“Have you heard about the Malfoy Trial?” Bill Weasley had come through the door, his face set in solemn lines and his arms full of groceries.
Severus peered at him from where he sat by the fire. “Of course I have,” he snapped. Then he muttered, turning away: “I’ve thought of nothing since.”
Bill kicked the door shut and shuffled his way towards Severus’s kitchen, dumping his load on the counter. Weasleys were a hateful bunch, saying the first thing that came to their minds: Have you heard about the Malfoy Trial? What ever happened to, Hello Professor, how are you today?
But such was the times of war.
It was a huge nightmare that could only end when Harry Potter decided to finish it. To depend on a jumpy, gangly twenty-something idiot meant their one-way trip to Hell would continue for eternity, Severus was sure. And now Severus’s legs were paralyzed beyond repair and his favourite ex-pupil was about to go to Azkaban.
“They’re going to try and get him for mass murder, assisting several criminals, and plotting against the government,” Bill told him as he came back in with a pot of tea, “even though they have next-to-no evidence.” He sat down. “If that fails, they’re going to at least get him for prostitution.”
“So how is your wife?” Severus was glaring, his change of subject a blatant way for Bill to shut up about the damned Trials.
Bill blinked, his freckled face lost in confusion. “Oh, um, she’s fine. Haven’t thought about her much….”
Severus sipped his tea and looked away, already bored and wishing he had not asked.
“You know,” Bill continued, “I think I’m going through a mid-life crisis. Is this what it feels like? Food doesn’t taste right, I want to buy a motorbike, I want to sleep with every pretty girl out there except my wife - “
“A little too much information, William.”
“Alright.” Bill suddenly slapped his palms on his thighs. “What else do I need to do. Are you hungry? Should I do your laundry…?”
Severus snapped his head around and sneered. “I am perfectly capable -“
“Of doing it on your own, yes, I know.” Bill got up and stared down at Severus, his eyes projecting such kindness that Severus suddenly wanted to throw up. “I’ll make us something to eat, then, shall I?”
It was a few days later that ‘it’ happened.
Severus Snape rarely got surprised. But when his little house was unplottable, and the only person other than himself to have a key was Bill, it was a bit of a shock to hear a knock on the door.
He placed his palms on the arms of the lounge chair and, with a bit of heaving and straining, managed to push himself up, shuffle across a bit and land hard in his wheelchair.
The knocking came again, harder and louder. Whoever it was, they were desperate.
Severus flicked his wand from his sleeve, and rolled himself towards the door. He was about a metre away when he lifted his wand arm, waved it a bit, and the door unlocked and opened.
“Oh thank Merlin.” Draco stumbled in, wet from the rain and shivering, a manic light in his grey eyes. He shut the door behind him and ran to the fire, rubbing at his limbs to try and warm up. His plain black robes were soaked through, sticking to his body, allowing Severus to see every dip, every curve.
Finally Draco turned to his saviour. “Why’d it take you so long to open the bloody door!”
Yes, so what did ever happened to, Hello Professor, how are -
“And it took me forever to find you. I had to think like you, then push myself through a few wards. To put your house only a kilometre away from the biggest potions inventory, really Severus, how terribly predictable.”
Severus lifted his wand again and cast the spell to dry Draco’s clothes. Draco sat down, infuriatingly for Severus, on Severus’s favourite lounge chair.
“I suppose,” Severus drawled as he rolled himself over to Draco’s side, “I am to assume you escaped from the bail house and are now a known fugitive?”
Draco flicked hair out his face, seeming irritated, and looked Severus in the eye. Severus had the sudden compulsion to put an arm around Draco’s shoulders and hold him, like he had when Draco was much younger. He stayed still, however. “They were going to put me in Azkaban for life, any way they could,” said Draco. “They made things up about me, and the jury was full of fascists, it didn’t matter whether or not they had no evidence or witnesses. It’s so unfair.” He swallowed and looked away, lifting his hand to push fingers through his hair.
“Then,” Severus started to roll away, “you’d better stay here.”
As he passed him, Draco caught his hand, stopping the turning wheel. They looked at each other, and Draco smirked, which Severus knew to be his way of smiling.
Draco slipped from the chair and knelt on the ground. He lifted his arms and pushed them into the folds of Severus’s robes, to wrap around his waist, before burying his own face in the crook of Severus’s arm.
For a while they stayed like that, Draco breathing softly and Severus not breathing at all.
The next day, Bill came back. His long hair was wet from the rain and matted to his head, face, neck and shoulders.
“Hello William, how are you?”
Bill came in and shut the door. “Huh? I brought pizza.”
“Don’t get water all over the floor!” snapped Severus. “And I do not want anything so vile as that atrocity currently in your possession.”
Bill cast a drying spell on himself, then came further into the room. “I thought,” stammered Bill softly, “it might cheer us up a bit.” He held up the pizza box for emphasis.
“Why, what’s happened now? Your wife not enough in the bedroom?”
Bill groaned, pouting, and sat down. “Not now Snape, I’m not in the mood.” He put the still wet pizza box on the coffee table and opened it. The food looked like a disc of red and yellow sludge.
“I suppose you’ve heard,” said Bill softly, “that Draco Malfoy escaped.”
Severus turned to him and narrowed his eyes. “And I suppose it absolutely kills you that a murderer is running around?”
Bill blinked then, but this time it was in anger. “He’s not a murderer. Jesus, Snape, I thought you would have had more faith in him than that!”
Severus kept his sneer and said nothing.
“Look,” said Bill, “the guy’s been through hell, and now there are a million people after him - not just aurors you know - and he’s out there, all by himself! As members of the Order we know who’s innocent and who isn’t, and Draco is out there somewhere, probably about to be assassinated by the Death Eaters he had named to the Ministry. So we have to find him, I think, and take him in, before - “
“Why do you care so much?”
Bill had to pause mid-sentence. He looked down at his hands, his expression sad.
Finally he said, “I had a brother once.”
“Okay,” said Bill, the corner of his mouth twitching, “I’ve got lots of brothers. But there was this one brother who was just like Draco.” He looked up, his eyes sparkling in recollection. “He had the highest grades at school, Prefect and Head Boy, stubborn, selfish, ambitious and a real ponce.” Severus sneered but Bill seemed not to have noticed. “Then he got mixed up in the wrong crowd, and he ran away from home, and I haven’t seen him since.”
Severus started to get out of his chair. Bill got up to help him, which annoyed Severus, but he did not push Bill away. Once he was in his wheelchair, he rolled himself over to his bedroom, Bill silently following, and pushed the door open.
There, lying under the covers was a man with silver-blonde hair, sleeping.
“Happy now?” Severus grumbled.
Bill smiled. “Very.”
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