Now if everyone who does know can just keep their mouths shut...what am I saying? And speaking of 'saying'; what was that, Sybil? Let's take a trip down the rabbit hole, shall we?
Two special Christmas gifts and a Prophesy
"Here you are! We were starting to get worried..." Ginny walked in, shaking her head.
"Annoyed..." Hermione growled.
"Right...annoyed with you lot."
"What, may I ask, are you three doing up here?" Hermione stood with arms crossed, regarding the boys, who lounged with their feet up on one of the chairs.
"We're kind of busy...waiting." Draco informed her.
"Waiting? Here? For what?" Ginny was thoroughly confused.
"For Lyn to wake up," Draco answered, straight faced, although Harry was fighting not to grin and Ron had his head ducked, to stop from giggling.
"Lyn? Who's Lyn?" Hermione asked.
"My daughter, Draco's little sister," replied Narcissa, stepping around the screen.
"Draco! Your Mum!" yelped Ginny. Hermione was gob-smacked and stood, mouth open, wide-eyed.
Then Ginny turned to Draco. "So, this is why Professor Dumbledore needed you."
"Yeah, sort of."
"Good deduction, that, Ginny." Harry gasped, finally breaking down and laughing heartily, followed by Ron and Draco.
"How in the world..." Hermione started questioning.
"We're here for a surprise visit, but Lyn's taking a map, so shhhh, you lot!" Narcissa warned them.
"Where is she?" Ginny came forward and peeked around the screen. "Oh, look!"
That did it; Hermione joined Ginny and along with Narcissa, stood watching the baby and asking questions. Then ahhh's and giggles alerted the boys to the fact that Lyn was awake. Narcissa removed the screen and emerged with the baby.
Lyn spotted Draco and held out her arms to go to him. He took her and held her high, causing her to squeal and laugh. Then he brought her down into his arms to give her a hug and kiss. Putting one arm around his Mother's shoulder and grasping his baby sister in the other, he turned to his new friends.
"This is what I'm willing to risk my life for, you lot; my sister Lyn, my Mother...my family."
"Here, here, Draco!"
"Let's hear it for the Class of - let's see - 2014 - of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry!"
Even Lyn clapped her hands, which made everyone crack up laughing.
"Well, now that Lyn's awake, let's take a walk outside and show her the snow, maybe make a snowman," suggested Narcissa.
"Excellent idea!" Hermione agreed. "We'll go get our coats and meet you downstairs."
She and Ginny left, talking a mile a minute.
Narcissa twirled her wand and the baby's clothing changed into a winter bunting outfit, complete with tasseled hat. She popped Lyn into her pram, and producing a cape for herself, looked over at her son.
"Come along, Draco; don't dawdle."
"You're taking her /out/? In the /cold/?"
"Of course; fresh air is good for children. She'll be quite warm."
"Are you sure?"
"Draco, I know what I'm doing. You survived your infancy, didn't you?"
"Oh, alright; I'll stop fussing."
"Mother knows best, dear."
"So I'm learning....quickly."
The boys ran off to retrieve their coats, gloves and hats. Joining Hermione and Ginny, they all tumbled down the stairs and found Narcissa and Lyn by the doors to the courtyard. Proceeding outside, they found a sheltered, but sunny corner, where Narcissa parked the pram. They were out of the wind and soon a snowball fight was raging: the boys versus Hermione and Ginny, aided by Dobby, to make the sides even. Lyn was laughing and clapping, watching from her Mother's lap, as Narcissa shouted encouragement and made small snowballs for Lyn to hold and suck on.
But storm clouds were moving in fast and it was getting colder by the minute, so the battle wound down and the whole group retreated to the Great Hall, with its roaring fireplace. Dobby brought hot chocolate for everyone and a warmed bottle of milk for Lyn.
Suddenly, Winky burst into the Great Hall and ran to the group clustered before the fire.
"They is here, Missy Cissa! They is here, Master Draco, sir, Harry Potter, sir, Ron Weasley, sir! /They is here/!
"Really?" "That's great!" "Blimey!"
"How is she?" asked Narcissa, leaning over and taking Winky's hand.
"Missy Anna is fine, Missy Cissa. She is very happy, Miss. Tired, but happy!"
"/Hold it/!" Hermione demanded, hands on hips. "Winky? Anna? What is going on?"
Harry, Ron, Draco and Cissa froze. Winky clamped her hand over her mouth and looked up at Hermione.
"Oops!" Narcissa grimaced.
"That cat wasn't let out of the bag, mate...it was /yanked/!" Ron whispered to Harry, who nodded, a grin spreading across his face.
The boys turned to Narcissa, heads tilted, grinning, waiting for her decision about what to do.
"Oh, sod it! In of a Knut, in for a Galleon, I say. Anna's here, and Gwen, too, AND Anna has just given birth to her twins," Narcissa announced.
"/TWINS/!" gasped Ginny, eyes wide.
"She was /pregnant/?" Hermione was trying to process this strange announcement, without much luck. "How?"
"/How/?" Draco turned, eyebrow raised, looking at Hermione, who blushed crimson.
"Let me re-phrase that, as delicately as I can...who's the father?"
"Perhaps we'd better go on up and then I can introduce you properly," giggled Narcissa.
On the way to the Room of Requirement, the small procession picked up Professors McGonagall, Sprout, Flitwick, Lupin and the Headmaster, who raised his eyebrows and then shook his head. Explaining quickly about Narcissa's visit to surprise Draco, he ushered everyone ahead of him. Arriving at the Room of Requirement, Narcissa held up her hand.
"First, let me just pop in and check how everything's going."
"Right, we'll wait here with Lyn," replied Draco.
Lyn looked up from playing with her stuffed dragon and smiled.
Inside, it was quiet and peaceful. Anna was propped up in bed, Severus sitting beside her. They each had a baby in their arms.
"Hello! Everything went all right, I take it?" Narcissa came over and took a look at the tiny infants.
"Severus didn't faint, so; yes," Anna replied, shooting a look and smile at the new father, who rolled his eyes.
"Of course I didn't faint, you silly woman. However, in all seriousness, Cissa, I had /no/ idea what hard work if would be for Anna. I honestly don't think I could go through that /once/, much less twice. I'm exhausted from just watching her!"
"And helping, too, darling." Anna patted his leg and he bent to kiss her. "He got the hang of helping me with my breathing very quickly, Cissa, and Gwen told him what to do at the end and he was a real trooper. He cut the cords, too. Poppy says that's a first, in her book, for the Wizarding world."
"You'll make him blush, Anna," kidded Narcissa, looking at Severus.
"I sincerely doubt that," replied Anna, turning to check, just in case. "Are you blushing, dear?"
Anna and Cissa both laughed.
"So...I gather the boys and you have returned to get a peek at our children."
"Myself...the boys...Ginny...Hermione, Minerva, Filius, Pomona, Remus and Albus; the lot." Narcissa counted off on her fingers, and then looked up at them, grinning. "The jig is up!"
"Couldn't be helped; they all know you had twins, but they're dying to know who the father is!" Cissa looked pointedly at Severus, and then cracked up at the panicked look on his face.
"Bloody hell, now what do we do?" Severus looked at Anna.
"Albus will sort it all out. Personally, I think it's time they knew. Better they learn the whole truth about you now, Severus, because when Voldemort attacks; that will not be the right time to try and explain, don't you agree?" Anna looked back and forth from Cissa to Severus.
"I think you're right about them knowing," Gwen walked up, having finished tidying up with Poppy. "We can all talk it over; group discussion. Then use one of your memory charms, again, if it's needed, right?"
Severus shrugged, "Honestly, I'm too befuddled right now to care. Let them in and we'll worry about it later. I feel like shouting the news to the world, anyway, but this will have to suffice." He gave Anna another kiss and then stood up. "Go on, Cissa, bring them in; it's time to face the music."
"Right, hold on a minute."
Narcissa went to the door, opened it and beckoned to the waiting students and staff.
"Quiet. The babies are asleep, but Anna is anxious to see you all."
Draco, Harry, Ron and Remus hurried in and headed straight for the bed, but the others entered and stopped, eyes wide, and stunned to silence by the sight that greeted them. Dumbledore closed the door behind him as he came in to join the group.
Anna was holding one of the babies and Severus had the other cradled in his arms, standing by the bed.
"Bloody hell," whispered Ginny.
"I'm seeing this and I do not believe it," Hermione whispered back.
"Hello, everyone. Come here and meet Christopher and Eileen Snape, Severus' and my daughter and son."
"You and Professor Snape are...married?" Professor Flitwick stammered.
"Yes, Filius; very happily married."
"But, when? He...you...I don't believe what I'm seeing!" Professor Sprout shook her head, as if to clear it.
"It's a long story," Severus spoke up, then smiled, which alarmed not a few of them. "Suffice it to say; now you know our secret. Anna was not supposed to give birth here at Hogwarts, but the twins had their own agenda, obviously."
"We'll answer your questions as best we can," Anna added. "But, /I'm just so glad to see you all again/!"
Dumbledore conjured a circle of chairs for everyone and he lifted the memory charm from Hermione and Ginny, so they would understand about Anna and Severus. The staff could be informed of the details of the wedding later.
After taking a peek at the newborns, everyone settled down for a nice chatty reunion.
"So, we were going to go back to our hiding place, but I went into labor and now, here we all are!" Anna concluded the story of the morning's events.
"Why doesn't this surprise me?" Hermione grinned. "Sounds like a typical day in the life of Anna Twigg- Jones....oh, sorry, Anna Snape."
"It does rather, come to that," Harry agreed, laughing, as the others smiled and nodded.
The babies were starting to fuss a bit, so Gwen and Poppy made a joint decision to throw the whole visiting bunch out, to give Anna a chance to nurse the infants and get some much deserved rest. It was nearly tea time, as it was, so goodbyes and hugs and kisses were shared before everyone headed for the Great Hall.
"We'll discuss how much they should remember or not, over dinner," Dumbledore told Anna and Severus before he left.
Anna turned to Severus, who was rocking Eileen and talking softly to her.
"Do you think they're ready to know the whole truth? Personally, I'm all for them knowing about us, about you, about everything. Voldemort appears to trust you less and less, if what you told me about your last meeting is any indication."
"I agree; now's not the time for secrets or half truths. I've got this uneasy feeling that he's getting ready to strike, again. And knowing I'm on their side will give the D.A. one less thing to worry about. I think they would be better off knowing I'm fighting with them, then not quite trusting me."
"Why don't you go join them for dinner and discuss it, openly. Let them know we'll answer any questions they might have."
"If you promise to stay where you are and just relax and take care of our children. Gwen says bed rest for two days."
"Oh, now, don't you start! I can at least get up and stretch my legs a bit. I promise not to leave this room, except to go to the loo, ok?"
"Alright, that's fair enough." Putting his daughter in her bassinet, he bent and kissed her on her tiny forehead. He then turned and kissed Anna. "I see my son is too occupied to say goodbye properly."
Anna giggled. "Jealous?"
"Extremely." He leaned over and gave Anna another kiss. "I love you, Mrs. Snape."
"I love you, too, my darling Professor."
"I'll be back soon."
"Don't rush; I'll probably get a little sleep after I finish feeding them."
She waved him out the door and then looked down at her son and smiled.
"You're just like your father, you know that?"
Dinner that night was a jovial, holiday affair. Narcissa and Gwen had joined the table, as had Dobby, on Draco's insistence. Winky had stayed upstairs to watch over the babies, while Anna got some much deserved rest.
It was a bit disconcerting to see Professor Snape smiling and laughing along with everyone. Maybe this was the real Severus, maybe he wasn't so bad after all; just a very good actor. Or maybe Anna just brought out the best in him.
His new pet Pygmy Puffskein was perched on his shoulder and he even fed it bits of his dinner.
"Have you thought of a name, yet, Professor," asked Ginny, her own little Arnold sitting on top of her head, tickling her ear with his long pink tongue.
"Yes, as a matter of fact I have. It came to me when I was walking here from my rooms, just before dinner. I was contemplating what a special Christmas this has been and the word Noel came to mind, so I've decided that was a perfect name."
Reaching up and plucking the tiny furball off his shoulder, he looked it in the eye, well, as near as he could judge, and asked, "Does that suit you? Noel?"
A long pink tongue shot out and licked the end of Severus' nose, causing everyone to laugh and giggle.
"I'll take that as a yes," intoned Severus, with as much dignity as he could muster, before shaking his head and placing his newly named pet back on his shoulder. "And thank you for watching him for me this afternoon, Miss Weasley. I'll have to get used to having him around and the responsibilities that entails."
"No problem, Professor. If you have any questions, just ask."
"Thanks you. I probably will need to consult with you at some point."
Albus Dumbledore rose at the end of the meal. All eyes were immediately on him.
"This has been an eventful day. What was a secret, one hour visit has turned into an event of far more interesting proportions and details. We've welcomed two new souls into our world, reunited family members and finished this excellent meal.
"That said; we must now discuss the rather more serious aspect of all of this good news. I'm referring, of course, to the application of memory charms on all of you." He looked around the table; the students' faces fell and their shoulders slumped. "I've been mulling it over and had a word with Professor Snape on the subject. He and Anna believe they are not necessary. I agree." Everyone perked up with that announcement. "However..."
"I knew it!" muttered Ron, "There's always a however or a /but/..."
"Hush Ron!" Hermione elbowed him in the ribs.
Chuckling over this exchange, Dumbledore continued, "What we need to realize is; even though all of you know the truth about Severus and his loyalty to the Order and his service to our cause, it must remain privileged information, strictly among the staff gathered here and the members of the D.A. I will attend your first post-holiday meeting and bring the rest of that group 'up to speed'. I think that phrase is correct?" He glanced at Hermione who nodded and smiled.
"We rather think that discovering he is truly on our side will become apparent, to all parties involved, when the final battle starts. He feels, and I agree, that if being able to defend each other relies on trust, then having the knowledge that you can absolutely trust him will be an important factor in our defenses. One lingering doubt removed. He will, of course, continue his charade for the other students and faculty, when the term starts."
Albus looked around at the faces of this core group of defenders, confident he'd made the right decision in telling them the truth....however.
"His marriage to Anna and their childrens' arrival will, understandably, not be mentioned, by /anyone/, at /anytime/. Not even amongst ourselves; starting tomorrow. You're less likely to blurt something out if you're unused to talking about it freely; better to get into the habit before the others return."
"What about Neville and Luna? There were there last Spring, after all," Ginny questioned.
"I will speak with Miss Lovegood and Mister Longbottom when they return, privately."
"So, chat about the babies now, this evening and then..." He put his finger to his lips and shhh'd "Mum's the word."
Everyone nodded and smiled, some shhhing at each other and giggling.
"I'm reassured to see all of you are taking this seriously," Severus muttered.
"Ah, now that's the Severus I know," teased Narcissa, as she leaned over and tickled him.
"Stop that! This inst...." But Severus lost his composure totally and burst out laughing. Fighting off his old classmate as gently as he could, he managed to gasp, "I'll turn you over my knee, Cissa, if you don't stop this instant!"
"I've survived worse, Severus!" She dodged left...right and then got in one more good tickle before she sat back laughing.
Draco, Harry, Hermione, Ron and Ginny all exchanged looks, rolling their eyes and shaking their heads.
Draco leaned over to Harry and whispered, "You know, Harry, I'm going to be really disappointed if I wake up and it's last year's holiday and I'm still sick with the flu and have had a fever dream and..." He waved his hand indicating the whole scene. "...all of this is the result."
"Nah, it's real...bizarre, but very real! I know how you feel, though, my mind still has a hard time accepting some of the things that have happened. It wouldn't be a dream; more of a hallucination, as strange as things have been. Snape married to Anna, the babies. Your Mum using Anna for her Secret Keeper. /You/, head of the Malfoys, big brother and good guy, to boot! Boggles the mind, mate!"
They both laughed.
As everyone was leaving the Great Hall, Professor Trelawney swayed and stumbled. Professor Lupin grabbed her elbow.
"Sybil, are you feeling..."
/"HE IS POISED TO RETURN/
/HE WILL COME FROM WITHIN/
/THE DEAD SHALL ARISE /
/MORE THAN ONE/
/HE WILL RETREAT /
/BEFORE A VICTORY IS WON/
/DON'T WAIT FOR HELP/
/THE DEED IS DONE /
/LOVE ALONE SHALL WIN" /
She started to collapse, but Remus and Dumbledore caught her, looking swiftly at each other. She shook her head and stood erect, looking around quizzically.
"Oh, dear," muttered the Divination teacher. "I must have had too much excitement. I felt faint, there, for a moment. Thank you Albus, Professor. My, my, what must you think of me?"
"Quite understandable, Sybil, it's been a exciting day. You're just fine. Let me escort you, shall I?"
Dumbledore guided her up the stairs as the rest followed their progress in stunned silence. After the Headmaster had taken Professor Trelawney around the corner into the upper corridor, the group started to look from one to the other, with questioning shrugs and raised eyebrows.
"Do you think that was real?" Ginny asked in a small voice.
"Yes," Harry answered. "I've seen her do that before; when Wormtail was unmasked, in 3rd year."
"What did it mean, do you think?" Ron voiced the question in everyone's mind.
"It means we'll have to be ready; the attack could be launched at anytime." Hermione came up beside Ron and took his hand.
"But 'from within'? How could he get into Hogwarts?" Ron wondered, looking around.
"We'd better put our heads together and think about it," suggested Hermione.
Severus cleared his throat. "I doubt, seriously, if Voldemort is lurking in any of the corridors as we speak, but when the other students return, I don't think this new prophesy should be broadcast. You'll just panic most of them. We must put our defensive plans into motion. No more practice, this is real."
"My thoughts exactly, Severus." Professor McGonagall nodded. "I think we're prepared, we just need to be sure the alarm can be spread quickly through the school. Defensive positions are assigned, so..."
"I think I'll have a word with the ghosts," Professor Flitwick added. "They can patrol around the clock and in all the places we don't normally inhabit."
"Good thinking, Filius." Remus patted him on the shoulder.
"The house elves are ready, also," Harry told them. "I've been working with Tykey and some of the others."
"Harry." Remus stepped forward. "I think it's time we took a good long look at the map. Maybe we can spot possible weak points in our defenses."
"Map? What map?" Severus turned to glare at Harry and Remus.
"Remember that spare bit of parchment that insulted you in 3rd year?"
Harry looked at Remus, who nodded.
"It might be just what we need, Harry."
"Right; I'll go get it. Be back in a flash."
Harry took off running and Snape turned to Remus.
"What do you know about this, Lupin? Explain."
"Well, I don't want to brag, but it's a map of Hogwarts that I helped design and make. Filch took it from James in our 6th year, the Weasley twins nicked it from him, somehow, and figured out what it was and passed it on the Harry, not knowing its history, of course."
"Yes, yes, get on with it! What does it show?"
"Where everyone is, at any given time, on the grounds or in the castle."
Severus and the rest of the adults stood there, stunned.
"And Potter's kept this to himself, all this time/? Does he have /any idea...?"
The kids rolled their eyes and ducked their heads, expecting an explosion.
"He's well aware of the map's potential, Severus." Albus had just rejoined the group. "It was the map which showed Peter Pettigrew was alive and helped unmask him. I doubt if he's used it much, of late, having memorized the secret passages in and around the castle; to get to /Honeydukes/, unseen, for instance."
"Honeydukes!" Minerva squeaked. "Do you mean to say that there is a direct route into the castle from outside the grounds, Albus, and it's not been sealed, or at least guarded?"
"Calm down, Minerva; of course it's guarded, well, had an alarm spell added, by me. After Harry showed me the map, I've kept it in mind, as a possible tool, when and if it was needed."
"And it seems the time has come," Remus added.
Harry came skidding around the corner on the main stairs and clattered down the last steps to join them, map in hand. He handed it to Remus and bent over, trying to catch his breath.
"Well, shall we?"
Remus walked over to a nearby table and spread the map out.
"Severus," said Remus, looking over at the Potions Master. "You are about to become a Marauder."
"Get on with it," growled Severus.
Remus smiled and tapped the blank parchment with his wand.
"I solemnly swear I'm up to no good."
"How appropriate. Now wha..." But Severus stopped, the question forgotten as the inky markings started appearing, showing all of the school and the names and locations of all those present in the castle.
"Usually it only shows who you are interested in locating, or someone you know you should avoid, like Argus Filch," explained Remus, pointing to the black dot marked A.Filch that was moving down the corridor toward his office. "Apparently, the map knows we need the locations and names of everyone in the castle, including house elves and ghosts," noted Remus, pointing at the dozens of dots in the Hogwarts kitchens and the group standing around the table, gazing down at the parchment.
"I'm sorry I didn't think of it earlier, Headmaster." Harry had regained his voice and joined the group. "I haven't had it out of my trunk for over a year, come to that."
"Quite alright, Harry. I'd have soon asked to borrow it, in any case." Albus patted Harry on the shoulder.
"You made this, with Potter, Black...and Pettigrew ?" inquired Severus, looking pointedly at Remus.
"Extra curricular activities from our school days." Remus laughed as Severus shook his head.
"Be that as it may, we need to check out possible routes, regardless of their supposed condition." Dumbledore looked at Harry. "I believe you told me two of the tunnels were blocked and/or collapsed and therefore unusable, didn't you Harry?"
"Yeah," Harry pointed them out. "Then there's the one under the Whomping Willow that leads to the Shrieking Shack."
"Scabbers...Pettigrew will have told Voldemort all about that one by now, I'll bet," Ron spoke up.
"No doubt, Mr. Weasley. Well spotted," acknowledged Dumbledore, seeing Severus was about to silence him. Putting a hand on Severus arm, he shook his head slightly. "Everyone must contribute their thoughts, for /all /our sakes. One small item, just mentioned in passing, could prove to be a key, overlooked flaw in our plans for defending Hogwarts."
Severus nodded and turned back to study the map. Flipping a panel, he spotted one name and laid his hand on the map. Leaning forward, he pointed towards the other tunnels.
"Do we know where these blocked tunnels come out, Remus? They seem to extend beyond your map's edges."
He caught Albus' eye and flicked his eyes down to his hand, then back up to see the Headmaster return his gaze and give the slightest nod.
"Yes and no; one used to lead to that rock outcrop at the south edge of the lake. We used to go skinny dipping after hours. There was a small entrance cave on the back side of the biggest rock, but it collapsed during our 7th year. The other was caved in when we found it, so I have no idea where it ends. We thought it might lead past Hogsmeade, on the north side. It parallels the one to the Shrieking Shack."
"Which is too long, by half," replied Harry. "I can't see anyone bothering to clear that one, if the one to the Shrieking Shack is open."
"Harry, could Professor Snape, Professor Lupin and I borrow this map of yours for a bit? We might spot something you've become used to seeing that could prove vital."
Severus folded up the map and handed it to the Headmaster.
"Well, I have to get ready to go home and put Lyn to bed," Narcissa informed the group. "So, better say your goodbyes; I don't know when we'll be back."
The teachers and students all gave the laughing baby hugs and kisses; she was enjoying every minute of it, too.
"She'll miss the attention, once she's home," Harry whispered to Draco. "She really knows how to 'work a crowd'!"
"I think I'll probably miss her more than she'll miss me," Draco informed him.
"You'll see her again, soon, Draco," Ginny reassured him.
"I hope so." Draco watched his little sister and then held out his hands. She smiled at him and threw out her arms to him to be taken. Narcissa gave her over to her big brother and used the opportunity to say her goodbyes to the staff and students. Gwen did the same, and then everyone started off in various directions: to the teachers lounge, Gryffindor Tower, the room of Requirement and the Headmaster went to his office.
"Remus, Severus, meet me in my office in say, a half an hour?"
"Certainly." "Yes, Headmaster."
Entering the Room of Requirement, Severus went immediately to check on his offspring and sit on the edge of the bed to talk with Anna. Narcissa gathered all of her gear and with Gwen, Remus and Draco walked over to join the Snape family.
"Well, I have to get Lyn home and into her crib before she starts getting fussy. I'll see you the day after tomorrow." She leaned over and gave Anna a kiss and hug. "Take advantage of the bed rest; it's the last you'll get for the next, oh, 17 years," she whispered in Anna's ear.
Anna laughed. "I bet you're right about that!"
Gwen came over and took a peek in the bassinets.
"I'll pop in tomorrow and give the children a thorough exam and their inoculations."
"Ok." Anna nodded, offering her cheek for a kiss from Gwen..
"Innoculations?" Severus looked back and forth between them.
"Precautionary, to prevent various childhood diseases." Gwen informed him.
"But, Poppy can..."
"Severus, I'm...we're going to err on the side of caution and do the Muggle way, also," Anna explained
"Do you really think it necessary?"
"Yes, I do."
Severus eyed the Healer and doctor gazing at him and knew it was useless to protest.
"Very well, it's your area of expertise."
"Well, that's settled," observed Narcissa, who noticed Lyn rubbing her eyes. "We'd better go, Lyn's fading fast."
"See you tomorrow, Anna," said Gwen as she and Remus walked out the door, hand in hand. Draco followed with Lyn and Narcissa gave a wave as she closed the door.
"Did you eat some dinner after your nap?" Severus asked, re-positioning himself on the bed, so that he could hold Anna in his arms.
"Yes, and the babies are full and happy...and asleep."
"Good, then you and I can have some peace and quiet."
"You're a quick learner; if the kids are asleep, you and I can..."
Severus reached up and put a finger on her lips, silencing her.
"Be quiet, woman, I'm about the kiss you."
"Oh, sorry. Proceed."
"Thank you, I will."
And he did.
Remus opened the door and ushered the others into the Headmaster's office.
"Ah, bedtime for little Lyn?"
"Yes," replied Narcissa, as she turned to find her daughter asleep on Draco's shoulder. "She's had quite a day."
"She's not the only one," Draco laughed. He handed his sister over and kissed her on the cheek. Then he gave his Mother a hug and kiss. "Take good care of yourselves."
"I will, darling, and we'll see you again, soon."
Draco nodded, not trusting his voice at that moment.
Gwen picked up the diaper bag and she and Cissa walked up to stand next to Dumbledore.
"Alright you two, turn your backs and cover your ears."
With a final wave, Remus and Draco turned away and did as they had been told. Dumbledore gave both women and the baby a goodbye kiss and then watched as they departed through the secret door.
Remus and Draco turned around to face him.
"Goodnight Professors, I'm going to catch up with the others," said Draco, as he headed for the door.
"See you in the morning, Draco." "Good night, Mister Malfoy."
Twenty minutes later, Severus joined Remus and Albus, who had laid the map out on his desk. The Headmaster turned to Remus.
"You'll see a name on this map, Remus, which you will not expect to see. Take a look."
Puzzled, Remus walked to the desk and surveyed the various hallways, classrooms, dorms and common rooms, greenhouses, stairwells and courtyards.
"I don't see anything unusual, yet. Let me go floor by floor. That's how I had to use it as a student; it was too much to try and see the whole school at once, for me at least."
Picking up the map, he folded and unfolded the various parts, with the ease of familiarity. Suddenly, he stopped and looked up.
"Yes," said the Headmaster. "Voldemort gave her a dose of the 'Draught of the Living Death'. Fortunately, she had the stopper clenched in her hand and when Draco discovered it, we knew what had happened. Her parents, unfortunately/, were dead, killed by the '/Avada Kadavra' curse."
"Who knows, besides you and, I'm assuming, Severus and Poppy?"
"No one, as the fewer people are aware of the truth, the easier it is to hide her. I did memory charms on Minerva, Hagrid and Draco, so their grief would be genuine and believable."
"But the Minister for Magic and his entourage, didn't they realize?"
"Ah, as to that; they did examine the Parkinsons, to verify the deaths, but Poppy put herself between them and Pansy, official death certificates at the ready and they never got within three feet of her. Then Draco's outburst toward them hastened their departure. Voldemort now believes Pansy was buried with her parents and has since died of slow asphyxiation."
"Is there anyway of having the map ignore her or not show where she's hidden?" Severus inquired.
"No, at least I don't think so. It never lies about who is within its scope. That's why Harry saw Peter, who was supposedly dead."
"Perhaps we could cover that room with a small piece of parchment, aged to match the rest," suggested Severus.
"We could try." Remus shrugged
"There's no reason to check the hospital wing, so it might not be noticed. If it is, we pass it off as a patch, over a tear or worn spot," Severus added, "Potter surely will notice, but would believe you if you said you were doing some repair and maintenance on your old 'school project', Remus."
"As it will be residing here on my desk, perhaps I should just anchor that corner of the map with, say, a candlestick or a paper weight. As you said, Severus, no one would be checking the hospital wing."
The Headmaster conjured a large, heavy paperweight that he put down to cover Pansy's name and dot, and then used other objects to hold down the other corners of the unfolded map.
"There, that should do until you can work on that 'patch', Remus. Now, let's take a good look at this map and try to see if there is any flaw in our defenses, shall we?"
Bending over the desk, Severus and Albus marveled at the detail shown on the map. Remus pointed out the changes that had occurred since his 'Marauder' days.
"Here's something interesting, Headmaster." Snape pointed to the plan for the third floor. "There's a shaft under the sinks marked..." He peered closely at the tiny writing. "Entrance to the Chamber of Secrets."
"My God, that's where it is? The girls' loo?"
" 'Moaning Myrtle's' Bathroom to be exact. She was the student killed by the Basilisk unleashed by Tom Riddle, Remus," explained Albus.
"But why is it marked? Because Potter knows its location, perhaps?"
"You did say the map knows who or what you need to know and shows you, did you not, Remus?" asked the Headmaster.
"It seems to be sharing Potter's knowledge of the entrance, because we're looking for ways the Death Eaters might use to invade the school, don't you think?" Severus added.
"Could they use the Chamber? Is there an outside entrance?" wondered Remus.
"That is not known, although we could do a reconnaissance of The Chamber. I've always wanted to see what Salazar Slytherin left behind in his own honor." Albus rubbed his chin thoughtfully.
Severus traced his finger across the map. "It doesn't show The Chamber, just the tunnel. So, it could actually be outside of the school grounds and the protective spells."
"That's something we'll have to take into consideration."
"Perhaps we should consult with Potter about this as he knows first hand what's down there and how far the tunnel reaches," suggested Severus.
"I'll go and talk with him about it," volunteered Remus.
"The sooner we check out the whole tunnel and Chamber the better, as far as I'm concerned," declared Severus.
"Then is seems we have something to do to occupy our time tomorrow, agreed?"
"Yes, indeed." "Sounds like a plan."