Chapter 17 : I Promise
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Severus stepped out of the ball of emerald flames as quick as he could, wand out, and face set sternly. He stood on the hearth and pivoted on the spot, taking in the site around him, looking over the rubbled mess of his living room. He was too late.
His wand began to tremble in his shaking hand as he stepped towards the kitchen. He saw the cupcakes in the corner, the icing on their tops now set hard. He looked to the coffee table and saw several spilt crayons and pencils on floor, above them on the ebony surface was Aurora’s drawing, the drawing of a monster. He shuddered slightly, and picked it up, scanning it furtively.
A sound made his ears prick; it was a soft scuttling, as if someone were sifting through the rubble. It was close, coming from within the demolished secret room behind the now non-existent bookcase.
He crept forward slowly, keeping his wand high and his feet nimble. He pressed his back against the wall next to the gaping opening of the secret door, the scuttling grew louder, and in one fluid move he threw himself into the opening, wand pointed directly at the man’s throat who stood just inside.
The shadowed figure got slowly to his feet from the crouching position, his hands held in front of him in a peaceful gesture.
‘Step into the light’ Severus sneered, and the figure did so. He took one step into a pale stream of light spilling in from the hole in the wall, and immediacy two burning emerald eyes shone out beneath circular spectacles.
Severus growled in his throat at the sight of Harry Potter, yet he still did not relinquish the position of his wand.
‘Where is she?’ he said in a low, dangerous voice.
Harry shook his head ‘I don’t know’ he hushed, he sounded as if he were almost in pain, his voice was cracked and grating.
‘Who took her?’ Severus growled again, and again Harry shook his head.
‘I don’t know Severus… I’ve tried to find clues, but there’s nothing’ his eyes dipped painfully towards his wand, and Severus dropped it slowly.
‘Where are the children?’ he asked.
‘The baby was with Molly to begin with, she was minding him for the afternoon. And Aurora… well, Aurora was here, she must have seen Hermione abducted but we can’t get any sense out of her. She managed to get a hold of Luna on the Floo network, she’s at the Burrow now too’ Harry said slowly, as if he were trying to let it sink in himself.
Severus turned from the room and stalked to the fireplace and stepped in. he threw his handful of powder into the grate and shouted his destination before zooming, elbows tucked in tight, through a world of kitchens and living rooms before he slowed and stepped out onto the hearth of the Weasley’s Kitchen. Harry was close on his heels.
Everyone around the table seemed to flinch as he stepped out in his famously black attire with a look of purest fury on his face. Molly stepped forward slowly, and he glared at her.
‘Where are they?!’ he demanded and she jumped, shaking her head in confusion.
‘Where are the babies!’ he said again.
‘Th-their upstairs Severus’ she squeaked ‘They’re safe, they’re fine. Aurora was a little shaken but she’s calm, she’s sleeping. They’re ok’ she nodded for emphasis and Severus let out a long rattled breath that seemed to loosen his shoulders. Harry glared at him for shouting, but he could mildly understand. Everyone handled fear or shock differently, and it was easy to assume that Severus Snape handled it by being foul and evil to everyone.
Severus leaned his hands on the kitchen table and shut his eyes tightly, Arthur, noting his distress handed him a large tumbler of Fire Whiskey which he gripped firmly and swallowed half of in one go.
The fire in the kitchen blazed again, but this time, a ragged and rough looking Neville stumbled out. Luna smiled broadly at him, but the smile was not returned. Severus turned around to look at him. He could see him trembling slightly as he stared at the floor, other than everyone else’s faces.
‘What’s happened Neville?’ Harry asked, his eyes imploring and pleading.
Neville gazed up, and shook his head.
‘Tell us!’ Harry said again. Severus could hear the clear note of pain in the boys tone.
Neville gulped, and clenched his hands together tightly with tension. He stared at the floor as he told them the truth, the truth of what had been happening for the past few weeks.
‘I’ll tell you what you don’t already know. Things that Kingsley had wanted to do while in his time of office. He wanted to keep closer inspection on the prisoners of Azkaban, he paid regular visits to the place to make sure all were in check; all were sufficiently drained in thought and actions by the Dementors. One prisoner, he found, was unaffected’
Severus clenched his fists to his side, he knew, he knew what was coming. He could feel his very soul burning with foreshadowed knowledge, but his rage kept his mouth shut tightly into a grimace as Neville continued.
‘Kingsley monitored this inmate particularly closely. And was startled to find that nothing seemed to touch him. Not the screams of the place, not the cries, not the Dementors. Not even the cold. He would just sit and stare out of the window, laughing sometimes. Just laughing. He would mumble names and things in his sleep from time to time. But he seemed normal… well, as normal as a mad-man can be.
‘This monitoring had been going on for years, yet it was only recently that Kingsley had planned to take more thorough action against the prisoner. It is fair to say that Kingsley was worried, he was very worried, and so he should have been’ Neville trailed off, but Harry picked up on his last words.
‘Neville’ he gulped ‘why are you speaking of Kingsley in the past tense?’ he knew it was a stupid, childish question. He knew exactly why Neville was speaking in the past tense. But it didn’t seem real, couldn’t be real. Kingsley Shaklebolt could not be-
‘Dead’ Neville hushed, and the kitchen gasped. Molly pressed her hands to her mouth to conceal a dry sob ‘He was found, two weeks ago now. In the prisoners cell… throat, cut open, wand taken. The prisoner escaped’ Severus looked at Harry, who had slumped backwards into the nearest chair, eyes wide and unfocused as he stared at the floor. Everyone seemed to be feeling sympathy for Neville, everyone seemed to be pulsing with empathy, while Severus stood feeling more and more furious at the mumbling boy.
‘Why were we not told of this?’ Ginny asked in a higher tone than usual ‘Neville, why has this not been in the papers? Why has no one been warned?’
‘The higher office and I decided that we didn’t want to stir a panic, we have several of the Magical Law Enforcement squad placed all over England in search for him, and several of them are placed in likely places around Europe’ he said quietly.
‘Who… who was the prisoner?’ Ginny asked, Severus knew full well who it was, and he would guess that everyone else in the kitchen knew too.
Neville breathed deeply before he answered ‘Draco Malfoy’
It was then, that word, that single second in which it took for Neville to speak that name that something seemed to snap in Severus’s chest. A thin thread that was keeping him still, holding him tight.
It was a thread keeping him tied to the calm shore of realization. But now he was drifting into a vast emotional sea, being swept away in a raw, primitive darkness in which only violence and anger could solve anything.
Before Neville, or anyone else could stop him, before even Severus himself could stop his actions mid way he lunged at Neville, fist raised high. He brought it down fast into the man’s face, he could hear the sickening crunch of his nose as his fist collided with it and it broke, he could see the thick gush of blood explode out of his nostrils, he hit him again. This time Neville fell in a heap to the floor. He heard a distant scream behind him, drowned out by the buzzing in his ears.
‘I warned you this would happen!’ he screamed as Neville now covered his face from further blows ‘You knew, you promised you would help me!’ a hand grabbed a hold of Severus’s arm tightly, Severus turned and lunged his other fist into this obstacles face. He saw a flash of the emerald eyes before he heard the crunch of his spectacles.
Two small hands came to rest on his chest at that moment, as Harry staggered back. For just a moment Severus turned in relief, hoping to find Hermione there, safe and sound. But it was only Ginny, just Ginny with tears in her eyes and her hands pressed gently against him.
‘Severus… please. This won’t get her back’ she said simply. Severus was surprised to find himself panting for air. He looked around the room. Luna had fainted and was now lying on the table with Molly fanning her. Neville was being helped up by Mr. Weasley and George, and Harry was glaring at him with one smashed lens in his glasses, and a bloody, swollen eyebrow.
‘Daddy’ a little voice came from the kitchen doorway. Severus ran to his daughter and picked her up, squeezing her tightly and kissing her on her head.
‘Come on sweetheart’ he said in a shaky voice, leaving the kitchen ‘You’re going to be staying over here tonight.
He took her upstairs and tucked her into her bed in the spare room, Silas was in his Moses basket there too. Sleeping soundly, unaware of anything and everything except his little dreams.
Severus wiped the back of his hands quickly over his moistening eyes so Aurora wouldn’t see. He tucked the covers in around her, and she stared up at him with those black eyes, they were beginning to well up.
‘I’m s-sorry Daddy’ she croaked.
‘What?’ Severus hushed, confused ‘This wasn’t your fault Aurora; you don’t have to be sorry’
‘B-but you said that I-I had t-to be the b-big sister. You s-said I had to look after M-mumma and Silas while y-you were gone’ fat tears spilled down her cheeks and Severus scooped her up and held her tightly.
‘This isn’t your fault’ he whispered in her ear ‘This is my fault Aurora, my fault. I’m the one that should be sorry. But you mustn’t be scared sweetheart, because Daddy will get her back. Daddy will find her and get her back’
Hey everyone, I hope you have enjoyed these two chapters! I would love to know what you all think. Thank you!
‘D-do you p-promise Daddy?’ she hushed back. Severus gulped.
‘I… I promise’
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