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Mammals of the Order Chiroptera

Book 3.8 of the Epithalamium Series

During a meeting of the Order of the Phoenix, Albus angers Minerva, while Severus makes some observations of the local fauna and overhears something he would rather not.

The observer in the dark, what a lovely idea. You’ve always got wonderful ideas, I must say.
izabeth_Mary_Holmes
AO3
Hah, great job! On one hand, I feel sorry for Snape, but on the other, this was hella funny.
IMustHaveSaidItWrong
FFN
Poor Snape. I feel so bad for him all the time. You write him wonderfully. I love the balance, in this and other fics, that you find between his heroic and sullen, mean selves.
mistyquest
FFN

Books in the Epithalamium Series

Excerpt

Mammals of the Order Chiroptera

“So it’s agreed: we’ll move him Sunday.”

Severus looked up from his lap, where he had been focusing on removing the dead cuticle from a long, slim index finger.

‘Move him,’ he thought. I wonder when Potter will twig to the fact that he’s just a pawn on the old man’s chess board.

Severus, of course, had had the benefit of offering himself up, so he had known his place in the file from the very beginning. He comforted himself briefly with the fact that, in this at least, he was more fortunate than James’s son.

In truth, he had no idea why he was even at this meeting. Surely the legal tribulations that had recently beset the boy were not a matter for the entire bloody Order to sort? It would only take a furrowing of Almighty Dumbledore’s haloed brow to get Potter off whatever charge that fool of a Minister had trumped up to discredit the boy.

The Dementors in Little Whinging—yes, now, that was worrisome. But they had barely discussed the implications of that disturbing bit of news in favour of a spirited debate over the best—and least efficient, Snape thought—way to get Potter out of his latest, and no-doubt self-imposed, scrape.

“We will send a group to retrieve Harry next Sunday evening and bring him here,” Dumbledore was saying. “If that is acceptable to you, of course, Sirius?”

Severus almost snorted. Why the old man made such a show of giving his minions a choice when everyone knew that free will was an illusion wherever Albus Dumbledore met up with you was an enduring mystery to Snape. Then again, he mused, perhaps that’s why Dumbledore was a beloved icon of the Light, while he himself was a solitary dungeon bat.

“And Molly and Arthur, you and the children are also willing to come and stay?”

A pair of red-headed nods answered Dumbledore’s non-question, and he continued: “It would be wise to send a group to get Harry. We don’t know what kind of watch is on the area, and it is possible we will run into trouble. Can I have some volunteers?”

Snape didn’t need to look up to know which hand was in the air first. For once, he agreed with Moody when the old Auror said, “Don’t be daft, Sirius. You can’t risk being seen.”

Not that Severus would have minded if Black ended up on the wrong end of a Dark curse, or a Dementor’s Kiss, mind you, but the man had a way of mucking up even the simplest operation with his laughable bravado. It put people in danger.

Probably all that inbreeding, thought Snape.

Dumbledore pre-empted any objection from Black. “Alastor is right, Sirius. It won’t help Harry if you are seen with him.”

Black sank back into his chair, giving a rather good imitation of Severus’s own boyhood sulk.

“I’ll go,” Moody said. “We should use people who are good on a broom, familiar with evasive tactics.”

“Count me in, then,” said Tonks. “Knew all that Quidditch had to be good for something.”

How she ever got to be an Auror, Snape couldn’t guess. She had been an adequate student—good enough to make it into his N.E.W.T. class, anyway—and good with her wand, but the girl was a walking disaster. Yet Moody had taken her under his wing.

Or maybe Moody’s wing wasn’t the only portion of his anatomy involved.

Predictably, Lupin volunteered. He’d been sniffing after the ridiculous girl like a—well, like a wolf—all summer, Snape thought with a shudder. Just as well he was going, though; for all he disliked Lupin, Snape had to admit he was formidable with a wand. Probably had to be, given his delicate condition, Snape thought, indulging in a private, internal smirk.

Kingsley Shacklebolt spoke up. “I’ll contact a few of the other Order members at the Ministry—maybe Hestia and Emmeline? They’re both level-headed, good on a broom, and quick with their wands.”

Now Shacklebolt—there’s a wizard with a head on his shoulders. Shame he’s so in thrall to Dumbledore. He could be a good leader if the old man would let go of the reins for a minute.

“Fine choices,” said Dumbledore, patronising Shacklebolt, as ever.

Severus looked up again when he heard Minerva’s voice.

“I’ll go.”

“No. I’ll need you at Hogwarts,” said the old man. “I interrupted my travels for this meeting, but I’m afraid I must return to the Continent immediately. Someone has to mind the store while I’m away.” He gave her an apologetic smile.

Judging by the momentary silence, Snape figured he was not the only one to notice the look that passed briefly between the Headmaster and his deputy.

“Very well, I think things are in order. Alastor, I’ll leave you to arrange the details with Kingsley, Remus, and Nymphadora,” said Dumbledore, ignoring Tonks’s wince at his use of the given name she hated.

Get over it, foolish girl. At least your family name doesn’t make your bollocks ache.

“Motion to adjourn,” said Minerva.

“Seconded,” said Severus. It was the only word he had spoken all evening.

The collective “ayes” prompted Minerva to conclude, “Motion carried. This meeting is now adjourned.” She closed her notebook and shoved it and her quill into her carpetbag a little more forcefully than was strictly necessary.

Snape dawdled, pouring himself a last cup of tea, as the others scraped and shuffled out. He heard the front door open and the goodbyes being said. Only Minerva, Dumbledore, and Sirius were left. There was definite tension in the room, and for once it wasn’t between him and Black.

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