AN: It's set at the end of OotP, shortly after Dumbledore spoke to Harry. No own, no money, no sue, as usual.
Live And Let Die
As he climbed up the stairs leading out of the dungeons, Severus was convinced to know very well why the headmaster had asked him to come up to his office. And he was prepared to defend himself. He had never wanted to give Potter those Occlumency lessons in the first place, he had told him so, but Dumbledore hadn't left him a choice.
No surprise that Black hadn't liked the idea either. Actually he hadn't ever liked any idea that involved Severus anywhere close to him or his godson - probably the only thing they had ever had in common.
'What do you want?' He remembered how Black had greeted him with a well trained scowl when he had gone to see Potter.
'A word with Potter.'
'What could you want with Harry? Not enough giving him a hard time at school so now you're coming after him during his holidays? To take some house points or give him detention or what?'
'Trust it, Black, I have no desire to set foot into your house unless absolutely necessary. Dumbledore sent me to speak to Potter. Alone.'
'So playing the messenger is another one of those secret special missions he sends you on?'
'Speaking about it, are you still making progress with your secret cleaning mission?'
Anger had flashed across Black's face.
Yes, Dumbledore had asked him, so unfortunately he had to do it. Although the headmaster had known he didn't want to teach him, that he had enough memories he couldn't allow anyone else to just accidentally stumble across, whether it were things others mustn't know or things he just didn't want anyone to know. Least of all Potter.
And of course, Potter had immediately proven to be no different from his father. The only thing he really blamed himself for was leaving Potter alone in his office for only a second; he really should have made sure to seal the door behind him after he left, he should have expected him not to have any respect for others' privacy or property. He just hadn't thought of it. That's what he was to blame for. But not for throwing him out of his office, he had had every right to do so. Although he had to admit that throwing a jar after him had been a little below him. He also knew he should have continued to teach him but it would probably have been useless anyway, Potter simply hadn't taken it seriously, he hadn't put any effort in it, no matter how often he had been told how important it was.
Still, everything wouldn't even have mattered if just for once in his life Potter would simply have done as he had been told and would have left things to the people capable of dealing with them instead of trying to play the hero once again. If he had come to him straight away instead of letting himself get caught with his head in Umbridge's fireplace. Or if at least he had not thought him as too much of a retard to understand the warning he had given him in her office.
He stopped walking abruptly, noticing he had almost walked past the entrance to the headmaster's office. He took a deep breath and muttered the password.
Dumbledore sat at his desk, waiting for him, gazing thoughtfully out of the window into a sky coloured crimson red by the setting sun.
Have a seat, please. Dumbledore said, absent-mindedly gesturing at the chair opposite from him.
Severus hesitated for a moment before he did so. The headmaster was still staring outside and after a few seconds of silence, Severus decided to speak up first. I assume you're about to point out the irresponsibility of my behaviour to me?
Dumbledore quickly turned his head as though he had just been pulled out of a dream and looked at him with an expression that proposed he had only now become aware of his presence in the room. He then said.
Severus raised an eyebrow, throwing him a questioning look.
The headmaster smiled sadly and shook his head. I don't blame you.
Well, yes, if Potter...
Dumbledore shook his head once more. I don't blame Harry either.
A barely noticeable complacent smile crept onto Severus's face. Black should have been staying behind, there was no reason...
Dumbledore said. Sirius is as responsible for his fate as you and Harry are.
Hadn't he just said he did not blame him?
Each of you made a mistake and might possibly have prevented things from happening the way they did, but in the end I am the one bearing the responsibility for it. I made mistakes other people had to pay for now. The headmaster continued, gazing out of the window again into a sky growing constantly darker now.
Severus didn't reply anything, he didn't know what to say or if it was at all suitable to say anything. He and Dumbledore had often not shared the same opinion regarding Potter and everything that had to do with him but he knew the headmaster had always tried to act in the best interests of his little protégé. But really nobody seemed to be safe from making mistakes.
You will have to expect Harry blaming you for his godfather's death though. Dumbledore said. He's desperately looking for someone to be held responsible in order to deal with his own pain and feelings of guilt.
I'm not worried about this to make our relationship worse in any way. Severus replied indifferently. He was used to playing the scapegoat and when it came to what Potter thought of him, he couldn't care less. Sure, knowing he was a member of the Order, Potter had probably expected him to immediately draw his wand in Umbridge's office, throw some curses at her and run straight into the Ministry to save Black. He obviously still didn't understand that there were things at stake here worth a lot more than one man's life, no matter whose it might be.
Dumbledore nodded thoughtfully. Do you think the fact that those Death Eaters have been arrested, Malfoy especially, will have any effect on your position?
If at all, it will be a positive one. Severus replied, glad to have returned to a more professional subject. But I doubt they will be gone for long.
Yes, so do I. The headmaster replied with a sigh. I think that would be all then. He added with a friendly smile.
Severus nodded, stood up and left the office again; he had definitely expected this to take longer and to go worse. He was relieved Dumbledore didn't expect him to show sorrow for Black. He had never - well, not recently at least - exactly wanted him dead but now that he was gone it didn't stir any emotions in him either aside from regretting the unnecessary loss of one man for the Order. Then again, he had never been of much use anyway. 'You will put that to the vote, won't you?' He remembered Black asking that, scowling at him, when Dumbledore had taken him along to the Order's meeting and told the others that he was going to be a part of it from now on. The headmaster had smiled at this, not seeming to take Black's idea seriously. Severus had. And he had known very well who would have voted against him.
Black hadn't been very delighted about once in his life not being allowed to have his say and ever since then he had not let pass one opportunity to tell him that he had more trust in his ruddy house elf than in him. Well, if only he knew now.
It had been mainly Black's presence that had made him not want to spend one more minute than absolutely necessary at Grimmauld Place. Not only, but mainly. And that had brought him to realising something that made him pretty angry with himself: while he had no doubt become better at defending himself against Black - without a wand - he still hadn't quite grown out of letting his constant taunting get to him. But that was something he would never have to waste a thought on anymore. He had come to the conclusion that Black probably deserved a certain amount of respect for giving his life in battle for their side, but other than that, he really couldn't think of any other member of the Order about whose death he would have cared less.
AN: Thank you for reading. I've been waiting the whole day trying to come up with a better title but I couldn't think of one so, better than none at all, I made it the song I was listening to. If you can think of a brilliant title, let me know then I might change it ;)