Chapter 48: Convalescence


Saturday, 8th July 1995.

Nym smiled wide as she took in the scene in the bedroom.

Her two friends were perched on the bed, cross-legged and facing one another. Not an uncommon position to find them in these days. The two tiny figures at each of the corners of the bed watching them like hawks were enough to be sure that the pair were not testing their new connection to the elves out in the world.

Tybalt and Pops were keeping a very close eye on Harry especially, and that almost made Nym chuckle aloud. They ought to know by now that Hermione was just as frequently the instigator of the trouble that pair got themselves into as Harry was.

Today, though, they were still matching one another's movement.

Both had a small squarish ceramic bowl in their left hand while their right was extended, rubbing the burn salve into the other's face gently.

It was a rather intimate scene to be viewing, especially when these two were doing it. Both were lost in the other's eyes and yet still so perfectly aware of what they were doing that neither was at risk of slipping into those same eyes with their fingers.

For someone who had spent as many years as Nym had having trouble simply standing still thanks to her shifting, it was almost like rubbing salt in the wound to see them so innately capable of stability while their focus was elsewhere.

She shook the idea loose in her mind. Ever since bonding with Rom all those years ago, Nym's clumsiness had cleared right up. There was no value in comparing her former self to these two anymore. But watching them move was still fascinating to behold.

Both slowly lowered their arms and capped the ceramic bowls, before turning to her as one in an almost creepily unified fashion.

"Come in." The pair said intentionally creepily, still very much in sync and Nym could no longer hold in the laughter.

"It's so weird when you two do that." She said, walking quickly over to the bed and joining the giggling duo on its surface.

"But it's fun," Hermione replied, shuffling slightly so that Nym could join them in the lotus position.

Nym eyed the pair for a moment. Now that they were out of whatever fugue state they entered when falling into one another's presence, they seemed like two separate people again. With unique movements and expressions. Although, they still always moved towards one another unconsciously whenever they weren't actively focusing on being apart. It was adorable to witness first-hand.

They also already looked far better than they had upon waking. Which itself was a lot better than when she'd first seen them after. While watching them sleep, the pair had been red as lobsters thanks to the burns they had once again given themselves. The second time in only a couple of weeks, which likely contributed to the adults being so salty at the two. Especially when both times had been the result of rushing off and casting impossible magic without any warning.

Now they were almost back to their normal complexions, though that could have been partly a result of the rather thick, pale paste on their skin.

Their magic and awareness were definitely both growing again as well. She knew that they had both sensed her arrival long before they had finished applying the paste. Though both were still banned from casting any magic. Something that she was enjoying holding over them for the moment.

"So, I brought snacks," Nym said, at last, waggling her eyebrows a little bit for effect.

"So I see," Harry replied sarcastically as he noted that both her hands were resting on her knees and were empty. "They look delicious."

Nym just smiled in return and raised her left hand. Focusing intently on the food she had left on the kitchen counter she snapped her fingers.

Suddenly there were several plates in the gap between the trio's legs and Hermione gasped loudly at their appearance.

"You've been practising?" The younger girl said, enthralled.

"Yep." Nym replied with a big smirk.

Having been so much older than the two of them when she bonded, less of the elven magic had bonded immediately to her own partially matured magic. Over the years, she had gotten better at controlling the new magic, to the point it was barely even conscious most of the time. But Snapping had remained resolutely out of reach for her for so long.

She had never succeeded with such a large grouping, and she was amazed that most of it had arrived at all. Nym knew she had a few things to tidy up in the kitchen as she saw a few empty places on the plates that should have had something on them. But that was a matter for later.

This was additionally amusing right now as she was the only one of them currently allowed to do such magic. Not that the others seemed to mind her momentary advantage. They were both too busy congratulating her and digging into the food to be upset.

Nym considered just how lucky she was that her mother had reached out to Sirius all those years back.

The Blacks were almost entirely a family of arseholes. Her aunts were especially egregious examples of the family ways. Which meant that her biologically closest cousin was a self-absorbed little shit as well. She had never gotten along with any of them when they had crossed paths. That was if the other Blacks would even deign to acknowledge her existence at all thanks to her father's parentage.

Sirius had been such a shock to the system. And with him had come the two strongest friends she had ever met. Their unending support and encouragement had seen her finish top of her class throughout Hogwarts. It had seen her elevated to Hogwarts Champion in the Triwizard Tournament. And it had helped her to master her abilities in ways she doubted she'd have managed alone.

"Thanks." She said somewhat sheepishly, though she didn't have a clue why.

"You're the one who put in the hard work," Harry said. "I'm just glad you managed it in the end. It is terribly useful."

He gave her a cheeky smirk and raised his right hand, moving his thumb and finger together.

Tybalt was there in an instant, his own wee hands holding Harry's finger away from the thumb and staring down at the boy he had helped to raise from the crib.

The trio just laughed at the serious face the elf was giving Harry and she watched as Tybalt dropped his arm and stepped back. Though he did not shift his gaze away from his troublesome charge. Nym glanced at Pops to see him shaking his wrinkled head at their antics, but he did not get involved.

After helping to raise generations of Potter's the aged elf was well used to their nonsense.

ϟ

Monday, 10th July 1995.

Neville was torn.

He was standing in the single most impressive nursery he had ever seen outside of Hogwarts itself. Surrounded by lush growth of plants that weren't even supposed to be possible to grow in Britain.

And yet, he still felt the hollow pit in his stomach.

Not only had his Gran informed him of the escape that had taken place the week before, and the fact that his parents' attackers were now free. But she was now off talking to Harry's parents.

Even though they were paintings, he felt awful for envying Harry the ability to speak with them and have them respond. When Neville had visited his own parents over the weekend, they had been as unresponsive as ever. Simply sitting and watching him as he told them about his year. About the new friends he had made. About his classes.

No matter the topic, they remained unchanged. Just watching as if they were more fascinated by the act of speaking itself than the fact it was their only child talking to them.

"You ok?" Harry whispered from behind him as Hermione continued to point out the places where they had applied his tips over the past few months.

Neville did not jump at the sound, he knew Harry was there, but it did shock him back to attentiveness.

"Yeah, sorry. I'm fine." He replied.

"Do you want to talk about it?"

Neville turned to face the boy and Harry truly looked like he wanted to be there for him. Once more he felt bad for envying Harry. His friend had been through awful things as well. And this was not a contest of who had lost the most.

"You don't have to," Harry added. "But I'm here if you want to."

This was the first time Harry had brought the subject up since Neville had arrived earlier that morning. Harry had been so eager to bring him here, assuring him that early morning was the best time to see the nursery for the first time. The way the sunlight entered the space was unparalleled. And Neville would have vocally agreed if he wasn't so distracted.

When he still didn't respond, Harry gestured to a pair of nearby chairs he had not noticed until Harry pointed them out. They were nestled underneath the large green canopy of an elder and a rowan tree growing in the middle of the space. It was an unusual pair to have together, so Neville assumed it had some significance to Harry that he was unaware of.

Neville nodded and moved to the left of the two chairs, plonking down heavily in it as if the weight of his thoughts made him heavier than normal.

He did notice that Hermione had seemed to vanish. Her voice was no longer coming from nearby, but he knew that Harry's words had been far too soft for her to have heard from how far away she had been standing.

"So…" Harry said, leaving a moment for Neville to fill, but he did not. "I'm guessing you know the full story of both?"

To most, such a vague statement would have been infuriating. Harry had a unique way of speaking when he knew that both he and his conversation partner knew what he was referring to. And Neville knew exactly what he meant. Both the tale of how his parents were addled by the Lestranges. And of how they had been broken free of their imprisonment.

Neville nodded again, his eyes drifting away from Harry and taking in the growth around them. Harry had not been exaggerating when he had described the beautiful space, and Neville found it difficult to remain distracted. And yet, his mind was still clouded by it all.

"I can remember the night that he came calling," Harry said, and this drew Neville's attention right back to the other boy.

Now Harry was the one looking away, his eyes distant as he spoke. "Remember the sounds of fighting. The smell of fear. The look of determination on my mum's face. It's a heavy burden to carry around."

"I wasn't there," Neville replied, both knowing that he meant the night his own parents were attacked rather than that Halloween that ended the war. "I was with Gran. Mum and Dad had wanted a night together. To celebrate making it through the war. And to mourn those they had lost."

Neville rubbed his face as he thought back on what he knew of that time. He did not remember those moments. He was too young. Or he had blocked them out. Probably some small amount of both. All he truly knew was what his Gran had told him as he grew up.

His parents had been great people. Aurors who worked hard to ensure the world would be a safe place for him to grow up in. They had understood that their job was dangerous. And they had taken many precautions to ensure their home was safe. Which is likely why the Lestranges attacked them outside those protections. Protections that remained active on his home to this very day.

"The Lestranges and Crouch managed to capture them as they were leaving the restaurant. And they spent the next day and a half torturing my parents until they lost their minds." Neville finished.

The very idea of it was painful. And he was constantly reminded of their state when he visited them anytime he was home from Hogwarts. Alive, but not really alive. Their bodies remained, but their minds had gone. Crushed by the cruelty of the Lestranges.

"I'm so sorry, Neville. I can't imagine what it is like."

Neville gave Harry a tight smile. "You don't need to feel sorry. It wasn't your fault. You were a baby. Who'd just lost his own parents." He did not vocalize the envy he felt that Harry could speak to his dead parents right now if he liked, but he knew the other boy could see it in his face. Neville turned away to hide his shame at the feeling.

"If there is anything I can do, I will," Harry said, clearly ignoring the obvious shame Neville was hiding.

"Thank you," Neville replied, his mind moving to more recent matters. "When Gran told me what had happened for the first time, I was six. Finally, I understood why we visited these strange people every few months. Before that, they were just strange terms. I didn't really understand what a mum and dad were. I had no memory of them being my parents. It was just something we did that left Gran sad when we left."

"And now," Harry said, "the monsters that did it are loose."

Neville nodded once more. At nearly fifteen now, he very much understood who they were and what they were capable of. And his desire for revenge had grown over the past decade. Once he understood what he had lost, he wanted it back. Or wanted to punish those who had taken it from him. Not that he would survive in a fight with those monsters. He was pants at almost all forms of magic.

"You're better than you give yourself credit for, Neville," Hermione said softly, materialising out of the green leaves to Harry's right. "You are a fine wizard, you simply lack confidence."

He couldn't help but give a strained chuckle at the way these two could read him. He felt weak for considering himself weak, and it always became a self-sustaining cycle of despair. Unless his friends broke him out of it.

"While you're staying here, we'll teach you a few things," Harry added, knowing that Neville's gran was currently working out how long he would be staying.

While the pre-existing enchantments remained active, no one alive knew their true extent or how to control them. They simply remained there, as Lily and his mother had prepared them. Tied to the Fidelius charm that his Gran was the Secret Keeper for. So she was hiring the goblins to come and inspect them. And Neville was spending a few days in this incredible place while they did.

"You've got your work cut out for you." He replied, giving the pair now seated together a wry smirk.

"If Harry can teach Sirius new magic, you'll be a sinch," Hermione said cheekily.

Neville understood the reference, and couldn't help but smile in return.

"We're not going to be rushing out there to fight anyone," Harry added. "But if we find ourselves anywhere near the Lestranges, I promise you they will pay."

Neville glanced over and saw the conviction in Harry's eyes. A boy who was a day younger than he, but seemed older and wiser than Neville thought he could ever hope to be. They had both lost so much, but Harry had spent the intervening years building something new to fill that hole in his life. While Neville had moped and turned inwards, losing confidence in himself and walling himself off from others. It took Harry waltzing into his life to break him from that despair.

"Thank you. Both of you." Neville said and he felt lighter than he had all week.

While he knew that he was not strong enough to confront those monsters, he knew that Harry and Hermione could turn them inside out without breaking a sweat. Their time on the outside was limited, the Lestranges just did not know it yet.

He gave a soft sigh and looked up at the smiling couple. "Shall we have a look at your Sopophorous?"

ϟ

Wednesday, 12th July 1995.

Voldemort watched through the window as the assault team returned, two prisoners in their midst.

Less than he had hoped for. It was taking a long time to arm all those he had freed from the island prison. Which was holding up the rate at which he could send out such raids.

Each attack required sending some of his true followers along to ensure that things went smoothly. Also causing delays to the plans he wished to execute. There were important things to seek and for the moment they were too busy training the recruits to go after them.

His anger at their languid pacing rippled the wards and he knew all underneath would have felt it. One of his first acts upon taking Yaxley's home as his new base had been to slave the wards to his will. Whether the other man wanted them to or not.

The door behind him opened slowly and he heard quiet footsteps enter the room. There was a moment of silence as the figure searched for him in the darkness. He was quite well concealed in his place by the window to the left of the entrance. Bathed in the shadows.

"Milord, the party returns with captives as ordered."

"I know." He replied, his whispered tone still icy as he addressed Narcissa.

Bellatrix had not yet been able to acquire a new wand more suited to her, so still bore her sister's. Making Narcissa even more useless to him for the moment. So she had been relegated to the role of house elf. Something that Corbin lacked in his home, unfortunately. There were uses he could have put such a creature to that Narcissa was unsuited for. A shame. And the elves belonging to the remainder of his followers were refusing to come anywhere near him. As unheard of as such a thing was, Lord Voldemort had far greater concerns to worry about than the unruly behaviour of such unimportant creatures.

"Did they acquire the materials as well?" He asked after allowing the silence to stew for several long moments.

He could feel the fear rolling off of her now.

"I… do not know, milord." She whimpered, obviously expecting punishment for the lack of information.

He did not reply to her words verbally. Instead, he turned his head the barest amount. Just enough to see her quivering figure out of the corner of his eye. She was dishevelled and obviously frightened. About as far from the prim housewife persona she had worn during his stay in the Malfoy basement as it was possible to be.

He allowed some small measure of his fury at their lackadaisical progress to wash over her through his gaze and she whimpered aloud. The woman withdrew cautiously from the room, closing the doors once more and he turned his attention back to the world outside.

The lack of armament was a problem. But it was one they were dealing with. The bigger problem was the boy. His interrogations of the Hogwarts students had told a far different picture to that which the young Malfoy had provided. The child was no average slouch.

More and more, Voldemort came to regret the placement of their spy throughout the tournament. He had hoped to find a way to plant them within the school, but the best that the fools had achieved was to infiltrate the Ministry via the spy's father and their associate. So he had been forced to rely on secondhand accounts from children in order to strategize his movements.

But all the other opinions had agreed on one thing. Potter performed his most impressive magic with others, especially the girl, at his side.

Voldemort had seen them work together first-hand. And it had cost him one of his own. He resisted the urge to clench the artificial replacement. It was serving him well, but he had not even managed to retain the full functionality of his new form for a full hour after the ritual. His rage at the child grew even more and it took several long minutes for Voldemort to quiet his roiling emotions.

He knew that it had not been the boy who had defeated him so long ago. That had been the elder two Potters. He could feel the flavour of the magic that had shredded his original body to the point that his loosened soul had come free. It was that of the pair who had duelled him personally a number of times. A final fourth defiance.

The child had been left seemingly defenceless as he approached, and had done nothing to strike at him for what he had just done to the mudblood in front of it. Watching almost curiously as Lord Voldemort had prepared the final stage of the ritual that he had prepared for two weeks beforehand.

It was old magic the two had cast which had defeated him that night.

He had often wondered about the meaning of the words Severus had provided. The 'one with the power' to vanquish the Dark Lord… did it mean that the child was the only one who could stand against him, or that the boy possessed some deeper strength he had not yet uncovered? The latter seemed more likely after their second encounter. Especially with the stories he had been provided by others. Lord Voldemort would not be so rash as to risk a third so soon.

Not without more information.

Perhaps, he considered as he heard footsteps approaching in the hall outside once more, it was time to summon Severus forth.

It was time to learn all that the man knew.

ϟ

Saturday, 15th July 1995.

Severus Snape slumped onto the floor of the study, the whirling of the portkey not leaving him any better for its use.

Snape's head was pounding worse than any hangover or migraine could ever hope to cause. His very mind was on the verge of collapse. He could feel arms hauling him up and something softer than the floor at his back now, but his awareness of things beyond that was limited.

The only reason he assumed the arms belonged to Albus was he was certain of his location thanks to the portkey the old man had provided. It would bring Snape to the man's office, and Snape alone. No one else could use it, even if they took it from him.

His head lolled as he tried to regain proper control of his body once again. The hours of agony had finally ended, but they had certainly taken their toll.

He felt something foul roll down his throat and his body tried to cough it back up, but it lacked the strength. What little power he had in his mind tried to suppress the feeling as well. He was a potions prodigy, just as Lily had been. He knew any potion he was being fed by the old man right now would be of use.

Snape was still unable to fathom what the potion had been, but it filled him quickly with a vigour he had not felt since he left the night before. His mind was able to work against some of the pain, though its intensity had risen with the rise in his own strength.

"Severus? Can you hear me?" The old man's voice came, though it still sounded distant.

"Yes." He managed to croak out in a quiet reply.

"Good. Drink." Another voice said before another six potions were poured down his throat.

This time, his body did have the strength to gag and react. He felt like a child covered in its dinner as awareness slowly returned to him. He knew his chin was covered in potions, and his clothing must have been similar. However, it was hard to tell what was potion and what was sweat or vomit from his punishment.

Finally, his vision began to return and Severus noted that two figures were standing over him. Albus was obvious, Severus knew of no one else who so fully embraced the stupid muggle ideal of Merlin to the degree that the old man had. The other was the school matron that Albus had obviously summoned to provide the potions that had returned him to awareness.

"He's coming around. But he's exhausted, Albus." The woman said, pouring another potion into his mouth.

He was at last able to identify this one before it provided the usual effects of shooting steam out of his ears.

"We need to talk." He said as he finally cleared the effect.

"He needs rest." Pomfrey refuted, pushing him back into the chair he was on as he tried to sit up.

"That will be all, Poppy," Albus said, solemnly. "Thank you."

"Albus…" She went to argue, but Snape noted the stare that the old man gave the woman and she was sufficiently silenced.

"Leave any further potions you believe will help." Albus asked, giving her that 'warm grandfatherly smile' he was known for.

The one Severus hated so much.

Poppy practically growled at the old man, but she acquiesced. Glancing at him out of the corner of her eye, she left behind almost a dozen potions on the desk and with one last heavy huff, headed for the door.

Neither man spoke for several minutes as they waited for the matron to descend the stairs. When they had waited the usual amount of time, Albus fixed his eyes on Severus and he felt the enquiry in the stare.

"He's angry." Severus started simply. "The Dark Lord seems to accept my reasoning for not attending the night of the Task readily enough. I could not easily escape the school's wards without detection by you and others. And my absence if the brat were to die would leave me a suspect. Though he later checked the validity of my claim."

"I trust you managed to divert him well enough to maintain your position," Albus said. It was not a question but a statement of fact as far as the old man was concerned.

"Perhaps," Snape replied, his head still throbbing from the treatment it had received. "He certainly put my skills to the test."

Albus cocked his head slightly in curiosity. An action that most would miss entirely. The fact that he had noticed helped to settle Severus even more than the potions. His mind was returning to its normally sharp state.

"When I felt the burn last night, I was reluctant to depart. We both know that the Dark Lord does not forget."

"Last night?" Albus enquired, the confusion more than evident on his face now.

"Yes. When I came to see you, you advised that I needed to respond promptly."

"Severus, you have been gone for three days," Albus said simply, looking at him over the top of his glasses.

"What?"

"It is Saturday evening. You left on Wednesday night. I was beginning to fear the worst."

Snape was concerned now. How had he lost so much time? He knew the cause, but he was sure he had held up better than that.

"We may have a problem." He offered, as used his skills to settle his nerves before they could run away with him. "I was sure it was just the one night."

"What happened, Severus?"

Snape closed his eyes and centred himself. He was unable to use his normal preferred method of focusing on Lily's beaming face. Potter had ruined that for him the other night. Now, whenever he pictured the girl's once loving gaze, he would instead see the burning fire of hatred in the child's in its place. When he had his heart rate settled, he opened his eyes once more.

"I arrived and was immediately led to his presence. He questioned me as we knew he would. It went on for a few hours as I had to justify every action and inaction of the past twenty years. I believed that I had succeeded in convincing him of my loyalty."

Albus did not speak, simply watching him intently. Which, coupled with remembering what he had just endured, was enough to send an involuntary shudder down Snape's spine.

"I thought I was about to be released when he called me back. The Dark Lord had his wand in hand now. His usual one. Either he never lost the limb and the brat was merely exaggerating, or he has replaced it already. I prepared to be tortured for my absence. Instead, he used legilimency on me."

"Directly?"

"And openly. I have to admit, if you had not tested me in the last week, he may have gotten everything he wanted immediately. I was not prepared for the ferocity with which he searched."

"He cannot have kept that up for the whole three days."

Severus looked up at Dumbledore and was surprised to see concern in the man's gaze. "I cannot be certain, but I think he did. I have been testing my memory of the night… days, for the last few minutes. I have not been memory-charmed. But I do not remember anything of those days. Just the struggle."

Albus looked away, concern etched into his features now. For a man so adept at concealing information, Snape was surprised to be so easily able to read the man. They both knew that Snape was privy to secrets that the Dark Lord could never know. If he had found his way to such information, their efforts were doomed.

"He forcibly confirmed your actions?" Albus asked after several ponderous moments.

Snape shook his head. "He was looking for something specific."

He did not need to say what. Albus's face showed that he knew what the Dark Lord had been hoping to find.

"It is not there. I know it isn't." Albus stated, having checked for it over a dozen times himself. "Aberforth pulled you away. And he wasted no time in removing you from the premises."

"The Dark Lord seemed to believe I may have been peripherally aware in some way. He shredded my memory of the night from a hundred angles. He wants the full wording."

"He cannot find what you do not know," Albus said, but there was a hint of uncertainty behind it. "He cannot learn the full wording of the prophecy."

"I am certain he did not. But he did not remain solely focused on that night. The Dark Lord dug through years of memories. I did my best to divert him. To keep him from finding anything of value. I was unable to figure out his goal, which made turning his attentions away that much more difficult."

"Hence why he persisted for so long," Albus noted, stating what they both now knew to be true.

"Yes. He searched through the oddest things. Staff meetings, Hogsmeade weekends, and my time back at Spinner's End during summer breaks. The few meetings I've had at the Ministry made sense, but what does he hope to gain from such varied viewing? It's as if he wanted all of my memories."

Albus paled and glanced to the west. The link suddenly became obvious and Snape mentally kicked himself for not seeing it earlier.

"He was watching her patterns," Severus said.

"I believe so. I am afraid I must now confine her to the castle."

"She knows it? I was under the impression that seers never retained the memory."

"I do not believe that she does, however, we cannot take the risk," Albus said, bowing his head.

"What of the record?"

Albus sighed and turned back to face him. "I believe that Mister Potter has removed it."

"You checked."

"Of course. There is something in its place. And it seems incredibly convincing. But something about the way Sampson looked at it… I believe it to be a fake."

Snape knew enough about Albus Dumbledore to know that even with the obscuring charms all over the Unspeakables' attire, he could tell people apart by oddities such as how they walked and stood. An advantage he had over the majority of the British population from having spent almost a century watching them all pass through this school. Severus did not doubt that the man could detect unusual behaviour from one of the silent guides who watched everyone who passed into their domain.

"If the boy knows…" Snape grumbled, hating that the child was so central to all of this.

"Then his entire family knows as well. I will need to assign people from the Order to watch them. Though how I will convince the lad of the need I do not know. But they must all now be protected. I wish he had come to me sooner. Though I understand I burned that bridge all those years ago. We must pray that my ignorance then does not cost us all now."

"I still hate the idea of leaving any of this to a child. Much less that one." Severus snarled.

The boy was a brat, just like his father. Ruining Snape's memory of Lily had just been the most recent offence. The fool had ruined Snape's efficiency as his first act in the castle. Causing no end of delays in the brewing that he was required to do in his role. So the classroom had been a little gloomy. It served Snape's needs perfectly. And it did the dunderheads good to learn the dangers of the mysterious art he had mastered early.

The idea that such a child could duel the Dark Lord to a standstill, as he had claimed, was ludicrous. Potter had shown no real signs of actual power. Only a few neat tricks which allowed him to weasel his way around wards. Something he no doubt learned from Snape's tormentors that the boy had surrounded himself with growing up.

Snape rolled his wrist, the phantom sensation of the tight hand squeezing it painfully still hadn't fully cleared. He scowled at the idea that James Potter would have given him a warning. The man was a cad. He would never let go of the grudge between them. Snape certainly wouldn't. Not after the bastard had stolen all that he lived for. Though it had still been the Dark Lord that had removed any hope of winning her back.

"Severus." Albus said firmly, breaking him from his thoughts.

"What." He snapped back, the vile anger at Potter audible in the word.

Albus just sighed at him for a moment, those awful eyes looking at him with pity. A sight he was growing very tired of. If it were not for his desire to see the Dark Lord killed for the wrongs he had committed, Severus would have long ago left the school.

"Go. Rest. We will surely have need of your services again before long."

Severus did not speak again. He simply stood and glared at the old man for several moments. A sudden spike of vertigo kept him from making his usually dramatic turn. Paying no more attention to Albus, he made for the door. Ready to put this latest endeavour behind him.