The Old Walls Crumble by cearrae
[Reviews - 2993] Printer Chapter or Story

- Text Size +
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.

ssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss

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.

Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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.

Sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss

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.

Ssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss

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.

Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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?”

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx