1996-02-13: One Soldier to Another


Jethro_icon.gif Snape_icon.gif

Scene Title One Soldier to Another
Synopsis Jethro takes Severus to the Hogshead. Conversation actually ensues.
Location Hogsmeade: The Hogshead Tavern
Date February 13, 1996
Watch For Heartfelt stories
Logger Severus

Jethro Gardener has lived a long time. Some things are more difficult to bear than others. One of them was the loss of his wife, and another was a long deep-cover op that ate at his soul. If they would have happened at the same time, he might not have taken the wand out of his mouth. He sits at the Hogshead, the watering-hole of choice now, and gestures to the seat near him. “Sit.”

Severus Snape seats himself, gesturing to Aberforth for their usual brews, and settles in for a long, possibly painful conversation. “Mister Gardener, may I ask what this is about? I do not believe that I have done anything to require your attention in an official capacity.”

“Not as an agent, naw, you're good.” Jethro watches Aberforth pour the swill into glasses before heading back toward them. “As a Marine DI, yeah, you need my 'official help'.” He leans back, reaches for the glass just as Aberforth arrives, and takes a long swig. “S'not Kentucky Bourbon, but it'll get ya pissed just as easy.” He snorts and sets down the drink. “Doin' too much for too many people, Snape. Try to walk three ways at once, you'll get shot. I know. I tried.” He shakes his head ruefully.

“I have walked a fine line between two masters for nearly fifteen years.” Severus replies, taking a slow sip of his own drink. “I have managed to stand in place for that long, walking one direction, then the other without much need of a confidant. I do not see a new variable to make it more difficult.”

This makes Jethro gaze directly at the other man for a long, quiet moment, as if to say, 'Seriously?' He snorts. “Tell ya a story. I'm twenty-one years old. Sittin' at the table in my small town, sulkin' cuz I'd gotten shot in a training accident, and had t' heal. They'd tried t' use Mundane means on me, and hadn't done well. The prettiest woman I have ever seen in my life sits down beside me, looks me in the eye, and asks if I'm a Hippogryff farmer. I looked at her like she was batshit insane. Then, she tells me that she can't date or marry Hippogryff farmers, because they always stink.” Jethro smiles, the smile reaching all the way up to his eyes, proving why his wrinkles are there. “Told me it was one of her rules. She had a list.” He looks off, lost in thought, in memory. “Fell hard in love, and married her, intent on keepin' her for as long as I was alive.” His lips thin, and his eyes fall. “She – and my baby girl – got killed by a drug dealer. Wasn't even a magical one. Damn Mundane druggie. She'd seen him kill a guy, and had reported him to the MBI. They tried to keep her in custody, but Kells had a lot of Mundane friends, so they were always steppin' back out into the Mundane part of the world. Kells was eight.”

Severus merely listens, wondering if there is a point to the story, or if the older man called him out here to listen. It's not his usual job, though he has done it from time to time while among the Death Eaters to gather information.

Jethro continues. “I was overseas at the time. We were searchin' for an illegal potions depot. Found the damn thing, and it blew up.” He winces at the memory of the pain. “Next thing I knew, they'd sent me home, and I had to deal with havin' my wife and my eight-year-old girl gone. Just gone.” He sighs. “Did some things I'm not proud of. One of which,” he leans forward, “was t' stick my wand in my mouth, point it upward, and start th' first syllable of bombarda.” He wouldn't cast an unforgivable even for this, but a blasting curse to the brain would do the same damn thing. “That was me just losin' my family.” He falls silent again, waiting for Severus to process his words.

Severus does so, the reasoning for the meeting beginning to become much more clear. He winces when Jethro describes the blasting curse, though. He understands being that low. His personal method of torture involved taunting the other penitents in the Dark Lord's presence until the old man tired of his piss and vinegar and crucioed him silent. He figured out rather early on that Voldemort knew what he was doing, but he would just get so annoyed at Severus' language that it was a near inevitable cycle. When Severus petitioned for him to save Lily's life, Tom demanded that the stupidity stop. Severus happily agreed. He nods once, and takes another sip of his drink.

Jethro seems pleased. It's odd that he's the one talking and not the listener tonight. It takes him back to training recruits. “One other time I considered it. Workin' deep cover in Eastern Europe. Specifics don't matter. Where I met Jane and Duck. We worked for over a year, tryin' t' finish the job. Missed home, missed bein' normal, missed speakin' my own damn mind instead'a bein' this other guy. Got to the point I thought about it. Duck talked to me that night, told me a story about a guy … anyway, took my mind off it enough that I got through. You tell me you got no support system – no team. Guy like that, even if he's got nerves of steel, a belly of iron, and a mouth like a scalpel, long enough, and he's gonna falter. Gonna burn out. You put both o' those things together? The wife and the job? It's a sure thing.”

Severus drains his glass, realizing Jethro's right. “I believe you may indeed be correct. I have been doing this job for so long that I have become unused to having individuals on whom I may rely.” His voice is low, gravelly, tired. “Gardener…” He begins,

“Jethro,” Jethro corrects, waving the man over, with two fingers. “Call me Jethro. May still call you Snape, but I call everyone by their last name.” Except Ducky and Jane. Most guys get the surname treatment. It's a soldier thing.

Or a teacher thing. Or, just being British, actually. “Jethro, then.” Severus gives a nod in gratitude for the gesture, and for the whiskey. “I went to the madman's house, and confronted him, as Brennan suggested. When I reached her, she was ….” He spends the evening explaining the general state of his lover, and how long it took to heal her. He keeps his voice low, and pitches it toward Jethro. No one else needs to hear it. He needs to speak it, though.

Jethro winces in places, growls in places, and nods in others. It is a long night. The two men drink, talk, and commiserate for a few hours, until Aberforth kicks them back up to the castle so he can close and go to sleep.

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