Hopes Refuge

Chapter Eight

Severus stormed into Grimmauld Place and cast a lethal glare at the portrait of the screaming Lady Black potent enough to send her hiding behind her curtains in order to get away from it, and nearly flew down the stairs to the kitchen, where he could here Molly loudly proclaiming that the five youngest members in the house needed to leave for the Order meeting, while they just as loudly argued that they needed/wanted to know what was going on.

"Silence!" He hissed, for once not taking any pleasure in the instantaneous quiet that enveloped the kitchen. "The five of you have information that I need." He started, only to be interrupted when Molly tried to deny this. Giving her the same look that silenced the old biddy on the wall, he felt grim satisfaction when it worked on her as well. Turning back to the teens, he pointed at a set of chairs. "Sit, be silent, answer any question asked of you fully, and don't say anything else without permission or you will be dealing with me. Is that understood?" He was rewarded when all five children scrambled for seats, without saying a word, and nodding frantically

The entire kitchen remained silent as Order members arrived and saw the glower on the Potions Masters face, Tonks even managed to make it into the kitchen and into a seat without stumbling, a feat which had never actually happened in any ones memory before. No one wanted the spy's attention to settle on them, as they waited silently for what ever news he had brought them.

Dumbledore's arrival brought sighs of relief, until they realized that even he had lost his usual twinkle. Molly not seeing this very rare sight turned on the headmaster and demanded somewhat shrilly that he have the teens removed, "they're just children, they have no say in an adults discussion." She started, only to be cut off.

"Those children have more experience with this war then you do." Severus started, "or have you failed to see and understand what exactly they have done during their school careers so far? I have already stated that they all have information that I need, and that everyone else needs to hear. They will be staying." He stated forcefully, glaring around the room, to see if anyone else wanted to voice an opinion. Seeing the room settle down, to somewhat calmly hear him out, he started one of the most important Order meetings of the war, and to most peoples surprise it was with personally information.

"Many of you know that I have access to many of my own potions ingredients, and many of them are rare and extremely expensive. I have heard many of you ask, at what cost do I deliver these for the Order use. What only select people have known is that many of them are grown on my Estate, in 'pockets' of their own environments, managed by magic.

I employ many people, looking for a new start due to abusive relationships in their past. My staff and myself do what we can to heal these individuals physically and mentally the best we can, and then find a place where they can continue to heal as well as to flourish and reach their full potential. One wizard on my staff has a very rare and invaluable talent. He can sense the abuse in children, and if it's severe enough in adults as well. Usually if there was not immediate danger, he would do what he could to encourage the victim to take the first step in leaving, but that is not always the case." Here Severus stopped for a few minutes, extremely uncomfortable with what he was telling everyone on a personal level, but knowing that the information was needed for people to understand what had happened. Taking a calming breath, he continued.

"Earlier this summer, Cal had a extreme sense that something was desperately wrong, and went to find the source. What he found, had him making immediate plans to remove the child involved, despite knowing that it would cause a major backlash in many ways. My medic has informed me, and Madam Pomfrey has backed her up fully in this, that if the child had stayed where he was, he wouldn't have lasted out the week." Glancing around the room, he found shocked horror on every adults face, even the ones that had been told earlier what had happened, and started to mentally prepare himself to actually utter the words he knew would bring most of them to their knees. Much to his surprise, he only found looks of determination on the teens when he finally looked their way.

"He found Harry didn't he Professor?" Ron stated, not flinching when the Order members loudly demanded that he take back that claim.

"How long have you known Mr. Weasley." Severus stated, causing silence to fall in the kitchen once more.

"Since his first year." The twins answered, the other teens confirming this with nods of agreement.

"AND YOU NEVER TOLD US" Molly screeched.

"WE DID!" The twins and Ron yelled back. "You just never listened to what we had to say." Ron continued, "after all we're just children, and have no understanding of adult problems." He added bitterly, mimicking his mother in near perfect imitation of her earlier statement.

Before an argument could start, Hermione gave the Potions Master a sad look. "What do you want to know Professor, we'll answer any question to the best of our ability."

This started a long session, where the adults in charge of looking after the 'children' realized exactly how badly they failed. Each new fact, shaming them all even further.

...The cupboard under the stairs.

...Starvation

...Bars and looks on the windows and doors.

...The unexplained scars

...Poorly fitted clothes

Many more facts came to light that night, and Severus took it all in, his dark eyes glittering with rage, as the rest of the adults hung their heads, and in most cases let the tears run down their faces.

When the teens seemed to have finally talked themselves out, Severus bowed his head in thanks, and dismissed them they could write and he would make sure that Harry would get anything they wanted to send.

"Can we visit?" Hermione asked tentatively.

"Not at this time." Severus replied, in what could only be said was a gentle tone.

Nodding in understanding once again, the five of them left the room, none of them stupid enough to argue their dismissal, clearly seeing the storm brewing in their Professors very stance.

The last words they heard, before the silencing charms went up, had them all snapping their heads back towards the door in surprise.

"What the fuck where you thinking old man!"

~~oOo~~

In the Black library, Ron, Hermione, Ginny and the twins sat drained of energy after being grilled about everything the knew about Harry's home life by the Order, but most especially by Snape. Finally Ginny sighed, and voiced what they where all thinking. "Finally someone decided to listen."

"It's about time." Ron murmured.

The twins nodded their heads in unison, "what do we do now." George asked, for once not using their twin speak.

"The same thing we've always done, let him know we're here for him, and continue to act as a buffer between him and the other students." Hermione said softly. "We need to write him and let him know what just happened, because you know he'll find out from somewhere, and it will hurt him even more if he doesn't find out from us.

"He's not going..."

"...to like this." the twins answered.

"He'll just have to deal with it won't he." Ron told them sharply. "I wasn't going to say no to Snape when he was in that kind of mood. We also need to tell Neville, Seamus, and Dean that Harry's safe."

"Luna as well." Ginny added in.

Nodding their heads in agreement, the five of them got to work, informing people who needed to know that Harry was in a safe place, and in the case of Luna and Neville, exactly where he was and who he was staying with.

Hermione got the hard job. She had to write to her best friend.

And hope for the best.

~~oOo~

Severus barely lifted his head a cup of tea was placed in front of him. It had taken a couple of hours, but he no longer deemed it worth his time to kill the Dursleys. Torture maybe, but not kill. He also knew that going after those pieces of scum, would hurt the teen in his care, more then anyone would like to admit. Conditioning on both their part and the part of the Headmaster.

Glancing up into the eyes of Lupin, he had to suppress a shiver, when he saw yellow glinting in the usually brown eyes, and did a mental calculation on how close the full moon was and cringed slightly in his seat.

"Don't worry Severus. I took a double dose of extra strength calming potion before coming to this meeting." Remus told him with a sharper then normal smile. "How is Harry doing?" he asked softly, once the spy had a chance to relax slightly.

"Better then I expected Wolf, but he's more then likely hiding he's true emotions. I think the others on the estate will get him to reveal them sooner or later." Thinking back on the laughter he heard just before leaving to come to the meeting, Severus decided to throw the Wolf a bone. "He was laughing and teasing my nephew when I left, racing him to where the others had started a bonfire."

"So he's happy?" Remus asked hopefully.

"Content, would most likely be closer to the truth. I don't think he actually knows how to be happy, unless he's flying, and Rosa has banned him from doing that until his magic levels are back to normal."

"Either way, I'm happy to hear that." Remus said with a smile. Pulling a letter out of his pocket, Remus sat in on the table in front of the Potions Master. "Could you please give that to him? I don't want him to start thinking I've abandoned him." Again, he added mentally, and could tell Severus had had the same thought.

"I'll make sure he gets it in the morning." Pausing slightly, Severus looked up at the Wolf. "Have you seen his owl lately?"

"No I haven't, but if I know Hedwig, she'll turn up exactly when needed the most." Remus reassured him, with a gentle smile, before leaving Severus to his thoughts.

'I sure hope so.' Severus thought to himself. 'I don't want to see what losing her will do to Harry at the moment.'

~~oOo~~

Tio sat silently staring at the hypnotic effect off the dying bonfire, having waved off the others half an hour earlier, and allowed the dying embers to lull him into a calming daze. Even after being on the Estate for a just over a week, he was still having troubles believing that he was never going back to the Dursleys, and kept expecting to wake up from this dream.

Thinking back over the conversation with Snape earlier that day, and all of his interactions with the man since coming here, he was couldn't believe the changes from when they where at school. Considering it for a few minutes longer, he figured he would just go with the flow, and think of 'Uncle Sev' and 'Professor Snape' as two different people. After all it made since in an odd way that Snape would be different at home then he would be at school.

Getting up from his sprawled position against a cushioned log, he stopped for a moment to consider the almost dead fire, before waving his hand slightly over top of it and extinguished the last of the embers before heading off to bed, figuring if no one saw him, no one would tell Rosa that he had used wandless magic.

Feeling something rub up against his ankle, Tio scooped up Hissie and made his way up to the house, pausing only a moment, to gaze at where he knew Tony stayed, before catching himself, and slipping through the door of the Manor, and on silent feet to his room. Once there he barely had enough time to change, before Hissie purr did it's job, and eased him into a deep sleep.

~~oOo~~

Stephen from the shadowed porch of his villa kept watch over their newest member, and had to stop himself from coming to his feet in surprise when he saw the act of wandless magic. Seeing the light in the teens room flicker out, he made his way to his own bed, and contemplated this little puzzle. It seemed their was a whole lot to Harry Potter that no one actually knew, and if he was correct, most never would.

Starting his meditation, Stephen made a mental note to teach Tio a few of the basics, and allowed himself to drift of to sleep, part of his mind analyzing the facts, the rest of his mind more then ready to shut down. With a final sigh, he gave in to sleep. He had all the time in the world to figure this one out.