"He's quiet now, of course," the orderly unnecessarily explained as the two visitors peered through the tiny window into the padded cell.
As if aware he was being observed, the man inside lifted his head causing the curtain of black hair to fall away and reveal his features.
The woman gasped softly, "It's him." She peered through the thick glass at the man seated on the floor -- there was, after all, no furniture within -- whose eyes were black voids empty of any sentience. "I'll want a list of everything you've given him," she said cooly without turning away.
"You've his name, then?" The doctor standing a ways back countered.
"And, of course, all his records," the woman did not deign to reply.
The man with her, a younger man but prematurely greying, sighed wearily and he did step back from the window. "Yes, of course. But it's very hush-hush, old man. Government secrecy and all."
Perhaps the doctor wasn't buying it. Or perhaps he merely didn't find such reasoning to be all that convincing or reassuring. He snorted. "Quite," and gestured to the orderly. "Well, I suppose there's nothing for it. He's yours then. His file will be at the front desk." With that the psychiatrist snorted once more and strode off in a huff.
The orderly shrugged and swiped a card through the electronic lock. There was an audible click. At which sound, the prisoner -- sorry, patient -- jerked and cringed back, pulling his outstretched legs up to hug to his chest. As the orderly made to enter, a light touch on his arm held him back. The plump, grey haired woman shook her head, "No, I'll fetch him. I rather think he's ... a bit afraid of you."
The man had the good grace to look abashed. "Well, he were a tad violent at times and I'm the one had to subdue him."
The woman only nodded as she swept inside. It was but three steps to reach the dark haired man's corner and then she knelt and slid a pair of soft slippers on his feet. "Come, dear, it's time to go." She held the empty gaze that had finally moved to her. Clearly he didn't understand. She started to rise and gently tugged at his sleeve to induce him to follow her lead. A confused look passed over his face but he did push himself, albeit unsteadily, to his feet. The lady's companion came up to his other side and caught his other arm. Between them, they kept him upright and guided him as he slowly shuffled toward the door.
It was a long trek back to the front desk with the orderly anxiously explaining to them the lack of funding that a government run hospital had to endure. Especially a psychiatric hospital. But they did their best what with the cut backs. Couldn't afford to keep up with housekeeping any more but at least they got the meds...
The orderly left them as they neared the public area and the receptionist's desk. On the floor beside the desk was a plastic bag and in her hand a thin dull colored folder. "I suppose you'll want to check his things before you sign him out," she said in a voice that clearly communicated a vague annoyance with them.
"Yes, actually, I would." The man smiled at her anyway and his natural brilliance made her smile back and she merely nodded as he pawed through the bag. It didn't take long,though, and then the papers signed while the woman manuvered a coat over the thin cotton pajamas the patient wore. The receptionist watched them slowly make their way outside. Her phone rang then and she lost all interest in the deeparting trio.
Remus Lupin guided his companions to the quiet ally. With a quick glance about to be certain they were alone, he brought out his wand and a moment later the three disappeared from the Muggle neighborhood.
Twelve Grimmauld Place was forebidding even on the best of days. Today was a good day. The sun was shining, the sky was clear and clean, the temperature comfortable. But the denizens of the decrepit residence were far from happy. Even though they had retrieved the missing Order member, the state they had found him in was less than reassuring. He really should have been in hospital, a wizard hospital that is. But St. Mungos would not be safe and with all those Ministry -- and other -- types wandering Hogwarts' grounds this summer, that wasn't a possibility either.
Remus Lupin sat at the kitchen table not really listening to Mad-Eye Moody's vituperous harangue regarding the folly of going after the missing spy without taking a single trained Auror. "You took Poppy Pomfrey, of all people! Lupin! Are you listening to me?"
"No, not really," the morose werewolf admitted softly but with a mischevious smile threatening his otherwise somber expression. "Anyway, you would have left him there."
"Eh, maybe so. Out of trouble anyway." The old Auror felt no remorse for his distrust, and worse, loathing, of the Order's spy. 'Once a Death Eater, always a Death Eater was his motto. One of many, actually. But he was not going to change and Remus Lupin had no intention of arguing with him. At least not today.
It was then the kitchen door to the outside creaked open and a gaggle of play-worn teens dragged themselves in, dragging brooms and still arguing cheerfully about their flight. It was near teatime and all three looked ready for it with windswept hair and red faces. They halted in apparent shock that Molly Weasely was not in the kitchen and there was nothing baking nor even a steaming kettle.
Tall gangly Ron, the youngest of the Weasely boys looked suddenly worried. "Has something happened to our Mum?" He locked a worried gaze on the older men.
Remus shook his head. "She's fine. She's upstairs with Madame Pomfrey and our ... erm... guest."
"Guest?" Harry Potter asked before anyone else.
"We finally located Professor Snape, Harry." Lupin replied quietly.
"Here?!" Ron was flabbergasted and not at all happy.
"Don't worry, lads, he's in no shape to give you any trouble," Moody was practically chortling even under Lupin's glare.
The other kitchen door, the inside one, opened, and two women bustled in. The elder, the grey haired Hogwarts mediwitch wore a severe expression that was otherwise unreadable. But to any who knew her that only made it clear that things were grave indeed.
The younger, the red headed and slightly plump matron of the Weasely clan was not so adept in covering her emotions and her normally cheerful countanence was even more grim.
"Mum?" One of the Weasely twins prodded uncertainly.
"Oh, dears, we'll have our tea in a bit," Molly tried to fall back on her usual role, scurrying about the kitchen as she hurridly put a tea together, but the tremor in her voice did not make her false calm at all convincing.
Tea was unusually somber. Pomfrey had declined to stay as she still had work at Hogwarts even though school was not yet in session. Moody remained, his secret obsession with Mrs Weasely's home cooking still undiscovered though it would not have surprised anyone. But his callous cheer did not uplift anyone.
"Well, Mum," George started once the tea was poured and sandwiches passed,
"Are you going to tell us what's going on?" Fred finished as he snagged a biscuit from the central plate.
"No reason not to, Molly," Remus added. And then he explained, "Some students, Muggle borns obviously, saw a piece on their... teleevision about psychiatric hospitals run by the Muggle government," he made a gesture of disgust then dropped that part of the story, "The important thing is that several patients were shown and one of them was Se- Professor Snape." He paused, clearly uncertain how much more detail to go into. He shrugged and finished simply, "We got him out."
"He's not well," Molly said in an attempt to not say much at all.
Moody snorted. "That's an understatement!"
"You are not helping, Mad-eye," Remus growled in exasperation at the old Auror.
"Well, as we cannot return to the "Burrow" I will be looking after Professor Snape here in Poppy's stead." The matronly witch continued. Her youngest son looked shocked.
"You're a mediwitch, mum?"
Finally she smiled and shook her head. "I'm a 'mum' Ronald Weasely."