Disclaimer: Nope, not mine, but that isn't too bad, is it?
- One Fateful Day -
A scream. Shrill, desperate, lost beyond all hope for salvation.
That was all the warning they got.
There must have been noises, rustling clothes when everyone present in the small shop reached for their wands, or whatever weapons they had hidden beneath the thick layers of winter robes. But Molly Weasley later on swore there had been a moment of absolute silence.
A moment for all those customers to look up and find an expression of terror on each other's faces, realization of the dawn of horror. Long enough for fear to descend.
Then hell was unleashed.
Black robes and white masks were upon them, bringing death and bright green oblivion. The world shattered into pieces, dividing each and everyone's vision into a nightmare of sharp contrasts, blurring shapes – and flashes of fresh red splattering through. A chessboard revolution, players clashing chaotically, yet all with motives, if ulterior, if selfish, if part of grand scheme. Chaos presented itself as the grand ruler of all carefully crafted plans, the finalization of perfect order.
For Molly, the world suddenly was clearly separated into black and white; herself and the enemies. Dimly she was aware of others, also victims of a surprise attack, yet that knowledge held no meaning for the present. In times as those it was everyone for himself.
There was no way to tell if time moved more slowly or faster in the heat of the battle – hexes and curses where flashing through the room, hardly a time to dodge or counter and yet she could already feel exhaustion creeping into her bones, perspiration covering her drawn face and badly shaking hands. Holding her wand steady and upright suddenly was so much more of a task, but it couldn't have been more then a few minutes since the initial scream.
The symphony of terror continued; tables, shelves, glasses braking, cracking open and spilling their contents onto the floor, shuffling steps, jumps, loud thumps indicating another crossing of the Jordan, curses and hexes, incantations, screams, gasps, all blurring together, melting into this formidable impression of truly traumatizing turmoil. Smells blending in; of dust and old parchment, of sweat and blood and smoke – filling the room, filling the nostrils of all present, encouraging bloodlust and mindless, panicked moves.
It wasn't even hell anymore.
Molly didn't think on what it could have been, it was only much later that she could consider all the fragmented impressions left from those few moments. There was no time for such frivolities, as much as there was no room left in her head to occupy herself with useless activities. All she could do was react and try to cope, to adjust to each new threat and save her own skin.
As the screams grew louder and the old wooden floor became slowly drenched in red, her back hit a door. Her heart leapt up, clutching frantically on this unexpected escape route. Carefully grasped the handle, pressing it down, weary lest some random death eater might discover her or worse – realise what she was about to do.
This was her only opportunity and she knew she had to quell her instincts and desires, all telling her to run and throw caution into the wind.
With each inch the door behind her gave way her hope grew. Holding her breath, praying silently to each deity inclined to listen she stepped backwards –
"My dear Mrs.Weasley, leaving so soon? The party only just started."
There was no mistaking that rich, cultivated voice, drawing out every word with a precise intonation. Neither could anyone fail to notice silvery blond hair spilling out beneath hood and framing the mask like a cruel parody of a Heiligenschein.
Coldly glittering grey eyes were sparkling with callous merriment and a sleek wand was raised when…
"Trust me. I'll get you out of this one."
A voice inside her head was the least of her worries, yet instead of preparing a defence she confusedly sought for the origin. Advanced legimlency – few were capable of it.
"Well, well – we can't just let you go like this, can we now? Perhaps you will be more inclined to stay once the entertainment has begun."
Molly's eyes were drawn to another approaching death eater with billowing robes and recognition seared through her upon looking into the black eyes behind the white porcelain.
"Drop your wand!"
"Now, what shall I use first?"
Her wand cluttered to the floor, distinctively she heard somebody mutter a particular foul sounding curse, but another spell hit her first. Magic roared through her body and her senses dulled and flared with new impressions, everything melting together, the world shifting beneath her feet.
"… I was about to ask if you had indeed encountered Mrs.Weasley here but upon closer …"
Molly meanwhile frantically tried adjusting to her new perspective. Everything was ten times the size it had been previously and her body way somewhat adverse to moving as she was used to.
On the upside, she was safe.
And seeing Lucius Malfoy's stunned face when turning to curse an empty spot of air had been truly rewarding.
Whatever she had been transfigured into, it kept her out of the way of stray hexes – and if her sensed worked correctly the fight was currently abating. On one hand it brought her closer to safety – on the other hand she dreaded the outcome, only slowly coming to realize how close her brush with death had been and how many others hadn't been lucky enough to escape.
Perhaps escape was too strong a word – saved was more like it.
She really owed Snape one.
"… if you hadn't so rudely interrupted …"
Molly managed to move her new body into a decent position, only to see Malfoy dragging Snape by the sleeve of his robe into the adjoining room which she had intended to escape into.
The fragments of a rather heated argument piqued her curiosity – as well as the voice of reason reminded her to stay close to their spy. He was currently the only one who knew her fate and thus was the only one who could reverse it.
The door slammed shut, cutting off an enraged.
"You! How dare you…"
However the space under the door was just enough to let Molly slide through. A thump immediately made her look up. The scene had her gasping, wishing desperately for a wand or any means of interference.
Malfoy was yelling, besides himself with rage. Professor Snape had kept his distance, but suddenly and swiftly Malfoy descended upon him, throwing a chair that had been blocking his path across the room with enough force that it shattered, before wrapping his hands around Snape's neck. The professor stumbled backwards, only to find himself backed into the wall, while Malfoy slowly cut off his air supply.
"It's all your fault!"
It was very much unlike the Lucius Malfoy Molly knew to lose his cool like this, even – if such tales were to be trusted – upon events as such. And there was a seventh sense warning her, whispering that Malfoy had closed the door on purpose – perhaps not only to keep out the enemy but also to keep out other death eaters.
And thanks to the late Sirius Black Molly was fully aware of all the allusions and rumours regarding the --- whatever --- between Snape and Malfoy.
"Damn it all!"
A crack indicated that Malfoy had slammed Snape again into the wall and Molly winced in sympathy. Her suddenly keen nose identified a heavy coppery smell in the air – blood.
"Severus, you know what this means – how could you have been so careless? How could you…"
Under other circumstances Molly would have believed him to be close to tears. There was some strange, unidentified emotion rolling of Malfoy that seemed out of place.
"… if you'd be so kind … as to … lend me an … ear…"
Snape was clawing somewhat helplessly at Malfoy's arms – in terms of strength he was no match for the older Slytherin – never had been and never would be. And Molly was left to wonder why those two wizards had completely forgotten about the existence of their wands.
Malfoy sagged and readjusted his hands to Snape's collar, but keeping him firmly pinned between himself and the wall.
"Thank you very much. Now, as to the matter of Mrs. Weasley I must admit I am somewhat confused as to why you would put the blame on me. After all I distinctively remember recently recounting to our Lord that Dumbledore advises all members of his order to carry emergency portkeys when venturing into the public..."
Lucius' entire posture swelled with barely suppressed fury. Molly shivered, glad to be only an innocent witness, yet truly astonished at Snape's flawless lie. If that was how spying went for him – she shuddered, not wanting to think further upon it.
"A Portkey!" Lucius all but spat, his hands tightening dangerously. There were only inches between him and Snape.
"Yes – or why did you think she just stood there with her wand in one hand, watching you gloat?"
As far as it came to reasoning Snape had won the argument. Yet Molly was far from relieved. There was too much tension in the room and Lucius Malfoy way dangerous, even more so when cornered. She dreaded to think of all the possible outcomes and she was loath to think of how much trouble she was causing.
"Our Lord won't forgive that one easily." Lucius muttered.
There was something in his voice Molly had never associated with him.
"True." ,Snape agreed, using Lucius' distraction to dislodge himself from the wall, "An order member like her might have possessed some important information."
"Stop that and help me think of something. Our Lord won't be lenient towards either of us."
Molly could feel Snape raising an eyebrow, silently challenging the truth of Malfoy's words. Even though, she wasn't convinced that Voldemort really cared if somebody way involved in a screw-up or had been at the wrong place at the wrong time.
"… but an order member…"
Lucius tensed up, nervousness radiating of him in waves. Had it been anyone else he would have started pacing, yet a sudden insane glow lit up his eyes.
With a movement as casual as if shaking somebody's hand Lucius threw the professor to the ground, an audible crack and a gasp had Molly shivering, and a madly smirking Lucius descended upon the fallen like one dark, deathbringing angel. He ripped the mask off his face, revealing that unblemished face that had so many witches squealing in delight, wearing an expression that was meant to resemble caring amusement but did little to cover the callousness and desperation beneath.
Snape's own mask had been sent flying into one corner of the room and was forgotten when a sharp, piercing pain introduced itself into the forefront of his consciousness, making even the threat of his somewhat deranged housemate pale in comparison. Trapped beneath his back was his right arm, together with his wand and a now broken wrist.
Lucius leaned in, brought his face dangerously close to Snape's own. Without the masks there was no way to hide any facial expression that could give away something – and obviously, Severus Snape was very aware of this fact as he stayed stock-still, simply staring up into Malfoy's eyes.
Their unseen observer could hardly suppress the anxiousness she felt. There was – Molly realized, torn between shock, repulsion and awe – a certain routine to the scene unfolding in front of her. Nothing else could explain the lack of defensiveness on the professor's side; yet she didn't like the implications rising up in the back of her mind.
"Malfoy's lapdog." Black had called Snape. What had seemed like a childish insult at first abruptly gained an entirely unsuspected depth considering what happened in front of her eyes.
The context of everything she had previously observed seemed to shift and this sudden sense of vertigo made her stomach roll. Actually, she did not want to consider what it meant, that Snape was used to Lucius pinning him down.
She almost missed the following whisper, her mind still reeling.
"Our Lord will never know of this."
She would have gasped, had she had the ability. Lucius Malfoy, Death Eater supreme, intending to deceive his lord. It was a point worth contemplating, something that could be used as a strategic advantage for the order – but not at the moment.
Snape looked vaguely uncomfortable, but his effort to wriggle himself free appeared to be more a gesture than any real attempt.
"Promise me, Severus. I know you can keep this unfortunate event a secret."
The maniac glint in Lucius eyes had subsided, giving way to his usual piercing glance. That however did not make him any less dangerous and Molly somehow found herself wishing for her wand. Perhaps she stood no chance at defeating Lucius Malfoy in a fair and regular duel – an attack at his back on the other hand could turn the situation in her favour.
And somehow – regardless of what her children had ever told her about their professor, as well as his cold behaviour at order meetings – she wanted to help him. If this was how spying went, his efforts were truly unappreciated.
… regarding those other … conclusions …
It wouldn't do to pronounce her suspicions aloud, she'd face denial from every front. But a word to Dumbledore in private should do nicely.
Even if she had currently now idea what kind of a result she was aiming for.
"Do you truly intend to lie into the Dark Lord's face? Forgive me Lucius, but I don't see how that could be preferable to the truth."
A smile formed on Lucius' face, one that – dare she believe this atrocity – was real, affectionate and caring. Hell, she'd never seen Malfoy smile so fondly at his son.
"Oh no, I'm not suicidal. I'd merely appreciate it if we could … keep from going into detail concerning our failure. We won't escape punishment, certainly, yet if no one was to learn that the escapee was indeed a member of the blasted phoenix order I believe the severity could be drastically lessened. And I think that would be in both our best interests, wouldn't it?"
"If I was to neglect, that I merely happened to pass you by while she made her escape, you would be right on every account."
Snape gave an audible sigh and the smile on Malfoy's face turned into a grin.
"I knew you'd understand."
Disconcerting to see Lucius Malfoy honestly jubilant. Within the last five minutes Molly had witnessed him displaying more emotions than in the entire twenty and some odd years she had known the man. It was odd, she's always thought him … incapable of feelings besides cruelty and smugness.
And she never would have discovered that misconception, if not for today.
She shifted uncomfortably. Her mind was spinning with new discoveries, each of which made her feel queasy.
Every order member took pride in being better informed than the rest of the wizarding world, especially the ministry. They knew what was going on out there.
Or at least they believed to know.
Right now she felt that they hadn't even the slightest idea.
There was more to Snape, more to Malfoy than she would have thought. Looking back, that had been inconsiderate, illogical and plainly foolish. Personal grudges and rumours colouring her worldview. Black and white chess figures were all she had previously seen. The good and the bad – simplified enough for even children to comprehend.
It was easy to fight a war like this.
Forgetting that behind the white masks were persons, individuals with families and feelings. That they were human instead of immobile, dead chess pieces.
And she dreaded to ponder how much more they all had missed and were still missing of the entire picture.
"Severus, promise me."
The scene was eerie to behold, all sharp contrasts, bordering on the metaphysical – a hint of things unspoken, a reminder of things that had been. Nostalgia, and romantic in the gothic sense, sending shivers down the inexperienced observer's spine.
Both men wrapped into the deepest of black, their faces as white as snow; resembling a pair of fallen angels. Beautiful to the eye, but horridly dark and twisted beneath this immaculate surface.
For the first time in her life Molly could grasp what drew people to the Dark Arts. The same mind-blowing fascination which gripped her right now, had her holding her breath in reverent awe.
"I won't reveal your secret, Lucius."
She had heard people say that Lucius Malfoy and Severus Snape were considered epitomes of Slytherin spirit. Tradition, money, power, cunning, deceit – her mind was only beginning to decipher the promise of the house that was so casually considered the breeding-place of evil.
Lucius leaned forward, the professor closed his eyes for a moment – and Molly felt her heart give out as man she'd always believed to be exceptionally callous plant a gentle, chaste kiss on the other's forehead.
The moment broke, masks slipped back into place – both faces were cold and closed once again. Lucius scrambled to his feet and Molly realized, that while she had been completely taken with the display in front of her, the fight on the other side of the door had continued.
There was scrapping against the wooden planks of the floor, ringing, ear-splitting screams and the unmistakable smell of blood heavy in the air. Death Eaters celebrating their victory, no doubt, she thought, full of spite and resentment, hiding behind their masks…
"The Auror's should arrive soon. We'd better leave now, I'd prefer avoiding a brush with them."
Accioing his mask, Malfoy slowly made his way over to the door. Laying one hand on the handle, he turned back.
Snape slipped his mask back on, once again becoming one of those black and white chess pieces.
"In a minute." ,he responded, gesturing to his limp right hand.
With a nod Malfoy swept out of the room, past Molly who was cowering against the wall in some dark corner.
Snape heaved the sigh of relieve she couldn't in this body before he picked her up.
"I'll send you back to Headquarters as soon as possible… but it may take a while."
Although unable to speak properly, Molly hoped to convey her gratitude and agreement by nodding her head. Snape's lips twitched.
And with a loud crack they were gone.
Owari ja nai desu -