Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter. I am not JK Rowling. I wish I was, but unfortunately I don't own the invention of the Polyjuice Potion either.
Another brilliantly awesome chapter image by the terminator at TDA!
Ginny, Neville and Luna huddled around the corner near the Headmaster’s office, waiting anxiously for the signal to come through. It was dinnertime, which was the only time Snape left his office for longer than ten minutes. As there were no more school Quidditch matches, this was the best shot they had at stealing the sword.
“Are you sure it’s in Snape’s office?” Ginny asked for about the tenth time.
“Yes,” Luna answered patiently. “It was in the glass case on the shelf next to the Sorting Hat. I saw it when I went for that meeting with Snape about my father’s cooperation.”
Xenophilius Lovegood, Luna’s father, was a rather eccentric man, known for his strange beliefs in nonexistent creatures. Previously, he’d been merely a nutter who was laughed at by the wider community, his magazine, The Quibbler, treated like compost. But he’d recently been publically rallying support behind Harry, saying on the front cover of every issue that “any wizard who’s against You-Know-Who ought to make helping Harry Potter their number-one priority.” As to be expected, the Death Eaters didn’t like this one bit, ridiculing him publically and warning him several times that should he not take the ‘obscene’ article out of the magazine, they’d take action against him. And not in the legal kind. Yet he still continued to publish, circulation getting well up. Snape had enforced Umbridge’s old decree that if any student was found with a copy of The Quibbler, they would be instantly expelled or administered an equal punishment. They didn’t really like to expel anyone, because they wanted everyone under their noses where they could keep an eye on them. The Death Eaters just preferred to kill people. Ginny had warned Luna about the potential trouble her father was getting himself into, but she wouldn’t listen, ensuring her that “Daddy knows what he’s doing.” Ginny was worried that neither of them would realise how much trouble he was in until it was too late. But she didn’t like to bring this up too often. Luna was a good friend, and Ginny didn’t want to worry her unnecessarily.
The coin in Ginny’s hand burned before revealing Michael’s message. ‘Go.’
“Snape is being watched. Let’s go,” Ginny whispered to them.
Ginny had no idea how they were going to get the sword to Harry should they ever get their hands on it, but she just wanted to get this step of the process over and done with before doing any further planning.
Ginny and Neville held their wands at the ready as they made their way down the corridor. Luna seemed to be off on a different planet but that was to be expected from the Ravenclaw girl.
“Dumbledore,” Luna told the gargoyle once they had reached the entrance to the office.
To Ginny and Neville’s surprise, it leapt aside immediately to allow them to enter.
“I thought he would’ve changed the password by now,” Neville frowned, stepping onto the revolving staircase.
“He probably didn’t expect anyone would try to break into his office,” Ginny muttered, opening the door and ushering the other two inside.
As soon as she closed the door behind them, she noticed a significant problem they hadn’t taken into account during their rushed planning time between the end of lessons and dinner. The portraits. Once they realised what was going on, they would surely hasten to find Snape and inform him of what they were doing. And then they’d be gone. They would have to work quickly.
Ginny scanned the room, locating the sword of Godric Gryffindor inside a glass case on top of a low shelf, around her shoulder height. She grabbed Luna’s hand and reached into her pocket for the almost forgotten Peruvian Instant Darkness powder that Fred and George had sent her for a time like this. Ginny suspected that this was also part of the hint. The room was plunged into complete darkness as they inched their way across the room.
She heard Neville stumble over something, probably a table leg, and curse loudly. Luna quickly hushed him, informing him quietly that he was not to wake the Nargles, as they resided in the Headmaster’s office and didn’t like to be awoken before Christmas. Ginny didn’t bother to correct her. Neville had received the message to keep quiet. She kept her eyes locked upon the spot where she thought the case was, trying to find something to smash the case with as she blindly ran her hand over the side table beside her. Several objects fell to the ground until she finally managed to grasp a weirdly shaped object with a satisfactory sharp point, sticking it in her pocket before feeling the shelf pressing into her left shoulder. She fumbled in the dark to find the smooth cold surface of the case, raising the object she pulled from her pocket and brought it down hard on the glass. She heard a thump, but no crack. After several goes, she managed to smash a small hole, working it bigger until she could reach in and pull the hilt out just as the coin in her pocket burned. Though she couldn’t see what it said, she knew that their time was up.
Damn Snape was a quick eater.
She gave Luna’s hand a hard squeeze, indicating to her that she had got the sword. Neville started leading them back towards the door, more quickly now that the darkness powder was settling a little and because he had probably felt his coin burn as well. He wrenched the door open and they all flooded past into the light. Wrapping the sword in her cloak, Ginny hurtled down the stairs, the other two following close behind her.
“Well, well, well. What do we have here?” Snape sneered from the bottom of the revolving staircase, his arms crossed and a look of triumph reflected obviously on his face.
Ginny squeaked with surprise and slid down the last few stairs, the sword tumbling out of her arms and landing with a deafening clatter at Snape’s feet. He looked from the sword, to their terrified faces and back again. His expression couldn’t be read.
They were in so much trouble.
Without another word to them, Snape picked the sword up off the ground and ushered them back upstairs to his office. He conjured up three chairs across from his desk and sat down on what, for so many years, had been Dumbledore’s chair. It made Ginny sick, especially knowing that the man before her was the murderer of his predecessor.
The darkness powder had dispersed almost completely, leaving an odd, thick fog behind. Snape flicked his wand and the heavily curtained windows flew open, the late afternoon sun filtering lazily into the room. Ginny suddenly saw the extent of the damage they had done. A side table was on its side, silver instruments were strewn across the floor, books and papers that had previously been piled neatly upon the desk lay scattered and shattered glass shards littered the floor and a thick layer of black dust coated everything. But Snape didn’t even seem to care. He only had eyes for the three teenagers before him.
Ginny, Neville and Luna stood in silence a few meters away from the door, not daring to move and closer, frightened of the inevitable explosion inching closer. If there had been even a slight chance of escaping, Ginny would’ve been out that door in a heartbeat. Damn her Gryffindor courage, this guy scared her. He was a murderer, for Merlin’s sake.
“Are you just going to stand there and make me yell over to you or are you going to sit down like sensible people?” Snape asked, his black eyes boring into the three of them.
He was obviously getting enjoyment out of this. Not seeing how the situation could get any worse, Ginny opened her mouth to say ‘I’d much rather stay here, thank you very much’, but received a sharp jab to the ribs. Luna knew her too well. She silently made her way forward, not breaking eye contact with the man before her, slowly choosing the seat in the middle. Luna and Neville chose seats on either side of her. Snape sat and watched them over the tips of his fingers, and for several moments they just stared at each other.
“You do realise…” Snape started eventually, but Ginny immediately cut him off.
“It’s not their fault,” she said quickly, her eyes darting across his pale, annoyed face. “I convinced Neville and Luna to come with me. They have nothing to do with any of this. They needn’t be punished. It’s all me.”
She had stunned her audience into silence, a nervous cough sounding from a listening portrait on the wall. Snape stared at her, and for a moment she caught a glimpse of something in his dark orbs that she hadn’t ever dreamed she would see. She couldn’t really place it, but there was definitely something there. Recognition? Shock? Warmth? Or was it… surely not… But in a millisecond, the look was gone, replaced by a cold, uncaring glare.
“Don’t interrupt me, Weasley,” he snapped. “Ten points from Gryffindor. Now, what I was going to say before I was so rudely interrupted, was that this is a very serious matter. Stealing the Headmaster’s property–”
“It’s Harry’s sword,” Ginny cut in again, enraged. “Professor Dumbledore gave it to Harry.”
“–is not to be tolerated,” Snape continued in a raised voice, talking over her and closing his eyes as though the sight of her pained him. “This incident cannot go without punishment. Your parents will be notified–”
“What will they be able to do about it?” Ginny asked angrily, raising herself slightly in her chair. Neville groaned and buried his face in his hands. Ginny ignored him. “Fine. Expel us. That’s what you want to do, isn’t it?”
“HAVE YOU NO SHAME?” Snape bellowed at her, leaping out of his chair, his face livid. “I STAND HERE, TRYING TO EXPLAIN TO YOU THE SERIOUSNESS OF WHAT YOU HAVE DONE, AND YOU HAVE THE NERVE TO STAND BEFORE ME AND TELL ME WHAT I WANT TO DO!” He stared at her, breathing heavily after his outburst. Ginny glared at him. ‘You disgust me,” he eventually spat, turning away from her. “Get out of my sight.”
Ginny scraped back her chair angrily, hearing it crash to the ground as she stormed from the room, taking relish in slamming the door behind her as hard as she could. When she was halfway down the corridor, determined to get as far away from the horrid man as she possibly could, she suddenly remembered her two friends still stuck up there. Probably facing the wrath of Snape’s temper…
This thought sent an electric shock through her body, and she sprinted back towards the office, but found her path blocked.
“Let me through,” she demanded angrily.
“The Headmaster has forbidden Miss from entering the Headmaster’s office,” the gargoyle told her evenly, standing its ground. “You must wait.”
She grumbled various obscenities at it as she paced up and down the corridor, occasionally throwing the password at it in an attempt to catch it off guard and cause it to jump aside for her, but with no avail. Just as she was threatening to curse it into a million crumbling smithereens so it would never see its freakish gargoyle children ever again, Neville and Luna appeared at the base of the stairs, and the gargoyle reluctantly jumped aside to let them out, keeping a wary eye on Ginny as she pocketed her wand and attacked her friends. Thankfully, they were unscathed, but they did look quite confused. Ginny launched herself at them, her rush of words muffled by Luna’s clothing and her own relief.
“What happened? What did he do to you?” Ginny asked hysterically, still gripping at their necks. “I’m so sorry; I just had to yell at the bastard. He’s made our lives living hell. He deserves to be locked up in Azkaban for all he has done, but you shouldn’t have been left to face his fury on your own. Especially when it was all my fault.”
“It wasn’t your fault, Ginny. I wanted to yell at him too, but you were doing such a good job on your own,” Neville said, trying to pull the red-head’s vice-like grip on his neck, stumbling forward away from the office. “He didn’t do anything, though,” he said, sounding perplexed as Ginny let go apologetically and they could walk normally again. “It was weird. After you left, he seemed to… wilt a little, if you know what I mean. He looked rather tired all of a sudden.”
Ginny felt a stab of satisfaction as she heard of Snape’s weakness. She was glad she had had that effect on him.
“He gave us a warning,” Neville continued. “That next time he would have to take more drastic action. Then you wouldn’t believe what he did next.”
Neville was almost smiling, and was Luna actually happy?
“He gave us detention…” he laughed. Ok. Detention wasn’t that thrilling. “…with Hagrid.” Oh.
Severus Snape sat in his office, his head buried in his hands. Why did that Weasley girl have to be continuously under his feet? She reminded him of everything he had lost. Her red hair, her fiery temper, the look of disgust on her face when she looked at him… She was too much like Her. It was impossible not to see the similarities between the two of them, and Snape couldn’t take it. Their rejection of the Dark Arts, their popularity and their uncanny obsession with the Potter boys. Surely this Weasley girl was a reincarnation of the woman who died merely a month after she was born. For a moment, he’d seen the green eyes, and his complexion melted. He sensed that she had noticed, and hated himself for it.
Severus got shakily to his feet, making sure that the door to his office was locked before turning to the portrait of Albus Dumbledore.
“What do I do?” he whispered.
“Put it from your mind, Severus,” the elderly wizard told him, knowing exactly what the man meant. “You know what you have to do.”
Severus nodded once, averting his eyes to the sword lying on his desk. He might’ve ‘accidently’ let them have it, had it not been a fake and they had had a better chance of getting it to Harry than he did. He couldn’t let them get away with it, because then the Dark Lord and the Carrows would be suspicious. He gave them a light sentence, detention with Hagrid, as they were safe, yet it was hard enough because of the severe cold. He deemed it an appropriate punishment to sway them from doing it again.
He placed the sword back in the broken case, and in one swish of his wand, the room righted itself once more. As he turned his back on his office, it looked just like he had left. Extraordinarily tidy, with not a page out of place. He would write to Bellatrix in the morning, requesting to use her Gringotts vault to store the sword. It would be inappropriate of him to ignore the imminent danger of it being stolen again.
He retired to his bedchamber for an early night, surrendering to the nightmare that had been haunting him for sixteen years. For what felt like the millionth time, her screams invaded his disturbed sleep.
A/N I hope you liked that chapter. I didn't really edit it properly, so please tell me if you found anything wrong with it. Pretty please review :)