Severus walked back to Slughorn's party, looking for Alice.
"Horace," said Snape, grabbing Slughorn's shoulder. He didn't think it was possible, but Slughorn looked even more drunk than the last time Snape had seen him.
"Horace, have you seen Alice anywhere?"
"Yes, I have. She went looking for you about an hour ago. Haven't seen her since."
"Damn," muttered Snape. He left that party and walked to McGonagall's office. He knocked and the door swung open.
"Severus," said McGonagall, looking up from a copy of Transfiguration Today. "What do you require at this late hour?"
"It's Alice, I can't find her anywhere."
"Well, perhaps she's gone to bed."
"Perhaps . . . Are you sure you haven't seen her?"
"I'm sure I haven't. I did hear someone calling you name in the hallway, like they were looking for you. But that was nearly an hour ago."
"Sorry to disturb you, Minerva."
"Perhaps someone in Slytherin has seen her."
"Thank you." Snape walked to Slytherin house.
"Password?" asked the portrait.
"Parseltongue," said Snape and the door opened.
The common room was empty, except for Pansy Parkinson, sitting on the couch.
"Have you seen Ms. Thorne?" asked Severus.
"No," said Pansy. "I haven't seen Blaise either. I'm sure they'll turn up though. Alice is probably in the lavatory or something."
Snape nodded and then left to go to his bedroom. Snape wished Dumbledore were here. He was usually better at finding people than Severus was. But Dumbledore was gone and wouldn't be back until after Christmas break.
Snape didn't sleep at all that night. He was wondering and worrying about what had happened to Alice. When morning came, he walked to the Great Hall.
He wasn't very hungry and just poked at a pancake with his fork while his black eyes scanned the Slytherin table up and down, over and over again.
"Severus," said McGonagall. "Have you found her?"
"No," said Snape as indifferently as he could. But McGonagll could hear the worry and desperateness in his voice.
"I'm sure she'll turn up," said McGonagall encouragingly. "If not, we'll cancel class today to search for her."
Alice never showed up.
"Attention please," said McGonagall. "Last night, a student went missing. All classes today have been cancelled so that the we may find her. You are to stay in your houses until that student has been found."
The students all stood up and went to their houses. McGonagall turned to the teachers and staff.
"You are to search ever corridor, every lavatory, every classroom until Ms. Thorne is found."
They all stood up and started looking for Alice.
Proffessor McGonagall and Proffessor Slughorn searched outside the castle together.
"I really hope we find her," said McGonagall. "Severus has been so cheerful since she came back to Hogwarts."
"Yes," said Slughorn.
"When he came to my office looking for her, he was such a mess -- He looked nearly ill. And he still does. Dark circles under his eyes . . . I wouldn't doubt that he didn't sleep at all last night. Poor thing . . . " Filch came running toward them.
"Is Snape with you?"
"No," said McGonagall. "Have you found her?"
"There's something you might want to see. Come with me."
They walked into the castle, passing Severus along one of the corridors.
"Severus," said McGonagall. "Argus has found something."
Snape followed McGonagall and Filch to the dungeon. Then, Snape saw it. McGonagall gasped.
Lying face down, unconcious, naked and covered mostly by a torn piece of her dress was Alice.
Snape rushed to her side, cradling her mangled body. Shere was a slash across her face shaped like a chain. He saw more on her back . . . and her legs . . . Her whole body was covered with them.
"I found this, next to her body," said Filch, holding up a bloody chain.
"But -- but who would do this?" said McGonagall. Seerus held Alice close to him. He could feel her sturggled breathing.
"I don't know," he said. "But when I find out, I will see to it personally that their throat is slit."
"We should get her to the hospital wing immediately."
Snape nodded and scooped Alice up in his arms, keeping her covered with the torn dress.