The story plays in the summer after Dumbledore's death.
None of the characters belong to me.
Huge thank you goes to InkandPaper for pointing out mistakes for me. Any mistakes left are mine!
'Funny,' she thinks standing still speechless by the window, looking outside but seeing nothing at all. Her fingers are thoughtlessly caressing the newly refound folder on her former star pupil and recent brilliant colleague - including the address where she now knows her past friend and present enemy used to spend his summers in the past. How could she forget about it? She has even visited the young man there once or twice. Spinner's End, that's what it is called. A rather small deserted Muggle Town and the cobble-stone street she recalls now. And that tiny dusty house at the end of the street... The house where Dumbledore found their newest professor the night the Potters died so long ago, after the young wizard had sent him an owl with the news of the day.
She remembers how Dumbledore locked the potion stores in the dungeons after that Halloween night not liking the mood the young Potions Professor was in and if she thinks harder she recalls also the growing supplies of confiscated firewhiskey in Albus' office. And she remembers the young man himself forced to stay over the nights in either Dumbledore's flat or Poppy's infirmary and if too stubborn to listen to them anymore and return to his chambers by himself, fussed over by the house elves to his growing unpleasure (and their secret amusement). She has always suspected that Dumbledore assigned the job to the most dedicated elves for a reason. And it indeed helped, more sarcastic than ever, the young man was on his feet again by the beginning of December. He had never stopped teaching but now his stores and chambers were again his and Dumbledore trusted him on his own. And he, more sinister than before, hid in the first weeks quite bad how dedicated to Albus and his school he had recently become. At least she thought that much at that time... Later his face became as closed as it ever had been.
It was back then when Dumbledore made him the Slytherin Head of House instead of the Defence Professor who had been discovered a Ministry Spy on Dumbledore and had decided to leave without any notice to either the headmaster or herself as his deputy. The dark young Slytherin not only managed to keep the kids sorted to his house in the line but also rebuilt the house to its prewar glory winning the school cup year after year to her annoyance... And when she should be, at least for once, really sincere with herself, to her greatest surprise and joy in the same instant. Leave it to him, make the house of outsiders part of the school once again in a couple of years with the help of the cunning the kids all have in them.
Her fingers are going over the address. Forth and back, back and forth. And she muses again: 'I have always known and decided to forget for the past few weeks... The worst weeks in this wretched war... until now,' she adds silently. She knows it is going to be much worse in the future. And she dreads it. Oh, she knew Dumbledore was old and too great a target to stay unattacked for too long and she was, although not happy about the possibility, prepared the headmaster would go and leave her here to take care of the school and the Order. But for the past 15 years there has been also this stubborn young man on her side, the man who has never missed an opportunity to complain about her Gryffindors and to bet on their failures – but a trusted friend nevertheless. And she has missed his advise and twisted humour these days even more than Albus himself. She had never expected to lose them both on the same day.
And then her mind desperately cries: 'WHY? Severus, why? … I can't believe you would be able to do it! ... Oh, there were moments I thought you and Albus were not going to speak to each other ever again but it has never really happened, has it? Have I missed something? Have I...? I really couldn't believe it when Harry told us... And later when the aurors came to ask about you... I somehow couldn't remember your address and the records seemed to had dissappeared...' she is smiling slightly and hugging the folder to herself. 'I have told them Albus had stored them probably somewhere safe... And he indeed had. Until he thought I was able to deal with this, I think... He cared a great deal for you, have you known, you stubborn kid?'
The slipped fond address helps her to decide what to think and how to act. She suddenly sees Severus has known that Albus cared for him for quite a long time and has cared for the headmaster as well. Or why would he always be the one standing on her and Albus' side in all those important moments? She sees him once again on the broom warding the safety of young Mr. Potter, she recalls him sending the patronus to Albus to alert him on the kids' secret mission. And then she thinks about the trio's second year and has a feeling, Severus was again the one to send for Dumbledore. He always has known more than she had, even before the war began again. And after it began... Well, there were too many secrets between the two dearest colleagues of hers. The overgrown bat from the dungeons and the twinkling old fool from the tower, she smiles again. There is so much more hidden in the people than you are able to see on the first sight!
'Oh Severus! Would you speak on behalf of those kids of mine after the werewolf incident in their third year, if you wouldn't care for them? Wouldn't you say much earlier Remus was a werewolf, if you wouldn't have respected Albus? Would you save Albus' life last summer, if you really were on Voldemort's side? And would you save Katie? And wouldn't you harm Filius or Harry by Hagrid's hut?'
In that moment, she decides what to do next. The folder is touched by her wand and disappears once again (not a great deal as it appeared as late as today on the top of her drawer and nobody knew about it). And then she summons a piece of parchment and writes short and simply: "Severus, come to visit when you can. I have run of Pepper-Up and you do remember my wretched brewing." And then, as an afterthought, she adds: "The recent development was to be expected."
Simple, short, no signature and slightly changed writing... But he will know who has written to him and will eventually come. She smiles again, more fondly than before. She asked him for the Pepper-Up just a week before the Astronomy Tower. He definitely looked as if he would need a vial himself and chuckled with her that they both can't afford to see Madam Pomfrey until the war is over. And he was right about that. Could there be a little bit of seer's talent in that skull of his as well? There was no way a searched criminal would receive the very needed rest and Poppy's gentle fussing will remain out of his reach for at least some time. And she – how can a headmistress and the chief of the Order fall ill?
'Avoid Poppy until this all is over, Minerva!' she says to herself and suddenly misses the severe Potions and Defence Professor more than before. Dumbledore probably knew what he was doing when he assigned their star pupil those seventh year's detentions in the infirmary. With his extraordinary knowledge on Potions and Dark Arts the boy was almost a mediwizard expert along with all his other talents. 'Oh Severus, I will miss you,' she thinks, 'Please, come safe back home.' Then she summons an owl and sends the short note to Spinner's End hoping against hope that they will be sitting in this office in a couple of months (or years) together once again, remembering this war and Albus over a cup of tea or a glass of something stronger...
As a non-native speaker I thank all of you who has helped me to correct this piece, especially InkandPaper! Check her post-HBP fic, it's – unlike many others here – really good written... I hope you have enjoyed the story! You can leave me a review but I would be much happier if you check on my other one-shot stories instead – they were slightly rewritten. And well – it's fine to have many reviews but I don't like to read notes like "I won't post anymore if you won't leave me that and that many reviews." on the bottom of some fanfics. I write mainly one shots so in my case this doesn't depend on you but the amount of free time I have. (-: