We are gathered here today to witness the posting of the next instalment of my little story. This small and slightly dark offering comes a little later than planned, but life is a bitch like that!
So here we go...like I say this does get a bit dark and some of the themes may be a little troublesome for some of you, but we're dealing with some very unsavoury characters now...you have been warned.
All mistakes are totally my own so if I've missed something while editing, please drop me a line and tell me nicely.
Usual warnings apply
I own nothing but my imagination and a new phone. My lovely muses belong elsewhere blah blah blah...
The little Cornish cliff top cottage which served as Severus and Hermione's secret getaway was used to being battered on the outside by tumultuous storms, but tonight it was being hit on the inside as well as the couple argued.
Severus sat with his head in his hands as Hermione once again railed at him. A copy of the Daily Prophet lay on the coffee table. Its headline was hard for them to ignore:
War Heroes To Marry In July
"Look, I know I said I wanted to get married then, but to be honest, I don't actually care, Severus. As long as I become Mrs Snape sometime in the future..."
"...Granger-Snape. I still think you should double-barrel it."
"Oh whatever," the curly-haired witch sighed, exasperation lacing her tone. "I love you, I'm going to marry you and..."
Severus huffed. "I just don't want our lives to be further dictated to by..."
Hermione was becoming infuriated by his stubbornness even though she totally understood why he was being like this. It just wasn't very helpful at this time.
"No one is dictating anything," she told him emphatically. "We could ignore them all. We could just aim to get married in July, but I for one cannot ignore the fact that by us not getting married sooner you could be in danger."
And this was the crux of the issue for Severus. The fact that his life could be in danger was something that he was used to, but the fact that the only person who could protect him was his wife was unconscionable to him. It wasn't that he felt emasculated by the prospect: he would have been equally fucked off if the only person who could have saved him was Lucius. Although, he had to admit that if he had to be protected by either of those two, his preference would be for the one who took less time to do their hair in morning. Plus Hermione was more powerful than Lucius these days. It was the fact that, once again, he was not completely in control of his life or his death.
"But as soon as we marry whoever I need protecting from will know, and..."
Hermione's eyes lit up, and Severus knew he was about to lose this argument. "I've thought about that...well, actually your grandmother has."
"Oh, how wonderful!" Severus grumbled.
"Shut up, you grumpy git! We get married in a Muggle Registry Office. We can give notice straight away and be married in twenty eight days time. The Ministry, and therefore whoever is going to try something, won't know because we won't use wizarding vows and yet according to your grandmother because we make vows to each other, our soul bond will recognise that we're married."
Severus looked skeptical. "And everyone is so sure about this, are they?"
"Well, Lucius and Fleur are looking into it for us, but Helga is sure of it, too. Seemingly, back in her day, quite a few wizards got into trouble with the Ministry for committing bigomy because they married witches or Muggles in wizarding ceremonies and then someone else in a Muggle ceremony."
But whilst Severus could see the logic, another issue lay heavy with him. "But you would be happy about this? I thought you would wanted a proper wedding with your friends, and I'm sure your mother will have some strong objections to this."
Hermione knelt down and took her wizard's hands in hers reassuringly. "Mum and Dad are fine about it."
"Oh, so everyone else knows about the manner in which I am to be wed except for me."
"Severus, stop it," Hermione snapped. "I'm doing this for you, and frankly I don't care how or when we do it. I don't care if I wear a meringue or jeans and a t-shirt. I want to be your wife. And I also want to to protect you and I know you don't want protecting, but something is going to happen, something which it appears only I can protect you from and we need to be prepared."
Trying to remain calm, Severus bit his bottom lip before asking, "And if it happens in the next few weeks?"
This thought had crossed Hermione's mind more than once, but deep down she suspected it wouldn't. "Something tells me it won't."
"And this hunch is because?"
"Nothing big is happening," she told him simply. "Look, they tried something at the Ministry Ball because they were controlling that. They had nothing to do with the organisation of the Yule Ball..."
Hermione nodded. "As far as whoever is concerned, it will have to be then because it's in the public eye, and it's before July when they believe that our wedding is taking place. They'll want to make a move before this mysterious protection that only I can give you kicks in."
"Regrettably it makes sense," Severus told her with a sigh.
"So...," Hermione began, her expression hopeful. "Do we go and give notice tomorrow?"
Severus looked up at the ceiling and exhaled sharply. "You know this is not how..."
"I know," she told him shuffling forward and wrapping her arms around his neck. "And I've been thinking that we can still have the wedding we want in July...you know so that all our friends can be invited...but we just need to do this now."
Pulling her to him, Severus told her that they would go and give notice tomorrow, but with one proviso:"Only if you promise that regardless of when the first ceremony is or what you wear to it, you'll still buy some naughty lingerie for our own private celebration."
"As long as you don't destroy my knickers...deal!"
Severus looked a little disappointed. "I thought my lingerie suggestion would have at least earned me a slap for being cheeky."
"Don't push it," Hermione warned before a wicked look flashed in her eyes. "Besides, you'd enjoy that too much!"
A good night's sleep was something that Lucius Malfoy had never been overly familiar with especially in his ancestral home. He'd hated the place as a child, he'd hated that the first war and his father in the intervening years had stopped him from making Malfoy Manor the kind of home he wanted to raise his child in. And he hated the fact that Voldemort had turned it into a living hell, Dark Magic pervading its very walls until Severus has helped him exorcise the evil that had been left behind. And yet even this cleansing had not stopped his nightmares.
However, they had suddenly stopped ten days ago which coincidentally was when Fleur had moved in. From the moment she walked through the door, just her presence had turned this huge shell of a building into a place that he could see them raising their family in and throwing dinner parties just for the sake of throwing them rather than for political gain.
But tonight his restful sleep had been disturbed as waves of unfamiliar magic pricked his senses. His first reaction was to reach for his wand, but he soon realised that there was no threat behind this magic, but it was instead emanating from his pregnant witch.
Turning slowly to face her, he asked croakily, "What are you doing?"
"Calming the baby. She has been moving all night."
"Has she?" Lucius asked trying to hide his mixture of fascination and excitement, but the fact that he had gone from being half asleep to wide awake may have given him away.
Fleur smirked and reached for Lucius' hand, placing it upon her swollen belly just where she knew her daughter was about to move. "Can you feel her?" she asked, trying not to laugh at Lucius' next failed attempt at nonchalance.
When Narcissa was pregnant with Draco, he had never been afforded this kind of opportunity, and was quite overcome as he felt the baby move against his hand. "That is...amazing and obviously you can talk to her."
The blonde witch shook her head. "Talk no, but calm yes. It is Veela magic. I remember maman calming Gabrielle like this."
Lucius chuckled softly. "Ah, the famous art of Veela persuasion! What are you saying to her?"
"That Maman and Papa love her very much and she is going to have a wonderful life. And she should go to sleep now or else!"
She had though noticed the panic flash in Lucius' eyes when she'd said 'maman and papa.' "And I was telling her about you and me. You are her papa. Bill will always be her father, but he has other children to consider now," she told him matter of factly.
"Totally his loss," Lucius mumbled as he pressed his lips to her stomach before slowly and very deliberatively kissing his way down until his was lying between her legs.
"Lucius!" Fleur gasped as his tongue made contact.
Lucius smirked as he delved a little deeper.
Fleur tried to protest, and reminded him that the baby was perfectly aware of what was going on.
"Well then," Lucius mumbled between pressing kisses on each of her thighs, "she'll also be aware that Papa loves Maman very much, too."
Every child in the wizarding world was warned that Knockturn Alley was not a place where a reputable witch or wizard wanted to be seen. The very thought of stepping foot down the narrow cobbled street had children fearing that something terrible would befall them. They knew that if they went looking for trouble, they would certainly find it there.
But as a child, you never really know what kind of trouble you are looking for, but as an adult, if you knew where to look, the trouble you sought was in plain view. And it was this that their parents were really protecting them from. Because off the main thoroughfare were the numerous dark, dank alleyways, which hosted a number of equally dark doorways.
Each doorway seemed to have a dangerous set of eyes and doors behind which no one, except the clientele really wanted to know what was going on. And you certainly didn't want to show a vague hint of interest anyway because the eyes seemed to always be attached to men or women who obviously had giant or troll in their ancestry at some point.
It was after one encountered tense encountered with the owner of one of these sets of eyes that Ron Weasley learnt to keep his head down as he headed towards The One Eyed Witch.
"They're in the back," the burly barman of the seedy drinking den grunted from behind the bar as he served a rather overweight wizard who had obviously paid for the attentions of an extremely young looking brunette who was wearing a Ravenclaw uniform.
Despite the dimly lit room with its strange red glow, Ron was sure that he recognised the wizard from the Department of International Magical Cooperation but he had no idea who the girl was. The sight made him feel incredibly uncomfortable. For the purposes of role play, dressing in school uniform was fine, but only if the lady involved was of age. This witch looked far too young.
But his discomfort was somewhat assuaged when he heard the barman tell his customer, "I'd hurry up with that drink. That De-aging potion only lasts an hour and it's triple if you need more in case the second dose kills her."
Only now was Ron truly beginning to realise how hard Snape must have found leading such a double existence for so many years. He may have staggered a little from the path a few months ago, but in reality, he would never be cut out for a life truly in the shadows of the wizarding world. He recalled sitting in the headmaster's office, asking him about how he coped with seeing things like this that made him feel uncomfortable.
Severus' answer had been simple. "By knowing that whilst I couldn't save everyone, I could save some of them. Just make sure you never get caught doing it."
He walked down the short passage way that led to the back room of the pub and after taking a fortifying deep breath, opened the door.
Whilst the interior of bar area of The One Eyed Witch definitely reflected the nature of its illicit business, the back room could quite easily have passed for any of the ancient pubs in London. Heavy dark wood panelling and white upper walls were adorned with lantern style lighting which offered a homely glow. But the real light in the room came from the roaring fire which was set into the far wall.
To the left of the imposing fireplace was a large rustic looking table which was strewn with bottles of firewhisky and beer and was surrounded by high straight, backed chairs with four carver chairs placed at the ends and centrally either side of the table. One of these carver chairs was empty, but all the other chairs were filled with the disconcerting sight of hooded, masked creatures who seemed to have created quite a convivial atmosphere.
"My friend, come," the hooded, masked figure in the central carver chair called out, his gloved hand beckoning for Ron to take the empty seat across from him. "What can I get you to drink?"
"Just a butterbeer. I'm training in the morning," Ron replied with a shrug, hoping that his nervousness would not be seen if he acted like an arrogant bastard.
"They really have done everything to secure that you stay on the straight and narrow, haven't they?" Yaxley said mirthfully.
"Well, so they think. Idiots, the lot of them," Ron responded with an air of derision.
This was met be a ripple of laughter from the around the table as the young wizard was asked, "And how are you enjoying your time as Flying Instructor at Hogwarts?"
When he had last seen Snape, his spying mentor had advised him that he would do well to remember that most of Yaxley's followers were depraved arseholes with far ranging proclivities, but all had one thing in common: they all wanted to stick parts of themselves in an orifice and the best way to win them over was to make them think that Ron was just as perverted at them.
Here goes nothing Ron thought. "I'm loving it. The girls can't get enough of me. I'm slowly making my way around all the female Quidditch players...well, apart from my sister, obviously!"
"Why obviously? She may be your sister but all the holes are in the right place. I'd rather enjoy a redheaded spitfire like that bouncing on my cock. Perhaps you could arrange a meeting for me?"
Ron hoped that he managed to hide his disgust. The thought of anyone being with his sister was bad enough; the thought that anyone would think it acceptable for him to sleep with his little sister was abhorrent, but knowing that Yaxley had obviously noticed her absolutely turned his stomach.
"And of course now that she is back with Potter, someone of superior breeding using your sister is another opportunity to humiliate the self righteous Muggle mothered bastard. After all, our last attempt failed, but wherever there's a will, as they say."
Ron wanted to choke himself on the words that came out of his mouth. "I'll see what I can do."
"Excellent! And now we shall discuss the reason why I summoned you here this evening," Yaxley announced a little too cheerily for Ron's liking.
The ginger-haired wizard had to ask. "Which is?"
"How we will take down the traitor," he was informed.
Ron needed clarification. "Take down? Like discredit him?"
Yaxley's deep chuckle made the young wizard feel very uncomfortable. "Six months ago it would be have been easy to discredit him. He'd just been cleared, but there was still an undercurrent of suspicion. But we have wasted precious time and now it is a miracle that he can even walk with how far up his arse the Prophet is. No. We need a more permanent solution."
Ron's brow furrowed, and he asked tentatively, "You want him killed?"
"All in good time, my friend, but before that day, he needs to suffer."
"Fair enough, I suppose," Ron grumbled, trying to muster as much disgruntlement in his voice as he could.
"My apologies. We are still in the planning stages, but we have a few players in place. However, your blood lust would be greatly appreciated. Unfortunately, this has to be done cleanly so that we can carry on the glorious work."
A loud 'tut' rang out from the left hand end of the table. "Merlin, can you imagine if Bella was here? She wouldn't be fannying around like this."
"But, alas, she is not," Yaxley growled in annoyance at the insubordinate comment, but this did not stop the chatter around the table.
"I do miss her though."
"I think we all do."
"What do you mean?" Ron asked not to just to maintain his cover, but he was genuinely curious as to why that insane bitch would be so missed. He was also still none the wiser as to who any of Yaxley's minions actually were. Snape had asked him to try and get some more names, but had told him that he knew he needed to become more accepted within the group before he was likely to find out that kind of information. Ron had his suspicions that Crabbe and Goyle Senior were present, and maybe even Dolohov. But the rest of their identities eluded him, and the fact that they all wore hoods, masks and gloves wasn't making his task any easier. However, if he knew that if he could engage in some of their banter and then relay it, Severus, Lucius and Pius might be able to put two and two together and recognise a few of them.
"I'll tell you now, boy, she was a hellcat in bed."
"I think most of us had a few rounds with her."
"Yeah, and I'd have paid a million galleons to watch Bellatrix and another witch."
Peels of laughter and uncouth comments abounded as Yaxley tried to bring order to proceedings.
"Gentlemen!" he growled again, but the banter continued.
Didn't what?" Ron asked.
"No, but rumour has it he did fuck her sister."
Ron decided to play dumb. "Andromeda?"
"What that Muggle loving bitch? No, Narcissa, and it's not a rumour."
Again Ron tried to appear shocked. "Bloody hell!"
"Fucking poor form that was."
"Yeah, Abraxas gave Lucius shit for that. A half-blood sullying a Pureblood witch like that. If it had been the other way round it wouldn't have mattered."
"And from what I've heard Abraxas showed her exactly what kind of cock she needed and he made Lucius watch."
"Which leads us very nicely onto why you are here, my friend," Yaxley interjected to silence the group before the tone of the conversation deteriorated further.
Ron looked at the hooded figure apprehensively. Whatever the reason for him being there, he was sure he was about to wish that he wasn't.
"Now, whilst our overall plan is yet to be finalised, I do believe that time is of the essence and we must deploy our first strike within two months. If our understanding of this prophecy is correct, the traitor will need to be separated from the Mudblood bitch before they marry for us to stand a chance against him."
"Why not just kill her?" Ron could not believe that these words were coming out of his mouth.
"Because it would be far too easy and there would be a public outpouring of sympathy towards him. He would become far too dangerous both politically and physically. No, we need to drive a wedge so large between them that she will want to have nothing to do with him. She will despise him as we do and that will weaken him. So..." Yaxley took a sip of his drink before continuing. "How do you think the traitor will feel watching his lovely little Mudblood whore being fucked by someone else?"
"I don't know," Ron shrugged. "Depends if he's into that kind of thing."
"Oh, I can assure you he is, but perhaps I should rephrase the question. How do you think he would feel watching his Mudblood being fucked against her will?"
Ron laughed. "He'd kill the idiot that tried."
Yaxley feigned surprise. "Do you think so? Well, it's lucky for you that we'll make sure he's incapable of killing you."
"Me?" the young spy choked out.
"You were the first person I thought of Mr Weasley. And what better way to exact your revenge? After all, you are not unaccustomed to fucking whores, are you?"
"Don't remind me," Ron grumbled, his mind convulsing as he recalled the images he'd been shown of Alexandra's lifeless body.
"Now," Yaxley continued, "you are on speaking terms again with the future Mrs Snape?"
Ron simply nodded.
"Good. We will need you to monitor her movements over the next six weeks and report back to us. We will also need you to liaise with Pansy Parkinson who will be completing her task on the day that we capture Granger."
"Pansy?" Ron asked incredulously
"Yes, Miss Parkinson, like yourself, has all too easily found herself disgruntled with the headmaster and is tasked with seducing him."
Ron's laughter was genuine this time. "Yeah, like that will work..."
"Oh, we know it won't," Yaxley admitted, "but with the correct timing it will cause quite the scandal when it is revealed that Hermione Granger has been kidnapped whilst the Headmaster was entertaining a female student in a state of undress in his office. And once he reaches his poor witch, he will find her in a state of undress, bound, and being entertained by yourself against her will. Imagine how she will feel when she sees him restrained and powerless to stop you from defiling her. Imagine how she will feel when she finds out that you could have been stopped, had he not been dallying with one of his students."
Ron smiled but only because it seemed the appropriate thing to do.
"Now, that is all the information I can give you for now, but rejoice my friend! You're finally going to get your Mudblood's pussy."
Yaxley's ensuing laughter made Ron's stomach flip, but he managed to maintain a passable grin as the self proclaimed leader of the avenging Death Eaters added, "Of course, it would be most remiss of me to ask you to do something without providing you with adequate opportunity to practice," and with a flick of his wrist towards the door, it opened to reveal three young prostitutes, all with long curly hair.
Somehow, Ron stopped himself from dry heaving at the thought of Yaxley's machinations and the repugnant role that he was expected to play. He swallowed down his disgust and carried on acting like the degenerate that he wanted them to believe he was.
"I can't wait," he told the dark wizard emphatically before turning his attentions to the three girls stood before him.
Snape had told him to expect this...it was obviously a well seasoned practice for rewarding loyalty or sealing a deal...and he tried to block out all the sleazy comments coming from around the table and observed them carefully, trying to decide which one would be the most amenable to the rest of the evening's plan.
"In fact," he drawled, pointing to the shortest of the girls, "I'll start practising on that one."
"Excellent choice," one of Yaxley's henchmen chimed in. "She likes it rough."
"And don't worry about healing her afterwards. They'll deal with it for you."
Ron stood up and summoned as much bravado as possible. "That's handy," he chuckled before turning his attention to the witch he'd chosen. "Come on," he told her sharply and headed for the door which opened to reveal the familiar figure of the establishment's Madam.
"You're in here, Mr Weasley," she told him warmly, opening one of the side doors and beckoning him to enter before grabbing the young witch by the arm and cautioning her to make sure her client was happy.
As soon as the door closed, Ron put up a number of undetectable wards that Severus had taught him before turning to the girl. "Sit down and listen carefully."
Dutifully she did as she was told, but there was no mistaking the fear in her eyes.
"What's your name, love?"
"OK Martha. Nice to meet you," he said, realising how strange that may have sounded. "Look, don't worry, I'm not going to hurt you. In fact, I won't lay a finger on you, but I will need to make it look like I have. Sorry. And I'll need to Obliviate you afterwards and give you some false memories. Is that alright? I just don't want to do it against your will...Obliviate you, I mean."
Martha nodded, but she still looked concerned.
Ron realised he was doing a shit job of reassuring her, but he knew he didn't have time to be time to do too much hand holding. "Now, what I need to know is can I make a Floo call or Floo from here?"
"N-no," the young girl stuttered, shaking her head. "I-I mean you can, b-but only to the our healer. We're only supposed to Floo there if it's really bad, but he's really nice to us and he doesn't mind if we just go to see him to get away for a few minutes. He lets us call our families from there as well."
Ron couldn't believe his luck, but was filled with the suspicion that this was too good to be true. "Does this healer listen in? Do you know if his Floo is monitored?"
"I don't think so," Martha told him honestly, "but I've been here for six months and no one's ever said anything to me and we all do it. If it was, he'd have been in trouble by now wouldn't he?"
Ron smiled reassuringly. "I would have thought so. Look, we'll Floo there, and I'll have to leave you for a few minutes. If questioned by anyone at the other end, we'll say that I wanted to get you checked out before I touch you, and I've popped home to get something special to use on you. Sorry," he added sheepishly.
All Martha could do was nod. She wasn't really sure what was going on, but she felt that nodding was probably the best course of action.
"When we Floo back here, will anyone interrupt us? I mean, not that we'll be doing anything, but will anyone come in?"
Martha shook her head. "They come in if you go over your time. If they don't hear anything they just assume you've put up a Silencing spell. They don't care as long as you don't kill us."
Ron felt incredibly uneasy as the young girl before him said this. "How old are you, Martha?"
"And did you go to Hogwarts?"
"I'm a squib. My father kicked me out when I was fifteen, and...somehow I ended up here. At least I get fed and I'm warm and some of the men are nice."
If Ron had felt sorry for the girl before, an almost overwhelming sense of sympathy passed over him. Placing his hand on the top of Martha's arm. "I promise that I will try and help you out of this, but for now I have a job to do, and so I'll have to Obliviate you when we get back here," Ron continued, "and then I need to Stun you, and apply this paste. By the time I get back, it'll look like you've got bruises. I need to make it look convincing."
Once again, Ron felt he had to apologise to this girl who probably had to put up with far worse things than what a bumbling spy was or wasn't going to do to her.
He took her hand in his and asked her gently, "Do you understand?"
Nodding nervously, she allowed Ron to help her to her feet. Moments later, they were in the healer's office.
It was, of course, no coincidence that the headmaster was ensconced in his office, tapping his quill rhythmically against his desk as he tried to focus on the parchment before him. To the uninitiated, the rhythm would have been meaningless, but to those in the know, it was obvious that Severus had "A Whole Lotta Love" going through his head. Which was ironic because given that he was expecting to hear what foul deeds were about to befall him...or worse, Hermione...he didn't feel a whole lotta love for anyone right now, but rather a whole lotta feeling sick to the pit of his stomach.
He was about to reach for his so far untouched glass of firewhisky when the fireplace sprung to life and the frazzled face of Ronald Weasley appeared amongst the smouldering orange coals.
"Mr Weasley," he acknowledged without moving. "What news?"
"I need to see you. It's urgent," Ron blurted out.
Severus' stomach sank as he heard the panic in the spy's voice. "My office in fifteen minutes?"
"Yeah. I can't stay long. I have to make it look like I've been enjoying myself with...well you can imagine. They've paid for an hour."
"Oh how generous of them!" Severus said sardonically.
"Tell me about it!" Ron grumbled. "I'll Floo to Dad's and we'll come from there."
"Understood. I shall open the Floo connection to The Burrow, and summon Pius and Lucius. Minerva will be here also as well as the Rogue's gallery. See you in fifteen minutes."
"This should be interesting," the until now quiet picture in the frame on his desk chirped up.
"Don't think you're staying, Grandmother."
"I don't think it, darling. I know it."
Severus rolled his eyes and exhaled forcefully. After everything he'd been through he was generally grateful that he was finally surrounded by those who cared about him. But sometimes...like now...he felt like being a little ungrateful.
The Deputy Headmistress was talking to Lady Eleanor as the occupants of the other portraits in the headmaster's office began to assemble at Severus' request. Meanwhile, the headmaster himself was trying to block out their incessant bantering, and was immensely grateful when Pius Thicknesse strode out of the fireplace and brushed himself off.
"Well, this should be..."Pius began before being distracted by the sight of Obsidian, who was currently sat atop his perch, eating a mouse. "Can't you feed him something with less fur on?"
Minerva smirked as Pius' cringed before continuing to gossip with Severus' grandmother.
"I do," Severus informed him with a shrug, "but Leo's been out hunting and the two of them had a fight over it. You can tell who won." He jerked his head in the direction of the window sill where Leo lay, and smirked as the ever growing ball of white fluff growled and glared at his familiar.
"I thought they kept a healthy distance away from each other."
"According to Hermione, Leo is displaying more of his Kneazle qualities at the moment. The words 'behave,' 'no,' and 'leave that alone, it might kill you,' are no longer in his vocabulary. Hagrid has suggested that we cut his balls off to calm him down."
"Calm him down?" the Head of Magical Law Enforcement scoffed. "If someone cut my balls off the last thing I'd do is calm down."
A flash of green was accompanied by, "Then I suggest you don't piss off my ex wife," as Lucius arrived, dusting off his coat and only just managing to move out of the way before the fireplace sprang to life again as Ron, closely followed by his father, stepped out of it.
The room immediately fell into silence and the anticipation was palpable as Severus immediately rounded on the young wizard. "So?"
"I think the boy needs a shot of something very alcoholic," Arthur chimed in knowingly, guiding his son by the shoulder to the nearest chair.
Lucius and Pius exchanged concerned glances as without a word, Severus Summoned a glass and a bottle of Old Ogdens, poured a generous slug and handed it to a very pale looking Ron, who was now not only flanked by his father, but by a very concerned Minerva.
"Thanks," Ron said breathlessly before downing the amber liquid in one gulp.
"Another?" Severus asked impatiently.
Ron shook his head, wincing as the alcohol burned his throat. Taking a deep breath he blurted out the gist of Yaxley's plan to disgrace the headmaster and the part he was to expected to play in this plot.
The dark haired wizard's temper flared causing Obsidian to seek refuge in the highest bookshelf and Leo to merely sit up from his vantage point to get a better view of the show.
"He wants you to do what?" he growled, his gaze murderous as his wand appeared in his hand.
A collective gasp followed by Dumbledore urging Severus to stand down echoed around the room. However, the red mist had already descended and Severus was not interested in listening to reason.
"I'm not going to fucking do it!" Ron railed, suddenly finding his courage from the rather large drink he had been given.
"I'll fucking castrate you so you can't," was Severus' retort before Lucius placed a hand upon his friend's arm and guided him to sit down behind his desk, and Arthur once again placed a supportive hand on his son's shoulder, his own wand being quickly stowed away.
Pius chose this moment to speak. "I believe it may be better if I were to handle this debriefing. We knew that Yaxley would come up with something fairly audacious, but I must admit this is beyond anything that I was expecting. Ronald, just to clarify, you are expected to provide details of Hermione's movements and relay them, and also to liaise with Pansy Parkinson. We are already aware of Miss Parkinson's compromised loyalties, and no doubt she is beginning the feel the weight of her dubious allegiance. I think, therefore, we should offer her a life line."
Meanwhile, whilst Ron Weasley was explaining Yaxley's plan and his expected role in it, Pansy Parkinson was sat in her rooms staring at a cup of tea that had gone cold over two hours ago. She had been told to expect a missive this evening, which was why she had been ignoring the owl that had been tapping on her window for the past twenty minutes.
Walking out of what they had turned into their bedroom, Blaise huffed as he saw Pansy sat there seemingly completely lost in her thoughts. "Are you going to get that bloody bird?"
"There's been an owl banging on the window for fuck knows how long," he told her, motioning to the largest of the windows in their rooms.
"Oh, sorry," she mumbled, looking up and hoping that it wouldn't be the familiar common tawny that was now the bane of her life. If only life was that kind.
Blaise looked at his girlfriend, a concerned expression falling across his face. "What's wrong? You've not been yourself lately."
The young witch shrugged, trying to hide the fact that she was so anxious that she wanted to scream behind a faint smile.
But her boyfriend had known her for too long to know when she was hiding something. "Yes, you do."
"It's nothing," she lied. "Just you know...girl things."
"I thought that explained you being in mood last week," Blaise quipped before asking tentatively, "You're not back with Theo, are you?"
Pansy's eyes whipped up to meet his. "No."
Blaise's brow furrowed. She'd been acting strangely for a while, but something had happened at the Yule Ball because since then he felt that she had become distant from him."Well, what is it then?"
"I can't tell you," Pansy told him quietly.
"You can tell me anything."
"Please, Blaise, I can't tell you,"she insisted when all she wanted to do was confide in him. But as her parents' well being relied on her compliance and silence, she dutifully tried to keep her ever deepening involvement with Yaxley a secret.
But one thing Blaise Zabini wasn't was stupid, and his attention again turned the window. "Has that owl got something to do with it?"
"What? No..." but it was too late.
Blaise stormed towards the window and opened it to allow the bird to enter before relieving it of the envelope it was carrying.
Pansy was on her feet...it was the most animated that Blaise had seen her in days...and tried to grab the papers from his hands. "Please, don't open it."
Again it was too late, but before he looked at the contents, he simply asked her, "Why?"
Grabbing hold of the front of his jumper, tears began cascading down Pansy's face. "Please, Blaise, they have my parents. Please, I don't know what to do?"
Blaise pulled her into him, and holding her close, read what was on the parchment. He read it again just in case the first message was a sick joke and would then transform to reveal the actual message. He closed his eyes and pressed a kiss to the top of Pansy's head and whispered, "What the fuck have you got yourself into?"
A heated debate had erupted in the headmaster's office, instigated, of course, by the headmaster himself. Once he and Pius had extracted every piece of information from Ron, the red haired wizard had departed so that he could attempt to cover his tracks and return young Martha looking suitably and roughly shagged.
However, the moment he'd left, Severus had wanted to turn everyone's attention to more logistical matters. He was adamant about one thing: Hermione was not to know anything about this. But as his friends and portraits alike jostled to impress upon him, if Yaxley had not formulated a complete plan yet, how was discussing logistics going to be useful at this stage? And no one was going to worry Hermione over something that they knew so little about.
Severus' anger and frustration at not knowing how to best protect his witch was about to boil over when a knock on the door caused everyone to stop adding their two knuts worth and stare at it.
Of course, as headmaster, his school duties didn't simply disappear just because there was a dangerous political situation and impending personal doom afoot. But rather than call upon the visitor to enter as he normally would, Severus strode over to the door and flung it open.
"Whatever it is, make it..."
The Senior Head Boy and Girl stood looking at the headmaster pensively, but it was Blaise who spoke next. "Sorry to disturb you, sir, but Pansy needs to talk to you."
A/N 2: So there we go...I don't think Ron likes spying very much, do you? Let me know what you think!
A/N 3: I know you're all going to be begging me to update again soon. Well, I'm warning you...it may be a while, but I'll try and make it as soon as I can.