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"Masssterrrr..."

"Yes, Nagini?"

"I hhhave ssssome interesssting newssss..."

"Proceed."

"A girrrrlll hasss been founddd... the one we have loookeddd forrr..."

"Where?"

"I am not ssssure yet, Massterrr..."

"How do you know, Nagini?"

"Ssssome old friendssss in the foresssttt. They ssssaw herrr whorrrrrkkingggg amongsssst the treeeeessss..."

"Tell them to keep looking, Nagini. The girl is essential. Wormtail!"

"Yes, my lord?"

"Go and get one of our prisoners. Nagini needs dinner."

"I... yes, my lord."

"Soon, Nagini. Soon..."





"Oh, school always starts so soon. Just when I get used to everyone being around, everyone has to leave again."

Adeline smiled at the fretting older woman busying herself folding the laundry.

"I agree, Molly, although I'm sure it'll be nice for you to have your house somewhat to yourself again."

"Oh nonsense," Mrs. Weasley waved impatiently. "I rather like having other people around the house, and you're a marvelous houseguest."

"Thank you. I wanted to speak to you about Ron for a moment, if you can pause what you're doing momentarily."

"Of course, is there a problem with his studying? I know he's never been the best, especially with the company he keeps, but he always seems to do just fine, better than his brothers, anywa-"

"Oh, no, I'm not here to complain about Ron's work, actually quite the opposite." Adeline grinned at the open look of surprise on Molly Weasley's face before continuing.

"I was actually quite surprised at the beginning, from Severus' reports- I mean, I know he's certainly not impartial, but it's easy enough to get to the truth behind the bias- and then I had him in class and he's brilliant!" Mrs. Weasley flushed red, beaming, and Adeline pressed on.

"Honestly, Molly, he's picking it up three times faster than the other two! The idea is barely out of my mouth before he understands it and starts! I was actually hoping... should he agree... if you think he would mind helping me in the field after... I mean, if... when the war is over. I could use another bright one amongst the dunderheads I'm usually working with."

"Well, I'll certainly plant the seed in his mind," Mrs. Weasley said cheerily, going back to folding her laundry. "Are you sure you'd rather not stay a few more days, at least till the children leave?"

"I'm afraid I can't. I have to get my teacher's quarters and classroom set up, and sort out a few..." Mrs. Weasley gave an odd smile, and Adeline paused. "things."

"Of course dear. Whatever you need? Will you be staying for dinner?"

"No, actually, I'm leaving as soon as I finish packing. Thank you for all of your hospitality, though, and please do tell any of the boys or Ginny to come to me if they need any help." Adeline placed her last garment in the suitcase and bolted it closed, smiling. After a quick hug from her hostess, Adeline grinned, nodding to the boys just coming from the back as she slipped out the door.

"Hi Ade- hey, why's her stuff gone?"

"Adeline had to leave on business, you'll all see her at school. Come along then, come on, it's almost time for dinner and all of you need washing up."

Harry slipped back to peek out the window- he saw her for a moment, and she saluted him. He blinked, and she was gone.





"Albus, you cannot be serious."

"I'm afraid I am, very much so."

"I am not sharing a room with Severus!"

"My dear girl, you continue to misunderstand me. You will not be sharing a room. You will be sharing quarters, meaning-"

"I know what it means. It means you're a pushy old bastard who doesn't know when to stop-"

"It means that I am a pushy old bastard, as you said, who would very much like to see two old friends happy."

Adeline glared, red flushing her normally pale face, and the old man smiled serenely.

"You will be the death of that man," she spat, storming out of his office, and he sighed, getting up and stroking Fawke's brilliant orange feathers.

"You know, Fawkes, the upsetting thing is that she's probably right."

 





Adeline sat in the quarter's living room, somber as she stared into the fireplace. The door opened, and her head shot to the doorway.
 

"Adeline? What are you doing here?"

"Apparently I live here."

"You're the one in the other room? Are you sure?"

"I'm sure."

"Hmmm... interesting, that."

"I suppose. Listen. Do you know what the old man's up to?"

"Albus? No one knows what he's up to except him. Why?"

"Nothing. Just a feeling... that's all."

"Soda?"

"As always." She accepted the glass with a nod, sinking back into the armchair. Here, with her eyes closed, she could feel the cold seeping into her hand from the glass, the heat from the fire, the burning eyes of her best friend. She squeezed her eyes closed, wishing to block everything out- after a moment, she relaxed and opened her eyes reluctantly, sighing.

"It is very comfortable here, isn't it," Severus said, obviously mistaking her sigh to be one of contentment. "Much better than the house, at least."

Finally. A comfortable topic.

"Why ever did you buy that awful thing? It's almost as depressing and decrepit as you are." Her lips quirked into a smile, and he shrugged, a small spark in his eyes the only recognition of her teasing.

"I was very young, and it was very inexpensive. I am not in the best location for most self-respecting Wizarding families, as you well know."

"Then I suppose it's good you aren't self-respecting, isn't it," she said bluntly, and the was a small twitch of his eyebrow before his face once again turned to stone.

"I suppose it is." He stood up, a bit more quickly than he normally did, and she knew- she'd stung him.

"The kitchens are behind the giant bowl of fruit. The house elves will make you anything you like."

"I know." She made her voice gentler, suddenly regretting her harsh words. "I used to go here, remember?"

There was a pause.


"It must have slipped my mind," he said quietly, slipping out and leaving Adeline with an liquidating glass and a heavy heart. 

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