Potions and Snitches
Snape and Harry Gen Fanfiction Archive

Grave News

Draco had known all along that returning to Slytherin House would be difficult. The sons of Death Eaters, who had been his allies for years, were now his enemies. And going by the murderous gazes they sent his way, they would gladly relish the opportunity to stab him in the back while he slept.

While they would never be foolish enough to attempt something in the Great Hall, the situation within the Slytherin dorms was a different beast entirely. He was thankful Severus had gotten up at the end of The Feast to walk him down himself. Draco had stayed close to him, drawing strength from his presence, and Severus had gone as far as placing a hand on his shoulder as they walked into the common room. That had clarified to everyone where their Head of House stood regarding Draco and that going after him was like going after Severus Snape himself. There weren’t many students foolish enough to want to try that.

That single gesture would buy him some time, Draco knew. But while it would keep him alive, it couldn’t shield him from the murderous gazes and serpent tongues of his comrades.

“Toadying up to Potter, now?” Zabini had asked as Draco entered their shared dormitories after their Head of House had departed. “I would never have thought you could stoop so low.”

Pansy Parkinson, who had been sitting on his lap, crooned, “Oh, but haven’t you heard, Blaise? Draco is penniless now. He must be cosying up to the Chosen One for his Galleons—the little slut.”

Draco had been tempted to throw the insult back in her face. Pansy was one to talk; everyone knew she had opened her legs for at least half the male population of Slytherin House. But he’d kept his mouth shut as he moved to his bed.

With complicated wand gestures and a few nonverbal spells, he had removed the protection on his trunk to retrieve his pyjamas. Then he went to change in the bathroom and placed a series of complicated spells on his bed when he returned. Lastly, he charmed the curtains so that no one could pull them open during the night—all the while knowing that if he was forced to stay within the Slytherin dorms, he would never be able to sleep soundly again.

Come morning, Draco awoke bright and early to have the shower room to himself. He finished his business quickly and was dressed and ready to go at six o’clock sharp. And he slipped outside the Slytherin quarters the moment he was allowed.

For the first time since he’d started school at Hogwarts, he was the first student to make it to the Great Hall. He sat down with his back against the wall at the corner closest to the entrance doors. That way, he’d be able to observe where both Harry and his godfather sat. He could also make a hasty exit if he needed to, and no one would be able to come at him from behind.

A few more students started coming in a moment later, Ravenclaws mostly—but then they had always been known to be early risers. The first ones that ambled in all had their noses in books. Draco snickered at the sight; that made him think of Saturnine, and he surmised that that was where she must have got the habit. She, too, was an early bird, and she enjoyed a bit of reading at all hours.

Draco wondered what her classes would be like now that she was free to give them as Saturnine Snape, without the need for deception, without being forced to play the part of shy, demure Leen Nine. She was free to be herself—the formidable, capable, strong witch he knew she was.

While Draco was sure Saturnine would never perform Elemental Magic in class, she still possessed a considerable talent that she was now free to showcase to everyone. He was sure that her first class would leave a long-lasting impression—much like last year’s had.

At six-thirty sharp, the banquet tables filled with food, and Draco started in on his breakfast. The tables were half-filled now. And it wasn’t long until Gryffindor’s golden trio ambled into the room. Harry’s green eyes sought him out immediately, and they exchanged smiles of greeting.

Harry sat down at the lions’ table, situating himself opposite him. He spoke animatedly with Ron about something or other. Hermione quickly lost interest, and she pulled out a swath of papers from her pocket instead, perusing them with intent. Draco couldn’t be sure, but it looked like class schedules. The young Slytherin wished he could join them, but he knew that wasn’t possible. There were limits he couldn’t cross, and the snakes would kill him for breaking that one.

Some ten minutes later, a loud gong resonated within the walls of Hogwarts—once, twice. Everybody froze in surprise, forks paused in mid-air. Heads turned left and right as everyone tried to determine what was going on. Draco caught Harry’s gaze with a question in his eyes. Harry shook his head—a sign that he had no idea what was going on, either.

Professor McGonagall’s voice resounded through every hallway and corridor a moment later. “Every student to the Great Hall. I repeat, every student to the Great Hall.”

Harry shot to his feet at the announcement, and Draco felt himself tense up. Hermione pulled at Harry’s sleeve to have him sit back down. From where he sat, Draco couldn’t hear what she was telling him, but he saw her mouth the words Great Hall twice, and he got the gist of what she was saying. They were already in the right place to determine what was happening; there was no need to go anywhere else.

The few professors who were already there looked equally puzzled. None of the Heads of House were present. So, they looked unsure as to whom to turn to for information.

Pomona Sprout, Head of Hufflepuff House, arrived a moment later. She nervously crossed the Great Hall to join her colleagues, buttoning the last of her shirt up as she went. A few of her students tried stopping her with questions, but she raised an annoyed hand to stop them before they could start. Saturnine and Severus were next; they were fully dressed and moved with more confidence than Professor Sprout had displayed. No one bothered to try and get in their way as they crossed through the room with long, purposeful strides.

Less than ten minutes later, the Great Hall was packed full, all students and staff seemingly accounted for. Transfiguration teacher and Deputy Headmistress, Minerva McGonagall, entered the room an instant later, and every pair of eyes present narrowed at her—staff included. All the chatter that had been occurring trickled down to a tensed silence as she crossed the room; it got so quiet that McGonagall’s last steps as she rounded the High Table were all that could be heard.

Unlike the rest of the staff, she did not sit down, choosing to stand behind the headmaster’s tall ornate chair instead. Her features were taut, and her lips pressed into a thin, pale line. The deep green of her robe heightened the lack of colour in her cheeks. And her fingers shook slightly as her hands came up to grip the back of the golden chair.

Whatever announcement she had for them, it wasn’t good news. That much was obvious.

“Everyone, listen up,” she said. The Scottish inflexion in her voice was more pronounced than usual, another sign that the situation was grave. “I have terrible news to announce—most terrible.”

Staff members and students alike held their breaths as they waited for the blow to come.

“Professor Dumbledore,” she said, and it was clear she was forcing herself to get the words out, “is dead.” She heaved in a breath. “The headmaster is dead.”

Gasps of surprise and horror shook the assembled crowd like a wave.

“He was murdered in his rooms,” McGonagall continued. “The house-elves found him this morning.”

A hubbub of voices grew and grew within the Great Hall, assuming a life of its own. It was a mix of Dear Merlin, But he’s Dumbledore, and Do you think it was You-Know-Who?

“Silence!” shrieked McGonagall, and the panicked voices died down. “Classes are cancelled for the day. You are all to return to your dorms at once and stay there until lunchtime. More information will be given to you then.” She snapped her fingers, and the students started to move.

Draco was amongst the first ones out of the door. It wasn’t long until Harry, Ron, and Hermione joined him in the hallway. The young witch had tears in her eyes, and the ginger-haired lion had draped a comforting arm around her shoulders.

“Do you think it’s true?” Harry asked. “About Dumbledore?”

Draco nodded. “Guess so. They wouldn’t have said it otherwise.”

“Sweet Morgana, Professor Dumbledore,” moaned Hermione. “I can’t believe it.”

It was a terrible blow for their side. Dumbledore had been the one leading them, uniting them. The Dark Lord’s attack on the Ministry earlier that summer had done substantial damage; it had taken them weeks to get a semblance of organisation back. And this would weaken them again.

“He was going to die anyway,” Draco stated the obvious. “Who’d be stupid enough to risk a life sentence in Azkaban to make it happen faster?”

“What do you mean, Malfoy?” Ron asked with a snarl.

“Don’t be thick, Weasley. You saw how he was last night. He barely had the strength to stand.” he replied. “I doubt he’d have lasted the week. Who would murder a dying man?”

Draco remembered Saturnine telling him and Harry that they had better ready themselves not to see the headmaster again—that it was likely he wouldn’t last until the end of August. The old man had outlived her prognosis, but it hadn’t made a great deal of difference in the end.

Who is one thing—but I’m most interested to know why,” Harry said. “Draco’s right. Dumbledore was near the end. So, why go to the trouble of killing him?”

“He must have been working on something,” Hermione said between two sniffs. “And he must have been getting close. A way to stop You-Know-Who, maybe?”

Students kept pouring out of the Great Hall, walking around them hurriedly. Some of the girls were in tears, Draco noticed. None of the staff had come out yet, and he could imagine them standing together in a tight group near the back of the Great Hall, discussing the situation and making plans.

“What will we do?” Ron asked.

“We have to figure out what happened,” Harry said. Then, looking over his shoulder at the wall separating them from the Great Hall, he added, “I wonder what Severus and Saturnine know.”

More students filled the hallway, and Draco saw Professors Vectra and Sinistra walking amongst them. A little while later, he caught sight of Madam Hooch and Professor Burbage.

Severus walked out eventually, and he came straight at them, dark robes billowing around him as he parted the throng of students like the Red Sea.

His eyebrows were tightly knitted, a scowl etched deep in his forehead. “I would have thought Professor McGonagall’s instructions were clear. Every student is to go back to their dorms.”

“But Professor—” Hermione started.

“Every. Student,” Severus commanded, his voice a dark growl. “That means you, too, Miss Granger.”

“But Severus, what happened?” Draco asked.

The Potions Master directed his dark eyes the blond’s way, and his lips curled into a snarl. “What was that, Mister Malfoy?” he asked.

The young wizard understood his mistake at once. Calling his professor by his given name while they were amongst themselves was one thing. But outside of their quarters, he owed his godfather the proper respect his title imposed. “Professor Snape, I mean,” he said, looking down.

“Do you know anything, Professor?” Harry asked.

“Only what Professor McGonagall told everyone,” he replied. “Now, if her instructions weren’t clear enough, I will repeat them for you. Return to your dorms, and do not leave.”

His tone made it clear they had better comply—or the loss of a few House Points would be the least of their worries. He’d alternated between looking at Harry and Draco as he spoke. It was clear he didn’t care much what happened to Ron and Hermione. But the two boys were meant to obey the instructions.

Without another word, Severus turned on his heel to return to the entrance of the Great Hall. Saturnine joined him an instant later, coming out of the room with Professors Sprout, Flitwick, and McGonagall. The five of them left together, walking towards the Headmaster’s Tower.

As he stepped down to the dungeons, Draco wondered what fresh hell had just been unleashed on them. The headmaster had had his back despite—everything. He’d gone above and beyond that summer, trying to foil Lucius’ plans, when he didn’t need to. Especially after Draco had tried, and failed, to kill him twice the year before. And now, he was gone.

The side of the Light had just lost its leader, and he prayed that didn’t mean they had just lost the war.


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