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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
The Old Walls Crumble by cearrae