Summary: A favor for Dumbledore becomes Severus' undoing, when a slip of the tongue by another reveals his secret. Chapter one: Severus does the favor and the secret is revealed. Surprise ending! Not slash. Rated for future violence and Snape torture/angst.Disclaimer: I do not own the characters. J.K. Rowling, Bloomsbury books, Scholastic books and Warner Brothers have that pleasure.
Chapter One: Loose lips
Severus Snape stood, his arms across his chest, looking down his nose at the Headmaster. He knew that this "summons" would not result in the loss of his life, as a summons to the Dark Lord might, but he also had a sinking feeling he wasn't going to like what Albus had to say. He was correct.
Albus' blue eyes twinkled. "Severus, how very nice of you to stop by." Albus leaned back in his chair, smiling. Bantering with Severus never failed to lift his spirits.
Severus' black eyebrows rose. "You asked me here, Albus. If you don't require my assistance I do have many pressing matters to—" Severus quickly whirled toward the door, black robes swishing.
"—Now, now, Severus. Don't be hasty. Do sit down." When Severus had taken a seat Albus continued. "I did call you for a reason. As you know, I've been under a great deal of pressure to fill the position of professor for Defense Against the Dark Arts." Albus instantly regretted his choice of words.
Severus leaned in expectantly. "Yes, sir?" He was suddenly very eager to hear more.
Albus felt guilty. He had not meant to give the Severus the impression that the position was his. "I need to finalize my decision today. It may take the rest of the afternoon. What I need from you is to chaperone Harry and the Weasleys to Diagon Alley to pick up school supplies."
Severus' face fell, causing Albus to feel all the more guilty. "You want me to baby-sit Potter and his friends?"
Albus watched the transformation in his old friend. The minute Harry's name was mentioned Severus' eyes became cold as he closed in on himself. This reaction never failed to sadden Albus. He still held out hope that his friend would eventually come to accept Harry and let go of the grudge he still held so firmly against the Marauders.
"Molly will be there, and Arthur, but I would like another person there as well. Times are becoming more dangerous. You know this very well, Severus."
Severus sighed deeply. Albus was correct. The Dark Lord was reacting very badly to his defeat in the Department of Mysteries. He was actively seeking out anyone in the ranks who he believed was not loyal. He had tortured Goyle for so long at the last meeting there was a fear he would be forever brain damaged. He was pressuring the young children of Death Eaters to take the Mark. Severus knew that young Goyle and young Crabbe had both done so, but he wasn't sure about Draco Malfoy. Draco had been so devastated by his father's recent imprisonment that Severus was sure he would hear of him joining the Dark Lord soon.
Severus pinched the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger. "Fine."
Ron and Harry chatted excitedly, happy to be out. Harry had gone to the Burrow to finish out his holiday just last week. He was so happy to have someone to talk to that he and Ron had been talking into the wee hours every night, until Molly would pound on the door and tell them to be quiet. Their sixth year was starting in less than a week. Harry had been confined to the Dursleys and then to the Weasleys and this was his first foray outside at all since summer began. Harry had to push the issue about going to Diagon Alley since his robes were two inches too short.
Harry stood on the raised platform as Madame Malkin measured him for the new robes. Ron stood near the window display, popping Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans as he looked about the shop. Arthur sat in a seat towards the back and began perusing the Daily Prophet. The bell above the door jingled and Draco Malfoy came in with his mother and another woman. Mrs. Malfoy and the woman were talking in hushed tones. Ron sneered when he saw the young Slytherin.
Draco glared at Ron. "What are you doing here? The second hand shop is down the road."
Ron's fists balled at his sides. "Shut up, Malfoy!"
"As clever a comeback as always, I see."
Ron's face reddened and he sneered. "At least my dad's not a criminal."
Draco's look was venomous. "Listen, Weasley—"
"—Draco, come along. We haven't much time." Narcissa took her son's arm and pulled him away from Ron.
Draco continued to stare at Ron until he and Harry finally left the shop. A malicious smile spread across his pale features as he began to plot his revenge.
Severus stalked down the aisle of Slug and Jiggers Apothecary, just up the road from Madam Malkin's. He had one more ingredient to restock in his private stores, Gillyweed. Spying it on the shelf he quickly retrieved it and went to pay for his purchases. He needed to meet with Arthur in Flourish and Blott's in a few minutes.
He saw Draco Malfoy pass by the shop. Severus nodded politely to the young Slytherin.
Harry and Ron were just going into Flourish and Blott's when Ron realized his father was still next door at Madam Malkin's. "Go on ahead, Harry. I'll get Dad and meet you there."
Ron watched Harry go inside and then took a step, directly into Professor Snape. "Uh…Sorry, sir." Ron's eyes grew huge and his face drained of all color.
Snape scowled deeply. Suddenly, a malicious smile spread across his face. "All alone are we, Mr. Weasley?"
"I…I…I was just going to get my Dad from M-M-Madame M-Malkin's."
"Is that what it's called now? M-M-Madam M-Malkin's?" He leaned closer to Ron causing him to stagger backwards. "I want to know if you're pleased with yourself, taunting a child whose father has been incarcerated?"
Ron's anger flared. "He started it, the stupid git!"
"Language, Mr. Weasley, language. I cannot deduct points, since it's not during the term but I can do so many other things. Things that would make your hair stand on end."
"Are you threatening me?"
Snape didn't answer, just smiled in that frightening way again.
"I won't stand for it!" Ron fumed. "I don't care if you do work for the Order—" Ron failed to notice that Snape's eyebrows shot up in surprise. "—And that your spying is so valuable to Dumbledore! You can't go around threatening people!"
"Spy for the Order, did you say?"
"Oh, come off it! Everyone knows. Why else would you be at the Order meetings and you even told Harry yourself!"
Snape took a step back. "So I did," he said very softly. "Now run along, Weasley. I have things to do."
Ron quickly ran to the robe shop to get his father.
As Harry and Ron were preparing to leave Flourish and Blott's they saw Arthur and Snape deep in conversation at the front of the shop. Harry asked, "What's that about, do you think?"
"No idea. I can't believe he would show his face again after what he said to me. I've half a mind to tell Dad all about it."
"Let it go, Ron. You know how he is about his Slytherins."
"He's never come right out and threatened me before. He's gone nutters!"
Harry shook his head. The teens exited the shop, followed by Arthur and Snape. Snape didn't mention the incident and neither did the two boys as Snape escorted the group to the Floo and watched as they departed for the Burrow.
"This is highly irregular. I'm not someone who can be summoned on a whim. This had better be worth my while." Voldemort slowly walked into the ornate drawing room. It was a bit overdone for his tastes but the Malfoy's did so like to flaunt their wealth. His red eyes narrowed as he spied the boy in front of the hearth.
Draco smiled. "I would not have called you had I not been completely sure of my information."
"I ask for something in return."
Voldemort's eyes flashed. "Is that so?"
Draco nodded. "Yes. I want my father out of Azkaban. I know it is in your power to do so. You are the most powerful wizard who has ever lived."
"You flatter me." Voldemort took several steps forward. "I do have the power to grant your request, but only if I am pleased with what you say. If I am not, I guess it is a moot point, because you will be dead."
"Fair enough. I've discovered only this summer that I have been gifted with a family trait that runs in some from my Mother's side. I am a Metamorphmagus. I've been practicing the skill all summer."
"Impressive, indeed. This is your news?"
"No. I was in Diagon Alley today and could not help but use my new gift to get back at one of Arthur Weasley's kids."
Voldemort's lip curled at the mention of Weasley. "Go on."
"I took on a form that I thought would frighten him and he told me some very interesting information." Draco closed his eyes and focused. He suddenly grew a few inches and jet-black hair sprung all over his head. His nose grew long and beaky. Standing in front of Voldemort was none other than Severus Snape.Author's note: Please review. Let me know what you think! Severus is in for some angsty times ahead and poor Ron will be pulled in as well. There will be plenty for us hurt/comfort fans!
In the next chapter, Voldemort repays his debt to Draco and Severus is summoned.