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Chapter 24 : Between Love and Hate
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Hailey had to endure a couple of days’ worth of torment because of Rita Skeeter’s story about Harry, but she managed to ignore the taunts very effectively. Every time Hera Malfoy and her friends encountered Hailey, they hurled insults at her, and though it was very difficult, Hailey took Hagrid’s advice and didn’t respond to one word. Her silence became boring to the Slytherins, who were trying to get her to lose her temper, and they stopped mentioning it.
The article about Snape had also generated a lot of chatter among the students for awhile, but by the time Valentine’s Day arrived the following Saturday, most everyone had put it out of their minds. The ministry never responded to the allegations of the Hogsmeade encounter, and since the upcoming Valentine’s Day trip into the village had not been postponed or cancelled, the only thing on most everyone’s minds was who was going with whom to Hogsmeade. Even Quidditch Captain Patrick Finnigan had gotten in on the excitement. He had a date with a fourth year Hufflepuff girl named Olivia Ogden, so he had decided not to have practice that Saturday. Maria tried to act unconcerned about Patrick’s new love interest, but even Hailey noticed that she seemed to become unusually clumsy whenever Patrick and his new companion were around. Overall, by the time the weekend arrived, Hailey was in good spirits, especially since she had some much needed free time to investigate Snape.
Ever since the sighting of Snape had been reported, Hailey and Kieran had been trying to do some research into his past. Hailey had had the idea of looking through the library archives of old Death Eater trials and Prophet articles for any tidbit of information they could find. Unfortunately, using the archives section of the library had been impossible because nearly all N.E.W.T. level students were doing a great deal of research for a school-wide History of Magic project. So, Hailey and Kieran were planning to use the upcoming Hogsmeade visit to their advantage and visit the library while all the older students were gone.
Hailey and Kieran got up early Saturday morning, hoping to get to the library as soon as breakfast was over. They were not surprised to see that the tables were rapidly filling up with many older students who were eager to have a quick breakfast before they left. Hailey and Kieran had barely buttered their toast when they were joined by, Argo, Morgan, Mark, Alicia and a very neatly dressed Arthur-John, who had a date with a fifth year Ravenclaw girl named Candace Corner.
“Good morning,” Arthur-John said cheerfully as he poured himself a glass of juice. Kieran returned the greeting, but Hailey giggled in reply in spite of herself.
“You look…nice,” Hailey managed after a moment.
”Laugh all you want, Hailey,” Arthur-John replied with a smirk as he dished up some eggs. “But someday, when I spot you in the village with some handsome young lad, I will return the favor.”
“Handsome young lad,” Hailey spluttered, laughing out loud now. “What are you, 400 years old?”
“The point is,” Arthur-John went on, “I am going to tease you without mercy whenever I get the chance.”
“You won’t get the chance,” Hailey blurted. “Dating is overrated and I have no intention of... what’s that.” Arthur-John had just reached into the pocket of his robes for a shiny red envelope that he handed to Hailey with a smirk.
“I have no idea,” Arthur-John replied unconvincingly. “I’m just the messenger.” Hailey glared at him in reply, but he just continued to smile. “I do wish you would go ahead and open it, though; I’d like to know what it says, too, since I was kind enough to deliver it.”
Hailey gave him a skeptical glance, thinking that it was probably just another of his jokes as she tore open the letter with a great deal of apprehension on her face. Inside was a gold card adorned with a single red heart. Blushing furiously, Hailey opened it and read silently while the others watched with interest.
“Happy Valentine’s Day. I was too nervous to give this to someone as pretty as you myself, so I asked Weasley to do it instead. Anyway, have a nice day. “
“What does it say,” Kieran demanded as he unconsciously ripped his toast into small pieces.
Hailey, whose face was just as red as the heart on the card, stuffed the letter back into its pretty envelope and put it in her bag without replying. Mark and Argo were laughing while Morgan and Alicia were smirking horribly. Hailey had no intention of showing the note to anyone; she knew that it would be much worse if any of them were to catch a glimpse of the message. She noticed that Alicia kept glancing over at the other side of the Gryffindor table, where Kyle Creevey was looking just as embarrassed as she was.
“It was just as I suspected wasn’t it,” Arthur-John said with a wink as he got up to leave, “A Valentine from a secret admirer.”
“Who sent it,” Kieran blurted before Hailey could ask. Hailey saw that he was stabbing his eggs.
“I promised I wouldn’t tell anyone,” Arthur-John replied dramatically. “I hate to eat and run, but I have to get going…I’ll see you all later,” he walked over to the Ravenclaw table to meet Candace without another word.
“Git,” Kieran mumbled, glancing from Arthur-John to Kyle Creevey as he swept the toast crumbs from his lap. “Anyway, Hailey are we still going to the library?”
“Why are you going to the library on a Saturday,” Mark blurted before Hailey could reply. “We don’t have any homework, do we?” He finished with a doubtful expression. Morgan glared at him.
“I’m not finished with that essay on Goblin wars for Binns, actually,” Hailey lied. She had finished the work last night, but she couldn’t think of anything better to use as a cover story for what she and Kieran were doing.
“You’re not finished with that,” Mark said with a surprised grin. “I got it done last night …I thought it might have been something else.”
“Yeah, well…I’ve been busy,” Hailey mumbled vaguely as she grabbed her bag. “We’ll see you later.”
Hailey and Kieran spent most of the afternoon in the library, sifting through old newspaper cuttings and history books, hoping to find some tiny bit of information that might give them some idea about where Snape might be hiding.
“There’s a reference to him in this one,” Kieran said hopefully after an hour’s worth of fruitless searches. He pointed to an article in a book called “Daily Prophet Archives, 1982-1984. “It says Snape was accused of being a death eater back in 1982 by some bloke named Igor Karkaroff …but, it says that Albus Dumbledore spoke to the Wizengamot on his behalf, and he was never charged.”
“That’s ironic,” Hailey said bitterly as she read the article over Kieran’s shoulder. “Dumbledore vouches for Snape and keeps him out of Azkaban, giving Snape the opportunity to murder him. “
“It’s sad,” Kieran agreed as he laid the book aside for ‘The Rise and Fall of the Dark Arts.’
“Listen to this,” Hailey said breathlessly a few moments later as she showed Kieran a yellowing newspaper clipping. “London Couple Dies in Struggle with Aurors: A Death Eater and his wife are dead and two Aurors seriously injured after a raid last night on the outskirts of London. Evan Rosier, 35, and his wife Claudia, 36 were hiding from magical law enforcement officials in a friend’s home when the Aurors arrived, intending to arrest Mr. Rosier in connection with the murders of Jill and Justin Bones. Rosier was also believed to have played a role in several other crimes perpetuated by The Dark Lord’s followers, but no charges were filed in the other cases. Mrs. Rosier was not accused of any wrongdoing, but in an effort to protect her husband, she assaulted Auror Rufus Scrimgeour and was killed in the conflict. Evan and Claudia Rosier are survived by their two children, Atticus, 11 and Ivy, 2, as wells as Mrs. Rosier’s sister, Cleo Barrett, of Southampton.
“More irony,” Kieran whispered. “The Rosiers were killed by Aurors and their son grows up to be one.”
“Yeah,” Hailey replied. “But, we still haven’t found anything on Snape, so we need to keep looking.”
The two of them continued to search through several volumes of old newspaper articles and books about the Dark Arts for another hour. They were just about to give up when Hailey found something.
“There’s a biography article on Snape in this one,” Hailey said eagerly, moving a large book called ‘Infamous Death Eaters and their Geneology.’
“Severus Snape was born at St. Mungo’s hospital November 1st, 1958 to pureblood Eileen Prince Snape and Muggle Tobias Snape. According to sources close to the Princes, who were a well respected wizarding family before the last male heir passed away in 1986, Eileen met Tobias while she was working in a Magical bookstore near the Muggle neighborhood where Tobias lived. Eileen left her noble family behind to pursue a relationship with Snape, a dockworker who lived near the Spinner’s End industrial District of West London. Severus Snape was their only child. Young Severus was a gifted wizard who always took pride in his pureblood roots. He joined the Death Eaters as soon as he left Hogwarts at the age of 18. Snape quickly became one of The Dark Lord’s most trusted allies. Indeed, The Dark Lord relied on Severus so much that he entrusted him with the difficult task of spying on Albus Dumbledore, former Headmaster of Hogwarts and arguably the most powerful wizard who lived during the 20th century. Snape convinced Dumbledore that he wanted a second chance to turn his life around, and the Headmaster gave Snape a job as Potions Master of the school, where he worked for 17 years. Snape was posing as a member of The Order of the Phoenix when he murdered Albus Dumbledore on The Dark Lord’s orders in 1997. Snape was captured by Harry Potter three days after Potter killed The Dark Lord, and he was sentenced to life in Azkaban on his fortieth birthday, where he remains incarcerated. (Dec. 2005)”
“So he’s a half blood,” Kieran said when Hailey had finished reading the article. “And he joined the Death Eaters…he obviously wasn’t very proud of his Muggle heritage. Guess he thought having a dockworker for a father wasn’t very glamorous.”
“Yeah, well, Voldemort himself had a Muggle father he hated,” Hailey replied. “So I guess he identified with Snape.”
“I think I’ve had enough of this for one day,” Kieran said, rising from his chair with a yawn and a stretch. “Let’s go take a walk.”
“We didn’t really learn anything useful about Snape, but reading all that stuff was interesting,” Kieran said as they walked beside the frozen lake. Hailey nodded in reply. She knew what was really on Kieran’s mind.
“I just keep thinking about how much a person’s parents can impact their lives,” Kieran went on, approaching the thing that he wanted to discuss, knowing that Hailey wasn’t going to fill in the blanks this time. “If Professor Rosier’s parents had lived, she and her brother might have been Death Eaters, or, if Snape had been more accepting of his father, he might NOT have been a Death Eater.”
“Maybe,” Hailey replied vaguely waiting for the rest. It was finally time.
“My life would have been really different if my mother had lived,” Kieran said sadly as a lump formed in his throat. “I would have had two parents who loved me and I never would have known a place like St. Percival’s ever existed.”
“You think your father would have accepted you because of his love for your mum,” Hailey replied, helping him along just a little.
“I’m sure of it,” Kieran said confidently. “The more I think about the way he was when I met him last summer, the more I’m convinced that he never would have given me away if it hadn’t been for his mother. He was easily influenced by her, I think.”
“Do you think you’ll ever see him again?” Hailey asked. Personally, she really didn’t care if Aidan Morris fell off the face of the earth when she thought of the way he’d treated Kieran, but she knew that no matter what Kieran had said to the contrary, he had feelings for his father.
“I dunno,” Kieran replied thoughtfully. “Maybe when I’m older, I guess.”
“You want to,” Hailey said matter-of-factly. Kieran nodded, and Hailey knew that he didn’t want to talk about it anymore. They walked in silence for several minutes until they saw a large, snow covered, white memorial reflected in the steely grey lake water.
“I’ve never walked over here before,” Hailey said sadly as she brushed the snow off to reveal the words: ‘Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore; Born February 22nd, 1847-Died June 20th, 1997.’ “I think my dad comes here when he visits the school, though.”
“Someone else has been here,” Kieran said, gesturing toward a small bouquet of pansies lying beside the tomb.
“I’ll bet it was Hagrid,” Hailey replied as she examined the flowers. She had never known Albus Dumbledore, and yet she felt a powerful connection to him as she stood before his final resting place. One might say it could have been the fact that she shared his name, but Hailey knew that it was deeper than that…it was the love that Harry had felt for this man. So much of it that the loss still made Harry’s heart ache…Harry had named his daughter after him to honor that bond. She thought of the senselessness of it all…of Snape, and of all the deaths he and Voldemort had caused. Her grandparents…Sirius…Dumbledore, and so many others had lost their lives.
“They’ll recapture Snape,” Kieran said soothingly as he took her hand and led her away from the monument. “And, when they do, he’ll never get out again.”
“You two weren’t in the library all day, were you?” Argo asked as Hailey and Kieran joined the others for dinner that evening.
“Not all day,” Kieran replied distractedly as he helped himself to some potatoes. “We went for a walk, too.”
“I knew it couldn’t have taken you that long to work on your essay,” Mark said with a grin. “You should’ve been in the common room when Arthur-John and Franklyn got back from the village…apparently Arthur-John had a really good time with Candace Corner.”
“What d’you mean,” Hailey said interestedly, thinking of the way he’d acted when he’d given her Kyle Creevey’s valentine. She would love the chance to tease him about something.
“Franklyn caught them snogging up near the Shrieking Shack,” Mark snorted as the evening post owls soared into the Great Hall. Hailey was surprised to see a very ragged barn owl land next to her water glass. It dropped a very weathered looking envelope into her lap and soared away.
“That’s not another valentine is it,” Kieran snarled as Hailey opened the parcel. She knew what it was as soon as she saw the neatly typed words on the page.
Happy Valentine’s Day, Potter. I’m so sorry it’s taken so long for you to get a personal letter like this, but I have been traveling a lot. Tell your arrogant father I said go to hell when you see him. Anyway, I am looking forward to meeting you…face to face. I’m sure that when we meet, I will certainly see your father in you, and killing you will be really easy for me. But, until that happy day, enjoy yourself.
“What is it,” Argo asked urgently, but Hailey didn’t answer. She folded the letter as calmly as she could manage and stuck it in the pocket of her robes. When her eyes met his seconds later, she realized that she must have looked as horrified and sick as she felt.
“Just a note from my Grandfather,” Hailey lied wildly, glancing at Kieran as she spoke. “He’s been doing some research on recycled potions…disgusting…not really something one wants to read at dinner.”
“Too right,” Mark agreed, clearly oblivious. “My dad told me about how they were trying to get the materials to do it…urgh.”
“Anyway,” Hailey interrupted, hoping to change the subject, because Argo clearly knew she way lying. “You were just about to tell me about Arthur-John and Candace Corner.”
“Oh yeah,” Mark said with a grin. “Anyway, Franklyn said that he and Maria saw them practically glued together…”
Hailey barely heard the rest of what Mark was saying as she glanced back over at Kieran. They had to tell someone from the Order about the letter…preferably Lupin. She and Kieran looked fleetingly toward the staff table and saw that Lupin’s usual seat was empty. Maybe that meant he was in his study and they could go and see him there. As she tried to think of a good excuse to leave the table, she caught sight of Argo. He was pretending to listen to Mark as he played with his steak and kidney pie. He knew perfectly well that the letter had not been from her Grandfather, and he was afraid that she didn’t trust him enough to tell him the truth. She did trust Argo, but this was so dangerous. Kieran was also pondering the same thing. Should they tell him?
“Oh,” Kieran groaned suddenly, rubbing his stomach. “I feel awful.”
“It was probably all those sprouts you ate,” Hailey scolded, catching on to Kieran’s plan. “You know they always make you sick when you eat them…let’s go to Madame Pomfrey.”
“It’s alright,” Kieran grumbled, rubbing his stomach cleverly, trying to make it more convincing. “Maybe if I just wait…”
“If you wait, you’ll be up all night,” Hailey interjected, pretending to argue. “Let’s go.”
“Oh, alright,” Kieran said with a falsely reluctant sigh as he and Hailey got up. “We’ll see you lot later, then.”
“That was brilliant,” Hailey whispered as they headed toward Lupin’s study a few minutes later. “Especially the part where you pretended you didn’t want to go.”
“Thanks,” Kieran said with a grin. “I knew that Argo was suspicious of us, so I thought I’d better do it right.”
“Now’s not the right time to tell him,” Hailey replied, knowing what Kieran was going to ask. “It’s too risky, and I don’t want him to get caught in the middle of it.”
Kieran nodded in agreement as they approached Lupin’s door. They both began to knock urgently without hesitation, hoping that he would answer. But, there was no reply.
“He must be out,” Hailey said with a sigh as she turned away from the door. “We’ll just have to-“she broke off in mid-sentence at the sound of hurried footsteps followed by a familiar female laugh from the other side of the door.
“-hope this is urgent,” a disgruntled male voice said as its owner flung the door open.
“Hailey,” Professor Lupin said with a sigh as he started at the two of them. “To what do I owe the pleasure of this Valentine’s Day visit.”
“Um, sorry Professor,” Hailey said, blushing. She had forgotten about the holiday. “We didn’t mean to disturb you, but this is really important.”
“Come in, then,” Professor Lupin said, stepping aside to allow them to enter. Hailey’s face turned redder still when she took in the scene around her. The room was dimly lit, and there was a table for two situated near the large window overlooking the lake. Tonks was still occupying her seat there, eating a bowl of some delicious smelling soup.
“Hi,” Tonks said cheerfully, conjuring two more chairs at the table and inviting them to sit down. They obliged, feeling uncomfortable.
“What’s going on,” Lupin asked as he rejoined his wife. You said it was important.”
“It is,” Hailey said emphatically as she pulled the letter from the pocket of her robes. “I just got this in the evening post a few minutes ago, and I thought you should see it.” She handed the letter to Lupin at once. He examined the letter for several moments while Tonks looked at it over his shoulder.
“Did you show this to anyone else,” Lupin asked as he folded the letter and laid it aside.
“Of course not, “Hailey replied. “I mean, the Great Hall was full of people when I got it, but no one else read it. We came here as soon as we could make up an excuse to leave.”
“Was there anything distinct about the bird that delivered it,” Tonks asked. “Anything unusual that might give us a clue as to where it came from?”
“It was just a regular old barn owl,” Kieran said with a shake of his head. “But the envelope was in pretty bad shape, so it probably traveled a good distance.” This thought made Hailey and Kieran feel better.
“Maybe,” Lupin said with a frown as he started examining the letter again. “Or maybe someone wanted us to think so.”
“So you think the writer could be close by,” Hailey said, trying not to sound too nervous.
“I don’t know,” Lupin said, still studying the note. “But, either way, I think it means that the two of you need to stay inside the castle at all times.”
“I can’t do that,” Hailey exclaimed. “What about Quidditch…if I don’t practice…people will know something is going on,” she finished lamely, stopping short of expressing her concerns about losing her place on the team. Kieran glared at her, and she knew he was amazed at her concern about Quidditch at a time like this.
“You can practice,” Lupin said, smiling a little in spite of himself. Hailey knew he was thinking of James and Harry. “But, otherwise, unless it pertains to lessons, you are to stay inside…no going to Hagrid’s, no cloak. Do you understand?”
“Yes, sir,” Kieran answered for her, and she knew that he meant it. There was no way he was going to let her get away with breaking her word this time. It would be too risky, even for them.
“That’s settled, then,” Lupin replied, looking sternly at Hailey as he said it. “I think the two of you need to get to your dormitory and stay there for the rest of the evening.” Hailey and Kieran nodded as Lupin walked them to the door.
“I almost forgot the letter,” Hailey said, holding her hand out to Professor Lupin as they were leaving.
“This letter is evidence,” Lupin replied. “So I can’t let you have it back, but I’m sure Harry will be in touch with you soon enough.”
Hailey felt an odd sense of satisfaction at the idea. Hailey thought of the argument she’d heard her parents having on the last day of the holiday. Luna thought Harry had been so consumed with catching Snape that he hadn’t been taking the letters seriously enough. Hailey had agreed with her mother at the time, and now she thought that Luna could be right in a sense. Now that Hailey had gotten a letter personally, perhaps Harry would make the letters his greatest priority. But then, a phrase from the letter echoed suddenly in her mind; (“I am looking forward to meeting you…face to face.”). The article about the Hogsmeade sighting said that Snape’s face was cursed and disfigured. Was the expression “face to face” a clue? But, if he was the letter writer, then how had he managed to correspond with Harry from Azkaban? None of it made sense…unless. There were two writers.
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