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After We Fall by Arithmancy_Wiz
Chapter 8 : Chapter Eight
Rating: 15+Chapter Reviews: 4

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Chapter 8

All the Potters slept late the next morning. It was ten o'clock before Lily finally rolled out of bed. At first she thought it strange that no one had bothered to wake her, but then she remembered it was Saturday. Apparently even she and Albus weren’t expected to work on the weekends.

The scent of cooking sausage and burnt coffee wafted up from the kitchen, and for a moment Lily felt safe and comforted as the normality of domestic life wrapped around her like a blanket. But the feeling didn’t last long. Her feet had hardly hit the floor before the events of the previous evening came flooding back.

Lily assumed that Albus would have filled their parents in on everything that was going on between her and Scorpius as soon as he had awakened – maybe even going so far as to tell them about the little stunt she pulled yesterday. She was therefore surprised when she entered the kitchen and found the atmosphere relaxed, her parents enjoying a rare quiet morning at home.

“Morning, sleepyhead,” her mother said as Lily took her usual place at the breakfast table.

It was clear that everyone else had already finished eating, their plates stacked up in the sink. Albus was nowhere in sight but she could tell he had been there recently thanks to the mountain of fresh crumbs left on the table in front of his chair.

Her mother was in the middle of reading over a rather lengthy piece of parchment while her father, standing in front of the stove, tended to something sizzling away in the frying pan.

He looked over at Lily from behind his wire rim glasses. “We thought we heard you moving around up there. Just heating the bacon back up. You hungry?”

Lily nodded, surprised to find that she was starving. Maybe it was the smell of home cooked food or just the fact that she had slept straight through dinner the night before; whatever the reason, Lily was famished.

Her father fixed a plate and set it down in front of her. In addition to the bacon, there were fried eggs, toast and grilled tomatoes. It was a veritable feast and she dug in with both hands, finding it harder to dwell on the unpleasantness of the previous day with a mouth full of breakfast meat.

“Have any plans for today?” her mother asked her, setting aside whatever it was she’d been reading.

“No,” Lily said, taking a large gulp of juice. “I’m grounded, remember?”

“Oh, I remember.” She mother cast a long look over at her father, who nodded back at her. “Your father and I were just discussing it, as a matter of fact.

Uh-oh, Lily thought. That couldn’t be a good sign. Maybe Albus had tattled on her after all.

“And we decided,” her mother went on, “that just for today, we’d all go visit Luna and the kids. You think you’re up for it?”

Of course Lily was up for it. What else was she going to do? Sit around thinking about Scorpius all afternoon? She’d already been thinking about him all night. She’d even considered writing to him, telling him that she knew now that he had been right to be suspicious about his father and grandfather. But to what end? She still couldn’t do anything for him. Even if she wanted to, trying to spy on her father would be pointless. He was always careful never to bring his work home with him. And besides, being right about what had happened to his grandmother didn’t change the fact that she still believed Scorpius had been using her to get information. For someone who had spent the better part of the last week lying to just about everyone, Lily couldn’t stand the thought that Scorpius had been untruthful with her.

“Well, I should warn you,” her mother was saying. “They’ve been planning something. I don’t know what exactly, but Luna wanted to know all about your birthday plans and whether or not we had already gotten you a Rotting Rigsbirth – whatever that is. I told her not to make a fuss and that you were getting too old for parties but she insisted. I’ve no idea what she’s got up her sleeve, but whatever it is...Well, let’s just say, put on a brave face about it, alright?”

Lily would have agreed to just about anything if it meant getting out of the house for the day, and by three o’clock, she, her mother, and her father were climbing the three stone steps that led up to the Scamander’s front door. It took several knocks before anyone answered, but when the door opened, Lily saw that the entire Scamander family had gathered to greet them. In front was Luna, all bulging eyes and dirty blonde hair that reached down the length of her back. Lily knew she was the same age as her mother, but there was something youthful and innocent about her the woman – as if she might never grow old. Luna was flanked on either side by two nearly identical twin boys, both just as fair as their mother. On her right was Lorcan, a broad, crooked smile plastered across his round face. On her left was Lysander, a slightly smaller, skinnier version of his brother but with the same mischievous grin. In the back stood Mr. Scamander. He was the odd one out, which was saying something in a family made up of entirely odd people. He was a great deal taller than his wife and sons, with deeply tanned skin and hair the color of chocolate, which he wore long and tied back at the base of his neck.

“See, I knew they wouldn’t be late,” Luna said in way of a greeting.

After everyone had been properly welcomed, the Potters were led into the main parlor. Lily had been in the home many times before but she’d never seen it looking like this. All the mismatched furniture and strange collectibles that usually covered the floor had been pushed up against the walls. A large table had been set up in the center of the room. On it sat the oddest collection of food Lily had ever seen. Mini pork pies, licorice wands, pickled onions, treacle pudding, tiny jars of homemade chutney, Pepper Imps: on and on it went. The accumulation of differing smells wasn’t altogether pleasant but it was clear someone had gone to a lot of trouble to set out such an unusual spread.

And it wasn’t just the table of food that caught Lily’s eye. Not only had someone been busy cooking up a feast, someone had also taken great care to decorate the adjoining rooms with banners and ribbons and balloons in every color and pattern imaginable. Purple streamers that twirled and swayed without the need of wind hung from the rafters. A string of lime green triangles, each containing a picture of Lily at various ages, was draped across one window. Bunches of balloons with phrases like ‘Let’s Get Silly, It’s Your Birthday, Lily’ and ‘Ain’t It Keen, You’re Seventeen’ were tethered to the backs of chairs and or else floating free, bobbing against the ceiling.

Lily was dumbstruck, not to mention heartily embarrassed. She had known Luna might cause a fuss – she did so like celebrations – but this was a bit much, ever for her. And  Lily wasn’t the only one who thought so. Judging from the looks on her parents’ faces, they hadn’t been expecting such a display either.

“Luna, we told you not to go to any trouble...” her mother said.

“It wasn’t trouble. It was wonderful fun,” Luna assured them all with a bright smile. “I’d been all set to do the same for Rose last year, but Hermione seemed rather reluctant about the whole idea. Perhaps it’s a muggle-born thing. Do they celebrate coming of age, dear?” She turned toward her husband but Mr Scamander was busy chiding the twins, each of whom were elbow deep in a bowl of peppermint humbugs.

As it turned out, the food and the décor were only the first in a string of surprises bestowed upon Lily that afternoon. It wasn’t long before the little house was full to bursting with a collection of family and friends, all there to celebrate her special day – though technically she wouldn’t turn seventeen until midnight.

The first to arrive after the Potters were Lily’s Grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Weasley. Next came her Uncle George and Aunt Angelina, accompanied by their youngest daughter, Roxy. Uncle Ron and Aunt Hermione arrived about an hour later – Hermione insisting they would have been there on time if it weren’t for Ron dragging his feet, hoping to hear the end of some “silly Quidditch match on the radio.”

Lily was grateful they had come but disappointed to see that Rose was not with them.

“She’s gone into work,” her aunt told her, seeming to read her thoughts. “She sends her best though and promises to come visit you as soon as she’s got a day off.”

“That’s what weekends are for,” Uncle Ron said to no one in particular. “What’s the point of being eighteen if you spend all your free time locked up in an office? She should get out more.”

“That’s not what you said when she told you she was off to see Barnaby next month,” his wife reminded him, referring to Rose’s new boyfriend.

“Yeah, well, that’s cause he’s a git. Have you seen the way he walks? He looks like a drunk hippogriff. And Barnaby. What kind of name is that?”

Hermione rolled her eyes and the two continued to argue over the matter as they passed into the kitchen to join the rest of the party.

The last to arrive was Lily’s eldest brother James. On his arm was a girl Lily had never seen before. She was pretty in the sort of way her brother seemed to like: tall and thin and dressed in slightly less than what was appropriate for the occasion. James probably thought the scowl on her face meant she was sophisticated and having deep thoughts. Lily thought it looked like she had stepped in dragon dung.

“Hey, birthday girl,” James said, giving Lily a hug and tucking a small box into her hand. “This,” he said, gesturing toward his date, “is Joanna. She couldn’t wait to meet you.”

Joanna’s lips twitched in what Lily supposed was meant to pass for a smile. “Yeah, happy birthday, Liza,” she said, looking at a spot just over Lily’s head.

“Actually, it’s...” But before Lily had a chance to correct her, the girl had already turned and wondered off.

James gave his sister an embarrassed shrug before following after his date like a lovesick puppy.

At some point, a very short, plump woman with frizzy brown hair and pointed, pearl colored glasses had slipped into the party unnoticed by Lily. She must have been a friend of the Scamanders as she was now in deep conversation with Mr. Scamander, who towered over the dominative stranger as they talked animatedly about something Lily couldn’t hear.

While it wasn’t quite the party Lily had imagined for her seventeenth birthday – with almost no one there her own age – the afternoon passed pleasantly enough. That was, of course, minus the incident with the invisible ink – a birthday gift from her Uncle George. Though he feigned innocence on the matter, he hadn’t seemed all that surprised when the ink pot exploded and left a not-so-invisible stain on her new party dress. Aside from that, there was plenty of food and cake and even a few party games, the oddest of which involved each guest having to try and guess the amount of Aquavirius Maggots a person could fit inside the average cauldron. Her Uncle Ron’s guess proved to be closest and he was rewarded with his very own maggot in a jar, a prize he tucked into a nearby potted plant as soon as Luna’s back was turned.

By eight o’clock, the party was beginning to wind down. Uncle George and his family had already left, as had James and his girlfriend, and the strange little woman whose name Lily had never learned. The remaining adults had moved into the back garden and were now perched comfortably on wooden folding chair, enjoying the last of their drinks as evening descended.

Lily was left alone inside the house. The sudden quiet after all the noise and celebration left her feeling cold. She could already feel her mind threatening to dredge up the events of last night. She didn’t want to think about it. Not there, not after such a nice afternoon on a day meant for celebration. Desperate for a distraction, Lily wandered upstairs in search of the twins.

The top floor of the Scamander home consisted of one long hallway with several rooms branching off on either side. Lily could hear the boys talking in loud whispers behind the last door on the right, which was marked with a large ‘Do Not Enter’ sign written in child’s hurried scrawl.

Lily knocked once and the voices inside fell silent.

“Who is it?” one of the twins called after a long pause.

“It’s just me,” Lily said.

She could hear the two boys talking to each other again in hushed tones. A minute later, the door opened, leaving a crack just wide enough for Lysander to stick his nose through.

“Are you alone?” he asked.

Lily nodded but then realized he might not be able to see the gesture and added, “Yes. Everyone’s outside or else gone home.”

She watched as Lysander stepped back, allowing the door to open another few inches. He stuck his blonde head out, looking up and down the empty hallway. He called back over shoulder to his brother. “It’s just her. Should I let her in?”

Lorcan must have given his approval because Lysander stepped aside, allowing Lily into the small bedroom. It had been a long time since Lily had occasion to be in the twins’ room but she found it hadn’t changed much. It was still full of toys and games and books, all brightly-colored and crammed into wooden chests or else piled several feet high on the shelves that lined the walls. Everywhere she looked, she saw coloring books, tins of crayons, action figures, and even a child-size potion kit – which she knew from experience didn’t actual brew any potions. The jars themselves were enchanted so as to turn whatever liquid was put inside them an ugly shade of puce.

Lorcan was sitting on a hand-woven rug spread out in the center of the room. Lysander closed the door behind Lily and resumed his spot on the floor next to his brother. Spread out between them was a giant map that had seen better days. There were several large creases running up and down the page, and one of the corners was missing completely.

“Mind if I join you?” Lily asked. The boys scooted over to make room for her on the rug but were too focused on the map to bother offering a proper reply. Lily took a seat next to Lorcan, sitting cross-legged on the carpet, which was rough and tickled the backs of her bare legs. “What are you doing?” she asked, trying to sneak a quick peek of the map over Lorcan’s shoulder.

“Planning,” the boys said in unison.

Lysander pointed out something to Lorcan, who shook his head is disapproval. “Not a chance,” he said. “Too far. Besides, not enough trees for cover. See,” he said, pointing to a spot just to the left of where his brother had indicated. “That green stuff, it means trees. And we’re gonna need a lot of trees.”

Lysander nodded in silent agreement, as if his brother’s point was well received.

“Are you two planning a trip or something?” she asked.

“Not a trip,” Lysander said. “It’s more like...a mission.”

“Well, that sounds exciting. Is it a secret mission, or can you tell me about it?”

The boys looked at each other. Lysander shrugged, which seemed to indicate he was okay with bringing in another co-conspirator.

“Well,” Lorcan began, “it’s not really a secret, I guess. Only we don’t want anyone to know about it just yet...until we’ve got it all worked out. Understand?” Lily nodded, amused at the seriousness of his tone. “Well, you see, Mum and Dad are planning this holiday up north on the islands. We were supposed to go today but then Mum remembered about your birthday, so now we’re not going ‘til tomorrow. Anyway, Ned says they’ve got a new family of baby Hebridean Blacks up there and would Mum like to come up and take some pictures for her new book. ‘Course Mum said yes, so now we’re all going up together.”

Lily had no idea who Ned was but she knew enough about Hebridean Blacks to know they were a breed of dragon usually found on the Hebrides Islands. Looking back at the map, she could see now that the boys had been examining a very detailed drawing of the inner islands – the coast of Scotland little more than a wavy line bordering the right side of the page.

“Anyway, me and Lysander, we’ve been thinking,” Lorcan continued. “See, Ned said baby dragons. That means they won’t be too big yet, right? So we figure, when no one’s looking —”

“We might snag one and try and take a ride on it!” Lysander burst in, unable to wait any longer for his brother to spit out the best part.

“That’s why we need cover, see?” Lorcan added, ignoring his brother’s bubbling enthusiasm and continuing to explain their plan in a very matter-of-fact tone. “So nobody spots us. We’d be in for it if any muggles saw us. And then when we’re done, after we’ve had a few goes, we just sneak it back home. Shouldn’t take more than a few hours, if we stay close to the reserve.”

The two of them looked at Lily, waiting for her to confirm the sheer brilliance of their plan.

“Well,” she said, not wanting to hurt their feelings but not about to encourage them either, “don’t you think that’s all a bit dangerous?”

The both shook their heads emphatically, but it was Lorcan who answered her question first. “They’re only babies. How dangerous can they be? Besides, Mum says your dad fought a dragon once. And he’s not even that tall or strong or anything. The two of us can manage a small one, no problem.”

“Still,” Lily said, making a mental note to ask her father when he had ever fought a dragon, “you shouldn’t take things that aren’t yours. That’s stealing, you know.”

“Not if you give it back, it isn’t,” Lysander told her in a sing-song voice.

Lily was about to argue the point further but she didn’t have the chance. There was a sudden flurry of voices and activity coming from downstairs. And it didn’t sound like the normal chatter of people preparing to head home for the night. Something was definitely going on.

“Quick, take this!” Lorcan was on the move, folding up the old map as fast as he could, ripping one of the corners in his haste before handing it to Lily.

“Me?” she asked in surprise. “What do you want me to do with it?”

“Hide it! If Mum and Dad see, they might start asking questions. Just put it in your pocket or something and come on!”

Lily did as she was told, and in an instant the three of them were out the door and heading downstairs.

“...but I don’t see why that means you have to go running off this minute,” Lily heard her grandmother say as they descended the steps, unnoticed in the excitement of whatever was going on.

All the adults had gathered in the narrow entryway, her father and Uncle Ron throwing on the robes they had discarded during the course of the party.

“It was our office, Mum,” Uncle Ron said. “What do you expect us to do?”

“But wouldn’t someone have contacted you about it? I mean, at least sent a letter or something?”

“Probably did,” her father replied. “Only none of us were home to get the message. Ready?” he asked, turning to Ron, who nodded. “I’ll send word as soon as I know anything,” her father said, giving her mother a quick kiss on the cheek.

“Me too,” Ron told Hermione.

“Thanks for everything, Luna. You too, Rolf.” Her father extended a hand to Mr. Scamander, who shook it eagerly.

“Be safe, Harry,” Luna added in an airy voice.

“Yes," Mr. Scamander said. "And do let us know if there's anything we can do.”

Without further word, Lily’s father and uncle turned and headed out the front door and into the encroaching darkness.

“Well, of all things,” said the eldest Mrs. Weasley once the two men had disappeared from sight. “And won’t you put that away, Arthur!” she snapped at her husband, who looked down at the newspaper in his hand. “It’s rubbish. I won’t be half surprised if the boys arrive only to find the whole business has been a total misunderstanding, or else just another vicious lie.”

“Oh, come now, Molly,” her grandfather crooned, though Lily noticed he dropped the paper on a nearby chair. “The Prophet’s been a lot more reliable these days. Remember that article they did on me after I retired? They got most of it right, eh?”

“Well, there’s certainly no accounting for taste on subject matter then, is there?”

The adults moved back into the kitchen, still discussing the matter, while Lily, Lorcan and Lysander slipped unnoticed into the hall.

“What was that about?” Lorcan asked, but Lily ignored him. She had already picked up the discarded newspaper, reading the headline on the front page of the evening edition of The Daily Prophet.

Senior Officials Targeted In Ministry Break-In. Prank or Pilfer: What’s The Motive?

“Let me see,” Lorcan demanded, pulling at her arm.

“What’s it say?” Lysander asked, he too trying to crane his neck to get a better view.

“Shhh!” Lily snapped, reading on.

Earlier this evening, Ministry spokesman Malachi Grudgeman confirmed a break-in had been detected at the offices of two of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement’s most senior officials. The break-ins, which occurred at approximately six o’clock, were – according to Grudgeman – targeted attacks.

“This was not random,” Grudgeman said when pressed by the reporter for details. “The perpetrator had a clear intent in mind when he entered the building. Security Wizards have verified the individual entered the Ministry and headed directly to the offices in question. He seemed to know exactly where he was going.”

When asked about a motive, Grudgeman refused to speculate. “We’ll find out in time,” he said.

At present, it is still unclear how the individual gained entry into the Ministry or how he expected to remain undetected.

“Even during weekends, the Ministry’s full of people, all of who need our protecting,” said a Security Wizard, who wished not to be identified. “We don’t no take chances with safety.”

The offices in question belong to two well-known, high-ranking Aurors: Ronald Weasley and Harry James Potter, both most famous for the roles they played in the Last Great War. Due to the age of the suspect, some are already speculating the break-ins may have been some sort of prank.

When asked for his opinion, the unnamed Security Wizard had the following to say: “Well, probably someone just wanted to snag a bit of history, no? Maybe try and make a quick knut? Loads of people would pay good money to get their hands on something that belonged to Mr. Potter.”

Very few details regarding the suspect are being released at this time. Scorpius Malfoy, 18, youngest member of the once-prominent Malfoy family of Whiltshire, is said to now be in custody for the crime, though where he is being held has not yet been disclosed.

(story continued on page 3)

Lily had to read the last paragraph over again before its meaning truly began to sink in.

Scorpius was in custody after trying to break into her father’s office at the Ministry.

She couldn’t believe it. What had Scorpius been thinking? But of course, Lily knew exactly what he’d been thinking. He been thinking that if she couldn’t get him the information he needed, he’d have to go off and get it himself. Only he’d ended up getting arrested instead.

This had gone too far. No matter what Scorpius had or hadn’t done to her, it was clear he was in serious trouble, and she couldn’t just stand by and let him self-destruct. But Albus was right. This was over her head. Scorpius needed help, and not the sort she could provide. She was going to have to tell someone and quick.

Lily dropped the paper - which the twins immediately began to argue over - before turning and heading off in search of her mother.

“But, Mum! You’re not listening—”

“Lily, I am listening. I’ve been listening for the last ten minutes. I’ve heard it all, but the answer is still no.

Lily hadn’t known what to expect when she burst into the Scamander’s kitchen and began baring her soul to her mother – telling everyone within earshot how she’d been sneaking about, spending time with a boy who was convinced his own relatives were involved in a murder, and who himself had just been arrested. But whatever she’d been expecting, it certainly wasn’t apathy. She would have been less surprised if her mother had leapt to her feet, gathered up the rest of the family, and headed off to confront the Malfoys about what they had done to poor old Narcissa. Ginny Potter was woman of action, after all. But instead, she just stood there staring at her daughter with a mixture of bewilderment and disapproval.

“But this isn’t right. He needs our help! Don’t you care at all?”

“The only thing that’s not right around here,” her mother said, “is your behavior. Not only have you been lying to me but now you’re making a scene when we are supposed to be guests in someone else’s home—”

“But none of that matters, don’t you see that? Mrs. Malfoy is dead and you’re worried about being rude?

“Perhaps we should at least let Harry know about all this,” interjected the eldest Mrs. Weasley, who had set down the bowl she’d been pretending to dry with an old dish towel for the better part of the last five minutes.

“I’ve got this, Mother!” Ginny said, putting up her hand to stop the woman before she could continue on.

"See?" yelled Lily, jumping on the opportunity. “The rest of them know you’re being unreasonable. All I want—”

“Enough!” Mrs. Potter said, cutting her Lily off just as quick as she had cut of her own mother. “This conversation is over. And so is your relationship with the Malfoys. It’s done, do you hear me?”

“You can’t tell me who to be friends with!”

“Oh, yes I can. And I just did. You’ve got no further business with Scorpius. Your father is the only one in this family to have contact with that boy. What he’s gotten himself into has got nothing to do with you.”

“But --” Lily began again, her bottom lip trembling, her face flushed with anger.

But her mother refused to hear another word about it. No matter how much Lily shouted and begged, Mrs. Potter wouldn’t budge. On the verge of tears and embarrassed at having her concerns so flippantly dismissed in front of the rest of her family, Lily had no choice but to accept that the argument was over, and after a few hasty apologies to the remaining party guests, her mother Apparated them both back home.

Lily didn’t dare bring up Scorpius again after that, and a gloomy silence settled over the Potter house in the days that followed. It rained constantly, the weather reflecting Lily’s own persistent state of agitation and melancholy. Her birthday came and went without further celebration, the fact that she could now legally do magic rendered meaningless as she was now being watched so carefully by her parents, she couldn’t so much as sneeze without them asking her what she was up to.

Lily made no attempt to contact Scorpius. This had nothing to do with obeying her mother’s demands to stay away from the Malfoys. She simply had no idea how to reach him. Assuming he was still in custody, Lily hadn’t a clue where he was being held or if post would even be delivered under such circumstances. And on the off chance he had been released, Lily thought it unlikely he would have returned home unless forced to do so. She had no idea where he might go after that.

But despite all this, Lily had not given up hope of helping Scorpius. Every night after her parents had gone to bed, she’d lock her door and spend hour after hour combing through old textbooks and papers and anything else that might be buried at the bottom of her school trunk. She knew it was a long shot, but it occurred to Lily that if she could figure out what had killed Narcissa Malfoy, maybe someone would finally start taking her seriously. Maybe if she discovered the truth, people would realize Scorpius had only been acting out of desperation, and that it was his family – and not Scorpius – who were the real criminals.

Unfortunately, Lily had very little to go on. She knew from Scorpius’ letter that his grandmother had been found at home, covered in blood. Beyond that, she had no idea as to the manner or cause of death. She was inclined to rule out anything strictly muggle-related. Knowing the reputation of the elder Malfoys, she just couldn’t see either of them resorting to such tactics. Potions also seemed an unlikely possibility; Lily couldn’t think of any potion that caused a person to bleed the way Scorpius had described.

Lily did manage to compile a list of more than two-dozen possible curses that might have been used on Mrs. Malfoy – all able to cause serious injury or even death, particularly if used on a defenseless old woman. Still, it was far from the conclusive proof she’d been hoping for. There was no telling how many other types of horrible spells might be out there. She only had her schoolbooks to go off of, and they weren’t exactly manuals on dark magic.

By the end of the week, Lily had exhausted all the resources she could get her hands on and had begun the task of restacking all the books and roles of parchment back into her trunk before anyone else could see the mess and figure out what she’d been up to. She was about halfway done when she came across a book that she hadn’t yet looked at. The gold lettering on the front read: Modern Magical Marvels and Wizarding Wonders: The History of Our Age. It was a text from her History of Magic class. She hadn’t bothered with it until then, knowing it contained little in the way of spellwork and wasn’t likely to provide much insight into what had killed Scorpius’ grandmother. But as she stared down at the title, something began to stir in the back of her mind – something that until that moment had been pushed away by more pressing matters. She thought back to the strange little box she had found in the locked room on the top floor of Grimmauld Place - the one with the tiny scrap of folded newspaper hidden inside it.

Curious, Lily flipped to the back of the book, finding the index and locating the section labeled “S”. Her fingers strolled down the page, passing names like Shacklebolt, Shingleton, and Smith. And then, just above the bottom, she saw it:

Snape, Severus (1960-1998)...p327-333

Lily flipped though the pages, not sure what she was expecting to find. It wasn’t as if she didn’t already know the man’s story. One doesn’t have a brother named - at least in part - after a person without knowing something about him. Still, it wasn’t as if he was a common topic at the dinner table.

After a few seconds, Lily found the page she was looking for. It was the start of a chapter labeled The Last Great War. Her eyes slid over the first few paragraphs, noting her own name – or actually that of her Grandmother Potter – reflected back at her in several places. But it wasn’t until she reached the bottom of the page that she came across what she was looking for.

The heading read: Severus Snape, A Conflicted Report. 

Below that were four short paragraphs.

Severus Snape (9 January, 1960 – 2 May, 1998), son of witch Eileen Prince and muggle Tobias Snape, served as Potions Master at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry from 1981–1996, leaving the post to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts from 1996-1997, and finally serving as the school’s Headmaster from 1997 until his death during the Battle of Hogwarts.

Reports of Snape’s association with a group of Lord Voldemort’s followers known as the Death Eaters began almost as soon as he completed his education in 1978. During his 1981 trial before the Wizengamot, convicted Death Eater Igor Karkaroff named Snape as one of Lord Voldemort’s most loyal supporters. However, no charges were ever brought against Snape, thanks mainly to the testimony of Albus Dumbledore (Grand Sorc., Order of Merlin - First Class), who swore under oath to Ministry Officials that Snape had turned double agent at great personal risk to himself.

Little is known about the personal activities of Snape between 1981 and 1997, during his tenure as a professor at Hogwarts. He remained largely out of the public eye until the death of Dumbledore in June, 1997. Though initially accused of the murder by Harry Potter (see page 289), Potter would go on to champion the good deeds Snape had done following the man’s death later that year, reportedly at the hand of Lord Voldemort himself.

Potter provided full testimony on Snape to the Grand Counsel on Wizard Affairs, set up following the conclusions of the Last Great War. According to Potter, Snape remained loyal to Dumbledore’s effort to thwart Lord Voldemort, including protecting Potter as he searched for ways to undo the life-extending spells Voldemort had performed on himself. However, little in the way of evidence regarding these claims has been provided and many questions about Snape’s true loyalties remain unanswered. While Potter and many of his associates remain staunch supports of the former professor, many more continue to believe that Snape was, at least in some capacity, responsible for atrocities performed under the brief rule of Lord Voldemort. Testimony provided by many credible wizards place Snape at the scene of several vicious Death Eater attacks. Few on either side, however, would disagree that Severus Snape was a very powerful wizard with deep knowledge of the magical arts – both light and dark – and whose talents were likely to have been highly coveted, whatever the cause.

Lily skimmed through the pages that followed, noting Snape’s name mentioned a few more times as having been at one battle or another, but garnering little else in the way of details. She closed the book, setting it down on the bed beside her. It was odd reading about Severus Snape in that manner. Lily had been raised to think of Snape as a hero - just like her father. And while she knew Snape may not have been the kindest man, he was – at least according to her dad – one of the bravest men her father ever knew.*

Curiosity once again took a hold of Lily and she stood up, looking around for the watch that had been hidden along with the newspaper clipping of Snape. It was several minutes before she remembered she’d never taken the items out of the pocket of the trousers she’d been wearing the day she’d meant to meet up with Scorpius. She turned her focus to the large pile of dirty clothes that had collected in the corner of bedroom. As she reached down, she noticed something odd. There was a strange grinding noise coming from somewhere nearby.

She stopped, listening closely. It was coming from somewhere within the pile itself. Lily began rummaging through the clothes, throwing aside dirty socks and wrinkled t-shirts. The noise was growing louder, like rusty gears rubbing against each other.

She found it then: the tiny golden pocket watch. Lily could see now that not only was the watch humming and clicking, the little hand – the one that pointed at the strange symbols she’d noticed the first time she set eyes on the watch – was spinning and shaking. She reached down, picking up the timepiece, but the instant she did, the object fell silent. After a moment, she set it back down again, and the watch immediately resumed its whirring and clicking, the little hand moving left to right, like a compass needle in search of North.

Like a compass...

That was when it hit Lily. Quickly setting the watch aside, she began rifling again through the pile of clothes, stopping when she found what she was looking for. Her soiled party dress: the one with the great purple ink stain still visible on the front. In the pocket, just where she’d left it, was the map Lorcan had given to her for safekeeping.

Picking up the watch again, she moved back to her bed, unfolding the map and spreading it out across her quilt.

Working on pure instinct, Lily set the watch in the center of the map. The tiny hand jumped, swinging wildly back and forth before settling on a single point. Lily slid the watch carefully toward the spot indicated. The makeshift needle began to move again and once more she followed its direction. Back and forth across the map she went, nudging the watch forward only to pull it back again. After several minutes of this, the tiny hand stopped moving.

Looking down, she saw that it had aligned itself with one single spot, and no matter which way she pushed or pulled the watch, the hand remained glued in place – refusing to budge. And that’s when Lily knew. She had found it – found it without even looking for it. Found it without really understanding how. Lily had found the location of a man half the world considered a hero, the other half a villain, but all of whom believed was dead.

She had found the location of Severus Snape. 

*This line is not a direct quote but is inspired by Harry's Line to Albus in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Epilogue: Nineteen Years Later

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After We Fall: Chapter Eight


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