Sanctuary: Chapter 4

By Sheankleor

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…

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Image Credit: Castlebar Parish

Severus settled back onto his bed, and let Patrick sit next to him. Brother Ignatius leant against the wall, his blue eyes holding the same resolved look as the other monks crowding the small room.

“Abjure your allegiance to the UK, and stay here.” Patrick’s request was a quiet plea.

Severus knew Patrick understood what he was asking; his friend had listened not only to Severus’ words but his tones for more than a decade. He thought of the house he owned in England near Simon’s, of the small potions lab in the basement, the shop on the ground level, and his living area above it. Neat gardens surrounded the place, maintained by different people during the school year. During the summer the shop was open, selling potions not only to his village but to the magical people in the ones surrounding them. Abjuration wouldn’t be as much of a hardship as it was for others, but it would still hurt. He needed to see the professors at Hogwarts; he had to give others a chance to clear the air between them. A quick look at the monks that filled the room showed they thought abjuration was the best thing.

Sighing lightly, he explained, “I need to make amends, and I can’t do that here.”

Understanding flashed across Brother Stephen’s face before he tipped his head to the side. “Join us. Not the best reason to become a monk, but it is an old one. They cannot touch you if you do, and before you take your vows, you can go see the ones you need to make amends with. You have forty days—that is almost your entire Observership.”

Severus was surprised to see the welcome on the other men’s faces. “Observership?”

Brother Mark smiled. “That means you’ll be kept here, living and working with us. You’ll learn what it means to be a monk, and I’ll be the one in charge of watching you. I’ll be observing you to see if you show the ability to live our communal life, and if you’ve a true vocation. The others will also watch you, and then at the end, we will talk about our observations and you will discuss your feelings.”

Severus gave a small shake of his head. “I don’t think I’ve the proper … mentality to be a monk.”

The Abbot spoke up from doorway, the monks between him and Severus squishing together to make room for him to enter. “So speaks a man who has been attending every prayer service faithfully, even when he wasn’t supposed to be there. One who requested a breviary on what could very well have been his deathbed, and knew how to find the days and the Hours sections. One who pushes himself past his endurance, risking his health so recently gained, so that he might keep others alive, or at least help them find their way to Christ’s side more easily.”

Severus murmured, “That’s no different from anything else I’ve done over the last seventeen years. My breviary was at Hogwarts, or I wouldn’t have had to request one. All I truly wish is to talk to the professors at Hogwarts and a few others – those I have wronged personally.”

“If you could do that, you would then abjure and settle here permanently?” Patrick’s gaze scanned Severus’ face.

“I would.” Relief filled Severus as soon as those words left his lips. It felt good to have a decision made.

The Abbot’s grey eyes softened. “I can arrange meetings for you, but there cannot be a multitude of people.”

Severus’ brow creased as he thought of those he could invite that he wished to see. None of the Death Eaters or their associates would be willing or able to come, he was sure. “It’d be no more than twenty people, and they’d most likely arrive in two groups and at different times.”

“Write them a letter explaining why they are invited here, and I’ll include it with my invitation.” The Abbot shooed the monks out of the room, leaving only Patrick and Ignatius.

Patrick stood. “I’ll bring some of the clothes you have at home tomorrow. I was planning on doing so today, but we had visitors.” Leaning down, he rested a hand on Severus’ shoulder. “I have to go, the Tullys added a new one and his baptism is this afternoon.”

Severus squeezed his hand before smiling. “Offer Miriam and Tim my congratulation.”

“I will.” Patrick waved as he headed out.

Ignatius studied Severus for a moment longer before sighing. “Settle down now and rest. You’re still not completely recovered from yesterday. I’ll bring you a quill, ink, and some parchment.”

With a wave, he walked out leaving Severus to the peace and quiet.

§§§§§

Minerva,

I hope this finds you and the other staff members of Hogwarts as well as can be expected. In this packet you’ll find an invitation from the Abbot of the Abbey of the Beloved. I’m writing to explain why Brother John has invited you to visit. I am willing to meet with all the members of the staff so we can discuss this school year and the events at the end of the previous school year. If you have anything that you believe should be brought to my notice, then take this opportunity to do so. Please request the Heads of House to gather complaints from their students – this can be in writing or orally – so they can be addressed at the same time.

Minerva, we both know you should be the Headmistress of Hogwarts, but I have been unable to offer my resignation. I was not expecting this to be an issue – that you would acquire the title at the time of my demise – so I have not investigated the proper way to step down. If you would bring the forms or tell me the appropriate procedure when you come visit, or mail them to me here at the Abbey, I would appreciate it.

Lastly, I am including the letters for the others who are invited to the Abbey, in the hopes that you will deliver them. I highly doubt they would accept a post from me. Yes, I know that some are students, but I believe they deserve a moment to express their grievances due to either the positions they held this past year or because of an offence committed upon them by me personally.

Thank you,

Severus Snape

§§§§§

The Fat Friar watched as Kingsley Shacklebolt, Interim Minister, paced the Headmaster’s office, his attention darting between the ghosts, assembled professors, and the portraits. Kingsley finally focused on Minerva. “Severus has been found.”

Gasps sounded through the room; even the portraits reacted. Albus leant against his frame. “Make his trial tomorrow, in front of the entire Wizengamot, and don’t let him be placed in Azkaban. Hold him in a Ministry Cell if they need to lock him up somewhere.”

Minerva glared at the old Headmaster, still mad that he had waited until the Saturday after the Battle at Hogwarts to inform her, the other surviving Order members, and the professors about Severus’ allegiance and just what he had been doing last year. “The Ministry will not treat him kindly, you know that Albus.”

“It doesn’t matter anyway.” Kingsley sighed as everyone focused on him once again. “The Aurors who found him didn’t return with him.”

The Friar beamed. Severus had a plan, that he knew, and it seemed as if it included somewhere safe. He wondered if the Headmaster had claimed Sanctuary.

Hooch grinned. “He’s too good for them? Sent ’em back with their tails between their legs?”

Hagrid frowned at her before asking, “How many did they send? Were they expectin’ ter find him?”

Kingsley shook his head. “There was an informant that sent the Ministry information about Severus’ possible whereabouts. They sent two Aurors in to gather information, and found someone who could take them right to him.”

Hagrid’s frown showed what he thought of that. The Friar also narrowed his eyes. He knew that it was wrong to hide a wanted criminal, but Severus was much more than that – or rather he wasn’t even a criminal. He was just perceived as such.

“The thing is, he was somewhere they couldn’t bring him back from,” Kingsley continued.

“Where?” Minerva asked as she let an owl in. The bird dropped a packet onto her desk and then flew back out.

“I can’t say; it’s locked up with secrecy oaths. The Irish Ministry of Magic doesn’t want it to leak out here and have vigilante groups hunting him down, disrupting their country.” Kingsley dismissed that with a wave of his hand. “There are a number of people in the Ministry that think the two Aurors are making it up to cover up their failure to capture him.”

The Fat Friar drifted close to the desk and spotted the seal on the packet. A smile filled his face. “Did they say he requested and was granted Sanctuary?”

Kingsley whipped his head about and stared at the ghost. “How… how did you guess that?”

The Fat Friar nodded at the seal. “It’s from the Abbey of the Beloved, and I cannot think of another person who would be there.”

“I can’t imagine Severus Snape in one,” Vector mumbled loud enough to be heard.

The Friar just smiled as Minerva opened the packet and stared at the scrolls that tumbled out. She picked up one addressed to her. “That’s Severus’ handwriting.”

Cracking the seal, she scanned the message before looking at the staff. “He … he is … he wants us to go there and talk with him. More specifically, he wants us to air our grievances, though he doesn’t come out and say that. If you are a Head of House, he wants us to compile a list of student complaints to be discussed.”

She turned and cast a quick look at Albus before shifting her attention to Kingsley. “He also wishes to know the proper procedure to resign as Headmaster.”

Kingsley gestured to the rest of the scrolls. “What else is there? Anything at all we can use to help him?” Part of him hoped for an invitation as well, even though he knew it would be a political nightmare.

Minerva shook her head. “Letters for the others he wants to speak to, and letters from the Abbot.”

Pomona studied her House’s ghost. “Friar, you don’t seem surprised that he’s at an Abbey.” She then looked at the Baron. “Neither do you.”

The two dungeon ghosts shared a look before the Baron gestured for the Friar to explain. Folding his hands under his scapular, he gave them all a benevolent look. “Severus is a deeply religious man. He and I have met up for years to celebrate the Hours, and he would attend Sunday Mass when times permitted. Unfortunately, this past year made it hard for him to leave. I feared the night of the battle he would pass on without receiving the Blessed Sacraments. He assured me that if he was dying he would be all right.”

A pin drop could be heard in the silence following his statement. Indeed, the rustling of the portraits sounded as if a storm blew in. Minerva rounded on Albus. “Severus left campus regularly, and I wasn’t informed of this?”

Painted blue eyes studied the two ghosts before Albus sighed. “I am just now hearing of this regular occurrence myself, my dear.”

The Friar had had a feeling that Severus’ frequent Sunday morning trips were not sanctioned by Albus the moment the Potions Master had asked him and the Baron to watch over his house.

Kingsley shook his head before looking at the names on the letters. “Potter, Granger, the younger Weasleys, Lovegood, and Longbottom?”

Minerva nodded. “He didn’t think they would accept post from him, so he asked if I’d see them delivered.”

“Will you deliver a letter to Severus from me?” Kingsley smiled slightly now that he had an idea.

“Of course.”

§§§§§

The Hogwarts staff was scheduled to arrive at the Abbey in two weeks. Albus had grumbled and complained about the delay while Minerva and the other Heads were grateful for the time to gather their students’ input. They made sure to collect not only complaints but also things the students noticed that were good, or at least not as bad as they could be. All of them had been shocked at what the students had noticed that they hadn’t. Harry’s championing of the man had caused them to truly pay attention to what happened.

At the appropriate time, all the staff members who were going stepped off the school grounds and held onto a corner of the Abbot’s invitation. The portkey activated and they were transported to a small clearing near a large wooden door. Tugging their cloaks a bit closer, the group looked about just to be sure there weren’t Muggles nearby.

Minerva knocked on the door and stepped back as the small slot was opened and two bright blue eyes looked out at her. “We’re here at the invitation of the Abbot.” She held up the letter, doing her best not to mention Severus’ name.

The blue eyes narrowed slightly, but then the slot closed and the door was opened. A monk dressed in a grey habit with a lighter grey scapular gestured them through the door.

“Wait here, I will let Brother John know you have arrived.” Even as the man turned about, an older monk walked into the courtyard and he said, “Brother John.”

The man nodded towards them before speaking to the other monk. “Brother Thomas, will you let Severus know his guests are here. I will take them to the visitor’s room.”

Brother Thomas nodded and headed off into the complex.

Minerva switched her attention to the Abbot. “Thank you for allowing us to be here and for taking care of Snape.”

“You’re welcome.” He turned and gestured for them to follow him. “I ask that you do not wander about the Abbey; there are many areas that aren’t open to the public.

In a very short time they were settled into a small but comfortable room near the courtyard.

“Severus will be here shortly. Please wait for him here.” With that Brother John partially shut the door behind him, and they were left alone.

The sound of approaching footsteps was coming much slower than they expected, but the boots against stone was familiar. Voices slipped through the cracked door.

“Severus, are you positive you won’t reconsider our suggestion?”

Minerva’s amused gaze met the others in the room. Severus reconsider something? Not often.

“No. Ignatius has been asking me every other day the past week, and as I have informed him, I don’t think it’s possible. I’m willing to be on call whenever he needs me.”

A chuckle quietly ended as the first man’s voice sounded again. “He might need you at any time, night and day. Are you sure you wish to offer him that?”

“I’m used to it.”

The door opened, allowing a monk to enter ahead of Severus as Minerva knew would happen. Severus didn’t care for people behind him.

Brother Mark glanced about, amazed at the group within. There were more chairs than he remembered being in the room. He looked over at Severus and noticed the man had stopped halfway across the space, his eyes coursing over the others. Looking back at the guests, he noticed that they were doing the same thing to Severus. A smile curled his lips as he realised just what they were doing – searching for injuries. They care about each other. He decided to wait a moment before speaking, giving them the time they needed. After what felt like a minute later, the largest member of the group stood up and crossed over to Severus.

Stepping between them, Mark began speaking. “Before any interactions, I must inform you that Severus Snape is under the protection of our Lord as he called upon His mercy and was granted Sanctuary. Any action towards him that can cause harm, any words intended to injure will be reflected back upon those who initiate them.”

Severus shook his head slightly, a sharp edge to his tone. “They’re allowed harmful words, for it is part of the reason they’re here.”

Mark compressed his lips tightly together and then sighed. “As they were included in the invitation, harmful words will not be reflected.”

The monk moved to a corner. He would not leave Severus in here alone, even with the protection Sanctuary provided. He watched as the big man move forward, and flinched when one of those large hands landed on Severus’ shoulder, but Severus didn’t even move or look worried.

“Yer okay. Yeh’ve made it through.”

“So did you, Hagrid. How’s your brother?” asked Severus.

A broad smile filled Hagrid’s face. “Grawp? He’s fine. Fought in the battle.”

Severus patted the man’s arm. “Thank him for me.”

“I’ll be doin’ so.” Hagrid gestured towards a seat. “He’ll be glad to have heard from yeh.”

“Thank you, Hagrid.” Severus moved towards the empty seat, one that Mark felt positive was designed just for the man. He wondered who transfigured it, as he had never seen it before. Severus’ focus snapped to who could only be a Healer. “Poppy, who was injured? The paper lists the dead, but not them.”

While Poppy began listing names, Mark studied the group. They were an eclectic mix. Some appeared to be barely scrubbed up and others looked very neat and pressed. Add in the height differences, and he wondered how this team worked together. But they obviously did – it was in the air that surrounded them – the same one that surrounded him and the other Brothers at the Abbey. His attention was caught when Severus spoke again.

“What do the students have to say to me?”

The short man slid a stack of parchments towards Severus. “Ever since Mr. Potter began telling everyone that you were on our side, the students began to pay attention to what truly happened, just as we have.”

Severus raised an eyebrow, his question clear to those who knew him.

One of the witches spoke up, “We noticed all the things you were trying hard not to show. If we had just paid attention…”

“You would’ve given me away, Minerva.” Severus twitched a small smile as she raised an eyebrow eerily similar to his. “Filius, the students noticed something?”

The small man nodded. “Mine did, I think Pomona’s did.”

The witch with the flyaway hair nodded, and Minerva jumped in. “So did the Gryffindors.” She turned to the heavyset wizard. “Horace?”

“Our house did as well, Severus.” Horace settled back in his seat, a smile tipping his lips. “They were very impressed, actually. You can read what they said in the letters they sent.” He waved at the pile on the table.

“Severus.” Minerva stopped Severus from picking up the letters. “Albus wishes you to have a trial. He is insistent that you come stand for it.”

Mark tensed. Severus didn’t need to do this.

“Albus does?” Severus leant back in his seat, putting more space between himself and the others. “Did he explain why I should?”

Minerva studied him for a moment. “The day after the Battle of Hogwarts, Albus told us just what he did. Not just us, but Mr. Potter, Miss Granger, the Weasleys, Shacklebolt, and the rest. ” She jumped to her feet and began to stalk, her anger clearly not gone. “He told us about how he made you promise to kill him. How he made you promise to take care of the students. Without our help!” She spun about, her gaze attempting to pin Severus to his seat. “You could have asked. We are trustworthy.”

Mark’s eyes widened and he gave up pretending not to be listening avidly to the conversation. The glare Severus shot her was so intense Mark was sure she would back up a step or two. Instead, Minerva leant forward, her arms akimbo.

In less than a second, Severus was on his feet as he snarled, “Yes, you are trustworthy. So trustworthy that you would have given me away within a week!” His burning gaze shifted to the others before returning to her. “If I had asked, if I had hinted, the Carrows would have known in minutes. The Dark Lord would then have known in less than that.” He stormed away from Minerva only to turn about, his arms crossed over his chest. “I wasn’t there only to protect the children.” Even though the words were now quiet, they penetrated the room. “I was there to protect each of you, as well.”

“But who was there to protect you?” Minerva gave up waiting for an answer as Severus’ shoulders hunched up. “No one. You expected to die. You admitted it in the letter you sent me. You made no plans for resigning as Headmaster – you expected me to acquire the title at the time of your demise!”

Severus brushed her words away, “It seemed the best option at the time. What with Albus’ death, the way the students were being treated, and the rest.”

“Severus,” his name came out on a large sigh as the fight left her. “Albus should have told you. He told us that day, but you should have heard it from him, you should have known during this long school year.”

Severus crossed the room back towards her. “What should have I known?”

“That he was dead before your spell hit him.”

Severus sank into his chair, words pulled out of him in a pain-filled whispered. “What? No, I killed him.”

She shook her head. “Albus’ portrait swears he died from an ingested potion. Kingsley has been investigating this, pulling memories from everyone alive who was on that tower that night. The Death Eaters that were there think their memories will be used to incriminate you. His investigation has put together a case from Albus’ assertion.”

“It doesn’t matter, Minerva. I cast the spell – I intended to kill him – whether he died before the spell hit him or not is a moot point.”

Vector shook her head. “No, it is a big deal. Through the memories that you gave Potter and Albus’ portrait, we have proof that Albus ordered you to kill him. That in and of itself will lighten the punishment – you were following orders and we were at war. But if he died before your spell hit him, you cannot be tried for murder.”

Babbling grinned. “That was the worst thing they could get you for. The rest? You were just doing what everyone else was doing – keeping your head low and trying not to get hurt.”

“Not like everyone else; I have the Dark Mark on my arm identifying me as his follower.”

Filch spoke up from the corner where he was leaning “You had it last time and was cleared as a spy. Nothin’ changed from this time and the last. Students noticed, we noticed, and we’re all ready to stand up and tell them that.”

Minerva placed a folded and sealed stack of parchments on top of the students’ letters. “This is from Kingsley, he asked me to give it to you.”

Brother Mark moved forward the moment Severus reached for it.

Severus pulled his wand with one hand and waved Mark back with the other. “Don’t worry, I’ll check it out for anything harmful.”

Mark watched as the Potions Master showed that he was perfectly capable of casting wordless spells. The wand moved in a multitude of directions over the letter and finally rested on the bottom right corner. Just as suddenly as the wand appeared, it vanished into Severus’ robes. One pale, thin hand reached for the letter only to stop.

“Go ahead and read it, Severus. It wouldn’t be you, not to make us wait.” Minerva gave him a quick smile as she sat back. The other professors had started their own conversations the moment Minerva had given him the letter.

Severus picked it up and gently broke the seal. Flipping open the folded sheets, he watched the others over the top of them and noticed that they all relaxed. Giving a mental shrug, he read through the letter, moving through the top five parchments quickly. The last one made him stop. Only through sheer practice was he able to keep his face bland. There, in a letter attempting to convince him to come stand trial, was a Royal Prerogative of Mercy. A full, unconditional Pardon. The Great Seal was affixed. The magic was lacing the words. Kingsley, as Interim Minister, along with Arthur Weasley and a Mr. Smith’s signatures were there as witnesses. All that remained was for him to accept it. Folding the parchments back together, he looked at the waiting faces.

“Anything we can help with?” Filius gestured towards the letter Severus was still holding, the question telling Severus that he looked as stunned as he felt.

“It basically says what you’ve been telling me.” Severus handed it to Minerva. “He just included some reasons that I should be okay with coming back to Britain to stand trial.”

Minerva took the letter from him, hoping she could keep a bland face as well, or at least keep silent. If anyone could, it would be her – she had been Albus’ second hand for a reason.

“Go ahead,” Severus urged, “read it.” He waited until she started, before turning his attention back to the others. “You’ve nothing you need to say to me? Nothing about this past year?”

Hagrid, who had obviously been rooting through his pockets, gave Severus a rock cake and a mug of tea similar to the ones everyone else was holding, the Thermos and bag still sitting next to his chair. “Thank yeh.”

Nods and mumbled thanks were seen and heard depending on the amount of effort being taken to ingest Hagrid’s offerings. Severus glanced back to see how Brother Mark was faring when Minerva’s gasp jerked his attention back to her. A quick glare prevented her from explaining what surprised her. “I think he doesn’t want it spread about, so I’d appreciate it if it wasn’t mentioned.”

She returned it with a frown before folding the letter up and setting it on top of the parchment stack still on the table. “You’ll be coming, then?”

“I’ll consider it.”

“I’ll tell Kingsley.”

§§§§§

As soon as his guests left, Severus tracked down Brother John, eventually finding him in the courtyard. The Abbot searched his face and obviously found what he was looking for. Severus raised a questioning eyebrow, but then shook his head. He really didn’t care what Brother John figured out. “Can I go to St. Mary’s? I need to speak to Father McKinney.”

“Brother Mark said they wish you to stand trial, that the Interim Minister himself is attempting to clear you.”

The Abbot’s tone rose at the end, but Severus didn’t know what the question was – that he knew Kingsley, or that anyone was attempting to clear him. “Shacklebolt thinks he has a sound case.”

“And you wish to consult Father McKinney.” When Severus nodded slowly, Brother John’s forehead creased in thought before clearing. “Go, his ground is sanctified; don’t step off the churchyard, try to stay in the house, and come back as quickly as you can.”

“Thank you.” Severus swept away, heading for the visitor’s floo.

It took less than five minutes to be in Patrick’s place and to discover that his friend wasn’t there. Noting the time, he settled in one of the armchairs to wait.

§§§§§

Severus put down the book he had been reading when the door opened.

“Severus!” Patrick crossed the front room quickly, his surprise fading into joy. “What are you doing here?”

Standing from his seat, Severus returned Patrick’s smile. “Brother John allowed me to stop by. I have … something I wish to discuss with you.”

Patrick turned towards the kitchen. “Let’s get the kettle started and then I’ll be ready to listen.”

Severus followed him into the room, waiting for the priest to notice a meal cooking. It didn’t take him long, for the scent of the rosemary and garlic pork chops filled the kitchen.

“I should have expected it.” Patrick touched the side of the kettle, noting it was warm, before turning the heat back up. “What else are we having for dinner?”

“Mash, peas, and carrots.” Severus warmed the teapot up just in time as the kettle started to boil. “I’ll get the tea brewing and then we can prepare the vegetables.

Both quietly worked, falling into patterns developed over the last decade. Finally, they were settled at the kitchen table, a pile of potatoes near Severus and a tea cup at his elbow.

“The Hogwarts staff visited today.” Severus started peeling the potatoes.

Patrick pulled the peas over and began shelling them. “How did it go?”

The knife paused over a potato. “Well. Potter has been talking and amazingly enough, people have started paying attention. He, Granger, the younger Weasleys, Lovegood, and Longbottom are coming next week.” Setting the knife down for moment, he pulled out Kingsley’s letter and pushed it across the table. “Albus wants me to stand trial. Minerva and the others think I should as well. Even the Order thinks I should.” He nodded at the folded parchments. “That is from Kingsley Shacklebolt.” A small smile curled his lips. “He is currently the Interim Minister.” He wondered if anyone else remembered that Kingsley was a Slytherin. Maybe Horace and the other Heads. “Read it and see what you think.”

Patrick finished pushing the peas out of their pod, wiped his hands, and then opened the letter. Severus had the peas and potatoes on the boil before Patrick reached the Royal Prerogative of Mercy.

“Severus … I can’t believe it.” Patrick ran a finger over the RPM, barely touching the parchment. “This … this is …”

“Rare, yes. Nonexistent, practically.” Severus started chopping the carrots. “If I sign it, I am admitting guilt, but I am free of all punishment. Of course, I have to stand trial – that is how they work. If my case wins, then there is no need for it, but Kingsley prepared it just in case.”

Patrick set the folded parchments onto the table, leaving the RPM out between them. “Severus, you don’t understand what this is, do you?”

“It’s Kingsley’s attempt to bribe me back to stand trial.”

Patrick shook his head, his fingers hovering over the Great Seal. “It could be that, but it’s so much more. It is a Royal Prerogative of Mercy – not one of those things handed out now-a-days in the Muggle World. No, this is an honest to goodness, old fashion, straight up RPM. If you sign it, you’re in the clear – no trial needed. Kingsley had to get the Queen’s approval for this. He had to convince her you are innocent of all the things they are charging you with.”

“How do you know that?”

“You aren’t the only one who studies musty documents for fun.” Patrick leant back in his chair, his arms crossing over his chest. “I’ve sorted Church documents and found a few of these – old ones like this, and a few of the newer style. The Great Seal is set here,” he leant forward, pointing to the bottom left parchment, “when it’s the newer style. Yours has the Seal on the right – only the old styles have it there. The new ones have the Minister’s Seal and signature on the right, where you have the Great Seal.” Hazel eyes searched the parchment a moment longer. “And this has the older form of magic embedded in it, not the new spells.”

Severus’ spoon hoovered over the peas, the butter on it melting in the steam. “Kingsley …. How did Kingsley do that? I didn’t even know they could be obtained.”

Laughing at being able to shock Severus, Patrick heaved himself to his feet and placed the letter on the counter. “Well, obviously they can. You are most likely right, he wanted you to know you’re safe even if you are convicted. His case sounds tight, but he is right to worry – the jury of your peers … aren’t going to be too friendly to you. To go, have everything put out there and accept the RPM if all goes bad, just accept the RPM, or to abjure and never be able to step into Britain again? That’s what you want to talk about, isn’t it?”

Severus nodded. “I know the moment I go back, there’ll be people from both sides waiting to kill me. I won’t be protected by Sanctuary. I might not make it to the trial. You saw Patterson.”

Patrick sighed before setting the table. “I don’t know why he was that mad, but yes, I did see.”

“His family was killed by Death Eaters – I wasn’t there, but he obviously doesn’t care.” Severus shook his head and began mashing the potatoes. “I want to leave the RPM with you.”

“What?” Patrick jerked his head up to stare at Severus’ back. “If you go back, you’re going to need it. You will have to show it to the court after your conviction.”

“If I go back, I want you to come. You can bring the RPM with you.” Severus hazarded a look behind him, catching the flabbergasted expression on the priest’s face. “You’ve been asking for years to give some of those people a piece of your mind, and now that it’s safe, I figured you could have a chance.”

Patrick laughed. “I think you should go. It would hurt you to be cut off from your friends over there. I still wish you’d move here, though.”

Moving the potatoes to the table, Severus smiled. “I think you’re right, on all accounts. Now, rescue the peas and carrots. The pork chops will be done in a minute.”

§§§§§

Ignatius stared around, trying to determine where he was needed the most. Children were crying or mutely staring, shock still covering their faces in the far corner. They huddled together on small cots that Brother Mark had transfigured. Some of their parents were there with them, but more than likely at least one of them was stretched out on a bed. The entire ward was crammed full of beds; there was barely a walkway between three rows of them. Ignatius wasn’t going to question how Brother Thomas had increased the space in the room, he only wondered how long it would last.

Brother Stephen was wrapping up a broken arm, Brother Andrew was testing the vision of another, and Severus was running potions from one monk to the next between periodically stopping to help cast a spell when he wasn’t working in the children’s section. Given Severus’ school reputation, Ignatius originally questioned him about helping in that section. That changed the moment he watched him. Severus cloaked himself in a quiet calm. Many of the other Brothers couldn’t handle seeing the injured children, Severus just bandaged them up and moved on. His bedside manner left a lot to be desired – you just don’t tell parents to ‘move now’, or explain exactly how the Skele-Gro potion worked – but his calmness kept the children steady.

Finding a place he was needed, he scanned the young woman with his eyes and wand to find out if she was hexed, physically injured, or both. Out of the corner of his eye he spotted one of the children stopping Severus.

“Where’s your apron?” asked the young one.

“In the Potions Lab.”

Severus’ raised eyebrow and smooth answer brought a tiny smile to Ignatius’ face as he cast the counter-hex. He mumbled a few words of encouragement to the woman before searching the room for his next patient. Severus’ eyes caught his over a child’s head, the question in the clear. It was the same as the one in his head and all other monks – Why? Why did the two sides have to clash now, a week after the referendum was signed, and almost all were in accord? Hoping the Muggles wouldn’t have to endure such an event, he crossed the room to Brother Clarence who was poking his head through the door.

“Brother?” It was very unusual to see Clarence outside of his kitchen, so his presence alone worried Ignatius.

Clarence’s voice was barely a whisper due to disuse. “Severus is needed in the visitor’s room.”

Ignatius’ eyes widened as despair rushed through him. Pushing away the overwhelming feeling, he remembered that today was the next group’s day to see Severus. “I’ll let him know.”

Clarence waved him away and step back outside of the door, letting in another child with deep gashes running up his arms and legs. His parent looked no better. The chunks of wood embedded into the wounds gave Ignatius a clue as to what they were partially successful in hiding behind.

“This way.” The Healer directed them over to Severus, who was kneeling down to heal another child with similar cuts. “Severus.”

Severus waved the two new patients to the nearest empty bed. “I’ll get to them next. We might need to let the healed children go into the chapel or into the courtyard to make room.”

Without looking at Ignatius, Severus sang a melodious charm that calmed the child as it healed him. He moved on to the new patients before Ignatius could interrupt – not that he tried hard. Once those two were healed, he tapped Severus’ shoulder. “Your visitors are here.”

Dark eyes clashed with his, disbelief evident in them. “They are already here? Surely …” The black wand moved in a quick slash and the time showed up in the air between them. “It is that late? We’ll have to tell them to come back.”

Ignatius shook his head. “We’ll be okay. We’ve done this without you before; we can keep up until you return.” He refused to admit that this was the worst attack he had witnessed since the War. The expression on Severus’ face showed that he was not believed anyway. “Go.”

Severus studied him before turning towards the door. “I’ll be back as quick as possible.”

Ignatius knew his relief was evident on his own face. “Brother Clarence is waiting for you outside the door.”

Severus slipped out the door and spotted the small, dark-skinned monk almost hidden in the shadows. “I can go by myself.” He tipped his head towards the full Infirmary. “Brother Ignatius can use any help that is offered.”

Clarence cocked an eyebrow and pointed imperiously down the hallway.

Severus glanced back, wanting to finish helping. The tap of a foot drew his attention back to the chef monk. A sympathetic, understanding expression filled the man’s face as he shook his head and pointed down the hall again. Compressing his lips together to hold back a scathing retort, Severus strode down the hall, his robes billowing out behind him, while Brother Clarence kept up with him.

They dodged the injured people making their way from the public floo to the Infirmary, though he wished to stop and help them, and soon made it to the door. Turning, he looked down into a face filled with resolve. He knew this monk did not like interacting with people, and he respected that, as did the other monks. “If you will be so kind as to bring some tea, I will be fine here.”

Eyes as black as his own narrowed and glared at him. The intensity of the words were not lessened by their almost silent delivery. “I know my duty, Severus. I will not allow you to enter this room without a monk with you. I will not allow those people to talk to you without telling the rules of Sanctuary.” He opened the door before he turned back and said, “Besides, I’ve already served them tea and biscuits.”

Severus had to refrain from smiling at the man’s affronted tone. Clarence would have had the tea set up in the room ready to go, if he read the monk right. He was precise when it came to his kitchen, and that precision obviously was practised elsewhere. Stepping through the door behind his escort, Severus scanned the gathered group, thinking,  I’m glad I warned Brother John that the Weasley parents would most likely come, as the youngest aren’t out from under their guardianship yet. He met Arthur’s questioning eyes, narrowed his own, and nodded so slightly that his hair didn’t even move. Arthur caught it, though, and a smile flashed across his face. Many discounted the paternal component of the Weasley family, but Severus knew better. His message was expected and received. During the silent conversation, Molly rushed across the room towards him.

“Severus, there were children out there, hurt children!” The worry surrounding her was palpable. “We can meet later, let us help.” The rest of the room surged to their feet, prepared to head out the door.

Severus started to speak, only to have Brother Clarence frown at him. Compressing his lips, he glared the room to silence. He didn’t have time for this; he had things he needed to be doing.

Clarence gave him an impressed look before turning to address the guests. “Sonorus.” A white wand was lowered. “I’m here to inform you that Severus Snape is under Our Lord’s protection, as Severus called upon His mercy and was granted Sanctuary. Any action towards him that can cause harm, any words intended to injury – unless agreed upon by Severus through your invitation – will be reflected back upon those who initiated them.” The wand reappeared briefly. “Quietus.” Black eyes swept across them, his sincerity evident. He then poured a cup of tea and placed several sandwiches on a plate, looked from them to Severus, and moved off to a chair near the door.

“Honestly Severus, those children.” Molly moved forward again only to be blocked by Severus.

“Molly, they are being taken care of. Brother Ignatius and the other monks are working hard right now to heal them.” He growled impatiently as she took in his rumpled robes and exhausted face. “Yes, I was helping them, and I will return as soon as this meeting is finished.” He held up a hand to forestall the words he could sense springing to her lips. “The Brothers would be very uncomfortable with you helping, even if they’d appreciate the offer.”

Granger spoke up from where she was standing with Potter and Ronald Weasley. “What happened? The war has been over for nearly a month now.”

Severus could feel the soundless suffering sigh that Clarence projected. “The war against Voldemort is over, but over here there has been a longer war, one that is still being resolved. These victims were injured because one side protested the agreement that was reached last week.” He waited for a moment to see if any of the children knew what he was talking about. Their blank faces told him just how little history they were learning in Binns’ class. He had expected Granger to have a clue, since she had to have heard of the Muggle side of the Troubles. “Surely you’ve heard of the war that has been occurring in Ireland? The IRA? Granger and Potter should have – you were raised by Muggles, in the Muggle school system.”

Granger blinked, “The Troubles? Surely that is a Muggle issue.”

“Miss Granger, how many Irish students were in your year?” Severus frowned as he waited.

“There was Seamus, but … I don’t know of any other.”

“That’s because there was no other. The Troubles are definitely affecting the Wizarding World, as well. Most Irish students, even those raised in Northern Ireland, attend Elder Oaks in Galway.” Setting that aside, Severus pushed forwards. “I am expected back – so this by necessity will be quick, but I do expect you to be thorough. In the order of the importance of the grievances, Mr. George Weasley, you shall be first as I personally and physically harmed you. Then Mr. Potter, along with Miss Granger and Mr. Ronald Weasley. After those three, then Miss Weasley, Miss Lovegood, and Mr. Longbottom.” He pinned George with his no nonsense, start talking now look.

George shook his head, causing the hair to move and show his missing ear. “Still a professor, eh, sir?”

Severus bit back a retort, knowing if he started it would take more time. Instead, he glared.

George sat up straighter, a bit of defiance marking his posture. “My grievance? I want to know, why did you cut off my ear? Why? What good did it do? How did that help our cause? I can see why you had to do everything else – either to maintain your cover or to help Harry, but why my ear? Why with a spell that couldn’t be healed?”

Severus felt Clarence’s glare digging into his back until he picked up his teacup. The glare lessened a little and he knew the cook was waiting on him to drink. No one had stopped to finish breakfast or lunch and he was now captive to the cook’s desire. Looking at George over the rim of his cup, he took a sip and considered what to say. Knowing honesty was the best approach – that was why everyone was here – he placed the cup back on the table and admitted, “I missed.”

“You missed?” George’s hand flew up to the scarred flesh.

He looked the boy straight in the face and continued, trying to keep his irritation from showing. “I was aiming for the air next to your head – to make it look as if I had aimed badly and missed you. Unfortunately, you moved or my broom moved, I missed the Death Eater who was aiming for you and hit you, instead. The results were almost the same – you’re alive, but instead of him being injured, you were.”

“Death Eater?”

Severus nodded once. “You most likely didn’t see the green flash of light pass you, for you were distracted by stopping your ear from bleeding. As for not being able to be healed, it could have been, but it requires a very specific enchantment.” His eyes darted to Potter and back again. Out of the corner of them, he saw the boy’s eyes widen. “It has been too long now to be useful, though. I do apologise.”

George sank into his seat as Molly drew in a shuddered breath, obviously fighting herself to stay where she was. Switching his attention to Potter, Granger, and his Weasley, he waved his hand towards the one who angered him often. “Potter, your turn. You can say anything you wish with no fear of repercussion.”

Green eyes studied him – the fear and blatant hatred missing. Severus forced himself to relax, to not let anything said anger him.

“After the memories and knowing just who you were, I think I understand why things had to be the way they were between us.” Potter stepped forward, his hands clenched at his side. “I don’t like it though, sir. There were so many missed opportunities. Things could have been very different if circumstances allowed.”

Severus nodded slowly, still wary of an attack.

“I had people who could and would tell me of my dad, and they even had some tale of my mum, but everything they could say about her was after she came to Hogwarts, and most of them were after she started going out with dad, not before. If things had been different, would you have told me of her?”

Searching the wary expression on Potter’s face brought Severus to a decision. He would propose it later, though. “I would have.”

“Thanks.” Potter looked back at Ronald and Granger before returning his attention to Severus. Pulling a familiar softly glowing vial from his robe, he slid it onto the table between them. “Yours.”

Severus contemplated it for a moment. If he took them now, there wouldn’t be any reason for the boy to come see him later. It would destroy his chance of giving the boy what he wanted. “Return them later. There might be a use for them in the upcoming days, and it would be better if they weren’t in my possession.”

He could see Clarence’s face brimming with curiosity and wondered if he should explain to the monk, but dismissed the thought. Potter’s eyes showed he understood and that is what mattered. The boy put the vial back in his robe as he asked his next questions.

“Did you really hate us? Did you really only see me as a copy of my father?”

Severus let the questions hang in the air between them as he rested a contemplative look on Potter. “Ha-a-ate?” His eyes briefly narrowed before he shook his head. “No, I didn’t hate you. You were not the best of students – trouble sought a willing companion and you were it. You disliked rules; you couldn’t handle boundaries put into place for your protection and that of others; you succeeded in pulling others into your little, and not so little, adventures—but I did not hate you.”

He paused to drink his tea while his words sank in. The cup clinked on the saucer as he pinned Potter to the floor with a glare. “But I did not like you, either. It is hard to like a student who actively works against you – who does what they can to make you have a bad day. One who attacks you when you are attempting to save them, leaving you stunned and at the mercy of the enemy.

“My feelings for you are not because of your father. I know all too well that one should never visit the crimes of the father upon the child. I don’t hate your father anymore – I forgave him a long time ago. He and the other Marauders, for those actions.”

He refilled his teacup and contemplated the array of food before picking out a ham sandwich. “Most of what you saw was an act, one that I needed to play. Black helped, unwittingly I am positive, but nonetheless, he did. His outrage was as real as mine at the time – I have never cared for him.”

He finished his sandwich, once again giving them time to think. “Did I see you as a copy of your father?” He smirked. “No, you are yourself, Potter, always have been and always will be. Don’t let what others say change you or make you believe differently.” He pinned his ‘I’m disappointed in you’ look on the boy. “That is what you should have learned. How can you be a man you cannot even remember? If anything, you would be like your uncle – not that I would wish that upon you.

“I may not like you, but I can respect what you have accomplished. If you can learn to curb your more … Gryffindor-like tendencies, there is a chance we can work out a relationship based on mutual respect. Where it goes from here will be left in His hands.”

He waited a good number of heartbeats for Potter to continue, but the silence stretched on. He looked at the other two. “Do either of you have anything you need to ask or say?”

Ronald shifted forward to stand next to Potter. “It was you who gave us Gryffindor’s Sword?” The question was more of a statement, but Severus nodded anyway. “Then thank you. You … you saved us.”

Granger nodded when his eyes settled on her.

“Nothing else?” Severus asked.

They shook their heads. Moving on, he rested his gaze on Miss Weasley and raised an eyebrow.

She started after looking at Lovegood and Longbottom. “Last year … it was tough. It was ugly. People were hurt, children who trusted you, who hoped that you would do your job as Headmaster. You didn’t, though – you allowed those children to be hurt. You stood by and did nothing! You’re as guilty as them!”

Her shout reverberated around the silent, too-still room.

Anger ricocheted through Severus. He sat his cup down as he fought to lock his feelings behind the icy facade that he had worn all year. He looked at the other two leaders of the DA, waiting to see if they would add anything. The silence continued, their eyes all locked on him, as if waiting for his response.

Frozen anger was expressed not only in his tone but in the rigidly formal words. “You are right, I did not act as a Headmaster should have. Realise though, that with the brush you paint me, you also paint every other adult in that school who stood by and did nothing.”

“They couldn’t. They’d lose their job if they did!” Longbottom growled.

Severus shook his head slowly, a frown forming even as his anger mitigated to a more manageable level. “No, Mr. Longbottom, they and I would’ve lost more. We would’ve lost our lives, and then we would’ve lost yours and your friends. Voldemort wanted the school to be run in a manner that trained all the students to be the citizens he wanted. Anyone in his way typically wound up dead. It was touch and go if I would be given the school to run, even with Albus’ plan to make me look better in the Dark Lord’s eyes. I was able to convince him that the parents would better accept a professor with years of experience in the position. Then I spent most of the summer subtly convincing him to keep the remaining professors – that they were the best in their field. He finally agreed but did … create … a job opening so he could send both the Carrows.”

Lovegood rested a hand on Longbottom’s arm. “The others -”

“Severus!”

Spinning about, Severus stared at the out-of-breath Patrick. He spotted Clarence jumping to his feet out of the corner of his eye. “What happened?”

Hazel eyes quickly scanned the room before widening at the sight of Brother Clarence. Shifting back to Severus, Patrick answered. “It’s Mara. Simon told me two minutes ago that she feels like she is on fire. She hasn’t felt like that since -“

“Fire? How long? What day’s it?” Black eyes blanked as Severus tried to answer his own question, then they widened. “It has been three days, hasn’t it? Is her skin reddening? Is it on her chest? Her face?”

“Not on her face that I’ve seen; I haven’t seen her chest, though it is not near her neck or shoulders.” Patrick shot the guests an assessing look. “It has been three days. Simon said she insisted they not tell you because you had enough on your plate.”

A low growl escaped Severus and he strode to Patrick. “Your hand.” The words were bitten out in a way that froze all his former students. Patrick just held out his right hand.

“This one?”

“Yes.” Severus touched his glowing wand to each fingertip before swirling it about, ending in the centre of his palm. His wand vanished into his robe, and a quill and parchment scrap took its place. “Go to my lab, touch the door with that hand – it will let you in – and get everything on this list.” He continued scribbling for a moment more before waving the ink dry, and shoved it into Patrick’s hand. “It”ll take me next to no time to have the potion ready. Hurry!”

“I’ll be back as quick as possible.”

Severus turned back to the group as Patrick bolted out the door, his frown forestalling the questions he could see on their faces. “Continue, Miss Lovegood.”

Luna looked between the gapped-open door and him. “The other instructors, they did subtle things to help us. But you …”

Miss Weasley’s whole face transformed as a realisation hit her. “You did, too! You assigned me detention with Hagrid, in the Forest. Any other student you assigned detention to, they were real detentions – not torture.”

Severus inclined his head. “Just as the other professors did. We did our best to keep you alive for the year.” He waited several moments, his gaze drifting over the group of former students, inviting them to speak up. When all that reigned was an uncomfortable silence, he raised an eyebrow. “Surely you have more to say? Names to call me, curses to give voice to? I am giving you complete liberty to voice your ire.”

George chuckled. “It’s him.” He nodded towards the monk. “Can’t really start in with the name calling while he’s in here.”

Without looking at the monk, Severus spoke, “If you would leave us, Brother Clarence, I wish them to be able to feel vindicated.”

The absolute silence behind him caused him to turn and look. The small man sat with his arms crossed and a stubborn set of his shoulders, but a smile filled his face.

“Don’t worry about it, Professor, we’ve nothing else to add. You aren’t being a git right now.” George leant back in his seat, avoiding the glare sent his way from Clarence.

Refilling his tea cup, Severus offered a refill to Molly. “Do you or Arthur have something to add?”

“Mara.” Molly gestured to another sandwich, joining in with Clarence on getting him to eat. “Who’s she?”

Severus frowned, wondering what to say. He knew that Molly would do everything to worm the information out of him, and though he knew he could stop her from learning, he wasn’t sure if it was worth the effort. “Mara Kirwan was injured during the war against Grindelwald. The Cremate Curse typically incinerates its victim in a week. There is no known counter-curse, but there are ones that help to mitigate the burning – making it last decades, progressively getting worse the longer you use the counter-curse. The potion I make for her removes the pain, the feeling of the flames, and slows down the burning even more. Unfortunately, it cannot stop or correct the damage created by the curse.”

Arthur perked up. “How long have you been making it for her?”

Severus wondered where this was going – Ronald got his ability to strategise from this man. “Since 1982.”

“Is there anyone else you’ve helped like this – someone not associated with Vold….Voldemort or the Order?”

Severus barely refrained from shrugging. “Different people, but I don’t keep a record. It’s a way to indulge my interest in the Dark Arts and use them for good. Mara’s different; she’s my neighbour and she needs the same potion every year.”

“You use the Dark Arts to help people?” Longbottom sounded like he couldn’t believe it.

“I find ways to cure the results of the practising of Dark Arts. To do so, one must understand the Dark Art that caused the injury.” Severus spun about as the door opened again.

“Here.” Patrick pushed a cauldron filled with a multitude of bottles and packets into his hands. “Simon is wringing his hands.”

Severus turned back to his guests. “Thank you for coming, I hope I have satisfied your curiosity and eased you mind and hearts.” He turned to Patrick. “Father McKinney, can you please escort them out so Brother Clarence can help Brother Ignatius, and then stay, for I’ll have Mara’s potion ready in less than thirty minutes.”

Patrick moved out of the doorway. “Of course.”

With that Severus rushed out, heading for the Potions Lab. Clarence wasn’t far behind him, so he knew Ignatius would know where he was.

In the visiting room, Patrick looked over the gathered group, a smile filling his face. “I finally get to see all of you.” He frowned slightly but then smiled again. “Well, most of you; the elders appear to be missing. Let’s see if I can name you.”

Ginny rolled her eyes and sighed. “Of course you can; you’ve had to have seen our pictures in the papers.”

Patrick shook his head. “They aren’t that good, though Mr. Potter is recognisable from them.” He nodded towards Potter before directing his attention back to the others. “You, young lady, must be Ginevra, and of course the tall gentleman there is Ronald, with Hermione Granger at his side.” He turned slightly towards the other three red-haired youths. “How is your head, George? Severus was very worried how having a dark curse wound on the side of it would affect you.” The young man’s eyes widened, his jaw slacking slightly. “Seems like you are doing okay, though.” He shifted slightly and beamed at the adults. “Molly and Arthur Weasley. It is wonderful to see you, and I have to agree with Severus – Molly, you look to be a younger Mara. I wonder if there’s a relationship?”

He turned to the only two not named. “You must be Neville Longbottom and Luna Lovegood. Miss Lovegood, it gladdens my heart to see you well. When Severus mentioned you weren’t at school for the second term, the whole parish began praying for you even more.”

Shaking his head and drawing as deep of breath as he could, Patrick knew he had to stop – he was skirting too close to the Seal.

“Severus was worried about us?” Molly recovered from her surprise faster than the others, and searched his face as if looking for the truth. “How do you know?”

Patrick smiled as he ushered them towards the door. “I’ve had breakfast almost once a week with the man for sixteen years, with the exception of this past school year – then it was closer to once a month. Things come up.”

Leaving it at that, he walked ahead, showing them to the visitor floo and offering them the bowl that held the powder. “It has slowed down so you can leave this way. Travel safely, and God bless you and yours.”

After the last one flooed away, he headed for the Infirmary.

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