What the teacher is, is more important than what he teaches. ~Karl Menninger
Malfoy Manor stood before Severus Snape like a vast, dark monument to all that used to be. The glorious, imposing building stood erect and proud within its acres of land, surrounded by the bending, bowing trees that were subservient to the strong breeze swelling around them. Severus took a moment to digest the sight, from the cold, grey stone façade to the slight softening edges of the Virginia creeper growing rapidly across the outer edges of the far wall. The wide leaves had now turned a true Autumnal red, contrasting with the stone underneath. A vigorous climber, just like the woman inside those walls, he mused. How incredibly apt.
Often Severus had taken the time to think of what could have been had circumstances been different. Before Silvana had come back into his life he used to consider her walking the Malfoy grounds, resplendent and elegant, befitting her own pureblood status, unlike the life she actually chose to live. Malfoy Manor would have been a warm, loving home, had Silvana been its mistress, and he would have been welcomed as a frequent and much loved visitor. Not that Narcissa Malfoy was exactly cold, but her outward demeanour hid her ruthless, ambitious streak, and that was a quality Silvana did not possess in any quantity. Silvana had never had ambitions of social status, or power. If she had, she would be here right now, Mistress of the Manor. Perhaps she was right to refuse him after all.
As he walked slowly towards the front entrance, Severus wondered about Silvana’s violent reaction to Lucius. When she spoke of him, her vitriolic words were more than just mere hatred. Severus was an expert at such emotion - he had lived a lifetime of bitterness and cruel words, but Silvana was not tainted that way; at least he hadn’t thought so until now. He thought of all she had mentioned before; how he should not ally himself with Malfoy, how Lucius did not forget those who had gone against him. Her tone was fearful, not full of hate. But why? Lucius married Narcissa soon after she refused his hand, and they are the perfect couple. Why should Silvana fear Malfoy after all these years?
The door opening broke his train of thought. A timid looking house elf stood blinking at him, and bowed as it ushered him in, closing the door behind Severus, though not before checking the front grounds outside as if searching for something, or someone. Severus puckered his brow and looked questioningly at the tiny creature.
“What was all that for? I made sure I was not followed.” The house elf swallowed nervously and flinched as its eyes met Severus’ dark ones.
“Begging your forgiveness, Sir, but the grounds has eyes. Mistress says we must watch carefully.”
Eyes? Ah, they are being observed. Of course they are. Every Auror in the Wizarding World is looking for Malfoy as we speak.
“Where is your Mistress? I do not have much time to waste.”
“I am here, dearest Severus.”
Narcissa Malfoy appeared like a vision at the other end of the entrance hall. The autumn afternoon sun filtering through the far window to make her look like an apparition from the Gods. Her simpering smile made Severus uneasy, though he followed her long, beckoning finger and stayed behind her as she walked elegantly out through the house to the rear garden. Walking half way down the immaculate green lawn that had been enchanted to remove all of the falling leaves automatically, Narcissa turned around to face Severus again. She stepped up to him, her breath teasing the sensitive nerve endings of the skin on his cheeks she came so close.
“Walls have eyes and ears, Severus. Out here we are safe from them. Lucius and I protected this part of the property so that Draco could play in peace when he was a baby. Such was the interest in our little prince we had to take precautions.”
Severus nodded, though inwardly he winced at the suggestion that the petulant sixteen year old he had the misfortune to teach could possibly be described as their ‘little prince’. Diplomatically, he stayed silent in his thoughts.
“I have had much trouble trying to meet with you, Narcissa. Is this in light of recent events?” Narcissa delicately raised her perfectly groomed eyebrows and blinked slowly, doing her utmost to look coy.
“Perhaps Severus. One cannot be too careful in times such as these. A woman on her own without her husband by her side can be somewhat…vulnerable.” Seveus snorted and shook his head incredulously.
“If there is one thing you have never been, Narcissa, it is vulnerable.” She smiled out of the corner of her mouth and narrowed her eyes at him.
“You know me too well, Severus. Far too well. Which is why, I presume, you are here. You think I know the truth.”
“Indeed. I prefer to discover my information from the higher echelons rather than the sewer rats of society. Where is he, Narcissa? What are your plans now?” Narcissa stepped away from Severus, admiring the view from where she stood. The magnificent oak trees seemed to bow to her effortless beauty as she walked past them. It was almost as if she commanded them to do so. She oozed control as well as poise. She was truly the fire beneath Lucius’ ambitions of power. Without her, Lucius Malfoy would have been just another Death Eater by now; with her he was so much more than that. She adored him for it. Slowly, Narcissa wagged a finger at Severus, as if scolding an errant child, shaking her pretty head and releasing a loud ‘Tsk, tsk.’ from her soft lips that entranced Severus as he looked upon her.
“All good things will come to those that wait, Severus. Come, let us sit on the bench like the civilised people that we are. I am weary for all my efforts and suffer without Lucius by my side.” Severus sat down upon the wrought iron bench that was placed strategically underneath the vast shade of the oldest oak tree while Narcissa perched herself elegantly on the end, her dress flowing slowly to the ground as she sat. “You ask of the plan. The plan is unchanged. It is my belief that the Dark Lord will fall again, and for good this time, at the hands of the Potter boy. All our efforts over the past sixteen years, the social events, the political feuding, the money and enticements will all come to fruition in the end.” Severus narrowed his eyes at her beauty.
“You are confident of this outcome? You have proof?” Narcissa scoffed, laughing at his steely glare.
“Severus, Severus! Always so closed to that you cannot prove. Your scientific mind does you no credit, my darling. You were always the same, and you have not changed a bit. I cannot give you the proof that you seek, but just be confident in my own confidence. We have taken every step to be in this position of power when the Dark Lord is no more than a bad memory. There would be room for you to join us, or are you still tied to Dumbledore’s apron strings?” she teased, mocking him.
“I am tied to no one.” Narcissa turned around sharply and sneered.
“Untrue, Severus! You will always be bound to Dumbledore; even more so now your sister is back in the fold. You lack the strength and ambitions of Lucius. You prefer safety, and you always have, even when we were young. You will continue to bow and scrape to him and find yourself a good, obedient little Pureblood housewife witch, just like Silvana.” Severus glared at her.
“I bow to no one and I serve myself, which is more than you do. I have no romantic notion. That left me many years ago, unlike my dear sister who has chosen to carry on with someone far beneath her standing. The werewolf, no less.” Narcissa looked shocked at this news.
“Remus Lupin? I had no idea. Your sister was always a kind and gentle soul.” Narcissa rose, a wistful expression on her face. She walked a little way forwards, her back to Severus. She looked in front of her, enjoying the endless views on the horizon.
“Lucius told me he was instructed to visit Silvana as a warning to you.” Severus nodded.
“I suspected as much.” Narcissa stepped over to Severus, and with her narrow, manicured fingers, gently lifted his head up to meet her intense gaze.
“Poor Severus. An expendable pawn in a never-ending game of chess. How cruel life has been to you.” Severus eyed Narcissa suspiciously and removed her hand from his face, grasping it with his own firm grip, making her wince.
“Expendable I may be, but Silvana is not.” He released his grip, his anger now evident in his glare. Narcissa pursed her lips.
“And neither is my son, which is why we must all work together to bring about the defeat of the Dark Lord. I want my husband and my son to fulfil their destinies, Severus. You have one too, if you are a man enough to take it.” Severus suddenly thought about what Narcissa had just said and looked into her eyes searchingly.
“Have you told Draco of these ambitions?” Narcissa shook her head.
“No. He has been a little defiant without his father around this summer, spending time with Bellatrix when I have expressly forbidden him to. He has talked of becoming a Death Eater when he wishes to annoy me, but I have told him I will not allow him to serve in that way. He has a headier destiny than servant to a being such as Voldemort. He is merely young and foolish, but he will learn.” Severus leant back and crossed his arms.
“We were all young and foolish once, but wars have a knack of making us grow up far too fast.” Narcissa nodded, blinking back tears, though making sure Severus could not see them.
“Do you see now why we must succeed? I could not bear it if something were to happen to him, though I have made my feelings abundantly clear on this matter time and time again. He must not willingly serve the Dark Lord.”
“And you do not think he would defy you?”
“He would not dare!”
“Narcissa, he is a sixteen year old headstrong adolescent. To defy a parent is to live. Do not be so naive.” Narcissa’s face blanched.
“You believe he may have already done so?” Severus shook his head.
“No, but if his bravado and boasting is to be believed then he is close to doing so.”
“Then I must speak with his father at once.”
Narcissa turned to leave, but Severus caught hold of her shoulder and prevented her from walking away.
“Where is he, Narcissa? Where is Lucius?”
But, before she could answer, Severus heard the drawling tone of a familiar voice, and felt the unmistakeable feeling of a wand being thrust into the small of his back. His senses overloaded with fear and anticipation as he waited for an answer.
“I am here, my friend. It is time we talked.”
Silvana’s recovery came about much quicker than had first been anticipated by the Healers of St Mungo’s, and just two weeks after the attack on Diagon Alley she was mobile again. She managed to return to Hogwarts (though she struggled) to teach Harry his OWL Potions again, much to the consternation of her brother. Harry was less talkative than before, and Silvana felt he looked tired and acted distant from her, though he was polite. He looked like a child with the worry of the world on his shoulders, and she sensed a great conflict between his thoughts. Any mention of Dumbledore was greeted with a sigh or a huff, and yet a mention of Severus brought Harry out of himself a little. Something is not right with this boy, she thought, but I cannot tell what it is.
The first two weeks of her recovery were spent at St Mungo’s, but Silvana soon moved back to Grimmauld Place. Her homecoming could have caused an awkwardness between herself and Viell but for a common subject; Remus Lupin. Silvana being a witch meant Viell felt she would want to be treated as her better. When Silvana made it clear that she considered Viell as her equal, unlike her brother, Viell began to relax in her presence. The two women soon developed a form of intimate friendship that was natural and true. This was cemented by much teasing and talk about Remus from Viell, especially as she liked to tell Silvana of his many good points and watch Silvana blush. After one brief visit from the man himself towards the end of October, Viell began to tease Silvana again as they sat in the kitchen eating dinner.
“So, you two are still at the holding hands stage then?” Silvana blushed. She detested Viell teasing her.
“It’s very early days Viell. It’s difficult for us to have anything more than that, even if we wanted to.” Viell looked surprised and frowned.
“You make it sound like you don’t want anything more serious with him, Silvana. He is a very passionate man. Quiet and unassuming on the outside, but in private…phew!” Silvana looked aghast. This was not what she wanted to hear. Remus as a warm kind man was who she loved, but she found it so hard to disassociate him with the horrors of her 21st birthday when Viell talked of his sexual nature. It was the Wizard she feared, not the man.
“Viell! We shouldn’t be talking like this about him!” Viell leaned back in her chair at the dining table and grinned.
“Oh, pardon me, Little Miss Prude! I hope you’re not as uptight as that pain in the arse brother of yours” Silvana grinned, though she shifted in her chair uncomfortably, not enjoying the topic of conversation. Talks of intimacy between man and woman had never been a favourite topic of conversation.
“No, but neither of us are that…well, relaxed, either. Our parents were not great role models for relationships, or love. Things were never discussed.”Please leave me be, Viell
“Certainly shows in your brother. But you’ve been married before, right? And you had a child, so you must have loved someone once.” Silvana shrugged.
“I suppose so.”
“And what exactly does that mean?” Silvana chewed the inside of her lip and shrugged again. I don’t want to discuss this now.
“I don’t know really. I loved my husband, but there wasn’t that spark between us that some women talk about. Not like I feel when I’m…kissing Remus.” Viell smirked and then laughed aloud.
“How sweet! I can see those hidden feelings between you two even when you’re apart. And Remus adores you, you lucky woman! It’s about time he had a serious relationship. You’ll be in it for the long term with him, my girl. Sneaking into Hogwarts, being his lover. How romantic!”
“But it’s not a serious relationship, Viell. It’s very friendly and all, and maybe one day we’ll…but…” Viell shook her head, scratching at her temple.
“You may not be serious now but you will be if Remus gets his way. Look Silvana, I’ve known Remus for a very long time and I haven’t seen him this happy with anyone for years. He was hurt very badly by that Perpetua, his wife, and I don’t want to see him getting hurt again, so if you’re really not interested…” Silvana looked shocked and hurt.
“Well I don’t want to hurt him either. It’s not that I don’t want to, but a serious relationship makes me a little nervous.”
“But this is Remus we’re talking about. He is the perfect gentleman in all respects. You’ll have a wonderful time, if you let him. Trust me! Just relax about things and see what happens. Let him love you like he wants to. It’s written all over his face, love. He wants you as his lover, in his bed and no mistaking. And I tell you, transformation makes him feelings a lot stronger, so in a couple of days he’ll be all over you like a rash!” Silvana blushed once more, looking horrified.
“But I don’t want him to be, not yet at least. Viell, you don’t understand.” Viell saw the look of horror and shame on Silvana’s face and leant forwards, patting her hand to reassure her. She could see Silvana was uncomfortable with this line of talk. She knew she had gone too far.
“Come on, Silv. I was only joking, darlin’’. Remus is a gentleman and he loves you. Whatever it is, why you are frightened, he’ll take it and be there for you.” Silvana was still not convinced, her worry and shame building up inside her, mixing with her strong, loving feelings for Remus. How will he be able to love me when he knows what happened? When he knows the truth…all the truth he will never see me in the same way again.
“Silvana? Silvana, are you there?” Silvana turned towards the fireplace, secretly relieved to be interrupted. Viell cursed under her breath something about wishing wizards would knock like any other civilised people. In the fireplace was the kindly visage of Professor Dumbledore. Silvana called back to him when was saw him, and stepped forwards from her seat. She began to feel apprehensive and edgy, as if something bad had happened. Despite her nerves she answered his call.
“I am here, Professor.”
“Hello, my dear. Would you mind coming straight to the school for me? Something has happened and we would like you to be involved in our discussion. Please use the Floo network, as it is quicker. We will risk it on this occasion. Your presence is needed urgently.” Silvana looked at Viell and back to Dumbledore, feeling confused and slightly nervous. Something must be very wrong to call me back to Hogwarts.
“I am on my way.”
With a deep breath and a vast amount of apprehension, Silvana took the Floo straight to Dumbledore’s office. She stumbled slightly as she alighted the ornate fireplace and stepped down out of it, but Remus and Severus took a hand each and assisted her. Her brother glaring incredulously as Remus took a handkerchief from his pocket and tenderly wiped a stray piece of soot from Silvana’s pale cheek, as she whispered a quiet ‘thank you’. Looking around her she saw that Professor McGonagall was also in the room, and she welcomed her with a smile as she sat in between her love and her brother, both silently vying for her attention. Dumbledore smiled sympathetically, but she noticed there was a sadness etched behind the smile.
“Thank you for coming at such short notice, Silvana. I would not have called you if this were not of the utmost importance. Only an hour ago there was an incident within these walls that has disturbed me greatly, and I wish to have your input and wisdom in working out how to deal with it. Severus, if you would like to explain our dilemma further.” Severus slowly rose to his audience, checking each and every one was listening before he began his tale.
“In my Potions lesson earlier today Potter and Malfoy started an argument. This is nothing unusual in itself and I attempted to nip it in the bud as usual. I succeeded, or so I thought. As I was attending to another student the argument became heated, and both strong, insignificant words and fists were exchanged. I attempted to break up this coming together when Malfoy foolishly drew his wand on the boy. Potter walked calmly up to Malfoy and threw him against the wall with his bare hands, rendering Malfoy immobile. He then stood on a chair and informed the rest of the class that one day soon they would all bow to him, and then he performed an Unforgivable, the Imperious Curse, on Malfoy, forcing him to bow before Potter.” Severus paused, and glanced at his sister, looking as if he wanted to tell her something but couldn’t. Before she had a chance to connect with him he turned away from her gaze and continued. “I, of course, evacuated the classroom immediately. The boy is still detained in my classroom, which I sealed behind me in case of further outburst.” Silvana stared at her brother, frowning as she felt Remus shift uncomfortably in his seat. His words were the first uttered after Severus’ announcement.
“Then I have to doubt that this is mere grief. Harry in his right state of mind would never abuse a person in this way.”
“Even Malfoy?” sneered Severus, looking at Remus with utter contempt..
“Yes, Severus. There is a world of difference between spats or snide remarks and then taking our wand out and performing physical violence, and an Unforgivable at that. And saying the other pupils will bow before him? No, I fear for poor Harry.” Dumbledore nodded and sighed aloud wearily.
“I agree, Remus. Somehow, despite my best efforts, Voldemort has managed to find a way to communicate with Harry, and worse still, try and draw him to his side, if his threats about the future are true.” Professor McGonagall sat upright and spoke to her companions, concern etched across her already lined face.
“Then we must unearth that link before its affect becomes irreversible.” Dumbledore peered over the top of his glasses.
“Indeed Minerva. I want you and the other Professors to round up the students and take them all to the Great Hall while Severus here conducts a thorough search of the Gryffindor common room. If we tell the children there is a fire practise, or a Doxy infestation or some such event then it does not look so suspicious. Severus, I want you to look in the common room for anything that Voldemort may have used as a communications device. Anything at all, and then report back here.” Severus nodded.
“It is possible Voldemort is communicating through a device. Do we still work on that assumption, rather than just a form of Legilimency in the boy’s sleep like last time?”
“I think so, yes. I am confident in Harry’s ability to close his mind to such penetration. I think another form of dark magic has been used here. Now, if you two could both go about your business.”
Dumbledore waited until the two Professors had closed the door behind them and then seemed to be lost in thought. He was not the only one. Silvana and Remus looked at one another, Silvana taking Remus’ hand as she saw the look of concern in his eyes, though she too feared what her brother had told them. Both were surprised when Dumbledore suddenly called out, seemingly into thin air. “You may come down now.”
Remus and Silvana looked at one another, both equally puzzled. Out from the higher office came the startled figure of Hermione Granger, ashen faced and anxious. She was greeted by the surprised but warm smiles of Silvana and Remus, who stood up to allow her to sit in between himself and Silvana. Hermione forced a smile and muttered a polite ‘Thank you’ as she sat down. Dumbledore smiled reassuringly.
“Now Miss Granger, I want you to tell Professor Lupin, and Silvana exactly what you told me about the end of the Potions lesson today. Tell them what you saw, and do not be fearful.” Hermione took a deep breath and began to recall the events that had lead her to being in Dumbledore‘s office.
“It was just as Professor Snape said, with Harry and Malfoy…Draco, but…he left something out, something that happened at the end.” Hermione looked at Silvana who smiled though she was slightly perturbed.
“Carry on, Hermione.” Hermione sighed, her reluctance to speak evident.
“As I left the classroom…I was the last to leave - I didn’t want to leave Harry alone, but Professor Snape made me. He was shouting at me, and very angry. I turned to go, but something…something made me look back at them. I don’t know why I did but I did and then I saw them.” Silvana looked across at Remus and Dumbledore. Remus, who was listening intently, spoke to Hermione calmly, sensing Silvana’s worry.
“What? What did you see, Hermione? Please tell us.” Hermione looked into Silvana’s apprehensive eyes. She swallowed and took a deep breath. It was no good - she had to tell the truth now.
“He bowed. As I left the room Harry bowed deeply to Professor Snape. And it wasn’t in jest. He meant it, as if…as if he had done as he had been told to, done his duty. As if he had carried out an order.”
Silvana clasped her hands over her mouth in shock. Master and his apprentice, just as before, Just as Severus once was with Lucius. Remus smiled awkwardly at Hermione’s frightened expression, but Dumbledore intervened.
“What you have done today has been very brave and wise, Miss Granger. You were right to inform us and you may leave, though I must insist that what you witnessed, and what you have told us must not go beyond these four walls. We will decide from here what happens. Off you go, my dear.”
Hermione left as quickly as she could, relieved her ordeal was over, and Remus moved back over to Silvana to comfort her from the shock of what she had just heard. Dumbledore moved to her other side as Remus wrapped his arm around her for support. He offered a smile to the concerned Remus.
“Silvana, this may not be as bad as it seems, but I must request your help. Severus may not be involved in this at all, for he told us something like this could happen, but I want you to prepare for the worst. If I have any inkling that he is voluntarily working for Voldemort, against the work of the Order, I will have to remove him permanently from the school, and the Order, and he is dangerously close to that time. I have had it on good authority that he has visited Narcissa Malfoy again this week without informing the Order of his intention to do so. It has also been commented on that Harry’s behaviour is often worse after his Potions lessons with Severus. Now this may be Voldemort, as Severus warned us he would do this, but I cannot rule out the possibility, along with the other information I have received, that this is Severus’ doing. Unless I hear evidence to support his innocence I may have no choice soon but to remove him, for the safety of Harry, and the other pupils.” Silvana looked up, tears streaming down her face. Remus held her closer to him, shaking his head. Silvana looked into Dumbledore’s twinkling blue eyes.
“Please may I speak with Harry? I need to find out the truth of what happened for myself. You have to understand that I cannot give up on my brother. If I give up on him he has no one. If he loses his position here he will turn back to Lucius, and I could not live with myself knowing I had not done everything in my power to stop that happening. I owe him that.” Remus handed her his handkerchief, and she delicately blew her nose, sniffing a little.
“Of course, my dear. Go now. Remus will go with you to see Harry. Talk to him and see what he has to say. In your own heart you will know what you need to hear. Good luck,” he sighed, gazing at out of the window to his right, and then peering over the top of his glasses at Silvana. “ I hope you find what you are looking for.” Silvana nodded as Remus stood, holding his hand out to help her stand up. She slipped her hand into his and he clasped it, leading her out of Dumbledore’s office and down to the main part of the school. Pausing in the corridor, Remus lifted her hand to his lips and kissed it tenderly.
“Whatever happens, whatever the outcome of this, I will be here by your side, Silvana.”
She looked into his kind, warm eyes and saw how much he cared for her. Tears slowly travelling down her cheeks again in reaction to his tenderness, Silvana touched his face gently with her hand, caressing his cheek.
“Thank you. Thank you for being here with me when I need you the most. I care for you more than you can possibly imagine, Remus. Let’s go find Harry - he needs us right now.”
And so they stepped along the old familiar corridors, his hand entwined with hers, to attempt to discover the truth, whatever that may be, with heavy hearts, fearing what they may find. But they had to seek the truth. Their futures depended on it.
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