Who: Neville Longbottom, Remus Lupin
Where: DA Barracks, Hogsmeade- the Captain's office
Summary: Remus and Neville discuss the situation surrounding Snape, and future plans for fighting the good fight.
Remus apparated to the DA Headquarters, lines of fatigue and worry etched on his face like scars. Things had advanced far more quickly than they had predicted, and now Severus was bedridden until the cure was completed... or until he died.
He walked quickly toward his Captain's office, but once there he found himself hesitating. Bearing bad news was hard enough at any time... but this news had the true possibility of disaster lurking in its depths. However, all that delaying the inevitable did was keep him from Severus; and so, raising his hand, he knocked on Neville's door and waited.
Neville, who had been going over the paperwork and permissions necessary to put on a public demonstration featuring not only the Army but small children, looked up. "Come on in, it's- oh *bugger!*" He leaped from his chair and hastily lunged for Siegfried. "Bad crow! Get down from that... all right, come in."
Turning the doorknob, Remus entered as bidden. He couldn't help the slight smile of amusement that curved his lips as he saw Neville dealing with the irrepressible Siegfried. But the light expression didn't last long, fading as he gave a sigh. "Captain? Do you have a moment? I need to speak with you... and I'm afraid it's rather serious."
Wincing slightly, Neville nodded and hustled the crow back into his cage. The bird squawked angrily, which Neville found a touch insulting, as it was really a very large cage... He locked the door and turned to Remus. "Serious? Who's in danger?" he asked immediately, gesturing to a chair for the older man.
Closing the door behind him, Remus took the offered chair. "Danger? It's nothing quite that immediate, sir. And it concerns not only me personally, but... the future of the Order, as well."
All right. Neville hadn't expected that. He pulled up a chair of his own and sat down. "It's not Ministry interference, is it," he said. He didn't bother to make it sound like a question. "This is something else."
Shaking his head, Remus swallowed before speaking. "Sir... you know about the, um, health problems Severus Snape is suffering from, do you not? His condition has become serious enough to require him to be on complete bed-rest now, until...." He paused, drawing a breath and forcing himself to continue. "Until he is cured, or until he dies."
Neville stared. It took him a few moments to regain his speech. "I'd been informed of his condition," he said at last, "but I wasn't aware of its ... I didn't know it had got that bad!" He shook his head. "Who's on the trail of a cure?"
Remus couldn't help the look of surprise that crossed his face. "Severus himself, and Hannah Abbott... aided by myself and Draco Malfoy." He paused. "There has been significant progress, but... we have to be prepared. You, especially, have to be prepared, Neville... because if Severus dies, I'm afraid that the responsibility of fighting the coming war will fall almost entirely to you."
He didn't want to hear that. God, Neville didn't want to hear that. He'd been trying not even to think it since the conversation began... but there wasn't any way of getting around it. "We need more people, then," he said tersely. "More recru- wait. What do you mean me? Don't you mean us?"
"No, I'm afraid not," Remus replied, striving to keep his tone even. "Neville, I have to request a leave of absence from the DA, because I have to be at Snape Manor full time now. If Severus recovers, I will return. If he does not..." He paused again. "This is rather personal, and... I'd prefer it not go any further than us. But there is a... magical bond between Severus and myself. An unbreakable one. And if he dies... I will die, too."
The young captain opened his mouth, but no sound came out. Aware of how much of a git he looked, Neville closed it hastily and tried to think. "That... that would be *bad*," he managed.
"Indeed," the werewolf replied, unconsciously echoing a pet phrase of his mate's. "I'm very sorry about this, but... you need to be prepared. Leadership of the Order will no doubt fall to Minerva, but with the condition that Hogwarts is in, I'm not certain how much assistance she is going to be able to give you."
He sighed again. "I am going to speak with Severus, about making up a list of contingency plans, as well as giving you access to everything that the Order knows. Unfortunately, the war cost us so much, and so many..." He shook his head. Neville knew this already, there was no sense in repeating it.
With a valiant effort not to go white in the face, Neville nodded. "All... all right," he said. "I... suppose I can... yes, that makes sense." A thought occurred to him. "There is one matter, though... Mr. Shacklebolt. He *was* in the Order originally. I've got to report to him now. Even if it's only on paper. How much does he know, and how much ought to be passed to him?"
Even as he said it he knew it wasn't a commander's question, but a student's. Nevertheless, it could not be unsaid.
"I will have to ask Severus how much Kingsley has been involved in the planning," Remus replied thoughtfully. "Unfortunately, between the DA and helping with the cure, I have not been as involved in the day-to-day operations of the Order as I probably should have been. However, you, Neville, are the leader of the DA. If I know Kingsley, he will offer any and all assistance to you. But it is up to you to lead."
He paused again. "If I may be so bold, sir... I have absolutely no doubt about your ability to do it, and to win the war."
Neville nodded, rubbing at his face with one hand. "Thank you," he muttered, trying to think. His head was all in a whirl-
And then it hit him. The pattern. The floor. That conversation with Fleur.
"Oh, bugger," he breathed. "That's what it meant..."
Remus paused, frowning. "I beg your pardon... sir. What what meant?"
Neville looked up. "Fleur Delacoeur spoke to Blaise Zabini a while ago about something she discovered at Moody End," he said. "Apparently there was... I don't know, some kind of a, a scrying device built into his floor. I'm not sure exactly what, all I've got to go on is a description, but the thing showed images when asked questions or given thoughts to work on. She saw a number of things- a lot of owls, four wizards who were probably the Hogwarts founders, things like that- and didn't know what they meant." He paused. "The last thing she saw of that floor was when she thought to herself 'so what's going to happen?'. Apparently... apparently it showed her my face."
He grimaced weakly. "Asked me what it meant, 'zat you are going to 'appen'. I told her I didn't know, but I had a few guesses. I swear, Remus, I didn't think this!"
"Moody End?" the werewolf echoed. "I... I seem to remember Alastor talking about something there at one point, but I don't recall any specifics. Let me ask Severus. It's possible that Alastor left notes with the Order about it."
Relieved, Neville nodded. If someone else knew about it, then- well, that would help. "Thank you," he said. "I appreciate it. I've got the notes Blaise gave me, I'll give them to you to bring to him..."
Remus nodded, rising to his feet. "That would help, thank you. Neville... if... well, if anything does happen, I want you to know that... it's been an honor and a pleasure serving under you."
It wasn't the sort of thing Neville wanted to hear, but he didn't have much choice. "Thank you, Remus," he said formally, standing as well. "It's been the same being your Captain."
The werewolf gave the younger wizard a lopsided smile. "Thank you. I can be reached at Snape Manor in the future. And if... if anything happens, I will make certain that Hannah, or someone, informs you as quickly as possible. We..." he paused, drawing a deep breath. "I believe that Severus and I will try to arrange to keep any... unfortunate outcome... secret for as long as possible, in order to buy you time. I have no idea what Lucius and his cohorts have planned, but I'm certain that the demise of two of their most vehement enemies might cause them to accelerate their actions, to move in where they perceive a power vacuum."
Gloomily, Neville nodded. It made sense; it was what the books Michael had got him had said might happen. It had appeared in his other reading, too- books by Muggles on the ways of warfare and conquest. "We'll have to cut them off at the knees first, then," he said. "Stage a pre-emptive strike right when they think they're about to have an advantage. I'm going to start the recruitment drive tomorrow..."
"Good," Remus responded, with another slight smile. He held out his hand then. "I hope to see you again Neville... and under less... grim circumstances."
Thankfully, his hands weren't sweating. That was a surprise. Still, Neville wasn't about to complain; he reached out and shook the other wizard's hand. "You'd better," he said with a s much a smile as he could pull off. "You and S... se.... I can't say it. Mister Snape."
Surprisingly, Remus found himself chuckling a bit. "He's not so scary Neville, once you get to know him," he replied, before turning and walking to the door. He paused there, looking back over his shoulder. "Hannah will find the cure, even if it's too late for us. When she does, please... when they are cured, please tell your parents I said that they should be very proud of you."
With that, he opened the door and was gone.
Neville nodded, watching Remus go. "All right," he said quietly, as the door closed. With the older wizard gone, he dropped back into his chair and stared moodily at the toad on his desk.
"Well, Trev," he said, "Looks like I've got my foot in it this time. What d'you think?"
Trevor, being a toad, merely croaked. But it at least sounded sympathetic; Neville nodded. "Thanks," he said.