Pre Edit Count – 1,700 Words
Song I listened to for this chapter: Gotta Be Tonight by Lifhouse
A throat clearing from the doorway has Bella’s eyes going there. She hides her enjoyment at seeing Severus but she is fine when he watches the two of them.
“Dumbledore has requested our presence in his office, Lady Swan,” he says.
She nods, then turns to Lockhart. “Don’t think this is over.” With that, she leaves the room while Severus stares down the Lockhart a moment before leaving with his robes flowing behind him.
Still seething, Bella makes her way to Albus’s office. Only because of Severus is she not apparating. Hogwarts itself allows her and only her to apparate on the grounds.
She is human and loves to run it in Dumbledore’s face that not even he as Headmaster is allowed to do this. She uses it as further proof that even Hogwarts does not approve of the Headmaster.
She tells the gargoyle griffin, “Bubblegum,” and watches it move out of her way. She wonders what it will be this time. Albus seems to take joy in making her life miserable. The last time had been the news that Lockhart had to stay through the year. She had reminded Albus that he himself had invited her to be here. She can easily go back to her lands…
He had scrambled to fix that one.
Severus is following her and not liking that he seems to be often put in the situation to be giving Bella bad news. However, he cannot deny the anticipation of Bella turning Albus’s plans on their rear and leaving the man trying to back down without backing down all the way. So far, Bella has walked away the winner each time.
He is careful to hide his thoughts behind the shield he has perfected for this very reason. Time to watch Bella and Dumbledore face off yet again.
Bella almost rolls her eyes at the dramatic Headmaster. She knows he has Severus here in case there was any friendship remaining from their childhood. He wants to destroy anything they had to make sure that Severus stays dedicated to the cause. Sad really.
She comes in the room and a squawk makes her look over. Her whole face brightens. “Fawkes!”
The phoenix preens and then lifts into the air to land on his favorite person. He had been depressed thinking Bella dead and had only recently worked with Albus in a direct manner. To find out that its preferred human was alive… Well, he is thrilled.
Both Severus and Albus watch in shock as the phoenix nibbles at Bella and how she smiles up at the ugly looking bird right now. She tells him, “I think you are due for a rebirth, my dear friend.”
Fawkes rubs his head on her, then flying to her perch, looks at Bella and then ignites.
Albus sighs. “I’ve been trying to get him do that for a while.” He looks at Bella with a contemplative look on his face.
Severus is just watching, waiting for whatever Dumbledore has planned for this meeting. He, quite frankly, is tired of being set up as her rival house. He suspects that Dumbledore may suspect that their friendship has survived, but he will be surprised at the strength of it.
When Fawkes is reborn, Bella is grinning, telling the young bird, “Come find me when you are ready, my old friend.”
Albus is watching this all, then clears his throat. “I have heard back from the Board, Lady Swan.”
Bella turns to him, her face impassive. Lucius has kept her up to date on the debates, but as he had laughed to her about, the fact that the House already has students and so forth, made it a moot point. The debates had been lively and Lucius done all he could to egg them on.
The laughter from their late night talks would have woken up many if it had not been for all the privacy spells that they both set up.
Bringing her attention back to the Headmaster, she waits for his new round of bullshit.
Albus is watching her, and tells her, “The house is approved and you are the founder of it. However, with your other duties, they are not sure that you will be an effective Head of House.”
Bella manages to not roll her eyes with a great effort. Keeping her head calm, she tells him, “I am unsure what duties they are concerned about. As professor for Defense Against the Dark Arts, I am qualified to lead my House.”
With a small almost unseen twitch of his lips, Albus informs her, “They believe your duties as Lady Swan, head of your own House, as well as being professor and your title as High Priestess of Avalon, would be detrimental to being able to care for your house in the way others, like Minerva and Severus, can for their students.”
Severus barely manages to keep the growl in. As far as the Board is concerned the title of Head Priestess is that. A Title. Much like the Order of Merlin. Only those close to Bella know it’s more and they now have proof of Albus suspecting otherwise.
Even out of those close few, only a very few realize how much a working title her status is. To say that being Lady of her lands would be detrimental to her care of her students is a slap to Bella. He watches to see how Bella would handle this new attack.
Lifting her eyebrow, Bella considers the different ways to dispute this. Albus is a fine one to speak with all his titles and being Headmaster! Calming herself, Bella turns to the flame and waives her hand. The fire flares and roars out into the room with them, then shows each of the Board members.
Lucius frowns from his desk and demands, “Who dares to bother us?”
Bella walks forward and with a regal nod to them all, she tells them clearly, “I did. I am using my status not only as Lady Swan, but as the Founder of the House of Swan to demand an accounting.”
Keeping his face stern, Lucius is wondering what Albus has done this time. He is actually looking forward to the old bore being put in his place by his petite Swan.
The other Board members look on and finally she is addressed, “We acknowledge the right of the Lady of the Swans to ask for an accounting. Frankly, I am surprised. We have approved the new House of Swan for Hogwarts. What is there needing to be an accounting for?”
Looking over her shoulder at Albus, Bella tells them, “I have just been told that I cannot be the Head of House due to my titles. Is this true?”
Augusta Longbottom’s eyes bulge as she hears the reason that Lady Swan is contacting them. “There had been a discussion on it, Lady Swan, but we had decided that per the original founders, that there is no reason for it. If you do decide to name someone, we wouldn’t fight it but no. Your titles are no reason to remove you as Head of House.” She makes no mention of the irony of Albus’s commenting on her titles when he holds so many himself. Not that there is any doubt in her mind who has accused Lady Swan of not being able to handle it all.
Bella nods and she thanks them.
Lucius speaks up before she dismisses them, “Who told you this, Lady Swan? So that we can prevent these little mishaps from disrupting our days again.”
Nothing gave her away as she tells them, “It was sent to me by someone hiding themselves. It is why you see the Headmaster and Head of the House of Slytherin. They were kind enough to help me investigate this. Once I heard my House was a part of Hogwarts, I decided to cut to the chase and make sure this was a slanderous lie most likely to cause strife in the school. I appreciate you taking the time out of your day to solve this.”
With a look, Lucius waves her off, “We are happy to have served the House of Swan. Now if you don’t mind, I need to deal with other matters, Lady Swan.”
With a slight cock to her head, she says, “Of course, Lord Malfoy. I look forward to renewing our acquaintance this weekend at the oaths ceremony.”
He gives her a hard look, but says nothing as she dismisses the spell.
She turns to Albus, her eyes hard. “Don’t do that again. I have no issues going above your head for clarification. As a Lady in the House of Lords, I have learned to deal with politics in a way you never will. Next time you play a game, try not to play one that has you showing your hand too soon.”
She nods to Severus. “Snape, thank you for escorting me here. Nice to know chivalry is not dead.”
Then she exits.
Severus finds himself yet again, trying not to grin at her. He loves when she can win these little battles. Not many understand her nor would they unless they are willing to show her all of themselves.
Albus huffs. “Keep an eye on her, Severus. I am not liking that she has Harry under her. If she interferes too much many of our plans will be brought down around our ears and the Dark Lord will not pay for his destruction of Lily and James.”
Severus clenches his hand reflexively.
Albus pats him on the back. “Don’t worry. I will allow you your revenge for her death. Just keep close. Maybe see if you can renew your friendship with her? I remember you being friends with her.”
Severus nods, keeping himself in control. “I will see what I can do. I am getting a little spread thin. I have lost some of the more promising students in my house.”
Nodding his head, Albus agrees, “I know and I can’t do anything for it. All the houses lost their brightest. I tried to get them put into the house they were meant to be in, but I was stopped when the Board ended up agreeing. I will do what I can.”
With that, Severus nods his head and sweeps out of the office, his robes trailing behind him as he makes his way angrily to his classroom. He may be late if he doesn’t hurry.
Final count: 1,765