|Severus Snape (ensnared_senses) wrote in snark_n_bark,|
@ 2009-07-24 19:08:00
|Entry tags:||complete, gaius, regulus, severus, tybalt|
Characters: Severus, Tybalt, Regulus, Gaius
Summary: The identity of the mysterious man stalking the Snape brothers is discovered.
"And I'll take a dozen of the ice mice. No, wait, better make it two dozen." Tybalt smiled wryly at the girl behind the shop counter, who was busily stuffing a veritable mountain of sweets into bags. "The boys like them, too, and Serenus won't get any if they get to them first."
"Growing boys do like to eat," Cassie replied. She was no stranger to the Savage-Snape family, nor the Snape-Lupin one, for that matter, especially now that the Azoth House and Snape Manor were linked and the children ran freely between both. The nannies usually rode herd on them quite well, but there was no way to completely control five young, high spirited children when they were in Honeydukes. And of course the sweets shop was a favorite destination for all of them, which meant that the various teenage witches and wizards who worked there were well acquainted with "the horde", as Gaius called them.
"That they do," Tybalt agreed, pulling out his wallet to count out payment. He grinned. "And so do I. And so does Serenus, especially at this stage."
"How much longer does he have?" Cassie asked as she handed back his change. "Last time I saw him, I thought he was looking bigger."
"Not until November, actually - but he enjoys being pregnant, and I enjoy spoiling him." Tucking away his wallet again, Tybalt picked up the bags and nodded a farewell to her. "I've no doubt he'll be by before long - and the rest of the mob, too!"
"I look forward to it!" Cassie laughed, and Tybalt smiled to himself as he left the shop, proud that his family was so large and memorable. He liked being part of a big clan, and it didn't bother him that they were sometimes loud and boisterous. Children should enjoy life, and be protected and loved and free to experience all the wonders life had to offer.
As he walked down the street, heading toward Azoth House, he looked forward eagerly to the newest addition to the hoard, and he had no doubts that the baby girl Serenus was carrying was going to be not only beautiful, but perfect in every way. She couldn't be anything else, considering how much she was already loved by her brothers and her parents. Tybalt couldn't help but smile in what he knew was a goofy fashion every time he looked at Serenus and thought about their daughter. November couldn't get here fast enough to suit him.
Even absorbed in his own thoughts, Tybalt's Auror instincts were still in play, and he snapped his head to one side as a flash of movement caught his eye at the side of building. He had a brief impression of an older wizard, dark haired with a blaze of white at his temples, before the man stepped into the shadows. Without evening stopping to think, Tybalt altered course and set off after him, long legs moving swiftly. Yet as quick as he was, the other man was gone by the time Tybalt reached the end of the wall.
"What the hell?" he muttered, running his free hand through his hair as he looked around, frowning. Now that he'd stopped, he knew why he'd followed the man: he looked just like the wizard Gaius had described, the one who had come into Dreams of Egypt and then turned up in Greece. And now it seemed that he had turned up in Hogsmeade, and Tybalt was far too innately paranoid to believe it was a coincidence.
Turning on his heel, he strode swiftly toward home, his mouth set in a grim line. He didn't want to worry Serenus with this, but he knew exactly who he could talk to, the only other person in the family who had as much experience dealing with threats as he did himself: Severus.
Fortunately Serenus wasn't in the yard as he approached, but several the children and the nannies were. With a harried smile, Tybalt passed over the large bag of sweets, asking if they could take it to Serenus and share it with him. Then he slipped in the front door, making his way down the hall to the door which linked Azoth House to Snape Manor. Lurch was in the parlor, and when Tybalt inquired, he indicated that Severus was at the shop in Diagon Alley.
Thanking the big man, Tybalt drew his wand and Apparated away, appearing in the alley beside the shop. He entered, the bell over the door ringing loudly, but he didn't slow down. "Severus? Are you here?" he called out, dodging displays as he headed toward the counter at the back of the shop.
"He's back there," Miriam said, pointing to the workroom in the back, from which the scent of cinnamon and other exotic spices wafted.
"What the devil is all the bellowing about?" Severus stepped out of the back room, ladle in hand, and frowned as he looked around and his gaze landed on Tybalt.
Tybalt's face was grim, and he stepped closer to Severus, dropping his voice so as not to advertise things to the whole shop. "I saw that wizard, the one who went into Regulus' shop, then Gaius saw in Greece. He was in Hogsmeade, possibly following me. Then when he realized I had gotten a look at him he disappeared."
Severus listened intently, his lips thinning into a hard line, and then he pivoted sharply on his heel and marched back into the workroom, beckoning Tybalt to follow. "Are you sure it was him?" he asked as he turned down the heat beneath his cauldron and beginning to clean up his equipment. "You haven't seen him yourself before. How can you know it is the same man?"
"Obviously I can't know with absolute certainty," Tybalt admitted, running a hand through his hair. "But I recall every detail that Gaius described, and the man fit. If we want to confirm, Gaius and Regulus could put their memories of him in a Penseive, and we could compare; either that, or you could use Legilimency on the three of us and compare for yourself. I welcome an independent opinion, to be honest. For once, I want to believe I'm just being paranoid and that we don't have someone stalking our family."
"I would prefer to chalk it up to paranoia as well," Severus replied. He finished tidying up and turned to face Tybalt at last, his expression grim. "However, we have two confirmed sightings, possibly a third. I cannot dismiss it so easily under the circumstances. We haven't got a Penseive handy, thus I suppose Legilimency is the best solution."
"Right." Tybalt nodded, then stepped closer to Severus, looking at him with complete openness and trust. "Ready when you are."
"Now?" Severus stared at him, taken aback. "Shouldn't we round up Regulus and Gaius first?"
"If you'd prefer, we can," Tybalt said, then drew in a deep breath and gave a lopsided smile. "Sorry. I suppose my adrenaline got going. We can go and get them, if you'd like. But... I'd like to keep this from Serenus, at least until we're sure. I don't want to have any undue stress on him if it does turn out to be nothing."
Severus nodded. Even though Serenus' pregnancy was going smoothly and he wasn't high-risk for problems, there was no need to tempt fate by giving him reason to worry.
"I agree," Severus replied. "There isn't any point in worrying him unduly. Regulus is at his shop, and I imagine Gaius is with him. If not, Regulus will know where to find him, and we can contact him in a way that will not alert or alarm Serenus."
"Thank you," Tybalt responded, reaching out to touch Severus lightly on the arm and giving him a grateful look. "I knew you'd know what to do. That's why I came to you at once."
"You are the Auror, not I," Severus replied, although there was no heat in his voice. "I thought an investigation like this would be right up your alley."
Tybalt shrugged slightly, a bit flustered. "Normally Aurors aren't allowed to investigate things related to their own family," he replied. "And in this case, I knew that I had no way to be certain by myself. Call it instinct, but my first thought was to tell you."
"Well, we needn't involve the Ministry in this matter yet, so you are not off the case yet," Severus replied. He returned to his worktable to turn off the heat entirely and seal the lid of his cauldron, and then he looked around to make certain there was nothing else he needed to attend to since he doubted he would be returning to work again that day. "Come along. We'll collect Regulus at his shop and Gaius too, if we're able. We can use Regulus' stockroom rather than returning home. It would be just our luck for Serenus to come along and wonder why we're gathered together."
"Right." Tybalt nodded, then turned and headed out of the small room, still feeling wound up. He hoped that he was wrong, that it was a different man entirely, but he had a nagging feeling that something was going on, something that none of them were going to like very much. The sooner they got to the bottom of it, the better.
Moving to the door of the shop, he waited for Severus to join him. With any luck Gaius would be with Regulus, and they could get this settled quickly, one way or the other.
Severus exited the shop with a terse farewell to Miriam and made a beeline for Dreams of Egypt, striding purposefully down the street. When they arrived, he pushed the door open and glanced around, annoyed to see Barty rather than Regulus behind the counter.
"Where is Regulus?" he asked.
"In the back," Barty replied. "But-"
"If he's with Gaius, they'll have to postpone their playtime," Severus said tersely, already heading for the stockroom. He paused just long enough to bang on the door before flinging it open. "I don't care if you aren't decent," he announced as he barged into the room. "We have to talk."
Startled by the banging, Gaius jumped and tightened his arms around Regulus to keep from losing his balance on the narrow sideboard where he was perched. Regulus was between his knees, and if his face hadn't already been flushed from their activity, Gaius would have blushed. Then he caught a glimpse of Severus' expression, and his eyes widened. "What has happened?" he asked, his eyes moving back to Tybalt as he followed Severus into the room. "Is Serenus all right? The children?"
Tybalt lifted a brow, a small, evil smile on his lips as he saw what they had interrupted. Not that he could blame either of them; they were still newlyweds, after all. "Serenus is fine; no doubt he's knee deep in toddlers and sweets at the moment, and ecstatic about both," he hastened to assure them. Then the smile faded from his face, replaced by an uncharacteristically pensive expression. "But we may have a problem. I think I saw that wizard that you saw in Greece, only he was just a few blocks from Azoth House."
Regulus slid his hand back out of Gaius' trousers before glancing over his shoulder at their unexpected visitors, trying to appear calm despite the tell-tale flush of arousal in his cheeks; he wasn't about to turn around just yet, however, not until he was certain he wouldn't give them reason to tease him later.
"Are you sure it was the same man?" he asked, echoing Severus' line of questioning.
"That is what we need to determine," Severus replied, ignoring their intimate pose. Normally, he would have seen it as teasing fodder, but he considered the matter at hand to be too important for digressions. "Tybalt suggested that I use Legilimency on the three of you who have seen the man and compare the memories to see if it is indeed the same man."
"Oh." Gaius blinked in surprise, then nodded slowly. The mention of the wizard he had seen cooled his ardor rather effectively, a cold chill of foreboding replacing the heat of arousal. He moved his hands to Regulus' robes, fastening up the buttons he'd so recently undone, before leaning forward to kiss Regulus with regret. "That makes sense. That way we can be sure it's not a collective hallucination or simple mistaken identity."
"Exactly," Tybalt agreed. "We don't need to go jumping at chimeras, but if it is the same wizard, his behavior is sinister and quite worrisome."
Regulus released Gaius reluctantly, able to move away now; the thought of their mysterious visitor combined with the thought of someone rummaging around in his head was enough to quell his desire, but he nodded nonetheless.
"I suppose it is the only option," he said slowly. "Unless anyone happens to have a Penseive."
"Unfortunately, no," Severus replied, and Regulus couldn't help but grimace, which earned him a raised eyebrow from Severus. "You don't trust me?"
"No, it isn't that," Regulus said, mustering as reassuring a tone as he could. "I'm not fond of being the subject of Legilimency, that's all. The last person to perform it on me was You Know Who, and he made certain the experience was never a pleasant one."
"I remember." Severus hadn't thought about that nasty bit of shared history; he had been the subject of Voldemort's probing as well, but once he had learned to shield himself, it hadn't been so bad, far less of the violation that Voldemort intended it to be. "It won't be like that," he said, and then he gave Regulus a wryly amused look. "I'll be gentle with you."
Regulus snorted and shook his head. "Thank you," he replied, his voice laden with ironic amusement in return.
"I'll go first," Gaius volunteered, sliding a supportive arm around Regulus' waist. "Maybe between Tybalt and me, Severus will have enough information without having to use you. You and I both saw him that first time, after all, so it isn't as though there would be a vast amount of additional information."
"True enough," Regulus replied, pressing a grateful kiss to Gaius' temple. "I'm not so noble that I'll refuse to step aside and let you and Tybalt go before me."
Severus drew his wand and turned his attention to Gaius. "You've been through this before, so you know what to expect, yes? Focus on the memories of both times you saw the man. If they're at the forefront of your thoughts, they will be easier for me to find without a lot of riffling around." He paused and then added with a smirk, "In other words, try to forget what you were doing before we arrived, if you please."
Gaius stuck out his tongue at Severus. "You really know how to kill a mood, my brother," he complained, although there was no heat in his voice and his eyes gleamed. "You don't have to rub it in!" Then he sobered, drawing in a deep breath and closing his eyes as he concentrated on doing as Severus asked, calling forth the memories of when the dark-haired wizard had come to the shop, then those of the market in Greece, when he'd spotted him outside the silk vendor's stall.
After a few moments, Gaius opened his eyes and looked at Severus again. "I am ready."
Severus nodded somberly and raised his wand. "Very well, then... Legilimens!"
Gaius felt Severus' presence, and he opened his thoughts to his brother, focusing first on when the wizard had come into the shop. He'd gotten a very good look at him on that occasion, and he thought back to his impressions at the time, the odd sense of discomfort he'd felt in the man's presence and the strange way the man had acted. He pictured the man in his mind, the stocky build, the white-streaked dark hair, the hawkish nose and dark eyes.
Severus probed gently, seeking the memories and finding them easily - but it wasn't Gaius who was traumatized by the experience of Legilimency. As soon as he got a good look at the man in question, Severus recoiled and broke the connection, all color draining from his face, and he clenched his fists, his wiry frame shaking with barely repressed fury.
Gaius gasped as Severus broke away, then instinctively reached out toward his brother, seeing the shock and anger on his face. "Severus, are you all right? What is it? You know him?"
"Yes, I know him," Severus replied, every word enunciated with cold, clear precision, his dark eyes glittering with old hatred. "I don't need to look at any other memories. I have no doubt that you all saw the same man: Tobias Snape."
"What?" Gaius and Tybalt spoke in unison, both with equally shocked looks on their faces.
Gaius stepped back against Regulus, instinctively seeking comfort, feeling something within him quiver in revulsion and fear. What the man had done to his mother and her sisters, not to mention the things he'd done to Severus, was nothing but pure evil. Even though Gaius had been raised by his mother not to hate the father he'd never known, that had been before he'd known the complete circumstances of what Tobias Snape had done to her and to the rest of Gaius' family. His lips twisted, and he felt the hair on the back of his neck rising, just as it would have had he been in his animagus form. "What does he want?"
Tybalt, meanwhile, stepped closer to Severus, hoping to offer support by his presence even as he too dealt with the shock and alarm of knowing the identity of the mysterious man at last. "What he wants isn't as important as making sure he doesn't get anywhere near any of us, especially the children. If he so much as looks at them, I swear I'll kill him with my bare hands!"
"I've no idea what he wants," Severus said, his features hardening into angry resolve. "Nor do I care. No doubt he is sniffing around in search of a way to approach us in person since his letter received no response. He indicated he knew about Serenus in his letter; he may or may not realize you are also his son by now," he added, looking at Gaius. "I think the best way to proceed is to assume he does since we cannot assume his appearance in this shop was coincidental. Obviously, this is not a case of paranoia. Tobias wants something, and we had best be on guard."
Regulus slid his arm around Gaius protectively and frowned. He'd never met Severus' father; all he knew was that Severus hated the man and had left home as soon as possible because of him, but at least now he understood why the man had looked vaguely familiar to him, given that Severus and Serenus seemed to resemble their father more than their mother.
"What should we do?" he asked. "Technically, he hasn't done anything wrong yet, so I suppose binding him on sight and hauling him to the authorities is out of the question."
Tybalt ran a hand through his hair and frowned. "Unfortunately, you're right," he replied. "He's not violated any laws that we can have him arrested for... or at least not that we know of." His mouth set in a grim line. "Severus, what do you recommend? You're the only one of us who knows him, even if we all understand the things he's done in the past."
"Can he get in to Snape Manor?" Gaius asked anxiously, giving Severus a worried look. "Would the place let him in because he's family?"
"No," Severus replied vehemently. "The wards are keyed to specific individuals, not to anyone who happens to be a Snape. Besides, Remus and I modified them to keep Tobias out after he sent the letter. He cannot get on the grounds, much less into the house." He tucked away his wand and folded his arms across his chest. "To be honest, I have no recommendations at this point. I had thought refusing to answer his letter would suffice, but I should have known better. I doubt ignoring him in hopes that he will go away will work, but I have no desire to confront him either."
"That's understandable," Tybalt replied. He drew in a breath. "I hate having to tell Serenus about this. I so wanted this pregnancy to be a happy one for him, without any worries."
Gaius stroked Regulus' encircling arm, grateful for the comfort, but he saw how upset Severus was and he wanted to help. He turned to smile at Regulus, then stepped away so that he could wrap his arms around Severus, wanting to ease a bit of his brother's worry and strain. "Should we have a family meeting, then, before deciding anything? Remus and Serenus have as much a stake in this as the rest of us."
"That might be best," Severus replied, sliding his arm around Gaius in return. "I dislike having to tell Serenus too, but this is something he needs to know, regrettable as it is. I would rather tell him the truth now than subject him to a nasty shock later if Tobias decides to approach him."
"Agreed," Regulus said with a firm nod. He didn't quite feel comfortable offering Severus physical comfort, and so he left the task to Gaius and moved closer to Tybalt instead. "Perhaps this evening, after the children are in bed?"
"Sounds good to me," Tybalt replied. He gave Regulus an appreciative glance, reaching out to place a hand on Regulus' shoulder. He had wanted to help comfort Severus as well, but things were still strained enough between them that he wasn't certain Severus would accept it from him. "Do you think you should warn Barty and Miriam at the shops? Just in case he comes in asking questions?"
"I think we should inform all our employees," Severus said firmly. "I would prefer to know what he is doing, and there is no benefit in keeping this a secret. The more we know, the better we can take steps to deal with him."
"We could add monitoring charms," Regulus suggested. "Perhaps something keyed to alert whoever is working when someone fitting his description enters the shop."
The thought of positive action made Gaius feel better. "That's a good idea," he said, nodding firmly. "I don't think there is anything such as too paranoid at the moment."
"Definitely," Tybalt agreed. "And even if the Ministry can't do anything, I'm going to alert them." He smiled grimly. "If Tobias so much as jaywalks, the Aurors will be all over him."
"Good." Severus drew in a deep breath and released it slowly. There wasn't much else they could do, but having everyone in the family as well as their employees and the authorities on alert for potential trouble would perhaps ward off the necessity of dealing with Tobias directly, which was the one thing Severus wanted to avoid at all costs. "I suppose that is all we can do for now. We will meet tonight as a family and proceed from there. The only option I am not willing to consider is one that involves meeting with Tobias."
"Definitely." Gaius shivered, but it was more from revulsion than fear. "Perhaps we shouldn't go places unaccompanied, either. He might be less likely to try to approach us if we have someone with us."
Tybalt wasn't certain how Severus would feel about that, but he thought it might be a wise idea. "Certainly I'd prefer Serenus not to go anywhere without someone with him. If Tobias has done his homework, he'll know that Serenus is more vulnerable now."
Severus hesitated, disliking the idea of being hindered in such a way because of a hateful old bastard whom he would cheerfully send to Hell, but he disliked the idea of his brothers being hurt in any way because of Tobias more. "As little as I like the idea, I believe you are right," he said, looking at Gaius. "He might have run away in Greece because he knew I would recognize him, but he might have run because he didn't want to face all three of us as well. At any rate, there is truth to the saying that there is safety in numbers. From now on, we should all Floo directly to where we want to go, and if we cannot, then we should not go alone."
"Agreed," Regulus said. "I see nothing heroic about facing a man such as him alone, and I would be far better satisfied knowing none of you went out unescorted until we are certain he is gone for good."
Glad that they all seemed to agree on the point, Tybalt nodded. "Definitely," he said. "If we've settled that, what if I head to the Ministry to report in about this, while the three of you handle the shops?" He looked at Severus, giving him a wry smile. "Or would you prefer me to stay with you? I may not be the best wizard, but I've been told I can be a bit intimidating. He may have been following me in Hogsmeade, but he certainly didn't hesitate to run when I went after him."
"The sooner the Ministry is on his scent, the happier I will be," Severus replied. "I will remain with Regulus and Gaius and assist them in protecting this building, and then they can accompany me back to Alchemy and Ecstasy. Unless you think I ought to go with you to offer information or testimony," he added as the thought that he might be needed to provide supporting evidence occurred to him.
Tybalt considered. "I think I can handle it for now. The Old Man might want to talk to you later, but for now there isn't much to be done than put out an advisory," he replied. "I'll be quick - perhaps I can even meet back up with you at Alchemy and Ecstasy."
"That will do," Severus replied, nodding. He was already thinking about security measures for their shops and homes and wondering if he could claim self-defense if one of them "happened" to be fatal to Tobias Snape. Perhaps he would consult with Regulus privately; if the two of them couldn't devise a means of solving the problem permanently that couldn't be traced back to them, then they deserved to have their House affiliation rescinded.
"All right. I'll hurry and get back as soon as I can," Tybalt said. He gave Regulus' shoulder a squeeze before releasing it, then turned and headed toward the door.
Gaius watched Tybalt depart, then gave Severus a hug before releasing him. "Shall we get started, then? I'd like to get this done so that we can get back home. I know I'll feel better about this once we're all together."
"As will I," Regulus said, moving to embrace Gaius once more and giving him an extra-tight squeeze. "I'd rather not have that man anywhere near you. Any of you," he added, glancing at Severus, whom he knew understood the danger Tobias posed better than any of them.
"Neither would I," Severus said grimly. "But if he forces the matter, I dare say he will discover he has bitten off far more than he can chew with us."
Gaius flowed into Regulus' embrace, feeling safe in the haven of Regulus' arms. "Definitely," he agreed, then gave an evil smile. "Not only are the Snapes tough in and of themselves, he won't want to tangle with an Auror, a werewolf, and a former Death Eater."
"Two former Death Eaters," Severus said. "Who happen to be Slytherin to boot."
Regulus mirrored Gaius' evil smile. "If you ask me, he doesn't stand a chance."