OMG! I am back! I can't offer up enough apologies. I can only say that my muse went off and hid somewhere. After much world searching and spelunking, I found it in a previously unknown cave somewhere in the Yangtze Valley. I cannot tell you how happy I am to be back. To those of you who have patiently or impatiently waited for an update, Thank you. I actually have the next four chapters outlined and I am eager to write them. I have even cleared the path for an ending. Thank you, once again for your support. You are all too kind.
Back to School, Again
Severus looked down the hall, impatiently waiting for his son to make his grand entrance from his bedroom. If the boy were much longer, they would be late for breakfast. "Harry…are you ready?"
An impatient voice called from the other side of the door, "On the way out, Dad."
Severus' patience began to wear thin. He marched down the hall to the boy's room. Just as he reached for the knob, the door swung open. Harry gave a final adjustment to his Gryffindor robes. He wasn't paying attention when he ran directly into Severus.
"Oomph!" Harry's glasses flew off his face and he clumsily caught them. "Sorry, Dad.".
"Are you quite ready, yet?" Severus asked impatiently. Was getting ready on time really too much to ask of the boy?
"Yeah, Dad. Let's go." The boy didn't sound too convincing, but Severus had this conversation with Harry the night before. Harry was anxious to get back to his old routine.
Severus followed his son into the sitting room and to the front door. "You have all your assignments?"
"You know, you really don't have to be such a mother hen about…" Harry stopped short of the door. "Shite!" He looked guiltily at Severus and back to his room.
"I thought as much," Severus muttered as his son flew down the hall.
Severus waited for Harry with the door open to the dungeon. It was the first day the dungeons had been opened since the incident with the quill.
Less than thirty seconds later, Harry scurried past him as the boy unceremoniously stuffed two rolls of parchment into his rucksack. Severus huffed and shook his head in disbelief at the lack of care Harry showed his work. That was one habit Severus was determined to change.
"Thanks." The oblivious child just grinned as he looked up to Severus.
Severus warded the chamber and walked alongside his son down the dark corridor. "You know, Harry, I've heard rumours that the Potion's Master deducts points for sloppy work."
"I'm sure my dad would have something to say about that," the boy said cheekily.
"I think you've taken too many lessons with Mr Malfoy."
"Can't say I disagree with you there," Harry answered back.
Severus rolled his eyes. He unconsciously ran his fingers through Harry's hair, regretting its length. "I think a haircut is long overdue," he lamented.
Harry scoffed and looked at him in disbelief. "Look who this is coming from? Don't you think that's the cauldron calling the kettle black?"
Severus' cut a look at Harry and he mumbled under his breath, "Your mother preferred long hair."
Harry looked as though he were choking back a laugh.
It was quiet as they approached the Great Hall. Breakfast had already started. Harry gulped down a chunk of air. He wasn't sure if he was ready to face down the school again, but it wasn't as if he had a choice.
Thankfully, the doors were left ajar. He could slip into the hall without too much attention. His dad stopped him just before going in. "Do you want me to come with you?"
Harry folded his arms protectively over his chest. He wasn't really sure where the anxiety was coming from. Harry peeked around the corner, looking at the sea of people. When he turned to his dad again, he shook his head. "No…I'll be okay."
His father looked doubtful as he gave Harry a reassuring squeeze on the shoulder. "You're quite sure?"
Harry gave a quick nod and a tentative smile "Yeah." He was determined to do this, no matter how scared he felt.
His dad exhaled heavily and dropped his hand, 'Very well, but if you need me for anything, do not hesitate. Even if I'm in the middle of a lesson. Got it?"
Harry felt a little bolder knowing he could turn to his dad and his smile brightened a bit. "Got it. If we're going to have breakfast sometime today, we better get this over with. Now shoo!"
His father looked at him, taken aback. He waved Harry off towards the Great Hall. "Fine then. Go have breakfast with your little friends. I'll see you later in class."
Harry was going to answer with another retort, but his father had already swept away in a flurry of cloak. He smiled to himself and slipped into the hall.
He found himself lucky. Everyone was too engaged in chatter to notice Harry's entrance. Harry smiled because Ron and Hermione thought enough to sit themselves closest to the door. Neville Longbottom sat across from them intently engaged in conversation. His friends had saved just enough room for Harry at the end of the table.
Harry slid quietly next to Hermione. Apparently too quiet because he startled her and she called out, "Harry!"
For a moment, the Great Hall went eerily silent, as if all the sound had been sucked out of the room and all eyes turned to Harry. Then, the room erupted with thunderous applause.
It was a good thing Harry wasn't claustrophobic, because he was suddenly descended upon by a mass of humanity. Guys were offering handshakes and girls were trying to hug him. Well wishes and accolades echoed through the hall. Ron, Hermione, and even Neville managed to break through and push back the crowd in an effort to keep Harry from being crushed in the melee.
"Back off the lot of you. Are you trying to kill the poor bloke, again?"
Harry thought he should know the voice that carried itself over the crowd, but he couldn't quite place it.
Other students looked back to see where the voice had come from. The crowd parted and Harry recognised the face of Teddy Nott, of all people. His dad told him that Nott's father had sent him a post and to expect to hear from the Slytherin. There seemed to be about a dozen others standing behind him, all from different Houses. It struck Harry as odd that Nott had become the default leader of the Death Eater's children. Harry thought it would have been Malfoy. To the rest of his classmates, they must have looked like a motley crew. Outside their own group, only Harry knew what these particular children had in common.
Ron and Neville manoeuvred themselves in front of Harry with their wands by their sides. When had Neville become so tall? Harry put a hand between his friends and gently parted them. "It's okay guys. They're not here to start anything."At least Harry hoped they weren't. Between Ron and Neville by his side, and his father and Remus glaring down from the head table, a few ill-chosen words could turn things very ugly, very quickly.
Harry could see the debate raging inside the boy in front of him, when unexpectedly, Teddy Nott extended his hand. "Potter. Glad to see the berk was sloppy to the last," he said callously. "And we…," he indicated to the children behind him, "…want to offer our thanks to you and your old man…for everything you're trying to do for our families."
Most of the crowd had moved back to their House tables, but those who remained looked confused as to what Nott was talking about.
"We haven't done anything yet," Harry said as he accepted Nott's handshake. Harry looked around. There was more he needed to say, but there were too many ears about.
Nott looked around seemingly aware of the same thing Harry was. "That's okay. You always seem to manage to do the right thing in the end. We can talk later."
Harry noticed Malfoy sitting alone at the Slytherin table, jabbing the food on his plate. "Sure," Harry said agreeably. "Bring Malfoy along next time, would you."
Nott looked over at his House table then back to Harry. "I don't know if he'll come. He told us what was going on, but it looks like his father doesn't believe…you know." Nott's eyes cut a quick glance to his left arm as he almost imperceptibly twisted his wrist.
Harry's subtly nodded his understanding. It was so slight, he looked as though he just blinked hard.
"Right then," Nott said as he looked down on the Gryffindor table. "Suppose we better let you tuck-in."
Harry and his friends sat back down at their table as everyone dispersed. Once everybody cleared out and went about their business, Neville leaned over the table and whispered, "What do you suppose that was all about?"
"Don't worry yourself over it, Neville," Ron said as he put three large kippers on Harry's plate. "It's Harry's and Snape's affair. We need to just leave them alone to their own business."
Hermione dropped her fork on the table, staring agape at Ron.
"What?" Ron said as he looked about, cluelessly.
Fred and George leaned in from across the table, "Excuse us, Little Brother…,"
"…but we've never known you to be so…"
"Rational." Ginny finished her brother's sentence.
Harry internally laughed at his best friend's conflicted face as he simultaneously wondered how he was going to eat so much food. Poor Ron honestly didn't know if he had been complimented or insulted.
Harry just shook his head and smiled, "Ron is just full of surprises."
"Thanks, Harry…I think?" Ron said and he began to tuck into his second helping of breakfast that morning.
Harry grinned and took a lusty bite out of one of his kippers. He couldn't believe how scared he had been just to walk into the hall. He had to admit. It was a balm to sit down and have an ordinary breakfast with his friends.
Severus watched from the dais as a throng closed in around Harry. Severus had his hand in his robe, twitching over his wand. Teddy Nott and around a dozen children, all belonging to Death Eaters, boldly approached his son. Age be damned, he would forever curse the next person to threaten Harry.
Lupin was sitting in the chair beside him. Severus could see the muscles in the werewolf begin to tense. It was good to know that there was at least one teacher ready to jump to his aid.
Minerva eyed them with ill-disguised suspicion. The rest of the staff seemed equally ill at ease. No one else seemed to think there was anything amiss. "Severus? Remus?" Minerva looked down at the crowd of children below. "Calm yourselves. You heard them. They're just welcoming Harry back."
"Silence, woman!" Severus hissed under his breath while keeping his eyes locked on the scene below. He ignored her offence.
Severus was perfectly aware of Harry's near-death experience and his relationship to him had been the hottest topic of gossip at Hogwarts all week. Of course, there had been theories and conjecture over Harry's relationship with the hated Potions Master, but most of it had been sympathetic. And it appeared that no one else hated Harry enough to want him to die. But as any good spy knows, things are not always what they seem.
Down below, Severus could see Messer's Weasley and Longbottom placing themselves protectively between Harry and Mr Nott. Harry had said something to his two friends and boldly stepped out to confront the Slytherin boy. It heartened Severus to know that Harry had such ardent defenders. It appeared that at some point, Neville Longbottom found his inner lion.
The exchange did not take long and seemed to end peacefully. But the hairs still stood up on the back of Severus' neck. It was Lupin who snapped Severus back to reality. He gave a quick tug on the sleeve of Severus' robe. Severus had to remember not to leer at the man.
"Come on, Severus. They obviously intended no ill will."
"I will never make an assumption to anyone's intent towards Harry, again," Severus said as he finally took his seat.
In their quarters and at the manor, Harry had been under constant surveillance by trusted individuals. Now that his son was back out among the general student population, Severus could not help but to be on his guard. Already, he was itching to down the Calming Draught he had pocketed this morning.
"Under the circumstances, I would call that a wise decision," Lupin conceded as he spooned granola into his porridge. "He seems to be in good spirits." Lupin pointed his spoon towards the Gryffindor table.
"So, I see," Severus said as he buttered his toast. He hadn't even noticed that he was scraping a hole in his bread.
"Well it's good you see something," Lupin said through his irritating chuckle. "You do actually intend on having some toast with that butter?"
Severus looked down at his intended breakfast with disgust and dropped his toast and knife with more force than he needed. As he wiped the crumbs from his hands, he felt the tap of a familiar bony finger on his shoulder.
"I'm in no mood today, Minerva."
"Oh, shut it, Severus. You didn't hurt my feelings," Minerva said pithily. "I only wanted to make you aware of one of your snakes." She pointed out the lone blond at the Slytherin table and headed off to prepare for her first class of the day.
Malfoy sat alone, his head down, staring at something in his lap. He appeared to be reading. The boy's face was pulled tighter than a drum.
"I see he received his letter," Severus said to no one in particular.
Lupin's brow furrowed. "His letter?"
Severus remembered that Remus was next to him again. "Humph…Yes, Lucius couldn't reveal certain things to Draco in the event his post was intercepted."
"So, the boy thinks…"
Severus nodded gravely. "Yes. I will speak to him before the day is out." He took a last swig of his coffee. Yes, it would be best to talk to the boy later. Since he did not have breakfast, Severus was guaranteed to be in a right foul mood this morning. Woe be to his morning classes.
"Poor boy," Lupin sighed. "You mean to tell me that he thinks…"
"…his father has set other priorities above him," Severus confirmed.
Severus knew what Lupin was thinking and he agreed. mr Malfoy's peers had received reassurances from their parents that they would defy the Dark Lord to keep them safe. Malfoy looked to have no such reassurance of his father's priorities. Ironic. There was no one putting themselves in more danger for the sake of their child than Lucius Malfoy at that very moment.
"Well, if you don't say something, I will," Lupin declared.
Severus boldly strode into the Gryffindor common room. The loud music and boisterous teenage chatter came to an abrupt halt.
It was good to see that fatherhood had not softened him enough to tarnish his infamous reputation amongst the student population. Severus' presence filled the entire room as he stood menacingly over the dumbstruck teenagers.
"Where is Harry?" He asked without preamble.
Ms Weasley was seated at a corner with two of her year mates 'studying'. Though how anyone could study amongst the ruckus, Severus did not know. Apparently, she was the only person present who was brave enough to speak up. "He's up in his dorm studying." Severus' eyes scanned the room at the little miscreants. So much for Gryffindor courage.
"Thank you, Ms Weasley." Severus swept up the stairs to the boy's dorm. Behind him, he could hear the collective release of over two dozen held breaths. He smiled to himself as he ascended the stairs.
When he reached the fifth-year boy's dorm, he could hear laughter and loud explosions emanating from the other side. Studying indeed.
Severus gave two loud knocks on the door and the laughter ceased. The door cracked open and a face peaked out from around the other side.
"Holy Shite!" Mr Finnegan shrieked like a first-year. He backed up so quickly, he fell arse backwards over Neville Longbottom.
"Hey!" Longbottom cried out in protest.
"Dad!" Harry hopped up from where he was sitting cross-legged on the floor with the rest of his dorm-mates. He looked down at his hands and hid the cards he was holding behind his back. "Wha…what are you doing here?" Every boy had the hoods from their robes pulled over their heads. There were discarded wrappers from sweets and crisps lying about. They looked more like a cabal planning the overthrow of the world, than a bunch of teenagers playing an innocent game of Exploding Snap.
Weasley and Thomas looked as if they were afraid to move. Nice try. But no matter how they tried to fade into the walls, they couldn't escape Snape's stony glare.
Severus eyes shifted from student to student as he surveyed the room. His demeanour changed abruptly when he said simply, "Harry, come with me."
Harry gave Neville his cards and tossed his robe on the bed. As he followed Severus out of the room, he waved to his friends and said, "Goodbye."
Severus rolled his eyes. "You're not being marched to the gallows, Harry."
One last look into the dorm of stunned teenagers and it seemed as if Harry's friends would need some convincing. Severus laughed inside. Not so much that he had terrified a bunch of teenaged boys, which he had to admit was quite satisfying. But it did his heart good to see Harry so carefree with his friends. Severus knew Harry wouldn't have many moments like this. He hated to break up the game.
Harry stayed two steps behind as they descended the stairs. "Am I in trouble?"
"Why? Should you be?" They marched past the students in the common room, carrying on their conversation as if no one were there.
Harry still hadn't answered as Severus held open the painting for him. His eyes narrowed as the boy passed, seemingly thinking of what he may have done wrong during the day.
"I'm not in trouble for what we were doing in the dorm am I?"
"What were you doing in your dorm?" Severus asked with a feigned interest.
Harry said defensively, "We were only playing Exploding Snap."
"We'll have to see, then, won't we?" Severus answered mildly. "I'll decide whether or not you deserved to be punished once I see your marks."
Harry gulped. He made a mental note to hit the books once he returned from wherever it was his dad was taking him. "Where are we going?" He asked so he could change the subject.
"To find someone," his father answered allusively.
Harry noticed they were heading towards the dungeons. They were obviously on their way to the Slytherin common room. He came to the only conclusion. "We're going to talk to Malfoy."
"And to think I once doubted your intelligence," his father quipped.
Harry felt a little annoyed being dragged out of his game. Remus had already told Malfoy about the potion. What did his father need him for? Sure, Harry intended to speak with Malfoy later, but that was with all the Death Eater's kids. No doubt, Malfoy looked bummed that morning. But was it up to Harry to play therapist?
Once again, they stood in front of the small portrait. Once again, his father muttered a Latin password and the door appeared. This time, the password was different. Obviously changed so Harry couldn't sneak his way into enemy territory.
Once again, Harry followed Severus and an uneasy silence hung in the already dreary room.
His father got directly to the point, "Has anyone seen Mr Malfoy?"
The Slytherins looked to each other, clearly puzzled. Pansy Parkinson spoke up. "We haven't seen Draco since Transfiguration, Professor?" Indicating the fifth-years standing behind her.
"Does anyone know where he may be?"
A third-year boy stepped forward. "I think I saw him head in the direction of the owlery about an hour ago, sir"
"Thank you, Mr McDonald," Severus said. Harry's father nodded politely before abruptly turning on his heal and heading out the door again. Harry rolled his eyes in exasperation and followed his father.
"I don't suppose you're going to tell me what this is all about?" Harry cried out as he tried to catch up with his father. He knew Professor Snape had a proclivity to sneak up on a student before they even realised he was there, but Harry never witnessed the speed and silent grace that his father possessed when he was really in a hurry. He wondered if something like that was hereditary.
They exited the castle and continued their silent trek to the owlery. Harry tried his best to keep up, but his father had to stop once to let Harry catch up. When they did stop, his father finally answered, "Let's just say we are on a mission of mercy."
Well, that wasn't what Harry expected to hear. At least not from Severus Snape. But then again, should he really be surprised by his father anymore?
As they approached the owlery tower the sun began to set beyond the Highlands. Halfway up the spiralling staircase to the owlery, Harry and his father nearly stumbled over Draco Malfoy. He sat on a step with an envelope in his hand. Harry couldn't remember ever seeing someone look so pitiful.
"I'm sorry, Professor," Malfoy said as he wiped both cheeks with his sleeve. "I'll be on my way back to the common room now." Harry turned his head, pretending not to see. Malfoy had always been so proud. Yes, Draco Malfoy had a tendency to turn the bile in Harry's gut nearly every time they met. But something just seemed perverse in finding Malfoy like this.
Severus looked down at Malfoy. There was an uncharacteristic softness in his eyes. "Mr Malfoy, we actually came here looking for you."
Malfoy looked up with surprise at his Head of House. Then he noticed Harry was there, too. The glare from Malfoy's grey eyes was as hard as ice.
"Why don't we find someplace where we all can speak comfortably?" Severus offered. The professor offered Malfoy a hand up, but the boy just looked at it, as if he expected his professor's hand to shock him if he touched it.
Malfoy looked at his Head of House and then again at Harry. He looked as though he didn't know who to trust anymore. For the first time ever, Harry could relate with Draco Malfoy.
"Gentlemen, come with me," Severus directed.
Harry kept his gaze on Malfoy. Malfoy looked at him, seemingly at a loss. Harry shrugged and said, "We go with him."
Looking resigned, Malfoy eased his way up and followed behind Harry and his father.
Harry was a bit surprised they headed in the opposite direction of the castle. Severus was leading them into the stands of the Quidditch pitch, instead.
They climbed the stairs in silence until they reach one of the teacher's boxes.
"Why are we up here?" Malfoy asked snidely. Apparently, their walk to the Quidditch pitch was long enough for Malfoy to lose his melancholy and regain his snark.
"So we can be far away from walls with ears," Severus said as he indicated for them to sit down. "That, and it is a lovely night to watch the sunset."
Harry snorted, as he and Malfoy hesitantly took seats as far away from each other as they could. His father looked at him with surprise. "What was that for?"
Harry chortled, "You've had too many meetings with the headmaster."
Severus' eyes narrowed with annoyance while Malfoy gaped at him with disbelief.
"Harry," Severus said seriously, "I brought you here because you need to understand what is going on." Harry sobered. Severus was trying to tactfully tell him that he needed to shut up and listen.
Harry had a good idea what this was all about. Mr Malfoy couldn't have his Mark removed yet. No wonder Malfoy looked so dejected. What would that do to a guy…thinking your parents didn't care enough about your safety? Or even worse, that they could make a willing sacrifice of you?
Malfoy glared at him from the other side of the bench. Harry had no doubt he was returning the same icy stare. Harry still wasn't sure how much Malfoy could be trusted. It didn't matter that they were on the same side of the war. Sometimes the past was harder to recover from than mamba venom.
Malfoy finally broke the awkward silence between them when he snapped, "I wasn't breaking any rules! The ban was lifted on owls over a week ago!"
Severus looked a Malfoy intently, trying to meet his eyes, but Malfoy would have none of it. Harry wondered if the boy thought his Head of House was trying to use Legilimency on him. Harry couldn't blame him for thinking that way. "You were sending a post to your father," Severus said, matter-of-factly.
Malfoy's head hung low. He seemed to be studying his hands as they lay in his lap. "So, what if I was?" He said meekly. "Last time I checked it wasn't a crime to write to family."
Harry watched his father as he sighed and scooted closer to his student. The man leaned in closer to Draco and said sympathetically, "Mr Malfoy…Draco." This time Malfoy did look up. "You will not find answers with your father…not yet, at any rate."
Malfoy's mask of defiance fell. Just when Harry thought he couldn't pity the boy anymore, Malfoy's face morphed from misery to mortification. His grey eyes glistened and trembled with barely held back rage and tears.
"Are…are you trying to tell me that he wants to do this. That he's willing to k…kill…"
Severus broke Malfoy's question, "No! Lucius loves you very much. He'd risk anything to keep you safe."
"Then I don't understand," Draco said in exasperation. "Pott…he," he said as he jutted his chin towards Harry, "…actually rid you of your Dark Mark. He's offered to help anyone who wants to leave the Dark Lord. If the Dark Lord really wants to kill first-borns, why would my father agree to stay when he has a way out?"
"Draco, your father has no more desire to serve the Dark Lord. He's…"
Malfoy finally exploded. "Don't feed me a line of bullshite, Professor! I know what he did!" Malfoy pointed an accusing finger at Harry. "Nobody can deny that you are free of the Mark! My father," Malfoy jabbed his finger into his chest for emphasis, "told me not to listen to the Headmaster's 'stories'. Well, it's not a story, and say what you will about my father, he's no idiot! It's obvious! He'd rather play sycophant to that…that…FREAK, than protect his own wife and son!"
Malfoy had screamed the word 'Freak' so loudly, that the word echoed throughout the stands.
Harry honestly felt sorry for Draco Malfoy. Harry would have much preferred to stay alone his whole life, knowing that his parents died to protect him, than believe for just one moment, that they would willingly give him over for a blood sacrifice.
Severus looked awkward. Harry could almost see his brain searching to look for the right words.
"Draco," Severus said delicately. "Before Harry freed me from the Mark, your father agreed to take on my former role as a spy."
Draco eyes narrowed with suspicion and disbelief. "You were a spy?"
"Yes. From the beginning," Severus admitted. "Your father agreed to take my place after we found out about Voldemort's call for sacrifices, but before we realised that Harry could remove Dark Marks."
"Look at Harry, Draco."
Malfoy turned and looked at Harry. It seemed he had forgotten that Harry was even there. "I see your point." Then he turned back to Severus and asked, "Why can't he just give it up like you did? Potter…He can remove father's Mark!"
Harry didn't like that. He didn't want to be blamed for Mr Malfoy's choice to become a spy. He couldn't force Mr Malfoy to have it removed.
"His choice is not that simple, Draco," Severus explained. "Although those who choose to have their Mark removed will no longer have to worry about the Dark Lord's influence, they will still be in grave danger. They will be targets. Many may have to go into hiding. As long as your father remains in the Dark Lord's good graces, he is buying time, and feeding us valuable information that could lead to the Dark Lord's imminent downfall. No one is safe, if the Dark Lord returns to full power."
Malfoy sniffed and nodded. "But am I safe around him? Can I go home?"
Harry could see the palpable regret on his father's face. "I'm afraid not. For now, the safest place for you to be is Hogwarts. Your mother can see you, though."
Malfoy looked up to the sky, as though he were trying to hold his tears back. "Right," he said gustily. "Right."
In an abrupt change of topic and attitude, Malfoy turned to Harry. Now it was Severus' turn to eavesdrop. "So, Potter…Damn! I don't even know what to call you anymore."
Harry shrugged, "Well, my name is Harry."
Malfoy cringed at the thought, and so did Harry, if truth be told. "That would never work."
Harry agreed. "Why don't we just keep it simple and you can just call me 'Snape'."
Malfoy shook his head in disbelief, but seemed resigned, anyway. "Fine. 'Snape' it is. I'll just have to remember not to call you 'Professor'."
"You know, I was going to tell you about your dad until I had that run-in with Goyle's little gift," Harry said.
"Yeah, about that," Malfoy said nervously. "I want to apologize for that. I don't know what I was thinking bringing something like that into a school."
Harry did. Malfoy was trying to impress his friends and professor. "It's okay." Harry could truthfully say it, because it was. "But look. I'm sorry about Crabb and Goyle."
If scepticism were a weapon, Malfoy's eyes would have dropped Harry like a Stupify hex. "Goyle tried to kill you. You hated them both."
"Yeah," Harry admitted. "But you didn't. They were your friends. And who's to say Goyle acted on his own. His father could have put him up to it or he could have been bewitched. Anyway…I don't know what I'd do if I lost Ron and Hermione. I'm sorry."
Malfoy seemed to take it all in when Severus interjected. "It's fortunate for you, Draco, that Harry's nature takes after his mother, rather than his father."
Severus finally arose and dusted off his trousers. Harry and Malfoy followed suit. It was getting darker and the first stars were appearing in the sky. Severus turned back to Malfoy before they left. "I believe, it should go without saying, Draco, that if word of this gets out to the wrong people, your father's life is as good as forfeit."
"I know, Professor." Some of Malfoy's bravado had returned. "Like my father, I'm no idiot."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~To be Continued (Really)~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I hope it was worth the wait. I think it's interesting how much my writing has changed over 11 years. Once again, thank you all for your encouragement and patience. And remember the old-adage…Review-es feed the muse-es. :D (Believe me. They're starving).