Title           : working title – Hogwarts under siege

Author       : odyssey

Disclaimer : This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by J.K. Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Brothers Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

Spoilers    : to be safe – for all four books

Summary  : When a mysterious disease attacks Hogwarts in Harry´s 7th year it is up to Prof. Snape and his band of merry Slytherins to find a cure in time.

Author´s comment: I apologize for the lack of updates in the last weeks but real life decided to interfere and reduce my free time to a minimum making it impossible for me to finish my story properly. Next to that I figured that I rather take my time and write on a (hopefully) relatively high level then finishing everything hastily and without the amount of feeling that I´ve poured into the previous chapters.Anyway, I finally managed to complete the epilogue and hope that you´re all not too disappointed because it comes so late. Sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry…you get the idea.

I hope you like the conclusion and I´d appreciate any comments and final reviews. Thanks : )

Dedication : To all the great fanfic-writers whose stories have brought me hours of pleasant entertainment. I hope that I can give some of it back with my little narration. Next to that I dedicate this story to my wonderful reviewers! You´re all great! The best! : )

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   The sun was shining down warmly on Hogwarts in a last attempt to mock the approaching winter. Birds chirped happily and the trees basked in the golden sunlight and showed off their colourful leafs.

   Laughter resounded from the school grounds for the first time in several weeks and Albus Dumbledore smiled merrily at the assembled students who were seated around the great tables which had been put up next to the lake in order to celebrate their victory over the vicious disease which had almost crippled Hogwarts. Most of the students were still wrapped in warm blankets and nursed huge coughs and headaches but the worst had passed without leaving too much of a damage.

   Carefully Dumbledore got to his feet fighting the nausea that still came when he tried to stand up too fast. He raised his glass of hot camomile-tea for a toast and the crowd fell silent.  

   `My dear students and teachers!´

   Loud cheers from both groups.

   `And of course my dear Mr. Abbot and Mr. Cuther and our other guests!´

   The two men stood and bowed stiffly as the headmaster gave them a dazzling smile. `Hogwarts has been besieged for the past weeks but we have won! We have won by doing what Hogwarts has been founded for: by forgetting any inter-house problems and working together! It is team-work between the school and the ministry, between the Houses of Hogwarts and between former enemies that has saved us. I´m proud of you all! And now let´s dig in - the food is getting cold!´

   Loud applause erupted and everybody turned his or her attention to the delicious meals which appeared on the tables. Dumbledore laughed, sat back and started surveying the crowd. Moira Donovan who had been hit the hardest by the malady sat in the middle of a group of Gryffindors who were fussing over her like concerned mother-hens. Next to her Harry and Ron were in deep conversation and Hermione was talking animatedly to Prof. McGonagall, probably inquiring when lessons will start again. A few seats away the Creevey brothers sat and held out their cameras photographing everything that came into their reach while Bert MacMillan was devouring his spaghettis at top speed as if he was determined to make up for all the meals he had missed while being ill. Even further away, at the Slytherin table Draco Malfoy was making a group of his admirers laugh by impersonating something or someone (Dumbledore had a feeling that the name `Potter´ had been mentioned) and a little to the left – who would have thought? – Blaise Zabini and Ginny Weasley were engaged in a lively conversation which left them both with flushed cheeks and stupid grins on their faces.

   A light rustling behind him interrupted the headmaster´s musings. Fawkes, his phoenix, who was glittering and glimmering healthily once again, was greeting a dark-haired man happily and tried to snatch something that looked suspiciously like sherbet lemons out of his hands.

   `Ah, Severus!´ Dumbledore greeted the newcomer. `Why don´t you sit down?´

   `Thank you, headmaster.´ Snape fell onto the chair next to Dumbledore. `How are you feeling?´

   `Better, way better,´ he smiled at the younger man, `So, my friend, you figured out that Moira´s owl was the source of the infection. That was good work. Very good work, in fact. I wanted to investigate just the same thing but then I collapsed and that complicated matters. You did a very good job of protecting Hogwarts from the disease.´

   Snape blushed and Dumbledore smiled as he saw the former Death Eater fidgeting nervously under the praise.

   `…wasn´t only my…Abbot and Cuther as well as…Gryffindors and of course Slytherins…´ he mumbled and the headmaster chuckled into his great silver beard.

   `Anyway, Severus, how did you find out about it?´ Albus was genuinely interested.

   `Well, after isolating the virus from your blood sample we found out that it mutates, so we couldn´t make a vaccine yet. About at the same time the Slytherin and Gryffindor seventh-years decided to work together and did some pretty good research – they had the Slytherins with them, after all. A Gryffindor, I think Megan, mentioned that Moira had a new owl and after speaking with Fawkes it was obvious that the virus must have crossed the barrier between the species: it had jumped from birds to humans. Phaedrus has just informed me that Ludwig, that´s Moira´s owl, has been fed with `Hilda´s owl food´ which contained indigents from dubious sources. Apparently the food was contaminated and Ludwig fell ill. However, the disease attacks birds only in form of a bad flu and nobody got suspicious. Ludwig is supposed to be little rough and Moira has just told me that she has been bitten by him quite frequently in the beginning. This must be how she got infected in the first place.´

   Dumbledore nodded thoughtfully. He had guessed as much and knew that the ministry had already started investigating `Hilda´s owl food´. It was all over the Daily Prophet: `Contaminated owl-food infects our children´ or some nonsense like that. `Go on, please.´

   Snape shrugged and continued. `About that time the Gryffindors and Slytherins realized that I had been directly exposed to the disease several times and hadn´t fallen ill even though the incubation time had passed a long time ago. They decided to investigate that matter and find out what set me apart from the other victims.´

   `But didn´t you realize yourself that you remained healthy?´ the headmaster knitted his brows curiously while Snape made a helpless gesture and gave a hint of a smile.

   `I guess I was just too preoccupied and didn´t pay any attention to my own body´s reactions. Quite ironic if you come to think of it. I´ve been searching for a cure in all possible places while I had it inside me, or rather next to me, all the time.´

   Dumbledore chuckled and took another sip of his tea. `So how did the students find the cure?´ 

   At that the potions master´s face darkened in displeasure and anger. `Potter.´ he hissed through clenched teeth. `He broke into my private rooms to sneak around but luckily he was accompanied by Draco who kept an eye on the little…´

   `Now, now, Severus.´ Albus smiled, Don´t get carried away. Mr. Potter and Mr. Malfoy were only trying to help, you know.´

   Severus looked doubtful but swallowed the sharp comment that had almost made its way onto his tongue and stared intently at his shoes. `I believe that Draco wanted to help, headmaster. It makes sense but Potter…I should take some points from Gryffindor…´

   `Then you should take just as many from Slytherin.´

   `Hmpf. I trust my Slytherins. If they sneak around in my quarters they have a good reason to do so. Next to that, I´ve already settled the matter with them. But the Gryffindors…´

   Dumbledore sighed. Apparently some things would never change. `So how did the boys find the cure?´ he asked in a soft voice trying to get back to their topic.

   `Potter managed to collapse in the middle of their investigation - the boy has obviously no talent for any kind of operation that requires finesse – and Draco had to save him.´ Severus allowed himself a satisfied smile while he clearly enjoyed the whole situation once more. `Young Malfoy found the dreamless-sleep-potion on my nightstand which I have taken ever since…´ ,a cloud seemed to pass Severus´ face making him look years older than he actually was, `…you know…Anyway, he figured out that this had to be the one thing that I did but none of the others who had been exposed and made Potter drink it. He saved Potter.´

   Dumbledore hardly suppressed a smile as he saw the look of unabridged pride on Snape´s face, now that it was a Slytherin who had saved the day. Having Harry been rescued by Draco somehow seemed to be a kind of redemption for the potions master who had been `saved´ by Harry´s father a lifetime ago. Indeed, Severus looked as if a heavy burden had been lifted from his shoulders. Then, hesitantly, the smile on Dumbledore´s face passed.

   `Mr. Malfoy has used the Imperius-Curse on Harry.´ he said in a grave voice and stared into Snape´s defying eyes. `This cannot go unpunished, Severus. It´s one of the unforgivable curses!´

   `Draco saved him, headmaster. If he hadn´t used the curse Potter would have died for sure and many more would have followed.´ Snape seemed determined to stand his ground while Albus shook his head sadly.

   `The boy is in grave danger. He is very close to going over to Voldemort´s side as was proved once again by his actions. He has shown himself just as reckless as his father before him…´

   Severus snorted in disgust. `Draco is nothing like his father! I know the boy and while he´s no `Gryffindor-angel´ he has a good heart deep down…very deep down. Doing things differently than Gryffindors doesn´t make a person evil, headmaster. I thought you of all people understood that.´ 

   `But using the Imperius-Curse? That´s ruthless!´

   Severus shook his head. `It´s effective and it was needed in this case. It had to be done.´

   Both men sat in silence for a short while pondering their conversation. Things had gotten more complicated lately and the world was not divided into black and white anymore. Dumbledore himself had made the experience that men, like his own potions master for instance, could be embedded deeply into the grey zone while still remaining a decent person. But just how much grey could be allowed? The headmaster sighed deeply looking suddenly very old and worn.

   `I wonder what the lad was thinking.´ he murmured almost to himself and was surprised by Snape´s reply.

   `Probably `Whatever works.´ He´s a Slytherin after all.´ 

Comments : I´d like to thank all of my readers and, of course, my reviewers. Thank you for bearing with me during this story, it´s been a lot of fun for me and I hope that you enjoyed it just as much. : )

A huge, enormous, virtual hug to all of you :

May, PurpleSailorSaturn7, EmilyS, emma, Rosmerta, WG, RebelR, the Slayer, Alchemine, Enfleurage, Nicky, Anneliese, Handmaiden, star magic, Polgara, Demeter, Elspeth, Kocchi Highwind, fairygirl, Narcissa Malfoy, Shahid, Jeanne Dark & Anguis!!!

Words can´t express just how happy each of you has made me with your wonderful reviews!

Thank you : )

P.S. If there are any more people who have read this story but never reviewed it…it would be very nice if you did now and make a stressed author very happy. Of course, I´ll also take every review gladly even if you have already reviewed. I´m greedy! I can´t get enough of them : )