The Old Walls Crumble by cearrae



Summary: Immediately following Snapes escape from Buckbeaks attack. Where did he go and how did he live. Who helped him. NOT COMPLETE! Snape and OFC Angst,Language,OC,WIP,M/F,Lemon
Rating: 0
Categories: None
Characters: None
Genres: None
Warnings: None
Challenges: None
Series: None
Published: 15 January 2006
Updated: 18 April 2006


Index

Chapter 7565: The Old Walls Crumble
Chapter 7589: Bitter Lessons
Chapter 7636: Meetings and Consequences
Chapter 7759: Mourning Choices
Chapter 7836: The Sorcerer’s List
Chapter 8025: Painful Loyalty
Chapter 1296790896: Christmas Revelation
Chapter 1296790929: Choices of the Heart
Chapter 1296790954: Discovery
Chapter 1296790969: Of Myths and Magic
Chapter 1296791002: Gathering Clouds of War
Chapter 1296791021: Delivering Yesterday\'s Memories Tomorrow


Chapter 7565: The Old Walls Crumble

This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

This story has started to plague me incessantly and has blocked my thoughts on my first fiction. I would like to have a Beta for this story and I have asked but haven’t had any takers. If you are interested and have been a beta before or are really good on grammar, please contact me. I would like help with grammar but I’m not opposed to plot ideas and canon tweaks.

As always reviews are welcome.

The Old Walls Crumble.

Prologue.

Two dark cloaked male figures appeared on the dimly lit, deserted street corner leading to Spinner’s End. One leaned heavily on the other, clearly injured.

“Which way?” asked Malfoy.

An arm raised and a finger pointed the way. The pair made their way slowly to the doorway of a dilapidated row house. Pulling a wand from his cloak, Draco pointed it at the lock. “Alohamora.” He waited for the door to open.

“Stupid!” exclaimed Snape through clenched teeth. “My pocket, there’s a charmed key.”

Trying not to jostle his companion too much, Malfoy found the key and used it to open the door. Once in, he closed the door behind them immediately. The injured wizard made his way down the narrow hall, leaning his weight against the wall. He turned into the front room and stumbled to a threadbare couch where he finally collapsed. The younger man followed him, pulling out his wand once more.

“Lumos,” he called, lighting the candles and bathing the room in a yellow glow. He looked at his professor lying on the couch and grimaced. The wounds were still bleeding badly from the deep gashes along his ribcage and arms.

“You need help sir. Who can I fetch to help you?” he asked feeling helpless.

The man on the couch laughed mirthlessly, “Foolish little boy. Fetch help?’ his laughter turned into a cough.

Pulling off his cloak, Draco Malfoy moved to kneel beside Snape who was even paler than usual due to the loss of blood.

“Professor, tell me what I need to do, please?” he begged, “You’ll die without help.”

“Well, that would simplify matters greatly for everyone concerned, wouldn’t it?” replied Snape in his characteristic acerbic tone, “Over there in the sideboard, bring me the orange potion.” He ordered, and then rested his head on the cushion behind him.

Draco went to the indicated cabinet and opened a drawer. Inside he found a multicoloured cache of potion filled phials. Selecting an orange potion as instructed, he closed the drawer and went to kneel beside Snape again.

“Here you are sir,” said Draco, opening the cap of the phial before handing it over.

Snape took the potion and downed it in one. “Helps replenish blood faster….now…you must heal.” He pointed to himself.

Draco looked at his house master with eyes gaping in fear. “Sir, I …I don’t know how. I could kill you.”

Snape looked at the scared child before him, for that is all Draco was; a man child. He was all Snape had for aid however and had to perform.

“I have had enough of your cowardice today Malfoy. You were the one who wanted to prove yourself. Why your mother wanted to save your pathetic arse I’ll never know.” He spat.

Draco swallowed thickly, “Te..tell me what to do sir.”

Snape closed his eyes, “Your wand Malfoy, like so.” He inscribed a scrolling motion gradually moving across a line. “Show me.”

Snape watched as Draco practiced the wand movement and nodded his satisfaction.

“Now the incantation; Sanosectum Iniuriam repeated continuously as you move your wand over the injury. Try...go on.” Snape instructed and lay back once more.

Draco peeled back the torn garments from the wounds and made sure there were no foreign bodies stuck to the tissue. He took a deep breath and concentrated.

“Sanosectum Iniuriam,” he intoned as he waved his wand as he had practised. The flesh began to knit together slowly as his wand passed over it. He heard his professor moan in pain and stopped.

“Why did you stop, you stupid child?” Snape demanded through a clenched jaw. Perspiration beaded on his brow betraying the pain he had just endured.

Draco wiped the sweat of fear from his upper lip, “You were in so much pain sir.”

Snape let his head drop back, “It’s only physical discomfort Malfoy. It is temporary. I can handle the pain, I’m not afraid of it. I’m not a coward. Continue...I’m not a coward...I’m not a coward.”

Draco began the healing charm once more, listening to the strange mantra his professor and protector chanted to himself.

Narcissa paced to and fro in her gilt reception room. Much of the Malfoy home had been closed as an economy but she had insisted on her personal drawing room remaining open.

She had received the team of Auror’s there with the dignity of her title. She had remained aloof as they contaminated her home with their search and endured their rude insinuations about her morals.

“You’re making me dizzy sister. Sit and take tea.” Bellatrix said in a bored tone.

“I can’t. You heard what they said.” Narcissa turned and sat on the edge of her Queen Anne chair, “What has become of them?”

“Snape’s no fool. He’ll have taken them somewhere safe.” The dark witch replied.

“But where Bella, where?” she looked to her sister once more.

Bellatrix cocked her head to the side, “What do little boys do when they get hurt or frightened?”

It dawned on Narcissa what her sister meant. “No, not there...would he?” she asked even though she knew the answer.

Bellatrix smiled, “They always run home to mummy. If I know Severus, he has made his home a fortress.” She put her cup down and approached her sister. “We wait until the hounds are circling for a new scent and then we move.”

Narcissa nodded her understanding but in her heart, she wanted to be with her only son. She wanted to take him away from this place, this country that had become a living hell for them both.

Back to index


Chapter 7589: Bitter Lessons

This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

Thank you Msvanessa for your review. Come on everyone, jump on the wagon and tell me how you think the search for the horcruxes is going to go down. Do you like my Snape here?
Is he Snapiesh enough?

We’re off again>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Chapter 1 “ Bitter lessons.

He woke up and blinked in the dim light trickling through the grimy window. The old bed creaked as Snape shifted to find a less lumpy patch of ticking to lie on. It didn’t work. With a sigh he sat up and stretched, flinching at the catch in his side where he his scar was still healing. The alarm said six o’clock. He laughed quietly at himself, such a creature of habit that even away from Hogwarts, his body rhythm still ticked to the tower clock of the school. Best not to think too much of that, he warned himself internally. Rising, he dressed quickly in the cool damp of the morning. The house never seemed to warm up properly even in the heat of summer. He made a quick trip down stairs and a visited the loo before checking the larder.

“There’s nothing in,” moaned Draco, as he sidled into the kitchen and sat at the table.

“Put the kettle on, I’m going to shave,” Snape instructed, turning away from the presence of the boy who had become a total irritant to him.

“There’s no milk,” Malfoy complained.

“Open a tin of evaporated,” snarled Snape, holding up a warning finger, “and don’t use magic.”

Draco rounded on his teacher, “I’m not a bloody elf to do your bidding.” Suddenly, he found himself nose to nose with an evilly smiling Death Eater.

“You don’t like my hospitality? Well, don’t let me keep you, Mr. Malfoy.” Snape grabbed Draco by the scruff of the neck and dragged him to the front door. He tossed the terrified boy against it and pulled his wand. “Say the word and I’ll release the wards to let you leave. Never let it be said Severus Snape held a Malfoy against his will.” He waited as his threat penetrated the veneer of superiority Draco had assumed.

Draco slid to the floor dragging flakes of peeling paint off the door panel with him. He began to cry. He sobbed uncontrollably, his tears streaming down his cheeks and soaking his collar. “Please sir, please. I’m sorry, so sorry. Please, don’t throw me out. I don’t know where to go. I...I can’t go home. Please....I’m afraid. Don’t make me leave.”

Snape looked at the child begging for mercy crouched on the floor of his home. Draco sat cowering in the corner, his hands raised as if to fend off a blow. A wave of misery passed over Snape as a scene from his childhood passed unbidden before him.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“No Dad! Please, I didn’t do it on purpose, honest. It just happened. Ow! Ow! Ow!” Severus cried out as the blows of the switch hit the back of his bare legs. He had been cornered at the front door where he had tried to escape from his father’s wrath.

“Tobias, stop it. He can’t help it. Stop!” Eileen Snape covered her son with her own body and took two blows of the switch on her legs.

“Look at ‘im, the little coward can’t take ‘is own punishment. ‘E ‘\'as to have ‘is mummy protect ‘im. Ye do ‘im no favours woman. ‘E’s a freak like you and your kind. If ‘e can’t take what I dish out, ‘e’ll never survive what e’ll get in t’mill when ‘e starts.” Tobias wiped the sweat from his brow. He tossed the switch into the umbrella stand and went back to the front room. “Get yourselves back in here and clean this mess.”

Mother and son entered the room slowly. They looked at the remains of the mirror that had shattered while Severus was being lectured about running away from bullies. The small boy kept close to his mother, holding the edge of her apron.

“I could repair it,” whispered Eileen.

“You’ll do no such thing!” Tobias yelled, “I see that cursed piece of wood once and I’ll break it. I swear there’ll be nowt of the goings on of the devil in my ‘ouse.” He reached over and pulled Severus from his mothers reach, “Just remember that lad or I’ll lay the cane where you’ll never forget.” He shook the boy once then shoved him away. “I’m going for a walk. Make sure it’s cleaned up before I get back.” He lifted his cap and jacket and stormed out of the house.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Snape lowered his wand and leaned on the wall. “Get up, Malfoy, “he told the boy in a muted tone.

Draco sobbed silently, he head leaning back against the door and his eyes closed. He hadn’t really heard his teacher.

“I said get up, Malfoy,” he repeated. When he still got no reaction, Snape leaned down and grasped Draco’s arm. The boy started and looked up expecting to be hurt. “Get up,” instructed Snape once more, pulling on the arm at the same time.

When Draco stood, Snape released his arm and walked back to the kitchen. He filled the tea kettle, set it on the gas cooker and lit a flame. The youth came in behind him, confused at the change in mood of the dark wizard.

“Sir,” he began, “I apologize. I was rude and I should be tha...”

“Shut up,” said Snape without looking at him. He sighed and looked at the small mirror that hung over the sink. He saw a pathetic excuse for a man looking back at him. Not a wizard, just the pathetic man his father had always told him he would be. Coming to a decision, he opened the drawer in front of him and pulled out some scissors. He moved to the small table and sat down, beckoning to Draco to join him.

“I’d expected to hear from someone by now. Things must not have gone as we predicted. It appears we’re on our own.” He looked across the table seeking the boys’ reaction. Draco looked back, expressionless. “We have no provisions left. I need to go out.”

“But sir, you’ll be seen. They have your home address, don’t they, you know, the Auror’s?” asked Draco.

“No. I removed that piece of information from Hogwarts records some time ago and a friend managed to lose it from Ministry files. The house is quite unknown by those to whom I wish it to be unknown.” He held up the scissors, “How are your barbering skills, Mr Malfoy?”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


“Harry, Harry!” Petunia Dursley yelled up the stairs of her clinically pristine home.

“Yeah, what is it now?” Harry drawled, thinking he’d forgotten one of the tedious chores she had set for him.

Petunia looked over her shoulder at the petite young woman standing on her door step. Hermione shared her most ingenuous tooth revealing smile.

“You have a visitor; a young lady,” Said Petunia. She turned back to Hermione and asked, “How did you come to know Harry?”

Hermione bit her lips coyly, “Harry saved my life. I’ve been his friend ever since. He’s very special...but of course you know that.” She touched Petunia’s arm and giggled. At that moment, Harry appeared.

“Hermione!” he exclaimed and pulled her into a hug, lifting her and spinning her around once.

Petunia watched, looking down her nose at the pair. “So, you attend the same academy of freaks he does,” she snarled, “I suppose your parents are freaks as well,” she declared, sniffing imperiously.

Hermione merely turned back to face the sourpuss to share another brilliant smile. “Yes, I do attend Hogwarts but my parents are dentists.” She reached into her handbag and pulled out a business card, “Here you go I’m sure they’d love to meet you. They can work wonders with any kind of teeth these days, even when they’re really far gone.”

Petunia took the card, too stunned at what the girl had said to follow her own actions.

“Are you ready Harry? I have mum’s car. We can drive to their office. Dad has the afternoon off and wants to take us to lunch then he’ll drop us off at the Leaky Cauldron. Mr Weasley said he’d meet us there.” Hermione bounced on her toes in excitement.

At that moment, Dudley Dursley decided to descend to the kitchen for food. He’d just risen from bed and was, fortunately, wearing pyjamas. As he reached the first floor he noticed his cousin and a girl. A very pretty, put together girl.

“Hello there. Who’re you?” he asked.

Hermione looked over and saw a corpulent boy leering at her.

“You must be Dudley,” she declared, scowling at his dishevelled appearance.

“Yeah,” he replied. “You just move in around here?”

“No,” she replied, in a surly tone. Dudley still didn’t take the hint.

“So you’re just visiting.” He offered Hermione his best vamping smirk, “I know all the hot clubs in this part of town.”

Hermione sighed at Dudley’s idea of hitting on a girl, “How nice. Pity you don’t visit them often. The dancing might have helped you lose a few stone. Come on Harry, get your stuff. I’ll meet you in the car.” With a side glance to Dudley and his mother, Hermione returned to the car as Harry ran back to his room.

Harry packed his trunk of all his belongings and set Hedwig free to fly where she would. She would find him, she always did. He trundled his trunk and Hedwig’s cage down the stairs. His aunt stood in the doorway with her arms crossed.

“Just where do you thing you’re going?” she demanded.

“I’m going out to lunch with one of my best friends, and then I’m going to my other best friends home and then we’re all going to a wedding. Should be fun.” He made to pass her only to feel her hand gripping his arm.

“You didn’t say anything about this before. When will you be back?” she demanded.

Harry appeared to mull over what she asked, and then turned back to her. “Frankly, I don’t know nor do I care. If I’m lucky, I might never have to come back here again, ever. Now, let me go, Mrs Dursley.” He spat her married name out as an epithet. “You did your duty as a good little aunt and kept me alive, just. Now, I have a duty to the people who care about me and love me. I know you don’t fall into that category.”

Harry turned and strode away without looking back. He truly had no intentions of ever returning to Privet Drive voluntarily ever again. He had plans to make and execute. He had a destiny to fulfil one way or another. He swung his trunk and the cage into the car boot that Hermione had opened for him then slammed it shut. Finally, he looked back at the house that had been the only residence he could remember and found he couldn’t call it home. His home had been Hogwarts and Dumbledore. His home had been torn asunder by a cruel curse uttered on a dark night by an evil wizard. A home was something Harry no longer possessed.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Snape looked at himself in the shop window. He didn’t recognize the man in the reflection. His hair had been shorn short and he’d forgone shaving. The Muggle clothes clung too close to his body for his comfort but he didn’t have the luxury of choice. This was his second trip out this week. The house wasn’t hooked up to electricity hence the fridge was off. He wouldn’t chance a Freezing charm lest the magic be traced to a Muggle neighbourhood.

With a sigh, Snape resumed his walk down the street. He looked for the red and white striped pole of a barber. The hair was short but it looked rough. He decided on a proper trim. Seeing his goal across the street, he gauged the traffic and jogged to the other side. The prices were posted on the front door. Pulling out his Muggle money, he calculated how much he needed for food and decided the haircut was in his budget. He entered and was seated immediately. Half an hour later, he left with a short back and side’s style and his beard shaped. At least he didn’t look like a homeless person any more.

Walking back to the discount grocery, Snape had to pass a childhood memory, the primary school he had attended for six years. It looked as grey and miserable now as it had then. He stopped and looked over where there were a group of boys playing footy for P.T. or that’s what they had called it back when he was in school. He attended class with thirty plus other children, most of who were from poor working class families like his parents. The ones with picture perfect uniforms always came from the new housing scheme being built on the demolished cotton mill site. They didn’t wear hand me downs or second hand. Their socks weren’t darned.

“Hasn’t changed has it?” asked a voice to his left. He looked over and down. A short, non-descript woman a few years younger that he, was looking at the school much as he was. “You spend hours and hours pouring over books and doing lessons. What do you end up remembering best?” She looked up at him and grinned. “Last day of classes before holidays; you’d be sitting on the edge of your chair just waiting for that final bell. Remember?” she asked lightly.

“I prefer not to,” he replied, “my time here was not the happiest.”

“I remember you,” she stated.

“Really? I can’t imagine why.” He had thought to walk away when she said something that made him catch is breath.

“You were that funny kid that went away to some posh school on a scholarship or something. Our Amanda was in your class.” She frowned, “You were from down Spinners End, weren’t you?”

“You have a remarkable memory miss but I...” he began but she interrupted.

“Jenny, Jennifer Doulton.” She held out her hand for him to shake.

He looked at her hand with out taking it, “Doulton, I recall the name.” He looked at her more closely and nodded, “You had an older brother as well.”

She dropped her hand, “Yeah, Tommy. He was a right one when he was at school they say. He’d left here before I started.” She jabbed her thumb at the school.

“He was a bully, plain and simple,” he replied to her observation.

“Yeah well, he grew up and moved to Canada to work in the oil industry. Haven’t seen him since my dad died.” Jenny looked at the sky as the sun moved behind a cloud. “Looks like it might rain. It was nice meeting you again...eh.” she stumbled, realizing she didn’t know his name.

“Indeed, good day,” he replied and quickly walked away, leaving her standing in front of the old building they had shared part of a childhood in.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

David Granger sat across the table from his beloved daughter and her friend in the private dining room of his club. He watched the easy banter and teasing, seeing not pre-amorous testing but the comfort of true friendship. It comforted him somewhat. Hermione was not following this boy out of some misplaced hero worship. They were friends with a bond of siblings, not of sex. This made his understanding of her loyalty clearer. It did not make it easier, for a parent’s love for their child surpassed any others when it came down to life or death.

“Hermione, I had a meeting with Headmaster Dumbledore earlier this year,” he told her during a lull in the conversation.

Hermione took a sip of her mineral water. “I see, and what did you speak about?” she asked.

David looked down and studied his glass of wine. “Hermione, you told us about what was happening in the world you live in during the school year only after your mother saw the scar on your torso.” He paused and sipped, “You’ve hidden so much from us abetted by your teachers. What were we to think?” he asked, opening the subject for her to respond to.

Hermione looked at Harry, “I don’t know Daddy.” She closed her eyes and ordered her argument in her mind. “If you and mum had found out about what was happening since first year, you would have pulled me out of school.”

“Of course we would have, Hermione!” her father exclaimed quietly, “Your mother and I love you. Why would we expose you to such danger?”

“It’s not that simple,” she replied. Hermione looked at Harry. The young man looked saddened at her father’s outburst.

“It’s my fault sir,” Harry confessed, “I’m the one who’s at fault for all the dangerous things that have happened to your daughter.”

“No! Harry, you never asked anyone to risk themselves. We did what we did by choice, all of us. This is our lives, our future. We made a choice; that’s more than you were ever given,” she insisted.

“Hermione,” her father cut in sharply, thankful he’d asked for a private room, “I didn’t come here to discuss history.” He took a deep breath and began a speech he never thought he would make. “Your mother and I know what has been going on. Now that Dumbledore is gone,” he watched as the young adults reacted to his words, “and the school has been closed for the foreseeable future we would like to know your plans.”

“No sir,” said Harry with finality.

“I beg your pardon?” demanded David vehemently.

Harry was shaking his head, “Dr Granger, Hermione is so lucky to have parents like you. You love her and want only the best for her.” He paused to think for a moment about what he was about to say. “Your daughter is brilliant. I wouldn’t be alive today without her. She might deny it, but I know it’s true.” He looked at his friend, “I have a destiny. I have no choice but...” he paused to fight his emotions, “my friends, my true and loving friends have always been with me. I can’t imagine going forward without them but they are free to choose their own path.”

Harry turned and looked at the older man, “We cannot tell you anything, for you and your wife are targets, sir. Believe me when I say, our enemies would force any knowledge about us from you before you could take a breath. When we make plans, we can share them with no one else.”

David Granger watched his little girl become a strong woman before his eyes and knew regardless of any plea he might make, her mind was made up. He felt the urge to cry come upon him suddenly. “Excuse me.” He stood and left the table to hide for a minute or two in the Gents.

“Oh Harry, I’ve hurt them.” Hermione used her napkin to wipe away the tears from her face. “I never wanted them to know what was going on because they would worry so. Now it’s all come down on them,” she sobbed.

Harry put his arm around her shoulders to let her rest her head against him. “Perhaps it’s better they know Hermione. You don’t have to hide anything around them.” He turned her to look at him. “What would they feel if something happened to you and they never saw you again? Don’t you think that would be worse?”

Hermione nodded, “I suppose it would be.”

“I know it would be,” added David from behind them. He returned to his seat. “Hermione, you’ll be eighteen in September. You are already of age in...in your world. Your mother and I know there’s nothing we can do to stop you from following your conscience.” He smiled for a moment, “In fact, we’d have been disappointed in you if you’d shown anything other than that determination. It wasn’t the way we raised you.” He looked at Harry, “Potter, I hope you have some common sense too. Don’t be dragging your friends into foolish situations you haven’t thought through.”

Harry grinned. “That’s what I have Hermione for. She’s the one who talks sense.” He sobered for a moment. “I promise that I’ll do my best to keep Hermione safe, sir, but I have no more control over her stubbornness than you.”

“Hermione, before you... before you begin your quest, please spend a day with us?” He watched his daughter’s face for her reaction.

Hermione reached out and captured her father’s hand. “I hope I can spend more than one day with you Daddy. Please, come to the wedding a week from Saturday. I know you were invited.”

“I’ll talk to mum.” He took a sip of wine to disguise his emotion. “We’ll let Arthur know.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Snape and Draco were in the front room of the house, reading silently while a battery powered radio played in the background. They’d fallen into a pattern of sorts over the past month. Draco had learned how not to irritate the older man and Snape didn’t bark orders out like Draco was a house elf. It was a barren existence but it was survival.

Both men started when four sharp knocks sounded from the front door. They looked at each other

“Dowse the lamp,” whispered Snape as he approached the window. Draco turned down the wick in the oil lamp and snuffed out the candles. Pulling back the old black out curtains, Snape peered out to see who was at the door. He sighed when he saw two cloaked female figures.

“Lumos.” He lit the candles and took one to the door to admit Narcissa and Bellatrix. They entered wordlessly and went into the living room. Narcissa rushed to Draco and pulled him into her arms.

“Oh Draco, I’m sorry I took so long to come,” she sobbed, placing kisses on his brow and cheeks. She stood back a little and looked at him, “You’ve lost weight. Are you all right?” She stroked his hair which had reached his shoulders making him look even more like his father.

Draco nodded, “Yeah, I’m okay. Honest. I missed you Mother.” He pulled her into a hug and sobbed into her shoulder. Narcissa patted his back and cooed soothing noises to him.

“Pathetic,” muttered Bellatrix. “What do you have to drink around here? I need something to settle my stomach after seeing that.” She pointed her chin at the mother and son then moved to the chair she’d sat on the last time she was there.

Snape pulled out a bottle of sherry and some glasses. He poured them each a glass, passed one to the dark haired witch and sat on the chair opposite. “What took so long?” he demanded.

“Moody.” Her one word answer was all that was required.

“He never trusted me. Not even after Barty Crouch and his trunk escapade.” He sipped the sherry and let the warmth trickle through him. “What now?”

“We need to get these two out of the country. Then, it’s up to our master.” She sipped her own sherry and looked over at her sister. “Do stop pawing the boy, sister. It’s revolting to watch.”

“Draco, pour your mother some sherry. You may have a small one yourself. Narcissa, please have a seat.” He indicated the sofa.

“Severus, how can I express my gratitude to you? You saved my boy.” She looked at the wizard with fervent worship.

He looked at the pale face of the woman who’d driven him into exile and leered at her. She blanched and looked at her sister who had begun to laugh.

“I’m sure I could think of a number of ways you might show your gratitude, Narcissa.” He let his words hang in the air while he took a drink. “Frankly, I’d rather just take cash; Pounds not Galleons.”

“I see,” said Narcissa, taking a sip from her glass. “I suppose I could manage something.”

“Good, I’m sure you’ll be generous. I have funds in Gringott’s I can’t get to. I need someone to transfer them to a Muggle bank. I’ll write the debit note, you will deliver it. The goblins will look after the rest.” He looked at her and waited.

Narcissa nodded. “Of course, I’ll do anything to help you, Severus.”

“Where am I to go Mother?” Draco asked anxiously.

“Tonight, we go home son. For the next few days, we’ll stay there until our plans are finalized.” She looked at her sister.

“We’ve been in touch with Karkaroff. He said he’d give all of you shelter. He’s sending a boat next week. We need to get to John O’Groats by Thursday next,” She told him. Looking at her nephew, she asked. “Can you apparate, boy?”

“Yes, Aunt Bella. I’ve not had much practise though,” he replied cautiously.

“Well, you can practise when you get home. You’ll need to if you want to get into the priest hole quickly when the Aurors arrive anyway,” she warned.

“Bella don’t scare the boy. We can do side along apparition if need be. We’ll be fine Draco, don’t worry.” She patted her son’s hand. Draco had the grace to look embarrassed.

“I’m not going,” announced Snape.

“What?” gasped Bella, “And they call me mad. Do you realize the kind of search that is on for you?”

“Yes. They’re all looking for a homicidal wizard with long dark hair, clean shaven and a propensity for billowing black robes.” He looked at the women. “Do you see anyone of that description here?”

“Come Draco, we should go. We’ve presumed upon your professor’s hospitality enough,” decided Narcissa, standing up and adjusting her robes.

“I’ll get my things.” Draco left to get his small bag of belongings.

“Thank you again, Severus. There are no words to tell you, no way to thank you enough,” Narcissa told the man before her.

Snape stood and faced her, “I know.” He walked over and poured himself more sherry. “Believe me, if there were anyway you could thank me, I’d have asked for it twice over just to get compensation for having to put up with your whelp for the past month. You’ve raised a mewling, craven man-child who bates his betters and runs crying when they bite back.” Pulling out some parchment and a quill, Snape wrote the debit note and signed it. He passed it to Narcissa who was gaping at him.

“Severus, that’s cruel!” cried Narcissa.

“Cruel?” Snape laughed, “No, cruel is having to know I was the one who saved his pathetic arse and gave up any semblance of a life I had. I can’t even serve our master properly anymore. Tell me Narcissa, what do you suggest I do? What can you give me to compensate me for losing all of that?”

“Mother?” Draco had returned and heard the last of his professor’s speech.

“Let’s go Draco.” Narcissa led the way to the front door.

“Professor, I know I was a total idiot. You’ve been most patient with me. Thank you, sir, for everything. Perhaps, one day, I’ll be able to return and repay you in some fashion.” Draco held out his hand to his protector.

Snape took his hand and looked at the boy, “Malfoy, for the sake of everyone who matters to you, find a nice safe job, marry and have lots of babies. You’re not your father. Look after your mother.”

Draco nodded and followed his mother.

“So, you’re all by yourself again.” Bella purred in his ear.

“Why didn’t the rat return with you?” he turned and faced her.

Bella smiled, “I didn’t tell him I was coming.” Stepping closer to him, she lifted her hand and stroked his beard, “I always liked a beard on a wizard. It makes them so much manlier.”

“Are you about to thank me too?” he asked quirking his brow at her as she pressed against him.

“No but I could offer something you might thank me for....later....much later.” She snaked her arms around his neck and kissed him. Snape responded by pulling her hair back roughly, making her gasp.

“On my terms Bella.” He grabbed her arm, led her upstairs to his room and shoved her on his bed. She lay as she fell and looked back at him. “So, Bella, how do you like it? Perhaps you have one of the traits of your brother and prefer all fours?” he began to undress as she gazed hungrily at his groin.

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Chapter 7636: Meetings and Consequences

Disclaimer.
This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

We continue on. Things don’t get any happier…yet. There are always consequences for our actions regardless of how we try to escape.

Meetings and Consequences.

The old bed rattled as Bella pulled against her bonds, struggling to free her hands. She growled in frustration and glared at the wizard causing her exasperation. The payment was not quite what she thought it would be.

“Enough, Severus, no more teasing. You’ve had your fun, now; tell me what it is you want.” Bellatrix looked at the wizard who was lazily stroking her legs from his kneeling position between her thighs.

Severus offered her a sarcastic grin. “Come now, Bella, we’re just catching up on old times. I remember well your tutoring sessions with newly marked brethren where we were tied in just such a way for your amusement; albeit a lot less comfortably.” He slid his hands up her sides until he could cup her breasts and pinch the nipples. As she moaned and arched her back, he began to whisper his demands. “I need a job to keep me in his favour. I need ammunition to fight with and that means information.” He slid one hand down and began to tease her centre in a way that made her gasp.

“I taught you well,” she hissed through clenched teeth. Bella had her eyes closed and was twisting her body in an effort to ease her arousal. “Please, Severus, you must let me have my release. Please...”

Severus laughed and bit her neck, leaving a mark. “I’ve learned far more from women who lectured with tender and skilled hands than you’ve ever shown me. Now, beautiful Bella, tell me, what is it in Borgin and Burkes that must be retrieved?” He paused and waited for her answer.

“Argh!” she cried, “Severus, you are cruel.”

“I’ll take that as a complement from the mistress who defines the word.” He sat up and made to withdraw.

“WAIT!” Bella closed her eyes. “It’s very ancient and it belonged to an ancestor of Ravenclaw. He was a Warlock of the Clan of the Raven. The object is a rod with the Ravenclaw eagle mounted on it.”

Severus returned to rest between her legs once more. “Thank you Bella, now for your just reward.” He leaned down and with a hard thrust, entered her. Their coupling was rough and lasted at length before Severus finally allowed either of them any release.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Severus woke the next morning with the witch’s arms wrapped around his torso. In her sleep, Bellatrix could pretend to the hard beauty that had been hers before her time in Azkaban. Her striking eyes and full lips, along with her sinuous body, had left many a wizard stirred and desirous of her company.

He made no pretence of easing himself from her embrace. Severus rose and began pulling on his clothing. He would make a trip to the local public baths and shower later. The old house had a gas geyser mounted over the bathtub, that provided hot water for ablutions but he wanted to be purified after his night with the Dark Lord’s favourite.

“Severus, what time is it?” Bella pushed herself up and rubbed her eyes.

Snape looked at his clock. “Just past eight o’clock,” he replied, as he pulled on a dark blue jumper.

“Oh! What a ridiculous time to be awake.” Bella lay back and opened her arms, “Come back to bed Severus. We can have some fun before we greet the day.” She smiled at him suggestively, “If you want, we could make this a habit. You always were my favourite pupil.”

Severus rose from his seat. He picked up the robes Bella had discarded the night before and threw them at her. “Get your lazy arse out of my bed. You got your jollies and I got to scratch an itch.”

“You ungrateful bast...” Bella was cut off in mid declaration with Snape’s hand wrapping around her throat.

“What did you expect, Bella? Grateful, grovelling from a man who had gone too long without?” Snape laughed. “Don’t flatter yourself.”

“You...you never have women offering you their bodies freely. They take one look at you and run the other way unless you’re raping them,” she spat back at him.

“They don’t know what they’ve missed.” He reached over and pulled her out of the bed. “Now, get dressed and be on your way. I’m sure your husband has missed you.”

Bella pulled back her hand to slap his face only to have it caught by Snape before it struck. “I don’t think so, madam. I never give whores the upper hand.” He pulled her after him as he made his way downstairs. Bella clutched her robes to her chest as he pushed her towards the hall.

“I need my shoes and my wand,” she spat through clenched teeth.

Severus pulled out his own wand and Accio’d her belongings, throwing the shoes at her feet but keeping her wand. “You have two minutes,” he told her and looked at his watch to time her.

“Our Lord will hear of this,” she muttered as she struggled into her robes. Shoving the extraneous articles of underwear into the pockets of her cloak, Bella forced her feet into her shoes and threw the cloak over her shoulders. “My wand,” she demanded.

“Let me show you out, my dear Bella.” Snape pointed to the front door and followed behind her as she walked towards it. Severus un-warded the door and opened it letting Bella exit. “I look forward to hearing from our Lord; I expect that he shall call very soon.” He passed her the wand, “Have a safe trip and do give my regards to Rodolphus.” He smiled as he slammed the door in her face.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


The kitchen of the Weasley household was bustling with activity. Two house elves, Dobby and another Hogwarts elf, were labouring under Molly’s sharp eyes to produce a veritable feast. The twins had shut up shop and were busy erecting and decorating a marquis tent for the wedding reception with the help of Ron and Harry. Ginny and Hermione were gathering flowers to make baskets and wreathes.

The wedding ceremony would take place under a night sky so that all creation would witness the hand-fasting and binding of Bill and Fleur. The guests would stand in the sacred circle and an elder would hear the oaths and make the binding.

Harry came into the kitchen to get a cold drink. He looked at the food filling the magically resized cold box as he reached for the pumpkin juice. “Wow, Mrs Weasley, this puts a Hogwarts feast to shame,” he complimented his surrogate mother.

Molly smiled at the compliment, “Well, it’s not everyday your oldest son gets married. I’ll not have it said the Weasley’s stinted on a Wedding. Dumbledore always enjoys...oh my.” Molly suddenly realized what she was about to say. She sat at the table and dabbed at her eyes with a tea towel. “It’s so hard to think of him as gone. He was going to officiate, you know.”

Harry sat across from her, “Sometimes I wonder how I’ll carry on. He always had something up his sleeve. It was as if he had a giant secret he wanted us all to guess at. I never thought of him as being just...an old man.” He looked into his glass of juice not wanting Molly to see the tears threatening to fall.

“Harry, we’re all just human beings. Even He Who Must Not Be Named had a mother, god rest her soul.” Molly stood suddenly, “Right, that’s enough of that. Come on.” She reached over and tapped Harry on the shoulder. Harry finished his juice and stood as well.

“Harry, be a dear and fetch the boys from the field for some tea. Fleur is bringing her mother and sister later and we’ll all have a light supper then.” Molly shooed Harry along and watched as he disappeared behind the hedges. She turned back to the kitchen and looked over the day’s labours. “Alright you two,” she called the elves, “enough for tonight. Put some preserving charms over this lot and move it out to the tent. After that you can go but be back bright and early tomorrow.”

“Excuse me, Mrs Harry Potter’s friend, Dobby wonders if you know what tomorrow is?” asked Dobby.

Molly scowled, “Of course I do. It’s my sons wedding day.”

Dobby went pink in the face and wrung his hands, “Of course, Mistress, but tomorrow is special for another reason.”

Molly crossed her arms in front of her, “Don’t worry, Dobby, I remember; Merlin knows, you dropped enough hints. We will celebrate Harry’s birthday at lunch tomorrow.” She thought for a moment and added, “If you are here, you may attend.”

“Mistress Mrs Harry Potter’s friend, you are too kind to Dobby. Dobby was rude to suggest that such a great mistress would forget...” Suddenly the elf grabbed a wooden spoon and began beating himself about the head.

Molly dashed forward and grabbed the spoon, “Stop it, you foolish little creature, I need you fit for tomorrow.”

“Thank you, mistress; we shall be here early, as you have ordered.” Dobby and the Hogwarts elf began casting charms over the food and moving it out to the tent. As the table cleared, Molly set out soup and bread for her extended family. She was never more content than when she was providing for those she loved and cared for.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Thursday, July 31st, 1997. Snape looked at the calendar hanging on his wall. He was finally alone, finally able to think. Away from the eyes of his Deatheater cronies and Order comrades he could be Severus Snape, half-blood wizard, half-blood Muggle and emotionally exhausted man.

Rubbing his hands over his face once, he pulled himself up from the sofa and got ready to go out. An owl had arrived the evening before with a letter from Narcissa telling him the money transfer had been made. Her donation had been sent to the Muggle bank as well. Opening a drawer in the sideboard, he pulled out a wallet. It contained a driver’s licence, credit card and bank card. He chuckled to himself, thinking about what his Slytherin students would have thought about their House Master seeing him like this. He pulled on a light jacket and made his way out.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Jenny Doulton, library clerk, recent divorcee and self declared frumpy Manchester lass. She looked at herself in the mirror and pulled her hair up, then let it drop. “Let’s face it girl, you have all the pizzazz of a day old bread pudding,” she said to her reflection. With a sigh, she picked up her handbag, a box of stuff for the jumble sale at the school and went out to shop. Maybe a little Victoria Sponge from Marks and Spencer would improve the day.

She made her way to her old primary school and walked through the gates to the doors leading to the School Hall.

“Hello Mrs Fraser,” she called, “here’s the stuff for the jumble sale. Not much, just a few things of my mum’s that nobody wanted.”

“Thanks ever so, Jenny,” replied the older woman who was taking in the donations. “You must drop in on Saturday; we’re having a nice Tea Room and bingo.”

“I wish I could, Mrs Fraser, but I’ve got to work. Saturday’s one of the busiest days at the library.” She smiled, “If you see something I might like, why don’t you pick it up for me and I’ll pay you.”

Mrs Fraser smiled back at her, “Dora Smedley is doing her homemade chutney; I’ll get you a jar.”

“You do that, thanks. Must run, bye.” With a smile and wave, Jenny left the hall. She looked down the corridor towards the school office and noticed some framed pictures. Curiosity got the better of her and she walked over to browse the small gallery.

She chewed on her nail as she gazed at the old photos taken of prize giving and sports teams of previous years. She stopped when she came to a picture of the chess club that had won the inner city championship for their age group in 1971. There he was, the chap she’d met outside the school that day. Checking the names listed at the bottom of the picture with the faces, she found out who he was. “Severus Snape, that’s who you are.” She looked once more at the picture then left through the front doors.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Severus made his way to the closest bank that had an automatic teller. He pushed his card into the slot and keyed his secret number. A few key strokes later and a small wad of pound notes were dispensed. He quickly put the money in his wallet and left.

Taking a deep breath, he looked up and down the street, deciding which way to go. He looked up and saw Marks and Spencer. He recalled they offered a good range of better than average food and decided that was the place to start.

As Severus looked around the large shop, he was struck by how bright everything was. He’d been so immersed in the Wizarding world; he’d forgotten how open and airy the Muggle world could be. Wizards seemed to prefer the Victorian clutter of a bygone era and most shops were dusty and cramped.

He walked around and made a few selections then moved to stand in line to pay. As he waited for his turn, he mulled over in his mind what to buy at the off licence. His reverie was ended when a cart on wheels banged the side of his leg painfully.

“Sorry, I wasn’t watching where I was going...Oh, it’s you.”

Severus turned and looked at the voice. The woman he’d met at the school.

“Indeed, it is I,” he responded through his gritted teeth as he rubbed his thigh.

“I’m really sorry. I got distracted by the signs.” Jenny pointed to an overhead display. “Are you all right?” she asked.

Standing straight now, Severus sighed, “I’m fine, I’ve suffered worse.”

“My mum always gave me grief over not watching where I was going,” she continued, just to make conversation.

“Perhaps then you should bring her with you next time,” he replied tartly.

“Wish I could,” she replied quietly. Severus looked at her. “My mum passed away in May.” Jenny shrugged and offered him a sad look.

Severus felt regret at uttering such a tactless comment; it was only an accident. “I’m sorry, I was rude; my condolences on your loss.”

“You couldn’t know,” she replied with a small smile on her face. “Listen, we didn’t really meet properly at the school that day. I was just so happy to see a familiar face after being away for so long. Let’s start again. I’m Jenny Doulton and you are Severus Snape, right?” she held her hand out once more for him to shake.

He still didn’t take her hand, “How did you come to know my name?” he asked, surprised at her discovery.

She dropped her hand for the second time, “Is it some deep dark secret? Do you have an aversion to shaking people’s hands when they introduce themselves?” she asked tersely, then more evenly told him, “I saw your name on a picture when I dropped some stuff off at the school.”

He nodded and extended his hand, “Indeed, I am Severus Snape, Miss Doulton.”

She took his hand, finally and formally meeting the tall dark man.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Harry’s birthday celebration had been brief; just a few presents and a cake with candles, for pudding after lunch. Not that he minded much, it still far exceeded anything he’d received from the Dursley’s. Besides, the wedding was the story of the day and he was just as happy not to be the centre of attention.

“Molly, Molly,” called Fleur’s mother, “Ma cher fille, she ‘as, ‘ow you say, le hoquet.” She gave up and demonstrated the hiccups.

“Not to worry, Iris, it’s just nerves I expect. Here, a nice big glass of chilled juice.” Molly poured the icy beverage into a glass and passed it over.

“Merci,” the bride’s mother replied as she bustled back upstairs.

Arthur Weasley entered the kitchen, rubbing his hands together as he looked around excitedly at the chaos that was his home.

“Molly, dear, the guests have started to arrive,” he told her just before planting a kiss on her cheek. “You look a treat, Molly Weasley. Folk’ll have a hard time deciding who the bride is,” he teased.

Molly smacked his hands, “Behave yourself, you silly old flirt. Do I look nice?” she asked shyly.

Arthur put his arm around her shoulder, “I couldn’t think of a prettier witch who could be seeing her son wed. You look lovely, Molly.” He kissed her once more before wading into the crowd of Weasley’s to round them up. “Come on you lot, we’ve got guests to greet.”

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Harry and Hermione stood in the Wedding Circle and watched as Bill was led in by Arthur and Molly while Fleur entered with her father and mother. When the parents joined the outer circle, everyone joined hands to form an unbroken chain. Harry looked up at the crescent moon and wondered if his parents married like this; he didn’t know. He paid little attention to the words being said and only noticed when the elder raised his wand causing a magical glow to form around the hand-fasting couple. They were then declared husband and wife amid the triumphant cheers of the Weasley men.

“That was lovely,” declared Hermione, “Come on, we should congratulate them.” She grabbed Harry’s hand and pulled him forward. They walked through the impromptu reception line, taking their turns embracing and wishing the married couple well.

“So, Harry, will we be brothers soon?” asked Bill, as he shook Harry’s hand.

“Oh, uhm, I don’t know about that Bill,” Harry answered hesitantly.

“I thought you and Ginny, you know, were together.” Bill looked a little uncomfortable.

Harry nodded and looked at his feet. “We were for a bit but we decided...no, I decided I couldn’t have that between us until everything is over.” He looked at the older man hoping for understanding, “You know what I mean.”

“Harry, I know what you mean but it doesn’t have to be that way. Ginny understands what is going on better than most,” Bill replied.

Harry then shook his head, “I won’t risk it. I care for her far too much.” With a final shake of the hands, Harry left the couple and headed off to see Remus.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Severus sat in his living room after tea, reading a Muggle newspaper. If he was going to be in the Muggle environment for a while, he thought he should be caught up on current events so that he didn’t sound foolish if he should be asked a question. He was chuckling over a particularly vulgar comment made by a local politician regarding one of his peers, when he felt the tingling in his mark that presaged the full burning of a call to the Dark Lord.

He knew it had been coming for weeks but it was now mid August. Why had it taken so long? Best not to dwell on it, he thought, as he prepared to leave for the apparition to his Master’s side. He’d either be back in business or crow’s carrion by the end of the evening. It only mildly disturbed him that he actually considered the latter as slightly preferable.

He left his house and made his way to an alley running behind a deserted warehouse. Here, he donned his Deatheater robes and Apparated to the meeting place. As he appeared, Severus looked up at the sky trying to gauge his location. The horizon was marginally brighter than it had been when he left meaning he was further west of his home. There was a distinct sharpness to the air which indicated proximity to the sea; possibly the Isle of Mann then.

Joining the assembly, Severus dropped to his knee in the approved manner of greeting Voldemort. They waited silently for his appearance. Severus scanned the masked faces with his eyes not moving his head. It was easy to pick out the Lestranges and Rookwood. They had always presumed superiority in the Dark Lords eyes. He noted heads turning and bowing indicating the approach of He Who Must Not Be Named.

Voldemort stood before the bonfire that had been erected in the centre of the circle. His skin glistened in the firelight giving him an unearthly appearance. Not so odd, thought Snape to himself, since there were none others like this creature walking the earth.

“My loyal followers, we are come here tonight to bear witness to those who lack courage and conviction in our cause. Those who would seek to hide themselves from our displeasure.” Voldemort signalled to unseen servants.

Severus gasped inwardly when he saw Narcissa and Draco dragged into the centre of the circle. They were haggard and bruised. He could only surmise they had been held in captivity for some time. He imagined he saw Bellatrix start as well.

“Those who seek my favour and then fail to achieve the simplest task set them, should not think they shall avoid my displeasure.” He walked over to Draco and dragged him closer to the fire. “This boy thought himself worthy to be among my most favoured, taking the place of his father.” He forced Draco to his knees. “Yet, he could not summon the Killing Curse.”

Draco trembled in fear and looked up at his mother. She stood silently, tears streaming down her cheeks. She had tried to save him but had instead thrown him into the path of the one they had tried to escape from.

“A pity you hadn’t known Karkaroff was already dealt with, isn’t it my dear?” Voldemort addressed Narcissa now. “But a mother’s love for her child is a greater power than common sense it appears.” Whipping himself around, he addressed the gathering, “Bellatrix, Severus, approach me, NOW!”

Severus and the woman strode quickly to the centre of the circle and fell to their knees once more.

“Bella, I am most disappointed. Why did you seek to help these traitors?” he asked gently.

“My Lord, they are my family. I could not deny them my help. Truly, they meant no disloyalty to your cause. They only sought safety from the Aurors who might force information from the boy.” Bella lowered her eyes deferentially. “I ask forgiveness for my presumption.”

He turned to Snape, “And you Severus, why did you make such a promise to them?”

“Honoured one, the task you set was important to our success. To his credit, the boy succeeded in allowing your servants to enter the castle. He is young and had not the experience needed to cast the curse required of him. The assassination need to be carried out. I completed the task.”

“Ever the politician Snape, none the less, I will brook no disobedience in the future.” He approached Draco once more, “As for you, you snivelling young tadpole...Crucio!”

Draco fell over and writhed in agony as his mother watched, sobbing aloud now at her son’s torture. The Dark Lord finally lifted the curse leaving the boy sucking huge gasps of air to fill his lungs. Turning once more to Bellatrix and Severus, Voldemort cast the same curse on them. He held it longer on the experienced Deatheaters before releasing it.

“Now, let us give you a little more experience to help you obey in the future, young Master Malfoy.” Voldemort signalled to two men who pulled Draco to his feet. “Watch and learn.” He turned and looked at Narcissa who now stood alone. Her eyes widened in the realization of what was about to happen.

“I love you Draco, never forget that,” she shouted quickly.

Voldemort pointed his wand at the blonde witch who now stood proudly erect. “Avada Kedavra!”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Back to index


Chapter 7759: Mourning Choices

Disclaimer.
This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

We continue. I would still appreciate some feedback on the story thus far. In each chapter, I’m attempting to put a frame of reference in each chapter to note the passage of time. Days and at times, weeks will pass in a chapter. As I have in my previous story, the skeleton has been laid out but it needs flesh. Feedback and suggestions have already influenced this fiction. I can only beg for more.

Just one note; did no one remember that Karkaroff had been killed at the end of HBP? I thought someone might have caught that in the chapter before last.

sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss

Snape paced the length of the hallway of the loft used by the Lestranges as a home. He paused in his course and looked over at Draco sitting on a cot with his arms wrapped around his bent knees. His forehead still rested on his upturned legs but he had stopped crying and now only rocked as if trying to comfort himself. Taking a deep breath, Snape strode over to Bellatrix who was sitting at a table drinking Firewhiskey with her husband and his brother.

“Did you know what he had planned?” he demanded in a quiet voice. He was ignored. Fisting a handful of her hair, he pulled Bella’s head back, “DID YOU KNOW?” he shouted.

The husband and brother stood and pointed their wands at the enraged man, “Unhand my wife, Snape. She knew nothing. None of us did,” Rodolphus told Snape, waiting for him to release Bella. “Now back off.”

Snape released the woman with a jerk and stepped back. “Who else knew about your plans for them? Pettigrew, Avery; who?”

“Peter knew, but he was always supportive of me and my plans.” She looked up at Snape, blinking through bleary eyes. “He didn’t trust you either, you bastard. We thought we had you with the vow.” She turned back to pour more whiskey in her glass. “We were always our Lords favourites. There was nothing we wouldn’t do for him.” She sipped and choked. Her coughing turned into sobs, “My sister, my only sister,” she wailed.

“You have another sister,” Snape mentioned quietly.

Bellatrix stood suddenly and threw her glass at him only to miss. It shattered on the wall beside his head.

“I have no other sister. I deny the existence of that loathsome creature, Andromeda. She’s no relative of mine. She never existed,” she shrieked. Bella wiped her mouth with the back of her hand. “I...I am the last of the Black line,” she declared, pounding her chest with a fist to emphasise her point. “It’s all gone wrong...all wrong.” She sank back onto her chair and laid her head down upon her arms on the table.

Severus looked at the drunken woman, and then looked away. “Take your wife in hand, Lestrange, before she embarrasses you anymore.”

“She grieves for her sister, Snape. What did you expect?” Rodolphus bit back.

“The only person she feels sorry for is herself,” he retorted. “You’ve not lain with her as a husband for so long that you’ve forgotten what a selfish bitch she is.”

Lestrange jumped up from the table, red-faced. “You have no right to judge me. You know I can’t function as a husband to her since Azkaban. You have no right to point fing...” He stopped when he felt a wand tip pressed into his neck.

“Don’t you dare speak to me of rights. Your late sister-in-law and your wife have seen to it whatever rights I had, have been buried in Dumbledore’s tomb.” He pushed the older man away and bent over Bella, “Did you hear me, woman?” He stood up and walked away. “I thought not.”

Draco had looked up at the raised voices and was now staring at Snape. “Where can I go sir?” he asked quietly, no trace of arrogance in his tone. “I really don’t want to stay here.”

“Unlike some, I do have contacts outside of the country which are reliable,” Snape told him. “We’ll go back to my house and I will make arrangements with Durmstrang for this year.” He turned his head towards the table. “I expect your family will have some funds available for your use.”

Rodolphus looked at his wife then nodded. Draco stood and took a deep breath.

“Can we leave now, sir?” He looked up at Snape, who was still taller than him. His eyes had lost the look of childhood. They were mirror images of Snape’s own, shielded and hard.

“Yes, I’ve heard enough.” Snape turned to the table once more, “Tell Bella the plans. I want five hundred galleons, in cash, in two weeks.”

Snape pulled the boy with him and made his way outside, apparating them both to Manchester and taking him home to Spinner’s End.

Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

“You’re not upset are you, Harry?” Tonks asked.

Harry shook his head, “No, not really. I just wish he’d told me ahead of time.”

“He was under a lot of pressure to get everything in place before he...well, you know.” Tonks trailed off, not sure of what else to say.

The young woman was still not her usual ebullient self. Tonks and Professor McGonagall had taken Harry aside to explain that Dumbledore had turned over the responsibility of being the house’s secret keeper to Tonks. She had known for weeks that he was close to dying and that duty, along with the knowledge of Dumbledore’s mortality, had weighed heavily upon her. Professor McGonagall and the rest of the Order of the Phoenix had taken to meeting at Grimmauld Place once more.

“How long would he have lasted if Snape hadn’t cast the curse, Professor?” he asked.

“Not long Potter,” she replied, “Even less, after drinking the potion from the basin holding the false necklace.” She looked at his frown and clarified. “He knew something of what he would need to do before he took you on your quest.”

“But it was a useless search, Professor.” Harry stood up and went to play with the artefacts on the fireplace mantle. “We’re no further ahead.”

The elder woman looked at her tightly clasped hands before rising to approach him.

“Harry, there was nothing that Albus did that was useless,” she said with conviction. “It may not have been the result that you wanted or expected but you do know you are looking for a necklace. Now, you have many people willing to help. We will find the horcruxes and we will destroy them.” She patted the young man on the shoulder and turned to Tonks. She beckoned to the Auror to follow and left Harry alone in the front parlour.

Harry looked into the flames letting his mind wander. He remembered seeing Dumbledore for the first time as he entered the Great Hall of Hogwarts at eleven years old. The revered wizard sat at the head table, as a monarch upon his throne. Only when his eyes turned to watch as Harry was sorted, did the true Dumbledore shine through. As the cry of Gryffindor resounded through out the hall, Harry had turned to see the glinting blue eyes and warm smile of the old man. Harry felt his throat constrict as his despair threatened to overtake him.

“All right there, Harry?”

Harry turned and saw Remus looking at him curiously. He smiled as best he could.

“Yeah, I’m fine; really.” He turned his back on the fire. “How are you, Remus? You look very tired.”

Remus chuckled softly, “I’m not cut out for this werewolf life. I’ve had it soft, thanks to Snape and his Wolfsbane potion.” He paused when he saw the look on Harry’s face. “Don’t do it Harry, don’t let your anger take over.”

“How can I not,” Harry replied through gritted teeth. “He killed the man who gave me a home. Snape murdered someone I looked upon as a grandfather. How can I not hate the person who took as much from me as Voldemort did?”

Remus shook his head, “You must not let those feelings rule you, Harry. That path is not one to be taken. You seek revenge when you should be pursuing justice. They are not the same thing and the difference is what sets us apart from wild animals.” He walked forward and placed a hand on each of Harry’s shoulders. “You have friends and allies who deserve your respect. Don’t descend to the level of those you seek to punish.”

Harry looked into the soft eyes of his father’s friend and could no longer hold back the tears. As he wept silently, Harry felt Remus pull him into a fierce hug. He let himself be held as he wept for the loss of people he loved and for loosing the final vestiges of his youth.

Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

The night was mostly overcast with the moon glancing out occasionally from behind the clouds. Two wizards crossed the sandy causeway, revealed at low tide, to their destination of Holy Island.

“Are you sure of this, Professor?” asked Draco. “It’s not another trap?”

Snape looked at the worried frown on Draco’s face. “The Dark Lord knows of the need to remove you from England. He has made his point, in a disastrous way for you, of course. When He Who Must Not Be Named feels he has been gainsaid his rightful judgement, blood is usually spilt.” He sighed deeply, feeling far older than his nearly forty years. “It has been far worse this past year.”

“May I ask a personal question sir? I’d tried to ask my father when I was younger but he always put me off.” Draco clambered over a seawall and made his way down the rocky beach followed by Snape.

“That depends on how personal.” Snape replied.

“When you made your decision to follow You Know Who, what brought you to that moment? What was it that made you think he was worth giving that kind of loyalty to?” Draco fell silent. He thought Snape wouldn’t answer.

“Would it were the answer was that simple, Draco.” Snape stopped walking just where the waves stopped lapping on the shore and looked out at the dark horizon. “There’s no one reason, more a set of circumstances. I suppose I wanted to prove I was as good as any pure-blooded wizard. Acceptance into his ranks put me on an equal footing they could not deny. Then there was the chance to delve more deeply into the Dark Arts. Magic so powerful and compelling, it was outlawed. How could I resist the opportunity to increase my power, to exact revenge against my tormentors?” Snape looked back at Draco, who was now looking out over the North Sea.

“Why did you want to take the Dark Mark, Malfoy?” Snape asked.

Draco shrugged, “There was never a moment I thought I wouldn’t take it. My father took it at my age and his friends with him.” He looked up at his former professor, “I am a Malfoy and we are...were, among the elite of all Wizarding families in Britain.” The youth shook his head, “The fact is, I didn’t think about it. I was the heir to a family who expected me to become a champion of their cause. This was my duty.”

“Duty.” Snape snorted in derision, “Duty is a four letter word, Malfoy. It has caused more pain and created more mayhem in these past few years than the entire war with Grindelwald ever did.”

“You sound bitter, sir. Do you question your choice now?” asked Draco.

The water began to surge in front of them as Snape replied, “I’ve asked myself ‘why’ every day since the Dark Lord rose again and every day, I have no good answer.”

A smaller version of the Durmstrang ship appeared out of the water before them and came to rest on the shoal just off shore. As they watched, a gangway magically extended from the bow and ended at their feet.

Draco turned to Snape and extended his hand as he had when he had returned home with his mother. “It seems I’m always thanking you, professor.”

“I’m no longer your teacher, Draco. When next we meet, you may call me Severus.” He shook Draco’s hand and was only slightly surprised when the young man reached out and hugged him. He was more surprised at himself when he returned it. “Durmstrang teaches things you would never have learned at Hogwarts, Draco. Learn the lessons well and return to England with knowledge to help your kind.”

Draco stood back and took the shrunken trunk Severus had removed from his robes. “Be careful sir. I want you here when I get back; we have work to do.”

“Indeed, good luck Malfoy. Remember you are a Slytherin. Be proud.” Snape pushed Draco to the gangway which began to fold up behind him as he climbed.

As he boarded the ship, Draco turned and waved before disappearing below decks. Snape watched as the ship disappeared below the water and the waves settled until they bore no evidence there had ever been a visitor to the shore. He looked once at the moon, which had suddenly escaped the confines of the clouds, then apparated back to Manchester and his dreary house where he was alone, once more.

Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Jenny sat in the back of the taxi taking her home after leaving her sister’s home. September 30th, every year on this date, she looked after her niece and nephews. She’d spent the evening childminding and her head was still pounding from the nonsense three kids could get up to in the space of four hours. She relaxed and closed her eyes, resting her head on the back of the seat.

“Miss, the road, it is blocked,” said the cabbie, in a strong South Asian accent. “I must go back and come around the other way.”

Jenny sat up and looked out the front window of the cab. There were flashing blue lights, which could only belong to police cars, blocking the road in every direction.

“Is it an accident?” she asked.

“I don’t know miss. Should I back up and go around?” he asked again.

Jenny looked around and saw she was close to home.

“No,” she replied, ‘I’ll walk from here, it’s not far.” She fumbled in her hand bag for her purse.

“It is not safe for a young woman to walk alone, miss.”

“Are you going to turn the metre off?” she asked. His look was answer enough. “I thought not. Here is this enough?” She passed him ten Pounds.

“Yes, yes, thank you, miss. Take care,” he called, as she got out of the cab.

Jenny looked around once more before setting off in the direction of her house. She remembered her mother walked home all the time from her part time job at the pub, but those were different days. She’d be fine, she decided and stepped up her pace. The darkest stretch of road passed the river; just a short jaunt.

Jenny’s eyes kept looking around making sure she was alone. A sharp crack caused her to jump and cry out. She pulled her handbag closer to her body and sped up her pace once more. Then the sound of foot steps behind her was enough to make her break into a jog. The steps behind her kept pace.

“Miss Doulton.”

She stopped; she knew that voice. She turned and saw Severus Snape behind her.

“Shit, you frightened me!” she exclaimed. Her heart still thundered in her chest, loud enough to be heard, she was convinced.

“Why are you walking alone in the dark so late in the evening? Surely you know how risky that is.” He watched as she tried to compose herself.

Jenny took a deep breath to settle her nerves, “My taxi couldn’t get past the road block. I didn’t want to pay double for the trip,” she admitted.

Snape nodded, “Indeed.” He quarrelled internally with himself for a moment. “Perhaps I could escort you to your door?” he offered.

Jenny looked at him sideways, “How do I know you’re not some weirdo belonging to a religious cult or something? Maybe you’re a terrorist plotting to overthrow the government?” Jenny was teasing in a light tone but frowned when she saw the look on his face. “I was just kidding, Severus.”

He offered a short smile. “Of course you were. Did you want me to walk with you?”

“Sure,” she replied and then with a look of surprise, accepted the elbow he offered.

“They must practise posh manners at that school you went to,” she said to make conversation.

Snape snorted, “You wouldn’t think so if you saw the students in action.”

“I don’t think we got away with as much as this generation does. When they come in the library, you can’t take your eyes off them. They think it’s fun to write stuff in books and then watch when someone else sees the rubbish they’ve written.” She pulled him to turn into her street.

“You are a librarian, Miss Doulton?” he asked out of courtesy.

“I am actually, but I could only get a job as a clerk. Hopefully, if a place comes open, I can get first refusal. And it’s Jenny, not Miss Doulton.” she replied.

“Employment is still hard to come by these days I take it.”

“Yeah,” she replied, “but it’s getting a little better. Where do you work?” she asked.

“I was a teacher at the same school I attended,” he replied.

“So, if it’s a boarding school, how come you’re not back there now? School has started,” she asked.

Severus thought quickly, “The school has been closed for, ah, renovations. The students are attending elsewhere this year.”

“So, you’ve been made redundant.” Jenny stopped, as they’d reached her house.

Snape nodded, “Yes, something like that. This is your home?” he asked.

“Yeah, would you like to come in for a cuppa?” she asked.

“No, I think not. The hour is late. Have a good night, Mis...” he paused as she held up her finger. “Good night, Jenny.”

“Good night, Severus, and thank you.” She turned and opened her door, turning to wave to him before closing and locking it behind her.

Snape turned back the way he had come, feeling uncomfortable at how close she had come to describing exactly what he was.

As he walked the short distance home, he went over in his mind the list of potions required by his dark master. He would need to make a trip to Diagon Alley to get components he had run out of. Perhaps this was something his Muggle persona could help with. A haircut and beard trim was quite in order. What better way to obtain a sample of hair for the Polyjuice potion?

He made his way to the house on Spinner’s End. Walking into the front room, he turned on the portable radio and tuned the dial to the BBC classical station. He toed off his dragonhide boots and padded into the kitchen to heat milk for hot chocolate. He sat at the small table listening to an aria by Maria Callas, thinking how much more pleasant it would have been to share a cup of tea with Jenny. The hissing of milk boiling over drove away his daydream and he rose to make the beverage.

Severus sat on the sofa and placed his mug on the rickety side table. The music, both melancholy and beautiful, wound its way around his senses. The emotion evoked by the melody suddenly overtook his stoic demeanour. The tears came unbidden to his eyes as his diaphragm clenched in an attempt to defeat his distress.

“Why, old man? Why did you so imprison my soul?”

Severus let his tears fall, for once and for all, mourning the loss of someone who had loved him, yet had demanded of him a most horrible task.

Back to index


Chapter 7836: The Sorcerer’s List

Disclaimer.
This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

A/N Another instalment “ thank you for the reviews “ they make my day whenever I see them.

This chapter is a little lighter in tone “ in any wartime setting, there is always levity. Everyone needs to laugh, even if you’re Snape and it’s at someone else’s expense. As a note, Draco has a new identity, Drago Malakral. Malakral means Little King in Bulgarian which was as close a translation I could find. I think it fits.

Do let me know if you like the character development. Snape is slightly out of his Wizarding character but he is interacting with Muggles with whom he has no reputation. He’s off balance here and I have a feeling it’s scaring him a little. Not that he’s mentioned anything to my subconscious yet. Please enjoy the next instalment.............

The Sorcerer’s List


Hermione was making a list. That was how she worked. She made a list and then she decided on what priority, one, two or three, to assign each item and made a second modified list. The entire process was based on triage; one “ to do immediately, two “ to research and do as soon as possible and three “ do when you have a chance.

Ron and Harry found her in the front room looking as distressed as they’d ever seen her.

“What’s wrong ‘Mione? Did something happen?” asked Ron, sitting beside her and putting his arm around her shoulders.

“It’s horrible,” she replied with a trembling chin. “Look, just look.” She pointed at an item on her list near the bottom. “I had to give it a priority three; A THREE.” She sniffed as her tears threatened to fall.

Ron pulled out his handkerchief and handed it to her, “It’s alright love. You wait, that will move right back up to number one very soon.” He looked over at Harry who was frowning in confusion.

“Number three and Number one, I don’t understand. What do you mean?” he asked. It must be important to have her so upset.

“Oh, Harry, I had to put finishing school and sitting for NEWTS as a priority three. It’s almost too much. God, this war is horrible.” Hermione sniffled again and blew her nose.

Harry shared a look with Ron who was trying to stifle a smile, “Oh yeah, Hermione, I couldn’t think of anything that could be worse. No school and no exams; it’s a terrible sacrifice but I’m willing to make it.” He nodded his head for emphasis.

Hermione looked up at his tone of voice and saw the grin threatening to break out. “Harry Potter, you’re teasing me,” she declared. She turned to see the same look on Ron’s face and realized the absurdity of it all. She started to giggle and in a few minutes the threesome were bent double in laughter.

In the kitchen, Molly listened to the unusual sound of laughter echoing around the old house. It was a good sound to hear and she found herself smiling as she prepared dinner for the residents.

Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Snape made his way to the old abandoned railway tracks running beside the river and apparated to his Dark Master’s house. He was bearing the first of the potions Voldemort had demanded. The trip to Diagon Alley had yet to be made, being postponed due to a lack of Galleons following Draco’s departure. While his family had provided the money Snape had requested, Durmstrang wanted additional fees to keep their new student’s identity a secret. Draco was to be known as Drago Malakral and palms had to be greased to make sure that happened.

He approached the house and waited until the wards recognized him. When he felt the wards drop, he continued on to the front door. Peter opened it and allowed him entrance. Peter led the way to Voldemort’s chambers and had Snape wait while he announced his arrival.

“Our master will see you now,” Peter announced, with the appropriate deference for his master’s ears.

Snape passed Peter sharing a look of aversion with the rodent-like man. As he approached Voldemort, he dropped to one knee, waiting to be recognized.

“Severus, you may approach and sit down.” Voldemort beckoned to Snape and indicated a chair to the side of his own.

“Thank you, my lord. You are most generous.” Severus felt like choking on his own obsequious tone.

“Have you completed the potions so quickly?” asked Voldemort.

“Alas, no, my lord; I am regrettably short on raw materials. I am also woefully lacking in available cash. A trip to Diagon Alley and Knockturn Alley is required.” Snape watched for a reaction from the Dark one.

“What are you asking, Severus?” asked Voldemort,

“I am existing as a Muggle, my lord, and as such, a large sum of my money has been changed to Sterling. Moreover, my funds were depleted following the departure of my burden from these shores. While his family did provide assistance, as was their responsibility, there were...other fees that had to be met. I have covered them for the well being of our security. If you might consider funding the potions...” he left the rest unsaid and awaited punishment.

“I have excused you from paying tribute, Severus, since you are without gainful employment following your...oath-ridden task. Do you now say I must pay you for what is my rightful due?” The serpent-like eyes turned to Snape, skewering him with a sideways glance. “I am not happy you seek to lighten my purse but...I shall indulge you.” Voldemort turned and called, “Pettigrew.”

Peter shuffled in, his gait and demeanour dripping with sickening sycophancy. “Master, you require my assistance?” He averted his eyes and offered a snaggle-toothed smile.

“Severus is in need of a financial boon. Take sufficient funds from my purse and return home with my Potions Master. He will tell you what he requires and you will provide the funds necessary.” He waved his hand imperiously, sending Peter away.

“Master, you are as ever, generous.” Snape told him, again, waiting for punishment and again, none was forthcoming.

“I have an additional task for you, Severus. I still need to know the location of the headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix. Dumbledore was the secret keeper but when he died, the location was still Unplottable. Why?” demanded Voldemort.

“My lord, it appears Dumbledore was more aware of his nearing mortality than any of us expected. He obviously switched the holder of the Fidelius Charm without informing anyone.” To Snape, this was new information; useful information.

“I expect you to put some effort into finding the new keeper, Severus. I expect results.” Voldemort waved his hand slightly and watched the man across from him.

Severus had been musing on what the Dark Lord had said and didn’t notice the hand motion. He was taken unawares when the strangling curse hit him. He felt his neck and throat constrict, cutting off his breathing. His heart pounded loudly in his ears and his vision narrowed. As suddenly as it was placed, the curse was removed leaving Snape gasping for air.

“A small, reminder, Severus; I require results.” Voldemort dismissed him with a gesture.

Snape rose and bowed before making a hasty exit. When the door closed behind him, he leaned against the wall and took several deep breaths. When next he opened his eyes, he saw Pettigrew standing before him with a predatory smile.

“Are you ready to leave, Severus? I’m so looking forward to my visit.”

“I doubt you will say that in the next few hours.” Snape led the way out to the apparation point where they both disappeared on queue.

Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Harry and Ron were studying one of Hermione’s lists, this one a collection of possible artefacts that might have been used for a Horcrux.

“Slytherins Locket and Hufflepuffs cup are two of the Horcruxes we know of for sure. We just have to find them. Riddles diary has been destroyed and Marvolo Gaunt’s ring too. That makes four,” Ron stated the obvious.

“Ron, let’s not go over what we know, let’s try to put some stuff together to make search plan.” Harry was edgy and was trying to keep his impatience under control.

Hermione entered the room weighed down by a large book which she was studying. “I think I might have something here.” She dropped the tome on the table releasing dust from within the pages. “We’ve been having a hard time figuring out where we might find Gryffindor’s artefact but, I think we’ve been looking in the wrong places.”

“Okay, what’s your take on it?” asked Harry.

“Do you remember what the sorting hat said about where the four founders came from?” she asked, trying to jog their memories.

“Can’t say I listened all that closely, Hermione, I was too interested in the feast coming,” replied Ron sheepishly.

“Alright, Slytherin was from the Fens and Gryffindor was from the ‘Wild Moor’, so I went and did a little digging.” She turned back to the book and flipped some pages. “I thought at first it would have been Exmoor but that wouldn’t have fit in with Godric and Salazar knowing each other. I think the Hat is talking about the Yorkshire Moor’s.”

She browsed through the book again. “Just here, the Gaunt family, the last known descendants of Slytherin, lived in Little Hangleton which is in Yorkshire.” She looked at Harry, “I checked, that’s close to where the Riddle family lived too.”

“Yeah, in a big house with a church and graveyard nearby; I’m quite familiar with it,” he said bitterly.

“I think we need to look at places where Gryffindor would have been, that might have artefacts used by him. Then we do the same for Riddle. We should be able to come up with a fairly short list.” She looked at the boys for their reaction. There was none, just blank stares.

“What?” she asked and waited.

Ron sighed, “Hermione, we know you have brilliant mind but isn’t there any other way to do this other than another bloody list? Honestly, if we ever want to...you know...get together that way, will you make a list for that too?”

Hermione stood up suddenly and slammed the book shut. “I can see you are not in a frame of mind for research, so I will go to my room and continue...alone.”

She picked up the book, made a quick about face and marched to the door. She turned back before leaving, “As to the other matter, Ronald Weasley, I had already made a list which I was going to share with you very soon. Given your reluctance to use my lists, I suppose we’d better postpone that matter a little longer too.” She opened the door, walked through and slammed it behind her.

Ron stared at the door, stunned at her declaration. “Did you hear her mate? She’s interested, she wants to... you know.”

Harry nodded, picked up his quill and began writing. As he wrote, he read aloud, “One, buy a copy of ‘Everything you wanted to know about sex but were afraid to ask’. Two, buy condoms.” He paused and looked at Ron, “I’ll bet Hermione gives number two a priority one rating.”

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Pettigrew was leaning up against the book cases with Snape standing over him, “I warned you not to use your wand. There is a reason I choose to live as a Muggle, it‘s called survival. I removed my records from Hogwarts and paid good money to have the same done at the Ministry. I enjoy anonymity.”

“B-b-but. Severus, I’m a wizard, I know nothing of how Muggles live. How am I to be your manservant?” Peter continued to cringe against the hidden door.

“Let me put it to you another way, use that wand once more and I will take it, break it and stuff both pieces up your backside, splinter end first.” Snape gave him one last glare and turned away.

“Of course, my dear Severus, this is your home. I shall certainly follow your strictures.” Peter edged away from the supporting door turning to offer his subservient smile.

“Go and prepare the ingredients I have laid out according to the instructions beside them. I’ll call you when the meal is ready.” Snape waited until the houseguest left the room.

With a sigh, Snape went into the kitchen. If he made life miserable enough, the little rat would run home to the snakes nest sooner rather than later. Opening the pristine larder, he pulled out a large can of beans, two eggs and a stale loaf of bread. The fresh baguette was concealed from prying eyes. He smiled thinking of what his visitor would make of their meagre repast this evening; poached egg with beans on toast. Well, if he didn’t like that, he could always do cheese and biscuits.

Snape absently put together the meal and called Pettigrew.

“Ah, I see you didn’t make it to the market Severus.” Peter eyed the food with barely hidden disdain.

“Indeed, nor will I make it there tomorrow. My funds are limited, I must make do,” he retorted.

Peter took a fork full of food, “I do believe our master thought you were bluffing.”

“I save that energy for those who are too stupid to know better. More toast? I cut the corner off where it had started to go mouldy.” He offered Peter the plate of toast. “It’s only margarine, I’m afraid; much cheaper than butter.”

“Thank you, no, Severus. I have an adequate sufficiency here.” He pointed to his plate with his knife. Peter continued to eat, inspecting each mouthful carefully.

“I shall of course, wash up, Severus. I remember how to do that from the detentions in potions in the old days. Remember?” He wiped his mouth with a napkin and drank a large glass of water to wash down the less than palatable dinner.

“Indeed. Now, for afters, I can offer some biscuits and cheese.” Severus rose and put the plates beside the sink. He opened the larder again and stepped in.

Peter jumped as loud banging and cursing was heard followed by a clatter.

“Got you, you little bugger,” said Snape, stepping out with a dead mouse in one hand and a plate of cheese in the other. “He only nibbled the rind a little. Water biscuits or cream crackers?”

Peter jumped up from the table, “I’m really quite full, old boy. What say I clean up and get back to work.”

Severus dropped the mouse into the rubbish bin, “As you wish. I’ll be in my room. I have some correspondence to catch up on.” He put the plate down and cut off a chunk of cheddar before leaving the kitchen.

Snape entered his room wearing a smile. He turned on the radio he had relocated away from the living room and pulled out a bottle of Merlot. He poured the wine then opened the dresser to pull out some grapes and sweet meal biscuits to go with the cheese. Lucky find that mouse. Always pays to look in the gutter. Two days down, three to go he estimated.

Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Luck won out and Pettigrew ran back to Voldemort, with the potions, on the morning of the fourth day. Dressing in his now, normal everyday Muggle clothing and picking up a note pad and pen, Snape made an afternoon trip to the Central Library. He was about to try a new adventure; using a computer. Muggle magazines had lauded this new research tool and he was willing to give it a try. It might expedite his quest.

Striding up the stairs to a portico crowned by Corinthian columns, Severus recalled his childhood when a trip to the library was an adventure. Entering the majestic building, he looked around, taking in the changes to the environment. He saw a directory ahead which he consulted. Following the directions, he headed for the Networks Centre and paused unsure of how to proceed. He approached the reception desk and waited.

“May I help you?” asked a woman who could have been McGonagall’s twin save for the blonde hair and tasteless make-up.

“I was wondering if there was a computer I might use?” he opened.

“Did you book a time?” she asked sharply.

“Ah, no, I was not aware it was required,” he replied. She even made him feel like McGonagall did when he was a student.

“Well, as you can see, we’re full up.” She looked over at her personal computer, “And by the looks of it, there are no openings at all today.” She looked back at Severus, arching her eyebrow.

Taking a breath to keep his patience in line, Severus asked, “Perhaps tomorrow?”

She shook her head, “Tomorrow morning is reserved for community groups and we’re booked up in the afternoon; midterms you see.”

“Perhaps you could find a time that is open I may book?” he snapped.

She sniffed disdainfully. “Your library card, please?” She held her palm out while looking at the monitor.

Severus sighed in defeat, “I don’t have one.”

“Then you cannot book a time. You may register downstairs.” She then pointedly turned away from him as if he had never spoken.

Biting his lips to stop a cascade of vindictive comments from spewing forth, Severus walked away. He saw the stacks holding the Social Sciences division and made his way over. If nothing else he could browse and make some notes. He paused as a familiar voice reached him and followed the sound.

“Here you, put that down. What do you think this is a play park? Now, go on with you. Don’t let me catch you at it again. Honestly, little buggers have no respect.” The comments were followed by a world weary sigh on offered on the tails of three pre-adolescent boys running away.

“Dunderheads, the lot of them,” said Severus, as he leaned on the end of a table watching Jenny replace a display of new publications.

She paused and turned, “Oh, hello; fancy meeting you here.” She turned back to finished her task. “What brings you here, Severus? Looking for some light reading?”

“I had hoped to do a little research on one of your computers, but I couldn’t get past Sarasvati at the front desk.” He told her acerbically.

Jenny started to laugh, “That’s a good one, I’ve never heard Renita compared to a Hindu Goddess before.”

“You read, Miss Doulton,” he commented wryly.

Jenny made a small moue at his comment, “I’m a librarian, Severus; and it’s still Jenny.” She finished restoring the display and walked towards him. “What were you researching? Maybe I could point you in the right direction.”

“A bit of local history but from about the time of the Norman Invasion,” he replied.

Jenny frowned, “Most of the good stuff would be in the archives and you need permission to use them. Most of the new books are compilations of the early works.” She appeared to think for a moment.

“I do have an idea but I’m not sure if you’d go for it, being such a gentleman and all.” She looked up at him sideways.

“What would that be, Jenny?” he asked.

“Well, I have a computer sitting alone on my desk at home. I wouldn’t mind if you used it...that is if you don’t mind coming round to the house.” She looked up at him, waiting for a reaction. “In fact, you could come for tea if you want. I’ve got a steak and kidney pudding ready.”

He appeared to mull over the idea and then looked uneasy.

“Oh, I’ve done it again, haven’t I?” Jenny frowned, annoyed at herself.

He looked at her confused. “Pardon?”

“My mum always said I was too pushy for my own good. You’ve barely known me two minutes and I’m asking you over to my house.” She looked away, embarrassed.

Snape shook his head, “I was not thinking that at all. I would appreciate taking you up on your offer but there’s no need to entertain me. I merely....”

“Look, I’m off in half an hour. If you want to use the computer, meet me at the front doors then. If you’re not there, well no hard feelings.” She smiled and made to leave him.

“Jenny,” he reached out to stop her,” I accept your offer...both your offers, but I insist on bringing something.” He waited for her reply.

“Alright, you bring some wine. I don’t have anything like that in.” She looked at him expectantly.

“Thirty minutes at the front doors; I shall be there.” Snape nodded, and then left to find the off-licence.

‘Snape, old boy,’ he thought, ‘what the hell are you doing.’ He’d not had a casual acquaintance with a woman in over ten years. That relationship went sour when he’d refused to kowtow to her family’s desire for him to leave teaching and go into private business; their private business. What was it that let him be comfortable around this Muggle? He put off the thought as he perused the stock in the wine grocers.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

“You’ve never used a computer before?” asked Jenny incredulously.

“No, I have not.” Severus admitted.

“But you’re a teacher, didn’t you have computer studies at your school?” she asked.

Snape paused before dissembling. “Where I taught, they emphasized the basics. Students studied without modern technology.” That is the ultimate in understatement, he thought to himself.

“Oh, alright then; well, where to start?” She pulled up a chair beside him.....

An hour and two glasses of wine later, Severus had caught on to ‘Surfing the Web’. He rather enjoyed it. The computer and the wine, that is.

“Dinner’s almost done, are you hungry?” called Jenny from the kitchen. She received no response. With a sigh, she picked up her glass and walked back to the front room. There he was, the typical man thoroughly engrossed in the ever-worshipped monitor. At least it wasn’t Rugby or Football. This man was a scholar and that turned her on more than she liked to admit.

“Severus, are you ready to eat?” she asked.

“Hmm? Oh yes, of course. It smells wonderful,” he responded.

“I think I’ve created a monster.” Jenny returned to her chair beside him. “I can’t believe you never used a computer before. You’ve taken to it like a fish to water.”

Severus shrugged, “I’ve always been a fast learner.”

“So have you found what you’re looking for?” she asked.

He shook his head. “Not yet. I’ve tried different searches but they all end up fruitless.”

Jenny took his hand, “Come on, let’s have dinner and then I’ll help you.” Severus looked at her askance. “You can stick that look, Severus Snape, I’m a librarian. Research assistance is our bread and butter.

“I am all apologetic, marm, I am most humbled by your generosity.” He rose to be led to the kitchen.

“Okay, Mr. Darcy, the steak and kidney pudding is ready. I’m glad you got two bottles of wine, I like this stuff.” She pulled him into the kitchen and sat him at the table before pulling dishes from the oven. “Hope you like it. My ex said my cooking was naff but I think he was just being a miserable sod ‘cause my mum loved my food.”

Severus inhaled the aroma of rich gravy and savoury vegetables. They each served themselves and began to eat. “Whoever your ex-husband was must have had his taste buds damaged, for your cooking is exemplary,” he told her after a few mouthfuls.

“Thank you, Severus. I appreciate a man with good taste.” She smiled and raised her wine glass to him.

“My compliments to the chef.” Severus raised his glass in return.

After they ate, the couple returned to the computer. Jenny watched his searches and wondered what he was trying to find. “Severus, what are you looking for?” she asked.

He sighed deeply, “I am researching a theory about one of the founders of our school. I and others have theorized he had many artefacts which have been removed from their rightful places over time.”

“How old is this school? There weren’t many around that weren’t attached to chapels a thousand years ago.” Jenny had reached for the keyboard.

“The school was founded at that time and has undergone many incarnations since then.” He was hesitant to share more.

“Was he a knight or clergy?” she asked, suddenly all professional.

“A knight definitely. He would have appeared in the Domesday book at one time.” Severus watched as Jenny began to type; she actually used ten fingers, he noticed.

“Now, what kind of things did he leave behind you know of?” she asked.

“A hat, a sword, some writings, a brass door knocker...I’m sure there’s more but I’m not aware of them,” he replied.

Jenny thought for a moment, then made a suggestion. “Let’s do a little exercise, I’ll say a word I know is related to the knighthood and you respond back with whatever comes to mind.”

Snape nodded, he had no better ideas. She began. “Castle.”

“School,” he replied. Seeing her look at him oddly he explained, “The school I taught at was a castle.”

Jenny nodded and tried again, “Axe.”

Snape replied, “Weapon.”

“Bow.” “Arrow.” “Armour.” “Helmet.” “Protection.” “Sword.” “Shield.” “Coat of arms.”

Severus straighten in his chair, “Wait, look for a shield with a Griffin in the coat of arms.”

Jenny entered the search and waited, “There, Greater Driffield and All Saints Church. They have griffins in the architecture as well.” She looked at him. He was rubbing his thumb over his lips. “Penny for them?” she hinted.

“It makes sense. I must go there a see for myself.” He looked at her and shared a rare smile, “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” She returned his smile.

Snape shook himself, and stood. “I’ve taken up enough of your time, Jenny. I should head home.”

Jenny stood as well, “You don’t have to run off. It’s not that late and I’m off tomorrow.” She looked at him hopefully. Visitors were rare in her house. She sighed, “I’m sorry, I don’t get many visitors. I must sound pathetic.” She looked away not wanting to see his look of pity.

“You’re single again, you must have a gentleman who’s interested in you?” Why he asked, Snape would never understand but it seemed necessary at the time.

Jenny shared a rueful smile, “No. I’m not the sort blokes fall over themselves to get to.”

“More fool they.” Snape told her quietly.

“Thank you, that was kind,” she replied in the same tone.

“Not kind, merely truthful. Perhaps I could enjoy one more glass of wine before I leave.” He looked at her hoping he had restored her smile and was rewarded when it returned.

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Chapter 8025: Painful Loyalty

Using some hair he had garnered on his last trip to the barbers, Severus sprinkled the last required ingredient into the phial of Polyjuice Potion he had taken with him to London. He hid behind the large bins standing outside the building facing The Leaky Cauldron and downed the vile potion. He hated the moments of transformation and gritted his teeth as his stomach roiled and his body reshaped itself.

After an agonizing minute, Severus emerged as a middle-aged, balding man with a spreading waistline. He wore non-descript old-fashioned Muggle clothing; his father’s in point of fact. He enjoyed the irony that his sire’s idea of fashion was quite acceptable in Wizarding society.

Snape checked the briefcase he had secreted behind one of the bins for one last time. Crossing the street in an ambling gait to establish his character, Severus entered the public house and made his way to the back to enter Diagon Alley. Pulling his wand, he touched the wall in the prescribed sequence and passed through the portal as it opened. The street appeared as it always had; quaint, bustling and unkempt. He walked forward to feel the atmosphere but, instead, he was almost overwhelmed by feelings of anxiety midst the shoppers on the street.

Maintaining his unnatural gait, Severus made his way to Knockturn Alley for a visit to Borgin and Burkes. He was on the clock and had little time to waste. He entered the dimly lit shop and cast his gaze around the myriad of grotesque objects on display. The one item he sought was not in sight.

“May I help you?” The voice of the proprietor pulled Severus from his thoughts.

“Yes, I’m looking for something to add to my collection of ancient heirlooms. Would you have anything like that here?” he asked.

“Perhaps,” Borgin replied. “How ancient an object are you considering?”

“Fairly early, prior to the Norman Invasion.” He replied.

“I see.” The oily looking man scratched his chin and looked at Snape thoughtfully. “Any particular reason you’re looking for these things?”

“Personal history, whimsy, does it matter?” Snape asked.

“To some, my friend, to some.” He turned and beckoned Snape to follow him. “I’ve a few items that might interest you. What is your fancy?”

“I particularly enjoy Clan symbols. They hold such nostalgia for some who are so inclined.”

“And you are not, I take it?” Borgin stopped and opened a glass case.

“I rarely dabble in nostalgia. I do however invest in possibilities.” Snape listened to the wheezing laugh of the proprietor.

“Well said. We think alike, my friend.” Reaching into the case, Borgin pulled out an inlaid goblet. “Behold the wine cup of a Roman Veneficus or Lamia; one of our early ancestor’s.”

“Indeed, however, I seek objects of indigenous design. I’ve found they are more eagerly sought.” Snape watched as the man before him re-thought what he was going to offer.

“I have a feeling you have a specific item in mind, sir.” Borgin stood up and looked Snape in the eye.

“A clan object; perhaps similar to a sceptre with an avian surmount?” Snape suggested.

“Indeed, I have two or three items similar to what you seek.” He walked to a chest of drawers and opened the bottom to reveal three items lying on a velvet cushion. “Are any of these what you seek?”

Snape stepped forward and saw the Clan of the Raven staff along with two others. “Indeed they are, Mr. Borgin.” He listened to Borgin describe each item, only taking in every other word or so.

“What are you asking for them?” asked Snape.

“A mere one hundred galleons…each,” Borgin replied.

“You jest sir. Where is their certificate of authenticity?” Snape retorted.

“If you had wanted authenticated antiques, you would not have visited my shop, sir.” Borgin waited for a response.

“Touché, sir. How much for just one?” he asked.

“Fifty galleons.” Borgin replied, lowering his price.

“Thirty five.”

“Forty five,” countered Borgin

“Thirty eight,” said Snape.

“Forty,” offered Borgin, “Not a sickle less.”

“Agreed,” Snape pulled out his money pouch and took out the requisite amount of coinage. “I shall take the one with the eagle on top. Please place it in a box.”

Borgin withdrew the Ravenclaw relic from the drawer and took it to his counter to wrap.

“’Tis a fine artifact, sir. You’ve a keen eye. What did you say your name was?” asked Borgin.

“I didn’t. Good day.” Snape replied.

Taking up his purchase, Snape made his way out of the shop and back to Diagon alley. Looking at his watch, he estimated there was a half an hour left before he reverted to his true form. He returned to the Leaky Cauldron and approached the bar to order a Firewhiskey. As he sipped, he looked around taking in who was there. He noticed Moody sitting in the corner with another Auror and almost flinched as the magical eye Moody wore passed over him. He finished his drink and left.

Returning to his spot behind the bins, Snape retrieved the briefcase and opened it. He pulled out a trench coat he had shrunk to fit and shrugged it on. Just at that moment, he felt his body begin its transformation to its true form. When he’d recovered, he apparated back to Manchester and returned home with his purchase.

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Kingsley Shacklebolt arrived at 12 Grimmauld Place just after dinner on a wet October evening. There was a meeting called to discuss recent Death Eater activity. Pulling off his wet outer robes, Kingsley retrieved a Muggle newspaper from an inner pocket before hanging them up on a hook to dry.

“Would you like some pudding, Kingsley? I’ve got a nice apple dumpling and custard,” offered Molly.

“No thanks, Molly but I’d love a cup of tea about now. Foul weather outside,” replied the Auror, pulling out a chair and sitting at the table. “So, Harry how goes your search?”

“I’ll know better after you tell me how your meeting with Dung went in Azkaban.” Harry was finishing his pudding and preparing to clear the table. Shacklebolt had been to the prison to speak to Mundungus Fletcher regarding his penchant for lifting and selling off items not belonging to him.

“Molly, can I steal Harry from you? We need to talk somewhere quiet,” asked Kingsley.

“’Course you can. Run along, Harry, the twins can pitch in,” said Molly, placing a mug of steaming tea before the Auror. She turned and looked at her sons who were scowling at their mother. “Can’t you boys; you’re always willing to pitch in, right?”

“Right,” they chorused in unison. George finished clearing the table and Fred began to sweep the floor.

Kingsley led the way to the library and checked to make sure it was empty. He closed the door and warded it behind Harry.

“I need to show you a couple of things, Harry. I’ll share them with everyone later but I thought you should see them first.” Kingsley pulled out the Muggle newspaper and spread it on the table.

Harry looked at a picture appearing on page two. It had been rendered by an artist but it was very life-like. He read the short side bar then stared back at the auror.

“I recognize her. I saw her at the World Quidditch match fourth year. That’s Narcissa Malfoy.” Harry pulled out a chair and sat down. “They found her where?” he asked.

“Saltom Bay just south of Whitehaven; her body was picked up floating in an area popular for dropping Lobster pots. It looked like she’d been in the water for a while.” He indicated the paper. “Muggle authorities had to call in a forensic artist to recreate what she looked like. The fish and what not had gotten to her.”

Harry shook his head. “You said you had something else to show me.”

Kingsley passed over a Wizarding photograph. “We got this from a sympathizer.”

In the picture, Harry saw a group of youths wearing Durmstrang uniforms. In the background he noticed a boy about his age with short-clipped blond hair. He was obviously avoiding attention, only looking at the camera occasionally out of the side of his eye.

“Malfoy,” Harry guessed.

Kingsley nodded, “We think so, but there’s no Malfoy registered at the school.” He shrugged and added, “They don’t release names of enrolled students at Durmstrang; at least, not without a price.”

“What does this mean?” asked Harry.

Kingsley shook his head, “Too many pieces of the puzzle missing, Harry. We’ll just keep looking.”

Harry nodded then, taking a deep breath asked, “What about Dung? Did he tell you anything?”

“Yeah, but you won’t like it,” Kingsley told him.

“He pawned it didn’t he,” concluded Harry.

Kingsley nodded, “When Aberforth wouldn’t do a deal, he took it to a pawn shop in Cheapside,” he replied, as he fumbled around in his pocket. “Here, his redemption ticket.” He handed the numbered receipt to Harry.

“How much did he get?” asked Harry.

“Twenty pounds, he said.” Kingsley stood and scratched his chin. “Just one small problem though. He can’t remember the exact address of the shop.”

“There’s nothing on the ticket either,” stated Harry.

“I know. You up for a challenge, Harry?” asked the Auror.

“I’ve had my fill of challenges, Kingsley.” Harry sighed in resignation, “This is a job for Hermione and her bloody lists.”

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Snape was making his way to see Jenny and her computer. He hadn’t spoken to her but he supposed she would likely be home. Hadn’t she said there was no man in her life? He turned onto her street and noticed her door was open. Three small figures were holding open their bags to receive Halloween sweets. Just as he reached her path, two boys and a girl ran in front of him. Hallow-bloody-een.

“’Scuse us, mister,” called the oldest boy, as he passed.

Severus looked at their costumes, “What are you supposed to be?” he asked the girl, who was staring at him.

“I’m a fairy. Do like my costume?” she asked, pirouetting before him.

“You don’t look anything like a fairy,” he told her honestly.

“How would you know?” she asked in petulant anger.

“I’ve met fairies. They’re all rude, nasty little creatures who like to argue with everyone around them, just like you, but they certainly wouldn’t wear what you’ve got on.” He was amused by her angry glare.

At that moment, Jenny opened her door. “Sorry, kids, I’m all out.” She looked up and saw him standing there. “Hello, Severus. This lot belong to you?” she asked, grinning at the look of disgust he gave her.

“I should hope not!” he spat back.

The girl pushed him and told him, “You’re a mean man. I hate you.” She turned and walked up the path followed by the boys. Suddenly, one boy turned back and threw an egg at Jenny’s windows.

“Adil Mendhi, you wait; I’ll tell your granny what you did, ooof!” Jenny had followed the children after the egg had been thrown but turned her ankle on an apple core that had been dropped on the path. She’d fallen before Snape could catch her.

“Rotten little buggers,” she said, as Severus helped her to her feet. She tried to walk but couldn’t put the weight on her injured ankle.

“Let me help you,” said Snape, putting his arm around her waist to support her.

Severus got her into the house and seated on the sofa. Sitting beside her, he lifted her leg onto his lap and removed the shoe and sock from the injured foot. Gently, he examined her ankle and saw it had started to swell.

“Just a sprain, but it’s going to hurt. Do you have any ice?” he asked, getting to his feet and resting her leg on a pillow.

“I think there’s a bag of frozen pea’s in the freezer. Teacher in a first aid course I took said they’d do in a pinch.” Jenny winced as she tried to circle her ankle.

Severus brought out the bag of peas wrapped in a tea towel and gently placed the make-shift ice pack on her ankle. He looked up to see how she felt.

“Keeps this on to stop the ankle swelling too much,” he told her as he headed for the door.

“Are you leaving?” Jenny asked.

“I’ll be back in a few minutes. Just rest your ankle. Where is your key so I can let myself in?”

Jenny pointed at a small table in the hall, “Beside my handbag.”

Severus picked up the keychain and, looking around quickly to make sure he was alone outside, apparated home to retrieve a salve of his own design. He walked back to Jenny’s comfortable bungalow and entered to find her on the sofa where he had left her. He took off his jacket and knelt beside the sofa to look at her ankle again.

“That was fast,” said Jenny, watching bemused as the tall, dark man ministered to her.

“It’s not far and I walk quickly,” he replied, opening the jar of salve, not revealing his mode of travel.

“What’s that?” she asked.

“Old family remedy for sprains and strains. This should make your ankle feel better right away.” Severus smoothed the salve over her ankle and instep, gently massaging the soothing paste into the skin.

Jenny felt the salve penetrate to where the pain was worst. First it numbed the pain then, with a tingling, warmed her foot until it felt relaxed and pain-free.

“That stuff is magic,” she told him, lying back and enjoying the sensation.

Severus gave a small laugh, “Yes, I’ve been told that before.”

“Thank you, Severus. I’m glad you decided to visit tonight.” Jenny smiled at him as he placed her foot back on the pillow. “Was there a special reason you stopped by?” she asked.

“Well, I had hoped to use your computer once again.” He stood and put the salve on her side table.

“Help your self,” she told him. “What are you looking for now?”

“I’m looking for a dentist in Surrey. I know the name but not where they’re located.” He replied.

“That’s a long way to go for a check-up.” Jenny stood up carefully and went to sit beside him at the computer.

“You should stay off your foot tonight; it still needs to heal more.” He looked over at her, feeling the warmth from her arm on his shoulder where she was leaning on the chair.

“It feels alright, thanks to you.” She smiled at him and watched as he shifted his gaze away from her.

“How would you suggest I begin?” he asked to change the subject.

“Let’s use Google,” she suggested.

They spent the evening together either searching the internet or talking about their time in primary school. They’d both been outsiders at school, made to feel contemptible for their appearance and intelligence. They’d each been bullied and as a result had chosen paths that had left them unhappy.

Severus looked at the clock, “I didn’t realize the time. You work on Saturday.” He stood and started to pull on his jacket.

“It’s alright, I don’t start until noon. I only work a half day,” she told him, rising to see him out. “Listen, why don’t you take my phone number and call me when you want to come over to use the computer; or just visit.” She wrote her phone number on a slip of paper and passed it to him.

Severus looked at the paper, “I don’t have a phone.” He looked at her face that had fallen at his confession. “I am thinking about getting one of those mobile phones.”

Jenny smiled once more, “Yeah great, so take my number, if you want.” She looked at him with uncertainty.

Severus took the paper and placed it in his pocket before he turned to leave. Jenny put her hand on his arm and stretched up to kiss his cheek in thanks for his kindness. Just as her lips were about to touch his cheek, Severus turned letting his lips meet hers. They parted for a hairsbreadth. Then, cupping her cheek gently in his palm, Severus kissed her lips fully, just once.

“Severus,” she whispered, “thank you.”

“For the salve?” he asked softly.

“That too.” Jenny smiled at him as she gazed into his warm, dark eyes.

He shook his head, “Thank you, Jenny for...for being you and trusting me. Good night, Jenny.” He opened the door and stepped out.

“Good night, Severus. Don’t forget to call,” she called to him, softly.

“I promise.” With a wave, he walked away feeling something he’d missed for a long time. He was happy and someone actually liked to be with him. He was not alone anymore.

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“I wish we had access to a computer,” complained Hermoine, as she flipped through the London Yellow Pages, “this search would go so much faster.”

Harry shook his head, “Do you really think the type of pawnshop Dung would have visited would be on a website?”

Hermione shrugged, “Probably not, but we could check street names against a map for location.”

The threesome struggled on and compiled a list. The Order took the list and split it up by location. By pairs, they went on a hunt for the purloined jewellery. Three agonizing days later, Tonks and Lupin arrived back at the house with the locket.

Harry stared at the Horcrux with a look of loathing. Its very existence was an abomination.

“How do we know that it still contains the soul fragment?” asked Hermione.

Lupin stepped towards the table where he had placed the locket. “Watch this.” He passed his wand over the Horcrux chanting, “Revelo Fragmen Anima.” The locket was suddenly enveloped in a sickly, bile green corona. “There, proof positive of the content and the character of the Horcrux,” said Lupin.

“It looks sick,” Ron said, with a look on his face to match his comment.

“How do we destroy it?” asked Harry, thinking of Dumbledore’s arm.

“Hermione and I are still researching that aspect. You just worry about finding them all,” Lupin told him.

“Yeah, right - easy job.” Harry watched as Remus placed the locket in a cabinet and warded it.

“You’ll manage,” said Lupin confidently before leaving the threesome alone.

“I wish I could be so sure,” Harry said to himself more than to anyone else.

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Severus looked at the modern office building that housed the dental practise of Hermione Grangers parents. He took a deep breath to steel himself for what he was about to do. His memory of visiting the dentist as a child was coloured by a less than gentle experience in a National Health clinic getting a filling.

“Just a check-up, Snape,” he muttered to himself, as he entered the lift to the fourth floor. Their office was directly across from the lift as he stepped off. The waiting room was cheery and bright. Their receptionist was young, pretty and bubbly. He hated everything on sight.

“Good morning sir,” welcomed the girl, whose name tag identified her as Phoebe.

“Good morning, Phoebe. I have a 10:30 appointment for a check-up.” Snape shared a smile which he hoped looked sincere. He was a bit out of practise at turning on charm.

“Mr Tobias Prince?” she asked.

“Yes,” he replied, “I’m not late am I?”

“No sir. Could you please fill out this form while you’re waiting? Our hygienist will be with you shortly.” She passed him a clipboard and pen.

“I had wanted to see Dr Granger “ at least one of them.” He was worried his message would not get delivered.

“Of course, but the hygienist will see you first. Please take a seat.” She smiled at him reassuringly.

He filled out the form and suffered through a cleaning that was excruciating enough to pass as torture. Now, he was waiting to meet one of Miss Know-it-all’s parents. Finally, the door opened to admit her mother.

“Mr. Prince,” Mrs Granger announced as she entered. “Good news, I’ve looked at your x-rays and I can’t find any new caries.” She sat on the stool beside the reclined chair and smiled at him. “Tara, my hygienist, said she found a lot of plaque. You might want to be more diligent in brushing and flossing.”

“Indeed, I shall try to be more diligent,” he told her, while inwardly he was blessing the existence of Wizarding dentistry. “I’m very happy that you were able to accommodate me on short notice.”

“Well, when a client is referred to us, we try to be obliging. Where did you say you heard about our practise?” she asked.

“I’m related to a student that attends school with your daughter. Your name was suggested when I told them I was relocating to this part of the country.” He smiled to reinforce his statement.

“Really, well, I shall certainly let Hermione know you visited and thank her for thinking of her parents when she’s at school.” Mrs Granger returned the smile. “I think we’re all done, Mr. Prince.”

She stood and lowered the chair to let Snape rise. He followed her out to the waiting room and watched as she signed the treatment forms before passing them to the receptionist.

“Phoebe will let you know the damage, Mr Prince. I hope you will continue to favour us with your patronage.” She offered her hand to him as a farewell.

“Oh, I almost forgot.” Snape reached into his inside pocket and pulled out an envelope. “Please pass this along to your daughter. Just a thank-you card to let her know I was here.”

“That’s very thoughtful, Mr. Prince. I’ll pass it along.” She shook his hand and left him to attend to her next patient.

“Here you are, Mr. Prince.” Phoebe handed him his bill. Snape blanched when he saw the total. He’d no idea of the price of private dentistry. Fighting the good fight was becoming expensive.

“Do you take credit cards,” he asked, hopefully.

Phoebe smiled, “Visa, MasterCard and American Express.”

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Hermione, Ron and Harry were invited to the Grangers for Sunday dinner at the end of November. The teens happily spent time playing games on the computer and listening to music on Hermione’s CD player while her parents cooked up a feast of roast beef with all the trimmings. While they sat around the table after the meal, Hermione’s mother told her about their new patient.

“He said he’d heard about the practise from someone who went to school with you,” Her mother told her. “If I’d known you were going to refer people, you could have taken business cards.”

Hermione frowned, “I don’t recall ever suggesting you as a dentist.” She saw her mothers frown. ”That’s not to say I don’t think you’re the best, Mum. It just never came up.”

“Then how did he know about us?” her mother asked.

“What was his name?” Hermione asked.

“Oh, let me think...Prince, that was it, Tobias Prince,” replied her mother, “and he sent you this.” She passed over the thank-you card.

“Prince?” Harry looked at Hermione and Ron, “Wasn’t that...?”

“Yeah,” added Ron, “and didn’t you say his father’s name was...”

“Tobias.” Hermione looked at the envelope and placed it on the table. She pulled out her wand and cast a revealing charm on the innocuous correspondence.

“Nothing, he didn’t curse it as far as I can tell.” She looked at her friends. “Let’s take it outside.”

“Hermione, what’s going on?” asked her father.

“We think this was given to you by a wizard. Mum, do you remember what he looked like?” she asked.

“He looked normal. By that I mean he wasn’t dressed unconventionally.” Mrs Granger added the latter for Ron’s benefit.

“That’s not surprising, since his father was a Muggle,” said Ron.

“He paid by credit card, Hermione,” her mother told her. Seeing the expressions on the youth’s faces, she decided to give a description of Mr. Prince. “He was tall and had dark hair.”

“Shoulder length?” asked Harry.

“No, quite short.” She replied.

“Was he clean shaven with a very pale complexion?” asked Hermione.

“He had a moustache and beard so it was hard to tell” her mother replied.

Harry looked at his friends. “What do you think?”

“I think we need to open this.” Hermione pointed to the envelope.

They all went out to the garden behind the Grangers house where Hermione placed the card on a concrete bench.

“Aperio Litteratia.” Hermione cast a revealing charm on the card. Nothing happened. She glanced back at her friends and parents before picking up the envelope and opening it to read the card within.

“What does it say?” asked Ron.

“Victoria Station, locker 171,” replied Hermione, before passing the card to Harry. “He’s still on our side.”

Harry shook his head, “I don’t know Hermione. It could be a trap.”

Ron thought about it and added, “I don’t think so Harry. If he’d wanted to lure you into a trap, there are a lot of other things he could have done. This was very specific. He wants you to make a move to recover something. Why Hermione’s parents and why a locker in a Muggle location?”

Harry nodded in agreement, “Okay, but I want the Order to back us up. That bastard killed Dumbledore; I doubt he’d give second thought to AK’ing us.”
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Chapter 1296790896: Christmas Revelation

Disclaimer.
This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

To everyone who reviewed, my humble thanks. Severus may appear slightly out of character here, but he’s still mostly living a Muggle life and finding that situation is quite nice sometimes.

Jenny will never be a Mary Sue “ she does have convictions and courage, however.

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Snape approached Malfoy Manor in the dark. He scanned the area around the house looking for anyone else, but revealing charms showed nothing, not even an animal. The air was December chilled and his breath fogged the air with each exhalation.

The manor’s location, outside Pluckley in Kent, was where the original Malfoy’s settled some time after the Norman Invasion. The Manor House was a traditional, Tudor-style country home, surrounded by a walled garden. From without the walls, for the benefit of Muggles, it looked like a crumbling ruin, sitting amidst overgrown brambles.

Snape looked around. The normally manicured lawns and neatly clipped hedges were long gone. If they went unattended much longer, the grounds would begin to look like the magical illusion created for Muggles, Snape thought to himself. He cast his eyes over the windows of the house looking for a light. They all remained dark, save for a flickering glimmer showing through a set of French doors on the first floor.

Looking around him once more, to ensure he had no company, Snape made his way to the front entrance. To his surprise, the door was unlocked and un-warded. He entered the house, lighting the end of his wand, before heading to where he’d seen the light. If he recalled the floor plan correctly, the light had come from Narcissa’s favourite drawing room. The door was ajar. Dowsing the light, he peered through the open space, then stood to one side and nudged the door open with his wand. His effort was rewarded with several curse’s slicing through the air where he should have been standing.

“Reveal your self, you bloody coward,” demanded Lucius Malfoy.

“I’m no coward, Malfoy, neither am I a fool. Put up your wand, man. It’s me,” shouted Snape.

“Snape?” A sound of scraping chair legs and footfalls signalled Malfoy’s approach to the door. “Snape, is that you?” he demanded. He held his wand in front of him, as he searched the dark hallway for his visitor.

Snape grabbed Malfoy’s arm and spun him around, pressing him into the wall. “Yes, old friend, it’s me. Are you going to continue your attempts to hex me?” Snape stared at Malfoy, shocked at his appearance.

“Where is she?” whispered Malfoy. “Where has she gone? And the elves, I can’t find the elves.”

“They didn’t tell you,” said Severus quietly, realizing how cruel a life the ministry had returned Malfoy to. As they sat in the dusty darkness of Malfoy Manor, he shared the history that had passed Lucius by while in prison.

An eternity later, Severus sat before the meagre fire he’d started in the hearth of the drawing room. He looked over at the once proud wizard, now reduced to a living wraith. The long blond hair had been hacked away to hang in tatters about his face. His patrician features were gaunt, his colour pallid. The robes he wore were barely fit for the squib beggars that haunted Knockturn Alley.

“He was unable to complete the task?” asked Malfoy after a long silence.

Snape sighed. “Lucius, your son was trying to live up to a man he regarded as his hero. He loved you and wanted to be just like you.” He shook his head. “You never saw him at Hogwarts. He would strut about like Lord Muck, with his two lackeys following him around, tittering at every taunt he made to a Muggle-born.” He hesitated then added, “You never gave him much credit for his accomplishments at school.”

“Why did she make you take the oath?” Malfoy asked for the third time.

“Lucius, Narcissa knew her son. She knew as much as he wanted to, he hadn’t the instinct to become an assassin.” Snape paused for a moment and considered what he would say next. “Draco was too well loved.”

Malfoy shook his head. “Our lord took her from me,” he said, more to himself than Snape.

“He was . . . displeased . . . with his plans being thwarted,” Snape continued. “I believe he wanted me to continue on as a spy in the ranks of the Order, but Draco’s failure undid his plotting.”

“Draco’s fault?” Malfoy asked, an incredulous look crossing his face.

“No, Lucius, not a fault. The boy, Draco, was not the man his father was,” Snape said, trying to explain. “He was a child pretending to adulthood.” Snape wanted to convince Malfoy of Draco’s innocence.

Malfoy looked at him. “Who revealed their plans to our Lord?”

“I believe Bella told Wormtail of the plans,” he replied quietly, and watched as Lucius digested the information.

“But Karkaroff...” Malfoy trailed off, seemingly confused.

“You knew he was dead,” said Snape.

“I was there, so was Pettigrew,” he revealed bitterly, through a clenched jaw. “The pestilent bastard intended them to fail.”

“You never told Narcissa,” whispered Snape.

Malfoy seemed to crumple into himself. “I never shared with her the measures we took to uphold our cause,” he sobbed suddenly. “I loved her, Severus. I loved her.” He shook his head as the tears flowed down his cheeks; words tumbling out in grief. He seemed unable to stop himself. “I never wanted her to suffer. I was a fool. I pushed her into this folly by my stupid, stupid pride.” At this, Lucius began to cry in earnest, his hands fisting as he pressed them to his eyes. He cried not the silent tears of grief, but the heart sore cries of a guilty soul repenting.

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Harry and Hermione walked along the main concourse of Victoria Station, looking like every other youthful transient passing through a major hub of inner city transport. Hermione looked at the signs and found where the locker was located. Harry adjusted the rucksack he had over his shoulder and headed off in the direction Hermione indicated. Looking around, Harry saw Tonks and Shacklebolt, along with two other Aurors, in close proximity to them.

“What was the number?” he asked, looking at the row of travel lockers.

“Number 171,” replied Hermione, as she scanned the opposite wall. “There.” She pointed and led him over to the locker in question.

“The key is still in it.” Harry reached out and tried to open the door. It held fast.

“It’s been charmed, obviously,” said Hermione. “Cover me,” she instructed, before pulling her wand from her sleeve. “Alohamora,” she whispered.

The latch let go and the door popped open. Harry opened the door wide and looked inside. “It’s a briefcase,” he revealed, pulling it out.

Hermione looked over at Shacklebolt who, with a jerk of his head, indicated they should get going. Harry put the case into the rucksack and hitched it onto his shoulder once more. Watching the tall black man ahead of them, they followed him to a deserted area of the station.

“Where is everyone?” asked Hermione.

“This is the apparation point for Victoria Station. We didn’t risk coming in here, in case it was being watched, but can leave.” Shacklebolt pulled out a child’s plastic bangle from his pocket. “Portkey,” he identified, “grab on; Portus.” The portkey charm pulled them away from the station with the familiar tug at the navel and dropped them into an open field.

“Where are we?” asked Harry, looking around.

“You should recognize it; you camped here for the World Quidditch Cup a few years ago,” Kingsley revealed with a smile.

Harry cocked a crooked smile. “I’d rather forget the camping bit, thanks.”

“Come on, Harry, let’s look at what Snape has sent.” Hermione pulled the rucksack off of Harry’s back and opened it.

“Slowly, Hermione,” warned Shacklebolt. “Let’s examine it carefully.”

Hermione sighed. “Honestly, don’t you think if he’d wanted to harm us, he’d have done it as soon as we touched the case? I mean, a bomb in a railway station would be passed off as an IRA thing or a terrorist act, don’t you think? That way there would be no ties to You Know Who.” She stood with her arms crossed, impatient to discover the case’s contents.

“Think like Moody for a while, girl. A few minutes caution.” Shacklebolt turned his attention to the case. Passing his wand over it several times to check for curses, he ended up poking it with his wand.

“For goodness sake, Kingsley,” said Hermione, clearly exasperated.

“Alright, stand back,” he instructed and backed up a few paces himself. “Alohamora.”

The case popped open and revealed a cardboard box. Shacklebolt levitated the top off of the box, revealing the sceptre within.

Harry looked at what had been revealed. “Ravenclaw,” he said, looking again at the Auror. “Is it a Horcrux?”

Shacklebolt used the same revealing charm Remus had over the gold locket. The same sickly glow emanated from it.

“I’d say that was a definite yes,” stated Hermione.

Kingsley closed the case and picked it up. “Let’s get this locked up somewhere safe. Up to apparating?” he asked, looking at them expectantly.

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Jenny was wrapping her final gift when the phone rang. She picked up the cordless handset and looked at the incoming number. She didn’t recognize it. Pushing the button to speak, she said, “Hello?”

“Jenny, I promised to call you when I got a phone.” The voice of Severus Snape came over the receiver.

“Severus, did you finally get your mobile?” she asked, her voice carrying her smile over the line.

“Yes, finally,” he replied. They had gone out a few times since he’d healed her ankle, but in order to make arrangements, he’d met up with her at her library job.

“I’m glad,” she told him. “I’m thinking about getting one too.”

“You haven’t one yet?” he asked.

“No,” she replied.

Severus changed the subject, “I was wondering, are you busy for Christmas?”

“Yeah, I go to my sister’s house,” she replied. She heard silence on the other side of the phone. “Are you busy Christmas Eve?” she asked.

“No,” he answered.

“Come for dinner?” she asked, “I can do that steak and kidney pudding you liked and you could bring the wine again.” She waited in anticipation for his answer.

“I couldn’t possibly refuse your offer. I’ll be there about five o’clock, if that’s alright?” he replied.

Jenny jumped with joy, “I can hardly wait,” she replied, “It’ll be a great evening.”

Jenny had only a small tree atop her sideboard, but that was more than Severus had. When Severus arrived, he had placed the two presents he brought under the tiny boughs. They supped together and sat on the sofa to watch the obligatory Christmas television entertainment. Jenny sat against him with his arm holding her close. They were content in their own silent company.

As the midnight mass from Rome began, Jenny stood up. “I think that makes it official. It’s Christmas and we can open our prezy’s.” She smiled gleefully, as she skipped to her tiny tree to retrieve her gifts for him.

“Here, you open yours first,” Jenny insisted. She passed him an oblong box. “I hope you like them.” She knelt on the floor before him.

Severus opened his first gift and found a pair of fine leather gloves lined in fur. He tried them on to admire them. “They’re wonderful, thank you.” He turned to her second gift. It was a Muggle journal, bound in leather, that had his initials S.S. embossed on the cover and a fountain pen with his initials engraved on the cap.

“I wasn’t sure what to get you, Severus. I don’t know much about your professional or personal life. I just thought you were the type of man who would use a journal,” she told him quietly.

Severus thought about what she had said. “I used to keep a diary regularly for years but...I stopped for many reasons,” he told her. He looked down at her soft features, seeing possibilities. “I think I have many more reasons to resume.” He reached over and stroked her cheek. “Thank you; I’ve never had a more thoughtful present.”

Walking over to the tree, he retrieved his gifts and passed them to her. “Please, open these?” he asked, sitting on the sofa once more.

Jenny took his presents. She opened the first gift. “Severus, a mobile?” she responded, surprised at the gift of a cellular phone.

“You said you wanted one. Here, it’s prepaid.” He handed her a set of gift cards.

“It’s too much,” she exclaimed.

“Not if I can speak to you, Jenny,” he replied, softly. His earnest tone surprised her.

Jenny then opened the small, second gift and found a crystal phial that glittered in the light. “What is this?” she asked.

“Something special I made for you. Place a drop on your wrist,” he instructed.

Jenny followed his direction, and then smelled her inner wrist. “Wow, it’s like walking in the woods after a spring shower. A bit sweet but a little bit musky too.”

“Just as I’d planned it,” he told her. “The scent will always be unique. It will never have the same result for anyone else.”

“You made this?” she asked, in surprise. “Thank you, Severus, I love your presents.”

“This has been a wonderful Christmas for me, Jenny. I’d not had much reason to celebrate before,” he told her. He knelt on the floor and kissed her cheek.

“Neither had I, Severus. Thank you again.” She leaned forward, looking into his dark eyes before kissing him.

Severus wrapped his arms about the gentle woman kissing him and felt her arms wrap about his shoulders. Her tender caress was so far from the heated kisses of his usual partners, he was shocked at his body’s response.

“Jenny, I’d best go,” he told her, pulling back.

“So soon?” she asked.

“Yes, I have an to visit an old friend who got out of hospital just the other day. He expects me early in the morning,” he told her.

“Severus?” she asked, as he got to his feet.

“Yes?” he asked.

“New Year’s Eve, just wondering if you’re free?” she asked.

Snape looked at her kneeling on the living room floor. “I do have a miserable duty on New Years Day, but New Year’s Eve is free.”

“Will you spend it with me...here?” she asked.

Severus smiled, “Indubitably, my fair maiden,” he teased, pulling her hand to his lips and kissing her knuckles.

“Oooh! Such airs put on for a frumpy Manchester lass,” she laughed.

Severus sobered and pulled her to her feet, “Who told you that?” he asked, looking into her eyes.

Jenny shrugged, “I told you, I’m not the type that attracts men. I’m not what they look for; too short, too fat, boring, plain.” She looked away after listing her perceived faults.

Severus turned her face back to him, “Is that what your former husband told you?” he asked, uncharacteristically annoyed at the unknown man for hurting her.

“Pretty much,” she replied bitterly. “Just before he left with the blond, anorexic bimbo from Finland.”

Severus shook his head, “You’re none of those things, Jenny. You are kind and gentle. Your eyes sparkle when you laugh and your smile brightens a room. I’d rather look at you than any fashion plate I could imagine. When I hold you close, you’re soft and tender; not all bones and angles. There aren’t many people I can have a decent conversation with but I never tire talking to you.”

He pulled her close and wrapped his arms around her. He bent to whisper into her ear, sending shivers down her back, “I think you’re a lovely ‘Manchester lass’. There is nothing about you I would change; you’re perfect just as you are. Never let anyone tell you otherwise.”

Jenny pulled back and looked back into his eyes, her own vision blurred with tears. “Oh, Severus, no one’s ever said such things to me before. That’s the most wonderful Christmas present you could ever have given me. You even had a Manchester accent when you called me Lass.” She smiled through her tears.

Severus smiled back, “You can never really take the North out of a Manchester lad. Happy Christmas, Jenny, my lovely Manchester Lass,” he told her, before kissing her more deeply than he ever had before.

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Christmas dawned dark and dreary, but in the hidden house on Grimmauld Street, merriment abounded. The sounds of laughter and tearing paper echoed through the rooms as the occupants opened their presents. When they heard Molly’s shout, they all trundled down to the kitchen in the uniform of the day; Molly’s magically knitted jumpers.

“Happy Christmas, everyone,” announced Arthur, strolling into the kitchen with a large, gaily wrapped parcel in his arms. “Molly dear, leave off what you’re doing and come here. Girls, you finish getting breakfast out.”

Molly looked at him, surprised at his request. She’d no idea what he wanted.

“Molly, you work so hard at keeping this old house liveable for us; making a home out of a shell. You never get much credit. All you ever hear is us complain when you make us pitch in.” Arthur looked around the table at everyone. “Everyone here, especially Harry and Remus, wanted to say a huge thank you. So; from all of us here, Happy Christmas, Molly Weasley.” He held out the present to a shocked Molly.

“I don’t know what to say,” she said, taking the parcel and setting it on a chair to open it. As the paper gave way, Molly gasped. “Arthur, it’s too much. I can’t accept something like this.”

“Course you can, Mum. Come on then, let’s see,” said George, his usual smile even wider than usual.

Molly held up a fur stole. Arthur took it from her and set it about her shoulders. “This is to go with the dress robes I got you for Christmas,” he told her. “Everyone here gave something towards it. It really is a present from everyone.”

Arthur didn’t reveal Harry had paid a larger part than everyone else towards it. On Harry’s part, he’d been the one to suggest a special present for Molly and had insisted on carrying the weight of the burden.

“Oh, it’s too beautiful,” Molly exclaimed as she stroked the fur. “I don’t know when I’ll ever be able to do it justice.”

“You’d be surprised, Mum,” said Ginny, passing a platter of sausages to Remus.

Arthur beamed again, “Here you go, Molly.” He passed her an envelope.

“What’s this now?” Molly opened the envelope and pulled out a card, “A New Years Eve Ball? Arthur is Scrimgeour actually having a ball?” she asked in surprise.

Arthur nodded, “Indeed he is, and I’m escorting the most beautiful grown-up witch from Ottery St. Catchpole to it.” He kissed her cheek as the others laughed at her blush.

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Snape apparated to just outside of Malfoy Manor once more, squinting at the sky which dared allow rain to fall on Christmas. He entered the gate and walked quickly to the front doors. Just as he reached out to knock, he sneezed violently. Note to self, he thought, drink Pepper-up potion before bed.

He knocked the door and waited. It was opened by an elderly, bedraggled elf that looked at him through bleary eyes.

“Who are you, Master?” it wheezed.

“Severus Snape,” Severus replied sharply, “Is your master home?”

The elf turned and shouted, “Is you home Master Malfoy?”

Severus shook his head and pushed past the small creature. He saw Lucius limp towards him from the familiar drawing room. He used his cane for support unlike when it was an affectation of superiority in his previous life.

“Severus....Severus, it’s good to see you, my friend,” said Malfoy, ignoring the cowering elf.

“I thought all the elves were gone?” asked Snape.

“I found this one in the laundry. The others left him behind because he was too old. Fetch tea, Lessiff,” he ordered, then led Severus back to the drawing room.

“I’ve something for you,” said Snape, seating himself before the fire. He put his hand in his pocket and pulled out an envelope, passing it to the man opposite

Malfoy took it from him and looked at the writing. “It’s from Draco,” he opened the letter and read its contents hungrily. “He’s doing well, he says; made it to the school Quidditch team again. Look, his report card.”

He passed a sheet of parchment to Severus who took it and glanced at the marks. They were in the same range his marks were when he attended Hogwarts.

“Did you ever look at his results from Hogwarts, Lucius?” he asked.

Malfoy glanced at his friend briefly, “Narcissa was more in touch with his schooling....You know I didn’t,” he spat finally.

“Happy Christmas, Lucius.” Snape pulled a box from his pocket and enlarged it.

“Christmas?” asked Malfoy, seemingly surprised by the date.

“Indeed. Open your gift.” Severus watched Malfoy take the lid off the box, revealing warm Muggle clothing, a quilt, canned food and a bottle of Ogden’s Firewhiskey.

Malfoy swallowed, “Severus, I don’t know what to sa...” He was interrupted.

“Say nothing, Lucius. You need these things.” Snape watched as the realization of his position sunk into Malfoy.

“Our lord has sent nothing,” Malfoy whispered.

Snape snorted, “Did you expect him to? Lucius, even you are not that blind to his habits.”

Lucius looked into the fire. ”I’d always thought my loyalty would have been rewarded. Now, I am lost. All my life, I’ve been convinced of the superiority of the Pure-blooded wizard.” He looked up at Snape. “I’m sorry, old friend; I even regarded you as less than proper company.”

“And now?” Snape asked.

“I’d kill the bastard with my own hands if I could get close enough.” Lucius looked once more at the fire.

“Why are you telling me this?” asked Severus, surprised at the other man’s admission.

Lucius snorted now, “I’ve always known about the tightrope you walked, Severus. It was an interesting diversion watching you balance precariously on the wire; tipping one way or the other, maintaining the delicate balance so as not to fall.”

“You never revealed this to Him?” Snape asked.

Lucius shrugged, “One needed to reserve a bargaining tool.”

Snape was now on his feet with his wand drawn. He grasped Malfoy’s face in his hand. “Legimens,” he intoned, finding his way into the other mans thoughts. He sifted through Malfoy’s mind looking for any moment that had revealed him to the Dark Lord. He saw hints but nothing blatant.

“Satisfied?” asked Malfoy bitterly, as Snape stopped his probe.

“Do you want to see him defeated?” asked Snape.

Lucius pondered a long time before answering. “He took away my freedom, my fortune and my wife. He caused my son to be estranged from me and ruined my life. My allegiance has caused me nought but pain. All I have left is my honour as a Pure-blood wizard.” He looked over to Snape, who regarded him through shuttered eyes. “He must be brought down by any means possible.”

Severus nodded, “Good, I knew you were intelligent. You were just ridiculously prejudiced against anyone not Pure-blooded. Now that you see sense as has your son...”

“What?” Malfoy asked.

Severus leaned forward and pulled out the Firewhiskey, “Let’s talk and get tight. How many spare beds do you have here anyway?”

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Back to index


Chapter 1296790929: Choices of the Heart

Disclaimer.
This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

This chapter has a little more information but it’s mostly about Severus and Jenny. If Voldemort appears more than a little bipolar, it’s because I think the character is totally psychotic. Walpurgisnacht is also known as Beltane. It’s a summer festival and is usually celebrated on April 30 or May 1. The Christians celebrate it as May Day.

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Boxing Day; funny thing was that Boxing Day was synonymous with a hangover for Snape. At least, it had been since he was old enough to get pissed on Christmas Day. He pushed himself up, and swung his legs over the side of the feather bed he’d used the night before. Watery, morning light flickered through the lace curtains and puddled on the Persian rug thrown beside the bed. Snape sat forward, his elbows resting on his knees. Bending forward, he rested his forehead on his hands for a moment before running them through his hair. He snorted; it was still strange to have short hair.

“Master Snape is you needing anything?” asked Lessiff the elf, who had appeared in the bedroom unbidden.

“Coffee in the drawing room,” said Snape, as he stood and stretched.

The elf disappeared. Severus left the room in search of a loo before heading downstairs. He went to the same room he’d sat in the night before and found Malfoy sitting in the same chair, looking as if he’d never moved.

“Coffee’s there.” Malfoy pointed to a side table.

Snape poured himself a cup and sat opposite his friend. He pulled out two phials of potion and passed one to Malfoy. They opened the phials, and silently toasted each other, before they each tossed the potion back in one.

“Just like old times.” Malfoy stared into the fire, his thoughts miles and years away from hear and now.

“Are you resolved?” asked Snape.

Malfoy nodded, “It shall be done. When do you expect to be called?” He looked over at Snape.

“Come now, Malfoy. You must remember that He Who Must Not Be Named always holds a New Year’s Day levee for his most faithful. Eat, Drink and be Merry, sayeth the Dark Lord.” Snape smirked before sipping his coffee.

“Here’s to the creature of habit; and I do mean Creature,” said Malfoy, now raising his coffee in a toast.

“And to his real familiar, Wormtail, for Merlin knows, Nagini the snake has far more brains in her reptilian head than that rodent. She’s probably the real brains behind the entire movement.” Snape began to laugh at his own joke. Malfoy joined in and soon, the deserted house was echoing with their dark mirth.

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Late Wednesday morning, December 31st, Jenny looked out of her front window and saw a grey car pulling up to the kerb. She turned away and got her coat and handbag, stopping for a moment to check her hair in the hall mirror. The doorbell rang as she was pulling on her coat.

With a smile, Jenny opened the door, “Hello Severus, you’re right on time. Don’t you look handsome?” She brushed her hand over his tie.

“Thank you. Traffic was light for a Wednesday. I’m glad you had the day off.” He stood aside as Jenny stepped out and locked the door behind her.

“It was a nice surprise, to be asked along on a day out, Severus. I’ve not been out of Manchester for a while. Where are we going anyway?” She walked down the path, not noticing Severus’ eyes watch her legs. She’d never worn a dress while in his company before.

“You recall that search we did for an old artefact the first time I visited?” he asked, pulling his eyes to her face.

“Yeah, the shield with griffins on it, in a church somewhere east of here,” she replied.

“Indeed, I thought we would visit the area and, as I had suggested on the phone, perhaps stop for dinner on the way back. I’ve made reservations at a nice restaurant.” He opened the car door for her to enter.

“Thank you Mr Snape, you always know just how to make me feel special.” She pulled her skirt in before he closed the door

“My pleasure, Ms Doulton, it’s not every day a lovely lady is my companion.” He told her, as he climbed in the driver’s side.

“Don’t forget your belt,” she warned, as he started the car without buckling up. “Don’t want to get a citation.”

“I forgot,” he muttered, as he fastened himself in.

They headed out of Manchester, east on the M60 and M1 towards Greater Driffield. They left the Motorway and the main trunk roads behind, ending up on Bridlington Road.

“Do you know where the church is?” asked Jenny.

“I don’t have the address, but I think we’ve found it.” He looked out of his side window and saw a tower soaring upwards to the sky. “I thought we might do what I always do when I’m looking for information, and visit the hub of news about the town.” He replied.

“The library,” she stated with conviction.

“The local pub,” he responded with a smile.

They found a pub after turning two corners. Severus parked the car down the street from the whitewashed building. He opened the door and helped Jenny out.

“This looks like a good place to start,” he said, “and it appears to serve pub lunches. Hungry?” he asked, leading her to the doors.

“Biscuits and cheese with a shandy sounds good.” She replied, entering the pub before him.

The interior was quiet, only a few older men and a group of women in one corner.

“‘Ow do folks, ‘aving a day out, then?” greeted the landlord.

“Yes, we’re just travelling around the area, taking in historic sites.” Snape told him.
He ushered Jenny to a table where they were joined by the jolly man.

“What can I get you?” asked their host.

“A Ploughman’s lunch, a shandy for the lady and a pint of bitter for me,” Snape ordered.

“Are you vegey, we’ve ‘ad some that don’t like to ‘ave meat?” he asked.

“No, we’ll have a bit of everything,” replied Snape.

“Coming right up.” The landlord exited into what appeared to be a kitchen, and then returned to pour their drinks.

“Why are you searching for this shield, Severus?” asked Jenny.

“There are some who would pay a great price to have it in their possession,” Snape told her. “To others, the shield represents a way of life, a tradition begun by the original owner.”

“Are you still talking about your school?” she asked.

He cocked his head to the side, “Surely you know the kind of loyalty old schools have from their pupils.”

“I never went to that kind of school, Severus. I couldn’t wait to get out of the state system.” They paused as their drinks arrived.

“Anything else?” asked the landlord.

“Yes, where can we find All Saints Church?” asked Snape.

“When you go out, go back up the hill and turn to your left at the first street. You’ll see the old graveyard first. Just turn right when you see the main gate, you can’t miss it.” He stood aside to let a woman put a platter of food and two small plates on the table.

“Have there been any other people around asking about the church?” Snape kept the question innocent, but Jenny caught something in his tone.

The landlord shook his head, “Not since I’ve been the licensee, but, I remember my old dad saying something about a man asking after the church quite a while ago.”

Snape looked at him, “Why would that stick in your memory?”

The landlord stroked his chin, “My dad, ‘ee was a superstitious man, ‘ee was. Had the vicar come and bless the house after that bloke came; said ‘ee thought we’d been visited by Satan ‘imself. Lot ‘o tripe of course, but me dad was funny that way. Enjoy.” He nodded and returned to the bar.

Jenny helped her self to pork pie, Cheshire cheese and a slice of cob bread. “What are you not telling me, Severus?” she asked.

“Why would I be hiding anything?” he asked in return. He speared some pickled onions to go with his slice of pate.

“Severus Snape, don’t play the innocent with me. There’s something more going on here than just retrieving an old school heirloom.” She sipped her shandy and waited.

Snape sighed, “Jenny, the whole thing is contentious. There are two sides fighting over the rights to certain artefacts. They both believe they are right.”

“Whose side are you on?” she asked, putting a piece of pork pie in her mouth.

He smirked, “The side that is in the right, of course.”

When they finished, they left the pub and drove to the church. No one else was about, as they approached the front doors which were open, much to Jenny’s surprise. They entered the ancient church and looked about the nave. To one side, the nave opened into a small side chapel which held a burial crypt.

“Severus, look.” Jenny pointed to a carved frieze above the low, buttressed entry to the chapel. The heraldic and holy symbols included stylized Griffins. Jenny walked towards the vault while Severus was several paces behind. As she passed under the buttress, he saw a glow emanate from around the wooden frame. Secretly, he dropped his wand into his palm. Turning to cover his action, Severus cast a revealing charm on the frame. As he had suspected, a ward to detect magic of any kind had been placed around the chapel. He tentatively reached out a hand, only to snatch it back when it was given a nasty shock; warded against magical folk as well then.

Jenny reached into her bag and pulled out a small camera. “Come closer and I’ll take your picture with the dead knight.”

Severus shook his head, “I’ve more respect for your camera lens than that. If you wouldn’t mind, take a few snaps of the crypt itself.”

“Shy aren’t you,” she teased, “Okay, from what angles?”

“Do you see the shield?” he asked.

“Yeah, looks perfect from here.” She lifted the camera and took pictures from every direction. At Severus’ coaching, she took one closer shot of the shield.

“Why won’t you come closer, Severus?” she asked.

He shrugged, “Old superstition “ only pretty young women may approach the knight with impunity.”

“And here I thought you wanted to spend time with me,” she mocked him teasingly.

Snape frowned, “I do, Jenny.”

Jenny shook her head, “I was just teasing you again. Here, take a picture of me pointing at the carvings above.” She passed him the camera and took off her coat. She posed, leaning on the wall with her arm outstretched pointing at the frieze.

Severus watched as she got ready for the picture, taking in the black velvet dress she wore. The neck was scooped low and the skirt hung loosely from her hips. It made her look utterly feminine and reminded him of something a witch would have worn.

“You look very pretty today, Jenny,” he told her, as he pointed the camera at her and pressed the shutter release.

“Thanks, I ...my sister said every woman should have a little black dress.” Jenny blushed at his complement.

“Hello, can I help you?” called a voice from the sanctuary.

“Hello,” answered Jenny, “We were just admiring your wonderful frieze and crypt. We’re not trespassing I hope.”

The man approached them, “Not today you’re not. We’re having a service of thanksgiving tonight and the choir is due anytime. I’m the lay-deacon here. Archie Phelps.” He held his hand out in greeting. Jenny and Severus both shook it.

“My name is Tobias Prince, Mr. Phelps,” offered Snape, hoping Jenny wouldn’t give away his subterfuge. “I’m wondering if you’ve had any enquiries about the shield on the crypt. It seems remarkably well preserved.”

“I’ve not had any questions from anyone but there is a visitor every Easter that stops by and makes an anonymous offering to help in the up keep.” He chuckled to himself, “The old vicar said it must be an ancestor of old Godric the Good.”

“Godric the Good?” asked Jenny.

Phelps nodded, “Well, the story goes that the knight, Sir Godric, cast a magic spell upon the shield making it impervious to any weapon. It’s said the spell is still in effect today, leaving the shield as perfect as the day it was cast.” The man smiled, “The Sunday School kiddies love the story.”

“Indeed, thank you Mr. Phelps, Happy New Year,” said Snape, gathering Jenny up to leave.

“Happy New Years, sir,” called Jenny over her shoulder, as Severus pulled her along.

“Tobias?” she asked as they approached the car.

“Later,” he replied, making haste to leave.

Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

“Mum, sit still,” Ginny insisted, as she helped her mother primp for the Minister’s Ball.

“Ginny, I’m quite capable of choosing make-up charms,” snapped Molly.

Ginny rolled her eyes in frustration. “Fleur, are you there?” she shouted down the hall.

“Oui, wat iss eet?” asked the Weasley daughter-in-law, entering the Weasley’s bedroom.

Ginny indicated her mother, “Please, tell my mother wearing blue eye shadow and heavy black eyeliner is out,” she begged.

Fleur looked at Molly and gasped, “Mon Dieu, ma mere, vous ete...pardon...you are spoiling ze look of your beautiful robes and stole. Sil vous plais, laissez-moi faire votre maquillage? Let me help you?” The witch from France smiled at her mother-in-law.

Molly huffed and started to pout.

“Mum, think of Dad? He just wants you to feel like the belle of the ball tonight. He’s right smart in his new dress robes.” Ginny knew her mother was a softy when it came to her father.

“Mais oui, ma Cher papa Weasley, il es magnifique; ee is very dashing.” Fleur looked at Ginny over Molly’s head and winked.

Molly shrugged, “Go on then, do what you want. I’ll put myself in your hands tonight, girls.”

A short time later, Fleur declared Molly was,” Parfait.”

She came down stairs, following behind the younger girls, into the front room. Arthur had been talking to Lupin while the twins, Ron and Harry played exploding snap. Hermione was curled up on the rug with Crookshanks, reading her ubiquitous book.

“Okay Prince Arthur, Cinderella is ready to go to the ball,” announced Ginny, smiling ear to ear.

Arthur turned and looked at his wife. Her transformation was complete; Dark green formal robes with gold filigree lace adorning the bodice, cuffs and hem. Gold combs in her hair that had been styled into a regal chignon. Her gold locket, a wedding gift from Arthur, was the only other jewellery she wore.

“Molly,” said Lupin, breaking the silence, “You’ve never looked lovelier.”

Molly blushed and looked away, “Thank you, Remus that was kind of you to say.”

“Wow, mum; you’ll knock’em dead at the dance,” announced George. Ron and Harry nodded in agreement, as Hermione smiled at the two girls who had wrought the new Mrs. Weasley.

Arthur finally approached her and took her hands in his. “Molly, my love, you’ve never looked more stunning. I’ll be the envy of every wizard there tonight.” He lifted her hand and kissed it.

“Stop it, “said Molly, “You’ve got me all embarrassed.”

Arthur took her stole and set it about her shoulders. “Nonsense, Molly. Every word they’ve said is true. Now, let’s make our grand entrance to the ball shall we?” He started to lead her out, but stopped and turned. “Happy New Year All,” he pointed to his children, “and you lot behave.”

Ssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss

“Master, he is here,” announced Pettigrew.

“Show our dear brother in, Peter. He has been too long gone from our fold.” Voldemort lounged on his wing-back chair as though it was a throne. He petted his familiar; her serpentine head rested on his shoulder from where she had coiled over the chair back.

Lucius Malfoy entered the presence of his Dark Lord for the first time since he’d fought at the Department of Mysteries. He’d found a suit that had been in the laundry when his home had been plundered following his wife’s murder. That, along with a cloak supplied by Snape, had made him at least look presentable.

Lucius limped into the room, leaning on his cane. He stopped before Voldemort and with obvious difficulty, dropped to his knee in the approved manner. He bowed his head and said, “My lord, you are most kind to grant me an audience.”

“Lucius, you must know of my affection for you. You have served me loyally for many years. Surely you don’t think I had forgotten you.” Voldemort regarded the man before him. “You are recovering from your ordeal?”

“I am beginning to, my lord,” he answered, avoiding looking into Voldemort’s eyes.

“Come; sit by me while we have some tea. Peter,” he called.

Peter scurried into the room and bowed. “Master?”

“A proper tea for us and our guest. We have much to catch up on.” Peter was dismissed with a serpentine smile and a wave. As he turned to Lucius, now sitting on the arm chair opposite, Voldemort’s face had morphed to a look of pity.

“Ah, Lucius, your poor, poor deluded wife,” he shook his head, “How could she have thought to foil my plans? Surely you had told her of my…need for obedience.”

“My lord, she was a mother in fear for her son…”began Lucius, cautiously.

“She sought to escape my wrath,” he snapped violently. Voldemort drew a deep breath and continued on in the calm tone he’d used before. “If she had approached us with an explanation or asked for an indulgence, we would have considered it. As it stands, stealing away in the dark of night…well, she left me no choice.”

“Her intentions were never intended to be disloyal, my lord. Draco…” Again, Lucius was cut off mid sentence.

“….is a failure, an embarrassment; he cost me my inside spy to the activities of my enemies.” Voldemort stood and began pacing. “This has gone on long enough. It must end before the feast of Walpurgisnacht is over.” He wheeled back to Malfoy, pointing a finger in his face, “And, you my dear, devoted Lucius shall lead your brothers in the fray.”

At that moment, Peter entered, floating a large tray of tea time accoutrements before him.

Voldemort looked up, his expression lightening, “Excellent, Peter. Did you find the gammon I asked for? I do so enjoy a fine gammon sandwich for tea; milk and sugar, Lucius?”

Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Jenny sat curled against Severus watching the New Years television broadcast from Scotland. She felt him laugh quietly.

“What?” she asked.

“I think I watched this show back in 1975, 76 and 77. The dancers dance the same dance; they sing the same songs and recite the same bloody Burns poetry.” He lifted his glass and sipped the brandy he’d bought on the way home.

“Well,” began Jenny in the Scots defence, “they have their traditions. Good for them if they enjoy them.” She sat up and looked at the clock. “Ten to Twelve; come on you.” She pulled Snape to his feet.

“What?” he asked surprised at her actions.

“Out you go, I have my traditions.” She handed him his coat.

“You’re throwing me out because I don’t like bloody Scottish traditions?” he asked.

“No, silly; you’ve got to first foot. Come on, hurry; outside.” She pulled him to the front door.

“Jenny,” he whined, “they used to make me do this at the school in Scotland.”

“It’s your own fault,” she told him as she opened the door and pushed him through.

“What did I do to deserve the misery?” he asked petulantly.

“You were born a man with black hair. Now behave and you’ll get back in at midnight.” With that, she slammed the door on his face only to open it again, handing him his bottle of brandy and banging it shut once more.

“Bloody northern superstitions,” he muttered, then opened the brandy and took a swig.

“Can you spare some?” asked a male voice to his left.

Looking over, Severus saw a younger man, with dark hair, in the same predicament he was. “You don’t have anything to first-foot with?” he asked.

“Just this,” the man held up a lump of coal.

Severus snorted and passed over the brandy. “Did you bring a bottle?”

His neighbour took a long draught of liquor and passed the bottle back, “Yeah, but the father-in-law to be claimed it.”

Inside, Jenny was dashing around madly. She ran to the bedroom and removed her clothes, donning a black, silk nightgown with a handkerchief hem she’d left on the bed. She dabbed Severus’ perfume on and passed a brush through her hair. Now, she dashed to the kitchen and pulled out the champagne from the fridge. Grabbing two flutes, she went back into the living room and lit more candles before turning out the lights. Turning once more to the bottle of champagne, she popped the cork and poured the sparkling wine into the flutes just as the clocks began to chime and the church bells began to ring. Lifting the flutes in one hand, Jenny went back to the front door and released the latch just as Severus knocked.

Severus saw the door open just as he tapped it. He pushed it open all the way and stepped inside to be presented with a vision he’d not expected.

“Jenny,” he breathed, closing the door behind him. She had transformed herself into a voluptuous nymph. His senses were filled by her presence.

Jenny stepped close to him and handed him a flute of champagne, “Happy New Year, Severus.” She touched her glass to his and sipped. Severus followed suit.

Jenny then took his glass and set both flutes aside. Stepping forward, she wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him deeply. He wrapped his arms about her, holding her softness to him as a drowning man to a lifejacket. The moment seemed to stretch into eternity. Only when they each needed to breathe, did the embrace loosen.

“Oh Severus, I’ve waited for this moment since the first time you kissed me,” she whispered in his ear. She began to stroke his back and arse, only to feel him stiffen and move away.

“Jenny, my lovely Manchester Lass, I can’t believe you have done this for me.” He pulled back from her and stroked her hair.

Jenny frowned and shook her head, “I don’t understand, Severus. What do you mean, have done this for you? I’m doing this for both of us,” she exclaimed.

“Jenny, there are things you don’t know about me; things that would make you see me differently.” He didn’t know what to say.

“Are you gay or bi?” she asked bluntly.

“What?” he asked, incredulously. “No.”

She picked up her champagne and walked away. “I told you more than once; I had no illusions about how men saw me. You gave me the impression you saw me otherwise. If that’s not the case, then don’t lead me on and tease me, Severus.”

Jenny bit her lips to stop herself from crying. “I’ve come to feel a great deal for you, Severus. Not just as a woman for a man, but as someone I can actually have a decent conversation or debate with. Even so, I’ve dreamt of you holding me and making love to me. I’ve never met a man I could have that kind of relationship with before.” She turned to face him as he sat on the chair beside the computer. “Be honest with me, Severus. I’d much rather keep you as a friend than lose you as a lover.”

There were few moments that Severus regretted his genetic inheritance of being a wizard but this was probably the greatest. He inhaled deeply; now, a decision had to be made.

“Jenny, there are things happening in this world that very few people know about. Men, women and children are suffering,” he began.

“I know this, Severus.” She replied.

“I’m not talking about what you read in the newspapers, Jenny.” He declared. “There are other parties who would seek to overthrow the government.”

“This has everything to do with the research you’ve been doing, doesn’t it?” she asked.

“Yes,” he replied.

“Who is Tobias Prince?” she asked.

“My pseudonym,” he replied.

Jenny knelt before him on the floor, “What does all this have to do with me?”

“Jenny, people are being hurt and sometimes dying because of a ridiculous conflict. If you were to be counted among their number...” He couldn’t voice any more.

“Whose side are you on; the ones that want to take over or the others?” She watched the guarded emotions pass over his face.

“Sometimes I’m not sure any more. It’s all gotten muddled somewhere in the middle. I’m trying to stop the mayhem.” He felt her hands on his face.

“Severus, I could step outside my front door and be murdered by a stranger; I could board a train that could be derailed by an idiot making a political statement. Good lord, I work in a public building that shares information to all and sundry; it could be bombed by a religious zealot who decided we were blaspheming against his god.” Jenny paused to gather herself. “In our world today, there are no guarantees, Severus. I will not be a prisoner to fear.”

Snape reached out and cupped Jenny’s face, “I...I want you more than the air I breathe. You are perfect and pure and lovely. I am not worthy of your gift.”

“Don’t put me on a pedestal, Severus. Just give me my New Year’s wish.” Jenny waited for his answer.

“What is your wish, Jenny?” he whispered.

“Make love to me and let me awake in your arms tomorrow.”

He rose and pulled her up with him. She took his hand and led him down the hall towards her room. Unseen by Jenny, Severus raised his hand in a gesture borne of habit and waved it behind him, dowsing the candles magically.

Back to index


Chapter 1296790954: Discovery

Disclaimer.
This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

A few notes here. Severus and Jenny go to the pictures to see Dogma “ an Alan Rickman offering. His character is called Metatron.

A Chippie is a colloquial term for a fish and chip shop. Indian food is prevalent everywhere, it may have outstripped the chippie as the late night nosh of choice.

In many towns, the catholic schools have nuns as teachers “ not unusual anywhere. However, in my own town of Paisley in Scotland, an order of nuns were removed as teachers in the fifties due to complaints of excessive use of corporal punishment “ okay, they were beating the kids. True story! Mea Culpa.

Thanks to all who reviewed “ Marzbar, I’ve taken note to correct.

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Morning silently tip-toed in, bringing slow awareness to the sleeping lovers. Jenny woke first, feeling herself cocooned in the warm arms of the man who had made love to her the night before. She smiled, remembering their discovery of each other. His tender caress and concern as he’d entered her. Jenny hadn’t been with a man since her husband had left and self gratification was a poor substitute, in her opinion. She shifted gently, trying to move away to visit the bathroom, but Severus’ arm pulled her closer to him.

“Severus, I’ve got to go,” she hinted to the half slumbering man.

“Mine,” he mumbled, still in the realm between waking and sleeping.

“Yours with a wet mattress if you don’t let go,” she chirped, just before she jumped out of bed.

“Hmm? Jenny?” Severus looked at the alarm clock on the bedside table. It was nine o’clock. The door opened as Jenny returned to the bedroom. Severus looked at her nude body, revelling in her rounded curves.

“Come here, Jenny, it’s still early,” he told her, pulling back the covers on the bed.

Jenny crawled in beside him and wrapped her arms around him.

“Warm me up, Severus.” She snuggled into his chest, feeling the rasp of his chest hair on her cheek. Severus kissed the top of her head and pulled her closer.

“What are your plans today, Severus?” she asked.

“I think I told you I had an obligation,” he replied, while he stroked her back.

“I remember,” she responded. “What time are you expected?” she wondered.

Snape shrugged, “He usually calls around lunchtime.”

“He calls and you go?” she asked in surprise.

“Jenny, don’t ask too many questions.” He warned, with a sigh.

”Okay, but what about now?” she asked, as she kissed his chest and licked his male nipples. “I could make you breakfast?”

Severus moaned as Jenny teased him. “Jenny,” he sighed and ran his fingers through her silky hair before pulling her face to his and kissing her. “Don’t worry. I can enjoy what ever you have to offer. The menu is spectacular.” His hands began to move and Jenny was content to let them have their way. “You even taste good in the morning,” he whispered. She began to giggle softly. “What’s so funny?” he asked.

“Just thinking of how you made my ex a liar as well as a cheat,” she told him. Seeing him frown, she leaned up and kissed his furrowed brow. “He told me he was bigger than average. You’ve proved that to be a fib and a half.”

“How did you ever get together with a fool like that in the first place, Jenny? It seems out of character for the woman I’ve come to know.” He pulled himself up and leaned against the wall. Jenny sat up and reached out to take his hand.

“I was young. We were just out of school. He was my first “ my only until you.” She looked up at him and decided to tell the whole story. “I got pregnant the first time we did anything. It was stupid. We used a condom but it must have broken.”

“You didn’t use the pill?” Severus asked, for he thought most of the girls he knew in their age group had used the pill as a rite of passage.

“I went to the same school you did cause my mum didn’t like the sisters at the convent. I was raised a strict catholic otherwise. So was he, so an abortion was out of the question. Our parents made us get married so the neighbours wouldn’t talk.” She shrugged, “I lost the baby at four and a half months.” She shrugged once more, “We split before our seventh anniversary, when he found his blonde; not that he hadn’t had a piece on the side a few times.” she added, bitterly.

“There’s been no one else?” he asked.

She shook her head, “No one stuck around more than two dates. I wasn’t...willing...to put out fast. I might have been lonely but I was never desperate.” She pulled his hand up and kissed his knuckles, “You stayed around long enough to get to know me.” She rubbed her cheek against his knuckles.

Jenny had looked down at his arm and saw an unusual tattoo. “I’ll bet there’s a story behind that.”

Severus pulled his arm away and covered the tattoo with his right hand. “Youthful folly and stupid choices; a decision made, only to be almost immediately regretted.”

Jenny wondered what could cause the look of bitterness and pain to cross his face. The more she got to know him, the bigger mystery he became. On a whim, she reached out and pulled his arm back. To his surprise, she bent and kissed the Dark Mark.

“Severus,” she whispered, “if this is part of the person you are, I will never resent what ever made you get it.”

Pushing her back onto the pillows, Severus slipped his knee between her thighs and settled over her. “Sweet, gentle Jenny; how ever did I find such good fortune in my old haunts? Your pillock of an ex-husband doesn’t know what he’s let go, much to my pleasure.”

“Mmhh, no, my pleasure,” she told him, pulling him into a kiss. “Make love to me Severus; you make me feel alive when you touch me that way. I want you again and again and...”

Severus chuckled, “And again? Like this?”

Jenny gasped as she felt his hardness press into her again. “Oh yes, just like that,” she breathed into his ear.

The outer world was forgotten as their reality became their entwined bodies and whispered endearments. There was no Dark Lord, no ex-husband, nothing but them together; perfectly, ecstatically, passionately, together. Reaching their moment of nirvana together, content they’d shared it with each other and none other. It had all changed now. Everything had changed but neither knew what consequences this would bring.

Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

“Ron, Ron, wake up,” hissed Hermione. “You’ve got to get out of here.”

“Sshh, Hermione, they’ll hear you,” whispered Ron, not opening his eyes.

“Ron, you promised you’d get up and go back to your room early,” she whispered back.

“I don’t want to, I want to stay here with you,” he replied, pulling her close against him. “I’ve got Harry’s cloak.”

“What will happen if they check your bed?” Hermione found her logical brain had gone fuzzy when he nuzzled her neck.

“Stop talking, Mione. I can’t concentrate when you talk.” Ron began doing things that made her mind go fuzzier still.

“Ron,” she sighed, as he touched her breast.

In the hall, a door slammed making them jump. The door to the bedroom opened, admitting a dishevelled Ginny.

“Get under the bed, Ron, Mum’s coming,” whispered Ginny. She jumped into the other bed as Ron rolled off of Hermione’s and under the frame. Hermione pulled the covers up to her chin and feigned sleep.

The door opened once more. Molly Weasley was tying on an apron, “Both still sleeping?” she asked. “Ah well, I’ll just make a start in the kitchen.” She started to leave but turned back at the last minute, “Don’t forget to transfigure the pillows back to their proper form, Ron. Good feather pillows don’t come cheap.” With that, Molly closed the door and left.

“Bloody hell,” muttered Ron from beneath the bed. He stuck his head out and looked up at Hermione who was leaning over the edge looking back at him.

“That part wasn’t on my list,” she confessed.

“Pass me my shorts?” asked Ron, as he glared at Ginny, who was trying her best to stifle her laughter with her pillow.

Later, Ron and Hermione sat at opposite ends of the table for breakfast. Harry kept glancing between the two and got nudged by Ginny when he’d looked at Ron a minute too long.

Molly began her usual list of chores for her household. “Harry, dear, would you mind gathering the laundry from upstairs. The beds are due for changing and I want to get the sheets out for a bit of sun. Ginny you make a start on the dishes. Remus, I believe you and Hermione had made arrangements to visit her parents today I sent them an owl this morning to remind them. Ronald, your father wants a word with you in the library.” She stood and began clearing the table.

Ron and Hermione just looked at each other, Ron attempting a smile but just managing to look ill. Hermione just looked defeated as she followed Remus out.

Harry jerked his head toward the door, silently asking Ginny to follow him.

“Off you go Harry, I want a girl to girl talk with Ginny, there’s a good boy,” said Molly as a dismissal.

“Sure,” he said and left to head upstairs. The woman knew everything, he thought. She knew he and Ginny had spent the night together too. Where were the twins? They’d provided the elfin wine they’d all gotten tipsy on.

Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Severus drove Jenny to her boss’s house where she’d been invited for a New Years day brunch. He returned home to his humble abode and changed into his Wizarding robes. It was just past noon and he expected the call anytime. He’d just downed a Firewhiskey when his mark burned. It wasn’t too painful today; Voldemort must be in a good mood. Casting a Disillusionment charm, he made his way to the river bank and apparated to the Dark Lords lair. As he appeared, several others, including Bella, had just arrived also.

“Severus, Happy New Year. I trust your holiday was pleasant?” she asked out of obligation.

“Tolerable,” he replied. “Yours; at least what you remember of it?” he asked sarcastically.

“At least I didn’t sit alone in a hovel,” she retorted spitefully.

“Why ever would you think I did?” he sneered and walked to the house.

The Faithful Brethren, as Voldemort had often addressed them, gathered in a once grand ballroom. The gilt decoration had faded and the air smelt of stale dissipation. A few sullen elves circulated the room, offering drinks and food.

Snape grabbed a goblet of wine off of a heavily laden tray carried by a burden, bent elf. As he sipped, he looked around at those present. There were a few missing from the complement since the previous levee. He recalled Narcissa had brought Draco for the first time last year. He’d held himself proudly, manifestly Malfoy, Snape remembered thinking. Was it only a year ago?

“Severus, welcome.” Lucius, limped up beside him, “We should find somewhere to talk. It’s been a long time.” He smiled and waited for Severus to take his queue.

“Indeed, old friend; come, there’s a divan in the alcove over there.” Snape pointed and led the way.

As Lucius sat beside him, Snape quickly cast a Muffliato charm. “Well?” he asked.

“It’s hidden in plain sight. I didn’t find any discernable charms, even when I touched it with my finger,” Lucius told him.

Snape snorted, “Arrogant bastard. Even when he knows people are looking for them, he leaves a Horcrux open to being filched.”

“It could be a trick, Severus. He might have something else up his sleeve.” Lucius looked around before bringing up the next subject. “I’ve had another revelation from our master. He called me yesterday and we saw in the New Year together. He’s chosen a date “ Beltane.”

Severus pondered what had been revealed. There was to be an end after all; a confrontation and resolution one way or the other. It was time to suggest an itinerary be drawn up and time to move towards pulling everything together.

“Can you transfigure a replacement?” asked Snape.

“Yes, it should be easy enough. Do you think it will work?” Lucius had not recovered his arrogant confidence upon his release. He needed reassurance to go forward.

Snape worried slightly at his companion’s hesitance. “Lucius, you are a powerful wizard. You can make a difference.”

“I only want the pain to end.” He looked up at Snape and gave him a slight smile, reminiscent of the Lucius of old. “If it means I must be sacrificed, so be it; just let my son live on.”

Severus nodded and lifted the charm, “How lucky for you, old friend, to be able to spend more time with our lord,” he said, for the benefit of those who would hear.

Lucius gave a wide smile, “Indeed, have I not always held a special place in his court? I am privileged to be so welcomed back.”

At the back of the room, a set of double doors were flung open by Pettigrew. “Our Lord is ready to receive you now.” He bowed dramatically, as the first Death Eaters began to file past.

Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Ron and Hermione were in the library with his parents. Molly had sent a letter to Hermione’s mother and had expected the girl to return chastened but she appeared her confident self.

“Arthur has spoken to Ronald and I assume your mother spoke with you,” began Molly in a stern voice.

“Yes, she did, and Mrs Weasley, you needn’t have sent the letter ahead. I had every intention of telling my mother about what had happened.” She licked her lips and looked at Ron.

“As I’m sure Ron has told you, nothing happened; nothing of the nature that you suspect. I hope by now, you have some idea of how we feel about each other.” Hermione waited for their reaction.

Molly fidgeted on the sofa where she sat; this wasn’t what she’s expected.

“Hermione, if you‘ve spoken to your mother, can you share what she said to you?” asked Arthur.

Hermione shook her head, “Not all of it, something’s between mothers and daughters are private; aren’t they Mrs Weasley?” she asked rhetorically.

Molly conceded with a nod.

Hermione took Ron’s hand, making him blush, “She told me something very special. You see, my father served in the Territorial army for a spell before he became a dentist. He spent some time in Belfast while they were engaged. She told me something my grandmother had told her.

Hermione paused before continuing, “Gran said, ‘Barbara, she said, if he’s the one you want and you’re very sure about it, then be with him. Show him how much you love him. Don’t leave him any doubts. If you’re not a hundred percent sure, then don’t give him that kind of hope. It’s not fair to him if it’s all he has to keep him going while you’re apart and you’re not there when he returns.’ Apparently, that’s what she’d done when granddad went to fight in WWII.”

Ron looked once at Hermione and then addressed his parents, “I know it’s not the same, but I think we should be able to make up our own minds about this.” He looked back at Hermione. “If we’re old enough to die, we’re old enough to make love...when we’re ready.”

Arthur stood up and pulled Molly with him, “As long as you take the proper measures,” he looked at Ron for a moment, “then, I think enough said, don’t you agree, Molly?”

Molly looked like she wanted to argue, but said nothing. Instead, she walked over to Hermione and pulled her into a hug. Turning, she did the same to Ron, then made her way out.

Arthur watched his wife leave, “She’s so afraid, so very afraid; not for her self, but for everyone else. Her heart is so full of love that when she looses someone, a little piece of her heart is torn away.” He smiled at the young couple and followed his wife, leaving them to consider what he’d said.

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Severus was back in Jenny’s living room, sitting on the computer once again. Their relationship had moved forward, as evidenced by his copy of the front door key and the second toothbrush hanging in the bathroom.

“Making any headway?” asked Jenny from the bedroom, where she was changing.

“I have the office e-mail address but not their home e-mail.” He sighed; so many ways to look for something.

“Is it important who you contact?” she asked. “Maybe send an e-mail with a phone number for them to call you. Your mobile is pretty hard to trace.” She walked into the living room pulling a jumper over her head.

Severus looked at her, “It’s not in the regular phone book?”

She shook her head, “No, that’s for land lines. You’ve been in contact with this dentist before and you’d told them it was a referral from their daughter, right?” He nodded his assent.

“Well then, send an e-mail to the office and ask if they would pass your mobile on to their daughter.” She grabbed his arm suddenly, “You’re not a paedophile are you?”

“Madam, desist in your prodding into my past; I’m a teacher “ I loath the little buggers. I’d sooner have had an affair with the school caretaker.” He turned back to the computer. “And if you’d met him, you’d now be questioning my sanity.”

“How much longer will you be?” she asked, checking the newspaper.

“What time does the picture start?” he asked. He wasn’t enthusiastic about going but she had wanted him to accompany her.

“Let’s see; here it is 6 o’clock and a quarter to eight. Do you want to eat before or after?” she asked.

“Are we eating in or doing a carry out?” he asked.

“We could do a carry out after the early picture and come back here. Indian, Chinese or the chippie?” she asked.

Severus signed off from his e-mail. He’d improved his technique on the keyboard, using a teaching disk, to type with his forefingers and thumb on each hand.

“I’m a traditional man, but I’ll forgo the vindaloo and have a carry out from the chippie. I prefer Haddock.” He smirked at her frown.

“That’s traditional; Indian?” she asked.

“That’s all that was open after a long night’s pub crawl. What picture are we going to see, anyway?” He pulled on his coat and helped her on with hers.

“Dogma; my favourite actors are in it.” She opened the door and stepped out.

“And who might they be?” he asked, clueless to the current breed of movie star’s around.

“Ben Affleck and Alan Rickman,” she replied.

When the picture had let out, Jenny and Severus boarded the bus, returning back to their neighbourhood. The local fish shop was busy which meant the food would be hot and fresh; well worth waiting in line for.

“I’m starving,” said Jenny, “I don’t really like popcorn.”

Severus was biting into a fragment of fish he’d torn from the filet in the packet. “Nor do I. Do you have any more malt vinegar?”

They made their way to the play park and found a bench under a light. It was uncommonly mild for the end of February and even more unusual, it was dry.

Jenny loved watching the usually fastidious man eat with his fingers. He obviously relished the common food and licked his fingers after every bite. It made him look younger some how.

“I had fun tonight, Severus,” she told him.

“Before, during or after drooling at your cinema idols?” he asked, teasing her at her reactions to the appearance of her favourites.

“I never drooled,” she spat.

“Then why, when that character... meta-something... spoke, did you moan?” he asked, only half serious.

“Cause he reminded me of you, you daft man.” She ruffled his hair.

“You like my voice?” he asked innocently, sounding like a callow youth.

Jenny laughed, “Are you kidding? You taught upper sixth and no girl ever had a crush on you?”

Severus only half heard her. He put his hand over her mouth to silence her chatter as he peered into the trees beyond.

“Did you hear that?” he whispered.

“That crack? Probably a stray cat chasing something.” She whispered back, concerned at his tone.

Severus grabbed the food wrapping from her and pulled her up. “Come on, hurry.” He tossed the papers in the bin as he passed.

They jogged away from where the sound had come and hid in a copse of trees on the opposite side of the park. Severus allowed his wand to drop into his palm.

“What is it Severus?” Jenny asked in a whisper, suddenly frightened at his predatory look.

He turned to her and held his finger to his lips, begging her silence. She watched as four figures walked into the park they’d just left. They were dressed in strange clothes and appeared out of their element. Jenny looked at Severus, hoping for an explanation. He was focussed on the others.

“Are you sure, Mad-eye?” Asked one of the men.

“I know the bastard came from around here,” snarled Moody. “He’s removed his records from the Ministry and the school. Check for Magical Signatures.”

Jenny watched as the group broke up and began walking around. They appeared to be waving their arms around but then she noticed they were holding sticks in their hands which looked as if they were leaving a trail of tiny sparks behind; almost like the sparklers from Guy Fawkes Night.

Severus grabbed her around the waist and pulled her further into the cover of trees. It was then she noticed he had one of the sticks as well. They continued on until they’d reached the end of the park and were on the footpath again.

Severus looked around and saw a bus stop. Looking down the road, he saw the double-decker approaching and broke into a trot, pulling Jenny behind him. They reached the stop at the same time the bus did. Severus bundled her on and jumped up behind. The bus started up and passed the park as they took their seat. Severus watched the Aurors, led by Moody, continue their surveillance. His decree of no magic had proved its worth, at least in this one instance.

Severus paid their fares and turned back to her. Jenny was trembling, her mind a whirling tumble of thoughts.

“Jenny....Jenny, look at me.” He waited until she turned to face him. “There are things in this world that you do not know about; that millions of people don’t know about.” He spoke softly, that no one else might hear.

“What kind of thing’s, Severus? Who...what were they?” she asked. “What were they using?”

Severus licked his lips, “Jenny, I told you once that there was a power struggle happening. These are some of the people involved.”

“Are they the ones trying to take over?” she asked in the same hushed tones.

“No. In the terms of your Hollywood hero’s, they are the good guys,” he replied.

“If you want them to win, why are they after you?” she asked.

Severus looked out of the window to see what was around. “Let’s get off at the pub coming up. Give me a chance to explain.”


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Back to index


Chapter 1296790969: Of Myths and Magic

Disclaimer.
This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.


“Did you pick anything up?” Moody asked. He peered around at the perimeter of the park as though he expected an attack at any moment.

“Nothing but a few Muggle repelling charms; just what we had found before. We told you about them, Alastor. We find them all the time in any big town. Do you plan to search every Wizarding home in the UK? You won’t win any converts that way.”

Mad-eye growled in frustration. “He’s here, I know he is. A rat always goes underground to its nest when it’s chased. We’ve just got to find the bait to bring him to us.”

“We’re heading back to the Ministry to file our report,” said. “Are you coming?”

Moody waived his wand about in an elaborate Revealing Charm once more, “Alright, but we’ll be back here, sure as fate.”

The foursome headed back into the cover of trees and apparated away from the park.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Severus picked his drinks up from the bar top and made his way to the corner table in the back of the pub. It was a busy Saturday night and the room was filled to capacity.

“Here,” he said, placing a Gin and Tonic in front of her.

“I thought I said diet lemonade,” said Jenny, seeing the drink he’d brought.

Severus sat beside her and took a quaff from his pint of bitter. “You look like you are on the verge of shock. Drink that and then I’ll call a taxi to get you home.”

Jenny took a sip, grimacing at the liquor as it hit her throat. “I thought you were going to explain.”

He looked around at the punters in the pub; they looked Muggle but one never knew. “How to begin?” he asked rhetorically. “Jenny, some of the things I might tell you will sound unbelievable. Even after all these years, I am often amazed at the knowledge I have.”

He stared into his glass, lost in his thoughts. With a sigh, he pulled out his mobile and dialled the number for a taxi the bar maid had given him. He finished the call with a promise from the dispatcher the cabbie would call when he arrived.

“What kind of things, Severus?” she asked. Jenny was confused yet curious about his strange behaviour.

Severus took a deep breath and looked at her, “What would you say if I told you all the fairy tales and myths you have heard are actually based on real historical fact?”

Jenny smiled, “Well yes, the ancients had to explain away natural happenings they didn’t understand and created...”

“No!” he snapped quietly, “I mean real, witnessed and documented history.” He looked again into her eyes. He saw fear dawning in their depths.

“Jenny, what I will reveal to you is forbidden to most Muggles.” He watched for her reaction.

“What the hell is a Muggle?” she asked.

“You, and most likely everyone here in the pub, are Muggles.” He told her in a voice she had to lean in closer to discern.

Jenny wasn’t sure she wanted to hear what his reply but she asked, “What does that make you and your mates back at the park?”

Severus gave a cheerless smile, “I am...they are, wizards,” he whispered.

Jenny looked at him and started to giggle, “Funny Severus, very funny.”

Severus reached into his sleeve and pulled out the end of his wand. He showed it to her. “Is this a joke? You recall you asked what they had in their hands. We use wands.”

Jenny swallowed and looked around; they were still being ignored. “This is insane,” she told him.

“On he contrary, this is the most sensible thing I’ve done in a long while.” At that moment his mobile rang. He answered it then finished his drink. “The taxi’s here.”

Jenny took one last sip and left the rest of the drink behind. He led her out of the pub to the waiting cab. She hesitated as she felt his hand on her arm.

“Jenny, please tell me you know I’d never hurt you. Please, don’t be afraid of me. I am the same man today I was yesterday.” He opened the car door for her.

“Severus, you must know that isn’t true.” She replied. “I’ll give you the chance to talk.”

Jenny got in the taxi followed by Snape, who gave her address. They travelled in silence, too absorbed by their own thoughts for anything else. They stopped in front of her house and Severus paid the tariff. He followed her to the front door and, with trepidation, pulled out the door key, holding it in the palm of his hand.

“If you want me gone forever without further adieu, I’ll return this.” He watched her painful rumination. She was clearly tormented, but Severus understood the choices she was making.

“I said you could have the chance to talk...” she began.

“No Jenny, you must tell me; do you understand I would never hurt you and I would...will, do everything in my power to protect you.” He watched for her reaction.

Jenny let the tears she’d held in abeyance fall. Her heart was torn.

“I don’t know. Oh, Severus,” she sobbed, “I need to know more, I need to understand,” she gasped. “Who are you and what is going on?” Finally, she pulled out her key, leaving Severus holding his. She opened the door and burst into the familiarity of her home.

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Arthur Weasley entered the house on Grimmauld Street, with a grim look on his face. He made his way to the kitchen and looked around.

“Where’s Hermione?” he asked, without greeting his wife.

“Hello dear, how was your day?” asked Molly in a dry tone.

“Busy; where’s Hermione?” he asked again.

“In the library, I suspect,” she replied, concerned at Arthur’s unusually brusque manner. “Is something wrong, dear?” asked Molly to Arthur\'s disappearing back.

Arthur found Hermione poring over a large tome while making notes on a parchment. It seemed it was all she ever did.

“Hermione, love, I must talk to you.” He told her, glancing around to see who else was there.

“Of course, Mr Weasley; what is it?” Hermione looked up and gave Arthur her full attention when she saw his frown.

“I got a fellytone call at the ministry from your parents today, Hermione. They received some kind of me-mail from a Tobias Prince.” He stumbled over the strange reference.

“An e-mail; what ever for?” wondered Hermione.

“Well, they want you to call them on your movable fellytone tonight,” he waited to make sure she understood.

Hermione thought about what Arthur said, “My movable fellyto...my mobile phone,” she announced.

“Yes, that’s it,” he replied, relieved the message had been delivered. “It’s him again, isn’t it?”

“Sounds like it,” she murmured. “Mr Weasley, don’t mention this to anyone else. If Harry or Ron or, god forbid, Moody hears...”

Arthur nodded, “Alright. When do you want to do it?”

“Now, I think; just out front of the house.” Hermione picked up her book bag and got the phone out. She turned it on and headed to the front door followed by Arthur.

“I’ll just keep a look out,” he told her.

Hermione knew he just wanted a look at this newer piece of Muggle technology but smiled at him indulgently anyways. She dialled her home number and waited.

“Hello mum? I got your message.” She listened for a moment, “He has a mobile?” she asked in surprise. “When? Alright then, mum. Give my love to dad. Love you too; bye.”

Hermione ended the call and waited. Her mother was going to text Tobias Prince’s Mobile phone number to her.

Arthur bounced on his toes beside her, “So, that’s a mobile phone, then?” he peered at it closely.

“Yes,” replied Hermione, looking at the small screen. With a beep, the text message came through and she saved it to the phone’s memory.

“So,” Arthur wondered, “What makes it mobile? Does it have wheels or can it perhaps fly?”

With a sigh, Hermione realized she was in for an interrogation about the characteristics of the common Muggle cellular phone and how it functioned.

Sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss

Jenny and Severus sat in her kitchen; suddenly feeling like strangers.

After charging into her house, Jenny had left the front door open behind her. Severus was given little choice but to follow her. She’d torn off her coat, casting it aside onto the sofa. She then headed into the kitchen by the sounds of the running water and banging cupboards.

Severus entered the kitchen and watched as Jenny bustled around, putting together the tea things.

“Did you want tea or coffee?” she asked briskly, “It’s only instant, I’m afraid. I picked up the jaffa cakes you like. I hope the milk hasn’t gone off.”

Severus watched her nervous path around the kitchen and saw her fear acting out in familiar actions.

“Jenny,” he called softly.

“Sit down, it’ll just be a minute,” she told him, as she reached up to the shelf where the tea caddy rested.

Severus stepped closer to her. “Jenny,” he called more loudly just as the kettle began to whistle.

The caddy fell to the counter. She jumped at his voice just behind her and spun. He wrapped her in his arms and pulled her to a chair, making her sit. Jenny watched as he took the kettle off the heat and brewed the tea; pulling a tea cosy over the china pot before bringing it to the table. He sat on the chair opposite. They studiously looked anywhere but at each other.

With a sigh, Severus realized he had to break the silence. “Jenny, take my hand?” he asked, extending his right arm forward, his hand palm up.

Jenny looked at his hand for a moment before resting hers on top, her palm touching his. It was warm and familiar. Part of her wanted to pull it to her lips for a kiss but another voice said ‘Stranger’ in her head.

“Do I feel different? Is my appearance now alien? Is my voice now an unwelcome sound?” He watched her as she turned her face towards him.

Jenny shook her head, “No.”

Letting go her hand, Severus pulled out his wand and handed it to her, handle first. “Touch it,” he told her.

She shook her head and pulled her hand back.

“Take it Jenny, it can’t hurt you.” He watched as she reached out and took hold of the wand. She gazed at the dark grey birch wood, worn and rubbed after years of service.

“This is our badge of membership. We get our first wand when we go to school and, for many of us, this is the wand that we will take to our grave, for a wand is unique to its owner,” he explained.

“How many of you are there?” she asked, quietly.

Severus poured her tea, added milk and sugar the way he knew she liked it. “We are not a large population but we tend to live a long time; unless we’re killing each other off, that is.”

“That school you went to; it’s for people like you, isn’t it?” she asked.

“We’re call witches and wizards, Jenny. Yes, it’s called Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. I taught there.” He waited for her next question, knowing what it would be.

“What can you do with magic? Can you show me?” she asked cautiously.

He shook his head, “No. You saw the Auror’s in the park; they can trace magic to its source. I’ve been living as a Muggle as much as possible.”

“You’re in hiding,” she concluded, “Why?”

“I was given a task,” he swallowed thickly, feeling his emotion rising in front of this woman. “I worked as a spy against those who seek to take over the reigns of power in the Magical world. I had once been one of them but circumstances changed and I realized what a stupid mistake I’d made.” He poured himself his own tea to have time to think.

“So, you left them,” she concluded.

He shook his head bleakly, “I was asked to remain in their fold to get information and give disinformation. I had to be one of them. It was my penance.” His voice had faded to a whisper.

Jenny recognized the guilt and stopped her line of questioning. “What did you do to get the good guys chasing you?”

Severus’ eyes snapped up to her face causing her to immediately regret the question. The pain she saw in his black pupils was palpable until he looked away.

“I made two oaths, neither of which I could deny. One was to ensure the life of one of my students; the son of an old friend of sorts. The second was to ensure the death of my...of a man who was more dear to me than anyone alive at that point.”

“Why?” she asked softly.

“He was already wasting away. He’d sacrificed himself to get leverage for...someone who will be very important shortly.” Severus sighed, “Albus had been a very powerful wizard, but his actions had sealed a fate that would leave him vulnerable at best; a terrible burden on those fighting to keep our people free.”

He looked back at her, “He made me promise not to allow him to become a yoke about our necks. He made me promise that when he said, ‘Please, Severus,’ that I would remove him from this world.” He shook his head, “Please, Severus, as though I were granting him a boon.”

“Who else knows?” she asked, suddenly aware of the awful weight of guilt Severus was carrying on his shoulders.

“Right now...You.”

The impact of the declaration hit Jenny. He’d shared his greatest secret with her. Was he lying or telling the truth, she wondered. She closed her eyes, remembering all of the hints she’d had of the mysterious world he came from. She lifted the wand and stood up. She walked over to him and lifted his hand, pressing the handle to his palm.

“Severus,” she whispered, “how...how can I help you?”

Severus looked up at her, amazed that she was still there, still listening. He pulled her down onto his lap, setting his wand aside. “Jenny, my lovely Manchester Lass, you’ve done more to help me than anyone has ever done before.” As she wrapped her arms around him, he cradled her head as it rested on his shoulder and began to rock her gently.

“Stay with me Severus, I don’t want to be alone tonight,” she whispered in his ear. “I don’t want you to be alone tonight.”

“I’ve been alone for a long time, Jenny. I’m not afraid of loneliness; I’m not a coward,” he whispered back.

“I never thought you were, Severus. Why do you need to convince yourself?” she asked, not expecting an answer. “I’m going to bed.”

With that she rose and left him alone in the kitchen. He sat quietly, thinking about what she’d said. How the truth hurt sometimes. With a sigh, Severus stood and looked around once before turning out the lights and going to bed. How could anyone fear loneliness when one was no longer alone?

Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Hermione and the boys had gone into London to do some shopping. Harry especially, had grown over the past year and needed new clothes. Tailoring charms only allowed the threads to stretch so far before they tended to fray and fall apart.

Excusing herself from them, Hermione headed to the Ladies room and spent a penny. Pulling down the lid, she sat and pulled out her phone. The toilets were busy, so her conversation was not likely to be heard. She retrieved the number for Tobias Prince and dialled.

Miles away, Severus felt the vibration of his mobile going off in his back pocket. He pulled it out, expecting the call to be from Jenny but when he looked at the small screen, he didn’t recognize the number.

Severus switched on the phone, “Hello?” He waited for a reply.

“Is this Tobias Prince?” asked a familiar girlish voice.

Severus grinned; he knew her curiosity would demand her to contact him. “Miss Granger, I presume?”

Hermione gasped; that she’d known it was him hadn’t prepared her for the reality of speaking to Dumbledore’s murderer.

“What are you playing at?” she spat. “Do you think we’ll just let you fall into our good graces because you feel guilty over what you’ve done? You can’t believe that sending us presents will convince us that you’re on our side?” Her voice began to tremble as her emotions tried to overwhelm her.

Severus heard her emotion and felt his stomach tighten in response. She hit a couple of nerves with her comments.

“My feelings and beliefs have no bearing on my actions, Miss Granger. Please believe me, I am playing no game. It matters not what you think about my loyalty, for I don’t answer to you or your bookend boyfriends.” He waited for her to take the bait.

Hermione was incensed at his accusation, “They are not both my boyfriends, Professor!”

“I’m not your professor anymore, Granger. Best you’d remember that for I’m not bound by the restraint I had to show while I was.” He spat.

Hermione took a deep breath to regain her composure. He was right. He had nothing to loose and might just carry out some of the threats he’d given them while they were his students.

“Why did you want me to call you?” she asked, getting to the crux of the call at last.

“A warning and a date, Miss Granger,” he told her. “Tom intends to end it one way or the other. He has decided on Beltane. I suggest you put your little computerized brain into high gear and get wonder boy ready. You’ve got to come up with a solution that works to get rid of the fragments and I’ll give you a hint. If you hit on them one by one, he’ll know.”

“Beltane, are you sure?” she gasped.

“You know me better than that Granger. I deal in absolutes not abstractions.” He was ready to end the call.

Hermione snorted, “Is that what you call your riddle trap to protect the Philosopher’s Stone?”

Now Snape snorted, “There was no abstraction to the logical mind, was there Granger? You must agree you solved it with very little difficulty.”

“Will you contact us again?” asked Hermione, realizing she’d actually been complimented.

“Give me your e-mail address and I’ll send you information that way. Wizarding-kind likes paper, even if it’s only a computer print-out.”

Hermione cringed, “All right, but keep it to yourself. It’s Densaugeo101 at Yahoo dot com.”

From deep in his chest, Severus felt a bubble of laughter burble up. Before he knew it, he found himself laughing harder than he had in years. At the other end of the phone, he heard Hermione curse him.

“Insufferable bastard,” she spat into her phone before ending the call.

Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

The door bell rang. Jenny turned off the vacuum and answered the door. Severus stood there, leaning on the frame, a bouquet of roses in a rainbow of colours in his hands.

“Happy Valentine’s day, Jenny.” He smiled and presented her with the flowers.

“Oh Severus, how lovely,” she exclaimed before inhaling their scent. “Come in, I was just tidying up.”

“I know I hadn’t asked, but would you like to go out for a meal?” he asked, shyly.

Jenny smiled at him. Sometimes he seemed so young to her, while at other times, he was world weary and aged beyond his years.

“We’ve gone way past you being uncomfortable asking me something like that, Severus.” She went to the kitchen for a vase. Severus followed her.

“I know; it’s just this day-Valentines Day- is one I used to hate; all crepe paper hearts and sickly, sweet, poorly written poetry.” He watched as she started to cut the flowers with scissors and stopped her. “Not that way. Do you have a sharp knife?”

Jenny handed him a sharp paring knife and watched as he deftly trimmed the stems with a special cut.

“Roses are woody and need a lot of water. You need to expose the root end as much as possible. Boil and aerate the water to remove the chlorine as much as possible or use spring water.”

Pouring what water was left in the kettle into a vase; Jenny refilled the kettle and set it on the stove. “How do you know so much about flowers?”

He raised his brows, “I had to learn about botany for my specialty. All things natural and growing must be understood to know magic. Everything in nature has a purpose and use. How you handle living things determine how they survive.” He looked over at her. “I think Muggles are just learning that now.”

“What did you teach in your school?” she asked, for up until now she’d thought magic was just magic.

“Potions,” he replied. ‘You had the benefit of one last Halloween.”

Jenny thought back, “The ointment for my ankle; I remember you told me you’d made it.”

“Indeed, it’s a very rudimentary formula taught to our younger students.” He started to put the roses into the vase.

“You could make a fortune selling that in a chemists shop,” she told him, watching his hands arrange the flowers. When he came to the last one he stopped and turned to her.

Severus took the red rose and held it to his nose, inhaling the scent before holding it out to her. “Do you know the meaning of the colours of roses?” he asked.

“I’m sure I’ve heard it somewhere but I can’t remember.” She watched as he pointed to the different blossoms in the vase.

“Pink means grace, perfect happiness. Dark pink means gratitude. Light pink means admiration, sympathy. White means innocence, purity, secrecy, humility. Yellow means undying lover, platonic love, friendship. Orange means passion, desire. Blue means extraordinary, mystery. Red and White means unity. Red means love, respect and courage.”

He turned back to look at her. “I couldn’t decide which colour fit you best, for you are all these things to me. I don’t make declarations but I hope that perhaps the flowers will speak for me.”

“Wait here,” said Jenny before returning to the living room. When she returned, she had a small box tied with a ribbon. “Here, I hope you like it.”

Severus took her gift and opened it. Inside the box lay a variegated pink, cream and white water smoothed stone. On the surface, he saw his name and hers had been etched into the flat surface. He hadn’t thought any Muggles would have known that tradition. Then he smiled, Jenny would have researched and found it.

“You understand the meaning of this, don’t you?” he asked.

“Of course, I know about the tradition. I couldn’t think of anything better to give you, even though the jeweller thought I was a bit daft.” She reached up and touched his face. “Maybe one day we might complete the ritual.”

He turned and kissed her palm, “We will one day, I promise.”

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Lucius sat in the forlorn drawing room alone. He regarded the transformed goblet before him. He was sure it was an exact duplicate, having used a pensieve memory to ensure its authentic appearance.

“Such a benign object,” he observed aloud, to no one but himself. “Shall you be the guarantor of my revenge or my defeat? What should I incise upon you, to say I am your architect?” He picked up the shiny object and twisted it in the flickering candlelight.

“You shine and dazzle the beholder; so practical, yet pleasing to the eye. Such refined delicacy that veils the strength of a giant within its gentle curves.” He smiled and began to laugh. “So, my lovely doppelganger, you name yourself. You will be she who perished in my name; my beloved...my cherished treasure...Narcissa,”

Lucius touched his wand to the base of the goblet causing the name Narcissa to be inscribed into the wrought metal. “It shall not be in vain, my love. Your death will be avenged in the blood of my master.” He leaned back and picked up a goblet of elfin wine, “To you my beloved, my Narcissa. Happy Valentines Day.”

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A/N

Jaffa cakes are biscuits (cookies) made up of a cakelike base topped with orange flavoured jelly which is then topped with chocolate. Yum!

The gift Jenny gives Snape is a Celtic Love stone. Tradition says if two people in love carve their names onto the stone and then cast it into the sea together, they will be reunited in the afterlife.

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Chapter 1296791002: Gathering Clouds of War

Disclaimer.
This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

This story is rapidly coming to a close. Two or three chapters and an epilogue left at most. I just find the characters drive the dialogue and as much as I try to edit….okay I’m becoming psycho about the entire process. It does lead to a really good fantasy life however.

This one is tame; the next is not!

Thanks to all who reviewed.
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This was a day Snape had dreaded coming, a full blown revel leading up to the final confrontation. Followers had been summoned. The grounds around the old Riddle mansion were teeming with witches and wizards, ready to fulfil the commands of their depraved leader. It was Ostara, the festival of the Vernal Equinox on the ancient calendar. In Severus’ mind, it was an excuse for excess and depravity.

“Severus, come closer. I must ask you something.” Voldemort beckoned him forward. “Severus, the lovely Bella revealed to me you had, for want of a better word, coaxed some information from her whilst she was favouring you.”

Severus kept his mental shields tight against intrusion as he looked at the mutated man, “Indeed, my lord, Bella is rather...vocal, whilst she shares her favours. I’m sure you know this.”

“While with me? Vocal perhaps, but never coherent.” Voldemort waved his hand for emphasis before returning to the point. “I speak of an artefact whose whereabouts she knew. Are you familiar with what I refer to?” Voldemort waited for Snape’s reply.

Severus allowed a smile to grow on his face, “My lord, you have me. I had sought to gift it to you at the appropriate moment. The purchase was intended to offer safekeeping to your treasure. Have you not set a task for anyone to be a watch over your other artefacts?”

“Such matters do not concern you, Severus,” said Voldemort, his face a mask. “You should have told me, Severus. Crucio!” Severus suddenly found himself being tortured on the floor of the main drawing room.

“What was your intention, Severus?” he demanded, “Did you think to keep it from me? Barter for something? Speak!” Voldemort released the curse, and watched as Severus fought to breathe from his foetal position on the floor.

Severus sucked in air as a drowning man would. He sought to rise to his knees, only to be kicked in the side by Pettigrew.

“Lord,” he gasped, “My only wish was to bear your artefact to the place of confrontation. I had hoped you would grant me that honour.” He still lay on his side on the floor when Voldemort approached him and crouched down near his head.

“Servants shouldn’t be so presumptuous, should they, Severus?’ Voldemort watched as Snape nodded. He stroked Severus’ cheek. “Good boy, now do you still wish to have the honour?” Again, Snape nodded.

Voldemort stood and returned to his seat, “Get up Severus,” he ordered quietly.

Severus fought to stand. As he finally rose, unsteadily, to his feet, he saw Lucius watching him. The man’s face was blank but his eyes betrayed the fury his soul was stoking, ever higher.

“Severus, I have decided Lucius shall lead his brothers as we confront our enemies. You, my dark spy,” At this, Voldemort began to chuckle, “You will be the bait to pull them in to the appointed place.” The Dark Lord’s mirth knew no bounds as he laughed at his own callous humour. “Yes indeed, they will all come to capture the murderer of Albus Dumbledore, may his soul rot in Hades, and we shall be waiting.”

Later, Lucius found Snape alone in the dank library of Riddle Manor, his body still racked by the after affects of the Cruciatus Curse.

“Come, old friend, we’ll go to my house and rest. I’ve no appetite for revelry.” Malfoy took Snape’s arm and draped it over his shoulder as he helped him to stand.

Severus shook his head, “No, Lucius, I must go home. I have a potion.”

Lucius supported Severus with difficulty, his lame leg threatening to give way. At that moment, Bella entered the library and saw them.

“You’re not staying for the festivities?” she asked, her eyebrow rose in suspicion of their actions.

“Bella, use your misbegotten eyes; neither of us is in any shape to participate in a revel let alone the type of entertainment planned for tonight,” spat Lucius, still struggling to support Snape. Severus was still trembling and his muscles contracted involuntarily when he least expected it.

Bella came forward and took Snape’s other side. “Come on, you’ve been punished for your cruelty to me. I suppose I owe you for taking care of the problem of Draco.”

Lucius grit his teeth at her comment. Ah yes, he thought, Voldemort, Pettigrew and Bellatrix; the trio who were responsible for his loss. They will all pay one way or the other.

Severus felt the other man stiffen and glanced out of the side of his eye towards him. The look in Lucius’ eyes spoke volumes about his feelings at that moment. He had to get him away from Bella.

“Just get me close to Spinners End and return Bella. You’ve been there before. Lucius and I can make it to my house,” said Severus in a voice laced with pain.

Bella nodded, “Alright, let’s get to the apparition point.”

Bella did side-along apparation for Severus while Lucius went alone. As soon as she had gotten him to Manchester, Bella released Severus and returned to Riddle Manor. Lucius once again steadied Severus as he walked.

Severus snorted, “We’re fools the pair of us; remember Flitwick and the feather?”

Lucius laughed suddenly, “Of course,” he pointed his wand at Snape and said, “Wingardium Leviosa.” Severus was suddenly weight free and actually helped Lucius to walk.

“I hope there’s no Auror’s about tonight,” said Snape to himself as much as to Lucius, “Or any Muggle coppers, for that matter.”

“Don’t worry old chap, they’d take us for a couple of old drunken sot’s by the way we’re staggering, not to mention by the way we’re dressed.” He turned them into Spinners end, recognizing the ‘Do Not Notice’ charm he’d passed through. The entire street was uninhabited but for the only house without boards on the windows.

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Arthur sat back in his chair and patted his belly. “Molly, you’ve out done yourself once again. That was a wonderful dinner,” he told her.

“Yes indeed, Molly. A fine holiday repast; thank you.” Minerva raised her glass of wine in a toast to the hostess of the house.

The people sat around the table all joined in her toast, to Molly’s embarrassment.

“As long as no one leaves the table hungry,” Molly replied. As she started to clear the table with her wand, two elves suddenly appeared.

“I hope you don’t mind Molly, but we need to get the meeting underway and the others will arrive soon. I brought along a little help.” Minerva indicated the two elves that had started to work on cleaning up.

Molly looked startled but said, “Oh, all right then. Shall we...” she indicated the door to the upstairs. As the others made their way, Molly turned to the elves and warned, “I’ll be checking everything when I come back down. Make sure it’s done right.” The two small creatures stared back at her and nodded their heads vigorously

The Order was meeting in the library of 12 Grimmauld Place. It was the first full meeting of the members since Hermione had spoken to Snape. She’d shared her information with McGonagall and Lupin. Remus had in turn spoken to Harry and Ron, deflecting their well worn objections with a warning.

“You can’t afford not to believe it,” he spat, “We knew it would happen sooner or later. Apparently, it will be sooner. Now, you need to get to work.” Remus Lupin, when he got angry, got very angry. They didn’t argue.

“Well,” said Minerva, “now that we have a date to focus on, we need to decide how to best use our resources. Remus is working with both Hermione and Harry. I do think Harry needs a coach who is dedicated to him alone, however. Perhaps, Alastor?”

McGonagall had discussed this with Harry prior to the meeting and had fought down all his objections. Mad-eye Moody, as eccentric as he was, still had the most knowledge of the dark curses and counter-curses Harry might come in contact with.

Moody looked up at her and Harry before nodding, “I can do that. Just be prepared to work boy.”

“Remus, you will work with Hermione on what you’ve been concentrating on.” She looked at them both. Hermione and Remus looked at each other and nodded.

“As for the rest of us, we need to keep our ears to the ground and our wands at the ready. If you can, drill yourselves in the basic protective charms but most of all, be prepared. Be as ready as you can, my friends. We must prevail, we must for his sake.” Minerva’s voice faltered at the last.

Hermione had looked at the portrait of Albus Dumbledore as McGonagall spoke and had imagined that the sleeping figure had almost frowned. She shook her head, looking at it once more and saw there was no change to the picture.

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The time wore on as Snape waited for a sign. He’d divided his time between conducting personal research on Horcruxes and finding solace in Jenny’s arms. At her gentle insistence, he’d finally rented a car and drove to Stonehenge with her, knowing the magic that flowed about the place, drew witches and wizards from everywhere for special occasions. He could safely perform a few charms for her and settle her curiosity.

Jenny felt as though she’d entered Wonderland, as Severus levitated, disappeared and transfigured things before her eyes. His final charm that caused her to lift into the air had laid to rest any doubt in her mind of his power. She knew there was no trick, no gimmickry involved in his spell.

Late on their afternoon out, they sat under a spreading tree and shared a picnic. Severus sat with his back against the tree trunk with Jenny leaning against him, his arm wrapped around her shoulders.

“Is there any limit to magic?’ she asked.

Severus shook his head, “I don’t honestly know. Witches and Wizards spend their entire lives in the study of magic; much like Muggle scientist’s.”

“Do you?” she wondered.

“Once upon a time, I did,” he answered sadly.

Jenny thought about what she wanted to ask next, but she was shy. Taking a deep breath she asked, “Do magic folk do special things when they have...wh-when they make love?” Her voice was quiet.

“There are things about the physical act that magic folk sometimes go about differently.” He smiled behind her back. “Levitation above the bed, charms to increase sensation...” he began to list.

“Have you, you know, ever tried some of this stuff?” she asked, still nervous about the conversation.

He sighed, “I’ve borne the brunt of another’s fantasy, if that’s what you mean. Frankly, what I’ve shared with you outstrips any other experience I’ve had.”

“Really?” she asked, surprised at his response.

He nodded, “Really; making love is far superior to fornicating with an available partner.” Severus was glad she didn’t notice the word willing had been omitted

“You prefer what we have together?” She looked up into his dark eyes.

“Without question, there is nothing I desire more, than to be with you.” He kissed her softly and pulled her closer to his body.

As they sat together, they saw the sun disappear beneath a sudden formation of low-lying clouds. They gathered together their picnic supplies and headed back to the car. Severus had just started the engine when a mist seemed to descend, rapidly becoming a fog.

“We’ve got to get back, quickly,” he told her, looking up at the sky.

Jenny looked at him, “What is it, Severus?”

“A sign,” he replied cryptically.

They drove back to Manchester, mostly in silence. Severus saw her to her door and ushered her in.

“Don’t go out tomorrow, Jenny, “he told her, just before taking his leave.

“But Severus, I’m working tomorrow.” She was puzzled at his behaviour.

“Please, Jenny; for me, just stay home. I’ll come if I can.” He touched her face, hoping to convince her of his urgency.

“Okay, I’ve not called in sick for a while. I’ll call now and say I’m poorly. They can get someone to cover me.” She sensed his worry and felt it pass to her. There was something happening he was unwilling to share.

“Good, I’ll call you. Don’t answer the door unless you know someone is coming.” He kissed her quickly and made his way out.

“Be careful, Severus,” she called, as he jogged to the rented car. As he drove away, she locked the door behind her and leaned on it. An overwhelming sense of dread seemed to settle in her heart.

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Ron and Harry stared out of the window into the garden behind the old house. The fog swirled in unremitting ribbons of grey causing depression to crowd in on anxiety and fear.

“It’s them, the Dementors are breeding again,” commented Ron, looking at the sky.

“Yeah, just makes my day,” said Harry, turning away from the scene. “We’ve still not found them all. I don’t know where else to look for a Horcrux.”

“Maybe Hermione’ll be able to get some information from Snape. I bet he knew where they all were to begin with.” Ron walked over and slumped into chair beside the fire.

“He told us that if we destroy the Horcruxes one by one, Voldemort will know,” said Harry.

“Do you believe him?” asked Ron.

Harry shrugged, “Remus thought that the idea had merit. It does make sense.” Harry joined Ron to sit by the fire.

“So, we’re just going to gather them all together and, boom, blow them all up at the same time,” Ron said sarcastically.

“Indeed, we might just do that, Ron.” Remus smiled at the look of chagrin on Ron’s face, as he entered the room.

Ron twisted his face into a lopsided grin. “How much can we trust him, Professor?”

“I’m not your professor any more Ron, but to answer your question; if he really wanted us to be defeated, he wouldn’t have sent us the Ravenclaw sceptre.” Remus sat on the divan facing the fire, “I don’t know his motivation, except, he was always driven to prove himself. To his teachers, his housemates, his peers at school and “ I believe - himself.”

“Yeah, well he just about drove us around the bend,” muttered Ron.

Remus chuckled, “I think before the events of the confrontation are played out, we will have a lot revealed to us. In the meantime, we work and become as fully prepared as possible.”

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Severus heard a knock on his door. Dowsing the lights, he pulled aside the blackout curtain and looked out the window. The man at the door stood back and looked at the window, knowing he was under scrutiny. It was Malfoy.

Pulling his wand Severus relit the candles and opened the door. Malfoy entered silently and went to the front room. He set a box down on the rickety side table.

“They’re breeding again,” stated Malfoy referring to the fog, knowing Snape would understand

“That’s it?’ asked Severus.

Malfoy nodded and sat on the side chair. “I don’t think anyone’s noticed. I switched them while both He and Wormtail had left for an hour. Nagini was asleep.”

Severus nodded and went to the sideboard. He poured two fingers of brandy in a glass and handed it to Lucius. “I think you could use this.”

“Thank you.” He took a sip and set the glass down. Lucius looked at his hands and snorted, “Look at me, trembling like a mewling child.”

“There’s none of us the same man we were at the outset of this debacle, Lucius,” Snape told him quietly.

“You saw the truth earlier than I.” Lucius took up his glass and stared into its depths.

“I had nothing to offer but my knowledge and skill, Lucius. I looked for prestige; it did not appear. You were seduced by the promise of power and wealth; things you already had. You had the luxury of patience.” Severus sat on the sofa and sipped his own brandy.

“I received this today at the Manor.” Lucius held out a letter.

Severus read the parchment and frowned, “He’s coming back in two days time.” He looked at Lucius.

“Yes, and bringing someone.” Lucius looked back at Snape, his face decisive. “I must meet him when he arrives.”

“Lucius,” began Snape

“He’s all I have left,” Lucius yelled.

Snape nodded, “All right, but we’ll travel the Muggle way after we’ve ensured the delivery of the goblet.”

“You have a plan?” Lucius asked.

“I hope so,” Snape told him, “We’ll find out tomorrow.”

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“Hello? Severus....Oh Severus thank god you called. I was going to call you but I thought you might be...involved in something.” Jenny sank to her sofa, relieved to hear his voice.

“Of course you can...What? Is he a...you know...as well?” Jenny nodded, “All right, I’ll be waiting.” She hung the phone up and went to the mirror to check her hair. He was on his way over with a friend.

Looking out of her window, Jenny watched for the car to turn into her street. When she saw the grey car come round the corner and park in front of her house, she ran to the front door and unlocked it to let him in.

As soon as he entered, Severus smiled at the worried look on Jenny’s face. He was almost bowled over, when she launched herself into his arms.

“I’ve been so worried, Severus. The fog hasn’t gone away and the weather forecast can’t explain it.” She had buried her face into his shoulder and didn’t notice the other man behind him.

Lucius took in the sight of Severus Snape comforting a Muggle with a bemused smile. It was, for want of a better word, diverting.

“It’s alright, Jenny. I’m all right.” Severus pulled her arms from his neck and kissed her hand. “Jenny, I’d like you to meet a friend of mine, Lucius Malfoy. Lucius; Miss Jenny Doulton.”

“How do you do, Mr Malfoy,” said Jenny cautiously extending her hand.

Malfoy took her hand and bowed courteously over it, “I am pleased to make your acquaintance, Miss Doulton, but please; no formalities, you must call me Lucius.”

“Well, you must have gone to that same posh school, Severus did,” she teased.

Lucius looked at Snape with a raised eyebrow, “Indeed, Miss Doulton, however the word posh is not one I would append to it.”

“Please call me Jenny. Miss Doulton makes me feel like an old schoolmistress. Come in and make yourselves comfortable.” Jenny indicated her living room.

Lucius looked around the typically Muggle living room, realizing this was the first time he’d ever stood in one without the intention of overseeing it’s ruin.

“Would you like some coffee?” asked Jenny, trying to put her thoughts in order.

“Yes, thank you, Jenny,” said Snape. He watched as she went into the kitchen and then sat at the computer.

“What are you doing?” asked Lucius. He joined Severus at the new device.

Severus logged in to his e-mail service. “I’m contacting our new allies to let them know of a delivery.”

“You haven’t asked her yet?” said Lucius, watching his friend operate the Muggle machine confidently.

“I was speaking of your son.” Snape continued to type.

Jenny came out from the kitchen, “Severus Snape, I think I created a monster when I showed you how to use that thing. Sometimes I wonder if it’s me or the computer you come to see.”

“Come now, Jenny; this keyboard has none of your charms and the screen doesn’t show me anything I haven’t asked it to.” He glanced over at her. “You’re always full of surprises.”

“Yeah, well don’t sell yourself short on that regard,” she retorted sarcastically.

Lucius sat on the sofa and Severus turned to look at Jenny. She raised her eyebrow.

“What have you got up your sleeve now?” she asked.

“Jenny, sit down.” Severus waited until she moved to the arm chair. “I have something to ask you. I need your help to make a delivery.”

“What kind of delivery?” she asked.

“An artefact of great value must get into the right hands. These people are located in London.” He watched her for a reaction.

“You want me to go to London for you? Why can’t one of you take it?” she asked.

“There is someone arriving from the continent we must meet. Unfortunately, we must use Muggle means of travel. We can’t afford to attract attention by using magic.”

“When do you need this done?” she asked, not sure of how she felt about this.

“Tomorrow, if at all possible; the earlier the better.” He looked at her hopefully.

“I’m supposed to work tomorrow, Wednesday’s my day off,” replied Jenny absently while she was still thinking.

“I wouldn’t ask if it were not a matter of life or death,” he told her quietly.

“I suppose I could say I’m still sick.” She looked at his face and saw relief flash across it. “What is it you need delivered?”

Lucius watched the by play between the two and knew Snape had been smitten by this small, plain Muggle woman. He was envious of his friend at the moment but glad that at least Severus had found someone to be a companion to besides himself and his non-friends.

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The dawn chorus was still echoing around the tree tops of Manchester when Jenny, Severus and Lucius sat around her kitchen table sipping morning tea and munching toast. When they had talked about a timetable for the day, it had gotten later in the evening and Jenny had suggested they stay at her house.

After a delivery of Indian food and an evening of Lucius doing an imitation of Arthur Weasley watching television, Jenny had shown Lucius the spare bedroom and joined Severus in what had become theirs.

Severus had made love to her with an urgency that left her breathless. It was as if he wanted to remember every part of her; as if he would never touch her that way again. Jenny hadn’t wanted to think of it that way and had pushed it to the furthest recesses of her mind.

“Pack enough for overnight, Jenny,” Severus told her the next morning, “You’ll likely stay there until next morning.”

Now, they stood in front of Manchester’s Piccadilly Station, at half past six in the morning, with Severus leading her by her elbow. In her hand, Jenny carried a brief case.

“Take this phone number and call it as soon as you get to London. Ask for Arthur Weasley. Don’t speak to anyone else. If you can’t reach him, go to the ladies room and call me immediately,” he instructed.

“Then what?” she asked.

“Just do what Weasley tells you to. He’s a good man; a family man. He’ll make sure you’re all right.” They lined up at the ticket wicket, where Severus paid her fare.

“Does he know I’m coming?” she asked.

Severus nodded, “Yes. I sent an e-mail.” He stopped for a moment and turned to face her. “Jenny, I never meant for you to get mixed up in this at all. I hope you’ll forgive me some day.”

Jenny smiled at him, “If it’s something that I can do to help you, to help your friends, I am more than happy.” She reached up and pulled his face to hers for a kiss, “When will I see you again?”

“If all goes as planned, later tonight.” Severus reached out and took her face in his hands. “You will hear people say things about me which I have only hinted about to you. Try to remember, they don’t know the whole story. Don’t let them make you hate me; give me a chance to explain.” He kissed her deeply, unheeding of the stares of passers-by. “When I do arrive, I will not be given a hero’s welcome; just be prepared.” He released her and pushed her towards the stairs leading to the platform.

Just before she entered the staircase, Jenny turned and called, “Severus!” He turned and looked at her. “Severus,” she said, “I love you.” Turning away quickly, Jenny made her way to the platform leaving a stunned wizard staring after her. In his heart, Severus felt a twinge of something he’d only ever had a hint of before. He was loved, oh sweet Morgana, she loved him.

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Chapter 1296791021: Delivering Yesterday\'s Memories Tomorrow

Disclaimer.
This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

What every holiday you were this celebrating this weekend, I hope it was a good one. We are still winding down quickly on the story and it looks like the timing of the storyline and calendar date are beginning to meet “ Interesting, what would Trelawney say?

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“Mr. Weasley, Mr. Weasley,” cried Hermione as she ran into the kitchen of Grimmauld Place. “You must read this.” She passed him a sheet of paper with a print out from her parents computer. “Remus and I apparated to my house first thing, as usual; this came last night.”

“A delivery to be picked up at the London Euston station around ten o’clock. Expect a phone call at the ministry. Another will arrive late in the evening, delivered to the front door. What in Merlin’s name is he talking about?” Arthur frowned over the e-mail message.

“I don’t like the sounds of this, Arthur. You should take some precautions. Maybe Alastor could go with you,” Molly suggested.

Arthur stood to leave, “Molly, Euston is totally Muggle. I might as well take a house elf to carry the delivery as soon as ask Mad-eye to go.” He pecked his wife on the cheek. “He’s a smart one, Severus is. He’s making sure he uses Muggle locations for contact points. It’s safer for him and for us. Not to worry, I’ll be fine. As for later; well, the Order will be here.”

Molly watched her husband leave for work. Within moments, the clock she’d moved from the Burrow to Grimmauld Place showed him as travelling, then as at work. She would look at the clock every few minutes for the rest of the day until he was safely home.

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Jenny sat and looked out of the window for the three hour trip to London. She’d tried to read a paper, but her mind would wander and she’d read and re-read the same paragraph repeatedly before giving in. The fog hadn’t lifted nor had it gotten heavier. A dreary gloom seemed to permeate the atmosphere, leaving everyone drawn and distant. There was little conversation in the carriage; a toddler cried intermittently throughout the trip. The journey felt more like they were accompanying a funeral bier than making a commuter’s jaunt.

With a sigh, Jenny took more notice when they got into the outskirts of London. The train slowed through the many switches and finally glided into Euston Station at ten minutes before ten in the morning. She got off the train and looked around wondering where she should go. Looking up at the signs, she decided to go to the centre of the station to call; perhaps this Mr. Weasley would direct her from there. When Jenny got to the information hub, she stopped at a vacant seat and pulled out her mobile. She dialled the number Severus had given her and sat down.

“Ministry of Magic, Muggle Communications Office, “announced a very typical sounding receptionist.

“Oh, uhm, may I speak to Arthur Weasley, please?” Jenny asked.

“Whom may I say is calling?” asked the voice.

“He’s not met me before. It’s about a delivery he was expecting.” Jenny hoped that was enough.

“One moment please, while I contact Mr. Weasley.” The call was obviously put on hold, as Jenny heard music. She didn’t recognize the rock tune, but the lyrics were saying something about ‘Dance like a Hippogriff’, what ever the hell that was.

“Hello?” A male voice came on the line.

“Is that you Mr. Weasley?” asked Jenny.

“Yes; who am I speaking with?” he asked.

“Jenny Doulton. I have something you have been expecting, I believe,” she told him, not wanting to reveal too much.

“Excellent; you are at the Euston railway station are you not?” He asked.

“Yes, at the information booth,” she replied.

“Go to the Euston Road exit to the Tube and wait there. I’ll be with you in a jiffy,” said Arthur.

“Alright, I’ll be there. Oh, I’m wearing a grey coloured raincoat and I’m carrying a briefcase.” She told him.

“So is everyone else in Muggle London, my dear. Don’t worry, I’ll find you.” He hung up at that.

Jenny waited at the doors, looking around for someone looking for her. She had started to consider calling Severus when a tall, thin man with balding red hair approached her.

“Are you Miss Doulton?” he asked.

“Yes and you’d be Mr. Weasley?” Jenny responded.

“Call me Arthur,” he said holding out his hand. “Welcome to London. I’m sorry it was an inauspicious greeting, but given the way things are…” he left the rest unsaid.

“I understand. Now what?” she asked.

“Let’s get you to a safe place. You’ll get to meet everyone there. I’m sure you have lots to tell us and my wife will be making lunch shortly.” He opened the door and let Jenny precede him through, then offered his arm as he led her to the Tube station.

They exited the Kings Cross station and walked the rest of the way. When they stopped in front of some run down houses, Mr. Weasley pulled out a scrap of paper and passed it to her.
Jenny read the writing ‘The Headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix may be found at 12 Grimmauld Place’.

“What does this me...Bloody hell?” Jenny watched as a house seemed to squeeze itself into being between two others.

“Come on then,” said Arthur, pulling her along. “Now, be very quiet when you’re in the front hall. There’s a portrait that doesn’t take kindly to Muggles.” He opened the door and let her enter.

Jenny walked into an ancient house that had obviously seen better days. She could smell pine cleaner, lavender and mothballs that seemed to suit the place to a tee. Arthur indicated she should go upstairs. On the next landing, Arthur ushered her into a room that looked to be a library. Several people were there and all looked up as they entered.

“Hello everyone, I’ve just gotten the delivery from our accomplice,” he told them, as he rubbed his palms together.

Remus stood and came towards them, “Is this lady the delivery, Arthur?”

“OH, uhm...Jenny?” he looked at her, embarrassed that he hadn’t asked the obvious.

Jenny held out the brief case, “I was asked to bring this to you.”

Arthur took the briefcase and handed it off to Remus. “Let me introduce you to Miss Jenny Doulton, a Muggle. Jenny this is Remus Lupin,” he began to introduce her around.

“Miss Doulton,” said Lupin, shaking her hand.

“And this is Hermione, Harry, Tonks, my son Ronald and my daughter Ginny,” he continued, pointing to everyone in turn.

“How do you do, Miss Doulton; did you have to travel far?” Tonks asked the question nonchalantly, but had looked for information in the answer to the whereabouts of Snape.

“Please call me Jenny,” she requested, and with a suspicious feeling in her gut, continued, “I travelled most of the night.”

“You must be exhausted; Ginny, go and get some tea,” instructed Arthur, leading Jenny to a chair.

“Are you working in Scotland, Jenny?” asked Tonks, as Ginny left for the kitchen.

“No,” replied Jenny.

“How did you come to know, our mutual friend,” asked Hermione, ignoring the sick look on Ron’s face.

“I work in a library and he was doing some research. I gave him a little assistance.” Jenny smiled innocently.

“So, he had access a computer at the library then?” asked Harry.

“No, he used my personal PC. Are you all witches and wizards?” Jenny asked finally.

Harry nodded, “Yeah, pretty much. Hermione’s parents are Muggles. We’ve gotten the messages through them.”

Jenny was surprised, “You mean your mum and dad don’t have to be magic for you to be a witch?”

“Not necessarily, Jenny. Any combination of magic folk or Muggle will do.” Lupin smiled kindly at her, fully aware she wasn’t telling all. He also decided to let it go for now.

Ginny came back, floating a tea tray in front of her. “Good girl, Ginny. How do you take your tea, Jenny?” asked Arthur.

Jenny watched, bemused at the sight of a teapot being levitated and the milk and sugar floating towards her.

Remus, in the mean time, had called Harry over as he opened the brief case to reveal the Ravenclaw sceptre. “Go on Harry; test it as I’ve shown you.”

Harry pulled out his wand and passed it over the object chanting,” Revelo Fragmen Anima.” They both watched as the sickly green glow emanated from it.

“Remus, “asked Harry, “is he on our side or not?”

“For now, Harry, I’d say he’s on his own side. We’ll know very soon what is in his mind.” Remus closed up the case and took it to store with the other Horcruxes.

Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Snape and Malfoy stood on the same rocky beach that had seen the departure of Draco scant months ago. The rental car was parked on the roadway on the mainland. The sun had barely set off Holy Island when the ship from Durmstrang appeared. As soon as the gang plank touched the shore, Draco and his companion descended to dry land.

“Father,” began Draco, only to be pulled into a hug that smothered all other speech.

“Lucius, we must go now,” said Snape.

“Of course, come,” said Lucius, leaning on his son.

“Who is your companion, Draco?” asked Snape as he made a quick return to the car.

“You’ve already met sir; it’s Victor Krum.” Draco smiled at his revelation.

Severus glanced over at the other man who had the hood of his cloak drawn up.

“Krum; what the bloody hell are you doing here?” asked Severus.

Krum looked at Snape, “I haff my own reasons, professor. I lost my High Master Karkaroff to Him; he vos my mentor and my friend.”

The reached the car, which earned strange looks from the younger wizards.

“Ask no questions, just get in and shut up,” ordered Snape.

The two Malfoy’s got in the back where they could speak, leaving Krum in the front.

One stop for refreshment and five and a half hours later, Severus pulled up in front of the hidden house on Grimmauld Place.

“Severus, why are we here?” asked Lucius, recognizing the neighbourhood.

“Hidden in plain sight, old friend,” said Severus, as he got out of the car and stretched. He pulled out a scrap of paper from his pants pocket and handed it to Draco. “You must all read this.”

When they had each read the scrap, their heads looked up towards the appearing house.

“Fidelius,” muttered Krum.

“Indeed.” Snape turned to them, “This won’t be easy. Except for Krum, we’re basically persona non grata here. They’ll take our wands at the very least.”

Draco looked at his father who nodded his understanding.

Krum frowned, “Vhy, professor? Are you not fighting vith them against Him?”

“They’re not sure of that anymore. Had you not heard of the events of last May and June?”

“Only vhat Drago told me. You are very brave,” Krum told him.

Snape snorted, “That is not the popular opinion here.”

Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

The Order’s meeting had been convened in the library of Grimmauld Place. Theories had been passed around and Jenny had been questioned ad nauseum about Snape. She had skirted around giving away too much, but she could see they were becoming annoyed.

Moody was becoming impatient. “What is the next delivery?” he demanded of Jenny.

“Sir, Severus didn’t give me any information. I was to bring the briefcase and wait. That is all
I know.” Jenny was becoming annoyed at the deformed man’s belligerent tone.

“Aye, well; I suppose he’s not willing to give information to his mistress.” Moody sniffed and pulled a handkerchief out to blow his nose.

Jenny looked around at the others sitting in the room. They avoided her eyes and some looked embarrassed. The one called McGonagall looked more than a little angry.

“Mr. Moody, exactly what are you inferring?” asked Jenny, her temper beginning to rise.

Moody looked at her, “I think you’re a little tart that Severus picked up in a pub and pulled into his slimy lair. He puts you on a pedestal and you do his bidding.” He offered a lecherous sneer.

Jenny walked to him and yelled into his face, “You are nothing but a filthy minded old pervert. You know nothing about me. I have principles and I don’t bend them.”

“Principles, you say? If that were true, you’d never have given a second look to the greasy git.” Moody looked down his nose at her. “I think you became his little piece on the side out of desperation.”

Jenny’s hand connected with the side of his face so hard and fast that Moody’s Magical eye was dislodged and fell to the floor. Minerva got up and came to stand behind the Muggle.

“Alastor, that is quite enough. You have no right to malign Miss Doulton’s character in such a manner. I object to your use of such language in front of our younger members,” McGonagall told him.

Moody picked his eye up from the floor and wiped it with the handkerchief before replacing it. “I think we should just Obliviate her and send her back to her pathetic little life without the memory’s of Snape and us. She looks the type to be a spinster anyways.”

Just as Jenny was about to object, a tinkling bell sounded through the house.

“The next delivery,” said Arthur Weasley. He stood and made his way to the door.

“Wait,” said Remus, “We should have a few of us there.” He looked over his shoulder and nodded at Kingsley Shacklebolt and Bill Weasley. “We’ll all answer the door.”

The four men went to check on the delivery, leaving the others sitting in an uncomfortable silence. Several minutes later, Arthur opened the door with a stunned look on his face.

“You’d better get a hold of yourselves. Ron,” he looked intently at his son and nodded towards Harry. “This isn’t what we expected.”

Ron stepped closer to his friend who was staring intently at the door. Arthur stood to one side admitting two blond haired men, one walking with a limp.

“Draco,” gasped a surprised Ginny.

Tonks stood quickly, “Uncle Lucius, how...” She stopped, as his condition made itself known.

“Say hello to your cousin, Nymphadora, Draco,” said Lucius, his voice a pale echo of his renowned arrogance.

Several of the Order had pulled their wands at the sight of the Death Eater. The next figure through the door was an even greater surprise.

“Victor!” exclaimed Hermione, walking over to take his hand.

“Hermyonniny, you look effen more beautiful than I remembered,” Krum told her gallantly, while he bowed and kissed her hand.

A final figure wearing short dark hair and a beard and moustache, walked through the door and stopped. Gasps of recognition passed around the room and every wand was pointed at him except for Fred and Ron’s. They were struggling with Harry.

“Gerroff me. I’m going to kill the bastard!” he yelled. Fred had pulled Harry’s wand hand up and allowed a burst of magic to be sent up to the ceiling pulling down some plaster.

Jenny ran to Severus and wrapped her arms around him, “Severus, I was so worried. I thought you weren’t coming.”

Whatever reaction the Order members expected of the man, the sight of Snape holding and comforting a Muggle was pretty near the bottom of the list.

“It’s all right, Jenny. I told you no one would hurt you.” He held her close and stroked her hair. Jenny was shaking her head where it lay on his shoulder. “What happened? Did someone threaten you?” he asked, his voice becoming dark.

“The one called Moody; he wants to do something to my mind to make me forget you. Oblivious or something...” She looked up at him. He was staring at the man with the strange eye.

“So Mad-eye, you still get your thrills from intimidating those weaker than you. You lay a finger on her, and you’ll find out what happens when my Muggle side gets angry.” Severus glared at him.

“Big talk from a man about to have his soul sucked out!” spat Moody.

“Enough!” shouted Lupin, who’d returned with Shacklebolt and Bill. “Let’s have everyone put their wands away before there’s an accident.” He strode over to where Ron and Fred were still restraining Harry. He plucked Harry’s wand from Fred’s hand and pocketed it. “You, Mr Potter, will get this back when learn to behave yourself.”

Kingsley held up four wands, “They all surrendered their wands when they stepped through the door. They’ve agreed we can hold them in safe keeping for now.”

“Victor’s not under suspicion,” Hermione said in his defence.

“I don’t now about that, girly. Look who he’s keeping company with,” said Moody, his magical eye never leaving Snape.

McGonagall decided to take control. “Enough of these accusations; Mr. Krum, why are you here?” she asked.

Victor looked at Harry, “I haff lost people I respected to this monster. First was Cedric, a proud Trivizard Champion. He voss a good and decent vizard; he should not haff died. I remember the one who looked like him,” he pointed at Moody, “cursing me. It was partly my fault. Then, Master Karkaroff was taken. He vass my friend.” He looked down at Hermione. “Vhen Drago told me off what he vas doing, it vas my duty to come. It vas my honour as vell.”

“Well said, Krum,” offered Arthur, as he extended his hand to Victor. Hermione pulled Victor over to the side where there was an empty chair.

“And you, Lucius Malfoy, why are you and your son here?” McGonagall had asked this in a far less amiable tone than what she had offered Victor.

“For the same reason Krum is,” Lucius replied, “You know, of course. He killed her with His Own wand in front of Draco. She was betrayed by one who would call himself my friend,” he spat at last. Finally, in a defeated tone he asked, “Do you know what happened to her body?”

“I identified her and claimed it, Uncle Lucius. We buried her in the Black Family tomb,” Tonks told him quietly.

Lucius nodded, “Thank you, niece.”

“Thank you, cousin. It was most generous of you, considering...”began Draco, but his voice trailed off.

“Considering you treated me and my family like shit all these years? Yeah well, Aunty Cissy was still family. It was the right thing to do.” Tonks stared at each of them straight in the eye. Neither could hold her gaze. “I suppose you want to do the right thing now, then.” Tonks watched the two Malfoy’s look at each other.

“I think Albus would have agreed that it’s never too late to do the right thing.” Arthur looked at his personal nemesis and held out his hand. “We’ll never be friends; I’ll settle for not being enemies.”

Lucius looked at the proffered hand before he took it and shook, “Indeed, Weasley; not enemies it is.”

Minerva walked over to Severus and Jenny, “I hardly recognized you, Severus. You look so mu..”

“Go ahead and say it, Minerva. I look like a Muggle. Is it such a shock I should know how?” he asked.

She shook her head, “I suppose not. Where have you been, how have you lived?” she asked.

Severus snorted, “You don’t actually expect me to answer that, do you?”

“We’ll be getting answers from you soon enough, Snape,” snarled Moody.

“Minerva, we need to speak to you and Lupin alone,” said Snape, ignoring the blustering Auror.

“We, Severus?” Minerva had no idea what he wanted in the meeting.

“It is important, but we should limit those who know for now.” He looked at Lupin, hoping the man would sense his urgency. “Time is of the essence.”

Minerva looked at Remus, who nodded once. “Alright then; Molly, can you get the others accommodated?” asked McGonagall.

“Of course, Professor.” Molly bustled out to do her duty.

“Now, if everyone else would excuse us,” instructed McGonagall, then watched as the order filed out.

“You shouldn’t be alone with him,” said Moody, staring threateningly at Snape.

“We’ll be fine; Kingsley has his wand and Lupin will be here.” Minerva just wanted Mad-eye to leave.

“Don’t take your eye’s off him for a second,” said Moody, before stomping off in search of the kitchen.

“Hermione, can you stay?” called Remus, as she was following Krum out.

“If you need me, of course, Remus,” she replied with uncertainty. As the last of the Order members filed out, Hermione closed the door. Lupin came forward to ward and soundproof the room.

Jenny still stood with Severus’ arm around her shoulder. He pushed her to a chair and turned once more to McGonagall.

“Where is Albus’ portrait?” he demanded.

“His portrait, Severus?” asked Minerva, confused at the request.

“I know he has one here, where is it?” he demanded.

Lupin brought a frame to the table in the centre of the room, “Here it is, Severus. Why do you need to see it?”

Severus pulled up a chair and sat before the picture of Albus Dumbledore sleeping in his wingback chair.

“I’m finally here, old man. It’s about time you set things straight,” announced Snape.

The portrait began to stir, yawning deeply and stretching at length. With a sigh, Portrait Albus began to speak.

“It’s about time boy. I’ve been sitting here for a donkey’s age. Even art work can get a sore backside from sitting in one position for too long.” Dumbledore’s image became animated with his colourful robes moving with his gestures and his renowned blue eye’s twinkling brighter than any star in the night sky ever did.

Minerva sank into a chair beside Severus. ”Albus, you woke up at last, “she said, her voice sounding tremulous.

The portrait looked at her, “I have an awful secret to share, Minerva. I’ve been conscious for quite a while. Before my soul took flight, Severus and I had some long discussions. Keeping me uninvolved for a while after my passing was one of the topics.”

“But why, Albus? We needed your wisdom many times,” Minerva told him, confused at what she was hearing.

The portrait Albus smiled, “Minerva, have one of the Castle elves fetch the coffer contained beneath the pensieve in my office. Remus, I believe you are there, come where I can see you.” She left to do his bidding, flooing Hogwarts Kitchens.

Lupin stepped in front of the small portrait, “You’re long overdue, Professor. Why did you make us wait?” he asked.

Dumbledore shared his ubiquitous smile, “Patience is a virtue.” He tapped the side of his nose with his finger and reached out for a lemon drop from the dish of sweets in the picture. As he popped it in his mouth, they all imagined they could smell lemon in the air.

“Severus, I believe Miss Granger is there and someone else.” Dumbledore was peering out from the frame to look for the others.

Hermione stood behind McGonagall. “I thought I saw you almost frown, before, Professor.”

Dumbledore chuckled, “I’ve been hard put not to laugh out loud sometimes, Miss Granger. All those lists...tut, tut.” He waved his index finger at her.

Hermione blushed, remembering what he was talking about.

Severus had summoned Jenny to stand beside him, “Albus, this is Jenny Doulton.”

The blue eyes in the portrait passed between the man and woman. “Miss Doulton, I wish I’d had the pleasure of meeting you while I was alive. I see you and Severus have become close; I am pleased my boy.”

A sudden pop made Jenny jump. She turned to where the sound came from and saw the strangest creature she’d ever beheld.

“What’s that?” she asked Snape.

“That is an elf.” He replied, getting up to open a cabinet off to one side. “Albus, the pensieve memories can be done in the morning. For now, we must discuss the last Horcrux.”

“You have discovered and recovered them all?” asked Dumbledore.

“All but one; it cannot be touched by anyone who is magic,” Severus revealed.

“That would be Godric’s object, wouldn’t it Professor?” asked Hermione.

Severus looked at her; “I’m not your profes...” he snapped and was interrupted,

“You will always be my professor, Professor Snape. To say or think otherwise is just stupid.” Hermione fixed him with a determined glare. “There is more to the Headmaster dying and you disappearing than any of us knows, isn’t there? That’s why you sent us the horcruxes and why you’re here now.”

“Two words, Miss Granger; curiosity and cat,” Snape spat at her.

“It’s up North, isn’t it? It’s a heraldic item emblazoned with a griffin and it will be somewhere close to the Moors,” Hermione stated with conviction. “I needed to get to the Domesday Book; I knew it.” She began to chew her bottom lip in frustration.

“It wouldn’t have helped you,” said Jenny quietly. “I had to search through churches in the region and then enter search criteria for separate searches. There were a number of hits but they all pointed to one place.”

“What is she talking about, Severus?” asked Minerva.

“We did our searches through a computer. It turns out; Gryffindor’s object is hidden in plain sight in a church in...”

“Great Driffield “ it turned out to be Great Driffield, didn’t it?” exclaimed Hermione excitedly, “Was it a helmet, a spear?”

Severus looked at her and shook his head, “When do you stop Granger; it’s a shield, a knights cavalry shield.”

“If we can’t touch it, Severus, how can we retrieve it?” asked Minerva.

Severus looked at Jenny, his unspoken question answered in her smile, “How are we getting there?” she asked.

“We need to make a copy first. You brought the photos?” Severus asked.

Jenny nodded and put her hand in her pocked. “Can you fix this?” she asked, pulling out a small canvas bag.

“Oh, perhaps, Minerva...” he said.

McGonagall took the bag from Jenny’s hand and placed it on the table. Passing her wand over it, she returned the bag to its normal size.

“Thanks,” said Jenny as she opened it and fished out an envelope containing the photographs Severus had asked her to bring.

“Can you configure something to duplicate it, Minerva? If you can’t perhaps I can ask Lucius...” Severus watched Minerva’s face redden.

“Watch your mouth, boy, or you’ll find yourself spending time as an Aspidistra,” she told him, archly. “When do you need it?”

“Tomorrow; I thought perhaps we could portkey.” He waited for her assent to his plan. McGonagall was in charge now. “I’d prefer early in the morning.”

“You’ll take Tonks and Shacklebolt with you,” she told him. “Remus, create the portkey. Get the location from the Wizards’ atlas.” She turned to Jenny, “You have no stake in this Miss Doulton, and I won’t ask you to go.”

“You’re quite mistaken, Professor; I have everything I hold dear at stake here. I will go and I will help in every way I can. I can’t leave knowing I could have done something to help,” Jenny told the older woman who recognized the conviction in her tone.

Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Jenny and Severus were given a room together at her insistence. The door had been locked and warded to keep him in; she didn’t care.

They lay without undressing upon the old four poster bed; only dozing lightly with the expectation of the coming morning. While it was still dark, they heard someone first knock then enter the room. Severus had already risen and rinsed his face using water from the ewer sitting on the dry sink.

“Good Morning,” said Molly, entering with a breakfast tray with mugs of coffee and buttered muffins. “Professor McGonagall is explaining everything down in the kitchen to the others. Kingsley will be along presently.”

After their breakfast and time in the bathroom, Jenny and Severus met the others in the library.

“Here you go, Jenny.” Minerva handed a perfectly duplicated shield to Jenny. “Be careful.”

Kingsley and Tonks accompanied Severus and Jenny on the journey. It was still dark when they appeared in the parking area beside the old church. Severus led them to the doors which were locked. He still had no wand and stood aside to let Tonks open the door. The interior was dark save for the exit signs and vigil lights in the sanctuary and crypt. The Aurors lit their wands and heard the sounds of mice skittering away to their holes.

When they came to the side chapel with the crypt, Kingsley reached out a finger and got a shock much as Severus had. “Interesting and practical,” he observed.

With a deep breath, Jenny entered to where the knight’s tomb lay in the flickering light. Reaching out, she touched the shield carefully. She didn’t know why she was worried, she’d done this before. When nothing happened, she lifted the shield from its niche and replaced it with the duplicate. Holding it to her chest, Jenny quickly left the crypt area and returned to the others.

“Can we get out of here? I feel like a bloody grave robber. This place gives me the willie’s,” she told them.

They made their way back outside and using the portkey once more, returned to London. Jenny was still staggering from the portkey travel as she put the Horcrux with the others for save keeping.

“What now?” asked Remus of Severus.

“We wait until the summons. You continue your search for an answer to destroy them. Talk to Lucius or Krum, they may have some idea’s.” said Snape. “Me, I’m going to get some sleep.”

“Severus, what about the memory’s?” asked McGonagall.

“They’re not mine. I think he intends to share them with you. Ask for yourself. I don’t need any reminders.” He turned and indicated to Tonks he wanted to go to his assigned room.

Jenny walked over to him, “Want some company? I’m exhausted.”

He looked at Tonks who shrugged. “If you want, Jenny; Just a couple of hours.” They left together followed by the young Auror.

Lupin looked at Minerva and asked, “What do you make of that?”

“I would say our dour old Snape is happily smitten with that lady.” She frowned suddenly, “It’s a pity they’d not found each other before now.”

“Sybill would say it was fate.” He smiled at the thought.

“Sybill talks a lot of shite,” announced McGonagall, being uncommonly profane. “I’ll take the small pensieve and the memories to my room.” She patted his hand and left.

Lupin became thoughtful for a moment, and then returned to his research with Hermione.

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