Disclaimer: I do not own anything dealing with Harry Potter cuz it belongs to J.K. Rowling.
A/N: I am sorry for taking so long in posting. I wrote this out on paper and that is the reason I didn't post it earlier cuz I had people coming over. Well I hope you like it. It might take me a while to actually type this out cuz I am working with an injured forefinger on my left hand. I was cutting open a bagel for a resident at the retirement home and cut it with a knife.
Chapter Three: Making Headlines…
Any person who has ventured outside in the early morning hours knows well the scene for which I, the author, am about to describe to you, my reader. Four in the morning is that time in which the earth is fast asleep, but not very far from waking up. This particular morning saw dark clouds, looming ominously in the dreary sky. The earth smelled as it always does before a thunderstorm, filling one's nose with a unique scent and the heart with what could only be described as a strange combination of fear and excitement.
It was this morning, three weeks after Minerva had left Hogwarts, when a dark figure made its way through the night. The man, whom the reader will recognize in just a moment, did his best to stay in the shadows. The night may be dark, but there are eyes everywhere, each one ready to discover a good secret and a quick tongue, eager to betray that secret. And, oh, this man had his secrets; perhaps more than most men. In fact, he was on his way to see one such secret right now. But he needed to be careful. He needed to tread carefully, act swiftly, and breathe softly. He moved across the lawn and paused. Looking around to ensure his solitude, he pulled out a small key-a portkey. It was simple enough in its design, but it fit his purpose well. Ten seconds later, he was gone.
Severus Snape breathed a heavy sigh of relief as he now found himself standing just inside a small cottage in Ireland. For now, he was safe. Well, if only for a little while, anyway. He looked around once as though he could not decide where he should go before he finally decided on heading for the kitchen. The living room he passed through was small yet quaint in its own right. The floors were wood and worn. There was a squeaky floor board just before the first stair on Severus' left. It had an annoying habit of squeaking whenever the slightest pressure was placed upon it, much to Severus' chagrin. He found it utterly despicable, though there was nothing he could do about it. This was not his house, after all.
Aside from the horrendously squeaky floor board, the living room played host to a large overstuffed couch with two matching overstuffed chairs, one on either side. Beside the couch sat a side table with a lamp upon it. Across from the couch stood a moderately sized fireplace and, if one would care to notice, one could see marvelous carvings of lions cut magnificently into the wood. These carvings were wonderfully done and beautifully sculpted. Between the couch and fireplace lay a plush carpet, soft and white in color.
Severus flicked his wand and the lamps around him were lit. He continued to make his way to the kitchen. When he entered, he flicked his wand a few more times and in no time, lights were lit and water was set to boil. It was time for tea and perhaps some stew. Once he set the stew to brew and the water to boil, he sat back and thought of all that had transpired in recent weeks. Despite his actions as of late, he could not shake the knowledge that he had much more to do. These next few weeks would be worse than those which had already preceded them. He was not looking forward to what was coming, but it was too late to turn back now. Events had already been set in motion. He had passed the point of no return the night he had fled Hogwarts; perhaps even before then.
He was brought out of his thoughts by the whistle of a kettle. He stood and made the tea, eventually pouring it into a smaller teapot. He also filled a bowl with some of the stew, which was now steaming hot. When these things had been placed upon a tray, Severus reached into the pocket of his robes and pulled out a copy of the Daily Prophet. Then, as though he thought better of it, he replaced in into the pocket of his robes, shrinking it back to a smaller size. Perhaps it would be better if he waited. A minute or two later than planned couldn't hurt. Levitating the tray before him, he made his way out of the kitchen and headed for the stairs. He had a patient to attend to.
The headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix seemed even larger and gloomier than ever. Things had been hard enough when Sirius had died. Now, Albus Dumbledore was gone, never to lead another meeting or teach another lesson again. The story of his demise was told time and time again, growing bigger and more ludicrous with each retelling. Only the Order knew exactly how it had played out, thanks to Harry. Well, the staff of Hogwarts knew as well, since three watched Minerva leave.
Now, Remus Lupin sat at the kitchen table, reading yesterdays Daily Prophet. One might find it unusual for him to be awake at four in the morning, but he was unable to sleep much these days. Nights when he did manage to fall asleep insured he would have nightmares. He would have images of Albus dying, a green light flashing around everywhere. He saw those he loved falling and screaming and dying around him. He did not know how much more of this he could bear. So, here he was, re-reading what he and the other Order members had read at least a hundred times each.
The front page had an enlarged photograph of Minerva, her hair flying in every direction, her traveling cloak flapping around her, and her face in an almost crazed, obsessed expression. Her right hand held loosely onto the handle of her broom, which fell below the picture line, while her left hand moved wildly above her head. Remus, once he had calmed down from the absurdity of the article and once he actually looked at the picture, could not help but snort at the absurdity of it. That picture had to be the most cliché photograph of a crazed witch that he had ever seen. He remembered flipping through a few muggle children's books in a muggle book shop and seeing such pictures. How thick could you get? That was beyond cliché, really.
This picture alone, which was a horrible distortion of the real Minerva McGonagall, was enough to send every Order member, as well as the Hogwarts staff members, into a furious rage. But the headline was enough to send everyone who knew Minerva into a state of revulsion and despair. The headline was written in large, bold type and read: "Headstrong Headmistress Looses Head." Remus shook his head as he read the article which followed.
"Minerva McGonagall, once beloved Transfiguration professor and recently appointed headmistress, has sadly lost her grip on reality. She who was once considered to be one of the greatest minds of our times is now seen for the disturbed creature she really is. When asked what he thought of the situation, former Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge had to say the following"
"… 'I find this whole ordeal is an incredible tragedy, as well as a loss to the entire wizarding community. I feel this loss only creates a bigger hole in our hearts since it has taken place so close to the death of the headmaster not more than a month ago.'
"Could there be a connection between the death of Albus Dumbledore and the sudden disappearance of Minerva McGonagall? Was there perhaps more to the two than what could be seen on the surface? This reporter believes so. With any luck, and a little more investigation, who knows what we may uncover?"
With that, Remus let out a guffaw finished off his display of disgust by rolling the newspaper into a tight ball and threw it across the kitchen. There was no need to read it any further. He knew what it said. 'Crazy' Minerva McGonagall was off on her own 'crusade' against the Dark Lord, 'wreaking havoc' along the way. They had even had the nerve to suggest that she had had a hand in that 'muggle mayhem' yesterday. Twelve muggles killed in an unexplained explosion.
Remus was disgusted with the very thought of it all. How on earth could anyone believe that Minerva would harm anyone? This was the same Minerva McGonagall who became physically sick every time she heard of what Voldemort did, sometimes torturing another into insanity or, if he was feeling kind, death; the same Minerva McGonagall who wept at any report of an abused child. How could this kind, loving Minerva be twisted into such a distorted creature?
Remus raked his hand through his hair. If only Albus were alive. He'd know what to do. Then again, Remus suspected that none of this would have happened if Albus were alive. He could not be absolutely sure, but he'd had a strong feeling within recent years that Albus and Minerva really were romantically involved, though he could not prove it. Sighing, he stood and walked towards the kitchen sink and peered out the window, searching the sky. Perhaps, he thought, if he looked hard enough, if he truly concentrated… He shook his head. Maybe Minerva really was searching for Voldemort. But that did not mean she was insane, by any means.
"Oh, Minerva, please be careful," he sighed, still searching the sky. "Your friends love and miss you so much." He looked even higher into the sky. "Albus, if you are up there, and if you are listening, please hear my plea… Watch out for her and keep her safe. Look down upon her with the love and devotion I feel she may or may not have had for you."
Severus entered the bedroom, his eyes already accustomed to the dark. He closed the door behind him and continued to levitate the tray towards the figure in the bed, who was now sitting up with his back against the head rest. The man's eyes were covered by bandages, which were wrapped around his head several times. Severus brought the tray to rest before the man. The man smiled, though it was a sad, resigned smile.
"Thank you, my friend," he said, reaching around and attempting to find his spoon. Severus watched for a second or two before he nudged the spoon silently towards the searching hand.
"You're welcome," he replied. He watched as the sad, almost pathetic-looking man clumsily at his soup, spilling most of it. After he swallowed a few mouthfuls, he leaned his head back.
"This seems to be getting harder rather than easier." Severus felt something akin to pity for the man.
"It will get better," he assured. "With any luck, your eyesight shall come back in a day or two." The man in the bed sighed.
"But what if it does not?" he asked sadly. "You said there was a chance I may not be able to see again." Severus nodded.
"A small chance, yes," he replied. The second man made a noise resembling a snort.
"I would not consider twenty-two percent to be 'a small chance', Severus," he said.
"Comparatively, it is," Severus responded. They sat in an awkward silence before anyone spoke again.
"Any news?" he asked. Severus bit his bottom lip uncharacteristically. The other man sighed. "Your stunned silence confuses me. There may be bad news or there may be none at all and I don't fancy hearing either answer right now."
"So, would you like the truth then?" Silence, then…
"Yes, please, I need to know." Severus pulled out the Daily Prophet from the day before and, after a slight hesitation, read what there was to read. When he finished, Severus stared at the man's face, trying to discern a reaction. For a moment, he seemed to have forgotten how to breathe. Then, in a shaky voice, he said,
"We need to find her, Severus," he said. "Since I am unable to see, I need you to find her." Severus was began to protest, but was stopped by a raised hand. "Please. If she is found by our enemy, who knows what will happen? He will use any means necessary to learn about Harry, the Order, the entire Weasly clan, Miss Granger, you-and even me." He sighed. "You need to find her, for all our sakes." Severus slowly nodded.
"Yes, of course," he said. He looked at the clock. It was a quarter to five. "I must go. I do not wish for my disappearance to be noticed." The second man nodded, understanding that he must be headed out now.
"Farewell for now, my friend," he said. "Take care. Oh, and thank you very much."
"Good bye," Severus replied. He made his way to the door but was stopped once again by the man lying in the bed. "If at all possible, you will come back tomorrow, won't you?" Severus felt sorry for the man whom he saw as almost a father figure.
"Yes, of course," he said. "Good night, Albus." With that, he left. It was then that Albus finally allowed the tears to flow from his eyes and soak onto the bandages. He then rested his head into his hands, his shoulders shaking as he silently cried.
"Oh, Minerva, my love my life," he mourned. "If only I could have told you. Perhaps, if I had been able to, you would not be out risking your life because you think I am gone. I love you so very much, Minerva. You are my other half. Beautiful Minerva, goddess of wisdom, please be careful. Of all the things you taught your students, you have forgotten the most important one. 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth only makes the entire world blind and toothless'."
For the first time since this whole plan had been set in motion, Albus cursed himself and his blindness-physical and otherwise.
A/N2: Okay, this one is shorter than the others, but I'm tired and tomorrow is the end of my two week deadline. LOL. I hope you like it. Do not fear, there SHALL BE AN EXPLANATION SOON!!!! Read long and prosper. Always Hopeful