The Old Walls Crumble by cearrae
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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.