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There were only two of them, but they were two of the best: Mad-Eye Moody and Rufus Scrimgeour. They Apparated onto the dirt track on either side of him, their wands pointed resolutely at his head. Severus wondered how well they could see. Their eyes would need to adjust to the sudden darkness, wouldn’t they? – but then, Moody’s magical eye probably didn’t need to. That wasn’t put off by little things like darkness, distance, or an opaque barrier of clothes. It gave him the creeps.

The most important thing was to hide the list before they were absolutely sure of what they were looking at. A man with a hundred and fifty Galleons in his bag and a dead werewolf at his feet was suspicious, but a man with a list of the victims’ names – two of them emphatically crossed out – was just dead.

Behind his back, he tapped the paper with his wand. He felt it change shape and slither round his wrist. There was no time to check whether the transfiguration was convincing, or to worry about the fact that he didn’t look like the sort of person who could afford a wrist-watch. This was the most important rule of lying, and Snape had become one of the world’s greatest liars: don’t try to hide the facts; just make them do a different job.

Now, all he had to do was to make sure they didn’t search him too thoroughly, because they’d spot a piece of shoddy transfiguration if they looked hard enough.

And so, trying to look as innocent as possible, he watched the Aurors expectantly. When someone had a wand pointed at your head, it was only polite to let them make the first move.

Moody was paranoid and trigger-happy, and he’d had good reason to be. Anyone looking at his face would come to the conclusion that he hadn’t been paranoid and trigger-happy enough. He was a patch-work of scars and straggly, iron-grey hair. His magical, sky-blue eye flicked back and forth frenetically, like the marble in a pin-ball machine. At the moment, it was rolling right back in his head, so that all Severus could see was milky whiteness. He was checking for potential threats, Snape supposed. The sight of a solitary school-boy at the scene of the crime seemed to have disappointed him.

It was hard to look at Moody without shivering. The Death Eaters were terrified of him. Moody had injured and apprehended so many of them that he’d become an almost mythological figure in the Slytherin common-room. They swapped stories about him. He could go for weeks without eating or sleeping; he could smell dark magic; he could see through your clothes – some people even said he could see right through your skin.

Getting caught by Mad-Eye Moody was a curious badge of honour for a Death Eater. If you had to get caught, it might as well be by the best.   

Scrimgeour was a strange one. He was younger than Moody, with a mane of floppy blonde hair and a set of shrewd, yellowish, bespectacled eyes. His matching eyes and lack of scars were immediately striking when he stood next to Moody. He radiated an air of toughness that, to all appearances, he had done nothing to earn.   

He was grim and severe, but he had the unmistakable look of a politician. That plausible smile, those over-bright eyes. He didn’t want to upset anybody. That was useful. If Severus could drop a few important names – maybe convince them he was a friend of the Malfoys – although that wouldn’t endear him to Moody, of course. Perhaps that was why they’d been paired up. Scrimgeour restrained Moody’s natural offensiveness, and Moody kept Scrimgeour from being over-awed by the more arrogant, self-important criminals. Because, in this war, the villains could be so refined and well-spoken. It was hard to be tough on them. They had a great deal of charm.  

They looked as though they didn’t like each other much. But then, every Auror Snape had ever met looked as though he hated everyone else. Misanthropy was one of the requirements of the job.  

Neither of them looked as though they were about to curse him, so Severus relaxed a little.  

His heart was thumping heavily. Even if Moody’s magical eye couldn’t see through skin, he was sure they’d be able to see the motion of his heart shaking his clothes, as though it was making a desperate bid for freedom before the rest of him got locked up. Still, they probably saw that all the time. Neither of them had the kind of appearance that inspired calm.

And, despite all of this, he was enjoying himself. He could taste the fear; he could feel their shrewd gazes dissecting him; and he loved it. Finally, all that sickening anticipation had bubbled over. The fever had broken. Now he had something to do. No more wandering around in the dark, guessing riddles; he had all the answers now, and the Aurors didn’t. That simple fact made him feel more alive than he had done for weeks.

Deep down, Severus was flattered that they’d sent him two of the best Aurors. This wouldn’t be so much fun if he only had to outwit incompetent rookies.     

“Stay where you are,” Moody growled. “Keep those hands where I can see them.”

Severus raised his hands, but didn’t say anything. They were expecting excuses. They were expecting a torrent of: “He was like that when I found him, honest!” or “It was self-defence – he just leapt at me – what was I supposed to do?” But he wouldn’t give them the satisfaction of hearing it.

“Greyback,” said Moody.

Scrimgeour raised his eyebrows. “Thoughtful of them to kill each other for us.”

“He’s alive,” said Moody, with a grim shake of his head. “Breathing. Only been out here for about ten minutes, I’d say.”

He held his lit wand over the writing in the dirt and gave a low whistle. “Left us a message this time,” he said.

Severus had to admire the way they spoke with absolutely no expression. They didn’t sound pleased, worried, or even curious, about this state of affairs.

“Pray, love, remember,” Scrimgeour read. “What’s that? Poetry? Sounds a bit lovey-dovey for Voldemort.”

“There’s no dark mark,” said Moody, without even glancing up at the sky.  

“Plenty of other people who’d want to kill him.”

“How many of them could do it without magic?” Moody asked, holding his wand over Greyback’s body.

Scrimgeour frowned. “Without magic?”

“It’s not that unusual, actually,” said Moody, straightening up. “Werewolves are so strongly magical in their transformed state that most curses bounce right off them. Makes sense to fight them the muggle way.”

“You’re telling me someone forced Greyback’s claws through his own chest using nothing but muscle?”

“Yep. There’s no trace of magical residue here – or there wouldn’t have been if this boy hadn’t very thoughtfully thrown Lumos Charms all over the place before we got here.” Moody gave Snape a nasty look and then turned away. “Suspect couldn’t even have Apparated from the scene.”

“Then he can’t have got far, if he only had ten minutes.”

“Agreed.” Moody looked up at the castle. “Unfortunately, we’re no more than ten minutes from Hogwarts on one side and Hogsmeade on the other. And, once you get to either of those places, there are any number of escape routes. Floo Networks, broomsticks, portkeys. Dumbledore still keeps the gates wide open, I see.”

“Seems like the boy’s our best bet,” said Scrimgeour, without looking at him.  

“I didn’t see anything,” said Snape, who was getting quite annoyed at being ignored like this.

“Of course you didn’t,” said Moody. “You’re a Slytherin, aren’t you? Slytherins only see what they can use.”

Severus raised his eyebrows. “I don’t know what that means,” he said mildly.

“You might not have seen anything; but you know something,” said Moody, holding out his left hand to Severus with an air of triumph. There was a Sneakoscope nestling on his palm. It had lit up and was whirring with a noise like a boiling kettle.  

Severus rolled his eyes. “Oh, please. Do you ever get any other response from those things?”

Scrimgeour sniggered. “He’s got you there, Moody. Your Sneakoscope lights up at the approach of six-year-olds.”

“Well, six-year-olds can be very devious,” growled Moody, closing his palm over the contraption as though he was embarrassed.

“Yes, the problem is, you can’t lock them up for that. They have to commit a specific crime. It’s in the rule-book.”

Moody gave him a sour smile. “Well, why don’t you conduct the investigation, Mr. Rule-book? We’ll see how far you get.”

“Gladly,” said Scrimgeour, looking Snape up and down for the first time. It was a look as calculating as one of Narcissa’s. It took in everything, from his second-hand robes to his scuffed shoes. Happily, it didn’t seem to take in the wrist-watch.

“What’s your name, boy?” he asked.

Severus raised his eyebrows. Clearly, Scrimgeour was going down the ‘gain-their-confidence’ interrogation route. He shouldn’t have started out by calling him ‘boy’.

“Snape,” said Snape.

“And, do you know anything about the message, Snape?”    

“It’s Shakespeare,” said Severus, passing a weary hand across his forehead. “Shakespeare? You know, the muggle playwright? Talks a lot about skulls and star-crossed lovers?”

Moody sniggered.

Scrimgeour flashed him a look of stern displeasure. It wouldn’t have looked out of place on McGonagall’s face. But he still had no idea where the quote was from, so he was going to play nice until he got his answers. He really was a politician.

“Ophelia says it,” Severus elaborated. “In Hamlet. ‘Rosemary, that’s for remembrance. Pray, love, remember.’”  

“Aha!” said Scrimgeour. “So the attacker’s name is Rosemary.”

“It’s a herb, Mr. Rule-book,” Moody prompted patiently.

“I know it’s a herb!” Scrimgeour protested. “Just because it’s a herb doesn’t mean it couldn’t also be a clue!”

“It’s a bit obvious,” said Snape, who was quite enjoying Scrimgeour’s growing annoyance.  

“People only write slogans in blood at the scene of the crime for two reasons,” said Moody simply. “One, they want people to be scared of them. Two, they know who is going to discover the body, and they want to unsettle him.” He gave Severus a worryingly knowing look. “Someone thinks you have something in common with this creature, Snape. Now, I’m not saying you do. You won’t hear the words ‘death’ and ‘eater’ pass my lips in the same sentence – not while my conscientious colleague here is standing over me, talking about law-suits. But someone thinks you’d be worried about seeing Greyback bleed to death. Now, you and I know that Slytherins have cast-iron stomachs and never worry about anyone but themselves. So this is someone who doesn’t know you very well, but still wants to torture you. And, if you can’t help us figure out who it is, we’re going to have to keep a tiresomely close watch on you. Neither of us wants that. I suppose you’ve considered the possibility that you’re going to be next?”

“I’m not going to be next,” said Snape. But he followed this irrefutable truth with two bare-faced lies. “I don’t know who would want to do this, but I know it’s got nothing to do with me.”

Moody sighed. “Well, that’s disappointing, Snape. I really had seen enough of your face to last me a lifetime. A little goes a long way, doesn’t it?”

“Look who’s talking,” Snape muttered sourly.

There was a faint, gurgling noise from the direction of the werewolf. It looked as though he was regaining consciousness.    

Scrimgeour prodded Greyback with his foot. “Think we should get him a Healer?”

Moody sighed. “There’s probably one up at the castle.”

“There isn’t,” Snape interrupted, feeling a wave of panic rise above the calm waters of his disdain. “The matron’s sick.”

“Well, who’s filling in for her?”

“Nobody.”

“There’s a light on in the Hospital Wing.” Moody pointed out, nodding towards the castle.

Severus froze. The Hospital Wing overlooked this lane? She could have been watching him standing over a werewolf’s mutilated body the whole time. Oh, she wasn’t going to like this.

Moody heaved another great sigh. “Stay here,” he said to Scrimgeour. “Search the skinny little know-it-all. I’m going up to the castle to get Dumbledore.”

Scrimgeour searched his bag. He pulled out two text-books, a couple of quills, a bottle of ink and a chocolate frog, but no Galleons. Fortunately, it seemed that Bruiser had paid him in leprechaun gold, and it had evaporated. That was one of a dozen things Severus would want to speak to him about when he arrived at the Valance House on Friday.

As he was turning out Snape’s pockets, Scrimgeour muttered Ophelia’s words to himself thoughtfully. “Pray, love, remember.” He paused. “I hate to bring this down to the level of a soap-opera, but could this be an ex-girlfriend who’s trying to teach you a lesson, Snape?”

Severus raised his eyebrows. Scrimgeour didn’t know how close he was getting. But Snape didn’t want any suspicion to fall on Lily, so he said: “I don’t know anything about the kind of girls you go out with, Scrimgeour, but the ones I like are generally not butch enough to wrestle a werewolf without magic."

And, as Scrimgeour flashed him another look of stern displeasure, Severus wondered briefly why he didn’t want to share what he knew. Of course, he wouldn’t share information with Moody and Scrimgeour on principle, because they were Gryffindors, Aurors, and friends of the Potter family, but he didn’t understand why he didn’t want help.

He knew now that it must have been the Boggart Lily. He didn’t understand how she was keeping her shape, when she should have been turning into the worst nightmare of anyone she was close to. But she was the only one who would scrawl those words in the dirt: ‘Pray, love, remember’.  

Now he saw them smeared over the dirt-track that led up to the castle, they sounded like a three-part instruction. Pray. Love. Remember. At the moment, she wanted him to be at the praying stage. She wanted him to be scared for his life.  

And, this just showed how warped and twisted her mind was, because she wanted him to remember something he hadn’t even done.

She thought he was her husband. She was so sure that he would turn into the man who had tormented and abandoned her that, as far as she was concerned, it didn’t matter if he was punished for it in advance.

And he had found the list in a rosemary bush – another nod towards her sick obsession with a past he knew absolutely nothing about. The writing on the list looked like Lily’s because it was Lily’s, just altered by the years. The paper was bewitched with a Proteus Charm – their Proteus Charm – the same spell they’d used on their journal so that, whatever was written in one copy, would show up on the pages of the other. The Boggart had her own version of this list, and she was checking off the names whenever she could be sure Severus was paying attention.  

And she knew who all the Death Eaters were, because she had been one of them. She even knew the people who would become Death Eaters in later life, like Barty Crouch and – he shuddered with distaste – Peter Pettigrew.    

She wants me to work this out, or she wouldn’t have left me so many clues. But why? So that I’ll be scared? So that I’ll stop her? She hasn’t killed anybody yet. These are her old comrades-in-arms. She knows their names and their crimes. And it’s probably stuff they haven’t even done yet. But she knows that they will do something to deserve this. As far as she's concerned, they have no choice. It’s a pre-emptive strike.

But what was the point of it? The only thing she’d ever said she wanted was to take Lily away from him, before he ruined her with his jealousy and unkindness.

Maybe, by the time she got to his name, she would be prepared to kill. Was that the plan? Murder him so that he wouldn’t have a chance to ruin Lily? But why attack everyone else first? She had never seemed to hate the Death Eaters before. She had joined them, for Merlin’s sake! Was it just because she hated him? Did she just want to see him squirm with dread before she killed him?

But how did she know he would have found this? He would have been walking up this path half an hour ago, if it hadn’t been for those thieves who’d followed him out of the Hog’s Head. Had they been working for her? Had she set them on him, so that she would have time to take care of the werewolf?

And then Snape’s suspicions splintered, like a beam of light splitting into the rainbow-colours of the spectrum.

The thieves had only followed him from the bar because Bruiser had put all that money on the table.

Was Bruiser working for her too? Greyback had been attacked without magic. He didn’t know how strong Boggarts were, but if she only had Lily’s capabilities (and that was worrying enough) then she wouldn’t have the physical strength to defeat Greyback without using magic. Someone strong must have helped her.

And there had been werewolves guarding Bruiser’s car. Had they been informants? Bruiser had the contacts to find Greyback – maybe even lure him here.  

But how could Bruiser even have met her? How could anyone have met her? She was a Boggart. She was only supposed to appear to the people who feared a jaded, luscious, vampiric version of Lily Evans.

Except that, now he came to think about it, there were quite a lot of people in the school who feared a jaded, luscious, vampiric version of Lily Evans. There were all those rumours about the soulless red-head, weren’t there? Everyone had heard that she’d been kissed by a Dementor on Azkaban, and now they thought she could suck out your soul with a kiss of her own.

And those fears were everywhere. If the Boggart could have latched onto them somehow, she would be able to stay the same shape wherever she went.

Scrimgeour suddenly turned and looked up the lane that led to the castle. Severus followed his gaze and groaned inwardly. Lily was hurrying down the road, with Madam Pomfrey’s leather bag clutched in her hand.

Scrimgeour raised his eyebrows. “A student? That’s who Dumbledore got to replace Madam Pomfrey?”

“She’s Head Girl,” Snape grumbled, annoyed, in spite of everything, that this man was underestimating her.

He didn’t have to defend her. Once Scrimgeour saw what she could do, those eyebrows sank right back down again.

He had to endure her gaze before she knelt down beside the creature. It was strange – not reproachful or angry or horrified – just wary. He had expected her to ignore him completely, so he supposed it was an improvement. He hadn’t felt her eyes on him for weeks and – even though he knew she must be thinking horrible things and coming to horrible conclusions – it was electrifying just to have her attention again.

She waved her wand over her head, muttered “Capillus Sursuo!” and her hair was swept back into a neat ponytail. Then she knelt beside Greyback’s body and wrinkled her nose. The creature reeked. It was, as Severus had thought, an odour that went beyond mere death and decomposition. He smelled of corruption – a stomach-churning cocktail of earth, sweat and blood – and some other things that he really wasn’t ready to think about yet.

She must have felt nervous, performing healing magic in front of this skeptical adult. And, on top of that, she had to think of something she liked about Greyback, because healing magic wouldn’t work without conviction. You had to want them to get better.  

Perhaps his predicament was enough. When you saw someone with their own claws through their chest, you had to wince in sympathy. It was involuntary. And perhaps that was a way in – a way for her lively, imaginative mind to think its way into Greyback’s situation.  

He watched her, fascinated, wondering what was going through her mind. He almost managed to forget that Scrimgeour was there. Was she thinking about Lupin? No – she didn’t believe he was a werewolf – apparently, he was too nice. Maybe she was remembering her cat – the one that had died in their second year at Hogwarts. She’d been heart-broken about that cat. And, after all, the claws and fur were the same. This was just a bigger, uglier, smellier version.

She looked better than when he’d seen her last. Her hair was dry and she was wearing warm clothes. He wondered if she’d found the book he’d left her. He wondered if she knew it was from him.

It was awful, it was pathetic, how much joy he took in the sight of her. He could watch her through a telescope his whole life and still be happy – provided he didn’t have to watch her with another man – which he almost certainly would. The idea that she would suddenly discover she was a lesbian seemed too much to hope for.

Severus enjoyed watching her work. She performed a Freezing Charm to stop the bleeding, and then, with very little hesitation, yanked the claws out of the werewolf’s chest. Even Scrimgeour had to look away at that point, but Lily, her face set with grim determination, examined the wound expectantly, as though she was looking for more blood and goo.

He wondered if she knew what those claws had done; he wondered if she knew whose miserable life she was preserving. If she knew the details – if she’d heard the stories – if she’d seen the way he licked his lips at the sight of a pretty young girl – would she still be able to do this?  

Her hands blurred with activity as she cleaned the wound and then performed a Sealing Charm to close it.  

Sometimes, she had to shut her eyes or steady herself. Healing magic required a lot of emotional discipline. You had to be thoroughly absorbed. It was alright for Lily, because she usually couldn’t switch off that talent for absorption. But tonight, she was performing these spells in front of a skeptical Auror and an ex-boyfriend who she was furious with. It couldn’t have been easy.

“I’d tie him up in the next ten minutes or so,” she said to Scrimgeour, closing her bag with a snap. “The full moon is still out, and werewolves heal quickly.”

“Thank you,” he said, narrowing those shrewd, yellow eyes, “Miss…?”

But Lily had already turned her back and was heading up the lane towards the castle. Snape had to fight hard to suppress a smile.

Finally, Dumbledore arrived, swept him with that benignly curious X-ray gaze and told him he could go back to the Slytherin common-room.     

But he couldn’t go back to the Slytherin common-room. He had to be sure of something first. So, he turned left at the marble staircase and headed straight for the abandoned Charms classroom, with its shattered walls half-open to the night-sky. He hadn’t really expected to find her there, but he opened the chest where he kept the Boggart just the same. Even when he saw that it was simply filled with old text-books and Gobstones sets, he rummaged around, taking everything out and spreading it over the floor, as though to make sure she wasn’t lurking, squashed and angry, between the pages of Advanced Charms.

After all, a Boggart could take any shape, right? Any shape you feared. And, right now, what Severus feared more than anything else, was that she would be tiny as an atom and impossible to find.    

He was still desperately checking every crevice when Dumbledore knocked at the open door.

Snape didn’t look round. He kept his hands in his lap and his eyes fixed on the classroom’s shattered wall. Dumbledore seldom required a response anyway.

“Looking for something, Severus?” he asked pleasantly.

“No,” said Snape, against all available evidence.

“Is there something you want to tell me,” Dumbledore went on, “about what happened tonight?”

Snape continued to stare at the wall. You’ve got nothing, he said to himself. No leads, no clues. You don’t know where she is, what she is, or what she wants. If you were ever going to ask for Dumbledore’s help, now would be the time.

“No, sir,” he said.
Continuing from The Man who Lived [link]
Sorry it's so late, and thank you for reading! :)
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:iconwearesevenstudios:
WeAreSevenStudios Featured By Owner May 23, 2010  Professional Artisan Crafter
This is really getting interesting. :D
Snape, despite his misery, is still so entertaining.
Too bad Greyback isn't dead (maybe that's unkind of me, but he doesn't do anyone any good alive -- hopefully he'll at least spend some time in Azkaban). I'm glad Severus is getting to see Lily. I hope it keeps him in a healthier frame of mind than thinking about her obsessively and not seeing her.
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:iconls269:
ls269 Featured By Owner May 23, 2010
Oh, I agree, Greyback never gets any kind of punishment for what he did in the canon story. I'm thinking of writing some pre-emptive punishment here, like I have constantly been doing for Lucius Malfoy! :giggle:

You're really catching up with me in this story, I'd better get writing!
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:icondronarron:
dronarron Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2009
Moody was paranoid and trigger-happy, and he’d had good reason to be. Anyone looking at his face would come to the conclusion that he hadn’t been paranoid and trigger-happy enough.

*smirks*

He was grim and severe, but he had the unmistakable look of a politician. That plausible smile, those over-bright eyes.

An interesting thought, Scrimgeour as an Auror in his prime...

“Well, six-year-olds can be very devious,”

LOL! So true. Just why such a device isn't that useful -- it detects the presence of untrustworthiness, sure, but that's so broad as to be almost meaningless.

It was awful, it was pathetic, how much joy he took in the sight of her.

...or, it was beautiful and endearing and oh Severus, Severus...

The idea that she would suddenly discover she was a lesbian seemed too much to hope for.

*cough* well that'd certainly be something interesting to watch through a telescope...!

(Ditto what someoene else said about Moody's magical eye, too -- he shouldn't have it yet.)
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:iconls269:
ls269 Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2009
Yes, I need to edit this chapter, to exclude Moody's magical eye. See, I definitely need to be betaed, I'm terrible with the canon details!
And, you're right, the Sneakoscope is a hopeless device. Everyone is untrustworthy to somebody (and dear Severus is untrustworthy to almost everybody) :)
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:iconmelorik:
Melorik Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2009
The idea that she would suddenly discover she was a lesbian seemed too much to hope for.

Lol, classic.

I don't think Sev quite realizes that in many ways, that could actually be a worse prospect. ;)
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:iconls269:
ls269 Featured By Owner Jul 19, 2009
:giggle: I'm sure he'd get over any disappointment fairly quickly!
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:iconflameofthewest7:
FlameoftheWest7 Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2009
Love the ending--that is so classic Dumbledore!

Oh, I really enjoyed your "Capillus Sursuo!"--good job!
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:iconls269:
ls269 Featured By Owner Jul 19, 2009
:giggle: Thank you - I've been consulting Latin dictionaries!
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:iconnynaeve-3:
Nynaeve-3 Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2009
Great update, but Moody must have two normal eyes here. He still had them during Karkaroff's trial, which was after the Potters' death and Voldemort's disappearance.
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:iconls269:
ls269 Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2009
Oh, wow, I missed that! OK, thank you for telling me. :hug: There may be a re-write at some point, when I get the time.
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