Snacks And Letters - Part 77

Author: [info]sionna_raven
Title: Snacks And Letters - Part 77
Word Count: 1723


We grab our coats and stand in front of the high gate of the now officially disused cemetery in an instant. The Muggles use it as a park, a historic site nowadays, but on a Tuesday in late December there aren't many tourists walking the broad paths under the large leafless trees. Andromeda takes my arm and before Severus can any do anything against it she grabs him, too. Kreacher walks in the shadow of our long cloaks right behind us.

“I want to see the crypt, before the others arrive. Do you mind?”

Andromeda presses my arm in agreement. Severus doesn't object. He is lost in his own thoughts and tolerates my sentimental mood. I haven't visited my parents graves before. Why would I have done it? When? I had good reason to expect them to rise from the crypt and curse me.

A Muggle with his dog rushes past us. He glances at us with suspicion. Even in London and in broad daylight three people in long black cloaks do look odd on an old graveyard. I trust the goblins to have taken precautions that the Muggle police will ignore any reports.

There are many names on the huge stone monument, from Phineas' father who built the house at Grimmauld Square to the freshly carven name of my brother. Balthasar Black, Severus' ancestor is also buried here. Nearly 200 years of Blacks. To read the names of the two previous Sirius feels strange and reassuring at the same time, belonging somewhere without having to prove it. Almost nothing to prove, Marius Black, Phineas' Squib son is not buried in the main grave, but he's still close to the family and his small stone kept clean by the everlasting contract with the goblins.

I slowly approach the names of my parents. I feel the need to tell them that Regulus will join them today.

I didn't want anyone who doesn't really care for my brother to attend. The Malfoys, Flint and young Mr Nott understand. Horace Slughorn shows more backbone than I expected; he is here despite the suspicious company. He even takes care of Theodore Nott who was a bit lost when he arrived. He really reminds me of Severus as a boy, wary and calculated in his moves and words. I thank him for coming and he mutters a carefully phrased apology for his father's absence. Lucius looks respectable on the outside and glares at every single one of us. Even at Narcissa who immediately joined Andromeda and at Draco who can't decide whether he wants to stay with his class mate or should dare to approach Severus. He decides for Severus who is doing his best to keep Lucius and Flint apart. It doesn't prove too difficult during the service. Lucius is family and quickly manoeuvred to the front row between Narcissa and Andromeda.

After last night I feel more happiness than grief at my brother's funeral. He is back where he belongs with our parents and he's with me in my heart and mind, my bear guardian.

The service is short. It's a quiet gathering. Nobody feels like giving a speech. We all heard enough of heroes who gave their lives in the service of whichever master. They are dead and we miss them.

Kreacher whom we keep under a charm to distract Muggle eyes sobs at his master's tomb. He stands up rather abruptly and turns to Severus. I'm certainly not the only one feeling the urge to stop the elf for his own good. One has to be as mad as a house elf to hug Severus Snape – in public of all things. On the other hand Kreacher might go where I don't dare to tread. Showing gratitude for his help, for him being there when nobody else was. For still being here with me. Not just because of Regulus, I cling to that desperate hope.

Severus looks more than uncomfortable, yet he hasn't got the heart to push away the elf.

“.... greatest wizard... brave... loyal.... so grateful.... bringing my masters back home...” Kreacher's declarations are a bit incoherent, but I haven't missed that he used the plural form. I grin sheepishly and put my hand on Kreacher's shoulder.

“I think Master Severus got your point. It's enough; you're wetting his robes.”

I stretch out my own hand and Severus takes it. There's no need for words. We both press a little too strongly and I – we both – hold on a little too long.

Richard Flint takes his chance to approach me after we laid the coffin in the crypt. He is eager to find out about my real intentions. Severus said bottom of the Death Eater pecking order. Yes, that's clear, but he's not stupid. He tries to recommend himself by referring to his friendship with Uncle Alphard and doesn't mention my father. He does know that I stayed on good terms with my uncle and is unsure about my opinion on my father. I can't resist the temptation to confuse him and mention that I remember that he played chess with my father.

“You remember? You could only have been ...” He waves his hand about a yard above the ground.

“A bit more than that. Six or seven, I think. I do remember, because my father rarely had guests who were not family.” He blinks nervously. Lucius has overheard it and smirks. I can't hear what he says to Severus, but Severus frowns slightly and glares at me. I smile back. Oh c'mon, I've told you I've been raised to deal with these folks.

I turn my attention back to Flint who mutters something about Alphard's and Orion's kindness towards him and their generosity to overlook his inadequate lineage. Sixth generation pureblood, hardly better than half-blood in my mother's eyes.

“My father and uncle considered you a friend and my brother held you in high esteem. That's why you're here.” Condescending and arrogant as my words are he beams at me. Some people like being put in place, because it means they have one. Flint continues to blab about my father and about Regulus – noble, chivalrous, brave – insight much beyond his years, when older men were still caught in their erroneous ways. I ponder the irony of Gryffindor virtues used by one former Death Eater to describe another. I agree with him, though. I notice something else , a genuine warmth in his words, his face, a tear in his eyes. Yes, he's trying to flatter me, but his affection for Regulus is honest. After a while he feels reassured and thankfully says goodbye. That sets Severus free from the burden to watch Lucius. I'm about to join him, but Slughorn gets in my way, Nott still at his tails.

The same compliments for my dead brother, more cunningly phrased and the same genuine affection. He hasn't changed much since he tried to recruit me for his Slug Club and I refused every time. He never gave up. Now he seems happy to welcome me as a colleague, complains about the work load as a teacher and the poor pay. He asks me, if I will take the position of Head of Gryffindor. I'm baffled. It never occurred to me. Minerva has retired from all her duties except teaching Transfiguration at Severus' return. Neville Longbottom succeeded her. In my opinion Neville is the perfect choice, a Gryffindor like we should have been. It's the Headmaster's decision anyway and that's what I tell him. Slughorn beams at me.

“I was delighted to hear that you have finally settled your …. disagreement, m'boy. So delighted. I've always thought that it was just a misunderstanding caused by the unfortunate prejudice against Slytherin House. The two brightest boys of your year and wasting your talents fighting each other....“

There's a distinct snort from Severus and I snigger.

“Would you've preferred us to concentrate our combined efforts on a different target? I should think you had enough chances to appreciate our creativity.”

The old walrus quivers. Severus thinks it necessary to reassure him.

“Don't worry Horace. Black has signed a contract which forbids him to hex his Slytherin colleagues without the Headmaster's permission.”

Sluggy doesn't seem to be 100% sure that the Headmaster will refuse permission in his case.

“Have I signed such a restrictive clause?” I know I haven't.

“Of course you have. Forgot to read the magical fine print again, Gryffindor?”

“Boys, you really shouldn't scare your old teacher like that.” Draco and Nott whisper with each other in amusement about us being called 'boys' or about Sluggy being still nervous about my pranks.

Slughorn continues to calm himself down. “I've always said that Gryffindors and Slytherins should try to become friends. I had so many hopes for you and Lily Potter.”

Severus' face darkens. Slughorn is a bloody idiot. He realizes his mistake himself, when Severus coldly tells him that it's time to return to Hogwarts to prepare for the staff meeting.

Slughorn says goodbye and disapparates. The Malfoys follow his example. Draco has invited Nott to join them which he does. Andromeda gives me a hug, shakes hands with Sev and leaves us, too.

We linger on, not ready to part. I wish he would stay with me, but he is expected at the staff meeting. It's not for long I tell myself.

There's a human form approaching from another row of graves. For a split second I think it's James haunting me. It's Harry, of course. He stuffs his invisibility cloak into his pockets.

Severus frowns at him. “Potter, where's Weasley? What is so difficult to understand about 'family and friends only'?”

“Snape! You were about to leave. Don't let me keep you from your duties. Sirius, we need to talk.”

I put my hand on Severus' arm and try to look confident.

This talk was inevitable and I have to do it alone. Please don't make things worse.

“I'll be in touch as soon as possible.”

Severus gives me a slight nod of agreement. “See you later.” Before he Disapparates he turns to Kreacher. “Don't let anyone harm your master.”

Kreacher stands up straight. “Kreacher will always protect his master! He promised his mistress long ago.”

The look on Harry's face could have curdled fresh milk.


October 2013

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