His life, it seemed, was pre-determined to be abnormal to the extreme. He was standing in the headmaster’s office, staring forlornly at the cracked time-turner he had been forbidden from using, when a part of the ceiling caved in. Reflexes polished from the barely day-old battle kicked in, and he found himself braced against the fireplace to escape the debris.
The time-turner’s chain though, had caught on a splinter from the mantelpiece and ripped out of his clutch. With a feeling of despair he watched as the tiny hourglass swung in a slow arc, only to be violently smashed back towards the fireplace as a stone clipped it on the side.
Despair turned to horror as the glass shattered and showered him in an amount of sand that should have been impossible for the tiny glass container to contain. Dark green flames sprung up then, and swept him away in the familiar sensation of flooing.
It was a decidedly awkward moment when he landed back in the Headmaster’s office. There was Snape – a much younger Snape, but unmistakably Snape – on his knees, robes torn and dirty and bent over Dumbledore’s feet with tears streaming down his face; and there was Dumbledore, hand stretched out in the process of offering comfort. Both men started at his arrival as he clumsily landed on all fours on the floor.
Harry recognized this scene though. He had watched it in a pensieve barely a day ago. This was the night his parents would die.
He was strongly reminded of a conversation he and Hermione had had following their escapade with the time turner in their third year. He had been filled with excitement over the possibilities that the time device had represented, and Hermione had systematically shot down every single hope he had fostered back then. She had explained how changing time forced magic to compensate for the changes, and how some people lost their sanity as a result. There was even the chance that the user could erase his or her own existence based on how much they interfered with ‘confirmed’ facts.
It was only because the headmaster had suggested that they go back in time that Hermione had even considered it at all. He wouldn’t have said anything if he hadn’t known, right? One would have to be transported to a different timeline altogether (theoretically, they do exist, did you know?) to make the kind of changes Harry had had in mind.
The memory he had watched had not been interrupted by a man covered in grime and blood though. Snape had said his piece, the headmaster had comforted him, and they had both left the office.
He could only conclude that time had already changed. Was he in that theoretical alternate timeline?
In a flurry of robes Snape was standing with his wand out and pointed right between Harry’s eyes. He radiated fury, no doubt at having been caught in such a vulnerable position. Even Dumbledore had his wand out and pointed at him.
Snape was the first to snarl a question in a slightly hoarse voice. “What is the meaning of this?”
Harry damn near cried at hearing that voice again. In the light of what Snape’s memories had revealed about their interaction, he had been resigned to live with excessive feelings of guilt.
He now silently vowed never to betray this man ever again. But how to gain his trust?
“Um. I’m not sure how I got here exactly, but I have a pretty good guess. Can I... May I sit down?” The prick of another mind intruding in his conscience registered with a shock of anger, and in a show of temper he instantly regretted he magically threw both men against the far wall of the office.
“I don’t know which one of you two did that, but I don’t appreciate the mind-probe, understand? If you can’t talk like the adults you claim to be, then I’m quite happy to leave.” He stood still as the two men picked themselves up off the floor; Snape with more difficulty that a flash of understanding instantly squeezed Harry’s heart with guilt. The man had just been pleading with Voldemort to save his mother, of course he is suffering the aftereffects of the cruciatus still…
“I probably shouldn’t have thrown you like that.” Harry sighed and dropped into one of the chairs in front of the desk. “I think I’m over tired.” Snape probably wasn’t an expert at legilimancy yet, which means the headmaster was the culprit. It certainly explained a lot about the man’s behaviour in the past. Old wounds bled anew as he added that information to the old man’s machinations.
Dumbledore held his hand out to Snape who refused to take it and rather struggled upright on his own.
“My apologies, young man. I wanted to ascertain your intentions before…”
Harry interrupted him. “Bollocks. You probably do that to everyone you meet, hence the world-wise pretence you’ve got going.” He directed his gaze at Snape. “I suggest you become a master occlumens sooner rather than later if you don’t want to be a pawn for both sides of the war any more than you already are.”
“And who do you think you are to show such disrespect?”
Dumbledore laced his fingers in front of him as he sat down. “I am also curious to know how you managed to floo into a fireplace that is not currently connected to the floo-network.”
Harry tilted his head back to rest on the tall backrest behind him. “I suppose I’m a time traveller. It was an accident, but I’m fairly sure I’m not in my own timeline anymore.” He rolled his head back to focus on the headmaster. “Thanks to a bookworm friend of mine I am aware of the consequences of messing with time, but the scene I dropped in on was shown to me in a memory and was not interrupted.”
“You expect me to believe that either the headmaster or myself willingly shared the scene of my humiliation?” Snape snarled from next to Dumbledore’s chair.
“You did, sir. You were,” Harry blinked away the lifeless memory of the potions master, “you were trying to gain my trust. You were entrusted with vital information you needed to share with me, but you weren’t able to communicate at the time.” He clutched his hands in front of him, haunted once again by the helplessness he experienced when Snape had died. “The memories practically bled out of you.”
Both men watched in stunned fascination as the young man in front of them seemingly aged beyond his years. This man had seen horrors most would never imagine.
“Do we win the war?”
Snape was incensed. “Headmaster! Surely you don’t believe this dirt-rag is telling the truth?”
Dumbledore only chuckled. “He has more respect for you than for me, Severus. I can only conclude that he knew me better than most.” He peered over his glasses at Harry. “He has also not once alluded that you are a death eater, even though that status only changed today.”
“I could also be an agent of the dark lord, you know.”
The headmaster shook his head and smiled. “No, I don’t believe you are. We have, however, done things slightly backwards today – why don’t you introduce yourself?”
Harry blinked, thrown by the thought. Introducing himself as a Potter would most certainly not work in his favour where Snape was concerned. He was fairly confident that he resembled his father very faintly at the moment, his hair cropped short and his face covered in three-day-old stubble.
And he was filthy from the battle. Had he really killed Voldemort less than a day ago?
“I’d rather not tell you my real name. My counterpart exists in this… timeline. I’d rather he not be judged in the future by my actions.”
“Very well, very well. Do you have an identity you wish to assume then?”
Harry had often toyed with the idea of taking on a new identity after the war (if he survived, of course). Given that the owner of the potion book he was slightly obsessed with in sixth year was in the room with him, he was fairly sure any alias he had dreamt up that used the Prince name was not an option.
That left him with Hurricane. As a lonely boy locked in a cupboard, back when he still believed his name was ‘Boy’, he had dreamt of hundreds of names some nondescript parents could call him by. Then he had been sent to pre-school and learnt that he did have a name – Harry.
It was like a dream come true. He had dreamt up elaborate schemes that explained why he had to stay with the Dursleys; in one of them his full name was Hurricane, and his parents were gods. It was soon thereafter that his aunt dropped the knowledge on him about his parents being abusive drunks and shattered his world.
He hated being a child, being naïve.
“Hurricane. Can I open a Gringotts account on an assumed name?”
The other two men in the room exchanged a look. Snape stared back as though he could force an answer out of the other man. Dumbledore shrugged.
“Honestly, I have no idea. Identity is a very vague concept in our world, I suppose. I suggest you make an appointment with the goblins to find out.” He gestured around himself. “Until then you are welcome to stay in a guest suite here in the castle.”
Harry held up a hand. “I’d rather not, thanks. I do have stuff I’d like to do in the castle, but first we have to do something about the Potters or they will die tonight.”
Next to Dumbledore, Snape's posture became rigid but he remained quiet.
“They are quite safe where they are, and they have taken additional steps to ensure that they remain hidden. What makes you believe that He-who-must-not-be-named will find them?”
“Peter Pettigrew is a deatheater.”
“Peter Pettigrew is a Gryffindor!” Snape exploded.
Harry cocked his head. “Oh, he’s brave alright. He has no qualms about chopping parts of his body off in the service of his master. It’s just his loyalty that is in question, because it certainly doesn’t lie with the marauders.”
The headmaster’s slightly wavering hand came to rest on Snape’s forearm. “Severus, we must warn James and Lily. Do you know where they are?” His last question was directed at Harry.
“I can apparate us there. Will you be coming with us?” He was already standing up.
Dumbledore shook his head. “No, I need to remain as a central contact for the order. You may need to use this…”
“What in Merlin’s name does Pettigrew have to do with anything?”
Dumbledore extended his arm to Harry, silvery material glimmering from his hand. He turned sad eyes to the other man. “They thought that Sirius would be too obvious a choice for their secret keeper, and changed it to Peter. If what Mr Hurricane says is true, then James and Lily are in terrible danger. Go with him, and protect them. And look after yourself as well – I look forward to your tenure here as our potions professor.”
Harry took the cloak from Dumbledore and stood up. “We’d best be on our way then.” He walked to the door. “Shall we meet at the gates?”
A curt nod later and Harry was gone.
Albus waited a short while for the grinding of the stone steps to fade away before addressing Severus.
“Take care, Severus. I don’t fully trust this man, but if his words are true then we cannot ignore their importance. Pay attention to what he says and does, and keep him within sight.”
The younger man walked towards the door, but stopped at the chair the self-proclaimed time-traveller was occupying a moment ago. His hesitation to speak was quite visible.
“Speak, child. What bothers you?”
Severus’ eyes narrowed at being called a child. “I am merely adding another to the long list of individuals who can inflict severe humiliation upon my person. You would think I would be used to it by now.” He fingered a piece of torn cloth hanging from his wrist, and crumpled it into a fist as it separated from his sleeve. “I will protect her at all cost, Headmaster.”
There was silence for a moment as the second man left his office, and Albus slowly exhaled.
“I know, Severus. I know.”
Chapter 2: Chapter 2
Harry watched with nervous anticipation as Snape finally made his way towards the gate. He was determined not to screw up this chance he had been given to change history, to make things right.
He could come to know his parents, Sirius.
There were so many lives to save, and in the midst of it all was a man he could hopefully save from a lifetime of guilt and slavery.
Snape had not yet perfected his impending walk, but he was well on his way. The tattered edges of his robe swept out around him every so often, and his face was not as stern but rather set in a bored expression that reminded him slightly of Draco.
“Hi.” He instantly felt like a fool as Snape’s expression almost screamed idiot at him. “Would you like to side-along to their place immediately, or would you like to go somewhere where we could, er, clean up a bit?” Harry gestured down to his own battle-damaged state.
“Potter will have to put up with my less than immaculate state tonight. I will not risk Lily’s life over something insignificant like my vanity.”
“Okay, can I run you through what is going to happen before we go? I’m making a lot of this up as I go along, but I know you’re brilliant at planning so you might have a better idea than me.”
Feeling suspicious about the casual compliment, Snape only nodded.
Harry crouched down to draw a floorplan on the ground with a stick. “In my timeline, James died here, at the foot of the stairs. It was universally assumed that the dark lord came through the front door, so he would have been the first line of defence. Lily was in m… Little Harry’s room, and she died here. The whole wall of the house was blasted away at some point, but since she couldn’t run, I don’t think it happened before she died. I’m not sure if we can simply evacuate them from the house since there is the prophecy to consider…”
Snape interrupted him. “Blast the prophecy!”
Harry was taken aback. “Well, if he doesn’t confront anyone tonight then he will just keep going after them, won’t he? It does foretell the person that will be able to kill him at some point.”
“That child is a mere infant! Do you expect me to believe that we have to wait for that hell-spawn to grow up before we are free of his madness?”
Harry considered his next words carefully. “The dark lord… is kind of immortal right now. He’s made some kind of failsafe to ensure that even if his body were to die, he would continue to exist.”
Snape paled. “How?”
Harry shook his head.
“It’s a bit of a long story, so I’ll save it for later. There may be another way to do this though, but you’ll have to trust me enough not to question or prevent what I’m going to do.”
An idea had bloomed in his mind. Voldemort only had to mark someone born to those who thrice defied him, right?
Wasn’t Harry the perfect candidate then?
Voldemort wasn’t likely to have seen his dad up close, so perhaps he could pass himself off as James during a confrontation… No. He needed to be in the way of the spell as it aimed for baby Harry, so perhaps he should hide under the cloak? Snape would have to keep his parents out of the way, and they would be livid if it appeared as though their son was set up for murder.
“Do you believe in the deathly hallows?”
Snape looked at him questioningly. “The children’s tale?”
Harry shrugged. “It turns out it isn’t as much fiction as fact.” He held up the cloak Dumbledore had handed him earlier, and proceeded to lay out his idea.
They appeared in a corner of the garden. Harry’s step faltered; he had never seen the house undamaged and did not expect it to look so warm and inviting. Snape had continued on to the house though, and he rushed to catch up.
At the front door they shared a quick look. Harry nodded that he was ready, and Snape cast the charm that unlocked the latch.
Now they had to move fast.
They moved into the house, Snape with the quick-footed grace of a cat, Harry with the quiet confidence bred in a time of war. They caught James in the lounge rising from his chair, an unspoken stunner from Harry had him collapse right back into it.
“James? Was that you?” A female voice drifted down from the second floor.
Snape moved up the stairs first, Harry right behind him. A gasp and a startled “Severus?” made it clear that they had been spotted, but Lily was not in sight.
Harry cast a broad revealing spell as they sped up their pace, which made the edge of a skirt trailing off to the left of the passage appear. Firing blindly, Snape cast a stunner around the corner and the resounding thump told them that he had hit his target.
“I’ll check on Harry, and then bring James upstairs. Can you settle her into the nursery so long?” At the answering nod, he moved around her prone form to peek into the room she had been heading towards.
Something in his heart clenched at the sight of the pale blue room. This was the room of a child that was loved, wanted. The one thing he had craved to be repeatedly in his life.
This boy would never live through the hell he did. He was going to make sure of it.
A few moments later they had the entire Potter family settled in the nursery. James fidgeted, clearly uncomfortable with Snape’s presence, and Lily kept glancing between baby Harry, soundly asleep in his cot, and the two intruders. Snape stood glowering at the door.
Future Harry sighed. This was going to be interesting.
“I know this is going to be hard to accept, but Peter Pettigrew has betrayed your location to the dark lord. Snape and I are here to prevent him from killing you. We have a plan in mind that is going to hinge on your co-operation, but it is not going to be easy.”
“I don’t trust that death eater anywhere near my wife.” James was glaring hard at Snape, who sneered right back.
“I’m hardly here to rescue your sorry arse, Potter.”
“Why can’t we just leave the house before he gets here?” Lily had her hands twined around her husband’s arm, but whether it was for comfort or to restrain him was anyone’s guess.
“There is a prophecy involved. The dark lord is going to continue chasing after Harry if he doesn’t encounter him here tonight, and it’s actually in our best interest if he does.”
James was livid. “If you think I am going to sacrifice my son for your fucked up...!” A jumble of voices followed as they all tried to shout over each other; James refusing to listen and calling them both death eaters, Snape dishing out insults, Lily trying to calm James and Harry attempting to get a word in edgewise. Finally he snapped, his magic flaring out to vibrate the contents of the room.
“No-one is going to die tonight! If you’d just be quiet we can tell you what we have in mind!”
The stunned silence allowed them to hear the sudden cracks of apparition outside.
He looked at Snape in alarm. The tension in his frame and the horror in his eyes spoke for themselves, and Harry was thrown by this version of Snape that was still so expressive. He had to say his name a few times to get his attention.
“Snape. Snape! Keep James out of sight. I promise nothing will happen to Lily. I promise, okay?”
“What do you mean nothing will happen to me?” Her confusion furrowed her brow, but she wasn’t given much time to contemplate as Harry cast a sleeping charm on her.
He caught her as her legs buckled.
James tried to pull her out of his grasp, his cries of “Lily!” going ignored. Then Snape was there, his wiry strength wrestling the other man out of the way so Harry could lie her down on the bed in the room.
Downstairs, a resounding boom shook the house.
Palms sweating, he reached into the cot to pick up the sleeping child. Working as delicately as he could he arranged him next to his mother, placing her hand protectively on his round belly.
Behind him the cupboard door closed. Snape must have stunned James to get him in there.
There was a commotion on the stairs. His heart beat loudly in his chest. He had barely drawn the cloak over himself before the form of a still handsome Tom Riddle appeared in the open doorway, a malicious smile on his face.
Inside the cupboard Severus gripped Potter’s arms tighter, not caring if he were hurting the other man. Both of their attention was focused on the door, where a one-directional window allowed them to see the events taking place outside.
It was one of Severus’ more genius spell inventions.
The time traveller – Hurricane, what an idiotic name – had barely disappeared under that blasted cloak before the aura of the dark lord loomed at the doorway. His odd upside-down grip on his wand moved into focus slowly.
“How utterly disappointing. I was hoping for a more… invigorating reception.” He moved closer to the bed, using his wand to lift one of the strands of Lily’s hair. Severus felt his chest tighten.
“This is what my viper begged me to spare? This harlot?” He moved away from the bed. “I took great pleasure in torturing him for his presumptuousness. I think I will leave you alive after all – Severus will be so much easier to control with his weakness exposed. I’m just here for the boy. Avada Kedavra!”
Severus thought his heart would stop as he watched the green light curve towards the bed. Lily would never forgive him if he caused her son’s death – in fact, she might kill him herself. He should never have agreed with this ridiculous plan…
Suddenly there was an invisible barrier that caused the light to coalesce roughly at chest height, before it was violently flung back at the caster. An inhuman shriek resounded as the body of Voldemort shuddered and collapsed on the floor. The clatter of wood on wood echoed as his wand dropped from an outstretched limb and rolled away from him, coming to a rest against the ornately carved leg of the cot.
Tempted as he was to leave the sanctuary of their hiding place, the time traveller had warned him that the dark lord was not alone. True to his word, Pettigrew was suddenly in the room, scrabbling with blunt rounded fingers at the body of the prone man.
“No! No! My lord! Please, my lord!”
Amidst his wails there was suddenly another voice in the distance shouting for James and Lily.
This day was definitely turning out for the worst.
Pettigrew was gathering the limp form in his arms and struggling to stand. He had taken one step towards the door when he spied the wand on the floor. A moment’s hesitation later saw him bear the weight back into the room, and he dropped heavily onto his knees to pull the infamous stick closer.
Footsteps raced closer as the traitor kneeled on the floor, sweat beading on his brow as he concentrated on the impending side-along apparition. It occurred to Severus that Pettigrew had probably not been very good at this particular skill. He didn’t recall the man ever obtaining his apparition licence while still at school like the rest of his peers did.
There was a loud broken sound like a fire-cracker misfiring, and the two occupants on the floor disappeared.
A single digit plopped to the floor instead.
Severus pushed the doors open, belatedly catching and releasing the stun from Potter as he tumbled out as well. Black chose that moment to storm into the room, fear etched upon his face like the emotional Gryffindor he was. At seeing Severus, he roared with anger but tripped over the invisible body in his rush to attack.
James was at Lily’s side in a flash. Severus was tempted to join him, but his immediate focus was on the missing time traveller. Black was momentarily stunned at the sight of his two friends intact and well, so he side-stepped him with ease and sunk down with searching hands to pull the invisibility cloak off his accomplice.
His efforts revealed the bruised body, a hefty burn mark that had scorched through his clothes just under the left side of his clavicle. A zig-zag mark was visible on the exposed skin. Efficiently he cast a quick diagnostic to confirm if the man was still alive, but before he could do much else he was hauled up by his shirt.
“You fucking death eater! How dare you come near Lily after what you’ve done!” A swift punch to the face had him seeing stars, and the coppery tang of blood filled his mouth. His nose felt broken.
The hand holding him up disappeared though, and calloused hands gently turned his face. He heard the softly whispered ‘episkey’ that healed his face, but the dull throb remained. He turned a piercing glare on Black where he was standing protectively near Potter and Lily.
“She won’t wake up. Why won’t she wake up? She’s not even breathing!” Potter was holding his spawn, now awake, staring at everything with wide eyes while simultaneously hiding his face in his father’s shirt.
“I cast ammaliare stasi on her. I can’t use the counter spell until at least an hour has elapsed, but she will be fine.” Hurricane rubbed his hand over the burn mark and winced. “Could we perhaps go to the lounge so I can explain a few things?”
Potter and Black exchanged a look.
“Look, your fidelius is broken and the dark lord is injured. It’s important that we discuss a few things, because while you might have been spared tonight, someone else is now in danger because of it.”
Severus started. “The dark lord is injured? Not dead?”
The other man shook his head. “Unfortunately not. I can explain, but I’m really sore and tired right now and a comfortable couch would help a lot.”
“If you think I’ll have either of your dirty hides on my furniture, you have another thing coming.”
“As uncouth as always,” Severus sneered. “Perhaps we should skin Black so that we have a rug to sit on.”
The time traveller groaned. “If you have an issue with what we look like, then let us borrow your shower.”
“No shower is going to fix his looks.” Black was grinning.
Severus was about to retaliate when a small voice rose from Potter’s middle.
“Dada? Nom nom…”
Indecision warred on Potter’s face. “Fine. You can use the guest bathroom. Sirius, make sure they don’t touch anything. I’ll be in the kitchen.”
Chapter 3: Chapter 3
James inspected the two intruders as they walked into the lounge. Snivellus was still the same pathetic excuse for a human being he remembered from school, although his hair was longer and his shoulders wider. The other unnamed man was much shorter, but looked older with his short hair and slight stubble. He had quite a bronze tan that would have looked healthy if he weren’t so skinny.
They both still managed to look bedraggled after their shower, and if he were more familiar with the conditions of poverty he would have realised it was due to clothing that had been magically repaired one too many times.
Sirius steered them towards a two-seater and sank down onto the chair next to where James sat. Harry was meticulously picking the cheese off a sandwich in his high chair, the sausage he had claimed he wanted discarded on the floor. Lily would probably be upset that he wasn’t trying to put him back to sleep just yet, it being after nine and all, but he was determined to find out what the hell had happened in his house tonight.
“Start talking,” he commanded. He was still irritated that the two men had managed to surprise him, he, who had fought off multitudes of death eaters in the past. On some level he was even aware that he should probably be more thankful for their assistance, but deep down he wanted to believe that this was all part of an elaborate prank. He didn’t want to owe anything to Snape.
He wondered what they could have threatened Peter with to force him to go along with this farce. The alternative wasn’t something he was prepared to think about just yet.
“What I am about to tell you I expect you to keep in the greatest confidence. Since you’re aware of Snape’s participation this evening, I want to start off by saying that he will be in the most danger if word of what we did here tonight gets out.” He glanced at his companion, who sat stoically. “Snape is a spy for the order. He was in the process of reporting in to Dumbledore when I arrived, so if you want to confirm any details with him you are welcome to do so.
“The dark lord heard part of a prophecy – I’m sure that is the reason you were sent into hiding. His goal tonight was to kill your son, but our interference tonight will have caused him a significant set-back.”
“How did you manage to deflect the killing curse?”
Sirius perked up at this information. “That’s not possible.”
The stranger pulled a wad of silvery material from his pocket that James recognized immediately. “What are you doing with that?”
“Relax, I am returning it to you. Dumbledore had it and thought we could use it.” He glanced at Sirius and sighed resignedly. “I suppose I can say this in front of Sirius since you’d tell him either way.”
“I didn’t give you permission to call me by my name,” Sirius interrupted.
For a moment the stranger looked like a child that had his favourite toy stolen, but then he lowered his face and clenched his hands. “My apologies, Mr Black.”
“Why do you know all our names? I have yet to hear you introduce yourself!” James accused suspiciously.
The man lifted his eyes to look at Snape, as though any answers would be forthcoming from that source. Snivellus merely raised an eyebrow.
“I have… knowledge of the future. Parts of it. My goal is to prevent as many deaths as I can, while simultaneously shortening the war.” He made to rub his eyes, but flinched as his fingers touched his eyelids. The hand returned to his lap. “You may call me Hurricane.”
There was a sudden soft ‘ping’, and a tiny firework rained red and gold sparkles next to Hurricane’s hand.
“An hour is up – I can wake… Mrs. Potter now.”
James stood up. “Come with me then.” He locked eyes with Sirius, who nodded at the unspoken request.
He would watch the Slytherin.
They were barely out of the room before the plaintive cries of “Dada! Dada!” made him fetch his cheese and butter smeared son.
Once Lily had joined them and part of the conversation was related to her, she turned her attention to Severus.
“So, what happened to You-know-who? If he didn’t die, will he be after Harry again?”
“You never told us how you survived the killing curse either.” Black was surly.
Hurricane looked at Potter. “Your cloak is one of the deathly hallows. Your father should have told you before he passed away, but he probably didn’t get the chance. It has a certain protection against death, but I won’t encourage you to test it out. I have… additional protection.”
The three Gryffindors turned incredulous gazes upon the object in question.
“You’re saying that this was really part of Death’s robe?”
“I’m not sure how accurate the story is regarding how they came to be, but I can confirm that it is real. As to the dark lord… He has put failsafes in place that prevents him from dying like a normal person would. At the moment he needs to go through a nasty ritual in order to be returned to his body, and I know that at least Pettigrew knows how to perform it.”
Lily’s gasp startled the toddler, but she shushed him back to sleep immediately.
“I can’t believe that Peter… How could he…” She turned a tearful gaze on Potter. “Why?”
Severus spoke up for the first time. “As far as I am aware, he is in the dark lord’s confidence alone. I have never noted his presence at either a calling or a raid.”
“I knew you were a death eater!”
Severus merely turned a condescending look on Black. “Spy, Black. Do pay attention.”
He wasn’t sure why the time-traveller had insinuated that he had been a spy all along, but he knew a golden opportunity when he saw one. He had considered the possibility for a while now, but only today had his desperation driven him to propose such a thing to the headmaster.
He wondered how well Hurricane had known him in his timeline.
The man in question seemed to have a problem with his eyes. They had not been quite as bloodshot at the beginning of the evening, and while they seemed to irritate the man, he was adamantly not rubbing at them. A niggling suspicion rooted at the back of his mind.
“Pettigrew is an unregistered animagus. Have you seen a rat at the gatherings?”
A few things that had bothered him over the years suddenly fell into place. Pettigrew was by no means an accomplished enough wizard to have managed such a feat on his own, which means either Potter or Black, or both, were animagi as well. It explained their casual association with the werewolf all too well.
“The hilarity of that statement is not lost on me, Hurricane. I have repeatedly seen a rattus norvegicus scurrying around though. He will be much easier to identify from now on.”
“What do you…?”
“Pettigrew splinched himself in his rush to apparate before Black made an appearance. You should find one of his digits in the nursery.”
Lily made a moue of distaste. She had a healthy glow to her skin that she never had at school, and the slight weight gain didn’t detract from her beauty at all. As much as he detested the spawn, motherhood seemed to agree with her.
Potter rubbed both hands over his face. “I can’t believe Peter would do this to us. If I hadn’t seen him with my own eyes…”
“I still don’t trust you.” Black was alternating his focus between Severus and Hurricane.
“Getting back to his royal evilness; once he is back in his body he is going to be livid. We may have to plan it with the rest of the order, but Snape is going to be crucial in informing him what happened in a way that will completely remove his attention from you and Harry.”
“And how do you plan to do that? The prophecy says Harry will have the power to kill him, I can’t imagine what could possibly redirect his attention from that.”
Hurricane resisted the urge to rub at his eyes again. “The prophecy says nothing about Harry. It is a matter of interpretation – it applies to someone born at the end of July, whose parents have ‘defied’ him three times. Both Harry and Neville Longbottom fit this description, and if you don’t limit yourself to the year the prophecy was made, then many others will do just as well.” His eyes nervously darted towards Severus.
“I am one of the people it could apply to, a fact which I took advantage of. Seeing as I arrived back in England last year, it would be easy to swing it in my favour.” He pulled the neckline of his shirt low enough to expose the jagged scar. “And he did mark me.”
Severus understood the furtive glance then. He could reveal the lie for what it was.
But he wasn’t going to.
“We should contact the order, alert the aurors.”
“No.” Severus was quick to shoot that suggestion down, and Potter glared at him. “My role in this escapade has to be kept quiet, or we will have no hope of feeding the dark lord the information we want. Contact the headmaster only and allow him to come up with a suitable explanation that we can feed the authorities.”
Next to him, the time-traveller’s head dropped.
“Could we continue this discussion tomorrow? I’m dead on my feet here. I should’ve slept when I had a chance…”
Lily turned a questioning look on her husband, but before she could voice her question Severus interrupted.
“I will take him back to Hogwarts with me.” He stood up and inspected the man closer. He really did look terrible. “Renew the wards on your property, and meet us at the castle tomorrow afternoon. He requires medical assistance, and I will see that he receives it.”
Without waiting for confirmation, he hauled one of Hurricane’s arms over his shoulder to assist-walk him to the door. Behind them, Lily passed her sleeping child to his father and rushed over to them. She lightly touched a hand to his side.
The touch soothed something in him.
“Thank you, Severus. I’m so glad we were wrong about you.” She looked like she wanted to hug him, but Potter was practically bristling in the lounge, so she merely squeezed her hand slightly. “I look forward to seeing you tomorrow.”
He nodded his head at her.
“Until tomorrow then. Stay safe.”
Her answering smile was as bright as he remembered from before their fight at school, and his heart ached.
Poppy Pomfrey had just been retiring for the night when an old student had requested her presence in the infirmary. He had been in the process of laying a semi-unconscious man on the furthest bed, and she had rushed over, grabbing a light muscle relaxant (if his posture was anything to judge him by) on her way over. The bottle she had deposited in Mr Snape’s hands, (hadn’t he earned his Potions mastery recently?) who had glanced at it once and downed it in one swallow.
She recalled that he had always been a pleasant patient as far as medicines were concerned, even going so far as to offer his opinion on improving them.
She had queried as to the man’s condition, but Mr Snape (should she call him Master Snape now?) had advised her to run a diagnostic on him instead.
They were both gaping at the resulting report.
Well, she was. Mr Snape had become rather accomplished at hiding his reactions.
In short order she had the man stripped down to his smalls (he was far too thin) and set out to heal the multiple wounds on his body. Her old student made for an excellent assistant, only needing half an instruction to bring her exactly the implementations and potions she required.
They worked efficiently, and when they were nearly done Mr Snape directed her attention to the man’s eyes. Since they only registered a foreign irritant, she inspected them closer. Deftly she pulled two coloured contact lenses from them.
The dark eyes reflected in the window flashed a brief, smug look as she deposited the lenses on a tray.
“He needs uninterrupted sleep now. Will you be staying with him, Mr Snape?”
“No. The headmaster has granted me a suite in the dungeons; you may send an elf to summon me should his condition change.”
She blinked, confused. “A suite?”
“I am to replace Slughorn as both Professor of Potions and Head of Slytherin house next week. I suspect the headmaster will announce it in the morning.”
Poppy’s eyes lit up as she smiled. “Oh, what wonderful news! To finally have a competent potioneer on site!” She mock glared at him. “Don’t you dare mention a word of that to Horace though.”
The look on the dour man’s face softened as his lip quirked.
“I wouldn’t dream of it.”
Harry woke up feeling like a new man. Below him the bed was softer than anything he had the luxury to sleep on lately, and the scent of dirt and blood was absent. It was testament to his odd sleeping arrangements lately that he didn’t feel alarmed at all. He stretched languorously.
“It looks like you slept well, Mr Hurricane. I take it you are feeling better?”
At the odd address, his memory caught up with him.
Time travel, Snape, his parents.
He opened his eyes to a blur. The fuzzy form of Madame Pomfrey stood nearby.
“Uh, good morning. Did Snape bring me here last night?”
“He did indeed.” Something was placed on a tray and wheeled over to him. Breakfast, by the smell of it.
His mouth watered, and he squinted down trying to see the utensils.
“Eat up then. You are far too thin for your age, young man.”
He lifted a hand to the tray, aiming for the grey oblong blob. It was slightly to the left of his hand.
“Oh! Do forgive me, I took out your contact lenses last night. Do you know your prescription? I can have temporary ones delivered by owl.”
“A friend of mine transfigured them from my glasses, so I have no idea.” He wondered if he could undo the transfiguration if he could barely see what he was pointing his wand at.
Madame Pomfrey was quiet for a moment. “I suppose we could have an oculist visit the school. There are two students I was hoping to refer to Clarence Clearwater for prescriptions, so it won’t be an imposition, but you will have to pay your own account.”
“Does he work on the same principle as muggle accounts?”
“What do you mean?”
Harry absentmindedly scratched at a faded scar on his wrist. “Would he allow thirty days to settle an outstanding account?” He hoped they would. Currently he had no money, and his plan to eliminate the basilisk and sell it off scale by scale would be impossible to implement if he couldn’t see.
He wondered how much a basilisk scale retailed for. Snape would know.
“I can’t see why he wouldn’t. A large percentage of his clientele are muggle raised, but if he doesn’t then I’m sure you can make an arrangement with him. Will you manage to eat while I make the floo call?”
He nodded and she disappeared into her office.
An hour later saw Harry and two early teens (Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw) being inspected by a portly man in lime green robes. He had a round brass instrument that danced over their eyes and made the younger children giggle.
After a lengthy process adjusting a pair of scales over a round slider, he finally jotted down a long line of numbers next to each of their names. The students were sent back to their classes while Madame Pomfrey quilled a note to their parents stipulating their needs.
“I understand you require a form of vision enhancing immediately?” he addressed Harry.
Harry nodded. “Can you make coloured contacts?”
The man was rummaging through his bag which, much like Hermione’s handbag, seemed to extend far further than its physical appearance suggested.
“Of course, Mr Hurricane, but it does incur an additional fee.” He pulled out a container filled with a gelatinous mass, which he scooped out using an incredibly long ladled spoon with a small bowl at the end. “Which colour would you prefer?” He deposited the scoop over his wand, but instead of touching it, it hovered slightly in the air.
“Light brown please.”
The man made no motion of acknowledgement, but the little globule started to spin and flatten out over his wand. Sweat beaded on his forehead as he concentrated on shaping the lens.
He repeated the process to form the second lens, and once finished levitated the result into a glass of water where they expanded. He muttered an incantation over them that caused them to discolour slightly.
He turned back to Harry with a very muggle looking contact lens container, and each lens was placed inside. “Like muggle lenses, you shouldn’t sleep with them in, but they don’t need to be replaced until your next eye examination. Keep the left one in your left eye, and the right one in your right.”
Harry accepted the container, and went to insert them in the bathroom. Once he blinked away the initial discomfort, he was shocked by the clarity of vision he experienced. For a short moment he simply studied himself in the mirror, and wondered what he would look like clean shaven and with his original eye colour.
Mr Clearwater was packing his belongings back into his bag when he returned.
“I trust they are satisfactory?”
Harry nodded. “I’ve never had better. Thank you so much.”
The man smiled, obviously pleased by the praise. “If you ever need anything again, ask for me at St. Mungos. As per our agreement, you can settle the bill anytime between now and next month.” He handed Harry a slip of parchment, and bid him farewell. Harry glanced at the total.
29 Galleons, 27 Sickles and 15 Knuts.
He hoped a scale was worth that much.
“Mr Hurricane, Poppy tells me you are ready to be seen now – how do you feel?” He looked up to see Dumbledore beaming at him from the doorway.
“Very well rested, thank you, sir. I just need to find my clothes and return these to Madame Pomfrey.” He gestured at the infirmary pyjamas he wore.
“I believe I can help with that.” Dumbledore summoned a pile of navy items to him. “I took the liberty to select a few items we have in storage for you. Your clothes didn’t quite survive the house-elves’ attempts at salvaging them.”
Harry blushed. “Thank you, sir.”
“Won’t you join us in my office once you are ready? I hear you had quite the excitable evening last night, and there are a few things we should discuss.”
“I’ll be there in a moment.”
“Splendid, my boy! I’ll see you there.”
James, Lily, Sirius and Snape were all sitting in Dumbledore’s office when Harry arrived. He nodded in greeting to them before heading over a vacant chair.
“Now that we are all here, we can discuss a few things in more detail. We have already agreed to not involve the aurors in last night’s matter, although I would like to brief Alastor on what transpired.”
Sensing no disagreement between anyone, Dumbledore continued. “The few of us gathered here are the only ones aware of Severus’ position as a spy, and I would like to keep it that way. He will continue to report to You-know-who, and feed him information we either fabricate for the purpose, or details we can afford to have in enemy hands.” He looked at Harry. “How long do we have before our enemy is restored to his body?”
“The ritual itself doesn’t take too long to complete, the problem is gathering the components. Lucky for them they have his old body. If they had to create a new one they would have needed my blood. Have Hagrid be on the lookout for a dead unicorn in the forest, and then we can assume they are ready.”
Snape lifted a brow. “Unicorn blood?”
Dumbledore waved a hand and a serving of tea appeared, slowly making the rounds between those in attendance. “Let us agree upon a tale to explain last night. James was out. Perhaps visiting Sirius?”
“Say he came to fetch me rather. Otherwise Lily would have come along.”
Dumbledore nodded as they planned out the tale James was to relay at the next order meeting. Harry would be introduced as a person who made contact with Dumbledore previously, but chose not to involve himself in the war at the time.
Once they were all satisfied with the order of events, Dumbledore bid Sirius and the Potters goodbye. Severus and Harry stayed seated.
“Tell me about the significance of that mark You-know-who gave you.”
Harry’s hand automatically went to his forehead, but as he realised what he was doing he ran it through his hair instead. “‘The Dark Lord will mark him as his equal.’ According to what we knew in my timeline, it creates a mental link between the marked one and the dark lord. There was some speculation about magical abilities being passed through it as well, but we had no way to prove it.”
“A mental link?”
Harry held up his hands at Dumbledore’s incensed expression. “It’s only one way, and when one applies occlumency it is barely noticeable. At best I will be able to tell you when he is pissed off.”
Dumbledore managed to look a tad sheepish at the reminder of their first meeting. “While I would like to study it in further detail, I will trust your word for now. Severus tells me you are prepared to be made somewhat of a target by revealing yourself as the one the prophecy refers to?”
“Yes. In my timeline the dark lord’s body was destroyed when he tried to kill Harry. It took him much longer to regain a new one, and the wizarding world celebrated his demise prematurely. We were not prepared for his return afterwards.”
The older wizard closed his eyes in resigned acceptance. “How do we kill him then?”
“I know what to do, and if you don’t mind, I’d rather keep the information to myself until… well. I plan on making sure the person that discovers the secret first survives to tell the tale. He deserves the recognition.”
“Very well. Severus, you probably want to finish settling in to your quarters today?”
Snape inclined his head. “I am prepared to assume teaching duties tomorrow.”
“I will introduce you at breakfast then. Is there anything we can do for you, Mr Hurricane? What are your plans from here?”
“I need to set up a Gringotts account. Establish myself as a person. I would also like to borrow the sorting quickly, if I may.”
Both the other men in the room looked curiously to the object in question. The headmaster indicated that he could go ahead.
Harry stood up and grabbed the hat, upending it. He peered into its depths. “How much does a basilisk scale retail for nowadays?”
“Seeing that it is illegal to breed them, the scales in existence fetch quite a high price. They are used in archaic potions only, but those are so powerful that many still seek to brew them.” Snape thought for a moment longer. “I would place it at 200 Galleons, give or take. I presume you have one to sell? I can introduce you to a respectable buyer.”
Harry nodded. “I’d appreciate that. Can I come see you in a bit to make the introductions?” He then plunged his hand into the hat to the astonishment of both men, only to draw out a glittering sword moments later.
“The sword of Gryffindor…!”
Snape’s eyes widened at the proclamation.
“I’ll see you later then.” Swinging the sword over a shoulder, he left the office with self-indulgent smile.
Things were finally looking up!
Whenever I am in location [A], I have access to computer [U] where I work on this story. Much less frequently, when I am in location [B], I work on another story on computer [D]. Would anyone be interested in me posting it as well, or should I rather wait until I have completed this one to work on the other? As it is, it will have a much slower update rate, say once every two months.
Thank you to everyone reading this work; I wasn't expecting such a positive response!
Chapter 5: Chapter 5
Inside the chamber of secrets Harry considered his next move. He had killed the basilisk; as he had predicted, the beast was still in its enchanted slumber and was an easy target. He had then set out to harvest the skin, and anything else that could be of value.
That was where he had hit a snag.
Containers he could transfigure from the multiple rocks littering the chamber, but the preservation liquid he could not. Years of detentions in potions class had ironically prepared him for this moment – he was fairly sure his ingredient preparation had been successful without too much bungling – it was just the storage that he now had to figure out.
Oh, and the harvesting had been more nauseating than anything he could ever remember doing.
Sitting back on a large stone, he surveyed his handiwork while idly cleaning the blood out from under his fingernails. The most obvious course of action – to ask Snape for help – was not exactly what he wanted to do. Respect was one thing, but at this rate he was practically jumping into the man’s pockets.
He was already relying on him for the scale transaction.
Letting his mind drift a bit further, he considered how badly he had miscalculated on how much arriving with Snape to rescue his parents had damaged his relationship with them. He was hoping he could persuade Sirius and his father to join him when they went to rescue the Longbottoms.
He wondered how much Neville would change if he were raised by his parents.
None of that was solving his current situation though.
There really was nothing for it. It was either Snape or Slughorn.
He collected the twenty-one scales he had carefully set aside and made his way back to the castle proper.
Severus stared at the time-traveller while he fidgeted outside his door. There had been no doubt in his mind that the man would be able to locate his domicile despite not being given the location previously, but he wasn’t quite expecting the state of his visitor.
He had fresh blood on his cheek.
Stepping aside, he let the man into his quarters, and directed him to a chair. He offered the socially expected tea.
“I’ve brought the scales, but I confess I have another favour to ask. Do you know where I can get large quantities of Glycerine and Ethyl Alcohol without the supplier asking too many questions?”
Severus smugly studied the man for a moment. “I presume you have a basilisk to preserve?”
“I knew you’d figure it out.” Hurricane sighed.
“You were hardly hiding it; anyone with higher thought processes would have made the connection. The rumoured chamber of secrets?” The man must have been a Gryffindor.
“Very well. Once we have concluded your transactions, I would very much like to see this fabled place.” Hurricane looked reluctant. “It is a small price to pay for my assistance, Hurricane. I may even be tempted to assist you in this endeavour.”
The other man blinked owlishly at him. “I don’t mind showing it to you, it’s just that I started taking the blasted thing apart and I know you’ll probably berate me all the way to Wednesday for my technique. Or lack thereof.” He shrugged. “But I won’t turn down your expert assistance, and I don’t expect you to help me for free.”
There was a moment’s silence as Hurricane dug in his pocket to pull out a small black object, which he extended towards Severus.
“This is for you, to thank you for helping me out with a buyer.”
The small object that landed in his palm gave him pause. He had just been handed a small fortune. Was the man testing him? Could this truly be for something so little as arranging a meeting? Hurricane was either foolishly naïve or an imbecile.
“My gratitude for the token. Would it be remiss of me to include it in the sale today?”
“It’s yours to do with what you want. I have nothing else to thank you with.”
He closed his long-fingered grip around the scale. “Then let us be off. We can apparate from Hogsmeade.”
Dermot Rutherford loved Severus Snape. The man had an uncanny knack to locate the best and rarest of items, and his dealings were always above board. Add to that his honest appreciation of magical artefacts, and you have the ideal client. He trusted him to such an extent that he rarely ever did the semi-required background check on the people Snape introduced to him anymore.
Dermot Rutherford also hated Severus Snape. He haggled as though he was born to the skill, and his acid remarks made you feel like a complete idiot for defending your price. He often walked away from a transaction feeling as though he pulled the short end of the stick, but his profits spoke otherwise.
Today was no different. Basilisk scales! The biggest and most lustrous he had ever seen; in fact, the beast may as well have been alive just that morning. The man accompanying Snape, Hurricane – honestly, what are people calling their kids these days – claimed that it was part of an inheritance and that there were a few more, but he would rather sell them at a later stage if he needed the money.
The two men had left satisfied – Snape with his contribution in cash and Hurricane with an authorised Gringotts transfer. Dermot lovingly ran his hand through the scales, infinitely pleased by the delicate clattering noise.
If a man of Severus Snape’s calibre could be convinced to join You-know-who to become a death eater as some rumours suggested, then perhaps there was some merit to their beliefs.
“I rescind my interest to accompany you any further.”
Harry turned his head to look at Snape, returning his gaze to the door and back again.
“The entrance is just inside though. Why?”
“The entrance to the chamber of secrets is inside a girl’s bathroom? Do you take me for a fool?”
Harry paused for a moment, realising he had grown so used to the place that he hardly questioned it anymore. “Oh. You don’t have to worry though, no one ever goes in here.”
“Pray tell, why not?”
“This bathroom is haunted. Myrtle died the last time the chamber was opened, and she doesn’t exactly inspire company.” He lowered his voice. “Try to steer clear of the cubicles if you don’t want to get wet.”
Harry pushed the door open, hearing a soft mumble behind him. “No wonder the staff never found the blasted place…”
Luckily Myrtle was nowhere in sight, but the newly flooded floor suggested she had just left. Snape grimaced at the mess while Harry made his way over to the taps.
Snape refrained from commenting as the sibilant sounds commanded the entrance to appear, but Harry could see that he barely held himself back. He could kick himself for his stupidity in forgetting that his parselmouth ability was not common knowledge here.
Younger Snape was a lot easier to read than Future Snape had ever been. He was clearly impressed by the beast, obviously thought he would have done a better job at dismantling the parts and not put out by the gore at all.
They were nearly done bottling everything in the huge containers when the sword of Gryffindor was revealed from behind the enormous bulk. Like the overly romantic fool he was, Harry had encased the sword into a rock reminiscent of Excalibur, down to the magical ray of light that bathed it.
Snape snorted in amusement. “Planning to be king of Scotland?”
Harry blushed down to the roots of his hair. “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”
“How did you learn of it? It has been said to be lost to the ages of time.”
“Believe it or not, it literally fell on my head the first time I killed this thing. I didn’t have the luxury of killing it in its sleep back then though, but Fawkes blinded it for me.” He paused for a moment, thinking. “I’d be dead otherwise.”
“What do you plan to do with it?” Snape sealed another container, and flicked the liquid from his fingers.
“The snake or the sword?”
Snape glared at him. “The sword. I will admit to curiosity regarding the fate of your harvest as well.”
Harry sat down on a rock and looked at the containers around them. “Honestly, I have no idea. I thought to preserve it in case it is worth something – it is my only source of income at the moment. In my timeline the corpse rotted away before I realised that I could have made a profit from it.”
“Would you care for my opinion on the matter?”
Surprised at the offer, Harry nodded.
“You are best off selling these to a researcher, but you may struggle to find someone with the appropriate… access to libraries of questionable intent. Your own blithering ineptitude at subterfuge does not lend itself well to inquiries of this kind, so you should consider either employing someone to inquire on your behalf, or doing the research on your own.”
Harry considered the advice. His knowledge of the wizarding world was so lacking that he wouldn’t even know where to begin to hire someone, but he wasn’t about to admit that in front of Snape. Even the trip to Gringotts earlier that afternoon had been huge learning experience.
His vault was magically registered to his person, identified as Hurricane, and he had more money in it than he had at first anticipated. Tomorrow he would endeavour to find living arrangements, but for tonight The Leaky would have to make do.
“I’ll look into it. With everything preserved I should have some time.” He kicked at a patch of dust on the floor. “I really appreciate your assistance with all of this. I didn’t think I would finish today.”
Snape cocked his head and gestured towards the two remaining containers. “We are hardly finished yet. And as for my assistance; your gratitude earlier today has financed an entire teaching wardrobe for myself. Since my abrasive personality has yet to see you cower before me, perhaps you may even send me on my way later with a sample of this specimen.”
The request was so seamlessly delivered that Harry burst out laughing. Not being at the end of this man’s hatred was a wonderful change of scenery. “You’re welcome to it. What part would you like?”
The other man looked at the jars thoughtfully. “It would be tactless of me to request the heart, so perhaps a portion of the liver?”
An idea struck Harry. “You know what? I’ll let you borrow the heart to keep on display in your classroom. That should inspire an adequate amount of fear into the students.” Picking up a decently sized rock, he transfigured it into a smaller container which he stood up to hand over to Snape.
“For a bit of the liver.”
Snape raised an eyebrow at him. “Notice how my assistance keeps bearing fruit. At this rate I will own the entire basilisk before you curb your giving nature.”
Harry only shrugged. “I have the privilege of knowing that your morals are all in the right place, so I’m sure you’ll stop me from such a folly before it occurs.”
That night, as Severus sat in his new quarters furnished with paraphernalia found around Hogwarts, he considered the time traveller once more. His own belongings were scant and distributed sparsely, the new teaching robes almost an anomaly.
Hurricane knew him well enough to make assumptions about his character that others denied outright. While it was disconcerting, it was also strangely satisfying to know he could be as scathing as he desired and this man would look for the message behind his words.
If only he had been around before… He glared at the brand on his arm, the inerasable reminder of his worst mistake.
His mother had once told him that he shouldn’t be too hard on himself, that he was allowed to make mistakes. He had vehemently disagreed, but she had calmly pointed out that if he carried on down that path he would one day make a mistake, and because he never made little mistakes, it would be one of astronomical proportions.
How correct she had turned out to be. He hadn’t spoken to her in years.
No point to dwell on it now.
He stood up to prepare to turn in for the night. He had students to beat knowledge into tomorrow.
Chapter 6: Chapter 6
Surprise! (Had a quiet day, =) )
Edit: Thank you to RoseLilian for pointing out that I have been remiss in stating that that I have changed a big detail from the original timeline involving Regulus. According to canon, he died in 79, but since I would like to have him alive for my story I have de-aged him by two years, making him four years younger than Sirius as opposed to two, and three years behind him at Hogwarts.
The owl that arrived with breakfast was a welcome break to the monotony for James. Spending months in hiding, while wonderful for bonding with his family, was slowly driving him insane.
There were only so many books in their house that he was prepared to read.
Unfurling the scroll, he skimmed the contents before reading it aloud to Lily, who stopped him before he managed to complete the second sentence. She was sitting at the table trying to feed Harry, but every time the spoon approached his mouth it would magically curl in on itself.
She sighed. “Just give me the gist of it. I’m not able to concentrate on unravelling Albus’ words while feeding the whomping willow over here.” She pulled out her wand to magic the porridge into little dragons. Harry squealed with glee.
“He’s calling an order meeting tonight. It’s about the new guy that was with Snape by the looks of it.”
Lily smiled whimsically. “I am so glad we were wrong about Severus.”
“Says you. I don’t trust him. Who says he isn’t a spy for the other side?”
“James!” A little porridge dragon hit him on the side of his arm.
“I’m just saying! It’s bound to come out in the meeting tonight, so you may as well consider it. You know who he hung out with at school. Leopards and spots, you know? And here I was finally glad to have him where he couldn’t paw at you anymore.”
“It’s not like that, James.” The last of the procession of flying reptiles met its end in Harry’s mouth.
“You can’t deny it Lily. He was totally in love with you, and you know it.” He flicked the porridge residue from his arm into his plate.
“You know I wasn’t romantically interested in him, but he is my childhood friend.” She picked Harry up from his high chair and balanced him on the floor, where he happily took off running out of the kitchen. “He’s had a rough life. I can’t tell you how often he had bruises he tried to hide under those threadbare clothes.”
James folded his arms over his chest and brooded. He hated it when she started defending Snivellus. It turned him into a vindictive arse and he often ended up saying and doing things he regretted later.
“Let’s not fight over him again,” she diplomatically changed the subject. “Have you decided what you are going to do once we don’t have to be in hiding anymore?”
He groaned internally. From one despicable topic to another. It wasn’t like Sirius was formally employed either.
“I’ll have another look at the paper today to see what is available.”
“I think it would be nice to study further. There is quite a large market for clothing with embedded charms, and I would have the choice of either apprenticing under someone or commuting to Tairiseach Academy of Charm Knowledge Yield.”
He was quiet for a moment, working out the acronym in his head before bursting with laughter.
“You wanna go to TACKY?”
She walloped him upside the head, but she was smiling.
A slightly worn looking flat in Preston, Lancashire sported a proud new occupant. The estate agent in London had been most helpful in locating the furnished apartment, and a confundus spell handled his credit and background check. His new landlord was only too happy to accept his rent in cash.
Settling himself at a desk, he set about compiling a list of events he was aware of, making additional notes where he planned to change history.
At the top of his list were the Longbottoms and Regulus Black. Next to Sirius’ brother he had drawn a huge question mark – he knew how and where he was going to die, but he had no idea when. Sirius had never spoken all that much about him, but the newspaper clippings of Voldemort’s demise he had found in Regulus’ room in his own timeline suggested it was at least after he had arrived here.
He had no idea what kind of a man Regulus was. Dumbledore had recalled him with the passing notice that one could expect of a figure of authority that didn’t interact with a student unless they stood out in some way. The clippings in his room suggested he had been an avid quidditch fan, a seeker, but beyond that…
In his experience, Slytherins tended to show the world one view of themselves while hiding another.
His best option was probably to place an alarm on the cave where the horcrux was hidden.
The Longbottoms were a much simpler case. Once they had come out of hiding, Bellatrix and her cohorts had gone after them. At the moment Voldemort’s ‘death’ was not widespread news, so they should still be safe.
They would probably only find out what happened once Dumbledore called an order meeting again.
He penned a quick note to the headmaster to ask him not to let them break their fidelius just yet.
At a loss for a method to send the message though, he stuffed it into his pocket. He would have to either purchase a new owl, or find an owlery that could assist. The ache at having lost Hedwig was duller now with the knowledge that she was probably not even hatched yet.
He grabbed a handful of cash – he should invest in a wallet while he was out – and apparated to a desolate cave where a disillusioned man would hopefully not meet his end anymore.
The Diggle lounge was packed as the order members arrived that evening. Dedalus, playing host on Dumbledore’s request, was an excitable figure bobbing in between his guests. With an enchanted platter piled with scones following behind him, he made his way over to where Arthur Weasley had just settled himself into a corner.
“Congratulations dear man! How is Molly and the baby?”
Arthur grinned, but his countenance remained tired. “Exhausted, I tell you.” He reached over for a scone, and opened it up to peek at the filling. “Molly’s put me in charge of keeping the twins away from them since they glued the baby’s hair to the rug, and it is the worst job I have ever had. Going to work today was such a relief!”
Dedalus shook a finger at him. “I’m hardly one to speak, but you should probably not have had them so close together! How old is your oldest now? Ten?”
“Eleven. Bill just started at Hogwarts, actually. Gryffindor, like his parents.” He bit into the scone.
Albus chose that moment to call the meeting to order.
“Your attention please. I have some very good news to share tonight, as well as some rather dire information as well.
As of two nights ago, Voldemort has been dealt a crippling blow, and will need an uncertain amount of time to recover.”
A cheer went up in the room, and the Longbottoms hugged each other happily. Albus held up his hands.
“The man responsible for his state is unfortunately not part of the order, and has only recently arrived back in England. I have called you here tonight mainly to decide if we should invite him into our circle or not.
Additionally, it saddens me to say that Peter Pettigrew has betrayed us. If he approaches any of you on the assumption that you are not aware of this fact, then I urge you to send word to other members as soon as possible so that we can capture him to find out how much security he has cost us.”
A low murmur rose amongst those gathered.
“One of the things Hurricane, the man I would like you to consider adding to our number, has divulged, is that Voldemort has found a way to make himself immortal.”
“No!” Hagrid looked embarrassed at his outburst and hunched his shoulders.
“Not to worry, not to worry, he has assured us that there is a way to undo this state of affairs, but he has not shared the method just yet. I am firmly under the impression that he wishes to perform this task himself for some reason. James, Lily and Sirius have met him as well, so if you don’t mind, could you please give us your impression of him?”
“You can go first,” Sirius informed James, who stood at the slight pressure on his back. He cleared his throat.
“He is obviously using a fake name, so while his intentions may be good he is hiding something. He claims to have knowledge of the future as well, but I don’t think he is a seer. Other than that, he was respectful, and he did stand directly in You-know-who’s path as he tried to kill Harry, even if he were covered with my invisibility cloak.”
Lily stood up next.
“If he does indeed have knowledge of the future, then we should definitely consider adding him to the order. The kind of information that he would be able to give us could be invaluable!”
“It could also be horse shite.” Sirius nodded his agreement with Alastor Moody.
“What is his background?” Another voice asked.
“I am working on putting together a profile, but at the moment there is not much to go on. He has seen more than a fair amount of battles, has extremely sharp reflexes and is almost certainly muggleborn. He is fairly powerful, capable of wandless magic, and has had exposure to mind magic.”
“That is hardly something to judge his character by.”
Albus peered over his glasses at Moody. “Would you care to meet him? Your insight has often proved to be incredibly helpful.”
“I’ll arrange a meeting then. Shall we withhold our decision until further notice?”
Upon a veritable chorus of yesses, Albus continued.
“Furthermore, we have planted information that, once Voldemort has recovered, will hopefully redirect his attention away from both Harry and Neville and focus it on Hurricane instead.”
“Does that mean we can come out of hiding?” Alice Longbottom asked.
The headmaster shook his head. “I have received a note from Hurricane that you are best not to break your fidelius just yet. Apparently, Bellatrix Lestrange is out for your blood.”
Sirius muttered something under his breath about how that one should have been drowned at birth.
“That concludes our important business tonight. Feel free to indulge yourselves – the gooseberry jam is excellent!”
Chapter 7: Chapter 7
Wednesday afternoon found Harry at the Hogwarts gates once more. To his utter dismay he had discovered that he had so many things to do to set up his life in this timeline, that he barely had time for the things he wanted to do.
He was hoping to catch Snape between classes and the evening meal to ask him about the potion in the cave. After a few failed attempts, he had finally managed to bottle a sample to show the potions expert.
Making his way to the front doors he regretted his decision not to show up in robes. His casual muggle wear stood out amongst the few students outside, and he drew quite a few curious looks. Out of pure habit he smiled and waved at Hagrid who looked around in quick confusion, but having established that the greeting was aimed at him, he waved back.
He really had to be more careful.
Professor McGonagall crossed his view inside the castle interior, but stopped once she noticed his approach and stood waiting at the heavy iron doors for him.
“Good evening. I must say, I was not aware that we were expecting a visitor today. How may I assist you?” Her stern stare was as constant as her looks – Harry couldn’t even say she looked younger. She just looked like her.
“Good evening. I’m here to see Professor Snape, but I should probably have owled ahead. I was hoping to catch him before the evening meal.”
Her look turned suspicious. “And you are?”
Harry held out his hand. “Hurricane.” Her grip was firm.
“Professor McGonagall. If you would follow me.”
Harry acknowledged the accompaniment as the security implementation it was. They walked mostly in silence towards the dungeons, his companion stopping occasionally to quip a comment at a passing student.
Snape’s office door was open, and the scratching of a quill could be heard from the door. It was impressive how the man could make an innocuous activity like a writing sound so vicious.
McGonagall rapped her knuckles on the door. “Severus, you have a visitor.”
He had a raised eyebrow on his face as he lifted his head to inspect the person at his door.
Harry pulled on his ear self-consciously. “Sorry for dropping in unannounced.”
McGonagall clasped her hands in front of her. “Well. I shall leave you to it then. Good day, Mr Hurricane.” She smiled her tight smile at them both and moved out of Snape’s office, her footsteps quiet upon the stone floors.
Snape motioned Harry over to one of the chairs facing his desk. “To what do I owe this unexpected tarriance?”
“Where on earth did you learn to speak like that?”
“Some secrets should remain my own.”
Digging a stone vial out of his pocket, Harry only snorted. “I was hoping you could identify this for me, and hopefully tell me if it has an antidote.” He carefully placed the heavy object on the desk.
Reaching for the odd shape, the potions master delicately scented the air around it before opening it. His eyes immediately flew to meet Harry’s.
“You do recognize it.”
Slowly the vial was stoppered and placed back on the table. Snape stared at it darkly.
Confused, Harry watched as the other man steepled his fingers and took a deep breath. Then realization hit.
“You made it, didn’t you. Hell, I’d wager you invented it.” There was a short silence.
“How did you manage to obtain this sample? This poison is designed to gravitate towards the vessel it was brewed in unless ingested.”
“That explains a lot. I tried to scoop it with various things, but in the end only a piece of rock I chipped from the basin would hold it. I had to shape it a bit so it wouldn’t spill, of course.”
Holding up the vial again, Snape’s eyes glittered with amusement. “Clever idea.”
Harry sat forward at the comment, and with a smirk remarked, “Can I quote you on that?” The other man rolled his eyes.
“Imbecile. I created this potion on the dark lord’s orders. Bound to its container, it is designed to protect something within its depths and only drinking the liquid will clear it. Imbibing it causes despair that increases exponentially. No one should be able to empty the basin unless forced, and should any remain behind it will refill of its own accord.”
Looking down at his hands, Harry nodded. “Yeah, that’s about right.”
Snape looked at him sharply. “Someone actually drunk this?”
He received a nod in reply. “I know of two people who did. I was only present for the one though. Is there an antidote?”
“The effects clear out of the system in a week’s time, and it does not kill. An antidote is hardly necessary.”
Snape studied the man in front of him, deep in thought.
“The potion does not kill, but someone died. Whose death are you seeking to prevent?”
Harry scratched his cheek. “I know what you’re doing, but I can’t rely on you for everything. I should solve this on my own.”
The question gave Harry pause. He had a million reasons he couldn’t give, and Snape would see through a deceptive answer immediately. He wondered what to say.
“I just… I can’t… Look. We weren’t on particularly good terms in the future, and I feel like I’m abusing your trust by being friendlier with you than future you would ever have liked. There are some things that are your area of expertise though – and I’d much rather deal with you than Slughorn – so somehow, I keep coming back here. But I promise to work harder on my own at this from now on.”
“Perhaps, in the light that you aim to prevent events that shaped your own future, you should stop considering the people you used to know as the people they are today. If you were important to someone once, you can hardly expect them to treasure you for the same reasons if those reasons never occur.”
Hagrid not immediately waving back. Sirius not letting him call him by his first name. McGonagall’s face not crinkling in fond remembrance, but rather escorting him around the school like a potential threat.
He would never again open up his trunk to discover that Ron had eaten his last chocolate frog. There would be no Hermione tactfully correcting him whenever his poor upbringing shows through his lack of etiquette. No more snuggling down next to Ginny in front of the fire, no more rock-hard treats from Hagrid, no more Weasley sweaters…
No more tiny babe morphing his features into Harry’s wild hair.
A sob tore its way out of his throat before he could resist. Dropping his head into his hands, he muttered an apology and apparated back to the flat in Preston that would never host his lost family.
Severus sat staring at the empty chair, idly rolling the stone vial between his hands. He was not easily shocked, and exposure to the time traveller was blunting his reactions to the unexpected surprises the man kept throwing at him. He was therefore quite sure that there was a reasonable explanation as to how Hurricane had just managed to apparate out of Hogwarts.
Any doubts regarding the man’s origins had been dispelled as well. The sheer grief he had radiated could not be faked by someone who carried his heart on his sleeve the way Hurricane did. No, his words had caused a devastating realisation that the time traveller had not yet reasoned through.
He had no sympathy on that front. A person should not have to rely on another for their emotional well-being. He had done so once, and he had learnt his lesson.
He was intrigued by the circumstances surrounding the potion though. He was immensely proud of every single potion he devised, no matter how destructive the result. Each brew represented hours of deliberation and concentration, weighting ingredients and their effects against one another to culminate in a masterpiece. This one though, this potion of despair, had been the only one he could not retain a sample of.
He stood up, gathered his paperwork and set off towards his quarters. Once inside, he unceremoniously dropped the pile of student drivel on a desk before walking up to bookcase filled with classical titles. He pricked his finger over a small protrusion on the side of the case and drew the rune for joy with his blood.
Moments later the actual contents were revealed. Eight pristine bottles stood side by side, each neatly labelled with a card and a notebook containing the design process. At the one empty spot holding only a notebook, he carefully placed the new container and stepped back to admire his collection.
Nine potions he had invented. Five at the behest of the dark lord, one to lure the international guild of potioneers to notice him and another to earn his mastery. The last two were more personal. One he had invented for his mother, a brilliant concoction that once it left the system allowed the body to be restored to the condition it was in when the user drunk the potion.
She had been humiliated at the implication, and had sent him on his way. They hadn’t spoken since.
The other he had hoped to one-day present to Lily. It was a simple happiness philtre, meant to evoke a few seconds of scents and sounds from a happy memory.
He closed his eyes for a moment, and when he opened them again the row of classical books was back. Sharply tugging his sleeves to completely cover his wrists, he strode towards the door where he collected a small pouch of fresh Nepeta cataria.
He had a theory to test.
Albus idly fiddled with the string of a muggle pen that was strangely attached to Alastor Moody’s desk while he waited for the man to finish shouting at the poor recruit who had landed his partner in St Mungos.
Marching in with his wide purposeful gait he closed the door with a flick of his wand and settled behind his desk. His artificial eye spun within its restraint, and Albus mentally catalogued what he had stored in this robe’s pockets.
“Albus, let us get straight to business. I had Hurricane here yesterday as we agreed.” A tray of tea appeared, and the auror splashed something from a flask into his cup. “Scruffy man, small stature. Definitely muggle-born. Knows hardship, that one.” He took a swig from the cup. “He believes what he is talking about though. Kept staring at my leg.”
“Your leg?” Albus frowned, trying to recall if there were anything odd about the man’s appendage.
Alastor hummed. “He seemed surprised, like he expected something else. Didn’t want to say much on the subject though.”
“It is rather odd behaviour, I agree. Do you have any ideas?”
He put his cup down and sat back in his chair. Drumming his fingers momentarily on the table top, he finally gave it a harsh slap and glared at the headmaster. “I’m a pragmatic man, Albus. I’m going to lose my leg.”
Standing up, he paced the floor behind his desk.
“We should bring him into the order. He has a couple of odd habits, but I can’t find a fault with him otherwise. His information regarding the Longbottoms has already proved helpful, and we have been assured of his assistance once we execute our plan.”
Albus nodded and stood up. “I shall arrange another meeting then.” He was nearly to the door when Alastor spoke again.
“If what he says is to be believed… This war might actually have an end in sight. I’m getting sick of all this fighting. I wake up at night for no reason at all, Albus.” He sighed. “I don’t like what this war is doing to me, but I don’t know how to stop it.”
Holding the door open slightly, Albus dipped his head in agreement. “Then let us hope, Alastor. Let us hope.”
Chapter 8: Chapter 8
Nervously Harry ran his eyes over the contents of the main living space of his flat. The past few days he had done everything in his power to stay busy, to stay distracted, to not think about what Snape had said. Now, however, he found himself with a moment to spare and he tried very hard not to feel sorry for himself.
Maybe he could think of this in the same terms that he had thought of defeating Voldemort. How it was his destiny, and his happiness didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. He had been prepared to die, after all.
The problem with that philosophy was that he had allowed himself to hope when he came to this timeline. His parents were going to be alive to raise little Harry, he would get to know his godfather properly and maybe even take Remus out to that muggle museum he never got around to visiting.
But now they were strangers.
Worse – they were strangers at odds. All because he showed up with Snape. Snape, who was turning out to be a very reliable and resourceful person indeed. He had known this, of course, but experiencing it without having to fight against a tide of hatred and deadly accurate barbs was such a relief.
Lowering his feet to the floor from where he was bundled up on the couch, he reached for the newly purchased ‘Hogwarts, a History’ that he had obtained earlier that morning. He was determined to read the damn thing if the frequency Hermione had quoted it at him and Ron was an indication of her knowledge. Next to the thick tome was a smaller book, ‘Etiquette for the Esteemed Wizard’. Another shortcoming he had to correct.
A quick browse through it had not mentioned much about apparating out of official establishments, but it did say doing so while in company was considered rude. He had owled Snape an apology anyway, and they were set to meet again tomorrow to discuss the potion.
That afternoon he was due at the Burrow for a gathering of ‘like-minded individuals’, as Dumbledore put it, but he was sure it was actually an order meeting. As heavy as the dread was in his stomach, he was excited to see Ron and the twins as toddlers. Ginny would be an infant still, almost three months old.
He was so old compared to them now. Something else to get used to.
With another sigh he opened up the book to carry on where he left off, eyes drooping drowsily.
The man in question looked up from his desk at the voice, elegantly moving his quill back to the inkwell. “Severus. Do please enter and have a seat. To what do I owe the honour of your visit?” He stood up from where he was sitting to relocate to one of the armchairs in the middle of the room. A deft hand signal had the house elf pop away to prepare tea.
“I have alarming news. Tell me, when have you last heard from our common acquaintance?” Severus folded his long legs to sit down on the posh wing-back chair.
Taking his own seat, he pondered the question. “Not since our last, but that is hardly unusual.” The house elf appeared with the tea, and he gestured for Severus to help himself.
“I believe he has had an altercation with an individual that has left him worse for wear. Would you be able to locate him if asked to do so?”
Injured? The dark lord? Lucius considered his options. “I am hardly in his trust as such, but perhaps my father could assist. If you wish to curry favour by offering potions, I suggest you reconsider.” He verified that the secrecy ward on the drawing room was still intact. “The dark lord does not take kindly to being seen as weak.”
Severus waved the concern away. “Hardly anything of the sort. I merely wished to relay what information I have gleaned regarding the individual that has caused his state. The message does not have to come from me.”
“Would you have me request my sire’s presence?”
“As you wish.”
Lucius had a house elf relay his summons to his father where he was undoubtedly assessing the newest ministry proposed laws for loopholes. His father was a very ambitious man, and he had a healthy amount of respect for him. It was, however, the kind of respect that deferred to the man in an attempt to avoid his temper.
Severus had no such qualms though, and often disregarded hierarchy to speak to much more senior members as peers, and in some cases, peons. It was a skill he both admired and dreaded, but only a man of Severus’ disposition could pull it off. His vicious assessment of the wizards in his company only stung because it was so accurate.
He preferred subtle innuendos himself, often not understood by his quarry, but sometimes he longed to outright insult someone the way Severus could.
His father’s arrival was heralded by a sweeping sound as the heavy overcoat style he preferred swept the floor behind him. Both men in the room stood to greet him.
He nodded at them both. “Lucius, Severus.”
“Severus brings news that he believes to be of importance to the dark lord, Father.”
“I have heard of your successful infiltration of the Order, Severus, but teaching children? You are more likely to murder one of them.” Lucius looked questioningly at his friend. Teaching?
“I have been hired as the Professor of Potions at Hogwarts, where I happened to overhear a very interesting conversation,” Severus said by way of explanation to him.
“Do tell.” His father was idly running his cane through his hand.
“Dumbledore has recruited a new man to his order, someone I could find no record of due to his use of an alias. He has actively interfered with the dark lord’s attempt to kill the Potter brat – how I am not sure – but it has resulted in what they consider a grave injury to the dark lord. The man in question, Hurricane, now bears a mark where the dark lord’s spell met his resistance. I am sure you both see the significance in that.”
His father had startled forward in his chair at the news, and now leaned forward with a forearm across a knee. “Marked you say? As in the prophecy? Was it not referring to one of the children after all?”
Lucius felt slightly lost in the conversation, but did his best to hide it, assimilating the information for further consideration. He was insulted on some level that Severus had been entrusted with more information than he had been. What prophecy?
“It would appear not. I have managed to establish that he arrived back,” he stressed the word, “in the country last year, and he initiated contact with Dumbledore as opposed to being an existing acquaintance. He also celebrated his birthday just over three months ago while in the middle of a muggle war zone, an experience he lamented entirely.”
Watching his father’s face, Lucius was intrigued. While sounding inconsequential, the facts Severus revealed seem to be engineered to set the man on edge. He had lost some of his complexion, and now sat rigidly clutching the cane in both hands.
“You were wise to bring the information here. I will contact the dark lord so that we can assess this new threat. Hurricane, you say? An odd name.”
Severus inclined his head. “An alias, as I said.”
His father stood up. “I will take my leave then. No doubt you wish to visit with your godson before you leave – Narcissa was in the nursery with him when I passed by earlier.”
“Severus. Lucius.” The slight dip of the head was followed by his swift exit. Lucius turned his attention back to Severus.
“Perhaps you can tell me more about this prophecy on our way?”
His reply was a quirk of the brow. “Perhaps.”
The Burrow was a lively place. A few more members were present than were at the last meeting, including Remus Lupin, who was greeted enthusiastically by Sirius and James.
Once they were all settled in the expanded living room, Albus started the proceedings by first going over the results of their research teams. Next followed a report by the few aurors amongst them regarding suspicious activity and who could be assigned to investigate. Sirius, as usual, volunteered for most of them, but again, as usual, was denied by Moody almost every time.
Remus knew that Sirius did it to irritate the auror, but since the man was unaware of Sirius’ Animagus state, he also knew that Albus would assign quite a few of those missions to him behind Moody’s back.
Finally, they reached the point that everyone was seemingly the most eager for. The new member, Hurricane.
Albus and Moody described with a bit of detail how they had tested him during their analysis, but Remus held his opinion reserved until he met the man. He knew first hand how well someone could hide something if they built their world around it.
Really, how many people in the room knew what he was? Moody certainly didn’t.
“I asked him to be here by four, so he should be arriving any moment now. Does anyone have any questions?”
While Albus addressed a few questions from Emmeline and Sturgis, Sirius elbowed him in the side.
“How did the research go, Moony?”
He smiled back tiredly. “Not too well. We were denied entry into the city at first, and had to go through the application procedure a second time before they granted us access. It turns out that is rather standard procedure. Helps them separate the opportunists from those that are really interested.”
Sirius snorted. “Rather you than me, buddy.”
A knock sounded on the door. Disturbed that he hadn’t heard the crack of apparition, Remus looked expectantly at the entrance where Arthur was heading.
The door opened up to reveal a man around their age. He wore muggle attire, blue jeans and a light blue sweater, and looked very un-alarming indeed.
Remus’ hackles rose. The wolf in him recognized a dangerous man.
Albus called him over. “Welcome, Hurricane! I’d like to introduce you to our humble resistance group. We call ourselves the Order of the Phoenix.” Hurricane nodded at the few members sitting closer to where he was standing. “We have spoken amongst ourselves at length, and would like to formally request that you join us. What do you say?”
The newcomer smiled, but his eyes remained dejected. Were those…? Yes. Contacts.
“Considering how much of a target I’m about to become, I’d be honoured, sir.”
“Splendid, my boy! Come, let us stop for tea and I will introduce you to everyone.”
Arthur, playing host, flicked his wand to and fro and teacups danced in from the kitchen. He was not as good as Molly was at the skill, but he managed to supply every hand in the room with tea as Albus made the rounds with the stranger.
“What do you think?” Sirius quipped from his side as James pulled his chair to face them. Lily walked off with Harry, presumably to join Molly and the other children in the backyard.
“Quiet, unassuming fellow, wouldn’t you say?”
“Not bloody likely.” Sirius lowered his voice. “What you don’t know is that he’s been hanging out with Snivellus.”
James looked at Sirius with utter disbelief on his face. “What part of keeping that a secret did you miss?” Remus raised his eyebrows. This was a different development.
“Oh, come on, Prongs! It’s Moony!”
Remus looked between his two friends as a very uncomfortable silence descended. “Did I miss something?” They stared at each other for a moment longer, before James relented and filled him in on recent events. He was shocked when they were done, but he couldn’t even voice a question as Albus was suddenly next to them.
“You’ve already met James and Sirius, but this here is Remus Lupin. Remus, this is Hurricane.” The headmaster’s eyes sparkled and he felt like he had just missed a hidden instruction.
“Pleased to meet you, Mr Lupin.” Up close the contacts were even more obvious, but now he could see that they were coloured. Every stitch of clothing he wore were new, and he moved with a centre of balance that you only saw in warriors.
“The pleasure is all mine.” He felt odd shaking the man’s hand. “I understand you are a seer?”
“Oh no! I just have knowledge of the future, another life as it may seem.”
“So, is there hope for the Cannons at all?”
Hurricane’s face lit up with a large grin. It was such a stunning transformation from the almost emotionless expression the man had been wearing that he could feel Sirius start next to him. Even Dumbledore preened with contentment. “Not unless you replace the entire team and supply them all with Felix Felicis.”
James snorted undignifiedly into his tea.
“Can I leave you here for a moment, my boy? The only person you haven’t met is Molly Weasley, and I believe she is outside with the children.”
“I can make my way outside if it is acceptable.” He nodded at the three friends. “I hope we can talk more at some point.” He placed his cup on the nearby tray and wandered off.
Albus waited a moment before he grabbed the cup and secreted it away in his sleeve. He then raised an eyebrow at them, innocent expression on his face. He departed with a “What?”.
Remus shook his head.
“Now, about what you were saying earlier?”
Chapter 9: Chapter 9
It was much later when Arthur walked into the kitchen to find Molly and Lily comparing recipes that they noticed something was amiss. Arthur, having just come from the lounge, had assumed that Hurricane was still talking to Molly outside, so finding the two women quite settled in the kitchen came as a bit of a surprise.
He was immediately on guard. “Where’s Hurricane?”
Molly snapped her eyes to her husband’s, and then turned a panicked gaze towards the back door as she rushed to stand up. Lily, having picked up on the undercurrent of their unspoken conversation, was at the door first. Her countenance relaxed immediately though, and when she gestured at them to be quiet she had a tiny smile on her face. Molly and Arthur crowded behind the door with her to peek at the scene outside.
There was Hurricane, sitting on the grass flying a very excitable Ron through the air to a narrative. Around him four little redheads and two brunettes were gaping at him in rapt attention, the younger ones squealing in delight as he banked Ron to the side.
“…and then I dived down through the clouds, the dragon hot on my tail, when I saw a bridge to the side! I turned as sharply as I could to pass underneath it,” Ron was dipped in a pretend-bridge-avoidance manoeuvre, “and the chain around the dragon’s neck tangled around the supports. The dragon was stuck! I took a wide curve back to the arena,” again Ron was the method of illustration, “where I snatched the dragon egg from the nest to emerge victorious in the second task!” Hurricane tossed Ron up in the air before placing him on the ground once more.
“Did you get burnt?”
“Do you have a scar?”
Hurricane grinned and pulled his sweater up to show them his lower back. “It’s not the same dragon, but another one managed to scar me earlier this year.” He pointed at the three predominant welts across his skin.
The adults cringed. There were quite a few more scars visible.
“I want to see a dragon too!”
“You will have to wait until Charlie is grown up, I’m afraid.”
The boy in question leaned forward. “Me? Why?”
Hurricane ruffled his hair affectionately. “Because you’re going to be a dragon wrangler one day.”
Charlie’s jaw dropped open, then he grinned broadly and exclaimed, “That’s bloody brilliant!”
“And me? And me?” Little Percy was tugging insistently on the man’s sleeve.
Hurricane scooped him up and twirled him once. “Why don’t you work hard to be the Minister of Magic one day?”
Arthur withdrew from the door then, guiding Molly along so they could not be overheard outside. He stood for a moment, not knowing what to say, feeling guilty for his premature judgement.
“Don’t worry about it Arthur. Given the circumstances, I think he would understand that you were worried for your children.” Molly knew him too well, and he hugged her tightly. “Just treat him fairly, and I’m sure he will prove to be a good friend.”
Nodding, he leaned back slightly. “So, a dragon wrangler and the minister, hmm?”
Molly clicked her tongue at him. “He never said Percy actually held the office, you know. But he is such a stickler for the rules…” She huffed. “I can’t say I’m happy about the dragons though.”
Arthur laughed, determined not to comment on it.
He really loved his family.
Severus assessed his guest as he approached the Hogwarts gates. Hurricane did not have a depressed air as he was dreading, so hopefully their meeting today would be more productive than it would have been otherwise.
The man jogged his last few steps in a show of youthful energy that Severus most certainly did not feel anymore. “Good afternoon. Thanks for agreeing to see me again after I was so rude last time.”
“Disintegrating into a whimpering emotional wreck is hardly considered rude.”
The man blushed at the reference. “I meant about apparating so suddenly, but I’m sorry about that too.”
Well. He had planned a much subtler inquiry into the subject, but far be it from him to pass up an opportunity like this. “What makes you believe doing so was rude?”
Hurricane kicked at a stone on the pathway as they made their way to the castle. A student next to the entrance was gaping quite openly at the sight of him with a guest, and he glared back until she hurriedly gathered her belongings and ran off.
“I’m muggle raised, so I’m not familiar with what is socially acceptable in wizarding circles, but I have noticed that no-one else ever apparates out of Hogwarts, not even Dumbledore. If it wasn’t rude, then why doesn’t anyone do it?”
Interesting. The man was either oblivious to the wards, or not affected by them. Powerful, or an anomaly.
He wasn’t sure which he would prefer.
He stalled their conversation until they arrived in the privacy of his rooms where he had arranged for some tea. The house-elves had prepared everything exactly as per his instructions. Having the little blighters around was nice change from what he was used to.
As they settled down, Hurricane with a tiny sugary confection to accompany his drink, he broached the abandoned conversation again. “How familiar are you with wards?”
Hurricane stared at his biscuit in thought. “I’ve dealt with blood wards, security wards, perimeter wards and repelling wards. Why?”
“How do you experience these wards when standing inside a warded area? Ones cast by someone else, mind you, not yourself.”
The other man frowned. “I’m not sure what you mean.”
“When you apparated out of Hogwarts, did you feel any resistance to your magic?”
Slow realisation dawned on Hurricane’s face. “You’re telling me there is some sort of anti-apparition ward around Hogwarts?”
“Not some sort. The strongest there is, the same as in the ministry and any other key defensive location. Wards regular wizards notice upon entering and are bound by.”
Severus merely stared at him. There was no elation at this discovery. He wondered if Hurricane understood the enormity of the situation.
“I presume you now understand why the rest of us mortals obey some non-descript social code?” A nod. “So, if you wish to blend in with Joe Public, you will find a way to identify these wards to spare yourself future embarrassment?”
Hurricane grimaced. “This is going to cost me another basilisk scale, isn’t it?”
The idea had immense appeal. Here he was offering what little advice could be found his shrivelled black heart and he was being rewarded for it. “I would graciously accept.”
Their conversation turned to the more serious topic of the potion of despair.
“Tell me about the location where the potion is kept. If we cannot move the basin, perhaps we can detain the drinker in a safe area.” He reached for a shortbread biscuit.
“It’s in a cave. The basin is in the centre of a small island, maybe five meters in diameter, surrounded by an underground lake infested with inferi.”
Severus stilled. Hurricane had to be joking, although he didn’t look it. “Inferi.”
He flicked a few drops of tea from his fingers where his inattention had caused the biscuit to dunk a bit deeper than he had intended. “How many people can enter the cave at once?”
“I don’t think there was a limit, but only two people can fit into the boat to cross the lake. Oh! I can apparate in and out, does that help?” He hesitated as though he was about to use a name, but corrected himself. “No one else could.”
“I highly doubt you will be able to apparate under the influence of this potion. Have you ever been exposed to a dementor?”
A dark look crossed Hurricane’s face. “More times than I care to count. I learnt to cast a Patronus when I was thirteen.”
More shocking information. “Imagine that feeling originating within yourself, a place where an incantation cannot reach. How likely are you to apparate then?”
“I see your point. So, I can’t do this alone after all.”
“The person you are trying to protect – how did you discover his death if you were not there to witness it?”
“I may as well tell you who he is, but you have to promise me you will not expose him.”
Severus raised an eyebrow, amused that he thought a promise would bind him.
“You have my word.”
“Regulus Black took Kreacher, his house elf, along to the cave. He was the first to discover the items the dark lord had created. He had a duplicate with him that he replaced in the basin after he had drunk the contents, and he asked Kreacher to make sure the thing was destroyed.” Hurricane clenched his hands between his legs. “His body was among the inferi when we went there next. I recognised him from the Black family tapestry.”
Regulus Black, defect? Having seen no evidence to support this tale, he would have to tread carefully indeed. “He would have been in no condition to fight off the horde after imbibing the liquid. How long do we have to prepare?”
He received a shrug in reply. “I’m not actually sure when he died, just how. I’ve placed charms at the cave entrance to notify me if anyone crosses them though, so I will be able to stop him at least.”
Severus thought for a moment. Perhaps this was not entirely complicated after all.
“Let him finish his task then. Allow him to cross the lake and empty the basin, but rescue him before the inferi relieve him of life. That way he will be even more deserving of recognition for his deeds.” Hurricane bit his lip. Severus could see he was not wholly convinced, but could not fault the idea entirely. “Think on it then.”
“I should. I mean, I will.”
Placing his cup on the low table he inquired, “Was there anything else?”
Hurricane’s eyes had landed on the mantle above the fireplace, where a single photo of Lily stood. “Have you made amends with her yet?”
Internally he sighed. He did not need the man prying into his personal life. “No.”
“May I make a suggestion then?”
Severus narrowed his eyes at him. Judging by his hesitation and body language, he was quite aware that he was overstepping a boundary, yet he was making the attempt anyway.
“If you feel compelled to do so.”
Hurricane fidgeted. “You know about the Wolfsbane potion, right?”
It sounded familiar, but he could not place it immediately. “Vaguely.”
“It’s for werewolves.”
Ah, that was it. Retention of their sanity during their monthly transformations, with the added benefit of reduced pain. Expensive ingredient list and at a master brewer competency level. Invented by Damocles. He could see where this was going.
“You could arrange to meet with her, tell her you have something for her that she could pass on to a mutual acquaintance. Even if she never wanted to see you again, she would do it for Remus.”
“I am hardly rolling in Galleons, Hurricane. To brew a steady supply of Wolfsbane would render me insolvent in a fortnight.”
The man had the audacity to grin at him. “Well, then it’s a good thing you’re about to receive a large gift from an unknown benefactor who would like to see if you can improve the formula, isn’t it?”
Chapter 10: Chapter 10
From where he sat in the dingy little office, Remus could not physically see Lily at all. His eyes were instead trained on the screen in front of him where he was watching Severus and her having an involved discussion. Potions, if his lipreading was worth anything. The camera angle was not the best.
He had been forced into this avenue of spying because Severus would have noticed any magically aided observation, and he had promised James he would watch over this meeting. After a quick discussion with the security guard (childhood friends meeting up but her husband didn’t trust the man, no, not police but private investigator) he was allowed access to the centre’s security cameras.
He had found the two of them on the big monitor and the guard had switched that camera view onto a separate analogue screen to the side. His rapt attention to the screen pleased the guard, who continued with his duties behind him. Every now and then he heard the lazy slurp of coffee, but he was not offered any.
Partially through their discussion another face moving past the camera closest to him on the big monitor caught his attention. Turning his head slightly, he watched as the newest member of the order walked into the store opposite the coffee shop he was watching. Sirius’ words came back to him – ’he’s been hanging out with Snivellus’ – and he wondered what the connection there was. If Severus was indeed a spy as Sirius had so clumsily revealed to him under James’ watchful eyes, then he wondered how this newcomer had discovered that fact. Or was it his knowledge of the future?
There was something very odd about that.
Determined to watch both screens for anything suspicious, he sighed in relief when Lily and Severus finally stood up. She hugged him lightly, not something he was going to report to James, before taking the parcel Severus had placed on the table quite early during the meeting.
That could be a problem, but he had no way to inspect it until later. He stood up as well, noting that Hurricane was still meandering in the record store. He should be able to head him off in case he was up to something.
Thanking the security guard and passing on his ‘card’, he left in a hurry. He was on the second floor, and ducked into the bathroom to send his patronus off to James to tell him the meeting was over and nothing damning happened. He mentioned the parcel as well, then rushed back out just in time to see Hurricane walking out of the shop with a shopping bag under one arm.
He jogged to catch up with him, but Hurricane suddenly stopped, pose rigid. He had somehow been noticed. Instead of making himself scarce though, the man turned around with determination in his eyes which relaxed as his eyes settled on Remus. He smiled as he waited for the werewolf to come within range, and Remus belatedly wondered if he was doing a wise thing approaching this man on his own.
“Good afternoon Mr Lupin.”
“I don’t stand on ceremony much, so just Remus, please. Are you in a hurry?”
Hurricane cast a longing look at the exit, but shook his head. “No.”
“Can I correctly assume that it is no coincidence that you and I are both here today?”
The man sighed, but there was slight smile on his face. “Shall we sit down somewhere for this discussion?” He indicated towards the coffee shop that Lily and Severus had left moments ago.
Trepidation stalled Remus, and the ever-present feeling of being at someone else’s mercy welled stronger within him. He had a few galleons on him, but if he spent anything in an extravagant shop like that he would have to go without food for a few days, and he could not ask James for more.
Hurricane was already walking towards a table though, so he followed dejectedly, regretting his actions ever so slightly. A waitress was already at the table when he sat down, and to his further dismay Hurricane ordered tea for them both as well as a slice of chocolate cake.
Something must have shown on his face, since the man smiled guiltily and offered up, “My treat.”
He wondered how much Hurricane knew about him.
“Did your future sight include today’s meeting?”
Hurricane shook his head. “No. I’ve… interfered with the Potters’ lives to the extent where I no longer have any idea about their future. I was here only to make sure that Snape and Mrs Potter made amends. Snape… he needs it.”
Remus considered that for a moment. The only interference he knew of was the night You-know-who attacked. His eyes widened in realisation. “They would have died that night if it wasn’t for you and… him, wouldn’t they?”
An exasperated look crossed the other man’s face. “I figured Sirius wouldn’t be able to keep his big mouth shut. His involvement has to remain the utmost secret; I hope you understand.”
“You are friends then? You and…?”
A nervous fidget and a shrug. “In a way, I suppose. He would probably never admit to it though.”
A plate with a slice of decadent chocolate cake was deposited in front of him, and Remus damn near salivated at the monstrosity. This was a luxury he was not permitted often. Looking up, he saw the other man blink rapidly, his eyes glistening as he avoided the gaze. The silence stretched for a bit.
“Sorry. I just… you reminded me of someone.” Hurricane rubbed both hands over his face, but the small reprieve didn’t seem enough to calm his emotions and he stared at his cake from between his fingers.
Remus’ heart went out to the man, and he felt his reserve crumbling. “This may be presumptuous of me, but would you like to talk about it? You seem like you’ve lost someone recently, and in my experience, it helps to talk about it.”
The eyes travelled to his face, perhaps judging his intentions. “My whole life. That’s what I’ve lost. Snape told me that I shouldn’t expect things from people just because I know more about them than I should, and it hit me hard, you know?” He mauled the cake with his fork, taking a bite to prevent himself from saying more, it seemed.
“How did you meet him? Snape, I mean.”
“Probably in the worst way. I plan to change his future though; he doesn’t deserve to suffer all the things fate has in store for him.”
“You seem very protective of him.”
Hurricane’s gaze grew determined. “He deserves it. He is the bravest and most loyal man I have ever met. Just look at him with Lily – look at what he is prepared to do to make sure she stays safe. I would do anything to have someone that dedicated to me.”
It was an assessment of Severus’ character that Remus was unprepared for, and he felt terrible when he considered his involvement – or lack thereof – during their school years. He respected the man’s skills with potions, and even the dark arts, and he knew enough of broken homes to guess at Severus’ upbringing. His own insecurity at his condition had driven him to make an enemy of someone simply because his friends didn’t like them.
“That dedication makes James a very jealous husband. Severus will have to tread lightly around him.”
“I don’t expect them to become best friends or anything. Snape would have blamed himself for Lily’s death his entire life, so I’m just making sure that they clear the air between them. If things go as planned, they will not be the only ones to benefit from this arrangement.” Hurricane pointed at the cake. “You should eat yours. It’s going to be one of your favourites.”
Amused at the inflection as well as the distraction, he tasted a morsel. It was decadent indeed. “So, what can you tell me about my life?” he tried.
Hurricane smiled at him. “You will be happy. You may have to wait a while for her, but you will be lovely together.”
“Will you give me a hint when the time comes?” he asked mischievously.
The other man thought for a moment. “Only if you help me arrange a pick-up quidditch match in two weeks’ time.” He glanced at the clock down the passage. “You should probably start heading home soon. You may be receiving a visit from a friend.”
Curious as to who he might be referring to, Remus finished his cake and stood. “I’m glad we spoke today.”
“Me too. I’ll contact you with my plans for the match, if that is acceptable?”
Remus nodded. “May I ask why a quidditch match?”
Hurricane pulled a few bills from his wallet – another new item – and wedged them under a saucer on the table before standing as well. “A devious plot on my behalf to make friends. Your comment at the meeting triggered the idea, actually.”
He laughed. They nodded their goodbyes to each other, and Remus considered all he had learnt. Many of his fears were laid to rest, but he couldn’t shake the fact that he was missing an important detail. Something didn’t add up… he just had to figure out what.
The visit from Lily and James that evening was not just a surprise, it was staggering. Remus sat, clutching the bottle of smoking liquid between two shaking hands, unable to process what he was hearing.
He was holding the Wolfsbane potion.
A ray of hope had dawned upon him two years prior when he had read through an article based on the relatively new invention called the Wolfsbane potion. It represented a possible future for him – the painful transformations that rendered him useless for up to a week afterwards could be a thing of the past. He even entertained thoughts of studying further, securing employment, supporting himself instead of relying on James…
But harsh reality had shattered his hopes when his research had revealed the exorbitant list of ingredients, to not even mention the extremely involved procedure the creation entailed. It was a cruel tease of a potion, dangled quite definitely out of his reach.
Yet here he was.
A tear dropped onto his wrist and he sniffed unbecomingly, hugging the bottle to his chest while bowing his head to hide his face. Lily rubbed his back reassuringly.
In front of him, James had dropped onto his knees and was resting the top of his head against his shoulder in silent support. It only made him cry harder as he cocooned himself in the warmth of his friends, their understanding a comfortable blessing.
Even little Harry had sensed that something was up, and was standing looking rather lost in the middle of the room, his game of running and jumping on the couch forgotten.
“Remus, are you listening?”
He shook his head. “I lost you a while ago, Lils. I just can’t believe… I don’t understand how…” He loosened his grip to stare at the tendrils of smoke traveling through the liquid.
“I didn’t realise that something like this existed. Why didn’t you say something?” James looked at him askance.
“It costs a fortune to brew this. Once per lunar cycle. I couldn’t ask that of you, James.”
“I would have done it for you, Moony. You know that.”
Remus shook his head. “None of us have the skill to brew it either. It really wasn’t an option.”
“Severus said he will need detailed reports afterwards in order to analyse the potion. Do you think you will be able to manage that?”
Furrowing his brow, he wiped his face before raising his head to look at Lily. “What does he need that for?”
She smiled at him fondly, but it turned into a grimace as Harry ran full blast into her knees. “You really weren’t listening. He said that he has a benefactor, someone interested in improving the potion if it is possible. Apparently, the man has a godson afflicted with lycanthropy, and he hopes that it could eventually cure him. Harry, no,” she admonished the boy from pulling her top too low and scooted him back onto the floor. “That’s why he is offering the potion to you for free. He needs a willing test subject.
“You can say no, though,” she added quietly.
He didn’t need to think about it. “I’ll do it.” He saw the pride in her eyes, and looked to James to see his reaction.
James was studying the floor, but when he noticed that he was under scrutiny he looked up. “As much as I despise the man, even I can tell that this is a rare opportunity for you, Remus. I say go for it, but be on your guard. Just in case.”
He nodded, grateful for the support. They talked a bit more, but for some reason he refrained from mentioning his encounter with Hurricane. The man had known, he realised, what this visit was going to be about.
Since he had already admitted to not having insight into James and Lily’s future anymore, he had to have had a hand in the arrangements. How could only one possible path of the future be visible to someone? Divination just didn’t work like that.
It was much later as he was lying in bed making a list of what he recalled from his current transformations that the idea struck him. Hurricane could know a future if he had lived it, couldn’t he? The way he spoke definitely fit the theory, and that cryptic comment about having lost his entire life…
He turned the page and quickly penned a note to Albus asking him if he could make use of the school library. He would send it first thing tomorrow morning.
Chapter 11: Chapter 11
More plot setup than fun this chapter, but the next one will be better!
He was ambushed in Hogsmeade.
Preceding his meeting with Lily he had been a symphony of knots. This stress had gradually bled off during their discussion to the point where he felt as young as he had been during their school years when they first had their fallout. It was a liberating feeling to know that the ray of kindness in his life had returned, and he was determined to keep it that way.
And then this.
He sneered viciously as he grabbed Bellatrix by the hair and ripped her away from him, her wand at his throat no threat to his superior reflexes. She snarled as she crashed into her husband who made no effort to catch her at all.
“Uncivilized wretch. Attack me like that again and I will imperious you into a muggle brothel for a fortnight!” She scrambled to her feet, and he glared at Rudolphus. “Explain yourself.”
“The dark lord is missing. My sources tell me you have some information on his whereabouts.”
“Listening at doorways is terribly unbecoming, Rudolphus, and hardly ever divulge the answers we seek. I have reported what I know to those much closer to our lord’s confidence than you, so our business here is concluded.” Severus made to leave, but was once again stopped by a wand poking at his thyroid.
“I will not perpetuate rumour. Speak with Malfoy Senior if you wish, but do that at your own peril.” He stepped back to remove the annoyance from his throat, then walked around the simmering couple to the end of the alley. “I suggest you ingratiate yourselves by some other means.”
He remained on high alert all the way to Hogwart’s gates, and even then he scanned the area to make sure they had left. The school grounds were dotted with students, but since it was not a Hogsmeade weekend they should all be within the boundary of the wards. He could not afford to heave Bellatrix lay her hands on a student, Merlin knows they would wish they never survived an ordeal like that.
He snapped a point deduction at the first imbecile to block his path, but kept striding steadily towards the headmaster’s office, his cloak billowing behind him. Belatedly he noted that more students seem to flee his path than normal, and he glanced at his reflection in one of the large windows that dropped down on the side of the building.
The menacing shape of his cloak met his approval, and he committed his steps to memory.
Reconsidering his destination, he made for his quarters instead. He could comfortably send a message to Albus from there without any of his students being aware of the contact between him and the headmaster.
The ambush on the Longbottoms happened the following Tuesday. Harry had been setting up the finishing touches on the secret panel that was to house the destroyed horcruxes when the message from Moody arrived. He apparated on the spot, only to arrive in pure chaos.
Apparently, he had been the last to be called, as a battle was well under way. Four aurors were making good use of the cover in the building, streaks of red and orange flying from their wands. To his left he could see his dad – no, James – levitating an ornate desk over to where a death eater must have been hiding, for a body hurtled out of the hiding place as the heavy thing came crashing down.
He ducked towards the blond form of Alastor Moody, expertly jumping over the flying debris to get there.
“They have Frank and Alice in the basement, try not to bring the building down on them!” was the instruction shouted at him when Moody spotted his approach. He immediately changed direction, but a fizzling red spell had him duck down out of harm’s way. He cast a shield around himself, and quickly assessed the situation.
Bellatrix’s curls were visible from behind a pillar, and a moment later his godf…, no, Sirius, came flying backwards from where he must have been battling her. Harry was not looking for her though, he was on the lookout for Rabastian, the more vicious of the lot. He finally spotted the thin figure near the staircase where he was deftly fighting two aurors off.
The leglocker curse he fired caught Rabastian on the shin, and he crashed down the stairs in a flurry of limbs. The opening gave the aurors the opportunity to stun and bind him, and Harry ticked the man off his list.
The remaining death eaters seemed to number only two, and Harry frantically looked around for Rudolphus. Unable to locate him he dashed for the stairs, but a dazzling green light stopped his progress again. A cry behind him sounded; an auror was down.
Furious that someone was hurt when he should be preventing these things, he turned his wand on the attacker – Bartemius – and engaged him with an overwhelming volley of spells. To the death eater’s side, a renewed attack came from James, who was standing guard over Sirius’ form.
Reversing and deflecting proved to not be enough. A gash appeared on the enemy’s arm as his leg broke under him and a spray of blood from his brow obscured his vision. Disarming him and binding him was now an easy task, and he flung the captured wand towards the stationary marauder. Objective clear, he flew towards the stairs as he heard Bellatrix cry out in dismay as she too was incapacitated behind him.
In the dark of the basement he could smell blood. Quietly he stepped over a body – one of the aurors that was upstairs earlier, still breathing – and merged with the shadows against the wall. This trick worked a lot better in the camouflage of the woods where shadows moved continuously, but it would have to make do for now.
Shallow breathing could be heard deeper in, and he slowly worked his way there. Suddenly he stopped, a low magical hum alerting him to the trap that lay nearby. His eyes, having adjusted to the darkness, made out the shape of the missing death eater, wand at another’s throat. Another vague outline denoted a body on the floor, and he squinted at it. It was Frank Longbottom, and he appeared to be petrified.
He could release the spell holding the man since the cancelation spell didn’t emit any light, and he proceeded to do so. The body jerked slightly, then stilled. A hand crept forward towards the foot at his face.
Harry couldn’t move further forward without triggering the trap, so he waited for Frank to make his move. The hand crept forward at a steady pace, and Harry wondered if he could transfigure the man’s cuff unto a blade. The distance was a bit much, but he was sure if he focused enough he would be able to assert his will on the cloth.
The hand stilled as the wizard realised something was happening at his wrist, only to twist around to grab onto the two-inch blade that was suddenly hanging from his sleeve. Much more confident now, the hand crept towards the ankle until with a last quick stab, the blade was buried in the flesh. A sickening elastic snap was accompanied by a shriek as the death eater collapsed to the side.
Harry, now not worried about being discovered anymore, fired a spell to cushion the female’s fall and summoned Rudolphus’ wand towards him. Unfortunately, the moving object triggered the trap in front of him and he stepped back in shock as a wall of flame sprung up in the darkness. Blinded by the intense light, he felt the lightweight wand hit his chest and clatter to the floor.
More voices joined them then, and Harry did his best to move back towards the wall so that he wasn’t obstructing anyone from getting to the men on the other side. A scuffle sounded and the shrieking quieted down. A heavy hand settled onto his shoulder, and he blinked in the direction where he thought the connecting body was.
“Splendid work, Hurricane. Let’s get you outside so we can see what the damage is.” Moody guided him out, and while he could tell that he was now in a much brighter environment, the massive black spot that encompassed his vision didn’t allow much else. He was seated on a chair that felt rather rickety as someone knelt in front of him.
“It’s just flash-blindness. It will disappear in a few minutes. Stay here for a bit, m’kay?” the voice told him.
He nodded, but called out after the retreating man, “Was anyone injured?”
“Minor injuries mostly,” came the reply, “Black took a curse to his side though. He’s alive but unconscious, and they are taking him to St. Mungos now.”
Not entirely satisfied with the answer, he sat back and waited for his vision to return. He was sure Moody would debrief him once they had everything sorted, he just had to wait until then.
The pale bored expression on his face didn’t falter. From a young age Lucius had been taught to school his expressions, and revealing the abject disgust he was feeling right now would be a one-way ticket to a land of pain. Standing behind his father, he wrapped a cloth around his arm where the magical dagger had prevented a healing charm.
His blood mixed into the sludge inside the massive cauldron and a shiver crawled up his back. His eyes travelled to the flask of liquid silver that was to be added next.
Unicorn blood. Damning stuff.
Against the wall there was movement.
“I told you not to move!” His father snarled at the dirty form of Peter Pettigrew.
Peter Pettigrew. Who would have thought.
“Idiot. Who knows how long you would have bumbled along without the proper knowledge if I hadn’t investigated. Your incompetence could have delayed the dark lord’s return by years!” The flask was upended into the mix. Lucius was sure Severus would have been able to turn the process into a thing of beauty, but with his father leading the proceedings it was nothing short of a mess.
His father stirred the contents for a long time. “Lucius, fetch the body.”
Oh damn. He was hoping his father would ask the Gryffindor to do that. He bowed his head and left the room to collect the corpse that used to be the dark lord. He blanched at the sight.
The body, while under a preservative charm, had still deteriorated. It was stretched skin over bones now, white and pasty and nasty. Gone were the slightly handsome features, replaced with a stomach-churning grimace where the lips had receded over the now yellowing teeth. He levitated the thing back to where his father was waiting.
For a moment he considered incinerating it. No more dark lord would mean his family would be free of this madness… but he knew better. They would never be able to escape his father.
He was no longer the naïve teenager that allowed himself to be swayed with talk of superiority and conquest. There was no room for peers in the dictator driven world the dark lord envisaged, only servants and slaves. His father, though, had thrown in their lot with a man that would bring the world to its knees, and the best he could do for his family was to ensure that he remained in the upper echelon of the former.
That was another secret he carried. Narcissa was his world. And little Draco… he would do anything to keep that bundle of happiness safe. If that meant being stoic and aloof and barely interacting with his son in public, then so be it. If his father, or any other death eater for that matter, discovered the depth of his devotion they would definitely be held against him. He would become the puppet, and he was sure he didn’t want anyone to pull his strings.
“Lower him into the cauldron when I say.” The body moved closer under his direction, then stilled awaiting his father’s command. “Now!”
He cancelled the spell, and the liquid burped as the corpse was dragged under. A swirl of magic left everyone in the room with ample anticipation.
And then a hand emerged.
His father stepped forward, holding black robes out in offering. They were collected from his grasp and donned by the man that now stood from the cauldron.
His father dropped onto one knee, and he followed suit. A quick glance in his direction was the only acknowledgement of his presence.
“My lord, welcome back.” Against the wall Pettigrew strained against the manacles.
“You have interfered with my plans, Abraxas.”
“Pettigrew lost the book you entrusted to him, my liege. He was experimenting with crafting souls onto animals as parasites when I discovered him.”
Lucius risked a glance at the dark lord’s face. The features were gaunt and corpselike, not much of an improvement from his previous state.
His father stood up to offer the wooden trophy. Reaching for it, the dark lord flung out his arm and against the wall Pettigrew exploded. Lucius suppressed a shudder as some of the gore landed on his cheek.
“My lord, I also have news of the man that seems to have been responsible for your state.”
“Let us go somewhere more comfortable to discuss what has transpired.” He took a few steps, then stalled. “Why does it feel like my power is seeping out of me?”
“The ritual relied on unicorn blood, my lord. I have a supply ready that will maintain your body until we can procure the necessary components that will restore you permanently.”
His father drew a book out of his pocket. “If we are unable to obtain the elixir of life, there is another ritual that requires the blood of your enemy – here.” He handed the open book over.
The dark lord studied the book for a moment, before handing it back.
“I will need a new Animagus. Perhaps someone of your intellect will be more suited to the task, Lucius.”
Dread pooling in his stomach, he nodded. “I will start immediately, my lord.”
“And contact Severus. His connection with Dumbledore will put him in a much more favourable position to obtain the elixir.”
Their footsteps echoed outside the corridor.
Chapter 12: Chapter 12
This one is a bit longer since I wanted to end the chapter with a certain scene, but I misjudged how long the preceding ones would be.
Saturday morning saw Harry in the headmaster’s office once more. The tension was thick in the air when he entered, and he forewent his usual greeting. “What happened?”
Dumbledore gestured for him to take a seat, and a cup of tea appeared near his elbow. He took it gratefully, blowing the steam from the hot liquid.
“As you predicted, You-know-who has returned.” Snape’s pensive mood suddenly made sense. “He has instructed Severus to suss out where the elixir of life is hidden, based on my acquaintance with Nicholas Flamel.”
Harry nodded. “It’s not hidden though, is it?”
Dumbledore shook his head. “No.” He peered over his glasses. “You are familiar with the philosopher’s stone then?”
Shifting in his seat, he sipped his tea. “I am.”
“Are you familiar with the steps we took to safeguard the stone in your timeline?”
For a moment he considered telling Dumbledore that they destroyed it immediately, but he opted for the truth. It wasn’t as though he was a nosey student at the moment. “You hid the stone here at Hogwarts behind multiple defensive systems arranged by a few of the professors.”
Snape sighed. “I am to fail in this quest then.”
Harry blinked, understanding the implication. “He came after the stone himself in my timeline, but since his resurrection wasn’t common knowledge you actually helped protect the stone when it was under threat. Didn’t they ask you to get a hold of me?”
The dark eyes slid to his. “And why would they have asked that of me?”
“After failing to obtain the stone, the dark lord switched his method to another ritual, one that requires the blood of his enemy. I was hoping they would forego the elixir route entirely.”
“So, we should render the stone unobtainable to force them to consider the ritual?” The resignation was back in his voice, and Harry hurried to explain.
“Dumbledore hid the stone in the mirror of Erised under an enchantment that enabled only the person that wanted to find the stone, not use it, to be able to locate it again. If you give that information to him, the dark lord will have to find someone that fits the criteria. Someone that doesn’t know what the stone does most likely.” He looked back at Dumbledore. “His options will be limited.”
“The mirror of Erised, you say.” The headmaster stroke his beard, deep in thought. “I wonder where I would have obtained that from. Could you describe it to me?”
“It’s an enormous mirror with an inscription on top. I think it’s in the room of requirement, actually,” Harry answered a bit dumbfounded. He wondered if the headmaster discovered it by accident in his timeline. “It shows you what you desire instead of a reflection.”
Dumbledore’s eyes widened in recognition. “Oh my. That mirror… What a dangerous move indeed. Men have been known to waste away in front of it…”
Harry looked down and bit his lip in shame, recalling his own experience with it. Snape glanced at him sideways. “Had to be removed from it yourself, were you?”
Realising that Harry would not be forthcoming with more information, Dumbledore broke the ensuing silence. “I will arrange to transport the mirror to an unused section of the school for safekeeping while the students are asleep. As to relocating the philosopher’s stone, I will visit Nicholas as soon as I am able. As an alchemist that works from his own premises, his house will not be a safe enough location at all. I’m sure he will see reason and allow me to bring it here.”
“Is Gringotts not an option?”
“No. Breaking in there is surprisingly easy, even a student can do it.” Two disbelieving gazes turned on him, but Harry just held up his hands. “Easy, but dangerous. I am not saying anything more on the topic.”
Something in Snape’s expression made him realise that they would revisit the topic later. He wondered if he should just come clean now, but he worried that it may reveal too much about him.
“Do you need assistance moving the mirror?” he tried to divert the topic.
Dumbledore considered the offer. “It would be pleasant not to have to worry about any errant students, so I would appreciate it if you could clear the way. Would Monday evening do?” He peered over his glasses at the two of them.
Harry shrugged. Now that Voldemort was back, he could start going after the horcruxes – he wasn’t prepared to risk destroying them while the man wasn’t restored to a body. He didn’t know enough about how they worked to rule out that Voldemort wouldn’t be able to feel them being destroyed while he was a wondering soul. But there was no rush to start on that too soon. He hadn’t even planned out his final confrontation yet.
“You may stop by my quarters after detentions, roughly at eight. The students have already seen us socializing, and will think nothing of your presence.”
A happy smile lit up Dumbledore’s face and he looked at Snape warmly. “I am so proud that you have made another friend, Severus.” A murderous glare was his reply. Dumbledore merely beamed at him.
“If you are done mothering me, I have essays to mark.” Snape stood and his tea cup vanished. He inclined his head to them both, and with a soft muttering of their names he left the office.
Harry blinked at his retreat. That walk was a lot more reminiscent of his Snape than the last time they had met.
“Come, my boy, let us leave these gloomy thoughts behind us. We have a celebration to attend!” Dumbledore had stood up behind him and was manoeuvring around his desk, a length of purple fabric in his hand. “I have procured a port-key for us to take, I hope you don’t mind? They are expecting us at the Burrow shortly.” The material was extended towards him.
He felt guilty that Snape could not attend the festivities that his information had helped bring about. How many times had Snape had to be excluded from events like these in his past to conceal his status of a spy? How many times did he have to play the role of the monster while others hated him for what he had to portray to the world?
“Don’t worry about him, lad. He knows we appreciate the risks he is taking and your generous gifts have sweetened his disposition, if anything.” He twinkled at Harry. “Don’t think that I am not aware of that enormous heart he likes to terrorize his students with, or the other ingredient you obtained for him that he neglected an entire day’s worth of classes for to experiment with.”
Mouth agape, he stared at Dumbledore. “He did what?”
The portkey was nudged into his hand, and he grabbed hold more on reflex than thought. “It’s true. Five classes walked into an empty classroom with instructions on their respective essays only. Lengthy ones, due the next day. Minerva had a whole group of Gryffindors in tears when he deducted fifteen points from each of them for not using the class time to start writing. Many of them were forced to hand in incomplete work.”
Harry couldn’t help it. Knowing that he himself would have utilised it as a free period didn’t stop him from bursting out laughing. You really had to have lived a bit before you could appreciate certain things was his last thought before the portkey swept them away.
Two identical faces nearly ran into him as they sped out the door; Remus ducked to the side to let them pass. Even at the tender age of three Fred and George Weasley were absolute terrors to behold, and Arthur often regaled him with tales of their mischief.
Stepping into the kitchen he observed the organised chaos that was Molly’s kitchen. She was directing a line of pastries onto platters while simultaneously juicing a mountain of oranges into pitchers. He approached with caution.
“Molly? Arthur sent me to collect the wines he had taken out for tonight?”
She bustled right over to him. “Oh! Remus, dear, you are far too thin. Here, try one of my honeyed pears.” The puff-pastry treat was still warm when she handed it over. “Let me know what you think! I may have modified the recipe somewhat.” Then she was off again, her wand dancing in the air. “The wine is in the box behind you, just undo the sticking charm before you try to grab it.” He did as she instructed and was soon hauling the cool box back through the throng of people gathered in the backyard.
A feeling of excitement bubbled in his chest as he deposited the item on the bench Arthus had indicated. James was walking towards him, an impish grin on his face.
“Moony! How was your first sample?”
He allowed the excitement to bleed into his face as he greeted his friend. “Absolutely vile! I had my first dose yesterday, and another before I came here today. I’m so excited I could burst!”
James’ smile broadened. “You look it too. You’ve shed years since I saw you last week!”
“It sure feels like it. Where’s Sirius?”
An eyeroll. “At St. Mungos. He was hit with a localized shrinking curse, so they had to grow his colon back.” James snickered. “The idiot didn’t listen to the healers when they told him to stay horizontal during the process though, so they had to call in a specialized healer to fix the uneven growth. He sends his grumpy love.”
They laughed together over more of Sirius’s antics, and sampled a wide range of the fare. Lily joined them at one point, and he relayed his happiness again. While she shared some of the technical aspects that Severus had discussed with her, James wandered off in search of alcohol.
He returned with a tumbler in each hand just in time for Albus to thank everyone for their efforts once again, to praise the aurors for their quick response and to inform the two couples that they could finally break the fidelius on their locations. A wide cheer went up as Frank and Alice, all smiles, hugged little Neville closer.
Next to Morgana Prewitt he spotted Hurricane.
A different kind of excitement filled him. His quick stint in the library had confirmed his suspicions.
Hurricane was a time-traveller.
He was itching to walk over to the man to ask him about it, but he had enough sense to know that doing it in company was a bad idea. So he held out, half listening to the conversations going on around him and awkwardly hugging people who had indulged in a bit too much of the wine. With one eye he tracked the man’s progress around the perimeter of the venue, and when the evening started wrapping up, he made his excuses.
The atmosphere in his apartment was expectant as Harry opened up the cabinet where he had stored his impromptu spirit purchase. Selecting the bottle of firewhiskey – Remus had liked it in his timeline after all – he poured two glasses of the liquid and passed one to the werewolf on his couch. He made to taste it, but the vapour burnt his nose as he inhaled and he ended up clearing his throat instead.
“My deduction is correct then.” Remus swirled the liquid in his glass. “The things you know… you’ve lived them.”
Harry couldn’t find his voice, so he settled with a nod. He was happy to have a confidant in Remus, but disturbed that he had been seen through so easily. Who else would be able to figure it out? Would they tip off Voldemort? What if he moved the horcruxes, or worse, made more Harry wasn’t aware of?
“I won’t tell, if that’s what you’re worried about.”
“No,” Harry fought back the mild panic. “If you managed to see through me, then others will too. I will have to change my plans.” He met the blue-eyed gaze. “I may have less time than I thought.”
Remus relaxed his posture a bit. “I don’t think you have to worry about that. You know what I am, right?” He continued at the slight nod. “The closer we are to a full moon, the more my senses sharpen. You intrigued me because since the day we met – which was when my senses were declining, mind you – something in me has been afraid of you. Things like that make a man pay special attention.” He stared into the glass. “My whole life I have spent analysing people, trying to assure myself that they haven’t worked out my secret. It’s also how I know that you’ve never drunk before.”
Harry blinked in quick succession. “How did you work that out?”
The glass in the other man’s hand was raised for his inspection. “This is an absurd amount of alcohol to start with.”
Elbows on his knees, Harry dropped his head into his hands and laughed. It was such a silly thing to have screwed up. On the other couch Remus chuckled along with him, and they regarded each other for a long moment with smiles upon their faces.
“I owe you my gratitude as well.”
“For what?” Harry finally took a sip. It burnt down his throat.
“For arranging the Wolfsbane. You are Severus’ mysterious benefactor, aren’t you?”
He felt awkward. “I suppose.”
“So, the story of the godson…?” Harry must have hesitated a bit too long, since he followed up on the thought. “I had a son in your future, didn’t I. And I made you his godfather…” Remus looked shocked. “We would have had to have been close friends to do that… Who are you?”
Would it be so terrible to tell? Having a friend, someone who knew who he was, someone who could cover or vouch for him simply because of the connection they shared? Remus wouldn’t judge him…
Would it be so wrong?
“You can’t tell anyone. Please, promise me this. I’ve made my peace with the fact that while I may have a connection to some of the people here, they will never be the ones I’ve left behind. I’m trying to make friends with them, but I cannot do that if they expect me to be someone else.”
He took a gulp of the fiery liquid, hoping for the phantom courage the drink was meant to inspire.
“My name is Harry Potter.”
They drank well into the night. Remus was still reeling from the discovery that the toddler he had kissed goodnight earlier was sitting across from him as a grown man – a gentle, polite soul scarred by misery and war.
He knew instinctively that no child raised around the influence of James and Sirius would turn out like this, and there was a sad melancholy buried under the realisation.
Harry shared sweet anecdotes of people he knew, his shock at seeing Moody with two functioning legs, his amusement at Minerva’s timelessness and his exasperation at Sirius’ mistrust.
“Is it not possible to return to your timeline at all?” he had asked the burning question.
“No. Travelling forward in time… even if it were possible, there is no guarantee that I would end up in my own timeline. I’m as likely to end in a universe where the dark lord won.” He pulled a face. “No, I’ve made my peace for now. It’s not like I left anyone behind… My friends all have each other. They will mourn me, but I don’t think anyone will be exceptionally heartbroken if I’m not there.”
Remus mulled over that for a bit. “Maybe you will meet someone here.”
Harry laughed. “I’m actually so terrified of screwing up something for someone else. What if I mess up someone’s happiness instead?”
“You can hardly live your life like that. You are entitled to happiness.”
They were both quiet as they lounged on the furniture. Between them a pizza lay half-forgotten on the table.
“I envy Lily, you know? I wish I had someone as dedicated to me as Snape is to her. He spent his entire life protecting me in her memory.” He was quick to stall the protest Remus was about to voice. “I’m not blaming her for not choosing him or anything, I think he would have been a lousy dad as it were, but he was prepared to dedicate so much despite the fact that she chose someone else.
“That… that takes a lot of courage, I think.”
Remus could sympathise with the thought, even though he felt it was unrealistic. As a werewolf he had been resigned to spending his life alone, but if someone were prepared to look beyond the infliction…
Even he would jump at the opportunity. Maybe not if they had stalker tendencies like Snape, though.
He said as much, but Harry just laughed.
“I think he’s matured a bit since then. There’s nothing quite like a threat over your life to force you to grow up faster.”
That he could agree with.
They finally said their goodbyes, both a bit inebriated despite their attempts to water it down. Remus apparated home to his bachelor flat, grinned like a madman as he kissed his wolfsbane goodnight and then crawled into bed, determined to take a shower in the morning.
Harry walked through the empty corridors of Hogwarts, his wand in front of him pulsing with the rebuttal spell. If he listened closely he could hear the soft footfalls as Dumbledore levitated the mirror along between him and Snape, who brought up the rear.
A large cloth obscured it, and only the clawed feet were visible at the one end. Harry had surreptitiously collected the diadem while the others were distracted with freeing the large magical object, a feat he was quite proud of.
He had spent Sunday in the daze of a headache and had second guessed his decision to reveal himself to Remus continuously. Monday had however dawned without any major apocalypse, so he was determined to take things as they came at him.
As he rounded another corner, he spotted the room they planned to store the mirror in. He walked past it to ensure no students could approach from the other end. Once Dumbledore was inside the room though, he doubled back.
Snape joined him at the entrance and together they slid inside.
“A magnificent piece of work, isn’t it?” Dumbledore was standing in front of the revealed mirror, but instead of looking at the reflection he was studying the craftmanship of the frame.
Harry was sure it wasn’t Christmas socks he was avoiding.
Snape, oddly enough, averted his gaze with an extremely pained expression. Deathly curious, Harry held his tongue.
“We shall leave it here for now, but we must ward the room. It would be a shame if any wandering students found their way in here.” His mind went back to his discussion with Snape about wards. Was it possible the room had been warded in his timeline and he had just stumbled through them, oblivious?
Harry chanced a glance at the mirror before they left, and his shocked gasp made both his companions whirl on him in alarm. Face bright red, he held up both hands in negation.
“Sorry! I was just… The mirror…” Giving up the protest as a lost cause he clenched his eyes shut. Let them think what they will of his awkwardness. “I better go. Night!” He practically ran out of the building.
Outside the cool night air was welcoming against his heated flesh, and he dared to recall the image he had seen.
Of course the mirror had no way of interpreting his desire of having someone love him – the way Snape loves – in any other way other than the literal sense. He should have known that something like this could happen, but to see it!
Those hands on his body, that mouth on his skin, that pale back… Oh god and merlin and any other deity he couldn’t think of right now! He would never be able to look at Snape the same way again.
He apparated home in flaming embarrassment without bothering to reach the end of the wards.
Chapter 13: Chapter 13
If anyone struggles to read the dialogue in this chapter, try to ignore most of the 'r's.
If things go well I may be able to post another chapter at the end of the day!
This was wrong, and depraved.
Tuesday night Harry stood on front of that forsaken mirror once more, convinced that what he was doing was not succumbing to the lure of seeing this desire, but rather confirmation that he had seen correctly.
It was as he had feared, hoped, even. His own traitorous image reflected back at him, back arched under the ministrations that was visited upon his flesh. Long fingered hands ghosted over his skin, making slight depressions where they landed to drive mirror-Harry wilder. Mirror-Snape’s mouth was working at his neck, leaving glistening trails in his wake as the man thrashed under him. His counterpart’s erection was in full view, but Snape’s was frustratingly not.
Harry found himself adjusting his view in front of the reflection in the hope that he could catch a glimpse of that forbidden sight, but to no avail. He startled as he realised what he was doing and he backed away from the glass, but he was unable to avert his eyes.
He couldn’t imagine what it must feel like.
The lack of pressure on his groin was too much suddenly, and he glanced around wildly to make sure he was still alone before he reached down to alleviate the feeling.
Oh god. He was not about to touch himself in a public space like this!
He took one last look at the contrasting pale skin, the soft brush of Snape’s hair on his chest and desperate clutch of his own hands in the folds of sheet underneath before he apparated home.
“It’s a casual game of Quidditch, James, not a political rally. I thought you’d be delighted to join in after months of being grounded.” Remus folded his arms and sat back, staring at his friend in exasperation. “I wouldn’t have agreed to arrange this if I knew convincing you would be like catching a billywig.”
Next to him Frank put his drained teacup back on the saucer. “Alice and I would love to join. I’m not much of a flyer, but she was a mean keeper back in her day.”
Remus pushed his argument. “Molly has even offered to watch the little ones for the day.”
“It will be our team against yours then, James! What do you say?”
James tossed his hands up in the air. “Alright! As long as he isn’t on my team. But I have dibs on Kingsley, you can find your own seeker.”
Remus grinned at Frank. “Hurricane assured me that he is an excellent seeker, so no need to find another.” He looked back at James. “Do you want Sirius and me to both play beaters?”
James nodded, the excitement finally becoming obvious in his body language. Remus wondered what made him decline initially, but put the thought from his mind.
As they were leaving the building and waving their goodbyes to Frank and Arthur, James tugged him closer. “It’s just Hurricane, right?”
“What on earth are you talking about?” he protested.
James shoved his hands into his pockets and avoided his gaze. “Snape isn’t going to suddenly appear in the mix, is he?”
Well, that explained a lot. He smiled at his grumpy companion. “No Snape.”
Embarrassed at the knowing look Remus was bestowing upon him, James huffed. “Why are you suddenly ol’ Scruffy’s biggest fan?”
He felt a deep pang of sadness at the knowledge that James would treat Hurricane so distrusting. What would he do if he found out he had treated someone with scorn simply because of their associations, and they turned out to be family? He warred internally with the idea of giving James a hint. Or a kick.
“Try talking to him. He has an interesting view of a lot of things, you may be surprised.” He scraped his confidence together. “And he doesn’t judge people prematurely.”
James looked a bit chastened. “He’s too friendly.”
Remus’ eyes softened. “Just talk to him, James.”
Softly padding along the underbrush, a large black dog stopped to sniff the air before darting through the open space to the small building that stood alone in the moonlight. The tingle of the wards as he passed through them made his fur stand on end, and he shook himself to be rid of the feeling.
And then he noticed the quiet.
When James had revealed to him that Remus was testing a potion for Snivellus tonight, he had been livid. Had they both forgotten what kind of man he was? Spy or no spy, Snape needed only the barest of excuses to visit revenge upon them, and he feared for Remus’ life. He had sped off without listening to reason, intent to find Moony and dissuade him from this idiotic course of action.
But it looks like he was too late.
Panic seizing his chest, he crept through the one-directional dog door dreading what he would find.
The small room on the inside held a few items of furniture, all bolted to the floor in preparation of the werewolf’s rage during each full moon. On the low bed he spotted the hulking form of the werewolf and a whine escaped his throat. Lucid amber eyes were upon him instantaneously.
“Praadfroot?” Sirius’ eyes widened. Had he just…?
The thin body unravelled to stand up, but there was no trace of the rage and mindless instincts that he had usually associated with Remus’ transformation. A clawed hand was extended towards him and proceeded to pat him on the head. He sat down in sheer shock.
“It vorked, Praadfroot, it vorked.” He managed to understand the language around the growling sounds that littered the speech, and in true Gryffindor fashion, he transformed back into a human.
“Moony? You can talk?”
The werewolf laughed, and hugged him suddenly. The danger of what he had just done registered in Sirius’ mind and he stiffened in Remus’ grasp, but he was let go as the werewolf stood back to look at himself.
“Irsn’t it vronderfrul, Praadfroot? Lrook at me!” He spun awkwardly, and Sirius couldn’t help the silly grin on his face.
“You’re no ballerina, that’s what. You may want to practice some more.” The deep guttural chuckling that was his answer turned his grin into a broad smile. “I can’t believe it, Moony. This is… wow.”
The werewolf gestured to the bed, and they both sat down. “Nrext time, I’rll bring brooks. Irt’s dreadfrully drull sritting hrere droing northring.” The toothy smile looked menacing.
“Shit. I guess I owe James an apology.” Yellow eyes blinked at him in askance. “I may have ranted at him and Lily a bit for encouraging you to take Snivellus’ potion.” He kicked at the floor. “I feel a right idiot now, I tell you.”
“Hrow is that ra chrange from the norm?” He punched the werewolf in the shoulder, then sat back to stare disbelievingly at the scene. Here he was, sitting next to a fully transformed werewolf poking fun at each other and not fearing for his life.
It was surreal.
“I suppose I should at least try to be civil to Snape now, shouldn’t I?”
“It vrould hrelp.”
He rolled his eyes. “I still think he’s a git, but my world seems to be spinning on its axis a lot lately and he seems to be connected to everything doing the spinning. I hate to think I was this poorly off the mark, y’know?” The werewolf nodded. “Shit. He is going to love this, the fucker. I don’t think I have it in me to just suddenly be nice to him.”
“Nro one vrill exprect you to bre. Trake your cue from hrim.”
He considered for a moment. “You’re right. I can do that at least.” He ran a hand through his hair and made himself more comfortable on the bed. “So, what is this about a quidditch match I’m hearing about?”
The owl that arrived with breakfast was a most unwelcome sight. Severus glowered at the bird as the rest of the staff and student body failed to contain their curiosity. He never received letters in public like this, preferring the discreet arrival of post at his quarters instead.
The handwriting on the outside of the note was unfamiliar and with a precise flick of his wrist he cut the string rather than untie it, startling the bird into the air. He waved it away.
Opening the envelope, he pulled the sheets inside apart until he could spy a name.
Well, perhaps the letter was not as unwelcome as he had thought, although he would be sure to berate the werewolf over his method of delivery. He felt the urge to abandon his classes for the day well up in him, but he quashed the thought. His stint last time had attracted far too much attention for his liking, and Albus had damn near smothered him with his smugness.
He was about to put the letter to the side when he felt a bulge within, and he pushed the contents to the side. At the bottom of the envelope was a thick wad of fur, neatly tied with a cord.
Circe be damned, he should have buddied up with Gryffindors long ago! He tolerates them for a second and they shower him with gifts. While werewolf fur wasn’t a common potion ingredient, it was hard to come by.
He tucked the envelope into his robes.
Next to him, Silvanus overbalanced on his chair and had to catch himself with one of his mangled hands. “Don’t be a killjoy, Severus, open it!”
He slowly turned his head with years of practiced contempt. Levying a sneer at the care of magical creatures teacher, he stood from the table. “My business is none other than my own. Perhaps you will retain more of your limbs if you snuff out that infernal curiosity.”
Leaving the staff table, he heard the outraged exclamation of “Why I’d never!” behind him, accompanied by Albus’ platitudes on his behaviour. Twice now the headmaster had summoned him to his office in regards to the poor treatment of fellow staff members, but he maintained his stance. It was only two of the faculty that he had an issue with, and he made no secret of his contempt – if they dedicated more effort towards their subject, and in the case of the magical creatures teacher, some caution and respect, they would be in much better accord.
In the privacy of his office he extracted the letter and sat down at his desk to read through it. Partially through he pulled a quill and a spare parchment towards him, and started making notes. Lupin’s notes were definitely adequate, and already he was planning a few amendments to the potion in his head. The additional noted on his regular transformation was welcome as well.
Lamenting the fact that he had to teach a whole day’s worth of classes before he could pursue his train of thought, he lay the notes to the side and bottled the fur. He would place it next to the basilisk heart on his display – that shelf was quickly becoming a trophy case. The basilisk heart, a section of basilisk liver, werewolf fur and a Campion flower he had harvested himself during his potion mastery.
A pity the students were too imbecilic to understand the true value of the things they faced every day.
He was reminded to ask Hurricane for more of the basilisk liver when he saw him that evening. His research had revealed a staggering magical propensity for regeneration, and combined with dittany and aloe, he had already managed to create a powerful basis for a potion that should theoretically restore both bone and muscle mass. He was keen to test it, and had plans to procure both a pig and a hare over the weekend. The acromantula he had caught during the week was nervously flitting about its cage; he was sure it was aware of its impending doom.
Standing, he gathered the container of fur as well as the heap of dismal essays his students had dared to hand in and set out to convince the masses that they were not worthy of his profession.
Chapter 14: Chapter 14
Here's for you, Rebecca! =D
That evening Harry approached the school, nervous butterflies in his stomach. As much as he had tried to put Snape out of his mind, he had been unsuccessful. Now that he was about to face the man – the real thing, not just a fantasy in a mirror (and damn if that didn’t sound wrong) –he was determined not to screw it up.
He spotted the shadowy form at the doors, so he hurried his steps while praying that his body would behave itself.
“Hurricane.” The rich voice greeted him.
They travelled the distance to his rooms in silence as was quickly becoming their habit. Once inside, Snape offered to take his coat as he took his own off as well. Harry took the opportunity to study Snape’s back.
It looked about the same size as in the mirror.
He blinked and looked away as his gaze reached the man’s posterior, and he fought the image from his mind. To distract himself, he pulled the box from his pocket – he was wearing robes for a change – that he had prepared for the evening, and set it on the table. Snape looked at it with a raised brow.
“This is a bit out of your area of expertise, but I was hoping you could point me in the right direction.” He opened the box as Snape sat down, and a decanter appeared from which the professor poured two glasses. Taking one, he sniffed the liquid. “Er, what is this?”
“If you don’t know, then you don’t deserve it,” was the haughty reply.
Harry peered into the glass. “It’s not firewhiskey, and it’s not Old Ogdens’.”
Snape snorted. “Terrible fare to be familiar with. It’s Drambuie.”
Harry tentatively tasted it, remembering his experience with the firewhiskey. It had the tell-tale scent of strong alcohol, but tasted of sweet honey and was spicy and warm as it went down. His own tastes, that tended to run sweet, were piqued. “Oh, that’s nice. Do you have a pen so I can write the name down?”
“I will be sure to remind you later, as there are a few things you may wish to take note of during the evening. Tell me about this ring.” He motioned towards the black stone set in gold.
“You remember that I told you about those things the dark lord made? This is one of them. There is a curse on the ring that will be unleashed if it is touched, so I’ve been levitating it wherever I need it to go.” He sighed. “The problem comes in whenever I try to destroy it. It just pops out of anything I wedge it between, and it is driving me demented.”
Snape aimed his wand at the object, and muttered a few words. A dark miasma started erupting from the ring, and he banished it immediately. “This is a dark curse the likes of which I have never seen.” A frown furrowed his brow. “Would you be willing to leave it with me for further study?”
Harry shook his head. “I can’t take that chance. Remember the hallows? That rock,” he pointed towards the black stone, “is the resurrection stone. In my timeline Dumbledore couldn’t resist it and would have succumbed to the curse if you hadn’t intervened eventually.” He took another sip of the liquid. “That’s why I want to keep it as far away from him as I can. The less he knows about it, the better.”
The dark eyes studied the stone, noting the sigil in its centre. “It would appear that you do indeed know him better than most. I would never have suspected that he feels any kind of regret towards the dead.” The dark orbs flicked up to meet his gaze, and Harry felt a frisson of excitement run up his spine.
“Maybe one day I’ll tell you that story,” he deflected, hiding his face behind his drink.
“I will see if there is anything in the library regarding the curse, and we can then discuss this further at a future date.” Snape closed the box on the table. “Since I have seen two of the hallows, may I ask where the third finds itself?”
Harry chuckled. “You’ve seen all three. The next time Dumbledore casts a spell, look closely at his wand.”
The glass slipped in Snape’s hand. “Dumbledore has the elder wand?”
“He does, and he knows what it is. He won it in the war against Grindelwald, actually.”
“Fascinating.” His eyes landed on the box. “Are the items of any importance?”
“Yes. Most of them, anyway. I have already eliminated Rowena Ravenclaw’s diadem.”
Harry could swear the temperature dropped a few degrees in the room. “You destroyed… a priceless artefact.”
“It was considered lost already, and it’s not destroyed, per se. I just had to get the evil out – I made a series of holes on the back of the band. I can confirm that it is one hundred percent safe now.”
“Would you permit me to see it?”
“Sure. I’ll bring it along next weekend, if you want?”
Snape nodded, a bright gleam in his eyes, and then steered the conversation towards the research he had been performing with the liver. Excited, Harry agreed to offer him access to other parts of the basilisk as well.
“You are a fool to offer me so much without requesting recompense.”
Considering him for a moment, Harry rolled the glass between his hands. A whole bunch of inappropriate ideas had just sprung to mind, and he made a conscious effort to relax. “You’re helping me plenty, actually. Weird as it may sound, I consider you a friend. My friends are important to me, and I would do quite a lot for them.
“And it’s not like I could do much with the bits and pieces we harvested anyway. It’s best put to use in your capable hands.”
They ended their evening with another trip to the chamber, Snape sharing the news of the successful wolfsbane transformation with a delighted Harry. They worked together to section out the parts for Snape’s continued experiments, and made their way back in a positive mood. They only encountered one set of students who fled at their approach, but the spy’s superior observational skills had them identified and points deducted before they turned the corner.
Their swearing was barely audible, and Harry watched with amusement as the other man practically preened with contentment. It was rather endearing.
He mentally cursed the mirror. He would not be entertaining these ridiculous thoughts if it weren’t for that stupid artefact. Soon Snape was going to notice something was odd with his behaviour; twice – twice! – he had caught himself staring at the man’s body, trying to discern the shape of the muscles underneath the robes.
It was ridiculous.
With renewed determination he bid Snape goodnight, not noticing the speculative glance as he wandlessly and non-verbally summoned the box with the horcrux on his way out.
Severus was a pragmatist. He had never imagined himself as a target for romantic – or even lustful – fixation, yet if his observational skills were not failing him, then Hurricane had definitely studied more than just the movement of his limbs as they had worked in the chamber the previous night.
The man’s behaviour had remained blessedly normal beyond that, but a few odd blushes in their past acquaintance he was calling into question now as well. Normally he wouldn’t idle upon a subject such as this, but his commute to the great hall that morning had delivered a snippet of a conversation that had caught his interest.
Watch out, Snape and his boyfriend roam the halls at night.
That the term boyfriend could ever be applied to him made him shudder at the immaturity.
He could investigate the matter in further detail when he saw the man again. The infernal posturing of adolescents during school finally had touch of meaning, although he refused to be swayed by the heady feeling that someone might find him attractive.
The quidditch match turned out to be a roaring success. The presence of Alice on the one team had automatically settled the decision of which team would play skins, something many of the onlookers were quite enthusiastic about. Lily rolled her eyes as a pair of university students screamed as James and Sirius flew by showing off.
She had to admit though, the new guy was good. In the distance she could see Hurricane hanging stationary in the air, his odd technique of waiting and watching quite a contrast to when he suddenly took flight. They had all damn near stopped playing when he had dived towards the field in a suicidal attempt to catch the snitch, only to right himself barely last minute.
Sirius had whistled his disbelief and Arthur had landed to accept what could only have been a calming potion from the attending mediwiz. Hurricane had flown on, oblivious, and the game had resumed.
She had never really cared much for quidditch herself, and could recall endless conversations between herself and Severus mocking the sport. She hoped Harry never developed an interest in it, but knew that was a useless dream with James and Sirius around.
Married life was not turning out as wonderful as she had hoped, actually. Part of it was because of the war and the prophecy, but part of it was in how James expected her to be a parent. She blamed his indulgent upbringing.
She needed him to enforce the rules she laid down, not break them alongside Harry only to laugh at her and tell her to relax, and live a little. Bringing up the subject was a moot point – he would always brush off her worries and avoid the discussion. It was another reason why she was glad to have Severus back in her life – James always paid her a little more attention whenever he was around.
Not that she planned to use him against her husband, but she may as well reap the benefits while they lasted.
There was a flourish of activity in the air in front of her, and she dropped the magazine she was reading to see what was happening. The game appeared to be over, and judging by the annoyed look on Sirius’ face, they must have lost. He was perhaps a bit too competitive for his own good.
Remus landed near her to collect the bottles of mead she had brought along. He winked at her. “Tell James he seemed to have perfected his reverse pass and he’ll let you off the hook.”
Good ol’ Remus.
She stood up, brushed the dirt from her skirt and went to soothe her sweaty husband.
Narcissa watched her husband ready himself for the meeting. While he seemed as calm as could be, she recognized the slight tells in his posture and behaviour that spoke of his distress.
He was not aware of it, but she understood. She had been exposed to enough magic to put the pieces together – the odd research, the hint of potion ingredients, the unwarranted frustration – her husband was dabbling with the Animagus procedure. Considering that he had never shown an interest in the subject, she was certain that this was an order he had been given from the dark lord.
She smiled fondly at him as his face melted into an expression of adoration at the approach of their son. Draco was flying a stuffed dragon upside-down through the air, but when he reached his father he held his chubby little arms up to him and demanded, “get up!”
“Not now, Draco. I have to attend to an important matter, so watch over your mother while I’m gone.” He patted the blond locks as the toddler pouted. He took Narcissa’s hands in his. “I shouldn’t be long.” The silent instruction was in his eyes as always. If he were too long, fear the worst.
She hated it, but she was nothing if not a loyal and dedicated wife.
Picking Draco up, they walked Lucius to the reception hall where they stood and waved him goodbye. She hoped fervently that if he were successful with the transformation, that he would not be an uncommon animal. Merlin knows that if her husband were to take the form of a brightly plumed bird, then the dark lord would have no use of him and he would be punished accordingly.
It wasn’t as though one could choose their Animagus form.
Straightening her posture, she addressed Draco in her arms. “Let us go and have a look at your father’s potion attempt. Hopefully you will inherit my skills in that area rather than your father’s.”
News of the LeStrange’s capture had been released in the prophet that morning, and the dark lord was furious. LeStrange senior was a drooling invalid upon the floor – it was the first time Severus had seen someone’s mind destroyed from prolonged exposure to the cruciatus curse. Unless Rabastian escaped from Azkaban and took a wife to inflict a son upon in the near future, this spelt the end of the LeStrange line.
He couldn’t see Bellatrix ever bearing an heir for the older brother.
Presently the dark lord was dealing with a stranger, some Fenrir Greyback, who he was attempting to persuade to ally with the death eaters. From the sound of things the man was a leader of a community, and Severus wondered why the dark lord would want to persuade the man rather than order him.
Greyback’s sleeve rode up as he gestured wildly, and a realisation dawned in the spy’s mind. That kind of cursed scars were only made by one kind of being, and thanks to his recent research, he was very familiar with them at the moment. If the dark lord allied with werewolves… he didn’t want to consider the eventuality.
In a calculated show of power, the dark lord waved his hands, his wand loosely gripped in a finger, to conjure the image of a small village. From his angle on the floor he couldn’t tell which it was, but the inhabitants were offered to the creature in a trade.
Severus compared the display of magic to what Hurricane had performed in his rooms. The time traveller had hardly focused on what he was doing, and if he had to judge he would guess that the man performed menial duties with magic as an afterthought.
Did that make him more powerful than the tyrant in front of him? He certainly hoped so.
Ah, his turn now. How lucky. “My lord.”
The pale visage moved closer to him. He had yet to recover the lustre of his skin, and the gaunt look was starting to wear thin. “What have you discovered regarding the elixir?”
“Dumbledore has it safeguarded within the school, my lord. From his remarks I believe it to be hidden within a mirror of some sort. I am attempting to locate information on it at the moment.”
The steps stopped. “Tell me about this mirror.”
“He called it the mirror of Erised, which appears to be tied to a person’s desire.”
“Then it should be easy to obtain, shouldn’t it, Severus? If you desire to have it, the mirror should offer it up without pause…”
He inclined his head. “Off course, my lord. It is Dumbledore’s conviction at the stone’s safety that causes me to hesitate.”
“Look at me.” He recalled the scene Albus and him had narrated in preparation for this moment, and raised his gaze to meet that of the dark lord’s over his wand. “Legilimens.”
Silence reigned for a moment.
Windows and floor tiles suddenly exploded, and many forms ducked under the raining debris.
“That conniving old fool!” He stilled his tirade to visibly force himself to calm down, then, twisting his head suddenly to the side, he cast the cruciatus on one of the younger death eaters. Once his ire seemed to be fed, he turned to Severus once more. “You will be incapable of obtaining the stone. Discover the mirror’s location, and see if you can entice a Hufflepuff to make it reveal its secret. Abraxas!”
The blond masked figure stepped forward. “Yes, my lord?”
“We cannot rely on the elixir. I need information on the other ritual instead. Go! I will meet you and Antonin in the drawing room. And Severus?” The dark lord lowered his wand in his direction. “Just because I don’t expect you to succeed, does not mean you can give anything but your best. I will know.”
The emaciated figure turned on his heel and strode to the exit, dismissing the room of odd occupants behind him. Severus surveyed the room, his eyes landing on the young form of Regulus Black. Even in the depressing robes he was recognizable with his narrow figure; all the other recruits of his year were much bulkier than he. He was acting the perfect little death eater though, perhaps too perfect.
Severus had never interacted with the younger Black much, and thought him entirely mediocre. The more he thought on it, the more he was convinced that the perfectly average death eater was just an act. He had no quirks, no opinions; he just blended in with the company.
He hoped Hurricane’s assessment of the man was correct, and apparated away wondering what was hidden under the façade.
He was so thirsty. With great effort he lifted his arms from the basin, the soft popping noise as the house elf disappeared barely registering on his conscience. There was water just out of reach, if only he could crawl to it…
He faintly recalled that the water was dangerous for some reason, but his thirst was greater and he pulled himself along in that direction. He was almost at the edge when there was shouting behind him and a hand grabbed at his feet, dragging him away from the water.
He resisted. He was so thirsty.
The hands held on though, so he turned around to free himself. He froze at the sight of Severus Snape, the heartless potioneer and youngest confidant of the dark lord himself kneeling by his side. An unknown man was pulling him back towards the basin, but the threat was next to him, pulling vials from his robes.
Snape would report him to the dark lord, and they would find and kill Kreacher. Everything he had done would be all for naught! Death would be preferable…
The men over him swore as a new grip registered on his arm. Then there were more tugs on his clothing, and he felt himself slide towards the water. The unknown man was on his feet then, brandishing fire like a whip around him and his thirst only increased. He fought the grip that held him down, but then a potion was at his lips and he knew only oblivion.
They worked well together to smuggle the limp form into Hurricane’s apartment. Judging by the ease at which the man operated under, the time-traveller was accustomed to both stealth as well as administering emergency treatment. Once Regulus was settled on the bed, Hurricane was flitting between the bedroom and the kitchen as he administered potions to stabilise their patient.
Regulus’ reaction to the potion of despair was not in his calculations, and he was mentally sifting through the components of the potion to see if there was something that could have triggered an allergic reaction. Nothing came to mind though, so he was forced to regulate the man’s irregular blood pressure by means of his rudimentary introduction into the healing arts.
Long moments later the breathing started to calm down, and the body adopted more symptoms that one could associate with drugged sleep. He sat back; his fingers were stiff with the force he had been clutching his wand with and he flexed them to stimulate the blood-flow.
The scent of baking bread reached his nose, and he looked at the door in wonder. Evaluating that it was safe to leave Regulus on his own, he left the room to investigate.
Hurricane was in the kitchen, stirring something – tomato soup by the smell – on the stove top. The table was set for three and the oven had the hearty shape of rising bread visible through its window.
This was the clincher, the man was muggleborn. For all his power it was odd that he used it so sparingly.
“The food is almost ready. How is he then?”
Ah, opportunity. “He has stabilized, and the draught should be out of his system within the hour. His reaction to the potion was most extreme, but thus far I fail to see what caused it.” He pulled at his sleeve. “Would you mind if I took my robes off? Your apartment is rather lacking in space.”
“I got it because it’s cheap, I barely spend any time here as it is. Go right ahead, there should be a coat rack by the door or I can offer you a clothes hanger if you prefer.”
“That will not be necessary.” He swiftly removed the black cloth and arranged it over the back of a chair; from the corner of his eye he watched Hurricane track his eyes over the exposed jumper and trousers before looking away.
So, the man is interested yet finds his behaviour errant. Curious. He wondered if he could push a little further with his experiment.
He walked over to stand next to Hurricane to peer into the pot. His initial assessment of tomato soup proved to be correct. “Basil and bay leaves.”
A glance at his neck, a deeper intake of breath. The heady feeling was back.
“I’m amazed you can tell about the bay leaves.”
Severus moved away to prop a hip against the table. “A skill honed by my profession. I will reserve my judgement on your culinary skill until we have tasted the fare.”
The man laughed. “Oh god, please don’t judge me on this. I can cook much better meals if I don’t have to improvise on the fly.”
“As I said, I will reserve judgement. I find it curious that someone with your magical capacity resorts to manual labour when magic would be far more efficient and expedient. Is it a personal preference?”
Hurricane looked sheepish. “It’s all I know. I’ve never really had time for household charms 101 with the war and all.”
“It never occurred to you to purchase a book?”
“Not for this stuff, no, but I am working on my other shortcomings.”
Severus was intrigued. If the book he had spied on the table in the lounge, etiquette of all things, was the worst of his shortcomings, then Hurricane shouldn’t have much to worry about at all.
A sound from the bedroom drew both of their attention, and they hurried over. Regulus was stirring, and Severus knelt at his side to feel for a pulse as he waved his wand over the form. The results were acceptable and he was about to drop the wrist when it was violently pulled out of his grasp. In a flurry of rich robes, the youngest son of the house of Black was pressed up against the wall, eyes pinned on his fellow death eater. With a hoarse voice he called for Kreacher, and an old leathery house elf popped into being in front of him.
The servant must have understood his master’s needs, for he grabbed at Regulus’ hand, but the air was suddenly thick and even breathing was a chore as Hurricane uttered a simple “stop” behind him.
I suspect that we are moving premises next week, so I may not be able to update during that time. I will attempt to do as much writing as I can before the end of this week to make up for the coming lapse!
On that note I would like to thank you for all the wonderful reviews to date, as well as the courageous souls who offered their suggestions to help me improve the story. I truly do appreciate it!
Chapter 16: Chapter 16
He listened fascinated as the stranger, Hurricane, explained the situation to him. Next to him, Kreacher sat on a transfigured high chair with his own serving of tomato soup and freshly baked bread. The elf was visibly upset at the preferential treatment, but unwilling to give up the advantageous seat that allowed him to be part of the conversation.
Regulus had been shocked when Hurricane had offered Kreacher a seat at the table, but his justification that the elf needed to hear the tale as well in order to better protect his master had swayed him almost instantly. He interacted with the grumpy elf in what he could only call a familiar way; while disconcerting, it was putting Kreacher at ease.
The presence of Severus Snape was still the biggest surprise. It was hard to believe that the man was a spy – he kept waiting for this whole act to be revealed as an elaborate plot to test his loyalty. Their topic, however, was nothing if not absolutely traitorous, and hope bloomed in his chest.
All these years of being alone, having no one to turn to to discuss his insecurities, to confide in… He had envied Sirius for so long for being able to find a good friend like James, but even his brother had abandoned him to the clutches of his family. His mother had tightened her grip on him, and with no way out he had made himself disappear in the role the world expected. He was the perfectly average student, garnering no further attention nor disregard than anyone else. He was the third party in the conversation that you never noticed, whose opinion never contrasted your own.
He made himself into a reflection of whoever he dealt with.
Nervously he listened as Hurricane described the process of destroying a horcrux. He hadn’t known it was called that, and apparently neither had Snape. The revelation was in honour of his actions – Hurricane wanted him to be credited after the war with the discovery.
It was overwhelming, and in a rare display of emotion he tilted his head back to blink back tears.
“You are saying that the dark lord split his soul into six parts?”
Hurricane nodded. “Ravenclaw’s diadem, Slytherin’s locket, Hufflepuff’s cup, the Gaunt ring and a diary. We have three out of the five, and the diary will be easiest for you to obtain, Snape. It’s in Malfoy Manor. The cup is going to be a problem though.”
Regulus stared at the locket on the table – Kreacher had fetched it after the initial explanations. “Salazar Slytherin’s locket?” he asked at the same time that Snape queried “Why would the cup pose a problem?”
“The dark lord had a penchant for important artefacts. I suspect he thought that no-one would destroy them because of their importance. As to the cup – it is in the LeStrange vault.”
A detail that had been evading him reared its head. “How do you know these things?”
Snape took another slice of bread and reached for the butter. “You may as well tell him, Hurricane. Regulus will have to disappear from the dark lord’s circle; let him be another nameless casualty of the aurors.”
He looked at the man in askance. “Why?”
“You are not a natural occlumens, and learning the skill will take far too long. I’m fairly skilled at the art and have been employing it almost constantly over the past year to hide my thoughts from other death eaters, which is why I have remained undiscovered. You on the other hand, read like an open book. It is best if you simply vanished.”
“What about the dark mark? Won’t he know I’m alive through it?”
“We never actually had any evidence that he could sense things through the mark. It appears to be a one-way communication thing, where he can transmit pain and messages but not receive any.” Hurricane chipped in.
“Did you ever manage to remove it?”
“I’m not sure. Dumbledore always told me he tried, but I wasn’t involved in any of that.”
Confused, Regulus watched the speculative look Snape was giving Hurricane.
“I would appreciate it if you attempted the exercise.”
“You don’t honestly think I could remove it, do you? I wouldn’t know where to start!”
“You are more powerful than you realise. Impose your will upon it. See what happens.” Hurricane darted his eyes to Snape’s arm, and the spy huffed. “I will hardly be an effective spy without it. Regulus should be keen to be rid of his.” He offered up his arm without hesitation, and Snape rolled his eyes. “You could at least pretend to be cautious.”
Chastised, he started to retract his hand, but stopped as Hurricane laughed. “You say that like you didn’t just volunteer him for it.” Then, directing his attention back to Regulus, “you’ll get used to his snark, don’t mind him too much.”
Nodding hesitantly, he extended his arm again and Hurricane took hold of his wrist. A furrow drew in his brow and his grip tightened, then the man closed his eyes. Snape and him alternated their gazes between the dark mark and the man standing over it when the air started to take on the same thick quality it had in the bedroom. A sudden air current blew open the copy of Hogwarts, a History that was lying on the one surface, before picking up speed and swirling about the room. Alarmed, he tried to stand, but the force of the wind collapsed him back into his chair.
Around them the crockery were suddenly airborne as well; it flew crashing into the walls and the remains of their meal stained the walls red. A soft clicking noise had both him and Snape isolated in a wind still air-pocket, and he cast a relieved look down at Kreacher who had a frown on his face. Around them the chaos reigned as furniture was torn apart and clattered loudly onto the metal surface of the sink.
And then it was over.
Heart pounding in his throat, he watched as the stranger toppled over backwards and harshly knocked his head against the splintered table top before slumping to the floor.
What an eventful Sunday night this was turning out to be.
For the second time that evening, Severus sat next to a patient lying on the bed. Next to him, Regulus fidgeted, constantly casting a mesmerized look down at his unmarked arm. The old house elf was in the process of setting the apartment right, restoring all the broken parts that littered the space.
Hurricane truly was a marvel to behold. Severus had his proof; the man was more powerful than the dark lord and without an inch of the ambition. The odd fascination the man seemed to harbour for him was probably a temporary insanity, and he was unsure if he should chance becoming involved with someone quite this powerful. The benefits seemed to outweigh the risk at the moment, but he hardly knew the man well enough to judge how he would interact in a more intimate setting. The exotic treasures and forbidden knowledge were very enticing though.
The man had an odd collection of scars on his body as well. He focused on the left hand, reading the one liner on the back of it. It seemed self-inflicted, but he could not imagine the circumstance under which such a thing could have occurred.
“Why did he come to the past?”
Regulus had been full of questions as he had explained what he knew. “It is my understanding that his appearance in our timeline is due to an accident. He has been actively working towards the dark lord’s downfall ever since he arrived.”
“How is he not afraid of him?” The dark head leaned forward. “All that magic earlier – is he stronger than the dark lord?”
Severus inclined his head. “I believe so.”
A groan from the bed focused their attention back on the subject of their conversation. Heavy eyelids blinked open, and Severus turned his head to view the dilation of his pupils.
“Headmaster…?” the groggy voice enquired.
Headmaster? Merlin help him, he refused to spend his entire life amidst a school full of terrors. He sincerely hoped his tenure as headmaster was preceded by Albus’ retirement, as opposed to his death, but deep down he realised the futility of such a hope.
“Am I dead?”
He didn’t like the revelations that comment implied. “I am here to ensure such a tragedy does not occur. Lie still.”
“I’m sorry I couldn’t save you, sir. You were right, all these years… I’m so sorry…” The head limply lolled to the side; Hurricane left the land of the conscious once more.
“Did he just call you headmaster?” came the inquiry from his side.
“I assure you, it is a revelation to us both and an idea I find inherently abhorrent alongside the implication that I died. I shall strive to avoid both fates.”
“Do you think he will be able to… to kill the dark lord?”
Severus turned to face the teenager. “He has declared himself fit to do so, and after his display in the kitchen I am inclined to believe him. Until he wakes again though, we should assist your elf in the restoration of this hovel. Are you proficient at restoration charms?”
Regulus shrugged. “If I’m not, I’m sure I’m about to be.”
His body felt terribly heavy when Harry tried to open his eyes once more. Using the momentum from rolling onto his side, he pushed back from the mattress to sit up. He tilted his head forward as a dizzy spell overtook him, but thankfully it passed quickly.
“Finally awake?” a voice inquired from the door.
It took him a moment to place the face, and the memories from the previous night returned with a vengeance.
Regulus. The horcrux. The inferi. Snape.
“Did I… Was I successful?” he tried.
Regulus frowned for a moment, before pushing his sleeve up to reveal a pale forearm. “I can’t thank you enough, really.”
Harry stared in open incredulity. Had he really done that?
“Snape had to leave early this morning. Said he had classes to teach, but he will be back after detention. He said I should stay here until you can work out where I should hide away.”
“Staying here isn’t a problem, in fact it is probably for the best. Only Remus knows where I live, and he’s already proven that he can keep a secret. If he pops in uninvited, which I doubt he will do, we can handle it from there.” He looked around the room. “I’ll sleep on the couch, and you can have the bedroom.”
Regulus put up his hands in protest. “I don’t mind sleeping on the couch.”
“It’s no big deal. Did you and Snape destroy the locket while I was asleep?”
“Er, no. We were too busy fixing the damage.” Kreacher appeared with the customary popping noise to inform them that breakfast was ready, and they both started. Guiltily, Regulus peered at him. “Kreacher is convinced he can fool my father into thinking he hasn’t left home, so I let him do a few chores around here. I hope you don’t mind.”
Harry shook his head, standing up. His muscles felt stiff, so he spent a few moments stretching them. “It shouldn’t be a problem, and I’m starving as it is. Would you like to destroy the locket after we’ve eaten?”
Bright eyed, Regulus confirmed. “I’m looking forward to that a lot, actually. Are you sure the dark lord won’t feel it?”
“I’ll show you the other two horcruxes before we start. I’ve already eliminated one, and he didn’t feel a thing.”
Together they went to the kitchen, the scent of an elaborate breakfast wafting through the air. Once inside, Harry gaped at the red stains on the wall and an embarrassed Regulus had to admit that none of them had been able to remove the marks. Laughing at the absurdity that two grown wizards as well as an elf had been stumped at a tomato stain, he dug into the food, a compliment for Kreacher at the ready.
Chapter 17: Chapter 17
I meant to post this last night, but I fell asleep. =(
Living with Regulus was a revelation. After a quick discussion in the morning where Harry stated his interest in the Black family library, Regulus had agreed to have Kreacher smuggle the books out of the house. Due to the small size of the apartment, they both agreed that it was best kept in Snape’s quarters at Hogwarts – a fact that had made the strict man collapse wide eyed into a chair at the news.
Harry had been hesitant to spend the day doing things that didn’t contribute towards the war effort, but Regulus had been so enthusiastic at his newfound freedom that he had agreed. That is how he found himself following the wide-eyed teenager – and he had to consciously remind himself that they were the same age – through Muggle towns.
They tried fast food from informal stands, picked out a ridiculous amount of candy and even saw a film. Harry apparated them from town to town and they laughed like children at the antics of a circus, shrieked as they dared each other into the icy coastal water and gawked at the daredevil stunts at a racetrack.
The vehicles seemed to resonance with Regulus, and he quietly admitted that his brother had once obtained a poster featuring a racing car, an image he had greatly admired as a child. One of the drivers at the track was friendly enough to talk them through the finer points of the sport, and soon enough an eager Regulus was booked at the local traffic department to write his learner’s exam in a week’s time.
The whirlwind of a day ended with the youngest Black passed out on the couch, the driver’s study guide still open on his lap. Harry levitated him to the bed, a strange sense of calmness in his heart. Flicking the light off he settled himself onto the couch for the night, at peace with the world for once.
Severus lovingly traced the spine of a book with a finger. The mostly empty office adjoining his living space had been transformed over the past two hours into a welcoming study. He had returned from his recon to Hurricane’s flat with an armload of books; books he had never dreamt he would have access to without selling half of his soul.
The Black family library was renown for being extensive and rare, and those who had been allowed to view it always spoke highly of it. He had listened to the tales with envy, intent on amassing his own collection one day. And look at him now.
A smile curved the corners of his mouth as he stared at the thirty-odd books Hurricane and Regulus had bestowed upon him. While he would have preferred that the books actually belonged to him, just having access was the next best thing. He was already predicting late nights ahead in order to copy the knowledge into his own library. Some of the books would be able to be magically duplicated, but he was sure the bulk of them would need to be manually copied. He had already penned an order to Flourish and Blotts for a bulk order of parchment.
Too exhausted to do much further, he closed and warded the door before pouring himself a measure of alcohol. Sitting down in his high-backed chair, he stared into the fire.
The time-traveller was a mystery he was itching to solve. He mentally listed what he knew about him.
The man had said he was muggle raised – a distinction one only made if one wasn’t muggle born. A half-blood or pure-blood wizard then.
Upon his arrival he had been on a first name basis with Potter and Black, but not Albus, nor himself. His reference to Severus as headmaster could mean that Hurricane was a student under him in his timeline, but it failed to explain the familiarity with the idiots. If he were a student, then that would make him at least ten years younger than Severus himself, most likely more.
In their earlier conversations Hurricane had insinuated that they were not on the best of terms, something that would be entirely true if the man had been his student. If this theory were correct, then it would also mean that the war had raged in excess of another ten years.
He frowned into his glass.
A familial tie perhaps? The Potters would have been dead, but Black could have retained an air of familiarity when he spoke of them. It would explain the devastated look when Black had denied Hurricane the use of his name.
So Hurricane was related to Black somehow. A very plausible idea given how many Blacks there were. Didn’t Narcissa have another older sister with offspring? No, he was fairly sure the child had been referred to as a niece.
The fire cracked, and he looked up sharply. Why muggle raised then? Something wasn’t adding up. No wizard child should have been passed into the hands of muggles unless they were the only remaining relatives, and even then a godparent had preference. Had the dark lord wiped out his entire family? That implied a significance of some sort.
He finished his drink and stood up, dowsing the fire to retire for the night. There were too many loose ends to continue speculating like this, and the man was riddled in special circumstances.
Stopping to stare at the closer study door once more, he caught himself smiling again. Summarily he decided that if Hurricane persisted with his fascination, he would welcome the man in his bed.
He could do worse, after all.
Triumphant, Lucius lay back on the cold stones of the room he had dedicated to his research. He had done it. He wanted to try the transformation again, but he was so magically exhausted that he feared he would fall asleep on the floor as he lay there.
With great effort he managed to pull himself upright and onto a chair. The smile on his face vanished instantaneously as the door suddenly scraped open and his father looked into the room.
“How do you fare, Lucius?”
He smoothed his hair back; his recent foray onto the floor had mussed it up somewhat. “I have been successful, father.”
“Excellent. Show me.”
Lucius felt his chest grow tight. “Certainly.” His father looked at him expectantly as he summoned a house elf and instructed the creature to bring him a pepper-up potion. Once he had drunk it, he concentrated on the spell that would bring about the change. He felt the exhaustion in his bones and hoped he would be able to change back.
Moments later he felt the shift in his body as his point of view shrank towards the floor and the image of his father became discoloured in hues of green. Testing his movement, he tried to approach the feet in front of him but only managed a sideways nudge.
“You have pleased me greatly, Lucius. The dark lord is sure to be impressed that you have managed an Animagus representative of the Slytherin line.” The feet turned to leave, and Lucius tried to move forwards again.
A slight improvement.
He was terribly cold though, and ever so tired. His consciousness rapidly leaving him, he curled in on himself on the floor and hoped he would recover soon.
Narcissa collected the small snake from the floor, tucking the coils into her wide sleeves. She had heard that the initial transformation was exhausting, but to find her husband (she hoped) asleep on the floor had been a surprise. She smiled proudly at his shimmery silver appearance.
Harry opened the door to the apartment, amused to find that Regulus was, once again, not there. Since passing his learner’s licence the man had barely stayed put, using every opportunity to visit the race track that he could. He had long ago abandoned the pretence that he was assisting with the research into the curse on the ring, his confidence soaring with his independence. Nowadays it was more likely to see him stumble into the apartment, exhausted, before taking off again the next day.
It was the oddest feeling to be both annoyed and proud at his behaviour.
Dropping the shopping bags on the counter he heard a noise at the window, and headed over to let the owl in. Tugging the note free he pulled a slice of bread out of the breadbox and offered it to the owl as thanks. With a hoot it accepted the treat, but made no move to fly off.
The note turned out to be from Remus, inviting him to spend Christmas day with him, James, Sirius and Lily.
He wanted to accept.
Sinking down to sit at the kitchen counter he contemplated what to do. He couldn’t just abandon Regulus on the holiday, although he was rather certain that the man was having the time of his life on his own.
As though he was summoned, the front door opened to reveal his errant roommate. Regulus had abandoned his pristine grooming habits quite early on, and was indistinguishable from a muggle. Gone was the slicked back hair and the wrinkle-free robes, in their place was the quiff marking the trends and attire consisting mostly of denim. Harry would have been unable to recognise the man if he hadn’t seen the progression during his days here.
“You’re home!” he exclaimed, as though Harry was the one that was hard to pin down. “Celest is taking me out on the track in a bit, so I probably won’t be home tonight. You’ll manage?” Regulus’ ability to blend in had netted him a whole cohort of friends, and Harry was hard pressed to remember their names.
“I’ll be good, I promise.” He rolled his eyes. “Do you have plans for Christmas day?”
“I’m still deciding, to be honest. I can’t participate in the races until I have a proper license, but there is a charity event on that Tony and Rueben will be attending. I was hoping I could help them out.”
Harry passed the invite over to Regulus. “The reason I’m asking is because I received an invite to join your brother at the Potters. Are you sure you don’t rather want to see him?”
Regulus’s face lost some of its humour. “I’d have to think about it. Don’t get me wrong, I want to see him, but maybe not just yet. I haven’t worked out what I want to say to him.”
“Would you mind terribly if I went?”
The other wizard shrugged. “It’s up to you, I’m not bothered. I didn’t realise you were good friends with Lupin.”
Harry accepted the invitation back. “He’s the only other person, besides you, Snape and Dumbledore, who knows that I’m from the future. He worked it out on his own, and he’s been a great source of support.”
“You should go then. I won’t trouble you to hang around here for my sake.” He pulled open the fridge and took out an apple. “I’m just going to grab a few things for tonight and be off again.”
Nodding, Harry penned a reply on a note. The owl looked curiously at the different paper.
“Thanks for waiting. You can take this back to Remus.” Elegantly the owl flew off, and a slow smile spread on his face. Turning around he collected his wallet again.
He had a few presents to buy.
Chapter 18: Chapter 18
The book he had ordered by owl post arrived Friday during the day and made for a most intriguing read. Wizarding Relations was a rather unobtrusive title for such a devious book and appealed to his shrewd nature. He skimmed through it while overseeing his detentions, but had to put it aside when it turned out to be too distracting.
He studied the book in much greater detail that evening, comparing the descriptions to his own anatomy and reviewing the suggested recipe for lubrication. He had improved the method twice in his head before he donned his clothing and set out to brew the bloody potion. He idly wondered if the students would know what he concocted in the cauldron if he left it for tomorrow’s detention students to clean.
His improved recipe he transcribed onto parchment and inserted back into the book. Further improvement called for an application test.
Back in his quarters he stripped again and tested the slickness of his formula between two fingers. It passed his initial criteria, so he applied more to his hand and took his shaft in hand. The oil seeped onto the skin immediately, providing a slight warming effect that allowed him to run his fingers down and up without causing any undue friction.
It certainly met his body’s approval.
Languidly partaking in the activity that normally made him feel a bit deprived, he assessed his body’s response. He could do this with another man. Hurricane was young enough not to have too excessive body hair, and he was sure he could please a man better than a woman, given that they shared the same equipment.
His eyes travelled to the book, open on a diagram of the rectum. He studied the location of the prostrate and angled a finger against the drawing to see how it would best fit inside. There was a spell to clean the passage – he would have to practise that.
Satisfied with his investigations, he leaned back on the bed, trying to envisage a male body on top of his own. The idea of a wildly flailing member slapping his own chest as he thrust into a willing – not paid for, willing! – body sent a burst of excitement through his chest, and he gripped himself harder.
Oh yes, he could do this.
Albus stopped to see what could have possibly caused his deputy head to utter the phrase in such a suggestive tone. “Minerva?” She raised a thin tartan covered wrist to point at a man striding from the castle. He looked closer at the somewhat familiar figure before gasping. “Is that Severus?”
“Indeed.” She murmured. “And he’s wearing colour. Hot date, would you say?”
“I believe he has dinner plans with Hurricane, a friend of his.” Albus studied the dark blue shirt in wonder. It looked tailored.
“He did have an unfortunate name like that, didn’t he? Polite young man.”
“Oh, you’ve met him?”
She nodded. “He showed up unannounced a while ago. I escorted him down to the dungeons.”
Albus ran a hand over his beard. He was aware that Severus and Hurricane had been plotting something behind his back, but it seemed to have such a positive influence on the potion master that he had turned a blind eye. He was dead curious though, and frustrated that they never seemed to have a conversation where the portraits could catch a hint.
If there was indeed a romance blossoming as Minerva joked at, then he would offer his full support. He only hoped that Severus’ intense nature wouldn’t scare his potential paramour off.
There were more books. Severus nearly moaned out load in joy as Hurricane showed him into the now very cramped apartment.
“I’ve found a promising lead in one of the books I started going through – mind your step there, I’ve bunched the carpet again – but I’d like your opinion before I start to puzzle through the technical stuff.” He pulled a burnt umber coloured book over from where it was perched on the desk, and stared at it for a moment. Severus felt the hairs on his arms stand on end as Hurricane silently argued with the book. The smile creeping onto the other man’s face let him know that he had won, and Hurricane flipped the book open. He paged forward a bit and then passed the book over.
I was like holding a living thing that wanted to bite, and he was quite aware that Hurricane’s proximity was the only thing preventing it from doing so. He skimmed the page.
“This sounds dire. It matches the effects of the curse, you say?”
“Everything that I know about it, yes. The magical drain was a surprise though.”
The curse was indeed quite a horrible affair. Withering of limb marked by a blackened pigmentation, solidifying tendons, bursts of intense pain whenever the curse claimed another muscle, rapid spread via the lymph system… all culminating in what looked like a painful death. Magic from a living soul powered the curse, giving it a mind of its own and preventing its termination.
There were no instructions for lifting the curse from the object.
“It looks like we will need something to trigger the curse to remove it from the ring. A human, most likely.” The book was too odd to continue holding, so he placed it on the desk and leaned over it. He wondered how he should propose murder to the man.
Hurricane was silent for a moment too long, so he looked up at him only to catch the man lifting his gaze from Severus’ chest. The button down he wore would have allowed a clear view down the inside of the shirt based on the angle he was standing at.
“Do you think you can trick a death eater into being our victim?” Good save, Hurricane. A lesser man might even have believed it.
“I was hoping you would consider it an option. Many others in the order would have frowned at the suggestion.”
Hurricane shrugged. “I’m not an indiscriminate killer, but I’ve been forced to weigh lives against each other for a while now. If it’s either them or us, I’ll choose us.”
Severus considered him. “You have killed before then.”
Shuffling uncomfortably, the other man cleared his throat. “I killed someone in self defence when I was eleven years old. I’ve been actively involved in this war since I was fourteen. While I may not like killing, I am capable of it.” The words were softly spoken, and conveyed a tragic tale of a youth forced to grow up too fast. The aged look in his eyes made a lot more sense suddenly.
The silence stretched uncomfortably, each man lost in his own thoughts. Severus was grateful for the snippet into the other man’s psyche; Hurricane was extremely guarded with certain facts yet let something seemingly innocuous slip from time to time that revealed so much if one only knew where to look.
A beeping noise emanated from the kitchen and Hurricane moved towards it. “The food’s ready. I hope you like it; I made salmon and leek parcels.”
Severus followed at a more sedate pace and arrived at the doorway in time to see the other man tear open two foil wraps and deposit their contents on two plates. The creamy scent of mascarpone wafted over to him.
“Will Regulus not be joining us?” he asked.
“He hasn’t been home in time for dinner for a few days now. He is absolutely fascinated with the track and has been receiving driving lessons from his new extensive group of friends.” Hurricane wiped his hands on a cloth before moving the plates to the settings. “I’ve met some of them, and they’re treating him as their pet project. I keep wanting to tell him to be more cautious. I feel like his mother.”
“A travesty,” he drolled.
“They’ve made plans all the way through the new year, and here I felt all guilty for potentially leaving him alone at Christmas.”
That was news. “Suspending the struggle for a day, are you?” He sat down at the table while Hurricane poured them wine.
“Remus invited me to spend the day with them. I was surprised, to tell the truth, but I’m glad I don’t have to spend the day alone.”
He could not recall if Lupin’s taste had run to men. He had no recollections of the werewolf in romantic entanglements at all, actually. “I was not aware that you were on such good terms.”
“Oh, he worked out that I am the investor behind the wolfsbane project. He also knows about the time-travelling, but I’ve made him promise not to say anything on the topic.”
It was good to know he didn’t have to compete with Lupin, but he would have to observe their interaction none-the-less. He sampled the food, the slight acidity of the capers complimenting the smooth cheese and leek flavours. It was odd how much better he imagined the food tasted knowing it had been specially made for him.
“My compliments on your cooking skills,” he ventured, and Hurricane beamed at him.
The conversation turned to more mundane things as they ate, and when they were done they returned to the lounge with their glasses of wine in hand.
“Did you have someone in mind to be our sacrificial guinea pig?”
Hurricane stared at the ceiling. “It would be nice to be rid of one of the LeStranges, but since they’re in Azkaban, it will have to be someone else. Who do you have access to?”
A cold terror gripped his heart as a thought occurred to him. “Hurricane, tell me what happened to the Malfoys in your timeline.”
Two wide eyes turned on him. “I didn’t mean to imply that we should kill them! I know you’re Draco’s godfather, and to be that you would have to be important to at least one of his parents. Not the Malfoys, I swear.”
“That is not what I meant. Tell me what happened to them. Can they be,” he struggled for a word, “removed from this conflict?”
Hurricane’s posture relaxed. “I don’t know how they got mixed up into this mess in the first place, but I can say that they abandoned the cause in the end. It was rough on them though – the dark lord had moved into Malfoy manor and was holding them hostage against each other.” He looked like he wanted to say something else, so Severus waited. “Do you want to see if they can be brought over to our side?”
Yes. Yes, he did.
“Lucius’ father may present a problem. The man is influential and ambitious, and is not above sacrificing his own son to impress the dark lord.”
Hurricane smiled a devious smile. “I have it on good authority that he died of Dragon Pox long before Draco started at Hogwarts. What are the odds to have him exposed to the disease early?”
Severus liked the man more and more. “It can be done.” He allowed a smile to linger about his own lips, and was rewarded with a slight blush and an averted gaze.
A key in the lock stopped his thoughts short, and a windswept young man entered that didn’t remotely resemble Regulus Black at all.
“Snape! Are you here to pick up more books? I’ve had to tell Kreacher to stop for a bit since the space here is becoming too limited.”
“You look positively muggle, Regulus.”
“Wouldn’t that just have my mother’s knickers in a twist?” Regulus disappeared into the bedroom, calling a belated intention to shower behind him.
Hurricane stood up, shaking his head, then set out to assemble a pile of books. Sensing that their evening was at an end, Severus stood as well and drained the last few drops from his glass. They worked companionably, and once done tied the books together with a thong of leather.
“Thanks for stopping by, Snape.”
“Severus,” he corrected.
“Severus.” The other man echoed happily.
“I will be in touch regarding a potential candidate; until then keep the ring safe.”
Hurricane nodded, and he apparated away.
Harry was extremely glad when Regulus informed him that he was heading out again that night. Images of Snape in his fitting blue shirt kept parading through his head, and he couldn’t believe he had been afforded a view of that pale chest. He was also pretty sure that Snape had caught him staring, but had for some reason not commented on it.
Severus, not Snape.
Oh god, he was becoming obsessed.
Regulus appeared at the bedroom door, a towel around his waist. “So, you and Snape, eh?”
It was probably the worst response he could possibly give, but he blushed like a bloody schoolgirl before dropping his head into his hands as he groaned. “I don’t know what’s come over me,” he confessed. “Do you think he noticed?"
“He’s hard to read, but considering who he is, I’d say he has. He probably won’t say anything unless you try to act on it, though. He won’t ruin an arrangement where he benefits so much just because you have dirty thoughts about him.” Harry sunk further into the chair, and Regulus grabbed a pair of jeans to shrug into. “Relax. It’s actually plenty flattering to have someone check you out. And you never know, he might be interested.”
Harry peeped over his hands. “I doubt that.”
“Are you afraid of ruining a future relationship for him? I can’t imagine him happily married off to anyone.”
“No, he was always alone when I knew him.”
Regulus shrugged. “Then why not give it a try? Give him a hint that you’re interested in more, and if he takes you up on it… well, I’d rather not go there. My own tastes run a lot more curvaceous that his bony arse.” He traced an hourglass shape in the air with his hands. “If he doesn’t take the hint, then reign it in.”
“Is this tried and tested advice you’re giving me?”
“Most definitely!” Regulus grinned wildly.
Harry rolled his eyes, but was grateful for the approval. He couldn’t exactly explain Severus’ dedication to his mother to Regulus anyway. “Thanks. I’ll see if I can come up with anything.”
“Start by giving him something amazing for Christmas. The old courting rituals always had the first gift represent the value of the individual, so if he’s familiar with them he could read that into it. Do you want me to ask Kreacher to bring a book on the old traditions?”
The idea had immense merit, so he nodded. He wondered what he could possibly give as a present that would eclipse the basilisk scales in value. His eyes widened.
The basilisk scales.
An idea formed in his mind and he sought out a scale to test his theory. Transfiguring a needle, he prodded the back of the scale. It took a few tries, but he managed to pierce the thinner edge. If he dedicated a few days to the project, then he should have it done in time for Christmas…
It was much later that evening as he read through the book Kreacher had left behind that dismay struck him.
Severus may be interested in a relationship with Hurricane, but would he be interested in Harry Potter?
Voldemort sat on the dais watching his death eaters appear. He was feeling particularly foul; the result of his revelation regarding the prophecy combined with the ritual requirements to restore him to life.
Abraxas, Antonin and himself had reviewed what they knew of the prophecy, and had come to the conclusion that this new threat, this Hurricane was a bigger danger than a child would have been. News had it that the Potters were obliviously continuing with their miserable little lives, and he wanted to eradicate them simply on principle. He would have to wait until he was stronger though – he was barely capable of apparition lately.
The major plans for the evening was to arrange the breakout of the LeStranges from Azkaban and to obtain the blood of the posturer. Only his most trusted were invited, along with Severus, his viper. It truly was a pity that the man was a half-blood. His vision of a world under wizarding rule would never allow dirty blood like that to be more than a servant.
They debated the breakout for a full hour before he sent most of his subordinates away. Severus, Abraxas, Lucius and Antonin remained.
“Tell me about this Hurricane,” he commanded.
Antonin stepped forward. “He has hidden his identity to such an efficient extent that we cannot trace him further back than November this year when he opened his Gringotts account. He made a sizable deposit on the day, and none since, only withdrawing and converting most of it to muggle currency. He has recently purchased four Christmas gifts indicating that he has friends or family we can exploit, and he has been seen in the company of Remus Lupin, an unemployed wizard. His more recent forays, however, has been with our own Severus.”
Voldemort raised a brow at the mentioned man, but indicated that Antonin should continue.
“Rumour has it that he has limited seer-skills, and have been advising the order as such. He was involved in the capture of Rudolphus and his family where he was observed to have long distance accuracy and speed with spells. We have not been able to penetrate the defences on his apartment yet.”
“Is it warded against animals?”
The man thought for a moment before replying. “I have seen no evidence of such, my lord.”
Turning to Severus, who had not interrupted the narrative despite being implicated, Voldemort beckoned him to raise his head. “Severus.”
“My lord,” was the immediate reply.
“Tell me what you have learnt.”
“Hurricane is a muggle raised wizard, but is somehow related to Sirius Black. They are on poor terms and he is attempting to reconcile their relationship. He has received a large inheritance that he is using to finance himself at this stage, and remains unemployed. One of the items he inherited is under a dark curse, and he is currently involved in research to remove it. He has sought my expertise on the matter which I have granted him in exchange for payment.”
Voldemort tapped his chin. “You have regular access to this individual?”
“Yes, my lord. We are scheduled to meet again in two weeks’ time.”
It was a longer interval than he wanted to wait, but he couldn’t risk Severus’ position in the order just yet. No one else shared his unique circumstances. “Very well. Bring him to me when you see him again. We need his blood.”
“If it is merely a question of blood, I can obtain it without any suspicion raised. Potion requirements are often odd like that, and I’m sure I can find a believable explanation.”
He looked across to Abraxas for his verdict.
“I doubt it would work, but there is no harm in trying.”
“Obtain his blood and send it to Abraxas, but deliver him to me in two weeks regardless.” He narrowed his eyes at the prone man. “Do not fail me in this, Severus.”
“Of course not, my lord.”
“Lucius, you will explore his apartment. See what you can learn; I need more insight on this man.”
Another bowed head, and he dismissed them. He was irritated and would have liked to have seen one of them writhe on the floor, but his magical levels were too unstable for that.
Rather let them believe him to be in an amicable mood.
Back at Hogwarts, Severus sent word to the headmaster regarding the meeting. He would have to be careful not to be seen with Hurricane until two weeks have passed, but he could not bring himself to be the reason for Lucius’ failure.
Owl post and the floo were too unsecure to transmit a message, but he also didn’t want to involve Albus in what might turn out to be an early implementation of their murderous plot. The answer came to him as he deposited the overdramatic death eater robes on his desk chair – the next sample of Wolfsbane stood innocently next to his paperwork.
While he didn’t care for the wolf, he was infinitely more tolerable than either Black or Potter and could be trusted to deliver a message. Since his weekend was at an end, he opted to send an owl to notify Lupin to collect his potion the next day before breakfast.
Narcissa was reviewing the list of attendees to their Christmas soiree when an unexpected hand on her shoulder made her start. She was better bred than to show the absolute terror of the moment, and merely turned an alarmed look on the person that should have had no way of appearing behind her without her notice.
A handsome if unshaven face stared back at her, a finger on his lips. He held Draco on his hip with the other, and the panic in her chest increased tenfold.
“May we speak somewhere where we won’t be disturbed?”
Gracefully she stood, and with her hands folded in front of her she led the way to her tea room. Abraxas would be at the ministry today, her mind supplied, and Lucius had left on an urgent errand that morning. They were alone for now.
“Would you care for some tea?” she offered once the door was shut behind them.
“I’d rather we don’t involve the house elves, thanks.” He sat down on the settee, bouncing Draco on his leg. Her little boy laughed.
Her heart ached.
“I’ll get straight to the point. I’m here to make you an offer to free you, your husband and your son from the dark lord.” He set Draco on the floor, who ran over to her immediately to babble. Was he holding her son hostage against her?
“What are your terms?” she queried.
“Your husband was sent on a reconnaissance mission to my apartment this morning. He is going to find information there that will be of great interest to the dark lord.” He levelled his gaze at her. “I could have made his mission a failure, but an acquaintance of mine would prefer that your husband not suffer anyone’s wrath. I would prefer to talk to him, to censor some of the information before it reaches the wrong ears.
“Which is why I’m here. I know you only want what is best for your family, so if I can convince you that my offer is genuine then I’m sure Lucius can be brought to see things in the same light.”
Was this a test? What a cruel offer to dangle in front of her. “How do we benefit?”
“Protection and testimony on your behalf in the wake of the dark lord’s defeat.”
To speak of such a thing so fearlessly… “I presume you have plans in place to ensure this outcome.”
He nodded and crossed his ankles. “When your husband arrives, he can confirm my story, but I intent to put an end to him within the next month.”
She hardly had the authority to make a decision such as this, but if she knew her husband then she knew he would be tempted at the very least. “Very well. Shall we await Lucius’ return?”
She sat silently, unsure of the threat level of the situation she found herself in and wanting to stop Draco from approaching the stranger again. The toddler had other ideas though, and flung himself at the man who smiled happily at him and then proceeded to play with him. She saw no wand and heard no spells, but the tiny white ferrets that materialised to dance about her son’s head had to have been his doing.
At the very least it spoke of power.
Finally, she felt the wards shift to alert her of a returning presence. She stood and walked to open the door, but stayed within her guest’s eyesight. She beckoned Lucius over when his graceful stride brought him to the corridor outside.
“Lucius.” She greeted her husband. “We have a guest that would like a moment of your time.”
Cold grey eyes turned to view the man sitting on the floor, trying to stand up under the onslaught of an excitable nineteen-month-old. He looked very harmless indeed. Lucius stepped inside.
“Morning,” he laughed, and Narcissa stepped in to separate her son from the man.
“Draco.” She tugged him over to sit with her, and Lucius took a seat in the chair he favoured. The stranger lifted himself to the settee once more.
“As I’ve told your wife, I’m here to make you an offer. All I ask is that you hear me out before you make any rash decisions.”
Lucius glanced at her, a question in his eyes. She gave an almost imperceptible nod. “Very well. Would you care to introduce yourself? I fear I have missed that part of the conversation.”
The man smiled. “I think you know me better than a lot of people. How did you like my apartment?”
Her husband paled and raised his chin in defiance. “Hurricane.” The name meant nothing to her.
“The one and only.”
“I take it you are not here to admonish me for entering your property against your wishes.”
“No. Like I said, I am here to make you an offer.” He reiterated the conversation they had had while waiting for Lucius, elaborating on a few details. “Are you aware of the prophecy?” he concluded.
Thoughtful, Lucius inclined his head.
“So, if I say that I plan to kill the dark lord within the next month, would you believe me capable of it?” He pulled the neckline of his sweater lower to show a zig-zagged shaped scar below his collarbone. Lucius stared at it with a calculated look, before looking at her again.
There was a question in his eyes.
“For Draco,” she said softly.
“Very well. If, however, the dark lord is not dead within a month, we renege this agreement.”
Hurricane smiled. “There will be no need for that then.”
“Why us?” Narcissa interrupted. She couldn’t understand why the man would choose to extend a hand to them if silencing them would be so much more in his favour.
“I’m sure from the notes in my apartment you have already come to the conclusion that I am from the future.” He directed his comment at Lucius, who nodded. “If you can get over your silly pureblood supremacy theory, I believe that you can be a great asset to the wizarding world. The people in power in the future were all spineless cowards, and I hope you can give them a run for their money if you are not riddled in criminal records.”
“Silly pureblood… do you have evidence to the contrary?”
A shrug. “Halfbloods are currently topping the scale on the powerful chart. Grindelwald, Dumbledore, the dark lord… I can name more people, but I don’t want to implicate them.” The dark lord was a halfblood? Narcissa felt her jaw slacken.
Her husband was as shocked. “The dark lord?”
“I’d rather not go into his sordid history, but his real surname is Riddle. Doesn’t sound very pureblood, does it?” Both her and her husband were at a loss of words. “Look, can I tell you what you can pass on to him from your investigation for now? We can debate the finer details of ancestry after he is gone.”
Lucius nodded, and Narcissa left to collect tea from the kitchens. When she returned, the two men were wrapping up their conversation, and Hurricane had an odd leather-bound book in his hand.
“If you don’t mind, I’m just going to apparate from here in order not to be seen.”
Abraxas. How could they have forgotten about how he would react? She wanted to say something, but as she opened her mouth the stranger was soundlessly gone.
“He will do it, Cissa.” Lucius’ voice was soft.
She turned to look at him, passing him a cup of tea from the tray. “How can you be sure?”
He was quiet for a moment longer. “Not even the dark lord can apparate through wards.”
Next chapter, Christmas! Yay!
Chapter 20: Chapter 20
Christmas! I'm not sure I did this chapter justice, so perhaps one day when my narrative skills have improved I'll try re-writing it. =)
“You do realise that what you are asking us to do goes against the very fundamentals of this establishment?” The goblin glared at Harry over his tiny rounded glasses.
“I am aware, sir. But I’d rather propose it this way than have to go through the trouble of stealing from you again.”
The goblin’s eye twitched at his phrasing. “Not again. The events you described have not come to pass, and I will thank you not to insult our bank as such.”
Harry sighed. This was turning out harder than he had thought. “Look, I plan to kill Voldemort within a few weeks, and I need to destroy the magic in the cup before I can do that. The LeStranges are all in Azkaban at the moment, so it’s not like they will notice the loss anytime soon. The bank can then claim assistance to the light and any accolades that go along with it.” The goblin’s frown remained unchanged, so Harry played his trump card.
If this didn’t work, then he would have wasted his time. “I’m prepared to offer compensation for this service.”
One of the lower ranking goblins sitting to his side scoffed and left. Five pairs of eyes watched him leave. Another one he was sure had been introduced as the DPO, raised the question they were all thinking. “What could you possibly offer us that could tempt us to risk millennia’s worth of traditions?”
Reaching for the parcel he had leaned against his chair, Harry placed it on the table in front of him and started to unwrap it. Four curious gazes grew incredulous as the shape became discernible.
“An artefact for an artefact. I will return the sword of Gryffindor to you.”
Harry left with the cup.
Christmas morning dawned snug and cheerful for Harry. For the first time since he started at Hogwarts there were no presents at his feet when he woke up, but the small pile of gifts he intended to hand out proudly drew his attention instead.
Bouncing off the couch he grabbed the gift intended for Regulus and threw the bedroom door open. In the bed the occupant groaned. “It’s too early…” came the slur.
“Psh. The sun is up, lazy bones.” He bounced onto the bed. “I have a gift for you!” The package was obnoxiously shoved under Regulus’ nose who batted it away. “Oh, you don’t want it?”
The body in the bed slumped and then rolled over. “Merlin, it’s too early for this. If I open it, will you let me sleep some more?”
Harry shrugged. “If you think you can, be my guest.”
The wrapping paper was discarded easily, and Regulus lifted the lid of the box to reveal the contents. A set of keys and a photograph of a crapcan stared back at him. Regulus gaped at him.
“I asked Celest to arrange it, so if you want specifics you will have to ask her. All I know is that a large portion of the body is a VW, the rest was lost on me.”
The man was out of bed and hugging him in a second. “Bloody hell! This is amazing! Thank you!”
Harry laughed good naturedly, and poked him in the side. “Leave my ribs intact!”
Regulus let go and scavenged in a pile of clothes for a moment before holding a newspaper wrapped gift towards Harry. “It’s not much, but I thought you could use it.” He had a sly look on his face.
Pulling the paper off, he glanced at the cover of the glossy magazine before quickly hiding it against his chest. “Oh my god.” He could feel his face heating up all the way to his hairline. Regulus laughed at him and disappeared into the bathroom.
“I’ll give you a moment!” he called.
Harry thought he’d need more than a moment as he peeled the magazine back to stare at the cover. Crash Course on Gay Sex the one headline screamed at him. He opened the book to page through it and was horrified at the speed at which his body responded.
He fled to the lounge to hide the book until Regulus had left.
When Harry stepped through the floo with the grace of a panicking diricawl, Sirius laughed so hard he broke the glass he was holding. Remus merely shook his head and baby Harry toddled over to demand a gift. His chant of “mine, mine, mine” ended with a squeal as adult Harry – this was bound to get confusing – handed over a present. He ran to kitchen to show off his spoils to the missing parents.
“Glad you could make it,” Remus greeted him.
“I wouldn’t miss it.” Glancing over to where Sirius had disappeared to refill his now fixed glass, he softly added, “this is the first time I get to spend Christmas with family.”
“In that case I’m really glad I managed to invite you. Would you like to put your gifts here under the tree? Albus usually shows up right after lunch, and we do the exchange then.”
Harry nodded and arranged his presents to the side. Remus then escorted him to the kitchen where Lily was directing the cooking and James was being underfoot. Sirius stood to the side, encouraging little Harry to cause further havoc.
Lily finally sounded her frustration and sent a stinging hex at the two troublemakers to make them leave her in peace. She waved them from the room, greeting Harry as she spotted him.
“She’s probably counting the days until either Sirius or I get married. That way she will have someone on her side just on principle.”
“Fat chance of that happening.” James draped an arm over Remus’ shoulders. “Neither of you two bachelors are any good at socializing. Sirius is too obnoxious and you are too withdrawn.”
“Who are you calling obnoxious?” Sirius demanded from behind them. He snapped a spell at James’ heels and they barely avoided falling over. Childish laughter floated up from below them, and they sidestepped the toddler charging into the lounge.
Lunch happened much more expediently without James’ ‘help’ in the kitchen, and they were soon gathered around the dining room table digging in to the holiday roast. Lily made a concerted effort to involve Harry in the conversation, a fact that greatly pleased Remus. They were soon discussing recipes and household charms, and he saw the expression on James’ face darken as he noticed.
He cocked his head at the man and tried to convey his exasperation. Not everyone was after Lily!
He was ignored.
The true kick in the proverbial bollocks came when Albus arrived a short time later. There were smiles all around as the headmaster greeted them, but James’ expression became thunderous mere moments after.
There was only one person that could bring about such a dramatic change, and dreading what he would see as he turned to look, there was Severus Snape.
“I hope you don’t mind me inviting Severus along, Lily. A little bird had whispered in my ear that the two of you were no longer at odds, and I do so hate to see someone on my staff spending an important day like this alone.”
Severus stood stoically at the doorway. He had agreed – after much protest – to join Albus on this escapade hoping to assess Hurricane’s interaction with his childhood enemies. He was happy to see Lily as well; she was the only other person excepting the time-traveller that he had obtained a present for.
“Not at all, Albus! It’s so good to see you. Let’s move to the lounge to open the presents, shall we? Harry has been looking forward to it all day!” She touched his arm as she passed by him, querying what he would like to drink. If James could, he would be a smouldering heap of ash by now.
Habit made him move to a chair that allowed him a vantage point of the whole room, and Albus sat down next to him. Black tried to commandeer the entire two-seater for himself, but was kicked of by Potter who settled his own derriere upon it and pulled Lily down next to him as she walked past with the requested drinks. Instead of falling, the glasses righted themselves and calmly floated to the headmaster and himself.
He couldn’t see anyone visibly casting the spell, but Hurricane’s concentration marked him the culprit. As usual, he had no wand in his hand. Grasping the refreshment from the air, he nodded and raised his glass at the time-traveller who pinked slightly before turning a frown on the pile of presents. Excusing himself, Hurricane left the room, but moments he was back with another gift that he surreptitiously added under the tree.
Severus had no need to guess who the intended recipient was.
The spawn was directed to hand out the parcels. Next to him, Albus extracted multiple books from various wrappings as well as two pairs of garish socks that he exclaimed over most enthusiastically. He suppressed a shudder that anyone could ever like the atrocious things.
Next to James, Lily squealed, attracting the room’s attention. She tried to hide something in her lap but Black tugged the item away and held up a sheer negligee for all to see. James was howling with laughter, and even Lupin was chuckling into his hand as Lily had to jump to retrieve it. In the end she resorted to summoning it with her wand, and a chorus of ‘cheat!’ resounded from the imbeciles.
The gift Hurricane had snuck in earlier made its way over to his hands during all the commotion, and he spared a glance for the man where he was sitting next to Lupin. He smiled back, but looked like he was bracing himself for something.
Curious as to what could possibly made the man react like that, he started picking at the tape to open the gift. A golden box was revealed whose lid he gently removed, before parting the flaps of the soft black cloth inside.
The familiar sheen of black basilisk scales greeted him, but arranged in neat overlapping rows that spoke of a garment. Whatever it was, he had just been gifted a fortune. Lifting the surprisingly lightweight item out, it unfurled to reveal itself to be a long tunic of sorts.
Then it struck him – this was a vest, meant to be worn under clothing. Hurricane had just given him the ultimate protection against spells aimed at his body. A stray thought wondered if it would stand up to the killing curse, but the enormity of the gift pushed it aside. He turned wide eyes on the man whose attention was not fully on the conversation with Remus anymore. Catching Severus’ gaze, he bit his lip and looked down.
The wolf, of course, caught the action and turned his head to see who Hurricane had looked at. Noting Severus, he looked between the two men before realization dawned on his face and his jaw dropped open. Incredulous wide eyes stared at him and he glared back until the wolf turned back to Hurricane to whisper furiously.
“Goodness Severus, is that what it looks like?” Albus’ attention was on the softly clattering vest he still had in the air. Not trusting himself to speak, he held out the garment to the headmaster to view. Albus stretched out a hand to touch it, and he couldn’t resist drawing back slightly. He received a raised eyebrow and a twinkle for his efforts, and he cursed himself internally.
The hand did, however, withdraw.
“A most fitting gift, my boy. Truly worthy of the individual.” Albus motioned towards the packaging still in his lap, and he turned his own gaze towards it. The edge of a crest peeked out from amongst the black fabric.
Merlin help him. This was a gift of intent, and if he were correct, the identity of his suitor lay hidden in the folds of cloth. Albus had wisely turned his attention elsewhere, so he carefully lifted the corner of the material to peek at the insignia below.
The triple cinquefoil crest of the Potter family.
He looked at the infant happily tearing the wrapping paper to shreds next to the tree. There was a resemblance, except the brat had green eyes…
The man wore coloured contacts.
Sirius Black was his Godfather, and if you removed both the Potters and Black from the equation, the boy’s closest relatives were most likely that horrid sister of Lily’s. Muggle raised.
It all fit.
He sat frozen, trying to assemble his thoughts.
Was this an elaborate joke? No. Hurricane’s attentions had been too innocent and honest, and he even went as far as to warn him that his future self would not have approved of a budding friendship.
Obviously, the man was over that hurdle.
He had to remind himself that this was a man that had been raised away from Potter and Black’s influence. This was a child soldier that had been tainted by war, a man that could plot murder alongside him and offer him the grandest protection possible.
Hurricane’s earlier trepidation made sense now, yet he had been prepared to reveal his identity despite knowing that Severus could react very poorly to it. Fifty points to Gryffindor for bravery.
He met Hurricane’s gaze over Lupin’s shoulder and held it for a moment.
Then he smiled.
Lily frowned at Severus’ back as he stood conversing with Hurricane. She had been hoping that with Severus visiting, he would have sought out her conversation more. Instead she was relegated to the side of most of the conversations – compounded by her distraction at her friend’s odd behaviour. He had never cared what James thought of their interaction before, so it couldn’t be that he was staying away out of respect for the man.
Then there was the nonsense with Hurricane. She was aware that they had missed what appeared to have been a significant gift for Severus, but he wasn’t the kind of person to be swayed by material things. He was behaving downright strange, and she couldn’t puzzle out why.
She was quickly becoming irritated with Hurricane though. She wondered if he was incapable of shaving, hence the scruffy look he permanently sported. There also wasn’t a need to smile quite as often as he did – the conversation wasn’t that funny.
When he came over to ask her if he could refill everyone’s glasses, she pretended to be busy with Harry and not hear him.
It was as James went over to clap Severus on the back to congratulate him on his potion mastery that she was sure the world had turned on its head. What was happening with the men around her suddenly?
James was having a wonderful time. He had a new broom, arrangements to play another quidditch match – he may even let Hurricane be on his team his time – and best of all, reassurance that Snape wasn’t after Lily.
After the gift exchange he had spied Hurricane and Snape sharing a conversation riddled with blushes on the shorter man’s face. Observing them as the afternoon progressed had been a revelation indeed! If he had known Snape was bent he wouldn’t have given the man half as much grief as he had over the years.
It almost made him feel guilty.
He laughed alongside Sirius, ribbed Remus about his ‘wolfsbane addiction’ and tossed his son up in the air.
Life was good.
The Malfoy soiree that evening was already in full swing when Severus arrived. He navigated through the throng of people to locate the hosts.
He had nearly skipped the event that evening. The lure of having Hurricane in his bed and to test out the various things he had researched was almost irresistible, but he was sure fornication was not a viable excuse not to attend.
He also had a mission to accomplish, so he had excused himself and dragged his sorry self over here.
He noted Narcissa talking to Millicent Bagnold, and steered clear of the area entirely. Lucius was kneeling at the end of the buffet table talking to Draco, and he headed there instead.
“Good evening, Lucius, Draco,” he greeted them. The little boy looked up at him with a quivering lip. “What seems to be the problem?”
Lucius stood and ran his fingers through his son’s blond hair. “We were merely having a discussion about proper etiquette. One does not run under food tables, no matter how perfect the fit.” His attention shifted to someone behind Severus as they waved him over. “If you will excuse me for a moment.”
Severus draped the edge of his cloak over the boy who clung to it like a security blanket. “Remember what I told you Draco,” he softly voiced, “you can do as you please as long as you are not discovered. Learn the art of subterfuge early, and it will serve you well in life.” The toddler merely stared at him with wide eyes, and Severus sighed. “Where is your grandfather, Draco?”
The boy pulled a face, but bounced off towards the central portion of the room. Severus readied his wand in his sleeve.
Draco stopped behind a gaggle of women and pointed. “Gwampa.” Severus dipped his head at the boy, thanking him and passing him the soft fluffy toy that Hurricane had insisted he give Draco before he left. Wonder lit up his face, and he inhaled a breathy ‘ah’. The toy was clutched to his chest and after an adoring gaze at Severus he ran off to find his mother.
Turning his attention to the group of people in front of him, Severus considered his options. Abraxas was in the centre, his rich practiced laugh echoed by the titters of emptyheaded society. The man’s glass was steady enough – he could implement his plan without drawing any further attention to himself.
The sealed tube with a strain of the live dragon pox virus that Hurricane had owled him during the week rested in the palm of his hand. He had run many scenarios through his head as to how the container was obtained, but in the end he had to admit that Hurricane had probably just waited until after hours before apparating into the research section of St Mungos.
With a practiced motion, he drew his wand in the circular flick that the spell required to send the contents of the vial into Abraxas’ drink. It was a variant on the medi-wizardry incantation that spelled medicine into incapacitated wizards’ bloodstreams. The alcohol would serve to expedite the disease while giving him enough time to vacate the Malfoy family for a few days until the contagious period had passed.
Hopefully they would return home to a rotting corpse.
Feeling accomplished, he went to seek out Narcissa to casually mention his intention to visit Paris over the next few days, and perhaps Draco would care to view the catacombs?
Tired in more ways than one, he made the journey back to Hogwarts that evening. The lights were still on in the great hall, and he could hear Fillius and Hagrid singing from inside. He had brewed additional hangover remedies as a precaution, and it seemed like they would come in handy.
Spelling the lights on in his quarters, he stalled at the sight that greeted him.
Hurricane was curled up in his chair, the damnable Hogwarts, a History open on his lap. The man had obviously tried to surprise him by showing up, but must have fallen asleep while waiting. He was tempted to wake him up, to demand answers or to claim what he believed he had been offered, but he was so knackered himself that he ended up levitating the slack body to his bed instead and crawling in next to him.
Chapter 21: Chapter 21
Yummy chapter without much plot. Enjoy!
Harry awoke to the scent of clean bedding, the likes he had only ever experienced at Hogwarts. He held onto the blanket tighter and smiled. Christmas had been wonderful, although he wasn’t sure what he had done to cross Lily. He should probably apologise when he saw her again – hopefully he could phrase it in such a way that she would reveal the reason for her ire.
Everyone had been polite about their gifts; inspiration from Hermione had resulted in an expanded-space bag for Lily, he’d ordered Peruvian instant darkness powder for James (something Sirius had shown great interest in) and box seat tickets to Regulus’ debut race in January for Sirius. He’d promised not to say anything about the significance of the items, and Sirius had barely spared the slips of paper a glance.
For Remus he had obtained a typewriter and cassette player as well as a book on transcription. Inside the book he had folded a flyer from the local muggle magistrate that advertised their need for such a service, and the werewolf had been fascinated by the items. Hopefully it opened up a career path sooner rather than later for the man.
And then there was Snape – Severus. They had kept their topics innocent following a brief thank-you, but he couldn’t help but blush at the implications of what that smile had meant. He caught his face heating up multiple times during the conversation, and he could have sworn that he was being intentionally teased. The way Severus had caught the condensation from the bottom of the glass…
Oh god, he had fallen asleep on his chair.
Where the blazing hell was he?
He blinked open his eyes to see Severus sitting on the bed next to him, already dressed for the day. The man was reading a book open on his lap, but his eyes slid over to Harry at the slightest hitch of his breath.
“Er, you’re not mad?” Well, wasn’t that the cleverest line to come up with.
The book was closed and placed on the nightstand. It looked like one of the Black collection. “I already stated as such yesterday, did I not?”
He sat up, taking in his own rumpled appearance. “It just feels so hard to believe.”
Severus hummed noncommittally. “I have arranged breakfast for us, but you are free to use the facilities beforehand.”
Harry felt both frustrated and relieved; he probably had morning breath and he didn’t even want to imagine the state of his hair, yet at the same time he was hoping the conversation had taken another turn. Offering his thanks, he was shown to the bathroom where he had a quick shower. Staring at his reflection in the mirror, he impulsively applied a shaving charm to his face. The image was still off though, so he carefully extracted the contact lenses he was not meant to sleep in, and inserted the new clear muggle set he had prepared for the night before.
His own face finally greeted him.
Squaring his shoulders, he joined Severus in the lounge and sat down opposite him. Dark eyes studied him quietly, and he fidgeted. “I much prefer your whisker-free appearance,” he finally offered.
He let the relief show on his face. “Me too, actually, but I’ve heard people compare me to James so often that I left it as a precaution.”
“Potter has a much heavier set so his jaw than you do, although once the family resemblance is pointed out, it is hard to miss.” The gaze lingered on his eyes for a moment before returning to the food.
Happiness suffused his chest. “Thank you.”
Another quick glance was directed at him. “We have a few matters to discuss today, most notably that Abraxas should be succumbing to his ailment within the next few days. I have arranged to accompany the Malfoys to Paris during his contagious period; being devoid of assistance should render his life forfeit.”
“That sounds good. No-one will suspect you?”
“I did not go within five metres of the man all evening, and obtaining a culture of the disease should be nigh impossible. Hopefully he has infected some other sod and can blame the origin on them.”
With Abraxas out of the way, Dolohov would be the next in the chain of command. “Do you think you can lure Dolohov to my apartment next? I’ll disable to wards for a timeframe so he can get in.”
“He would be most curious for such an endeavour. The earliest I can do so would be upon my return on the 29th. What do you have in mind?”
Harry resisted the urge to speak around the mouthful of bacon, and instead waited until he swallowed. “Bring him over, and tell him you’re to set up an ambush to grab me. I’ll leave the ring in clear view with a tempting note – perhaps something along the lines that the hallows are real. Once he touches it, I’ll reveal myself and we can lock him up while we go sort out the dark lord.” He grinned. “Bam. We start the new year minus one evil overlord.”
The way Severus clasped his hands together and closed his eyes told him the man was overwhelmed at the short timeframe. Then he stood suddenly, and made his way over to a bookcase from where he pulled a small ruby coloured crystal vial. Standing next to Harry, he handed the item over. “You have granted me gifts beyond compare, and while this may pale in comparison, it is my gift to you. Happy Christmas, Hurricane.”
Curious, Harry inspected the vial and worked the stopper loose. As he inhaled the vapour he was flooded with images, scents and sounds – the feel of the parchment from his first Hogwarts letter, the crinkled photograph of his parents, Ron’s laugh, a navy button down shirt, the taste of treacle tart and that exhilarating performance in the mirror.
He felt his face heat up again, and wondered if he had kept at that bloody etiquette book if he would know the polite way to ask for sex right now. Or a kiss. He was sure he could work his way from there.
“It is a happiness philtre of my own design. Inhalation of the fumes should result in a realistic recall of past events that caused enjoyment.” Harry sniffed it again to see that lean pale body moving over him once more, and bit his lip to stifle the sigh that wanted to escape. “I am pleased to see it works.” He looked up into eyes glittering with mirth.
Bloody hell, the man was a tease.
“Thank you,” he whispered instead. He stared lovingly at the vial, knowing exactly what he would use if for once he secured his flat without Regulus around. And wasn’t that just the epitome of stupidity – here he had the man of multiple dreams in front of him and he couldn’t wait to indulge in a fantasy.
“One last thing we need to discuss, if you don’t mind.” Snape – Severus – took his seat once again. “Was your gift of intent a serious observation of the tradition, or merely a token to establish interest? If the former, then I will unfortunately have to decline.”
Why couldn’t he speak normal English! “Decline?”
“We hardly know each other well enough to consider marriage, no matter how familiar you are with my counterpart. Additionally, the practice of abstinence does not appeal much to me, nor does the familial introduction.”
Harry’s heart raced. “Two men can be married?”
Severus raised an eyebrow. “Not observing tradition then.” Harry just stared at him, trying to work out how to move this conversation in the right direction and eventually the other man huffed. “While capable of the practice, I am hardly a mind-reader.”
Harry dropped his gaze. “If you read my mind we never would have left the bed,” he pouted.
“Is that permission?”
Harry wasn’t sure if he meant permission to read his mind or to return to that tempting piece of furniture, but he breathed a “yes” either way. Severus stood up with darkly glittering eyes and held out a hand to him. He had barely placed his own hand in the offered appendage when he was pulled out of his chair and flush with the other man, and Merlin if that wasn’t the single most electrifying thing he had ever experienced! With their bodies aligned he could feel the warmth of the other man seeping into his skin, he could feel the jut of hipbones above his own and if he pushed forward slightly he was sure he would encounter a part of his anatomy that the mirror had denied him.
Heart pounding in his throat he lifted his head.
Enthusiasm was a brilliant addition to kissing, Severus observed. It was more the way Hurricane was grasping at his shoulders and leaning into him that was turning him on than the contours pressed against his body. He had never held a man this close to him before, and no-one had ever tried to climb into his skin quite like this.
The heady feeling was overwhelming. He felt powerful.
It was also becoming clear that Hurricane was perhaps less experienced in this field than he – the man was simply holding and kissing him; there was no hints at undressing at all. Considering that he was scheduled to be in Paris in about three hours, he was most definitely counting on a level of divesting.
He moved his hands to the hem of Hurricane’s shirt and worked the material higher as he explored the skin underneath. A slight startle and a hitch of breath was his reward, and then the other man realised that he too could be proactive in this exercise and the hands moved to the buttons below his collar.
The skin was warm under his touch, and not quite as soft as a woman’s. There was also a lot more texture and valleys than he was used to, and he mapped it with his fingers. Hurricane melted in his hands.
“You have too many buttons,” came a breathy whisper as he lifted the shirt over the messy head.
“There are spells for that,” he murmured in return.
“Will you teach me?” The hands returned to the offensive objects.
He was sure the man could will them open if he tried. “I’m sure you can be more creative than that.”
The fingers at his chest stilled, and the pressurized feeling in the air that was synonymous with Hurricane’s gathering magic increased. It was both exhilarating and terror-inspiring. Then he felt his shirt being pulled through him, and Hurricane proudly held up the half-buttoned garment in a fist. Smirking, he pulled the topless man against himself. The sharp intake of breath echoed his own appreciation of the skin contact, and he watched the other man with delight as Hurricane struggled to control his breathing.
Adding fuel to the fire, he brushed a fingertip over an exposed nipple and had to brace himself as Hurricane’s legs buckled under him.
“I believe we should retire to the bedroom.”
Eager green eyes met his. “Fuck, yes please.”
The bloody tease then had the nerve to grab him by the belt and blindly steer him through the bedroom doorway. Hurricane’s eyes never once strayed to the disfigurement on his left arm, a fact he was infinitely grateful for. At the edge of the bed he pushed the man down, and he landed sprawled on the covers. His healthy tan was a delicious contrast against his own pale skin, and he wedged a leg between the other man’s. Hands reached for his belt again as Severus descended to taste the sun-kissed skin.
Hurricane, however, had other plans as he pulled their groins together and they both keened at the contact. Between moans of oh god and yes they managed to disrobe each other. Severus’ analytical mind kept straying to the differences between their anatomy, but he found himself intensely distracted as their members touched.
Reaching for the drawer beside his bed turned into a bit of a fumble in his excitement to test the lubricant, but once the substance was dripping down their groins and he was grasping them both in a pumping motion, he damn near expended himself.
It registered in his mind that he had assumed that he would be the person performing the penetration, and he hoped Hurricane had no design upon the role. If the way the man was reacting beneath his ministrations was any indication, he doubted there would be an argument on the topic.
“Lift your legs,” he instructed when the building pressure was almost too much, and watched with prideful glee as the much more powerful man complied with a blush. The crimson haze spread up to Hurricane’s hairline as Severus inspected the sphincter and lightly ran a finger around the perimeter.
The voiding spell – he nearly forgot.
His persisted practice had granted him the ability to cast it wandless, and he proceeded to do so. Beneath him, Hurricane startled and his member drooped slightly. He gave it a tap with his index finger and uttered beratingly, “none of that.”
“Oh god.” Hurricane covered his face with his hands as his body responded positively to the admonishment.
“Your body is more honest than you are.” He dripped some more of the potion into his palm – some more Aloe ferox might increase the viscosity, he should make a note somewhere – and set out to explore his prize. It was amazing to see how much the anus could stretch. He liberally applied the liquid to the area, and watched with amazement as Hurricane’s heavy breathing turned into wild flailing as his guestimate at the prostates’ location proved true.
“Fuck, Snape – Severus – if this is how you approach your potion experiments then I bloody volunteer to be a live specimen!” Hurricane successfully grabbed hold of his shoulders and wrenched him down for a kiss. With his fingers still buried to the hilt it was a bit of a reach, but it was fascinating to see the man slowly lose control of himself. Two warm hands suddenly engulfed his own length, and he faltered with his motion.
“Merlin…” he breathed.
Hurricane was begging beneath him now. “Please, I can’t… I won’t… Severus…”
Complying with the unvoiced request, he lined himself up. Wetness glistened on both their skin and the resistance was negligent as he pushed forward. Hurricane arched his back in ecstasy, his fingers clutching at Severus’ arms and chest.
The experience was downright earth-shattering, made more so by the insane curiosity about the orifice he found himself in. The level of lubrication allowed him to feel more friction, and by proxy, more pleasure, than he had ever experienced with a woman, and it was but a few short thrusts later that he could feel himself reach the summit.
He had barely wrapped his long-fingered grip around Hurricane’s base when pearly streams erupted from the man, the thrill triggering his own release. Head bent over the shape under him, he finally collapsed.
Damn. Why was he going to Paris again?
Chapter 22: Chapter 22
Thank you so very much for all the wonderful reviews. The previous chapter was my first attempt at such a scene, and I feel a lot more confident to write along those lines in future. ^.^
A very excited blond head ran off clutching a sheet, shrieking as the ends of another flicked at his disappearing form. Lucius lifted an eyebrow at Narcissa, who innocently continued spelling the sheets from the furniture.
The Malfoy villa in France was not as big as the manor, but had more than enough room for the four of them over the next three days. Already two house elves were labouring in the kitchen under instruction to prepare dinner, the local cuisine their target.
Severus’ desire to attend the holiday conference and exhibition in Paris coincided with his plans to avoid his father over the next few days, so it was only prudent to offer lodgings to his long-time friend. Lucius was well aware of the ritual proceedings back home, and had no desire to add grave-robbing to his resume. He wondered which servant would have to offer up their flesh for the completion.
He shuddered at the obvious choice. He would never deny that he was a proud man; he invested much effort into his looks and poise and was not prepared to sacrifice his body to a farce he was retaining less and less faith in. He felt himself sincerely hoping Hurricane’s words proved true. While he would prefer to extend the offer he was given to Severus, he had no means to enforce it and would have to resort to extending his meagre political influence to reduce any sentence his friend received.
It was the best he could do.
After settling in they gathered in the drawing room for some tea. Draco cuddled the fluffy white ferret plush – he had called it an otter and his son with his limited vocabulary had corrected him - that had appeared around Christmas time. He disapproved of how it appeared to others, but his wife had lain a hand on his arm and carefully related that she believed the gift to be from the stranger that had visited.
He wasn’t sure if removing the toy would be seen as a rejection of the offer, so he staunchly hoped that Draco would tire of it before their return.
“What are your plans after the war, Severus? Will you continue teaching at Hogwarts?” he tested the water.
The other man stilled. “I am under no disillusion, Lucius. I know that my blood status will never afford me the possibilities that will be availed to you, and I am prepared to accept that. Whatever the dark lord envisages for me will be my lot in life.”
Nodding, he internally lamented Severus’ control. He missed the days when the teen would explode in a fit of temper and he’d be able to puzzle through what made him tick. While he was sure potions, knowledge and Lily Evans were still at the top of his list, Severus had changed, and no longer behaved predictably. “There are rumours that the dark lord himself is not as pure of blood as he would have us believe.”
“Rumours that the dark lord would kill to quash. I thank you for your concern, but I am aware of my expendability. As long as I am a useful tool, something I very much intend to be, he will keep me around. I am not concerned with my mortality in the near future at all.”
Well. Not much he could say to that.
Alarmed, Lucius sat up from where he was lounging in bed. Severus had offered to look after Draco for the evening, so after an indulgent session with his wife she had left to peek in on the other occupants of the house. That she now chose to slink back into the bedroom and whisper his name so urgently set off all kinds of alarms, and he was out of bed in a flash.
She deftly cast a muffling spell over them both as she helped him into his robe, and then they were moving swiftly down the corridor. As he neared the thin shred of light that marked Severus’ bedroom, he heard laughter and low voices. The panic eased and gave way to abject curiosity – did Severus sneak someone past the wards?
Narcissa confidently went up to the door, and after peering through the keyhole first, motioned him over. She didn’t have to do so twice – he was nearly falling over himself to see what lay beyond the door.
He didn’t manage to stifle the gasp that escaped him once he had positioned himself at the door, but it appeared their quarry remained none the wiser. Severus was reclined on the bed wearing only sleeping trousers, a state of undress he had never seen the man in. In front of him Draco and Hurricane were having a paint-war if the coloured handprints on their bodies was anything to go by. They were both topless as well, and Severus seemed to be the one directing Draco’s attack with well placed instructions. Not even the damnable ferret was spared as the white toy animatedly ran up and down Hurricane’s back, a blue toddler print wrapped around its middle.
With a sudden roar Hurricane attacked Severus, who remained free of paint no matter how much the attack persisted. He said something and then Draco was slapping at any available surface too, wildly giggling and gasping for air. Severus tried to push the offensive off himself, but only managed to scoot himself further back on the bed, and then all three bodies disappeared from sight followed by a thump.
The stunned silence was followed by deep throaty laughter, and limbs could be seen flailing over the edge of the bed. Draco’s bright laughter rang through it all; astonished he lifted his head to look at his wife. Together they snuck back to their room, and he collapsed onto the bed as Narcissa closed the door behind them.
“I don’t think I’ve ever heard Severus laugh,” she quietly said.
“Neither have I, Cissa.” He held out his arms to her, and she took up the invitation.
He huffed. “They fell off the bed.”
“They fell off… Do you think Hurricane has made an offer to Severus too?”
“No,” he said thoughtfully. “If anything, I believe he made the offer to us because of Severus. Perhaps your sister has been right all along – perhaps Severus has never been the dark lord’s man at all…”
Their arrival home was much less fuss than they had anticipated. Lucius expected to be summoned by his father at any moment, a feeling of dread building in the pit of his stomach the more time elapsed without word. He could hardly stall any longer after lunch came and went, and set out to the side of the manor that Abraxas inhabited.
The bedroom was empty, as were the study and library. Wondering if he were at a meeting Lucius was unaware of, he was about to return to his family when a ghastly smell reached him. Holding a sleeve in front of his face, he followed the stench to the seldom used tower stairs on the side of the building. Hoping his father was not experimenting on muggles for something the dark lord requested, he descended the stairs only to stop in horrified wonder when the bottom landing became visible.
Abraxas lay at the bottom of the stairs without an inch of dignity – his robes were pooled at his waist as he awkwardly rested with one leg bent up the wall from his tumble. His neck must have been broken along with his arm, the angles protesting natural biology.
At first fearing a murder attempt, he contacted his father’s connections at the ministry who rushed over like the worthless gossip-hounds they were. They, however, revealed the much more alarming dragonpox as the cause of the fall and immediately instructed Lucius and his family to be tested for the disease.
On their way out they were beset by an owl that wanted to be rid of the letter he carried, yet seemed uncertain as to whom to deliver the missive to. Lucius finally managed to untie the parchment and stuffed it into a pocket as they apparated to St Mungos.
The apparition co-ordinates landed him in a cluttered flat with obvious muggle décor. No man living here could be worth much effort, he scoffed internally.
Snape stood near the entrance, but after the curt greeting had turned his attention back to the door.
“Snape. Where is Abraxas?”
A slight turn of the head. “We cannot afford to wait for him if he is delayed, we will have to capture Hurricane on our own. He is due back any moment, the best vantage point is in the corner next to the window. Stun him the moment you can, I will cut off his escape and contain him to the room.”
Antonin moved over to the desk, irritated that this young upstart seemed to think he could dish out orders. Were it not for the favour of the dark lord the man enjoyed currently, he would have cut him down a few notches by now. Yes, his skill at potions was bloody legendary, but so were a number of more feeble fools that could be imperioused to the task.
He inspected the odds and ends that littered the desk while they waited. The occupant of the flat preferred the flimsy muggle paper to proper parchment, and had copious notes on a curse. He shuffled a few pages aside that covered a bigger item, and Snape glared at him from the door. Ignoring the glower, he pulled the revealed box closer and flipped it open.
Inside was a lineage ring and another note; he pulled the paper out and unfolded it to read the writing.
Resurrection stone – Gaunt
Invisibility cloak - Potter
Elder wand – Dumbledore
The hallows were real? He looked at the ring again, noting the sigil on the inside of the stone. How generously he would be rewarded for such a find! Snape’s attention was still on the door – he had a spell active that allowed him to see through it – so he slipped the ring out of the box and onto a finger.
His next waking thought amidst the pain was that it was dark, and his arm ached as though it was slowly being severed. He tried to call out for Snape – the traitor dared not leave him in enemy territory – but found that he could not speak. In fact, he couldn’t move at all, and even the comforting weight of his wand was missing. Panic set in, but even that abated after what felt like hours had passed in his immobile prison.
His mark started to burn, and he lay there unable to express the pain in a scream of terror that was clinging to his lungs.
Chapter 23: Chapter 23
I haven't proof checked this one yet, but will do so tonight! Apologies if there are any errors.
The missive lay forgotten in his pocket until early that evening after the commotion of the hospital visit died down. Having changed into something more casual, a house elf had magicked the envelope onto his wife’s dresser as they were wont to do.
Breaking the seal, he extracted the short note. It was addressed to Abraxas, and was in Severus’ elegant handwriting. He frowned as he read the short message – was Severus playing both sides of the war? It clearly was a summons to his father to assist in Hurricane’s capture.
His friend was becoming more and more intriguing as he walked deeper into this mystery. On the other hand, could it be a trap? If he did not suspect Severus of being a traitor, he would have followed up on this information in lieu of his father in order to keep up appearances for the dark lord. Conflicted he stared at the parchment for a moment longer, before striding out to inform Narcissa of his urgent departure.
The apparition co-ordinates took him straight into Hurricane’s flat, only it looked like something heavy had fallen and torn the tacky wallpaper behind the desk. A quick sweep of the room proved nothing else was amiss, and also that no-one was home. From the open doorway to the bedroom he could see an assortment of odd items on the floor and he walked over to investigate. A bejewelled tiara, a golden chalice, a broken signet ring, a sliver locket reminiscent of Slytherin and the leather-bound book Hurricane had requested from the Malfoy library. The last item had a curious wound like quality to it and appeared to be seeping blood into the dish it was placed upon.
As he stepped into the bedroom, the black bound form of Antonin Dolohov became visible, and he rushed over in shock. The man appeared to be in intense pain, but was bound in a shadowy mass of writhing black tendrils that prevented his movement. His arms were folded over his chest, and the right hand was completely black. A vicious dark aura emanated from the limb, and he stepped back in horror.
Well, here was his proof. Severus had turned on the dark lord. A giddy feeling ran through him – Severus wasn’t the kind of person to abandon a cause for nothing. There had to be hope at the end of this madness, but what part did he want in it? If he pretended to stay ignorant on the side-lines as per his agreement with Hurricane, he already had a ticket to freedom. There were those who would question his loyalty, but social graces were his battleground of choice and he was sure he could work the rumour mill to his benefit.
On the other hand, he could participate in whatever Severus and Hurricane had planned. He could not only walk away from this an innocent man, but he could walk away a hero. Could he place his faith into the hands of a man that appeared to have more power than sense? A man that snuck into another man’s room to play with a toddler? A man that spread laughter instead of threats?
The mark on his arm burnt with a sudden urgency, and he grimaced at it.
Narcissa forgive him if his judgement was wrong, but he was about to gamble on the odds.
When Harry had asked Regulus if he wanted to be part of the plan to take out the dark lord, Regulus had hesitantly declined. He had a new life and was only too glad to pass on the mantle.
Harry said nothing about the driver’s test form stuck to the fridge that shared the date.
After Regulus left, he had prepared the flat for Dolohov’s arrival and together Severus and he had set the trap. The invitation to Abraxas was sent out as well – it wouldn’t do to make it seem as though they were aware of the man’s demise.
Now they found themselves in the North Pennines, awaiting Severus’ summons. They had gone over the plan a few times now, adjusting minor details and formulating backup strategies. When the other man nodded to him to let him know that the call had gone out, they both conjured their patronuses to drop the surprise on the order.
Blushing warmly as he thought of their activities following Christmas day, Harry let the happiness infuse his chest to power the spell. Only, it was not the familiar stag that appeared, but rather a solid crow that swooped out of his wand. Speechless he stared at the animal as it landed on his shoulder and nipped at his hair. It felt real.
“What happened?” came the dark voice from his side, and he turned to see a sprightly deer hop off into the distance.
He looked at his patronus again. “It should be a stag.” He whispered.
Severus squinted at the bird, extending a hand to touch it. “I’ve never seen one quite so corporeal. Did you use a different memory from what you normally do?”
Harry bit his lip and nodded. Was he losing every connection to his parents now? He felt like a traitor, but the memory had been so much happier…
“We should look into it later. Send out the word and I will side-along you.”
He did as instructed, but before Severus could apparate them he grabbed the man on impulse and kissed him soundly. Pulling back, he stared into the fathomless black orbs. “The next time I do that, I promise you will be a free man.”
Severus closed his eyes as if he needed to absorb the vow. “I will hold you to that.”
Heart beating in his chest, Lucius arrived in the ante-chamber and moved to the main hall where the other seven death eaters were gathered. Hurricane was a floating body hovering behind the person that had to be Severus, and the others had to be the dark lord’s inner circle.
He had never seen them gathered in one place before.
“Lucius,” the man of the dais hissed as he stepped into one of the two last free positions of the circle. “Where is Abraxas?”
He bowed his head. “My father has succumbed to dragonpox earlier this week, my lord. My service my pale in comparison, but my wand is yours to direct as you see fit.”
The dark lord snarled and flung the cup in his hand at the wall, then stood and paced the length of the platform. They all waited in silence, but when it became clear that no ninth figure would be appearing, the dark lord pushed the chair over in a show of temper and stalked over to the nearest man to him. A dark mark was presented, and he dug the wood of his wand into it.
They all winced as they felt the power coursing through their marks, but the last spot remained empty.
“Do any of you have news of Antonin?” he finally growled.
“I sent word to both him and Lord Malfoy to assist in Hurricane’s capture earlier today, my lord. Neither of them responded.” The drawl was delivered so naturally that he wondered how he ever would have discovered the duplicity. He had however seen Dolohov’s body in the apartment, and kept his gaze on the floor.
It wouldn’t do to have the dark lord read his mind now.
A myriad of expressions all heavily laced with frustration flicked on the emaciated man’s face, before he walked over to two of the cloaked forms and ripped he hood off their heads. “Corban, Owen. You will familiarize yourself with the ritual as Abraxas and Antonin have done and assist me. Lucius,” the voice turned inviting, “you will have the honour of participating as well. Remain here until we call for you.”
Dread froze his insides. He knew it. As the least valuable but exposed to the most information, he was the clear choice for the flesh of the servant component. The two unmasked men followed the dark lord to back of the room where a table was laid out with glinting tools.
He shot a panicked glance at Severus, who had turned around and was heading towards him.
“Lucius. I was not expecting you here. My condolences for your loss.” He hated not being able to speak face to face. His skills lay in reading the nuances in a person’s expression, so speaking to a mask rendered him useless.
How best to communicate. “Thank you. He was a man I will never be able to replace. I’m sure the dark lord feels his loss more than my family does.”
“A pity you are required to be here in your time of grieving. How is Draco? He was not exposed to the virus, I hope?”
Was there a message in the words? He was missing it. “Draco tested highly resilient against the pox. The healers were rather impressed with his good breeding.”
“From the Black family line then, given how quick Abraxas fell to the disease.”
“I will be sure to pass the news on the Narcissa, she will be most proud.” How could he make him understand? “Your support is invaluable to us, Severus. Know that if you ever find yourself in need of such, I will endeavour to stand by your side.” A slight raise of the head.
“Then perhaps your presence here today is not such a problem after all. Rosier is yours.”
Hurricane was suddenly on the floor, a thick ooze of red light hitting a masked man straight in the chest and making him crumple forward, immobile. Severus had also fired off a spell, but he didn’t turn to see the result. Unsure which of the disguised men were Rosier, he selected the closest and sent a severing spell his way. The man screamed as a part of his robe dropped with a weight to the floor, and he realised the error of his spell choice immediately. The other two had disabled their targets silently, while his victim had just alerted the men removed from their group.
“What is the meaning of this?” the dark lord thundered as more spells went flying. Green light formed at the tip of the dark lord’s wand, but a thin zip of light hit him below the navel and a moment of panic stalled the man’s hand. Lucius could have sworn he had heard the incantation for a shaving charm from Hurricane, and judging by the speed at which the dark lord turned on the time traveller he must have been correct.
Suddenly there were more people, the arresting lilac of Albus Dumbledore’s robes making him wince. Tearing off his own death eater garb, he joined Severus’ side and flung spells in wild abandon at the men he couldn’t tell apart.
The dark lord had tried to flee to an exit, but he was blocked by the entrance melting in on itself and then Hurricane was there, sending a barrage of spells towards him that had him on the defensive. Focusing on his own fight as well as the confusion from the order members who were not sure if they should attack him or not, he suddenly sank to his knees as his magic drained out of him. Next to him, Severus was on the ground as well, as were the other death eaters.
Only one man could be responsible for such a change, and he fearfully returned his attention to the battle happening on the other side of the room. The dark lord was exchanging spells with Hurricane at a mad pace, neither of them speaking a word. The air thundered with power and the wind swept around him, heavy with possibilities.
Then the dark lord was on his knees and Hurricane walked over to him, whispered something low he couldn’t make out. Everyone was watching the scene and gasps were heard as Hurricane dropped his wand and held out his hands in a surrendering posture.
“Go on then, try,” Hurricane said in the silence.
Face contorted in a mask of fury, the dark lord flung the only spell quite that shade of green towards the time traveller. His face lit up with glee as the magic struck, but Hurricane retained the smile on his face as it travelled back towards the caster and struck him as well.
Both men collapsed.
There was no King’s Cross station this time around. In fact, he was just hovering in a big black void. The desire for some sort of orientation was so strong that he wasn’t surprised when there suddenly was a floor. He wanted it to be brighter, and that wish was granted too.
A cloaked figure stood in the distance, his shape indistinct and smoky. The malformed shape of the thing that was Voldemort lay between him and who he presumed to be death. Harry nodded in greeting at the personification and it nodded back. A voice like thunder cleaved the sky.
Heart hammering in his chest from the shock, he managed to reply, “my pleasure,” in a somewhat normal sounding voice. An object appeared in front of him after a moment, and he instinctively reached for it.
It was cold to the touch and had a chain attached to it, but before he could inspect it further, his consciousness was wrenched back to the land of the living.
He awoke to dead silence, and shook his head to clear the ringing in his ears as he sat up. Someone called his name and startled, he nearly jumped out of his skin. He pressed a hand over his heart to recover from the shock as the sandy-haired form of Remus ran over to him.
“Hurricane! Thank goodness you’re alive. Merlin, you gave us such a scare!”
“I gave you a fright?” he stared at the man incredulously as his own blood pressure calmed down.
Remus gestured towards the slumped form of the dark lord. “Is he…?”
Harry shuffled to stand up, and righting himself, Remus extended a hand down to pull him up. “Dead? Yes. Very much so.” Something clattered to the floor, and he bent to pick it up.
It was the item Death had given him – a circular charm on a chain. The pendant consisted of an outer and an inner ring, the two connected by six arcs. It looked like the eye of a storm.
A hurricane, ha. Death had a sense of humour.
Remus had walked over to Voldemort, and Harry could feel all the eyes in the room on him where he crouched down next to the body to check vitals or whatever one does to make sure someone is dead as opposed to alive. The wide grin he turned back to the room resulted in a raucous noise as order members roared with cheers and joyful exclamation.
Harry allowed his eyes to travel over the group of people. There was blood on some of their clothing, but only one body on the floor not clothed in black. Severus and Lucius stood amidst the few aurors of their number, the black gaze of the potions professor trained on Harry. He smiled at the dour man and walked over.
His movement seemed to spark the order into action, and soon everyone was milling about, separating those injured into groups of severity and apparating them out, the three dead were moved aside and the unmasked death eaters were placed under guard until the aurors could deal with them.
Dumbledore was speaking with Kingsley and Frank, another auror Harry was not familiar with forming the fourth participant of the conversation. From the new angle he could see that both Severus and Lucius’ hands were bound, their wands in Kingsley’s possession. He frowned.
“He has been assisting us for some time now, yes. James Potter and Sirius Black will be able to support my claim, but I fear I am not aware of when Mr. Malfoy’s allegiance changed.”
“Either way, we will need to take them both into custody, Albus. They will have a trial where you can testify on their behalf, but the most I can promise is to keep them out of Azkaban until then. The ministry cells afford a level of decency as well as visitors, as long as they cooperate.” The last part was said over his shoulder towards the two waiting men.
Lucius folded his hands in front of him in a show of impeccable breeding. “Cooperation you will have. May I request to have someone inform my wife of my situation?”
Harry stepped forward. “I’ll let her know.” Cold eyes met his and the man nodded his appreciation. Harry smiled at him, then turned to Severus. “I’ll see you tonight?”
Frank cleared his throat. “We need to book them into the system first and sort through the paperwork. Until we can estimate the level of danger they present based on the cumulative charges they won’t allow visitors, so the earliest you can see them is probably tomorrow mid-day.”
Harry shrugged, and Severus’ eyes glinted with amusement. Dumbledore finally assented, and the two were led over to where the other death eaters were waiting.
“It seems we are in your debt, young Hurricane. I suspect the celebrations this new year will be quite out of hand.”
“That’s true. Perhaps you should forewarn the ministry to be extra vigilant in order to maintain the statute of secrecy.”
Dumbledore’s eyes widened. “Indeed? Perhaps I should.”
There was a sudden noise behind him, and he turned around just in time to see Yaxley grab hold of Caradoo Dearborn’s wand and disappear with him.
“Secure them!” someone shouted.
The remaining death eaters were all rendered unconscious immediately, and someone was led away with a bloody nose. Alice Longbottom strode into the room then – Harry hadn’t even known she was there – with a length of rope in her hands. It appeared to be the ministry portkey, and the group of prisoners vanished post haste.
The rest of the order descended upon him then, and Harry grimaced. He should have done this in secret, he mused. At least his anonymity would work for him this time around; with barely a name and a nonsense disguise, he was sure any fame could be deflected. Hands were shook in quick succession, Arthur hugged him in a fashion reminiscent of Hagrid and even Sirius slapped him on the back.
He carefully extracted himself from the throng of people after accepting an invitation to the Burrow for a celebration the next day, and watched as Dumbledore spoke a quick word before letting everyone apparate away to spread the news.
His own destination was the traffic department in Preston where a group of teenagers were lounging outside, a few of them smoking. He glanced at his clothes quickly, deemed them acceptable but spelled them clean just in case, and leaned against the building to wait.
A short while later Regulus emerged, his face lit up in excitement as he held up a green driver’s permit. The group of teenagers swarmed him with praise and Harry looked on proudly as Regulus’ laugh mingled with his peers.
When some of the excitement had died down, he stepped closer and a few of the group that had met him greeted him happily. Regulus ran over to him to clasp him in a quick hug as well.
“He’s gone for good.” Harry whispered into his ear. The hug tightened.
“Who’s this then?” a fiery redhead asked to the side.
Regulus pulled back, but kept an arm slung around Harry’s shoulders. “This is my surrogate dad!” he joked.
Harry rolled his eyes and pushed him off. “Berk. You know you’re older than I am, right?”
Apparently not, as the bewildered stare turned on him communicated. “Seriously? But you’re so responsible! And you took out… well…” he trailed off.
“I’ll be eighteen in roughly a month’s time,” he confirmed. By his calculations, if his third of May corresponded with the thirty-first of October, then his new birthday had to be on the second of February.
“Hold on a second, guys.” Regulus pulled him aside. “Does Snape know?” he whispered to him.
Harry frowned. “I haven’t told him specifically, so no, probably not. Why is it important?”
Regulus stared at him a moment. “You’re underage, that’s why.” He didn’t understand, and the other wizard sighed. “Hurricane, it’s illegal to have sex with someone underage. In the muggle world they may accept it at sixteen, but for wizards the age limit is eighteen. Have you two…?”
Harry blushed blood red.
“Fuck. Better let him know then.”
Nodding, he said his goodbyes, a thousand thoughts clamouring for attention in his head. Why didn’t anyone ever tell him these things?
The unexpected visitor turned out to be Hurricane, and Narcissa wondered if he was no longer bothered about being seen since Abraxas wasn’t around. Seeing as she was in the progress of sending out the news – it would be in the paper tomorrow, along with the funeral arrangements – she was unsure how he came by the information. She invited him in, and Draco charged at him to cling to his legs. He happily scooped the boy up to follow her to the tea room.
“What brings you here today? Lucius left on an urgent errand, and I am unsure about what time he will return.”
Hurricane accepted the tea from the tray that appeared. “He’s the reason I’m here actually. He’s at the ministry in a holding cell pending trial,” she dropped her cup, and Hurricane frantically waved his hands “no, no! It’s a good thing! The dark lord is dead, and he fought at our side! They’re just keeping him there for now until he’s cleared of suspicion. I will personally speak in his defence at the trial, and then he can come home.”
The shock slowly filtered from her system. “The dark lord is dead? Lucius will be free?”
Hurricane nodded. “I plan to apparate into the ministry tonight to visit. Do you want me to take him anything?”
She excused herself to quill a note, which she sealed and handed over to him. He placed the parchment in a pocket before regaling her with the tale of the battle. She mentally planned to put any incriminating evidence together that she knew about the other death eaters to assist her husband at his trial. No doubt the ministry would attempt to spring the news as last minute on her as possible, so she was very thankful for Hurricane’s early warning.
He left after tea, and she set the house elves to gather every scrap of communication she knew about. Relocating to the veranda so that Draco could play outside in the snow, she put her quill to parchment and started putting the facts together.
Two men and a rather heavyset woman gathered what they could in the mansion, knowing their time was short. They had a hideaway in the south of England that was their destination, and one other would be meeting them there.
Together they worked to activate the multiple traps hidden in the manor – they would see to deal as much damage to the raiding party that was sure to sweep through the place. Taking one last look at the building, they nodded to each other and disapparated.
The next updates may come in slower - I am now officially restricted to internet access via phone - but I will do my best to update at least once per week.
Happy holidays everyone!
Chapter 25: Chapter 25
I wanted to post this sooner, but time did not allow it.
I'm also annoyed at the default spellchecker being for American English - I'm constantly double checking my work because of false alarms! O.o
Aparating into the detention block without accounting for the guards turned out to be an incredibly close call. As it was, he appeared right behind a patrolling auror and he nearly died from shock. With a hand fisted in his shirt over his heart, he turned to see Severus drop his head into his hands from where he sat on the threadbare cot behind the bars. One cell away, Lucius sat frozen, halfway reaching for a paper cup of water and staring at Harry with wide eyes. Another man was snoring away on the opposite side, looking quite settled in his prison.
All the conscious members trailed the guard’s movement as he reached the end of the corridor and unlocked the door to let himself out.
“Your luck appears to be proportional to your magical prowess, and equal in logic. Did your brain stop functioning when you were hit with the killing curse?”
Harry snorted. “Given my history, I’d say it’s a pre-existing condition. Apparently, I need regular reminders that I am a wizard.” He dug around in the bag he had slung over his shoulder. “How often do they patrol?”
“We have hardly been here long enough to establish a pattern. You will have to be quick. Fortunately, you have just missed the last auror,” the way he said it left no doubt to his double meaning, “so you do have more time than you would have otherwise.”
“Damnit. I was hoping for a few hours at least. I’ll do what I can then.” Tugging the note from Narcissa from the bag, he passed it over to Lucius. “That’s from Narcissa. I think she’s putting something together to aid your defence, so if you want to send a reply,” he tugged a notepad and pen free as well, “you can write to her and I’ll make sure she gets it. Sorry about the pen though. I’m rubbish at spelling inkwells.”
Lucius gratefully accepted the items, and sat down on the pallet to read. Harry returned to Severus’ cell.
“I was hoping to remove your dark mark, but I don’t think the aurors will miss a body in the walkway while I recover, so we will have to save that for when you’re out of here.” Looking up at the amused face, Harry frowned. “Do you mind if I…” Not waiting to complete his sentence, he spelled the assigned robes black.
“Do you recall those wards I mentioned?” Lucius wasn’t even pretending to be engrossed in his letter, his staring obvious as Severus addressed Harry.
“Oh, I know about the anti-apparition wards. I’ve been paying attention to the resistance to it.”
Severus smirked. “And the spell you performed just now?”
Staring at his wand, he considered the motions. “Er, dampening wards too?”
Snorting, the wand was snatched from his fingers – the motion speaking of the trust Severus had in him to allow such a thing – and the man performed an illuminating spell.
“Try cancellation wards.”
“Do all wards not affect you?” Lucius asked from the side.
Mortified, Harry bit his lip. “I don’t know why.”
“And your immunity to the killing curse?”
He knew this was going to be a point he would be revisiting in various companies over the next few days. “I hope they strike that from the official record if they don’t want the knowledge of horcruxes to become common knowledge.” He sneaked a glance at Severus’ face. When they were planning the final confrontation, he had explained about the curse ricocheting off him, but he hadn’t mentioned why.
He hoped the man wouldn’t be too upset at the revelation that he had been a horcrux himself. “I’m not immune to the killing curse. I think. I’m not prepared to test the theory. I am, however, immune to the killing curse when cast by the dark lord. When he cast it the first time to mark me,” he tapped the spot on his chest, “he effectively turned me into a horcrux too.”
Comprehension dawned on Severus’ face. “So, he had to kill you again to destroy that element?”
“Was he killed in your… original time-line?” Lucius asked.
“Just before I accidentally time travelled, yes. I had killed him the day before, and was moping in the ruins of the headmaster’s office when part of the ceiling collapsed and broke the time-turner they forbade me from using.”
Both men stared at him for a moment before Severus broke the silence. “Considering that statement, I have so many questions that I don’t know where to start, but I fear we are straying off-topic. You should not be able to cast spells in here, and you should not reveal your ability to do so to anyone. Cancellation wards are goblin specialities. You will find them in Gringotts as well.”
Harry ran a frustrated hand through his hair. “First Regulus, now this…”
“What happened with Regulus?” Severus frowned.
Fuck. “He revealed to me how little I know about my own culture.”
“Not that such an accomplishment is hard to achieve, but in what regard?”
“I didn’t know about the underage thing.”
Slumping his shoulders, he resolved to face this confession head on. “I’m seventeen. I’m turning eighteen in February.”
One cell removed, Lucius made a most undignified chortling sound, before trying to stifle his laughter into his hand. The snoring wizard in the opposite cell stirred, and Harry sent a spell his way that relaxed the man’s body back into slumber.
Severus had let his head fall forward against the bars. “Wonderful. Tell the courts to add paedophilia to my list of charges.” He lifted his gaze to level a glare at Harry. “Did Regulus tell you why it is an issue?”
“Er, no. I thought it was just one of those stupid archaic law things.”
“To think I thought you older than myself,” he mumbled. “Before reaching maturity, a wizard’s magic can be imprinted on by those in close proximity. Intimacy,” he shot a nasty look at Lucius, whose snorting renewed at the mention, “allows the participating party to influence the underaged wizard’s power to such an extend where they can syphon off some of the magic for themselves.”
“Oh.” Harry shuffled his feet. “Anything else I should be aware of?”
“Undoubtedly, but this is not the time to address the shortcomings in your upbringing. We need to plan our defence so that our stories align.”
Lucius moved closer to the bars on their side to participate in the discussion as they ironed out the details. Severus speculated that they would probably schedule Lucius’ hearing first because of his social standing, as well as an attempt to catch him unprepared. Harry nodded his agreement, and shared Narcissa’s opinion on the matter.
Keys jangled in the lock suddenly, and Harry summoned the notepad and pen Lucius had used to reply to his wife. Grabbing at the necklace Death had bestowed upon him, he tossed it over Severus’ neck and used it to pull him closer to the bars for a quick kiss.
He disapparated as the door swung open.
He waited until after the guard had left before addressing Severus again, but his friend beat him to the task. “I did not realise you were aware of his time-travelling.”
“The dark lord sent me on a mission to scout out his apartment. The notes on people to save along with detailed descriptions of when, where and how they died were a right giveaway.”
“You are unaware of his identity then?”
Lucius cocked his head. “I admit that detail has escaped me, but I’d bet you know, being involved with him and everything.” His teasing expression sobered. “Seventeen years old, and he has killed the dark lord twice. I fear what the future holds in store for him. What do you hope to achieve by your association?”
Severus averted his gaze, focusing on the beam of artificial light instead. “He is a powerful ally, and for some reason he finds my disposition endearing. I believe it is best to court his favour until he tires of me.” He glanced at the door, before raising his hands to unbutton the top fastenings of the robe he wore. Intrigued, Lucius watched as a shiny black undergarment was revealed. “He gifted me this vest for Christmas.”
The lustre of scales were identifiable in the light, but he could not place their source. “What is it? It is not dragon in origin.”
That had to be a lie. Such a thing would be worth a fortune of fortunes, and would certainly not be something one gifts to a casual lover. Severus’ face, however, remained serious. “How in Merlin’s name…?”
“Visit me at the castle once this mess blows over, and I will show you.” He buttoned up the robe once more, and Lucius’ focus settled on the new addition around Severus’ neck.
“What of the necklace?”
The aforementioned item was collected in a palm and studied. “It appears to be a hurricane, but there is a strong enough enchantment on it that I can feel the magic reverberating in the air. I will have to wait until the morrow for answers.”
They both settled in for the night after that, pleasantly surprised that the meagre sleeping arrangements felt a lot more comfortable following Hurricane’s visit. Feeling strangely at peace, Lucius fell asleep.
An irritable teenager met Harry at the door to their apartment, and he wondered why Regulus had not gone inside. Before he could open his mouth to question him though, Regulus accosted him.
“I am going to the corner store.” Despite the words, it felt like a threat, and Harry felt his defences kick in. “When I get back, there will be no corpse on the bed, and no traces of dark magic anywhere in the vicinity, understood?”
Fuck. He forgot about Dolohov.
“He’s not a corpse,” he felt compelled to deny.
“He will be soon,” Regulus muttered as he stomped down the passage.
He had a point there.
Harry wasn’t sure what he was going to do with the death eater, but sudden inspiration struck as he stared at the figure on the bed. There was a large historical mansion house in Surrey, often used for weddings, with the traditional thick walls and insulation cavity. He was sure his addition to the landmark would go unnoticed, so as a silent jab at the man that would have killed Remus he collected his body and apparated to the copse of trees nearby.
He returned with enough time to spare to relocate all the broken horcruxes to the alcove he had prepared, and even managed to pour himself a glass of Drambuie in Severus’ honour before Regulus returned.
With a roll of his eyes the now legal driver took a seat next to him, and with a beer in his hand they toasted Voldemort’s fall well into the night.
Chapter 26: Chapter 26
Happy new year! My apologies for not replying to all the wonderful comments, I've been somewhat short on time.
As a response to a few recurring questions: Yes, this story is heading into a direction tied in to Voldemort's demise, and will be kick-started as soon as I move past the trials (should be next chapter). So far the only original wizard I've introduced was Dermot Rutherford (ch5), so the 'new' antagonists are existing death eaters, and actually had quite a big role in the last book. Umbridge is still a ministry employee (she is still working towards becoming head of the Improper Use of Magic Office), and is not cast in the role of villain - no matter how much I'd like to be rid of her. She makes her first appearance in this chapter.
Happy reading! =D
The summons to the ministry arrived bright and early the next morning, and a bleary-eyed Harry collected it from the overly chipper owl. He munched on leftovers in the kitchen until it registered in his mind that he had less than fifteen minutes to make an appearance. He showered in record time, managed to select matching items to wear under the robe and even remembered to leave a note for Regulus before he apparated to the ministry.
He arrived amidst a whirlwind of activity. The news of Voldemort’s defeat seemed to have leaked out as there were celebrating witches and wizards being herded towards back doors despite the fact that they had restraints upon their persons. Harry surmised that they had to have broken the statute of secrecy in a significant way to warrant this kind of attention. A quick glance at a Prophet laying in the lobby asserted his suspicions, the headline boldly proclaiming Dark Lord Defeated.
He wanted to read what it said, but he was already late.
Registering his wand was an awkward occurrence, as it didn’t reveal a name at all. The stupid clerk behind the counter just kept staring at it blankly, repeating the same failed motion again and again in the hopes that something would change. He was about to snap a retort at him that Severus would have been proud of when the minister of magic herself, Millicent Bagnold, walked by with Alastor Moody.
“Hurricane? What the blazes are you still doing up here?”
Harry glared at the clerk. “Refraining from insulting the staff, it seems. My wand’s not registering, and Divvy here doesn’t know what to do.”
Moody came over and tried the spell as well, with the same results. “Quill him in as Hurricane,” he instructed the man.
“How many people walk in here with unidentified wands? I assure you, we will know who it is based on the entry.” His magic eye spun on Harry before the rest of him looked up. “I recommend you visit Olivander’s when you have a moment. Get this nonsense sorted out.”
He was then escorted into the lift where Moody proceeded to introduce him to the minister, whose suspicious expression morphed into one of wonder when his part in the dark lord’s fall was mentioned. She reminded him strongly of an ostrich – Charlie had brought an egg home once to amuse the family, and Hermione had shown him a picture.
The interrogation and statement recording took well over an hour. He carefully related Regulus’ contribution towards the horcrux hunt, and revealed that he had been keeping the teenager safe from his family. The panel of department heads shared an odd glance during the revelation that he wanted to ask about, but they redirected their questions. Thankful for the recap session with Severus and Lucius the day before, he stuck to their version of the story and was finally released just before ten.
His exit was momentarily blocked by a line of people moving towards the interrogation chamber where he had to defend himself as a child, and suspicious, he trailed after them. His intuition proved correct as he overheard the name Malfoy repeated a few times, so he filed into the room and took a seat in the middle section.
Lucius was led into the room after a short while, his wife being redirected into a boxed stand to the side. He was dressed impeccably, and Harry wondered if anyone would bother with the same courtesy for Severus.
The room was called to order, and the proceedings began. It soon became obvious that in their haste to catch the Malfoys unprepared, the ministry themselves suffered from this fate. The accusations sounded like partial speculation, and Harry was greatly amused as Lucius calmly denied and confused the jury. His tale was spun as the oppressed son who feared for his family under the threat of his father. With his betrayal of the dark lord literally following upon Abraxas’ demise, the greater half of those in the council were almost completely convinced of his innocence.
Narcissa’s presentation of confidential correspondence between Abraxas and other death eaters was the final nail in the coffin – she had been notified as last minute as they could arrange, and couldn’t possibly have put such evidence together in the little time that she had. As a paranoid husband that feared for his wife and needed her to have a bargaining tool for her safety should something happen to him, it was more than believable.
There was some debate while they decided if Severus should be called in to testify, but the panel decided to postpone the verdict until after both trials. A recess was called, and Harry slipped out to find a robe for his interest.
The awkward boy on the doorstep fidgeted with the letter in his hand as the recipient failed to take it. He was obviously a wizard in very poor muggle disguise and she should honestly be rid of him before Tobias came to investigate, but for the life of her she could not think why she would be receiving a court summons like this.
“Er, could you take the letter, please madam?”
She reached for it, and felt the magic seep into her skin. A nostalgic feeling swept through her; it had been years since she had last felt this feeling. She tried not to think about how her pride had not only cost her her family, but her son as well.
“What was that?” a gruff voice demanded from a patched chair in the living area.
Tearing the letter open, she felt the strength leave her legs. As next of kin of one Severus Tobias Snape…
This could not be real, could it? The list of charges was so long! Aiding and abetting, possession of illegal controlled substances, conspiracy, brewing of illicit potions with the intent to cause damage, hate crimes against muggles, second degree murder… She flipped the page, not bothering to read the whole list. He was due in court in barely an hour.
“Always knew that spawn of yours would become a fucking criminal.” She startled, she had not noticed Tobias at her shoulder. He tugged the paper out of her hand, and sneered at the page before crumpling it onto the ground. “What a waste of time.”
She waited until he disappeared into the bedroom before picking the notice up again. Her Severus, a murderer? She knew they were poor examples of parents, but to this extent? What a terrible mother she turned out to be. He had always acted so mature that she had often been surprised whenever something revealed his true age. She should have been more attentive, but with a life like hers, was it surprising that she hid herself away in books?
Another glance at the bedroom revealed no change, so she carefully recovered her wand from where it was hidden in the threadbare curtain lining. Her coat was in fairly good condition, so she shrugged into it before attempting to add pockets with her magic. Panic struck her as nothing happened, but after a moment the sluggish response opened a seam in the side of the fabric that would allow her to insert a few items into it.
She collected her purse, a handkerchief and her set of keys and apparated to the ministry of magic.
Lucius spent an absurd amount of time fawning over Draco outside the courtroom, and Severus could almost see the women of the jury’s hearts melt at the sight. It was probably the first time he could be so affectionate towards his son in public and the little boy was devouring the attention, a little white ferret toy still trailing behind him.
He was escorted into the room after recess, his trial overlapping with Lucius due to their isolated nature. Hurricane grinned at him from the benches, and he stood a little taller in the fine robes the man had procured from somewhere. Albus drifted into the courtroom moments later to the displeasure of the head of the DMLE, a Bartemius Crouch, who glared at his paperwork.
An ugly toad of a woman dressed in pink under all the required black – he remembered her as a senior from his own days at Hogwarts – was particularly cruel in her recollections. She didn’t stay long though. She abruptly stopped midway through a sentence and excused herself. Severus suspected Hurricane was somehow responsible for the departure, given how he was almost broadcasting his hatred towards her.
The council kept the overlap as short as possible, and soon Lucius was escorted from the room. Quite a few people stood up to leave, their interest in the events limited to Lucius' trial - probably to see if Malfoy Jnr. was going to implicate them and their less than pristine morality. Three brave souls wandered in in return, and one sallow face gave him pause.
His mother looked impossibly old, hunched as she walked into the room. Thankfully there were no bruises upon her face, but her person had lost even the hint of good bearing she used to have the last time he saw her. Life in Farowls didn't improve matters over Cokeworth, it seems.
A moment of indignation passed over him - why was she even here? But logic dictated that she was probably summoned as his next of kin, and guilt made her attend.
She probably thought him guilty.
He turned his attention to the black clothed members sitting in front of him, and caught Hurricane frowning at the figure of his mother. The time traveller had apparently never seen her before.
A gavel sounded and his own trial began.
Eileen listened with mounting surprise as her son pleaded guilty to numerous crimes, only to have his actions justified by a short stubbled man, the potions expert Rubens Winikus and Albus Dumbledore himself. She shuffled uncomfortably when his upbringing was cited as traumatising and unhealthy to explain his actions as a teenager that led him to join the death eaters. The heart wrenching tale of the events that nearly led to his childhood friend's death had her bow her head in shame.
She rather liked Lily, and was hoping that something would have come of her son's friendship with the redhead. She was pretty sure her surname hadn't been Potter at the time though, so perhaps those hopes had been in vain.
If at all possible, the tale suddenly became absurd. Spying on You-know-who, lying to his face, suffering the torture curse multiple times and in the end facing off against the inner circle of death eaters with only one man as backup...
Was this truly her son?
As a teenager, she had dreamt of adventure and change and sought it in the muggle world, in the arms of the roguish Tobias Snape. He was everything her uptight family despised; wild, direct and free. She defied their wishes and in true Slytherin form tied him to her by falling pregnant, but only some time later did she see his qualities for what they were: irresponsible, rude and directionless.
Her adventure turned into a nightmare - raising a child took so much effort, while she wanted to be free. Tobias started drinking their income away, and she hid in her books.
How her son learnt right from wrong was certainly not her doing, and she scrutinised him from where she sat.
His clothing was top quality, and he carried himself with pride. Gone was the awkward long-limbed look puberty had bestowed upon him, and in its place was an imposing kind of elegance. His voice had turned into a rich baritone and his eloquence belied his origins.
When Ablus tentatively mentioned that the ministry had awarded orders of Merlin for considerably less strife, and perhaps they could review his case for one given his contribution to the war effort, it finally struck her. You-know-who was dead, and her son had directly helped bring it about.
Stunned, she watched the debate unfold, her breathing shallow and panicked. She needed to use this opportunity. If she could make amends with her son, if she could show her father that she had brought a hero into the Prince line... perhaps her life could turn around after all.
Sirius glared at the special edition of the Prophet. A tiny rendition of Malfoy was on the cover, the headline largely proclaiming his innocence. With practiced ease, he drew a silly moustache on the blond's face and watched the aristocratic face crumple with distaste. In a huff, the little figure marched out of the picture, his family close behind him.
Irritated that he couldn't torment the image any further, he drew a thick black border within the limits of the frame to prevent Malfoy from returning. As he inspected his handiwork, the paper was plucked from his hands.
"Others may want to read that too, Sirius."
Guiltily he looked up at Arthur Weasley. "Sorry," he mumbled.
Arthur chuckled. "Don't worry about it. There's no love lost between our families, although only time will tell if this recent development has any bearing on it." He studied a section on the front page for a moment. "Looks like they plan to hand out a few orders of Merlin once they have all the facts straight. That will be a good motivator after the war. Speaking of which," he tucked the paper under his arm, "why are you not outside celebrating?"
"Lily asked me to fetch Harry's bag," he held up the red nappy bag, "when I spied the news. Didn't mean to be distracted quite as long."
"Could you tell Molly that I'm just going to page through the extra quickly? It's easier to do when the kids aren't about, you see."
Nodding his assent, he made his way back outside where most of the order as well as their friends were celebrating. He dropped off the requested bag and passed on the message to Molly, who clicked her tongue at her husband's antics and deviously instructed the twins to search him out. They bounded off towards the house.
James and Remus joined him, a beer held out for him to take. Remus looked fantastic considering his transformation was only three days prior, and normally he would still be recovering in bed at this stage.
"I feel amazing, I tell you," Remus commented when he mentioned it, "and the last batch Severus made was actually noticeably different from the previous one."
"I'm really glad for you, but I'd rather not discuss potions if you don't mind."
"Oh, you'd rather discuss your plans for the future now that the war is finally over?" Lily had a devious look in her eyes as she approached, and both James and Sirius' shoulders drooped.
"Lils..." James moaned.
A sudden cheer went up from the guests, and they looked up to see Hurricane walking down from the apparition point. Those closest to him surged forward to shake his hand, and the man's step faltered slightly.
The eldest Weasley son - Bill, was it? - stood up to see as well, and he pulled a disgusted face. "What the hell is Snape's boyfriend doing here?"
Lily stared in horror as James brushed the boy off with a casual, "He killed You-know-who, that's what," before walking over to congratulate the man himself.
James had known?
No. As far as she knew, Severus wasn't gay, and there was a good chance this was all part of an elaborate prank or a misunderstanding on the student's behalf. There was no way James wouldn't take advantage of such a situation.
Determined not to believe such rubbish, she extended her own thanks to him and watched as he took refuge with the children at the soonest possibility. Even Bill, who was sceptical of his most hated teacher's associate, soon joined in the fun as Hurricane entertained the kids by charming their hands different colours. Each child's colour was unique, and soon they were all chasing each other to slam bright handprints wherever they could. Even the little Lovegood girl toddled along on unstable legs, having just started walking.
Irritated that Hurricane seemed so flawless at everything, she sent a trickle of magic to braid a section of grass together near his feet, and indignantly walked off when he casually stepped over it.
The celebration at Diagon alley was quickly spilling outside of its borders, and volunteers were working tirelessly to herd celebrants back into safe areas. Alice Longbottom had three hours left to her shift, and she was eager to join her husband and son at the Burrow.
She was stationed near Gringotts to guard the display some idiot at the ministry had thought would be a good idea. The grotesque body of You-know-who had been treated with a wide berth at first, but as the alcohol flowed, so did people's courage. Soon she was maintaining a shield around the corpse almost permanently, all manner of fruit and other debris strewn around the perimeter.
Another projectile was launched in her direction, and she adjusted the shield to compensate for it. Only close to impact did she realise that it was actually heading straight for her, and she reacted far too late to escape. The thing burst close to her head and rained fire down on her, and she screamed as the heat ate at her face.
Reactions were slow all around due to shock and alcohol, and by the time someone had managed to douse the inferno devouring her the body of Voldemort was long gone.
Severus and Lucius were compiling names and locations of death eaters for the aurors when their guard was recalled with a quick apology and replaced with one of the minister's aides. The man had a distinguished air about him, and Lucius, never one to miss an opportunity, engaged him in smalltalk that soon revealed the new situation.
The two friends exchanged a glance and offered only a token of resistance when they were informed that their release papers would only be ready the next morning. They were afforded slightly better accommodation for the night, and Lucius chose to broach a subject that had been bothering him since Hurricane's first visit to the manor.
He fiddled with the stalk of an apple as he considered his opening gambit. "How powerful would you say you are, Severus?"
"I've never felt lacking in any sense. Does your query have relevance to the situation at hand?"
The man was too used to his word games. "Hurricane mentioned an interesting piece of information to me once, and I find myself thinking on it often. I was hoping you could shed some light on the topic."
Severus had the audacity to smirk at him. "Should I read your mind?"
"Were you aware of the dark lord's... blood status?"
"Hurricane believed him to be half-blood, the offspring of a muggle father and a witch mother. If I recall correctly, his name originally was Tom Riddle. While I am not sure how much of that is fact, I can see no reason why he would have fabricated such a tale."
He pressed on. "And Dumbledore?"
Severus relaxed in the chair opposite him. "His mother was muggle-born, so yes, he is a half-blood too. Has someone shaken your faith in blood purity?"
Ignoring the jibe for the time being, he named the last name. "Grindelwald?"
The other man was quiet, staring at the terrible upholstery while he mulled it over. "Nothing is known about his parentage, which is odd in itself. I can't say I am familiar with his familial name though."
Lucius rested his head against the back of the chair. "How could something this obvious be missed by generations of wizards? Merlin himself is rumoured to be born of a muggle and an incubus if popular folklore is to be believed."
"Hurricane too, is born of a muggle-born witch and a wizard." There was a calculating glint in Severus' eyes. "Hence your question about my own reserves."
"I've never struggled to hold my own against anyone I've dueled, and complex potions that require a large investment of power have never caused me strain. I am capable of obscure branches of magic and have subdued a dark grimoire by aura recently. So yes, I would go so far as to consider myself more powerful than most."
Lucius sighed and closed his eyes. An entire lifetime of harbouring a belief that he made no attempt to hide. He could scarcely become a muggle-supporter overnight.
"As someone who has just inherited the Malfoy fortune, perhaps you could throw some of your disposable income towards research into the field? And none of that pre-biased rubbish. Find competent researchers who are willing to take the topic seriously." Thank Merlin for Severus. "It will serve as further evidence that you never strived to be a death eater."
A thought occurred to him suddenly, something Narcissa had mentioned after Hurricane's initial visit. "Are you the reason my family was offered this reprieve?"
Severus frowned at him. "I was under the impression that you defected on your own."
He held up his hands to stall the argument. "We did, but we were given a forewarning. Who knows how long I would have dawdled until I deemed it safe otherwise."
"I am surprised Hurricane managed to convince you."
"Don't underestimate how far I am prepared to go to protect Narcissa and Draco."
"Did he reveal my role as well?"
Lucius shook his head. "No. We saw you together in Paris, and afterwards... Dolohov's incapacitated state was rather telling."
Severus stilled. "You saw Dolohov."
"Yes. The missive you sent my father was delivered to me instead, but I was delayed in opening it." He furrowed his brows. "How did you know my father would not answer?"
The cool expression did not waver, and Lucius felt his heart hammering in his chest. If anyone could kill by disease without a thought raised to incriminate them, it was Severus. Was he responsible for his father's death? Is that what the trip out of the country had been all about? They had been gone just long enough for the disease to pass the contagious period...
"Perhaps you shouldn't underestimate how far I am prepared to go to protect those valuable to me."
Such a confession from Severus was quite a concession, and Lucius felt humbled. He extended his gratitude and mentally sighed with relief that they had selected such a good godfather for Draco. If anything ever happened to Narcissa and himself, the boy would definitely be left in good hands.
When Kingsley finally arrived at the Burrow, he quietly sought out Frank Longbottom to pass on the message about his wife’s injury. Promising to make arrangements for little Neville to stay with the Weasleys for the night, Frank apparated away to St. Mungos. Molly was having an argument with Morgana again, so he headed in that direction to plead his case.
She was only too happy to have the boy around, and bustled off to see to him.
His next target was Hurricane and Albus, and while he didn’t actually have permission to reveal the truth about You-know-who’s body’s disappearance, he was sure that their input would be extremely valuable in the case.
Baby blue robes singled the headmaster out, and he nearly fell over his own feet as he went closer. Albus sported two bright pink handprints over his posterior, and he felt his jaw go slack at the sight. He heard snickering to his left and watched as Sirius Black deposited a coin into a half-full bowl and pointing at him. Next to him James Potter was laughing into his hands, and while Remus Lupin had a hand covering his face, his shoulders were shaking.
He felt terrible knowing the news he brought would put an end to the merrymaking, and he seriously considered postponing the message, if only for a day. Duty won out in the end though, so he squared his shoulders and asked Albus to have a word in private.
Is anyone else spotting the similarities between James and Lily's behaviour? XD
Chapter 28: Chapter 28
Mostly plot today, but long awaited action next chapter! ~.^
"This is dire news indeed." Albus rested his hand on a multi coloured cube in Arthur's study. "Have you spoken with Hurricane as of yet?"
Kingsley shook his head. "I couldn't find him outside."
"He takes his reprieve with the children."
"Hiding from his fans already?"
Having decided that the cube is not dangerous, Albus picked it up. "Pre-emptively, more like. I doubt the Prophet has a face to match the name, and they will find no record of him in the archives."
Kingsley considered it for a moment. "Clever plan. Do you agree that he should be told as well?"
"Most definitely. I am aware that he has withheld information that is too dangerous to reveal to the public, so his input will probably dictate the direction of your investigation. I will ask Molly to send for him."
Molly was in the kitchen, so after a quick word with her, he returned to the study. Hurricane walked in moments later, covered in different colours of not-quite-paint. His happy countenance disappeared as he saw their expressions.
Kingsley stepped forward. "You-know-who's body has been stolen."
Neither of them expected Hurricane to snort and roll his eyes. "Figures. Well, they're in for a surprise. May I ask how they did it?"
Averting his eyes, Kingsley cleared his throat. "You can usually count on the ministry's inflated ego to cock things up. They thought displaying You-know-who's body would be an excellent way to prove to the people that the war really is over. They had only one auror assigned to security detail, what with it being holidays and all. She's in St. Mungos at the moment."
"So, what do you want from me?"
"You once mentioned he made himself immortal. Is there a chance..."
Hurricane rested his hip against a concertinad metal device. "No. If Yaxley tries to resurrect him, they will only succeed in making the body breathe. His soul is gone. Death himself confirmed it."
Albus was intrigued. "Death?" Hurricane merely nodded, and didn't elaborate as he had hoped.
"I wouldn't be too worried about tracking it down. They can do nothing without my blood anyway. If I were you, I'd focus on the remaining death eaters and only pursue this when it pops up again."
Kingsley looked doubtful, and Albus didn't feel too reassured himself. Sighing, Hurricane crossed his arms in front of him.
"Look, if I tell you what the dark lord did, will you be able to guide the investigation without revealing the details?"
"If it pertains to the investigation, you cannot withhold…"
"Fuck the investigation," Hurricane interrupted. "If someone else gets it into their brain to do the same thing because an obscure branch of incredibly dark magic was revealed to the average joe, I am not going to waste another lifetime chasing them down. Both of you will swear on your life not to reveal this, or I'm not telling you anything."
"Did you make the Wizengamot attendant that took your statement do the same?" Kinsley snarkily interjected.
"Yes, I did." His eyes were serious.
"I believe it is best if we do as the boy says." Albus voiced his opinion. His actions were mostly motivated by curiosity, and he wondered why Hurricane had not included him in the plans from the get-go considering his position in the order.
Chastised, Kinsley nodded, and Hurricane recited the spell that would bind them as they took the oath. They each swore on their life, noting that Hurricane added an additional line at the end that would allow them to discuss the matter with those already in the know. It spoke of a familiarity with the spell that Albus didn't want to guess at.
Upon completion, they waited for the story.
"From a young age Tom Riddle had grandiose plans for his future, and as a student he started to pursue the means to immortality. He succeeded in creating a horcrux at the age of sixteen, by killing a fellow student named Myrtle."
"Dear Merlin," Albus breathed, and his legs felt weak.
Hurricane pinned him with a look. "If anyone bothered to talk to her ghost after the fact you would have found the entrance to the chamber of secrets without wrongfully expelling Hagrid."
Hagrid's expulsion had been a heavy weight on his conscious, but without evidence to the contrary his word as a transfiguration teacher hadn't carried much weight. He had suspected that the older boy was up to something at the time, but Tom had been devious and clever and protected by student laws. Hiring Hagrid as groundskeeper had been his attempt at righting that wrong.
“The basilisk scales! You’ve been in the chamber…” he realised.
Kingsley held up his hands to stop the conversation. “Hold on, what is a horcrux?”
“An incredibly dark piece of magic. Hurricane was correct to limit the knowledge of them.” Pulling the desk chair out, Albus sank down into it.
“Essentially it is a piece of the caster’s soul stored within an object. You cannot kill the wizard if you haven't destroyed the horcrux first. It's a permanent ticket that allows one to be resurrected over and over again.” The time traveller elaborated.
Wide eyed, Kinsley gaped at Hurricane. “And you’ve destroyed it? You’re sure?”
“Yes. All six of them.”
“Six!” Albus exclaimed. “That should be impossible! The amount of damage that would do the soul…”
“It’s an improvement on the seven we had to find previously.”
“Seven?” Kingsley asked, darting his focus between the other two men.
If he weren’t sitting down, he was sure he would have collapsed from shock. Seven horcruxes? Voldemort must have been bordering on madness if not fully within its grasp. “Why did you choose not to involve me in your plans when you arrived here?”
“No, hold up. Who else did this before You-know-who?”
Hurricane sighed. “I’m from an alternate timeline in the future. The dark lord managed to make seven horcruxes before we managed to take him down, and it took years. Since I knew where he stashed them all, I’ve been systematically retrieving them and destroying them.” He switched his gaze to Albus. “As for your involvement, the future-you succumbed to the lure of the resurrection stone and you ended up cursed, and dying. I wasn’t about to take that chance again.”
Albus twirled his wand between his fingers, and nodded. Knowing what he did now about the Potter invisibility cloak, there was no way he could say he would have resisted the temptation to be the master of death. He had to restrain himself from asking about the stone’s whereabouts as it were.
Hurricane was indeed a clever man to have kept this from him. Who knows where he would have ended up? Perhaps it was time to forgive Gellert, and to go visit him in prison…
They spent another good half hour convincing Kingsley that Hurricane was indeed from the future, and that he wasn’t prepared to reveal his identity. They discussed the battle, the apparent resistance to the killing curse and Regulus Black.
“The boy is safe then?” Albus eagerly asked.
“As safe as he can be hurtling himself in one of those death-traps at over two hundred kilometres per hour, I suppose.”
Kingsley looked askance at him, and Albus shrugged. “It’s no wonder the owls couldn’t deliver the notification then.”
“I’m afraid his mother attacked the squad of aurors in charge of security at the manor where You-know-who fell. She was killed in the altercation, and his father turned his wand on himself.”
Hurricane was quiet for a moment, then shuffled his feet. “You’re probably going to think poorly of me, but good riddance.”
Albus smiled. “Not at all, my dear boy. We both knew Walburga and her tendency to… criticize. Would you be willing to pass the word on to him? He needs to visit either the ministry or Gringotts to sign the paperwork that will pass on his inheritance.”
Hurricane nodded, and after a few more words they left to re-join the celebration.
At a quarter to midnight, Regulus stumbled into their apartment and blinked surprised that the lights were still on. Chalking it up to the date, he dropped his keys onto the kitchen counter with a clamour.
On the couch Hurricane stirred, apparently woken by the noise. He grimaced guiltily, and tried to close the door silently, but the other man was already sitting up and rubbing at his eyes.
“Welcome back, stranger,” came the greeting.
“Sorry. I didn’t mean to wake you.”
Hurricane stretched and yawned. “Nah, I was hoping to catch you, actually.”
He plopped down on a chair opposite. “What’s up?”
“I ran into Kingsley Shacklebolt at the Burrow. The auror?” He nodded, the name vaguely ringing a bell. “It turns out they have been trying to contact you, but apparently owl post can’t determine your location if you travel at the speeds you have been doing.”
They both shared a chuckle at the mental image.
“They don’t think I’m involved with any of the death eater stuff anymore, do they?”
Hurricane shook his head and pulled the blanket that had fallen off him closer. “They probably will need a statement of some sort from you, but this is about something else.” He sighed, and ran a hand through his hair. “Look, your mom may have attacked some aurors and gotten herself killed.”
He stared at Hurricane, the words ringing through his skull. He didn’t feel the grief that he suspected should be there, only a vague sense of relief. He wasn’t sure what to say, and was saved from the indecision when the other man spoke again.
“I’m sorry, I’m really pants at this. Your dad didn’t make it either.”
That triggered more of a reaction. His father had always been slightly more affectionate than his mother, often resting his hand on Regulus’ head and telling him how proud he was of him. He frowned at his hands, feeling odd. “Thank you for letting me know.”
Hurricane stood up and bustled about the kitchen. On his return, he pushed a hot cup of hit chocolate into Regulus’ hands. He was grateful for the beverage, and sipped at the foam.
“I knew your mom as a portrait in my time,” Hurricane started. “She was hung on the wall at Grimmauld place with one hell of a non-stick charm, and she used to shout insults at anyone in the vicinity. We used to cover her with an old sheet to shut her up.”
Unable to stop himself, he snorted. “She would have hated that.”
“That she did.”
They sipped their drinks in quiet companionship, the thoughts in his head running in circles until Hurricane broke the silence once more.
“Kingsley said you need to stop by the ministry or Gringotts to sign some paperwork so that they can hand your inheritance over.”
He wrinkled his nose. “I don’t want that house.”
“Sell it,” the other man shrugged. “Buy proper race gear, hire a place near the track… do what you want. Your brother has his own inheritance, so you don’t owe him anything.”
He bit his lip. He could, couldn’t he? With his own place, he could even ask Celest out…
“What about the library?”
“You could put it into storage, I suppose. It’s a bit dangerous to just sell it off – there is tons of dark magic in there that you don’t want falling into the wrong hands.”
There was another option though. “Do you think Snape would mind keeping it for now? Until I figure out what to do with it. He seems trustworthy enough.”
“Oh hell. He will probably love you if you do that.” Hurricane mock shook a finger at him. “No stealing my boyfriend.”
He shuddered. “You can have him all to yourself, thank you very much!”
Eileen was up early the next morning, fussing with her hair and applying a few charms to her clothes while Tobias slept. Her last bottle of anti-wrinkle cream, brewed by Severus while he was still at school, was opened and applied liberally, and she studied herself in the mirror. A sour face stared back, and she tried to relax her facial muscles into a softer expression.
She doubted she could concentrate on doing that all day, but perhaps it would last for their initial meeting.
As the sky brightened, she apparated to the ministry to wait. She settled herself on a bench in the foyer, and took out her knitting needles. Another woman joined her, but after realising that conversation was not on the agenda, settled herself elsewhere after an uncomfortable moment.
Ministry employees came and went, but when a whole group of red-robed men and women walked past, she hurriedly put her hobby aside and approached the front desk again. The same incompetent sod from the day before was attending it, and she frowned. She stood waiting as her request zoomed off on a yellow paper aeroplane, and soon she was called over with a response.
“Severus Tobias Snape has already been cleared and released, and is on his way up, ma’am. He should be here momentarily.”
A blond head heralded the arrival of Lucius Malfoy, walking sedately next to his wife and son. He was in conversation with two men, who was revealed to be her Severus and the man that had defended him at the trial the day before. She stepped forward.
The group of people halted, looking at her curiously. Her son’s expression closed up.
Chapter 29: Chapter 29
After Hurricane had passed him a pouch of coins and extracted a promise of payback, he led his mother to a café in Diagon Alley. She seemed rather uncomfortable in the small establishment, even though it was still quite early in the day and few shoppers were about. He ordered a full English breakfast for each of them, with an accompaniment of tea. The slight downturn of her mouth had him request a cup of coffee for her instead, which triggered a slight spasm on her cheek.
He studied her face as the waitress collected their menus. She had put in some effort into her appearance this morning, he surmised. The slight scent of almond and grapes hinted at the anti-wrinkle cream he had brewed while he had been a student, a formula that he had improved in later years to eliminate the tell-tale smell. It had been a purely academic exercise; not having an intended recipient, he never actually brewed it.
“You’re doing well for yourself,” she ventured.
“I am indeed,” he acknowledged. “I fear I cannot say the same for you.”
She pursed her lips. “We are doing better though. The mills in Farowls are by far busier, and they have a library of which I have been instated as librarian. In six more years we will have paid off all our debt.”
That she hadn’t snapped at his lack of respect indicated that she wanted something from him, but what? Given her past behaviour, he doubted she was after money. No, this was tied into the ministry summons somehow.
“And how many years would it be if that husband of yours would restrain himself from imbibing every alcoholic substance he lays eyes upon?”
Her fingers clenched. “I am here to make amends, Severus. Don’t make it harder for me.”
He rolled his eyes in a calculated gesture. “As you wish. I warn you in advance that I have no interest in the local gossip, and I doubt you have been keeping abreast of developments in the potions industry. Have at it.”
“You do remember Sherwin though? His family moved alongside ours a few years after. He’s been in prison for almost a year now.”
“Wonderful,” he drawled. “You can return to boast that your own son narrowly escaped a similar fate.”
“Not as I heard in the courtroom yesterday. They made you out be a hero, spying on that madman and even enduring torture…” She trailed off. “All to protect Lily. Are you two seeing each other?”
Well, that confirmed it. Lily’s family had been mentioned multiple times the previous day, and unless she was insinuating an illicit affair, she was trying to rile him up.
“No. Our friendship has only recently been rekindled.” The food arrived, and he moved the condiments to allow the waitress to place the plates upon the table. His mother swallowed at the sight. When last would she have been able to eat a meal like this?
He folded his serviette on his lap and with impeccable manners cut a piece of toast to scoop some beans on top of it. She watched his motions with a contemplative look, and he surreptitiously studied her in return. Was she assessing his table conduct? She certainly had not taught it to him, so she had no right to be pleased.
“How is she doing then?” she continued the conversation. Her own demeanour was light and graceful, and not familiar to him at all.
“She married into the Potter family who have more wealth than common sense. She is currently enjoying the pleasure of raising a child.”
His mother momentarily narrowed her eyes at him, having recognized the barb for what is was. “That seems rather callous of her, abandoning what you two had to run off with another man.”
Was she trying to draw parallels between her own failed relationship and his? “Hardly. Our relationship has been platonic at best. I currently enjoy the favour of another, and barely spare anything that might have been a thought.”
She was surprised by his admission. “Is she the sponsor behind your appearance?”
Severus savoured the flavour of the food, satisfied that he had thrown her off her game well enough to abandon part of her pretence. Out of the corner of his eye his saw another person arrive at the café, but they disappeared through the back door for employees. “Detained by the ministry as I were, I could hardly procure a robe for a court appearance myself. Such a task is usually relegated to one’s next of kin,” he tilted his head at her meaningfully, “and I could hardly expect anything to be forthcoming on that front. So, yes, my paramour is responsible for my attire.” Something akin to success gleamed in her eyes, so casually he added, “my usual robes would have sufficed, but I am thankful none-the-less. At the very least, the Prophet contains a flattering image of myself. Would you like a copy to diminish the guilt you feel for my less-than-stellar upbringing?”
The muscle spasm was back, and she visibly calmed herself. “Yes, a copy would be appreciated. I fear I did not bring enough funds to purchase one for myself.”
She may have enough if she went home to trade in all the empties that no doubt littered the house. He deliberately pulled the money pouch open so that she could see the glint of the gold galleons. Rifling around, he extracted a sickle and deposited it on the table in front of her. “It looks like I don’t have any smaller currency, but you are welcome to keep the change.”
“You’re rather casual about spending someone else’s money.”
“I don’t spend what I cannot afford to return.”
To his extreme misfortune, the new staff member that re-appeared from the back door wearing the waiting garb turned out to be one of his seventh-year students, who exclaimed quite loudly when he noticed who was sitting at the table. “Professor Snape!”
How he loathed this boy. “Attempt to socialize with me, mister Lockheart, and I will ensure you never set a foot in my classroom again.”
The daft fop had the gall to ignore his warning, and marched right over to clap Severus on the shoulder. “Never mind school right now, Professor! You should be celebrated! Saw the whole thing in the paper, I did. You could have confided in me, you know! I’d have helped you battle those death eaters myself!”
He could not harm a student. He could not harm a student.
Pinching the skin on the manicured hand to remove it from his shoulder, he flung the appendage with just enough force to make the imbecile stumble. “I am not your friend, mister Lockheart, and doing a few good deeds does not change me into a nice man. I will be deducting fifty points from Ravenclaw upon our return to Hogwarts, and I will speak to the headmaster about having you removed from my class if you do not desist your inane behaviour this instant.”
He spoke softly, and the student had perhaps just enough braincells left to call a retreat. “I mean no harm, Professor! I shall drop by your office once school starts up again to take a picture with you. Until then!”
Squeezing the bridge of his nose, he regarded his mother who was watching the idiot waltz away with horror in her expression. “You’re a professor?”
He wasn’t in the mood to prolong this game anymore. “What do you want?”
“Is it so hard to believe that I want to use this opportunity to make peace with my son? I was hoping we could meet for tea once in a while, get to know one another better.”
So she didn’t manage to achieve her goal in this meeting. Why couldn’t he just rebuff the idea as he wanted to? “You will have to venture into the magical world to retain contact. How will your husband react to that?”
“He is your father, Severus.”
Wiping his hands, he stood up, most of the tea left untouched. “I am to him what he is to me: nothing. You may contact me at Hogwarts via owl. Good day.”
He paid and left, hoping that Hurricane’s plans for the rest of the day would repair the damage that this morning’s events had done to his mood.
He needn’t have worried. After avoiding the student populace who was suddenly very interested in his person, he was greeted by the scents of coffee and crème de cacao as he opened the door to his quarters. He took a deep breath as he discarded his overcoat, and followed his nose into the kitchen.
Hurricane was standing over the counter, sifting cocoa over what could only be tiramisu. He silently moved until he stood behind the man, and was pleasantly surprised as Hurricane leaned his body against him once he was close enough, and tilted his head up to smile at him.
Having no reason to resist the temptation, he bent his neck to kiss that mouth. Hurricane squirmed around in his arms until he was facing him, and with a lazy wave of his hand send the pudding into the fridge.
The casual display of power reminded him of the matter Hurricane had raised in the ministry holding cells, and he reluctantly pulled away. “We shouldn’t.” Two brown eyes frowned at him. “Until you turn eighteen your magic is susceptible to outside interference.”
He was pulled closer again, and felt an erection press against his leg. “There’s enough for both of us, so interfere away…” The little monster attacked his chin with open-mouthed kisses.
He suspected Hurricane knew he wouldn’t.
Giving up any pretence at reluctance, he hauled the other man onto the counter and pressed their groins together. He loved the way Hurricane moaned and grasped at him as though he was precious, and he ran his hand up his lover’s neck to tap at his stubble.
“Show me yourself.”
The roughness disappeared and two wonderfully green eyes blinked open at him. A shiver ran through him at the defenceless gaze and the happiness directed at him, so he tossed Hurricane over his shoulder and marched him off to the bedroom. Once there, he threw the giggling man onto the bed and crawled over him.
They made quick work of their clothes, discarding it over the edge of the bed, and he watched in wonder as his robe – which he thought was transfigured – remained as it was where it landed on the floor.
His momentary distraction was rewarded when a warm, wet heat closed around his cock, and he hissed in a breath. The sensation disappeared just as suddenly as it appeared, and two pleasantly strong arms pushed him onto his back. He wedged a pillow under his head to watch as the green eyes descended upon it’s prize once more.
It was just this side of clumsy, but the previously observed enthusiasm assisted greatly in making it a pleasant experience.
“I’m not terribly good at this, am I?” Hurricane spoke against his member, the vibrations and cool air sending a shiver up Severus’ spine. He watched, fascinated as a small string of saliva trailed from his glans to Hurricane’s bottom lip.
“Fellatio is an art that very few excel at initially, but it is a skill that… oh, that even the most witless of us can master after a few tries. I assure you,” he had to restrain himself from bucking his hips as a decidedly long sweep of the tongue travelled the length of him, “your performance is entirely acceptable, ngh…”
With a hand clamped around the base of his shaft, Hurricane explored his balls with a teasing lick, working the muscle into the folds between his thigh and groin. Almost on reflex Severus splayed his legs a little more, and mischievous eyes languidly blinked up at him.
“I read that it can feel good here too…” the warmth spread down his perineum, but as it touched the edge of his anus his hips jerked up involuntary.
Oh, FUCK that felt nice.
He was on his knees in a second and crushed their mouths together in an effort to prolong the inevitable. A hand disappeared into his hair while another grasped at his hips, so he leant forward to topple them over.
“I love seeing you sprawled beneath me,” he breathed into Hurricane’s ear, and watched bemused as a shiver raked over the man. Intriguing. “I’m going to fuck you now,” he continued his experiment, almost gloating as he felt gooseflesh forming on his lover’s arms. Rolling his hips once for emphasis, he continued, “I’m going to slick up my cock,” cue tremor, “and fuck you right through this mattress.”
He suspected the breathy sigh was as much acquiescence as he was going to receive, so he slathered a generous dollop of lubrication over the tight arse below him. He was being deliberately messy, and Hurricane writhed under the attention. Watching his fingers disappear into the orifice entranced him once more, and he mapped the folds as best as he could.
He had always thought himself a legs-man, but if this new fascination was anything to go by, he was definitely an arse-man instead. He wondered if Hurricane would ever allow him to explore the tract with other objects, just to see what different reactions they would garner. The unbidden thought of slipping a vial inside and decanting a potion straight from his arse entered his mind, and he swallowed thickly.
He’d definitely find a way to propose that.
Lining himself up as best as he could, he pressed forward slowly, enjoying Hurricane’s rapid chest-falls on the Slytherin bedding. If he had his way, he would always take him on green sheets, just to see those emerald orbs appear more pronounced. The heat was tight and hot, and their mouths met once more in a fierce battle neither had an interest in winning.
Hurricane wrenched his head back as his thrusts encountered the prostate gland once more, and in a breathy voice he announced that he was close to completion. “Don’t you want to touch my magic?”
Shit, the man was offering. Of course he wanted to!
He slowed his movements. “I have no idea how,” he admitted.
“Try. I trust you.” It was a declaration that meant more to him than love ever did. The image of Lily in his heart faded ever more. Concentrating on his magical awareness, he sought out the unfamiliarity of another, or a pathway.
It felt like pure pleasure had been poured between his shoulder blades to run in rivulets along his nerves as he touched upon something that was not him, yet not unfamiliar at all. The sensation culminated in his groin, and he felt himself spend his seed into the body below him, distantly feeling a similar wetness on his abdomen.
They collapsed together, breathing heavily into the silence.
“Good god, that felt amazing,” Hurricane exhaled. “Why is it illegal again?”
His body echoed the notion. “Because I can supposedly drain some of it for myself,” he answered. He could still vaguely feel the other man’s presence in his mind, beckoning like a beacon. He was suddenly exhausted though, and tucked his head into Hurricane’s neck as they lay side by side. The tickling sensation of a cleaning charm whispered over his heated flesh, and he felt the weight of the amulet where it rested against his collarbone. A thin sheet floated over them and he thought to voice his appreciation, but the words lost the fight against the pending slumber and he relaxed into Hurricane’s arms.
Chapter 30: Chapter 30
“I wasn’t aware that your mother is still alive.” Harry slowly wrapped a strand of Severus’ hair around his finger, trying to smooth the wayward ends to follow the glossy curve. They had awoken a few minutes prior, but were lazing about in bed after confirming that it wasn’t time for lunch just yet.
“We haven’t spoken since I graduated,” Severus muttered, obviously enjoying the attention. “I do not approve of her living conditions, and she does not approve of my interference. I distanced myself the moment I could.”
Harry had an inkling of what his home circumstances had been, and couldn’t fault him for it. “It was kind of her to attend your trial, at least.”
The head under his fingers hummed. “She wants something. I merely have to establish what.”
“What makes you think that?”
“She returned to the wizarding world a second day despite the fact that she discarded our world to please her husband.”
His hands stilled. Give up magic? He couldn’t fathom it. “She must love him an awful lot then.” He carded his fingers through the locks again.
“Enough to relinquish her sizable inheritance. They live in squalor, yet her pride prevents her from accepting neither money nor assistance from her family. Hence my confusion regarding her persistence with my person.”
That was news. “The Princes are still alive too?”
“My grandfather? Yes. I believe he remarried two years ago after the death of his wife. An attempt at another heir, no doubt.”
“Do you think they would try to contact you now that you’re a hero? Claim you as part of the family to reap the accolades or such?”
“I doubt it. Proper procedure dictates that they contact my mother…” Dark eyes opened to contemplate the ceiling. “That’s what she’s after. She can scarcely make introductions if she is estranged herself.”
Harry frowned. “While it pisses me off, don’t you benefit in the long run?”
“Her benefits far outweigh my own. In order to acknowledge myself in any fashion, they will have to reinstate her into the family. She is entitled to her dowry then, at the very least.”
He tried to imagine what it would be like if Aunt Petunia contacted him knowing she could be granted money just for being associated with him. “What should we do?”
“Allow it for now. It would be advisable to meet my maternal family before making a decision. If they prove to be detestable they may just deserve each other, and I shall extricate myself from the matter.”
Thinking back to a beloved potions-text, Harry hoped they were good people. Sure, most pure-bloods were stuffy in some aspect or another, but as his association with the Malfoys have proved, they could be swayed.
It was an odd thought, knowing that he was on better terms with Lucius Malfoy than he was with Sirius Black. The distance between him and the Potters didn’t bother him as much since he never knew them, but Sirius’ attitude hurt. He wasn’t prepared to give up Severus in order to improve his relationship with them though – his fascination with the man had morphed into a desire to keep him by his side for as long as the man let him. It was a concentrated feeling, one he felt he could fight until his dying breath to protect.
He had thought at first that he would be okay to merely be the target of Severus’ attention, even if it meant playing second fiddle to Lily – but he wanted more. He wanted the security of knowing that if the Potters had a falling out tomorrow, he would not potentially lose Severus as well. He wanted that timeless devotion dedicated to him, so he was giving more and more of himself in the process, hoping Severus would notice.
He knew first hand that you couldn’t force love.
“What are you thinking?”
Oops. “What they would make of me, I suppose.”
“I herald from a family with no expectation upon my future, whom I associate with is none of their business. If anything, I have achieved more than any Snape or Prince I am aware of.”
Harry laughed. “So, they should be begging for your attention, is that it?” He bent over to kiss the tip of Severus’ nose. As he raised his head, he saw that the dark eyes were focused on his arm instead.
Or, more accurately, the remnant of the basilisk bite.
“May I be so callous to ask the origin of your décor?”
He looked at his assortment of scars. “This one is where the basilisk originally bit me when I fought it in second year,” the head on his lap jerked sharply to consider him. “Fawkes’ cried on it a bit. This one,” he held up his elbow where a diagonal gash ran across the skin, “is from when I fell off my broom in a quidditch match. We had a real dunce of a professor, Gilderoy Lockheart, who tried to fix my broken arm but ended up vanishing my bones from the shoulder down. The skelegrow session afterwards was something terrible.”
Severus had sat up, a tightly controlled expression of disbelief on his face. The sheet pooled in his lap, and Harry licked his lips self-consciously.
“This one,” he continued, showing an incision on his forearm, “is where Pettigrew drew my blood to resurrect the dark lord, and this one,” he held his hand out, “is where a ministry appointed professor, who didn’t believe me when I said the dark lord had returned, made me write lines with a blood quill.” He pulled at his skin, wondering where else he had significant marks, before rolling his eyes at missing the two obvious. Pointing to the fading scar on his brow and then the more prominent one on his collarbone, “and these two are my horcrux scars. The rest were mostly from battles and skirmishes when we were in such a hurry to flee that we didn’t pay much attention to healing spells.”
A hand touched his side. “And this one?”
He had to pull at the skin to see it, but the white tissue that marked the day his uncle had hit him a tad too hard was ugly and puckered. Aunt Petunia had had to rush him to the day clinic for stitches, but they never broke skin again.
Too expensive, they said.
“My uncle caught me sneaking food and walloped me with his suspenders. It hit a lot harder than he thought it would, since he stood gaping at the blood a good while afterwards. It was a good thing though; he took care never to use anything metal since.” He grinned up at Severus, but the mirth left his face as his gaze met a thunderous look. “What?”
“I have a good mind to visit my wrath upon such a dreadful person.”
Harry knew that feeling. Whenever he felt particularly terrible, he would imagine all sorts of horrible things upon the Dursleys, but then he would recall Dudley’s clumsy attempt at making peace… And he just knew he would never be able do it, because hurting his uncle would hurt his cousin. “They’re not the same people anymore. Who knows, maybe they become the poster-family for the average British person.”
Severus snorted, and he tugged him back onto his lap.
“I don’t know if you noticed, but a letter appeared on your side-table while we were sleeping,” he changed the topic. Reaching over, he pulled the parchment closer for Severus. Elegant long fingers reached for it, and Harry felt his face heat up at the sight of them. He looked away.
“Lupin’s report on the latest sample I sent him. Reduced pain but also reduced coherency, not an uncommon side effect of papaver… Bloody wolf should be grateful he is coherent at all,” he trailed off. Seeing his eyes dart towards the study, Harry scoffed and summoned a quill, an inkwell and some parchment.
“You may as well,” he explained. “Lie on your stomach.” Arranging the stationary at the end of the bed, he took up residence on the other and slowly started working his hands up and down a foot in a gentle massage.
“Under your care I shall become fat and lazy.” The voice was scathing, but the glare directed over Severus’ shoulder had a teasing quality to it.
Harry grinned happily. “I’ll be sure to make you exercise often. I heard sex burns tons of calories!”
A slipper was thrown his way as he laughed. “Incorrigible brat,” came the response.
Minerva watched as the only missing staff member snuck in the side entrance, followed by another. The other man looked vaguely familiar, and it took a further moment to identify him as the new celebrity in their midst, Hurricane. His clean-shaven face bore a slight resemblance to James Potter, and she wondered where he fit into that family.
"Severus! Good of you to finally join us. I trust the proceedings this morning went according to schedule?" Albus had stood up from the staff table to greet the potions master. When it became clear that the headmaster was aiming for an embrace, the man behind Severus stepped around him to intercept it.
"Somewhat. You haven't been celebrating too much without us, have you?" he asked, and Minerva watched, amused, as Hurricane proceeded to hook a hand around both mens' arms and escort them to the table, effectively putting an end to any potential hugs.
Severus looked relieved.
She stood up at their approach, and offered a graceful bow. "I believe we have the two of you to thank for the end of the war - on behalf of Hogwarts, I would like to offer our sincere most gratitude." She would corner Severus later to extricate a hug, but for now she would cater to his wishes.
Everyone at the table had stood up at her words, and a small scattering of applause sounded amidst the handfalls of Hagrid. Both Severus and Hurricane bowed, the latter's face awash with colour, before they seated themselves and lunch resumed.
Hurricane placed himself between Severus and Silvanus, the table magically expanded to compensate for the unexpected guest. She could only guess at what the two men had been up to prior to their arrival; Severus was not someone given to be tardy. She hid a small smile in her sleeve.
"Where are the students?" Severus asked as he surveyed the hall.
"We arranged for the few left behind to be sent home for the celebrations, and classes will resume a week later than normal. Will you be able to adjust your teaching schedule to fit?” she queried as she passed a bottle of wine from her side next to Albus. It felt odd seeing Severus, still a student fresh in her memory, consume alcohol in her presence.
There was no contest to his brilliance in his subject, although his teaching methods could do with a little finesse. She could hardly object seeing as in his short time as a professor there had not been a single incident in his classes, while in the past potions had been the single highest contributor to infirmary patients next to quidditch.
She had mentioned her conundrum to Albus recently, who had laughed it off and proclaimed that they should at least wait until midterms before judging his approach. Seeing him now, his countenance much healthier than when he had first joined the staff, suppressing a smirk at whatever nonsense Hurricane was whispering into his ear, made her believe Albus for the first time.
Hurricane suddenly guffawed, smothering his laughter into his hand as Severus sat far too innocently at his side, delicately spearing a crouton to drag it through some sauce.
“Severus.” The tone was admonishing, yet amused, and she looked at Albus askance. “Minerva, dear, you may wish to review your third year Slytherin papers for the year thus far. You may find that your odd affection for them may not have been quite natural.”
The potion master scoffed. “It was merely an experiment. How was I to know it had borne fruit?”
Albus laughed. “It worked exceedingly well, but Minerva has been careful not to praise them in your vicinity. You will take care not to have any information slip to the students, won’t you?”
She glared murder at Severus. “What have you done?” Hurricane laughed harder.
“A simple infusion of Nepeta cataria sprayed on the offensive documents. Hardly worth all this commotion.”
The name was foreign for barely a moment. “Catnip! Severus!”
Being back at Hogwarts felt rather nostalgic. Sirius huffed a laugh as he walked past a blackened stone on the way to the great hall – James was the one that had cast the hex, and they had barely had enough time to run away before McGonagall’s approach. He missed those carefree days, days where the most he had to worry about was not repeating the same prank on the same person twice.
Now he sat with the additional stress of a bank report, advising him that at his current rate of spending and lack of income, he would run out of funds in two years. What was even more annoying was that he couldn’t use the war as an excuse not to find a job anymore.
He hadn’t minded the war. It wasn’t like anyone he knew died.
The party was in full swing as he opened the doors – the tables around the perimeter of the room were piled high with food, and the centre of the floor hosted a variety of dancing couples. It took a moment to spot James and Remus, and he strode over.
“Evening!” Slapping his friends on their respective shoulders, he frowned as their serious expressions turned to him. “Why the long faces?”
Arthur, who they had been conversing with, spoke up. “The aurors found Molly’s brothers. Gideon was coherent for a while, but he slipped into a coma soon after they called us. They’re not sure what they can do for Fabian; they don’t think he’ll last the week. Molly and Morgana are with them at St Mungos.”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” he stuttered out his awkward response. What do you say to that?
“Not to give you false hope or anything, but have you spoken to Severus?” They all looked at Remus. “He might have a few ideas.”
“Snape isn’t a mediwiz, Remus. I know you’re impressed with the man, but he’s no miracle worker.” Ugh. He hoped Snape wasn’t in attendance.
Arthur shrugged. “It can’t hurt to mention it to him, but I’m not hoping for much. At least the kids are occupied so Molly can be there with them.”
It irritated him that Snape was getting all this attention. War hero, employed, successful… It felt like the man was flaunting his life in Sirius’ face, whose own life was slowly unravelling. It grated.
“Lils! Look who finally made it off the couch!”
Lily and Mary McDonald walked towards them, the latter rolling her eyes at the sight of Sirius. They stopped their approach, conversed for a moment, and then carried on towards them. Sirius suspected that Lily had to convince Mary to stay – they hadn’t broken up on amicable terms after all.
He did forewarn all his partners that he wasn’t interested in too serious a relationship. He was young; he wanted to enjoy his freedom a bit more. Settling down sounded so… final.
Being as civil as the excitement in the air allowed him to be, he finally managed to charm Mary into accepting a dance and they twirled around the floor. At the end they were laughing and breathless, and she pressed a quick kiss to his cheek before disappearing into the crowd. He made his way over to the refreshment table to grab a glass of something cold, and made his way back towards his friends.
He stopped early when he spied Lily talking to Snape, and looked back to see if James was aware. James was talking to someone who bore a remarkable resemblance to himself, and curiosity diverted, he resumed his course. Closer up their similarity faded somewhat, and he could identify the man as Hurricane.
“Someone finally taught you how to cast a shaving charm?” he greeted the man.
Hurricane swiped a hand over his chin. “Evening, Black. Have the staff cornered you yet to be the first footer?”
“Bloody hell. Why not Remus?”
James snickered. “Because you’re tall, dark haired and Black, and he’s just tall.”
“I’ll give them a gift, alright.” He scratched through his pockets. “I’ll set the tone for the year – I’m sure I had a few poppers here somewhere – they’ll have the worst pranksters in history!”
“You may need to wait a few years for that actually,” Hurricane quipped up.
Of course, the man had future insight. “Who’s it going to be?” both James and him wanted to know.
“You don’t need to be a seer to know that the Weasley twins are going to be a menace when they attend the school.”
The whole group looked over to where a few of the younger children were playing under the watchful eyes of the Hogwarts elves. The twins were immediately visible where they were running around pulling toys out of the other toddlers’ hands. An older elf was sedately following them, clicking her fingers at regular intervals to restore the belongings to their rightful owners.
Sirius could almost imagine the havoc they would wreak on Filch and his pet of the decade.
“Excuse me for a second,” Hurricane suddenly said, and skirted through the partygoers.
Now that they were alone, he inclined his head towards where Lily and Snape were still talking. “You okay with that?”
James took a sip of his drink and hummed. “I’m not worried about Snape, no.” He glanced around and lowered his voice. “Lily, on the other hand, is acting downright odd. Here comes another, watch.”
Silently they watched as two ladies walked up to the pair and offered both their gratitude and congratulations to Snape. Lily’s face lost its warmth, but while she was still smiling, it was a cold, almost haughty, look. She casually touched Snape’s arm during the following conversation, and both women’s eyes drifted towards the contact. They were much less lively afterwards, and soon took their leave.
“What do you think?”
He didn’t want to voice his thoughts, but James deserved to hear it. “You don’t think she’ll cheat on you?”
James shook his head. “No. I don’t think she’s aware that she’s doing it.”
“What’s with your sudden confidence in Snape though?”
“You haven’t noticed?”
“Cad. Tell me.”
James leant conspiratorially closer. “Snape’s bent, and Hurricane is sweet on him.”
His jaw must have hung open, since James took the opportunity to slap it shut.
“You’re not joking, are you?”
“Nope. I’ve suspected since Christmas, but they also arrived together tonight.”
Looking back at Lily, he muttered, “Should we tell her?”
“That she’s behaving like me?” James huffed. “Good luck with that.”
Harry was grinning like a loon while Remus roughly dragged him away from other ears.
“Please tell me I just heard you wrong, or that this is your father’s twisted sense of humour I’m paying the price for, because otherwise I have to hand myself in to the authorities.”
The time traveller laughed. “Relax, Remus. No-one said you had to march over there and propose right now! She’s only nine, for goodness sake!”
Nine. That measured a twelve-year age gap between them. “She’s not even a student yet!”
“You don’t have to choose her, you know.” Harry’s voice was soft, and he stopped his panic to look at him. The man was looking at him with a soft expression. “You’re not the same man I knew in my time – there isn’t going to be a war to keep you distracted for years. You have potential employment, a better future with the wolfsbane… You can make new choices.” Harry looked away. “Regulus taught me that.”
“Regulus? Sirius’ brother?” He was surprised.
“Shit, don’t tell Si-Black I said that!” Harry turned plaintive eyes on Remus. “I promised I wouldn’t interfere any more than I already have…”
Interfere? With what? “You know where Regulus is?”
Harry shrugged, and frowned. “Did Black by any chance get a notification from the ministry recently?”
He was curious about Regulus, but he dropped the matter out of respect for their lack of privacy. “Not that I am aware of. Why?”
“No, he definitely would have mentioned something if he had. His parents are dead.”
Remus raised a hand to cover his mouth, and looked over to where Sirius and James were plotting something with their heads close together.
“Should I tell him? He didn’t inherit anything…”
Shaking his head, Remus turned his attention back to Harry. “Rather not tonight. While there is a good chance he would be ecstatic at their passing, I don’t think this is the right circumstance for it. May I ask what happened?”
Quietly Harry filled him in, and every so often he would glance at the girl with the bright pink hair.
Dreams of accolades had never once been paired with this level of social interaction. In Severus’ mind, his achievements would have transpired within the potions community where only those of superior intellect would be able to understand it and therefore attempt to discuss it with him. From everyone else, a cursory congratulations would have sufficed.
The absolute public persecution he had to face this evening was speedily convincing him that the wizarding world perhaps needed to be wiped out after all. Only Lily’s constant presence by his side was keeping him grounded, but even there something felt out of sorts. She had practically shooed Hurricane away from him at the start of the evening, and he had not missed her subtle body-language either.
Being the focus of her attention had been a vision he had entertained since his youth, yet now that he was living the experience he was annoyed to find he had no idea what to do with it. He allowed her to carry the bulk of the conversations as his eyes followed Hurricane around the room.
It was satisfying how often the man’s eyes would seek out his own.
Another person he had noticed was Arthur Weasley. The man had been drifting at the ends of conversations near him, slowly working his way towards Severus. They had never had reason to interact much – their specialities lay in different fields and his friendship with Lucius had been a definite preventative – so his tedious meandering was rather telling.
Exasperated with another rehash of his heroic efforts, he abandoned Lily to the simpering fools and approached Arthur. The redhead blinked owlishly up at him as Severus’ robes settled around himself, a moment of fear in the ministry employee’s eyes.
It delighted him in his core to see such a response at the persona he had crafted. Perhaps he would seek out his father one day simply to see his reaction.
“Severus? Can I help you?” Arthur mewled.
“You are practically oozing the desire to speak with me, but since your Gryffindor courage has failed you spectacularly, I have approached you instead.”
“Oh! Oh, that’s one way to put it,” he flustered. “It’s nothing important though, I didn’t wish to interrupt…”
“Spare me,” Severus cut him short. “I have had enough of people circling the proverbial drain with their aimless nattering today. The point, if you please.”
“Er, well, if you insist. Aurors found Molly’s brothers this morning, but they are both in St Mungos at the moment with a rather dire prognosis. I was talking to Remus earlier, and he said you may have some insight on their conditions…?”
Not important, indeed. Severus was interested though, and requested a breakdown of their conditions. Arthur complied to the best of his abilities, never having seen the patients but relaying the contents of the message they received.
“It’s probably best if you go see them yourself. People tend to leave out a few details when it comes to paperwork – I see it in my department all the time.”
His experimentation with the regeneration potion had been tentatively successful, but since it was based on numerous basilisk-derived ingredients, it was also highly illegal. He wondered to whom he would have to speak to start the moral dilemma rolling.
Lucius should be able to advise him on the matter.
“I can promise nothing at this stage, but I will investigate the matter. As it turns out, I am working on an experimental potion that could be of assistance, but I would need to trudge through quite an amount of red tape to be admitted to test it on an unconscious patient. I trust you understand the dilemma.”
Arthur was staring up at him with such adoration that he felt the need to flinch. He smiled broadly as he inhaled. “I apologise for ever doubting you, Severus. You truly are the best man amongst us.”
A muscle jumped under Severus’ eye as Arthur walked away from him.
Fuck this party.
Locating Hurricane, he rudely manhandled the smiling man out of the room and back towards the dungeons. He needed to indulge in some reckless debauchery to convince himself that all the virtue forced upon him that evening didn’t stick.
Neither Severus nor Hurricane was coherent when the new year struck.
Well, this chapter marks the end of the interlude - next chapter, the plotting continues. =)
“Oh my, how curious, how curious indeed.”
Harry turned around to see Ollivander approach him from between the shelves. The man’s narration amused him, an echo of a conversation seven years ago.
“Good morning, sir,” he greeted politely.
The pale figure approached him in wonder, his eyes on trained on where Harry’s wand was hidden on his person. “I’ve never seen such a confused wand in all my travels,” he reached a hand toward it, then seemed to remember himself and look at Harry instead. “Where are my manners? Come in, young man. It is not often that I don’t know my customers. How may I assist you today?”
Unsure if he should introduce himself, Harry produced his wand and softly set it on the counter. “I believe you have already solved my problem. How do I fix it?”
Ollivanders’ eyes were drawn to the object on the counter; frowning, he picked it up, only to shoot an alarmed glance to one of the shelves behind him. “I have not sold this wand yet.”
“And because of me, you may never do so.”
Silver eyes inspected Harry. “Would that be such a bad thing?”
“I suppose not,” he replied, thinking of the late dark lord. “Do you know why it is confused?”
Delicately running his fingers over the wood, the wandmaker appeared lost in his own world. “Why do you use a wand, Mr Potter?”
Harry smiled, and wondered how Mr Ollivander had worked out his identity. “To channel my magic when casting spells?”
“Do you need it, though?” There was a challenge in his gaze.
He wanted to answer flippantly, but his mind drifted to recent events and he considered the question with greater concentration. Whenever he was with Severus, he had merely wanted, and it was so. Did that extend to all other spells as well?
He tried to will a light into being, and slightly to the side of him the pinprick light of a Lumos was suddenly visible. He snuffed it out, and looked at the other man with worry.
“Does that mean… does my wand no longer belong to me?”
“Not quite, not quite, dear boy. It is merely confused as to why you still keep it, when it limits your skill rather than enhance it.”
Harry liked his wand. It was his companion, the first proof he had that he was a wizard. Performing wandless magic drew too much attention, and after his previous experience of being labelled the next dark lord, he hardly wanted to add something like this to his abnormality. “Is there a way to make it stronger?” he queried.
The question seemed to intrigue the wand maker. “I’ve never tried to improve a wand before; most men would ask for a new wand. Would you like me to try?” At Harry’s answering nod, he tucked the wand behind his ear and started scratching on a piece of parchment. “I will need to find a stronger conduit, but phoenix feathers are picky and hard to please… what to bind it with…”
“I have basilisk teeth available, if that could work?” he offered.
Ollivander continued writing. “King of Serpents, powerful and bold, but teeth are perhaps too toxic. A horn on the other hand… Salazar himself was know to have a basilisk horn as a core…”
Those protrusions at the end of the skull? He did keep those. “I think I have a horn or two.”
The silver eyes were bright as they looked up. “And you would trust me to experiment with your wand? If the procedure fails, it could be beyond repair.”
Did he have another choice? “Would it fix my wand though? Will it register properly at the ministry? If it works, I mean.”
“Yes, yes, it will. But register you as what, Mr Potter? Your wand doesn’t know your name anymore.”
The body was gone.
“Amycus!” he hollered down the stairs.
The tall man appeared at the bottom landing. “There’s no need to shout, Yaxley. What’s the matter?”
“The dark lord’s body! Where is it?” If it weren’t for their diminished numbers, Amycus would be writhing under the cruciatus by now.
When the man had the audacity to roll his eyes at him, he apparated down the stairs and slammed the man’s body into the wall.
“We had to move it, Yaxley. No matter the preservative spells we cast upon it, it kept deteriorating.” Corban regarded Alecto from where he stood, and gave Amycus a last shove.
“Well, where is it?” he demanded.
Alecto sighed. “Inside the freezer.”
He stormed over to the muggle implement and flung the top open. The body was there, arranged as stately as it could be in the narrow space. The tension left his shoulders, and Corban breathed deeply.
“You are far too tense, Corby. Nothing will be done if you keel over tomorrow from heart failure.”
Turning to the new speaker, Corban stood straighter. Tarquin Pyrites boasted the most impeccable breeding of all the death eaters, not a single squib or muggle in his ancestry. Needless to say, this quality had endeared him to the dark lord, and despite the man’s excessive obsession with his appearance, he had often been entrusted with crucial missions.
“Have you contacted the students yet?”
The white silk gloves were systematically adjusted. “Of course. We have five Slytherins and two Ravenclaws under threat, at least one of them should manage to incapacitate Severus.”
Tarquin disdainfully sniffed at the tea he was offered. “Rumour has it that he is involved with our Severus. Incapacitate the one, and the other will show up.” Corban sank into a chair as well. “We will have his blood.”
“Pity we cannot approach the school ourselves.” Amycus remarked from the landing.
Corban lifted his cup, taking a sip. “Not as ourselves, but impersonation is not out of the question. If we start brewing Polyjuice today, we can start looking for opportunities in a month’s time. Alecto, can we leave this task to you?”
She nodded and disappeared up the stairs.
“Have we heard from any others as yet?” Tarquin asked.
“Lucius turning traitor has implicated far too many. Even the Goyles are in custody, loyalty to the Malfoys be damned. Those who have escaped are in hiding, and exposing them at this stage risks us as much as them. It is best to resurrect the dark lord first, so that he can unite us again.”
“There is also our friend downstairs to consider. If all else fails, we could imperious him to collect information.”
Corban nodded. “Agreed. For now, we should focus on retrieving the blood of the storm – under the guidance of our lord everything else will fall into place once more.”
“Are you sure we do not need to seek out one of these soul containers for the ritual to be successful?”
He shook his head. “The literature suggests that they merely need to exist. We have not been entrusted with their locations at any rate.”
Taking another sip, Tarquin grimaced. “This tea is positively dreadful.”
Alecto spoke up on her way down the stairs. “Leave the house elf alone. We only have the one for now, and tea has never been in his job description. I’ll see to it that he improves.”
“What did you use him for?”
She gave a sly grin. “Mopping dungeons.”
When Sirius failed to show up by noon, Harry apparated to his doorstep. It took a long time for his knock to be answered, but the door finally swung open, revealing a very relaxed and partially drunk Sirius Black.
“What are you doing here?” He obviously had to focus on his words.
He must have forgotten. “You didn’t show up for the race, so I thought it might have slipped your mind. I was hoping to refresh your memory.”
Sirius frowned. “Race?”
“I gave you tickets…?”
“Hmm. No, can’t make it. Busy.”
James appeared next to him. “Hurricane! What are you doing here?”
Harry took in his unstable appearance. “Wasting my time, apparently.” He directed his attention to Sirius once more. “Can’t you reschedule?”
Fumbling his wand out of a pocket, Sirius aimed it down the corridor, but failed to catch what he summoned. James bent in half laughing at him as Sirius was forced to collect the slips of paper from the floor. “Reschedule, right.” He stuffed the two tickets into Harry’s collar. “Consider it done.”
He slammed the door in Harry’s face.
Hurricane dropped his head heavily onto Severus’ shoulder as he sat down on the rickety seats next to the track. Startled at the physical display, Severus quickly observed the other man’s posture, before offering him a disillusioned bottle.
“Think no more on it. It is his loss.”
A hand held out two crumpled tickets. “He gave me his tickets back.”
Making a quick decision, he pulled the paper into his own grasp. “I shall ensure they are not wasted. Remain here.”
Wide brown eyes watched him move to the back of the stands, and once outside he relocated to the Malfoy manor. An excited Draco mauled the house-elf over that opened the door. “Sevis!”
Lucius and Narcissa were in his study, small piles of paper files covering every surface. Reading the tag attached to a file, Severus smirked. These were all students that would study at Hogwarts in Draco’s year and below, separated into their birth-status piles.
Only females, though.
“Reneging on your agreement with the Greengrass’ already?” he enquired upon entering.
“Severus!” Narcissa hugged him, and Lucius carefully set his quill aside.
“It’s never too late to select a good candidate, at the very least. If the research proves fruitful, I would like to have good relations with potential families. The sooner we start, the more acceptable society will find my behaviour.”
He inclined his head at the logic.
“What brings you here today?” Narcissa disentangled her son from his leg.
“I find myself in attendance at a muggle event an acquaintance is performing in. One of the invited parties cancelled very last minute, and I thought you might like to attend in their stead.”
Lucius raised a brow. “Muggle event?”
“An auto race. I have been assured that we have exemplary seating.”
Narcissa looked sceptical. “Do we know this acquaintance?”
“You do. However, you may find that you do not know him at all.”
They communicated in that infernal way that most married couples do, before delicate hands smoothed their robes down.
“I suppose we will have to change?”
Regulus came fifth out of thirty-two, a most pleasing accomplishment according to the horde of teens surrounding him. Lucius could only purse his lips awkwardly. After being the most reticent to attend, Narcissa had been absolutely taken with the action and had cheered on a sleek-looking Prussian blue vehicle with flames stenciled behind the wheels. It came in second, and she was positively preening with her judgement.
Hurricane had escorted her and Draco down to the track to greet their lost family member while Severus and he remained behind.
“A most nerve-wrecking sport, is it not?”
He nodded. “I can honestly say that I would never attempt such a feat without magic. I doubt even brooms can reach such atrocious speed.”
“We have no need to.” Severus raised his drink, but lowered it again. “I’ve been meaning to request your advice on a matter, and now is as good a time as any, I suppose.” Lucius turned his body to face Severus better. “I have been developing a potion with highly illegal components, but their illegality stems from the danger the living specimen poses to society. How do I convince the healers at St. Mungos to have me administer the potion to an unconscious patient? He will expire within the week.”
“You may need to provide more details, my friend. Would the potion cure their ailment, or will he expire either way? And how did you come by the ingredients?”
“It will cure part of his condition. I have tested my initial sample on a few mammals, and they have all regrown bone, muscle and nerves. Skin appears to be a shortcoming, but there are separate potions for that.”
He stared at the potions master. Regrown limbs? Forget the war, Severus would be heralded a hero for that alone. “And the ingredients?”
“You recall the vest Hurricane gifted me?” He inclined his head, amazed at where this was going. “Salazar Slytherin’s chamber of secrets housed a basilisk five times the size of the largest recorded specimen. Hurricane slayed it, and have allowed me access.”
“I will mention your plight to the minister. She is easily swayed if one plays upon the reputation she would earn, being the person in charge while all this change comes about. I will endeavour to see her tonight.” He leaned slightly forward. “Have you seen the chamber?”
The corners of Severus’ lips turned up. “Visit me next weekend, and I will take you there.”
He hadn’t been this excited in a long time, and clenched his jaw not to laugh out loud. From the track he could see Narcissa delicately waving them over, and he motioned at Severus to stand. They leisurely made their way down where his wife demurely introduced him to the driver of the vehicle she had cheered on.
It was a woman.
He executed a perfect bow. “My congratulations upon your performance, Madame.” He could tell that their audience were smitten with their mannerisms, the word viscount whispered within hearing range. The driver blushed a pretty pink.
“Gosh, Reg, you have the oddest acquaintances,” she stammered.
He turned to face Regulus, who looked nothing like he remembered. “We are cousins, actually,” Narcissa mentioned. The crowd gasped.
“I understand today was your first official performance? Most extraordinary. Be so kind as to invite us to your next race?”
Regulus, who had been a bit uncertain at first, glanced at Hurricane, who nodded. His face morphed into a show of happiness and he rushed forward to embrace Narcissa. Lucius gently stabilised her ere she toppled over.
A hand was then offered to him. Bridges, he thought, and shook it in return.
Don't condemn Sirius yet! He had a good reason for his behaviour! (Next chapter... =D )
Chapter 33: Chapter 33
While she had never dealt with the man before, she had heard rumours about his abrasive personality and scathing tongue. There was no denying his absolute genius though – the presentation he had prepared with barely a moment’s notice had been thorough, clear and concise. He had offered to demonstrate as well, but she couldn’t bring herself to see him mangle the rabbit in preparation. The animal had no fur on any of its limbs, a testimony to repeated successful tests.
Given the usefulness, she was quite prepared to introduce a Wizengamot sanctioned brewing program with regulated ingredients, but breeding basilisks remained an enormous risk. They could set an island aside for the purpose, but who would collect the components?
“If we were to secure permission from the closest relatives, would we be able to administer the potion, Minister?”
She looked at the documents in front of her. Fabian Prewitt, unmarried. Parents deceased, sister (Molly Weasley) and twin brother (Gideon Prewitt) still alive. No offspring, no known lover. Gideon Prewitt, married (Morgana Prewitt). The rest was much the same. Both in St Mungos, severely mutilated, and showing signs of advanced curse damage.
Neither living expectation exceeded the week.
“The Wizengamot may frown on administering it on unconscious patients at first. I suggest we find a volunteer before approaching this family. Do you have any contacts, Lucius?”
The blonde’s face soured, as though it was sacrilege to suggest he may have physically incapacitated acquaintances. “None on the correct side of the war-effort, it would seem. Are you aware of the potion’s capability to restore organs, Severus? The only person I seem to be able to think of is Auror Moody.”
The potioneer eyed the rabbit.
“Let us rather seek out someone with a limb deficiency before we navigate into further unknown territory,” Millicent defended the creature. She wondered if she could take it home with her. “I will assign my secretary to collaborate with Healer Poke to seek out a qualified individual. Following your success, we will approach Madame Prewitt and Weasley. Would it be acceptable to communicate our findings tomorrow?”
Classes started on the fourth with great excitement. The newly returned student body only had eyes for the dour potions professor, whose mood appeared to have improved somewhat. They soon found that he was as harsh in his classes as ever, and any attempt to socialize with him was met with a swift point deduction that escalated through the day.
He was positively beaming as he observed the empty hourglasses by lunchtime.
When she spotted him at the table, Minerva marched over to him with a mission. “Severus! This cannot go on. Two hundred points in one day!”
He hummed. “Two hundred and twenty-four, Minerva. Do keep count.”
She scoffed. “Och, you pig-headed…” Seemingly recalling where she was, she dropped into the vacant chair next to him and lowered her voice. “You cannot diminish the house points like this, Severus! It is meant to be motivation, not this willy-nilly –”
Albus, appearing from the side door, lay a gentle hand on her shoulder. “Come, Minerva, I believe I have the perfect solution to this problem.” He led her over to her chair, and Severus smirked in his lopsided way at her.
She bristled. “Albus, how can you allow –”
He merely held up his hands, and moved to address the school.
“My dear students! It would seem as though we have a slight house point dilemma on our hands. To rectify matters, I propose the following.” He waved his hands towards the colourful gems, and 100 of each fell into their respective containers, leaving the count at 100 for each house bar Slytherin, which stood at 179. “I implore you not to pester our potions professor anymore – he is quite aware of our appreciation for his efforts. If you still feel the need to express yourselves, be prepared to face the wrath of your head of house as I believe he is deducting thirty-five points per student at this stage.”
Minerva turned to look at Severus. He had a glower on his face, but when he caught her eye he smoothed his expression and motioned toward the Slytherin score. She pursed her lips in frustration.
When Silvanus hobbled into the room a few minutes later, Severus, who normally had no patience for the man, engaged him in conversation. The other professor seemed highly suspicious at first, but his expression quickly turned to one of wonder.
When they left together shortly afterwards, Silvanus not having eaten, she puzzled at their antics.
Fourteen cases of plagiarism.
Flitwick clenched his hands as he sat in Albus’ office, waiting for his wayward student. That someone of his house had perpetuated such a fraud! It wasn’t Ravenclaw behaviour at all.
Severus’ relayed information had sparked a covert investigation that had left his seventh’ years shocked. In the end only fourteen cases could be proved, but he recalled many incidents over the years where his normally exemplary students had seemingly misplaced homework, or done the incorrect assignment. What an injustice this was to the rest of their year!
His fury must have shown on his face, since Minerva, bless her kindness, lay a hand on his in silent comfort. He made himself relax, and nodded his head in appreciation.
He was fully in favour of suspension.
Golden locks finally appeared along with that dazzling white smile, and he quietly unleashed his fury under the watchful gaze of the headmaster.
She was told not to try anything too early lest she cast suspicion on herself, but Dahlia couldn’t help it. She had been a nervous wreck on the way to school, imagining all kinds of horrors visited upon her new baby brother. She had researched the best way to cause an explosion, and when classes today presented her with the anti-inflammatory balm that was volatile with merely an increase of pulpified fireleaf, she had set her plan in motion.
She hadn’t counted on a number of her fellow students honestly making the mistake as well, or Professor Snape being more than prepared for such an eventuality. He simply vanished the contents of their respective cauldrons on first sight of trouble, and demanded that they start anew.
She nearly started sobbing.
Regulus moved out over the weekend, having found a smallholding that fit his requirements. Harry had visited to see the massive barn in the back yard he was converting to a workshop, and had spied the additional red suitcases that were definitely not Regulus’.
He hoped Walburga was turning in her grave, and he silently wished Celest the best of luck.
His apartment felt bare and empty without the extra body, and he systematically moved back into the bedroom. Severus’ time was occupied with the new school term, so without any concrete direction, he baked.
There was a knock at the door suddenly, and he felt relieved as he went to open it.
It was Remus.
“Harry! Have you heard the news?” he exclaimed, hugging him as he stepped into the apartment. “Lily’s pregnant!”
Harry stood shocked. “What?”
“She’s pregnant with a little girl! Another July baby!” The werewolf marched into the kitchen to grab two glasses while he tried to process the information. He would have had a sister? “Where do you keep your alcohol? We have to celebrate!”
Still in a daze, he opened the cabinet and pulled out a bottle. Remus happily took it from him and poured two glasses, handing one back to Harry.
“I can’t believe it,” he finally managed to say.
“They’ve known since November, but apparently it’s best to tell others after the first trimester. Sirius got James and himself right drunk when they planned to spread the news, so I only found out today. They spent all of yesterday hungover. Serves them right.”
“Mom was pregnant in October? I could have had a sister?” Feeling his face crumple, he hid it into his hands.
“Oh, Harry…” Two warm arms settled around him, and hugged him tight.
They sat together for a moment while Harry silently mourned the sibling he never had, a person killed before anyone had even known she was there. He pulled back slowly, extracting a handkerchief from his pocket to wipe his face.
He mumbled a soft thanks.
“You’re welcome, Harry.”
The sound of the timer drew them to the kitchen where Harry pulled a tray of Chelsea buns out of the oven, and after spelling the glaze on, offered one to Remus.
“I suppose that is why he didn’t want to go to the race. I guess I can’t blame him.”
“Race?” Remus asked as he caught a crumb falling from the confectionary. “These are divine.”
“Thanks. I gave Sirius tickets to an event for Christmas, and when he didn’t pitch, I went looking for him.” He stared out the window. “He gave them back. The tickets, I mean.”
“Oh, Sirius would have liked that. He has a flying motorcycle, you know? Taught himself how to look after it. It’s one of the few things I’ve seen him focus on. Will there be another event?”
Harry shrugged. “I think it is time for me to accept that this Sirius and I will never be as close as I was to the Sirius from my time. I should stop trying to interfere with his life.”
“Would you like for me to have a word with him?”
He suspected Remus would do more harm than good that way. “Rather not. I’ll leave him to little Harry – let him enjoy his godfather.”
Remus picked a bit of frosting off the table. “Lily mentioned that they want Severus to be the new baby’s godfather. Do you think he’d agree?”
“They?” Harry snorted.
Laughing, the werewolf corrected himself. “She’ll convince James eventually. She’s been very attached to Severus lately.”
Yes, she has. Harry thought back to the Hogmanay celebration and their constant contact. He had kept his distance out of respect for Severus, but he had died a little bit inside every time he saw how casual Lily was with touching his lover in public. For some reason he could no longer count on James’ jealousy to step in to separate the two, and with a feeling of dread he hoped that the Potters were not considering dissolving their marriage.
Could that be what the baby was? An attempt to resurrect their union?
Drooping his shoulders, he sighed. What could he do?
Claudius Prince was a patient man. His patience has not always been rewarded though - allowing his daughter to make her own mistakes had not paid off, despite the fact that he arranged many opportunities for her to return. Now, years after he had written her off, her son, the grandchild he had never met, had achieved something beyond anything a Prince had ever done.
And he was sure there was an award in the works.
Sure, the Princes had enough money to rival the Blacks who had once paid to receive an order of Merlin, but they had more pride than that. If it were not earned, it was not to be had, his mother had always said.
He stared at the newspaper image where a strong profile in exquisite robes became his first introduction to Severus Snape. He doubted his judgement of the muggle Snape had been incorrect, but he was prepared to reach out to his daughter once more.
He would attend the award ceremony. In a formal setting as such, he could use the forced civility to reevaluate the situation.
She would have this one last chance, but then he would move on.
Chapter 34: Chapter 34
My apologies for the delay on this chapter. I've been sent a lot of reading material on managing this damn drought, and had to get through it all as soon as I could.
Hurricane had been in his room.
Severus stared at the foreign flower and confectionary on his desk. He was unfamiliar with the plant, but a quick cross reference to his botanical dictionary revealed what it was.
He shuddered to think what Hurricane had done to obtain the specimen, it being native to the south of Africa and all. The most obvious solution was probably the answer though – if wards against apparition were not a consideration, what would distance matter?
The options the flower represented was a curious distraction from the mountain of mail his sudden popularity had attracted, so he spent the evening researching its properties and speculating which potions would find it a good alternative.
Before he retired for the night, he thought to at least verify if he had received correspondence from any known acquaintances. The spell delved into the mess of parchment and delivered two notes at his feet.
One was from Lily – she wanted to see him on his birthday.
He quilled a quick reply which he left on his dresser, ready to be mailed in the morning. His thoughts then turned to Hurricane, and he wondered if he was perhaps a bit impetuous in his decision to not see the man for the first week of term. As he divested his shirt, his gaze drifted to his unmarred forearm – Hurricane had removed the blight upon his flesh sometime during their private celebration.
A warm feeling bubbled up inside him, and he found his face relaxing into a smile.
In barely three months he had built himself a formidable reputation as the strict potions professor; any deviant behaviour right now would see it all go to waste. He would have to stick to his plans, even if that meant indulging himself more than usual when he finally saw Hurricane over the weekend.
James shifted his attention from where the magical crossword puzzle was insulting his vocabulary. “Say what?”
Lily kept her eyes trained on the parchment she was holding. “Severus. He declined.”
Counting to ten in his head, he tried to keep his voice steady. “Please tell me you aren’t talking about asking him to be the godparent of the baby. We were still discussing that!”
She shook her head absentmindedly. “Hmm, no. I invited him to spend his birthday with us, and he said he already made plans.” She pulled a clean sheet towards her and started writing.
James narrowed his eyes suspiciously. “Alright. Sooo, what are you doing now?”
She glanced up at him. “I’m asking him to postpone his plans. I already booked the tickets, and it’s not like he doesn’t see Malfoy all the time.”
“Tickets?” He thought of Hurricane. “And why are you so sure he’s seeing Malfoy?”
“Who else would he have made plans with?”
For a day of wild birthday sex? “Hurricane?”
She shrugged. “They see each other often too. They can wait a day to celebrate with him.”
He pushed the chair back to regard her with a frown. “No offense Lils, but what makes you more special than them?”
“We were best friends.” She rolled her eyes at him. “I don’t expect you to understand.”
“Oh, I understand, but I don’t think you do. I know it was my fault and all, but you stopped talking to him years ago. He’s moved on. He has other friends now. He has a boyfriend now.”
“Severus is not gay,” she huffed.
“Oh, and you’re the expert on all things Snape, is it?”
“I certainly know better than you do!” They both had their voices raised by now.
“Then why are you ignoring what is right in front of you?” She made to interrupt him, but he carried on. “It’s embarrassing to watch you hang onto him like a limpet, chasing away anyone that tries to approach him! I mean, you and Hurricane used to get on so well in the beginning, but since he’s started showing an interest in Snape you’ve all but chased him away! You’re my wife, damnit, not his! Start acting like it!”
Lily threw the parchment at him, but it fluttered ineffectively towards the ground – a fact that seemed to infuriate her more. “And what is your definition of a wife, James? I’m tired of being your personal house elf! You never help out with cooking or cleaning, and the only time you spend with Harry is when you show him off! And you never listen when I lay down rules! How will we ever enforce something like bedtime if you protest it louder than he does!”
“Why is this about me suddenly? You’re the one that’s practically having an affair with Snape! I swear to Merlin, if that kid has his nose…”
“How dare you!” Incensed, Lily kicked one of the chairs next to him.
Sirius chose that moment to appear at the door. “I thought you said she wasn’t sleeping with Snape?”
Breathing heavily, both of them turned to look at the intruder.
“Don’t you knock anymore?” Lily demanded of him.
“I did say that,” James responded to Sirius’ question. “Sorry, I’m just…” he trailed of, not sure what to say. “I don’t mind if he’s your friend, Lils, but your recent behaviour has been downright possessive.”
“Has not!” she insisted.
“Sure, it has. All that’s missing is you hexing Hurricane for no reason,” Sirius made air quotation marks at this, “and I’d say you’ve perfected the Potter seduction technique.” He grinned at James.
Lily’s face paled, and she slowly lowered herself into a chair. A positively evil gleam lit Sirius’ eyes. “You have hexed him!”
James was torn between teasing her alongside Sirius or comforting her. His self-preservation instinct won out in the end, and he kneeled next to where she was seated. Taking her hand in his, he squeezed softly.
“What have I done?” she breathed.
Sirius was going on about how hilarious the whole episode was, so James caught his attention and motioned his head at the door. The are-you-serious look he received in return had him cock his head in exasperation and he repeated the motion at the exit.
Huffing out a fine, Sirius dragged his feet towards the door. James waited until he was completely gone before he gathered Lily in his arms and sat her on his lap.
“Don’t worry about it, babe. At least you haven’t done any irreparable damage to your friendship, right?”
She kept her gaze averted, focusing instead on a loose thread on her sleeve that she was slowly fraying. He twitched his nose, uncertain what to say.
“He doesn’t need me anymore, does he?”
Stilling her hands, he rested his head on her shoulder. “Not the way he used to, perhaps, but he wouldn’t have reached out to you if he didn’t want you in his life.” Merlin, this conversation was galling. Why was he being an advocate for Snape? “Be his friend, Lily.”
She was quiet for a moment longer. “Is he really dating Hurricane?”
Well, he wasn’t sure, but all the evidence pointed that way. “I think so,” he said instead, “but you can ask him when you see him next. Which is not on his birthday.” He wondered when Snape’s birthday was.
Well, he was about to find out over the next few days, wasn’t he?
Hagrid was only too excited to cover the Care of Magical Creatures classes for the day, and Sylvanus had to remind him a few times to go over the safety instructions for the students before each class. Severus had opted to assign reading and essays during his absence, and Minerva, Fillius and Albus had volunteered to oversee his lessons. Their ministry escort arrived right on time, and the two professors were escorted to St Mungos, where emergency healers and observers had been arranged for the demonstration.
Severus, while confident that his formulation would work, was on edge. He felt exposed and vulnerable with this much attention focused upon him, and he turned a glare upon the crowd. Amongst the mass of people, Hurricane’s green-eyed person waved back. You’re awesome, he mouthed, and Severus felt his cheeks heat up.
He shifted his focus back to where the healers were carefully removing the skin growth from the ends of a heavily drugged Sylvanus’ stumps to expose the nerves for the procedure. They were busy near his chest, and as they moved away Severus saw the gaping wound near his abdomen that was normally hidden under robes. He loathed the man’s reckless nature and could already foresee further careless abandon now that such a wonder-cure existed.
Upon his return to the school he would see the man dismissed.
Finally it was his turn, and he addressed the healers and observers with a quick summary of the expected outcome. With a snap of his robes, he approached the bed with his patient and tilted the vial so the contents could run down Sylvanus’ throat.
Silence was a heavy blanket on the audience as they waited for the potion to take effect.
A groan could then be heard from the prone professor, and a clump of fleshy bubbles formed at the base of each missing limb – the two fingers on his wand hand, the lower shin of his missing right foot and the stump of his left wrist. The abdominal hole was slower to react, and there was even a hint of activity near his right ear.
Severus dutifully jotted all his observations down. By his calculations it should take two hours for the fingers to be restored, but at least a full day to restore his lateral limb. The maw in his side was anyone’s guess; he hadn’t expected that.
Two hours later he was enduring the simpering adoration of the masses as two bloody, fully grown fingers were inspected from every angle by seemingly every wizard in the hospital. Liberties were being taken with his person as multitudes of people of no consequence thought to convey their gratitude with touches, and he visited as much verbal abuse upon them as he could. Minister Bagnold then directed him to a secure room where he was to meet the closest relatives of the Prewitts, and after a brief discussion and even more useless displays of emotion, he was permitted to treat the dying twin brothers.
He had a double dosage ready for each of them – the one brother was missing almost half of his body mass – but he carefully administered a single vial and stepped aside to make more notes. When the Weasley patriarch dropped a hand on his shoulder in silent thanks, his tolerance ran out.
Ordering the nurses to note down absolutely everything, he stormed from the room, intent on locating Hurricane and having him apparate him out of this emotional stew.
He was halfway across a foyer when the fizzling sound of a spell sounded behind him and hit him square on the back. His conscious faded for a moment, and he stumbled, but he managed to catch himself and whirled around to curse his attacker into oblivion.
The flock of people milling about in panic prevented him from locating the perpetrator, so he pushed through the crowd to where Hurricane was reaching towards him. Steering him into a service room, he snarled, “get us out of here,” and was blissfully pulled into the magic of apparition.
The single pin of metal that fell to the floor went unnoticed.
Chapter 35: Chapter 35
My sincere most apologies for the delay on this chapter! My week has been hectic (IT problems at work) and combined with the water issues it has overall been unpleasant. Updates should be much faster from today onwards though!
Thank you for your patience!
Harry was frantic as he ran his hands over Severus’ body, pulling at his shirt to see his back. Two long fingered hands grasped him by the wrists, stilling his movement.
“Calm down, I am unharmed.”
He searched the black eyes for a trace of a lie, and slumped against him in relief.
“God, I thought… It looked like the killing curse, and I’m sure it struck you.” Circling his arms around Severus’ waist, Harry buried his face in the black robe in front of him. If Severus had died…
He suddenly understood just how easily a dark wizard could be born, for he would have hunted down the killer to the best of his abilities. Was this what love was? He certainly hadn’t felt this deeply about Ginny or Cho, and while Ron and Hermione’s deaths would have devastated him, he would have been able to move on at some point.
He couldn’t say the same for the Severus.
He raised his head to look at the man again, and was embarrassed to realise that the black cloth under his face was wet. He indignantly wiped the tears away.
“Were you able to identify my attacker?”
“No. I just saw the green spell flare hit you, and everyone running in panic immediately after. I wasn’t aware that there was another spell of the same colour…” He wanted to kiss the face furrowed in thought, confirm to himself that Severus was alive and breathing. He inched closer.
Spotting the movement, the other man tilted his head down and kissed him deeply. Harry’s heart soared, and he buried his hands deeper into the cloth. He was breathing heavily when they pulled apart.
Could he risk it?
“I think,” he took a deep breath. “I think I love you.”
Dark eyes snapped to his in alarm, and he hurried to clarify. “I don’t – I don’t expect you to feel the same, and I certainly don’t want to scare you away, but I want you to know that you’re… precious to me. If you die…” He wasn’t sure how to finish the sentence. “Please don’t die.”
Severus hugged him tightly – a positive sign, he hoped – and quietly held him while lost in his own thoughts. Harry was content to burrow into Severus’ warmth, his feelings a mix of expectant turmoil and dread following his confession. Finally, he spoke.
“I admit I am not terribly familiar with the sentiment, but your existence is of import to me. May I have some time to contemplate?”
“I didn’t mean to force you into anything, I just wanted you to know…” Realising he was not addressing the question, he added, “take all the time you need.”
The taller man nodded, and Harry belatedly realised that his revelation had effectively killed the mood. His own adrenaline fuelled erection had wilted in his minor panic, so he kissed Severus one last time before pulling him into the kitchen of his apartment.
He offered a quick meal of cold sandwiches and tea while he regaled Severus with the tale of how he had wormed his way into being a member of the audience. Somehow the conversation warped to his Gringotts break-in, and the dark-eyed man listened with rapt attention on how they had circumvented the security at the famous bank. He also revealed the fate of the Gryffindor sword.
“I expected you to keep it, to be honest,” Severus admitted.
Harry spun a knife on the table. “I wanted to, but it’s all for the greater good and all. I couldn’t risk breaking in on my own.”
“You would not have approached me for assistance?”
Harry grinned mischievously. “You’re an upstanding member of society now, Severus! I couldn’t possibly ask that of you.”
He scoffed. “Society can kiss my arse.”
Sensing an opportunity, Harry tried to relax into as inviting a posture as he could manage. “I’d prefer to do that, if you don’t mind.”
Severus sent him a smouldering look, and, depositing his teacup on the table, reclined and spread his legs in invitation.
Harry slipped to the floor in quiet obeisance, crawling forward to sample the offering. He wanted the outer robe gone, and, with a hitch of breath from the seated man, it was so. Nimble fingers freed the dress shirt from the confines of Severus’ trousers, and a quick clip loosened the suspenders from their grip. The tease of flesh that was exposed made him crave more, so he ran his fingers up to unbutton the waistcoat and shirt.
Letting the garments hang open, he feasted his eyes on the sinewy chest as he lowered his face to breathe hot air through the material at the other man’s groin. Severus dropped his head back against the chair and exhaled a loud breath.
Feeling emboldened, Harry popped the buttons free to open the placket and reached in to ease the straining erection out. Severus’ underwear easily succumbed to the parting, and soon his prize was revealed. Eager to taste it, he nosed his way up from the base, planting kisses and licks all along the length. Hands threaded into his hair, grasping at the base of his neck, and a thrill surged through his body. He looked up into half lidded eyes as he closed his lips around the cock.
Severus bit back a moan.
Harry loved doing this to him – seeing Severus slowly lose himself in passion was an exquisite treat, so he adjusted himself quickly and then endeavoured to ignore his own rising problem for the time being.
Deliberately using copious amounts of spit, he lathered up the member while pulling away often, enjoying the trailing strands that connected them mouth to cock. Severus enjoyed it too, if his laboured breathing was anything to judge by. Suddenly, there was an additional pressure at his groin, and he keened at the sensation of Severus’ toes lifting his balls from below.
“F-fuck,” he breathed.
Gripping the member tighter, he dropped his mouth over as far as he could go, allowing the head to hit the roof of his mouth. Feeling his own cock seeping liquid as the foot massage continued, he moved a hand to join the hold at his neck. Clenching his grip around the fist, he tried to indicate that Severus could set the pace. Said man was quick on the uptake, and soon was working Harry’s head up and down in an increasing speed.
Despite the fact that he nearly gagged in the beginning, Harry loved it. The grip at his nape was deliciously tight, and the pressure at his groin was quickly undoing his self-control. He rode the feeling of ecstasy out as their heavy breathing and silent moans filled the air, and was embarrassed to come first when the socked foot nudged a toe upwards at his arse.
With renewed vigour he pressed the flat of his tongue against the side of the cock, licking and swirling the muscle on every upward motion of his head. The hand in his hair tried to pull him off then, but he persistently ignored the soft whisper of “Hurricane,” to continue his activity.
He wanted to taste Severus.
The sudden tang that filled his mouth was unique and musky, and he drank it down while slowing his motions. Above him Severus had arched off the chair, his fingers clenched almost uncomfortably tight in Harry’s hair. He continued to run his tongue over the softening member, enjoying the way it twitched from time to time.
“Persist with your actions and I shall bugger you on this kitchen table.”
Harry grinned and was about to reply when a pearlescent duck drifted through the wall and made them both start. Stopping in front of Severus, the voice of healer Poke announced that his presence was required at St Mungos at his earliest convenience. The man sounded put out.
“Next time?” Harry offered instead. “I didn’t actually manage to kiss your arse, if you recall.”
He was pulled up onto Severus’ lap. “Visit me tomorrow. My rooms, after nine.”
“Not standing on your ban for the first week of school?” he teased.
Small kisses rained down on his neck. “You have corrupted me.”
“I’m telling you, I hit him straight in the back with the killing curse, and all he did was stumble!”
Corban paced the length of the kitchen, his mind working in overdrive at Amycus’ revelation. The news of Snape’s appearance at St Mungos had reached them quite late, and left them with little room to plan. In the end they had sent the Carrow brother to scope out the situation and report back, but to seize an opportunity if it presented itself.
Hurricane had also withstood the killing curse, hadn’t he? It was troubling news indeed. If the order had managed to procure the means to overcome the unforgivable, then they were in for some dire times.
“I will interrogate the prisoner, but I doubt he knows much. Dumbledore, the Potters and Black would be much better informed – Tarquin, see if we can get our hands on the toddler. They’ve broken fidellius and should be an easier target now.” He rounded the table and leaned forward on his arms. “Everything is in place for the ritual, our main priority still being Hurricane’s blood. Have we had any luck breaking through the wards around his apartment?”
Alecto shook her head, and he cursed.
“We will give the students three more weeks to injure Snape, by then the Polyjuice will be ready. We should make a sample of those who fail – the commoners no longer fear us as they should. Amycus, Alecto, I need you to scope out who will be our best option at the ministry to control from the shadows. They’ve been lax lately, make use of their distraction.”
“And you?” Tarquin asked as he picked imaginary lint from his robe.
Corban smiled maliciously. “It would appear as though our traitor’s mother is still amongst the living. After I deal with Dearborn, I will see if she can be used.”
Severus idly rolled the ministry invitation between his palms that evening, and silently wished that that the headmaster would cancel classes the following day. His own day had been exhausting, from having to deal with overemotional Weasleys and incompetent mediwizards to blood thirsty reporters and a murder attempt.
He had attributed his survival to the basilisk vest at first, but subsequent testing on the acromantula he still retained proved that, while resistant to other dark curses, it was not impervious to the unforgivables. Hurricane, as a war-veteran, would not have mistaken the curse for anything other than it was, and thus his continued existence puzzled him.
Gods, the man thinks he loves him!
Dropping his head back to rest against the chair, he allowed himself an indulgent smile. Hurricane had proved to be everything he had ever sought in the dark lord – power, acknowledgement, resources and support. To have such a person dedicated to him alone…
He had never been overly familiar with love, and he wasn’t sure that his emotions towards Hurricane was pure enough to be labelled as such. The sex was proving to be rather fantastic and he might have been tempted to stay in a relationship for similar benefits purely based on that fact, yet the man had so much more to offer. He wanted to keep Hurricane for himself, but past experience with Lily had proved that he should curb his possessive habits.
Although… Hurricane seemed to flourish under his attention.
It would be a delicate balance to maintain.
He unfurled the scroll to read the words once more. Hurricane’s suspicion that they were to receive orders of Merlin was echoed in the gilded script, the date set for Sunday the tenth. He suspected the entire order would be in attendance, and he was positively overflowing with glee at the prospect of seeing Black’s face when his ever so corrupted brother would receive an award for service to the light.
It would almost be worth sitting through an evening of mundane speeches.
Readying himself for the night, he caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror and stopped to look closer at the amulet around his neck. One of the spokes were missing, but showed no sign of broken metal – he prodded a finger at the gap.
It was as though the connection never existed.
Resolving to enquire about the origin of the jewellery the following day, he completed his ablutions and headed to bed.
Chapter 36: Chapter 36
Friday dawned with a vengeance. Severus took breakfast in the great hall as per usual, and smugly took in the vacant chair of the care of magical creatures professor. Another noteworthy observation was that Minerva appeared rather discomfited with his positive mood, so he took extra care to greet her and watched her frown in consternation.
As the day progressed, a concern he harboured since the start of term became more evident. He could pinpoint two Ravenclaws who were normally not prone to error who suddenly became very adept at near-explosions. A few Slytherins stood out as well, but they at least had the finesse not to plot over their own cauldrons, but it also made them harder to catch.
Quick reactions allowed him to catch quite an ingenious sabotage during his last class, and he currently found himself facing the fifth year in his office. Timothy Overton had executed a scenario that he had not planned for – and being the paranoid man he was, he tried to prepare for all possible eventualities – and he mentally awarded the boy points for premeditation.
“I never judged you as someone who engages in unprovoked sabotage, Mr Overton.” He steepled his fingers, looking out for any tell-tales that would indicate nerves. He would have to wager a guess. “Who threatened you?”
Two wide eyes swivelled to meet his own. Ah, another Slytherin that was yet to master the subtle art of masking his emotions.
“I find that hard to believe, Mr Overton. Consider who I am, if you please.” He lowered his forearms onto the desk surface. “Who threatened you?”
The boy bit his lip and glanced at the door.
“My office, by default, is equipped with both privacy and security wards. Would but I have the headmaster’s permission to apply the same to the potions’ storeroom, then I would be a much happier man.”
Hesitantly the boy stuttered through a tale of intimidation and deceit, revealing that his family had been approached by two death eaters who had set him on a task to injure – not kill, that was curious – their potions professor. He extracted as much information as he could from the teen, before offering him the service of obliviation to obscure the fact that he had revealed the details.
He acquiesced, and left feeling like he had given Severus the slip.
Severus considered the information he had been given. His knowledge of the death eaters allowed him to identify the two involved as the Carrows, which means Yaxley had their assistance at the least. He would have to make sure the information was discovered by the aurors without implicating the students.
Gathering up the essays he had busied himself with prior to this discussion, he deposited them onto the tray that would find its way to his rooms later on and left to attend supper.
She had used more magic in the past week than in the past ten years. Eileen stared at her husband where he snored on the couch, and put her wand away. The lingering feeling of magic was back in the air, and she recalled how hard it was to abstain from practicing magic once it was present.
She had no other choice, however. The Prophet, that she had procured a week-long subscription for with the sickle Severus had graciously parted with, had finally announced the date of the ministry awards ceremony. If her family were to be in attendance, then she needed a new robe to minimise any awkwardness their reunion would no doubt cause.
She had carefully collected every spare coin in the house, and had even bartered for a higher return price on the bottles Tobias had amassed, yet she still did not have enough for even a basic gown. She was in the process of deliberating if the neighbours would have any cash that she could borrow and return without their notice, when there was a polite knock on the door.
Nobody ever visited them.
The visitor turned out to be an aristocratic man with greying hair, the glint of a gold watchchain peeking through his waistcoat. He was dressed in muggle fashion, but somehow she knew this man was a wizard.
“Yes?” she enquired.
“Are you Ms Eileen Snape?” She hesitated to answer. Any ministry official would have known, not asked. He didn’t miss a beat, however, and continued the conversation as though there hadn’t just been an awkward impasse. “My name is Hector Faulkner, and I have a business proposition for you. Would you mind if we discussed this inside, or would you prefer an external venue?”
She certainly didn’t want to invite him into the living room with Tobias sprawled like a drunk. “The café on Birch avenue should be adequate. Can I arrange to meet you within the hour?”
Faulkner nodded, and tipped his hat at her – something normally only done within one’s own class. The man was aware of her heritage then, and she stared suspiciously after his retreating form. Retreating back inside, she tidied the evidence of Tobias and her argument and refreshed her appearance.
She left the house with her wand for the first time since she last took Severus shopping for school supplies.
Yaxley wanted to grimace at the muggle establishment. It was dirty and grimy and in every way beneath him, but he maintained the pleasant expression upon his face as he waited for Eileen Snape. Having watched her actions during the day, he was confident that she would co-operate with his scheme. She seemed especially desperate following that traitorous announcement in the paper.
She finally arrived, and he wondered just how versed that deplorable muggle husband of hers was in bed to have lured her from the lap of luxury of her birth house. The Princes had kept out of the war, and having nothing of particular value to add to the dark lord’s campaign, he had not pursued them either. The Malfoy coffers had been sufficient at the time.
Eileen arranged herself with grace belying her appearance and looked at him expectantly. He recognised the casual fold-over of her hands as the archaic posture that allowed ladies to draw their wands without notice.
Not a toothless snake after-all then.
They ordered tea which he hoped he wouldn’t have to touch, before he began his proposition. “I am from the International Board of Regulated Specimen Control, and it has come to our notice that, following a potion your son has devised, the British Ministry of Magic has placed the law pertaining to basilisks under revision. Are you aware of your son’s advancements in the medical field?”
The woman had a slight frown on her face as she glanced to the side. “He does not discuss his experiments with me anymore.”
Lying wench, twisting the truth. He was quite aware that they had not discussed anything in over three years. “A pity. He has made such a breakthrough in regenerative potions that the whole world will be taking notice upon its announcement. I presume you will be in attendance at the Ministry soiree tomorrow?”
She pursed her lips. “Perhaps. It must be obvious that I can offer you no insight into his work, so why have you approached me?”
“Your son has proved to be hard to contact – our missives remain unanswered, and under trace, unopened. Please don’t misunderstand; we are not interested in his procedure, but rather where he procured the ingredients for his experiment from. If our suspicion proves correct, then he has been in contact with someone who has ignored the world-wide ban on basilisk breeding.
“You must understand that any questioning along such a tangent would be seen as an interrogation of sort and possibly implicating. That is where you come in – we are prepared to pay you a lump sum up front if you are willing to facilitate a private meeting between our representatives and your son.” He nonchalantly deposited a pouch of galleons on the table and internally celebrated as her eyes lit up with interest.
It would be poetic justice to have the traitor’s mother betray him in turn, and nothing more than she deserved as a blood-traitor herself. He hoped to be within range when they both realised they had been played. “Of course, should you be successful, we are prepared to treble the amount.”
“So, all I need to do is arrange a meeting?”
“Without alerting the ministry, that is correct. We would appreciate it if we could avoid their notice until we have a more concrete idea as to who the culprit is. It wouldn’t do to cast aspersions upon your son while he is enjoying the public’s favour.”
Eileen dropped her gaze to the table, seemingly considering her options, before raising her chin and nodding. “I will see to it that he meets with you.”
They spent a few more moments discussing where the supposed meeting was to take place, then he bowed his thanks and left. He considered it an overall success – Severus would soon be in their grasp.
That he had managed to avoid the muggle brew was merely a secondary victory.
There was an owl on the table.
Celest spared a glance at Reg, but, as she suspected, he wasn't surprised. He did look severely irritated that the thing had landed in a serving platter though.
"What's this then?" she asked.
"A poorly trained messenger bird, who certainly doesn't deserve a treat," he glared. If she didn't know better, she would have sworn the animal looked offended.
Dropping his knife and fork, Reg reached over to untie a roll of thick paper from a taloned foot. She watched as he read the message and then tossed the scroll to the table and sighed.
"Your family is odd." She always thought aristocrats had messenger pigeons. She didn't even know owls could be trained.
"It's not exactly from my family." He waved the owl out the open window, and took a deep breath. "I need to tell you something."
"As long as you're not a wanted criminal, sure," she joked.
Way to put your foot in it, Celest. She was pretty sure that as long as he had a good reason for... whatever he had done, she would love him regardless.
"If I answer you honestly, will you promise to hear me out? Without interrupting or panicking?" She nodded quickly. "I'm not anymore. A wanted criminal, I mean, but I used to be."
Regulus was so pure in his enjoyment of life that she found it hard to believe, but she had seen him react oddly at times. Perhaps this put things in perspective. She tried to nod encouragingly.
"I come from a family of criminals. My parents were followers of a guy we called the dark lord, and my older brother and I were expected to follow in their footsteps. My brother, however, rebelled. He made a really good friend at school whose family semi-adopted him after he ran away and my parents disinherited him. I haven't seen him since he graduated.
"My parents turned their attention to me then - as the new heir, I was expected to be perfect to diminish the embarrassment of my brother's actions. And I tried, I really tried.
"They took me along on a raid after I graduated - my family are experts in the field of valuable artefacts, and were usually required whenever looting was a major part of the plan - and I walked in on a family trying to escape." He met her shocked gaze, and his eyes were pleading. "I couldn't kill them, even when the mother had a w-weapon aimed right at me.
"The others mercilessly teased me about it afterwards, telling me that it was only hard the first time and such... And my parents were terribly disappointed. My mother didn't speak to me for days." He looked away. "I decided to betray them then.
"The dark lord had made an artefact that made it virtually impossible to harm him, but I knew where he hid it away. I was prepared to die to destroy it, and I would have, if Hurricane and Snape hadn't come to my rescue."
She bit her lip, feeling emotional at the raw deal Reg had been dealt at life. He was twisting his hands as he told the tale.
"I should mention that I thought Snape was part of the organisation too - he was quite high up and had a reputation for being ruthlessly efficient - but it turns out that he was a spy. They got me out and hid me away, but I begged Hurricane not to keep me locked up. He took me around to a bunch of places that first day, including the track where I met you."
She was standing up then, walking around the table to embrace him, because what could she say? He relaxed in her arms, burying his face into her neck.
"What about your parents?" she finally asked. "Aren't they looking for you?"
He pulled her into his lap. "They actually died recently, and please don't think me a horrible person for being relieved at that fact. It's how I was able to afford this place. I inherited everything."
With parents like that she'd be relieved too. "And your brother?"
"An uncle of ours who was at odds with my parents left his fortune to Sirius when he died. It pissed them off to no end, so he has no reason to come after me. Oh, and the organisation is history too. Snape, Hurricane and Lucius - the guy you met the other day, Narcissa's husband? They took out the dark lord and his inner circle."
It was like a story from a fairy-tale. "So, you're free? What was the message about then? I presume it is what prompted you to tell me this story."
"Oh, yeah. It's an invitation to a ministry event where they will be presenting me with an award for discovering the information about the artefacts. I'd like you to come with me, but I need to tell you something else before we can ever consider that."
Something else? Celest ran her hand lovingly through Regulus' hair.
"We're pretty serious about our relationship, right? I mean, I won't ask you to marry me right now or anything, but I can see us together for a long time, you know?"
Her parents would probably be ecstatic if she managed a marriage proposal at such a young age, but she did think it was too early. How many of her relationships hadn't ended because her boyfriend of the time couldn't bear that she was the better racer? So far Reg hadn't shown such inclinations, which she was rather happy about. "I'd like that."
He placed a thin wooden rod on the table, and she looked at it expectantly.
"Do you believe in magic?"
Chapter 37: Chapter 37
Late again... O.o This has been the week from hell, and I haven't even had time to respond to any of the comments on the previous chapter yet. My sincere most apologies, I will tend to them now.
Once again, thank you for all the patience!
It was not quite nine when he returned to his quarters, but he walked in to the smell of another culinary wonder curtesy of Hurricane. The tiramisu previously had outshone the efforts of the house elves that he was used to, so he was looking forward to the new treat.
Perhaps there was something to be said about having food specially prepared for you.
Hurricane was in the kitchen sampling the fare, so he silently walked up behind him and took a bite over his shoulder. He was rewarded with a swat on the hip.
“Bloody hell, I didn’t hear you come in!”
He smiled around his mouthful of hot mince pie. “Quite intentional, I assure you.”
Huffing, Hurricane quickly cleaned the workstation and followed him back to the lounge. His chair, however, morphed into a two-seater as he sat down and a warm body settled against him. “Had a less exciting day today, I hope?”
“Marginally. How do you weigh up the experience of discovering your students are being blackmailed to incapacitate you?”
The grip on his arm tensed. “Yaxley?”
“Amycus and Alecto Carrow.” Hurricane grimaced. “I take it you’ve had dealings with them before?”
“They were installed as fake teachers when the dark lord gained control of Hogwarts. They like the cruciatus a bit much.”
The Carrows as professors was a disturbing thought. He once again allowed himself to appreciate how much Hurricane’s interference in time had changed his fate. Twenty years as a death eater was a galling amount of time.
“I have alerted Albus and asked him to pass on the message. I expect they will have raided the Carrow manor by dawn.”
“I doubt they will find anything, especially if they are working with Yaxley. They’re probably not there at all.”
He had considered it. “True.” Reaching up a hand to extract the metal amulet from his garments, he dangled the pendant in Hurricane’s line of sight. “Would you mind informing me as to where you obtained this trinket? I am unable to analyse the charm cast upon it.”
Hurricane pulled away from him, eyes round. “I forgot about that. Is it broken?” He fingered the area of the missing spoke.
“It has been in this condition since my altercation with the unknown attacker at St Mungos.”
“No way – you were hit with the killing curse then! Oh god, I’m so glad I gave it to you…”
He raised a brow. “You are convinced that my survival can be attributed to it, then?”
A socked foot wound around his leg. “Every time I killed the dark lord, I spend a small amount of time in the afterlife, I think. The first time around Dumbledore was also dead, and he appeared to say a few things to me. This time around though, I’m sure I encountered Death – he was a spectre on the horizon and he spoke with a deafening voice. He thanked me for getting rid of all the horcruxes, I think, and then he gave me the amulet.”
Sitting upright excitedly, Hurricane looked at him with wonder. “Does that mean it is like a fourth deathly hallow? A free ticket to evade death-” he glanced at the spokes, “five more times?”
“One for each horcrux…” Severus murmured.
“Wow,” Hurricane breathed.
Sirius stared at the ministry invitation. They had each received one, Lily and James’ even coming on separate owls. He was silently pissed off at a single sentence.
Due to the large number of active participants in the war we will only be allocating awards to those who went above and beyond the call of duty.
He knew what that meant. Snape and Hurricane, that’s what. Not him, who spent weeks living as a dog trailing after death eaters, not James, who fought in skirmishes and contributed copious amounts of funds, and not Remus, who travelled to different countries to do research for the order.
Merlin help those officials if they award Malfoy anything.
“Put it down, Padfoot, you’re stressing for no reason.”
He glared at Remus. “I still think we should receive Orders of Merlin too. We put our lives on hold and everything!”
“So did a lot of other people, and don’t even think of denying that you liked having the war as an excuse to stall your career plans.” Long fingers plucked the parchment from his grasp.
“I don’t see you doing anything about it either,” he grumbled.
Remus grinned happily. “Actually, I handed in my first transcription work today. Pending on how they rate my performance, I may have a permanent position that allows me to not only work flexible hours, but from home as well.”
“That’s amazing!” Lily intoned from the other couch. “What kind of work is it?”
That was another thing that had changed recently. James was upstairs doing ‘diaper-duty’, something he had never done while Remus and he visited. It was a new branch of maturity that he knew he had no right to despise, and yet, it irked.
It felt like his friends were leaving him behind.
“You have quite an advantage over others then. I can’t imagine they wouldn’t be pleased with your work,” Lily was saying when he focused back on the conversation.
“I never thought I’d be grateful for my affliction, but the hearing accuracy is honestly coming in handy.” Remus smiled wistfully. “Hopefully I will be able to support myself from next month onwards.”
Lily reached over to pat him on the knee. “Don’t rush it. James and I are happy to help you out for as long as you need.”
Sirius wrinkled his nose and stood up, determined to escape the conversation before they focused on him and his lack of career plans. “I’ll go see what’s keeping James!” he called as he bounded up the stairs.
Waking up to the delightful sensation of wet-heat covered groin could only mean that his birthday was going to depreciate in quality from here on out. As he breathed his release, Hurricane’s mischievous face appeared from under the covers.
He reached down to pull the man flush with his body. “It does appear such indeed.” He sent his hand down in a languid caress to return the favour, but found only a flaccid member at the end of his quest. Hurricane blushed.
“Watching you was rather exciting,” he mumbled by means of explanation.
Warmth infused his chest. What a waste this man was on him! He nuzzled his way into the tanned neck and latched on. Hurricane shivered.
“I do have an actual-oh, an actual birthday gift for you.”
Severus hummed from his position.
“It’s a bit big, so we will have to go to it…”
He broke the suction with a wet-snap, and inspected the darkened skin.
“Did you just give me a hickey?” Hurricane sounded amused, and bounced out of the bed to the bathroom.
Slightly nervous that he hadn’t thought this scenario through, Severus followed him, regarding the wide grin and sparkling eyes on the other man’s face as he turned this way and that to view the bruise from all angles.
Perhaps a bit of possessiveness was acceptable then?
Hurricane spied him in the doorway then, and it was adorable to see how while his head dropped in embarrassment, his shaft lifted its head in attention.
“Come,” he commanded, his own body responding in kind. “I have a request I’d like you to consider.”
He led Hurricane to his personal laboratory; the anticipation of what he was about to do combined with the fact that he had never been in there while unclothed, was making his member sticky from leaked fluid. He directed the other man to sit at the edge of a cleared table, and lifted two vials with crystalline patterns for Hurricane to see.
“This is a potion ambiguously labelled freeze, both for its ability to make the imbiber feel as though time has frozen for everything around them, as well as the brewing process. It is entirely concocted by means of direct and indirect catalysts, and is a most advanced potion to brew.” While he spoke, he trailed his fingers up and down Hurricane’s shaft, and by the half-lidded stare on the other man’s face he knew what he was saying exceeded Hurricane’s mental processes at this moment.
“What you see here are the two crystals formed one step away from completion – the last step requires them to be melted together under metabolic output. While forming a well between one’s legs is a most common procedure, I was hoping you would allow me to utilise a more… discreet passage.”
Hurricane bit his lip as the hand cupped his testes and he failed to suppress a shiver. “What does that mean exactly?”
Severus leaned forward and spoke against Hurricane’s lips.
“It means I would like to shove this up your arse. Yes?”
Harry’s breath hitched at the request. While there was no reason why a glass vial up the posterior should appeal to him, the idea was so deliciously naughty that he was tempted to bob his head in a similar fashion as his cock was doing.
“Should I lie back?” he asked instead. Severus procured a pillow from beneath the table. “You’re rather well prepared! Been thinking about this for a while then?” he said as he was manoeuvred onto the item.
Dark smouldering eyes met his. “Since the moment I first had you.”
Harry’s heart leapt in his chest. “Oh, fuck,” he breathed.
The new position was on the embarrassing side – Severus had him hold his knees towards his chest, exposing parts of him that never saw this much light to the dungeon air. The hand that had disappeared from his member was then back, pulling at the skin in a most delicious way while the other reached for a bottle of oil. The cold sensation of the voiding spell rushed through him just before the lubricant made contact, and a frisson of excitement ran through him at being under such scrutiny.
“Such a sight to behold…” Severus whispered above him. “Tell me what you feel?”
The foreign sensation of the long tube was then against him, and he struggled to breathe. “It’s colder than your cock, and smaller,” Severus slipped it inside, “more rigid – god, it’s inside me! Fuck, it’s hard to concentrate…” A finger nudged the mouth of the vial downwards, and that euphoria-inducing sensation of having his prostate nudged exploded behind his eyes. “Ah!”
“I’m going to insert the crystals now – try to analyse what you feel.” Severus’ voice was hoarse, and he opened his eyes – when had he closed them? – just in time to see a pink tongue lap the bead of pre-come from his penis. It was too much; the anticipation, the scrutiny, that voice… Harry came all over his abdomen.
Severus was having a dilemma of sorts. He had not anticipated how alluring Harry would be during his test, and since he was not generally one of the masses led around by his hormones, the sudden urge to abandon the vial and pound the man himself was quite unexpected. He had given in to the urge to taste, just a little bit, and Hurricane had expended himself most gratifyingly.
He felt like a bloody god.
The crystals melted exceedingly fast, and if he disregarded whether or not the tube was safely stored after he extracted it, there was no-one around to notice. He was slicked up and inside Hurricane before he had processed the thought.
They lay together afterwards, legs tangled and dangling over the edge of the workstation that was definitely not designed for the activities they had partaken in.
“What are the odds of having sex in your classroom one day?” Hurricane piped up, and he snorted.
“Albus, as headmaster, can override any wards I place on a room, and I’m rather sure the public areas are charmed to alert him of any illicit activities. So unless you wish to have him walk in on us, I suggest we restrict our adventurous inclinations to my chambers.”
“Damn. Well, that’s that fantasy scrapped.” He started as though he remembered something. “Your present!” Hurricane slapped his arm in mock irritation. “See how you’ve distracted me with sex. Come on!”
He was up and hauling Severus up as well, the latter not quite sure he wanted to be vertical just yet. When Hurricane led him to the room he had designated as his library, his interest meter peaked. They stopped outside the door, and the other man turned to him.
“It’s probably not the best present since it technically isn’t yours, but it is on indefinite loan.” Throwing open the entry, Hurricane walked in and seated himself at his desk.
Every single book he had ever dreamt of, and more, stared back from neat shelves that extended past the size the room should have been, and in the centre of it all sat a naked god, his for the taking. Speechless he walked into the room and reached for Hurricane’s hands.
“The Black family library,” he breathed.
Hurricane fingered the bruise on his neck once again. “Yours, for now.”
Severus wasn’t sure if he meant the books, or himself, but damn if he wasn’t going to try and keep both.
Chapter 38: Chapter 38
Happy Valentines! I still have a few comments to respond to, but I promise to get to them tonight. I hope you can enjoy the new chapter in the meantime!
He was convinced that heaven was attainable.
Lying in bed with a stack of books next to him, three scattered on the duvet itself and another in his hand while a nubile young man was sleeping around his form… Severus was convinced he was as close to nirvana as possible. If one were to factor in the priceless artefacts he was in possession of, the pending Order of Merlin and the research opportunities opened up to him, then he might just have surpassed any expectation he ever had.
Perhaps the books were on indefinite loan, but nothing stopped him from creating duplicates for himself – a thought that reminded him that he may need to upgrade his vault at Gringotts. The original copies were best stored there, after all. The royalties from his new patent should qualify him for reconsideration and should allow him to abandon the horrid teaching position Albus had roped him into at the end of the school year.
Then there was Hurricane. Perhaps it wasn’t the green-eyed redhead he had envisioned himself with, but in many ways, this was better. Hurricane’s body was easier to understand; he was not ignorant of the harsher realities of life and he was as indulgent as Severus was curious. He had considered what he could do to convey his gratitude properly, and had thought he could start by calling the man by his name – his real name – at least within the confines of his domicile.
His basilisk scale vest and deathly hallow amulet were both items he could never have obtained on his own, so they were easily categorised under completely unforeseen boons. He was building up quite a collection of sentimental items for a practical man.
The Order of Merlin he had dreamt of, although he was sure he would not have obtained it for similar reasons, nor this early in his life. The same could be said for his research – he was convinced his skills would not have gone unnoticed for long, and while he certainly wouldn’t have been experimenting with illegal components as he had been doing, he was sure he would have made his mark in the field at some point.
But with Hurricane in the picture, it seemed as though his mere existence had been lauded with rewards, each granted in such circumstance that he was convinced he deserved it. He smiled wistfully at the book in his hands – a tome that seemed better behaved around Hurricane than himself – and immersed himself in the scandalising revelations of the potion masters in the Black family lineage.
He was alerted to his visitor a scant minute before the knock sounded. Frowning, he sought a pair of trousers to don with his gown, and left the confines of his bedroom to see which member of the faculty dared to disturb him today.
“I noticed that you were not present at either breakfast or lunch, so I came to escort you to supper. Honestly, holing yourself up in your lab on your birthday!” She had apparently not attributed his state of undress to more indecent escapades.
“Rather than avoid the tenures of such social proclivities, I have been indisposed and continue to be.” He wondered if he should allow her entry to his rooms to see how embarrassed he could make her. “I shall, however, attend breakfast on the morrow.”
He was spared his indecision when Hurricane appeared in the bedroom doorway, a sheet slung low on his hips and rubbing sleep out of his eyes. The bruise on his neck stood out in stark relief.
“Severus?” His eyes widened and he ducked back into the bedroom with a gasp as he spotted the other professor at the door. Minerva, bless her composure, merely raised a brow although a blush did dust her cheeks.
“I suggest the two of you make yourselves presentable to escort me to the high table. I will wait for you.”
Amused, he closed the door and located Hurricane. “We have been ordered to avail ourselves to the supper table. Minerva is waiting outside.” He draped his arms around the blushing man and carefully extracted the bunched sheet from his hands.
“I hope I didn’t embarrass you. Do you need me to leave?”
“The students have already spread the news of our involvement based on pure speculation. I would therefore appreciate it if you were to accompany me.” The sheet slipped to the ground. Hurricane’s breath came in gasps as his long fingers worked on the pliant flesh that was uncovered.
“Shower together to save time?”
Ministry events were such stuffy occasions. Sirius hovered at a buffet table, recognising most except a few faces as he waited for his friends to put in an appearance. Most of the new faces were elderly, probably relatives come to see their progeny, however a few young faces were in the mix as well. There was a trophy wife with an old guy he’d never seen before, and another couple dressed in a decidedly muggle fashion. The girl had short blonde hair and a killer body arranged in a tight dress that flared out diagonally and exposed a delicious amount of leg.
He generally didn’t go for muggles, but this one knew about magic so technically she was fair game. And, better yet, she wouldn’t have heard of his reputation.
He weaved his way through the crowd to lure her away from her boyfriend when a hand on his arm stopped him.
“Sirius Black.” McGonagall glanced at where he was heading. “I’d rather hoped you had stopped chasing after every pretty face you found when you left school.”
He smirked back at her. “I’m still young, no reason to stop there.”
She pursed her lips, obviously not in agreement with his attitude but no longer in a position to tell him different. “Albus tells me you regularly volunteered to gather information for his order. What do you plan to do now that the war is over?”
He nearly groaned out loud. Not this again!
“I haven’t quite decided.” She had that look in her eye that always made him feel like she saw right through him, and he rolled his eyes. “I can do without a speech on it, thanks.”
“I’m hardly here to lecture you on what you need to do with your life, Mr Black.” She glanced to the side, and he followed her gaze. The blonde babe was gone. “Well. I do hope you enjoy your evening.” Inclining her head, she moved on.
He swivelled his head back to where his missing to-be-conquest had stood. Had McGonagall just stopped him to foil his pick-up attempt?
“Sirius!” James, Lily and Remus walked up to him. “We thought you’d be at the buffet table, lucky McGonagall pointed us in this direction. What are you up to?”
He shrugged. “Was going to talk to someone. You look great Lils.” She was wearing a deep blue robe with golden embroidery all over the bodice and trims.
“Not bad yourself,” she teased back. “It looks like anyone who is anyone is here. Who is that talking to the Malfoys?”
They all looked over to where she was pointing, and he frowned to see the blonde muggle involved in a very engaging conversation with Narcissa.
“No idea, but it looks like the Malfoys are trying a bit too hard to look like muggle lovers. I give them a year before they start preaching their pure-blood mantra again.”
“I’m not too sure about that,” Remus interjected. “Word has it that he is putting together a research team to look into magical inheritances based on different blood unions. And he isn’t paying if they fail to present evidence.”
“And how did you come by that little gem of gossip?” James wanted to know.
Remus shrugged. “I’ve done a lot of research for the order, made a lot of connections. We still talk from time to time.”
The lights dimmed, and a sonorous announced that they were going to begin with the program for the evening. Long decorative tables swooped in from the sides, the tablecloths fluttering most gracefully as they settled in the room. Taking the seats closest to them, they settled down to watch and whisper amongst themselves.
Closer to the stage Sirius recognised the black-clad form of Snape pulling out a chair for Hurricane.
He sneered, “fucking bat,” under his breath, but apparently it was loud enough for Remus to hear and he received an elbow in his ribs. He glared at the werewolf who nonchalantly ignored him and carried on with his conversation with the witch next to him. Upon closer inspection he recognised her as Andromeda, his cousin that was struck from the family tree before him.
A speaker appeared on stage to welcome them all and ran through the program, and he winced at the amount of speeches he was going to have to sit through. The first course then materialised on their plates, and there was a cheerful ripple of laughter as a gasp accompanied the show of magic.
The muggle girl, no doubt.
Magic was real! Celest was floating on a cloud of surrealism since Reg revealed his true heritage to her. He had shown her a few spells and even took her to see the dreadful house he grew up in. The house made her skin crawl, and she was terribly relieved that he planned to sell it.
And travelling! While unpleasant, apparition (was that the right word?) was terribly useful. To be somewhere else in the blink of an eye… both Reg and herself agreed that nothing compared to racing though.
He had filled her in on the true story of the war, and she had been enraptured by the tale. To think someone as innocent looking as Hurricane, the guy he had bunked with for a while, had fought and killed in a war? Hurricane’s boyfriend looked more the type, but apparently, he was just a deeply involved in things.
He had taken her shopping in a magical district where pens were quills and could float and write without you touching them, ice-cream could change colours with every lick and measuring tapes required no assistance to measure you! She had loved it, and had clung to his hand in her excitement over it all.
She hadn’t known what to expect at this awards-evening, but everyone had been polite if not kind. Narcissa had expressed her desire to purchase a vehicle for leisure, and they had been involved in a discussion of the different models available since she broached the topic. She was finding it harder to wrap her head around the idea that she was involved in a family where money was not an object, than at the idea that magic existed. How rich were these people? She was glad she had met Reg before she knew about his financial situation. She was sure she would have had all sorts of pre-conceived notions had she not.
When the soup appeared on their plates she could not contain her gasp and blushed bright red when it was echoed by good-natured chuckling. Reg simply hugged her around the waist and planted a kiss in her hair, a quick whisper of how-amazing-she-was doing a world of wonder to put her nerves to rest.
A tickle at his nose alerted him to mischief, and he startled awake to see a teaspoon scurry away from his face. Next to him James jerked with silent laughter, and he spared a glance at the stage to see where they were in the proceedings.
“They’re about to start the awards,” Remus whispered from his left and he groaned.
“You should have woken me afterwards,” Sirius grumbled, but sat straighter and pushed the plate of salad away from himself. What kind of a course was that anyway?
The next speaker, surprisingly, turned out to be Albus Dumbledore, and he perked up.
“It has been brought to our attention that a grievous wrong was committed a few years ago, where Hogwarts was forced to expel a student based on circumstantial evidence. New facts have since come to light, and thus Minister Bagnold has given me permission to start off the awards by withdrawing the magical ban on Rubeus Hagrid, and awarding him with a special degree for the mastery he has shown with the care of magical creatures.”
The giant of a man shook the table he was sitting at in his surprise, and fished a tablecloth out of a pocket to wipe at the tears on his face. Dumbledore had to gesture him to the stage before he realised he had to go up there, and he enveloped the man in a hug that lifted him clear off his feet.
“Ye shouldn’t have, prefesser, ye shouldn’t have…”
He finally accepted the two rolls of parchment, and Albus held on to his arm to make one further announcement. “We are proud to welcome you at Hogwarts as the assistant professor to care of magical creatures if you are interested, Hagrid.”
Sirius found himself smiling fondly as the half-giant cried his assent and made his way back to his seat where McGonagall stood to give him a hug as well. On stage Albus spelled his robes dry and waved to the crowd before taking his own leave. Minister Bagnold took his place and aimed her wand at her throat.
She reiterated the message that was in their invitations before announcing the reasons for the first award.
“The first award we would like to hand out belongs to a man who was forced into You-know-who’s service by his family. There he discovered You-know-who’s plot to render himself immortal, as well as the means to terminate it. His attempt to act on this information nearly resulted in his death, but luckily, he was found and nursed back to health where he passed on the information to others working towards You-know-who’s defeat.
“For services to the light, the ministry wishes to present this order of Merlin, second class, to Regulus Arcturus Black.”
Sirius felt the air around him freeze.
No fucking way.
Blonde bombshell’s escort stood up, and he felt his jaw slacken. Gone was the longer hair traditional families preferred, gone was the pale white skin and emotionless expression, the tailored walk and the gilded wardrobe. This man in no way resembled his brother, his easy laugh and confidant stance completely unfamiliar to Sirius.
When Regulus thanked Hurricane and Snape for saving his life, Sirius turned a glare on the two wizards. They knew, and they didn’t tell him? He had a few choice words to impart to them when this farce ended, that was for sure.
“Did you know?” James hissed from his side, eyes wide. Lily shushed him, but she looked curious as well.
“Hell no,” he huffed. “Snivellus and Scruffy didn’t see fit to tell me, now did they?”
“Or maybe they tried and you were not receptive to it,” Remus whispered from the other side.
Three heads focused on the werewolf. “What?”
Remus sighed. “Think back to your Christmas gift. What did you do with it?”
Sirius frowned, trying to think back to what Hurricane had given him. Tickets to something? He had no idea where they were. “What does that have to do with anything?”
“You’ll find out, but whatever you do, don’t attack Severus or Hurricane tonight. If you do, I’m sure you’ll never speak to your brother again.”
Chapter 39: Chapter 39
So, on Friday the fibre box that was installed on our property was stolen (why? WHY?) and I spent the weekend dealing with the landlady's proxy / body corporate / police / installation company in order to sort it out. I meant to post this chapter before it all, but I honestly didn't manage to find time.
Claudius Prince was familiar enough with the Black family to know that the young man that went onstage to collect his reward had stepped far outside of his family’s teachings. While he didn’t outright disapprove, he was rather proud of his own pureblood lineage. When You-know-who had first risen to power he had read the political climate well enough to deport himself to France in his search for a bride, and the new faction had left him in peace.
Pity he had need to do so a second time.
The offspring his daughter had produced was a surprise though. From his position at the back of the room, he could see that said grandchild was clothed in finery he could not attribute to his daughter. Severus Snape had indeed risen from the ashes, and he regretted not making an attempt to meet him sooner.
Minister Bagnold raised her wand to her throat again. “Our second award belongs to someone who was similarly forced into service under You-know-who; a man who took the opportunity of freedom his father’s death presented and used it to assist the men who finally brought down the dark lord’s reign. At risk of life and limb, he fought alongside those who were as likely to harm him as aid, and together they brought down the inner circle of death eaters.
“For services to the light, the ministry wishes to present this order of Merlin, second class, to Lucius Abraxas Malfoy.”
The Malfoys he knew in passing, Abraxas better than his son. The man appeared to me momentarily stunned to have received the award, but then he stood and with the grace of the most pureblood of aristocrats strode onstage to kiss the minister’s hand. His thanks was encompassing, nothing Claudius hadn’t read in the papers following the man’s trial.
“The third person we would like to call to the stage tonight, is a man who joined You-know-who’s ranks as a spy in order to pass information to the light. For over four years he has suffered both torture and humiliation in order to prove himself a loyal follower. His actions allowed them to approach You-know-who without suspicion; actions without which this war would not be over.
“For services to the light, the ministry wishes to present this order of Merlin, first class, to Severus Tobias Snape.”
That patrician profile was unmistakable as he stood up. The arm of the man next to him lingered oddly long on his arm, and a feeling of dread brewed in Claudius’ stomach. Severus’ assent to the stage demonstrated a walk engineered to maximise presence, and it could easily be seen how this man had fooled the death eaters into thinking he was one of them. He exuded a quiet confidence.
Curious as to what kind of words Severus would offer up on acceptance of his award, he was pleasantly surprised to find the man merely directed his attention at a few individuals, slightly inclining his head to show his appreciation. He did offer a full bow to his seated neighbour, though, and Claudius spun his wand, frowning. As Severus made to leave the stage, Bagnold placed a hand on his arm to stop him, and he glared at the appendage so indignantly that she blushed bright red.
She hastened to explain herself. “In recognition of his skills as a potion master, we wish to present Severus Snape with an additional award this evening. Master Farthings, if you please.”
An elderly man wearing robes shimmering with the tell-tale coating of a potion repellent walked to the minister’s side, a cloth covered object in his hands. “For exemplary work in the field of potions, including, but not limited to, your most recent accomplishment in potions that enable limb restoration, the International Guild of Potioneers wish to bestow upon Severus Tobias Snape the annual Iridium Cauldron award.”
The order of Merlin was hurriedly tucked into his robes so that he could use both hands to hold the intricate metalwork. It was easy to see that his grandson valued this award far above the other as he accepted the gleaming white item. With a hint of a smile on his face, Severus descended the stairs to take his place at the table once more. He had to wave the curious stares of those seated with him away, but he accepted the hand that settled onto his lower back.
Perhaps it was a good thing that the Snape family name was doomed to end with his grandson. He certainly couldn’t see why Severus would want to adopt the name of Prince after all the achievements he earned in the Snape name. The boy must be a genius though – he couldn’t recall that award ever being offered to anyone under the age of forty before.
It was just another thing he had missed out on. How far would the boy have gone with appropriate tutoring in his formative years?
Minister Bagnold was back at the edge of the stage, her wand horizontal once more. “Our last award has sparked some controversy, as we have never bestowed an order of Merlin on an alias before. However, given the massive service to the wizarding world that he has performed for us by ridding the world of You-know-who, the Ministry has made arrangements to allow for special circumstances.
“For services to the light, the ministry wishes to present this order of Merlin, first class, to Hurricane!”
The applause that followed was thunderous as the occupants of the room clapped in a standing ovation. The media had no pictures of this mystery man, and Claudius and his network had often speculated as to why this was so. Glancing around the room to see from where he would appear, he was stunned to see his grandson urge his lover – for that is what he had to be – forward.
The first thing he noticed was his short stature. He was easily amongst the shortest in the room, his head barely reaching Severus’ shoulders. He walked with a sure-footedness common in aurors, but he looked far too young to hold such an occupation. A camera flashed somewhere, and the security of the room descended on the culprit to confiscate the device. Necks were craning everywhere to see the man better, although the Malfoys and the Black boy simply chuckled and carried on with their desserts.
The probably knew him.
Hurricane turned a radiant smile on those assembled, and Claudius felt his own mouth curve upwards in response before he could school his features.
What a curious man.
He was more determined than ever to seek out his daughter once they could mingle once more so that she could introduce him to the fascinating man his grandson had turned out to be. On impulse he decided that he would avail his library to the boy no matter how their acquaintance progressed, if only to contribute somewhat to his illustrious future.
Her son was involved with a man. And not just any man, but the hero of the bloody wizarding world.
Shocked, Eileen stared as Hurricane rushed down the stairs and back to her son’s side. Said son then reached for his hand, which he touched to his cheek. It was such an innocent yet intimate gesture, and she could not fathom how her son had turned out this way. Severus was happy and successful, both states definitely not brought on by any involvement of hers.
Here she was, obsessing over a spot of finery so that she could introduce her father to her son without embarrassment, when neither of them could probably care one iota about her presence. Why had she even bothered? She felt small and petty, and bit her lip in frustration. For years she had struggled on without her dowry, and while a lot of the problems in her marriage was contributable to their financial situation, she was sure they could muddle through it.
She resolved to comport herself to the best of her abilities in order to arrange the two required meetings, and then she would withdraw. The money from Faulkner would go a long way to pay off their biggest debt, and she would sell the robe she had bought for the evening, no matter how pleasant the delicate fabric felt against her skin.
It was the best she knew to do.
Drumming his fingers on the table, Sirius was anxious for the formalities to end. Hurricane had just left the stage, but the minister was still standing there with another wooden plaque in her hand. She waited for the noise to die down before raising her wand once more.
“As a special mention, the ministry wishes to acknowledge the actions of every person who contributed towards the war effort. To those who lost loved ones, those who dedicated their time and effort and those who refused to go down without a fight, we thank you.” Small brown commemoration tablets appeared at most of the table settings, and Sirius eagerly reached for his.
To Sirius Orion Black, for services to the light – 1982
“We extend this acknowledgement to Gringotts Wizarding Bank, for their assistance in locating an artefact without which our victory would not have been possible.”
A small goblin had appeared onstage, and Sirius wondered if he had been present for the whole evening. His long-fingered grip easily accepted the oval carving, and he turned his attention to those seated.
“When Mister Hurricane initially requested our assistance, we would have eagerly chased him out of the establishment. His proffering of detailed plans to break into Gringotts to achieve his own ends swayed our opinion. We are proud to announce that the weakness in our security has been addressed, and no such attempt will be successful in future.” The goblin pointedly stared down at the man next to Snape that had dropped his head into his hands.
Well, that was interesting news. Hurricane threatened to break into Gringotts? It was a startling reminder that he was dealing with a very powerful wizard, and that perhaps he should heed Remus’ warning.
At least until he had a better idea what he had meant.
Minister Bagnold awkwardly cleared her throat before running through a round of gratitude again and leaving them to the end of their desserts. People immediately took the opportunity to stand up and offer their congratulations around, and Sirius jumped up as well. He made his way over to where his brother was sitting with the Malfoys.
Narcissa was the first to spot him.
“My, what a family reunion this is turning out to be. Good evening, Sirius.” She looked resplendent in tones of aquamarine. His brother and the blonde turned to face him, trepidation thick in the air. The muggle really was a pretty thing, but somehow he didn’t think his brother would appreciate it very much if he tried to snag his girlfriend.
“Celest, may I introduce my brother, Sirius.”
“Pleased to make your acquaintance. I’m afraid Reg has not told me much about you.”
Dismissively he shrugged, and turned his attention to Regulus. “Can we talk?”
The blonde must have read something in his brother’s posture that he hadn’t, for she placed a soothing hand behind Regulus’ back and excused them from the Malfoys. “Let’s go over there,” she motioned with her brow.
He hadn’t meant for the woman to be included in the discussion, but she rounded on him with a glare. “Let’s hear it then.” He was instantly irritated. He was trying to make amends here, how dare this chit attack him before he had even said a word!
“Would you mind buggering off? I’d like to talk to Regulus alone.”
“She stays, and you’re making a lousy first impression,” his brother finally spoke up.
“What is it with all this hostility? If it’s about those tickets Remus mentioned, then I honestly didn’t know you were involved.” He wished he had pressed the werewolf for more details.
Regulus frowned. “What tickets?”
Celest interrupted. “You conceited, self-absorbed idiot! If you think abandoning your brother is something trivial to be forgotten, then you have another thing coming. And no, I am not talking about your non-attendance of his debut race.” She poked a finger into his chest. “Fix your attitude, and maybe we will talk to you again. I’m sure Cissa will be kind enough to furnish you with the address. Let’s go, Reg.” She pulled his brother away while Sirius still tried to process what happened.
A hand on his shoulder stalled his half-formed attempt to chase after them.
“I think it is time we had a word, Mister Black.” The hand belonged to Hurricane.
“It’s a bit late to tell me about my brother now,” he sneered.
Hurricane placed his glass on a nearby table, and gestured him to an alcove. “Perhaps not. You don’t seem to be making the right associations, so I think I should straighten a few things out before you blunder your relationship with your brother too badly.”
He hated being spoken to like a child. “I don’t have time for this.”
He was in a full body bind before he could do so much as turn around, and hands gently manoeuvred him to lean against the wall in a semblance of control.
Hurricane’s gaze was hard. “On the contrary, I think you do.”
Chapter 40: Chapter 40
I would like to apologise for all the comments I have yet to approve and respond to (again), but come hell or high water, I was not going to let this week end without an update. It is slightly shorter than normal, but I hope you enjoy it either way.
The gravity of her actions hit her a little harder when, upon her approach, Hurricane apparently made his excuses and dodged to the side. Her step faltered slightly as Severus frowned after him, but schooled his features when he noticed her.
“Lily.” His voice didn’t have the slight upward lilt it normally had when he called her name.
“Good evening, Severus.” Had it always been this hard to start a conversation with him? “Congratulations on both your awards. You must be thrilled about the cauldron.”
“That I am, although for a moment it wasn’t confirmed if I would be awarded or imprisoned for the research.”
“Imprisoned? What did you do?” Her breath caught in her lungs – had there been more to his death-eater dealings than she thought?
“Fortune favoured that an illegal animal found itself in my possession. The beast had already perished, so I could see no reason to refrain from experimenting to discover its value as potion ingredients. It was a most captivating exercise.”
The feeling of guilt only intensified – was she truly so eager to believe the worst of him that she couldn’t even give him the benefit of the doubt? The entire wizarding world had just acknowledged the service he had performed for them; yet she was prepared to dismiss it at the first hint of deviance?
How had she grown up to be such a terrible person?
“Severus… could we speak somewhere more private?”
He turned his head in the direction Hurricane had left, and she followed the gaze. The shorter man was tucked against a corner in a conversation with Sirius, so she was startled when Severus chuckled darkly.
“We should be able to make use of one of the alcoves.” He held out his hand for her to lead, and she did so hesitantly. Once closer to the wall he performed the silencing spell he had invented, and looked at her with a brow raised.
She took a deep breath. “I owe you an apology,” she started.
“You do not.”
“Yes, I do. My behaviour of late –”
He held up a hand. “Perhaps I should clarify. You do not owe me an apology.” She frowned at him, the well-rehearsed speech nearly forgotten, and he sighed. “My initial observation of your contact with Hurricane was that the two of you interacted quite well. Why did that change the moment my presence was introduced?”
Her eyes sought out the man in question, and she worried her lip between her teeth. Christmas. The post-war celebration. Hogmanay. She supposed that confirmed what James had said.
“If it is any consolation, he will forgive you.”
Her shoulders drooped. “You don’t know that. How long have you two…?” she allowed him to fill in the blank.
“Before Christmas, and don’t underestimate my judgement. He has been most accommodating once he noticed the change in your disposition; even tonight he made haste to leave my side when he saw your approach.”
The jab was accurate, but none-the-less painful, and she couldn’t help but jab back. “He could have warned me off; I had no idea you were in a relationship until James pointed it out to me.”
A thoughtful look crossed Severus’ face then, and he slowly turned his gaze towards Hurricane. “Not if he believes my favour still rests with you…”
“What do you mean?”
“He knows, better than others, how attached I was to you. I do believe I should rectify his misunderstanding.”
Harry loved his godfather, he really did, but he was forced to admit that his parents' deaths had perhaps forced a level of maturity on future Sirius that current Sirius didn't possess. He would have to be careful to come across too patronising. Perhaps a little parallel comparison would help.
"You know, my godfather was wrongfully accused of murder and spent twelve years in prison for a crime he didn't commit. When he discovered that the man he had supposedly killed was still alive and indirectly responsible for a lot of other deaths, he escaped and tried to warn people, but no-one gave him the time of day. He had to avoid attempts on his life and resorted to some rather drastic means - means that ended with a werewolf on the loose - to get just one person to listen to him.
"In hindsight, had his friends believed in him or even tried to make contact with him during his imprisonment, they could have saved a lot of lives. Hell, they probably could have gotten his sentence overturned based on improper procedures, but they didn't. He did have one good friend that jumped at the chance to believe in his innocence, and my godfather was so glad to finally have someone on his side that he immediately forgave him." Harry looked at the sour face in front of him and wondered at the irony of the situation.
"Regulus, however, is not alone, nor desperate. He was what, twelve, thirteen, when you ran away from home? Did you ever ask him what he believed in before you lumped him in with the death eaters? That is why he is cross with you. You abandoned everything as the heir, and the result was that your parents tightened their grip on him. He didn't have a James Potter whose family was prepared to shelter him from their wrath.
"Do you even know who his best friend was? I'll give you a hint, he's not human." The handsome features contorted into a frown. "The dark lord never really had Regulus, but your brother only decided to strike back at him when he harmed Kreacher." He watched the knowledge sink in, apparently the information about his brother had distracted Surius enough to forget about being annoyed at Harry. He cancelled the petrification, and had to resist reaching out to stabilise the man.
"Your brother was prepared to die while the world believed him to be a death eater, knowing his own brother had forsaken him without confirming the facts, and you thought his hesitation to talk to you was because you missed his debut race? I sincerely hope you give the situation some thought before you approach him again." Harry turned on his heel, ready to march away now that he'd said his piece, but Sirius had voiced a question.
"What happened to your godfather?"
Harry looked at the face he had built so many hopes on as a youth, and clenched his jaw as he held back his emotions. Silently he bid the ideal in his head goodbye, acknowledging that this man and his godfather would never be the same person, nor share the friendship they had. There would be no shared drinks, no adventurous outings, and most certainly no good-natured ribbing about his choice of lover.
He blinked, and the world carried on as though nothing significant had just happened. "He died three years after I met him," he replied.
"What did your brother have to say?" The voice at his side startled him from him thoughts, and Sirius glanced up at James' concerned face.
"Apparently, I'm an idiot," he mumbled.
Remus cocked his head. "Is that what he said, or your conclusion?"
Sirius shook his head. "No, Reg barely said a word, but his plus one blew up at me. Hurricane is the one who cornered me with that insight."
"Hurricane called you an idiot?"
He looked up sharply, the question dragging him out of his distraction. "What? No, he just implied it. Do you think Reg thought me unapproachable while we were at school?"
Remus cast a guilty look in James' direction. "If we disregard that you were the poster child for all things anti-Slytherin, you didn't exactly make a secret out of your hatred for your family. I don't recall him ever talking to you, now that you mention it."
Sirius glared at Remus, who shrugged. Surely it wasn't that bad. Hadn't Reg walked up to him after the opening feast in his first year? The memory was vague, and he tried to focus on what was said.
Ah, but he hadn't given his brother a chance then either, had he? He had a distinct impression that he had insulted his brother's house and humiliated him in front of the Gryffindors.
"Bloody hell, I was sixteen! And what were the chances of both kids growing up to hate dark magic? They can't put the blame on me."
James agreed enthusiastically, but Remus looked thoughtful. "While I do agree that sixteen-year olds are hardly good examples of considerate human beings, you may have to admit that you went out of your way to disassociate yourself from him."
He knew there was truth in what Remus was saying, but he wasn't ready to admit it. He brushed the conversation off with a "whatever," and forcefully changed the topic. He was aware of the look his friends exchanged over his head, but he wasn't prepared to deal with the weight of the implications just yet.
He intended to avoid that responsibility at the very least until the next morning.