Chapter 21 : Chapter 20-Parents
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Chapter 20- Parents
Severus loathed staff meetings.
Even when he knew they were necessary, he just couldn’t stand them. This one was the annual conference prior to the Halloween Feast. They almost never changed year to year unless there was some impending crisis, and if that was the case the discussion was particularly unpleasant.
“As you are aware,” Minerva began, “All of the Professors were going to be in the Great Hall during the feast. That means that only Argus is available to patrol the corridors to ensure that there is no trouble caused by students or otherwise. I will now take any suggestions as to who we should approach to assist Argus that evening.”
“How about Harry, Harry Potter,” Neville clarified. Yeah, good luck with that one,
Minerva shook her head. “I’m afraid we aren’t allowed to have any active Aurors unless there is a specific need for them. The Ministry feels that simple patrols in a time of peace are a waste of their time.”
Neville frowned. “What about Hermione Granger? She’s just as skilled as any Auror, and I would hate to be on the receiving end of any spell she cast.”
Yes, it is quite easy to get caught under her spell,
“I second that motion,” Severus said aloud.
“Alright, then, I will talk to her later.” Minerva muttered as she scribbled a not onto a piece of parchment. “Any other suggestions?”
Severus only half paid attention to the rest of the meeting, it was the same as every other year, nothing had changed.
He hurried out of the room almost as soon as the meeting had commenced. He wasn’t up for small talk.
He returned to his quarters quickly. He was meeting Harry and Ginny for dinner and didn’t want to make them wait. Severus cast off his work robes, donning his casual black. As he dressed, he thought about the night before. He had held his second detention-lesson with Jacob Baxter. There had been a bit more time in between sessions than he had initially planned; almost three weeks had passed since their first meeting. Last night they had made a sore throat relieving serum, one that most wizards were too lazy to make themselves and the apothecary always overcharged for.
The session had gone quite well. The boy seemed to enjoy the time they spent together, and though Severus hated to admit it, he did as well. Jacob was one of the few students that he could say he genuinely liked. He was always very respectful and was eager to learn, in his class at least. At times he reminded him a little bit of Harry. He grew up without both of his parents as well. Perhaps it was his mind playing tricks on him.
Shaking himself, Severus did one last check in the mirror, adjusting his hair slightly. There was no point in sitting around moping about the situation. Feeling bad wouldn’t bring Jared Baxter back from the dead. And he had dinner plans he had no intentions of cancelling. The mask he wore was fixed carefully in place. He had to be especially careful. Harry had gotten quite talented at figuring out when he was hiding things, and he didn’t want his young friend getting mixed up in any of this. Not when he had no idea what he was going to do about it.
Severus purged all thoughts on the subject from his mind. He would deal with them later. With that, he grabbed a handful of Floo powder, through it into the flames, and walked through the fire.
Jake was holed up at a table in a corner in the library. He hadn’t been able to focus in the common room, there were too many people talking and laughing and playing games. He was really having a hard time on his Defense Against the Dark Arts assignment. That subject didn’t come to him quite as naturally as Potions seemed to.
He was just wrapping up his essay when he noticed an older student walk by with a newspaper. This in of itself was not impressive. However, the pages were older and beginning to fade, and Jake had gotten a glimpse of the front page. The date on the cover was fifty years old.
It suddenly struck him that there might be old records somewhere in the library. Muggle libraries had old papers on file, why would this one be any different? Besides, they might even have student records. Perhaps he could find something out about his parents.
What bothered him more than growing up in the system was that he knew nothing about his parents. A number of the children with whom he grew up had been removed from their homes because of an unsafe environment, or had been given up for adoption at birth. Most had some idea who their parents were, even if it was just a photograph. He had nothing.
This was odd, considering that he was given to the home when he was about five. Even if they were foggy memories, he should have had some recollection of them. But the harder he tried to picture them, to remember some little oddity that stood out in his mind, it evaded him all the more. All he knew is what he learned on his trip to Diagon Alley: they were both Muggleborn.
Jake slowly made his way to the front desk. His heart was pounding. The librarian, Madame Pince, didn’t seem to care for the students much. But she was his only hope of finding out any information about his parents. Timidly, he stepped up to the desk. “Excuse me,” he asked in what he thought was a quiet manner.
Madame Pince looked up from a book she was examining for damage, glaring. “Keep your voice down!” she hissed.
“Sorry,” Jake replied in something little more than a whisper. “I was wondering, where are the old Daily Prophet’s on file?”
The old coot looked down at him through her glasses which were perched on the crown of her long pointed nose. “I’m sorry,” she began, not sounding sorry in the least bit. “The papers are located in the restricted section. You need a note from a professor to access them.” She turned back to her book, ignoring Jake as if he was nothing more than a bothersome fly.
“Thanks,” he muttered, disappointed. His first thought was to go to Professor Snape for a permission slip, but he wasn’t too sure how the Potion’s master would react to the request. He would probably ask a thousand questions if he even entertained the notion at all. Jake sighed. He would just have to come up with another plan.
He walked slowly back to the table he had been sitting at to gather his things. As Jake was heading towards the door to go back to the common room, something incredible happened. Professor Longbottom walked in, smiling and greeting Madame Pince cheerfully. She chided him on the noise, scowling, but he walked past not bothered in the least.
That was it! Jake couldn’t believe how he hadn’t thought of going to his Head of House before! And all he wanted was to find out some information on his parents, there shouldn’t be any trouble with that, right? He hastened over to the young professor.
“Sir?” he asked politely.
Professor Longbottom smiled at him amiably. “Good evening, Mr. Baxter!” he answered. “Is there something I can do for you?”
“Yes, sir, there actually is. You see, I wanted to look at some old newspapers.”
The professor frowned. “Any particular reason?” he asked, looking interested.
“I want to try and find something out about my parents, sir. They died when I was little, I don’t remember them at all, and no one seems to know anything about them.” A strange look came into Professor Longbottom’s eyes, but Jake kept going, not sure if he would get the guts to ask again if he stopped. “So I thought I’d look at the old Prophet’s, but they are in the restricted section, and I need a professor’s permission to go in there.”
Professor Longbottom held up his hand, cutting Jake off. “Say no more.” He strode over to Madame Pince’s desk. “I will be escorting Mr. Baxter to the Restricted Section. And if you would like, I will sign a note allowing him to go back there another time so he can conduct some research.”
Pince looked a bit affronted by his statement, but she merely nodded dumbly in response.
“Come,” Professor Longbottom gestured to have Jake follow him, which he did, heart pounding. He stayed a bit behind the professor, not wanting to seem too familiar. They made their way to a part of the library Jake had not seen before. It was roped off to prevent people from walking in mindlessly, though he wondered how secure the ropes kept the books. It was almost daring someone to step over them.
Professor Longbottom pulled out his wand and with a slight flick the ropes moved aside to let them pass. There was a low, continuous sound that began almost as soon as they entered the section. Jake looked around curiously, but he couldn’t figure out where the noise was coming from.
Almost as if he was reading his mind, Professor turned to Jake and grinned. “Those are the books. If someone goes in here without permission, they howl when they are opened.” Jake felt his jaw drop. Screaming books, what was next? The professor chuckled. “I bet this is all a lot to take in, much different from the Muggle world, huh?” Jake nodded. Professor Longbottom stopped walking and turned to face Jake directly, arms firmly crossed. “You know, you really remind me of someone I went to school with. Have you ever heard of Harry Potter?”
Jake thought for a moment. He vaguely remembered seeing that name in one of the books Professor Snape had lent him, and he could have sworn he had heard people say the name, but much beyond that he was completely clueless. “Sort of,” he replied.
“Well, there was a war a few years back, it was awful, the Death Eaters, that is what the enemies were called, took over Hogwarts while I was still a student here. It was horrible…” A strange look came to the professor’s face. “A lot of people died that day. We thought that Harry was one of them. Actually, Snape, er, I mean Professor Snape,” he looked around covertly. “You won’t tell anyone, will you? I’m still not used to working with him.”
“Your secret’s safe with me professor.” If Jake hadn’t been mistaken, he could have sworn that Professor Longbottom was intimidated, no, maybe even afraid of Professor Snape. It was understandable; Snape was quite intimidating after all.
Professor Longbottom gave him a relieved smile. “Good. Anyways, Harry ended up sacrificing himself to save the rest of us, the only way to defeat Voldemort, er, that was the leader of the Death Eaters, was for Harry to die.” Oddly, the professor smiled. “But luckily when Voldemort ‘killed’ Harry, he didn’t actually die. Some miracle kept him alive, it had something to do with his mother sacrificing herself for him I think. She gave her life to save him as a baby, Voldemort tried to kill him then too, the old bugger somehow knew he would be a threat someday. But he survived. But he didn’t have parents either, was brought up by some horrible Muggle relatives of his mum’s. But there’s more, your personality…it’s sort of uncanny.”
“Sir, is that what made you decide to help me find out about my parents?” Jake asked. The moment the words left his mouth he regretted it. A pained look spread across Professor Longbottom’s face, a hardened look crept into his eyes.
“No,” he said brusquely, all of the cheeriness gone from his voice. “Come, let’s find those papers for you.”
Jake knew he had hit a nerve. He knew that he shouldn’t pry, but he was curious. If it had been Snape he was dealing with, he would have kept his mouth shut, but something pushed him to pursue this thread of conversation.
“I’m sorry, sir, I didn’t mean to upset you.” There, start off nice and easy.
Professor Longbottom stopped again and looked at Jake tiredly. “I know you didn’t, Jacob. The truth of the matter is I didn’t really get to know my parents either.”
That made sense based on his reaction. “I’m sorry to hear that, sir.”
The professor swallowed hardly. “When I was a baby, right after Voldemort killed Harry’s parents, Voldemort disappeared somehow. Some of his followers targeted my parents in retaliation.” A dark look came over his eyes. “They tortured them until they snapped, until they lost their minds. They’re still alive, but they have been a mental ward ever since then.”
Jake was shocked. That was not what he had expected. He had thought that the professor was just another orphan like himself. “Sir, I-” he paused, not really knowing what to say.
Professor Longbottom gave him a strained smile. “It’s alright, Mr. Baxter. Don’t worry about it.”
They walked in silence. Finally, they approached a section marked Daily Prophets. There was a table in the middle of all the stacks for examining the archives. “Well, here you are,” Professor Longbottom told Jake. “I’d love to help you look, but I have somewhere I need to be. Let me know if you find anything.”
With a friendly wave, he turned to the massive piles. Where to begin, where to begin?
Neville strode through the sterile halls of St. Mungo’s. His meeting with the Baxter boy had gotten him thinking about his parents. Sure, he visited them quite regularly, but talking about them made him want to make an unplanned visit. He finally reached their ward. A Healer was standing outside the door, looking through some papers. The woman looked up at the sound of footsteps, and smiled.
“Neville, it’s good to see you again,” she greeted him.
“Hello Felicity,” he returned. “I know it’s late, but do you think it would be alright if I stepped in and saw my parents for a few minutes?”
The woman nodded. “Of course. We just finished diner, so they should still be awake.” As much as they can be, Neville thought sadly. “Come in.” Felicity unlocked the door with her wand and led Neville inside. He was used to this; he had been coming to this ward ever since he could remember. This is where all of his memories of his parents were made. Every time, even now, he hoped for even the slightest sign of recognition, of remembrance. But all that ever greeted him was the glazed eyes of a pair of strangers.
“Alice, Frank,” Felicity called out cheerfully. “You have a visitor. It’s your son, Neville, you remember him, don’t you?” They didn’t. Or if they did, they just couldn’t show it.
Neville smiled at the two shells sitting on adjoining beds. “Hey Mum, Dad. I’ve missed you,” That wasn’t a lie. He certainly did miss them.
Felicity placed a hand on his shoulder. “I’ll leave you alone with them for a little while. I’d like to speak with you before you leave, though,” Neville nodded and muttered his thanks and the woman left the room.
“So, Luna’s just beginning to show,” he began, knowing they wouldn’t respond. “I can’t believe I’m going to be a father. And you’re going to be grandparents, can you believe that?” Silence. He sighed, tears prickling at his eyes. “I hope you can hear me,” he whispered. “I love you two, never forget it.”
His mother stood up distractedly and meandered towards her son. She stretched out her hand, waiting for Neville to do the same. He did so mechanically; it was a ritual they shared. She plopped an empty Drooble’s Bubble Gum wrapped into his palm. “Thanks, Mum,” He wanted to believe that it was her way of telling him she loved him, that somewhere deep inside her his mother was there, wanting to call out to him but unable to shout. That is why he had kept every single wrapper she had given him over the years. He had been nervous when Luna first found the box, he worried that she would think he was crazy for keeping them. He almost smiled. Luna understood better than most.
He sat with his parents a few more minutes, talking about the most random things. Felicity finally came back. “I’m sorry, Neville, but you really have to leave now. We have to start putting everyone to bed.”
He nodded understandingly. He walked over to his father. “Goodnight Dad,” he whispered, kissing the man on his forehead. “’Night Mum,” he told his mother, doing the same before walking out with the Healer.
“So there is no change?” Neville asked her once they were outside.
She shook her head sadly. “I’m afraid not.”
Neville laughed bitterly. “Intellectually, I know that they won’t magically get better overnight, no pun intended, not at this point. But a part of me hopes…” he let his sentence trail off.
Felicity put a hand on his arm. “We all hope so Neville. Actually, that’s what I wanted to talk to you about.”
He frowned, utterly confused by her remarks. “What do you mean?”
She bit her lip nervously. “There have been some studies going on in the Ministry about reversing severe memory and sanity loss, they’ve been trying to create a potion to perhaps help the patients recover at least some of their memory and some functionality. It appears that your parents are perfect candidates for these tests. I have some information in my office so that you and your family can make a fully informed decision.”
Neville was completely taken aback. “You mean, they might be able to be normal again?” he asked in a dumbfounded whisper.”
Felicity nodded. “Possibly. But again, we don’t know if this treatment will work, or how they would respond. There have been some attempts at something like this before, and they didn’t do anything.” She took Neville’s hand. “I don’t want you to get your hopes up, but I thought you would be interested in trying. I know how much you want your parents back.”
“I’d like to see the paperwork,” he told her distractedly.
“Of course, I’ll get it for you right away Neville,” Felicity replied before hurrying off. She was back within five minutes carrying a large stack of papers. “Here you go,” she said, handing them to him. “I know it’s a lot to read, but I want you to have all of the information.”
“Thanks,” he replied. He looked at the first few pages. There was a list of the people working on the research. His eyes were drawn to one of the names on the page. “One of my friends is part of the research team,” he told Felicity.
“Oh, really?” Felicity asked, peering at the page. “Who?”
“Hermione Granger,” he replied. Why didn’t she tell me about this? he wondered silently.
“Ah,” Felicity replied. “She probably doesn’t know that your folks are under consideration for the tests. We haven’t given them a list of people yet.” It was as if she had read his mind.
“Makes sense.” Neville patted the stack of papers. “I’ll get back to you about this.” He said goodbye and left quickly. He had to get out of there, he had to think.
He was going to have to talk to Gran about this. He was nervous about using his parents as guinea pigs, but if they could get their lives back…
Neville shook his head. He had to get home.
Severus sat staring into the flames in Harry’s fireplace, sipping a cup of tea. They had just finished dinner, and he was sitting in the living room with Harry. Ginny had run to the kitchen to grab some cookies that her mother had dropped of the day before.
“So, things have been good at the school then?” Harry asked before taking a sip from his own cup.
Severus nodded. “More or less,”
Harry grinned at him wickedly. “How is it working with Neville?”
He rolled his eyes. Seriously? “Oh, I still can’t stand him, nothing much has changed,” he replied tersely.
Harry had the gall to chuckle at him. “Of course,”
“He’s not horrible, I suppose,” he conceded reluctantly, eliciting a cocky grin from his friend. “I don’t know why I’m friends with you sometimes,” Severus muttered, glaring at him.
“I think you know why,” Harry replied sagely.
Severus grew somber. “I do,”
Ginny came in, the plate of cookies in one hand and a half eaten morsel in the other. “Mum has to stop making these or I’ll gain so much weight,” she muttered cheerfully. She shoved the plate at Harry and Severus. “Here, take some,” she offered.
Severus took one to be polite, though he didn’t taste it. He was struck at that moment at how much Ginny reminded him of Lily. He stared at her, lost in thought.
“Severus?” he jumped slightly, startled. “Hello, are you still with us?” Ginny asked worriedly.
“Yes, of course,” he muttered. He turned to Harry. “I was just thinking about your mother.”
Harry looked at him understandingly. “That explains things,” Harry told him. “You still miss her, don’t you,” he stated.
Severus paused. He hated how touchy feely Harry always wanted to get. But his mouth replied without his consent. “I always will,”
Harry smiled at him sadly. “Me too,” He looked uncomfortable for a moment or two. “I’m glad that you do, I mean…” he sighed. “I’m glad that there is someone else out there who won’t forget about her.”
Severus nodded, wondering why they were pushing the subject. Usually they avoided talking about Lily, they knew how it still bothered him. He was able to deal with it to tell Harry more about her, but they hadn’t done that in ages.
“Speaking of young love, and love in general,” Ginny began. This was it. This is what they were heading at. “How’s your love life like these days?” she asked.
“That’s it,” he sighed, placing his cup and saucer down carefully on the coffee table and standing up. “I’m out of here,”
“Sev, sit!” Harry half demanded. “She can’t help being so forward, it’s just her nature,”
“Look Harry, you could have been extremely subtle about it and I still would not be talking about this with you,”
“What, are you afraid of finding a woman who’s stronger than you? That sounds kind of cowardly to me,” Ginny told him matter-of-factly.
He sucked in his breath at her stinging words. He saw a worried look cross Harry’s eyes; he evidently hadn’t known she was going to say what she did. “Ginny,” Harry said warningly, glancing at Severus warily, as if he was going to explode at any minute.
Severus held up his hand, cutting Harry off. “You are very clever, Miss Weasley,” he told Ginny bitingly, subconsciously reverting to his professor persona to protect himself. He turned to Harry. “Your fiancé knows how to get things accomplished, now doesn’t she?” He resumed his seat.
Ginny smiled wickedly at Harry, a sort of told you so expression on her face. She turned towards Severus. “Look, we don’t mean to pry,” He snorted derisively. “But we want you to be happy. I mean, Harry and I are at such a great place, and we want our friends to be able to get there too,”
“Really,” Severus replied skeptically. “That is all?”
“Well….” Ginny continued.
“We want to set you up on a date,” Harry interceded.
Severus looked back and forth between the two of them. “Seriously?” They both nodded. “No,”
“Come on,” Harry pleaded. “We’re not talking about a lifetime commitment, just dinner. Just think about it, okay?”
Severus sighed. He knew they meant well. He also knew that he was not leaving that room without agreeing to a date. “Do you have anyone in mind?”
Ginny smirked at him. “We were thinking it would be a blind date.”
“Severus, we just don’t want you to come up with excuses to back out of it.”
He groaned. “Fine,” he grunted. “I will go on one date. But that is all, and it is only, I repeat, only to get the both of you to leave me alone. Is that clear?” he finished sternly.
“Yes, sir,” Ginny replied, saluting him mockingly.
Severus sighed. “I don’t know why I put up with you people,”
“You know you love us!” Ginny declared, grinning. Harry was grinning too.
She was right. He did love them. Not like he was ever going to show it.
Jake sighed. He had just gone through what must have been like the tenth stack of Prophets and he still had nothing. He was beginning to think his quest might be hopeless. He didn’t even know when his parents had been born, he was sort of playing touch and go with it.
Suddenly, Jake felt a hand on his shoulder, causing him to start. “Mr. Baxter, the library is closing now, you need to leave.” It was Madame Pince.
“Yes ma’am,” he told her, standing up.
“Heh-hem?” she coughed, looking pointedly at the papers strewn over the table.
“Right,” Jake sighed. He gathered them up quickly and returned them to their proper locations. Once he finished, Madame Pince escorted him out, as if worried he would do something horrible if he was left alone.
He hurriedly made his way back to the Gryffindor Tower. He was in a somewhat foul mood because of the lack of results; the last thing he needed was to get in trouble frivolously. He snapped the password at the Fat Lady, and scrambled into the common room.
“Jake!” he heard Emma call out. He mechanically walked over to her.
“How are you doing?” he asked her, sitting down on the sofa next to his friend. The difference a few weeks made was astounding. In the time since the crackdown, she was almost unrecognizable. The attacks had stopped as far as he could tell, and she was becoming more and more sure of herself and comfortable every single day. For what must have been the first time in her life, she controlled her destiny. He was so proud of her.
“Alright, where’ve you been?” A dark look came to her worried eyes. “They didn’t get you, did they?”
He shook his head vigorously. “Nah, I was in the library,”
Jack snorted from the adjacent chair. “Figures,” he muttered, grinning.
“Shut up,” Jake growled.
Emma shook her head. “What were you doing?”
“Wait, I got it,” Jack interrupted. “He was reading!”
Jake’s irritation got the best of him. “Wow, you are such a genius,” he snapped sarcastically. Taking a deep breath, he turned to Emma. “I was looking at a bunch of old newspapers. I thought I could find something out about my parents.”
“And,” Jack asked, all kidding gone from his voice. He actually could relate, Jake knew that his friend had no clue as to who his birthparents were either besides a picture and a first name of his mother. Jake shook his head. “Nothing. But there’s so much information there, I don’t even know where to start.”
“Maybe you should talk to a professor, maybe one of them taught your parents. Some of them have been around for a while.”
Snape instantly came to mind. “Yeah, maybe I will,” he replied distractedly, “Maybe I will.”
Neville muttered the password to his quarters tiredly. His head was pounding, and all he wanted was to take a pain relief potion and get to bed. It had been a long day.
Luna was sitting in a chair by the fireplace, reading the Quibbler. She looked up as he walked in. “Where were you?” she asked. It was not an accusation, merely an innocent question. He loved that about her, how trusting she was. He had been so concerned that she was going to lose that after what she had dealt with during the war, but she hadn’t, not completely. “I was starting to worry,”
Neville walked over to his wife, dropping the stack of papers on the table. They could wait until later. He bent over and kissed her forehead. “Sorry, love. Something came up.”
She looked at him, eyes wide. “Really?” She looked at him frowning. Luna could always tell when something was wrong, she almost had a sixth sense about that sort of thing. “What’s going on?”
Neville dropped into the chair next to his wife. She promptly stood up and situated herself on his lap, causing him to smile involuntarily. He wrapped his arms around her, taking comfort in her warm strength. “I went to see Mum and Dad,” he whispered into her golden locks.
She pulled back slightly. “Is something wrong?”
Neville shook his head, then nodded. He sighed. “I don’t know. There’s no change.”
“What made you go and see them tonight?”
Neville shook his head. “I ran into a student today, he was researching his parents. They were killed when he was younger, he knows virtually nothing about him. It just got me thinking about my own parents again.”
“And?” Luna pressed.
“Well, after I saw them, they told me about a new study that’s being conducted. They think Mum and Dad are good candidates for it.” He ran a hand roughly through his hair. “I don’t know. I want them to get better, and this could do just that. But if it doesn’t work…They seem happy now, do I really want to mess with it because I want my parents back? Am I being selfish?”
Luna looked at him thoughtfully. “I don’t think wanting to know your parents is being selfish, it’s a natural response.” She stroked his hair soothingly. Neville turned his head towards her palm, kissing it softly. “You’ll talk to Gran about this, right?”
He nodded. “Of course,”
“Then I’m sure the two of you will be able to figure out what’s in their best interest.”
“Yeah,” he replied. “And it looks like Hermione had something to do with the research, I’m planning on meeting with her to discuss it.”
“Good,” Luna told him, snuggling closer. “It sounds like you have everything under control, love,”
“I guess,” Neville replied, not really convinced. He smiled as his wife’s lips brushed against his neck, slowly moving up towards his mouth. She kissed him deeply, lovingly, and he returned her love in full measure. After a few minutes, she pulled back slightly.
“Look, love, you’re not going to be able to come to a decision tonight.” She ran a hand down his chest, slowly moving south, causing his heart (and incidentally another organ) to go into overdrive. “How about you put this aside for now,” she whispered in her gentle seductiveness. “How about we go to bed,”
He nodded vigorously in agreement, and she smiled at him, her position on his lap perfect for detecting his arousal. Neville scooped his wife into his arms, stood up, and began walking towards the bedroom.
“You know,” he whispered, bending his head towards her ear, “In a few months you’ll be too big for me to carry,”
Luna rolled her eyes at him. “Way to dampen the mood, Neville,”
Neville leaned over and kissed her intensely. “How about I make it up to you,” he muttered in his sexiest voice possible.
Luna grinned. “Now that’s more like it.”
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