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Chapter 81

The fire in the Ministry was extensive, there was no loss of life but the Prophecy rooms were destroyed as was the Time room. Tom told them that it was an accident; apparently someone left a lamp on and it was left near a book. The candle burned down everything. The alarms were not sounded until the next morning. The head maintenance wizard had his retirement party the day before. The position was not filled and no one cared to check the alarm spells until the morning.

Tom did not give it much importance, "it is all conjecture. There was not one single prophecy in that room that predicted any outcome. They are recorded to appease the older crowd. Uncertain, unreliable magic." Tom finished his steak.

Minerva agreed wholeheartedly, "Albus plans to retire the course by next year. Our Divination teacher is thinking of retirement."

Severus wondered if Sybill would apply next year. It was better to not think of such things and leave the barmy woman alone. Hermione who still felt mild effects of Felix Felicis giggled. "Our teacher was a fraud ninety percent of the time. She did give a good two prophecies."

"Hermione." Severus said sharply. Hermione smiled sadly, "it is all nonsense, all one came to fruition. No matter." She then directed her attention to Tom.

"I was going to wait until the end of the month but I can't. I've decided to work with for you and your ministry." Hermione said.

Tom hugged her happily. Minerva looked at her again, "she's taken a potion. I noticed it all night. What is it?"

"Felix Felicis." Severus supplied as he ate some of his mashed potatoes.

"Hermione, you cannot accept. You are under the influence." Minerva reproached. Tom smiled at her.

"But my love, Hermione's made her choice. Felix has made it easier for her." Tom said.

Severus laughed, "Spoken like a true Slytherin. Don't worry too much Minnie, Hermione planned to take the post before she drank the potion."

Minerva smiled, "you two are incorrigible." She said and smiled.

"Remember when we drank it. We should do it again." Tom said happily.

Hermione nodded, "your father is a wonderful potion master. He's made it in only about two months. It works perfectly. We had wonderful sex all night and all my work at the ministry went so well."

"Mum!" Tom cried out. Severus laughed and kissed her forehead.

"I may have to tweak some of it. The potion appears to have honesty as an unexpected side effect." Severus said sheepishly.

Tom laughed then. They all laughed, Severus saw the little boy he was so many years ago. "What have you brought me?" Hermione asked impishly after they all had several glasses of wine and were home.

"Happy Birthday mum." Tom said and kissed her cheek. Hermione loved her signed copy of One Hundred Years of Solitude. "He was in town a couple of months earlier. He was a very pleasant person." Tom said. Hermione smiled.

"This is by far the most wonderful birthday." His wife whispered.

She pointed the wand at her. They decided that it was best to let Tom know that she was aging. She gave Tom the parchment.

"How can this be?" Tom asked softly. Minerva frowned. "It's not possible."

"We don't know." Severus and Hermione only knew that the prophecy existed and that it was now gone.

Tom pocketed the parchment. "Do you mind if Albus and I investigate?" Tom knew about the fact that Albus had his own theories.

"Do as you wish but your father and I just know that the timeline has aligned itself." Hermione replied.

Severus bottled the rest of the Felix Felicis. "Two bottles. Happy Christmas." He said openly. Minerva and Tom took the bottles with smiles on their faces. Severus spent a quiet three weeks. He spent all his time reading at his leisure and found that he was bored by mid-October. He decided that it was time to start with his independent research. Hermione was always busy at the ministry. Lily was still a bit touchy about the whole Potter mess. His best friend was also very busy. Severus decided that he would start the research on the unforgivables. Mainly on the imperius curse. He was surprised when he received Lily's letter.

"Dear Sev,

Please come tonight. James is back. I need you and Hermione to come by. 9:00 PM

Lots of love

Lils."

Severus was happy that the toerag was back. Hermione would not stop talking about the cloak and how she wanted it back. He glanced at the clock in the library. It was 6:00PM. He would go to the Ministry and have dinner with Hermione. Severus would also visit Tom if time allowed.

He dressed in simple muggle clothing. He preferred them to robes. Hermione had to wear robes every day. It was a nice change in dynamics. He left the house and took the tube to The Ministry. Severus entered through the visitor's entrance and went in search of Tom first. The secretary let him in.

Tom was busily signing papers. "Hello." Severus said and sat in front of him.

Tom did not stop signing things. Severus watched over the desk and picked up a piece of paper, "sanctions on half-species."

"Yes. Dolores Umbridge proposed it. A bunch of nonsense if you ask me but it's gotten traction among some of the Wizengamot. Albus and I plan to discuss a counter law. Hermione is helping me with some of the research as we speak." Tom said.

"How are things?" Severus asked.

Tom rubbed his eyes, "could be better. You have no idea how much work has piled up since last month. All manageable so far. There are some threats from some anti-muggle groups. Don't worry. Nothing like right after Grindelwald's death."

"Why are you here?" Tom asked him.

"Well, I've come to take Hermione to dinner and then we are off to Godric's Hollow, Lily's invitation." Severus said.

"I heard good things about Potter. He shows promise, a good recruit, the only one from your class." Tom began.

Severus rolled his eyes, "he could be adequate."

"Severus, I want you to reconsider your position. Come and work with the Unspeakables. You would be a great asset. You may pick potions, spells, you could even choose DADA if you so well like." Tom said once more. Severus frowned and remained silent until the older man finished his speech. "Albus agrees with me."

Severus then spoke very clearly, "I have no intention of working for the Ministry or Hogwarts. Albus knows and you should stop asking Tom. It is unbecoming of you to beg so much."

"Bloody arrogant you are and pig headed." Tom burst.

Severus nodded, "it would never work. Unspeakables are a sorry sheep of a lot. I am not sheep and will not follow you blindly or anyone else for that matter. Those days ended long ago."

"Now, I do have a favor to ask. I need permission for some ingredients. They are forbidden. I could of course get my hands on them through the black market but imagine how it would look. Someone would eventually find out that the Minister's nephew is dabbling with unsanctioned ingredients." Severus trailed off.

Tom frowned, "you'll have to submit a request with the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. I'll have them speed up the process. Do not try to procure these ingredients without the permits."

"I knew you would understand." Severus said. They talked about possible ideas for Christmas. "Minerva and I will spend Christmas day with her family. We can do Boxing Day and my birthday of course." Tom said.

Severus agreed, "Where are you going after this?"

"Hogsmeade. Remus no longer needs it, we have claimed it once more." Tom said happily. "Minerva is thrilled to have it back. I moved back last week. Minerva insisted that all the work be done by both of us. She is particular about magic performed by other people at her home."

"Hammersmith?" Severus asked.

"Empty, weekend and summer home." Tom replied swiftly.

Severus liked Notting Hill but it was not his home. He thought better than to ask just yet. He had left all of it Tom after all.

Hermione came in before he made a fool of himself. "Dearest. Polly said you were here." She came in and kissed him. "Did you receive Lily's owl?"

"I did. I was just talking to Tom for a bit. I thought we could have some dinner somewhere near." He said.

"Wonderful. Remus will join us." Hermione kissed Tom goodbye.

"Why does he have to join us?" Severus grumbled.

"He is our friend and I think Narcissa is coming too." Hermione said trying to appease him. Severus sighed, at least Cissy would be there. He had not seen her since Lily's wedding. It would be nice to catch up.

They apparated to the Leaky Cauldron. Narcissa was there with Remus. She waved at him. She kissed both his cheeks, "you never write. I have so much to tell you."

Hermione smiled at her, "Narcissa." One of the fake ones.

"Hermione." Narcissa replied with a fake smile of her own.

Remus nodded at him. "Any idea why they have asked us to their home? A little late for a house warming party." The werewolf said.

"I was not invited." Narcissa said a little acidly.

Remus kissed her hand, "they know that I will tell you. I always tell you everything."

"I know you do Remus." Narcissa made eyes at the other man. They kissed briefly. "We have news too."

"What is it?" Severus asked. He thought it was a pregnancy, one of many failed ones.

"Remus and I are getting married on New Year's Eve." Narcissa replied. She showed him a simple, yet very elegant engagement ring. Narcissa looked at it very lovingly.

"How wonderful! Congratulations. Who will be best man?" Hermione blurted.

"Sirius of course. He is his best friend after all." Narcissa said knowingly.

Remus nodded, "it will be Padfoot. I hope James and Peter are not too disappointed. They will be groomsmen."

"Magnolia will be matron of honor." Narcissa smiled happily.

"How did your uncle and aunt take it?" Severus asked.

"Regulus said they are very upset. Aunt Walburga just started to talk to me once more. It shall pass. Uncle Orion will convince her that it is not so bad." Narcissa said with a wave of her hand.

"Why haven't they disown you?" Severus asked. "Do they not know?"

Narcissa's eyes glinted, "They know that Remus is a half blood and dear friend of their son."

Remus placed a hand over hers, "my condition does not come up in polite conversation."

"I am not ashamed Remus. You know I am not. I don't care what they think." Narcissa said clearly.

Remus smiled at her brightly, "I know you are not. I don't need your relatives to give you more of a headache. It is enough with Delphini."

Hermione must have looked as confused as Severus did because Narcissa explained quickly. "My niece, uncle Orion and aunt Walburga have legal custody of her. I visit her every week. She loves them and they love her. I want to keep a cordial relationship with them. So far, they are civil. It is hard sometimes but uncle Orion is much less offended with our engagement."

They ate their dinner. Remus and Hermione talked work and plans while Narcissa and him caught up.

"I saw Hugh and Evan the other day. They send their regards." Narcissa was a well of gossip. Evan was fine, working on re-establishing the good family name. Hugh was oversees courting a foreign wife. Avery worked for Gringotts and trained in London.

"Blanche married an Italian wizard. Someone by the name of Zabini." Narcissa said. "Poor Rollanda is going insane at her home. Magnolia has promised to let her stay with her and Greengrass. He is so much older than her. You would not believe it but I think she is truly in love." Severus chuckled alongside her.

"Regulus wrote the other day. He's found himself a girlfriend." Narcissa said with a smirk. "Oh he's being coy about it but I know he has. He is very secretive about the whole thing but Delphine found a letter he left behind. The poor dear was so excited. She loves tales of love." Narcissa continued on.

"Cissy, what do you do all day? You must get bored." Severus asked her after she was all out of gossip.

"Not so much. You know Lucius left me quite some money. I volunteer to charity and I read." Narcissa said quickly.

"What about work?" Severus asked her.

Narcissa blinked, "why would I do that? I plan to have children soon. I won't have time for that." She lowered her voice, "don't say anything to your wife. She may tell Remus and he isn't convinced about children just yet."

Severus nodded, knowing full well he would either forget or tell Hermione right away. The finished eating and apparated to Godric's Hollow just before 9:00PM. Severus had very negative memories of the place. He was surprised Lily could bear to live in this very house. He hugged Lily just a little more tightly when she opened the door.

They entered the living room. Potter looked distressed. Black sat on a settee and looked as if the weight of the world was on his shoulder blades.

"What is he doing here?" The mutt glared at him. "He's here to help." Surprisingly it wasn't Lily who uttered the words. Potter looked at him with hate but also determination.

They were all seated. Remus looked every bit as confused as he felt. "Why do you two look so sick?"

Potter shook his head, "Peter has done something stupid. He's joined an anti-muggle group. He's gone insane."

Remus actually laughed, "no, you're mistaken. Peter could never."

Black frowned, "it's true. I had some suspicions but it happened."

"How are you so certain?" Remus asked, refusing to believe the words his two best friends uttered.

"I followed him." Potter began his account of the story. He followed the rat once he stayed in Poland. He went to work and then went to an underground rally. A foreign wizard spoke about blood purity and the importance of blood purity. He spoke of the Great Grindelwald and the road ahead.

Severus listened carefully and took pause when Potter spoke while looking at Lily. "They are planning an attack in France. They know the United Kingdom is too strong now. They plan to start in France, gather influence from the last movement. There are still wizards who want more restrictive measures placed on muggles. They see your uncle's influence here as a veritable threat. There is a plot against him once again."

Severus looked at Potter and said clearly, "he's not planning to submit any registration form. Did you confront him?"

"I did." Potter said slowly. "He's blinded by hatred. He believes in all of that nonsense. He said that we are better. He asked me to join. He said the three of us could effect change in England."

"The three of us?" Remus asked.

Black smiled darkly, "James, me and him. You are inferior, you are a half breed. He's read some of Umbridge's published theories."

Severus looked at him, "you've written to him."

"Yes, I have. He wrote weeks ago, telling me of this group. I could not believe the filth he wrote." Black spat.

Remus paled, "why did you ask us here?"

Potter looked sad, "we have to find a way to help him. This isn't Peter, he's kind."

Narcissa shook his head, "only he isn't."

"Cissy, you barely know him." Black said, annoyed by her input.

Narcissa frowned, "he bullied the younger students. He always trailed after you. He felt protected under the marauders but he was mean spirited. He broke Regulus' arm the first week he was at Hogwarts. Surely, you remember?"

Black shook his head, "they fought. Reg said they fought. Peter had scratches. Reg never said anything else."

"Reg wanted you to be his friend. You believed Pettigrew." Narcissa said. Remus stood up. "He's our friend. We have to help him."

Potter nodded and so did Black. "This is what I think we should do. Sirius can stay a few weeks with him. Make him understand how stupid he's being. We can then have him come back to England. We'll register him and check on him. We need your help. We have to find a way for this to go away. Your uncle could help."

Severus looked at them, "no."

He was surprised when Black seconded him, "we need to let the minister know all about this."

"Padfoot, what are you saying?" Potter stood up.

Black looked at him, "I've seen it. I have seen it happen. Bellatrix was not bad. She wasn't always bad. She was nice to me when I was a kid and then she got herself matched with Lestrange. They poisoned aunt Druella and uncle Cygnus. Don't look at me like that. They were always pompous and cold, maybe aunt Druella was a bit psychotic but she never acted on anything. It was people like Peter. He told me that girls like Hermione and Lily should be put to the service of better wizards. He said that Lily's sister should be dead, as all her family members. He said that he was sick to be in your wedding. I have all the letters. I will give them to you." The mutt looked at him clearly.

"Sirius, you can't." Remus said angrily.

"He said that you needed to be in a cage. There is a reason why he has not replied to any of your letters. He believes that you are less than us, in his own words, not only are you a half-blood you are also a beast. Moony, it is done. We need to stop this now." Black continued.

"He is our friend. He's our best friend. He' brainwashed." Potter defended him.

Severus frowned, "he would not think twice before betraying any of you."

"I thought you would understand. I know about your uncle; I know that he followed Grindelwald once upon a time. My father told me that your uncle saw the errors of his ways. How he rejected any involvement." Potter began.

"Tom is not the rat. He never hurt anyone."

"Neither has Peter." Remus said heatedly. Potter's eyes looked away.

"Prongs?" Black asked.

"I have no way to be sure but when I confronted him, I casted a priori Incantatem, it had two unforgivables. He said that he lent his wand to someone else." Potter said but then tried to look at Remus who paled considerably.

"Was he lying James?" Remus asked roughly.

"Did he do it?" Sirius asked.

"We have no way of knowing." Potter almost shouted.

Remus paced, "you know his tell. He always does it, without fail."

Lily spoke softly, "his left foot gives a small tap."

"Pathetic." Severus said angrily. He knew it was true too. The old Wormtail had the same small tell.

Potter came at him. Black and Remus stopped him. "There isn't any way I could be of help."

"I told you we could not trust him." Potter spat at Lily.

Black moved to the side, "I will tell the minister myself too."

"Remus please." Narcissa said. She looked afraid, "you know we can't be involved in this you and I are marked people. They think of us as untrustworthy."

Remus looked at James and her. He stepped to Narcissa's side. "James, you know this is the way."

Lily stood by James' side. "What if we waited? What if you three went and reasoned with him? One last chance before telling the ministry. Severus, please."

He looked at Hermione who nodded, "one last chance."

Severus then looked at Potter who had a glint in his eyes. He would get himself killed. He would. Lily would then die of pain. "You have three days to figure this out before I take action." Hermione and him took their leave. Severus kissed Lily goodbye, "you know what he is capable of Lils. Don't be foolish." He whispered as goodbye.

Hermione took his hand and they disapparated. "What do you think will happen?" She asked him as soon as they were home.

"I don't know." Severus said which worried him more than he cared to admit.