Villain of the Piece
Part 2 Youthful Indiscretions
- Chapter 28 -
Chapter 28: A Busy Weekend
9th to 12th May 1980
In her reply to his owl Honor had said ‘come to dinner’ so on the next Friday evening Severus Apparated to the secluded doorway of the Islington flat; a bouquet of yellow roses in one hand and a bottle of white wine tucked precariously under his arm.
“Thanks” Honor replied, taking the flowers from him.
He followed her into the kitchen and placed the wine in the fridge. Honor was stirring a pot of bolognaise. She looked discomposed.
“Are you going to tell me what’s upsetting you?” he asked.
“Haven’t seen you for a while.”
“Good lord, is my absence so calamitous?”
“Well, it’s more a matter of where you’ve been.”
“And where have I been?”
“Don’t play cat-and-mouse with me, Severus. You’ve been staying with the Malfoys.”
“Yes, I have” he replied, keeping his tone matter-of-fact. “May I ask how you know?”
“Yes, of course” he added sadly, regretting that Regulus bridged their two worlds and was prone to gossip. “Well, I did warn you, Honor, that I am a friend of Lucius. As is Regulus, and he seems to remain a friend of yours–”
“He’s family!” she snapped. “The Blacks and the Malfoys are related. He’s bound to see the Malfoys.”
“None the less he remains a friend of Lucius. And, despite that terrible fact, you haven’t severed your friendship with Regulus. I hope you’re not going to sever Severus.”
“Of course I’m not. I’m just concerned for you; that’s all.”
“And I am very touched by your concern. But you mustn’t worry about me so much. I am very good at taking care of myself. As it happens, I have been taking care of others over these past few weekends. Narcissa and the new baby. You know they have a baby son?”
Honor knew of course. Regulus had told her. Just as he had told her of Severus’s visits to Wiltshire. Skilfully Severus wove the account of his doings at Malfoy’s mansion into a story of how he had played the Good Samaritan, and they sat down to dinner in an atmosphere that was more affable.
And they spent the night together, just as he had intended.
“So what are your plans for the day?” Honor asked the following morning as she fried kippers for breakfast.
“I have a few errands I must get done before Monday” Severus replied, sounding rather evasive.
“Actually, no. Things I need to do for myself. What about you?”
“I’m going shopping with Gloria.”
If Gloria’s coming here I’ll be leaving shortly, Severus decided.
When she saw him to the door half an hour later Honor asked the question that had been bothering her since the previous night.
“Do you find my flat too cold, Severus?”
“Not particularly” he replied. “Why do you ask?”
“You kept your shirt on last night.”
“Oh, that?!” His mind raced. Suddenly he grinned and said “I’m shy.”
“Shy? You? No, I don’t think so.” Honor didn’t believe him but she didn’t guess the truth.
“I’m not a shameless hussy like you” he said, pulling her into a kiss. “You remember what I asked?”
Obediently she cast her mind back. “About severing Severus?” she asked in return. “No, I won’t sever Severus from my life, but Severus must promise me that he will be careful. He’s a bit impetuous at times.”
When Severus Disapparated from Honor’s doorstep it marked
the start of a busy Saturday. He called
in at Slugg & Jiggers for potion ingredients and took them back to Flora’s. Then he called at the Blacks house to see if
Regulus was there, but only Kreacher was at home and he couldn’t say where
Regulus had gone. So Severus Apparated
home, had lunch with his mother, looked at the latest book she was working on,
and purloined some of her homemade bread.
He then returned to his
He spent the evening resting and enjoying the bread with Flora’s soup. It was spicy carrot and parsnip, one of the best soups she had ever made.
On Sunday he lay in bed as late as he could and just got down in time for breakfast. Jimmy wasn’t at breakfast and Severus assumed he was still at home visiting his family, so he spent the remainder of the morning reading a borrowed Sunday Prophet and then returning to his steaming cauldron.
By mid afternoon he was ladling the potion into phials and storing them in a box ready for work. An owl zoomed in just as he was about to close the window. It carried a note from Evan.
We are in the Hog’s Head – arrived here for Sunday lunch.
Get here as soon as you can – tonight if poss because it sounds as though something’s going on. Something about a job at Hogwarts. We’ll be here waiting for you. Main bar, Hog’s Head, tonight. It’s urgent.
Severus didn’t bother to reply because he could beat the owl, so hastily he tidied his room, checked his moneybag and got ready to go. The afternoon was fine but he put on his cloak. Apparating long distances had taught him to be prepared for bad weather.
It was a foul evening in
“You’re stupid to get dragged into this” Dorcas was saying. “You know how I feel about it.”
“But that would have been a brilliant chance” Evan replied. “You’ve blown it now. And I really think you could have made an effort, Dor. You owe it to him.”
“I don’t owe him anything! I don’t want anything to do with him. He’s foul and manipulative.”
“Shoosh!” Evan looked frightened. “Keep your voice down … Hey, Sev! Over here.”
Severus wasn’t sure that he wanted to walk into the middle of an argument but he strolled over, getting a glowering look from Dorcas as he did so.
“Evan. Miss Meadowes; how nice to see you–” he began.
“Oh, I see” Dorcas replied, ignoring Severus. “I won’t go for it, so your greasy friend will. Well good luck to you, Severus Snape. And goodbye to you, Evan.”
She stormed off and Evan ran after her, returning red-faced minutes later. Severus by then had got himself a tankard of mead.
“Sorry about that” Evan said. “Girl trouble. Hey, I was going to do the drinks.”
“Never mind. What will you have? And then you can fill me in” Severus replied.
At Evan’s suggestion they took their drinks to the large window table, and minutes later Amycus, Johnny, and Xavier turned up. Amycus and Johnny entered from a door by a grandfather clock. The three got drinks and came over.
“Just got here?” Amycus whispered to Xavier and Severus. “We’ve been listening at the old girl’s door, Sev, but nothing’s going on. She mutters to herself at times, but it’s all drivel.”
Severus raised an eyebrow and Evan realised he had some explaining to do.
“There’s some old biddy staying here” he said softly. “We think she’s after a teaching job; overheard her twittering on about seeing Dumbledore tonight.”
“Then she’ll go to the school.”
“Nah, she won’t. From what she’s been saying, he’s coming here.”
“No idea. Thought you ought to know though.”
“Divination, probably. We know he’s got a vacancy for Divination.” Evan lowered his voice even more and added “The Dark Lord wanted Dorcas to apply for it but the silly cow refused. She won’t play ball at all. The Dark Lord’s not too pleased.”
“Divination!” Severus exclaimed in a whisper. “Of all the blasted luck. I can’t teach Divination.”
“It might not be” Johnny said. “We don’t know for sure why Dumbledore’s seeing this old biddy.”
“Bet it is” Amycus replied. “It’s certainly not Dark Arts. That batty old bird doesn’t look like she’d know one end of a Dark detector from another. But whatever he’s seeing her about, you might be able to pick up a few tips, Sev. Listen in on the questions or whatever. And if it’s not Divination – if it’s something decent – you’re on the spot if she doesn’t get whatever it is.”
“But she might get, whatever it is” Severus said sadly. “She might be cranky but brilliant. Look at Flitwick – he’s brilliant.”
“Wait till you see her” Johnny replied. “You wouldn’t employ her to do your washing up! Anyway, we promised we’d keep you informed of the vacancies, and this seems to be one, even though we didn’t see it advertised.”
“Thank you” Severus replied. “Yes, you’re right, I shouldn’t give up hope, and you have done what you promised – what Regulus told me you’d do for me. Bye the way, where is Regulus?”
“He’ll be here later, probably” Evan said.
Minutes ticked by. Regulus arrived and slid quietly into a chair as Amycus bought the next round of drinks, commenting that Regulus, who looked pale and tired, needed an Ogdens. Xavier ordered steak sandwiches but Severus declined – he was too nervous to eat and felt almost ill as he watched his friends ladling hot horseradish onto the steaming meat. He glanced again at Regulus who had also declined food – they boy looked as ill as he felt.
“Anything wrong?” Severus asked softly.
Regulus said nothing but inched up his left sleeve very slowly until the edge of an all too familiar Mark came into view. He gave a weak smile.
“I see” Severus said again. “Are you alright?”
“I’ll be fine” Regulus murmured. “It’s just a bit more painful than I expected.”
After the food they began a game of Pontoon. Evan was Banker. Severus opted out of the game so Amycus, who sat on his left, said he would show Severus the cards that he would have received. Dusk began to fall and Severus drew back into the shadows, letting his hair fall forwards to curtain his face. He could see that Amycus had been dealt two black Jacks and cursed silently – those could have been his.
“Stick” Amycus said. He won the round and the game continued but Regulus decided to sit out.
Dumbledore arrived. He spared hardly a glance at the wizards grouped around the window table, but spoke to the barman and was shown upstairs.
Amycus who had already gathered a four of diamonds and a three of spades, had asked for a card. He gave Severus a discreet nudge as he received a five of clubs. He needed two more cards to complete a five card trick.
Severus couldn’t stand it – he got up and set off, ostensibly for the gents’ cloakroom, as Regulus busied himself fetching more drinks. Evan continued to deal cards and the barman shuffled from table to table, collecting flagons and goblets. Briefly he spoke to a group of warlocks playing cribbage, and finally headed towards the kitchen.
The grandfather clock, which had been silent all evening, set up a whirring noise and began to chime.
“Bust!” cursed Amycus, glaring at the Jack of hearts he had just received, following on from a promising two of hearts. “Too much bleeding heart!”
As he cursed his luck the door to the stairs burst open, and the barman appeared, propelling Severus in front of him. Swearing, he aimed his wand at the pub doors, blasting them open, and hurled Severus through. Xavier jumped to his feet but found the wand jabbed into his throat – the barman had anticipated his reaction. Regulus had opened the window and was craning out of it, screwing up his eyes against the rain. He could see Severus brushing mud from his robes, but a second later he was gone.
Severus Disapparated from Hogsmeade and arrived in Wiltshire. Lucius will know how to find the Dark Lord, he reasoned. He might even still be here.
He was right on both counts. Lucius took him in, calmed him down, and disappeared to speak to Voldemort. Severus was then ushered up to the attic. Voldemort looked very carefully at Severus and instructed Lucius to wait downstairs.
“Now, Severus” he said softly, “Come and sit down – here – and tell me your news.”
He listened in silence while Severus spoke, watching him all the time out of cold, bright eyes. When Severus gave him the fragment of the prophesy, he mulled it over for some moments.
“Do you believe this?” he asked at length. “Do you trust this witch to have power to see the future? Your friends described her as batty.”
“I only got a glimpse of her” Severus said truthfully. “My friends might be correct or they might have been trying to boost my confidence. I do not have much confidence that Dumbledore would ever employ me.”
“You need not worry about that” Voldemort replied and Severus felt heartened. “I think we will assume that the prophesy has some merit. That will be the safest way. The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches; born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies. What a pity you were thrown out. We cannot be sure you heard all. Even so, this is the most useful piece of intelligence (he paused and corrected himself) – second most useful piece of intelligence – I have ever received. Male or female, this troublesome child? We do not know. No matter” he added forcefully, rising from his chair to pace about, and finally halting to gaze out of the window. “I will deal with the wizard children ‘born as the seventh month dies’. If the prophesy is nonsense, it will be a waste of time but nothing more; if it is sound I will have protected myself. You did well to tell me this. Very well! My trust in your abilities is well founded.”
Severus gazed at him. If he was afraid, Voldemort did not show it – he looked elated, the light of battle glinting in his eye. Clearly he was not a wizard to cross. He looked again at Severus, sitting erect and attentive in his chair; looking uneasy.
“You are worried, my little potioneer? You doubt your master’s abilities?”
“No, Lord. But – finding the right child? The phrase ‘needles and haystacks’ comes to mind.”
“But I have helpers” Voldemort pointed out, a gleeful smile crossing his face. “Contact built up over many years, channels I can tap into. The child is not yet born, Severus, and when it is, I know exactly how to discover who it is. Leave me now. I have plans to make and others to see. Go down to Lucius and tell him I want to see Evan Rosier and Jonathan Wilkes. Lucius is to have them brought here as fast as possible.”
“They were both with me in the Hog’s Head, Lord.”
“But they may not be their now. You may need to help Lucius – divide the task between you. I don’t care how you do it. Just do it.”
It was hours later when Severus finally got to bed. He slept badly at first and then fell into a deep sleep at around , which caused him to oversleep and to rush breakfast.
“You’re in a hurry” Jimmy said, as he watched Severus grab a napkin and pile toast and sausages into it, forming a wobbly stack. “Busy weekend, was it?”
Severus who had been shovelling scrambled egg into his mouth in the uncouth manner normally typical of Jimmy Hardcastle, merely mumbled “You don’t know the half of it.” He gulped the last of his coffee, stuffed his tottering pile of sandwiches into a pocket and hurried away.
- Chapter 29 -