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.

A/N Another instalment “ thank you for the reviews “ they make my day whenever I see them.

This chapter is a little lighter in tone “ in any wartime setting, there is always levity. Everyone needs to laugh, even if you’re Snape and it’s at someone else’s expense. As a note, Draco has a new identity, Drago Malakral. Malakral means Little King in Bulgarian which was as close a translation I could find. I think it fits.

Do let me know if you like the character development. Snape is slightly out of his Wizarding character but he is interacting with Muggles with whom he has no reputation. He’s off balance here and I have a feeling it’s scaring him a little. Not that he’s mentioned anything to my subconscious yet. Please enjoy the next instalment.............

The Sorcerer’s List


Hermione was making a list. That was how she worked. She made a list and then she decided on what priority, one, two or three, to assign each item and made a second modified list. The entire process was based on triage; one “ to do immediately, two “ to research and do as soon as possible and three “ do when you have a chance.

Ron and Harry found her in the front room looking as distressed as they’d ever seen her.

“What’s wrong ‘Mione? Did something happen?” asked Ron, sitting beside her and putting his arm around her shoulders.

“It’s horrible,” she replied with a trembling chin. “Look, just look.” She pointed at an item on her list near the bottom. “I had to give it a priority three; A THREE.” She sniffed as her tears threatened to fall.

Ron pulled out his handkerchief and handed it to her, “It’s alright love. You wait, that will move right back up to number one very soon.” He looked over at Harry who was frowning in confusion.

“Number three and Number one, I don’t understand. What do you mean?” he asked. It must be important to have her so upset.

“Oh, Harry, I had to put finishing school and sitting for NEWTS as a priority three. It’s almost too much. God, this war is horrible.” Hermione sniffled again and blew her nose.

Harry shared a look with Ron who was trying to stifle a smile, “Oh yeah, Hermione, I couldn’t think of anything that could be worse. No school and no exams; it’s a terrible sacrifice but I’m willing to make it.” He nodded his head for emphasis.

Hermione looked up at his tone of voice and saw the grin threatening to break out. “Harry Potter, you’re teasing me,” she declared. She turned to see the same look on Ron’s face and realized the absurdity of it all. She started to giggle and in a few minutes the threesome were bent double in laughter.

In the kitchen, Molly listened to the unusual sound of laughter echoing around the old house. It was a good sound to hear and she found herself smiling as she prepared dinner for the residents.

Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Snape made his way to the old abandoned railway tracks running beside the river and apparated to his Dark Master’s house. He was bearing the first of the potions Voldemort had demanded. The trip to Diagon Alley had yet to be made, being postponed due to a lack of Galleons following Draco’s departure. While his family had provided the money Snape had requested, Durmstrang wanted additional fees to keep their new student’s identity a secret. Draco was to be known as Drago Malakral and palms had to be greased to make sure that happened.

He approached the house and waited until the wards recognized him. When he felt the wards drop, he continued on to the front door. Peter opened it and allowed him entrance. Peter led the way to Voldemort’s chambers and had Snape wait while he announced his arrival.

“Our master will see you now,” Peter announced, with the appropriate deference for his master’s ears.

Snape passed Peter sharing a look of aversion with the rodent-like man. As he approached Voldemort, he dropped to one knee, waiting to be recognized.

“Severus, you may approach and sit down.” Voldemort beckoned to Snape and indicated a chair to the side of his own.

“Thank you, my lord. You are most generous.” Severus felt like choking on his own obsequious tone.

“Have you completed the potions so quickly?” asked Voldemort.

“Alas, no, my lord; I am regrettably short on raw materials. I am also woefully lacking in available cash. A trip to Diagon Alley and Knockturn Alley is required.” Snape watched for a reaction from the Dark one.

“What are you asking, Severus?” asked Voldemort,

“I am existing as a Muggle, my lord, and as such, a large sum of my money has been changed to Sterling. Moreover, my funds were depleted following the departure of my burden from these shores. While his family did provide assistance, as was their responsibility, there were...other fees that had to be met. I have covered them for the well being of our security. If you might consider funding the potions...” he left the rest unsaid and awaited punishment.

“I have excused you from paying tribute, Severus, since you are without gainful employment following your...oath-ridden task. Do you now say I must pay you for what is my rightful due?” The serpent-like eyes turned to Snape, skewering him with a sideways glance. “I am not happy you seek to lighten my purse but...I shall indulge you.” Voldemort turned and called, “Pettigrew.”

Peter shuffled in, his gait and demeanour dripping with sickening sycophancy. “Master, you require my assistance?” He averted his eyes and offered a snaggle-toothed smile.

“Severus is in need of a financial boon. Take sufficient funds from my purse and return home with my Potions Master. He will tell you what he requires and you will provide the funds necessary.” He waved his hand imperiously, sending Peter away.

“Master, you are as ever, generous.” Snape told him, again, waiting for punishment and again, none was forthcoming.

“I have an additional task for you, Severus. I still need to know the location of the headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix. Dumbledore was the secret keeper but when he died, the location was still Unplottable. Why?” demanded Voldemort.

“My lord, it appears Dumbledore was more aware of his nearing mortality than any of us expected. He obviously switched the holder of the Fidelius Charm without informing anyone.” To Snape, this was new information; useful information.

“I expect you to put some effort into finding the new keeper, Severus. I expect results.” Voldemort waved his hand slightly and watched the man across from him.

Severus had been musing on what the Dark Lord had said and didn’t notice the hand motion. He was taken unawares when the strangling curse hit him. He felt his neck and throat constrict, cutting off his breathing. His heart pounded loudly in his ears and his vision narrowed. As suddenly as it was placed, the curse was removed leaving Snape gasping for air.

“A small, reminder, Severus; I require results.” Voldemort dismissed him with a gesture.

Snape rose and bowed before making a hasty exit. When the door closed behind him, he leaned against the wall and took several deep breaths. When next he opened his eyes, he saw Pettigrew standing before him with a predatory smile.

“Are you ready to leave, Severus? I’m so looking forward to my visit.”

“I doubt you will say that in the next few hours.” Snape led the way out to the apparation point where they both disappeared on queue.

Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Harry and Ron were studying one of Hermione’s lists, this one a collection of possible artefacts that might have been used for a Horcrux.

“Slytherins Locket and Hufflepuffs cup are two of the Horcruxes we know of for sure. We just have to find them. Riddles diary has been destroyed and Marvolo Gaunt’s ring too. That makes four,” Ron stated the obvious.

“Ron, let’s not go over what we know, let’s try to put some stuff together to make search plan.” Harry was edgy and was trying to keep his impatience under control.

Hermione entered the room weighed down by a large book which she was studying. “I think I might have something here.” She dropped the tome on the table releasing dust from within the pages. “We’ve been having a hard time figuring out where we might find Gryffindor’s artefact but, I think we’ve been looking in the wrong places.”

“Okay, what’s your take on it?” asked Harry.

“Do you remember what the sorting hat said about where the four founders came from?” she asked, trying to jog their memories.

“Can’t say I listened all that closely, Hermione, I was too interested in the feast coming,” replied Ron sheepishly.

“Alright, Slytherin was from the Fens and Gryffindor was from the ‘Wild Moor’, so I went and did a little digging.” She turned back to the book and flipped some pages. “I thought at first it would have been Exmoor but that wouldn’t have fit in with Godric and Salazar knowing each other. I think the Hat is talking about the Yorkshire Moor’s.”

She browsed through the book again. “Just here, the Gaunt family, the last known descendants of Slytherin, lived in Little Hangleton which is in Yorkshire.” She looked at Harry, “I checked, that’s close to where the Riddle family lived too.”

“Yeah, in a big house with a church and graveyard nearby; I’m quite familiar with it,” he said bitterly.

“I think we need to look at places where Gryffindor would have been, that might have artefacts used by him. Then we do the same for Riddle. We should be able to come up with a fairly short list.” She looked at the boys for their reaction. There was none, just blank stares.

“What?” she asked and waited.

Ron sighed, “Hermione, we know you have brilliant mind but isn’t there any other way to do this other than another bloody list? Honestly, if we ever want to...you know...get together that way, will you make a list for that too?”

Hermione stood up suddenly and slammed the book shut. “I can see you are not in a frame of mind for research, so I will go to my room and continue...alone.”

She picked up the book, made a quick about face and marched to the door. She turned back before leaving, “As to the other matter, Ronald Weasley, I had already made a list which I was going to share with you very soon. Given your reluctance to use my lists, I suppose we’d better postpone that matter a little longer too.” She opened the door, walked through and slammed it behind her.

Ron stared at the door, stunned at her declaration. “Did you hear her mate? She’s interested, she wants to... you know.”

Harry nodded, picked up his quill and began writing. As he wrote, he read aloud, “One, buy a copy of ‘Everything you wanted to know about sex but were afraid to ask’. Two, buy condoms.” He paused and looked at Ron, “I’ll bet Hermione gives number two a priority one rating.”

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Pettigrew was leaning up against the book cases with Snape standing over him, “I warned you not to use your wand. There is a reason I choose to live as a Muggle, it‘s called survival. I removed my records from Hogwarts and paid good money to have the same done at the Ministry. I enjoy anonymity.”

“B-b-but. Severus, I’m a wizard, I know nothing of how Muggles live. How am I to be your manservant?” Peter continued to cringe against the hidden door.

“Let me put it to you another way, use that wand once more and I will take it, break it and stuff both pieces up your backside, splinter end first.” Snape gave him one last glare and turned away.

“Of course, my dear Severus, this is your home. I shall certainly follow your strictures.” Peter edged away from the supporting door turning to offer his subservient smile.

“Go and prepare the ingredients I have laid out according to the instructions beside them. I’ll call you when the meal is ready.” Snape waited until the houseguest left the room.

With a sigh, Snape went into the kitchen. If he made life miserable enough, the little rat would run home to the snakes nest sooner rather than later. Opening the pristine larder, he pulled out a large can of beans, two eggs and a stale loaf of bread. The fresh baguette was concealed from prying eyes. He smiled thinking of what his visitor would make of their meagre repast this evening; poached egg with beans on toast. Well, if he didn’t like that, he could always do cheese and biscuits.

Snape absently put together the meal and called Pettigrew.

“Ah, I see you didn’t make it to the market Severus.” Peter eyed the food with barely hidden disdain.

“Indeed, nor will I make it there tomorrow. My funds are limited, I must make do,” he retorted.

Peter took a fork full of food, “I do believe our master thought you were bluffing.”

“I save that energy for those who are too stupid to know better. More toast? I cut the corner off where it had started to go mouldy.” He offered Peter the plate of toast. “It’s only margarine, I’m afraid; much cheaper than butter.”

“Thank you, no, Severus. I have an adequate sufficiency here.” He pointed to his plate with his knife. Peter continued to eat, inspecting each mouthful carefully.

“I shall of course, wash up, Severus. I remember how to do that from the detentions in potions in the old days. Remember?” He wiped his mouth with a napkin and drank a large glass of water to wash down the less than palatable dinner.

“Indeed. Now, for afters, I can offer some biscuits and cheese.” Severus rose and put the plates beside the sink. He opened the larder again and stepped in.

Peter jumped as loud banging and cursing was heard followed by a clatter.

“Got you, you little bugger,” said Snape, stepping out with a dead mouse in one hand and a plate of cheese in the other. “He only nibbled the rind a little. Water biscuits or cream crackers?”

Peter jumped up from the table, “I’m really quite full, old boy. What say I clean up and get back to work.”

Severus dropped the mouse into the rubbish bin, “As you wish. I’ll be in my room. I have some correspondence to catch up on.” He put the plate down and cut off a chunk of cheddar before leaving the kitchen.

Snape entered his room wearing a smile. He turned on the radio he had relocated away from the living room and pulled out a bottle of Merlot. He poured the wine then opened the dresser to pull out some grapes and sweet meal biscuits to go with the cheese. Lucky find that mouse. Always pays to look in the gutter. Two days down, three to go he estimated.

Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Luck won out and Pettigrew ran back to Voldemort, with the potions, on the morning of the fourth day. Dressing in his now, normal everyday Muggle clothing and picking up a note pad and pen, Snape made an afternoon trip to the Central Library. He was about to try a new adventure; using a computer. Muggle magazines had lauded this new research tool and he was willing to give it a try. It might expedite his quest.

Striding up the stairs to a portico crowned by Corinthian columns, Severus recalled his childhood when a trip to the library was an adventure. Entering the majestic building, he looked around, taking in the changes to the environment. He saw a directory ahead which he consulted. Following the directions, he headed for the Networks Centre and paused unsure of how to proceed. He approached the reception desk and waited.

“May I help you?” asked a woman who could have been McGonagall’s twin save for the blonde hair and tasteless make-up.

“I was wondering if there was a computer I might use?” he opened.

“Did you book a time?” she asked sharply.

“Ah, no, I was not aware it was required,” he replied. She even made him feel like McGonagall did when he was a student.

“Well, as you can see, we’re full up.” She looked over at her personal computer, “And by the looks of it, there are no openings at all today.” She looked back at Severus, arching her eyebrow.

Taking a breath to keep his patience in line, Severus asked, “Perhaps tomorrow?”

She shook her head, “Tomorrow morning is reserved for community groups and we’re booked up in the afternoon; midterms you see.”

“Perhaps you could find a time that is open I may book?” he snapped.

She sniffed disdainfully. “Your library card, please?” She held her palm out while looking at the monitor.

Severus sighed in defeat, “I don’t have one.”

“Then you cannot book a time. You may register downstairs.” She then pointedly turned away from him as if he had never spoken.

Biting his lips to stop a cascade of vindictive comments from spewing forth, Severus walked away. He saw the stacks holding the Social Sciences division and made his way over. If nothing else he could browse and make some notes. He paused as a familiar voice reached him and followed the sound.

“Here you, put that down. What do you think this is a play park? Now, go on with you. Don’t let me catch you at it again. Honestly, little buggers have no respect.” The comments were followed by a world weary sigh on offered on the tails of three pre-adolescent boys running away.

“Dunderheads, the lot of them,” said Severus, as he leaned on the end of a table watching Jenny replace a display of new publications.

She paused and turned, “Oh, hello; fancy meeting you here.” She turned back to finished her task. “What brings you here, Severus? Looking for some light reading?”

“I had hoped to do a little research on one of your computers, but I couldn’t get past Sarasvati at the front desk.” He told her acerbically.

Jenny started to laugh, “That’s a good one, I’ve never heard Renita compared to a Hindu Goddess before.”

“You read, Miss Doulton,” he commented wryly.

Jenny made a small moue at his comment, “I’m a librarian, Severus; and it’s still Jenny.” She finished restoring the display and walked towards him. “What were you researching? Maybe I could point you in the right direction.”

“A bit of local history but from about the time of the Norman Invasion,” he replied.

Jenny frowned, “Most of the good stuff would be in the archives and you need permission to use them. Most of the new books are compilations of the early works.” She appeared to think for a moment.

“I do have an idea but I’m not sure if you’d go for it, being such a gentleman and all.” She looked up at him sideways.

“What would that be, Jenny?” he asked.

“Well, I have a computer sitting alone on my desk at home. I wouldn’t mind if you used it...that is if you don’t mind coming round to the house.” She looked up at him, waiting for a reaction. “In fact, you could come for tea if you want. I’ve got a steak and kidney pudding ready.”

He appeared to mull over the idea and then looked uneasy.

“Oh, I’ve done it again, haven’t I?” Jenny frowned, annoyed at herself.

He looked at her confused. “Pardon?”

“My mum always said I was too pushy for my own good. You’ve barely known me two minutes and I’m asking you over to my house.” She looked away, embarrassed.

Snape shook his head, “I was not thinking that at all. I would appreciate taking you up on your offer but there’s no need to entertain me. I merely....”

“Look, I’m off in half an hour. If you want to use the computer, meet me at the front doors then. If you’re not there, well no hard feelings.” She smiled and made to leave him.

“Jenny,” he reached out to stop her,” I accept your offer...both your offers, but I insist on bringing something.” He waited for her reply.

“Alright, you bring some wine. I don’t have anything like that in.” She looked at him expectantly.

“Thirty minutes at the front doors; I shall be there.” Snape nodded, and then left to find the off-licence.

‘Snape, old boy,’ he thought, ‘what the hell are you doing.’ He’d not had a casual acquaintance with a woman in over ten years. That relationship went sour when he’d refused to kowtow to her family’s desire for him to leave teaching and go into private business; their private business. What was it that let him be comfortable around this Muggle? He put off the thought as he perused the stock in the wine grocers.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

“You’ve never used a computer before?” asked Jenny incredulously.

“No, I have not.” Severus admitted.

“But you’re a teacher, didn’t you have computer studies at your school?” she asked.

Snape paused before dissembling. “Where I taught, they emphasized the basics. Students studied without modern technology.” That is the ultimate in understatement, he thought to himself.

“Oh, alright then; well, where to start?” She pulled up a chair beside him.....

An hour and two glasses of wine later, Severus had caught on to ‘Surfing the Web’. He rather enjoyed it. The computer and the wine, that is.

“Dinner’s almost done, are you hungry?” called Jenny from the kitchen. She received no response. With a sigh, she picked up her glass and walked back to the front room. There he was, the typical man thoroughly engrossed in the ever-worshipped monitor. At least it wasn’t Rugby or Football. This man was a scholar and that turned her on more than she liked to admit.

“Severus, are you ready to eat?” she asked.

“Hmm? Oh yes, of course. It smells wonderful,” he responded.

“I think I’ve created a monster.” Jenny returned to her chair beside him. “I can’t believe you never used a computer before. You’ve taken to it like a fish to water.”

Severus shrugged, “I’ve always been a fast learner.”

“So have you found what you’re looking for?” she asked.

He shook his head. “Not yet. I’ve tried different searches but they all end up fruitless.”

Jenny took his hand, “Come on, let’s have dinner and then I’ll help you.” Severus looked at her askance. “You can stick that look, Severus Snape, I’m a librarian. Research assistance is our bread and butter.

“I am all apologetic, marm, I am most humbled by your generosity.” He rose to be led to the kitchen.

“Okay, Mr. Darcy, the steak and kidney pudding is ready. I’m glad you got two bottles of wine, I like this stuff.” She pulled him into the kitchen and sat him at the table before pulling dishes from the oven. “Hope you like it. My ex said my cooking was naff but I think he was just being a miserable sod ‘cause my mum loved my food.”

Severus inhaled the aroma of rich gravy and savoury vegetables. They each served themselves and began to eat. “Whoever your ex-husband was must have had his taste buds damaged, for your cooking is exemplary,” he told her after a few mouthfuls.

“Thank you, Severus. I appreciate a man with good taste.” She smiled and raised her wine glass to him.

“My compliments to the chef.” Severus raised his glass in return.

After they ate, the couple returned to the computer. Jenny watched his searches and wondered what he was trying to find. “Severus, what are you looking for?” she asked.

He sighed deeply, “I am researching a theory about one of the founders of our school. I and others have theorized he had many artefacts which have been removed from their rightful places over time.”

“How old is this school? There weren’t many around that weren’t attached to chapels a thousand years ago.” Jenny had reached for the keyboard.

“The school was founded at that time and has undergone many incarnations since then.” He was hesitant to share more.

“Was he a knight or clergy?” she asked, suddenly all professional.

“A knight definitely. He would have appeared in the Domesday book at one time.” Severus watched as Jenny began to type; she actually used ten fingers, he noticed.

“Now, what kind of things did he leave behind you know of?” she asked.

“A hat, a sword, some writings, a brass door knocker...I’m sure there’s more but I’m not aware of them,” he replied.

Jenny thought for a moment, then made a suggestion. “Let’s do a little exercise, I’ll say a word I know is related to the knighthood and you respond back with whatever comes to mind.”

Snape nodded, he had no better ideas. She began. “Castle.”

“School,” he replied. Seeing her look at him oddly he explained, “The school I taught at was a castle.”

Jenny nodded and tried again, “Axe.”

Snape replied, “Weapon.”

“Bow.” “Arrow.” “Armour.” “Helmet.” “Protection.” “Sword.” “Shield.” “Coat of arms.”

Severus straighten in his chair, “Wait, look for a shield with a Griffin in the coat of arms.”

Jenny entered the search and waited, “There, Greater Driffield and All Saints Church. They have griffins in the architecture as well.” She looked at him. He was rubbing his thumb over his lips. “Penny for them?” she hinted.

“It makes sense. I must go there a see for myself.” He looked at her and shared a rare smile, “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” She returned his smile.

Snape shook himself, and stood. “I’ve taken up enough of your time, Jenny. I should head home.”

Jenny stood as well, “You don’t have to run off. It’s not that late and I’m off tomorrow.” She looked at him hopefully. Visitors were rare in her house. She sighed, “I’m sorry, I don’t get many visitors. I must sound pathetic.” She looked away not wanting to see his look of pity.

“You’re single again, you must have a gentleman who’s interested in you?” Why he asked, Snape would never understand but it seemed necessary at the time.

Jenny shared a rueful smile, “No. I’m not the sort blokes fall over themselves to get to.”

“More fool they.” Snape told her quietly.

“Thank you, that was kind,” she replied in the same tone.

“Not kind, merely truthful. Perhaps I could enjoy one more glass of wine before I leave.” He looked at her hoping he had restored her smile and was rewarded when it returned.

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