“Professor?” Hermione asked, wandering over to where Lupin stood searching out a volume on one of the shelves. “Has anyone asked Snape if he knows whats happened to Lavender?”
He turned away from the bookcase and frowned. She knew she still seemed like taboo territory of sorts. She was an adult, and Dumbledore had granted her entry to the Order, but it was at the strong protest of Molly Weasley. No one relished the thought of being the one to cross her.
“Do you find it odd, Hermione, that you refer to me as Professor, but Severus as Snape?”
“Not especially. I do however find it odd that you're trying to avoid such a simple
question. Now I get that everyone has been trying to avoid Mrs. Weasley's toes these last few days, but it's starting to seem a bit extreme.”
“Everyone has always considered you very bright, and with good reason. Molly has waged war with Albus over this, and she's done a pretty good job of making everyone feel like we're taking away your future. All Albus will say is that we don't know what we would need to in order to make that decision. It's all put everyone a bit on edge.”
She thought about the horcrux's, wondering how many of the order knew. It seemed so wrong that it was three teenagers, barely members of the order, that were the ones he chose to share this information with. Like there should be a more logical solution, but she just couldn't find it.
“He does enjoy riddles,” she mused, her new train of thought momentarily distracting her from her purpose. What could distinguish them from others? Did he simply think them more malleable. She sat in one of the armchairs, pulling her legs underneath her.
“He's been away for about two days now.”
“Hmm,” she said “Right, Professor Snape. Do they typically keep him there that long?” She asked, eyebrows wrinkling in concern. “It seems as though we would have noticed it throughout the school year.”
He didn't respond right away, taken aback at what seemed like genuine concern for a man her best friend wasted no time in slandering. It was true Hermione was much more intelligent and respectful in that sense than Ron, but it was rare to find a student that wasn't in Slytherin and respected Severus.
“You're truly confusing, you know that. You express almost as much distaste for him as Ron and Harry, but seem to honestly care about his well being. He isn't with them now, he's doing Albus a favor.” She nodded, filing away the information.
“I don't dislike Severus Snape. I dislike the unbecoming git-like persona he's adapted so well. I find it hard to believe that the person you see is the person he is, or he wouldn't do what he does. So while I'd rather see him unharmed, I don't necessarily enjoy his presence.” He gave her the strangest look, and she uncurled her legs, shifting to stand.
“Well you can enjoy his lack of presence for about 12 more hours. By then, he should be arriving at Heathrow with our new guests.”
Her head snapped up, not expecting the answer she was given. Snape was bringing guests through an airport. On an airplane? Were there muggles coming?
“The airport?” He frowned at her question, shaking his head.
“I've said more than I should have already.”
“Yes, but since you did, a little more couldn't hurt. Right?” She asked with a grin, watching as his eyes closed briefly, shoulders almost sagging in defeat.
“I'm telling you this because I think you're intelligent enough to choose for yourself what you're going to do, and smart enough to know our opinions don't really matter. Just promise me that no matter what happens in this war you'll be cautious and use that brain, try to make sure Harry does the same, and never ever tell Molly Weasley anything I share with you.” She laughed, nodding her head in agreement.
“I think I can agree to that.”
“At least its first class,” Dawn said, bouncing around in her oversized seat.
“But commercial none the less, and not very good for talking,” Snape said, more than happy to express his displeasure with the arrangement. “If we'd used a portkey we'd be there by now.” He hissed, frowning as the attendant walked by.
“Excuse me miss,” Buffy said, smiling at the woman slightly older than herself. “Do you think after you finish distributing the refreshments, we could close the curtain and have a bit privacy for a little while? Big business, you know how it is.” She laughed slightly to give her the impression she was kidding about the business.
“Of course. It'll be about 15 minutes, and we'll be all set.”
“Voila.” Buffy said as the stewardess continued into coach. “Closed curtains, hushed voices and hidden agendas; we can accomplish our goal and have all the makings of a trashy detective novel at the same time.”
“We can still be overheard. This wasn't the best choice.”
“Oh for goodness sakes!” Anya snapped, straightening in her seat. “You don't want to be here. We all know this by now! I don't like it either, but I'm not whining like a two year old. Its my understanding they have itty bitty bottles of alcohol. Purchase a few and you'll be much more pleasant.” She settled back in her seat, playing with the screen in front of her ignoring as Xander shook his head telling her to stop. How could anyone think she was the rude one when he was around?
“I'm not sure how you put up with it Rupert.” Snape said, trying to ignore the irritating blonde to his left. “You seriously believe this group of people is the help we need to win this war?”
Giles sighed, wishing it was as easy to explain to others as it was for him to understand. He knew those that his slayer had surrounded herself with didn't always put out a professional image, but they were all brilliant in their own right. They all risked so much, sacrificed so much, and saved so many, it was sometimes easy to forget that others just didn't know who they were, or what they'd done.
“Can I get you some more drinks or snacks?” The stewardess asked, re-entering first class.
“Yes.” Snape answered, trying to keep the scowl out of his voice. “One of those itty bitty bottles of alcohol.”
“Well?” Harry asked, as Hermione walked back in, closing the door behind herself and casting a silencing spell as she sat.
“The reason Snape can't tell us anything about Lavender is because he's been gone for days. He's doing Professor Dumbledore a favor.”
“How do you do it Hermione?” Harry asked, shaking his head. He could have spent hours in that room with Remus and not gotten a straight answer, she made it look like practiced science.
“Apparently,” she paused, ignoring the question and glancing around as though the silencing spell wasn't in effect. “There's muggles
flying in from America. The Professor thinks that they can help.”
“Muggles! Thats crazy!” Ron almost shouted. “What could they possibly do that we can't?”
“Not just any muggles. There's a slayer coming. Here. They'll be here by tomorrow. I wouldn't have thought it possible but-,”
“That's ridiculous Hermione. Slayers don't exist. You've read it yourself, for Merlin sakes.” Ginny said, taking it a bit personally that she was even considering it. She had asked Hermione about slayers in her second year, only to be on the receiving end of an hour long rant about non-existent mythical creatures.
“But Professor Lupin was adamant,” She continued, ignoring the outburst. “He said Professor Dumbledore made an announcement to the order, that they were incredibly powerful, and should be respected. I just don't know..” She stopped short, jumping as the door swung open. “Professor Dumbledore.”
He nodded his head in acknowledgment, but the usual twinkle was missing from his eyes.
“It seems we have yet another problem on our hands. The fidelius charm protecting Grimmuald has been compromised.”