The remainder of her break sped by and soon, Apollonia found herself headed to Mrs. Figg’s to Floo back to the school. The night before was when Willow headed out to the school, so Apollonia had no need to worry about that. All Apollonia had to worry about was the possibility of her plans failing. Between the four of them, there was a possibility of at least one of them not being willing to do as she asked. The most likely candidates were Draco and Harry; her brother and Draco were too stubborn, too opinionated to ever bring themselves to make up. The strain this would eventually put on Apollonia would be unbearable.
Apollonia entered Mrs. Figg’s house and grimaced. Despite her worries that this Christmas would be terrible, the Slytherin found that spending time with her Muggle relatives wasn’t a complete disaster. Yes, her aunt and uncle weren’t all that friendly, but Dudley was and that made it more tolerable. Now, after a somewhat relaxing Christmas break, Apollonia needed to return to Hogwarts; she had no choice but to return to her worries. The people she cared about most in the world were in danger and there was little she could ever do about any of it. Her father was in danger of the Dark Arts jinx; her twin brother was marked for death; and Draco was doing something that could endanger his life.
Of course, the worst part about all of this was that everything that happened came as a result of one person: Voldemort. His influence caused everything about Apollonia’s life to change. Her only consolation was that it wouldn't be much longer before her brother defeated Voldemort. Eventually, Harry would find a way to destroy the wizard and bring peace to the world. With her belongings in hand, Apollonia grabbed a handful of Floo powder and threw it into the fireplace. “Headmaster's office, Hogwarts.” She stepped into the Headmaster’s office a few moments later and sighed. “It’s nice to be home,” she mumbled.
“Ah, Ms. Snape. Did you have a nice holiday?”
Apollonia eyed the headmaster warily. “It was as best as could be expected, Professor, considering that I went to spend time with people that hate me. You know who I am; you who I speak of.”
“Your aunt, uncle, and cousin,” Dumbledore said.
“Right,” the younger Snape nodded. “I may have been able to hide my magic from my uncle, but that can only last so long, sir. What will happen come summer and I must go home with my brother?” Apollonia knew her secret was in danger here. Dudley agreed to keep her secret solely to make up for how he treated Harry; Harry however might not do the same, mostly because he wouldn’t understand why she was at Privet Drive.
“You must protect them,” Dumbledore said.
“I’m sorry, what?” Apollonia asked.
“Come July 31st—yours and Harry’s seventeenth birthday—the protection your mother cast over her family will cease to exist. You must protect them after that. They are targets after that point and you, my dear, are the only one capable of protecting them after Lily’s protection elapses. Few people are aware of your connection to them, which makes you the perfect person to keep them safe. Do me this favor, Ms. Snape and protect your mother’s family. Magic may have divided your family, but they still are family and must be protected.”
“But, me sir?” Apollonia asked. “Why me?”
“Ms. Snape, you are in the perfect position to protect them. You will be there for the summer anyway. Their protection matters immensely, for both you and your brother. I want you to think over; I want your answer within the next few months so that preparations can be made for you to protect them. While your brother fights the war, you are on protection detail.”
“I’ll think it over, sir,” Apollonia stated. She quickly grabbed her things and hurried down to the Slytherin common room. Because she left a day earlier than when the train was supposed to arrive, Apollonia had no need to worry about Pansy. For once, the girl could sit and relax. Only trouble was that she had difficulty concentrating; her mind wandered once again to the danger the people she cared about were in. Added to that now was the task Dumbledore wished of her. She was being asked to protect her aunt’s family after the protection her mother placed on them elapsed. It made no sense that she would be asked to do this compared to one of the Order members or her father. Apollonia would simply be a newly-minted seventeen year-old witch. It would be the first time that Apollonia was capable of doing magic outside of school. So what did Dumbledore want her first act of magic to be; a spell that would protect the Dursley from the Death Eaters that wished to attack them.
If she was to be perfectly honest, Apollonia had no idea as to how she intended on protecting the Dursleys, if she agreed to the Headmaster’s request. She would only be seventeen at the time she did this if she agreed at all. And, would it even work? Apollonia was but a novice in casting spells as advanced as the Headmaster was asking. Protecting the remainder of her mother’s family was to be a difficult task since only Dudley was willing to even speak with her so openly about her magic. Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon—when he learned of what she was—would both ignore the niece they knew nothing about. There would be no way that they would ever agree to a witch protecting them, even if it was from the most evil wizard the Wizarding World had ever known. Vernon and Petunia Dursley simply wouldn’t care about what they were trying to do. “How would I be able to protect them if only Dudley is willing to trust me?” To protect them, Apollonia needed their trust—all of their trust—something she might be incapable of receiving from her aunt and uncle. “What could I use to protect them without their knowledge?”
For a good hour, Apollonia sat in the Slytherin common room contemplating her options. There was only so much she could possibly do to protect her mother’s last living relatives from the dangers that were in the Wizarding World. A faint voice in the back of her head came to the forefront. The Fidelius Charm, it whispered. “Of course,” Apollonia realized in a quiet voice. “It’s my only chance. They’ll be protected while I’m in school; I won’t ever have to worry about going back there every so often to check on any wards protecting their home.” Apollonia returned to the Headmaster’s office and informed him of the idea. “Professor, I think the Fidelius Charm is our only option to protect them. Aside from Dudley, who I got along quite well with, no one will cooperate; they hate magic. Performing the Fidelius Charm will ensure that only a select group of wizards and witches ever have access to their home after July 31st. And, I think it should only be me and Harry who has access to the house since it is our family.” If Dumbledore wanted the Dursley protected, it was to be done her way. Anyone not blood-related to the Dursleys would not have access to Number 4 Privet Drive. If Dumbledore wished for her to do this, Apollonia would leave no stone unturned; everything would be done properly under her direction.
“And the Secret-Keeper?” Dumbledore asked.
“Why, me sir,” Apollonia proclaimed. “I seemingly have no connection—as you yourself have stated—to the Dursleys. Only you, my father, Professors McGonagall, Flitwick, and Sprout are aware of my mother’s identity.” Apollonia was careful to leave out Hermione, not wanting anyone to learn what she had done all those months ago. “And, if my father has concealed that fact from even Voldemort, then I am protected and not a target. No one would ever think that I am the Secret-Keeper, nor would they ever go after me because of my father.”
“And, your mother’s identity? Should that be under the Fidelius Charm as well?” Dumbledore inquired. “That knowledge cannot fall into the wrong hands. If it should ever be known by one of the Death Eaters, your secret will be exposed. You could be used against your brother.”
“Then we’ll perform the Fidelius and I’ll become my own Secret-Keeper,” Apollonia replied. “Think of it as insurance for when my identity is revealed. Only the person for whom the secret is kept can expose the truth. That way, my brother will know that I am telling the truth.” It seemed a decent idea. Then, if Draco ever found out whom she really was, he could never tell a soul of what he knew, at least until the spell was broken. Right now, it seemed to be her only option; it was the only way Apollonia could be absolutely certain that the secret was contained, that no one who knew the truth would ever be able to tell anyone else. “That’s the only way, Professor. The Fidelius must be cast.”
“You are sure?” Dumbledore asked.
Remembering Hermione, Apollonia nodded. “I am sure. The secret is safest with me. Despite the fact that the only people who have knowledge of my mother’s identity are people I trust with such a sensitive secret, I am not about to take any chances. We perform the Fidelius Charm right now before the circumstances have the chance to change. At the moment, her father was one of the people Apollonia was concerned about. His status as a spy put the secret in jeopardy and Apollonia wished to do everything within her power to hide the secret, even if it meant forcing her father to hide her identity against his will. “Perform it now, Professor. It must be done now while the secret is secure.”
The Headmaster removed his wand and wove it around the younger Snape’s body. “Apollonia Lily Evans Snape, do you agree to enter into the Fidelius Charm, hiding your mother’s identity from the world?” She nodded solemnly. “Name your Secret-Keeper.”
“Apollonia Lily Evans Snape,” she replied.
“And, Apollonia Lily Evans Snape, do you agree to hide said secret for until this spell is broken?” Apollonia nodded again. Professor Dumbledore wove his wand again. “Fidelius. It is done, Ms. Snape. No one other than you can ever reveal your mother’s identity. Harry will know that you speak the truth. And, when it comes to hiding Privet Drive, you’ll need their cooperation I’m afraid. One of them must agree to the casting of the Fidelius Charm; you cannot simply do this without their knowledge. Someone must agree to it.”
“Dudley is my only chance,” Apollonia knew.
“Your cousin?” he asked.
Apollonia nodded. “I told him who I was and he seemed to have accepted it. He was at least nice to me throughout the Christmas break. Not like Aunt Petunia; she ignored me for most of my stay there. And, Uncle Vernon; thus far, he knows nothing of my magic. Neither one of them will agree to do this. But, I think I can get Dudley to agree to the spell. It should work then. Would it matter if he’s not the adult of the house?” If Apollonia could get away with casting the spell using Dudley, she would do it in an instant. Dudley, after his Dementor encounter, seemed quite willing to help her. Vernon and Petunia would never agree to such a thing, even if it was keyed to protect them from the Death Eaters.
“It will work with any occupant,” the Headmaster replied.
“Good. My idea should work then,” Apollonia grinned.
“And, might I suggest that you inform Arabella Figg of the plan to cast the Fidelius Charm over that house. She is their protector—as much as Harry’s—but can do little as a Squib. Use her as a lookout to ensure that your relatives are protected, Ms Snape,” the Headmaster said, his blue eyes twinkling. “Arabella helped Harry when she could and will probably do the same for Dursleys if you ask it of her; she is aware of who you are.”
The Slytherin nodded. “I will think about it, sir.” Apollonia really wasn’t sure if she would bring Arabella Figg into the circle of people who would know of what had become of Number Four Privet Drive once the spell was cast. She considered telling the woman as it would help her immensely in the long run; Apollonia was simply not capable of rushing off to Surrey any time something happened. There might be times when Apollonia was confined to Hogwarts. “Now, if you’ll excuse me Professor, I really must be going.”
Dumbledore nodded, his cobalt blue eyes twinkling merrily. “And, I’d like to thank you, Ms. Snape, for agreeing to my request. It will help more than you can possibly know.”
“You’re welcome, Professor,” she said. Apollonia returned to the dungeons and slumped down onto on of the couches. Things were getting extremely weird. No, scratch that; it was weird. Everything that was going on around her already was weird. There was nothing that could ever get any weirder.
Apollonia sat there in the common room, simply staring at the fire for awhile before a piercing voice interrupted her thoughts. “Apolla, what are you doing here?” she heard Draco ask.
“I’m a Slytherin, or did you forget?” Apollonia snapped.
“Of course I haven’t forgotten,” Draco retorted. “I was simply curious as to why you’re here. You’re supposed to be with your mother’s family. Why aren’t you over there?”
“It’s not your concern!” Apollonia snapped. “If you ever gave a crap about me, you’d tell me what you’re doing. But, since I can see that what I want may never happen, I refuse to explain to you my reasons for coming back a day early. Especially since I could always ask the same of you.” If Draco thought for one second that he could get out of explaining that one, he would be sorely disappointed. Apollonia recalled Draco going home on the train. If that was the case, why was he here? “Tell me; help me understand why you’re here.”
“No. You can never know,” Draco answered.
“Then stop asking me,” Apollonia sneered.
“Fine. Oh, one more thing. The necklace; where is it?”
“Not on me,” she said.
“Why not?” he questioned.
“Because I want a reason!” Apollonia shouted. “I refuse to wear it unless you provide me with a reasonable enough excuse as to why it must be worn. I’m not like all your other friends who will answer your every beck and call; there’s no way that I’d cater to your every whim.”
“You will this time,” Draco warned.
“And how come?” Apollonia questioned.
“Because it’s charmed to protect you!” Draco yelled. “As long as you wear that necklace, you’ll be protected from what’s to come.” Before Apollonia could say anything in response to this, Draco held a hand up to stop her. “No, Apolla; this is nonnegotiable. And, I assure you; you don’t ever want to find out the dangers that I’m protecting you from. I’ve done all I can to protect you; all that’s left is for you to heed my warning. Now, go get the necklace; if I don’t put it on you myself, I have a feeling it might not go on at all.”
Apollonia grimaced and went to get the necklace. She had been hoping that Draco might forget the necklace, particularly since they rarely interacted the past few months. It’s just my luck that I had to run into him today and that he noticed my neck was bare. Once the serpent pendant necklace was removed from her trunk, Apollonia returned to the common room and handed it to Draco. “I don’t see how a simple necklace will protect me.”
“I told you; it’s charmed,” Draco answered. He unclasped the necklace and placed it around his friend’s neck. “So long as you wear it, you’ll be protected. And, since I can’t trust you to keep it on of your own volition, I’m making it so that I’m the only one who can ever take it off.” He stepped back and pointed his wand at the necklace, casting what Apollonia knew to be a nonverbal charm. “There. Now I can be sure that you are safe.”
“Safe from what?” Apollonia demanded.
“From the war!” Draco called over his shoulder as he stormed away from Apollonia, leaving her alone in the Slytherin common room. She slumped down into a chair, wondering what her friend could have possibly meant by what he said. It made no sense. How am I supposed to know what’s going on here, if Draco refuses to tell me anything?
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