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Chapter 3


The next morning Mrs. Weasley wasted no time in picking the next room to clean. She was a bit surprised by the routine Lupin, Black, and I had but didn’t insist that I help with the initial cleaning. She probably also remembered how Black and I didn’t get along at dinner, or maybe Lupin had warned her that this was a better plan. So as the others started on a new room, I washed the one where Bill (who was currently bunking with Ron) would sleep. Mr. Weasley and Bill were both at work and I couldn’t help but wonder if Mr. Weasley would be the one to approach Shacklebolt. Maybe Dumbledore didn’t even consider the senior Auror, yet I was becoming more confident that he would be an asset.

I went to bed that night feeling restless. Besides a few words from Lupin and Mrs. Weasley, no one spoke to me at all. They had been more talkative at dinner, yes, but not to me. I couldn’t stop that feeling I usually got around people, like I didn’t belong. A part of me hoped Snape would drop by again, he usually showed up every two or three days for the Order meetings and a quick chat.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Snape did in fact visit the next evening, bringing several books with him. I groaned when I spotted the titles.

“Honestly,” Snape sneered, “being asked to help reform a school by the Minister of Magic, only you could find something to complain about.”

Although I was not spending the summer in Bulgaria, Minister Obolensky hadn’t been lying about the restructuring of the school. He actually did think I had a good perspective. So in addition to cleaning Grimmauld Place and making Wolfsbane for Lupin, I needed to think up some good ideas for a modern school.

“I’m not complaining. I just…I’m fifteen, what do I know about running a school?” I replied as Snape handed me eight different books on school education, governing schools, tips for successful teaching and healthy learning environments.

“You’re intelligent enough to create a respectable blueprint. You’ve been to several schools, had dozens of teachers, I’m certain you know what helps create a useful school and what doesn’t. If all else fails, write what you felt were positive ideas at each school and expand upon them.”

“You’re trying to fill my summer with busy work,” I accused.

“Obviously not enough if you’re still finding time to lie in bed moping.”

“I’m not moping,” I objected, glaring at him.

“What are you calling it then?”

“Thinking.” Alright, that was a lame answer.

“About?” Snape asked far too casually. I looked at him suspiciously and he raised an eyebrow at me.

“What did Dumbledore say about Shacklebolt?” I asked instead of answering his question.

“He was rather surprised yet slightly suspicious by your suggestion. He did agree that Shacklebolt would be beneficial and admitted he considered trying to recruit him already.”

“So somebody’s going to approach him?”

“Presumably.”

“Who?”

“Moody most likely.”

“Seriously? The paranoid old wizard? Exactly how low on supporters is Dumbledore?”

“Moody was working for the Ministry before Shacklebolt even joined. He was Shacklebolt’s boss for years. He is, as much as it pains me to admit, the best and least suspicious to recruit Shacklebolt.” I let out a skeptical huff. “You still haven’t told me what you were thinking about.”

“World domination.”

“Is that so?”

“I figure I can give the Dark Lord a run for his money.”

“I would imagine so.”

“I have a diabolical plan of treachery and deceit.”

“I see.”

“Employing copious amounts of kittens and rainbows.”

“Interesting.”

“It’s flawless.”

“Ah.”

“I’ll let you be second in command. General Snape has a nice ring to it.”

“As tempting as it sounds, I can’t help but wonder if you’ll ever share the cause for your recent fascination with Shacklebolt.”

“Relentless, aren’t you? Why are you so fascinated about my fascination with Shacklebolt, eh?”

“Because it could be from –”

“It’s not,” I said, already guessing what Snape would say. He was thinking a Death Eater could have prompted this when in reality it was my own selfish curiosity. The Snape I’d spoken with in June said Shacklebolt still felt guilty, that he hadn’t wanted me sent with the Malfoys. I suppose I had an unhealthy desire to find out if that was true. I didn’t feel comfortable sharing that with this Snape though.

“You’re failing to convince me otherwise.”

“If Dumbledore’s thought about recruiting him that should show it’s not a Death Eater idea and that Shacklebolt is just a good asset I was able to recognize.”

“You’re being frustrating,” Snape responded briskly.

“I occasionally get the same feeling about you.” He gave me an annoyed look. “You’re going to drive yourself mad if you keep trying to connect all my ideas back to Death Eaters.”

“That isn’t the issue,” he said, beginning to pace.

“Then…?” I prompted after he didn’t continue.

“It’s bothering me that I think it’s a good idea,” he answered after a minute.

“You’re doubting yourself now?” I asked as I tried to mask what I was really thinking. Was the part of me inside Snape trying to convince him about Shacklebolt?

“I was surprised when you brought it up, very surprised. While I was waiting for Dumbledore it kept my mind busy until when he finally arrived I felt it necessary that Shacklebolt join the Order. I’m not sure why…”

“You think I’m affecting you?” I questioned. Did Snape already know about the me inside of him?

“No. Not that fast. You take time, days at least.”

“Maybe your subconscious is just really smart,” I suggested.

“Hmm,” Snape said, not sounding the least bit convinced. “How’s the Weasley situation?” he asked suddenly. I shot him a quick glare in response. “I meant more about his mother. She seems rather overbearing, something you are not accustomed to.”

“I think I scare her more than anything,” I replied truthfully. “That didn’t stop her from trying to feed me about a dozen sandwiches for lunch though.”

“After the terrors she raised I’m not sure how you could be worse.”

“I don’t know whether to feel insulted or complimented.”

“What about the others? How did it go?”

“Hermione seemed more interested in why I keep getting expelled.”

“Be careful what you tell her.”

“Yes, yes. I know. You’ve said it before.”

“Have you spoken with –” I glared at him again. “I’ll assume that means no. You have several weeks, let him digest things then he’ll –” Snape noticed my dark expression and backed off. “Well if you’d rather mope.”

“Don’t you have a meeting to be at?”

“Anxious to get rid of me?”

“I can barely contain my enthusiasm about reading these new books,” I responded dryly.

“I’ll speak to you before I leave, after I’m done reading this,” he said, holding up my journal. He took a few steps towards the door before stopping. “Lupin leaves tonight?” I made an affirmative noise. “If you strangle Black, make sure it looks like self defense.”

“You know, every time I start wondering why you were sorted into Slytherin, you manage to remind me.”

“Huh,” Snape said thoughtfully.

“It’s not a compliment,” I clarified.

“It distinctively sounded like one,” Snape replied before leaving.

When the door closed I pulled a book closer to me, sighing. Even if I was used to reading books covering dozens of different topics, a book about tips on teaching did not sound the least bit interesting. But Obolensky had done me a huge favor, a thousand Galleon favor actually. That was my only motivation for opening the book and starting at Chapter 1: So you’re thinking about teaching.

I’d only been reading for twenty minutes when there was a knock on my door. It wasn’t Snape or Lupin, making me instantly nervous. I stood up and walked to the door, wondering who was there. On the other side was an anxious looking Fred Weasley.

“Hi,” he said awkwardly.

“Hi,” I responded softly.

“Er…can I come in?”

I stepped aside so he could enter then closed the door. Now I was feeling as anxious as Fred looked but I tried my best to hide it. “You can sit down,” I offered. Fred pulled out the chair and sat down as I seated myself on the bed. It was a couple of minutes before he said anything.

“I could have killed you,” he said miserably, staring at his hands.

What?”

“Fifth year, well your third year. I made you go flying. You didn’t even want to go. You could have fallen…you would have…” he drifted off, looking pained. Out of all the ways I’d imagined this conversation starting, (and trust me, I had thought of a ton of ways) this had never crossed my mind. Fred should have been questioning me, accusing me even, not looking so hopelessly guilty about a broom ride we’d taken over a year and half ago.

“I trusted you not to let me fall.”

Fred looked up at me sharply. “It could have been an accident. I could have looked away for a second or when George shouted. If I hadn’t been watching, you could have fallen,” he said angrily. “It was stupid, I should have left you alone. I shouldn’t have badgered you into it.”

“You didn’t do anything wrong. It was a nice ride, I liked it.” Fred gave me a skeptical glare.

“You hated it, you were absolutely terrified.”

“Well…yes,” I admitted. “It was more terror than hating it though. Still it was nice to go flying. I’d never been on a broom before and I kind of always wondered what it would be like. I’m glad it was something I got to share with you,” I said honestly. “Snape can sometimes…er…over simplify things for shock value.” Fred looked confused by this. “I’m not going to keel over if I get hurt. I’ve been injured before, even my shoulder. I’m still here. I’m relatively careful, it would be years before…anything serious happened.”

“I keep replaying the third task through my mind,” Fred said quietly. “I should have said something sooner. If I had you wouldn’t have been on the stairs when –”

“It could have gone the other way. I could have been ten or even a hundred steps higher if you hadn’t spoken up when you did. You did the right thing. And I’m very grateful for it.”

We lapsed into silence again until, “I looked for you.” I glanced up at Fred, not expecting this. “The last week of term, I looked everywhere for you. You weren’t there when I went back to the Hospital Wing in the morning and I couldn’t find you anywhere in the castle. I skipped Charms to get to the greenhouses before you left Herbology, but Hermione said McGonagall pulled you out as class was starting. I spent every night in common room waiting for you to show up at like three in the morning. You never came though.” A pang of guilt shot through me. “Hermione said you weren’t even in the dormitory, least as far as she could tell. I thought maybe with Karkaroff gone you would have went to Krum. He was nearly as impossible to find as you. I didn’t really know where else to go except Snape.” Wait, what?

“You went to Snape?”

“I thought you might…I don’t know, I thought he would know where you were.” Snape had never mentioned any conversation with Fred. “He told me to bugger off of course.” I raised an eyebrow at this. “Well it wasn’t phrased that way,” Fred confessed. “It was more along the lines of ‘if you don’t leave I’ll make sure you spend your entire seventh year in detention every night.’” Yeah, that sounded more like Snape.

“Probably a good choice to leave then, I wouldn’t want you wasting every night scrubbing Merlin knows what,” I teased halfheartedly.

“I didn’t leave,” Fred said sternly. “I couldn’t just leave.” He looked at me for a moment, like he was trying to figure something out, then a look of realization came over his face. “You thought I was going to leave you after learning about…everything, didn’t you?” he guessed.

“I wouldn’t hold it against you if you did,” I mumbled, staring at the floor.

“Do you really think so little of me?” I looked up at him, surprised by the stung edge in his voice. “I’m not going to ditch you at the first opportunity. I’m not that bloody shallow.”

“It doesn’t have anything to do with being shallow –”

“Yes it does. I’m not going anywhere. I’m in this for the long haul. Unless you tell me to bugger off and even then I can guarantee I’ll be playing you sappy love songs and mailing you gifts until you come to your senses and take me back.” I couldn’t help but smile a bit at the thought of this. “I care about you,” he said sincerely. “I’m not going to run off.”

“Fred, this isn’t some…trivial thing –”

“I know that. If I had known before,” he said, frowning, “I would have –”

“You would have treated me like a helpless child,” I interrupted. “I certainly would not have agreed to go to the Yule Ball with you if you were going to act like that.”

Fred eyed me critically before standing up. “Always so blunt about these things, aren’t you?” He stepped in front of me and took my hands, pulling me up and into a hug, a very gentle hug.

“Fred,” I said, feeling a bit annoyed, “if you don’t do a normal hug I’m going to knee you, and from this position I assume you can guess what I’ll be aiming for.”

I felt him freeze for a moment before squeezing tighter. “Merlin knows how hard you can hit now,” he whispered, making me let out a small laugh.

I waited for him to ask questions, not just about what he learned but also about Snape or any other random thing he could think of. He never asked though, he just held me there until there were two sharp rasps on the door. Knowing who it was, I let go of Fred quickly, but not quick enough. Snape opened the door, halting when he saw me and Fred letting go of each other. There was an awkward pause that seemed to last forever.

“And I’m leaving,” Snape said, dropping my journal by the door.

His words jolted me and as he closed the door I promptly shouted out, “We weren’t snogging!”

“Yet,” Fred muttered.

“Yet! – YET?!” I exclaimed, glaring at Fred.

“In all fairness, I did not know you were going to shout that at him.”

“Now he’s going to think we’re doing Merlin knows what in here.”

“Well…” Fred said, wrapping his arms back around me. Besides kissing my temple he made no other move.

“Er…” I said, feeling a bit confused.

“I figured we should get back into position in case Dumbledore shows up next.”

I let out a snort of laughter. This is exactly why I liked Fred Weasley so much.
 

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