Some notes and translations at the bottom.
So this has taken me a good few weeks to nut out!
"Come, Minerva, we're going to have tea. You've been working entirely too hard," Filius said breezing into her office with a more sedate Severus gliding behind him.
She looked up startled, "but-"
"No buts," said Severus sternly.
"You need a break from work and all the students", Filius informed her..
"But it's a Hogsmeade weekend, There is no break in going to the pub there!" Minerva protested, letting her colleagues heard her out the door.
"Ah my dear cat, we are not going to the Three Broomsticks", Filius said
"We better not be going to the Hogshead!" she cut in, "I like Aberforth, but the place is a foul!"
Severus snorted, and Filius said, "no, we're going to another place I know. We just going to the Three Broomsticks to use their fireplace," He said taking her by the arm and leading her out of the school.
He kept up a steady stream of staff gossip so that it did not even occur to her to question why they were using a public fireplace and not the staff fireplace in her office.
It was masterfully done, Severus thought as he followed them, occasionally adding in a snarky comment. His colleague really could have been a Slytherin, even if he had been a little slow on the uptake in regards to his Ravenclaws. But then, goblin children were raised rather differently to human ones Severus thought, so the mistakes of giving human children too much independence was understandable.
Of course, the real reason they were leaving school was to take Minerva to Gringotts, and they didn't want the destination to be recorded in the school floo logs. But she didn't need to know that, he thought with a smirk as they entered the pub and Filius led Minerva to the floo.
Severus was momentarily stunned when Bill Weasley waved at him in friendly greeting from a table by the floo. It had been so long since he'd had a friend, or anyone other than a colleague that didn't mind being seen with him in public, that he was momentarily dumfounded. He stared for a moment, and the smile on Bill's face seemed to falter a little. Which seemed to knock Severus out of his surprised stupor. He quickly nodded his head at the man, and couldn't suppress a slight smile as warmth filled his chest. It was nice having a friend again.
It was such an odd feeling having people that liked him.
Minerva was not happy when she followed Flitwick through the floo only to land in Gringotts, in Filius's cousin Ripsharp's office, instead of a pub or tea shop like she'd expected. She was not at all impressed.
"What are we doin' here?" she asked her Scots brogue coming out in her irritation, "do you know how much paperwork I still have waiting for me? I've been cleaning up the mess Potter made with that bloody article!"
"You need a check-up, my dear, and my cousin was kind enough to offer to do it for you," Filius started.
But the woman only seemed more confused and irritated, "I am in perfect health! We have our own mediwitch! Why on earth would we need to come all the way out here, and pester your cousin?"
"We suspect someone has been compelling you, as Severus has been," Filius said reasonably trying to calm the increasingly irate woman. Flitwick's cousin just sat back and watched the byplay with a harshly amused smirk.
Minerva glowered at her colleagues, "Yer aff yer heid!" Her accent coming out again in her irritation.
"Then you won't mind consenting to a check, it won't take a minute." Severus cut in smoothly, "then you can go back to school and keep overworking yourself putting out fires Dumbledore has started with this whole mess of a tournament."
She glared at him but nodded with a huff seeing the familiar mutinously stubborn expression of Severus's face.
Several moments later, Filius and Severus were pouring over the test results with Ripshard. Minerva, however, was cursing up a storm in such thickly accented fury Severus wasn't really sure which language she was speaking, English or Gaelic.
"He's oot his tree! The rank gallus jobbie, the clatty basturt! He's a fuckin' bampot that I'll have up to his oxters in thestral shite ah will!"
Either way, her swearing was fluent, creative and extensive. Severus had to hand it to her, he was rather impressed by the bits he did understand. He hadn't thought she had it in her.
She came to a stop when she realised they were all staring at her, "Gaun'ae no dae that?"
"Pardon?" Severus said, making Filius snort, "I think that was scots for, will you please stop doing that?"
Minerva clenched her jaw, forced herself to relax her clench fits and took a deep break, "what he said," her accent still thick but now decipherable again, "What ye goupin' at?"
"You swear rather creatively, and with rather explicit detail for a Human. We applaud you", Ripshard said.
Minerva blushed but said, "well he'd deserve it, I want to boil his head in fouled potion."
"Longbottom's 'fouled' potion," Severus offered, "maybe that messed up boil potion from first year. That made spectacularly painful boils spring up on his classmates, the poor idiots."
"Indeed," she said, and it was a credit to how angry she still was that she did not defend her student's potion skills as she normally would.
"He does deserve it for all he's done," Filius said.
"Why'd he do it?! the bleeding, bowfin' bawbag!?" She asked, "I always did everything he asked! I trusted him!"
"Control," Severus said, "he feels he alone knows best."
"We've seen people like that before though," Filius muttered.
"Yes, Grindelwald, Hitler, Pol Pot and You-Know-Who, just to name a few!" Minerva added heatedly, "what on earth gave him the right to force our hands! To take our autonomy away! He was meant to be one of the wises, greatest wizards of our age! When did he become like those horrible, horrible leaders from history. They were meant to be history and not modern leadership ideals!"
"He can't have done this," she said, "he wouldn't have, I've always been his right hand..."
"That's the compulsions talking," Severus cut in harshly.
"Come on, my dear, let's get you sorted out so you can think clearly again," Filius said, taking her by the arm.
"Did he really do it though?" She murmured as they led her away to the ritual room, "he can't have. There must be a mistake."
"That's the compulsions talking."
Several hours later it was a much more haggard, Minerva that was sitting in Ripshard's office fuming again.
"I'll gie him a skelpit lugboil, ach no, I'll gie him a face lit a melted welly! I can'nae believe the gall of the walloper."
It took them another hour to talk her down from storming into the school and giving Dumbledore a piece of her mind. Severus took perverse satisfaction in needing to hex her still to get her to listen to reason. And even then it was only the threat of, "We need to bide our time for it to really stick and hit him wear it hurts, you stupid cat!"
That held her back.
"The best revenge is well thought out, served cold and is to be savoured. Not rushed in the heat of the moment!" Severus snapped welding bites of wisdom like a blade.
"We are also already collecting evidence against the wizard in question. I shall add these records to my colleague's collection, in the case being built against him." Ripshard stated savagely.
"The best thing you can do now, Minerva, is play his game and undermine him from the inside," Filius said.
She stared at him, furiously.
"Keep him thinking you're on his side and do everything you can to help the students. They are the ones who are vulnerable to his power plays. And they need you on their side."
"Auch, shite! What have I done? Ah'm a bleeding bawbag!" She said deflating from her anger like a burst balloon. A devastated look took over her face.
Filius patted her on the back in a rather sympathetic commiserating sort of way, and she said, "We got anything to do tonight? I need a plan to fix all this shite an' then I think I need to get steamin' blootered."
"If that means getting very drunk, I don't blame you. I did the same thing." Severus said grimly.
"Ah'm a cackle gype, ah have such a mess to clean up and apologies to make. Auch Goddess, the children! I've ignored the children! An' that poor boy!"
"Would you like company while you get smashed?" Filius offered cheerfully.
"Aye," she said after thinking a moment, "I think I would. Ah'm going to need to make a plan, to fix this steaming mess of thestral shite we've made of things. Then ah'm going to get so blootered. Auch, I have messed up Filius! They were ma wee chookie hen, and I let their son down." She said tears sliding down her cheeks.
"Then we shall migrate to the Leaky Cauldron. We can get a private room to plot in, and I'll fill you in. Severus, you return to school and hold down the fort with Pomona." Filius said as Severus gave Minerva a cool, assessing look.
He nodded, somewhat relieved. He felt bad for leaving his colleague in such a state, but he also felt more than a little resentful for her actions, or lack thereof. Even if she had been spelled. Still, Filius was right. They couldn't leave the school with only one Head of House present all night, even if he had Sinistra covering for him, and Filius had Vector.
He nodded and departed the bank with them, before disapparating away as Minerva said, "I made a rights mess of things, and let too many people down."
Severus had one more stop to make before heading back to school.
He normally only went on Samhain, and on the anniversary of the day he and Lily met. But after seeing the paper, he had to check, had to make sure his friend, or what was left of her final resting place was okay. He was furious that anyone would dare desecrate her final rest. It was bad enough that she had been trapped with Potter in death as well as in life but to have her resting spot desecrated... It made him so livid it had only been Filius's hand on his arm that had calmed him.
But now the business with blasted Minerva was out of the way, he was free to go to the cemetery with great speed.
By the time he'd crossed the town square and gone through the kissing gate, he was stalking between the graves in a righteous fury that anyone would disturb Lily...
Only to come to a screeching halt at the sight of it.
Never in a million years would he have expected what he actually found. He'd expected grave desecration, not this...
He dropped to his knees and sobbed.
Finally, someone had fixed it.
Someone had finally set her free from that devil's spawn as he had failed to. Finally, that stupid rock representing his best friend actually reflected her and not her jailer.
After he'd finished sobbing he lit her favourite incense, and placed it at the base of their goddess and murmured a prayer to Hekate to watch over his friend in her death. Then he placed some of her favourite orange roses down and sat there for a moment with his long-dead friend. Goddess below, how he missed her. He could really use her sharp wit, and quick mind now. He could do with some guidance. Or at least someone at his side with him when he fucked up. Oh, he missed her, like a whole in the heart, as if it were yesterday. Goddess bellow he wished he'd been able to save her. But she was free now, and that was something.
"Thank you Harry," he murmured before standing up, it could only have been Harry that had done this.
After another long moment, he cast a quick glamour to hide his raw, red eyes and stood, giving Lily's resting place one last look.
"I hope you're now at peace sister mine." He murmured, "and that you're not too furiously angry with me. I miss you, and I'm sorry. So sorry Lils. Rest easy though, I'll look after your son. He's not alone any more."
He then turned on the spot and apparated back to the Hogwarts gates.
By the time Filius had completely filled Minerva in on what was really going on in the school, and just how far she had let things slip... and for how long...
"Since before the war my dear, you've been blind to your lions bullying for far too long."
She was a sobbing wreck, devastated and horrified and it was all Filius could do to stop her resigning completely.
"I will not be head of house any longer. I am clearly not fit for the task. I failed Lily and James, and Severus then too! And that was without Potions, that was sheer blindness alone! Those children need a proper head that has the time to fill the role properly and take them in hand. And that is not me." She sobbed.
"Well to be fair you have been spelled since the war, and far too overworked, and you did try to resign from that role several times." Filius conflated refilling her whisky glass.
"But I let his word stop me!" She fumed, whipping at her streaming eyes with a tartan handkerchief, "I should have gone straight to the board! Which is what I'm doing this time, and you're going to back me up!" She said, pulling a quill and parchment from her robes.
"So who are our options for replacement then," Filius said taking the quill from Minerva's still shaking hand and producing a bottle of ink before setting in onto the parchment and spelling it.
"And professor Vector would have time, but she's a Ravenclaw, Hooch is Gryffindor as is Hagrid, who may not be an ideal head, then there's also Sinistra, but she's Slytherin-"
"She assists Severus with his house, that would be a conflict of interests," Filius added.
"So then Burbage or Hooch then. We'll put them forth to the board." Minerva said, "and we'll need to unearth the head of house charter, that Albus banished, it was a good guideline for the running of the houses. If I'd been there properly for them, a lot of students would be happier and better behaved, and harry would not have been unhoused!" She said crossly.
"I may not be fit to continue as Gryffindor's Head, but I will see to it that they get proper care with their new head."
"You best talk to Severus and Pomona about that, they've practically re-written the charter and care guide between the two of them. I've been taking advice out of their books." Filius said, "I let things go far too much in listening to Albus too."
"The Gryffindors need to be occupied and disciplined. They need more boundaries, not just aloud to run wild." Minerva said firmly.
"Severus has set bedtimes for different years and house rules. He also is in the common room with them at least every few days, often after dinner, so they know he's there for them. And if he's not there, it's Aurora."
"What a good idea. But would bedtimes really be a good idea?"
"I only just started implementing it with the younger years, but it seems to be helping. It means they have to be in their dorms by that time and in bed, if not trying to sleep. It means they get enough sleep and are not short-tempered. They're still children and aren't always self-disciplined enough to set themselves up with good habits." Filius said.
"They should probably all also get an annual physical from Poppy..." Minerva said, "I know Potter mentioned migraines and broken hands..." She sniffled, "if they had had physicals that would have been picked up on."
"Yes, that's standard practice for Hufflepuff and Slytherin, its why Severus and Poppy are so busy in the first fortnight of the term. I've just started implementing the same thing." Fills said, "we've picked up several abuse cases with it."
She winced, "Lily begged me to help Severus, and I didn't listen to her. Assumed to was making a mountain out of a molehill and let Albus persuade me it was just boys being boys and that everything was fine. I wasn't even spelled then. And then there's Harry too."
"And Harry!" She moaned, "Those scars! I never should have let him leave the poor wee bairn with those muggles! I warned him they were the worst sort! He should have been helped before now! He begged me for help, to not be sent back, and I ignored him in favour of listening to Albus! I ignored him! I left him to suffer! Believing it was a lie or an exaggeration because Albus assured me things were fine! I failed so badly!"
"I know my dear, we've all failed that boy. All we can do now is help discreetly without Dumbledore finding out." He consoled.
"I don't care if that bleeding jobbie finds out. I won't bend to his will again! I cannea believe he did tha'" she said, "I have always been loyal to him. Always... I let things go for so long at his insistence that things were fine when I wasn't sure and ignored my house being bullies long before the war ended, and he goes and does this, making me totally blind to the goings-on out of forced complete loyalty to him! Why would he do that, Filius?"
"We're not sure. But he's off his tree, you're right. But far too powerful at the moment to oust. We'll need to bide our time and clean things up behind the scenes."
Minerva let out another strangled sobbed, before resolving into broken tears again at what she'd become.
Filius poured her a cup of whisky laced with tea and patted her on the back.
Eventually, the tears slowed, and the fire returned to her eyes.
"We have work to do, to fix this mess, and to help the students. He won't have his way they will not be neglected any longer."
It was close to dawn when they finally stopped planning. A weary somewhat tipsy Filius returned to school while a rather drunk Minerva stayed the night at the Leaky Cauldron with a bottle of good scotch.
Later that night, when Harry was using the Map to get into the Chamber of Secrets, he noticed Professor Snape was returning to the castle. He scrutinised the Map curiously, but Professor Flitwick and McGonagall were nowhere to be found. He wondered again where they had gone and why.
When he and Hermione were both settled into the changer under the time tuner, Harry told her all about being abducted by the Slytherins, and his dressing down of Malfoy, which had her in stitches.
She was also rather pleased with Harry's new friend the boomslang, who informed them her name was Essie. While Harry spent that night under the time turner, franticly tuning up his occlumency and tightening his shields, she went off to explore her new home.
He also told her about finally progressing enough to need to take occlumency classes with Snape. She was thrilled at his progress, but worried on his behalf. Understanding how anxious he was. They didn't study together that night. Instead Harry worked on his shields.
Between the two of them, they'd decided that it would be best if Harry just bit the bullet and talked to Professor Snape about Occlumency lessons sooner rather than later.
"Just rip it off, like a bandaid," Hermione had counselled, "and get it over and done with."
He planned to do it the following afternoon, on Sunday, but he still really didn't want to. And he certainly didn't want to without having fined tuned his mental defences some more, so even if Snape did break-in, the memories he didn't want to be seen would be harder to find.
He meditated on his inner mind, moving the books around in his mental Sanctuary. He hid them under loose floorboards or in the walls in his little attic cupboard; so they were out of sight, locked up tight, so they were harder to find if Snape did get in.
The loose floorboards he covered with the blankets of obliviated memories to throw him off. They were hard to read those ones. But it meant that everything special was well hidden. Now he just needed to fill the almost empty bookshelves with decoys.
He spent the following morning visualising books in his mind to add to the shelves. He ended up putting memories of the book's he'd read, school books and otherwise on the shelves. Harmless things for anyone who did break into his mind to find. If they focused on them, maybe they wouldn't focus on what he really had hidden, that he really didn't want anyone seeing.
It was exhausting work, and by the time he was at Snape's door after dinner, he felt wrung out and exhausted but a little better prepared.
He was, however, still no less apprehensive, terrified of having the man breaking into his head and finding his secrets. He did not have the trust in the man that Bill had. And even if he trusted Bill, and his mum and their belief in Professor Snape... Harry was still scared and worried the man would use whatever he'd inadvertently see against him.
Harry was torn, between his fear and how much he knew occlumency mattered. It was important. Riddle was after him, and Dumbledore wanted to use him, abuse him, then have him dead.
So Harry took a deep breath, tightened his shields, poured more magic into them, then ruthlessly shoved his emotions down until they were suppressed deep in his mental Sanctuary. He was only going to talk to the professor tonight, about occlumency. It wasn't as if he was going to war. However much it may feel like it, but still...
He wished he'd let Essie come with him, instead of leaving her with Hermione. He'd been worried Snape would notice her, or find out and get rid of her. But Harry pushed all thoughts of his snake friend aside. He had a job to do, and he would not let fear make him weak. He took a deep breath, trying to still his shaking hands, and knocked sharply on the door.
Its a shorter one, but the couple are doozies. Things with snape and harry come to a head.
This explained Minervas actions to an extent, but does come make her actions okay, and does not entirely excuse her. She was still pretty responsible for everything she did. No matter how voluntary or involuntary they may have been.
Scottish and Scottish English is not something I'm familiar with I just borrowed it for funnzies. Any Scotts out there who I've offended, apologies, just borrowing your sand box.
Bairne - child
He's oot his tree! - He's off his tree (drunk)!
The rank gallus jobbie -The vile overconfident/arigent shit/turd
the clatty basturt - The foul (questionable heigine) bastard,
The bleeding bowfin' bawbag! - The very disgusting usless/stupid/scrotum
He's a fuckin' bampot that I'll have up to his oxters in thestral shite ah will! - Hes a fucking foolish person that I'll have up to his ears in thestral poo I will!
I'll gie him a skelpit lugboil, ach no, I'll gie him a face lit a melted welly! - I'll give him a slap around the ears, oh no, I'll give him a face that mangled! (Literally a melted wellington boot - I think)
"I can'nae beleive the gall of the walloper." - I can't believe the gall of the idiot
Gaun'ae no day that? - Can you not do that?
What ye goupin at? - What are looking at?
Steaming' bloated - very drunk
Ah'm a cackle gype - I'm a massive idiot, a tool.
Them I'm going to get blootered. They were ma wee cookie hen, and I let their son down. - Then I'm going to get drunk. They were the apple of my eye, an I let there son down. (Translation - I can't believe i did that to harry and failed him so badly)