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Lily tossed and turned. Severus tried to hold her and reassure her but nothing would. They were always worried about Harry now. It was nothing their son did but the environment and time he was growing up in. Severus thought back to the past few months and shuddered. Albus was partially correct after all. Voldemort moved his forces to create disturbances but the general public nor the ministry believed that he was at large once more. Albus stopped intervening with Fudge was his Wizengamot post was taken away after the Quidditch World Cup. That was a disaster in itself.
Harry and Lily were at the tournament while Severus traveled to Bulgaria to brief Sirius on the Karkaroff mission. The Weasleys, Gus, Draco, Dudley, Ms. Granger and Harry were in attendance. Arthur claimed that he could handle all the kids by himself but Lily refused to let Dudley and Harry go without her and so she went. According to his wife the game was good. To be completely honest neither Severus or Lily cared for quidditch so Ireland winning was irrelevant. Severus remembered his wife's tale. Lily stayed with the girls on a tent and slept peacefully until she heard the screams. Her first instinct was to round the girls and go to Arthur's tent. She found no one as they had gone already. Lily saw the mark on the sky and felt dread. She thought of Dudley and cursed herself for being so stupid and coming to this thing.
She ran with the girls until she found them. Draco, Harry, and Ron formed a circle around Dudley. The boys had their wands raised at her.
"Mr. Weasley said to hide." Harry said quietly. "What does it mean?" He said as his mother hugged him tight. She held Dudley and kissed his forehead. "Are you ok?"
"I'm fine aunt Lily." He said with a pale face.
Draco shook with fury. "He's not fine. We saw them, they were hooded. They had muggles and used curses on them."
"We have to find Arthur." Lils searched the forest until she found him and the other boys. Gus disapparated to the Ministry. They only caught Travers.
Severus of course knew nothing of this and happened to come back to England with bigger problems if anything. He met with Albus that same morning after the attacks.
"I did not expect you until tomorrow. You should not have come, everyone is safe." Albus said impatiently.
The potion's master frowned, "Lily, Dudley and Harry are at the Burrow, unharmed as are the rest of our friends."
Severus was confused until Albus explained about the attacks. He was relieved to hear that no one was harmed. There mark was cast without a death.
"Albus, we have bigger problems now." Severus said tiredly.
"Igor is dead." He said. "Sirius tracked him down all summer after he disappeared from Drumstrang. Igor was desperate by the end. Sirius talked to him and relayed the message."
The plan was simple. Sirius would track Igor and tell him about Dumbledore and his protection. The headmaster believed that Igor would not go back to fold and how could he? Igor himself was responsible of the imprisonment of so many death eaters. Voldemort would torture and kill him if he as much responded to the mark.
"The pain had to be unbearable. The urge to go back and face death ultimately killed him." Severus said. He remembered how much the mark itched and hurt when he did not go immediately back last time.
Albus sat down, "We cannot have a death eater run Drumstrang. If Tom knows, he will seek to appoint one of his followers and interfere in the Triwizard tournament."
Severus frowned, "Fudge must surely know that to go through the tournament is madness. Hogwarts will be too open."
"Dear boy, I am done reasoning with Cornelius. He's decided to let his ego and power hungry ways get the better of him. We continue to be in alert mode. Alastor will teach our students and prepare the older ones to defend themselves."
Severus liked the idea of Moody teaching. The man was paranoid to a fault but that could be to their benefit. "What will we do about Karkaroff?"
"Sirius is our last hope. Start brewing polyjuice potion, large quantities, have Lily help you." Albus said. "The official story will be that Sirius is overseas recruiting members for the Order."
"It's madness." Severus muttered under his breath. Only it wasn't, Sirius became Karkaroff and had a healthy supply of his hair. Lily found a solution for the dead hair. They attached the dead man's hair to a house plant to keep it alive and conserve Igor's features. Severus teased her and called her a mad healer. Lily smiled gently, "you are not the only smart one dearest." It was morbid but Sirius was up to the part. Sirius would be fine as long as they had the hair supply.
Severus kissed Lily's shoulder, "sleep, we have our school champion and it is not our son."
His wife turned, "I can't. You said it would be Cedric Diggory and it was, that boy will die."
Severus shook his head, "We don't know that, yes, the champions are the same but the events have drastically changed love."
"I hope you are right." She said and kissed his chest as they tried to fall asleep.
Severus taught the fourth years the following morning. They were all excited, especially Ron who knew Cedric, or at least knew the twins who were friendly with Cedric. He was also excited that Viktor Krum was the Drumstrang champion. Draco and Harry seemed excited as well. Ms. Granger followed along but was more enthused with her lessons as it should have been.
There was bustle everywhere at Hogwarts everyone cheered for Cedric around the castle. Sirius played his part as best as he could and briefed with him every week.
Severus met with him and Remus and Sirius at the Shrieking Shack the night before the first task. "So they all know what they are facing?" Remus asked wearily.
"They do." Severus smoked some pot. They were on their way to a nice high. Remus did not run anymore. He was to have his transformations with the other werewolves. They just met to smoke and "keep up good traditions" Sirius insisted.
"Sirius told Krum, Hagrid told Olympe and Moody let Diggory know about the dragons."
"I don't think is working." Remus said after a while.
"What?" Sirius asked, happy to be himself once more.
"Infiltrating the werewolves. They are all filled with hatred. Greyback and his ideas have taken deep roots in the community. The ministry does not help either, madam undersecretary Umbridge passed another law where wolfsbane is restricted and must be bought under permission and distributed through the ministry, the department of magical creatures to be exact." Remus said tiredly.
"That toad." Sirius intoned with hatred.
The drug was taking effect and Severus laughed, "she does look like a toad."
They laughed and continued talking. Severus answered questions about the kids and the security measures around the castle.
"Kingsley and Augustus are working very well together." Severus continued.
"It was a good idea to have Percy at odds with Arthur." Remus said as he smoked.
"It's killing Molly that they have to pretend to not get along." Severus commented.
Sirius nodded, "I have to go back to the ship. Those kids are beasts."
Severus shook his head, "you cannot go away yet." He pointed out. "You have to take the potion and let the high come down a little."
"He's right." Remus laughed.
The three of them spent the night getting high. Remus left the earliest since he had to swing by home and change to go with the werewolf community. Severus walked back to the Castle with Padfoot.
He changed into Karkaroff once they reached the potions classroom.
"Go do whatever it is you do." Severus said and headed for the quidditch pitch. They were all assembled. He saw Harry with Ron, Granger and Neville. They had their faces painted black and yellow, Hufflepuff colors.
Draco was with Parkinson and Nott. They all wore yellow bracelets; it was as far as they would go for school spirit it seemed. Severus refused to wear anything yellow. He sat by Sinistra and saw as Amos and Gabriele Diggory cheered for their son.
The dragons were magnificent. There was Charlie and his co-workers taming the Welsh one. He had to admit that the task itself was daring. Bagman and Fudge started the task. Delacour went first. She was almost set aflame but was unscathed. Diggory went next and received full credit. Krum was last and retrieved the egg as well but he did not receive all marks due to the dragon damaging the other eggs.
It was a success in all ways. Fudge seemed pleased with himself and the whole thing. Severus kept to himself when the minister of magic tried to talk to him. He did not want to anything with Fudge's politics.
"Master Snape, please reconsider your position. If you could just work with us and reassure the public." Fudge tried once more.
"Minister, Voldemort is back." Severus said as they walked out of the pitch.
"Do not say his name." Fuge flinched. "I had hoped that Dumbledore did not poison you with his crazy ideas but I see that you are Dumbledore's man after all."
Severus nodded, "I am." He said and walked ahead.
The students were celebrating in Hufflepuff's common room. He was sure that Harry and his friends were in that common room. Severus went to his quraters and hoped to see Lily but she was on duty at St. Mungos. He decided to stay home and try to sleep. There were no patrols for him and Sirius was debrified. Severus discovered that Sirius was a good spy, efficient and excellent actor. He tried to remember as much of Karkaroff as possible and took to information quickly.
Severus slept for a few hours. Lily came home and undressed in front of him, "What a sight," he said in a raspy voice.
His wife smiled, "I saw Harry and Ron running around with Fred and George."
"Diggory is in the lead. He will have to figure out the egg clue soon." Severus said.
Lily kissed him some more. "We have dinner with your dad and my sister tonight."
"No, I don't want to leave." He said and tried to undo her robes.
Lily seemed to think about leaving for a second and decided against it. "I have to call her and tell her. I don't feel like going out to Hogsmeade and calling her."
Severus kissed her neck and convinced her that a long weekend holed up in the dungeons was better than going out to dinner with their relatives.
They spent all night and half of the next bed in bed making love. "Teaching does have its perks." She said. They were sweaty and naked. Severus was on his way back to sleep but remembered rounds.
"I have to go check on the Slytherins." He said and stood up to take a shower. Lily followed him and they spent another half an hour conserving water.
Severus dressed and left for the common room. He saw the Greengrass sisters playing some game while Flint and went over some quidditch game strategy. The boy was positively obsessed with the game as had been Wood. Montague poured over some books, good the boy needed to pass his classes.
Draco was not in the common room. He probably was by the library. Parkinson came along the boys' dorm rooms.
"Ms. Parkinson." He said as she came down, Zabini was with her. They looked a little scared when they saw him.
"Draco is with the mud… with Granger." The girl said catching herself.
"Very well. Ms. Parkinson. Mr. Zabini. I would like to talk to you about your studies." Severus began the usual rounds of listening to the students.
"Is it true that there will be a ball?" Little Astoria asked.
"There will be one but you will not be allowed to go since you are a second year Ms. Greengrass." Astoria pouted, she looked a lot like Magnolia.
He answered multiple questions and then left for a staff meeting. Minerva looked sour about something Abus said about announcements for the children.
Serverus sighed, wonderful he would have to dance in front of annoying teenagers. Attendance for all staff, they were allowed to bring a date. Minerva mumbled something and walked out the room.
Severus spent the rest of the day patrolling the hallways. The castle was a bustle of energy those next two weeks leading to the Yule Ball.
Many of the kids found dates within the first hours of the announcement. The Drumstrang kids swopped in and got Slytherin or Ravenclaw girls. Beauxbatons students did not discriminate.
It was three days before the ball when he had to patrol the castle. He walked the dungeons and some upper floors. He walked by the library and found Granger crying and hurrying down the hallway. Harry and Ron were not far behind. Severus desilutioned himself.
"I only said the truth." Ron said a little angrily.
Draco came in after them, "well you did not have to tell it like that. Beside, you do not know whether she's going alone to the ball or not."
Harry was quiet, "We have to find dates now."
"Well, I have one already." Draco said as he walked opposite to his friends.
"Wait, are you going with Hermione?" Ron asked, his ears turned red.
"I asked her yesterday but she said she was going with someone else. I thought it would be one of you two but she did not say."
"Clearly, she is not going with any of us now that Ron treated her like that." Harry pointed out.
"I asked to the ball and she refused." Ron said raising his voice a little.
Draco glared at him, "no, you said that she could come with you since she would not find a date by herself."
Harry sighed, "Well, back to the point. Who are you going with?"
"Parkinson." He said quickly. Harry and Ron gaped at him.
Draco frowned, "I needed a date, Hermione said no and Ginny is going with Neville. And Pansy is not that bad. She just needs to broaden her horizons."
"She's mean spirited and tried to trip Mione last year." Ron said defensively.
"Well, at least I have a date. You two need to find girls for this dance soon." Draco said.
"And you" He pointed to Ron, "need to apologize to Hermione."
"Fine." The redhead said while him and Harry walked the opposite to the side to their tower. Ron spoke to Harry, "Draco asked her before we did. Do you think he fancies her?" Severus shook his head and continued walking.
He went up to Albus' office to talk to him about Sirius and Remus' missions as well as security for the second task. Severus briefed the headmaster.
"There are no news of anyone trying to associate with him. Sirius explained that Igor's students believed him to be gentler now. Sirius remarked that all he did was to try and meet basic needs for the students. The mark itches but the murtlap solution soothes him. Voldemort does not know that he's dead and he continues to call to him." Severus explained.
"Good." Albus replied.
"I need you to work with Remus on research and recruiting. He is no longer an asset in the werewolf community. Our efforts there are wasteful." Albus remarked with simplicity.
Severus nodded and stood up to leave for his quarters. He found an empty room. Lily must be in the hospital still. The man decided to leave the castle as well. Augustus had sent him a letter asking for advice three nights ago.
He apparated outside of his father's home and knocked on the door. Tuney opened the door for him, "I was not expecting you." His sister in law looked hassled.
"It is not a good time Severus." His father came in from inside the house.
Severus arched an eyebrow and moved inside the house. Augustus had his wand out and a suitcase. "I told you dad. I have to get my own place. Percy and I are moving to London."
"You are not even 18 yet." Petunia said anxiously. "You are not old enough to live by yourself. I still do your laundry."
"Reconsider son." Tobias said with a frown. "These are dark times. I cannot have you out there playing hero."
"Severus did. He lived by himself when he left school." Augustus remarked.
"It's not the same." His father continued. Severus tried to leave the house. Petunia was correct, it was not his place to be there. He tried to move to the door once more.
"I am just as good a wizard as Severus was when he was my age." Augustus said furiously.
Tobias laughed, "it isn't about who is more powerful. It is the fact that you could be killed. Did you know that your brother almost died at least three times before he was twenty?" Their father hissed.
His father pointed at him, "Tell him, what happened your last day of term, or the time in the ministry or better yet when you came back home and found your mother dead, me unconscious and him crying his lungs out." His father looked like he hadn't see him in years.
Severus paled, Petunia looked scared and Augustus was speechless. "Dad, I." Severus said.
Tobias shook his head, "I am not blaming you, but I will not live it again. I will not have one my sons endangering his life. I refuse."
"Dad, he's part of the Order." Severus said as if that would appease his father.
"I know he's part of the bloody Order." His father hissed once more. "All I am asking if for him to stay here with me and Tuney."
"I cannot dad. This is not my place anymore. I need my own space and I want to share my life with Percy. You have to accept that." Augustus begged.
His father shook his head and left to go to his room it seemed.
Petunia went to hug Augustus, "You have to come to dinner at least one per week. You can bring Percy too. Where are you going? And you have to call me every day."
Augustus looked relieved that at least of his parental figures agreed with him. "I will Tuney."
Severus sighed, "where are you staying?"
"Near the ministry, Percy and I rented a flat fifteen minutes from the muggle entrance." Gus shrunk his belongings.
"I'll go with you." Severus said and they disapparated.
Percy was by the stoop on the building. Molly and Arthur were there as well. Molly frowned.
"I take it Tobias disapproves." She said with a shake of her head.
"He does not think it's safe." Severus replied.
"I agree with him." Molly intoned. Percy frowned.
"Augustus and I are adults." He began.
"Shut it." Molly replied and then hugged him. "You will always be my little Percy who helped me with his siblings." She said and cried a little.
"Now, now Molly. He's just an apparation away. We'll see him for supper all the time." Arthur consoled her.
Severus went up to the flat and checked the place. "Ward it off." He said when Percy and his parents came up to the flat. Percy gave me a quick tour while Severus remained with Gus.
"This is it." Augustus said happily.
Severus nodded, "he'll come around."
His baby brother agreed, "I know he will. I'm sorry for what he said about mum. I am sure he did not mean it."
Severus waved Gus off, "he was correct though. Lily and I will never forgive each other for putting them in danger."
"You two could not have known." Augustus began.
Severus agreed, "we couldn't but the guilt does not go away."
Augustus frowned, "we cannot live in fear."
"I'm just asking you to put yourself in his shoes." Severus said reasonably, "our father loves you dearly. You are the reason why he's off alcohol. Mum's death almost killed him, he would have gone back to bottle had it not been for you."
Severus looked at his brother and clasped his shoulders, "Augustus, you are the world to him. The sun rises and sets with you. Be patient with him."
"I will." Gus looked away, clearly affected by his brother's words.
"I'll check on him." Severus said and disapparated.
Petunia's eyes were red. "How could he leave us? He's safe here. What if something happens to him?"
Severus shook his head, "nothing will happen to him. He's a good wizard and soon he'll be an auror." The man went to the living room where his father smoked and paced.
"I thought you quit." Severus said when his father offered him a cigarette.
"Too bloody keyed up, it's either this or whisky." His father said nastily. "How dare that boy?"
"He's an adult." Severus replied.
"No, you were an adult when you moved out. Your brother is a child, Petunia does everything for him. He's helpless." His father said quickly.
"I highly doubt that." Severus shook his head. "He's a capable wizard father and on his way to become an auror."
"He's good at potions. Why could he not take up research like you did? or become a ministry worker like his boyfriend. No, your brother had to become a dark wizard catcher."
Severus listened to his father rant for another forty-five minutes before Lily arrived. They did dinner.
"Where is Dudley?" Lily asked over tea.
"He is at a friend's house for the night. Dudley did not want to be here when Gus left." Petunia said sadly.
Lily sighed and comforted her sister, "he will be fine Tuney."
Severus and Lily had two cups of tea before they apparated to the dungeons. "You have to teach me how to apparate to Hogwarts."
"I cannot, only headmasters can apparate in and out of Hogwarts." He said.
"Are you worried for Gus?" She asked gently.
Severus shook his head, "I am sure dad and him will be fine soon enough."
Lily frowned, she knew him best, "So what has you looking so glum."
"Don't mind me." He said carefully. Lily arched an eyebrow.
Severus kissed her hand, "I realized that Harry will leave too. One day, he will go away and live his own life."
Lily hugged him. "You big old softie." She kissed him tenderly.