Chapter 17 Figuring Things Out
Snape sighed for what felt like the hundredth time, as he paced back in forth in front of his fireplace. What in the world was taking so long?!
As if sensing his impatience, the fireplace lit up, and Dumbledore walked into the room.
"Finally! Albus, do you even know the meaning of 'come quickly'?"
"Come now, Severus, I am an old man. I tend to take my time. Also, I was enjoying a rather delicious meal of some of Minerva's stroganoff. The steak in it was superb. I had to find a way to leave without arousing too much suspicion."
"Did someone just say stroganoff? I want some."
Both men jumped at the sound of the voice, and turned to the boy laying on the sofa. Snape hadn't looked at the twin much, other than to see that most of whatever his wounds were, they had been tended to recently. And if he had to be honest with himself, he was more worried about his unsconsious godson in the other room. But seeing the paler-than-normal Weasley boy now, Snape found himself feeling angry-which was something for him. The last time he had been angry due to wrongs inflicted on a Gryffindor, was-
Well, he'd rather not think about that.
"Fred, my boy!" Dumbledore exclaimed.
"Professor." Fred acknowledged. Snape noticed that the boy didn't try to rise from where he lay.
"Where is Draco?" Dumbledore asked, noticing the absence of the blond. At that statement, Fred did perk up a bit, and to Snape's intense surprise, he saw what looked like concern in the boy's eyes.
"In my room. He was unconscious, bleeding from a cut on his face. I believe Greyback was the cause of this." Snape looked to Fred for confirmation. Fred nodded, and then stopped, a peculiar expression on his face.
"I may have just been hallucinating...but I'm pretty sure that Draco stupified old Baldy."
Snape stared at Fred, and Dumbledore chuckled. "Well, Severus, maybe Draco is secretly a Gryffindor."
"I resent that statement."
"Professor!" Fred suddenly said, and urgency to his voice. "My family-George! Can I see them? How long has it been, they must be so worried, I-"
"Calm down, Fred. All will be fine. No, you're family has not heard yet, and it will remain that way for a little longer, as we have some issues to talk about. But I assure you, you will be with them tomorrow, just in time for the holiday."
"H-holiday?" Fred looked like a fish as his mouth opened and closed several times. "You mean Christmas? I've been gone that long?"
It looked for a moment as though Dumbledore was going to say something heartwarming and totally Gryffindorish, when a cry was heard from the other room. Simultaneously, Snape felt a burning sensation on his left arm. Dumbledore and Fred did not fail to see Snape grab his arm, and the two immediately came to the same conclusion.
Snape was used to times when Voldemort seemed more angry or excited. When he was in that state, the mark would burn that much more. Draco on the other hand, had never experienced that before.
Snape ran to his room. Upon seeing his godson writhing on the bed, clutching his arm to his chest, something in Snape's gut twisted. He barely acknowledged Dumbledore's presence behind him, as he hurried to the boy's side.
"Draco, Draco! Look at me!" Snape grabbed Draco by the shoulders, and turned the boy to face him. Draco's face was screwed up in pain, but he managed to open his eyes.
"U-Uncle Sev?" he croaked out. "Wh-what happened?" As soon as he asked, he seemed to remember, and he jerked upright, exclaiming "Mother!"
"Calm down Dragon!" Draco seemed to relax a little with the use of his childhood nickname. But then he noticed Dumbledore. As his face took on a panicked look once more, the old man held out his hands in a placating gesture.
"Don't worry. I am here to help. I know about your predicament, and the part Snape plays. You have nothing to worry about."
Draco looked confused for a moment, and then seemed to realize what it all meant. His eyes widened in surprise, as he stuttered. "Y-you, Snape, the vow? Me?"
Dumbledore chuckled again, and Snape had to restrain himself from telling the man to quit it. "I see there is much to talk about. While it looks as though Severus should leave, to avoid suspicion," Dumbledore said, referencing the Dark Mark," I suppose if you are feeling up to it, there is something that I need to talk to both you and Mr. Weasley. He is in the other room, and I daresay he is wondering what is going on in here."
Snape wanted to argue, but he knew that if he didn't want to suffer Voldemort's wrath, he needed to get to the Manor. Nodding curtly, he stood up from where he had sat on the bed. "Sev!" Draco cried. Snape was unaccustomed to hearing that much fear in his godson's voice, and was about to reassure the boy that he would be safe with Dumbledore, but then Draco continued. "Be careful. And please, tell me if my mother is alright?" Snape was rather surprised that the boy was worried about him, but he nodded, and then disapparated.
It was a few minutes later, that Dumbldore came back, leading a shaky looking Draco. Fred winced when he saw the claw marks that were still slightly bleeding on the boy's face. "It's about time!" he exclaimed. "I was about ready to come after you, and I almost had a heart attack when someone disapparated. Was that Snape? Where did he go?"
"Goodness, Weasley." Draco drawled, "Take a breath will you? You're making me feel oxygen-deprived."
"Would someone just tell me what in the world is going on?" Fred asked.
It was almost an hour later, after much exclaiming, and a lot of shock, that Dumbledore finished explaining everything.
"And I can't tell George about this?" Fred asked, feeling like he would be betraying his twin if he kept this a secret.
Dumbledore hesitated. "Keep it quiet for now, but if the time comes that it would be more beneficial, then I suppose you can tell him. But he must swear to keep it quiet." Fred nodded, feeling like a huge weight had been lifted off his shoulders.
Fred blinked, wanting to ask more, to try to puzzle through some more things that still didn't make that much sense to him, but he was suddenly overwhelmed with a wave of exhaustion. He didn't remember falling asleep, but the next thing he knew, he was opening his eyes to the familiar surroundings of the infirmary at Hogwarts. Wondering how he'd gotten here, it took him a moment to register the snoring beside him. Turning, he suddenly felt like the breath had been knocked out of his lungs.
Tears coming to his eyes, as the full extent of what happened to him sank in, he whispered,"Georgie?"