Severus Snape lay in the Shrieking Shack, feeling his lifeblood draining away. A strange shimmer filled the air around him. As consciousness faded, he thought he saw more people in the room. Vaguely, he wondered what they wanted. He had already given all his memories to Potter—there was nothing else he could do.
The two historians looked down at the unconscious wizard. “Right where Potter said he would be,” said Colin.
“Hurry, we’ve got to get him back to Oxford before he loses any more blood,” Polly said.
They carried Snape carefully across the room, and the drop opened.
“You’re awake. How do you feel?” someone asked.
“Not as dead as I expected to be,” Snape replied. “What day is it, where am I, and who are you?”
“I’m Polly Templer. You’re in John Radcliffe Hospital. A painting of Harry Potter suggested we try to bring you here. There’s a terrible epidemic breaking out in the wizarding world, worse than the flu of 2054. Everyone who knows anything about magical illnesses is incapacitated or dead. Potter said you might know of a potion that could help.”
“That’s the first compliment he’s ever given me,” said Snape, and then—“2054???”
“It’s actually 2075, now,” she replied. “The epidemic happened when I was nineteen.”
“But that would make you nearly forty now,” Snape commented. “You look younger.”
“I’ve only just turned thirty,” she said. “You see, I’m a time traveller. That’s how we got you out.”
“To spend so much time in a different time than your own—and you must have gone back nearly a century to fetch me—isn’t that dangerous?”
“We’re still learning all the rules, and things do go wrong. But the risks are worth the rewards. I got to see the 1940s with my own eyes.”
Snape was astounded when they showed him the victims of the epidemic a few days later. “This is obviously spattertwig, a virulently contagious but easily curable relative of spattergroit. It can be healed by potions within a week.”
“Can you make the potions we need then?”
“Certainly. Just find me bat’s spleens, vetiver grass, owl feathers, cat’s hair, and room to work. I don’t understand how this progressed so far in the first place.”
“The need for cat’s hair probably explains it,” said Colin. “There are less than a hundred cats in the world, and all of them closely guarded.”
The potion was soon finished and administered. While waiting for it to take effect, Snape sought out the Templers. “The patients should start recovering by the end of next week,” he told them. “How soon can you take me home?”
They looked at each other, then at the floor. Finally Colin asked, “Are you sure you want to go back?”
“You mean I can’t go back.”
“We can’t alter the past,” said Colin. “It’s only because everyone was sure you had died that the drop even allowed us to fetch you here.”
“Welcome to the twenty-first century, Professor,” said Polly.