CHAPTER 31- Twins? You have got to be kidding!
Severus was not at breakfast the next morning. This did not shock the kids as they knew that the lifespan for their spell work was a week. The Twins and Hermione had been angry about the missing potions and much of their work going down the drain.
Now, they were having a few regrets about how they had reacted. They might be able to catch Severus in a few pranks but in the end he was a very powerful wizard, one of their teachers, and a wizard who also happened to be Hermione's Father now. All of which meant he had the right and ability to make their lives very uncomfortable if he chose to.
They had three hours of Potions this morning so they would find out, in short order, how he was going to react. When everyone arrived at the classroom doors they found them to be open and Severus, a normal non-pranked Severus, was sitting at his desk. They slowly entered, all wondering how he had changed the spell so soon, but not daring to ask.
Severus never said a word about the prank but remained at his desk waiting for them to settle down. "I gather that you were a bit upset that some of your potions and experiments were missing from your lab?"
The Twins were the ones to find the courage to speak out. "You were just upset because we were prepared by the time we arrived in class and all your intimidation techniques to scare us didn't work. You were happy when we were messing up our assignments during the school year, you even smiled when we failed. Now that we found a way to do well, in fact better than well, you have to find a way to stop it. We don't think it's fair."
The Snape kids were real sure that the Twins approach was NOT the most healthy approach. Severus had changed a lot during the summer but he still had a very low tolerance for cheek and disrespect for adults.
Harry kept trying to get the Twins attention but to no avail, they just ignored him. Finally Snape, not Severus, rose up and cast the 'silencio' charm on the boys, levitated them so that they were facing the back of the class room, bent over their desks and glue charmed them in place. The Twins had no recourse but to wait for the first swat to their posteriors. Hermione, who was about to join in with the boys decided to stay silent, feeling that perhaps this was not a good time to express one's opinion.
"NOW, hear me well because I am not going to repeat myself!" said Severus. You all know why I had to act they way I did the last couple years. It was a 'front' so that I could continue to spy for the 'light'. If you cannot, or will not, accept that explanation then it is your problem and not mine and you may leave my class."
"Secondly; I am not upset with you because you are doing well in class in fact I am very proud of you. Not only are you doing well, but you found a way to help yourselves study harder. I removed all potentially dangerous material and experiments so that we could have this dialogue and I could have a bit of fun with you. I seem to have your attention so now let's lay down some ground rules for your use of that lab."
With that he removed the 'silencio' charm on the Twins, and levitated them back into their seats where they breathed a very deep sigh of relief. Severus smirked, knowing that the boys were convinced they were going to receive a few swats.
"Seeing that nobody had left the class room I assume we are passed all prior miss-deeds and can look to the future. You may continue to use the practice lab but you will not be allowed to create any potion that you have not already created in class or at least discussed with me. If you desire to work on an unknown potion or try to move ahead in your studies you need to talk to me about it. We will discuss the potion, its dangers, its potential and any potential trouble you might run across in its preparation. Now, I know you Twins are also working on prank stuff and I do not want to stifle any of your creative juices. You will come to me first and let me know what you are trying to achieve. I promise not to share any of your trade secrets nor share your activities with your parents. I want to make sure that you don't hurt yourselves and if we talk about it first perhaps we can help you with your creations while keeping you alive. Rest assured that if you do not comply with my ground rules I will close the lab permanently."
"Dad" replied Hermione, "I think you are being more than fair, especially about the prank work." The Twins looked like they were going to start arguing for more freedom when they noticed the looks they were getting from all of the other kids. The looks all said the same thing, 'stop while you're ahead'. So they took the good advice and closed their mouths.
"Now," said Severus, "I know you want to get ahead on the assignments but I feel more comfortable with you doing it for the first time in class, then trying to do it better later. I will allow you to come to the classroom on a Saturday, during the year, and redo a potion if you want to try and improve your grade. In fact that will be a new option open to all students that want to improve their grades. Are there any questions? No? Good lets get started on today's work."
The kids were sitting around by the lake during free time wondering why they had not been confronted about their trip into the room with the Founders. "I guess the Founders decided not to say anything to the Order" said Harry.
"If they haven't said anything by now" said Draco, "I doubt that they will so it looks like we got off with a free-bie on this one. I suggest we don't go back into that room until invited though" and the rest of the kids agreed.
"You know there is a whole section of the castle that we have never taken a look at down in that area" said the Twins. "There are enough rooms down there to keep us busy for the year."
Harry was deep in thought and when it got quiet he remarked, "Before we start another adventure Draco and I feel like we should regroup and prepare for the train ride. I know the Rat is caught and he can't carry information to Lucius and his crew but there are things that are public knowledge that he doesn't need the Rat to tell him about. The train trip to Hogwarts is one of those opportunities that he might take advantage of. Every time we leave Hogwarts it seems that we walk into some type of trouble and I don't see that changing."
"I have been thinking about that too" said Ron. "One thing I am good at is strategy and if I were trying to capture us, and I didn't have my informant anymore, I would go after the train."
"Well we can't stop it but we can surely prepare for it" said Draco. "We need to analyze the situation then gather the stuff together that we might need to survive."
"Ron" said Neville, "How would you go about attacking the train, and what would you do, just kill everyone or try to be selective in capturing us?"
"I would gather all the information I could from supportive 'snakes' and see if we all sit together in one section. Then I would work with the supportive 'snakes' to work out a signal so I would know which section of the train to attack. Remember, I have to get the train to stop also, so we need to look at the route and find the best place to conduct an ambush, then expect it. I wouldn't want to fight with all the students, some of the senior years are pretty advanced with their spell work. There never seem to be a lot of Death Eaters, so they must be a small group still", said Ron.
"You make some great points" said Hermione, "I am really impressed!
"Severus said I had a gift for it and has been sliding me a book or two over the summer" said Ron, blushing. "We would need to lead the attacking party away from the train then the other students would be out of danger and the train could continue to Hogwarts. If we can get them to follow us it will give the Auror's and adults time to get to us. But Hermione you and Percy are better at dividing up the task list and pulling the plan together."
"Well" said Hermione, "From what you are saying we would need a lot of supplies and we would need to learn the spells necessary to shrink them down so we can carry them in our pockets. We can work on that in one of the class rooms. We would need a spell book that gives us a diversity of spells that can protect us and provide for us. We need a team to look for that type book. We also will need some of the supplies that are up in Dumbledore's storeroom."
"It sounds like it will take a couple days to put together" said Percy. "I'll keep a log of tasks and when they are complete so just check with me Hermione when you want to know what's done and what still needs to be done. We only have five days before we have to go to the train so we should get on it quick."
Meanwhile Severus was trying to set up a time for Minerva, Albus, Harry, Alice and himself to talk. It was time, they had put it off all summer and he wanted it finished by the new term and not hanging over their heads.
"Harry, get your list of questions ready so we can talk with your Grandfather" said Severus.
"Dad" said Harry, "I really want to ask you and Grandma something."
"Ok Harry, lets go find her and you can ask away" replied Severus.
They found Minerva in her office and of course she insisted on tea and cookies while they talked. "Harry" said Severus, "you're the one who wanted this meeting so you have the floor."
"Well, at the start of summer when all the problems came to light around Grandpa we were angry and wanted to talk with him and find out why he did what he did. After listening to many more stories and watching how people sort of watch out after him, I am not so sure I want to ask him all those questions. I am not sure I want to cause a rift in the family I have now because I think it's perfect. It's not like he is doing all this to just me anymore and I am left feeling like nobody cares. You all care and you all know what has happened. I know what he did and didn't do to you and Grandma knows it all and still loves him"
"I just have to ask myself, what is going to be solved by bringing all this stuff up again? Is he going to change? Will he really see and understand the error of his ways? Will he fully realize how we felt when he did these things to us? I don't think so. I think Grandma has the only answer to it all. Let him do what he does well and make sure the rest becomes public so there are not so many secrets. It's like with Bane. Bane will not deal with him. The Goblins are not really happy with him either. I think things are beginning to come to light and Grandpa is going to need his family more than a lecture and anger."
"Anyway, that is what I have been feeling lately" said Harry.
Minerva and Severus just stared at Harry. Then Minerva stood up and walked over to Harry and with tears in her eyes she gave him a great big hug. "I don't know where that bit of wisdom came from but I want you to know you are truly remarkable. I have stood on this path all by myself for so long, loving him but not always liking what he does. And now I have a whole family to stand with me in loving him yet not always liking what he does. You will never know how blessed you have made me feel this day Harry." Having said that she didn't even wait for a reply, but turned away so they would not see her cry, and walked out the door.
Harry started to go after her but Severus caught him and pulled Harry to him. "Let her be Son, she needs a bit of time to herself. It's like when you sneak up to the astronomy tower at night" he said smiling.
Severus continued, "I think you're right Harry, nothing would be accomplished by confronting him. Nothing except perhaps we would feel better because we were able to vent, but not much else. I agree with you, let's just let it go except that he and I will have to have a discussion about these 'Horcruxes'.
The kids were busy putting together their 'war chest'. They caused a diversion that Poppy had to answer then snuck in to gather medical supplies they wanted to carry with them on the train.
They put together a food package, put it in stasis then shrunk it down. They would have a couple weeks worth of food if they needed it and it would keep for a very long time.
Ron and his team confiscated one invisibility cloak for every two people along with other supplies he thought them might need. They all learned the spell to shrink things down so he shrink his contraband and put it in his pocket.
They were surprised on the night before the train trip. They went to their rooms and found that their brooms were lying on their beds. Parents and teachers had decided that they had earned them back. Of course if they only knew how much contraband they had collected they probably would have broken the brooms in to pieces.
The day finally arrived for the new term to start and they were off to the train station. Their brooms had been shrunk and placed in their pockets along with all the other supplies they thought they might need if something went wrong. Much to their displeasure the Aurors were not going to accompany the train and as far as they knew the kids were going to be on their own.
Cassy was pitching a fit as she wanted to ride the train with the rest of the kids. Only the threat of another spanking brought her into line but everyone around her knew that she was not a happy camper. Harry told her that they would be back at the end of the day so it wasn't like they were going to be gone forever. Then Grandma promised to take her to the kitchens so she and the House Elves could bake cookies for everyone.
Harry and Draco asked Professor Lupin if they could meet with him before they left for the train station. He looked perplexed but agreed. "Professor, we took a picture of our memories at the beginning of summer when Cassy first hugged Dad and if you remember the look on his face was priceless. Welllllllll we have made copies for the whole school and were wondering if you would spell them out onto the tables as placemats right before the Welcoming Feast since we won't be here to do it?
Lupin had to think about this for a moment. No body pranks Severus without thinking it through and then thinking it through again. He looked at the boys then figured that since Severus was no longer a spy it would not hurt. Oh, if Severus caught him doing it then most surely it would hurt but the kids told him they would take the heat if it came to that. Lupin knew that Severus would know for sure who had played the prank and he sure didn't want to be in their shoes on this one but he agreed to play his part. The truth of it was he could not wait to see Severus' face when he saw that a picture of him being a wonderful, soft and gentle man with a very young child, was available to the public. The 'snakes' will never let him live it down, chuckled Lupin.
Harry and Draco told the kids that Lupin agreed and now had the pictures. Everything was set and now all they had to hope for was that no Death Eaters would attack the train.
Everyone gathered in the office behind the Great Hall and the kids prepared to Floo to the train station. Severus, Arthur, Moody and Tonks would be going with them to keep an eye on things. Alice would meet them there but had to leave early to pick up something at the hospital.
In a matter of minutes they arrived. They were early so not many people were on the train yet. Severus asked the kids to get on the train and select a compartment or two before everyone arrived. He told them to select one on the side of the car where he could see them.
Soon it began to get crowded and noisy. Alice arrived and started talking to Severus. Soon the Train began to work up a head of steam and tooted its 'last call' to warn everyone to get on board.
Harry was watching his parents who seemed to be acting a little bit funny. Well his Dad was acting a little bit funny but Alice had a smile on her face. If he could only hear the conversation that was going on at that moment.
As the train began pulling out of the station Severus looked at Alice, who was rubbing her stomach and said "Twins?......... You have got to be kidding! TWINS?"
Severus looked very pale when he realized that over the summer he had moved from being a single man with adoptive parents to a Father, Husband, Son of a family of twelve including Mom and Dad. He would never live down what happened next......Severus fainted.
THE SUMMER ENDS AND SECOND YEAR BEGINS