I was 'tactfully' reminded that I had actually mentioned this story this morning and so I shall endeavour to get it finished and posted. A couple little bits to finish and a minor re-shuffle so hopefully you are reading this less than a week from now. I was also advised, by another party who has nothing to do with this board at all, that it would be diplomatic to mention my lack of sympathy for Hermione Granger. If you think Hermione Granger is the bee's knees, read no further, you will get offended.
"A certain twinkle-eyed menace has been an idiot!" The expression of Severus Snape could only be called murderous as he stalked out of the fireplace at number 12 Grimmauld Place. Snape didn't even register the cushion before he banished it, flying objects were common in the Black Household.
"Why?" Sirius Black didn't even bother to look up from the war he was engaged in.
"I..." Snape swallowed his words as the floo roared behind him and he needed the breath to banish another cushion.
"I am displeased." Lucius Malfoy swept out of the fireplace with a look of distaste.
"Oh?" Sirius waved his wand, removing the animation charms on all of the cushions in a single wave. "Weren't you displeased last week?"
"That was two months ago, Black." Malfoy scowled for a moment and then sighed. "Last week's displeasure, as you refer to it, was not even vaguely comparable to this week's displeasure." Malfoy cast a chilly look at Snape. "What did the fool do to cause that?"
"Been an idiot." Snape gave a shrug before helping the three Black boys to banish the cushions back to their original homes.
"So, the loss of a few exceptionally nasty trinkets the Dark Lord left in your custody to the Ministry is minor compared to what?" Sirius glanced enquiringly between the two men, who were wearing identical black robes. "Oh." Sirius ran a tired hand over his face. "Wonderful, I consort with Death Eaters."
"The Headmaster was hiding the Philosopher's Stone within Hogwarts and the Dark Lord found it."
"Charming." Sirius slumped down into a nearby chair.
"Oh, Black, just to warn you, I think he's got an abnormally low opinion of Blacks...you might better watch your back and your wards."
"Believe me, no one comes through these wards without my permission these days...but I will up the defensive measures."
"Sirius." Fai'lo Black was looking almost worried.
"Yes, Fai, I know the defensive measures are already nasty...I can up them."
"Define nasty, Black?" Snape knew he had free access to this house, but now he was more than a little curious about the wards he was permitted to by-pass.
"Unintentional contact will give you one hell of a shock...results, short-term memory loss, forced apparition and a temporary loss of magic." Black frowned slightly. "Deliberate assault on the wards...well, let's just say I hope you like the accomodations at St Mungoes, because you'll be there for a while."
"Those the outer wards or the inner wards?" Malfoy's eyes narrowed.
"Those are the outermost layer of wards." Sirius gave a very thin smile. "Outermost layer inside of the fidelius and unplottable wards that is...and the muggle repelling wards...wizard repelling wards...and a few ancient family secrets I have no intention of sharing with anyone."
"Upgrading the defensive measures?" Lucius Malfoy actually looked vaguely worried as he asked the question.
"Adds a few lethal layers to the wards." Sirius waved a dismissive hand. "It will be quite an army which will actually reach the first of those wards so you needn't worry about anyone objecting at the Ministry."
"How relieving." Snape's tone was dry as he took a moment to persuade the hearthrug that his leg was not edible. They didn't stay much longer, just exchanged words and briefly discussed a boggart Fai'lo had turned up on the third floor and kept for experimentational purposes. Black stood firm that it was departing the premises, and preferably departing its existance, before the boys departed for Hogwarts. Share a house with many odd things Sirius would, but voluntarily sharing accomodation with a Boggart wasn't on the list. Snape had got some good mileage from the subject, but soon dropped it take a more serious part in the actual discussion. A pleasant evening was had by all and Snape departed knowing that the up-coming year was going to be very interesting.
"...not possible...don't understand..." The soft mumblings of Minerva McGonagal caused Snape to swear under his breath, she'd been drifting throughout the school mumbling under her breath all day.
"What is impossible?" Snape nailed her with his nastiest scowl and was rather miffed by the encouraging smiles from the other staff who were tired of Minerva's mumblings. Why couldn't they have done it sooner and saved him the headache.
"It's the incoming first years." Minerva gave a frown. "Not one single muggleborn has sent back an acceptance. Three half-bloods haven't accepted either. Dean Thomas and Justin Finch-Fletchley have both withdrawn from second year and a further five have been in contact that their attendance is only certain for first term. From what I can find they've all signed up for private tutoring."
"What's so impossible about that?" Snape was not surprised that numbers were down a bit...and he didn't even need to have known Narcissa Malfoy was up to something to have that view. "Though I'm guessing the Quidditch will be pitiful in a couple of years.
"Minerva, a half-blood died in this school last year." Snape couldn't keep the acid from his tone. "I have little respect for any parent who doesn't think twice about sending a child into that situation...and yes, I do know who got to your precious muggleborns."
"Petunia Dursley is, to quote the crass muggle phrase, one seriously pissed-off woman who has taken it upon herself to give others a choice between their own lives and the tragedy which she calls the wizarding world."
"The wizarding world is directly responsible for the death of her parents, her sister and her nephew...the only reason she's still alive is because she happened to be out when the Death Eaters took out her parents. For Petunia Dursley the Wizarding World is the equivalent to a death sentance which will be carried out in under a decade. She knows about us, but is not allowed to speak of us, or to us and is not permitted access to any of our resources. She knows first hand the pain of being 'left behind' and I can promise you, she is swearing to give everyone the choice they have but are never told about."
"She'll have to be obliviated." Minerva shook her head with disapproval.
"Minerva, are you listening to yourself?" Snape stared at the woman in disbelief. "Petunia Dursely did not just happen to see someone apparate in front of her, or get a seat in the stands of some conflict during the war. You are suggesting obliviating over thirty years worth of memories...and I know for a fact that we can't pick and choose what is obliviated, just how much. Do you intend to also obliviate her son? Her husband perhaps? The entire neighbourhood who remember that Harry lived there for a decade? Petunia is breaking no law, she is simply letting the families know what they would be able to find out for themselves but for the fact that we never allow them to enter our world. Remus Lupin and Seth Hampton have reliable, guaranteed employment for the first time in their lives. Seth can finally afford the two apprentices he's qualified to train...and I can't wait to see what he brings us with his time and income freed up in such a manner. Dean Thomas now has a chance to pursue his dream of becoming a professional football player...you forgot to tell him and his family during the orientation that football was utterly unheard of and Thomas suffers from vertigo which prevents him from persuing a career in Quidditch. Just because you don't know dutch about their world doesn't make it any less valid than ours."
"Yes, well I've no doubt that you'll be happy to know that Slytherin has three Blacks incoming as first years."
"No." Severus shook his head firmly. "Only two Blacks are entering as first year, one of them passed his first year exams a month ago...and I lack your confidence in their sorting."
"They're Blacks, Severus, they always go to Slytherin."
"I am instructed." Snape snorted under his breath and stalked off. A new year when, for the first time in many tens of years there would not be a single student among the intake who hadn't a completely wizarding upbringing...ostensibly.