"HARDER CARDS" ... a song-fic.

None of the characters in the story are mine, and neither is the
Song. They are used with great thanks to their creators. "Sailormoon" was
created by Naoko Takeuchi. The "Harry Potter" series was-is written by
J. .

I don't know who wrote the song "Harder Cards", but it is sung by
Kenny Rogers.

-

"Well, a hammer fell down on a fourty-four primer,
now there one less problem in South Carolina tonight..
for wrong or right.

-

The officer knew he looked manacing, with his hawkish nose and piercing
eyes. Usually, Snape knew that to be an asset. He didn't even have to say,
"Back off!", much less pull his revolver! His stare was enough to put the local toughs into complience. But, it wasn't that way.. this time..

-

"She just looked at me as she finished her tale,
a blank expression, as another shell fell from play..
there was nothing to say..

-

The shot had rung through a quiet Spartensburg morning, and Officer Severus Snape had found himself called to the scene of a possible domestic-disturbance.

The situation, however, had gone beyond a "Domestic Distubence"..

The suspect, an Asian female, had shot the victim, her Caucasian husband, once. There were no signs of a struggle... at least, not resently.

-

"In the shadows of her face I see the scars
that you get when you live where love is hard."

"But," she said, 'Don't you sit and judge me from some high-and-mighty seat!
Don't you shrug is off until you've walked a mile in my bare feet!

"'There are people that you pass by every day
with harder cards than your's in life to play!'"

Severus Snape had seen many things in his long life. Things that would cause a Muggle to go stark-raving mad were things he took for granted. But- even with his years of arcane lore- and dark knowledge- nothing seemed to fastinate him more then the sheer inventiveness of Muggle-kind to inflict pain and death on their own! He guessed that's what kept bringing him back to the arts of investigation.. of intelligence.. on his times-off from Hogwarts. That.. and a need to try to put things right that seemed so wrong!

And, turning the scene before him over in his mind, he chuckled as the absurdity of a small lead projectile having enough force to end a Muggle's life.

'Ah, well!', He thought, 'Back to business. But, maybe there is more here
than meets the eye?'

-

"Well, I put the cuffs on her and I set her in the car.
Then I walked back inside. He was laying on the floor stone-dead.
He'd been shot in the head."

"There were whiskey bottles and dope by the chair,
A starving baby with nothing to wear but tears!
So, the picture was clear.

"He had finally pushed her way across the line
And the badge I wore was loosing all it's shine."

-

Officer Snape suddenly felt himself grow sick. It wasn't the blood-
what little there was- and the body hadn't time to start to decay. Nor was
it the stink of booze or vomit. It was that little girl's plaintive cry that made him ill.. and what that cry meant.

It was the deceased. Someone should have brought him in before now.
This wasn't the first time the police were called there. But.. well.. being buddy-buddy with the Chief-of-Police can get important people to look the other way. And someone *HAD* looked the other way.. one too many times!

-

"She said, 'Don't you sit and judge me fromt some high-and-mighty seat! Don't you shrug is off until you've walked a mile in my bare feet!

"'There are people that you pass by every day
with harder cards than your's in life to play!'"

"Well, I stood there thinking how justice is blind,
But, after thirty-five years, you learn to read the signs. So,
I made up my mind.

-

Well.. for the sake of that young girl, Snape thought,
one more person was going to "look the other way"!

-

"I just took the cuffs off her and I walked her back in,
I whiped the gun off and wrapped it in his right hand.. where it should've been!"

"And the morning paper sais in Black-and-White,
It was just another senseless case of suicide. So I lied."

-

Would sending that mother to prison have been justice? Would
depriving that baby of both her parents been justice?

-

"But don't you sit and judge me fromt some high-and-mighty seat! Don't you shrug is off until you've walked a mile ialong me beat!

"There are people that you pass by every day
with harder cards than your's in life to play!"

-

It was shortly after that that Snape left for Hogwart's, this
time never to return. But, not without tying up another loose-end..

****************************

Severus Snape snapped back from his memories, to look again at the
young woman who sat across from him so early this morning. How she had grown from the crying, starving baby he had spirited.. with her mother.. out of South Carolina to Japan!

"So, Haruka-chan!" Snape looked closely at the blonde, his "adopted" niece. "It has been a while, now, since the troubles at Mugen School. I had almost thought you had driven off the edge of the world!" Snape smiled dangerously as he stepped around his desk, pulling out his old Spartensburg police badge and a deck of cards from a drawer. "Almost. Where are .. Miss .. Kaioh and Miss Meioh?"

"They are.. not here." Haruka spoke softly, as if in awe of the hawk-
nosed man before her.

"Do they know of Hogwart's?" Snape asked. "Of me?"

"Iyaa! At least, I have not told them! So, I am sure that Michiru does not know! As for Setsuna.. who knows what she knows!"

"Hai. I see." Snape stepped back, still in "Inquisition-mode", as he called it. "And what of Tsuki-no-Hime? Does she know?"

"Iyaa. I have not told her yet." Haruka looked down at the floor guiltily. "If I should tell anyone, I should tell Koneko.. Usagi-chan. But,
she is so innocent.. so trusting.. I dare not tell her of my past. She has enough to live with, now. I.. do not know.. if she could deal with.. what I
know."

"And, yet, this 'Kitten' has proven herself capable of dealing with so
much more- hasn't she, Haruka?" Snape smiled. "The puppet, Beryl, and the Puppeteer, Metallia. The Death-Phantom. Mistress 9 and Pharoah 90."

Snape just smiled more as Haruka's jaw fell open wider and wider in disbelief! "I have my ways of finding out, child. And, I have no doubts, the Hime will face many more tests.. besides those posed to her by her Senshi."

Haruka hung her head at that statement. If she could have, at that moment, she would have tossed herself over the nearest cliff! "We.. owe her
so much." Haruka whimpered uncharacteristically. "And.. this is.. how.. we repay her! We are shameful!"

"I would think so. The Innershenshi have their problems, but *you* FOUGHT the Hime.. after the defeat of Pharoah 90?"

Haruka felt strangely uncomfortable under the wizard's questioning gaze. She shifted around in her chair.

"Mi.. Mi.. *ahhhh* Michiru.. wasn't-comfortable-with-how-things-
turned-out." Haruka mumbled. "Usagichanseemedweak."

"'Usagi-chan.. seemed.. weak'!" Snape repeated slowly. "To *who*, Haruka? Pray tell me?" Snape's tone was more that of a command than a request.

"Michiru-Sama."

"'Michiru-Sama'." Snape growled out the name slowly. "That salt-water taffy is going to get you in *serious* trouble one of these days, Haruka!"
Snape then paced back to his desk. "In another time.. I would have BURIED
that tart under the Spartensburg jail.. like any other street-walker! But,
as we are here and now.. I can only suggest you deal with that problem
before it becomes a problem too large to deal with! She WILL get you
into trouble.. mark my words well, Haruka!"

"Hai."

"As for Usagi-Hime," Snape steeped back up towards Haruka, "you are to
fall on your KNEES and thank her for not forsaking you.. or destroying you!
Her heart may be enlarged with forgiveness.. but, some acts CANNOT be forgiven! Nor, should they!"

She *tried* to hide them, but- by this time- Haruka's legs were
shaking like the leaves in a strong Autumn wind! And, she was sure, her backbone had grown as soft as tofu. No wonder her Uncle was so feared!

"By the way.. Haruka-chan," Snape softened his tone, "I *understand*
you had a young girl under your care for a time! Tomoe Hotaru-chan?"

"Hai!" Haruka jumped straight up out of her chair! "We.. Michiru, Setsuna, and me- were her.. foster-family for awhile!"

"'A while'?" Snape raised an eyebrow. "And now?"

"Hotaru-chan is.. with her father. Once more."

"Hai." Snape grinned. "I guess things are as they should be.. for now.
Just remember, Haruka-chan! You were is this young child's life once.. and you will remain in it! Spirits so bound are not loosed easily." He then smiled warmly at Haruka. "Nor, should they be! Watch over Hotaru.. and
Usagi! But, be as careful and a gentle as a Potion's-Master! As a good
woman told me, once, 'There are people that you pass by everyday with
harder cards than yours in life to play!'

"Hai!" Haruka hugged the wizard and gave him a kiss. "Arigato, Snape-obaasan! I will leave now. Classes will start soon! You have much to do."

"Hai." Snape then tossed the pack of playing-cards to Haruka. "Sayonara,
Haruka!"

Ten'ou Haruka caught the cards, then disappeared down the corridors of
Hogwarts. Snape then turned back to his desk, and scribbled two notes. Then, he said to his owl:

"It is good, to be able to walk with the angels again. My niece is right. I have much to do. I want you to deliver these parchments to Master Potter and Master Malfoy! We have *much* to discuss!"

When the owl had left of its mission, Severus Snape slowly closed his eyes and fingered the old badge.. remembering the scenes of another time...

"Well, a hammer fell down on a forty-four primer.

Now, there's one less problem in South Carolina tonight."

-