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Falling on a sword



Nothing is more difficult, and therefore more precious, than to be able to decide. ~Napoleon Bonaparte.






“Harry? Harry, are you in there?”



Remus gingerly opened the Potions classroom door that Severus Snape had sealed behind him earlier and slowly entered the classroom, Silvana following closely behind. Remus saw the endless lines of orderly jars and odd shaped materials for the classes on the shelves directly in front of him, but no sign of his wayward pupil, until he looked towards Severus Snape’s desk. There, sitting perched on the edge of the old wooden relic, sat Harry, swinging his legs as if he didn’t have a care in the world. He continued in his childish pursuits until Remus called him again, and he saw both his Professor and Silvana before him. Choosing to ignore Remus, Harry smiled at Silvana knowingly, jumping down from the desk.



“I wondered when he’d send a rescue party.” Remus frowned and peered into Harry’s face from a good few paces away to gain his attention.


“He, Harry?” Harry snorted and rolled his eyes. “Dumbledore. He always comes to my rescue eventually, even when I don’t want him to.” He kicked a piece of imaginary dirt away from him, scuffing his school shoes against the floor deliberately out of sheer frustration.


“That’s because he cares about you, Harry. We all do,” Silvana smiled, trying to catch Harry’s interest. Her kindly face met with his scowling one. She succeeded in gaining his attention; now all she had to do was discover exactly what had happened. She was already torn in two, wanting to comfort Harry but also wanting to prove her brother’s innocence, though she knew this would be hard to do. An ex-Death Eater would never be seen in a favourable light. There would have to be convincing evidence to save him now, she pondered. Harry looked down at the floor, still scuffing his right shoe against it.


“You do, maybe. Or are you here for Snape?” Remus winced and grimaced.


Professor Snape, Harry. Please remain respectful.” Harry shrugged, though as he looked up at Remus he had a glint in his eye.


“As you wish. He doesn’t mind me calling him Snape these days; in fact he seems quite keen on informality. He listens to me too, which is more than you ever do, and a bloody site more than Dumbledore does too.” Remus looked defeated, turning away from Harry deliberately, but Silvana laid a comforting hand on his arm and stepped forward to challenge Harry.



“I think you’ll find, Harry, that everyone cares, not just my brother, though yes, I will admit I am here for his good as well as yours. That being the case, I want to know exactly what happened in your Potions lesson today, and I want the truth. I will know if you lie to me, Harry.” Harry cocked his head to one side and looked at Silvana in a patronising way, shrugging his shoulders.


“And you think Legilimency will work on me, do you?” Silvana fixed her stare on Harry, making sure she didn’t flinch.


“I can assure you, Harry that I have tried it on much stronger wizards than you.” Harry folded his arms sullenly and tutted.


“What is it you want to know?” He glared at Remus, who had pulled up a chair for Silvana and himself and waved at Harry to sit down, which he did, though it was back on the edge of the Potion Master’s desk again. Remus ignored his arrogance and spoke to him softly and calmly.


“What were you fighting with Malfoy over?” Harry rolled his eyes, seemingly already bored with the subject.


“He was insulting me. He always insults me. He insults me by being here and breathing the same air as me. He doesn’t have to say anything in particular, though today it was a Quidditch argument. Pathetic really. But before I could answer back Snape…Professor Snape stopped us. I waited though.” Harry smiled a smug, arrogant sort of smile that Remus had never seen before. He was truly pleased with all that had transpired, or so it seemed. “He, Snape that is, told me to stop, but later on I heard him telling me - no, ordering me to carry on, so I did. It was too good an opportunity to waste. He was helping out Susan Bones, but I knew that he was listening and watching, though he couldn’t see me. I could sense him.” Silvana looked apprehensive.



“How did you know? How could you possibly sense Professor Snape?”



Harry sat down near Silvana looking at her as if he were frightened of saying the wrong thing. He whispered to her as if he didn’t want Remus to hear his words, while she searched deep into his eyes for the truth.



“I hear him. I hear Snape, or someone like Snape talking to me nearly all the time. Just whispers and hints but so clear. They understand. He understands me. He promised me things. Things that you couldn‘t dream about in your wildest dreams.” Remus looked at Silvana, horrified. Who understands? Sweet Merlin, does he mean the Death Eaters, or Snape or…Voldemort.


“Is this Voldemort, Harry? Is this in your head as visions and snapshots like last time?” Harry glared at Remus; furious he had overheard what he had whispered to Silvana. He slammed his fist upon the desk in frustration; though as Silvana looked at the boy she could also read the fear behind his eyes.


“No! This is nothing like last time. They are here; he is here, in this room. A voice outside of my head, telling me to act and react to thing in certain ways and it doesn’t stop. It was this that told me to go to Snape today. This voice persuaded me.” Silvana stopped Remus from interrupting with a curt glance and questioned Harry once again.


“Have you heard this voice come directly from Professor Snape‘s lips, and is it always in this room?” Harry shook his head, now resembling a frightened child even more.


“No to both. Professor Snape has never spoken directly to me, and sometimes it is in my common room, or the library. The voice seems to follow me wherever I am. It won’t stop. I didn’t want to perform an Unforgivable on Malfoy really, but my feelings become so strong under the influence of the voice I can’t control myself. I’m frightened, Silvana. Please can you help me? What if it happens again?”


She looked across at Remus, who looked ashen-faced, rubbing at his temple, and then back to Harry, forcing a smile across her lips to attempt to reassure him.


“We’re doing everything we can to make sure that it doesn’t, Harry, but you will have to let Dumbledore and Professor Lupin help you, do you understand? I can’t do this on my own.” Harry nodded as Remus stood to escort him back to the Gryffindor common room.

“Come along, Harry. Pick up your Potions books and let’s find you something warm to eat. You look as if you need it. A good meal inside you will make things look a lot brighter I am sure.”


Silvana watched as Remus took Harry out of the room and smiled at him as he turned to leave. He sent her an unsure glance, and hesitant smile in return and walked Harry back to the common room, arm firmly around his shoulder. She admired that fatherly quality in Remus that he had, that support that he showed, even when he doubted the circumstances himself. Silvana rose from her seat, searching the endlessly well-stocked supplies as she walked beside the Potions walls, touching the jars as she went.


This is such a conundrum. I find it so hard to believe Severus is involved and yet the evidence all points in his direction, and Harry tells the truth. But I cannot falter in my support. I will help Harry, but my brother will also needs me, and I will back him whatever will come. Why does it feel like I am missing something? Why does it feel like the answer to this is within my grasp and yet I hold nothing in my hands?


She was interrupted several minutes later by Severus standing in the doorway, looking pale, his eyes glittering strangely, though still as black as oil. She looked at him, hoping for an answer.


“Well? Did you find anything?” Severus swished past Silvana purposely, heading for his desk where a flask of malt whisky sat in his locked bottom drawer. He took out the flask and glass for Silvana in a hurry and poured a little for Silvana while he swigged his from the flask, leaning back in his chair as the last gulp hit the back of his throat. He lifted the glass towards Silvana but she held up her hand to refuse the offer. Severus shrugged and slumped his shoulders.



“I found nothing, and now it seems Dumbledore has seen fit to inform the Governors of the developments.” Silvana looked angry and perplexed.



“But he hasn’t heard from me yet! I could have discovered something!” Severus took another shot of whisky.


“Oh, he has your lover boy to inform him that I am as guilty as hell, Silvana! Why on earth would he need your testimony too, unless you don’t believe me?”


“Of course I believe you, and I am sure Remus will put you in a favourable light,” cried Silvana, though the certainty in her tone wavered. Severus heard it and leapt at the chance of putting doubt in her mind.


“And yet you’re not that sure of either of us, are you? You’re trying to read my mind to find out the truth. There is no need. I will be suspended on the evidence of my past anyway. I am only surprised it has not happened a lot sooner. Perhaps they have done me a favour.” Silvana shook her head at her troubled brother and walked over behind him to gently caress the top of his head, turning towards his face, smiling into his tired eyes.


“Don’t say that, my darling. I will stand by you whatever they think. I have faith in you.” Severus looked up at her, his eyes less angered than before, softened by her words.


“That is all the support I need. You by my side, and not by his.” She knew whom he meant. Silvana knew that he was asking her to choose. But was there really a choice to be had if the worst came to it? Severus was her brother, her only sibling who was in dire need of guidance now. Remus was a love, and a distant one at that. One that she could probably never have, at least not in Silvana’s eyes. It was a pipe dream lost in a cloud of emotion. She had to deal with facts. She had to make her choice. Smoothing her long fingers down the curtain of hair that hung down the back of Severus’ head, as if he were her child, pacifying him, Silvana nodded in a silent agreement. She would stay with him. She had to. There was no other way. And though it broke her heart, the guilt of leaving Severus all those years ago made her think there was no other alternative. She had to leave Remus.




*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*




“I have been expecting you, Remus. Please be seated.”


Remus Lupin sat down as bid and looked around him, wondering how things had changed so much in the space of a few hours. Harry had implied that Severus was guilty, though there was no proof. By just that hint alone Remus had a duty to the school to protect the pupils, especially Harry, and honour Dumbledore’s request for his teachers to protect Hogwarts at all costs. It was all he could do to report this information, and yet his heart bled for the woman who it would affect. When all he wanted to do was take her in his arms, Remus Lupin had the unenviable task of informing the Headmaster that he thought Silvana’s brother was a traitor, and a very dangerous one at that. As Dumbledore watched the young wizard in front of him, he was well aware of his pain.


“I take it from your contemplative look that Severus has not been proved to be innocent.” Remus shook his head.


“No, but I cannot prove his guilt either, and nor would I want to.” Dumbledore nodded and smiled.


“It is as I expected, and I would not expect you to feel any different, Remus. I have no wish to doubt him either, but I have had the onerous duty of informing the Governors of our problem now. Lemon drop, Remus?” Remus nodded as the Headmaster offered him a sweet, and slowly unwrapped the cellophane wrapper, pausing a while to look around at the silent portraits around him. He felt the staring eyes were upon him though, as the silence and stillness seemed unnerving and unnatural. Dumbledore looked first at the portraits and then at his young Professor.


“You feel their presence? The presence of the past years of wisdom and knowledge, and echoes of the future lay in this room right now, Remus. They are my guides and my comfort.” Remus shook his head slowly, marvelling at the composure of the wizard before him.


“I don’t know how you manage it, to stay sane when all this has happened.” Dumbledore chuckled, a mischievous glint in his eye.


“But I don’t, Remus, at least I cannot do it alone. I have guidance and stability all around me to keep me on the straight and narrow. You think I personally have some other power beyond your own that allows me to do this job? I fear I may have to disappoint you. You are just as qualified to take on this job as I, if not more so. Your patience and kindness are virtues few hold dear. Perhaps one day this will be your office.” Remus shook his head and scoffed.


“You are far more than I could ever be. I would not be worthy of such a position.” Dumbledore peered over his glasses and smiled.


“I will put your melancholy attitude down to affairs of the heart. Have more faith, my friend, in both your ambitions and your love.” Remus sighed, standing to look out of the window. The grounds seemed to be deserted, and the sun was setting across the horizon, a mirror to the feeling he held in his heart for the prospects of his love affair with Silvana.


“I can’t have the faith in Severus that she has, and I fear because of that we will…she has to be with him. The situation is impossible.”


“For now, yes. But the future may prove to be very different. Do not lose hope, Remus. Be there when she needs you to be, and step away when she requires you to, and she will find you again when the time is right. She is a part of your future, I feel.” Remus turned around and gazed at the Headmaster, heading towards the door and out of the office, needing to find her and talk with her to grasp at some chance, any chance they had.



“I hope so. I really hope so.”


He walked out of the door, smiling reluctantly as he did so, just to pass Minerva McGonagall outside the office. Remus smiled and asked her politely, “Minerva, have you seen Silvana on your travels?”


“Yes. She was last seen heading for a walk in the grounds to clear her head. You will catch her if you make haste.”


As it turned out, Remus did not need to make much haste, for Silvana was found perched on the edge of the entrance steps, contemplating and deliberating in silence, watching the sun set on the horizon, just as Remus had just done. She sensed Remus’ presence, and felt his warm hand upon her chilled shoulder, but she did not acknowledge him, though inside she yearned to. Her body craved his touch, but the resolve of her mind prevented that happening. She continued to look across at the sunset as he sat down beside her.


“I thought coming outside would make things somehow better, but it hasn’t made things better at all. Severus said you informed Dumbledore of our talk with Harry.” Remus looked at her face, which still pointed towards the sun, and nodded, following her eyes to the sunset.


“I had no choice but to tell him, Silvana. If there is any doubt about anyone’s agenda as far as Harry is concerned I must report it. I swore I would. You know that.” Silvana looked down into her lap, her head hung and shoulders slouched in resignation.


“I cannot agree. You should have waited for me to talk to Dumbledore. I may have been able to persuade the Governors before my brother is thrown to the wolves...if you pardon the turn of phrase” Remus reached across, touching her jaw line with two fingers and tenderly moving her face around to meet his gaze, desperate for her to see the sincerity on his face. She looked upon his face, seeing the love within.


“Don’t you think I want to believe him? I want to because of you. Because I know how much this pains you and I want to protect you. I want to believe him, but I cannot ignore the facts, Silvana. ” Silvana jerked her face away from Remus’ fingers and gazed at the sunset once more. The redness of the sky entranced her now, especially when contrasted with the enveloping dark clouds beyond. Bitter tears ebbed at the edges of her eyes and she blinked to suppress them. She swallowed hard.


“Perhaps it will be easier if we continue to remain as friends, Remus. Just friends.” Remus’ heart stopped at her cold words and he winced inwardly. He closed his eyes and relaxed his jaw, opening his mouth as if to speak, though the words would not leave his lips. It was too painful. He attempted to regain some composure and forced the words out of his mouth.


“You really want that? To ignore what we both feel? If that is what you want then I will do it, though I must say that I will always love you, regardless of our current situation. I cannot just switch off my feelings for you, and I don’t believe you can either. You can hide them, but I refuse to believe that they will leave you completely. Do not shut me out, Silvana. Please, I beg you, let me into your heart.” Silvana turned sharply, tears streaming down her face.


“I have to choose. I have to make a choice and Severus is blood, Remus. My only family. I left him last time and I cannot do it again. It would be too selfish of me to put my feelings for you over his. To put my happiness before his.” Remus looked horrified, grasping at her hands to hold them to his lips.


“I do not ask you to make a choice between us. I merely ask you to love me like I know you do in your heart. There is room in your heart for both of us.”


“But Severus does ask me to choose, and I must be by his side at this time.” Remus pushed himself back against the stone steps, the air expelled from his lungs audibly as he did so. He could not argue any more, for politeness and personal pride would not let him. He could almost hear Viell’s chastising words haunting him that he should do more to keep Silvana, to fight for her, but when he looked into her dark eyes she did not show the love she had done before. Her determination prevented it. The sun had now set, and the darkness was taking over. And there they sat, both wounded lost souls, so close and yet far apart. Silent and, above all, so very, very lonely.




*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*







“You look tired, Albus. Is there anything I can do for you?”


In all the years Minerva McGonagall had known Albus Dumbledore, she had never seen him look so weary as now. This year she had seen him age before her eyes, and the stress of the day’s events only worsened it. Dumbledore set his glasses on top of his desk and smiled reluctantly at his visitor, reaching for another lemon drop as he did so. He wished the drop could offer him an ounce of comfort as they had done so often in his years of being Headmaster, but now their effect seemed to lessen as the days went on, or perhaps he was just too old to gain the benefit of them. Whatever the reason they didn’t work for him today.


“Not unless you can tell me who is behind all of today’s events, Minerva.” McGonagall sighed and smiled sympathetically.


“Divination has never been my strong point. Perhaps Sybil could tell you.”


“Alas I fear she could not,” Dumbledore countered, a brief chuckle escaping his lips. “What would you do, Minerva, if faced with this situation?”


“Exactly what you are doing now. Inform the Governors and let them decide. You cannot risk Harry’s safety.”


“At the expense of the trust of one of my dearest friends and colleagues, whom I have defended time and time again?” Minerva nodded slowly.


“Yes, Albus. If Severus is innocent then the truth will out, eventually.” Dumbledore shook his head in resignation. He had hoped for another way, another possible beacon of light at the end of a very dark tunnel.


“I fear for him, for Severus. Voldemort will use any weakness against him, or against us, even. He will become a loose cannon beyond these four walls. He has already sought Lucius‘ guidance in this matter, I feel.”


“He has Silvana beside him this time. She will not allow him to falter.” Dumbledore smiled weakly.


“Perhaps she is too late. I fear I have thrown her in as bait for Voldemort. If Severus is found to have been coerced into this affair then I am willing to bet that Silvana was threatened in some way for him to comply with such a thing. And I had such high hopes on another matter that sadly looks lost.” Minerva frowned, thinking of what it could be.


“You mean her and Remus‘ relationship?” Dumbledore nodded.


“Indeed. There is a strong attachment there; one which is very important for the future, perhaps even the future of this very school, Minerva. I had hoped she would stand by his side. He will need her in times to come.” Minerva smiled nervously.


“They still have a chance. Love has a means of finding a way.”


Dumbledore was about to reply when a knock came at his door. He called ‘Enter’ and found the sheepish looking pale face of Draco Malfoy staring up at him.


“Mr Malfoy?” Draco stepped forward with a note in his hand. The Headmaster took the roll of parchment and looked at Draco questioningly. “Where has this come from?”


“Professor Snape, Sir. He gave me the password to get here and told me to hand this to you, personally. He was very insistent.”


Dumbledore unfurled the parchment and drew a deep breath. Sensing the prying eyes of the young man before him he bid Draco goodbye and waited until he was sure Draco Malfoy had left his office until he informed Minerva McGonagall of the contents of the letter. She frowned at him, waiting for him to tell her.


“Is this from the Governors already?” Dumbledore shook his head.



“No, I still await their reply. This is a far sadder piece of news. Fallen on his sword…of course…such pride and honour.” Minerva thought for a moment and then it dawned in her.



“Fallen…you mean Severus has resigned?”



“Indeed, Minerva. That is exactly what he has done. Severus Snape has resigned from his position at Hogwarts, before they could suspend him. A wise decision, perhaps. And yet also a very foolish one.”


*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*



Rumours do not take long to circulate with a building such as Hogwarts, and Draco Malfoy had great pleasure in being the bearer of such delicious news to the pupils of the school that day. Perhaps Severus Snape had intended just that when he handed Malfoy the unsealed scroll of parchment, for he knew Draco would read it before he handed it to the Headmaster. Perhaps that was why not only had he put the resignation in the letter, but a specific time of day that he would be leaving the school. Whatever he had intended, the pupils lined the staircases and halls to witness the ceremony.


Some had gathered in pure disbelief, thinking this was a huge prank of Malfoy’s, and others came, half hoping it were true, for he was a most unpopular Professor. The Slytherin’s all lined up, dressed in their house colours, glaring at the Gryffindor contingent like a proud army ready for battle. They would have to think about possible revenge for this later on. Harry, Ron and Hermione pushed themselves forward to the front of the gathered masses to see what was happening, and gulped in surprise. It was a sight to behold.


The Slytherin flags around the school all altered to half-mast as Snape walked along the long corridor towards the entrance doors. Beside him, head held high, eyes to the front, never wavering in her duty to her brother, was Silvana. Straight backs, proud and true, this was the sort of duty and occasion the Snape siblings had been made for. Their training of years of putting on a brave face when confronting adversity came through for them, and Silvana hooked her arm regally in Severus’ as they approached the front door.I am here, dearest brother. We will walk together out of the door and not look back. The only time she looked to the side was when she saw Harry and a polite nod was all that was needed to speak volumes to the boy. I do not blame you, Harry, and I will still care.


The Professors of the school had chosen to stand nearest the door, Dumbledore standing at the door to watch him leave. He looked sad and weary, as did the other Professors, and none more so than Professor Remus Lupin. His kind, soulful eyes ebbed with tears as he saw Silvana and Severus take the last few steps towards the door. He ached to leap in front of them and apologise, to persuade her to stay, but one look at Silvana and he knew it would be futile. She looked towards him briefly, but lifelessly, without reaction or emotion, totally focused on her duty to her brother.I cannot react to you, my love. I dare not. You have to understand this is the only way.


In that one moment, as her dark eyes glittered, and her expression pierced at Remus’ loving heart she showed the haunting echoes of her past. Silvana showed, as her defences surrounded her in a protective wall, that she was just as much a Snape as her brother, on the outside, at least. On the inside she cried a river of tears. She was walking away from a chance of happiness, and the only way Silvana would ever regain that chance was to prove Severus’ innocence. But one thing tore at her more than any other - the thought that there may be no innocence to be found. And, if that were true, she may never be able to love Remus Lupin again.













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