The fireplace lit up in a momentary flash, signaling an arrival by Floo powder. Lupin didn't even bother looking up from the Daily Prophet; there were all of three people who knew where he'd been living for the past five weeks, and only one would be visiting today.
"Severus," he acknowledged, still reading. Severus waited patiently as Lupin finished the article, and then folded the paper and put it down. "Either the world's going mad, or the journalists are. Now, what brings you here today?" His lip twitched upwards.
"Just the beginning of another year at Hogwarts."
"Ah, just another year. Nothing interesting in the sorting and feast, then?"
"No. Except for the…unexpected student."
"Oh?" Remus 'hmmed' and made a face of mock hard thought. "Could it be…Larry Potmouth?"
"Hmm…is the student considered human? Could it be a dancing octopus?" Remus was openly grinning. "Or what about a…talking teal tortoise?"
"No," Severus said.
"Well, that just leaves one thing left, then," Remus said simply. "Harry Potter."
Severus just nodded. "I've been sent by Dumbledore to tell you. Apparently," he commented with sarcasm evident. "Mr. Potter isn't dead."
"Apparently," Lupin agreed. "So Dumbledore has no idea that we already knew where Harry was?"
"As far as I could tell, he remains ignorant."
Remus smiled. "Severus, I never do say it enough, but you really are gifted with your occulumency. Of all the wizards I've met, I doubt I've met one with a mind as well guarded as yours."
Severus raised an eyebrow at the compliment, but didn't respond otherwise. After a quiet moment, he spoke. "You're absolutely certain that Harry's letter is untraceable?"
"Absolutely. I went over it so many times before we sent it to him. No even Dumbledore will find anything on it."
"The address?" Snape prompted. "We agreed when we found him that we wouldn't allow the old fool to go invading his life with his guardians."
"I don't they would allow Dumbledore to invade Harry's life with them," Remus said quietly. He saw Snape looking at him with a tinge of amusement. "I was struck with lightning!"
"One of the many reasons we decided to leave Harry with them," Snape noted.
7 years previously
It was night at Hogwarts—students were asleep and teachers, if they were awake, were grading students' papers. Such was the case of Professor Severus Snape, who glared down as he wrote T on yet another paper. He was really beginning to wonder about these students…
THWACK! Alarmed, he jumped out of his seat, spilling ink on the atrocious paper, and drew his wand, prepared for whatever…
"I've been such an idiot!" Lupin's voice came. Stepping out of his office he saw Remus shaking his head. He looked beyond to see the door partially splintered, having been opened so wildly that it had hit the wall.
"What are you doing?"
Lupin was grinning. "I know how to find Harry."
He had Snape's undivided attention. "What?" Lupin opened his mouth to speak, but Snape quickly shook his head, putting his finger to his lips. He led Remus into his office, where he proceeded to cast muffliato. When he was sure they couldn't be overheard, he turned back to Remus.
"You can find Potter? How?"
"It's so simple Severus, I can't believe we haven't thought of it before."
"Perhaps someone has," Snape suggest, pessimism permeating his thoughts. "Perhaps this idea of your won't work."
Lupin shook his head. "No. I don't think anyone has thought of this. It's the letters, Severus, the letters!"
"The letters?" Snape inquired. What was Lupin going on about? Had he finally lost it?
"The Hogwarts letters, the invitation sent to eleven year olds," he elaborated. "They're magical; they know exactly where the student is."
Snape thought about it. It wasn't a bad idea, actually. "But Mr. Potter is not eleven. He's only four."
Remus shook his head. "No, that doesn't matter; the letters are magically produced for all eligible students when they are born. Extras can be made of course, if something happens that prevents the student from receiving the letter, yes, but most importantly, the address changes." Remus took a breath, smiling. "If we can find Harry's letter, we can find Harry."
"Where are the letters stored?" Snape inquired. He couldn't help but feel a little excited himself.
"In the headmaster's office," Remus answered, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.
"What!?" Suddenly the idea lost its credibility. "In the headmaster's office? Are you mad? How are we supposed to get the letter without Dumbledore noticing? We agreed that we weren't going let him know were Potter was!"
"No, no," Remus shook his head. "I've already got it all under control. Can you get into Dumbledore's office a week from now?"
Snape glared. "What?"
"Can you get into Dumbledore's office a week from now, at about two o'clock?"
Lupin nodded. "Good, good. And Dumbledore would be willing to leave you alone in the office?"
"No," Snape said sarcastically. "He thinks I'm going to throw a wild party in his office. Of course he's willing to leave me unsupervised, but why would he leave me alone in his office? It's not like I can go up to him and ask him to leave so that we can look for Harry behind his back."
"I've got that covered," Remus assured him. "Just be in Dumbledore's office at two o'clock a week from today." He quickly went to leave.
"How are you going to get Dumbledore out?" Snape asked.
"It doesn't matter, I've got it figured out!"
"Where am I supposed to look for the letter?"
"In the headmaster's office!"
"I know that!" Severus snapped. "Where in the office-?"
"Just be there a week from today, two o'clock!"
And Remus was gone, leaving the confused potions master behind. Where was he supposed to look in the office? How was Remus going to get Dumbledore out?
And could it really work? Somehow it just didn't seem real, that after three years of searching they could find Lily's son by something so simple. What if it did work? What were he and Remus going to do? They wouldn't give the boy to those Dursleys, not after what had already happened. Who was this person that had taken him? This assassin?
Severus sat back down to his desk, still processing the conversation he'd had with Lupin. It took him another five minutes before he remembered how he'd spilled ink all over the student's terrible paper. He picked up the parchment, scowling as he looked at the mess—it was completely unintelligible, and by this point the ink was thoroughly blended and dried. Frowning, he decided to be…lenient. Just this once, he'd give the student an opportunity to rewrite the paper, though he would be grading more harshly since the student had the chance to improve.
A week later, Snape was nervously checking the time, and students were noticing his anxiety. It was ten to two, and he had yet to find an excuse to go to the headmaster's office.
Snape turned around to see a mousy haired pink-nosed student nervously half-raising his hand. "Detention," he announced.
The boy, Matthew Nobsen, paled. "Wha…?"
"Your behavior is absolutely intolerable Mr. Nobsen. Follow me."
The boy stood up to follow Professor Snape on wobbly legs. As soon as they were out of the room, the other students became off-task, talking to each other excitedly, and confusedly.
"What the bloody hell just happened?"
Struggling to keep up with the mad potions master, Matthew struggled not to start crying. No, he was not going to embarrass himself, he was not going to embarrass himself, was not going to…
Oh, this was shaping up to be such a horrible day! Waking up, he set fire to his buttocks, and having forgotten to do any sort of grooming he hadn't realized that his roommates had painted on his face until he got to the Great Hall and was laughed at. And then he received a howler in the mail, and learned that eating them does not stop them from howling… Then he was hexed by Slytherins, and his girlfriend broke up with him. And then he did better than the Slytherins in his charms class…so they took his textbook and set it on fire. At lunch he sat on pudding…then he had to go to potions, where he learned that he was given a Poor on his rewritten essay. Then, when he was going to ask for clarification on the instructions for the potion they were making, Professor Snape gave him a detention!
"Professor? Where are we going?"
"To the headmaster's office," came the reply.
Matthew officially felt like crying. The headmaster's office? But what had he done wrong?"
"Why?" he voiced his thoughts.
"For disrupting the class. You talk too much."
"But…but…" But that was the only time he'd spoken in Potions all year! They reached the Gargoyle, to which Snape said "Peppermint Toad," apparently the latest password. Matthew thought of sweets. He could use sweets on a day like this—then again, on a day like this, he'd probably get sick from them, making the day even worse.
Headmaster Dumbledore looked surprised, but not entirely so to see Snape bringing in a student. Dumbledore gave Matthew, who was now openly sobbing, a sympathetic look.
"Severus, what is-?"
"This boy has been misbehaving in my class."
Dumbledore looked over the sobbing boy. "Matthew Nobsen, am I correct?"
Matthew nodded and hiccupped.
Dumbledore returned his gaze to Snape. "Are you sure? I haven't had the pleasure of talking to the boy myself, but I've heard from others that he is quite an intelligent and friendly young man."
Matthew looked up hopefully, wiping his nose with his robe. Thank Merlin, Professor Dumbledore seemed to be on his side.
"He disturbed the class," Snape said. "Talking without permission."
"Is this true, Mr. Nobsen?"
"Y-yes, Professor, but…I was just asking for help! I-I didn't understand the instructions so I was asking for clarification…" Dumbledore stared at him for a few moments and Matthew silently begged him to believe him.
Dumbledore was about to say something, when somebody flooed in. Matthew swallowed, eyes widening slightly at the rather intimidating looking person.
"Alastor?" Dumbledore stood. "What brings you here?"
Mad-Eye Moody. Bloody hell, and here Matthew had thought Patrick had been exaggerating. "Fletcher thinks he'd found…something," the famed auror growled. Dumbledore looked hopeful. "He insists that you be present."
"Can it wait?" Dumbledore motioned to Matthew.
"Or we could wait," Snape interjected. Matthew gave a horrified look over to the potions master. He didn't want to be left alone with him! Snape looked at him. "You can wait, right?"
Intimidated, Matthew nodded quickly.
Moody looked amused, while Dumbledore gave a disapproving look towards Snape. The two flooed away, promising not to keep Snape and Matthew waiting for too long. As soon as they were gone, Snape cast what Matthew recognized as a fairly powerful warding spells that would keep people from entering. For a moment, he panicked, think Snape was going to kill him, or Merlin's beard, he's a vampire and was going suck his blood…
Instead of doing anything to him, Snape began looking all over the headmaster's office, looking over everything, scowling as he did so. No longer crying, Matthew just watched with a baffled expression. What was Professor Snape doing?
"Er…Professor?" he asked timidly. "What are you doing?"
Snape stopped looking for a moment to glare at him. "I'm looking for something."
"What are you looking for?" He was genuinely curious. "Can I help?"
This time Snape didn't stop looking. "No."
Matthew frowned. "Oh." He started humming, tapping his fingers on Dumbledore desk. "So where's the sorting hat?"
"It's kept in here all year, right? Where is it?"
"Over there," Snape pointed; he'd actually picked it up looking for the letters.
"D'you think it'd sort me again? I just don't think Ravenclaw was a very good match for me, and if I could change houses that would be great-"
"If I tell you what I'm looking for, will you shut up?"
"The Hogwarts invitation letters…they're supposed to be around here somewhere…"
"Oh." How strange…what did Professor Snape need with the invitation letters? "Have you tried turning the book end on that shelf?"
Snape looked over, then looked back. "No."
"Well, that's where Hogwarts, a History said they were." Snape blinked, and then walked over to the shelf and slowly turned the bookend. The shelf opened, revealing a new room…filled with letters. Matthew went to follow him into it, but was stopped by Snape. "That's a lot of letters," he pointed out.
"It's well-organized," Snape said. He walked into the 1980 section, and the P section, scanning through the letters. He pulled one out and pocketed it. As they left the room, Matthew tried to get a glimpse of the letter, curious whose it was. Closing the shelf, and moving the bookend back into place, Snape turned to him.
"You are not to tell anyone about this, understood?" Matthew nodded vigorously. Who would have believed such a bizarre tale, anyways? "You said that you needed clarification on the instructions earlier?"
"Yes…please don't fail me, please give me another chance!" He found himself blubbering. "I really do try in your class…"
"Hm. What would you do if I said that your detention would be best served with…extended classes?"
Matthew was stunned. Was Snape offering to tutor him?
Before he said anything, Dumbledore flooed in, looking rather…disappointed. "Thank you for waiting-"
"We've already worked it out," Snape told him. "We would have left, but I thought we should wait for you rather than just disappear."
"Oh," Professor Dumbledore seemed surprised. "Are you both satisfied with your arrangement then?"
"Oh, yes!" Matthew nodded with Snape.
As they got up to left, Dumbledore stopped them. He approached them looking them over. "I've got this package of Cauldron Cakes, but I'm afraid I don't particularly want them right now. Would you like them, Mr. Nobsen?"
"Err…" What? He was being offered sweets by the headmaster…? "Sure. Thank you, Professor." He took the package of Cauldron Cakes, and he and Snape left the office, going back to the hall, class having been long over.
As they went separate ways, Matthew looked to the pocket in which a letter was hidden, wondering whose letter it was, and why the potions master needed it.
Ultimately, he dropped the thoughts, eager to get to Arithmancy.
(He was entirely right earlier; he did end up puking after the sweets.)
Wow. Is this the longest chapter on this story? I actually had to cut off from where I planned to originally. I like to keep my chapter lengths fairly consistent.
I am so sorry about the long wait. Really, I am. But I am still doing this story, so no cries of "abandoned" please.
Was this a weird chapter? A did a considerable amount in a clueless oc's pov. Did it work well? I'm always paranoid about my chapters, so please let me know what you think.