An interesting take on the why of Snape's loyalties:
"Fred!" George hissed, passing him a piece of paper with corrected notes on their latest idea for a new joke product. For once, Snape had been helpful, he thought, scribbling a further explanation when his twin gave him a blank look. His lecture on the difference in vanishing potions and charms had inspired a particularly brilliant idea, in George's opinion. He pretended to watch as Snape vanished another brightly coloured box, passing the note back to Fred.
"Brilliant idea," Fred agreed, his whisper loud in the now silent room.
"Perhaps you would like to share what is so brilliant, Weasley," Snape said, his voice low and dangerous as he swept over to the table, his eyes lighting instantly on the folded scrap of paper. "Accio," he commanded, his dark eyes flickering over the contents of the note.
"Birthday prank boxes?" Snape scowled, lighting the tip of his wand and holding the flame close to the edge of the parchment. "Perhaps you two were not aware that birthdays are supposed to be nice events, not a chance for you to prank others."
"They would be easy clean up boxes," George protested angrily. "They vanish after the present it opened. It isn't really intended to be a prank, just a new gift wrap idea for our store."
"I see, Mr Weasley," Snape snapped, pocketing the parchment and extinguishing his wand. "Get out of here, all of you," he snapped, sweeping out of the room, and a moment later, George heard Snape's office door slam.
"We didn't get detention." George smiled, nodding at his twin's blunt statement. "Why not?"
"Who cares?" George replied idly. "Let's get out of here."
"Okay," Fred agreed, but George recognised the look on his twin's face. Fred couldn't stand mysteries. "That was pretty odd though."
"Yeah," George agreed cautiously.
"I think we should investigate," Fred continued, confirming George's suspicions.
He thought about it for a moment, then shrugged. "That was really good work," he decided. "We should get it back."
Which was how George ended up slowly creeping down to the dungeon to break into Snape's quarters the next night. They'd managed to get past the portrait of Salazaar Slytherin that guarded the entrance once before, and with any luck, the password for the silent portrait would not have changed since then.
"Corona Austrina," Fred whispered, grinning triumphantly as the constellation name opened the portrait.
"Hurry up," his twin whispered, climbing through the portrait hole. George felt a slight worrisome twinge about what they were doing, but followed Fred.
"Are you sure that...?"
"He's got Harry for remedial potions right now," Fred answered.
"Look!" George pointed to a massive ball of orange fluff, which fortunately appeared to be asleep on the desk. "Snape has a cat!"
Fred was choking back laughter as he cast a sleeping spell on the cat. "Knowing Snape, that thing has fangs," he explained.
George wandered over to a partially open cupboard, surprised to see a box that vaguely resembled his sister's keepsake collection. He rifled through it, pausing as he pulled out several deflated balloons, wrapped in ribbon and carefully tucked into an envelope. George guessed that at one point the balloons had burst free of the envelope, but had long since lost their magic. He pulled out the note, which simply read, "Happy Birthday, Sev. Love, Austrina." It was dated twenty years ago as of tomorrow.
"Look at this," George hissed, showing Fred the envelope's contents.
"Who's Austrina?" Fred muttered, returning to the envelope to the box. He pulled out a small round mirror, which was cracked and dusty. "Hmm, looks like one of those two way mirrors, that you can use to talk. Reparo!"
"I dunno if you should have done that," George pointed out. "What if he notices?"
"He won't," Fred replied. "We'll crack it again when we return it. But we can try using this for the remote viewing goggles for our shop. Put that back and come check out this secret passage I found."
"Good point," George agreed, pocketing the mirror. The remote viewing goggles were his most recent bit of spying technology since the extendable ears. He was sliding the box back into the cupboard when he heard the portrait open.
"Run," he called to Fred, bolting into the passage behind his twin. Fred was a good distance ahead of him, and George himself was a good ways into the passage when he realised Snape had come up with a much better plan than continuing to chase them; he'd doubled back and sealed the tunnel off. The passage went dark, leaving George blind.
He fumbled for his wand, sighing when he found it. "Lumos," he whispered, looking around. "Fred?" he called out quietly.
Silence met his ears. Fred had found a way out, he guessed, and hadn't yet realised that his twin had fallen behind. George continued, following the very narrow passageway, not sure where he was going. He finally noticed the ground rising, and sighed, thinking that he would soon find his way out.
He stumbled, not noticing the stairs that were suddenly in front of him, and the mirror he had nicked tumbled out of his pocket. George paused, looking at it, surprised to see that the mirror hadn't even gotten scratched. "He must have thrown it pretty hard to crack it," George said aloud, surprised when the mirror turned a pale blue colour, swirling and a woman's face appeared. She looked to be about 35, with pale blonde hair and one endless blue eye; her other eye was missing. Her face reminded him of Sirius Black's-too thin from malnutrition. "Sev?" she asked, her voice quiet.
George stared at the mirror, surprised. "You're not Severus," the woman noted, sighing. "Don't bother explaining, I should have known he threw this mirror out a long time ago. No one talks to a dead woman."
"You're not dead though," George pointed out. "I'm sure he would want to talk to you."
"What makes you think that, young man?" her voice was low and dangerous.
"He kept the mirror," George admitted, puzzled by the strange woman in the mirror. "It was in a box of memories."
"That sounds like Severus, clinging to memories and not even noticing that I couldn't contact him through a broken mirror. Tell him that it would take more than Voldemort to kill Austrina Agrippa."
George opened his mouth to say something, but the mirror swirled and went black again. He slowly resumed his trek up the stairs, pushing open a trap door at the top, blinking as he realised he was at the edge of the Forbidden Forest.
"Well, it certainly took you much longer than your twin, Mr Weasley," a familiar dark voice commented. "I believe you have something that belongs to me."
George stared at the potion master's outstretched hand, blinking in surprise. "Here," he replied, handing him the mirror, noticing the extremely relieved look on Snape's face. "Who's Austrina?" he asked carefully, flinching when the potion master fixed his cold eyes on George.
"She's the reason I am a member of the Order," Snape said in a low, dangerous voice. "When Voldemort killed her, I know longer had a reason to serve him."
"She's not dead," George replied, not stopping to think about what he was saying. "I saw... I fixed the mirror... I mean, I saw..."
"What you saw, Mr Weasley, could kill you," Snape snapped at him, tucking the mirror away. "And it must never be repeated again. Wipe it from your mind, unless you would like for me to do it for you."
"Okay," he agreed quickly. He followed Snape slowly back up to the castle, his thoughts whirling. Dumbledore was standing at the entrance, nodding to George gravely.
"Thank you, Severus, I will take care of Mr Weasley," Dumbledore quietly dismissing Snape. George opened his mouth to speak, but the stern look on Dumbledore's face silenced him.
"Let me tell you a story, Mr Weasley," the Headmaster said gravely. "Once upon a time, as the muggles say, a young woman, a pureblooded wife of a Death Eater, was tortured and murdered because Voldemort feared the Death Eater was about to turn. He still does not realise that her death is why that Death Eater is now a spy for me. I suggest that you tell no one of what you saw in Professor Snape's quarters and attempt to forget the name Austrina."
George nodded, taking his second vow of silence, and mentally swearing that he was done snooping through other people's belongings. He had more knowledge in his head than he'd ever wanted.
He rejoined Fred in their rooms, quietly changing for bed. "At least we know why Snape was weird in class today," Fred observed. "Since tomorrow his birthday and all."
"Yeah," George agreed, forcing a smile. "That must have been why."
Fancy a dip in the pool, mate?
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