A/N: I'm back, and with a longer update this time!! Much thanx to all readers and reviewers and all who have been patient with me through all of this!!

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Chapter Two:

"Here comes the government,

Knocking at my door.

They've tried to take it all,

Now they're back for more.

I know what they're after,

But there's nothing they can do,

'Cuz the heart and soul of the ages

Is something I won't lose."

-Whiteheart, "You can't Take

What You Don't Have"


It was a mere hour after lunch when the minister arrived. He strode into the room with a pompous look on his face, as if for some reason he believed he owned the place. Two advisors shuffled in behind him. One was a small, pretty woman with auburn hair and green eyes. The other was a man with a large, body guard-ish type build and sleek black hair. Neither did Albus recognize as ministry officials.

He wasn't completely sure if that was to be a good thing or not. It could be good considering that the pair replaced two of Fudge's recent advisors. It could be bad, though, as he'd never seen either in his entire life (which was a rather long time, but who's counting?).

Cain gazed drolly about the room, until his eyes finally reached Albus Dumbledore, himself. "Ah, Headmaster," he spoke up calmly, "It is good to see you once more. I do believe the last time we'd spoken I was just a lad of seventeen." At this last, he stuck out a hand to the older man, smiling widely.

"Class of 1973. Exemplary student who'd had the highest NEWT scores until 1980," Albus replied shaking the proffered hand. "It is always a joy to see how the lives of the previous students at Hogwarts have turned out. I do hope that the ministry is treating you well?" Why are you here Cain?

"Yes, yes. They have treated me like a king. It seems that they are overjoyed to finally have an intelligent man holding the reigns for once." He laughed and sat down in the seat across from the headmaster's desk. His advisors stepped forward to stand behind the chair, as if trying to convey the message that one slight of hand towards the Minister would yield terrible consequences. And why would they need to convey that? Albus wondered.

"Fantastic," came his reply as he opened a small tin on his desk. "Chocolate truffle?" he offered to the minister.

The man's glance at each advisor did not go unnoticed by Albus. That little act was filed away to the back of his mind to be mulled upon later. "Er, I really shouldn't. I have been trying to keep on a strict diet. It would not do for me to gain weight now that I have little time for exercise."

The headmaster chuckled sympathetically. "Of course not." Too afraid to try the candy Cain?

"Thank you for the offer," the minister hastily added.

He waved away the gratitude with a smile. "Would you like a beverage instead?"

"Ah, no, thank you though." More badly concealed glances. Well, at least badly for one so old and learned as the man who claimed the spot of headmaster at this school. "I do believe that we should get on with business, do you not agree?"

Albus looked at him intensely for a moment, letting the man's wariness increase. He knew that if the 'business' turned out to be more schemes of the ministry to ensure the weakness of their people, he might be forced to use intimidation to get the younger man to back down. Admittedly he was not nearly as good as Severus at such a thing, but in times like these it was only prudent to use all the weapons at his disposal, even the slightly weaker ones.

"Yes," he finally said, "That is why we are both here, is it not?"

The man nodded, then spoke as if unsure of where to start, "The ministry has been rather- ah- concerned with the staff which resides on this esteemed school's grounds. We concurred that in such terrible moments as the ones we are living in, that trust cannot be prudent if we are to trust those undeserving of the thing."

"What is it that you are trying to tell me, Minister?" His voice now held a sharp edge to it that he made no attempts to hide.

"Well, you know that we trust you completely, but you have been notorious in making rather questionable appointments onto the staff of Hogwarts. Might I remind you of Quirrel and Lupin?"

"No, you might not. But it, however, is up to you." Albus sent the man a sharp pointed look. Cain's left eye squinched slightly, the only indication of his wince.

"Er, yes, but as I was saying: such occurrences as these must be stopped. We can not suffer our children at the hands of those who might hurt them, who could lead them to the hands of a monster."

"And yet, we cannot lock them away in their rooms for the rest of their lives, Minister. War is upon us. There is no hiding from it; there is no shield that can protect our children from its far reaching grip. The only thing that we can do is teach them right, and hope they follow that example."

"You're right. Yet, we cannot take chances, not with the lives of our future."

"What is it that you're getting at? Be plain with me Cain. There must not be secrets among friends." The slight emphasis on friend seemed to worry the other. Now was a perfectly good time to start showing force.

The woman behind him stepped forward, an awful glint in those green eyes. "We'd like to have an interview with one Severus Snape, the Potions Master and a teacher at this school."

"And who might you be?" He glared at the woman.

"I am Lintae Craighton, executive advisor to the minister." She smiled pridefully.

"Ah, really? Well I do believe I was speaking to the minister and not yourself, so if you'd be so kind..." Her eyes widened slightly at the hit and she stepped back behind the minister once more.

"She's right," Cain said. "We've come for an official interview with Severus Snape," he reiterated. "We know of his past, all of it, and we must be certain that he is on the correct side this time around. No arrests will be made; we simply wish to talk to him."

Albus stared at the man in a horror that did not shine through. Why now? What was he to do if his spy we revealed and thrown out of commission? What would he do without his friend? "I understand your concerns, but-"

"This is too much to do for our children? I disagree. He is a safety risk." Any further comments from the man were cut off by a sharp glare.

"I was going to say that Severus Snape is not in any position to answer such a summons."


"He has a terrible bought of the flu, and pepper-up is just not working for him. He is a Potions Master after all, such things are rather common," the older man lied smoothly. "You wouldn't wan to force a sick man to endure an interrogation, now would you?"

"Oh, no, of course not!" His guilt seemed to mask any doubts he might have had in Albus's words. Or not. "One must wonder that the man is sick at such a strange time of the year."

"The flu can be contracted at any time, Minister. Surely you should know that by now. But, if you wish to see for yourself, we can always visit him and see just how contagious it truly is."

"No, no. That will not be necessary. I do not wish to bother the healing man," he declined gracefully. "Tell him after he is better, though, that he has a meeting with the Minister of Magic."

"So high up on the ladder? I'm sure he will be jubilant to be given such consideration." Albus smiled at the man brightly, though his tone was much darker.

"I'm sure he will," the man replied. His voice did not betray his nervousness, but the eagerness to leave did. "I must be off now. The Minister of Magic should not be away from his post for long."

"No, he shouldn't."

Cain offered his hand to the Headmaster again. "It was nice seeing you again, Headmaster. I do hope next time we meet on much lighter terms."

He shook the hand. "As do I Cain. As do I." He watched the man leave, his advisors following close behind.

This is not good. He sincerely hoped that Severus would return soon.



A/N: Hmm... I think writing that novel gave me good writing habits.... Or just lots of inspiration. Thank the plot bunnies.


Reviewer Responses:

duj: Thank you. I understand how you believe that Dumbledore doesn't truly care for Severus. In many ways I don't really believe it either. But people make mistakes, even Dumbledore does, and are often too ignorant to see them. Dumbledore thinks that he did what was right in those instances. He didn't do those terrible things out of spite, just ignorance.

yeah whatever: If that was intended as a compliment: thanks. If not: thanks anyways.

Loviedove: Thank you. Tsk tsk. Violating a grounding? Sorry for the long wait for an update.

elvengirl9: Thank you. Eh, he may not, but it was amusing enough for me. :) All my stories will be updated as they come to me. I try not to wait too long on any of them before updating, but if one screams for my attention, then I must answer the call (they get very angry when I don't).

bluebird161221: Sorry? Hopefully this will help out a bit. Do try not to pull out all of your hair.

Muses Fairy: Thanks! Here's more!

XiaoGui: Thank you. Oh, I'm sure we'll all end up crying when everyone dies (except for my plot bunnies of course, they are a bit violent). Yes, I think that is the reason why we all read these depressing fics.... To be depressed. Sorry for the long wait!

mon: Thanks!


Don't forget to review kiddos (and older ppl!)!!! ;)