“Whoever thought one death would end the war?” Dumbledore sighed, stroking Fawkes in the same office that headmasters had occupied for centuries at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. “When so many have come before and gone unnoticed.”

Fawkes crooked his head at Dumbledore and let out a low purr.

The heavy curtains were drawn today. The room was lit by a few candelabras near the desk and door.

“Indeed,” a voice more like a growl said from the shadows of the room. “I suppose the Ministry will be here for me shortly.”

“Whatever for, Severus?” Dumbledore looked up, mildly surprised.

“Questioning? Interrogation? General bullying?”

Dumbledore heard heavy robes shifting, as if a figure was sulking. Dumbledore sighed and looked over the tops of his gold-rimmed spectacles at the shadows. He didn’t need light to see in the dark anymore, of course, but the effect would be noted by the shadowy figure.

“I’m quite sure they have their hands full,” Dumbledore said, slightly patronizing.

His tone did not elude the ears of Severus Snape, former Death Eater and now spy for Dumbledore. He hated to think of himself as a member of the Order of the Phoenix. The mere sound of the name grated on some hidden part of him. He used to work for the Dark Lord. He worked for Dumbledore now. From his former point of view, it was pathetic.

That daft Longbottom fellow used to call them ‘OOPs,’ as if they were some grand mistake. He did have a point there. At one point Snape thought if he ever heard that stupid anachronism again, he’d Crucio the bubble head. After he heard what had happened to Longbottom and his mate Snape had felt deeply guilty.

Now James Potter was dead. Another person Snape wished was dead, was. It was as if some celestial being had saved up all the cruel wishes he had ever made for this time in his life. A mad part of his brain made a note to wish for one cheerful thing a day, just in case.

Strangely enough, the day Potter was wiped from the earth; the Wizarding World broke into celebration. Snape smiled wryly at the irony. A year ago he might have joined them for quite a different reason.

He had always hated the Potter boy. They were related on Snape’s mother’s side, although so distantly it wasn’t really worth mentioning most of the time. The only one who mentioned it at all was his mother, ordering him to try and be nice and not to cause trouble at school. Lord knows, neither Snape nor Potter would be willing to admit they had anything in common. After all, all the pureblooded families were interrelated in one way or the other.

Now James was dead. The blood of his mothers line was decreased a bit more by foul play. He didn’t know if he was more upset by the fact that Potter was dead or that he wasn’t the cause.

It was his job to kill Potter. He was going to get around to it after the war. Dueling, like gentlemen.

If he couldn’t behave himself, he could honor his mother’s memory by doing it honorably. He certainly wouldn’t have crept in by nightfall like a coward. How embarrassing for the Dark Lord. How the mighty have fallen.

Snape never expected it to happen so quickly. It was over before he had even gotten an owl. How can so many significant things happen in a moment? Before anyone could even register it happening?

“I’ll have to meet Hagrid soon,” Dumbledore said as he turned and went to his desk

“Hagrid?” Snape sneered. He didn’t fully trust the half-breed. “Whatever for?”

“He’s bringing the boy,” Dumbledore said brusquely as he sat down.

“The boy,” Snape echoed.

“James and Lily’s son,” Dumbledore said slowly. All this had been a shock. Perhaps Snape was beginning to slip.

“I know,” Snape snapped. “Why is he bringing him here?”

“He’s not bringing him here,” Dumbledore said patiently. “He’s transporting him to relatives. I will meet him there.”

“Do I know these people?” Snape asked, sounding a bit disconnected.

“I sincerely doubt it,” Dumbledore said, searching for something amongst the piles of papers and enrollment invitations on his desk “They’re not magical by any means.”

“You’re sending him off with muggles!” Snape thundered as he shot to his feet. The light barely reached him, making his eyes seem even more sunken then they already were, his lines deeper and darker, his scowl very nearly menacing.

“I never knew you were so interested,” Dumbledore threw him a glance.

Although he would never admit it, it was fairly obvious Snape had harbored feelings toward Lily. What was blatant was the idea disgusted him. Dumbledore couldn’t imagine harboring feelings so violently opposite from each other. It was a miracle the man hadn’t torn himself apart.

“Just concerned,” Snape said huffily, throwing himself back into the chair and disappearing from view once again. Dumbledore rolled his eyes. Melodramatic git.

Dumbledore made a noncommittal noise.

“What does Minerva think of this?” Snape grumbled from his cave.

“Very loud thoughts,” Dumbledore winced slightly. A chuckle came from the darkness. That was promising, even if it was at his own expense.

“Should have seen that coming,” Snape said. Dumbledore shrugged.

“It’s better for him to grow up away from this,” Dumbledore reasoned.

“Really?” Snape spat. “Good idea, pop him off where no one will know who he is or how to protect him. Bloody brilliant.”

“Protections are in place,” Dumbledore said, beginning to sound annoyed. “They are blood relatives. Do you want him, Severus?”

“Me!” Snape exploded, although this time he remained seated. Dumbledore heard the sudden shift of fabric as Snape stiffened and squirmed uncomfortably. “Raise a child? Have you completely lost your mind?”

“Well then, the matter is settled,” Dumbledore said as he pulled what looked like a silver lighter out of the papers on his desk. Snape stayed silent, although there were sounds of movement in the shadows.

Dumbledore pocketed his Put-Outer and turned to Snape.

“Are you going to join me?” Dumbledore asked.

“I’m sure I want no part of this,” Snape sniffed imperiously.

Dumbledore quirked an eyebrow, but didn’t show a hint of the smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. The self-pitying phase was over. At least the man was predictable.

“Well then,” Dumbledore said, turning his back on Severus. “Minerva is gone, I’m going, you’re in charge of the school.” Then he strode out of the office.

Snape sat in the shadows, speechless.

He was in charge of the school? Never mind that the children were already to bed for the night and Dumbledore would be back long before morning.

Apparently he had gotten the job.