Title: Patronus
Author: Ave Ebony
Beta: Mika, the best beta ever. No lending! No trespassing!
Rating: the lowest PG
Disclaimer: no money, no rights, no nice men for me, just a bit of good times writing this
Warning: None. Notice that this is not a character-death fiction.
Reviews: Yes, please:  ave_ebony@yahoo.com
Note: there will be a sequel




Dear Remus,

I know you hate me for the murder I committed and for all the spiteful insults I have used against you over the years. I had to cast accusations and affront you at every occasion to maintain both my credibility and my position within the ranks of the Dark Lord. I had to kill Albus, as much as it pained me. If only

I am not writing you to ask for forgiveness, I know I do not deserve it. As you are reading this letter, it does not matter to me any more anyway, as I have spelled it with Enerma Codelisce. As you may recall, the spell is bound to its creator’s demise.

Very soon after this letter you should receive a formal communication from a lawyer, who will be alerted of my death the second it comes. I made you my universal inheritor. The financial resources should allow you to secure the services of a Potions Master who is competent enough to brew the Wolfsbane Potion. I suggest you begin your search in Russia or Chechnya. Please do not refuse the inheritance. I swear on all I hold dear that this money has no blood staining it.

I love you, Remus Lupin, and only now dare I reveal this to you. I love you.

Severus Snape


Remus was astounded. It was past midnight and he had been sleeping peacefully, when a Patronus had woken him. A silvery bird had landed on Remus’ shoulder and tilted its lovely head. Remus had gasped in surprise, whispering, “Fawkes?” Before the Patronus had vanished, it had let a piece of parchment fall into Remus’ lap. Now the tawny-haired Wizard was sitting on the rickety bed in Shrieking Shack, his lips parted in astonishment and his mind whirling. Severus sent him a Patronus? A timed Patronus? Severus was dead? Why was the Patronus a Phoenix? Severus loved him? Severus left him money? None of that made any sense. Well, maybe the death part. Severus had died. Remus felt an unexpectedly strong pang of regret. Severus was dead.

If the message was true, that was. The whole letter was so unlike Severus. The Potions Master had never called him Remus- Well, not after the werewolf incident in their sixth year. He had certainly never called him dear. He had never- And yet, it was Severus’ handwriting. Although it wasn’t as if handwriting couldn’t be faked.

But what would anyone want to accomplish by forging the letter? Why would anyone want to give him a false message about an inheritance? It didn’t sound like a prank. But-

Remus rolled the parchment up again and noticed a sentence he had missed the first time, Please do not destroy this before you read it. For some reason Remus found the plea to be very sad.

Remus recovered enough to stand up and to go to fix himself a cup of tea. The Shack had been cleaned and equipped with the basic kitchen needs, bed, wardrobe, and, the best part – thanks to Minerva, the Headmistress of Hogwarts – it now had running water. Remus had been living in the Shack for seven months now and he couldn’t complain; it was poor, but in comparison to the old Black house it was mercifully peaceful.

Grimmauld Place had been compromised some nine months ago and the Order of the Phoenix had been forced to find another meeting place. Grimmauld Place had to be abandoned when the Order learned about Snape’s betrayal; it hadn’t been safe anymore. The Order decided to use it as a trap; however in the following three months no Death Eaters had come to attack it. Harry, as Sirius’ inheritor, and as owner of the old house, had then decided to demolish it.

Thereby Remus had lost the roof over his head. However, the werewolf couldn’t bring himself to regret it. He had hated the house and he realised now that he should have left it after Sirius’ death, because the emptiness and lack of his friend’s presence had been slowly driving him insane. Only, he hadn’t been able to make himself move. Especially for the small, irrational part of his brain that had screamed at him that if he moved he would be betraying Sirius. Again.

Minerva suggested that Remus live in the Shack and he accepted gratefully. Not only did it help him in the uneasy situation of finding himself a safe place to live, but it also gave him the feeling that he was within quick reach in case Harry needed something. Minerva also gave him other tasks and missions. He had the feeling he was getting more of them thanks to his proximity to the school. The other reason was that although Sirius had left him a decent amount of money, Remus preferred to reserve those funds for the future, being only too familiar with the quirky paths of fate.

Remus sipped his tea, the hot cup warming his fingers. It was spring and the temperature was pleasant enough in comparison to winter, but it was still rather cold. Remus reread the letter carefully. Please do not destroy this before you read it. Remus smiled sadly.

His eyes stopped on the crossed-out “If only”. If only. Remus wondered what Severus could have wanted to write before he had decided against it. If only I hadn’t killed Albus? If only I hadn’t kept insulting you? If only I could explain?

Remus pulled out his wand and cast a simple time spell. The letter had been written last July. With a hint of self-depreciation Remus cast a spell probing the identity of the author of the text. He should have thought of that much sooner instead of trying to think up who could be the prankster! The spell identified the writer as Severus, without any reservations. So much for any doubts about its authenticity.

Severus was dead. Remus had learned it from the letter an hour ago, but somehow it started to seem real only now. If only we had been friends. If only our lives had run along different roads. If only... If only you had believed me? How many times had Remus tried to act friendly towards Severus, only to be dismissed angrily? Why would Severus have kept turning down the very thing he craved?

Remus wondered if Severus would have been able to persuade him of the Potions Masters’ innocence. Remus suddenly, in a weird association, remembered the two mysterious, heavily spelled messages that the Order had received during the last eight months. Both messages had contained information that had later proved to be both accurate and helpful. Both had come from an unidentified source and members of the Order had been unable to locate neither the writer nor the location from which the owl had been sent. Had the messages come from Severus? It would make sense; however, there was no proof. Remus decided it didn’t matter in the present situation.

Remus thought about Severus. He felt the same as always - a mixture of sadness for the brilliant but evidently unhappy man, guilt for what had nearly happened when they were at school, guilt that he had let Sirius and James bully the scowling Slytherin boy, admiration for Severus’ bravery, respect for the Potions Master’s wits and for his diligence, and of course, a strong feeling of anger had been added to this mixture since Snape had betrayed the Order and murdered its leader. Yes, Remus was very angry with Severus, but he would prefer him in court, defending himself. Remus wanted Snape in Azkaban, he didn’t wish for his death. Remus wanted a fair trial for the traitor. His death was nearly as bad as Sirius’ condemnation to Azkaban without trial. As clear as the situation might appear, there was always the possibility of unknown facts. Remus had learned his lesson and had learned it well. “Sirius,” he whispered sadly, “I am so sorry.” And after a moment he added, “I am sorry, Severus.”

The night was paling into dawn. Remus wondered when he would hear from the lawyer. He decided he would wait to inform Minerva and the rest of the Order. This was a private matter, after all. Remus didn’t feel like letting Mad Eye and Weasley’s boys laugh over Severus’ declaration of love.

Love. Again, Remus pondered this most confusing topic carefully. Severus had loved him. For how long? Why had the Potions Master never let himself act upon his feelings? Remus wondered what would have happened if Severus had acted upon it. After some of Remus’ friendly greetings Severus could have responded in kind. To start a conversation. To test the waters. Not risking anything, merely probing, in Severus’ very subtle ways, probing what Remus might feel. Remus wondered if Severus had made any such attempts without Remus’ noticing. He tried hard to remember, but couldn’t recall any occasion on which Severus had been even remotely friendly. What would Remus have done had Severus tried? Remus was sure he would have answered in a friendly way. He had never enough friends and he had always wanted to reconcile with Severus.

Remus tried to imagine how such a conversation between them might have gone. They would have greeted each other cordially, for once without the bitter sarcasm on Severus’ part, but that would have been where they would have run out of topics to discuss. Remus wouldn’t have dared to appraise Severus’ work as a spy, and the thought of talking about the weather with the irascible Potions Master made him cringe. There would have been an awkward silence in which Remus supposed he might have worked up the courage to ask Severus to brew the Wolfsbane potion for him once more. Perhaps Severus would have agreed, eventually, and they would have started meeting on a more regular basis. Perhaps Remus could have slowly, carefully, drawn the other man out, coaxing him into opening up just a bit.

Remus shook his head. There was no point in daydreaming. Severus had been always harsh to him and offering friendship had simply been out of question.

And if Severus would have offered more than friendship? Well, that was a question. Remus had to admit that after being a rather ugly teenager, as an adult Severus Snape wasn’t without a certain appeal. The reason why Remus never contemplated the possibility of an intimate relationship existing between them (Remus deliberately decided to omit the fact he had never known that Snape was a gay), was the Potions Master’s acerbic demeanour and language. Remus’ survival instinct would never allow him to fall in love with someone who evidently wished the worst for him. Remus felt sorry for Severus and he felt sorry for himself as well; now he would never get the chance to make friends with the unique man.

Remus kept contemplating the letter and then he realised he should at least try to read something or else he would waste the whole day pondering inane what-ifs. ‘There is not a bigger trap than what-ifs, John,’ Remus remembered what his Muggle grandfather had told him after Remus had been bitten by the werewolf.

His mind, however, refused to stay on the book he tried to read. Remus caught himself repeatedly wondering what would happen if—  He wished Minerva had some errand for him. Around eleven he got very angry with himself when he caught himself being excited about the possibility of getting Wolfsbane again. No more demolishing the Shack every month. No more loosing control. Remus felt a sharp pang of guilt. He shouldn’t feel joy over Severus’ death. He decided he needed a walk.

The green meadows calmed Remus a bit. And for some unknown reason he remembered his grandfather again. Remus had loved and admired the old man, and as he grew older his regard for the now deceased man had only grown. Grandfather John hadn’t heard about magic until he was forty-one years old, when his daughter got her Hogwarts letter. He had never made any problem of it; he took it as everything else, stoically accepting. When he was sixty-three, he had accepted the fact that his grandson would turn into a beast every month with the same calmness. Remus suddenly remembered another thing Grandfather John had told him, ‘I saw the big crisis and two wars, John, I hope you will never have to live trough such a thing. Man can manage everything, except those two kinds of hell.’ Remus wondered why he recalled the grandfather. He smiled sadly. “I saw two wars as well, Grandpa,” he whispered and wondered if he at least would live long enough to see the end of the present war.

It was evening when Remus started wondering why the message from the lawyer hadn’t come yet. Even if the owl had been sent from the outskirts of Europe, it should have been here by now. Somehow Remus couldn’t imagine Severus having a lawyer in Africa or Asia.

Maybe the lawyer- But no, it was unthinkable. A lawyer could, theoretically, hold back the information about the death of his client or conceal the whole inheritance. However, the general practice when leaving a last wish with a notary was to procure spelled documents, which prevented the lawyer from manipulating them and spells that forced him to act upon it when time came, no sooner, no later. Severus was one of the most cautious persons Remus had ever met, which was why he found it unthinkable that Severus would omit those precautions.

What could he remember about Enerma Codelisce? It was a timed charm, which reacted to its creator’s magic. Or rather, the sudden lack of it. Typically, the charm was used as a dead man’s switch, to time certain events to occur only after the castor had died. It was one of typical spells for delayed letters, exactly as Severus had used it. Magic. Remus blinked. Something was nudging in his subconscious.

Remus decided to call it an early night, as he had slept only some two or three hours the previous night. As he was taking care of his evening ablutions, the errand thought suddenly clicked into the right place in his brain while he was brushing his teeth. Remus froze and the green toothbrush fell on the floor. “Merlin!” He whispered. Severus wasn’t dead, he had lost his magic. That was why the Enerma Codelisce spell had been activated, and why the lawyer, who must have used a different timed charm, had failed to contact Remus.

Agitated, Remus paced through the Shack. Severus without magic. Severus powerless. Severus defenceless. Remus felt panic rise in his chest.

He made himself pause, take a seat, and calm down. He might be wrong. It was just a possibility. What was he to do? He felt it was necessary to try to find Severus. In case Severus really had lost his magic, he was probably in danger. There weren’t many ways to strip a person of their magic, and all of them were considered dark arts. It could be nothing good.

There were many ways to track a person down; however, most of those traced magic, which would be a futile endeavour in this instance. The only thing Remus could do at the moment was to send an owl and put a tracking spell on it. For that a tracking map would be needed and Remus knew a tracking map covering the whole of the United Kingdom was in Albus’ office. Remus sighed and then shrugged; it didn’t really matter that he would have to tell Minerva, he couldn’t keep it to himself forever anyway. Especially not if he might have to rescue Severus and find him a safe place.

‘Maybe Severus will be sent to Azkaban,’ Remus suddenly thought. He also realised, with shock, that he considered Severus to be innocent. When had he started to believe in the theories that Severus acted upon Albus’ orders in the name of some greater plan? Remus knew that there must have been something, because Albus’ portrait might not have denied Severus’ culpability, but had rather been unwilling to discuss the matter at all. Then again, all portraits needed at least a year after they were activated by the death of the model before they reached something that resembled the “normal” behaviour of their model. At present, Albus’ eyes twinkled madly and most of the time he narrated saucy stories and jokes from his youth. Remus shrugged again. It hardly mattered. He would try to find Severus and what would happen next, would, well, just happen. Now he only had to wait till ten o’clock to go to the Headmistress office unnoticed.

Remus had to wait for about half an hour. He was anxious. Every minute might mean the minute that Severus died. Remus knew he had to find the Potions Master alive, he owed him that much. He would owe him that much even if Severus hadn’t confessed his love to Remus and hadn’t left him all of his possessions. Severus deserved to live and to have the chance to defend himself. Severus deserved the time before Albus’ portrait would give his testimony. Severus deserved to know that his sentiment was appreciated by Remus, even though the feelings weren’t reciprocated.

Finally it was ten o’clock and Remus quickly put a disguising charm on himself, even though he hoped to sneak into the castle unnoticed. On his way he dropped by in the owlery and took one inconspicuous looking bird with him.

“Furball,” Remus said the password silently and was allowed to the Headmistress office.

“Remus,” Minerva greeted him warmly. “A cup of tea?”

“No, thank you, Minerva, I believe this is rather urgent.”

They sat down and Remus briefly explained the situation and handed Minerva Severus’ letter. The werewolf watched Minerva’s astonishment changing is disbelief and finally into an expression of deep contemplation.

“I believe you checked the letter?” the Headmistress said finally.

“It was written by Severus last July,” Remus nodded.

“So, you believe Severus has lost his magic, but that he is alive,” Minerva stated rather than asked. She paused and then added, “You realise that this could be a trap?”

Remus’ eyes widened and he only shook his head. Of course it could be a trap, he realised belatedly, why had he never considered that? The whole letter sounded so improbable, maybe it was a trick. Remus supposed Severus could be trying to find his soft spots – lack of Wolfsbane, lack of money, desire to have a pack of his own. “I—,” he started but was interrupted by the portrait of Phineas Nigellus Black.

“I seriously doubt it would be a trap,” the portrait stated grandly.

“Meaning what, Phineas?” Minerva asked calmly but in a tone that warned him not to make his usual spectacle.

“Severus Snape is not a traitor,” Phineas Black said softly and his words aroused a row among the portraits.

“We are not allowed to give any facts or theories, Phineas,” one of the preceding Headmasters rebuked him.

“Yes, he’s right, Phineas, Albus asked us to keep things secret,” another portrait agreed.

“Things change,” Phineas hissed, annoyed. “What is the silence good for now if he was uncovered to the Dark Lord?”

“You can not know that,” a Headmistress said.

“No, of course, he could just lose his magic without reason,” Phineas retorted sarcastically, “He simply woke up one day and it was gone.”

“Please,” Minerva McGonagall interrupted them. “I believe Phineas is right in this matter. If Severus is not a betrayer of the Order, he is very probably now in serious danger. We need to know the truth and very quickly.”

Phineas bowed in an unabashedly proud way and said, “Young Snape killed Albus on his request and urging. Albus wanted to strengthen Snape’s position within Thomas Riddle’s ranks. Snape was ordered to continue his spying and to inform the Order anonymously.”

“Is that a theory of yours, or a fact?” Remus asked tensely, feeling on edge by the events of the past few hours.

“They were facts,” Phineas answered. “We heard Albus talk to Severus and explain his plans to him.” The other portraits nodded.

Remus’ head was whirling. First Severus hated him for years, then sent him letter, then, just as Remus started to believe that Severus genuinely cared about him, it became clear that it was (only) a trap, and— Remus shook his head. “Do you have any idea where we should look for him, Headmaster Black?”

“He had a house in Spinner’s End. He would hardly attempt to hide there, though. If I were to venture a guess I would say that he is being held in a Death Eater prison,” Phineas frowned.

“What shall we do?” Minerva thought aloud. “Your plan with the owl and tracking spell is probably still the best; it should find Severus everywhere, unless he put an untraceable spell on himself, of course.”

“I will spell the owl so that they can’t trace it back to us,” Remus said, “What should I send as a message?”

“Make it look like a leaflet of a bookshop,” Minerva suggested. “Severus was always fond of books; hopefully it won’t seem suspicious. While you taking care of the owl, I will contact Shacklebolt and ask him if he could lend us a Magic bug. I will also inform him there may be a rescue operation.”

“The Magic bug is a great idea, Minerva, however won’t it take too long for Shacklebolt to obtain it?” Remus asked. Magic bugs were very rare; Remus had never seen any. The Magic bug was actually an uncommon kind of beetle that was able to record sounds and then, under a spell, it was able to repeat all of the noises recorded. Minerva’s idea to put a Magic bug on the owl was brilliant.

 “He can easily obtain one via the Auror department,” Minerva answered and left.

Remus quickly recalled the proper spells in his mind and made a nice leaflet offering four new books on various subjects. Fortunately Remus had a very good knowledge about new books; he always liked them and thanks to Sirius he could afford them now. Then he gave the leaflet to the bird, put a tracking spell on the owl and made a great effort to make it seem as if the owl came from Diagon Alley. Finally it was all done. Remus started to feel nervous again. He couldn’t help but worry about Severus.

Inactivity was driving Remus crazy, so he filled the waiting for Minerva with repeating the instructions to the owl. The Headmistress came soon and carried the Magic bug. Remus hid it safely within the soft feathers on the owl’s neck and with some last encouraging words, he sent the owl into the night.

“Now I believe we deserve some tea,” Minerva said and asked Remus to move the tea table and two comfy chairs before the map in the other room. They were sipping tea silently, thinking. The owl headed south.

Minerva refilled her cup and said, “If we are able to save Severus, we will need a hiding place for him. Before we find a suitable place I suggest he stays with you in the Shrieking Shack.”

Remus started. He had just been worrying about Severus’ condition, the number of his jailers, and apprehensive guessing as to how much trouble the Order would be willing to go trough for Severus’ sake. He might be cleared now, but as a squib he would probably be nothing but a liability to Order, for whom it was dubious they would be willing to risk valuable members to save him. But Remus couldn’t allow that. He wanted Severus to be safe. He owed it to Severus. He cared.

Minerva misunderstood his reaction. “Come now, Remus, it will be only for a few weeks. You are a patient man, it will be alright.”

“No, it’s fine, he can stay at the Shack. I suppose that Severus and I should spend some time together, anyway. I was just distracted.” Remus finished his tea and poured himself another cup. “I was thinking about the rescue. I suppose that Shacklebolt and Alastor will see it as a hazardous expedition, possibly claiming the lives of Order members in order to save a man whom they would regard as essentially useless if Severus has indeed become a squib.”

“Do you agree?” Minerva asked curiously.

“No. Objectively I know it’s true. But I believe we owe it to Severus for everything he did for our side.” Remus paused and then added softly, “And for not believing in him.”

Minerva nodded. “Don’t worry. Even as a squib, Severus will be valuable. He is a brilliant tactician, in this art he was a match to Albus. There are also many potions which don’t require use of magic.” As an afterthought she added, “Perhaps he could teach you Occlumency, so that you could teach it to Harry. That part that doesn’t require magic, at least.”

Remus raised an eyebrow, “Minerva, that is an amazing idea.”

The Headmistress smiled in pleasure of the complement. “I have another amazing idea, Remus,” she teased. “We should both get some sleep. It may take hours for the owl to reach Severus’ location and return to us; there’s no point in exhausting ourselves without reason. You can sleep here.” She stood and transfigured the chair she had sat on into a bed. “Good night and floo me if the owl comes back during the night.”

Remus stood as well and thanked her. After the Headmistress had left, Remus was trying hard to fall asleep, which he accomplished in the end, but not without using meditation. It was simply too hard to stop the swirling thoughts and worries. What if we still have the chance to start over again…

ss*rl*ss

Severus Snape, the Potions Master, the Death Eater, the spy of the Order of the Phoenix, was lying unconscious on a dirty floor in a dingy hallway. He was alive and his life wasn’t in any imminent danger, but his body was badly beaten, bruised, and he was bleeding from various wounds, the biggest of them on his left forearm.

The prone figure shifted slightly and groaned. Severus blinked into the dusky room. He was at home. Which was the only nice circumstance. His body felt as if it were on fire, the consequence of lengthy exposure to the Cruciatus Curse. At the same time his body felt stiff as a result of the beating he had received and also from lying on the cold floor. ‘A Muggle beating for a filthy Muggle,’ Lucius had suggested and his insane Master had considered it a wonderful joke. A Muggle beating after the Dark Lord had stripped him of his magic and ordered Lucius to cut the Dark Mark from his forearm.

Severus must have fallen into a light sleep, but not for too long, because when he opened his eyes again, it was lighter outside, but it wasn’t fully daylight yet. It must be very early in the morning, Severus realised. He guessed it had been about ten hours since a pair of Death Eaters had escorted him back to Spinner’s End and dropped him in the hallway, saying good-bye with a last kick to his ribs.

“We will meet again, Snape, sooner or later,” one of the Death Eaters had spat and the other had added, “To play with you or to finish you. You can bet on that.”

Severus decided he needed water and slowly, carefully started to rise from the ground. God, it hurt! When he got on his knees he was exhausted. He refused to think about the possibility of finishing himself off instead of waiting an unpredictable amount of time for the Death Eaters to come and torture him, again and again, until one day they would kill him. Killing himself wasn’t an option. Severus was proud and stubborn man. With the loss of his magic, his pride was the only thing he had left. Severus would never take his own life, because it would be an acknowledgement of the Dark Lord’s victory.

The injured man pressed his lips together tightly and stood up. He hobbled into the kitchen and poured himself glass of water, which refreshed him a bit, and then he slowly limped to the sitting room and lowered himself onto the couch gingerly. He knew he had painkilling potions upstairs, as well as a healing balm to use on his left forearm, but he needed to rest a bit. He didn’t feel he could make it upstairs at the moment.

When Severus woke up again, it was dark. He knew it had to be very late evening or night. His left arm hurt like hell and he couldn’t move fingers; the wound was inflamed. On his way to the kitchen to drink some water, Severus noticed absently that it was one o’clock in the morning. He decided to climb the stairs to get the Potions and the healing balm, before the arm would be irreparably damaged.

The way upstairs was slow and painful, but finally Severus was in his small workroom and he retrieved a strong painkiller from his potion cabinet. He downed it and immediately the pain subsided. Severus closed his eyes and felt his muscles starting to relax. He could still feel the pain in his left forearm, but it was dull and somehow distant now. Severus took the healing balm and moved to the bathroom.

The Potions Master cleaned his wound carefully and tried to distract himself from the pain by making plans to ensure his continued survival. He wondered if he could make it to the Ministry of Magic or to Hogwarts before the Death Eaters chased him down. At this point he preferred to be imprisoned, if for nothing else than out of spite. Beside his defiance, Severus knew there was always chance that Ministry would be benevolent enough to wait until Albus’ portrait confirmed Severus’ loyalty.

Severus was certain that the Dark Lord had ordered a tracing spell to be placed on him. They couldn’t possibly have thought that he would stay where they left him, could they? Now, when Severus could think clearly, nothing made sense. Why did they return him to Spinner’s End? The only explanation he could think of was that the Death Eaters wanted to enjoy a good hunt.

Severus shook his head. He had only two possibilities. He could run for his life or stay at home and wait. He decided for running. He took the bottle of the painkiller, the balm, both Muggle and Wizarding money, and some food. He took a deep breath, shot a quick look back and reached for the doorknob, drawing back sharply with a scream of pain as the handle repelled his touch, leaving his hand badly burnt. He gave a bitter laugh. No tracing spell, they were simply keeping him in. He tried a window carefully, garnering the same result. He was stuck inside. Without his magic he had no way of leaving or asking for help. Severus treated the burned palm and fingers and resignedly pondered his situation. The Death Eaters wouldn’t even have to come to the house to kill him. It would be enough to abandon him and wait until he starved to death.

Severus made himself a pot of tea and sat down in the chair by the window. He sipped his tea and looked out at the deserted street glistering in moonlight. He knew he couldn’t do anything but his mind refused to stop searching for a solution. What if...

Suddenly Severus sat bolt upright in the chair. Lupin! Remus must have received his letter last night. It was spelled to Severus’ magic. Merlin! After a minute the sour man let out the breath he was holding and shook his head. It didn’t matter that Remus knew about his feelings, it didn’t matter that the man undoubtedly considered Severus pathetic. He was a living corpse and none of this was important.

The Potions Master was staring into the night, lost in thought when suddenly he saw a shadow flying towards the house. The shadow neared and Severus found it was an owl. His eyebrows rose when the bird flew directly to the small window he was sitting at. The owl sat onto the windowsill and clicked its beak impatiently. Severus was frantically trying to find a way of letting the owl in. Finally he took the heavy teapot and flung it against the nearest window. The glass shattered, the owl flew inside.

“Don’t fly away,” Severus said to the owl. “I will give you a letter to carry. Don’t fly away,” he repeated and hated himself for the hint of desperation in his tone. He looked at the mail, a new-books leaflet, a reply one. Severus felt relieved; the owl would wait for his answer.

Severus tried to decide who to write to. When he wanted to escape, he wanted to try and get to the Ministry, simply because it was easier to reach. At Hogwarts, however, Severus had better chances not to be sentenced to Azkaban without trial or even without being allowed to defend himself. He quickly reached his decision and wrote a short letter. Then he gave the owl some food and told it, “It is very important that you carry this to Hogwarts. Give it to Minerva McGonagall. Fly quickly.” As an afterthought he wrote on the rolled parchment, To Minerva McGonagall, urgent, in case the owl delivered his mail to the bookshop. “Don’t fail me, please,” he said and stroked its feathers gently. The owl hooted softly and flew out through the broken window.


ss*rl*ss

“Remus, wake up,” Minerva called and the werewolf looked at her sleepily. “It’s seven thirty,” the Headmistress added. “The owl just came back to me.”

Remus bolted upright. “To you?”

“Yes, she was carrying a letter from Severus, addressed to me. I brought it and the Magic bug, as well.” Minerva handed him the parchment.

Headmistress McGonagall,

I was discovered as a spy by the Dark Lord and my life is in danger. I ask you for refuge from the Dark Lord. In the event that you are unwilling to grant my request, please let the Ministry know that I have been imprisoned, magicless, in my house in Spinner’s End and I require a proper trial.

Minerva, I swear I killed Albus against my will. I cannot prove it, of course, but Albus will confirm it after his portrait matures. I beg you to grant me asylum and I will voluntarily surrender to any safety measures you should require.

Severus Snape

Remus felt a lump growing in his throat; it was painful to see the proud man begging. The werewolf turned his gaze to the Headmistress, the question clear in his eyes.

“Hear out the Magic bug, Remus, meanwhile I will call Kingsley and ask him to come immediately. We need discuss this.”

When Minerva saw Remus opening his mouth to object she raised her hand and added, “I understand you have a soft spot for Severus and God knows that I feel the same, but the Order is too important in this war and we have to be careful and be constantly aware that this could be a trap.”

Remus nodded, feeling a bit ashamed. He knew he was overly too trusting. He tried not to be, but his whole life, again and again, he had found that that aspect of his character had never lessened.

He listened to the Magic bug twice. There wasn’t much to hear, actually, just the sound of glass shattering, Severus’ speaking to the owl, shuffling; Severus was probably looking for the parchment and was writing the letter, Remus thought, and then Severus’ rather beseeching instructions to the bird. Remus knew he was being too trusting, but everything seemed to be sincere and true, no matter how hard he tried to find anything suspicious. It seemed that there was no one to guard Severus, which should make the rescue much easier, Remus noted happily.

Minerva came back to tell Remus that Shacklebolt was on his way to Hogwarts and she suggested they have a quick breakfast before the Auror would arrive. Soon they were seated at a small table, toast and cups of tea before them, and Remus informed the Headmistress about the news from the Magic bug.

Remus paused and then asked hesitantly, “Minerva, do you plan to tell Kingsley about the letter Severus sent me?”

“Of course I will mention it. I believe that what you are rather asking is whether or not I plan to let him read it,” she suggested with smile and Remus blushed. “Well, I couldn’t do it without your permission even if I wanted, could I,” Minerva continued, a hint of amusement in her voice. She sipped her tea and then asked, “How do you feel about the letter, if I may ask?”

“I—,” Remus stuttered, “Well, at first I was surprised to no end. Then I felt sorry for Severus dying without a proper trial and kind of happy,” here Remus blushed, “about my chances to have access to the Wolfsbane Potion again.”

Minerva nodded sympathetically.

Remus sipped his tea and added carefully, “I don’t feel about Severus the way he says he does about me, but I would like to believe in his innocence and be his friend.”

“Innocence?” Minerva asked, not exactly sharply, but it was clear that she found the word too strong.

“Well, if he didn’t want to kill Albus, but he had to, it is not a real murder,” Remus said defensively. “If Severus loved Albus as I did, it must have been a horrible experience for him.”

Minerva looked thoughtful and then nodded gravely. “Yes, I understand. Still, Remus, we have to take every precaution so that in case this all was a trap, the Order and Harry wouldn’t be endangered.”

Remus nodded. “I will keep it in mind, Minerva, I promise I will.”

Kingsley Shacklebolt came to the Headmistress office and Remus and Minerva briefly explained the situation to him, as the Auror had already known some bits from his previous floo calls with the Headmistress. Having heard all facts and suggestions, the Auror agreed that they should rescue the spy and he readily explained the precautions they were going to take. He made two Portkeys, both of them keyed to the Shrieking Shack. One of those he used immediately, to prepare the Shack for its ‘guest’, the other was for Remus. The werewolf had to clean his mind first, though. He stored all of the important memories into Albus’ Pensieve so that, in case of his capture, he couldn’t reveal any delicate information.

They agreed on ten o’clock as the time arranged for Remus’ Apparating to Severus’ house, where he was supposed to merely grab the Potions Master and Portkey the both of them to the Shack, where Shacklebolt would be waiting for them.

“Good luck, Remus,” Minerva smiled nervously at him.

He nodded to her and under a disguising charm he walked to the Apparating spot by the Forbidden Forest. Fortunately all students were at their first lessons and the werewolf met no one on his way. He took a deep breath, pulled out his wand and Apparated away.

ss*rl*ss

Severus woke with a start. It was daylight and he was in his bed. There was still present the horrible throbbing in his left forearm. He was sure he had heard something from the ground floor. The ex-spy stood up and tried to focus his whirling thoughts. God, he needed a cup of hot black tea. ‘Not very probable,’ he thought bitterly. If there really was someone down there, tea was the last thing he could hope to get. Severus froze. Someone was climbing the staircase.

Severus hated himself for shaking, but he couldn’t stop it; shudders went through his whole body. The Death Eaters had returned to kill him, or worse - to play with him. He pondered briefly the possibility to try and fight them, but then pushed it away. It would only result in more pain.

Severus could hear steps behind the door to his bedroom. He willed the shaking away at least partially. He wasn’t going to let the bastards know how much he feared them. The door to the bedroom flew open as someone kicked hard against the wood. Severus pressed his back against the wall and closed his eyes in a desperate attempt to try and maintain his composure. Why he hadn’t taken his life whilst he could? Damn.

“Severus,” the soft voice was urgent and sounded familiar.

Severus opened his eyes. “Lupin?” he whispered unbelievingly.

“Come on, Severus, there is no point in wasting time. I will Portkey us to a safe place.”

The dark-haired man nodded numbly, still in shock. He didn’t step neared to Remus, though, and eyed him warily. Remus approached him quickly and took Severus’ hand, with the other hand he touched the medallion on his neck and said, “Werewolf.”

Severus felt the familiar tugging in his stomach as the Portkey was taking them away. Somewhere, where Severus would be safe. Or not?




Note: There will be a sequel... Of course.


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