Part 47 – The Gryffindor Within
Severus Snape was being stalked. There was simply no other word for it. Even when he thought that he was alone he could feel the telltale eyes on him and more often than not when he spun round he could see James Potter and his gang lurking somewhere nearby.
Remus just watched him, irritating as that was. But James and Sirius seemed to be using him for target practice for all his hexes. It was becoming rather tiresome.
Madam Pomfrey was irritated with him visiting her so frequently and Lily was convinced that he'd done something to incur the wrath of the other boys. He tried to make her see that this was not the case but each time he seemed to be making progress with her James or Sirius would pop up again and he'd be back on his way to the hospital wing.
"You must have done something to annoy them," Lily insisted impatiently.
Severus scowled at her. Why did she always assume it was his fault? Like he didn't have enough to worry about. They were in the middle of the end of year exams for Merlin's sake; he had better things to do with his time than spend it trailing after Potter and his friends.
Lily trailed after him as he strode down the corridor, half hoping that Potter might jump out and hex him right now, then perhaps Lily would see that he'd done nothing to irritate them.
"I think Malfoy's wanting to speak to you," Lily commented as she hurried to keep up with Severus. Severus groaned to himself. That was just what he needed, Lucius Malfoy making sure he was a good little recruit and hadn't told anyone about the thefts. Severus swore under his breath and received a slap on the arm from Lily for the trouble.
"Aren't you going to speak to him? It might be important."
"How do you know?"
"Because I do."
"Just drop it Lily," Severus snapped, instantly regretting his harshness as Lily jumped back in shock. "I'm sorry Lily. I didn't mean it."
"It's okay," Lily muttered. "But why don't you just tell me what's going on?"
Severus looked around to see if anyone was in earshot. "In here," he whispered as he pulled her into an empty classroom, hoping that the dark haired boy lurking a little further down the corridor wasn't who he thought it had been, namely Sirius Black.
"What is it?" Lily prompted him.
"I found out something I shouldn't have," Severus finally replied. "Something Lucius doesn't want me to tell anyone."
"What did you find out?" Lily whispered.
"It doesn't matter," Severus brushed her off.
"Of course it does," Lily insisted. "Has he threatened you? You should tell a teacher. Tell Professor Slughorn or someone."
"Professor Slughorn?" Severus laughed without humour. "Lucius has probably imperiused him too."
Severus bit his tongue, furious with himself for what he'd let slip.
"You have to tell me what's going on," Lily insisted again. "Has Lucius put someone under the imperius curse? Is that what you meant?"
"I saw him," Severus finally admitted, his voice barely more than a whisper. "He imperiused Peeves and Professor Knott-Bolt, he's the one behind the thefts. Peeves has been getting past the spells and passing them to the teacher. He's been getting them out of the school."
"You have to go to Dumbledore," Lily stated firmly.
"Why ever not?"
"Lucius says my dad's involved. The cups can't be sold in the wizard world and my dad is selling them in the muggle world instead."
"Yeah. Oh." Severus couldn't hold back the sarcasm. "And Lucius is sure that he's covered his tracks well enough that he won't be implicated."
"But you can tell Dumbledore, he'll at least look into it."
"Why would he believe me?" Severus asked. "Lucius is a prefect, he's rich. Why would he steal a few school cups?"
"There must be a reason."
"Only that he's a Death Eater," Severus hissed back.
"But he's still in school?"
"So what? He admitted it to me."
"You have to tell Dumbledore."
"I can't," Severus replied, wishing he had the Gryffindor courage that Lily seemed to have in abundance.
"Then you have to catch him doing something incriminating," Lily replied.
"Like catching him in the act."
"Not if you know in advance what he's got planned."
"But I don't know," Severus replied dumbly.
"So go and speak with Lucius now and see what he has to say. Maybe he'll let something slip."
Severus nodded thoughtfully and they left the classroom but Lucius and all the other students had disappeared down to the Great Hall for lunch.
Severus eventually located Lucius in the unusually deserted Slytherin common room after dinner. He guessed that most of the other students were studying in the library since they were now in the middle of the exams. "Justin said you were looking for me," he said by way of greeting.
Lucius looked up at him with a bright smile that was colder than a January morning.
Settling down in a nearby seat, Severus listened to Lucius and nodded dutifully that he'd kept his own counsel with regard to the thefts. Severus didn't have to say much as he found that Lucius was happy to do all the talking and was eager to brag for his seemingly willing audience about how he'd pulled off the biggest theft Hogwarts had ever seen.
Severus was starting to get sleepy when he realised that Lucius had just inadvertently given him the information he needed.
He smiled to himself and let his eyelids drift closed as sleep overtook him.
When he woke again Lucius had disappeared and Severus wondered whether he would hear more from him about how he'd rudely fallen asleep while being regaled with tales of how smart the Slytherin prefect was.
Thankfully the only comment Lucius made to him was that it was pointless staying up studying all night for silly things like exams when one had the favour of the Dark Lord. He said he hoped that by the time Severus was sitting his OWLs he wouldn't need to worry about them at all.
Severus pulled Lily aside after their Potions exam and quickly filled her in on what Lucius had said.
"Saturday night?" Lily replied. "Are you sure?"
"He was bragging so much he was repeating himself," Severus confirmed with a snort. "He said the cups would be out of the school by then."
"Then we have to act fast," said Lily as she launched into her plan for sneaking out after hours and catching the culprits red-handed.
On Saturday night Severus crept from his bed and out of the Slytherin quarters. He was meeting Lily in the Entrance Hall and he hoped that they weren't caught out of bed after hours. The punishment for such behaviour had only increased with each theft and if they were caught Severus suspected they would still be sitting their detentions next year.
"Severus?" Lily whispered from behind a suit of armour.
"Over here," Severus hissed back.
"I thought you weren't coming," Lily whispered. "We'll need to be careful though. James and his friends are out of bed too. They were lurking in the common room when I left. I…"
"I kind of got the feeling they were waiting for me," Lily finally replied.
"All we need is that bunch sticking their noses in," Severus muttered. "They will probably try and frame me for the thefts or something."
"Don't be so paranoid," Lily teased. "Come on, the teacher quarters are this way."
Severus nodded silently and followed after Lily who was hurrying up one staircase after another. Before too long they heard the sound of footsteps and ducked into a corridor to avoid being spotted.
"Professor Knott-Bolt," Severus breathed. "Right on time too."
"If we go this way we can get closer without being seen," Lily said, pointing to another corridor branching off the one they were in.
Severus took her word for it, he was quietly amazed at how well Lily knew the layout of the school. He knew the main routes between classes but still had difficulties if his journey required any deviation from the regular paths. Lily on the other hand was navigating the halls with an easy familiarity.
Unfortunately her navigation didn't take into account Potter and his gang.
"The kitchens are in the other direction," Potter pointed out with a smirk.
"Come on Sev," Lily whispered, pointedly ignoring James and steering Severus back in the direction they'd just come from.
"The kitchens?" he mouthed as Peter's voice drifted towards them.
"So who do we follow?"
Lily had heard him too and shot a glare back in the direction of the other boys.
"I said I was going to the kitchens for food for a midnight feast," Lily explained once they were out of earshot. "It was the best I could come up with on the spur of the moment."
"It's as good an excuse as any," Severus replied.
They doubled back the way they had come until they were once again following their imperiused professor.
"What's he waiting for?" he asked impatiently as the professor wandered aimlessly on the floor below them, totally clueless to the two spies over his head.
"Peeves. Here he comes, look," Lily murmured back. "And he has the cup."
Severus leaned further over the railing to see the two imperiused victims on the floor below.
"There's Remus," Lily whispered with a nod across the other side of the staircase. Sure enough when Severus followed her gaze he could see not only Remus, but the other three boys as well. "I don't think they've spotted us."
Severus agreed with her assessment; the other four boys were focused entirely on the scene below and were oblivious to the other watchers.
"Come on," Lily hissed as she pulled Severus back into the corridor and raced down the hall. "If we go this way we can cut Knott-Bolt off before he makes it to the front doors."
Lily sped down the stairs, Severus at her heels and they reached the Entrance Hall barely moments before their Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher.
Severus pulled Lily down a few of the stairs towards the Slytherin quarters.
"We have to stop him leaving the school," Lily whispered. "Do you have any ideas?"
"Just one," Severus replied as he spotted Potter and his friends following behind the professor. He supposed he should be grateful for them for appearing and reminding him of the first day of term when he'd used the tripping jinx that he was now contemplating using on a teacher.
"It's now or never," Lily warned.
Severus nodded, pulled out his wand and aimed it at the teacher as he hurried past them. The jinx worked as well as it had done James all those months ago. Professor Knott-Bolt tripped over his own feet and landed in a heap on the floor.
"He's not moving," Lily whispered. "I think he hit his head."
"We need to get out of here," Severus hissed.
"But we have to tell someone, we have to help him."
Then the main doors opened and Dumbledore strode in.
Severus watched quietly as they saw him take in the situation and lead the now standing Professor, and Potter and his gang who'd arrived in the hall, to his office.
"You don't think they'll get blamed for the jinx do you?" Lily asked.
"Dumbledore can always check their wands," Severus pointed out. "They'll just be in trouble for being out of bed."
"Like we are."
"So we should probably get back to the dorms now," Severus replied. "I mean, the thefts will stop now and they'll just forget about the others who were involved."
"But what if they think Professor Knott-Bolt was the only one involved?" Lily asked. "He could get fired."
"I'll send Dumbledore an anonymous note," Severus suggested after a moment of thought.
"Telling him everything?"
"Not about my dad," Severus hurriedly replied. "Just the rest of it."
Lily looked hesitant.
"It's probably what we should have done in the first place," Severus pointed out. "Just they wouldn't have believed it without proof. Now they have Professor Knott-Bolt with the cup in his hands. They have the proof and our note can fill in the rest for them."
Lily eventually nodded her agreement and together they quickly composed a note.
"How are we going to get it to him?" Lily asked.
"I'll go use a school owl," Severus replied. "That way they won't know who it came from and we won't get caught delivering it."
"And we've got every right to be in the owlery," Lily added.
It was perfect.
Dumbledore knew the truth, Severus was sure about it. But for some reason he seemed to think that James Potter and his mischief making friends were responsible for the apprehension of the thieves of Hogwarts and for some reason Lucius Malfoy wasn't even implicated in the whole affair.
It just wasn't fair.
Realistically, Severus knew that there was only proof against the Professor, and maybe Peeves, but it still made his blood boil that Lucius had effectively slipped out of trouble so easily…just like he'd said he would. Professor Knott-Bolt on the other hand was going to be leaving quietly at the end of term and Peeves, well Peeves would just carry on as normal.
To cap it all off, Dumbledore had taken away the Slytherin victory of the house cup with last minute points for Potter and his friends for, of all things, their loyalty and endeavours on behalf of the school.
In that moment, shortly before the end of term feast had started, Severus had realised that Potter and his friends had taken the glory for the apprehension of the thief, the thief who would never have been unmasked without Severus's tripping jinx.
The only thing that made him feel slightly better was Lily's smug smile in his direction…at least the two of them knew the truth.
Severus stood on the platform of Hogsmeade Station on the last day of term.
Lucius was holding court again. Narcissa was hanging on his arm and Bellatrix was laughing delightedly at one of his jokes.
Everyone was boarding the train and Severus still wasn't sure where he was going to sit. He knew that Lily was expecting him to sit with her but he'd been collared by Bellatrix early that morning and had been running errands for her ever since. He knew she was expecting him to continue to do so during the long journey back to London.
"Severus! Over here!" Lily called out from further down the platform.
"You're not actually going to answer her, are you?" Bellatrix sneered.
Severus stood silently as he looked from one girl to the other. The memories of the last year rushed through his mind and he knew he didn't want another year of sneaking around and hiding his friendship with Lily. He didn't want another year of Lily's accusations that their friendship meant nothing to him. He didn't want to sit with Bellatrix and the others. He wanted to sit with Lily.
In that moment he made a decision he'd been putting off all year.
"Yes," he replied.
"But she's a mudblood!" Bellatrix sneered.
"And he's a half-blood," Lucius commented. "Let him sit with her if he wants, just as long as he doesn't bring her into our carriage."
Severus quickly masked the glare that he couldn't help but shoot at the older boy.
Then he gathered his belongings and walked down the platform towards Lily, feeling braver in that moment than he had at any point all year. He might have been sorted into Slytherin house just like he'd wanted but perhaps there were traits of the other houses within him too. He was showing loyalty to Lily like a Hufflepuff, he'd got good marks in his exams like a Ravenclaw, and, though he was loathe to admit it out loud, just maybe there was a small dose of the Gryffindor courage residing within him too.
A/N: I hope you have enjoyed the story and if you have please do consider reading the parallel story of how Lupin saw the year progressing. It might answer some of your questions though I hope there weren't too many left lurking at the end here.
I am not going to be writing a sequel as I have no idea what to do for a second year plot. I know...the plot in this one was pretty weak and patchy...any sequel would be even more so. I think that the plot is probably the weakest point of the Origins stories. I think I got the characters in character and I don't think that any of my original characters are of the Mary Sue/Gary Stu variety. But plotwise, this is not one of my best. I admit it and would like to say that some of my other fics have better plots than these do.
A big thank you to everyone who had read this story, favourited/alerted this story, and especially to everyone who has taken the time to review it.