Plot, new characters, new magical terms and abilities etc. are my intellectual property. If you want to borrow then please kindly ask. JK Rowling's characters and Wizarding Universe are all uniquely hers.
AU, OOC: Why does Snape never eat at Order of the Phoenix Headquarters? What is the truth behind the animosity between he and Lupin? What does Voldemort have in store this time for the wizarding world...and Snape? Read on…
AUTHORS NOTES: IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR CANON AND SUCH CHARACTERISATIONS YOU DEFINITELY WILL NOT FIND THEM HERE.
Chapter 5: The Reckoning Part II
"Yes," Snape replied coldly.
"And…you have a son?"
Professor McGonagall sank down into her chair.
"I warned him! I told him time and time again not to meddle! But would he listen?!"
"You knew?!" Mrs. Weasley roared.
"I only knew that Severus had apparently met someone and Albus was not happy about it! I had no idea that he would go to such lengths to interfere in the Professor's private affairs! The Headmaster takes it upon himself to do what he thinks is for the greater good, not realising that people just might get hurt in the process…"
"Or that he will end up with exactly the opposite of what he believes he wants," the Potions Master sniffed.
"Or believes the end result should be…" added Mrs. Weasley.
"And Remus…Poor Remus," Minerva clucked as she shook her head in disbelief. "It's so hard for his kind and yet Albus had to destroy his happiness as well? Just what on earth has he got against this woman anyway?"
"Besides the fact that she is a Muggle and two of his most useful pawns both love and are in love with her," Severus snapped for the second time that day.
"Surely there has to be a deeper reason why he did what he did, Minerva," said Molly. "For God's sake, we all know that Albus tends to know a lot more than he ever lets on…"
"It serves no purpose for him to withhold any information he might have. If there was some credible reason Lupin and I needed to keep our distance from Lisa then we both were entitled to know! It really was not enough to just give up everything important to us on his say so – in effect that is what we did, although not willingly. As far as I am concerned there is nothing he can say to excuse how he has handled this sorry state of affairs! And do not forget that there are children affected in all of this!"
"I agree, Severus," said Professor McGonagall as she flinched slightly. It was still a lot to deal with: Severus Snape being a husband and father – and surrogate parent to a werewolf child. "But something just isn't right. All sorts of accommodations could have been made in both situations. After all – other than the two of you and Remus no one else even knows about me and Albus; or our children. And given all that he's done to follow the dictates of his own heart…"
"The level of his hypocrisy is inexcusable," huffed Molly.
Professor McGonagall's eyebrows shot up almost into the tight bun on top of her head.
"It is the truth, Minerva! Regardless of what you have with the Headmaster, regardless of what you undoubtedly do feel for him, surely you see the sense in all that has been put to you?" asked Professor Snape.
"Aye…that I do, as painful as it is to know all this…"
There was nothing but quiet as her visitors let the Deputy Headmistress digest all that she'd been told about the facts and what they felt about the situation.
"Right. It's high time you had a word with Albus; it's time we all had a word with him," Professor McGonagall said breaking the tension-filled silence.
"No time like the present," said Molly. "After all, that is why we are here. "
"I see. Making use of your own Slytherin sensibilities eh Molly?"
"Common sense has nothing to do with where one is sorted, Professor," said Snape though he agreed. "Cunning does not always equal devious. There is nothing underhanded about revealing the truth especially to the one who has benefited tremendously from the Headmaster's accommodation of his own personal relationship."
"Well then; let's get on with it," said Professor McGonagall as she led Professor Snape and Mrs. Weasley through the portrait guarding her office. "I daresay he'd better have a damned good reason for all this…"
"No doubt in his mind he does," said Snape. "The only thing I care about is that he makes amends with my wife. If it wasn't for her, the Order would be imploding on itself. As it is, she and our children are the only thing that has kept me alive. He owes her as much as he does me, regardless of any feelings otherwise on his part."
Professor Snape stood before the gargoyle that guarded the entrance to the Headmaster's office. He grimaced in spite of himself. It always pained him to have to say the infantile passwords Dumbledore chose.
Neither Professor McGonagall nor Mrs. Weasley could be bothered to so much as grin. It wasn't everyday that anyone found themselves in a position to hear the Potions Master say such a thing, but this wasn't a laughing matter. Lives had been lost and destroyed and too much was at stake.
The gargoyle moved aside to reveal a moving staircase. The three Order of the Phoenix members hopped on and disappeared from sight. All couldn't help but be worried deep inside.
Nothing about this was going to be easy.
The Headmaster turned around in surprise.
"Severus? Molly? Minerva? What is the meaning of this?"
It was most unseemly for The Potions Master and Mrs. Weasley to be seen together. As far as anyone knew Snape didn't like Mrs. Weasley any more than he did anyone else. and none of the Weasley children were doing bad enough in Potions to warrant a visit to the Headmaster's office, mainly because the Headmaster saw to it that Snape didn't fail them along with the rest of Gryffindor. And to be accompanied by the Deputy Headmistress and Head of Gryffindor House, more questions than answers would be raised by such an unlikely alliance if they were seen together.
The last thing the Order needed was for undue attention to be brought to his least-liked professor and spy.
"You…you don't know Albus?" Minerva gasped.
Professor Snape's mouth set in a thin line.
This was not good. Not good at all.
"Grimmauld Place…is gone," Molly said quietly.
Professor Dumbledore dropped the books he had just taken off a shelf.
"Yes," Professor Snape said quietly. "Thanks to Mundungus Fletcher. He conveniently got drunk at the Hogshead and ran off his mouth…"
"Thank Merlin he wasn't reliable enough to make all the meetings we needed him to attend…" said Minerva darkly.
She'd always known that there were better and more reliable people than Dung Fletcher in his circles who could have gotten the job done without betraying the Order, however inadvertent.
"YES! Some new recruits to the Death Eaters were there and rather than go through the appropriate channels, they took it upon themselves to try and curry favour with the Dark Lord. It was confirmed with your contact at the pub; but he was too late to raise the alarm. Nothing could be done."
The Potions Master then filled the Headmaster in on all that he'd been told by Lucius Malfoy.
"Hermione Granger? Her parents if it is indeed her that was…"
"And the Creeveys, the Johnsons…" sniffed Molly as she wiped her eyes. "I couldn't bare the thought of losing any of my children or people that I know and care about…"
"You did not have a contingency plan, Albus," said Minerva matter-of-factly. "You were so sure that the Fidelus would work this time – but Severus did say at the very beginning that all it would take is for the wrong person to let slip the location."
"I warned you, Headmaster," Snape said darkly. "And once again, you dismissed my concerns and expertise in the matter…"
"You wouldn't believe that anyone could be so careless, Dumbledore…" Mrs. Weasley said heatedly. "Yet of all of us, Fletcher was the most careless and most likely to be a problem. He always was more concerned with his dodgy deals than in what you needed him to do. His behaviour put Headquarters and everyone he knew to be in the Order at grave risk. What if he shot off his mouth elsewhere, eh? What then? Our lives won't be worth anything!"
"I can at least confirm that the Dark Lord knows nothing of Order members save those present at the Black residence. His recruits weren't even cunning enough to gather intelligence. It's not even known that the house belonged to Sirius Black. And we can consider ourselves fortunate that Lucius Malfoy and Narcsissa Black are desperate enough to want to save their own skins and that of their precious son so much as to have turned from the Dark Lord. Narcissa has too much to lose and so does her husband. As far as all are concerned she has not had any contact with her own family since she left school and married Lucius. And it is true; with the notable exception of the house-elf she has not had any contact with the Blacks."
"You say that as if you believe it is only temporary," huffed Molly. "And if it is only temporary then why, in Merlin's name, is he a member of the Order – free to hand us all over to Voldemort when he sees fit; just like you depending on the circumstances. What's to say that you are not hedging your bets either!"
"Malfoy does not care about anything other than saving his own skin. He is no different than most of us in that regard. I will not portray myself as being so altruistic in the fight against the evils of You-Know-Who and neither would he. However, it does bear considering that I came to you of my own free will. Lucius had nowhere else to turn after his stint in Azkaban, which he freely admits. Voldemort did not execute him only because I managed to convince him it would be a big mistake to rid himself of one of his most loyal and long-serving servants. Veritaserum is not foolproof – that we all know; but Malfoy Senior was just as dismal at Potions as his son. We can be grateful for that. It is not within his capability to circumvent or overcome any serum. The only thing we need be mindful of is how he uses what information he gains for his own personal gain. After all, he did loose everything when he was sent to Azkaban. It is the Black fortune that his wife inherited upon her marriage and the birth of their son that supports his family. Lucius is a proud man. It does not sit well with him, not at all. And there is not much left of his wife's meager dowry.
Be that as it may; he has his own personal ambitions completely independent of the Dark Lord and the Headmaster. He is no different than the rest of us in that regard and I will not condemn him for that either. I too would like nothing better than to be able to leave all of this behind and get on with my life; my life with my wife and children!"
What little light that was left in Professor Dumbledore's eyes evaporated as soon as the last word was uttered by his Potions Master. Never before had anyone recalled seeing the Headmaster move so fast such as when he leapt from his chair and charged around the desk. Professor Snape was more than ready and had leapt up with his wand drawn, knocking his own chair back in the process. Professor McGonagall jumped in front of the Headmaster while Mrs. Weasley attempted to hold back Snape.
"AFTER ALL I HAVE DONE FOR YOU! YOU WENT AGAINST MY ORDERS AND BETRAYED ME!" Dumbledore roared. "A WIFE AND CHILDREN?! HOW DARE YOU COMPROMISE EVERYTHING FOR THE SAKE OF YOUR OWN SELFISH DESIRES!"
"BETRAYED YOU?!" screamed Professor Snape. "I HAVE GIVEN MY LIFE TO YOU! I HAVE RISKED MY LIFE FOR YOU OVER AND OVER AGAIN! I HAVE BEEN IN YOUR DEBT AS MUCH AS THE DARK LORD'S FOR ALL THESE YEARS! LISA WAS RIGHT – I WILL DO ANYTHING TO GET THAT DEBT PAID AND I HAVE DONE! I HAVE SACRIFICED BEING A PROPER HUSBAND AND FATHER TO THE WOMAN I LOVE AND OUR CHILDREN ALL AT THE SAYSO OF THE GREATEST WIZARD OF THE AGE! NO MORE – I WILL ENDURE NO MORE!"
"She was right?" hissed Dumbledore. "What does she know of our world? What does she really know about you and your place in our world?"
"She knows EVERYTHING! I have never lied to my wife, not even by omission! And what's more she has seen it for herself – I showed her in the pensieve!"
"You took my things – to that woman!"
"I did what was necessary to be open and honest with my wife, with the woman I love more than anything in this world! There is nothing I wouldn't do for her. I made a mistake all those years ago letting you come between us – I was not about to loose her altogether especially after she bore me a son!"
"There is another child, a daughter. Except… except…" Molly sputtered.
"The child is Remus Lupin's…" Minerva said sharply. "Are you satisfied, Albus? Whatever your reasons were they weren't good enough. You have destroyed two families – two children are having to grow up without their fathers and this poor woman has no one to help her when both of the fathers of her children are more than willing and capable! She deserves to have what I have had with you all these years! Why does it suit you in your own life but not with Severus or Remus?"
Dumbledore blinked and took shallow breaths. All his best-laid plans had come undone, and through no fault of his own as far as he was concerned.
"What do you have against her anyway, Dumbledore? What's she ever done to you except fall in love?" shrieked Mrs. Weasley as she finally lost her cool.
Professor Dumbledore said nothing.
"I see! Well, you will just have to get over it, won't you!" Professor Snape hissed. "I will not give her up; not for you, not for anyone for any reason – not again! We have had to carry on as best we can for so long…for far too long. I love her and it is only because of her that I still live. She has given me the courage to get through this. And she has been far more understanding than I have a right to expect…"
"Severus's wife has put her life and those of their children on the line for him, Albus; for all of us," Minerva said quietly.
"Their home is to be the new headquarters and she has some very good ideas about how to see our way out of this mess," said Molly.
"She…has 'some very good ideas'…" muttered the Headmaster darkly. "Their home… A Muggle knows better than I…"
"Yes, she has. You have never been inclined to know her so you don't know how much we really do need her…"
This came not from Severus, but from Lucius Malfoy. He had heard enough. It was just was well he'd decided to come straight to Headmaster after finding out from Lisa that Severus had gone. He never thought he'd see the day where he would see the value in Muggles. He didn't quite do – but Lisa, well she was different. He could talk to her about many things – things which he'd never spoken of to anyone, not even his beloved Narcissa. She was a good woman – and a very good friend. He was friends with a Muggle – Merlin's beard it was frustrating and even confusing. But he would not be rid of her for all the gold in Gringotts. He needed her; they all needed her in this – the darkest of hours.
"And you do?"
"Yes, I do. She has done a lot for me and my family. More than any of us have had a right to expect. Severus needed her help and she has given it freely. Regardless of what she may think of me and what I have done – she has been a true friend and she is a good woman. She deserves better than the treatment she has gotten from you. She and Severus both do. I will not deny that you have every right to question me and to doubt me as I know you all do – but Lisa is different. She deserves better from you, Dumbledore!"
"You seem to be forgetting yourself, Mr. Malfoy. I don't think Tom would be too pleased to learn that he has yet another traitor in his midst."
"No, he wouldn't! But you won't do anything to compromise the only advantage you have left," hissed Professor Snape. "No others are capable of doing for you what we have done. And your own choices in recruits has not put you in good stead. You ignored my concerns about Fletcher and look at what it has cost you. And if it wasn't for Lucius, Lupin would have been caught some time ago. No matter what you think of us, no matter what you think of my wife – you owe it to her and to us to give her a chance. She has done nothing wrong – nothing except love me. If nothing else that should put her in good stead in your eyes since not even you have ever seen fit to do such a thing. I'm not here because you love me, Headmaster; I'm here because you need me and I am useful to you because I decided I need you!"
Dumbledore visibly blanched.
He had been betrayed by his Potions Master and also by a man thought very highly of and considered to be on the side of the good. Never would he have thought Remus could go against him – but it did seem as though he had done to have had a daughter with her.
"Just so that you know – the young lady was pregnant when you forced Lupin to leave her," said Molly matter-of-factly. "Luckily, being the good man that he is, he never gave up on her or their child…even though it's not an easy situation. Not for him, not for her nor their daughter. And definitely not for Severus. Matter of fact she'd be dead right now and the girl if Severus had given up on her as you insisted he should!"
"Feel better now, Headmaster?" Snape said venomously. "No need to grieve for a betrayal by the werewolf that never happened!"
"She bore his child…with his knowledge…" Dumbledore said as he bristled with anger.
"OH GET OVER YOURSELF ALBUS" roared Minerva. Never in a million years could she have believed the man she loved, the man she adored could behave as he had done. She couldn't believe what her own senses were telling her. "Don't you understand? Lives have been lost! Headquarters is GONE! Thanks to Severus and his wife we can regroup quickly! Whatever your problems are with her they will just have to be yours! We need her!"
"And I expect that you will treat her with every bit of courtesy and respect that she is due in her own home; our home!" hissed the Potions Master. "You accept filth like Fletcher – even myself and Malfoy – and yet you condemn her! I will not stand for it!"
Had he stood up to the Headmaster so long ago things would have been different. He couldn't undo the past as such – he wouldn't even be so foolhardy as to try, but he would do what he could to ensure their future going forward.
"You don't have to like her, Albus," said Mrs. Weasley. "But you should at least respect her…"
"However, if that is too difficult for you then by all means – tell us what Plan B is since clearly Plan A did not suffice," Lucius drawled sarcastically.
There was no other plan and they all knew it.
Several moments of silence passed by.
"We do not have time to waste," the Headmaster said resignedly. "We need to regroup as quickly as possible. So – I suppose the day of reckoning is at hand. Lead the way, Severus…"
There was an uneasy unspoken truce as they prepared to leave.
But all knew that lines had been crossed.
Time would only tell what would come of it all.