Chapter Five: Twists, Turns, and Murder at the Ministry
Severus stood shaken, staring at the now closed door which Potter had just darted through as if Voldemort himself was on his heels.
Merlin! The things the boy had said.
Severus quickly gathered up the file on his desk and left the classroom, heading for the Headmaster's office, muttering all the way that Dumbledore had to be a closet sadist. To force him and Potter to endure each other ... and now these--revelations--of Potter's. As if Severus needed any more complications in his life.
"Ah, Severus, my dear boy. Good morning, please don't tell me you've sent young Harry to the hospital wing already. Poppy will come looking for you ... she just might anyway. She wasn't too happy with you after having to sort out Mundungus yesterday afternoon."
"There was no damage done to Fletcher. Duelling third years do worse damage to each other in the corridors between classes." Severus snorted.
"Potter is in one piece," Severus glared. He'd been forced to take on Potter as the only one on staff both magically and physically capable of training the blasted brat. The only other two powerful enough to teach Potter in-depth were Dumbledore and Flitwick, but neither, at 157 and 128 respectively, had the physical stamina and endurance to realistically and proficiently train the brat. Albus didn't have the time with the Order and the school. Filius, once a dueling champion or not, was the third most magically powerful staff member and not all that certain to be powerful enough to deal with Potter. All pretty (and grudgingly he had to admit sound) reasons aside--Albus was determined he and the Potter whelp work together and Severus was well and truly stuck with the brat.
Severus had demanded he be allowed to teach Potter his way--no matter how often the boy landed in Pomphrey's hospital beds. And, thankfully, for many parts of it others would be taking over. If Albus was forcing him to deal with the brat he was not going to mollycoddle and be nice about it. If Albus didn't like it, Albus could take over the damnable miscreant's training himself.
"Delighted to hear that. Tea? Toast? Why ever aren't you with him now?" Dumbledore smiled merrily, blue eyes twinkling shoving a cup of tea and a plate of toast at Severus.
The twinkle left the blue eyes by the time Severus finished recounting his morning's meeting with Potter. The mixed tangle of heartbreak, rage and exhaustion that passed over Albus' face seemed so wrong. Disturbing for the fact almost nothing dimmed the twinkle in those annoying eyes or pulled Albus out of his performance of dottering, barmy old coot.
"Grindelwald ... Harry wants to study Grindelwald?"
"DID YOU HEAR A THING I SAID!"
"Oh yes, indeed I did. And I am simply not capable of being rational about that just now ... so, Grindelwald?" Albus said shakily, softly, only the last Dark Lord's name said with his usual inane merriness.
"I don't know. Nor do I have any idea of why Flamel would interest him. I think the boy blurted out the first two that came to mind other than Harlan Gentry."
"Mmmm," Dumbledore nodded thoughtfully, sipping his morning tea. "And have you heard yet from Narcissa Malfoy?"
"She will agree to my taking custody of Draco, on the provisio that he is enrolled in the Apprenticeship program."
"However did she learn about that?" Dumbledore asked mildly.
"I told her," Severus glared back, refusing to back down from the accursed twinkling blue gaze on him. "Draco is not too far gone yet. He's had enough of Narcissa's influence, hopefully. He will be bound to Hogwarts and unable to actively work against the school, so that should reassure you and the rest that the boy won't be opening the front gates to the Dark Lord. He is magically powerful enough and of pedigreed enough lineage that the idiots at the Ministry cannot object to his placement. Despite Lucius' current status."
"Now, now, Severus, you shouldn't get yourself worked up so. I agree, Draco will make a splendid addition to the Apprenticeship Program."
Severus growled again, having the distinct feeling of being thoroughly played--once again--by Dumbledore. "You intended on this..."
"Of course, my dear boy, not even Narcissa would agree if I were the one to offer the boy placement. Seven Classical Apprentices, all at once. I daresay Madam Maxime is going to be rather put out with me. Have you heard from Headmaster Karakoff yet?"
"Igor hasn't owled. It's been well over a week," Severus said emotionlessly. "He's either dead, or gone to ground under the Fidelus."
"Don't give up on Mister Karakoff yet, Severus. Had he attended Hogwarts as a student, he would have been a Slytherin to be sure," Albus offered comfortingly. "His great grandmother was a Slytherin ... Odessia Banning. Cunning girl, 'Dessia. And a true beauty. I had the worst crush on her Fifth year. I daresay I paid more attention to 'Dessia's hair ribbons than I ever did to what Headmaster Black had to say during Prefect Meetings."
"Oh, it was her hair ribbons that had you drooling," Phineas Nigellus Black snorted from his frame on the wall.
"If you'll excuse me, Albus. I've an appointment with Narcissa at half past nine." Severus stood abruptly and stalked out of the Headmaster's office, not at all up to beginning to contemplate Albus as a girl-crazy school boy, and left the headmaster and the Portrait bickering about some prank played almost a century and a half before. Albus insisted it was Brandon Morrigan who'd pulled the prank. The portrait of Headmaster Black was thoroughly convinced it had been Albus.
"I've convinced Dumbledore to offer Draco a spot at Hogwarts in the Apprenticeship program. It's his, but he must return to Hogwarts with me this afternoon."
"Will you be his primary instructor?"
"No, but I will keep a close watch on him anyway. He's like as not going to be assigned to Flitwick. Or Flitwick and McGonagall will share instruction of Draco and Blaise Zabini."
"A generation removed from the Duke Morrigan's clan. Roger Bulstrode's youngest, Milicent, is also amongst the Apprentices."
"Yes, and I have charge of him, he'll be kept a tight rein on. There are two other Gryffindors, the last is a Ravenclaw who would other wise have started 5th year, but started school a year late, turning 16 the 29th of August."
"Gryffindors?" Narcissa demanded, dismissing the Ravenclaw, who was not at all to be a likely threat to her son no matter who it might be. What mattered was her son's relative safety. Even Draco admitted that Potter only retaliated. If Draco minded his manners, so would Potter. If Severus couldn't have charge of Draco, at least he had charge of Potter.
"An Irish half-blood, his mother is a granddaughter of Eiru O'Malley. And the Longbottom boy. If it's any further reassurance, Nymphadora Tonks has signed a three year contract for the DADA position."
Narcissa gave a fleeting smile. Her cousin's daughter had had a soft spot for Draco and would keep an eye on him as well.
"MOTHER!" Draco had been glaring quietly from a few feet away. "I WILL NOT!"
"You will be silent!" Narcissa hissed. "Think you that you will have anything at all left to claim as your inheritance if this is not done!"
"I refuse to--"
"You refuse nothing, Draco Nigellus Lucius Malfoy! NOTHING!" Narcissa whispered viciously at her son. "This offers you the most safety."
"I am no coward, mother! I--"
"You will hold your tongue and remember where you are and to whom you are speaking," Narcissa said icily.
"I heard you were in the building, Snape! You're being watched you know, I ought to take you down to a holding cell right now!"
"Minister Fudge," Severus glared. "I am here on Hogwarts business; Young Master Malfoy will be joining the Apprentices."
"His name wasn't on the list! He can't!"
"He must begin Apprenticeship Studies by the first of September his 16th year. The Ministry has no ability to dictate who is taken as Apprentice, and Mr. Malfoy is above compulsory school attendance. If you have further questions, I suggest you take them up with Headmaster Dumbledore. I am only seeing to the arrangements for a student of my house as Professor McGonagall and Professor Flitwick have the students of their houses who are joining the Apprenticeship."
Fudge puffed up his chest and went purple red in the face. "Oh I will! I will right now. Westley! Come along."
"Dumbledore is up to something. This is simply an outrage," the tall thin redheaded youth following Fudge agreed.
Narcissa glared down her nose at the retreating backs of the Minister and his sycophantic toadie. Fudge was an idiot. And the aide was positivley nauseating. A Weasley if one judged by the hair, but she doubted that; after all, not even the Weasleys had that poor of taste, she was certain. Though, she supposed one never knew.
"Mrs. Malfoy--Professor Snape?" Kingsley Shackelbolt said Snape's name questioningly.
"The professor is a friend of the family's, and is here on a matter concerning our son's education."
Shacklebolt nodded suspiciously.
Severus gritted his teeth and glared. He could well imagine the next Order meeting he turned up to; Shacklebolt, Moody and a few others would drag him off at wand point and interrogate him on what he'd been doing with the Malfoys. Of course, Shacklebolt would contact Albus immediately, and Albus would explain--that wouldn't matter. Never mind that he'd still been but a child, and given no choice but to take the mark. (Lily had known, even before she finally convinced him to go to Dumbledore and spy, when he was at least technically a full-fledged Death Eater). Never mind that he risked his life every time he was summoned. Never mind any of the facts of a fourteen year old boy being tortured half to death, then only agreeing when his uncle turned his wand on the boy's two year old sister, only agreeing to spare a baby the Cruciatus a second time. Never mind how many times he'd proven himself. They'd still be after him, if he wasn't quick enough or didn't keep close enough to Albus or the wolf.
Searched, wands taken by the guards for safety, Severus, Narcissa and Draco were allowed into the interrogation room that held an outraged Lucius.
"What is the meaning of this, woman? Your owl this morning?" Lucius demanded hotly, waving the letter Narcissa had sent that morning in the air.
Narcissa's eyes narrowed dangerously. From the fold of her skirt, she pulled a second wand, then sealed the door with a curse and turned the wand on Severus and Draco. "Imobilus Totalis." The curse was similar to the Petrificus, though slightly more insiduous, in the fact that one could feel the invisible bindings head to toe rather than just being frozen. While not the psychotic zealot her sister Bellatrix was, no one had ever accused Narcissa of being sweet and gentle.
Severus tried to turn his eyes to get a glimpse of the boy standing beside him. He could hear the sudden wild raggedness to Draco's breathing. The boy hated to be--or even feel--tied up. Severus was close to panicking himself, but only the fact that Narcissa was nearly psychotic in her ferocious protectiveness of Draco stopped him from bursting the magical binding on him. That, and the fact that he'd be likely executed without trial by the Ministry for wandless magic. And if not the Ministry, then Voldemort for hiding the ability from his master all these years.
"Imperio!" Narcissa pointed her wand to Lucius. "Sign these papers, NOW."
The first was the Apprenticeship Contract for Draco; the second released Lucius' name and claim on the Malfoy Inheritance, transferring it all to his son while he yet lived. There were papers giving gaurdianship of Draco to Severus, and if something happened to Severus, Albus Dumbledore. The next was a confession that said that Peter Pettigrew was alive and an illegal rat animagus. Sirius Black had been innocent, and any wrong doing Lucius might have done had been while under the influence of the Imperious Curse cast on him by his sister-in-law Bellatrix LeStrange.
The documents were signed. Narcissa pulled from her pocket a small vial of an illegal purifying potion which basically erased all curses in the wand's "memory". She quickly put a few drops on her wand, then cast a Finite Incatatem and a second Imobilis in rapid succession on Severus and the panicking Draco. Then she turned the wand on Lucius again.
"Avada Kedavra!" There was a flash of green, and Lucius crumpled to the floor. "Avada Kedavra," she said again, this time pointing her wand directly at her heart.
Stupid woman! Why in Merlin's name did you do THIS in front of the boy! Severus wanted to shout, but aurors were rushing in and he daren't make a sound.
Some six hours later he was finally back at Hogwarts, carrying the near-catatonic, close to overdosed on calming potions Draco Malfoy in his arms from the apparition point into the building and to the Hospital wing.
"What happened?" Poppy demanded, coming out of a store room into the Hospital wing entrance at the sound of the bellcharm she had on the entrance door.
"Shock. Narcissa Malfoy used the Killing Curse on Lucius in one of the visiting chambers for Ministry held prisoners. Then she turned her wand on herself and cast the Killing Curse again. Draco was in the room. He has had just over the limit of Calming Potion ... not enough to be dangerous presently, but he dare not be given more in the next 24 hours. He was quite hysterical and those idiots did nothing but make it worse, Moody wanted to use Veritaserum on him."
"I should think NOT! Not with Calming potion!"
"Thankfully, Moody was only there visiting and is officially retired as an auror. Shacklebolt was in charge of Malfoy's case and thankfully knew better."
"He should! His mother and I went through mediwitch training together! Amelia Kingsley would roll in her grave if her son hadn't had that much common sense."
"Potter! What the hell are you doing here!"
"Er, the Lineage Potion..."
"Severus," Poppy gasped. "Really, the Potters took the Traditional Gryffindor stand on the Lineage Potion calling it an insult and outrage..."
"I am aware of that, but it is also the best way to sort out a course of study of Geneaolgy and Ancestral magic." Severus glared. "I'll be with you shortly, Potter. Wait outside."
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