A/N: Can you believe that I forgot to
put this stuff in the prologue? Oh well. First and foremost, this whole thing
belongs not to me, but to J.K. Rowling, to whom I feel substantial gratitude. I’d
also like to thank a few people. Leigh, for her kind words and enthusiastic
encouragement, and the ever-fantastic Moey, Beta-Reader extraordinaire.
was speechless. Moody glanced back at Severus, not bothering to hide his
contempt, and walked over to Anna’s desk.
know it’s a shock,” he said to her quietly, “but you’ll be working with him on a
new operation we’re conducting. If it makes you feel any better, he had his
reservations about meeting you as well. He seemed to think that you’d hold
certain things against him.” Moody turned back towards the guards and motioned
for them to go. Without a word they spun and left the room. “Have a seat,”
Moody growled at Snape. Severus’ eyes narrowed as he met Moody’s glare, but he
remained silent and sat down. Moody himself did not take a seat, but leaned
against the wall of the office, affecting an air of casualness, or at least as
casual as he ever was.
hung in the air, the kind of silence that no one can stand, but no one will
dare to break. Anna was staring at the man she hadn’t seen for three years.
Severus was avoiding her gaze. Moody was standing with his arms crossed,
waiting. Finally, Anna spoke, barely louder than a whisper.
did you go? What happened?”
looked up, meeting her eye for the first time since he’d entered the room. “Do
you really need me to tell you?” he asked softly. She realised she didn’t. He
was a Death Eater turned spy. That fact told her all she needed to know. But
not all that she wanted to know.
didn’t answer. After a few seconds Moody spoke up. “I’m sure you two would love
to catch up, and reminisce about old times,” he said sarcastically, “but we
have more important things to talk about. Tell me, are either of you familiar
with the organization known as Army of the Crimson Star?”
Anna shook her
head, but Severus spoke up. “Yes. They’ve been causing trouble for the Death
Eaters for some time now. They’re a paramilitary organization of dark wizards,
committed to toppling the Dark Lord.”
“Why would they
want to do that?” Anna asked.
they’re dark wizards doesn’t mean they support him.” Severus was still avoiding
eye contact with her. “We don’t know exactly why they’re fighting him, but
they’ve been making a lot of trouble for us. For them…I mean. For
“Better get your loyalties sorted out, Snape. You’re one of us now. Don’t
Snape’s icy glare
met Moody’s. “Thank you,” he said quietly. “I’ll try to keep that in mind.”
practically feel the temperature in the room dropping. Moody’s real problem was
that he believed that people couldn’t change. Once a Death Eater, always a
Death Eater. She herself wasn’t sure. She didn’t know why Severus had left her,
left his old life behind. And she didn’t know why he’d come back now.
She shook those
thoughts out of her head. Now was not the time. “Can we get back to the subject
at hand please?” she asked, returning to her normal, business-like manner.
Moody turned and looked at her.
“Of course. The
Army of the Crimson Star has been causing a lot of problems for us as well,” he
continued. “To put it simply, they get in the way. We’ve already had several
important operations fail because they got to our targets before we did. It
isn’t very easy to interrogate someone when all that’s left of them is a
blackened corpse that can only be identified through dental records. These
people are totally ruthless. Our resources are already stretched to the limit
fighting this lot,” he said, jerking his head at Severus. “The last thing we
need is some gang of madmen taking matters into their own hands and making things
twice as hard for us. So the powers that be have decided that it’s time to put
an end to it. We’re going after the Army, and we’re going to stop them. You’ll
be in charge of this one, Stewart. You’ll be working with Snape here to get as
much information as you can on them. Once you’ve done that, I want you to go
after the leader.”
“What do we know
about the leader?” Anna asked.
“Not enough, I’m
afraid. But all indications are that he’s the brains of the operation. We think
that if he’s out of the picture, the rest will disband, or just fight amongst
themselves. Once that’s happened, we bring in the survivors, and continue with
business as usual.”
“All right then.
What resources do I have at my disposal?”
need. This is one of our top priorities. You need more agents, you’ve got them.
Files, equipment, whatever. I’ve been authorised to give you anything you
“Well for now, all
I need is the files on these people, and some time to go over them.” She
glanced at Severus, who had kept quiet throughout the exchange. “And I’ll want
to speak to the spy, to get the other side’s perspective on this.” Severus’
head snapped up, and he looked over at her. His expression was unreadable.
Moody glanced at
the two of them. “Fine, I’ll have the files sent over to you. When you’re
finished with the spy, some people are waiting outside to escort him out. Good
turned and walked out the door, shooting Severus one last cold glare. As the
door closed, Severus growled in the back of his throat. “How can you stand to
work for that man?”
judges you because of what you did,” Anna said in a voice barely louder than a
turned back to face her. “And you? What judgement do you pass on me?”
felt her throat constricting slightly. His dark eyes seemed to burn into her
own. She remembered when they had been softer, and recalled clearly the many
times she had let herself get lost in them, but now they seemed harder than
diamond. What had he seen in the years they’d been apart? What had he done? “I
don’t pass judgement,” she said quietly. “I don’t even know what happened.”
sat down, looking as though an incredible weight rested on his shoulders. “I
don’t know what to tell you.”
me the truth. Tell me what happened. Why you left me. One day you were there,
the next you were gone. I looked for you, but you’d just disappeared. I thought
the enemy had taken you.” She looked away. “I was right, but not in the way I
can’t justify what I did. But I can try and redeem myself. That’s why I’m here,
doing what I’m doing.”
why did you turn in the first place?” Anna knew the anguish in her voice was
evident. She felt close to tears.
can’t answer that question. I don’t know why I did it. I could blame all manner
of things, but I think it was simply that I wanted a way out, a release. It
seemed to me that there was nothing worthwhile left in my old life.”
left?” Anna exclaimed. “You had a job, you had your friends, you had…you had
me. Didn’t that mean anything to you?”
it didn’t,” he said bluntly, but with genuine sorrow in his voice. “That was
why I left. I don’t try to make excuses. I’m not even going to bother asking
for your forgiveness, because there’s no reason you should give it to me. But
for what it’s worth, I’m sorry.”
struggled to find something to say, then gave up. This wasn’t the time. As
Moody had said, there were more important things to worry about. She cleared
her throat. “Tell me more about this Army of the Crimson Star. What does the
paused for a second, perhaps thrown slightly by the rapid change of subject,
but he swallowed and let it go. “I don’t know what it means. I suppose it’s
some kind of mythical reference, but you can never tell. Maybe they just
thought it sounded good at the time.”
else do you know about the leader?”
little. I’ve seen him once, but I couldn’t get a particularly good look at him.
The scene was somewhat…chaotic.”
“And he was
“Did he issue
orders during the attack?”
“Once or twice.”
“Did he take part,
or stand off and let his men do the work?”
“He took part, but
while the others were running around firing off curses everywhere, he just
stood there, watching. Keeping the whole thing under control.”
“So he’s the hands
on type. Likes to make an impression. Calm and in control…He gives orders, but
generally lets his people go about their business.” Anna seemed to forget that
Severus was even there. Her discomfort disappeared as she immersed herself in
her work, just as it always did. She stood up, and started ruffling through a
filing cabinet, though whether looking for anything specific, or just giving
her hands something to do while she thought, even she couldn’t say. Severus sat
back, looking at her. His face was as closed off and unreadable as ever. “What
do you know about the command structure?” she asked, still leafing through bits
of parchment. “Is this leader some kind of supreme commander, or does he have
“I don’t know. We
haven’t been able to gather very much information on them at all.” Anna paused
in her rummaging. She had the indeterminate feeling that there was something
Severus wasn’t telling her. She bowed her head. Of course there were things
Severus wasn’t telling her. He’d vanished for three whole years, and
re-surfaced as a Death Eater turned spy, for crying out loud. She had managed
to momentarily distract herself with work, and with questioning him about the
case at hand, but she couldn’t keep this back anymore. She turned around and
was about to say something to him, to ask him to damn well tell her the truth,
when the door opened, and Moody leaned in, a folder containing a few pieces of
parchment in his hand.
“Here are the
files, Stewart. I told you there wasn’t much.” Anna thanked him and Summoned
the folder over onto her desk. Moody shot a glare at Severus, then moved to
close the door.
said, standing up. Moody looked back in. Severus turned back to Anna. “I’ll
leave you to read those. If you have any more questions, you can ask me when I
“You know I have
questions to ask you, Severus,” Anna said quietly. Severus looked at her, a
strange expression on his face. Pity? Sorrow? Fear? She couldn’t tell. No
matter how well she’d thought she’d come to know him, he’d always been a closed
book. And that hadn’t changed.
“They will have to
wait,” he said. She nodded. “Goodbye. It was…good to see you again.” She nodded
again, not quite trusting herself to speak. He turned around and walked over to
Moody. Moody held out the shroud, which Severus took and placed over his head.
The two guards stepped back into the room to accompany him out. He turned back
momentarily, his covered features facing Anna, as though he could see through
the cloth. Then he turned, bowed his head and walked out.
footsteps through the house, and turned fearfully, her wand out. The back door burst
open, and Severus Snape rushed out. He came to a halt, taking in the scene
before him. “Who screamed? What happened?” he asked frantically, panting
slightly. Anna just pointed, still shaking. She turned and watched as Severus
stepped slowly towards the two figures on the ground. One lying motionless,
spreadeagled in the grass, the other crouched over it, almost protectively.
That figure was shaking as well, though more violently, as though crying. He
just knelt there, his back to the two onlookers, shielding the motionless body.
Not body, Anna forcibly corrected herself, corpse. There was no point in trying
to convince herself otherwise. It wasn’t the first time she’d seen dead bodies.
But seeing them like this, without a single mark on them, as though the life in
them had just switched off, made her feel ill. And she’d never seen the curse
performed before. As she watched the figure, he reached out and closed the
corpse’s eyes, then stood up. He hadn’t been crying at all. He wasn’t shaking
Severus asked tentatively.
Nick looked over
at him. “I killed him,” he said simply. His voice was cold, wracked with some
emotion Anna couldn’t make out. Nick turned and looked her in the eye. He
lifted his wand and seemed to be making to Disapperate, but then thought better
of it. He half-ran past her, through the door and out the front of the house.
She heard him break into a sprint as he ran back down the road he had come up
only a few hours before.
Her body tensed at
the sound of a harshly indrawn breath. She turned back. Severus was standing
next to the body, looking down at it. She had never seen him looking quite like
this before. His face was paler than normal, and shock registered in his eyes.
She moved over beside him, and forced herself to look down at the body’s face.
It was all she could do to not break down
in tears right there.