Making a Decision
Those two words whispered through Severus' mind as he walked out of the Malfoy's mansion. He continued his trek, not really paying attention to where he was going. His body was completely drained. It took every bit of Occlumency skill not to have his face betray what he was actually feeling after the Dark Lord gave him that order.
How was he going to pull that off? He had never involved himself with any of the raids. He never killed anyone. The Dark Lord knew that. Now he was ordered to not only kill but to kill the two most important people in his life.
Walking aimlessly, Severus ended up at the Emergency entrance to St. Mungo's. Walking towards the lifts, he headed for Poppy's room. When he walked into the room, he saw that she was resting as comfortable as expected.
“Who's there?” Poppy's voice was feeble and weak.
“Poppy,” said the baritone voice.
A small gasp escaped the medi-witch's lips.
“Severus,” Poppy sighed, extending her hand towards the voice.
Severus walked over towards the bed, held her waiting hand, and sat down on the chair next to the bed.
“Are you alright, Severus?”
“Still worried about me, Poppy,” Severus replied.
“There is so much to be worried about with you.” A small smile was on Poppy's lips.
“You make it sound like I'm still young.”
“You are young when it comes to me.”
Severus smirked. It quickly vanished. Severus looked at the woman who he had grown to love laying in the bed. If it wasn't for her and Minnie, Severus knew he would probably be dead.
Poppy, sensing the tension in the room, furrowed her brow.
“Severus,” Poppy's voice became a little sterner. “What's wrong?”
“I really couldn't hide anything from you, could I?” Severus mused.
A small smile was on Poppy's lips as her brow smoothed.
“No,” she said with a slight shake of her head. “Not really. Not from Minerva or me.”
There was another tense silence between the two in the room. Severus stood up and walked the few small steps closer towards the bed.
“Forgive me, Poppy.” She could feel him closer to her than he was just a moment ago.
“Severus.” For the first time, there was fear in the medi-witch's voice.
Minerva got out of the stunned shock that had her frozen in the spot that she was currently standing in and made her way out of the kitchen to the living room, where she saw Sirius take Harry. When she walked into the room, again, where she sat with her son's head in her lap, she looked on as Sirius tried to attend to Harry.
Harry was at a lost to what happened. Actually to Minerva's eyes, he looked like he didn't even know what was going on around him. Like he just retreated into himself. Both Hermione and Sirius were trying to communicate to the child, but he wasn't listening. He wasn't hearing them.
Ron was sitting at the table. He was both angry and hurt. He knew he shouldn't have put his hands on Harry like that, but he was just hurt that Harry had chose the Greasy Git over him.
Fred and George sat on either side of Ron.
“What's wrong, Ron?” Fred asked. His usual cheerful, playful tone long since gone.
“Yeah,” George added. “It's not like you to attack like that.”
Ron looked at both his brothers. There was a flash of hurt before his anger took over again.
“You saw what he did,” Ron accused.
“Yeah,” Fred answered. “But we saw what you did as well.”
“I didn't do anything,” Ron said, defensively. “He hit me.” Ron was on the verge of yelling.
“Calm down,” Fred's voice got uncharacteristicly stern. “Do you even know what all happened last night? Or are you to stubborn to see the truth?”
“What are you talking about?” Ron sneered.
“We took Harry away from everyone,” George said. “That's why he was upstairs. He panicked in the room after we apparated him. When he left the room, where was he heading?”
“What difference does it make?” Ron sulked, leaning back against the seat.
“All the difference,” Fred said, sternly. “Where was he heading?”
“Downstairs,” Ron sighed.
“And what did you do?”
Ron looked from Fred to George back to Fred again.
“Well,” Fred said again. “What did you do?”
“I stopped him at the stairs,” Ron sighed, dejectedly.
“Listen,” George said. “We are not saying that Harry should have hit you. He was wrong. But you should have let him just pass.”
“He's my friend.” Ron yelled.
“Yes,” George said. “That he is, but if memory serves me, he also asked to go downstairs.”
“We were all wrong, Ron,” Fred said. Ron sighed, folding his arms over his chest. “All of us. And we all got hurt. Not just you.”
“What are you talking about?” Ron asked, his arms still folded over his chest.
“After you took that tumble down the stairs, Harry stuck George and me to the floorboards, then apparated himself back downstairs.”
“From what I heard when I woke up,” George continued. “Harry then stuck himself to Professor Snape.”
Ron's face contorted into disbelief.
“No.” Molly spoke for the first time since her son's started talking. “They are not lying.”
She walked over to her three youngest boys. George stood up and let his mother take the seat next to Ron.
“Harry did some very powerful accidental magic last night.” Molly carded her fingers through her youngest boy's fringe. “It affected the entire house. I was coming up the stairs and you landed in my arms. The twins were stuck to the floorboards where Harry was once standing.” Tears burned the back of Molly's eyes as she remembered the emotionally charged magic that spread throughout the house. “I was scared for all of you. I couldn't move. Neither of you three could. Honestly, the only ones that could move around the house was Alastor, Arthur and Sirius. Severus was even stuck to the sofa.”
Molly swallowed the tears in her throat.
“Now I know that you are upset,” she said. Her voice quiet and soothing, bringing her other hand to cup Ron's face. “But understand that you were not the only one hurt last night. Harry was too.”
Molly stood up and kissed Ron on the forehead. Leaning closer to his ear, she said, quietly. “I want you to try and eat something, understand?”
Ron nodded. Kissing his forehead again, Molly straightened out and walked back to the stove. Arthur, who sat at the table and listened to everything that was said to Ron, grabbed a plate and began filling it with all sorts of breakfast goodies that Molly had prepared. He walked over to his son, waving his hand he slid the chair closer to the table. He placed the plate in front of Ron, and leaning down, he kissed the crown of Ron's head and walked out of the room not saying one word. Ron looked at his brothers, who nodded towards the plate, then began eating.
Alarms rang out throughout the hallway of the hospital that held the critical cases. There was a bustle of Healers and medi-witches rushing down the hall towards the room that held Poppy Pomfrey.
Severus apparated back to the Burrow. Looking around and not seeing anyone, he made his trek towards the house again. When he walked in the door, he saw his mother standing in the doorway between the kitchen and the living room. Severus looked over at the couch and saw Harry and Hermione sitting on it and Sirius sitting on the coffee table. Remus was standing behind the mutt both were looking at Harry.
“What's going on?” Severus asked, announcing that he was in the room.
Everyone had a look of surprise on their face when Severus spoke, but it was what the messy-haired boy did that shocked everyone in the room, again. Almost tripping over Sirius, pushing Remus out of the way, Harry ran over to Severus, wrapping his arms around his torso. Having the breath forcibly removed from him, Severus couldn't say anything about the action. Just the force of the impact caused Severus to take a step back and balance himself again, while wrapping his arms around the boy. Severus looked at his mother. He had the same shocked look on his face as everyone else in the room.
Albus knew that he would have to call an Order meeting soon. After the destruction of three places, he knew he would have to let everyone know what was going on. Also that someone would know where Harry was. But there was something that he wanted to look up first before calling the meeting. Albus was sure that Harry was alright. Knowing Harry, he would probably be with the Weasleys. The headmaster knew that if he wanted to go through the Magical Bonding, he would need to have Harry alone. That was easy part. The hard part was the bonding itself. That was what Albus was looking up. He had several books that dealt with different bonding rituals. Some dealt with parental bonds to marriage and mating bonds. Some even had a darker side to it. They dealt with slavery. Albus didn't want Harry to go through a darker bonding. He did love the boy, but he knew that for his plan to work Harry would have to be completely devoted to him, and a Magical bonding that equaled closely towards a parent/child bond was the only way.
While Albus was reading through one of the books, a barn owl came through his window. Albus quickly recognized the owl from being from St. Mungo's, having had to use them when his sister was alive. He relieved the owl of its post. The owl quickly left the way it came. Albus understood that as there would be no need for a reply.
Albus opened the letter and read it. All the color left the elderly wizard's face. His usual twinkling eyes dulled as he read. He truly began to look his age. Fawkes, sensing his master's distress, began a soothing trill song in hopes to calm his owner. That didn't work.
A rage began to build up in Albus. The parchment began to crinkle in his hand. Magic began to roll of Albus in waves. Fawkes abandoned his perch just as it exploded. The familiar landed on Albus' shoulder and nipped at his hair and ear, softly. The rolling magic instantly stopped when Fawkes cooed in Albus' ear. The crumbled parchment slipped out of Albus' hands and landed softly on his desk.
We are sorry to inform you that Madam Poppy Pomfrey succumbed to her injuries. She passed away ten minutes ago.
Albus wanted her to give Severus up. He didn't want her dead.