce a potion that resembles Muggle medicine, perhaps it will help. But I will need time."

"Fine, Poppy, go to the hospital wing and try to make her as comfortable as possible, we will be down in a minute. Severus, we'll be waiting for you."

When they had both left, Dumbledore turned to Professor McGonagall.

"I'm sorry Minerva, but I need a few moments alone, I'll be down as soon as I'm finished."

Professor McGonagall nodded and closed the door behind her. Dumbledore moved to his desk and sat down, his gaze lost in the darkened sky. Suddenly he rose from his chair and opened a small cabinet behind him, he pulled out a big red book that read "First Aid - A Step By Step Manual" and quickly left the office.

Several hours later, the teachers were amazed of how much blood the woman had lost. They were also amazed that she wasn't carrying either a wand or a broom. She had regained consciousness for a few minutes and muttered the words, 'dirt road' and 'car', so they all assumed she had travelled by Muggle transportation.

The potion Snape had brewed helped Madam Pomfrey stop the bleeding. It had also given her time to bandage the woman's head and perform a very tricky procedure Dumbledore had explained to her. It consisted in actually stitching the wound, as if she was embroidering a sock. It was nearly three in the morning when they finished. Now all there was to do was waiting until the woman regained consciousness.

Morgan was sitting on a big rock, next to a beautiful lake. It was such a peaceful place, filled with flowers of every kind.

Morgan walked around the lake admiring the flowers as the satin fabric of her long dress moved around her body. It was a light rose shade, really beautiful, almost ethereal. The fabric merged its colours with the lake and the surrounding flowers.

The warm grass under her feet comforted her. This place was heaven.

After a few moments Morgan saw someone approaching. It was a tall man dressed entirely in black, his cloak flowing around him like big black wings. He stopped right in front of her, smiling

coldly. Morgan felt uneasy, this man was evil. She knew it without knowing why. He raised a gloved hand, holding something, like a stick. It looked like a long white chopstick. The man pronounced some words which she couldn't understand, then a green light came out of the stick. Morgan knew that the moment that the green light touched her body she would die. She turned around to leave, she had to save herself, she had to save her baby... wait a minute! Baby? What baby? She wasn't pregnant!

She woke up startled, and grabbed her head with both hands. It felt like it was going to explode. It had been one of those damn nightmares she's been having ever since she landed in this miserable country.

"Now, now, no need to do that," said a woman's firm voice; gentle arms held her down to a soft warm bed.

Morgan tried to open her eyes but sunshine flooded the room. This must be some sort of hospital. She turned to look at the woman. Her vision was still blurry but from what she could see it was a nurse. She looked to be in her mid fifties, perhaps. Her clothing looked like it was out of the nineteenth century - she could just imagine Florence Nightingale in that get-up.

The woman was tugging the blankets under her and fluffing up her pillow. "Please try not to move, it's been hard enough to keep your wound from bleeding and more movement will make you lose even more blood," said the nurse with a scolding look, Morgan felt like she was five years old again. "Now don't touch the bandage, I'll be right back."

The woman told her not to move, where the hell was she supposed to go with her head bandaged? She prodded under the sheets - her clothes were gone! Morgan raised her head a little and looked around. Her vision was improving. There were many beds lined up in front and next to her. There were lots of pictures on the stone walls; she saw movement out of the corner of her eye. When she turned her head she saw two women watching her and murmuring to themselves, who were they? Then she realized, in utter shock, that she was looking at one of the paintings and it was actually moving! She looked at the others - they were all moving! What kind of place was this?

Morgan heard a noise and the door opened. The nurse was walking towards her bed. Then she noticed a group of strangely dressed people. A woman, and an old man, whose unusually long silver beard captured her curiosity -could it be natural? There was also a tall thin man, dressed in black. She vaguely remembered him.

They approached the bed walking calmly. The nurse sat on the chair next to her, the old man sat to her right and the others sat in front of her; but she hadn't seen that many chairs near the bed before.

"Where am I? What is this place?" demanded Morgan. Then pointing a shaky finger at the pictures on the walls, she asked in a frightened voice, "Why are those things moving?"

Snape had a startled look in his face. She didn't know where she was? Professor McGonagall frowned; maybe whoever had attacked her, had also obliviated her memory, so she wouldn't be able to accuse them later.

They were all looking at Morgan, as if she was some sort of new human discovery. The older man spoke, his light blue eyes friendly through his half moon spectacles. "Don't be afraid my dear, you are safe now."

"Where am I?" repeated Morgan in a shaky voice.

She's about to cry, thought Snape, with a disgusted look in his face. Morgan, however, was far from crying, she felt like killing someone. Why wouldn't they answer her questions?

Dumbledore wasn't sure how to react, she didn't seem to know where she was and she was actually scared of the moving paintings around the hospital wing. What could have happened to her? He decided to try a different approach. "May I ask how you found us, my dear?"

The teachers turned their startled faces to Dumbledore. What kind of questions was that? She was a witch, right? How else could she have found the castle?

Morgan was confused, how did she find them? What did he mean? How could anyone not notice an enormous castle like this?

She started her story right from the wrong turn to the left, until she passed out on the stone stairs. Then Morgan realized where she had seen the man dressed in black before. She quickly turned to thank him.

"I remember you," said Morgan smiling at him. The man was pale, with stern features, black piercing eyes and long dark hair. "I haven't thanked you for your kindness." A muscle moved in his jaw and he jerked his head a little.

The old man was amused; she could see him smiling broadly at the other man, obviously enjoying his discomfort.

"Severus found you lying near the entrance to the dungeons and brought you to the hospital wing," said Dumbledore, smiling at her.

"It is quite extraordinary the way you said you found the castle - you see, no one should be able to see it. Well, at least, no one of your kind."

Morgan stared amazed, did he say her kind? What did he mean by that? Was he referring to her country or what?

"I'm afraid I don't understand..." said Morgan, getting angry.

The woman sitting next to the old man spoke in a gentle tone of voice. Even though she was sitting so stiffly in her chair that it looked as if she would break, if she ever moved a little.

"Professor Dumbledore, I'm afraid she's been attacked before entering the castle and they must have modified her memory. I mean, she can't remember a thing!"

Professor? Was she in a school? Middle ages crash course or something? And what was that about her memory being modified? What was it that she didn't remember? Morgan didn't get it. The old man and the woman looked at her with concern. As for the man dressed in black, what was his name? Sven or something? He was looking at Morgan like she was some kind of weird animal, which might jump at his throat at any moment.

"This might be something of a shock to you my dear, but allow me to explain where you are. It is going to be difficult to understand at first, but I promise you, it is nothing but the truth." His gentle voice reassured her.

Morgan looked at them trying to figure out what they were talking about. It seemed like one of those odd twilight zone episodes; where the girl woke up in a hospital and suddenly every one was telling her that her face was badly disfigured, just to find out that it wasn't so, because in that world the normal human appearance was adorned with a pig's snout.

She watched way too much cable TV. Morgan forced her mind to stay calm. Fantasy and magic

were just for the TV, they weren't real - right?

"OK, what is it?" asked Morgan, fearing for the worst.

The old man leaned over and took Morgan's hand in his and squeezed it reassuringly. When he had started talking, she first thought that they were just pulling her leg, but no, they were serious, deadly serious. When he finished Morgan's brain had stopped working. She was looking blankly at them. She finally found her voice.

"Well... hum, this has been a riot, thanks a lot for the hospitality. Could I have my clothes back? I'll be out of here in a flash." That's it, Morgan thought, she was out of here!

They stared back at Morgan in a rather condescending way. The old man nodded to the woman sitting next to him, she immediately stood and transformed herself into a tabby cat! The animal jumped in Morgan's bed.

Morgan must have had screamed or something, because the Sven character jump up holding a wooden stick in his pale hand.

"Put it down Severus," said the old man raising his hand, "she was just surprised, she won't harm us." Morgan looked at him like he was nuts. What could she do to them? Morgan could barely think, let along harming someone here.

The tabby had transformed back into the woman again. She was looking at Morgan with a thin smile in her lips. My God! These people were for real! They really were witches and wizards - and God only knew what else!

The Sever-whatever his name was sat back down, the wooden stick was gone. He gave her a hard stare and folded his arms across his chest, like she had committed some sort of sacrilege.

"What do you want from me?" said Morgan in a shaky voice.

"We do not want anything from you," said the Sever-guy, he sounded so evil; he could pass for a bloody vampire.

"In fact my dear, all we want to do, is to help you," said the old man smiling kindly at her.

"Help me? I am... I mean, I've never ...." Morgan was speechless. Her mind refused to work properly; it was in total confusion, trying to assimilate what she had just witnessed.

"Not a problem, dear," said the cat woman, "we understand this has been quite a shock to you. What you need now is some rest." She got up, nodded to both men and left. The chair was gone.

"My name is Albus Dumbledore," said the old man, "and I am the Headmaster of this school. This is Professor Severus Snape, the Potions master. He will be tending to your wounds for the time you're here." The vampire nodded, and Morgan feared for her neck. "I assure you that in time your wounds will heal and you will be able to return to your home. May I ask your name?"

"Morgan..... Morgan Stone," she said in a whisper.

There was a blink of recognition in the headmaster's blue eyes, but as soon as Morgan saw it, it was gone. He smiled again and patted her hand, which she suddenly realized he had been holding

in his own, since he started explaining the fantastic reality that she had entered.

Dumbledore let go of her hand and rose from the chair. She felt sad, almost, abandoned. Morgan didn't want him to go, she felt safe with him - which was crazy, since he was a complete stranger.

"Well Miss Stone I must leave you. Severus, I'll be waiting for you." He turned and left. The chair vanished.

Morgan turned her attention to the remaining teacher. The vampire, she couldn't help thinking to herself, he looked exactly like a walking corpse. The rude man looked at Morgan and spoke with deadly calm.

"Miss Stone, I will produce a Potion, which will help to heal your head injury. You must drink it every day for seven days, by which time, you will be well enough to leave." The man stood, and without another word left the room, his black cloak billowing around him. He seemed so familiar, like she'd seen him somewhere before. The door made a dull noise and it was closed.

What the hell was she going to do now? She sank in the warm bed. It was all too much! How could all this be possible? Magic? Witches? Those things were only in children's books! Not in the real world! Morgan's eyes were closing, she needed to rest.

********************************************************** "All that we see or seem, is but a dream within a dream..."

Edgar Alan Poe. ************************************************************

Alucard: The oak wing chair appeared out of thin air behind Snape with a soft sound, he took his seat beside Minerva and observed the nervous wreck sitting in front of him; he felt like he had been invited to a terribly dull menagerie. The principal attraction was clearly going batty already, her shaky finger pointed at the many large paintings that populated the stone walls of the hospital wing and her high pitch voice almost pushed the Potions Master to jinx her right on the spot. The Headmasters silly question brought Snape back to the present, he eyed the old man carefully for he knew Albus Dumbledore did not make stupid questions without a logical reason behind it; there were so many different reasons why this girl was unable to behave normally and not all of them pertained a magical lobotomy, so Snape decided to listen and wait. Although waiting without speaking was never a wise move around the Headmaster; his peculiar sense of humor which was always misdirected towards the Potions Master was always sour in Snapes opinion and presently receiving appreciation from an unknown foolish woman was not very amiable with him. The pale male nodded and resumed the silent stare without giving to the temptation of smacking the twisted smile out the Headmasters face. Sometimes the sweetest people in the world were the most hideous. The tale originated in the Muggle world and it was all related to Muggle transportation and Muggle ideas; after a few moments Snape realized she was actually behaving like a Muggle, but what on Merlins name was a Muggle doing inside Hogwarts Castle without previous notice? Better yet, how in the name of Merlins balls did she even found the castle? An idea originated in the Portions Masters devious brain, perhaps this woman was nothing more than a ambush but how? He knew every single plan the Dark Lord was concocting at the time, or at least he knew the vital particulars, so how was it possible for an enemy to infiltrate inside the Castle? Maybe the Dark Lord didnt produce this senseless girl, perhaps this was just one isolated, extraordinarily stupid incident. A high pitch scream startled the Potion Masters thoughts to the point of making him leap out of the chair, wand in hand pointing at the womans face; he realized too late that it had been a rather impulsive move to do so, Dumbledore was already smirking at him.