Word Count: 29889
Rating: PG-13 (Realistic depictions and discussions of The Troubles)
Summary: Snape escapes Voldemort’s wrath, but fears he will die anyway, so he flees to a place of safety…
Chapter 3: Reconciliation
Severus shifted slightly, waking slowly, straining his ears to figure out where he was. The only thing he knew for sure was that he was safe, for Patrick wouldn’t have taken him anywhere else. Slipping a hand under his pillow, relief coursed through him as his fingers contacted his wand. The bandage pulled at his neck, tugging at the scabs that had already formed. Wrapping his fingers around the handle of his wand, he cast a spell Poppy had taught him long ago. It caused the bandage to release the wounds and scabs. Sighing in relief, he settled deeper into the pillow, enjoying the soft wool against his skin.
“Twice in one day, you’re a fighter.”
The voice sounded familiar, but Severus was having a problem identifying it.
“If you can, open your eyes. If you can’t, then I’ll ask you later.”
The click of a potion vial connected the voice to a memory. It was the monk who had been helping Patrick earlier. Struggling, he lifted his eyelids and shifted his gaze until he spotted the short, thin man. His light brown hair was liberally streaked with grey, and his blue eyes – not Albus’ baby blue, but robin egg blue – were filled with curiosity.
“Ah, your eyes are black – my niece assured me that you were composed of two colours – black and white, and I see she was right.”
Severus swallowed in an attempt to moisten his throat – it felt like he hadn’t drunk in weeks – and asked, “What’s her name?”
The monk shook his head. “No talking. No moving your head, either. You’ve two holes in the side of your neck and the movement will not help them heal. You’re barely hanging on by a thread, anyway. Father McKinney wouldn’t appreciate me not warning you. Now, I am Brother Ignatius, the healer here. My niece and nephew both graduated Hogwarts years ago—Caroline and Arthur Duffy – both Hufflepuffs.”
Severus closed his eyes, trying to bring the two to mind. Finally, he had them, one year apart. He opened his eyes and raised a single eyebrow. Before he could speak, the monk stopped him.
“Ah, not a word. I don’t want to hear horror stories about them – I’ve seen them in my own Potions Lab, and that was scary enough.” Ignatius held two vials in front of his face. “Now, these were in your robes – Father McKinney took them out.”
Severus felt his eyes widen. In the back of his mind, he knew that Patrick had rifled through his robes, but to see the vials empty…
“I know this one.” Ignatius moved the left-hand vial closer to his eyes. “It held Blood Replenisher. Just how concentrated was it?”
Severus frowned at him. Honestly, the amount of concentration depended upon your standard. Another vial was placed into his field of view. This one was full of Blood Replenisher.
“I used this as the standard,” said the monk. “It’s what I normally work with.”
Severus reached for the vial but stopped when a pale wand pointed at him. A shot a fear went through him and he knew he would never be able to reach his wand in time to protect himself.
“Engorgio.” As soon as the pillow started growing in size, Ignatius fluffed and shaped it, and Severus felt his fear melt away. “There, now you can see without moving too much.” He handed over the vial.
Severus tipped it into the streaming evening sunlight, checking the colour. Opening it, he smelled it and then tasted just a drop.
“With your fingers show me how many times concentrated this one was.” Brother Ignatius held up the empty vial.
Severus held up five fingers. The potion vial was taken from him and he was offered a cup of water.
“Can you hold it?”
To prove he could, Severus lifted it to his lips and drained the glass, handing it back to Ignatius. He waited for it to be filled. He now understood why he felt parched. Blood Replenisher needed liquid in order to work properly.
“I am adding a nutrient potion to this one.” Ignatius passed over the Nutrient Potion for Severus to check, then poured it into the cup. With a raised eyebrow, Severus waited for water to be added. Ignatius filled it and returned the cup to Severus. “You trust my potions?”
Severus gave a slight nod. The man had the same feel about him as Poppy; there was no way he would hurt him. He drained the cup, doing his best not to wrinkle his nose at the flavour.
Ignatius took the cup back and smiled. “Let’s get you to the loo, and then settled back into bed. The Abbot will be here between Vespers and Compline to talk to you.”
Severus was helped to his feet and then across the floor as his legs trembled. The Brother opened the loo door and led him in before stepping out. “I’ll be right outside if you need me. Make a noise – just not with your voice.”
Severus refrained from rolling his eyes. Minutes later he was settled properly into his bed with fresh covers tucked over him.
“I want to change the bandage around your neck. It’s going to hurt, but it needs it.” Ignatius set a clean cotton pad and strips of gauze on the side table next to a salve pot. Severus tensed and waited as the monk gently cut the gauze wrapped around his throat. He caught the surprised look on Ignatius’ face as the old bandage fell away.
“How?” Blue eyes stared at the dried blood crusted on Severus’ neck and then darted to the equally crusted bandage. “I’ve heard tell of a spell that could do that.” His eyes shot up to Severus’. “When you are allowed to talk, will you teach it to me?”
Severus gave the barest of a nod and was given a brilliant smile in return. His neck was then gently cleaned, treated with the bruise salve, and re-bandaged.
“Father McKinney went back to his parish this morning before the paper came in. I know he would like to tell you, but I doubt he will have a moment, so I will. This morning, just around sunrise, Potter defeated You-Know-Who.”
Severus’ eyes widened even as fierce satisfaction rushed through him. “Potter, he is alive?”
“No talking.” Ignatius continued when Severus sighed. “Yes, at least the paper said he was.” He passed the paper over. “Read it yourself – then you will know as much as I about what happened.”
Severus stared at the cover of the Prophet, his eyes not believing the flickering, smouldering ruin in the picture, but his mind told him it was real. His lips compressed as he held back tears from seeing his home destroyed. This castle had been placed into his care, not only by the Dark Lord, but by Albus, and he had failed. Quickly scanning the article, he immediately flipped to the page that listed the dead. With a finger trailing after his eyes, he scanned down the list. Names he was looking for didn’t appear, but names he wasn’t expecting to see popped out at him. His lips compressed into a thin line as guilt filled his heart.
“They died in battle.”
Severus glanced up at the new voice. Its owner’s dark grey cowled habit was set off by a slightly lighter scapular, and the man’s white hair stood out against the other colours. His faded grey eyes just continued the colour scheme. The air of authority clinging to him made Severus believe that the monk was the Abbot come early. Ignatius’ expression assured him that he was right. It was far too early for it to be time for the end of evening prayers; Vespers might not even be started yet.
“They were my responsibility,” Severus rasped.
He could see Ignatius glowering at him, but he ignored it. He knew quite well that the ones in authority wanted information when they came to see you.
“Not at that time, Headmaster. You cannot be held responsible for the deaths that happen during war – only the leaders can and they typically aren’t, either.” The Abbot’s inflection was coloured with experience. Having lived in Ireland for the last thirteen years – even if it was only during the summer – gave Severus a good insight as to what the experience might have been. “The reports say that most of the fighting in the school happened in the public areas, even the final confrontation between Harry Potter and You-Know-Who. It was in the Great Hall. The word coming out is that You-Know-Who fell dead from his own curse as the sun rose.”
Severus smiled, still relieved that Potter had survived and very curious how. Guess it wasn’t his time.
“I see that pleases you. Good. The boy is vouching for you – saying you were on the side of the light this entire time.” Grey eyes studied him before the man nodded. “There will be a Requiem Mass held on Sunday for the fallen. If Brother Ignatius says you are well enough, you may attend. For now, I will leave you to your paper.”
He turned to leave, Ignatius moving to join him before Severus spoke up. “A breviary, please.”
The Abbot frowned in confusion, but Ignatius immediately summoned one from a shelf and handed it to Severus.
“Do you need help finding today’s readings?” When Severus shook his head, Ignatius fixed him with a severe look. “No more talking, and rest when you need to. God will know your intent, but he will not appreciate you speeding up your impending visit.
Severus gave a very shallow nod of assent and watched the two men leave the room.
Ignatius stopped in the doorway of his Infirmary, his eyes fixed on its one patron. The Abbot had walked him back and they found Snape sleeping, the breviary marked with a finger, but shut and resting on the man’s chest. With a brush of his shoulder, the Abbot left him. Ignatius knew the leader of their Abbey would be back in the morning.
Now, leaning against the door, he wondered just what Snape had seen, what he had done to keep the myth of being on You-Know-Who’s side believable. He himself had seen the horrors of war when he had served with the British forces in Europe during Grindelwald’s take over – though he was fighting Hitler. Quirking a grin, he remembered how easy it had been to create an identity the Muggle recruitment office would accept. It was there he first learned the basics of healing – all of it Muggle, but the basics didn’t change no matter if you are magical or not. When he returned home to County Tyrone, he – like many of his fellow soldiers – were recruited into the fight for the independence of the Six Counties. The healing skills that he had acquired on the battlefield were once again used, but this time he was also patching up kids younger than any he had seen on the Continent. One child – barely twelve – had died while he could do nothing. That one little boy had been the catalyst that pushed him back into the Wizarding world and into becoming a certified Healer.
Pushing off the doorframe, he crossed the Infirmary to Snape’s bed and gently removed the book from the man’s grasp. He sat it on the side table next to the basket that held the potions Patrick had removed from the man’s robes. Using his wand, he did a quick scan. The results showed that the antivenin was still fighting in his blood stream, but there was at least enough blood there to provide a battleground.
He tightened his lips in disgust aimed solely at himself. He had reacted poorly last night when Patrick came to him. Healers heal all those who need help; it didn’t matter if they were Orange, Green, Light, or Dark. It didn’t matter if they were for or against the current government. There was a hurt body and you took care of it.
Shaking the thoughts from his head, he cast an alert ward on his patient and headed to his potions lab. There were a few things he needed to finish up before Compline.
It was early Sunday morning, around his usual time, when Patrick woke up. As with the last two days, he moved as if he was in a cloud. He had said his prayers – that was the only time when things seemed clear – and spoke with people. Parishioners that never came by except for Mass, stopped by to talk to him. They didn’t come in droves, but for the last two days he hadn’t truly had a moment alone except during Compline and when he went to bed. He tried to talk to them, to counsel them, to help them through the possible loss of Severus, but he had no clue how effective he was being.
Picking up his stole – the violet one he wore for confessions – he stopped, his heart constricting and tears threatening once again. Severus was the only one who came for Confession at this time in the morning. A glance out his front window showed no one coming to see him. It took but a split second to come to a decision. He pivoted on one foot and disappeared with a loud crack.
He appeared in the courtyard of the Abbey and quickly slipped into the building, the pathway to the Infirmary well marked and easy to traverse. He could have Apparated into the Infirmary, but that would have alerted Ignatius that he was direly needed. Slipping through the door, his eyes were drawn to the only occupied bed. Even in the dim light of early morning, he knew it was Severus. Quietly he drew to the bedside and settled into the wooden chair – the one that Ignatius moved for him Friday morning. He would sit here for just a moment and reassure himself that Severus was doing as well as could be expected.
A soft voice broke the silence. “Came for the details, Father?”
Black eyes caught his before darting to the stole he was still holding. A dark eyebrow raised in query.
A smile, something Patrick hadn’t even realized he hadn’t done since Thursday, curled his lips. “No … well, yes and no. It won’t be a confession.” He tucked the stole under his scapular, looping it about the cincture around his waist so it wouldn’t fall. “You have already been granted absolution for your sins.”
Severus looked up at the ceiling as he spoke. “I would like to do something, though – if I live. Something to demonstrate my remorse for the actions I took.”
“We’ll think of something.” Patrick chuckled slightly, surprising himself again. “It should be easier than normal.”
Severus looked back at him again. “Indeed, it should be. I can openly do so now, not cloak it in shadow.” A small smile curled his lips, and then he sighed deeply. “Brother Ignatius and the Abbot said that Potter lived.”
“He did – one less thing to weigh you down.” Patrick leant forwards, closing the distance between them so Severus didn’t have to speak up. “Now, can you tell me what happened that evening? I want to hear about the rest of the month as well, but…” He trailed off, trying to figure out how to say he wasn’t searching for gossip, but wanting to know how Severus ended up on his kitchen floor.
“But you have always been a curious creature and want to understand the night that you played such a key role in – at least to me,” Severus finished for him. Patrick nodded. “It was late – the Fat Friar and I were parting ways.” He stopped for a moment, obviously considering something before continuing. “The Friar and I have been meeting all month regularly for Lauds and Vespers, and if we could – the other Liturgical Hours, except Compline. He said, and I agreed, that he couldn’t hear my confession as he was a ghost and didn’t know if the Seal would work. I was speaking to him about where to meet up for Lauds – we like the Astronomy Tower, as it is bathed in the morning light and is secluded and protected.”
Patrick couldn’t help the smile that filled his face as a small seed of anger in his chest unraveled and vanished. He would always be grateful to Albus Dumbledore for showing Severus that forgiveness could be found and earned, but no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t forgive the man for forcing Severus to kill him – to commit a mortal sin – because he would remember how desolate and broken his friend became, and anger would stir once more. He had prayed and prayed, and now it seemed his prayers were answered. If Severus could mention the Astronomy Tower and actually meet up there with someone, then his friend was healing.
“I had made it back to the Headmaster office, and the battle started. Albus’ portrait was telling me that I needed to get the message to Potter, and I knew I needed to get the students out of the school. Sometime in all the rush and chaos, I ended up facing Minerva’s wand. Filius joined her. I deflected everything they sent my way and had to flee the school. I knew Potter was in those walls, but … I refused to hurt them. They didn’t know I was on their side; they saw me as their enemy, but I knew I wasn’t. I flew away into the night and eventually ended up in the Shrieking Shack with the Dark Lord. He was harbouring the illusion that I was the master of Albus’ wand – something I didn’t change. So, he ordered my death. He didn’t disarm me, didn’t use his own power to overpower me as the wand requires – no … he ordered Nagini to kill me.”
“I am thanking the Lord for that small favour, Severus.” Patrick squeezed his arm. “That snake bite was one we could treat. You had the antivenin and the portkey with you, and Brother Ignatius had the healing skills. If the Dark Lord had done something else, I doubt you would be here now.”
“The Lord was merciful – not Voldemort,” Severus spat the name, “so I was able to see Potter. The boy was there the entire time, at least long enough to see the snake attack. He and the other two. I couldn’t tell him – like I said last time – so I gave him the memories. When he left, I came to you.”
They both sat quietly for a moment, remembering what they could of that night.
Shaking the dark thoughts from his brain, Patrick looked Severus over. “You seem to be doing better.”
“Brother Ignatius is still acting worried, but the Abbot said I could go to the Requiem Mass today if he allowed it.” Severus rolled to his side carefully, so he was fully facing Patrick. “I want to go to St. Mary’s. I want to sit in my pew with Simon and listen to Ellen sing. Let me come, Patrick. I know I will be fine.”
“I have to get Ignatius’ permission – I can’t just take you out of his care. He will worry.” Patrick stood, his fingers lingering on Severus’ arm. “Give me just a moment. If he says yes, then we’ll get you dressed and we’ll go.”
A third voice spoke. “Yes, but he has to have a portkey directly back to here.”
Patrick jerked his head around and stared at Ignatius sitting just two beds over. A quick glance showed Severus wasn’t surprised. Ignatius walked over towards them and held out a small stone – it looked just like the portkey that Patrick had used last time. “The Abbot was telling me last night that the Ministry is after his whereabouts. They haven’t started searching the churches yet, but just give them time.”
Ignatius pulled the bedcovers back and pointed his wand at Severus. “Let’s transfigure that Infirmary nightshirt into something suitable. I know, transfigured clothes are not the best, but we can’t have you show up like that.”
Patrick shook his head and held out his hand. “Put the wand away – I brought his clothes from Friday. We’ll leave the outer robe here, but the rest is what he wears to church, anyway.”
In less than ten minutes they were ready to leave.
Severus looked at Ignatius, his face bland. “The tale you heard—I would appreciate it if it didn’t spread, at least not until the primary participants can know the full details.”
Ignatius nodded while he spoke. “Of course. Now, the moment you get more tired, come back. And Snape?” Severus raised an eyebrow in inquiry. “Stop talking.” He turned to Patrick. “You can Apparate from here.” With a wave, Ignatius stepped back and watched them leave.
Arriving at the rectory, Patrick took Severus to the vestibule of his church. He wanted to settle Severus into a pew while the church was still empty. Then, hopefully, any parishioners that noticed him would show the appropriate decorum…and hopefully Severus would also obey Ignatius’ orders.
Severus straightened his coat and walked out among the pews. Patrick was hovering near his elbow, and he truly couldn’t fault his friend for that. It was only two days ago that he appeared in the man’s kitchen at death’s door. Sitting in his favorite spot, he leant back and relaxed as the peace of the church filled him.
Patrick sat next to him and pressed the portkey into his hand. “Use it if you need to. Do not make Brother Ignatius regret granting you permission.”
Slipping the small stone into his coat pocket, Severus gave an infinitesimally small nod to the priest.
Patrick patted his arm before standing again. “I am going to change into my vestments. Stay quiet, stay still, and remember – God will understand why you are not speaking, standing, kneeling, and all the other things. I will be bringing Communion out to you, so do not walk up front.” One last stern look, and he walked away.
It wasn’t long before the other parishioners started trickling into the church. Simon Kirwan was one of the first to notice him.
“Severus,” his voice cracked slightly as he whispered, “are ya okay? Are ya supposed ta be here?” Faded brown eyes searched him from head to toe, pausing on the bandage that stood out against his neck.
“Simon,” Severus smiled toward the old man and nodded towards the pew. “I am going to break orders so you can let the others know. I’m not allowed to talk or move very much.”
“Then hush, I’ve got ya taken care of.” Simon settled into his normal place, a smile curling his lips as he took in the smile that remained on Severus’ face. “I’ll make sure no one tries ta make ya talk, and that ya remember to stay settled.”
Knowing that the man would do just that, Severus relaxed once again and waited for Mass to begin.
True to his word, Simon fielded all the inquiries that people asked when they noticed him. He also prevented people from attempting to touch him, hug him, and anything else. The congregation settled down when Ellen began the opening hymn. The black vestments looked out of place on Patrick, but at the same time, they looked right. The solemn tone of the Mass was set between the hymn and his demeanour. Severus listened to the psalms, the readings, and the Gospel with relish. It had been a month since he had had a chance to do so, and part of him wished the Fat Friar could be here with him, for he knew the ghost would love it, too. It was during the Homily that Severus fought his tears as Father McKinney named each one of the dead, regardless of which side they’d been on. Severus had friends and people whom he respected on both sides, and it made him glad that his friend, who had looked directly at him when he read the fallen Death Eaters, remembered. That Patrick incorporated all of them into his homily, not just as a list of names, but as part of the sermon, was that much more of a blessing.
As the Mass continued, Severus felt his strength fading. The sharp look that Patrick gave him when he offered him the Blessed Sacrament warned him to go back.
Simon’s words at the end of the final hymn were far more abrupt. “Get back, Severus. Ye need ta be in bed.” Simon glared at the children who were rushing about, getting too close to him. “You’ve paid yer respects, now don’t make it so we have’ta have another Requiem Mass fer ya.”
Still fully vested, Patrick appeared at Severus’ side. “Go – you can leave from right where you are. God won’t mind.” He picked up Severus’ hand and rested it over the portkey. “Go.”
“Thank you for acknowledging them all,” whispered Severus as his fingers tightened around the stone through the pocket material.
“You’re welcome, my friend.” Patrick stepped back, moving Simon with him. “Now, head back.”
Activating the portkey, Severus fell into the bed he had left that morning. It took but a moment to be helped back into his nightshirt by a scolding Brother Ignatius.
It was Tuesday before Brother Ignatius allowed Severus out of bed again for extended periods of time. Severus knew he had pushed it on Sunday, but he had no regrets. Crossing the Infirmary, he enjoyed the feel of his robes moving about him, and he knew a smile was turning his lips. He knocked on the door that Brother Ignatius had pointed out to him and waited.
His smile grew at the sight of the Potions Lab behind the door. Sure, it wasn’t state of the art – his personal one at Hogwarts was slightly better – but it was a Potions Lab. That made it the perfect room.
“Ah, Snape, come in and shut the door.” Ignatius gestured to the cauldron in the draft from the door. “It’s sensitive to temperature changes.”
With much alacrity, Severus entered the room and shut the door. He knew far better than to hurt a potion brewing.
Ignatius gestured to the room. “I know it isn’t what you are used to; there’s nothing in here that can even claim to be top of the line—” The rest his statement was cut off by a negating gesture from Severus.
“It’s not the equipment that determines the quality of a potion.” Severus peered into the cauldron, noting it was a Blood Replenisher. “A person can have all the best ingredients and tools, but if he doesn’t have the knowledge and practice, his potion will be worthless.” Moving around the room, he looked over the ingredients that were tucked away, stored in some of the most interesting methods. “But, the converse is true as well.” Here he turned to face the monk. “If the mind and the hand know and are practised, then it doesn’t matter what the tools are, nor the quality of the ingredients; the potion made will be the absolute best possible.”
Ignatius’ surprised but grateful expression told him that the monk accepted his words. Severus glanced about for a list but didn’t see one. “Is there anything I can help with?”
Ignatius nodded. “I am a Healer with training in Potions.” He gestured to the multitude of ingredients that surrounded them. “Can you, as a Potions Master, make a stronger pain killer with these? Or a good fever reducer? You’ve taken the ones I know how to make.”
His self-depreciating tone had Severus trying not to growl. “I am a Potions Master with training in Healing. We both have our areas of specialties. To answer your question, yes I can. What are you expecting to happen?”
“Here in Ireland, we are still at war.” Ignatius studied Severus’ face for a long moment. “The Six Counties are still under the control of the British Ministry – both Muggle and Wizarding. Even with the Good Friday Agreement, there is still tension, especially here in the Wizarding World.”
Severus raised an eyebrow. “Good Friday Agreement?”
“It was signed this past Good Friday – April tenth – but it was only signed by the Muggle Ministry. The British Ministry of Magic was … too occupied to concern themselves with it.”
Severus snorted lightly at that. “So, the wizards of the Six Counties don’t know what’s going to happen.”
“Basically, though I hear tell that the new Minister is trying to handle that. I’m expecting one side or the other to take offence and then I’ll get some of the victims here. I typically do.”
Severus narrowed his eyes in thought. “Then you need a potion to counter the effects of tetanus as well.” He knew that nail bombs and other shrapnel explosives were used, and it didn’t matter if you were Muggle or Wizard—those could tear a person apart.
“There’s a potion for that?” Ignatius stared at him hopefully.
Nodding, Severus ran the ingredients he spotted through his mind, making sure all he needed were there. “Yes, I patented it years ago, but not many people needed it, so it’s not widely known.”
“If you could brew some of that as well…” Ignatius trailed off as Severus nodded his head.
Severus looked up from the group of cauldrons he was just finishing with, a hand subconsciously running over the habit Brother Ignatius had given to wear while his own clothes were being cleaned, but it wasn’t disapproval that graced the Abbot’s face as the man entered the room. No, there was a slight upturn of the man’s lips as he stopped just inside of the door.
“Headmaster Snape.” the Abbot forestalled him from speaking, not giving Severus a moment to correct him about the title. “I have authorised you to take the small room beside this lab. Your bed in the Infirmary is now occupied. Brother Mark has moved your belongings there for you already.”
Severus shot him a surprised look, but nodded. He had no qualms about being closer to the Potions Lab. “That’s fine.”
Brother Ignatius slipped into the room, barely fitting around the Abbot, and gestured to the cauldrons before asking, “Severus, I need you in the Infirmary, can you come?” Relief filled his face when Severus nodded.
The Abbot shot him a look. “They might recognise him. Surely the other Brothers can give the same aid?”
Ignatius shook his head. “Severus has been trained in the Healing Arts, the same as I have been trained in the Art of Potions.” Ignatius frowned at Severus, taking in his appearance, before speaking again. “He’s wearing a habit. Let’s let him use a hood, he can wear it to cover his face, and we’ll say he can’t speak except for spells.”
Severus shook his head. “I’ll agree to the hood, but not to lying about what I can and cannot do. I just won’t speak and let them come to their own conclusion.”
Both Ignatius and Severus looked towards the Abbot for approval. He nodded his permission, causing Ignatius to sigh in relief. It took less than a minute to have Severus dressed and hood pulled low over his face. Severus drew out his wand and ran it over the edge of the material.
“What?” Ignatius touched the cloth, only to be surprised that it didn’t move under his fingers.
“A spell to keep the hood in place, and it also allows me to see through it.” Severus headed for the door, refusing to explain where and why he learned the spell. “Shall we?”
Ignatius headed back to the Infirmary with Severus not a step behind him. “Start on the far side, just do what you can.”
“What happened?” asked Severus.
“A confrontation between the Orange and the Green. The British Ministry of Magic has finally started making some headway on peace comparable to the Muggle one, and one of the sides had issues with it. We are taking care of victims from both sides of the confrontation.” Ignatius opened the back door. “I’ll call you by your name – there’s a saint named Severus, so it won’t draw any unwanted attention. The moment you feel tired or drained, retire. The last thing I want is for you to relapse – I just got you on your feet.”
Severus stepped through the door and heard the sounds of suffering and smelled the pungent odour of blood. Crossing the room, he looked at the patient in the first bed. Nails were embedded in the man’s arm and leg and he appeared to be hexed with Furnunculus. A quick counter-hex helped to alleviate that issue, but the nails were going to take a bit more finesse. Wishing for his own robes where he could carry his potions about with him, he crossed the room to gather what he needed. Working down the row of beds, he treated similar wounds along with repairing numerous hexes.
A tap on his arm drew his attention to one of the monks whose name he didn’t know.
“Brother Ignatius wishes to consult you.” The monk moved off to another patient waiting at the door as Severus walked to the bed where Ignatius was looking very worried.
Ignatius didn’t waste time with greetings; he just gestured to the man lying on the bed who was looking just as bad as Severus surely did when he arrived. “Is there anything you can do?”
Casting a couple diagnostic spells, Severus shook his head. “I can hopefully keep him anchored in this world long enough for the Last Rites to be administered.”
A bleak look crossed the Brother’s face before he dropped his head. “Please do what you can.” Moving from the bed, he stopped next to another monk, who came to take his place. With a slight nod towards Severus, that monk began the sacraments.
Severus rested his wand tip against the dying man’s arm and mentally chanted a spell that he had never planned to use again. The last time he had seen it performed, it was used to prolong the torture of Voldemort’s latest play toy. Even as he struggled to hold the soul there, he could feel it slipping away from him. The words of the Rites began to blur as his energy was sapped from him. Holding on as tightly as he could, he heard a quiet Amen, and then he lost his hold allowing the soul to fly away. Breathing heavily, he leant against the side of the bed.
Severus looked up at the Brother who smiled towards him.
“I was able to finish with the Anointing.” The monk reached out a hand towards him. “Are you okay? Do you need to rest?”
Severus gave a quick shake of his head and pulled himself back up to his full height. There were still people who needed help.
Later, after those who could go home had, and those who couldn’t were tucked in, Ignatius cornered him in his room and ran a simple diagnostic over him.
“You did too much, Severus.” The blue eyes pinned him to his new bed. “Rest. I will check you in the morning; if you are still this weak, you won’t be allowed in the Lab tomorrow.”
“Ignatius.” His complaint was cut off by the look that Severus swore was taught during Healer training. “Brother Stephen wants to know what spell you used to keep young Malone alive.”
Severus shook his head. “It’s too dark; no one here should ever know it exists, much less know its name.”
Ignatius sighed, but nodded. “I’ll let him know. Now, get some rest.”
With that, the monk left, closing the door after him.
Later, Lynn O’Brien would apologise for not warning Patrick. She would explain that she was torn between her loyalty to the village and to her husband, Gregory. She hadn’t known exactly how the British Ministry would act when Gregory reported information about Severus Snape, but one thing was for sure, she hadn’t expected them to send Aurors to their little village to demand information from the priest. Patrick would forgive her just as the same as he would forgive Gregory, but that was in the future. Right now, he stepped out on his front porch as he watched two men dressed in red and one dressed in rich brown being escorted to his door by Gregory O’Brien.
“Father McKinney.” O’Brien nodded towards the priest before gesturing to the men following him. “They’ve some questions for ya.”
“Good morning, gentlemen.” Patrick smiled at the visitors. “How can I help you today?”
A cold feeling curled around Patrick’s heart as he took in the patches on the red robes and the one on the brown. The two Ministries had finally succeeded in working together – at least well enough to send Aurors to collect Severus. He had known that his friend’s whereabouts would get back to the Ministries the moment he mentioned he was alive, and that Severus’ appearance in the church would guarantee this visit. Casting a quick look at O’Brien’s face, he could see the defiance aimed at him in his expression.
The older British Auror stepped slightly ahead of the other two. “We’re here to arrest Severus Snape. Turn him over.”
Patrick watched as the man’s gruff abrupt tone earned him a frown from the Irish Auror and a surprised look from O’Brien. Folding his hands under his scapular, he forced his smile to stay on his face. “I am sorry, but Severus Snape is not here.”
The black-haired Irish Auror searched his face as if hunting for clues, but the younger of the British Aurors stepped forwards, a snarl on his face. “Give him over, priest! This man is a wanted criminal.”
The smile slipped off Patrick’s face for a just a brief moment only to return just as bright as before. “He is not here; how can I turn him over?”
The Irish Auror stepped forward, his brown eyes shooting a warning look at his young companion before addressing Patrick. “Father, I am Auror Gillingham, sent by the Irish Ministry of Magic to find Headmaster Severus Snape and turn him over to the British Ministry. Auror Smith,” he gestured to the older Auror, “and Auror Patterson,” he gestured towards the younger one, “were sent by their Ministry to escort the man back to stand trial for crimes committed as a Death Eater. We were told that Headmaster Snape attended Mass here last Sunday, is this true?”
“Auror Gillingham, I am Father Patrick McKinney.” Patrick glanced back at the other two before returning his attention to the Irishman. “Severus Snape was here last Sunday for the Requiem Mass, but he is no longer in our village. If you wish to search the grounds of the church, be my guest.” With that he stepped aside, allowing them access to his door.
Smith growled low in his throat. “Our informant told us you are friends with the scum and that you knew his whereabouts. Just take us to him.”
Patterson moved to stand beside his partner. “Or we’ll have to arrest you for interfering with the administration of justice.”
Gillingham’s shoulders tightened, O’Brien’s eyes widened in disbelief, and Patrick lost his smile completely.
“Of course you would.” Patrick reined in the rest of his sarcastic answer. He had been listening to Severus and had had one too many run-ins with the British Aurors when he was younger. Stepping off his porch, he brushed a hand across O’Brien’s shoulder, offering him forgiveness for bringing these men to his door. “O’Brien, please let the village know that I should be back in time to perform the Tully baby’s baptism.”
Walking past the Aurors, he headed out the churchyard gate. “This way, sirs. If you want him, we have quite a walk ahead of us. I do hope you have comfortable shoes.” Striking off, he didn’t wait to see if they followed him, but he heard their steps.
“You are here as guests of the Irish Ministry.” Gillingham was speaking softly to the others, but the words still reached Patrick’s ears. “You cannot arrest anyone besides Severus Snape. You cannot threaten our people.”
Patrick felt a small stirring of thankfulness. Of course, Gillingham could arrest him on the same charges if he felt he had the evidence to do so, but it was nice to know that he wouldn’t be at the British Auror’s mercy.
“Can’t we floo there, or Apparate?” Patterson called out to him when they reached the centre of the village.
Patrick turned back to face them. “I cannot Apparate all three of you to his location, and no, we don’t have permission to floo there. So, we walk.”
Gillingham looked resigned as he asked. “How far, Father?”
“If we cut across the fields and through the forests, about an hour and a half. Two if the river is swollen – we’ll have to move to a different ford. If we travel by road? Then it will be at least five hours. Since I have a baptism in three hours, I plan on the first choice.” Patrick noticed the Aurors taking in the unwelcome and almost threatening feelings coming from the villagers that were gathering about. He made a subtle calming motion with his hand, hoping things wouldn’t escalate. He caught the grateful look tossed his way by Gillingham as the villagers relaxed. “Now, shall we?”
Gillingham sighed as he nodded. The other two still looked mutinous, but started walking again. Patrick continued on his way, hoping that this would somehow end peacefully.
Michael Gillingham was not happy to be assigned on this particular mission. As soon as he saw the two British Aurors, he had wondered if they were calm enough to fulfil this particular mission. Yesterday’s attack had left relations between the two Ministries strained, and the Aurors sent in needed to be as much diplomats as law enforcers. These two were far from that. It didn’t help that the person they were dealing with was a priest.
He was grateful for the lack of crowds when the two threatened Father McKinney at the church, though he knew that tale would be spread about soon. When they walked through the village, he was wary, his guard as high as it could be without drawing his wand. One wrong look, one wrong word to their priest, would bring most of the village down upon them. Relief had washed through him when the priest calmed the crowds, and Gillingham was not sure if the British Aurors even realised just what could have happened. Smith maybe, but he doubted that the younger one had a clue of the deeper dynamics at play here.
Cutting close to the stone walls that separated the fields, he watched the priest just as closely as he watched the visitors to their country. Father McKinney did not seem truly worried. It was in the set of his shoulders, the way he walked – his steps hurried but not frantic. This lack of concern convinced Gillingham that Severus Snape was not leaving this country today, and that caused him concern since the two Aurors wouldn’t like that.
“How much farther?” Patterson groused as he skirted a patch of briers, causing Gillingham to perk up his ears in hopes that the Father would tell them something besides ‘follow me’. The deer trail that Father McKinney led them on was skinny and almost non-existent in some places.
“We’ve about thirty more minutes, as long as the tributary up ahead is fordable.” Father McKinney pushed through a clump of thick brush, picking up a long stick as he did.
Gillingham couldn’t help but tense for a moment. That stick could be a weapon, though he calmed slightly, trusting the Father not to use it as one. In less than a minute he learnt the reason for the stick. The priest was testing the depth of the fast flowing water of the river. Walking along the bank, he tapped the stick on the bottom, stopping where the water was shallower than the rest.
“We’ll ford here, follow me precisely. You might want to hold up your robes.” The priest pulled his habit up to his knees, showing off skinny pale legs before stepping into the stream.
Following his example, Gillingham cringed as the cold water soaked through his trousers, but he made sure to follow the priest as he moved forward using the stick to test the depth as he went. He almost lost his footing on the slippery rock as the fast current tried to pull him with it. The other two followed him, and all used a drying charm when they reached the other bank. Twenty minutes later, Gillingham had a good idea where they were going. He had never walked to the Abbey of the Beloved, but the trees and the feel of the area were becoming more and more familiar.
He admired the tall spire rising above them as Father McKinney knocked on a heavy wooden gate. A slot shot open, showing only the eyes of the man behind it.
“I am Father McKinney escorting three Aurors to see Severus Snape.” The priest stepped back as the slot was closed, and turned to them. “We wait now.”
Smith snorted. “We’ve travelled forever, and now we have to wait for them to open the door?”
“You told them who we were so they could get Snape away,” snarled Patterson, his wand clenched tight in his hand and tapping against his leg.
Gillingham moved between Patterson and McKinney. “We are at the Abbey of the Beloved. The Abbot must be told of our arrival and grant us permission to enter.”
It was not long before the door was opened and they were permitted into the small courtyard. Gillingham immediately greeted the Abbot. “Brother John, thank you for seeing us today.”
“Auror Gillingham, I was not expecting your company, but the presence of the two you are escorting are not a surprise.” The Abbot turned and watched as two men entered the courtyard from the north side of the compound.
The two British Aurors drew their wands the moment they saw the tall man walking with Brother Ignatius. Gillingham frowned and shook his head, causing them to lower them. Looking back at the group, the Irish Auror was shocked to see the formation the monks of the Beloved had created around Snape. Brother Ignatius stood on his right, with Father McKinney on his left, and behind him stood Brother John. Filling in the space between the Healer, the Abbot, and McKinney were the other monks of the Abbey. He hadn’t seen the other eight come into the courtyard, but he knew that this man was something special to them if all the monks stood by him.
Smith stepped forward, his gaze scanning the group. “Severus Snape, you are under arrest. We were sent here to return you to Britain to stand trial for your actions as a Death Eater.”
Gillingham watched as the man in the middle of the triangle of clergy pivoted about and knelt at the feet of the Abbot.
“I ask for Sanctuary, Abbot. Please, grant me the protection of the house of my Lord and Father.” Snape’s voice was soft, but his words were perfectly understandable.
Gillingham couldn’t help but feel impressed – the man had waited until now to request protection. Shifting his attention, he noticed the way Brother Ignatius was watching the kneeling man. Experience told him that Snape was a patient, but one that the monk liked and respected.
“Severus Snape, you have requested Sanctuary from this Abbey. As Abbot, I grant you your request. From this moment until forty days have passed, you shall be safe from all harm.” The Abbot watched as Snape stood before transferring his attention back to Gillingham.
Gillingham waited for Smith to finish the formal acceptance of the Sanctuary request, but the words didn’t come. Narrowing his eyes at the man, he shifted his attention to Snape. “Severus Snape, you have requested and been granted Sanctuary here at the Abbey of the Beloved. You have forty days to decide if you wish to stand trial without fear of the death penalty or if you wish to accept abjuration of the realm and remain in permanent exile from Britain. We shall return in forty days for your decision if you have not already acted.”
Before he could signal the other two to leave, Smith strode forward. “No! I cannot accept this request. The British Ministry does not accept a claim of Sanctuary for murderers and those who commit treason,” he growled. “Severus Snape, you are to come with us now.”
Gillingham moved towards the monks, his wand slipping into his hand, though it was still pointed towards the ground. “You are not on British soil, Auror Smith. Mr Snape has been granted Sanctuary by Irish law, and shall remain here protected by that law.”
Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted the monks closing ranks around Snape even though the man was glaring at them.
“That scum … that git cannot escape justice this way!” Patterson pointed his wand at Snape, its tip glowing red.
Smith quickly pushed his partner’s wand down until the tip was aimed at the ground. “Gillingham is right, there is nothing we can do at this moment, Patterson, but never you fear, the man will be brought to justice.” The last part was snarled at Snape.
Watching them carefully, Gillingham spoke up. “Brother John, may we use your floo to return to the Ministry?”
The Abbot moved until he stood in front of Snape, and with a flick of his hand, the monks and the priest took the man to safety. “Of course. I believe you remember where it is, Auror Gillingham?”
The Irishman nodded and herded the other two towards it. He was right; this mission was nearly a catastrophe. He was very grateful for the monks and the priest that prevented this from becoming another dark mark between the two countries.