The Old Walls Crumble by cearrae
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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.