Who: Severus Snape, Neville Longbottom
Where: Snape Manor
Summary: The two leaders on the side of Light have a meeting.
Severus gave a slight sigh, staring at the parchment in front of him. Having been forced to spend the day following the Order meeting in bed due to sheer exhaustion, he was now behind in his list of tasks he wanted to complete before the next meeting. And the first thing he wanted to do was compile a complete list of the names of every wizard and witch who had already agreed to assist in preparation for possible war.
Unfortunately, there weren’t very many.
Putting down his quill, the Potions Master pinched the bridge of his nose and closed his eyes. The more he stared at the small list of names, the more discouraged he was becoming.
So many losses. So many lives destroyed. We cannot possibly hope to survive another war. There simply aren’t enough people left.
Suddenly, the dark haired wizard was pulled out of his thoughts by a soft knock at the door. Looking up, he raised an eyebrow at Dimpy, who looked far more nervous than she normally did.
“Yes?” he questioned evenly, trying not to let the frustration he was feeling become directed as the house-elf. He had always loathed other wizards for doing such a thing, and had always attempted to never do so himself.
“Begging Master’s pardon,” Dimpy said, her wide eyes looking enormous as her nervousness grew. “A man approaches the Manor.”
“A man?” Severus replied, his hand slipping to his wand almost unconsciously. “What man?”
Dimpy swallowed. “Dimpy believes the man is Neville Longbottom, sir. Dimpy remembers him from his previous visit. Dimpy wants to know whether to show him in.” She said it all in a rush, then waited with baited breath for Severus’ answer.
Longbottom. It cannot be possible. Yet, he knew it had to be. The wards prevented anyone from impersonating someone. And Dimpy was rarely wrong with her identifications.
Finally, he nodded, a slow smirk crossing his features. “Answer the door when he knocks and make certain it is actually him. Once you are positive, allow him access to the entry hall. I will be there momentarily.”
Dimpy nodded, relief evident in her voice. “Yes, Master,” she squeaked, disappearing with a snap of her fingers.
Severus leaned back slightly in his chair, the smirk never leaving his face. So, Longbottom is attempting to meet me on common ground. This should prove rather … interesting.
Neville walked up the path to Snape Manor, his posture taut with a confidence he did not entirely feel. For all that Pr- Mr. Snape was now the head of the Order of the Phoenix, there were far too many memories from his school days for him to make this journey with any kind of real comfort. True, he was of age, and yes, he had managed himself respectably at the meeting, but...
He took a deep breath. His own feelings didn't matter. The safety of Wizarding Britain was what mattered. And if the War had taught Neville anything, it was that it was far easier to be strong when you knew that someone else was depending on you to do it.
The thought firmly in mind, he made the rest of the walk to the doorstep at marginally greater ease.
Dimpy waited for the first knock at the door before opening it. Gazing up at the young man standing there, she spoke before he had the chance. “Master Snape says Dimpy is to let Captain Longbottom in and Captain Longbottom is to wait for Master Snape,” she squeaked, allowing him entrance.
Once he was inside, she shut the door, bowed once, and promptly disappeared.
Neville nodded down to the house-elf and stepped into the entrance hall. He wanted very much to wipe the palms of his hands on his robes, but for all he knew Mr. Snape had some way of seeing the room from afar. No sense making a bad impression, not now. There'd be time to do things like that after the meeting was over.
He glanced around the room instead, a small thread of curiosity working its way into his brain. It had never occurred to him to wonder where Snape lived when he was Neville's professor. Somehow he'd assumed the man slept in a coffin somewhere, or something.
Severus made his way casually down the hallway, pausing just outside of seeing distance to evaluate the Captain of Dumbledore’s Army. While it was no secret that he’d never had much faith in Neville’s abilities at Potions, he was forced to admit that the young man had done far better in life than he could have possibly foreseen.
Still, the small tics of nervousness that had always been present during every single Potions class at Hogwarts were still evident now. Somehow, though, Severus found that almost reassuring. It was as though the war hadn’t destroyed everything familiar to him, even if that sense of familiarity came in the form of Neville Longbottom.
Finally stepping into the entry hall, the dark haired wizard raised an eyebrow and, in a silky tone, greeted the visitor. “Captain Longbottom. What a rather unexpected surprise. To what do I owe this impromptu visit?”
Neville knew it would happen. He'd been expecting Snape's voice to come out of nowhere. It was the only thing that kept him from jumping out of his skin. True, he started a bit at the sound of Snape's voice- but only a little bit. He got it under control and turned to face his former professor. "Sorry to disturb you," he said, willing himself not to even start on the word 'professor'. "Mr. Snape, but... it seemed like a good idea to, ah, come by. It's about the, um, the meeting the other night."
Blast! He was falling all over his own words. Steady, Longbottom, steady...
"As I said the other night, Dumbledore's Army is supposed to be part of protecting Wizarding Britain. Given the way things stand at the moment, I thought the plans ought to be more-" He hesitated, grabbing frantically at the words that dashed through his head and vanished. One ultimately stuck. "Specific. I had some ideas...'
It was taking everything Severus had not to openly sneer and laugh at the blundering young man. However, something stopped him and instead he felt a small amount of respect that began to steadily grow.
It obviously took a great amount of courage for him to come here. Perhaps he is finally, truly showing the reason that blasted hat placed him in Gryffindor…
Scowling mentally at his own direction of thoughts, he finally spoke, if only to save Neville from any further stammering. “Of course,” he stated smoothly. “However, I do not believe the hallway is the ideal place for such a delicate conversation.”
He made no mention of the children that were now living in the Manor, and gave a silent prayer to whatever deity was listening that they remained out of sight until Neville had gone. Although, he suddenly realized, It is likely Ms. Abbott has already informed him of the children’s move. After all, the last time I checked, they were rather … close.
Not wanting to dwell on that direction of thought at all, the Potions Master turned on his heel. “Let us go to my office. We stand less chance of being disturbed there,” he commented, making certain to keep his steps slow enough so Neville could walk beside him if he so chose.
After all, he isn’t a student anymore. He is, in fact, my peer. Merlin, what has the world come to?
Relieved, Neville nodded. He hadn't liked the hallway either, but he figured he'd never have gotten any further if he didn't at least present the beginnings of the idea. Consoling himself with the thought that he'd survived seven years of this man's classes and that nothing could happen tonight that could be any worse, he moved to catch up with Snape.
A bit to his surprise, Neville realized that he was still staring about the place as they walked through other rooms of the house. "This was your family's home, wasn't it," he murmured, not entirely meaning to say it aloud.
Severus stiffened slightly, biting back a scathing remark. The boy is not a fool. He would not have mentioned such a thing if he believed it would cause a negative response from me. That was, in fact, one of the few lessons he managed to actually learn in the seven years I was cursed as his Professor.
Out loud, he replied evenly, “Yes, it was. Snape Manor has been passed down from one generation to the next for the past seven hundred years.” Opening the door to his office, Severus motioned Neville inside. Once in, he shut the door, warded it with a wave of his wand, and motioned to the chair across from his desk.
Easing himself into his own seat, he placed his arms on his desk and locked his dark gaze on his former student. “Before we begin, there are a few things I believe we should discuss.”
It wasn’t a question or suggestion, regardless of how it was worded. However, Severus found himself lacking the usual harshness in his tone that he’d always used when speaking to Neville.
Death simply does not suit me, he thought sourly.
Neville nodded, wincing inwardly. Oh, he'd put his foot in it with the question about the house, all right. He'd meant to call it impressive- not knowing what to expect, he'd been braced for something horrid, only to find the truth rather more palatable than that. Still, there was nothing to be said or done now, though he couldn't quite refrain from a very quiet whistle of awe. Seven hundred years...
Once inside the office, he nodded. He settled into the chair and found Snape looking at him-
Funny, he thought, Siegfried looks just like that when he's trying to make me jump.
"Of course," he said, rather more calmly than he'd expected.
Severus wasn’t certain what, precisely, he wanted to say. He knew that they needed to clear a bit of the air between them if they were to be expected to work together for the next Merlin only knew how long. However, he couldn’t very well apologize for how he’d tormented the young man for seven years, because the simple fact was he didn’t really regret it.
Finally, he just began speaking, allowing his words to guide him as he often did.
“It is certainly not a secret that I have never taken it easy on you,” he began, knowing that was perhaps the biggest understatement he’d ever uttered. Still, he continued on as though it were nothing but the complete truth. “And, while I find it quite difficult to believe that you are the best person for the position you now fill, I will also admit that you are the one in charge of the new Army, instead of someone such as Potter.”
As if almost expecting an immediate defense of everyone’s favorite Gryffindor, Severus didn’t pause in his speech. “You are uncertain of yourself at times, which means that you will listen to others with more experience before making any decisions that you are not comfortable in making. Potter, for all his heroic qualities, lacks the common sense to realized when he is truly over his head.”
Had he just paid Neville Longbottom a compliment? And it is at this precise moment in time that the world as I once knew it tilted on its axis.
Ignoring the sarcastic voice in his head, the Potions Master pressed onward. “I realize that I am no longer your Professor, nor do I hold any amount of authority over you. Yet I find myself hard pressed to consider you an equal.”
Pausing to take a breath, he finally said, “However, the simple fact remains that we are now facing yet another war, one that I am not certain the Wizarding World is going to survive. We are the leaders of the two groups who stand a chance of eliminating the problem before it gets too far out of control.”
It took everything he had to force out the next words, yet he somehow managed. “And, as such, it is only logical that we put aside whatever … misgivings we may have and learn to work together. I am willing to do so, provided you are, as well.”
Neville exhaled. His head was still attached to his shoulders.
"If it's any comfort, Mr. Snape," he said, "I find it difficult to believe myself. I certainly didn't expect this kind of responsibility when I went to Hogsmeade for my interview. But they offered it to me, and all I could do was say yes." Merlin's beard, but he wanted to wipe his hands covertly. "I've spent my time since trying to learn what I've got to know- and trying to find people for the Army who're strong where I'm weak."
He couldn't entirely suppress a laugh at the admission Snape made. "Equal? Mr. Snape, I've barely been out of school a year..." He shook his head a little. "Still, I've got to do the job that's in front of me. We both do." His voice dropped as he added, "I don't want to see anyone else hurt, if there's a way to prevent it. Whatever the Army can do to cut this problem off at the knees, we'll do."
Severus gave a silent sigh of relief when Neville didn’t burst into tears and flee the room. He found himself equally grateful that the young Captain wasn’t taking the opportunity to begin screaming at him for every slight he had suffered through while a student at Hogwarts.
It would seem that Remus was quite correct in his beliefs about him. Longbottom may actually turn into someone his parents would be proud of.
Nodding his head, he finally spoke. “That is certainly good to hear. Neither Remus nor myself intend to allow this to continue. We have every intention, as I stated the other night, of eliminating the problem altogether.”
Picking up his quill, he dipped it in the ink then prepared to right on the blank parchment in front of him. “And now that we have the pleasantries out of the way, I would suggest you begin outlining your various ideas,” he stated.
As he listened to the Captain of Dumbledore’s Army begin to explain what he’d had in mind, Severus found himself impressed. Perhaps, he thought, while jotting down a few notes, The Wizarding World isn’t quite as doomed as I had believed it to be.