"Why, Headmaster? The other staff barely tolerates my presence, and won't tolerate it at all after the Dark Lord executes his plan," Severus said, pacing along the rug.
"They are safe for now. We're doing all that we can to make sure of it."
"Fidelius won't keep them safe! You know that just as much as I do. The prophecy says as much. The Dark Lord has to mark this child equal; that means the child has to be found at some point!" Severus stopped pacing and turned to look directly at the headmaster. His breathing was heavy, as if he'd just run a long way.
"Severus, the Order is doing all we can. There is no need to be so upset."
"You know why that isn't an option! It will be my fault should anything happen to them…."
"Stay calm, my boy, all will be well. Join me for dinner; starving yourself will help no one," the headmaster said calmly, placing a hand on his shoulder and leading him toward the door to the hall.
Severus shook off the headmaster's hand and strode swiftly through the hall. He learned early in his teaching career that the only way he was going to get respect was to scare the wits out of the children. If anyone had been in his path tonight, they would have run away screaming.
The doors to the Great Hall banged open with a push of his hand. The people that were already seated turned to stare at the noise, only to turn away quickly, seeing Severus's temper.
He practically stomped up to his seat at the High Table, annoyed to see Minerva McGonagall trying not to laugh as he approached.
"Good evening, Severus," she said as he took his seat next to her.
"Why do you bother, Minerva? I know you think the same of me as everyone else," he spat in her direction.
"Oh, and what does everyone think? I know you're a Legilimens, but you don't know me that well." The smile that was playing upon her lips was absolutely driving him mad.
"What is so funny?" he finally snapped.
"Your spectacle, or rather, Albus's calm entrance after it. It was amusing to see the two of you in succession." She was laughing outright by now, covering her mouth with her right hand.
Severus glanced to the Headmaster's chair and saw him grinning as well. Thoroughly irritated, he dug into his plate and ignored the people around him.
He was running as fast as he could. The explosion of green light was still seared into his memory. He didn't know what happened, but he did know that the Potters were dead. Well, except for the little brat, who was screaming. He had sent notice to the headmaster, and was now getting as far away as possible. He knew that people would comment about his presence if they saw him, and that just couldn't happen.
Finally far enough away, he took a calculated step forward and Apparated. Severus landed hard in the middle of a copse of trees. Looking around, he was glad that no others were to be seen. Not that many people hung out in the woods at night, but you could never be too safe. Particularly not right now, and on the Malfoy's property.
He strode up to the door and knocked loudly. The door swung open, and Severus stepped into the opulent entrance hall.
"May Dobby help you, sir?" a small voice said from around his knees.
"Get Lucius," he answered, not bothering to look down at the creature.
"Yes, sir, right away." There was a soft pop, and the creature was gone.
After a moment, Severus could hear footsteps coming from upstairs. He looked up and saw Lucius coming down the hall, still tying a maroon dress robe.
"Why are you here, Severus?" Lucius asked as he slowly came down the stairs.
"He's gone, my friend. I don't know what happened, but the Dark Lord vanished. The Potters are dead."
"Come again?" Lucius asked, stopping dead in his tracks.
"You heard me - he's gone. There was a huge flash of green light and the house collapsed. I know nothing else, but you are the first of us to know. I have to get back to Hogwarts before the old goat suspects anything. It's your job to tell the others."
Without waiting for a reply, Severus turned and let himself out of the manor.
Severus knew that barricading himself in his rooms wasn't the best thing to do. He had already packed, and was just waiting for the energy to leave. Dumbledore would find him no matter what, but he wanted to be as far away as possible when that happened.
The Potters were dead, and it was his fault. He sat staring into the fireplace, not really seeing anything as the thought haunted him.
He didn't even notice as the fire glowed bright green, lighting up the room.
A hand on his shoulder brought Severus out of his musings. He looked up to see the sad face of Albus Dumbledore looking down at him.
"What do you want, Headmaster?" he snapped, wishing Dumbledore would just go away.
"How are you, my boy?" the headmaster said, sitting down in the empty armchair beside him.
"Oh, I am exquisite, headmaster. I have managed to prove everyone's worst fears and get one of the most beloved wizarding families killed in the same night."
"You are only partially right. No one knows you were present at the Potters' house, and I don't think it's information that needs to be shared, do you?" the headmaster asked, looking him in the eye.
"No… it's probably best if no one found out."
"You can unpack your things, Severus. You aren't going anywhere," Dumbledore mentioned as he stood up from the armchair.
Severus looked up at the headmaster and saw his eyes twinkling.
"Very well, headmaster. Thank you."
Author's Notes: Thank you to my lovely beta!