Chapter 33 : Leavetakings
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"Yes. I suppose you could put it that way." Crouch said softly. Then he called, loudly, "Winky!"
The little house elf popped into view. "You has called, Master?"
Barty studied the little elf gravely. "Yes. I . . .acted in haste when I dismissed you before. Would you . . .like to come and work for me again? I cannot . . .will not bond you, but I shall like it if you would return to service. I can pay you—"
"No! No!" sobbed the elf, overcome. "Winky is not taking payment from good master! Winky works for food and drink!" She threw herself at Crouch's feet and wept, clinging to his ankles.
He patted the little creature awkwardly. "There now, Winky. Room and board will be sufficient. All right?"
"Yes, yes! Winky shall serve Master Barty even better than before!"
"Good. Now . . .let us return home. We need to bury my son."
Winky straightened, sniffling, and blew her nose upon a large handkerchief. "Winky must bid goodbye to friends first, then shall come home."
"Ah . . .of course." Crouch snapped his fingers and the body of his only child vanished. "Dumbledore, the Tournament has ended, and as per Mr. Snape's request, you can declare Diggory the winner." He coughed softly. "I . . .must admit, this was the most interesting time I have ever had here. But for now, I bid you adieu, Headmaster."
"Goodbye, Barty. Keep well and do not blame yourself for his fall. We all make our own choices."
Crouch said nothing more, simply headed over to the fireplace and tossed down a handful of Floo powder. "Crouch residence, London!" Then he stepped into the green flames and was gone.
Dumbledore then summoned Minerva, Madame Maxime, Severus, and Ludo Bagman to his office to conclude the outcome of the tournament. Harry's wishes were honored and Cedric was proclaimed the victor, though in truth Harry had reached the cup first. But that fact was known only to himself and Severus. It was Hufflepuff's finest hour, their crowning glory.
He also informed them of Krum's attempt to cheat and dispose of students and said that action disqualified him from ever competing in any magical sports or contests in Britain, which included Quidditch. By then, everyone knew about Voldemort's demise and was celebrating it. They were also hailing Harry and his father as heroes. Dumbledore told them about Karkaroff's demise, how he had returned to his old ways and was killed in battle by Severus.
"I always knew he was no good!" Minerva spat. "Good for you, Severus!"
"He would have killed Sarai," said the Potions Master darkly. "His death was earned a thousandfold. But what about the students from Durmstrang?"
"I have contacted Durmstrang and spoken to their Deputy Headmaster. Roland Valorken is coming to pick them up. He has expressed his sincere apologies for the actions of his colleague and his student, Viktor Krum."
Severus frowned. "Krum needs to be questioned by the Aurors, and if he is found to be a sympathizer of Voldemort, should be watched closely. I believe he may have been brainwashed by his mentor."
"He is of age, if he is found guilty, they could send him to Azkaban," commented Ludo.
Severus shrugged. "That is the jurisdiction of the courts. They may decide punishment as they will."
"Well, maybe they'll go easy on him, all things considered," Bagman said. "They did me."
Severus snorted. "Ludo, you were an idiot, passing information to a Death Eater you thought was a family friend. Krum did worse than that. He deliberately tried to sabotage the tournament and cast Unforgivables upon his fellow wizards. The courts will take that into account, and given his mentor, he won't get off with a mere slap on the wrist like you."
"Good!" put in Madam Maxime. "'e deserves to do time! 'E nearly killed Fleur with 'is curse! Krum was always arrogant and 'e deserves to rot in prison, I say!"
Severus rose. "If that is all, Headmaster . . .?" Dumbledore nodded. "I have some family members that I need to bid farewell to. If you will excuse me . . ."
His black robes swishing dramatically behind him, Snape exited the office.
Bagman looked after the tall wizard and asked curiously, "I say, how does he do that thing with his robes?"
"What thing, Ludo?" asked Madam Maxime.
"Why that billowing thing—you know!" Ludo said wistfully. "My robes never do that. Not even a little. Is it a spell?"
Minerva chuckled. "No, dear boy, that's just Severus. Don't waste your time trying to figure it out—in the thirteen years since he started teaching here, I have never been able to discover how he billows. It's a Snape thing."
Harry was relaxing on the couch, Madam Pomfrey had healed him up in a trice and told him to go get some rest, Smidgen snoozing upon his lap, while he sipped some tea and listened to Draco relate what had happened to him while Harry had been competing in the tournament. Harry was shocked and furious that the false Moody—Barty Crouch Jr—had dared to hurt his brother that way. "If he weren't already dead, I'd hex him to pieces. You all right, Dragon?"
"Fine. Lady Julie helped heal me," Draco told his brother, giving the lady in question a smile. She was sitting upon the divan next to the sofa, holding her sleepy twins on her lap, and Philip was sitting next to her with his arm about her.
Next to Draco was Hermione, and on Harry's other side was Katie and Ron was perched upon the arm of the sofa. All of the friends had decided to retire here in order to avoid all the students who kept trying to ask Harry questions about Voldemort as well as Rita Skeeter, like was he really dead this time?
Ron was still in a state of shock. "It's just so hard to believe he's gone. I mean, he's been there for like . . .forever."
"Over twenty years," Phil chuckled. "Which practically is forever to one of you teenagers." He cleared his throat and looked uncomfortable. "Draco, as I'm sure you have guessed . . .your father and mother . . .were killed during the battle."
"I know, Uncle Phil. Harry told me." Draco said evenly, meeting the other's violet eyes. "I don't really feel bad. I mean, I know I should, but . . .I stopped thinking of them as my parents when they disowned me. Severus is more my father than Lucius ever was. He always has been. It's almost a relief . . .if it hadn't been for V-Voldemort, they would have rotted away in Azkaban. Now they're gone, I'm the last Malfoy."
"And when you come of age, you'll get all their money and everything." Ron said.
"Yes. Malfoy Manor will be mine." Draco said calmly.
Hearing Draco speak of his inheritance only reminded Harry of how much he missed his own home, Prince Manor. He couldn't wait for term to be over so he could return there. He knew he would not rest easy until he set foot upon the land and felt it welcome him once more.
"So Cedric won the tournament," Ron mused. "That's gotta be the first time Hufflepuff's ever won anything major. I mean, they've never even won the House Cup."
Phil and Harry exchanged knowing glances. "Young Cedric displayed amazing fortitude," said the vampire.
"He did." Harry said quietly. "He deserves the Cup. He would have been the leader if I hadn't had my name put in the Cup by Crouch Jr. So I'm glad he won it."
"It's nice to see a Hufflepuff victory," said Hermione. "And I like Cedric."
"Hogwarts victory is good for me," said Ron. He picked up a strawberry tart off the tray in front of the couch and ate it.
The door opened and Professor Snape entered. His eyes lit upon his sons and he said, "Draco, have you been to see Madam Pomfrey? Professor McGonagall feared you were badly hurt by that madman's Transfiguration spell."
"I'm fine, Dad. Lady Julie healed me." Draco reassured his parent.
Snape then zeroed in on his other son. "Harry, what are you doing out of the Hospital Wing?"
"Madam Pomfrey said I was all healed, and she told me to come down here and rest," Harry told him. "So I'm here."
"It doesn't look like you were resting," Severus frowned severely.
Harry rolled his eyes. "You're such a worrywart, Dad."
"None of your cheek, Harry Snape, or else I'll tie you to the bed." Severus scolded.
Siren and Setus giggled at that threat.
Severus turned and gave the twins a smile. "Hello, imps. How do you like Hogwarts so far?"
"It's pretty cool, Uncle Sev," said Setus.
"Can we see a Quidditch match next?" asked Siren wistfully. "Ron says that Quidditch rules."
"Why am I not surprised?" Severus shook his head.
"Maybe next time we visit, your cousins can show you how to play Quidditch," said Julie, with the air of someone who had repeated the same thing about a hundred times.
"Will you?" both little vampires chorused, giving Draco and Harry pleading looks.
"Sure we will." Harry said, and Draco agreed.
"When are we going to see them again, Mama?" asked Siren.
Phil replied to his quiet son. "Sometime next year, perhaps."
"Awww!" groaned the twins. "But Papa . . .that's too long!"
"Next year will be here before you know it," said their father. He looked over at Severus. "Right, Sev?"
"Yes. Enjoy your summer, boys. And you as well, Julie."
"Thank you, Severus. I'm sure it will be a busy one, especially considering that I need to obtain a new Sunstone for my husband."
:Ah, I think I may help with that, Lady Snape.: said Smidgen, having woken up when Severus entered.
"You can?" Philip leaned forward.
Smidgen yawned. :My Queen bid me give you this as a token of her gratitude in bringing her daughter's murderer to justice. Look over on yon table, my Lord Snape.: She indicated the end table next to Hermione.
Phil rose and saw a Sunstone upon a black velvet cord sitting there. He took it and put it on. "Tell Her Majesty I am most grateful for her generosity."
Smidgen purred. :Titania is a most generous mistress . . .if one is an honest person, as you are.:
"Does that mean we don't have to play catch at night, Papa?" asked Setus.
"Yes, scamp. Now I can play with you during the day." He ruffled his son's hair. "And now, I fear it is time for me to take my leave of you all. Since the term is ended and you are out of danger, Harry, not only from the tournament, but from your old enemy, and so are you, Draco, and you too, Sev, I have to go. I must say, however, that this has been the most interesting—not to mention troublesome—assignment I have ever had, and I was once bodyguard to Richard III and Elizabeth I." But he was grinning as he said it, his fangs flashing genially. "Still, I am most grateful for the opportunity to have gotten to know you all. There is nothing like family and I shall miss all of you. But alas, all good things must come to an end."
"You will keep in touch, Philip?" asked Severus, astonished to find that he would miss his "elder brother" more than he had thought possible. Philip's advice had always been sound and he had enjoyed having the vampire to bounce ideas off of.
"Of course, Sev." Philip said, and then he embraced the other man. He patted his "brother" on the back and said, "Be well, Severus. And give your lady warrior a kiss from me," he said, smirking, his violet eyes twinkling.
"Rogue!" Severus chuckled. "Take care, Phil." Then he stepped away, going to bud goodbye to Julie and the twins, letting Phil go and say farewell to his sons.
Phil went first to Draco, and gave him a quick hug. "Take care, Dragon. And try not to get involved with anymore crazy witches wanting to marry you."
"I won't," Draco laughed. "Hermione's all the girl I'll ever need." He smiled down upon her. "Thanks, sir, for everything. I'll see you at Christmas, right?"
Phil nodded. "Farewell, Draco. Remember, money isn't the measure of a real man, actions and honor are."
The gray-eyed wizard nodded solemnly. "I know that, Uncle Phil. And next time you see me, I'm going to fence you to a draw."
The vampire laughed. "Oh, indeed? Promises, promises, young one." He gave Draco a friendly cuff upside the head before turning to Harry.
Harry rose and hugged the elder Snape hard. "I wish you could stay longer," he whispered. "But you have your own life to live."
Philip hugged him back. "As do you, Harry. You're the heir to Prince Manor, a great responsibility, but one I know you will fulfill with your usual determination. Now that you no longer have the shadow of Voldemort over you, you too can begin to live. Learn what your father has to teach you about the manor, and celebrate your fae heritage."
"I will, sir." Harry blinked back tears.
"Oh, but don't make any more bargains with kelpies and leprechauns, and try not to drive your father crazy." Phil added, his violet eyes twinkling mischievously.
Harry flushed at the teasing. "Uncle Phil, what do you think I am—a saint?"
Philip laughed. "Not on your best day, nephew! Severus, good luck with this one."
"The both of them conspire on a regular basis to make me insane," said the Potions Master wryly.
"Such is the benefit of sons," the vampire stated. He clapped Harry on the back. "Until next time, Harry. May God watch over you all."
"Goodbye, Uncle Phil." Harry swallowed hard. He would miss the suave and fiercely protective vampire. He had never been afraid when Phil was beside him. "Thanks for protecting me."
"Anytime, Harry. If any of you ever need me, you have but to call or owl me." Then he gave them all a bow before he activated the fireplace and stepped through.
After Julie and the twins had each given Harry and Draco hugs, they too departed.
For a moment they were all silent, sensing that the Snapes were a bit gloomy now that Philip Anthony Snape had departed. But then Ron said, "Harry, you're so lucky, mate. You have the coolest relatives. All I have is a dotty uncle who drools all over himself and an aunt who thinks I'm still six and calls me Ronnie and wants to pinch my cheeks."
Draco started laughing. "Weasley, I would pay Galleons to see that!"
"So would I!" Hermione giggled.
Harry sniggered too, and so did Katie.
"Some friends you are," Ron sulked.
"Mr. Weasley, we all have relatives like that," Severus said, taking a seat upon the vacant divan. "We just choose not to remember them."
"Really?" Ron looked mollified.
Severus let the four teenagers talk some more about all that had happened before the clock struck ten and he ordered everyone except his family from his quarters. "It's growing late and we still have three more days of classes."
All of them groaned and then Katie, Hermione, and Ron left.
"Dad, I forgot about the runespoor!" Harry exclaimed. "I left it in the maze!"
"Harry, I'm sure it's fine. It can take care of itself," Severus said. "You can go and speak to it tomorrow."
"A runespoor? What runespoor? You mean the one you faced in the labyrinth?" Draco queried.
"Yeah, that's the one." Harry said. "I made a bargain with it that if it allowed me to pass, I would give it a decent home on the estate."
"And you said yes, Dad?" Draco cried. "Did he slip a Confusion Draft in your tea?"
"No, but a wizard's word is his bond." Severus replied.
"Merlin's pants! A runespoor! I always wanted one of those for a pet."
"It's not a pet," Harry said.
"Who cares? It's still cool," Draco said. "I can't wait to meet it."
"Tomorrow, boys. Now it's time to go to bed." Ordered their father.
Albus Dumbledore finished shuffling through some papers on his desk and was just about to blow out the hurricane lamp perched upon a stack of books when he felt a cold draft upon the back of his neck. He turned, one hand reaching for his wand, only to find himself facing a familiar dark-haired vampire.
"Lord Snape! To what do I owe the pleasure of your company?" the old wizard exclaimed, startled. "I had thought you returned to your home. Severus said—"
"Severus is not aware of every move that I make, nor every decision." Philip said flatly. "I am here, Albus Dumbledore, to issue a warning. It is the only warning you shall get, so pay close attention." He drew himself up to his full height and he towered over the Headmaster, his black cloak whipping in the invisible breeze.
"I . . .I'm not sure I understand," began Dumbledore. "I was not aware I needed a warning."
"The warning is not for you, but to you. As I said before, I do not tolerate those who bring harm upon my family, knowing or unknowing. You have done both." His violet eyes suddenly shifted to crimson. "Were you any other but who you are, I would have taken your life for what you allowed to occur. Because of you and your agenda, Harry and Severus suffered years of abuse, and were scarred for life because of it." His fangs were now showing, and a dark aura suddenly pulsed from him.
Dumbledore backed away, his back pressed against his desk. "Philip, I have already explained that I had no choice and I regret deeply what they went through, but I cannot change the past—"
"No, but you can make damn sure never to repeat it!" hissed the vampire. He lunged and lifted the Headmaster up by his collar, his mouth inches from the wizard's jugular. "I want you to swear Wizard's Oath that you shall never meddle in the lives of my family ever again, not for any reason! Or else I shall regard you as an enemy, Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore." His breath was hot upon the other's throat. "And you know what I do to enemies, don't you?"
Albus's blue eyes were wide and fearful. For the first time in a very long time, Dumbledore knew the acrid taste of fear. He had faced many foes in his life, but none as implacable and ruthless as Lord Philip Anthony Snape. Not even Voldemort caused him to tremble and sweat this way. He told himself that he did not fear death, but he did fear dying from a vampire's fangs, of being drained of every drop of blood in his body, slowly. He gulped. "That . . .will not be necessary, milord. I shall swear upon my wand, my Name, and the magic within me that I will never bring harm, unknowing or knowing, upon your family ever again."
Albus grasped his wand and swore the oath. A blue light shot out and wrapped about his hand.
Philip saw the blue flicker of a magical oath bind the wizard and himself. When the light faded from Dumbledore's wand, he relaxed and let the other down. "Well done. Now my business here is concluded, Headmaster." He bowed mockingly. "Good night, Albus Dumbledore."
Then he vanished as silently as he had come, and Albus shivered and rubbed his throat subconsciously, feeling as if the wind of death had passed over him and marked him for its own. He knew then that he had come as close to death that night as he ever wished to be, and only an ancient code of honor had stood between him and a bloody end.
He fumbled in a drawer in a cabinet and drew out a bottle of firewhiskey and a glass. With trembling hands, he poured himself a shot and drank it down. It had been awhile since he had indulged, but tonight seemed like a good time to let whiskey drown his memories and send him to sleep. He only prayed he did not dream of fangs and glowing red eyes.
Next: The Snapes return to Prince Manor at last, and the summer begins with a lesson on parting the Endless Mist
And I hope that you all liked my portrayal of Philip, whose creator was Lady Julie Snape. I thank her for letting me borrow and play with him. But now I shall return her to him.
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