I've decided for the sake of easy reading, and because people did think it would be better, to cut this one into parts. I personally prefer fics all in one go, so I do have this in it's entirety on Titti's Site 'Thin Line', the link to which is on my profile. Please pay attention tgo the age restrictions for both this fic, and if you do visit the site, the age restriction there.
Thanks everyone for the reviews, I read and considered them all, and I really appreciate the comments. This re-load is dedicated to you all.
Disclaimer: I don't own the characters, I do own the storyline, but I'm not making any money at all.
Warnings: This is a m/m slash fic and so if this offends you please to do not read further, also if you are younger than the age restriction please do not read this, I do not wish to upset anyone.
Spoilers: Anything up to and passed OotP, but not including tHBP, also I have chosen to completely ignore Sirius's death, and so if this too offends please do not read further.
Hope you enjoy!
Shadows of Light
"And why is it, exactly, that I should help that mangy mutt? It's far better for everyone if he just stays out of the way." The Potions Master paced in front of the Headmaster's desk, his voice like smooth ice and his body ridged.
"Come now Severus, you know that's not true. We need as many as we can on our side now; we need him to be able to go on missions without the added fear of our own side capturing him." At the look of amused evil that crossed the younger man's face he hastily continued. "I know there is no love loss between the two of you, but you must understand why it is important I ask this of you."
He watched Snape calmly, knowing already what his decision would be, whether he wanted to help the man or not, he understood that the Order came before any personal feelings.
He knew the moment the decision was made. The black clad figure's shoulders drooped almost imperceptivity before he drew himself up to his full size and turned towards Dumbledore once more, his eyes glinting dangerously.
"I will do as you wish, but understand that I only help at your request and to aid the Order, don't get it into your head that there is any chance of reconciliation between the two of us, and I ask that no one learn of my involvement from you."
"But Severus…" But his protest was interrupted by Snape; now standing in the doorway.
"No Albus. No one will know." And he was gone, his black robes billowing out behind him as he walked silently from the office, wondering why he didn't feel angry at the twinkling old man, but relieved that finally he could help without asking to himself.
The loud chatter of breakfast was broken suddenly as the doors to the Great Hall flew open, hitting the walls with an echoing bang that rivalled Snape's entrance to classes.
All eyes flew to the doors, to fall on the thin man that stood just inside them. Harry was the first to recognise him, standing quickly and running across to his Godfather, Hermione and Ron close behind him.
Before they could reach him, several of the teachers, also recognising the criminal, stood and had their wands pointed directly towards him. The look of absolute joy fell from his face as he realised the danger he was now in. Expecting the Headmaster to say something, he was beyond surprised when the voice he heard wasn't Albus's but that of Severus Snape.
"Oh do sit down all of you." He spoke impatiently. "Though I must agree that Black is indeed dangerous, it is more from the inability to use his head than any link to the Dark Lord. Now had any of you managed to involve yourself in more than inane conversation this morning, you might have seen the front page of today's Prophet which clearly details the full pardon and release of Mr Black, and featuring, what I must say is such a charming picture of you Black, you really do photograph well." The fierce tone was so thick in his words that even the Headmaster looked shocked for a moment, until a rumble of conversation began to sweep across the hall. He turned to face Severus, his eyes glistening with gratitude, which was accepted with a small nod and shrug that was not missed by Sirius. But he had little time to think of the implications of what he had seen, before he found himself with an armful of a very excited Harry.
As teachers and students moved closer, offering their congratulations and asking him question after question, he held tight to Harry and followed with his eyes the man in black slip from the hall.
After an eternity, classes began and the students and teachers left, leaving only Harry and Sirius behind. He hugged Harry again, his eyes twinkling far more than Dumbledore's ever did, and a grin that seemed permanently attached to his once solemn face. And then he released him pushing him gently towards the doors.
"Go to your lessons Harry. I'll be around here when you're done."
Harry nodded and then walked off, his steps lighter than they had been for a while.
Sirius just gazed around himself in wonder for a while, still unable to believe that he was finally free. After 12 years in Azkaban and a further 2 years spent hiding away he didn't have to hide anymore. It was too much for him to comprehend, and he didn't even know who to thank.
He looked down at the parchment he held; his official release letter from the ministry. It didn't say who had appealed against his verdict. Only that new evidence had come to light. Even Arthur Weasley hadn't been able to find out who had freed him after hours of floo calls to what seemed like every member of the ministry the night before. His last resort was to beg to the old man upstairs.
He was sure that Dumbledore knew who had helped him, he had even thought it was the old wizard himself who had gone to the Ministry, but Remus had reminded him of the distrust most of the Ministry had for the headmaster and the unlikelihood that they would have listened to him. Actually, he thought as he made his way to the Headmaster's office, the only person they were less likely to listen to would be Snape.
He chuckled to himself as he waited at the stone gargoyle for admittance.
"Come on Albus! I know you had something to do with it! You know who helped me don't you? Just tell me. I owe them my freedom Albus, the least I can do is to find them and offer my thanks." His eyes were pleading as he looked across at the Headmaster; pacing from one end of the office to another, but the Headmaster said nothing, his eyes twinkling even brighter when a silky baritone filled the room.
"Stop your foolish grievances Black, I would think he doesn't need your gratitude, shown quite plainly by his wish to remain anonymous, what he needs is a padded cell at St Mungos."
While he spoke he had moved himself from the doorway and now stood in front of Albus's desk, facing Sirius but as far away from him as the length of the desk would allow.
For a moment Sirius thought on Snape's words, what he said held truth; perhaps the person who had helped him really did wish to remain nameless so as not to draw attention. No not person; man. Snape had said He, that meant that the Professor knew at least a little more about his saviour than Sirius.
Just about to ask Snape instead of the Headmaster, he stopped himself when he realised that Snape had insulted him, however indirectly. The familiar anger rose within him, and he couldn't help wondering what it was about this man that caused him to act so like his animagus form as he growled at the smirking Snape.
"I don't care what you think Snape, now either shut that foul mouth of yours, or rid us of your unwanted presence you greasy git."
He stared in mute horror as Snape bristled with barely controlled anger, his dark eyes were narrowed so tightly they were almost closed, but somehow the rage could be seen plainly in their black depths, and they burned into him, making him wish the floor of the office would swallow him up.
What was he thinking, taunting a wizard like that, especially this wizard? He was under no illusion that Snape was not incredibly powerful; it was quite possibly his slight jealousy of that power that had made the younger Sirius taunt the small boy so mercilessly in their school days.
But they weren't in school now, and Snape wasn't that tiny, frail child anymore. He was a grown wizard, one who had forgotten more dark curses than Voldemort knew, and even though Snape was most definitely on the side of the light, Sirius thought that at this moment he would be more likely to live if he were facing Voldemort right now. Bracing himself for the explosion that was inevitable, he was surprised when he saw the pale hand stop in its movements to the wand in Snape's pocket. Instead, he seemed to visibly push his anger away, and when Black felt brave enough, drawing on every ounce of his Gryffindor traits, he raised his eyes to look into Snape's. What he found there scared him more than the man's wand point would.
Though his face had returned to its usual impassiveness and only a sneer showed on his lips, his eyes hadn't. They were still full of the rage he had seen, but there was something else, something he hadn't seen since their school days.
Not physical, but the emotional pain he had once loved to produce on the normally expressionless face.
He had wondered once, while he sat hidden at Grimmauld Place, if his need to cause that pain had sprung from his need to see that face showing any expression, and pain had been the easiest to achieve, so he had soon stopped even considering trying to cause any other emotion. But seeing it now, he was at a loss.
No matter what he had said in the past few years, nothing had ever provoked any other reaction than retaliating anger, but that one sentence had caused him pain that only their meanest pranks had achieved. Suddenly feeling the familiar guilt that seemed to be following him around like a shadow these days, he opened his mouth to apologise before he realised what he was doing. But he never had the chance.
Snape's eyes became shuttered again, the pain gone completely, and the anger dulling slightly, as he leaned in towards him before turning on his heel and heading to the door in a black silence.
"You're lucky Albus feels your worth so strongly, it is he you should thank for several things, your lack of pain at present included." The loss of the hot breath against his ear caused him to shiver slightly, and he watched with conflicting emotions as the Potions Master left the office, saying three words in resignation as he left, never turning back. "Just tell him." And he was gone.
For a moment neither of them moved. Both lost in thought, until Black's curiosity won over and he turned to the old wizard. His gaze was still fixed on the door through which Snape had retreated, his eyes twinkling even more than usual and the pride was very evident in them. An almost father-like pride thought Black and he wondered if that was an accurate description of their relationship. Before he could carry that line of thought on further Snape's last words registered in his preoccupied mind and he broke the silence that had fallen.
"Tell me what Albus?" He questioned, already sure of what Snape had meant, but not expecting the complete answer the old wizard gave.
"That you may have just blown your chance at giving thanks." Had his brain not been busy ploughing through the possibilities the answer gave, he would have rolled his eyes at the usual riddle. Could the man never answer a simple question, simply?
Dumbledore turned to him then, and the alarming twinkle gave him the information that he had been looking for since the news had reached him.
"No, he wouldn't...they wouldn't...he can't..." he stuttered, until finally he spoke softly, regret and disbelief making his voice thick. "He hates me."
End of Part 1