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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You have another sister,” Snape mentioned quietly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“All right there, Harry?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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

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

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

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

“That depends on how personal.” Snape replied.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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

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

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

“Is it an accident?” she asked.

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

Jenny looked around and saw she was close to home.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Miss Doulton.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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