Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter, or anything else that may be referenced in this chapter.

A/N: Chapters will likely be sporadic, but this story is not going be be abandoned. Immense thank yous to you all for reading, reviewing, following and favouring; and as always, I hope you all enjoy this chapter! :)

Twitter: Prof_McGonagal

Chapter 17

Rose exhaled as she stepped out of the castle into the heavy storm and moved away from the front doors. Though she was soaked through to the skin and freezing cold within seconds, she'd done it; she was out. It was not happy feeling, given the circumstances, so she knew she would not attract the Dementors. But whatever relief Rose felt was quickly replaced by nerves as she realised she now faced part two of her plan: explaining what had happened to Harry.

Closing her eyes, Rose steeled her resolve, pushed her soaking wet hair away from her face, reopened her eyes, and cleared her throat.

"Kreach-"

"Rose?"

Rose broke off mid-call, spinning around in alarm and slipping slightly on the wet grass. Severus caught her right arm, holding her upright. Rose stared at him, surprised and horrified. Severus's eyes were narrowed and Rose could practically feel the anger radiating from him in waves as he glared art her.

"What the hell are you doing out here?" he demanded sharply, raising his voice to be heard over a rumble of thunder. His gaze slid from Rose's face to the rucksack on her shoulder and his eyes narrowed into slits. "Going somewhere, are you?"

"I-" Rose broke off, realising just how angry Severus was, but as Severus arched an eyebrow Rose knew she had to continue. "I'm trying to do the right thing."

Severus's glare sharpened and without another word he tightened his grip on Rose's arm and started to drag her back towards the castle.

"Sev- what the- I can walk!" Rose protested, trying to pull her arm from Severus's grip as they entered the Entrance Hall, dripping wet and leaving a puddle of water around them.

"Quiet!" Severus hissed so angrily that Rose shut up. Severus let go of her arm and gestured, wordlessly, that Rose hand over her rucksack. Rose did so rather confusedly, watching Severus took his wand from his pocket, and shrunk her rucksack with a wave of his wand. Three more waves of his wand and both he and Rose were dry, and the puddle of water was gone. Two more waves and the great front doors closed and locked themselves behind them, and Severus stowed his wand and Rose's shrunken rucksack into his pocket.

"Follow me," he ordered, starting to cross the Entrance Hall to the Grand Staircase. Rose did as she was told, falling into step beside Severus as he climbed the Grand Staircase, and headed towards the Headmaster's office. As they neared the office, a stocky little witch with sloping shoulders, light brown hair and a horribly evil-looking expression twisting her face came around the corner. Dimly, Rose recognised her from dinner that evening- it was Alecto Carrow; she and her brother Amycus were Death Eaters and now teachers. Alecto's mean little eyes lit up upon catching sight of Rose, but her delight visibly faded as her gaze shifted to Severus.

"Oh, it's you," she said sourly; pausing in front of them, but despite her sour tone, a nasty smirk twisted at her lips as she looked at Rose. "Well, Snape look at that- your own daughter out of bed after hours- and Death Eater or not she's still a student- must be just a pretty face-"

"Rose has business being out of bed," Severus interrupted her assertively. "I contacted her and asked her to check the dungeons for Peeves; there was no sign of him, and she was merely reporting that. Not," he added in split second later, tilting is chin. "that either she or I have to explain myself to you. You and your brother may be head of discipline and deputy heads of Hogwarts, Alecto, but Rose is as much a Death Eater as you are and it is I the Dark Lord trusts to be Headmaster of this school, and my daughter and I spending time together- regardless of the hour- is absolutely no concern of yours whatsoever." Severus raised his voice slightly as he went on, clearly changing the subject to ensure his word was taken as final. "Now, given that, regrettably, Peeves has evaded capture, I suggest that you return to bed."

Alecto's smirk had completely vanished, and it was at this point that it was replaced by a very unpleasant scowl indeed; and so unpleasant was the look that she fixed upon both Rose and Severus that it made the hairs on Rose's arms stand up on their very ends. But without another word Alecto stalked around them, heading down what remained of the corridor. Severus turned around and watched her walk away, making sure that she turned the corner and waiting until her footsteps had faded away before continuing down the corridor. Rose hastened to follow, trying her upmost to push aside her discomfort at the look on Alecto's face.

"…What happened with Peeves?" she asked quietly as they passed into the next corridor, partly out of curiosity and partly in the feeble hope of waning Severus's temper.

"He disapproves of the Carrow siblings returning to the castle in positions of authority- they used to try and hex and curse him as students- and he chose to take his feelings out on several classrooms." Severus explained curtly. "Wormwood," he said as they reached the gargoyle that guarded the entrance to the Headmaster's tower. Silence fell between Rose and Severus as the Gargoyle allowed them to pass and they headed up the spiral staircase and entered the Headmaster's office.

The Headmaster's office looked very similar to the way it had during Dumbledore's time as Headmaster, but watch a few glaring differences. All of Dumbledore's silver instruments were gone from the room, as was Fawkes and his perch, and Severus's things now littered the desk and a pensive stood in a glass cabinet nearby it; but the Sword of Gryffindor still hung in a glass case on the wall; the sorting hat still sat on it's shelf and the various portraits of previous Headmasters and Headmistresses still covered the walls- all of them were apparently asleep, including the large portrait of Professor Dumbledore that hung behind the desk. Rose looked away from in, her insides twisting uncomfortably as she remembered Dumbledore's death.

"Can you explain to me, please," Severus said, his tone colder than ever and attracting Rose's attention as he took his wand and her shrunken rucksack from his pocket; returned her rucksack to it's usual size and dumped it beside one of the chairs before the Headmaster's desk before sitting down behind said desk and setting his wand down on the wooden surface in front of him. He gestured that Rose sit down, too and waited as she sat down in the chair beside her rucksack, threading her fingers together slightly nervously, her heart sinking; clearly Severus's temper had not waned in the slightest; before continuing; "How running away is in any way shape or form doing the right thing?"

Rose pushed her hair from her face, and launched into her explanation with some trepidation. "I had a conversation with Pansy and Theo on the train this morning. It was harmless, but it made me realise that there was no way I could tell any of my friends about my- my Dark Mark; and that I have to leave Hogwarts: tonight. As you know, The Dark Lord uses people his followers are close to to ensure he gets his own way, and I know that they're all already in danger from being close to Draco and, in Pansy, Theo, Crabbe and Goyle's cases their fathers, but my having the Dark Mark puts them all in all the more danger, and I would never, ever forgive myself if any of them got hurt because of me; and if you got hurt any more because of me. So I thought that the best thing for me to do would be to leave Hogwarts: at a time where no one would see me, and leave no explanation- that way, if any of my friends and you were questioned about my whereabouts, no one would know anything, even about my having the Dark Mark- except for you and Draco, but you two were there when it happened- and therefore, no one would get hurt because of me, and there would be no chance of anyone getting hurt because of me; because I wouldn't be around to be manipulated."

"Don't be ridiculous," Severus snapped, the moment Rose finished speaking. "The Dark Lord will see that as treachery and he won't take kindly to that, so you'll be hunted down and killed; and when your friends and I are questioned, for we undoubtedly would be so, you seriously think the Dark Lord won't curse the loved ones of a traitor- or have them cursed; and maybe even parade that fact so you know it's happened?! Use your common sense!"

Rose hesitated; she hadn't thought of that. "…But- but I have to do something!" she burst out after a moment, sounding as desperate as she felt. If the Headmasters and Headmistresses on the walls around them had actually been asleep, all of them were certainly awake now and listening with great interest; Dexter Fortescue had his ear trumpet out, the better to hear; and Dumbledore in particular, was surveying the scene below him over the top of his half moon spectacles, the tips of his fingers pressed together. "Leaving- the idea of it- It makes me feel like I'm taking control of my life again- like I've promised myself; and I need that- I really need that control."

"I don't care about your desire- or your need- for control, I care about you staying alive!" Severus said sharply. "I know that doing nothing is frustrating; that you didn't want to join the Death Eaters; and I don't blame you for wanting to fight back, but I promised your mother, I promised myself, that I would keep you safe and a big part of that is you keeping yourself safe and not doing stupid, stupid things- like running away!" Severus slumped back in his chair, raking a hand through his hair in frustration. "Where were you planning on going? Did you even have a plan?"

Rose hesitated again, then shrugged; deciding to say nothing of her agreement with Harry. Severus was already very angry with her and she had a feeling that the news she had been planning on running away to join her brother, who was actually being hunted down by the Dark Lord, would not do anything to improve his mood; rather, it would only incense him further.

Severus sighed exasperatedly, sinking down into his seat and looking carefully at Rose as though she was some kind of anomaly he was trying to understand. But a moment later he paused, leaning forwards and gesturing to the pocket of Rose's jeans; the pocket- Rose realised a split second later, looking at it- that the corner of the note Blaise had given her was currently sticking out of, in plain sight.

"What's that parchment in your pocket?" Severus demanded sharply.

"Nothing." Rose said quickly; Severus snorted disbelievingly and a moment later his wand was back in his hand and the note was flying out of Rise's pocket and hurtling through the air towards Severus.

"Hey!" Rose protested, snatching at the note; but it slipped through her fingers and Severus took no notice, plucking the note out of mid-air as it reached him, and setting his wand back down on the desk in front of him as he unfolded the note and read it, his eyes narrowing as he did so.

"…I take it you and Zabini haven't actually ended your relationship?" he spat after a moment, tossing the note back at Rose as he finished reading it, a fresh wave of rage clearly washing over him. Rose nodded wordlessly as she took the note back and stuffed it back into her pocket; feeling it would be useless to lie. But this honestly did nothing whatsoever to prove her standing with her father; on the contrary, he practically seethed with rage.

"Have you completely lost your mind?!" he cried, his voice getting louder with every word. "Sneaking around- it gives reasonable grounds for people- anyone- to think you are being secretive- something that, I'm sure even you can agree, is not at all desirable in wartime!" Severus spoke jerkily, as though his mind was jumping from one thought to the next as they swamped him in his fury. "The Carrows- they're not just here to teach! They're here to watch the school and report anything they find suspicious or threatening to the Dark Lord's regime straight to him! Not only that, they greatly resent the fact that I have authority over them- I know you saw the way Alecto looked at both of us- and they will undoubtedly do whatever they can to hurt my reputation with the Dark Lord- such as keeping a very close eye on you, finding out that you are lying about the nature of your relationship with Zabini- claiming you have broken up when you actually haven't; staff hear school gossip too!- and then taking that information to the Dark Lord and exaggerating and embellishing the details to make it sound as though it would be foolish to place any stock in anything you say! Your sneaking around suggests that you have a capacity for keeping secrets and the last thing you need is the Dark Lord thinking you feel you have any need to keep anything a secret- even something as trivial as a relationship! Any suggestion that you have a penchant for concealment and that you lie about your relationships could lead to the Dark Lord's taking a greater interest in you- to ensure that you are actually loyal to him; and even ensure that the state of your friendship with Potter is really as desolate as you have made it out to be!"

"I-" Rose stammered, her blood turning cold in her veins. "I didn't realise-"

"No, you didn't." Severus sneered at her; Rose sank back down in her seat as fury radiated from Severus like never before. "This is not a game, Rose! As much as it may appeal to you to think of it as a battle of wits or wills or for control or whatever, war is not a game, it is very serious; and flouncing about playing cat and mouse with your safety instead of keeping your nose clean and your head down is not clever; it is not cunning; it is very, very dangerous, childish, and mind-bogglingly stupid!" Severus threw himself back into his seat, covering his face with his hand. "Get out of my sight." He spat, gesturing in the direction of the door with his other hand.

Hesitantly, Rose got to her feet and picked up her rucksack and shouldered it. Severus did not lift his head from his hand as Rose cast a disillusionment charm over her bag for good measure and crossed the room to the door. She turned as she reached it- Severus still hadn't looked up; though the eyes of every previous Headmaster and Headmistress on the walls were fixed upon her. Rose pushed her glasses up her nose, swallowing slightly nervously.

"I'm sorry Severus," she said quietly; though her words echoed around the silent room. "I'm just- I'm trying to be able to live with myself."

Severus said nothing; nor did he look up. Swallowing a lump in her throat, Rose turned the door handle and left the office, feeling very small, guilty, and conflicted indeed.

A/N: Please review! :)