The Great Hall was abuzz as Severus entered the পরবর্তি morning. At first, he paid no mind – there was always some “interesting” gossip that faded to the back of everyone’s mind in a matter of hours. Although this news seemed extra special (a few courageous Hufflepuffs were sitting at the Slytherin টেবিল gossiping). Severus wrote it off as the usual trash. Perhaps SloppyMolly – the latest জনপ্রিয় musical group – had blown up the stage. অথবা perhaps some greedy moneygrubber was claiming to be the long-lost relative of some really famous person. Either way, it didn’t matter to him. He had never cared for gossip.
“I heard her clothes had been found six miles south of what was left of her body,” a young Slytherin told his friend.
Severus’ ears perked up involuntarily. A body was found?
“Ugh!” the friend shuddered. “My Da always told me they were monstrous creatures but this…” she shivered again. “Ugh!”
The boy nodded importantly. “I know. And to think – all those times people warned us about নেকড়ে-মানুষ in the Forest! I thought it was a joke!”
“Werewolf?” Severus asked in spite of himself. Someone had been attacked দ্বারা a werewolf? In the Forrbidden Forest?
Apparently this news was big enough for the Slytherins to forget about Severus’ ostracization. “Yep, it was in the paper this morning,” the boy answered, holding up the latest edition of the Daily Prophet. “They found her clothes just beyond the boundaries of Hogwarts, shredded. So, the Aurors sent out a খুঁজুন party and found pieces of a body right on the border of Hogwarts. They’re thinking some girl from Hogsmeade wandered too close to a werewolf.”
Severus had gone very still. A werewolf attack almost on Hogwarts grounds, where a werewolf was currently attending, masquerading as a student? He inadvertently glanced over at the Gryffindor table. Black, Potter, and Pettigrew (Lupin was conspicuously missing) were sitting together, laughing as Potter made his goblet dance up and down the table.
So much for “safe werewolf.” Suddenly, Severus crack the other night about “I need to protect my fellow students” didn’t seem so glib.
Severus had expected Dumbledore to address the school and he wasn’t disappointed. The headmaster started his speech দ্বারা acknowledging that a girl, had in fact, been attacked, and the Aurors felt strongly that it was made দ্বারা a werewolf. He then went on to say that the Forbidden Forest was off limits – no exceptions! – and sent them off to class.
“Guess they still haven’t found the wolf,” the Slytherin girl muttered as she rose from her seat. The boy grunted in agreement.
Severus turned his focus back to the Gryffindors. Pettigrew and Black were still sitting, seemingly হারিয়ে গেছে in their own conversation. Potter, however, had leapt from his আসন and grabbed Lily দ্বারা the arm. She seemed surprised, but not altogether upset to have been accosted দ্বারা Potter. They talked for a মিনিট – flirted, really – and headed out of the Hall together. Severus gritted his teeth. So much for the agreement!
Snarling, Severus pushed himself to his feat, determined to speak with Dumbledore, and stalked out.
“So is Remus going to be in class?” he heard Lily – who was apparently headed in the same direction as himself – ask. “I noticed he wasn’t at breakfast.”
Potter chuckled and the sound made Severus involuntarily clench his fists. “Yes. You’re elusive Herbology partner shall be there today. He was in the লাইব্রেরি during breakfast – catching up.”
“You know,” Lily said, her voice light, “he’s sick an awful lot.” Severus slowed his walk, his curiosity piqued again. Lily had never seemed to take notice to Lupin’s absences – at least not enough to মতামত on it like this.
“What’s wrong with him?”
“Nothing,” Potter said, his voice too full of innocence. “Nothing’s wrong with him.”
“Well, it is rather strange,” Lily continued, “him being sick so often. It seems like he’s sick every month.”
“Actually, come to think of it, he is sick every month…”
“Are implying something?” The light, innocent tone Potter had been using vanished in an instant. Now there was a hard edge, almost like a warning. “What are আপনি saying?”
Lily stopped and stared at Potter, who was still beside her, his head turned slightly in her direction. Although Severus was behind the pair and couldn’t see their faces, he knew Lily enough to assume she was looking at Potter defiantly. “That I think Severus might be right.”
“Snivellus!” Potter spat. “And what does he know?”
“He’s made some pretty good points.” Lily said, her voice low. “Remus is always sick during the full moon and he does leave the school during that time.”
Potter didn’t say anything.
“Look,” Lily said, her voice terse. “It doesn’t matter to me – really. I know Remus, and I know he wouldn’t hurt me. But Severus doesn’t know him like that and after what happened – “
“You know very well,” she snapped. “A werewolf attack practically on Hogwarts grounds? A werewolf who’s going to Hogwarts? He can put two and two together. I’d be willing to be that Severus is on his way to Dumbledore right now.”
“It won’t matter,” Potter spat through clenched teeth. “Who’s going to believe him? As far as Dumbledore knows, Remus never leaves his spot during his transformation. He’s not stupid – Dumbledore knows how Snape feels about us. He’s just going to assume the greasy little git is trying to stir up trouble.”
Severus took a step back, stung. As much as he hated to admit it, Potter was right. There was too much animosity between the Gryffindors and Slytherins for any teacher to take Severus seriously. Unless he had some undeniable proof, they would brush it off as slander. On the off chance that a teacher did, for some reason, believe him, they’d bring in Potter, Black, Pettigrew, and Lupin in for questioning. And, in the end, it would be their word (for there was no doubt in his mind that they would all proclaim Lupin innocent) against his. It was a হারিয়ে গেছে cause.
Unless Severus could find some sort of proof. Something that linked Lupin, unquestionably, to this girl.
Severus was no trained Auror. He was no good at snooping for clues and, anyway, all the clues would be in the Forest and he had no desire to go in there. If Lupin wasn’t the werewolf, than that meant that some other নেকড়ে was running around eating people. A নেকড়ে that was currently at large.
No, his proof would have to come from somewhere else. But where…?
Unable to come up with anything on his own, Severus headed to the library. Maybe there was a potion he could brew – a spell to cast, something that he hadn’t stumbled across that could help him.
At first, Severus thought the লাইব্রেরি was empty (which would make sense, as everyone else would be in class) but, as he headed farther back, he was shown to be wrong. Lupin was still there, bent over a piece of parchment, surrounded দ্বারা open books, apparently completely unaware that he was no longer alone.
A sudden bolt of inspiration hit him. Lupin would be the best evidence to prove his case. If the নেকড়ে admitted to the attack, there would be nothing to it. No way for Potter and the rest to turn the tide in their favor, অথবা to use the excuse of “stirring up trouble” to get out of it.
And hadn’t Potter hinted that Lupin was the weak link? “It would be hard for me to convince Sirius and Peter to lay off…” Sirius and Peter, but not Remus? Severus could remember every time Potter jumped him, humiliated him, teased him, bullied him and he could probably count on one hand the amount of times Lupin had actually been involved. It was a good implication that Lupin didn’t get the enjoyment out of torturing him that his বন্ধু did. Lupin wasn’t nearly as cold hearted as the rest. And if Lupin could easily be swayed to leave Severus alone – a Slytherin that he didn’t particularly like – it wouldn’t be hard at all to convince him to admit the attack.
“Can I help আপনি with something?” Lupin asked irritably, snapping Severus out of his thoughts.
“Actually,” Severus ব্যক্ত coolly, “I think আপনি can.”
To say Lupin looked surprised was an understatement. The boy actually rocked backward in his chair. “Are আপনি serious? With what?”
“I think আপনি already know.”
Lupin gave him a funny look and returned to the hunched position he normally had. “Erm, no. If I did, I wouldn’t have asked আপনি ‘with what?’”
Severus laid his hands on the টেবিল and looked Lupin right in the eye, trying to calm his nerves. This was a very delicate procedure and many people’s safety depended on it. If he ব্যক্ত something wrong…
“I already know, Lupin. I figured it out.”
Lupin’s face paled considerably, but he didn’t admit anything. His voice was calm as he replied, “Figured what out?”
“You know very well what.” But Lupin refused to budge. Severus took a deep breath and, trying not to think about the fact that there was every possibility he was going to severely anger a possible murderer, ব্যক্ত “I know you’re a werewolf.
He’d expected Lupin to gasp, to exclaim “how did আপনি know!” in aghast. But he didn’t. His face simply paled more, and he clenched his hands together. “How?” Then he shook his head. “No. No, I know how – you’re too observant not to notice my absences always coincided with the full moon and too smart not to know what that meant.”
“Although I have some surprise – I’d expected আপনি to have ব্যক্ত something before now. If not to me then to James অথবা someone. It would be the perfect leverage to get them to leave আপনি alone. No one else is supposed to know about this, আপনি see.”
Now it was Severus’ turn to look confused. “They already know that I know – they’ve known for a while. And, considering the little prank they pulled two years ago, I don’t think they really care that I know.”
Severus frowned. “Yes. Prank.” Lupin blinked. “The one with the Shrieking Shack…”
Lupin’s face remained blank and he stared at Severus for a long time before asking, “Why are আপনি telling me this?”
“Because I know about the girl too,” Severus said, struggling like mad to keep calm: Lupin’s face had, in a matter of seconds, gone from completely emotionless to filled with rage.
“I didn’t have anything to do with that!” he growled.
“Look, I’m sure it was an accident,” Severus said, not believing a word of what he was saying, but feeling to need to placate the নেকড়ে – who was now shaking – before he did something dangerous. “You snuck out of the shack and she got too close – “
“I didn’t touch that girl!” Lupin shouted, baring his teeth. He heaved himself up –causing Severus to flinch – and glared down. “Look, Snivellus,” he sneered venomously, “I get that আপনি hate James and Sirius. But they aren’t evil – they wouldn’t have let me hurt anybody. And, anyway, we didn’t even leave the shack the other night.” He shoved his বই and parchments into his bag and swung it wildly over his shoulder. “So piss-off about your little theories. Some other নেকড়ে got that girl.” And then he stormed out, leaving Severus feeling very confused and shaken.
The rest of the school বছর passed দ্বারা in a blur. Although Potter had broken his word (several times over) Severus didn’t have it in him to break his. He wasn’t entirely sure that Lupin wasn’t at fault for the attack, but this little nagging voice in the back of his brain kept insisting that he’d gotten it wrong – that Lupin wasn’t at fault at all. Since there was no evidence to the contrary and the Aurors hadn’t arrived to speak to Lupin (Dumbledore wouldn’t have turned a blind eye if he thought at all that Lupin would be at fault…would he?) Severus was forced to let the matter drop.
Lupin seemed to have taken the news of Black’s prank hard. It was the norm now to see him দ্বারা himself, hunched over some piece of parchment অথবা another. He looked miserable. Although Lupin had every right to know what had happened (Severus assumed that Lupin had interrogated his বন্ধু and gotten the full story) he had seemed a lot happier being oblivious. Severus couldn’t help but feel a twinge of guilt whenever he saw Lupin sitting alone. Perhaps it was because knew exactly what he felt like. After all, Severus himself was alone.
Lily had managed to regain the friendship of the other Gryffindor girls and it was a fairly common occurrence for her to spend all দিন with them. As a matter of fact, the morning of the End of বছর Feast, Lily had approached him and informed him that she’d be with “the girls” on the train ride home. Severus had smiled tightly, forcedly, and told her that it was quite alright.
It really actually wasn’t, Severus reflected as he searched for an empty compartment on the train. He’d hardly gotten to spend any time with Lily these past few weeks and he’d been looking অগ্রবর্তী to their annual train ride home. He sighed heavily and, finally finding a compartment, flung the door open and plopped down on the seat.
He was প্রদত্ত a few precious moments to mope like the surly teenager he was, before the door was opened again.
“Mind of I sit here? There’s nowhere else.” Severus lifted his head and looked up into the face of one Remus Lupin.
“Sure,” he muttered, pushing himself into a sitting position. Lupin gave him a nod of thanks and took a আসন পরবর্তি to the window.
“I’m sorry,” Severus blurted, unable to contain himself. “For what I said…”
“It’s alright,” Lupin ব্যক্ত tersely, not looking at him. “I can’t say I wouldn’t have come to any different conclusion, had I been you.”
Severus shifted uncomfortably, unsure of what to say to that, and the two sat in silence for the rest of the train ride.
Eileen wasn’t at the platform when Severus got off the train. He sighed heavily and silently thanked Merlin that he had a few pounds on him. He’d be able to call a cab – as unappealing as that sounded – instead of being forced to walk all the way back to his house.
The cab ride wasn’t as bad as the last time. At least this cab looked to have been cleaned recently (Severus tried not to think of why that was) and smelled very faintly of pine. There was even a seatbelt.
The sun was just setting as the cab pulled up the curb. Severus got out slowly – not in any hurry to face his father – slowly unloaded his belongings, paid the cab driver the exact amount, and slouched up the front steps.
“Mum!” he called when he entered. “I’m home!”
His mother poked her head around the corner. Her eyes were blood-shot and she looked thinner, but it was a fairer sight than last time. “Hi, sweetie,” she ব্যক্ত with a smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes. “I was just fixing dinner.” No apologizes for not being there to get him, no explanations. Severus sighed heavily again as he walked into the kitchen. So it was going to be one of those nights.
“What did আপনি make?”
“Shepherd’s pie. It’s just about finished.”
Severus eyed her suspiciously. Shepherd’s pie was his পছন্দ dish. But, as মেষশাবক was so expensive, he rarely ever got it. The fact that she was making it tonight raised a few flags.
“And what’s the occasion?”
Eileen raised her eyebrows, trying to look surprised, as she pulled plates from the heavily scarred cupboards above the sink. “No occasion. I just felt like making it.”
Severus didn’t believe her, but he let it go and helped her set the table. ডিনার was served.
“So,” Eileen asked, “how was school?”
She smiled and ate some more. “You know,” she ব্যক্ত suddenly, as if she’d just had this epiphany. “You’re old enough to get a job.”
Severus blinked. “Yes, I’ve been thinking about getting one.”
“Oh? Any ideas where yet?” She didn’t wait for an answer before saying. “They just opened a new grocer’s about two blocks away. They’re hiring.”
Severus nodded slowly. “So is the new apothecary that just opened in Hogsmeade. Jeebs, the owner, is looking for someone to take inventory, handle orders, and stock the shelves.”
“Hogsmeade? And how would আপনি get there every day?”
“I could floo,” he ব্যক্ত slowly. “Or. Well, Jeebs offered the flat above the store…”
Eileen paused. “I think it would be better if আপনি were…closer to home. And – And I think your father would like it much আরো if আপনি worked at the grocers.”
Severus clenched his jaw. “You mean he’d like it better if I was আরো muggle.”
Severus shook his head and shoveled আরো খাবার into his mouth. The meal had been delicious at first – now that he was older, Eileen hadn’t been so careful with the wine – but now it was bland. “To be honest, mother,” he ব্যক্ত suddenly, unable to control his temper after the exhausting week, “I don’t much care what he wants. I want this job – not only would I be making much আরো than any grocer job, but I’d enjoy it. And I’d be good at it.” He shook his head again and pushed his plate away. “Excuse me,” he said, getting to his feet. He headed to his room and didn’t look back.
He’d expected his mother to tell Tobias about the incident at ডিনার and he wasn’t surprised when, two hours later, he was called down from his room.
Normally the sight of his father – still much larger than himself – intimidated him, especially when he was drunk, like he was now. But tonight it didn’t faze him. Severus was tired of being bullied, tired of losing things he wanted and cared about. This possibility of a job was, really, the only thing he had left and he’d be damned if his father took that away too.
“Wa’s this I hear about আপনি speakin’ to your mother like that?” Tobais slurred, pointing a large finger in Severus’ face.
“I’m not working at a grocer,” Severus growled back. “I want to work at the apothecary.”
Tobias laughed drunkenly and swayed on his feet. “Why? So আপনি can be even আরো freaky than আপনি are now? Ha! I don’ think so! As long as আপনি live un’er this roof, you’ll do as I say! You’ll work at the grocer. Like a normal person.”
Tobias blinked stupidly. “What did আপনি say? What did আপনি say to me?”
“I ব্যক্ত no. I’m not working there.”
CRACK! Severus heard the blow before he felt it. His head spun and he staggered. But he didn’t cry out, nor did he fall. He regained his balance and, trying hard to stare straight, looked up into the shocked face of Tobias. Cracking him good across the head had never failed before and, now that it had, Tobias seemed at a loss as to what to do with his son.
“Look,” Eileen said, stepping অগ্রবর্তী between the two. “Look, why don’t we just sleep on it? Hm? Think it over and then discuss it again in the morning?”
Tobias, still shocked that his son hadn’t দাখিল হয়েছে to him, nodded mutely and allowed his wife to lead him away.
Severus grinned to himself, still fighting off stars. Feeling both pleased and rebellious, he headed to his room, determined to have something go his way for once.