AN: This story mentions different disorders. I am friends with people who have three of the issues mentioned. One who has suffered with the specific disease and two who suffer symptoms of the others. So, please do not go into what I have left out. The lack of information was not intended to be a slight or insult to anyone. The fourth is completely a figment of my imagination. So is my description of the Muggle care system described here. It is based loosely on things I know of, but I cannot guarantee that they apply to the UK system.

Thank you for taking the time to try this. This bunny would not leave me alone...it has been patiently waiting since last October.

ed: Thank you Su No Yo for the bit of editing. Scratch that.. the editing. ^-^ And, yes dear, there was a reason for the 40 yrs. but if you wish to ignore the time frame it will not matter to the readers of the story line, just to me. I put Minerva Severus and Percy as the characters. *shrugs* Percy will pop up later. Don't worry.

Elflina has also agreed to help with the editing. If you see mistakes, feel free to PM me the mistakes, I will fix them.

Ree

Chapter 1: Incentives

It was during the school year after the fall of Voldemort, more specifically it was on Christmas break, that the downhill trend started. The one that we are seeing increase today. What occurred then that started all this? Professors Severus Snape and Minerva McGonagall were called to the Ministry for a meeting. Why both the school leaders were needed at this meeting is lost to history, but the events that followed it made the Evening Prophet.

It occurred as they were leaving, the meeting done. There, in the foyer of the Ministry, two nameless assailants sent two curses, one very bungled and one perfect, at the two Professors.

I know you would love to know the names of those two dastardly criminals. I fear that this reporter is not prepared to divulge that information. They shall remain nameless because Professor Snape was adamant about no one publishing their names, and to this day no one wants to find out what the end result of going against him will be.

Those two nameless assailants caused an upheaval in the Wizarding world. New security measures were put in place at the Ministry and as neither of the two Professors could return to their positions, Hogwarts' Governors had to find someone to run the school quickly.

Many say that this rush decision was the beginning of the downhill spiral that has led to the current state of affairs at Hogwarts. Where it was once the most prestigious School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in all of Europe and most of the world, it is now one of the most dismal by some accounts.

On this day, forty years since the tragedy that befell our beloved alma mater, the Daily Prophet would like to hear how the Board of Governors and the Professors of Hogwarts plan to bring our school back to the position it once held.

Severus Snape closed the Prophet with a snap. This was not what he felt like reading. Yes, it was the anniversary of the attack that landed both him and Minerva in St. Mungo's, but to have it in the media once again was just a waste of paper.

Dropping his head onto his pillow, Severus sighed. For twenty years, both he and Minerva were in separate wards where they were both stuck staring at four white walls. It was those walls that drove him to finding them a Muggle facility to take care of them.

Looking around at the pleasant light green walls and the large window, Severus decided that this Muggle facility was much better than the first one they stayed in. He wasn't tired of it yet, even though they had both been here for ten years. It had taken him nine years to be ready to use the Blasting curse to create a new window or two in the last place; what he wanted to do to the new doctors that were assigned to them there was worthy of his Death Eater past. That was when he had transferred them to this location.

He liked this facility better, not just for the paint or the doctors, but because they didn't believe in letting one wallow in self pity and waste away. Once they found out that he used to be a professor they had asked his help with a few children throughout their time here. The newest one was one that was somehow sneaking his way past the walls that Severus had long erected about himself.

His door slammed open and an ten year old shot into the room, grinning from ear to ear. Severus watched as the door closed loudly behind Timothy. Everyone on the hall would know that he had a visitor.

"I did it!" The brown haired boy bounced up and down, a paper clasped tightly in his hand. "I made my third 'eighty percents' in a row. So that means you have to do it, Toby."

Severus sighed lightly. He had long since given up telling Tim not to call him that. That 'Toby' stayed in the his mind was a blessing in and of itself. He had suffered almost three months of the boy not knowing what to call him. 'For some reason we were talking about full names, and he shortened Tobias to Toby and that was that. Now everyone here calls me that. Even Minerva.'

"Show me the paper and then I will do so." Severus leveled a neutral look on the boy.

Tim rolled his paper so that all Severus could see was the grade on the top. "See!" He danced back, his blue eyes alight with happiness. "Now, up!"

"Give me a moment." Severus closed his eyes and focused.

When they had made the bargain, Severus had known that there was a big chance that he would fail at his side, but so did Timothy. The curse that hit him had done exactly what it was supposed to do. It closed about his spinal cord, cutting off all the signals. He knew that he was alive only because he was stubborn, and knew a thing or two about dark curses. He was able to cast a fast counter curse, but it only contained the curse so that it just affected his lower body at the moment it hit him. As he crashed to the floor of the Ministry he had tried to cast a shield over Minerva. The specialists at St. Mungo's had praised his quick response while they had stabilized his condition. They had even praised his shield that he threw at Minerva, say that was the only reason she wasn't gone.

The end result of his curse was that he was paralyzed from the waist down. It had taken him three years to learn how to make it only affect the skeletal muscles. Now, with the push from Timothy he was trying to move the curse off the spinal cord totally. He had succeeded but it required an almost constant high level of concentration.

"Toby! Hurry up." Tim leaned against the wall.

Severus shook his head as he pushed the blankets off his legs. "I am, brat."

Swinging his legs over the edge of the bed, he focused a moment more before using his arms to push himself up to his feet.

Before Severus could start to sway, Tim was there ready to steady him. His hands weren't quite touching the older man.

A soft whisper, filled with awe, came from the boy near his elbow. "You're standing Toby..."

Severus let a smirk slip on his face. He knew he could stand. Ever since he made the bargain, three 'eighty percents' for him standing, he had been working hard to be able to fulfill his end. Just as hard as he had been working with Tim to succeed as well. Now he wanted to try something else. He wanted to walk to his desk chair.

Focusing intently, so much that he almost forgot that the boy was at his elbow, he moved his left foot forward. Once he was sure that it was settled on the ground, he moved the right. Five steps, that was all it took to get to his chair, but he was shaking by time he fell as gracefully as possible into it.

Taking a deep breath, Severus held his hand out. "Your paper Tim."

A smile curled his lips at the stunned awed expression on the boy's face.

"You walked! You did it Toby! The doctors said that there was no reason you couldn't... none that they could find, but they also said that there was no way you could either. But you did..." Timothy's face glowed as he smiled at Severus. "I'm going to tell Nora and Min."

Severus knew all too well what the doctors had determined. He had read his entire file in a fit of boredom: there was no nerve damage that they could find, but there was also no neurological response either. His nerves conducted their messages, but for some unknown reason, they just stopped when they reached his spine. He knew the reason, but couldn't explain it to them.

Severus quickly shook his head. "I wish to walk to Min's room and show her, and you know that Nora would not keep that from Min, no matter how much we asked."

A frown damped the beaming face for just a moment. "I'll find you a cane, and not tell anyone why. This is our secret."

That said, he handed Severus his paper.

Unrolling it, Severus almost sighed at the handwriting. 'Why do all children write so messily. At least I have practice deciphering it.' Looking over the paper, he noted the mistakes. Then he read the comments. They were amazed at how well the boy was doing. Severus quietly agreed with them.

Six months ago that the doctors asked him to take on Timothy Fen. They had explained that Timothy had a memory disorder that kept having him returned back to them every time they fostered him and his sister, Elenora, out. He could learn, but then he could hardly recall the details that he learned more than hour later even though he remembered the bare bones of the information. They decided that he had retained the basics from before his condition became this bad, but it was just their thoughts as they did not have any records of when this problem began. Just to mess with their prognosis, Timothy would at weird moments be able to talk about things he had learned in the last several years just to forget them again.

It had taken him two weeks of almost hexing the boy before he decided to teach the child how to associate what he learned with other things like color, shapes or a gesture. He also taught him the bare basics of Legilimency in the form of organising his mind. You had to know what were your thoughts and how your thoughts formed before you could know someone else's. He desperately wanted to use Legilimency on the boy to see what was going on in his head.

Timothy declared that the tricks were impossible. When Severus said that it wasn't, Timothy had said that if he could get three Bs in a row using it, then Severus could stand since that wasn't impossible either. It was then that their bargain had been struck.

Tim leaned over Severus' shoulder, being careful not to mess up the scattered papers on the desk top. In a hushed awe tone he whispered to himself. "I did it. I didn't think I could, but you never doubted in me."

Severus reached up and rested a hand on the boy's shoulder. He refused to let the brat know just how much he had doubted that either of them could have succeeded. Now he knew that there was a Ravenclaw's ability hidden in that messed up brain. "All you had to do was put your mind to it."

A tiny smile blossomed on Tim's face. After months of scathing scolds this one compliment meant a lot. "If I make two ninety percents, you walk down the hall. Okay?"

Severus studied the distance between his bed and the chair where he was sitting. That space, though it was small, was an infinitesimal distance. One that he had conquered. Maybe the hall would be the next.

"With the use of a cane." He looked out of the corner of his eye at Tim.

Tim nodded. "Deal. I use the tricks, you use a cane, and then we both can do the impossible!"

He moved around to stand before his mentor and held out a hand. Both smiled when they shook on the deal.

(Ô.Õ)

Severus was positive of Timothy's Ravenclaw status four months later.

He had been quietly sitting at his desk, working on the potions research for the team that he had become a a member of months before the curse hit him, when Timothy had come bursting into his room. A quick glance over the materials on his desk proved that there was nothing too incriminating scattered about. The only thing would be the parchment he was writing on. Setting his fountain pen down, he waved the last line dry and let the parchment roll up.

"It is time!" Tim slapped two papers onto the desk. One was a test in his science class and the other was for his English class. Both calculated out to ninety percents.

Severus took a moment to go over the work to make sure that the teachers weren't being lenient due to Timothy's condition. Finding nothing to take more points for, he reached for his cane. "A walk down the hall it is. Shall we go see Nora and Min?"

"Nora is in Min's room." Tim bounced up and down before rushing to the door. Sticking his head out, Tim checked that no one else was in sight. "The coast is clear."

Severus levered himself up to his feet. It was easier now that he had been practicing, but every movement required three quarters of his concentration. Leaning heavily on the cane, which was really just a long stick, he made his way out the door. The walk to Minerva's room, which Timothy made in just a few seconds, took him five long arduous minutes.

Timothy kept running up and down the hall, checking to see if anyone was coming. He flung the door open and rushed in when Severus was next to it. "Min! Nora! Guess what?"

Two faces turned towards Timothy, one an ten year old girl, and one that was older than Severus'. Nora, his twin, smiled at him. "You passed another test. I'm glad that Toby is helping you."

Tim's smile broadened. "I did. And since I made two ninety percents..." Whatever he was going to say was cut off by Min's gasp.

Severus stepped through the door and shut it behind him. Holding firmly onto his cane, he smirked at Nora's wide blue eyes and Minerva's amazed expression. "Min. Nora."

"Toby had to walk down the hall!" Tim was able to finish as he pulled a chair over towards Severus. "And we were both able to do it because we're T-N-T, dynamite!" He flung his hands wide as if there was an explosion.

Severus closed his eye for just a moment. That was one reference he wished the boy could forget. He glanced over at Minerva as her attention wandered off to the clock on her desk. "Min."

Hazel eyes jumped back to him. "Toby." A smile danced across Minerva's face as he frowned at her. "You were able to walk down here. When did you succeed in that?"

"I have been practicing for a little while now. I wanted to surprise you by walking down to your room."

Nora's smile lit her face. "You succeeded. We were discussing how well Tim was working with you and Min was telling me just how strict you could be if you put your mind to it."

"I can't think of many students that you tried to help who have not succeeded." Minerva cut in, her complete focus on Severus.

Severus smirked at her phrasing of that. They both knew that there were a number of students that he hadn't bothered with for one reason or another.

They visited for another fifteen minutes in which Minerva's attention only wandered twice. Once he was alone back in his room Severus marveled at how much improved she was. The curse that hit Minerva was a strong Confundus Charm, but the wizard had bungled. The mistake the man had made would have confused her brain enough to forget for an undetermined amount of time to complete basic functions such as breathing, or even the beating of her heart. His shield had blocked most of it, so the end result was that Minerva could not focus. At St. Mungo's they had had her under constant watch. The muggle doctors decided that she was severe ADD, or was suffering from dementia.

Severus looked over at his closet. There, hidden deep within his trunk, was her wand. He had taken it from the Healers at St. Mungo's when they left. 'She couldn't even focus long enough to cast a lumos. But then she met Nora just this last year, the same time Tim darkened my door. They had just been returned by a foster family that couldn't handle them.'

Nora and Minerva had met on the roof top. Severus had thrown a fit when he learned that Minerva had made it to the roof unsupervised. Tim had told him later that his sister had found Min on the roof and had stopped her from stepping close to the edge. They had both sat down somewhere up there and had a long conversation about fears and worry.

What had amazed Severus was that Minerva had stayed focused throughout the entire conversation.

What amazed Nora's doctors was that the girl had opened up to Minerva. It was then that he learned that Nora was being treated for an obsessive–compulsive disorder which seemed to be triggered by her worry over how Timothy was treated. She had never really talked to any of the doctors about her fears or her anxiety. The doctors had latched onto this break through and started using Minerva as a means to work with Nora.

Severus had helped this out by telling them that Minerva used to hold a counseling position at a school. Which was true, as the Head of House, she had lots of practice counseling children.

There was a marked improvement in both of them. It took that to show him that St. Mungo's was wrong, Minerva had a chance at getting better, and Severus started researching a potion to help.

Taking a deep breath, Severus hauled himself over to his desk to finish his letter to Matthew Reynolds, the Potions Master who was the lead of the team he worked with. He needed a few other resources.

(Ô.Õ)

Severus was frowning hard, his mind working as fast as it could deciphering the issue that Reynolds was having with their potion. There was something going on with the ingredients. Either it was a preparation issue, a timing issue or an ingredient issue, and it was his task to figure out possible solutions.

Tightening his fingers about his fountain pen, he leaned his head back onto his chair and stared out the window. It was at times like these when he needed to be in a lab. If he could just run through the steps of the potion, he would be able to decipher what was going on. 'I could now. Minerva is getting better, and I can walk and sit. We don't need to be here. I can move us into Spinner's End and use the lab there.'

He was jarred out of his thoughts by Tim rushing into his room.

"Toby?" Tim stopped near the door, his eyes wide and uncertain.

Severus glared at the boy. It was Saturday, his one day that no one bothered him. Not the nurses, doctors and not children. The only one who saw him was the dietician. The glare faded when he spotted the letter clutched in Timothy's hand. It had a familiar green ink and a crest that Severus knew all too well. Shifting his gaze to the boy's face, he raised an eyebrow and waited.

"Toby... this letter... I don't know what to make of it." Tim crossed the room holding out the folded parchment.

Holding out his hand, Severus wondered if Nora had received one as well. "Go get Min and Nora. If Nora received a letter as well, tell her to bring it."

Timothy took off out the door.

Looking at the letter, Severus wondered where the person was that was supposed to explain all of this to the muggle families. 'If Nora has one... there is no way they can stay here and go to Hogwarts. How will Nora react to the pressures there? Will Timothy be able to pass? He is showing promise now, but if he was there...' His thoughts ended when Tim returned with the others in tow.

"Nora, did you receive an unusual letter today?" Severus watched as Minerva settled on the edge of his bed.

Nora pulled an identical letter out of her pocket and handed it to Severus. "It's just a prank letter, Toby. There is no such thing as a school of Witchcraft and Wizardry."

Minerva's head jerked up from where she was straightening the covers.

"Minerva, I think this is your area of expertise." Severus pulled his wand out and sent both letters to her before casting a series of privacy spells about the room.

Minerva waited until the two children finished watching him, the familiar letters smoothed on her lap. "A young wizard and witch. How wonderful."

Tim and Nora looked over at her, surprised.

Severus enjoyed the how utterly focused Minerva was at through the entire conversation that followed.

They sent off the replies with the same owl that took Severus' possible solutions to Reynolds.

(Ô.Õ)

The next morning Severus woke up, a game plan laid out in his mind. He would set it all up before telling the others, just in case it didn't work. Putting both Muggle and Wizarding money in his pocket, he headed out. Using his newly transfigured cane and a disillusionment charm, he made it outside.

The pavement wasn't very crowded, but it was more than enough for Severus. By the time he made it over to a deserted area, his heart was racing and he was feeling a bit wobbly on his feet. The push of the light crowds made him nervous. 'There is no way am I going to be able to apparate.'

Storing his pride back where it had resided for many years, he signaled for the Knight Bus, and paid the fare to go to London. Leaning back in the seat, he cast a quiet Sticking charm so he wouldn't slide about.

After Minerva and the children left last night, he had hunted up the forms for what he had planned. Luckily the facility that they were staying at fostered and arranged for adoption of children. He would go through them, but there was no way that they would approve what he wanted to do.

Stepping carefully off the bus, he was grateful for the ramp that led up into the court. With a few judicial spells, it took him about three hours to do what would typically take eight months. When he hailed the Knight Bus once again, he was the legal guardian of Tim and Nora. He also had to paperwork set so that Minerva could be added if she wanted to.

He rode the bus to the Ministry of Magic. No one in the Muggle world knew who Tim and Nora's parents were nor what happened to them. Both children suffered from partial amnesia when they were found. They had been around seven years old. He hoped to find out something while he processed the adoption at the Ministry.

Clutching his cane, he focused as hard as he could to make it to the wand check. The clerk barely glanced at the wand tag. Severus sank into the nearest seat and was heartily wishing he was finished with this.

After a ten minute break, he garnered his strength back up and continued down the hall towards Children Services.

A quick glance at the name plate gave him a starting point. "Miss Blanco."

The frazzled witch looked up from the newspaper she was reading. "Afternoon, sir. How can I help you?"

Severus took a moment to transfigure the stool into an arm chair before he sat down. "I am here to process the adoption of two children. Their parents are unknown in the muggle world where they were raised, and I would like to ascertain if there is any information about them here. That information will not change the adoption.

The watery green eyes blinked a moment before the witch nodded. "Do you have the muggle forms?"

Severus slid them across counter.

Miss Blanco ran her wand tip over the Tim and Nora's names and then flicked it towards the wall covered in filing cabinets. A folder flew out and landed on the counter next to her. Flipping it open, a happy smile filled her face. "You found them."

Severus felt a tiny bit of doubt lodge in his chest. Were they missing children? Did they have family looking for them? "I take it you have information on their family?"

The witch pushed the folder over to him. "You can read that while I process the adoption papers."

The first page of the folder told Severus what the root cause of Nora's OCD was. There, in full color, was a picture of a man and a woman brutally murdered. Turning the picture over, he read the file. The criminals had been caught and had confessed to attempting to Obliviate a male child that was in the house while they were taking anything they could. He now understood what was going on with Tim's memory. He didn't know when Nora walked into the house, nor how they ended up in the Muggle system but he had enough to work with. He would give Minerva the details so she could work with Nora, and he would set up an appointment for Tim at St. Mungo's to see what they could do for him.

"Here you go, Mr. Snape. Just sign here and here and you will be ready to go."

Shifting his gaze, he read over the form the witch had sat next to the folder. Using a quill for the first time in twenty years, he signed his name.

"Here are their vault keys, and all their paper work. I wish you the best of luck."

Severus shrank the scrolls and made sure the keys was deep in his pocket. "Thank you."

Taking a moment, he prepared himself to get up. Once he was standing he changed the chair back.

As he walked out of the building, he knew that he had reached his end for the day. Signaling the Knight Bus, he headed back.

(Ô.Õ)

Severus didn't remember much of the rest of that day. Tim had come for his tutoring, and he remembered asking the boy to go get his sister and Min when they were done. That was his last memory until the morning sun woke him up.

Pushing himself up into an almost sitting position, he spotted a folded note on his side table. Opening it he read Minerva's query about what he had done the day before and an order to take it easy today. There was a not so subtle threat to find Poppy and bring her to Severus' bedside if he didn't.

Setting that fear aside, he took stock of how he felt that morning. His muscles were tired, and he could feel the curse sitting like a malignant tumor in his back.

As he was deciding if he would have the energy to complete the rest of his errands, one of the attendants arrived with a wheel chair to take him down to breakfast. After forty years, he was still embarrassed to be dressed and moved into the chair to be wheeled to the cafeteria.

Minerva joined him at the small table. "What happened yesterday, Toby?"

Severus raised an eyebrow at the name, but let it go. "Errands. I have some I have to run today as well. Have those two and yourself packed."

Minerva's eyes narrowed. "We are leaving again?"

Severus looked about the room, watching all those that were starting to pay attention to their conversation. "I'll give you all the details later."

Minerva followed his gaze before she nodded, and they finished breakfast in silence. She rested a hand on his shoulder before she left. "Be careful."

A few hours later found Severus in a small building near Gringotts frowning at the clerk who was looking down the list of customers.

"Number twenty five through number thirty, come with me please."

Severus followed the clerk into the back room only to be turned over to another clerk.

"So, you want a house elf?" When the Severus nodded, she continued. "Any special requirements?"

Severus fought a frown; this process was annoying. "They should be decent with children, housework, and elderly."

"This way, there might be one you are looking for in this room." The girl opened a door off the corridor they were in. There, sitting around on miniature sized chairs were a group of house elves.

One sweeping glare and the group cringed. Tim would have them for breakfast. "Maybe a different room."

The clerk looked up at the man before nodding slightly to herself. She would see if he would take one of the hard to place group. "Follow me."

The next room was mostly empty. Three elves moved about looking bored. The clerk motioned Severus into the room and quickly shut the door so none of them could escape. She knew that this group would leave and possible wreck havoc on the calm house elves out there. "This is Mint, Caleb, Tony, and …" she paused her eyes darting about frantically looking for the last elf.

Severus looked over the three as he waited for her to finish panicking. This group was obviously intelligent and could get into a lot of mischief if they weren't challenged enough. Mint was a cooking elf with the ability to lead a large kitchen and should be at some high class restaurant. She gave off the same vibe as Sage, the head cook of Hogwarts, did. Caleb looked to be one to run a stable or farm. He possible understood how to breed animals. He reminded Severus of Malfoy's head stable elf. Tony he couldn't quite tell what he would specialize in, but he knew that it wasn't dealing with little children.

He caught sight of a fourth in the deep shadows near the door. Ignoring the panicking clerk, he walked over to him. The elf held himself with a bit of pride and Severus could see that this one had potential. He spoke softly so as not to disturb the clerk. "What is your name?"

Light brown bulbous eyes narrowed for a moment before the elf replied just as soft. "Payne. You should not be standing."

Severus smirked. Just what he needed, a know-it-all elf with a name to match his disposition. He was sure that this elf could be a pain. "Payne, I am Severus Snape and am in need of an elf that can handle taking care of two children and an elderly witch while tending a small house."

Payne's gaze swept over the man. "And what of yourself?"

Raising an eyebrow, Severus refused to be put out by the elf's demeanor. "I shall be there as well, but I am in complete charge of my facilities."

The little elf folded his arms and sent a look at the cane before looking back at the tall wizard. "You shouldn't be standing, but you are." The statement was almost a scold. "A small house? Will I be in charge of cooking and cleaning? And how small of children?"

"The twins will be going to Hogwarts this year, and yes, cooking and cleaning. The place is not much smaller than the place we are in now. The twins can handle their own rooms." Severus watched as a contemplative look settled on the little face. It looked completely out of place on a house elf. "I will also have a potions lab there. That will be my domain to take care of."

Payne gave the wizard another quizzical look before nodding. "I know how to clean in delicate areas, if you give me instructions I can handle the lab."

He now waited for the wizard to make the next move. He was anxious that this one would walk away also. He wanted a family, but all of them that had come by had been put off by his manner of speech and his forthrightness. This one didn't seem to be.

Severus studied the small elf who reminded him of a bit of the three elves that were in charge of the dungeons of Hogwarts when he resided there. The main difference was that Payne had learned not speak in the normal house elf deferential tones. He wondered if that was the main reason this elf was here. "If you are willing to be my house elf, I am willing to instruct you on how to clean up a potions lab."

Payne held out a hand to the tall wizard. When his was enveloped by the larger hand of his chosen master, he smiled. Even with the curse taint the man's magic made him feel happy.

Severus glanced back at the clerk who was peering under small beds and into lockers. The other three elves seemed to be helping her, but to Severus it was obvious that they were keeping her attention away from where he and Payne were. "Should we let her know?"

There was a long pause before Payne nodded and signaled Mint.

Mint gave the clerk a large innocent look. "Mistress Suzy, ma'am, the man is wanting something?"

The clerk spun about to see what Mint was talking about. She stared at her client standing next to the elf she had been looking all over for. Every ounce of her frustration came out as she walked forward. "Payne! Where have you been?"

Payne stared in surprise when Master Snape moved between him and Mistress Suzy.

"He has been here the entire time. We have discussed my requirements, and have agreed that he shall be coming with me. What forms do we need to complete this transaction?" Severus scowled at the incompetent clerk.

Suzy jerked to a halt. The man wanted Payne? She wasn't going to give him a chance to change his mind. "This way." She swept out the door and called back over her shoulder. "Hold onto the elf until we get to the processing room."

Severus looked down at the elf and raised an eyebrow. Hold onto the elf? Shaking his head, he walked out the door knowing that Payne would follow him.

The processing went as well as he expected, and once they stepped out he looked at the little elf. "The place is called Spinner's End. We'll take the Knight Bus there, and I will be back this evening with everyone else."

Two hours later he was back at in his room, slumped on his bed, enjoying a moment of not focusing on anything but directing his things to pack.

Minerva, Tim and Nora came in as he shrank everything and levitated them up to him to tuck in a pocket. "Are you ready?"

Minerva took his chair and the twins sat on the foot of his bed. It was Minerva who spoke. "What is going on, Toby?"

Severus made eye contact with each one of them before casting a privacy ward on the door. "Tim and Nora need to learn what they can about the Wizarding world. They are going to Hogwarts next year and it would not do for them to be ignorant. They need to receive a strong foundation in their new world. And they can only do that if they are in it." He tapped his fingers on the bedspread before he continued. "With that in mind, I am re-opening my old home."

Minerva's eyes widened. "You are taking them with you?"

Severus raised an eyebrow. "I am taking all of us with me. I have adopted the two, with the ability for you to add yourself as one of their guardians. That will give us both the ability to take care of any issues that arise in their lives. As well as seeing their grades and classes."

He barely got through the sentence before the shock wore off on the twins and he had two ten year olds hugging his neck. Balancing himself with one hand, he wrapped another around the two. He made eye contact with Minerva over their head, conveying that there was more he needed to tell her later.

At her slight nod, he tightened his arm around the two briefly before he let them go. "There is a house elf at Spinner's End. His name is Payne and his is to be obeyed." His look pinned the ecstatic children to the bed. "He will clean and help cook, but you will be responsible for your room, which tonight you will share. Now, Minerva, do we have everyone's luggage packed?"

Minerva jerked her attention back to the three on the bed.

"Everyone is packed and ready to go?"

She nodded at Severus' patient question.

"Tim, if you would check the hall? We shall go collect your things and leave."

Thirty minutes later they were on the Knight Bus, heading for Spinner's End.