After yet another extended absence, behold! Chapter 15!
I'm deeply sorry to leave you here for the time being, but I'm hoping to work on finishing this up in bursts, so that I can post multiple chapters in the future. Of what remains of this story, about one-third, mostly the ending, is already written. Another half is already completely planned, but not expressed in prose. The remaining sixth has a bit of wiggle room, which is what I'm trying to work out, and what is keeping the next chapter from being published. When I get the chance to work, maybe over Spring Break in March, you might get more.
In the mean time, gratuitous thanks to all who continue to review, lurk, and occasionally poke me into posting by sending me encouraging/pleading/threatening PMs. Y'all make my days brighter.
Somehow, Hadrian wasn't terribly surprised to wake up to Severus standing over him. Perhaps it had something to do with his obvious grogginess and the heavy-headed feeling that always seemed to result from the use of Dreamless Sleep. He was mildly surprised to find that Severus had brought with him a platter of breakfast assembled by the Manor's house-elves.
"Your aunt insisted," Severus explained before Hadrian had even the chance to raise an eyebrow. His aunt? Definitely Narcissa, then. After all, Bellatrix was probably hoping he starved to death, if Death Eaters didn't bring him back to be slaughtered first. But, if Narcissa insisted on sending him breakfast, then...
"He knows. Everyone knows."
Severus remained stoic. "You of all people know that it is nigh impossible to hide anything from your father. That, combined with the fact that he sent me explicitly to locate you, makes it seem rather ridiculous of you to expect anything less."
Hadrian was not amused. "At least tell me if he knows where I am."
"He sent this." Severus passed Hadrian a small roll of heavy parchment, held closed with a dark green wax seal in the shape of the Slytherin Crest. Hadrian opened it and read.
If you are reading this, you know that Severus has apprised me of your location. I am quite capable of bringing you home at any time. I believe, after the events of last week, that it is time for a certain discussion between us to be had. However, I will not attempt to speak to you while you behave like an uncivilized, tantrum-throwing child. When you are ready to discuss this incident properly, Severus will accompany you home.
Hadrian glared at the message, and then at Severus. The man started before he could even ready a barbed remark to launch.
"Food first, objections later," Severus insisted, pointing him to the tantalizing, still-warm dish of ham, eggs, and muffins. Rolling his eyes, but also knowing that he would get further with Severus once he completed the task set before him, he dug into the food with vigor.
One breakfast plate later, hunger sated and brain considerably more awake, Hadrian returned to glaring at his mentor.
"He claims I'm being a child, and yet he refuses to talk to me until I come back, as though that's not at all childish."
"It seems reasonable to me. After all, there is not much discussion to be had with a screaming toddler."
Hadrian ignored the blatant jab, choosing instead to crumple the note in his fist. "As if we'll have a proper discussion if I return. We've never had a proper discussion in my life. All he does is make rules and scold and punish and curse and then make more rules. The day we have a discussion will be the day my father gives up and makes peace with Dumbledore."
"If I may make a suggestion," Severus inserted, "perhaps your father is attempting to see you in a new light? You have almost reached your majority, if you'll remember, and your father is long overdue on an attempt to treat either you or Domitian as grown heirs."
"And what good will it do him to treat me as an adult when he has me killed?" Mention of Domitian further soured Hadrian's mood.
"Could we perhaps have a discussion that is not centered on your belief that your father has no aim but to kill you?"
"It's a rather pressing issue, Severus! If you'll remember, it's actually the reason that I'm stuck up in this Merlin-forsaken hole-in-the-wall room with no food, barely any sleep, and virtually no magic!"
"I suppose reminding you that it was you who came here in the first place will not win me any points?"
"He said he was going to kill me! You were there, Severus! How can you act like it's not a problem?" Hadrian was near bursting point, he felt.
Severus remained silent, adjusting his cloak, gathering himself.
Finally, "Do you intend to respond?"
Hadrian looked down again at the wad of fancy parchment in his hand, scrunched together in such a way that he could barely make out the word 'father' in the signature. An odd feeling seemed to wash over him and settle in the pit of his stomach.
"Have you got a quill and parchment?"
Severus handed over the requested items, and Hadrian prepared to scrawl out some sort of reply. He scanned the note again.
"Severus, what exactly does he mean by 'a certain discussion between us'?"
"I would be hard-pressed to say," the man replied.
Hadrian frowned at the parchment. How could he respond when he didn't know what his father wanted to talk about? What sort of conversation was there to be had, except perhaps a poor explanation as to why his father suggested that he was expendable? That certainly wasn't a conversation Hadrian wanted to have. Nevertheless, he set quill to parchment.
Still reluctant to address the man as 'Father', he simply skipped the address and greeting and wrote out:
I need more time. When I am ready to speak with you, I will contact Severus. Until I do, please leave me alone.
He didn't have a seal of any kind, so he simply rolled it up and handed it back to Severus, who deposited the scroll in his pocket and proceeded to banish the dirty breakfast plate. Hadrian nearly reproached him, but realized that, with the Dark Lord already aware of his location, it didn't matter much.
"Have you got anything else to say, then?"
Severus reached into the pocket of his robes and pulled out a roll of Muggle bills. "Since it appears you have no interest in returning home currently, you may as well have something to buy food."
"Where did you get these?" Hadrian asked.
"But how did you-?"
"Perhaps the house-elves wouldn't know any better, but I seriously doubted that you kept a copy of Unfogging the Future on your side table for bedtime reading. Next time, pick your hiding place more thoughtfully."
Hadrian sighed. "Guess I had that one coming."
"For Salazar's sake, take care of yourself, Hadrian. And perhaps freshen the place up a bit. It smells like a wet dog."
Hadrian blinked; he hadn't noticed the terrible odor when breakfast sat in front of his nose, but now it was all too obvious. "Right."
And with nothing more to add, Severus apparated away.