(At an equal pace)
Professor Flitwick hustled himself into the headmasters office, excitement lighting his eyes from deep within. His latest discovery held close to his heart for protection. It had been such a wonderful find, just sitting in the remnants box in the book shop in Hogsmeade, unnoticed, unwanted till he had felt the hidden charms magic calling to him from within the closed pages. And what powerful charms the treasure held!
"Albus, my dear friend, I think I have found a wonderful spell!" the diminutive Charms teacher heaved and placed the massive old tome on the headmasters desk. He climbed onto a chair to stand and loom as best he could over the desk and teacher, both of whom loomed more assuredly over him. "See, I have marked the page. If my translation is correct, and if you permit it, oh, and if Minerva is willing to help, we can give our young Mister Potter a most precious gift this Halloween"
"Filius, calm yourself, and explain to me just what it is that has you so excited?" Albus Dumbledore leaned over to join Flitwick in looking at his great discovery.
The soft touch of ancient magics caressed Dumbledores mind like a lovers hand would his skin. He could almost see everyone who had hurt this tomes feelings, ignoring it in such hurtful ways. He lifted a hand and caressed the page Filius had opened for him. He could feel it; the book loved him for his delicacy of touch. Beside him, the diminutive Charms professor gave voice to the wonderful books most wonderful magics.
"Its an ancient spell, a more or less totally forgotten version of the Resurrection Charm... oh, truly its nothing like the one He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named used, oh no, no immortality, nothing like that, but, its seemingly a temporary return for spirits, ghost you can actually touch, and they can touch you, too. If we can acquire a bone from each of our poor Mister Potters parents, we can return them to him for twelve hours over Halloween night! Let him say his farewells, the poor boy was robbed of their comfort so young! And he seems to have to face down their killer, by himself, every year, the poor child, that perhaps he will be comforted if he can talk to his mother and father; and know that he fights as strongly as anyone could want of him?" Flitwick kneeled on the desk, all the better to beseech Albus into letting him try his latest magical find.
Dumbledore touched the tome of magical lore and felt the draw of Flitwicks find for himself. The book held a gift they could not find anywhere else, a gift worthy of the Boy-Who-Lived; the gift of finally knowing his parents. Letting poor, dear Harry see for himself just how wonderful his wonderful parents truly were. Letting Albus see them again too, who still mourned them, who would deny them nothing, not even letting them see their son after all that time in their graves.
"I shall call Minerva in. In the mean time, please calm yourself, focus your thoughts and ideas, and we shall discuss this calmly before we decide anything." The headmaster went over to his fireplace and summonsed his deputy to their impromptu meeting. He simply knew she would love this book too; she was mature enough to understand how to treat delicate matters and ancient magics.
To hell with having a school to run today; that was what tomorrow was for, if tomorrow ever came.
A single candle lit; sympathetic magic linked to the book feeling eyes of the living scanning its secrets, and mumbling breath uttering choice pieces of its extra special spell. The eyes that looked upon that candle glowed red; the laugh that accompanied their watchful glee was a hissed sound, not a natural sound, but one much practised.
"The candle has lit!" The hiss of laughter became a hiss of words. "We have only twenty four hours to wait until we can destroy both targets! I can hardly wait..." The rasping voice stilled to an almost silent chuckle, all the more terrifying for the total lack of volume.
The bait, or rather the book, had been taken to Hogwarts.
In the potions classroom, Severus Snape was dashing a bubbling cauldron into a magically secured sink. He dropped the blast spell just in time as the potion that had been miss-brewed in the small cauldron erupted, spraying the inside of the magical force field with a bright, slightly adhesive, smelly purple goo. Imagining what that would have felt like had it covered his skin instead of the magical force field, Severus shuddered in dread.
"Sir, are you all right?" A timid voice asked from the Hufflepuff side of the room. "That blew up so fast! Just seconds since I put the leech bile in..." The voice trailed off, the owner of the voice was looking at the ingredients that lay before him on his desk, then at the board, then at his professor. "Fuck! Shit! Bugger! I used the wrong bleedin leech bile... I used horse leech... fuckin hell... its a bloody good job I didnt use thermyzon bile, that would have blown instantly. I am most honestly sorry, Professor Snape, it is entirely my fault!"
Severus Snape, turning to face the speaker, just stood there, looking at the boy, thoroughly amazed. A look of profound disbelief in his normally blank, black eyes.
"Good grief!" He finally spoke, an almost whisper compared to the voice the Slytherin/Gryffindor class was used to hearing. "Mister Carnagie finally got it! He finally understands something about Potions and the need for care and attention to details! Pity, however, that it came at the end of an explosion." He graced the blushing boy with a patented Snape glare. "Oh, and while on the subject that will be five points off from Hufflepuff for the exploding potion, ten points to Hufflepuff for finally getting the point; another five points off, however, for the outburst, and, a further four points off for a lamentable lack of originality!"
"Yahoo!" A female voice sang out from the Ravenclaw side of the room, totally surprising, and confusing, everyone in the classroom. That state of confusion included the hidden in the back doggy spy more commonly known as Snuffles around the school, and as Sirius Black in private, by those in the know. Though no one knew that he was currently holed up under an unused desk out of everyones way, listening, watching when and where he could, as Severus went about his daily routine of teaching the pupils of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
"Miss Sharp, I am wounded, wounded to the soul, that you would cheer my imminent demise at the drop of erroneously added leech bile!" He stood there, hand resting lightly above his heart, head bowed in a slightly mocking salute as he faced the girl; had this been the Slytherin/Gryffindor class that comment would have been spoken with utter contempt, with sarcasm dripping from every word. In this class, Severus seemed to use far more humour. Sirius investigations as to just what made Severus Snape tick had revealed a completely different teacher in Hufflepuff/Ravenclaw classes. One that joked, dryly none the less, but still managed to joke with those classes anyway. "Do, please, enlighten us as to the reason for your somewhat untimely cheer?"
"Your promise, sir, back in third year, you said that youd take us all out for a day if Harvey Carnagie ever got the point in potions!"
Severus looked at the girl, a snarl forming on his lips just before he replied to her memory jogging statement.
"Will someone kindly remind me, next lesson, to brew a selective memory blocker for the whole of the student body?" And that was an actual joke, from Severus; the class even recognised it as such and laughed. Sirius lay with his snout on his forepaws and wished he knew how to get to know this Severus Snape, rather than the one who habitually treated him with nothing but well deserved contempt. His desire to get to know Severus was becoming far more than just wanting Harry to be allowed to meet his hitherto unknown twin siblings, far, far more.
A mere flick of a hand brought the class back into line. The currently invisible dog hiding up the back of the room, out of accidental stomping range, was still amazed at the easy way these kids had with the schools resident grump. This definitely was the Severus he remembered reading the thoughts of from the hidden pensieve in his office cupboard.
"I shall broach the subject with your Heads of House, and should they both agree, I shall arrange an outing, a day spent away from Hogwarts..." Severus let the cheer build before he doused the enthusiasm with cold, harsh reality. "A day spent at the Henge Academy, I think, will be of great educational purpose." He smirked at the slightly less enthused kids. "Can anyone tell me how the Henge differs from Hogwarts? What is the main difference between the two schools?"
Sirius could not tell the difference, he had never heard of the Henge Academy, he could not see the kids around him all too clearly, but he could hear the whispered discussions going on all around him.
"Doesnt the Henge take pupils from age five and upwards?" A boy from the Hufflepuff side asked.
"Five points to Hufflepuff, yes, Mister Clark." The class held their breath in case Severus decided to remove those five points just as quickly as he granted them. "They do take children as young as five for magical prep classes as day students, but they only take boarders from seven. The Henge, for those who do not know, does not take on as many pupils as Hogwarts, but takes them on right from the start of their scholastic education, and its situated in well shielded grounds, inside an actual Henge, hence the name, and is near the Muggle town of Glastonbury." Severus did a quick walk round the class, checking everyone elses potions, once completed, with only a few sarcastic comments, and more praise than he ever gave his own house, or their arch rivals, he had them clear the cauldrons and dismissed class.
Over dinner Flitwick, McGonagall and Dumbledore were heads together over their latest discovery, or project, or humiliating ideas for cheering Severus up, the Potions master knew the signs. Severus knew from experience that when those particular three got together it was advisable to be out of their immediate reach for a while. Such as his proposed visit to the Henge Academy; an idea that prompted him in to discussing the proposed outing with his two fellow Heads of House concerned with the notion. Therefor, he turned to Professor Sprout first, as she was both closest and not otherwise occupied in discussion.
"Professor Sprout, I formally request your permission to take your seventh year class out for a day, tomorrow, if you are agreeable. I proposed the Henge Academy, and the little monsters some people falsely call children agreed to the destination."
Professor Sprout was at first confused by Severus formal start then, on understanding what had happened, she giggled, as she was wont so to do, and readily agreed to Severus proposition. "Why, certainly, Severus, I take it young Mister Carnagie finally got the idea behind potions?" She had known about his bet with the lad since he had made it back in the boys third year, as well as having overheard her seventh years discussing the matter that afternoon in Herbology class. Not that she let that little detail slip, it just did not do to let Severus think one was anything less than omniscient.
"He did indeed. I take it then that you have no objection to my taking your charges out of school for a day?" Severus wondered if she truly recalled that long ago bet, or had here charges reminded her of the incident somehow since he had dismissed their potions class?
"None whatsoever, but, I will recommend that you take at least one other teacher with you, especially if Filius is letting you take his charges too!"
"I havent had the chance to speak to him, as yet, he seems a tad busy right now!" Severus nodded in the direction of their three fellow teachers, heads together, talking ninety to the dozen.
Sprout knew that for all his filibuster Severus Snape was loath to interrupt other peoples conversations, especially when their talk was with Albus Dumbledore. She, however, had no such foibles.
"Filius..." she added a hard nudge to her fellow Head of Houses ribs for good measure, knowing from old how hard it was to get the smaller teachers attention. "Young Mister Carnagie finally got the idea in potions... Severus is keeping his word, naturally, and wants your permission to take your seventh year cherubim for a day out at the Henge Academy. I suggested he take at least one other teacher, if he gets to take your little darlings along with mine. Oh, and he wants to take them out tomorrow, so do hurry up your decision!"
"He did! He is! You said that! Good... really, a good idea, yes, certainly, a day out and another teacher." He leaned far enough forward to see past Sprouts bulk and actually look at Snape as he spoke to the other man himself. "Take them, let me know just when it is youre going, where and when youre getting back and all that usual stuff, and I do think a second teacher is a very good idea!"
Listening in, and having been fully briefed by Sirius as to what was going on, Remus Lupin took this opportunity for yet another step closer to being trusted by Severus. Neither he, nor Sirius Black, had broached the subject of the hitherto undisclosed twins with Severus, neither of them wanted to totally wipe out any chance Harry had for knowing his brother and sister by moving too fast.
"Id be willing to help supervise an out of school trip. I met the Henges DADA teacher a few years back and she really knows her stuff!" He put a slightly selfish spin to his offer, his real reason having to remain a secret for the moment.
Luckily, Albus had stopped to listen while Filius was speaking with Severus and he put his own seal of approval on things, not that he knew Remus hidden agenda either.
"Why, thank you, Remus, then it is all settled, you will go with Severus and the seventh year Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaw to visit the Henge Academy. I believe that is a rather small private school with excellent results behind them. Severus, you will take Remus, and maybe even Snuffles can go along to help keep an eye on the children? Cant have the dog pining for his owner; now can we? As for those of us not getting to go on this fine adventure, tomorrow, being Halloween, is an elective holiday which I shall let you all take this year." Not giving Severus the chance to argue, he turned back to his discussion with Minerva and Filius, leaving Severus to fume quietly at the very notion of an entire day out with Lupin and Black. It would make his own hidden agenda all the harder to fulfil; how could he spend quality time with his own children if he was being hounded by the werewolf and his damned so called dog? However, any protest he could have made would have been drowned out by the cheer for Albus general holiday declaration. Unable to control the urge, Black wagged his tail with excited fury.
"Were going by floo, from here, from the main fireplace on the west wall of the hall, there!" Severus pointed to the fireplace in question, as he did so he wondered why Lupin was putting up with his quite deliberate pedantry. "First thing tomorrow, nine am, sharp! Its all arranged with the staff at the Henge, be there, I am not waiting for you." Severus turned away from the werewolf and started on his dinner, annoyed that he was going to be followed by the two nosiest Gryffindors he had ever known, even junior Potter and his friends still had a lot left to learn from the elder pair.
After dinner, Albus and his fellow conspirators got together to finalise just what they would require to perform the spell Filius had found. They quite overlooked the fact that it was necromancy, and as such was part of the Dark Arts. Their quest was for Harry, and that was all the self-justification that their conscious minds seemed to require.
"We will require a bone from each parent, a fragment of garment to clothe them in and, of course, a drop or two of their sons blood. But given that we will be bringing his mother and father back to him, to let him have a single night knowing his parents love for himself, well, I dont suppose he will possibly be able to object to us borrowing a couple of drops of his blood." What Albus did not add was especially if we dont tell him which was the last thought he had as he spoke to his fellow spell casters.
"Quite, quite so, headmaster. Now, if we are ready shall we get along to Godrics graveyard and collect the other required items? And, naturally, thence to Godrics Hollow for the remaining mementoes." Flitwick almost danced in his excitement, the complexity of their proposed work was such as he had not had the chance to do for many long years.
With a brief warning, penned and attached to an owls leg, letting Severus know he was in charge for the moment, barring expulsions, and that Albus and Minerva would be back no later than ten p.m., they set off via portkey to their necessary locations. They had less than twenty-four hours to complete their tasks and preparations; tomorrow was Halloween. The one night of the year when the veil between the living and the dead was thin enough for their wonderful new spell to work.
In his chambers, Severus read the missive the owl had brought to him and sighed.
"Whats wrong, Uncle Severus?" Draco was, as was his usual practice, sitting on the couch at right angles to the very comfortable armchair Severus occupied by habit.
"Our beloved leaders are off out on some jaunt, or date, Dumbledore and McGonagall will be out until about ten tonight, leaving me in charge of all we survey, so long as I dont make any decisions. I get all the responsibility but none of the actual authority, what a surprise." Severus looked once more at his list of restrictions and wondered why they had bothered informing him of their departure anyway. "Oh, lovely!" The derision he managed to get into such a short sentence was, as always, impressive.
"Anyway, what I came here for was to ask you if I can come with you tomorrow? Itd be great to see Tone and Biddy. You and your family are the nearest thing I have left to a family. And I can help give wolf-boy, and his wonder dog, the run around for you while you visit with them too?" Draco gave his godfather his very best poor little orphan boy look and hoped for the best.
Severus Snape sat there for a good few minutes, watching his young charge trying to keep the pitiful look on his face, thinking about his offer. Thinking about his family, his parents, his children, his partner; and getting to spend even a little extra time with them.
"All right! You may go, but I wouldnt let Elizabeth ever hear you refer to her as Biddy... unless you really do have a passion for pain and being with Madam Pomfrey on an on-going basis." Severus laughed at the sudden change of expression on Dracos face.
"You think Im that stupid? That suicidal?" He looked almost hurt at Severus assumption. "Youre not going to tell her I called her Biddy, are you?"
"What, me, actually mention the word Biddy anywhere remotely seeming like being in her actual presence? I am not that brave! Damn it boy, what do you take me for, a suicidal Gryffindor with lead feet?"
Draco laughed, shook his head to refute his godfathers last statement, stood up and stretched, he yawned and crossed to his godfathers side, whereupon he gave him a quick hug and bade him good night. Severus watched the boy leave, reviewing past images of the three children running, screaming, playing together as close friends, almost family, are wont to do; running the memories past his inner eye, missing his friends greatly.
"Dont worry, Lucius, I will never let any of them make the same stupid mistakes we did!" Upon the soft closing of his chamber door, Severus made his usual whispered promise to his missing friend, missing from their hearts, their lives, their existence. Gone, but he vowed neither Lucius, nor Narcissa, would ever be forgotten by their son, or his own children for that matter.
In Remus Lupins quarters two adults and a nervous teenager all paced the small sitting room, each making their own silent plans for the amorphous future.
"Do you think theres a chance that Severus children will be at the Henge Academy?" Harry asked, for the tenth time in as many minutes, unable to remain silent when his family, his half-brother and half-sister were possibly so close to him.
"We all read the book Remus found in the library; Severus father, whom I have to admit I thought was long dead, teaches potions there, his mothers headmistress, Id say the chances of the twins being pupils there runs fairly high." Sirius smiled at his eager godson and opened his arms, hugging the boy before the lad could burst with the build up of emotions. "We will keep our eyes open and observe everything and everyone we possibly can. Just because you cant go doesnt mean youre going to miss out on a thing!" They shared a laugh, eyes meeting and the delight shining clearly from both of them.
"And well even keep a respectful distance from Severus so he doesnt feel hedged in; just leave it to us! Not that we can give you hard and fast promises; Id love to be in a position to do that, but, its been far harder to get close to Severus than I ever thought possible. I have never seen anyone look as suspicious as Severus does at receiving a simple smile and polite greeting." Remus sighed, a guilt laden sound that seemed to come from his very soul.
"Weve done so much to him over the years, it might be too much for him to ever forgive us for; but, just maybe we can show him that he shouldnt keep you from your family to punish us, hmm?" Sirius hugged the boy once more and turned him towards the door. "Since I heard that Minervas intending to go out somewhere with Albus this evening, leaving our wonderful Severus in charge of the entire school tonight, maybe you want to get to your common room before curfew? Keep him sweet, or at least, give him less reason for distrust?"
"Yeah, youre right, good night Sirius, Remus!" He waved, he hugged them both once more, turned to the door and offered one more benediction before he disappeared out the door. "Good luck tomorrow!"
As the door closed behind him Remus and Sirius shared a long hard look.
"Good luck? I rather think we are going to need every ounce of good luck the world has to offer." Remus smiled, trying to off set his pessimistic tendencies, trying hard not to tempt fate too much.
In the graveyard attached to Godrics Hollow, three magical grave robbers stood before the grave of Harrys mother. They summoned a single bone to assist them in comforting her son. It took time to have the bone dig itself out of the casket it had been buried in, and then through the depths of the earth above it. Breaking free of its internment, the bone flew towards the crumpled form that had once been a dress robe Lily Potter had worn. Thence it was wrapped in the robe all by magic, no mortal hand touching it.
The same steps were repeated for the grave nestled next to hers. James Potters bones also gave up one of their number, but, for some reason those summoning it could not determine, the struggle was far harder for his bone, than for hers.
Finally, exhausted, the trio made their way back to Hogwarts, to rest before their equally as hard tasks set before them the following day.
As soon as the three Hogwarts personnel had apperated away, an owl flew silently into the night and, upon her reaching her destination, a new candle lit up right beside the first one.
"Eighteen hours and the excitement mounts!" This time the chuckle became a wheezing laugh.
Deep under Hogwarts, in the potion masters private chambers, the notification of the headmaster and his deputys departure burst into a magical flame. Severus noticed it, but did not pay it too much attention, he returned immediately to the conversation he was indulging himself with, via the floo system.
"Ill see you tomorrow, tell my mother Im having to bring an extra teacher, and his bloody dog, will you?" He smiled at his partner, missing him, not even able to stay over the following night either. Any contact between them would be better than nothing, however.
"Surely... did you say his dog... an extra teacher and his dog? As in that pair?" Marcus Tolstoy, Severus partner for some fourteen years, scowled at the idea of his Severus being forced into the company of a pair of scoundrels that had at one time conspired to kill him.
"The very same!" Severus laughed, a delightful sound, recognising Marcus desire to protect him. "Theyve behaved themselves entirely this year. Its so strange, theyve even taken to being polite whenever we meet, which is pretty often in this place. Big as it is, its still a closed community. They must be after something, but I just cant figure out what... I already make him the bloody potion each month, so it cant be that, unless this is their twisted way of saying thank you? Or just messing with my mind?" Now, he scowled too, frustrated at being unable to divine his archrivals intent.
"Well, dont worry, I will keep them under a close watch tomorrow. They will slip up eventually and then we will know what it is they want. Ill tell the kids too, so they dont go running up and giving their secrets away for free." Marcus looked intently at Severus, worry clearly written large in his face. "You dont think that they want the children do you? That they want to finish what that bastard started all those years ago?"
"No... I dont think so. How could they know? If Potter had left word of the childrens existence then you can bet your last Knut that Dumbledore, or someone similar, would have attempted to take them from me long since. And since they were his eternal shame, I dont see him sullying his own memorials with notes regarding his bastard get as he so delightfully called them. Its a pity he didnt remain alive long enough to learn the truth, that would have made a pretty picture, just the look on his face!" Severus snarled, the raw, angered sound releasing a lot of his tension, once refocused he smiled at Marcus, a rich, happy smile. "By the by, Ive agreed to let Draco come with us; the boy so wants to see Tone and Biddy, his choice of names, not mine!" Severus held up both hands in a surrender position to indicate his innocence in that faux pas.
"That boy sure likes to live dangerously!" Marcus laughed along with his beloved Severus. "So, what do you think our silence will be worth? He cleans out the stables over Christmas and Easter breaks?"
Their conversation turned to the more normal things parents discuss, and the degree to which they missed each other. Shared words of love over the floo network were not the same as vows whispered in their bed to a warm, receptive lover.
After Harry left them, Remus and Sirius continued to pace the small room. Both of them felt the same, almost magical tension in the air; neither of them fully understood what was causing it. They thought they were just too tense over the remote chance of seeing Jamess hidden children the very next day. Also, the prospect of being close to Severus away from Hogwarts, was not to be sneezed at either.
"You should have seen him in that class today, it was like he was a different man away from the Slytherins and Gryffindors!" Sirius spoke as he passed Remus mid arc.
"Ah, but, if I had been there hed have been his usual self, now wouldnt he?" Remus sighed, Sirius had far more opportunities to see Severus more or less as he truly was. Sarcastic, almost always, a good teacher, almost went without saying, an attractive man in the prime of his life... a fact that neither of them had really noticed before this latest quest. "I cant help but feel responsible for his being alone after all these years." He sighed, he stopped pacing and looked at his friend. "If we had never picked on him, where would he be in life? Would he have ended up such easy prey for Voldemort?"
"Arent you assuming that he was easy prey? He might have been more than willing to join Voldemort. Hell, he might even be the new Voldemort, the replacement Dark Lord after Voldies eventual down fall!" Sirius did not stop to think that if none of the marauders had picked on Severus Snape, then that would also preclude James Potters botched prank potion and the very children they were hoping to meet. It would also have precluded James and Lilys deaths for just such cause.
"Sirius, if it hadnt been for yet another bloody stupid marauder prank, on James part rather than yours, for once, Voldemort would never have fallen in the first place. Remember, he was avenging Severus babies, and James bloody stupid attempt on their lives?" Remus met and held Sirius eyes. "And Severus was already spying for Albus by then anyway. What we dont know, amongst so many other facts that we dont yet know, is why, exactly, Severus joined the Death Eaters in the first place!"
Sirius thought for a moment or two, casting his mind back to his most infamous prank and compared post prank Severus Snape with pre-prank Severus Snape. The big difference that he saw was that before the shrieking shack Severus would not give Lucius Malfoys friends the time of day; afterwards they were inseparable as Lucius had had his friends constantly around the younger boy, protecting him, or so they said. Alas, Sirius had to concede that they were indeed protecting Severus, from him, and James, and Remus, and Peter, even from Lily and their constant round of pranks and torments they had set to make Severus suffer.
"Something made him turn to Lucius Malfoy, they had always been fairly friendly, but after the shack they were very friendly indeed. Hell, Severus even tolerated Lucius strange friends too!" Sirius shrugged. "And I dont think we can just walk up to him and ask why he felt the desire to be friendly with Malfoy after we... no, to be fair, after I had a go at having you kill him!"
"Theres something I always wanted to know about that night, Sirius, and you are the only one I can ask." Remus looked directly into his friends eyes as he spoke.
"Ask, you are far more than entitled to any answers I can give you."
"Why, Siri, why did you do it?"
"I had this half crazed idea that if I could put the fear of you into his soul, then he would stop watching you, and by extension, us! Thats all, only thats not all that happened, but, he did stop watching you, although I am amazed that it took him twenty years to finally tell everyone what you are. I expected him to go blurting it out as soon as he possibly could; a consequence I never thought of until James mentioned it the morning after, I might add."
"If he had been watching me, and I never noticed him watching me, I wonder why he was doing so? What did he see in me worthy of his constant vigilance?" Remus almost spoke to himself his voice was that low.
"Remus, you were then, and are now, a very attractive man, if you put your mind to it you could attract anyone, even Severus Snape. So many girls, and these days women, have let me know both as a lad and more recently as your pet dog, just how attractive you are. Maybe he fancied you? Its not beyond all reason that he might have found you attractive too!"
"I could but dream!" Remus laughed, a harsh bitter burst of sound. "Damn it, Siri, I fancied him like crazy! Had done, on and off, since third year. I suppose its too late to rekindle any possible interest he might have had in me along those lines, hmm? All those years in between then and now! And he doesnt exactly care much for my little case of Lycanthropy!" The bitterness in Remus voice showed Sirius just how much his long ago action had cost his friend, a possible mate, a possible lover, a possible friend.
"But hes so alone now, you never see him with anyone, he has no friends, no family... other than the twins, that we know of, granted there are his parents but we dont know if they even speak to each other? Anyway, parents, and kids forced on his body are hardly a great social circle, now are they? No one ever hears Severus talk about anyone being in his personal life; Im beginning to doubt he even has a personal life, you know? I would think he would welcome your attention if you showed him you were interested in him, so long as you were actually interested, and not just doing it for the twins sakes!" Sirius smiled, hoping to encourage his friend into believing in his own charms.
"Siri, I know youre mostly straight, but, really, that voice? Those eyes? And have you ever just watched his hands? That man is sexy as hell and doesnt even seem to realise it. Who couldnt be interested in all that untapped potential? Someone has to awaken all that slumbering passion!" This time Remus laughed out loud, highly amused. "Listen to me, waxing lyrical like some truly trashy romance story!"
"I know, I know! I heard him do his ensnaring the senses speech to the first years, damn it! And he damn near ensnared me right along with them..." he sighed, a deep, cleansing action. "I guess were both going to have to ensnare him then?"
"What can stop us when we work in concert?" Remus grinned at his friend and finally began to feel sleepy enough to retire to his bed. "Sleep, now, ready for our first day of the get Severus campaign tomorrow! Good night Sirius, see you in the morning." Remus headed for his bedroom door and the welcome oblivion of sweet dreams.
Behind him Sirius headed for his even smaller room and his own bed, and his own private dreams of Severus Snape.
For his part, Severus was in bed, thinking about Marcus, wishing that the night would pass and he could be with his family at the Henge Academy. Sighing, the frustrated potions master rolled over, towards his night-stand and snagged the little vial of sleeping draught he had there. Otherwise, there was no chance of him sleeping at all that night. Not that he went for a dreamless sleep potion, he most assuredly did not want to deny himself dreams of the hazel eyes and light brown hair, of a slightly faded tan on the firmly muscled body of his Marcus.
And, several hundred miles to the south, Marcus lay in his bed thinking about his Severus and the day they would have the very next time they both awoke. If only they could come up with some way to lose the two Gryffindorks!
The Gryffindor common room was privy to three seventh year pupils quietly discussing the latest movements in the reunite the Potters campaign. Hermione still wanted Harry to petition the courts for access to his half siblings, she felt sure the wizarding world would deny Harry nothing, given his status as the Boy Who Lived! He might as well make it work for him for once. Ron continued to point out that under Veritaserum Snape would mention Harrys dad trying to kill his children, mention Harrys godfather trying to kill him, that his other family friend is the actual werewolf Sirius had tried to feed him to, and no court in the entire wizarding world would find for Harry. It would not matter how loudly they cried but its Snape the courts would figure that knowing the past would mean Harry could kiss any future with his brother and sister good bye. Once again, he found himself explaining wizard custody laws to the disbelieving Muggle born witch. For her part, Hermione had never heard anything so preposterous in all her life.
If Harry could track his siblings down, and if he could have Professor Snape killed, or incapacitated in some on-going way, then he could have an adult of his choice, Rons mother for example, apply for custody of the younger children. Snapes failure to protect himself would mean, by implication, that his entire family, should he have one, were also as unlikely to protect the children as they were unable to protect him.
"So, all wizarding law comes down to, more times than not, is who has the bigger stick and can hit harder?" She looked on aghast as Ron nodded. "But what about all that stuff about blood relations being greater protection than non-blood relations? Thats why Harrys had to stay with the bleedin Dursleys all this time? Whats that about then?" The boys knew that if Hermione was swearing, even if she only ever used the mildest of expletives, then she was bordering the absolute limits to her temper.
"Ah, but we want to protect Harry from You-Know-Who; Harry just wants to know his brother and sister. And if he discovers he doesnt actually like them, or they dont like him for some reason, staying with non-blood relations makes it easier to get them into an orphanage!" Ron smiled at her, trying to reassure her that wizarding laws were far superior to anything that Muggles could think up.
"That is the single sickest thing Ive ever heard of within the wizarding world!" She looked from the smug Ron to the almost as disgusted as herself Harry. "I dont think even Harry approves of that sort of action!"
"Well, of course not, if I caused Snape to be killed, or even just grievously injured, I could never expect my brother and sister to like me! Thats a stupid way to gain custody; lose their trust and respect, along with them losing their parent and their rights to live with him before you even earn it! You cant treat children like they were domestic pets!" Harry was so close to that final step and getting to know his siblings with Snapes approval that Rons so called legal ploy just seemed so totally wrong.
"What rights?" Ron asked, totally confused by their Muggle attitudes once more. "Children have no rights, were property, in law, until we become adults ourselves. Until you can live a free life your parents can do what they want with you! For examples, just look at the Slytherins!"
"Ron, one day you will realise that the wizarding worlds way of doing things is not necessarily the best. That Muggle ideas are well worth adopting in some ways, and in the Muggle world you have tons of laws just looking out for your rights! Your right to live a life free of fear, your right to an education, oh, tons of them under the childrens charter and stuff!" Hermione stood up, glared at the red headed wizard and then glanced a little softer in Harrys direction, "Im going to bed before I start a whole new campaign... Save the Children in the Wizarding World or something. I shouldnt expect anything else from a society that thinks child welfare begins and ends with Victorian orphanages. Never heard of social care, probably never heard of Child Benefit either...." Hermione stomped up the stairs towards her dorm room, still grumbling.
"What child benefit? A charity event for kids?" Ron looked suitably confused, much as he frequently did when on the losing end of an argument with Hermione, and just as frequently he looked to Harry to explain Hermiones all too Muggle point of view. This time was no exception.
"In the Muggle world, in Britain anyway, the government pays something like fifty pounds, or it might be a bit more, anyway, they pay that amount every four weeks to families with children, the more children you have, still at school or under school age, well, the more money you get. Even the Durselys used my existence to get all the benefits they could from the government." Harry began to count out the various allowances his aunt and uncle were paid, just for looking after him. "Foster care allowance, second child benefit, tax benefits; they kept me around simply because I was worth more money to them than they ever spent on me. As for your family; before Percy left school your mum and dad would have been claiming upwards of two hundred and fifty pounds a month - thats about forty something, around forty-five galleons every four weeks, just for having children at home!"
"Thats damn near what my dad gets paid every week. A weeks extra money every month just because you have kids... maybe Hermione was right, the Muggle way might well be the better way... sometimes!" For Ron that was a big concession, and Harry chose not to force the issue.
"Im off too, if I sleep... tomorrow will come all the sooner. Good night Ron!"
"Well, if your both going to bed, I might as well get to sleep too... night anyway Harry!"
In the headmasters office three professors continued to steadfastly ignore the fact that they were preparing for a necromantic act.
Morning rolled along, as mornings will, breakfasts were eaten, groups gathered and last minute conversations had. For Remus and Snuffles, it was a repeat of the previous nights promise to try and not scare Severus into running off and hiding the twins even further out of reach. For Severus and Draco, it was a reminder to the rest of Slytherin House that Draco was family, as far as the Snapes went, hence why he was going and not them; and who said that life at Hogwarts was ever fair to them anyway? But, if they really wanted to, they could hang around the great hall and send a remote-viewing sneaker-eye along with Draco. It would relay what Draco saw, but not what he heard, back to the great hall fireplace, that way they could at least see what they were missing out on, or not as the case may be. All of them could sit around the fireplace at the same time, unlike around the much smaller common room fire place. Several of the Slytherins, it turned out, had relatives at the Henge Academy, so Severus was fairly sure they would be looking out for their cousins and siblings, if any. At least they should be left fairly well alone, except for lunch time, but surely they could just move the tables around a bit to let them sit where they already were? Not that Severus really expected logic from the staff of Hogwarts, not where his Slytherins were concerned.
The Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaw were also gathered together, both groups being given last minute reminders from Professor Sprout. She had looked but could not find Professor Flitwick anywhere. Her instructions included the standard injunctions to be polite, to remember that they were the visitors in another school, and as such ambassadors for them all at Hogwarts. The usual things every school child, Muggle or Magical, was told before they went on a school trip. They were reminded to heed all that Professor Snape said, not that one of them would ever dream of deliberately provoking the man; they were, they informed Professor Sprout, not Gryffindors after all was said and done.
They all turned to the fireplace and stood around while Professor Snape opened first the floo message system, then the transit link. He stepped through first, followed almost immediately by Draco Malfoy; both of whom cuddled their family; Anthony, Elizabeth, Marcus, Severus mother and father and a few friends too. Then Draco activated the remote viewer and sent back the images that would trigger the mass influx of Hogwarts pupils.
Professor Sprout helped Professor Lupin count the seventh years through the floo link and waved her colleague, and his dog off. She smirked at the sight of Remus Lupin having to carry the so-called dog Snuffles through the floo network. With all the Slytherin kids sitting around the fireplace there was no way Snuffles could become Sirius Black to travel himself, not that he could actually step out the other side as himself either. It was a sight she would long remember, the look of utter indignation Snuffles managed on his oh, so doggy features; positively hang-dog.
She laughed, quietly, to herself, as she waved them all off to spend the day in the Henge Academy, and then ushered Harry out of the hall, leaving the Slytherins to their fire watching in peace.
Harry went outside to join his friends as they played a flying game of their own invention. It was overly complicated, had more rules than any five other sports put together, bored him stiff, and could not hold his attention. He wanted to be in the great hall, fire watching with the Slytherins, but after six and a bit years of actively hating and deriding them his notorious bad feeling towards them made approaching them somewhat difficult.
The main hall in the Henge Academy was filled with children, and teachers, and noise, and laughter. Professor Lupin had quite literally tripped out of the fireplace and threw his dog into the air; squeaked in alarm and dashed forward to catch the beast before it could fall in an ungainly heap on the floor. All right before the Headmistress of Henge Academy.
"Mother, this is Remus Lupin, our current DADA teacher, and his pet dog, Snuffles. Lupin, Headmistress Lauren Snape, my mother, and ruler of all you survey." Severus stood shoulder to ear with his mother. They looked almost totally unalike, except for the nose; Severus had most definitely got his nose from his mother. The urge to laugh at the outsized nose on the diminutive woman before him was almost too much for Remus. Luckily, in dog guise, Sirius could not laugh, so he licked Remus, instilling doggy breath into the equation. In the end, Remus groaned at him, and did not laugh at her.
"Sorry about that ghastly entrance, I tripped on something coming out." Remus managed a controlled, tight, professional smile. "A pleasure to meet you maam." He held out a hand to her and she only hesitated a moment before shaking it.
"Thank you, welcome to our school." She retrieved her hand and, in Remus opinion, only just refrained from wiping either his Gryffindor germs or his werewolf germs from it. Remus felt his hackles rising, until he realised he had covered her hand in soot.
"Oh, Merlin! The soot, forgive me yet again..." he smiled again and blushed. "Im utterly covered in soot! Do you mind?" Remus slowly withdrew his wand and indicated his wish to clean himself up.
"Not at all." Headmistress Snape indicated for him to go ahead, he did so. "Severus told us you were bringing your pet dog, the rules of this school state that all dogs, resident, or visiting, must wear a muzzle whilst on our grounds. I do hope this will not be unacceptable to you, but I took the precaution of acquiring a muzzle for you." She handed Remus a neon yellow piece of Muggle material and smiled sweetly at him. "I do find modern, Muggle made, muzzles so much kinder than our leather and metal horrors. Have you ever put one of this type on your dog?" Remus shook his head in confusion. "Oh, well, Severus will show you how its put on, after all hes more likely to be acquainted with your dog than any of us." She took the item of dog attire back out of Remus limp hold and handed the muzzle to Severus. "Would you please do the needful, my dear?"
"Certainly, mother." Severus took the muzzle, grinned at his mother, sneered at the dog and then put the proscribed item on the beast in questions. "There, no problem!" He was rather surprised that the so-called dog had not objected in any way at all, he had merely sat there patiently while the muzzle was fastened around his snout. This docile behaviour was so unlike the animagus normal pattern where Severus was involved, that it was starting to really be noticeable. In fact, Severus was increasingly aware of the Gryffindor pairs good behaviour since the start of the school year.
It was really starting to unnerve him.
"Good, thank you, Severus, now, the rest of the introductions!" Headmistress Snape indicated that Remus was to about face and be introduced to even more people. The first person she introduced looked so much like Severus, sans the nose, that he had to be a Snape too. "This is our potions teacher, my husband, and Severus father, Croissir Snape." Remus nodded hello and offered his now clean hand, which was briefly shaken as Severus father nodded at him. "Our Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, I believe you two met sometime back, Wendy Mieklejohn..." again the shake, the smile and the nod. "And this is Marcus Tolstoy, our Henge-master and Care of Magical Creatures teacher." Once more Remus shook hands and as soon as his hand touched that of the Henge-master his skin almost burned. He withdrew his hand and looked at it, blisters were forming even as they all looked at the abused skin; Remus was too surprised to even yell out in pain.
"Oh, dear God, I am so terribly sorry!" Marcus was genuinely aghast at his inadvertently hurting their guest. "I was treating a Snidget for a skin infection with a compound laced with silver nitrate. I thought Id washed it all off! Oh, Gods I am so sorry!" Marcus turned and bellowed for their mediwizard to come forth and heal the poor man he had accidentally hurt.
The day was not going well for Remus. In fact, the day was going abominably badly.
Hand now healed, which had facilitated the mediwizard being introduced, one Jeremy Nolan. He was a nice young man who had healed Remus and smiled a lot at him, stroked his wrist to calm him as he worked, and smiled some more.
Remus smelled the young mans interest in him, his pheromones were hard to miss, and the interest distracted him until he heard a liquid pouring out on the floor beside him. Turning, as best he could, he saw Severus pouring the contents of a potion flask over Tolstoys hands.
"I bet you ran out of neutraliser solution again. Damn it Marcus, the man is only here five minutes and already weve gagged his dog and burned the poor bloke!" The complaint came from Severus mother. "Brilliant first impression hes going to have of us!" She turned to see Remus watching their activity and blushed. "I am most dreadfully sorry Professor Lupin, please do accept my most humble apologies. With most visitors this wouldnt have mattered..." she blushed, again, most charmingly, and despite her big nose, Remus could see what Severus dad saw in her.
"Its over and done with. No need to mention it again... erm, I take it that the tableware for lunch isnt actually silver silverware?" He smiled at his own small joke and made her blush once more.
"No, just good old stainless steel." She laughed and indicated for everyone to follow her as she started their guided tour over the main areas of the school. "Now, if everyone can follow me, Im sure Marcus and Severus can catch up soon enough; once theyve cleaned up the mess theyve just made!" Her son, and son-in-law, tried very hard not to smirk in response to her apparent scolding.
A quick glance behind them showed that Severus and Marcus were, indeed, clearing up the mess they had made. Until they all cleared the main hall.
"Im sorry Sev, that really was a bloody stupid oversight on my part. Will his hand be ok?" Marcus looked at his partner. They stood face to face, almost the exact same height, light brown eyes looked into black, contrition clearly to be seen in the lighter eyes, and amused forgiveness in the darker ones.
"Itll be fine, love; the excitement of seeing me again just too much for you to handle, was it?" Severus teased his partner. They were married, had been for fourteen years, almost, but British wizarding law did not recognise them as such, yet. Only the European wizarding laws under which they had married recognised them. In an unprecedented act of romanticism, Severus had arranged for them to marry in the same town hall the childrens births had been recorded in. It irked them that the hide bound and old fashioned, Ministry of Magic refused to recognise them as truly married, but they did not let that hold them back from sharing their lives as best they could.
"Well, of course Im excited, its been ten weeks since I last got even a quick grope, I was standing there thinking how bloody gorgeous you were looking and didnt even think about the bloody Snidget colony!" Marcus looked around the empty hall and grabbed his husband in a tight embrace. "Cmere you!" He whispered right before he took Severus in a hard, deep kiss. "Whens your next weekend off?"
"Only two more weeks. I had hoped to have the Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws out overnight, alas, neither Head of House looked like theyd buy that idea. Especially Flitwick, hes been behaving very strangely for the last several days." Severus shrugged, and turned to more interesting activities than discussing his insane work colleagues, he took his husband in his arms and resolutely kissed him back. "Wed better get a move on, before they notice our delay."
Marcus drew his wand, cleaned away the mess theyd made, sighed and looked at Severus. "And I cant even take your hand and skip down the hallway!" He loved the deep purple shade he made his husbands face go.
"When have I ever done something that bloody ridiculous?" Severus glared at him, and on return to their group it was assumed that he had to have been glaring at him for hurting Professor Lupin.
"On our honeymoon." Was whispered to him just before they fully rejoined the rest of the group.
For his part, Severus almost choked in reaction to Marcus softly spoken, but true words.
They made their way outside, into the open air where the visiting children and teacher were to meet the entire schools body of teachers and pupils. Tagging onto the back of the Hogwarts group, Severus and Marcus made the appropriate polite noises, clapped at the right time and just enjoyed standing together in the late Autumnal sunshine.
Severus half listened to his mother explaining what a Henge-master did, as well as what a Henge actually was. He cast a trained, but not expert, eye over his husbands domain and felt the magic flowing around them, protecting all within the Henge itself. Then lost himself in the caress of his husbands voice as Marcus picked up the flow of information from where Headmistress Snape left off.
The Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff students asked intelligent questions, not one of them asked if that magic could be used as a weapon. Marcus glowed at that realisation and confessed that he too had attended Hogwarts. That, like many of them, he had been a Hufflepuff, and proud of it!
Remus had been so very aware that Marcus and Severus stood together, he was constantly scanning them for signs of run away interest, of the dawning of desire in either of them; not for the slow burning love between life partners. He was not looking for any form of permanence, only opportunistic lust; so, he missed every cue between Severus and his husband. The werewolf almost danced a jig for joy when Marcus confessed his former Hufflepuff status. He was so certain he knew Severus well enough to know that there was no way that their favourite Slytherin would ever be attracted to a Hufflepuff.
Sirius scanned the host pupils for any that looked like James, and saw none, he did see a few that looked like Snapes but none that looked old enough to be the twins. He did wonder why Severus seemed to have so many children that looked like him. However, that mystery was solved when a good many of them started to ask uncle Severus questions about Hogwarts.
For his part, Severus, told them to ask Draco, he was far more able to answer questions relating to being a pupil in Hogwarts these days than he was himself. Or, he pointed out, they could ask the other Hogwarts pupils, and he assured them they would not hold being his nephews and nieces against them.
All the pupils were given free time to explore, so long as they stayed within the Henge, until lunch time. Then they would regroup and meet up to eat in the main hall they were in earlier.
Marcus offered to show Remus his breeding colony of Snidgets; he was proud of his expertise in breeding the very rarest of British wizarding birds. Remus laughed, a soft, delighted sound, if Marcus was with them, then he could not be chasing after Severus. He informed the former Hufflepuff that he, and his dog, would be delighted to view the colony, only, he wasnt going to touch anything! They all smiled and Marcus even blushed at that comment, then they went off, viewing bright, fast, infamous little birds. Remus had to concede that Marcus Tolstoy was indeed a beast-master with his success rate.
Watching them all head out to the aviary, Severus felt two smaller hands touch each of his, then two invisibility cloaks were thrown back, arms crept round him and he was happily sandwiched between his own two children.
"Missed you all so bloody much!" Severus hugged back revelling in the feel of his kids in his arms.
"We missed you too, daddy." Elizabeth informed him.
"We thought wed hide till they all split up and we could get in some quality time with the hugs, again." Anthony smiled up at his dad, "That quick fire, poormans excuse for a hug when you arrived just wasnt up to much!" He laughed at his dads delighted expression.
They stood, touching, talking, catching up, enjoying the day; it was all well and good being at school with your grandparents, and in deed with your other, non-birth dad, but nothing compared to easy access to your birth parent.
Finally, they left to go catch up with Draco and the rest of the two schools pupils, leaving Severus to go find his own parents. He needed a hug from his own birth parent, so long as no one was watching him hug his mum that was.
The day progressed, as days are want to do. All was peaceful in the Henge, all was peaceful in Hogwarts... thus far!
At Hogwarts, a broom with a boy on it was being watched. A small eddy of magic free space was created right before said broom, and it and its rider fell from the skies like a stone, or rather, like a floating boy and a broomstick suddenly afflicted with gravity.
Despite his advancing years, Dumbledore managed to be first on the scene, dusting the poor boy off, using wandless magic to secretly carry away the blood that flowed freely from the boys somewhat bashed and no doubt broken nose. Checking for any real damage, and only slightly pleased with himself when he found none, he already had his prize and Harrys nose was merely secondary to his real objective. As soon as Harrys friends arrived he despatched them all off to the hospital wing and Madam Pomfreys expert care; as he beat a hasty retreat to his study and his friends waiting to perform the last steps in their delightful little project.
Watching from Dumbledores study window, Flitwick waved his wand, muttered something and dissipated the non-magic flux, no one would ever be able to discover who had cast the magicless area spell, even if they could find the null spot in question. And with Draco Malfoy away from the school for the day, their usual first suspect was simply not able to have performed the dastardly deed.
Turning from the window, Filius Flitwick began to move the furniture in Albus office, then, after two pieces shifted he stopped dead in his tracks. "Minerva?" He looked at his other conspirator, catching her attention, he continued. "Dont you think that this room is rather obvious? Wouldnt anyone looking for Albus, or any of us, try here first? I mean, once we start we cant have any interruptions, it says so in the book!" He lifted the book and showed her the relevant line.
"Quite." She murmured, lost in thought, looking for the best way to proceed.
The door opened and closed, a slightly out of puff Dumbledore entered, was quizzed just as she herself was, and joined her in inner thought.
"Well, theres no way we could risk creating a monster, or some sort of a half formed parent either, for that matter. Harry could never thank us for either choice, so we have to find somewhere secret, somewhere quiet, somewhere no one would look for us!" Minerva reiterated their dilemma, focusing it in her own head. "Slytherin dungeons!" She finally called out.
"Why there? Ive never been down there since I had to attend potions classes as a pupil here, and, I dont see a reason to begin going down there now at this late juncture in my life." Flitwick was rather snappish on the subject.
"Precisely!" Minerva crowed, delighted in her foolproof plan. "No one would ever think to look for any us in the heart of Slytherin territory; and anyway, Severus is away for the entire day, most of his house are sitting around fire-watching in the great hall. There are so many empty rooms down there that we could hide out for almost all of eternity, without ever being found out; and should anyone actually find a trace of our magics, well, what else would one expect to feel so deep in the heart of Slytherin territory?" It was the closest any of them had come to recognising that the magic they were using was wholly classifiable as Dark Magic.
In the empty halls of a certain, abandoned house, in the unnaturally early dusk caused by undrawn curtains continuing to hold out light that they had defeated for many years, a group of truly evil men began to gather. Likewise a group of truly frightened men gathered right along with them.
That each group, the evil and the frightened, were the same men would surprise no one who had witnessed their activities over the years. But Severus Snape was no longer welcome in their midst.
Like some cancerous growth they held themselves together, each one too afraid of those around him to say anything that was not what their leader wanted to hear. He wanted to hear how wonderful he was, how evil their chosen enemy was, how dangerous they would be on the battlefield.
What he did not want to hear was that their great enemy was not some great army collected just to oppose them. Rather, they were mostly very young children that they were going to do battle with; that it was their own children he would have them destroy, or the children of brothers, of sisters, some of those children were as young as seven years old. It was only the luck of it being Halloween, and declared a public holiday that year, that their even younger targets would be at home from Thursday evening, that meant that the big, brave warriors were not going to have to do battle against five and six year olds.
It was little comfort.
This was not the glory they had been promised, this was not the struggle against oppression that they had rather foolishly believed in, a fact they each only admitted to themselves. Their proposed action was simply a sickness they realised that they had allowed themselves to become, not the cure Voldemort had promised them.
And fear kept each throat still, each voice silent, because, as is often the case, when they woke from their nightmare, each of them had awoken alone and judged the rest to still be sleeping. Or, worse still, they judged their fellow sleepers to be awake, and indomitable, like all true believers, with themselves the only one with clear vision.
And, as they waited, their leader built their fervour up, with each touch of the Cruciatus that he did not visit upon each lucky individual, that man let his fervour show, lest he be next to be encouraged.
Elsewhere, a silent observer watched the headmaster, and his two most senior staff members, as they rearranged the furnishings in one of the long disused rooms in the Slytherin dungeons. He had no interest in listening to their no doubt puerile reasonings for their actions; no, the Bloody Baron resigned himself to having to await Snapes return to ask him why there were dark rituals being performed by Albus Dumbledore, the so-called saviour and guru to those that fought for the light, and within Hogwarts supposedly hallowed halls no less. While he waited and watched he let his form become invisible to the non-Slytherin eye, and continued his lonely vigil.
Dark runes were drawn on the now clean and cleared floors, then on the now plainly decorated walls, a little bit of blood mixed into the otherwise white paint being used gave the symbols of resurrection and dominance over death a faint glow of innate power. Somehow, the Baron suspected that the blood came from either Snape or young Potter, who were, in the Barons opinion, the two most powerful individuals currently residing within the castle; and since Snape was currently away from the school, and the blood extremely fresh, that left Potter as being the willing, or otherwise, donator. The ghost looked at the images on the walls, and peeked at the images still to be copied from the book they all consulted, it looked as if nothing much would be happening for some considerable time.
In the mean time he would go drift about, unseen, unheard, unnoticed, and check up on the state of young Potter, then be back in time for curtain-up on their actual ritual. Unless he found Snape in time to have him stop their foolishness, but he had little hope of that happening, not when young Severus had found a legitimate way to go visit with his family for the day.
Lunch in the great hall was noisy and slightly confused, the Slytherins had been all set to refuse to move when Professor Sprout had stepped in and refused any other house permission to make them move. She had had the occasional sneaky peek into the fire, to make sure her seventh years were behaving themselves, and did not begrudge the children their fire watching in the slightest. So, with Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw refusing to move, Gryffindor had to take the Slytherin table, which led to a plethora of stupid remarks about catching some dread disease or some-such. Needless to say, Sprout could not find Albus, or Minerva, or even Filius to assist her as Heads of School or House, and, as the only senior member of staff she could see around all day, she had taken great delight in giving the Gryffindors over to Hoochs tender, or not, mercies.
The end product was that they at least ate quietly for the rest of lunch time.
In the Henge Academy, lunch was also being enjoyed. The extra pupils entailed that the dinners actually filled up all the tables. Even the ones the youngsters usually had at lunch-time were filled; all that needed to be done was to lengthen the legs of the tables and chairs. Everyone was eating happily, the two schools were actually happily inter mixed, the teachers likewise. This arrangement was less satisfactory to Lupin and his dog as they were separated from Severus by his father and the Henge master, but to fill in time, Lupin randomly swept his gaze over the room looking for two children that should, in his mind, look like James Potter. After all, Harry was his fathers spitting image, so surely the other two should be too?
Little did he know that his working theory did not work. Not that any one was in a rush to point out its flaws to him, had they actually known his thoughts rather than guessing at them.
Draco sat with a group of twelve through to seventeen year olds, most of whom were in some way related to Severus Snape, and a few even distant cousins of his own. Amongst them sat Anthony and Elizabeth, neatly hidden in the mass of similar faces. All of them seemingly talking at once, and not missing a word of any part of their conversations.
The other groups were much the same, even the teachers, the visit was going wonderfully, better than Severus had imagined was even possible.
"Well, mother, it has not been the blood-in-the-corridors debacle you were imagining yesterday afternoon, has it?" Severus smiled at her, turned away from Lupin and his bloody dog; he let it be a genuine smile. "Do you think the kids here will be up for a return visit sometime soon then?"
Lauren Snape smirked at her son, the very image of his own well known smirk. So much so, that Severus laughed out loud, and unfortunately, drew the immediate attention of Lupin and his damned dog. Not that it drifted far from him anyway.
"Shall I take that as a yes then?" Severus refused to look around at his fellow teacher, he could feel their eyes on his back as it was. For the hundredth time he wondered why it had to be Lupin that the fates had sicced onto him for this trip, if Sprout had volunteered they would have introduced her to Professor Teak and not seen either of them until time to go home again, leaving him with all the freedom he could wish for, for his own ends.
"Oh, I think the older children will thoroughly enjoy a trip to Hogwarts, alas, it isnt up to us to arrange it, however, but myself and Albus Dumbledore." She snarled slightly over the name of her counterpart in Hogwarts, true to his inbred Gryffindor nature, Lupin came to the defence of his headmaster, even if he did not know what he could have done to earn her wrath.
"Albus was all for this trip to visit your school, I dont see any trouble with him also agreeing to host your school visiting us!" Lupin tried a winning smile towards Severus and almost got hexed by Marcus, not that he knew of the danger he was putting himself in. "I will happily put the idea to him on our return this evening, if thats all right with you Severus?"
"You do that, Remus, hell prefer to hear good things from you rather than me anyway!" Severus was about to turn back towards his mother when Lupin challenged Severus world view.
"Why should he prefer my report to yours? This entire trip was your reward to your pupils for their hard work. I think Albus realises that, dont you? Albus is always ready to sing your praise, you only have to listen to him to realise he holds you in very high regard. Which you deserve, naturally, for all your hard work and..." Severus cut the rambling DADA teacher off mid sentence.
"He may well value me as a hard worker, but, I dont think hed enjoy letting my Slytherins act as host house for a large scale visit, now would he?"
Lupin had to agree that Severus was probably right, he flicked his glance towards Draco, the over the rest of their pupils and grinned, quite mischievously! "Perhaps youre right, but, surely, it should be the Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws that act as host houses? This is their visit, not Slytherins!"
"He does have a point, you know!" Marcus looked back at his husband and smirked at him, "Draco Malfoy is a marvellous young lad, no doubts about it, but he is the one and only Slytherin here. Now, in my experience, there never was, nor will be, anything is reassuring and comforting as a host of Hufflepuffs all ready to take care of you! Far safer than Gryffindors, less stressful than Slytherin and far more entertaining than Ravenclaws!"
"So speaks a true Hufflepuff!" Severus intoned as he tilted his head in a slight, mock, salute in his beloved Marcus direction.
A here here rose from the nearest Hufflepuffs sitting amongst the pupils tables that Severus actually grinned at them. It was so obvious, to Lupin and Black, that this was not such an unknown action to these particular Hogwarts pupils. It was such a lovely sight that both of them started to inch closer to Severus, but only Black, as a dog, could actually get anywhere near him.
All Severus discussed over the lunch table was the mechanics of choosing who to visit, when it should be and other fiddly details. Not the progress of his children, nothing personal, no new information that would tell him who he was looking for, what they looked like. Black sighed in frustration and gazed at Severus and his mother.
"Oh, how remiss of us!" Headmistress Snape cried out, looking at the rather frustrated dog, "I do believe that Professor Lupins dog is rather hungry, and here we all sit, stuffing our faces, and he isnt even trying to beg... well, not too much!" She summonsed a house elf and had them take the dog to the kitchens and feed the poor, patient animal some lunch. She even had Severus promise to go along fairly soon and replace the dogs muzzle so it could rejoin his master on the rest of their visit.
Lunch dragged on, no one was in any hurry to get out of there, everyone was relaxing, enjoying the new faces, or the new surroundings. The Henge Academy was a relaxed place, friendly, enjoyable, filled with contented children.
Hogwarts, however, was approaching critical mass, none of the senior teaching staff could be found, except for Professor Sprout, and even her patience was wearing rather thin. Not that the Slytherins had actually noticed, it was the Gryffindors that were mostly on the war path, they had no one to complain to about the dreadful null magical space that knocked Harry off his broom, and they could not even blame the Slytherins no matter how hard they tried to twist the facts. All in all, it was very frustrating.
In their dark and depressing hidey-hole, the Death Eaters pondered on going into battle on an empty stomach, due more to repeated bursts of Cruciatus rather than any dietary notions.
Under Slytherins dungeons, the three soon-to-be necromancers had not even noticed lunch time coming and going. Soon, they would be ready to start the actual ritual, soon everything would be so truly wonderful for poor, dear, Harry Potter!
After lunch, Severus father took Lupin to his potions labs and told the quiet werewolf all about his and Severus struggle to perfect their greatest potion, the wolfsbane potion. Lupin was rather shocked at that revelation. He knew Severus had the skill to brew it every month, but to learn he had had a hand in inventing it in the first place impressed him greatly.
"Why did either of you try to develop the wolfsbane, not that Im ungrateful, I am very grateful in fact, but, given Severus history with werewolves, Im somewhat surprised that hed even bother!" Lupin was rambling, he knew it, and tried to reign in on his wayward tongue, just a bit!
"Precisely why he asked me to work on it with him. He sought a means by which werewolves could control themselves, not be subjugated by either the moons light, or mans whims!" The elder Potions master Snape looked at the werewolf he knew had almost killed his son many years before, and sighed. If everything Severus said was true, then that young man had no idea of the deadly game his so called friend was using him to play. "Severus feels very strongly that no one should have to go through what he went through at Hogwarts, nor should any dark creature be put in such a perilous position by anothers hands either! Despite all you Gryffindors have ever said about my son, Severus; he is an honourable man!"
"Oh, I agree, I truly do, sir, he is a remarkably honourable man, I just wish I had been wiser as a youth to realise then what I realise now, far too late to do me any appreciable good..."
"Quite!" Croissir Snape interrupted his mumblings with what seemed like an overly enthusiastic retort. To Croissir Snape it was simply the truth, his Severus had a wonderful family, a loving husband, the love and support of his family, so what possible input could the werewolf offer to Severus life? "Ah, here we are, my very own research labs... okay, so I share them, sometimes, with Severus; but theyre almost all my very own." Croissir laughed softly as he showed his reluctant guest into a veritable Aladdins cave of a potions lab. Despite the smells that assailed his lupine senses, Remus Lupin could readily see just how well appointed and stocked this lab was. So well stocked, and manned, it gave rise to the potion that was giving him some freedom from the beast within.
"Wow!" Lupin looked everywhere at once, an educated gleam in his eyes. This was no doubt Severus idea of heaven. "No wonder he loves working here, with you as an added bonus?" Cautious over the risk of encountering anything silver based, he still enjoyed peering around the exotic ingredients the Snapes held in their personal research lab, happily imagining Severus long, delicate fingers caressing this or that item.
Snuffles was in his element, he was running around in the fresh air with squealing, laughing children chasing around with him. When Remus had accepted the invitation to accompany Severus dad to his labs, Snuffle was sent out to play with Draco and some of the children. The rest were in the green houses with Severus mum and their Herbology teacher. Snuffles was not too sure where Severus actually was, but he suspected he was talking with some friends; he did seem to have quite a few friends amongst the staff here.
That too was a plus in Sirius point of view. That Severus was capable of forming lasting friendships, as well as care for his own children, and even take in the orphaned child of someone he opposed was very encouraging. As Snuffles, Sirius set to the task of getting closer to Draco Malfoy, in the hope that that might lead him closer to Anthony and Elizabeth Potter!
It never occurred to him to question himself over Severus calling them Potter; it was just an inflexible fact to him, they were Potters and that was that.
The children in Hogwarts had divided into two neatly arranged groups, the sixth and fifth years of Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff had joined Slytherin house in fire watching, envious of their house-mates adventure, the rest of them were outside watching the Gryffindors play their remarkably silly game. The rules of which had seemed to morph into something totally incomprehensible over lunch.
The teachers were quietly searching the school, looking for any possible trace of Albus, Minerva and Filius who had never turned up for lunch, and had not been seen all day.
Elsewhere, the death Eaters were looking at the clock and wondering if any one of them was going to grow a backbone; it was already half past two and they would be apparating in at three on the dot, to do glorious battle with small children.
In the Henge Masters quarters Marcus had his husband on the bed, kissing him to within an inch of his life. Hands explored bared flesh as they touched and reacquainted themselves with each others bodies, desperate for the feel of their spouses body in their hands after their ten-week famine.
"I feel like a naughty teenager here!" Severus panted and laughed as he looked into his husbands lust glazed eyes.
"Know what you mean! Were supposed to be in the animal sheds looking at a breeding pair of Snidgits for your Magical Creatures teacher... not making out like a pair of loons on my poor bachelor bed." Marcus looked at his husbands kiss swollen lips. "Buggered if I care though, cm ere!" and he swooped down on Severus and started all over again.
"Marcus.... Marcus.... more... there... almost there.... Goddess... I miss you... miss this...ah.... ah....aahhhh...." Glowing like a blushing bride, Severus Snape lay in the powerful after glow of his orgasm and grinned at his husband. "Youve been saving that up, havent you?" His teasing tone so obvious that this was a long-standing joke between them, only, no one was there to witness their loving delight in each others presence.
"For you, always!" Marcus was the very epitome of a loyal Hufflepuff, especially when it came to his husband and family. "Just like you save it all up for me..."
Marcus was neatly flipped over, onto his back, and his hard prick swiftly and skilfully swallowed.
The clock ticked on.
At three oclock, Albus uttered the first words of the wonderful charm that would give Harry Potter his parents back for twelve glorious hours.
At three oclock, Remus and Croissir went looking for the children, and Snuffles, following the wonderful sound of childish laughter.
At three oclock, Severus performed a cleansing charm on himself, and his husband, as they started to get dressed again.
At three oclock, the Herbology teacher, along with Headmistress Snape and their group of children headed back towards the main building.
At three oclock, a somewhat serpentine man flashed red, delighted, eyes over the third magical candle and announced that it was time that battle commenced.
And reluctantly, his soldiers followed him, apparating to the very edges of the Henges force wall of ancient magic and custom designed wards. Their prey might well be children, but they were very well protected children.
The first impact against the Academys wards landed at four minutes past three, and dissipated right above Dracos head. Children screamed, the youngsters, the older ones looked for their attackers, Draco started issuing orders.
Snuffles was impressed with the lads calm under fire, and saddened that the boy actually had need of such a skill. He listened to Dracos commands however. "You, dog, yes I know who you are, not that Gryffindorks can keep anything secret. Anyway, its time to be a man; so transform and go get Professors Lupin and Snape senior! Tony, go get your dads." The second command was whispered to a child Snuffles had over looked in his quest for the missing Potter children, he looked far too small to be only a year younger than Harry. "Look, Mister Black, we need adults, and we need them now!"
Sirius transformed, startled several children and ran off looking for his friend. Behind him he could hear Draco still giving orders. "Elizabeth, you gather up as many of the fifteen and unders that you can find and head out to the main fireplace, floo to Hogwarts, the Slytherins have been watching theyll know what to do!" Draco then turned to the seventh year Ravenclaws with him and grinned at them. "Wands out!"
Not only the Hogwarts children stood against the attackers, every hand that was over sixteen years old had his or her wand held steady. They stood shoulder to shoulder as their teachers and other pupils joined them.
At the sight of a slightly dishevelled Professors Snape and Tolstoy arriving, Draco sighed with thanks and let go the reigns of leadership. Uncles Severus and Marcus were far better enabled to deal with that sort of situation. So, gratefully, Draco made his report.
"Elizabeth is evacuating the kids fifteen, or less, to Hogwarts, the Slytherins will have seen this and be ready accordingly. How long will the wards hold?" Draco looked up as the sky seemed to glow red as the destructive charms burned out against the Henges powerful wards.
"As long as we might need them, Draco, never fear!" Marcus put a comforting arm around their adopted sons shoulders and smiled at him. "Watch! This is why I am a Henge Master..." He raised his arms, wand in hand and began the visible transference of power from the earth to the wards above and around them. "Now, remember people, this is a one way shield, you may return fire, if you so choose!"
Hexes began firing out of the Henges shields: Petrificus Totalis, Stupefy, all the standard defensive hexes. Even the mystery man that only some of the teachers knew was actually Lupins dog fired hex after hex at their attackers.
Outside the Henge the attackers began to spread out, attempting to encircle the Henge, to weaken the defences in all areas at once. The defenders began to find themselves spreading rather thin, until the seventh year Slytherins followed almost immediately by the sixth years, and the sixth years of both Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw, reinforced their numbers. Professors Vector and Sinistra joined the Henge teachers, Madame Hooch following shortly afterwards.
"Sprouts maintaining the permanent, secured floo link, injured will be evacuated there to Poppys care. Cant find Albus and Minerva, nor Filius, but the Ministry have been informed, Aurors are on their way... I hope!" Hooch gave her characteristically concise report to Severus without breaking stride in firing hexes at their attackers. "Hey! This is actually a Henge... so why the hell are those imbeciles attacking it?"
In Hogwarts great hall, the younger years from the three involved houses were welcoming the much younger evacuees from the Henge. Each one was welcomed with a warm blanket, a cup of hot chocolate and a freshly transfigured cuddle toy. They were led to benches and tables as far from the fire-watchers as possible, and reassured that everything was going to be brilliant.
Outside, the Gryffindors had noticed their audience wandering away towards the great hall, but they paid it no mind, their game was getting too complex to worry about boring their uninvited audience anyway.
Inside the great hall, Elizabeth Tolstoy had finally persuaded the dumpy professor that was guarding the floo connection that she was in fact sixteen and old enough to rejoin her brother, and their fathers in the fight. Her eyes flashed so like her birth fathers that Sprout was certain she knew whose daughter she had to be.
"I never knew Severus had a family!"
"Well, he does and Im rejoining him, over your stupefied body if need be!" Elizabeth was astounded to see the woman smile at her.
"Every inch Severus Snapes child!" she indicated the open floo connection, "Just do take care, my dear, if you leave here and get hurt Severus will have my head!"
"Ill be very careful." Elizabeth smiled at her concern and headed back to the Henge.
As she stepped out of the fireplace she saw a few injured sixth years, victims of miss fired counter hexes, ready to be evacuated to Hogwarts. Thankfully, her brother was not one of them. Their healer, Jeremy Nolan, was buzzing around, readying his patients for despatch to Hogwarts for safety.
Elizabeth knew where she would be more use. Despite wanting to be part of the action outside, it was with the wounded she would be of most use right now. They would need to be escorted through the floo, even with there only being two points connected, some of them seemed less able to balance on their entrances and exists than others. Sighing, she stepped up to the healer and offered her services as an escort for the injured.
"Bloody marvellous there, Elizabeth, just what the doctor, being me, ordered." Jeremy looked up as one of the seventh years stumbled in assisting yet another injured defender. This time the injury was caused by a brief rupture to the wards and an attackers hex getting in. Luckily it was not a killing curse, but the agony of the Cruciatus was still evident on the childs face.
"Tell my dad Im in here helping evacuate the injured, so he knows Im safe, ok?" Elizabeth looked at the slightly older kid, from her own dorms, Paul Metcalfe, and grinned. "Adam will be fine, Ill get him right to Hogwarts, theyve got everything organised back there. Dont worry; youll be snogging again before night fall!"
As expected, Paul laughed, blushed, agreed and left.
"Take him right on through, he has moved to the head of the list!" Jeremys almost perpetual grin was fading, and Elizabeth knew just how serious a situation they were in, this was not a game, this was a battle to the finish. She took Adam Svenson to safety, giving the professor guarding the floo link a strained smile on their arrival, and returned for more of their injured.
Outside the main hall the sky showed an ugly green hue, laced with an almost billious yellow tinge as some new attack hit against the wards surrounding the school.
"The bastards have set up some new form of a leech charm!" Marcus wobbled slightly, focusing for a second on giving his message rather than holding the wards, he was beginning to show the strains of the leech charm too. "Bugger! I thought I knew all the current versions..."
"Whats a leech charm?" One of the Hufflepuff sixth years asked, firing defensive hexes out of their warded area as he spoke.
"They are draining the wards energy slightly faster than Marcus can restore them. The strength of the wards comes from the power inherent in the earth beneath us, and Marcus, Professor Tolstoy here, can only draw so much at a time, especially if hes redirecting it elsewhere too." The answer came from Draco Malfoy, a fact that surprised the sixth year who had asked the question in the first place.
"Cant anyone do an energy link with him then?" Blaise Zabini asked his house-mate.
"Yeah!" Draco almost danced with joy, grinning at his house-mate, and the Hufflepuffs around them. "Professor Tolstoy was a Hufflepuff!" He smirked at a nearby Seventh year and laughed when the boy in question got the idea in its entirety in the same instant.
"What dya mean?" Blaise asked, firing past Draco as he spoke.
"House loyalty means more than just liking each other, Blaise, it means sympathetic magic with each other..." He grinned as Blaise worked it out for himself, he laughed when the other boy started organising the Hufflepuffs around him into a reservoir of power for the professor maintaining the wards.
It was still mostly a battle of adults versus children, but the children defending themselves were far more focused than the majority of the adults who did not really wish to be there attacking them, anyway. The wards still slowly deteriorated, but the drain did slow down and eventually stop once all the Hufflepuffs were lined up behind Marcus.
The wards had lowered till the tops of the buildings were free from any protection, it allowed the attackers to switch to destroying the fabric of the buildings, causing even more injury from falling masonry and other debris.
Inside Hogwarts great hall, bloodied and broken children, and adults, began to arrive, escorted by fifth years. The army of medic aids were commanded by Elizabeth Tolstoy, competently, efficiently, with no one allowed to show any panic what so ever. She was helping a seventh year lad with a broken leg, through the floo and to safety when the first Aurors arrived at the Hogwarts end of things. The professor she now knew was named Sprout was filling them in as to what she knew and was pointing Elizabeth out to the leading Auror. Elizabeth added her extra details, and escorted several of the Aurors back to the Henge Academy, the others she guided to the best secluded Apparition spot outside the field of combat.
It had been going on for an entire hour, many of the sixteen year old fighters were beginning to show the signs of magical exhaustion, but all of them retained the determination to see things through just as much as the adults were. Those, as were able, in the triage area in the main hall, cheered their hearts out as the first wave of Aurors came to their assistance. Elizabeth brushed a tear from her face as she offered to lead them to where her fathers were still fighting.
Leading the way, she took them out to Severus and Marcus; and on her way back she was helping Draco, stunned by a piece of falling roof beam, into the evacuation centre. Tony, she was so glad to see, was still doing fine. Exhausted, but detrmined not to leave their fathers sides if all humanly possible. His face was clearly showing the fatigue he, and his fellow sixth years, were all feeling. Elizabeth managed to give her brother a brief hug before having to assist Draco to safety.
Dracos head injury took precedence over some of the others laying around waiting for evacuation, Elizabeth took him through to Hogwarts, Professor Sprout and Madame Pomfrey, the Hogwarts mediwitch. Her instruction from Jeremy fresh in her mind.
"Head injury, possible fracture, left occipital lobe, no loss of consciousness, yet!" She was getting good at memorising these complex, to her, instructions. Just as she finished speaking, the mediwitch approached and tsked at her stepbrother.
"Mister Malfoy, in the thick of things as usual!" Then, just to confuse her, the witch smiled, followed immediately by Draco passing out. He was home, he was safe, he was exhausted, he was in a lot of pain, he was asleep. Poppy caught him, scanned him, began his treatment and smiled at the lads rather startled escort. Seeing her shock at Dracos collapse she explained things to her. "Hes just fainted, the lifting of stress, and his injury, will do that. Hell be fine, lass. How are you holding up?"
"Im getting heartily sick of the floo link, but, other than a bit tired, Im doing okay!" As soon as Elizabeth stopped talking, a house elf handed here a dose of pepper-up potion. One her dad had made, she recognised the flavour he gave them. It cheered her, but, being her dads potion, it comforted her too. "Id better get back, more patients to bring through and all..." She smiled at the witch, stroked Dracos cheek and flooed back into the thick of things once more.
The sounds of crashing masonry from above their heads echoed around the main hall of Henge Academy, several pupils looked up as if expecting the ceiling to come crashing down upon them. Elizabeth looked up too. She almost ducked as yet another resounding crash echoed from right above her. She felt the tension, the fear of the battle getting to her, but, she just had to carry on. Tooing and froing with the injured, between hell and bedlam; it was all she could do, so she did it. She carried on escorting the injured.
Each and every time she was grateful that her brother and fathers were not amongst the new batch of injured defenders.
Back outside, her father and grandfather were discussing things with the Aurors. Marcus and the Hufflepuffs were slipping, once more. There was now a limit the defenders could see to the wards standing, and last ditch measures might yet have to be employed. What the head Auror, one Benjamin Mountjoy, proposed was the utilisation of names. To name someone, something, was to give it a certain power, sometimes for good, more often for bad. This was something Auror Mountjoy had long known and believed, he also knew a lot of the history of the Snape family. Of how Poseidon Snape named his children, and those childrens children, for his own purposes, of how he bargained with their lives for his own gain, for power: of how he sold first his son Croissir Snape to Grindelwald in the early 1940s, then sold his son once more, right along with his grandson Severus Snape, to Voldemort thirty years later, Sold them both for personal power! He also knew that Croissir and Severus had called upon their own names in order to free themselves from his despotic rule, and his overly liberal application of the Imperious curse.
This was what he wanted them to do once more: to name themselves before the enemy and use the power inherent in their names.
That was what Croissir and Severus Snape were trying to not do. But, in the face of all the injured children, and teachers, it was looking more and more like a losing argument.
"Look, its something we can only do once, the power drain is that immense, so youd better identify the targets and have us evacuated to Hogwarts. Well be in a state of total collapse for a good couple of hours after we name ourselves." Severus snarled at the Auror, tension clearly readable in his entire physical being.
"Whats he wanting you to do?" Lupin asked his pacing colleague.
"Severus, in a hex, means to cut, to sever; likewise, Croissir means to crush. Auror Mountjoy wants us to channel all our magic-orientated energy through our names and take out every Death Eater in our line of sight. It cant be turned, or moved, just one direct line of sight attack!" Severus had stopped pacing long enough to explain what had been proposed.
"Oh, so, youd have to do it along the line of most Death Eaters then. Hmm." Remus thought for a moment or two, "So, I suppose the best thing is to rig a weakening in the wards, make them concentrate their efforts on one point and then, wham, you and your dad slice and dice them?"
"My point exactly!" Mountjoy enthused with the werewolf.
"What you are asking of us is some of the Darkest Magic that isnt actually illegal, but bloody close to it!" Croissir pointed out.
"And maybe our last chance to survive!" Tony Tolstoy pointed out. "Grandad, you and dad might be all that stands between them and us. I dont want to be dead, or a Death Eater." Battle fatigue was definitely getting to the young lad, in Remus mind, he couldnt be a day older than fourteen and shouldnt still be there.
"Anthony, my Anthony!" Severus took his son in his arms and Remus realised that the lad was one of the twins they had been searching for, and looked nothing like James Potter at all. No doubt a glamourie, in his mind at any rate, they had to be disguising his Potter aspects for some strange, yet to be determined reason. Severus was speaking again. "Better to fight fire with fire, than with oil, eh?" He looked at his own father. "What say you, dad?"
"If we must, we must. But, we need to recoup our energies a bit, Marcus has to let the wards drop on one point slowly, subtly, in an hour Id say we would be ready to try it, Auror Mountjoy, no sooner than that, Im afraid." Croissir had a hand on his grandsons shoulders and his sons arm. "You go help your sister with the evacuation of the injured, your dad and me have to go sit quietly somewhere and focus our energies." He smiled as his grandson hugged his dad and himself before leaving for the main hall. "Lets go tell Marcus whats happening?" He and Severus walked off towards those maintaining the wards, followed by Auror Mountjoy, to lend his support to their arguments that that was the best idea they had going for them.
For the next hour they continued to harass the attackers while the Snapes garnered their strength to focus their names.
Outside the wards the Death Eaters did not relent, they were not allowed to relent, and these children were frustrating their Dark Lord. Beaten once more by children and teachers. Whereas his troops would have cut and run, he would not let them give in. He led by example, and he had Avada Kedavrad a few of them to strengthen the others resolve. He told them to concentrate on finding weak spots in the wards, and mounting a massed attack on just such a point when they found one.
They were also fighting a rearguard action against some well hidden Aurors picking them off from behind.
In Hogwarts, the injured continued to arrive, and a few even went back to rejoin the battle after their light injuries had been healed. Madame Pomfrey had summonsed help from Hogsmeade in the form of the villages regular mediwizards, and between them they were coping with the influx of wounded.
Outside Hogwarts, over by the Quidditch field, the Gryffindors were still playing their game, away from the schools main entrance they had seen little of the comings and goings. What they did see they put down to some surprise Dumbledore no doubt had planned for that evening, it being Halloween after all.
Beneath Hogwarts, Albus and the others were in blissful ignorance of all that went on overhead. They were getting close, the charms were taking shape, the bones and blood were bonding, the Potters were reshaping nicely.
Just before five p.m., it all came to a head, in the Henge Academy. The wards dropped, slightly, the Death Eaters gathered to attack that spot, Severus Snape stood before them, wand out-stretched. His father, Croissir Snape, wand in hand and standing shoulder to shoulder with his son, wand also out-stretched. To either side of them all defenders that were adults, and still on their feet, ranged, facing the enemy. Grim determination showed in each and every face. Lined up behind each Snape was a string of Slytherins, those still able to stand and focus energy lending support, and magical oomph to their name-magic attacks.
The tiniest of cracks developed in the wards, right in front of Severus and his dad, the Death Eaters filled that area, lest their own leader kill them himself for disobeying his orders.
"On my mark, attack!" Mountjoy instructed his troops. "Three, two, one, MARK!"
The wards dropped.
"SEVERUS!" Severus voice pushed all the energy he could muster, and was being fed, through his magic, through himself, he became the curse, before the touch of his name his enemies fell... headless.
"CROISSIR!" Croissirs focused his command in exactly the same manner, his borrowed energy, and his own pushing his name out before them, but, his enemies lay crushed, their bones pounded into dust by the weight of his name, and his magic.
Then they collapsed and those ranked beside them finished off the attackers. Those foolish enough to remain in the area, once their master and his pet, Wormtail, fell, became easy prey caught between two sets of Aurors, and the schools defenders.
Behind them, blood and agony and silence remained; for a spilt second, before orders were issued, Aurors sent out to search for survivors. Severus and his father were taken to the main hall for eventual evacuation to Hogwarts. Remus and Sirius stood side by side and looked down on Voldemort and Pettigrews bodies.
"Looks like youll be a free man now, Mister Black." Auror Mountjoy had quietly come up beside them and joined in their watching the dead as they lay there, peacefully.
"Hmm." Sirius replied, exhaustion robbing him of speech.
"Remind me to never get Severus angry with me ever again." Remus said as he fixed the bodies in place, temporarily magically binding them, and their souls, to the place they fell, just in case their spirits decided to leave once more. Or some supporter thought to steel their bodies away. Once they were bound he cast a purifying charm on the ground, dissipating the evil bound in it with the Earth bound souls. In a short time the natural energy of the entrapped souls would be released, never to return.
"Bloody hell!" Sirius muttered, as if he was just becoming aware of something.
"Whats wrong now, Mister Black?" Mountjoy asked.
"Its over, the whole bloody war is finally over, and is staying over this time!" Sirius kicked Pettigrews corpse and spat on him. "And I cant even have him rot in Azkaban like he left me to do!"
"I wonder if someones sent for the Minister yet? Hes going to have a bloody nightmare, releasing you, admitting Voldemort was really back, praising the Snapes, oh, thats going to really hurt and I, for one, will love every second of his agony!" Mountjoy grinned at the other two men. They couldnt resist, they smiled right back at him. "You two really should evacuate to Hogwarts, but, I dont suppose you want to do something that sensible?"
Two heads shook in the negative at his suggestion.
"Were staying, seeing it through to the end and all that." Remus added by way of further explanation.
"Oh well then, wed better get back to the main hall. Fudge will be along just as soon as hes been told its safe." Mountjoy instructed several Aurors to gather up the dead and run full identification spells on them, he also had the injured identified and sent under high security to St Mungos high security ward. The rest were placed under tight binding spells and dragged along with the dead for identification. Finally the whole group gathered together and headed in to the remains of the Henge Academy buildings, being undercover, however damaged, being better than being under the full glare of the rest of world.
In the now deserted manor that Voldemort had favoured a candle fell; freed from the magic that had been controlling it for so very long, the hot wax spilled onto the dusty dry curtains and burned as the flames touched them.
Fire, being the voracious monster is was, ate everything; including the now dazed and lost Nagini, separated from the being that had enslaved her soul for so long, her beloved master.
In Hogwarts, below the Slytherin dungeons, the book lost its magical appeal, alas Dumbledore and his cohorts were too far through their spell to safely back out. Knowing now that they were performing a restricted necromantic spell, they had to continue all the way to the inevitable end.
Entering the main hall in the schools central building, Mountjoy and the rest found Severus Snape and his father being held at wand point. That revelation came as quite a shock to the men whose lives the two currently imprisoned wizards had just saved. It angered them, just as it angered the other fighters milling around, trying to explain, trying to get the Ministers elite guard to release their saviours.
In the grate, the fire flared a deep green and Minister Fudge stepped out into the now entirely secure school hall. Right behind him came a small flotilla of reporters and photographers. All of them cast a guilty as charged sort of look at the Snapes, not one of the newcomers looked even slightly sympathetic to the bone weary mens plight, but Auror Mountjoy had to make his plea and take a chance on a fair hearing.
"Well, what have we here then?" Fudges voice dripped smarm, Mountjoy could almost feel the smarmy gits breath robbing the room of oxygen. He chastised himself for thinking the Minister was a smarmy git, he needed to convinced the fool he was sincere in his regards for the man and his entourage.
"A grievous error in these mens judgement, thats what. Earlier today my squad was alerted to the attack, by Voldemort no less, and his Death Eaters, against the pupils and teachers of the Henge Academy, this school were all standing in. The warnings came from one Professor Sprout, Head of the Hufflepuff House at Hogwarts. Proceeding to the point of information we discovered that certain members of the staff and student body of Hogwarts were indeed engaged, with their fellow staff and older pupils from the Henge Academy, in a defensive action against the aforementioned Voldemort and his followers. Who were all as real as any of us, no matter whats been said in the past to deny their very existence, they did exist, emphasis very much on the did. Anyway, as many of you may well be aware, the Henge caters for a pupil base aged from five and up so we could not take any risks that it might be a false alarm." Mountjoy walked slowly over to the Snape family and gently placed a hand on Elizabeths shoulder, when she looked up at him he smiled the best reassuring smile he could "Whilst at Hogwarts I personally witnessed this young girl escorting in an injured boy, she had, so I was informed, organised the evacuation of all those under the age of sixteen and then turned to assisting the injured. Acting on information this young lady supplied, we were able to at least pin the Death Eaters between our two points of attack. As we came here to help with the fight, our lovely heroine here came right along with us to continue her work evacuating the injured." He paused in his narrative and smiled at the reporters who were smelling the heady aroma of a hot human interest piece.
"But I didnt do much, just tooing and froing with those who actually fought the battle, my dads and my brother were outside fighting, its them and the others that fought, like Draco and granddad, who are the real heroes. Heroes like Tony and Paul and Adam, I had to take him and Draco to Hogwarts, they were hurt in the fighting. One got hit by the Cruciatus and the other was hit on his head by falling stonework. Theyre the real heroes, they left here in agony!" Elizabeth was reaching the end of her stamina, and all these strangers giving her dad filthy looks was just too much; she burst into tears and buried herself as best she could against her dads chest.
Severus held on to her, not tightly, he was still very weak as he had had no chance to replenish his energy levels after using his name as a killing hex.
"You did all anyone could ask of you, child, and so much more besides." Auror Mountjoy reassured the emotionally distraught girl, resting one hand on her shoulder and filtering what energy he could through that contact and into her exhausted father. "When we arrived here we took note of all that had been done to protect the pupils and the school. The boy Draco that Elizabeth here referred to is Draco Malfoy, a seventh year pupil from Hogwarts, visiting for the day with his Head of House, his DADA teacher, and that teachers pet dog; seems it had been a reward for the Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw childrens particular success in potions. Some day out they had, eh?" Mountjoy disengaged the energy feed and moved over to stand before the reporter who disliked Dumbledore and Fudge almost equally, Rita Skeeter. "We all know how hard it is to impress Hogwarts brilliant potions teacher, and these kids did just that. Young Draco had Elizabeth here organise the evacuation of the younger kids as soon as the attack started. The lad organised the Hufflepuff kids into an energy feeding relay for Professor Tolstoy here," he turned and pointed out the Henge Master, "Henge Master to this ancient Henge, and a powerful defensive worker. Poor lad, Draco, I remember when we found his parents dead, over the summer just past. That was a real mess, Voldemort really didnt like those he caught spying against him; liked to make them object lessons in how to submit to his whims. I think some of you were there, werent you? Covering the whole gory mess for the press?" Mountjoy knew full well who had been there, and had had their stories quashed by order of Minister Fudge.
"Look, will someone please order these idiots to put the wands back in their pockets, where they belong, and get them out of my husband and sons faces?" Lauren Snape had come to the end of her tether and let everyone know it. "Theyre exhausted, they need to rest peacefully somewhere, not sit here with these idiots and their handler accusing them of nothing whatsoever. No better than Voldemort, any of you!" She glared at Fudge as the Minister of Magic started to tremble under her harsh glare.
"My dear Mrs Snape, I assure you that my men would not bring false accusations against anyone, they can all give you precise chapter and verse as to their prisoners transgressions..." The Minister got no further.
"Transgressions?" Lauren Snape was on the warpath, a wife, mother, headmistress defending her own. "It was my husband and son who just killed Voldemort and most of his followers, just them, the two of them. Where were you when the fighting started? Not here in the thick of it, thats for bloody sure. We fought, teachers and pupils from two schools, sixteen and seventeen year old boys and girls who should have been out playing and running around, laughing at holiday jokes and games, not fighting for their lives and the lives of those around them. The Hogwarts teachers and pupils had no real reason to stay and fight at our sides, but fight they did, bravely, wonderfully, and this is their reward? I take it your brave Aurors that didnt arrive till it was all over actually supported Voldemort then? Do you? Was he your master? Is that why you never let a single journalist print the real facts of their return?" She glared at the now shocked Minister, his grand victory parade was degenerating into chaos before his very eyes.
"How did they kill V...Voldemort then?" Rita Skeeter only hesitated slightly over the Dark Lords name, Mountjoy was impressed. Her question was backed up by a lot of nodding heads and affirmative murmurings from her colleagues; a lot of them had indeed had stories quashed and ridiculed over the years for supporting the return of Voldemort as the truth.
"They named themselves before him and his men. My late, and utterly unlamented, father-in-law named his son and my son as killing words. Auror Mountjoy here asked them, pleaded with them to name themselves before the Death Eaters. Its a dangerous and draining piece of combat magic, but they did it, they killed Voldemort. My husband, Croissir, joined our son, Severus, and they crushed and severed those that stood against us. Now they are very weak and need our care, but no, that is not to be, they are held at wand point because this idiot requires someone to blame and we all know how much easier it is to blame innocent men than risk any degree of hurt going after the really guilty ones. Take Peter Pettigrew, for example, do you all remember that man?" Lauren looked around her and saw a sea of nodding faces as they all remembered the sad fate of the Potters most loyal friend. She knew she was going to enjoy this, a lot! "Well, it would seem that his finger was all that died that day. The rest of him died this afternoon, outside the defensive walls of this very Henge at the hands, or rather, the names of my husband and son. Now, if he died today at his masters side, one self-named Lord Voldemort, then who was the real victim sixteen years ago? The Potters, surely, but what of the man we have been encouraged to revile all this time? And I dont just mean my son here, I mean Sirius Black. If Pettigrew didnt die, wasnt loyal to anyone but Voldemort, then who was the Potters secret keeper, who was really guilty for that sixteen year old tragedy?"
The Auror Elite had now put up their wands, they may have gone too soft in the time they had spent as the Minister of Magics personal guards, but they were all survivors enough to know they had played entirely the wrong card on their arrival and were in danger of losing complete control of this game playing out before them.
"Talking of the Potters, where is the dear boy? I must thank him for freeing us from Voldemorts tight grip of fear?" Fudge muttered his politicians meaningless sound bites while he looked around all those tired and exhausted faces about him, and failed to see Harry Potter anywhere.
"What?" Mountjoy could not believe his ears. Had the man not been listening? "Whats young Potter got to do with anything? It was the Professors Snape that killed Voldemort and a fair number of his followers too. Potter isnt here, never was, never has been, no doubt never will be."
"But, it was all arranged, Dumbledore was training young Potter to kill Voldemort, just as he should have done, correctly, sixteen years ago!" Fudge whined, his voice held a most definite whine tone to it.
"He wasnt quite a year and a half old sixteen years ago!" Severus raised his voice as best he could, he managed to get enough derision into his still quiet words that everyone around the Minister stepped as far away from him as they could.
"You wanted to hide behind a babys life? You set up a baby to die and possibly kill Voldemort in the process? How the hell do you train a baby in defensive magic? Give him a wand instead of a rattle? Teach him to brew death potions in his nappy?" Rita Skeeter asked her questions. Her voice getting higher and shriller with each ludicrous question she faced the flustered Minister with. She had the headlines for the next several days filling her head with their glory; this was the real story, she was so sure of that that she could almost smell the ink drying.
"No, no, you misunderstand me, I mean that if Harry Potter had killed Voldemort properly, back then, then wed not have had to wait this long for the evil monster to be killed. It was Harry Potters duty to kill Voldemort for us, he owed us for those few years of false promises of peace he gave us. Where is the boy anyway?" Fudge continued to look around him, seeking out the boy-who-is-Fudges-scapegoat. "He should have been here, saving us all! How can we be sure the Snapes did it right, that they havent just let their beloved master go free once more?"
"Check the corpses for yourself then!" One of Mountjoys Aurors levitated what was left of Voldemort and Pettigrews bodies before the Minister, laying them at his feet. What was left of them was quite recognisable, the bodies were crushed, the heads severed at the neck, but both faces were untouched, still registering their shock at their own mortality.
"Oh, they certainly look dead all right." There was not much else that Fudge could say with both bodies having their decapitated heads sitting neatly on their lifeless, crushed, chests.
"Like I told you all, Peter Pettigrew, or what was left of him, killed this afternoon by my son and husband. How about a Declaration of Ex Facie Innocence, pending review at a later date, for Sirius Black then? You could release him into someone trustworthys custody. You, being the actual Minister of State in these matters could do it and claim it as a celebratory action, seeing as he was there when the fight that ended Voldemorts life took place, and didnt run off even when the Aurors arrived. With the villains gone, were going to need a lot of heroes to fill in the gaps." Lauren Snape faced up to Fudge once more, enjoying watching the man twitch and tremble in the face of his incipient indecision.
Sirius Black felt truly strange, being defended and lauded by a Snape, after all he had done to, and said about, her son there was Lauren Snape trying to argue his freedom from Fudge himself.
"But first, I want my patients to be removed from this unstable environment and transferred to Hogwarts for treatment!" The schools healer yelled, for the first time in a long time Jeremy Nolans calm, quiet professional air slipped and he bawled out the face of ignorance and authority; Fudge.
"Of course, healer, as you say. Ladies, Gentlemen, and pupils, shall we repair to Hogwarts and get everything settled then?" Fudge held out and arm towards the still open floo connection to Hogwarts and glared as his personal guards were going to show him up, yet again, by not assisting those who were going to have to do as heroes of the entire wizarding world. "Do assist the healer with his patients, theres good lads."
The guards helped, although reluctantly, some of them even managing to look as if they were afraid the wounded might bleed on their shiny, official robes. The journalists noticed everything, pictured everything and made copious notes. Several feet even managed to kick the cooling corpse as they passed into the floo network one more time.
Behind them, the Aurors assigned to interrogation and identification were left with their prisoners and the bodies, the odd ominous creek from overhead the only sound left behind in the sudden silence.
Beneath Hogwarts the Bloody Baron felt the Head of House Slytherin returning, he also felt a presence he had not touched in many years; a certain someone that he had actually enjoyed being with. An occurrence that was a rarity in his eternal spectral existence. She would be a delight to converse with; after he had fulfilled his duty to his House, and subsequently to the school.
Drifting up through the floors, the Baron headed for the Great Hall, he disliked such large crowds, all those eyes, gawking at his death-bed form, but needs must when the necromancers drive. He had to warn them of what was impending; something a might worse than doom, in a ghosts eyes, those already at peace being dragged back to the same state of half existence the Baron, and the other Hogwarts ghosts suffered through.
And if those ghosts being summonsed were not at peace, the Baron could only guess at what horrors might lay before the school that night.
The clamour began as soon as the first of the remaining Henge injured cleared the floo portal. Each of them crying out that Voldemort was finally dead, each of them pointing out that it was the Professors Snape that finally killed the evil that had haunted the wizarding world for so long. Their more able bodied helpers only confirmed their words. Then the journalists arrived, viewing with renewed eyes the organised chaos before them. Finally, the group helping Severus Snape, and his father, arrived, followed by Minister Fudge and the remainder of his elite guard. Several healers rushed forwards to ask what aid the Snapes required. In the midst of utter chaos, energy potions were being fed to Severus, and his father. They would take a little while to replenish such near total energy loss.
The noise and clamour was truly intense, every voice in that over packed hall cheered and rejoiced in the safe return of their heroes, and with such great news, the Snapes had killed Voldemort, finally, totally, irrevocably dead. They all but cheered every energy potion the two men drank. There would be no way Fudge could possibly fudge these facts now, he had totally lost control of the situation, had no photogenic heroes to be pictured with, had no glory reflecting back onto him, safely, after the fact, just as he liked it.
Voices told and retold the fact that after the Snapes saved their world the elite guard had held them at wand point, endangering their lives; that Fudge had never uttered word one to have them put up their wands and return them to their pockets. The laughter that followed the revelation that the great and wondrous Harry Potter had not been the wizard that saved them intensified, especially when it was revealed that he had in fact been outside all day playing some infantile made up game on his broom with the rest of the Gryffindor house. Several journalists took notice of that fact, that not a single member of the Gryffindor house were in fact in the hall; not even their Head of House, or the Headmaster.
A voice, later identified as being that of Harvey Carnagie, the Hufflepuff that had won his class their somewhat messed with day out, was heard to tell a house elf to go summon the Gryffindors in from playtime with the message that it was all right to come in now, big bad Voldemort was dead. Every eye turned to watch the doors, the photographers travelling with the journalists held their cameras poised, waiting for realisation to dawn in the collected faces of Gryffindor house. They werent disappointed; an entire house stepped into the great hall, looked at the refugees, the Minister, the Aurors, the extra teachers and pupils and all of them let their mouths hang open.
"Whats going on here?" The first to get their mind working was, predictably, Hermione Granger, her usual clipped voice sounding as if it were bordering on outright insolence, again as usual, in Severus mind.
"Triage, Ms Granger, its called triage." Severus enjoyed letting the sarcastic retort slip effortlessly off his tongue, for once no one would dare to deny him his sarcasm.
"Professor Snape and his father, also Professor Snape, killed Voldemort, Peter Pettigrew, various assorted Death Eaters and freed the wizarding world. Arent they wonderful?" One of the journalists enthused over the now blushing potions teachers, cameras snapped up their humility as well as the Gryffindor anger at hearing the great news.
"But Harry was supposed to do that! When we grew up, it was going to be his job, him and me together!" Ron Weasley whined at the body of jubilant strangers, and fellow Hogwarts inhabitants. "Snapes nothing but a greasy bastard and had no right stealing Harrys job!"
"And does the boy-who-lived agree with this assessment?" Fudge asked, looking directly at Harry Potter, not letting the young boy drop his gaze for a second. In visibly defending the Snapes before the journalists he could see his own standing in the press rising once more.
"It was expected of me; even you demanded it of me!" Harry frowned at the Minister, his anger at the fat, cowardly man before him clearly seen in his eyes; then he cast a lightening quick glance around to locate Professor Snape, once he saw the man he focused on him. "So, did you really kill Voldemort, or is this just another stupid Slytherin game?" Harry was too shocked to formulate a more reasonable question, a fact that he might later regret, but was currently far too angered to see at that moment.
"I do believe it was Gryffindor that were playing some stupid game whilst Slytherin, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff were fighting side by side with the older pupils, and the faculty members, from both Hogwarts and the Henge Academy; and all of us simply too busy struggling to stay alive to play games! Tell us, who won, Gryffindor or... did you play with anyone else or were the rest of the pupils deemed unfit for Gryffindor indulgences?"
"It was a Gryffindor only game..." Ron yelled at Professor Snape, their Professor Snape, and was interrupted by some stranger he didnt recognise.
"Ah, no one else was worthy then. Typical Gryffindor behaviour, they were just the same when I was a student here." Marcus Tolstoy sneered at the impudent red-haired boy before him and asked him a direct question. "Did the Headmaster and Professor McGonagall play right along with you? They appear to have missed all the real excitement too, just like yourselves."
"We havent seen the Headmaster since before lunch." Hermione replied on Rons behalf, she could see her red-haired friend was gearing up to explode with indignation and she wanted to break the growing tension. "He came out to tend to Harry when he flew right into a null magic field and fell off his broom." She intended to intrigue her audience with her concept of null magical space, but was stunned to see not a single impressed face before her. "He broke his nose!" she added, trying to generate some degree of sympathy for Harrys plight. "It hurt a lot." Her words were offered as a last attempt to sway her audience, they remained steadfastly not impressed.
"Oh, and did Dumbledor come and help Draco when he was evacuated here with head injuries? Or, maybe, he came to assist young Adam Svenson over there, hit by a Cruciatus curse in battle? No? Clearly a Gryffindor bloody nose is of far greater value than a Slytherin with head injuries, or anyone from anywhere other than his precious Gryffindor with Unforgivables cast against them!" Marcus was angry, not just with the stupid girl before him, but with her beloved leader who had ignored their plight since the battle first began. "Where were you lot, or your oh so brave head Gryffindors when the final battle began?"
"Alas, young sir, the missing professors are busily engaged in nefarious practices down in the Slytherin dungeons and can not yet come to the party! It would seem that he is far, far too preoccupied performing what would appear to be necromantic spells to come out and speak with anyone. If I dont miss my guess, hell not show up until at least one more hour has passed, if his summoning doesnt devour him first. Alas, I have no idea whom, or indeed what, it is that he is summoning forth from their erstwhile peaceful graves; only that there are two of them, and, of course, I merely presume that their graves were peaceful." The ghostly form of the Bloody Baron drifted up between both groups of protagonists, leaving them all agape in shock, as he searched for, and then spied, his long missing friend, sitting right beside his still injured looking Head of House. "My dear Lady Lauren MacKenzie, I bid you a welcome return to this ancient school. And how is it that you know our esteemed Professor Snape?" He bowed low before her, his most favoured student, possibly of all time.
"I am his mother, my Lord Baron, and dont call me your Lady!" She smiled at him, obviously living an old joke with an even far older friend. "I am neither yours, nor of the nobility, just plain old fashioned Mrs Snape."
"Merlins balls, if shes really married to his dad then hes not an actual bastard after all! Whod have thought!" Ron let his mouth run just once too often and found himself facing the wrath of a media corps looking after their much needed heroes.
"Is that the typical attitude you Gryffindors give towards your potions teacher?" One of the journalists asked the red-faced, red-haired boy. "He saves your lives, your futures, ensures that your wonderful, and equally as ungrateful as you, friend never has to face Voldemort in battle, and what do you do? You impugn his legitimacy, his parents honour and declare that he shouldnt have fought Voldemort because that was going to be Potters job. Odd how it was going to be his job inferring that he planned on taking his time, say his lifetime, on the task, making sure he had a long career ahead of himself, hmm? How convenient! Good job he wont be glorifying himself whilst the rest of us suffer and die then, dont you think?"
Ron blushed, then paled as the truth of the situation sunk in, hed been publicly very rude to Snape before Harry had had the chance to get access to his brother and sister. He turned to Harry, squirming in acute embarrassment as he faced his friend, shrugging a mute apology and hoping Harry knew what it was for.
Harry realised, right along with Ron, just what their aggressive attitude was likely to achieve; namely, nothing. He cast a slow, careful look around the hall, saw the young girl standing close to where their professor Snape half lay on a couch, he saw her worried glance as she watched him, almost counting the mans every breath right along with her. He saw the man that had been accusing him of unbridled rudeness, and not without cause, he conceded, standing right beside the girl, a boy about the same age firmly tucked against his side, the other hand reaching for the girl. They couldnt be his brother and sister then, they looked like the big teacher, only a lot smaller. He saw Draco Malfoy, still out cold, a mediwitch scanning his life signs. He saw a great deal of pain and fear and terror in the faces all around them, and they, him and his fellow Gryffindors, had had the unmitigated gall to insult them, all of them.
"Im sorry." He whispered his offering, unable to speak any louder in the face of the suffering they had come into.
"I beg your pardon, lad, but what did you say?" One of the unknown teachers asked, face screwed up half angry, half confused at just not hearing his words clearly.
"I said..." Harry raised his voice slightly, "I said, I was sorry!"
"Oh, youre sorry, and that makes everything all right then?" The sarcasm that dripped from the voice of Headmistress Snape was so sharp it almost cut them. "And for what are you so sorry?"
"For not being there, for our rudeness, for the pain and suffering youve obviously suffered, for calling your son a bastard. For everything, for breathing, for nothing and for living!" Harrys voice rose, higher and higher as hysteria and loss took over. "Im sorry my dad made your son pregnant and then tried to kill the babies, more than twice! Im sorry my dad and his friends tried to kill your son while they were at this school! Im sorry if they think Ive ignored them all this time, but I only just recently found out that I have a brother and sister." Harry took a deep breath, only to be stopped from speaking again by their professor Snape.
"What on earth are you blethering on about? How in Merlins name do you imagine that my children are in any way related to you? Oh, I dont deny I have a son and daughter, but theyre my husbands children, nothing to do with the Potter line at all!" Severus Snape pushed himself into a sitting position, ignoring all the journalists rapidly taking notes on these further declarations, he contented himself with glaring at the scruffy boy still standing in the door way.
Something that had begun to delicately bloom in the light of a vague possibility of enticing Severus Snape into loving him, withered and died in Remus heart at the words my husband.
"Sirius found your penseive, and penseives dont lie! Anthony and Elizabeth are my brother and sister and I demand the right to get to know them! Damn it all, I have a brother and sister and was left with those bloody awful Dursleys as their damned chew toy when I could have grown up with my siblings. Why did you leave me there when I could have known my brother and sister?" All the questions that had plagued the boy since discovering that the other Potter children even existed erupted out of him in one angry flare.
"Penseive, what penseive?" Snapes confusion was, for the moment, quite genuine, it had been such a long time since he had held any other view point about his children, other than the truth, that much of those early memories were shrouded in the mists of time. It took him a full minute to recall which penseive the nosy boy was referring to. "Oh, that penseive!" Snape smiled at the irate boy, utter delight and comprehension showing in every line of that famous smirk. "I stopped using that one when the kids reached about four months old. What was in there was true, as far as my then knowledge went. Let me reassure you, and my own children, that you were denied nothing. You have no brother and sister, my children, thankfully, have nothing to do with that murdering idiot you so proudly call your father!"
"Youre lying, he, my father, he covered you in the fecundas potion for a joke, you know it was contaminated, you got pregnant, you had the kids, you know full well that they are his kids. Dont try and squirm out of it." Harry was breathing deeply, his wand hand twitched as he resisted the urge to pull his wand and hex his teacher until the older man spoke the truth, the truth as he knew it.
"Oh, he did that; but it wasnt his own hair that had contaminated the potion, oh no, that would never do. Not that I truly think he ever considered the possibility that his prank could even go wrong. Not the great and glorious James Potter, no, failure was for Sirius Blacks pranks, not his!" The man standing next to the couch Snape sat on replied, taking a firmer hold on the two children beside him. "The children Severus carried were not, never had been, and never will be anything to do with your father, other than being his victims."
"But, James tried to kill them; before they were even born, and again when they were just weeks old! I saw those memories, Sna... Severus thought they were James kids; and that James was actually half way through casting the killing curse when Malfoy, Lucius Malfoy, petrified him. How could things change? He knew they were James kids. One of the Death Eaters, probably McNair, told Voldemort and they went and killed the Potters! I saw the memories, how Severus tried to save Lily and Harry, even James ill begotten existence! That was when James and Lily went into hiding, only to be betrayed by Peter Pettigrew, he was their secret keeper, not me!" Sirius was up on his feet, arms gesturing wildly, defending what Harry had said, what he knew to be true and what he fervently believed Snape had thought to be true.
"Dad, is what theyre saying true? Are we really flipping Potters?" A boy, Harry assumed him to be Anthony, asked Severus as he snuggled closer to his dad.
"Not a bit of it kiddo. You are your dads and mine, through and through; Tolstoy-Snapes all the way! When you were around six months old I had to have you both checked over at St Mungos, and the paternity scan I had to allow them to do, you being born out of wedlock, and to a man at that, well, that scan showed us that your father wasnt the evil and deadly James Fuckwit Potter, but the ever wonderful Marcus Jason Tolstoy instead!" Severus grinned at his son in utter delight.
"Then what happened?" His daughter asked, utterly spell bound at her fathers explanation.
Even the journalists, the Aurors, and the teachers and pupils of both schools all sat there, on the very edges of their seats, for those sitting, and at the last stretch of their nerves for those left standing. Finally Severus Snape took up his narrative once more.
"Then I had to go break the news to your dad. That was not easy, it was very nerve wracking in fact. How do you tell a man youve never met, dont know much about in fact, that he is the genetic father of your young children? Do you just walk up to them and say Hi, Im Severus Snape, you dont know me, but, I had your twin children six months ago! It truly was not a fun interview. I was shaking, with nerves, post natally depressed, what with having someone previously try to repeatedly kill me and my children, not to mention only just surviving as a spy for the light under Voldemorts very nose for a couple of years. Oh, and lets not forget either, I was only just out of our so very wonderful wizarding prison for my aforementioned connection to Voldemort. I only got out of there because I was a Merlin-be-damned spy for Dumbledores cause! Id barely gotten back to you both, your grandparents having taken excellent care of you, now I was having to offer to share you both with a complete stranger. Anyway, I sat there and told Marcus Tolstoy about the two children he had and hadnt known about. Your dad looked at me, utter shock all over his face, I was standing there holding out the legal proof St Mungos had provided verifying what I was saying, waiting for him to take it and yell in denial at me, and all he says is Twins? I told him yes, twins, and he just grinned at me and asked, one of each?. I had had his babies, then I met him, and then we fell in love..." Severus smiled up at his husband. "The rest is family history. We got married abroad, and lived happily ever after. Until Potter junior came to Hogwarts, that caused one hell of a lot of disruption."
"What do you mean married? Youve never so much as hinted at any entanglement, romantic or familial, in all the years youve worked here! Not once in sixteen years? And you expect us to just accept that youve got a... a spouse?" Madame Hooch had long regarded herself as being the premier gossip in all of Hogwarts and Hogsmeade and she had never heard even a hint about Snapes supposed spouse and family. "Who in their right minds would want to marry such a twisted and bitter old sod as yourself? Granted, youre a powerful wizard, a bloody genius with your potions and what not, but marry? As in have sex with? No, I just dont believe you there!"
"I knew. All of it." Madame Pince, the school librarian, spoke up, her normally quiet voice, geared for whispered conversations in her beloved library, cut through the general hubbub and brought the entire hall to a hushed stillness it hadnt known in many long centuries.
"And why, pray tell, would you know all these details when the rest of the faculty did not?" The demand came from the Minister himself. He too was caught up in the scene and the longer it went on, the further he stood from unwanted scrutiny over his action that afternoon; and the closer Harry Potter and his dead parents seemed to be in the heart of some truly tragic events, not just their own deaths.
"I am the school records keeper, Professor Snape is obliged to keep me informed of his next of kin, and family etc... I am not obliged, in fact I am under the obligation of not gossiping about the details I am given for my records. Most of the details I hold on record arent even known by the headmaster..." she paused in her narrative, as if replaying the entire scene before her inner eye, and like all good librarians she knew exactly what went on and was said anywhere around her. "Why did the Baron say that the headmaster was up to something he described as nefarious and necromantic? Where is he exactly? The headmaster that is, for I can see the Baron, quite clearly, for myself."
Fudge thought it had to have become Christmas and Easter and summer holidays all wrapped up into one glorious day. The fall of Voldemort, the repeated public embarrassment of young Potter and now the imminent fall of Dumbledore too. He turned to his own personal guards, as well as the field Aurors, who he had to admit to himself had better and more relevant experience with such things than his guards, and pointed out a few of them.
"You, you and you two, go with his late Lordship, the Baron, and look into whatever the missing members of the faculty are doing. Verify any and all necromantic activities and, if it can be stopped, safely, then stop it, if it can not, then observe and if appropriate, arrest the practitioners on completion. Report back once you have assessed the situation. Go!" As he acknowledged their nods of understanding a hesitant voice spoke up from the huddle of voracious journalists, one of the photographers had a very interesting question to ask him.
"Would it be possible for one of us to go too, to record and observe the proceedings, if need be our photographs would be a pictorial record for any legal proceedings?" The man, a tall, skinny young man with almost Weasleyish red hair looked so hopeful that, for once, the Minister took pity on the collected group of newshounds.
"Very well, you suggested it, you go, but take heed and obey every order the Aurors give you, they will, after all, be looking out for your well being. You get hurt, its on your own head, agreed?"
"Agreed!" The young man replied before the Minister had even closed his mouth after speaking.
"Off you all go then!" The Minister waved the group out of the room and turned to see the faces of the collected populations from two schools, journalists, a whole battle group of Aurors and every other ghost Hogwarts boasted, sans the Baron of course, all looking at him, waiting for him to open his mouth and, no doubt, put his foot in it once more. He knew full well he had done so fairly regularly over the years and on several spectacular occasions that very day; well, he thought, no more. "Can someone start transfiguring some benches for everyone to sit down, and perhaps send for some food for those hungry and in need of the energy?"
A cacophony of pops erupted around him as all the house elves from both schools jumped into action. So many people to serve, so many children needing care, and so many hurt people needing comfort. Almost an elvish paradise.
Almost as soon as they had reached the dungeon room, one of the Aurors had been despatched back upstairs with the dread news confirming that the nefarious practices were indeed about as nefarious as it was possible to imagine. Dumbledore, McGonagall and Flitwick were truly involved with a spell raising the dead; two dead someones at that. Two dead someones that were unidentifiable due to their still skinless fleshy bodies, but at least looked human in form.
"You dont think its Voldemort and Pettigrew do you?" Wendy Meiklejohn asked, stepping up to stand shoulder to shoulder with Remus Lupin and looking around her at her fellow teachers.
"Well, I suppose that that could make some sort of sense. If Voldemort knew he and Pettigrew were likely to, or were actually about to die, and if they had some way of controlling Albus and the others... but, doesnt that require old Voldie actually acknowledging that he was able to die? Otherwise, why would Albus bother to resurrect the evil old git?" Remus inched closer to Wendy until their bodies were lightly touching at shoulders and elbows and hands.
"Maybe it was far simpler than that? Maybe what was really happening was Albus Dumbledore couldnt stand to lose his arch rival yet again and wants to make sure that his importance within our community doesnt slip. Perhaps he doesnt know who Albus Dumbledore is without his Grindlewald or Voldemort to judge himself against?" Severus mother paused in her thoughts, shrugged her shoulders and smiled in an almost identical sarcastic smile that frequently graced Severus face. "Or it might just be a huge horrible coincidence."
"Surely not? No! Albus wouldnt do that, hes always been there for us. He fought Grindlewald, he fought Voldemort twice, he..." Sirius stopped, realising he was actually agreeing with the notion put forward by Mrs Snape.
"Like hell he did, it was my Severus he sent in against Voldemort - twice, no less! Every damned time he had to go meet with that madman his life was on a loose nail, not your precious headmasters. And, lately, its also been young Potters life too that was faced off against Voldie. Albus hasnt faced an actual Dark Wizard, him against distruction, in almost sixty years." Marcus summonsed himself a seat and sat down beside his husbands couch, their children sat on the floor beside them. "Whilst I agree that he enjoys being the centre of things, and being the one in charge, I dont think hes insane enough to actually summons Voldemort back from the dead - before hes even dead! Well, how was Albus Im so pure and worthy Dumbledore going to know Voldemort was due to die today, unless hes been putting the strange mushrooms in poor old Trelawneys tea again?"
Several people giggled at that idea, adults as well as children.
"I have to agree with our charming Marcus." The agreement came from the other professor Snape. "Dumbledore wouldnt consciously cast a necromantic spell, hes always hated them. Why, I remember when I was a student here, he fought tooth and nail to get a Slytherin child, a first year, expelled for trying to revive his dead rat. A group of Gryffindors, what a surprise, had poisoned the creature to make the child cry. That was their main hobby, making younger Slytherins cry. They were fifth years, four or five of them against one eleven year old! And Albus Dumbledore screamed for the poor child to be expelled because of one failed attempt at resurrecting his beloved pet. His only comfort in an otherwise hideous existence, as I recall. Luckily, he failed, the then headmaster insisted that if the eleven year old, one Tom Marvolo Riddle, was expelled then so too would the Gryfindor fifth years be expelled. Dumbledore couldnt let that happen, those pranksters were his absolute favourites out of the entire school. Funny how he always favours the Gryffindor pranksters, the more down right wicked they are the more he favours them, and always a group over one lone Slytherin. I think he gets something out of their wickedness that he is simply far too scared to create for himself."
"Isnt that what American Muggles have called plausible deniability, you get all the benefit but someone else gets all the blame?" One of the older Henge pupils asked.
"Why, yes, Matthew, I do believe it is." The elder Snape informed the lad.
Remus glared at Sirius as he listened to Severus fathers words. It sounded just like their own time as pupils at Hogwarts, but by then Albus had near absolute power over the lives of the Slytherins, whom he continued to ignore, and the Gryffindors, whom he always supported.
Sirius could clearly see and understand every thought crossing his friends mind. He agreed with them, he had so long ruled under the eye of Dumbledore that real life outside Hogwarts came as a complete shock to him. Not one member of his peer group, or their parents generation, had been willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. He was considered guilty, and thrown into Azkaban without trial, simply because so many people thought him more than able to betray his friends. After all, so many of them had either known the marauders at school, some even as victims, or knew those that had been victims.
"He let us away with attempted murder. Well, me away with it, Remus knew nothing of my plan. And before that, all those public embarrassments we inflicted on Severus, and other members of Slytherin House, we never received any real loss of points. It would be five points off for trying to poison an entire Hogwarts house, then fifteen points on for being skilled enough to brew such a tricky potion. One time we fed the Slytherins weakened truth potion, way before Veritaserum, and asked Severus, quite publicly, what his family gave him for his birthday and Christmas. Severus told about beatings his grandfather made his father dish out..." Sirius remembered, too late, that Severus and his father were both in his audience, one more example of his inability to guard his own tongue. "Sorry... not relevant. Albus laughed at that incident; and when the Head of House for Slytherin demanded we be publicly punished in just as humiliating a fashion, Albus took twenty points off Gryffindor at lunch and had returned them to us by dinner. Thats the bit thats relevant."
"Black?" Marcus stood up and faced the younger man, he was torn between being glad he had left Hogwarts before Severus and the marauders arrives, and sorry that he had not been there to defend his beloved. At his sharp use of his name, Black looked up. "You are the stupidest wanker its ever been my displeasure to ever hear about, let alone encounter. You are a bully, a thug, a would be murdering scumbag, and if you dont shut your mouth I will put a permanent silencing hex on you so damn fast your arse will spin when I kick it, but nary a sound would you utter!"
Many of their audience applauded, members of the Snape family, fellow pupils, the Henge teaching staff, quite a few of the remaining Aurors, every Slytherin past and present and most of the journalists.
Sirius sat down, face aflame, plotting revenge until he realised that he had deserved the threat and much more for his treatment of the other mans husband. If he had been facing his beloveds greatest tormentor hed not restrict himself to mere words. And, given his thoughts about possibly chasing after Severus himself that hes savoured of late, then perhaps he ought to find a mirror and hex himself?
Harry felt bad for his godfather, he moved from his position in the centre of the doorway to stand beside Sirius bench. He put a comforting hand on the older mans shoulder and squeezed lightly, letting him know he sided with him if no one else did.
"Harry, its all right." Sirius whispered up at the boy. "Its not as if I didnt deserve the anger. Hell, wouldnt you defend your partner in the face of those who unjustly tormented him for years?" He looked into Harrys face, seeing the loss and hurt there, the lad had so set his heart on having a family, other than the Dursleys that the disappointment must be crushing him. "Sorry, for how things worked out. I had no way of knowing what had happened after Severus stopped using that penseive."
"Not your fault, Sirius. It was a wonderful dream while it lasted, but, like with all dreams, I guess I had to wake up in the end." Harry tried to smile, and almost managed it.
Silence fell across the Great Hall, everywhere one could look a house elf would be popping in, bring food and drink to those crowding the hall. Everyone that could manage to eat, ate. Those that couldnt were fed fresh energy from those sitting nearby their beds. For the remainder of the hour the Bloody Baron had estimated as necessary for completion of the headmasters spell, nothing of great import was discussed, people were just too busy getting on with the business of existing to bother arguing over anything whatsoever.
Finally, the waiting was over, everyone able craned their necks to get a vantage point to watch the group of Aurors, teachers, one journalist, one ghost, namely the Baron, and two revived dead people enter the heavy oak doors to the Great Hall. The leading Auror drew every eye as he began to explain just what had happened.
"It seems that those being resurrected were in fact this couple, and they have but twelve hours of life. It was the result of a heavily charmed book being somehow delivered into Professor Flitwicks hands by possible agents working, most probably, on behalf of Voldemort. Witnessed by the fact that the professors were freed from the enchantment at the same time as Voldemort died, but were unable to stop the enchantment safely. The book had strong traces leading to Death Eater activity, this investigation will conclude when the aforementioned twelve hours have passed!"
It wasnt Voldemort or Pettigrew.
It wasnt Godric Gryffindor and Merlin.
It wasnt even Grindlewald and Hitler.
"Bloody hell, its James Potter and his wife!" A voice near the door called out.
James looked up and grinned at the huge crowd waiting to greet him, it had been all explained to him, he and Lily were returned for twelve hours so their son, the current only hope for peace against Voldemort, according to Albus, could meet them. He steadfastly refused to believe the idiot Aurors who had tried to tell them that Voldemort was dead and that Harry had had nothing to do with it. He couldnt fathom out why anyone would believe that garbage over anything Albus said. If Albus told him Voldemort was still a living threat to his wonderful son, then a threat he jolly well was! He scanned the crowd for a handsome fellow that looked like him, Albus had told him Harry looked very much like he did at that age, which to the resurrected James Potter was only about a handful of years ago.
"What the fuck is he doing here? Cant the bloody dead remain dead, just once in a bleedin while?" A voice James didnt recognise, but didnt like as it spoke against his resurrection, snarled out in the middle distance. James just didnt look in that direction. He chose to believe that that speaker simply didnt exist. "And hes brought Miss Thoroughly Insipid 1975 with him too! Oh, glory!"
Harry could put up with the speaker not liking his dad, after all he didnt like him much either, but, being rude about his mum was simply not on.
"Leave my mum alone!" He challenged the speaker. "What did she ever do to you?"
"Lets see," the speaker replied, stepping out before the returned pair and facing their loyal son. "She once told me I was not to be so sad that I hadnt made it into Gryffindor, and that really, some folks thought Ravenclaw was a pretty okay House to be in!" He sneered at the woman in question. "Which was bizarre in the extreme as I was a Hufflepuff prefect at the time." The audience laughed at that idea.
"She tried to explain the principals of the internal combustion engine to me once." Another speaker added. "Only, as I tried to tell her, not only was I Muggle born but that my dad was a mechanic, needless to say she just wouldnt listen to me and carried on regardless. Not only that, but she didnt actually understand the whole compression cycle, or the way power was transmitted to the wheels."
Lily blushed, she had had enough time to realise that she had been an insufferable knowledge snob whilst at school, but had died before she could do much to change peoples opinions of her.
Hermione vowed to shut up in future, she recognised the same tendencies in her own nature.
"Im sure she was just enthusiastic about learning, anything and everything!" Harry moved forward to greet his mother, to hear something from her other than her last moments of life. "Hello mum, Im Harry." He didnt know what else to do, whether to offer her a hand or a hug, so he stood there and fidgeted.
"For Merlins sake, boy, hug the dim bint already!" One of the photographers prompted him, camera at the ready to take the momentous picture; the boy-who-lived hugs his mum-who-lived-again!
Harry gave his mother a nervous hug, which she returned in a nervous fashion. She had never held with the concepts of necromancy and was not comfortable being on the receiving end of it. She was, however, keen to know her son, and pulled him closer to her and finally just held on tight.
There was a collective aw from many voices as everyone watched mother and son meeting for the first time, being a baby didnt count to their way of thinking. There was also a few blah sounds as almost as many voices.
"Hey, what about me? Dont I get a hug? What, not got anything for your old dad then, Harry?" James grinned at the boy and Lily, he swaggered over to them and fell flat on his arse as Harrys right hook connected with his fathers nose sending him flying backwards with the physical and magical power behind the action. "What did you do that for?" James asked, slightly muffled from behind his hands.
It started small, with just the two adult sounding men laughing almost hysterically, then several other adults joined in, and just as many, if not more, children added their laughter to the noise. Clapping started when those laughing couldnt make enough sound through gasping for breath.
"Oh, sweet Merlin, that I lived long enough to see that!" That voice was recognisable, even after all those years of silence in the grave. Snivellus was somewhere around, that greasy, ugly git who didnt get rid of those bastards when commanded to. James was livid, how dare that snivelling, crawling excuse for a human being be anywhere near his idiot of a son. It was probably his corrupting influence that had twisted to poor lads mind!
"Snivellus, where the fuck are you, you worm?" James picked himself off the floor and scanned the entire hall, or tried to, there were too many people around for him to make any sort of positive identification of anyone in the crowd. He also, briefly, wondered why the crowd surged forwards at him as he spoke. "What the fuck is wrong with you people, hes an evil, slimy, Slytherin and deserves nothing but ridicule and torment! Its Snape for fucks sake!" In desperation he turned, as always, to his highest authority on such matters. "Tell them, Albus, its only Snivellus the Slimy Slytherin Snake."
A tall, well built man calmed the crowd as several dozen wands had been drawn, and hexes started being muttered.
"Cease!" He had commanded, and as he raised his arms, all magic drained into the floor, breaking the hexers concentration long enough for common sense to regain a foothold. "Hes mine!" James had to admit that that didnt sound too friendly.
"Who the fuck are you?" The formerly dead Gryffindor asked, sneering at the man who obviously didnt know who he was dealing with, and that Albus would let no harm come to him, that he was supremely sure of.
He didnt see the Aurors holding Albus, Minerva and Flitwick at wand point, stopping them from interfering in any way whatsoever.
"Why, dont you recognise me?" Marcus asked, voice full of false bonhomie. "Im hurt. Try to remember as far back as December 1980, you were working as a trainee Auror at the time. You remember working?" Marcus glared at the man he had often wished to get some time alone with, savouring the moment. James nodded, clearly wishing the man would just get on with whatever boring story he was longing to repeat. "You remember the fecundus potion you brewed and carried through the Ministry building? You walked up two flights of stairs, remember?" The sneer got bigger and James began to worry that this idiot was about to try and make him look stupid before his wife and son, and over such a trivial piece of scum as Snivellus. "You bumped into someone, told them to fuck off out of your way?" James nodded again, Marcus stepped even closer, anger radiating off him in waves. "Some hair fell in your potion. Some of my hair!" James finally understood this morons anger.
"And Snivellus made you support his fuckin bastards seeing as I was dead by then and well out of his reach. Not that I would have paid a brass Knut for either of the bastards, except for the dried hides as throw rugs maybe!" James throat was suddenly constricted a one huge hand closed over his windpipe denying him fresh air.
"No, you bloody arsehole, you almost killed my children and the man who would eventually become my husband. You twice tried to kill Severus and the babies you created with that bloody potion, you set yourself up as judge, jury and bloody executioner; and only succeeded in getting yourself and your wife killed. All to cover up the fact that you had deliberately thrown an active fecundus potion over Severus Snape and left him to deal with the resulting pregnancy himself. You put my children and my Severus in such risk I could rip you apart right where you stand!" Marcus shook James and watched his face turn a curious purple not wholly due to the slow asphyxiation he had him under.
Lily Potter finally knew why she had been chosen to die. Her idiot husband had tried to kill someone elses children, Severus Snapes no less, and everyone knew that Severus was really Voldemorts son and no wonder Voldemort had come gunning for them!
"You imbecile!" She kicked him in the balls from behind, the front being effectively blocked by Severus irate husband. "You picked on Voldemorts kid and did that to him?" She hefted yet another kick, from behind yet again. "You got me killed for some stupid soddin prank?" yet another hefty kick. "You bloody moron!" kick.
"What the hell are you wittering on about?" Marcus asked the demented woman attacking from the rear. "Severus is not, and never was, Voldemorts child. His mum and dad are over there, beside Sev and our kids. It was Sev and his dad, Croissir, that just got through killing Voldie once and for all! Voldemorts son! Who the hell told you that crock of shit?"
"Sirius." Lily stopped kicking, she stopped doing anything at all. She stared up at the man before her, Severus lover if he were to be believed, and just looked at him. He was gorgeous, wasted on Severus Snape if ever a man was wasted on a lover. She couldnt believe such a man would want greasy old Snivs. "What the hell would a hunk like you see in greasy old Snivs anyway?"
"Far more than I could ever see in you! Bitch!" Marcus went back to strangling James Potter, intent on ignoring the rude bitch beside him.
"Now, now, now, Marcus, do let the idiot go. He died, about a week after his twenty second birthday, if my memory serves me right. Sirius Black spent the next twelve years in Azkaban for their murder, and thirteen other people, and the rest of the time on the run from that most superb holiday resort. Remus Lupin left the wizarding world, apparently shocked by their deaths and his friends murderous tendencies. Pity it was for the wrong friend. I dont think hed have gone beyond the corner shop, let alone out our world, if it had been known that Pettigrew had been guilty. No, the Potters died, Pettigrew became a pet rat, Black a prisoner, and Lupin a refugee; its all James Potters fault, not Lilys. Be fair! His actions caused the immediate death of his, as young as himself, but not lovely, wife and the orphaning of their one and only brat. Left to his dear maternal Aunts tender care. Their kid was thrown into a cupboard, beneath the stairway if Im to believe the story, whereas our children have been surrounded by family, friends, love, parents who love them, namely us." Severus walked, with the aid of Wendy Meiklejohn, to his husbands side and raised a hand to break his hold on Potters throat. He saw the look of raw hurt and pain that Lily cast to Sirius, not to Remus, just to Sirius Black and decided that maybe there was even more fun to be had other than being the one to save Potters so brief return to life.
Severus whispered to Wendy, and made her giggle like a hyena, her eyes twinkled in that way that those who knew her, like Marcus and Severus, knew she was up to pure mischief. She reached for her wand and pointed it at young master Potter and cast a powerful revealing spell.
"Veratis visagium glamourie finitum!" the purple light that shot out her wand drew every eye to the boy and every breath held to see if the purple light would reveal anything gossip worthy.
Harry Potters image flickered and faded, the purple light obviously found something to hold on to as the magic in the freshly cast counter charm fought with the far older magic in the concealment charm. The light burst free from Potters body with a bang and threw the boy down onto his backside, smoke whisping from him and his clothes.
Marcus turned his captive around, forcing him to look at the sight before him. Where once had been the boy who was so very much like him, now sat a boy so very much like his ex-best friend. Even as they both watched the still smoking boys startled face the image wavered and flickered as the glamourie charm reasserted itself and Harry Potter was James Potters spitting image once more.
"Oh look, it seems that Harry Potter is really Harry Black! Maybe you lost out on a brother and sister, Mister Potter, but we do seem to have found you a real live dad instead!" Severus looked to Sirius Black and saw pain, confusion and a deep sense of longing. It seemed to him that Lily had never told Sirius what she had done, or they had done, or maybe she simply used him to succeed where her husband had failed. "Seems Sirius didnt know either!"
"Lily?" James looked at the boy who had been his son then at his wife. "Whats the meaning of this?"
"For Gods sake you moron, you are, were, whatever, sterile. You fired blanks, couldnt impregnate anyone, failed to reproduce! And I wanted a baby, one that stood a chance of making me a grandmother in the years to come. So I took some of Sirius blood and mixed it into a strong fecundas potion and impregnated myself. While pregnant I took some of your blood and made the glamourie potion and took that too. Harry is, on the face of it, your son; only, underneath the surface hes actually Sirius kid." Lily just glared at him, after all this time, her death and return to life she had finally had enough of the pretence of a happy life with James Potter. Like so many people that marry their school years sweetheart straight out of school, the years that followed had shown her time and time again that she was definitely missing out on something, and that something was called life.
"Severus?" Albus Dumbledores hesitant voice called over to the group that were now the focus of every eye in the hall. The headmaster didnt know what was happening in his school, yesterday Severus was alone in life, his tool in the fight against Voldemort, now some fool Auror says that Severus and his father had killed the so called Dark Lord. Everyone knew Severus parents were dead or had emigrated somewhere, didnt they? "I wonder if you could please tell me whats going on? Who is this man? Who is that woman beside you? What did you do that necessitated Aurors in this school? I may not be able to save you this time you know?"
Before Severus Snape could utter one word in response the Minister of Magic stepped forwards and grinned maniacally at the younger professor Snape.
"Please, let me explain everything? You are still so fatigued that I would suggest your wonderful husband take you back to the rest of your family to rest and recuperate." He glanced at where he wanted the poorly man to head and saw the bandaged head of the injured Draco Malfoy try to raise off the pillow he rested on. "It would appear that young Draco is about to awaken. I think he might need you. Rest assured I will relay the story of todays events clearly and succinctly, you may correct me at any point you wish!" Fudge saw Snape ask his husband to assist him back to Dracos bedside before he turned to face the almost gloating minister. Fudge trembled with anticipation.
"Proceed, Minister. We will all be listening for errors, rest assured we will keep the story straight."
"Quite." Fudge turned to face the rest of the halls occupants and spoke directly to his audience. "Professor Snape is still very fatigued, so I will answer on his behalf, and you, the witnesses to todays events, will help me keep the story straight. Naturally that excludes the Gryffindors as they were not witness to anything other than Harry Potters falling off his broomstick and his subsequent bleeding nose." He turned back to Albus, utterly relishing the almost orgasmic feeling of revenge. "Today, your potions teacher, Professor Severus Snape, along with his father, also a potions teacher and oddly enough also a Professor Snape, faced and defeated Tom Marvolo Riddle, also known as Lord Voldemort, his associate Peter Pettigrew, and several as yet unidentified Death Eaters, and killed them. You see, while your Gryffindors were playing some made up game between themselves your upper years of Slytherins and Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff were actively supporting their opposite numbers at the Henge Academy in an attempt to repel an all out attack by Voldemort and his supporters. Your staff informed the Aurors and, of course, the Ministry, but couldnt find you, your Deputy or even Flitwick to inform you of the crisis. And crisis is was; several pupils from both schools were severely injured, like the young Malfoy lad I referred to whilst talking to Severus Snape; the poor lad received severe head injuries. And at least one pupil from the Henge suffered a direct hit from the Cruciatus curse. They were all fighting for their lives and you three were hiding out in the dungeons playing God with the afterlives of two of your most preferred pupils. The gentleman that assisted Severus to their families sides was Severus husband..." Fudge loved the look of horror that crossed Albus face, he knew full well that the older man hated perversion, in any house but Gryffindor, for they could do no wrong. "It would seem that this idiot," he pointed at James Potter, "covered Severus in a contaminated fecundus potion, causing Severus to conceive children based on the genetic material contaminating said potion. Those contaminants coming from that aforementioned man, Marcus Tolstoy, Henge Master from the Henge Academy, they have two delightful children, a boy and a girl. Born abroad, if I dont miss my guess, to keep them off the Hogwarts pupil roll?" Fudge looked at Severus to confirm or deny his last guessed statement. Severus nodded. "They were also married abroad, well, so many hide bound members of our society have prevented such relationships from being fully acknowledged for far too long. People like yourself, Albus, although I dont know why you object when I know for a fact that you have had several male lovers over the years..." Fudge stopped dead in his tracks, just staring at the headmaster, eyes wide open with the shock of sudden realisation. "Always one of your pet pranksters, always exactly two years after they leave school, always the leader of the group... what happened, did Potter turn you down?" Fudge stopped talking again and waited for Dumbledore to speak. Albus just looked at him, denial clearly seen on his face.
"But, Potter was already married by then! His father put up no objection to the early union, didnt even object to her being Muggle born." Severus added from his seat beside his family, and Draco.
"Horratio Potter had been the leader of the Gryffindor gang that your father mentioned, Severus, he knew from experience." Severus mother pointed out a truth none of them had known needed saying.
"And what you are saying is that he, the headmaster, kept favouring our tricks, and counter tricks, our adventures, just to get me where my father.. erm, James Potter failed to go? Into his bed?" Harry looked around him at the sea of nodding faces, and at the headmaster that would not meet his eyes. "Thats sick! Hes old and hairy and a bloke! I dont even fancy blokes! And even if I did, Id certainly not fancy really old wrinkly ones!"
"You tell him lad!" James urged the boy on to rebel. He had died knowing this boy was his son, been revived to discover he was Sirius kid somehow, but a marauder none the less.
"Enough!" Albus roared, gaining instant silence that lasted for only three seconds, no more, then chaos erupted once more.
"This is still my school." Only Fudge, the Potters, Black and the as yet unidentified woman Albus had questioned Severus about heard him.
"Not for much longer, Albus, not if I can help it! You have lost all credibility, by your own hand, the strongest wizard couldnt resist the thrall of a book! A book, Albus, pages and words and ideas, but still only an enchanted item. I suspect that, in truth, you didnt want to resist. You wanted your escapee, and his son, to be beholden to you for their brief twelve whole hours together, didnt you?" Fudge looked at the lad they world had been led to believe in so strongly, and those the world had thought were his rightful parents, even looked at Sirius Black, lost and confused by the days turn of events. Turning back to Albus he made his decision, pending further enquiries and public opinion, he was still politician enough to concede that to himself. "Albus Dumbledore," he raised his voice so everyone in the hall could clearly hear him. "you are hereby suspended from your position as headmaster of this school, pending enquiries into your behaviour and practices both within and without the school walls, and todays necromancy will be taken into account. Minerva McGonagall, you too are suspended pending enquiries, likewise Filius Flitwick, suspended, pending enquiries. I ask that, whilst her own school is under repair, that headmistress Lauren Snape take over the running of the combined schools, her staff to fill in and assist the remaining Hogwarts staff. There are going to be changes made in our society, mark my words, ladies and gentlemen, there will be big changes ahead!"
"I accept, Minister." Lauren Snape said, smiling at the Minister. "And, what about our earlier discussion? The one regarding immediate Ministerial Absolution?"
"Why, my dear lady, I did truly forget for a moment. Thank you for reminding me." Fudge turned to face Sirius Black. "Due to the overwhelming evidence presented to me today I declare you, Sirius Black, innocent of the crimes for which you were committed. In the interests of fair play, and your own admissions of attempted murder of one Severus Snape we shall leave your time spent in Azkaban as time served for that, and other similar assaults, committed whilst a student at this very school. Do you agree, or wish to fight my stance on this matter?"
"Will his time on the run be compensated for as if he had been freed back then? Fair is only fair, Minister, he did stay and fight when he could have saved himself and run. Its only, what, four years or so?" Lauren didnt argue that the time served was harsh, just for a little cash in hand for the idiot Gryffindor; which Sirius realised was far more than anyone from his own house had done for him.
"Agreed? Is it agreed with you, Black?"
"Agreed!" Sirius stood there, free for the first time since he was twenty two, now able to make a fresh start on life, just him and his son... that still hadnt been explained to him.
"Lily?" Sirius smiled sweetly at the resurrected woman. "How come Harrys my son and not James?"
"Oh, God, didnt you listen? Heaven save me from bloody marauder morons! I used a fecundus potion, like the one James eventually used on Sniv.. erm, Severus." She decided it would be far more diplomatic to amend the name she was about to use at the very last moment.
"Why didnt you use one of his hairs or whatever?" Sirius pointed at his former best friend, not getting closer to either elder Potter than strictly necessary.
"I wanted my son to be able to have kids, not risk having the same genetic fault James had, or whatever it was." Lily explained, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.
"Thats bloody silly." Hermione couldnt keep quiet, the urge to correct a faulty hypothesis was just too great. "You didnt even know that it was a transmittable genetic fault or not and just assumed? It could have been a simply break in the plumbing, you know? A Quidditch accident twisting his tubes or whatever. Didnt you bother seeing a healer?"
"Erm... no... well... you see..." Lily stammered to a halt.
"Bloody Gryffindors!" a voice sounding remarkably like a sleepy Severus Snape filled in the growing silence. "Well, theres ample spare capacity in Slytherin for the extra children, for now. Plenty guest quarters and such for teachers and whomever. I am going to take my kids to my rooms, and my husband too, and we are going to have a quiet family evening, for once. Then my children will sleep in my spare rooms and my husband is going to sleep right alongside me! I dont give a damn what the rest of you do! Good night one and all." With that Severus, aided by Marcus and followed by Anthony and Elizabeth headed out of out the hall, right past the Potters and Black and the others. He stopped and looked directly into James Potters somewhat confused face. "See, I told you stupidity was fatal, fuckwit!" without a backwards glance he carried on out the hall to enjoy the rest of his evening, with his immediate family. He left the rest of the world to his mother, shed manage, he knew this to be true, she was his mum and she always managed.
It had been glorious, waking up in Marcus arms, feeling his husbands morning erection pressing against his bum like that. Severus wriggled, not something anyone would normally regard as regular practice on Snapes behalf, but something he loved doing when it was his husband he wriggled up against.
"Morning!" Severus whispered his greeting, vaguely aware that their children were somewhere near by and he most assuredly did not want to break the mood, if he could get one started. "Oh, my, my, my, its going to be a good morning too..." he laughed as his fingers trailed over the wonderful morning erection Marcus was sporting.
"As good as it gets, love, as good as it gets." Marcus muttered a levitation charm and manoeuvred his husband beneath him, letting Severus rest on his upper thighs as he drew his hands over the sleep warmed skin hed missed for the last ten weeks. "Accio lubricant!"
"Sweet talking devil..." Severus leaned forwards to kiss his husband, reaching for a good handful of the lubricant that had answered his summons.
"Internia clarificus." Marcus fingers tingled over Severus skin as the magic flowed between them. "Musculara relaxin." Severus groaned into his husbands neck as he felt the warm flush of his husbands magic readying him for their love making.
Slowly, Severus sank onto Marcus erection, whispering his sheer delight in feeling his husbands penis slipping home, where it belonged, letting all his longing sound out in that one inarticulate breathy sigh.
"Love you..." Marcus thrust up into Severus welcoming body, his hands shook as they tried to help balance and support his husbands slighter frame. "Wanna fuck you... always..." Severus leaned over, as far as he cold, to be met half way by the ever eager Marcus. "Never want to lose you..." they managed a strained kiss as the rhythm picked up and they lost all thought to the sheer joy of simply feeling.
In his room, sitting quietly as the house elves packed for him, Albus watched the sun peek up over the lake as he contemplated the rest of his life. All those years no one had ever challenged his carefully plotted system, wait two years and recall in his favours. All his favourite children, except from young James, he had managed to slip his grasp; even the previous night he had once again managed to slip his grasp in favour of spending time with Lily, Sirius and Harry.
If it hadnt been for Severus father not being dead, as they had all thought, and not there to mention Horatio Potter, he might still have been in with a chance of calling in future favours from young Harry. Letting him met his dead parents, if his parents had actually both been his parents, and both dead, Harry would have been due him a very big favour indeed. But no, Croissir Snape just had to be living, and in his school too! Now everything was in ruins, his schemes and dreams were just ashes in the grate. He sighed deeply as the drew his eyes back to the activities of the house elves around him.
"Is something wrong with Headmaster Dumbledore sir?" Dobby asked, taking one eye from the task in hand.
"Oh, just life, Dobby, just life. This is but a minor hiccup in my plans, I will be back, never fear!" Albus lifted a hand and completed the packing for the house elves. "Just have anything else I forget sent on to my summer home, if you so please." He smiled in his most benevolent manner, it had taken him decades to master it and it would be such a waste of effort not to use it, shrunk his luggage and left the room, and Hogwarts. "Never mind, old thing, Ill be back soon enough and we can continue our pranks and games once more." As he spoke he touched the stonework that surrounded the main doors in and out of the castle. The castle shifted slightly: to Dumbledore it felt like the castle agreeing with him, to anyone else it might have felt like the castle shifting away from him instead.
On arriving at his summer house he discovered everything that was his had been portkeyed there ahead of him. That did not bode well for a swift return to his rightful place.
"This might take longer than I thought!" he mumbled to himself as he wandered into the kitchen to make himself a spot of breakfast, and to start to rethink his basic strategy.
In their home in Hogsmeade, Minerva McGonagall and her current lover, Filius Flitwick, sat waiting for their triumphant return to Hogwarts to sort out the chaos the Snapes would no doubt create. They were indispensable in keeping the Slytherins in their place, in the lower dungeons, Albus had often told then so, so it had to be true.
"I give her until Monday, maybe Tuesday at the most, and theyll be out on their ears, begging us to come back!" Minerva sat, almost crushing a tea cup in her anger at being removed from power; it should have been her that had taken over the Headmaster office from Albus, not some jumped up Slytherin cow!
"Indeed, my dear, as you so rightly say, Monday, without doubt!" Filius agreed with Minerva, he had long since discovered it the only way to survive her wrath. In his own mind he knew they were both unlikely to return to their former posts as heads of houses; they might be very luck and be allowed to teach once more, but that would take an awful lot of luck. Perhaps, he thought to himself, the time had finally come for him to rethink his priorities, and to ask professor Sprout out for lunch some day soon.
Breakfast in Hogwarts was a crowded and lively affair with the combined population of two schools, journalists, Aurors and Ministry staff all crowding in wanting to get the latest news, and something to eat. The great hall had been reshaped by the house elves and the castle, overnight. It now had a wide balcony that ran around three sides of the hall and held many tables seating six or eight people each, likewise, the main floor of the hall now sported eight tables, each capable of holding half a houseful of pupils, so those sitting there could mingle easier. The teachers table was no longer on a platform and had seats either side of it to accommodate the higher number of teachers.
At one of the half-house tables sat Harry and his friends, and his new found dad, a vial of pepper-up potion held in Harrys hand as hed sat up all night with his mum and James Potter, talking and arguing, disagreeing with his family just like any other teenage boy would. As six oclock in the morning had rolled around he, and the others then with him, had watched Lily and James Potter crumble to dust and leave behind just the one bone they had each started out as.
"Ill ask Snapes mother if I can take you and bury their bones again, later today, or tomorrow maybe." Sirius didnt know how to talk to his suddenly discovered son so he let his voice trail off in to silence.
"If you mean Headmistress Snape, then call her that. All this Snapes this and Snapes that is likely to get your face slapped!" Harry glared at Sirius, not quite believing what he thought he was hearing. "You cant still hold on to your stupid childish snit over Severus Snape, not after his mother got you a pardon and compensation from the Ministry yesterday, can you?"
"Yesterday I discovered just how powerful the Snapes are. Yesterday I was made a free man. Yesterday I discovered I had a seventeen year old son. Let me sort out my shocks in my own good time, hmm?" Sirius turned away from Harry as he spoke, he had registered the dimming down of the cacophony of noise as the main doors opened once more and this time it was Severus and his husband and their children that came in the room. Everyone had quietened down to watch one of the men who had freed their world walk up the room to get breakfast.
They watched as many children from both schools and all houses stood to thank Severus Snape as he walked by. For his part Severus thank them in return and continued his steady progress at his husbands side, their children right behind them. Their progress was only stopped when they reached Dracos table and the children sat down beside him and his friends; some Slytherin, some Henge pupils. With admonitions to be good, their parents headed on to the teachers table.
"Morning mother, I see the elves have been busy!" Severus spoke as he sat down beside his parents, Marcus right beside him.
"Theyve even cleared out the Headmasters rooms already! I dont think the castle is expecting Albus Dumbledore back anytime soon." Lauren Snape smiled as she spoke. "It looks like were all going to be busy, busy, busy for some time to come. Oh, well, I suppose I should get used to making announcements to the combined schools. I think Ill be doing quite a lot of them in the near future." She rose to her feet and muttered a sonorous charm on her throat.
"Can I have everyones attention?" she waited till they all faced her, even those sitting up on the balcony. "Due to our current conditions some rescheduling of classes will be necessary, all changes to your timetables will be presented to you within the next few days. To facilitate this, in a reasonable time frame, all classes, activities, detentions and such will be cancelled until Monday evening , and as of Tuesday, the new timetables will be implemented. To allow all who want to write to their parents about the last twenty four hours, the Minister has arranged for extra owls, and those from the Henge, to be brought in so all who wish to write home may." Headmistress Snape paused while the children, and teachers, actually applauded the Minister. "This will become a two day Hogsmeade weekend for everyone with permission, Ill be arranging the relevant permissions for the thirteen year olds and over from the Henge, so fear not, you wont be missing out on anything." she let the excited babble build for a few moments before raising a hand to indicate she needed their silence. Dutifully, the pupils quietened. "Now, I would like the Hogwarts pupils to make themselves available for the Henge pupils, show them the castle, and those allowed into town, show them Hogsmeade. Other than these arrangements, I guess well be, as the Muggles say, winging it. Now, eat!" she caste the reverse charm and quietened her voice, retook her seat and continued on with her breakfast.
In Hogsmeade, the following day, Draco was showing his step brother and sister, who were also his best friends, around the town. They were the centre of a lot of peoples attentions, pupils from every house, and both schools, finding excuses to come up and talk to them. It began to drag on Draco, much as he liked attention, on his own terms, he didnt like the intrusive attention he was currently constantly under. In truth he was beginning to realise just what Potter had had to suffer all these years.
Harry spent the day wandering around shops with his father. He and Sirius had a wonderful time getting to know each other as father and son.
Ron took Hermione on a date, as did Remus with Wendy.
Lauren Snape took Croissir Snape into the office with several other teachers from both schools, Mister Filch and a couple of house elves to beat out the new timetable and open unused rooms for extra classes. Lauren kept telling Argus Filch that they just couldnt manage without him, and meant it, he could see the truth in her eyes.
It felt good to be needed.
Severus took Marcus to bed.
And stayed there!