Hogwarts returned to normal, or as normal as was possible with the threat of annihilation hanging over them, and both Snape and Harry found themselves having to balance ‘school’ with the further study of their magical bond.
Harry had insisted that he explain to Hermoine and Ron why he was spending so much time with the Professor who had been his sworn enemy for so long, even though Snape disagreed violently.
“It’s called a secret because no one else is supposed to know!” Snape hissed.
“And if Remus had shared his secret the last time,
Sirius would never have thought he was a traitor. Who knows, things might have
been different?” Harry argued, “I know I can trust Ron and Hermoine,
Professor, and I ask that you trust me.”
Realising that he was defeated before he’d begun, Snape huffed and simply nodded curtly.
“Be here after your last class, Dumbledore has something for us,” he said coldly, “Don’t be late!”
Harry smiled, and replied “I won’t, don’t worry.”
‘Don’t worry’ Snape thought with a sigh. Worrying was all he seemed to do these days. It wasn’t just the magical bond that was causing him sleepless nights; he had other problems to consider.
Young Mr Malfoy was becoming a distraction, and one that he hadn’t really considered until now. It was looking quite likely that Draco had joined his father at The Dark Lord’s side, and was spying on those at the school who worked against the Death Eaters. Whereas Crabbe and Goyle were too stupid to be of any great worry, Malfoy was his father’s son; treacherous and cunning.
Snape rubbed his eyes wearily; he’d already had to fend off questions about why Potter was spending so much time in his dungeon from Malfoy once this week. Thankfully, young Mr Malfoy’s jealous hatred of Potter was working in their favour for once. When he’d sneered and told the boy that Potter was so stupid, he was on the way to failing his Potions NEWT, having barely scraped through his OWL, so he was on permanent Potions detention until he’d improved his results, Malfoy had simply cackled and puffed out his chest, satisfied that he had something over Potter at last.
He had to be careful, Malfoy might be a vain, and arrogant young man, but he wasn’t stupid, and that excuse would only last so long.
At exactly four p.m, there was a knock at the door, and Snape called for whomever it was to enter. Harry walked in looking sour, but as he closed the door, he looked up and smiled.
Being smiled at, still unnerved Snape slightly, especially by Harry Potter, and he returned the warm smile with a curt nod.
“Let’s get on, shall we?” Snape said quickly, and he lifted the cover off an object that sat on the table.
“What’s that?” Harry asked, peering at the object with real interest.
“It’s a lyre, Mr Potter.”
Snape sighed, “A lyre, it’s a musical instrument,” he said irritably, “Have you learned nothing in Magical studies these past few years?”
“Not about musical instruments, no,” Harry said with a grin.
Suddenly Snape realised, that Harry wasn’t really irritating him the way he once did. He knew that the rather flippant answer was simply Harry’s way of making fun of himself and no one else. In the past, Snape would have taken it very personally.
“It’s on the curriculum, Mr Potter. I suggest you try to obtain fewer blows to the head during Quidditch in future,” Snape replied with an almost smile. “As I was saying, it is a musical instrument, but a very special one. This is strung with the heartstrings of a rare golden-eyed Peruvian dragon.”
Harry ran his fingers across the strings, but there was no sound. “I think it’s broken, Professor,” he said, “And for once, it wasn’t my fault!”
“No, Mr Potter, it isn’t broken, it can only be played using magic.”
Snape picked up the book that was lying on the chair, and handed it to Harry. “It is played by using the combined magical ability of two wizards. This belonged to Dumbledore, and was last played by he and Nicholas Flamel, a man I trust you’re familiar with?”
Harry grinned, “Oh yeah, I remember him!”
“Dumbledore suggested that you and I might use this to exercise our combined ability,” Snape pointed to the handles each side of the lyre, “We each take a side, and then channel through the instrument. If we succeed, well, then…”
“We should make beautiful music together?” Harry quipped.
Snape felt an unexpected flash of embarrassment, “Quite,” he muttered.
“Shall we try it?” Harry asked, with his usual enthusiasm.
“Yes, if you wish.”
They sat down each side of the table, and each took a hold of the ornately carved handles.
“Now, concentrate,” Snape instructed, “Try to reach out, and access my magical aura, and I’ll do the same. When we can sense the aura, we can combine it, and then direct it at the strings.”
Much to his surprise, Snape suddenly felt Harry’s magic rush at him, almost over whelming his thoughts.
“Potter!” he gasped, “Not so fast!”
“Sorry,” Harry said slightly breathlessly.
The rush of magical energy slowed slightly, and Snape was able to absorb it. It felt…wonderful, youthful, and so very free. So unlike his own intrinsic energy, which was tightly bound and constrained, this was like swimming in an ocean of magical essence. For a moment, he was almost lost in its warmth.
“Professor?” Harry said at last, “You’re too shielded, I can feel you there, but there’s a barrier, I can’t get through.”
Snape swallowed hard, this was uncomfortable for him, but he knew that Potter was right. If this was to work, he had to drop the shield. Slowly, he took it down, a layer at a time, like peeling an onion, becoming lighter with each layer discarded.
He heard Harry gasp, and felt the lyre shake slightly, as Harry shuddered.
“Whoa, that’s…powerful!” Harry hissed, “I can feel…you’re all around me.” Harry gave a drunken giggle, “I think I could learn to like this feeling,” he said beginning to breathe more heavily, “It’s very…wow…very, exciting!”
“Potter, could you at least try to channel this, and stop wallowing in it?” Snape snapped at last, feeling entirely too carried away with the sensation himself.
“Hm?” Harry mumbled, “Oh yes, right.”
Snape felt him pull back slightly; it was like someone narrowing the beam of a torch, until it pierces the darkness instead of flooding the room.
“Visualise the strings,” Snape instructed, “No, don’t wander off on your own, keep a hold of me, follow my lead, the string; pluck the string…”
The air was heavy with magic, pushing and pulling in every direction. Snape knew how hard it was to concentrate on this, despite him chiding Harry for not paying attention. At that moment, there was a loud ‘twang’, a strange, almost unearthly sound, and both men recoiled with the effort, breaking the connection to the lyre.
When Snape looked up, Harry was lying panting with his head resting on the table.
“Potter, are you all right?” he asked. He knew how exhausted he felt himself, and Harry’s magic was so much less controlled.
“Yes, just really, really tired,” Harry mumbled, “I’ll be all right in a minute, just need to close my eyes.”
With shaking limbs, Snape climbed to his feet and made his way over to the teapot. He poured two cups of the dark liquid, and sprinkled a little Calamity Root on the top. From the cupboard, he took a bar of chocolate.
“Here, drink this, and eat some chocolate, it will help you recover,” he said, returning to Harry’s side.
Slowly raising his head, Harry smiled, “You sound just like Remus,” he said with a chuckle. “If it’s left to you two, I’ll end up looking like Dudley.”
He took the drink, and chocolate, “Thank you, Professor.”
Snape; still not quite knowing how to respond when Harry was being ‘nice’, merely nodded in response, and sipped his own tea.
“We did it,” Harry said at last, “We actually did it!” He took a gulp of tea, “Wasn’t it incredible? I could feel you there, all around me, in my head, everywhere, and I could actually influence things!”
“What we’ve done today is just the beginning,” Snape replied, “We have little control, and the effort is exhausting to us both. If we are to form this into any kind of a weapon, it must become second nature to us,” he stressed, “Maybe we shouldn’t feel quite so pleased with ourselves until we can actually use this ability?”
Harry sighed, “And maybe we should look at this as a huge step in the right direction?” he said, “It was our first real attempt, I think we did pretty well?”
Reluctantly, Snape nodded, “Perhaps.”
“Shall we try again?” Harry asked with a quite irritating sense of enthusiasm.
“Not tonight, we both need to get some rest, and I understand that you have homework?”
“I do?” Harry frowned.
“Unless miracles have happened, and you’ve already completed your Potions homework from yesterday?”
There was a momentary silence, “Maybe I do need to get some rest,” Harry said gravely, “Wouldn’t want to exhaust myself too much.” He stood up, and turned to leave, “But we did really well tonight, Professor. I feel much better about the whole thing now we’ve made a little headway, don’t you?”
“Yes, indeed. Off you go Potter, and don’t even consider using exhaustion as a reason not to turn in your homework tomorrow.”
Harry grinned, “Goodnight, Professor.”
As the door closed, Snape allowed himself a smile.
The sessions with the lyre became a regular nightly event. Harry would wait for the corridors to become quiet, and then using the invisibility cloak some nights, he’d creep down to Snape’s dungeon.
Each night they made a little more progress, and each night they seemed to cope with the exhaustion a little better.
With exams looming, as well as the potential threat from Voldemort, Harry now had to fit so much into his life that some things inevitably suffered, including any social life he might have had.
“Is something wrong, Mr Potter?” Snape asked one evening, as they prepared the lyre for another session.
“No, not really,” Harry replied a little quietly.
Snape said nothing, but it was clear that the boy was troubled. “Has someone discovered our secret, other than the multitude of people you’ve already told, that is?”
Looking up, without a smile for once, Harry frowned, “No!”
“So this mood is…what?”
“Ron and Hermoine are arguing again, why they’re the only people who can’t see just how much they love each other, is a mystery to me!” he snarled, “And someone asked me out.”
“Asked you out?”
“Yes. As in, asked me out on a date,” Harry said irritably, “But how can I go, I’m here every night, and it’s not like I can tell them where I am, or why I can’t accept?”
“Yes, well, I’m afraid we all have to make sacrifices at times like these,” Snape said a little awkwardly.
“But I’ve never had to do anything but make sacrifices!” Harry raged suddenly. “I’m tired of being ‘Harry Potter’, it’s not like I asked to be who I am, is it? I’d just like to be ‘normal’, just for once, for a few days. Just to feel like everything in the world didn’t rest on my shoulders.”
Snape reluctantly allowed himself to see the world from Harry’s point of view, and it unnerved him slightly. Whereas he had always used his anonymity to allow him to move freely, and do things others could not, Harry would never know that luxury. Often, Snape had felt resentful that his own achievements had gone unrecognised, while others around him took the glory, but glory came with a price.
“Mr Potter, I think it’s time you had a night off from our work here,” Snape said suddenly.
Harry’s mouth fell open.
“You don’t think I’m tired of seeing your face every evening?” Snape said with a frown. “Go, and take the evening off.”
“No ‘buts’, Potter, just go before I change my mind.”
Unsurely, Harry turned around and left the room. Snape was filled with a strangely empty and lost feeling for a moment, which disturbed him greatly. Not to mention just how curious he was over the identity of who it was that had asked Harry out? Maybe he needed a night off too?
Music filled the air; ethereal and beautiful. The lyre sang out with such unearthly grace, that both men shivered slightly as the air vibrated with its joyful sound.
In just over two weeks, they had managed to not only channel their energies but also produce music that could delight gods and demons alike.
“Wow,” Harry grinned as the strings stilled, and the room grew quiet once more.
“That was…very beautiful,” Snape admitted, still quite breathless at the sound.
“Professor, I think we’ve cracked the lyre, don’t you?” Harry sat back, looking very pleased with himself.
“Indeed,” Snape replied, secretly feeling rather pleased himself too. “However, we should not become complacent, there’s still a great deal of work to do.”
“But we can channel now?”
“Yes, Mr Potter, we can channel through the lyre. You should remember that this is a tool; it aids us in our work. Channelling without the help of such a tool is a very different matter.”
The smile disappeared from Harry’s face, “I suppose so.”
Snape glanced up, and sighed, “That does not mean we shouldn’t feel at least a little pleased with ourselves, for achieving so much, in such a short period of time. Many wizards never learn to channel another’s energy,” he said encouragingly, “It is a remarkable effort on our part.”
Harry looked up and smiled, “Thanks Professor,” he said knowingly. Snape was actually saying it to make Harry feel better, and to encourage him, something that would have been unthinkable just a few weeks before.
“I think we’ve earned a little time off, don’t you?” Snape said, pulling the cover over the lyre.
“Are you serious?” Harry’s mouth dropped open.
“Aren’t I always?” Snape replied with sarcasm, but Harry just laughed. “Go now, before I decided to use our ‘spare time’ to test you on that potion you failed dismally to make yesterday.”
With a smirk, Harry climbed to his feet. “Potions homework?” he said, “Hmm, maybe more excitement than I can handle today.”
“Gryffindor can still lose points for cheek, Potter, you’d do well to remember that!” Snape said sternly, but Harry just shot him a grin and walked to the door.
“So, when’s the next session, tomorrow?”
“Yes,” Snape replied.
“Great, see you then!”
As he watched Harry close the door, Snape was struck by just how ‘happy’ Harry had seemed to be returning tomorrow. It was then he realised just how much he was ‘enjoying’ the sessions too. The thought rendered him speechless; in just these few weeks, they had gone from hating to even be in the same room, to almost enjoying each other’s company.
He, Severus Snape, didn’t hate Harry Potter any more. He didn’t even actively dislike the boy. Damn it, he almost looked forwards to their sessions together.
Feeling that he needed a stiff drink, and maybe a lie down, Snape rushed over the cabinet and took out a bottle of Firewhisky. Desperate times required desperate measures.
Harry was looking out of the window when Snape entered the room.
“Remus is here,” Harry said with obvious joy, “And he has people with him. Don’t recognise anyone?” he said, pressing his nose to the window to get a better look.
Snape moved across the room, and glanced down. As he looked at the people alighting from the carriage, the penny dropped, and he understood why Dumbledore had asked for the large quantity of potion.
“Dumbledore wants to see us both,” Snape said at last.
“What for?” Harry asked, with a frown.
“I have no idea, Potter, maybe he wants us to pay for the broken lyre?” Snape replied.
The dragon heartstring lyre sat sadly on the table, it’s strings broken and curled. The last session had flowed with such power, and the music had rung out so fast, and so hypnotically, that the strings had snapped under the strain.
For a moment Harry looked horrified, then his face broke into a grin, “Very funny,” he said, “I’ll just tell him you broke it.”
Snape snorted, and picked up the instrument. “Come along, and please stop peering out of the window like a nosy neighbour.”
The two men walked along the quiet corridor, and up to the headmaster’s study. As the door swung open, Snape noticed that Lupin was already seated in the room, drinking tea.
“Ah, gentlemen, please come in and make yourselves comfortable,” Dumbledore smiled.
“Remus!” Harry rushed up to Lupin and hugged him.
“Harry, good to see you. How are things?” Remus asked, shooting a quick glance Snape’s way.
“Oh pretty good,” Harry replied, “But we broke the dragon heartstring lyre,” he said sheepishly.
“You broke the lyre?” Dumbledore gasped.
“Yes headmaster,” Snape butted in, “My apologies, I think we became a little carried away with our newly acquired abilities.”
“My dear Severus, that is quite fantastic!” Dumbledore beamed, “Even Nicholas Flamel and myself never managed to break a dragons heartstring. It’s quite extraordinary that you’ve achieved such a thing, and in such a short time.”
Snape ventured a short, cool smile, but he felt immensely proud of what he and Harry had achieved. He knew that their power was growing exponentially, and even he couldn’t guess at just how powerful they were together.
“The reason I called you both here, along with Minerva, Arthur and Kingsley, who should arrive shortly, was to inform you all of our plans. You must all understand that these plans are of the utmost importance, and must remain top secret, even from Master Weasley and Miss Granger for the moment.” Dumbledore smiled at Harry, who nodded and returned the smile.
At that moment, the door opened, and Professor McGonagall ushered in Kingsley Shackbolt and Arthur Weasley
“Dumbledore, good day to you!” Mr Weasley smiled, “Ah, Harry, good to see you!”
“Hello Mr Weasley,” Harry beamed.
“Oh Harry, good game last week, catching the snitch in the first ten minutes, in that appalling rain!” Mr Weasley beamed, “Not to mention Ron stopping that quaffle in the first minute of the game,” he whispered.
Harry laughed, “Thanks, and yeah, Ron’s getting pretty good.”
Suddenly, Arthur Weasley stopped and looked up, “Oh, sorry, bit carried away there,” he chuckled, sitting down in the big comfy leather chair that snored when the room was warm.
“We have a very testing time ahead of us,” Dumbledore said, “We can be very sure that Voldemort is building his army, and as we know, the Dementors have joined him, leaving Azkaban open for those who were punished for their dark deeds to once again walk free. But, we are not alone in our plight, many of the magical creatures who once distanced themselves from wizard kind, have rallied behind us, knowing only too well that if the dark forces should win, they will not be left in peace, but enslaved and used for their magical abilities.
Hagrid and Firenze have managed to persuade the Centaurs to fight on our side, if and when we need them. It is not a happy alliance, but they are wise creatures, and they understand the possible ramifications of the dark terror winning through.”
“They’d end up as nothing more than beasts of burden!” McGonagall hissed.
“Quite,” Dumbledore replied. “Hagrid has also managed to persuade some of the giants to look kindly upon us, and Remus here, has assembled a werewolf army.”
“Werewolf army?” Mr Weasley gasped, “How?”
“For some years now, Severus has been supplying me with a potion that allows me to retain my human mind when the full moon occurs, even though my body changes. I have been studying the moons effects most of my life, and I have discovered a way, using ancient shamanic incantations, to ‘trick’ my body into changing when I require it,” Remus said quietly, “This, along with the potion, means that I can use the power that my lycanthropy provides, and still be in control of my human faculties. I’ve spent the past year instructing others of my kind in this procedure, and we have just over a hundred people who are now proficient enough to use this ability, if provided with the potion.”
“A hundred doesn’t seem like many compared to Voldemorts Dementors ,” Kingsley said.
“No, but you should remember that werewolves are impervious to magic, therefore they can challenge Death Eaters without fear of magical interference. Also, Dementors have no effect when we are in wolf form.”
“Wow,” Harry grinned, “A bit like Superman with fur?”
Everyone shot him a puzzled look.
“Oh, it’s a Muggle comic book character, sorry,” he sighed.
Dumbledore smiled fondly and continued, “The Order of the Phoenix now has a quite impressive membership, and we have spies within Voldemort’s ranks who tell us that he is ready to move. I have sent word to all those who have pledged their allegiance to us, and they merely await my signal. One thing we must be sure of, is that Harry and Severus can control their combined power enough to use it as the ultimate weapon?” he looked at Snape and Harry expectantly.
“We are now able to channel the energy with fairly impressive results,” Snape said.
Looking at his lyre, Dumbledore smiled, “So I see,” he said with raised eyebrows.
Snape continued, “It is impossible to truly know just how powerful we are, since it’s unwise to unleash something with the potential of this energy in a school full of children.”
“The fact that you can control it, and have, hopefully, come to understand it, is the best defence we have. The impact of its wrath is not something we should dally with until the circumstances present themselves. I am so very proud of you both!” Dumbledore said with a serene smile, which Snape took to mean ‘I told you so’.
Suddenly Harry smiled, “We really have a chance, don’t we Professor?” he said to Dumbledore who began to smile widely, “For the first time, it feels like we really have a chance of winning!”
“Oh, my dear Harry,” Dumbledore said with a chuckle, “Even the strongest armies cannot win a true victory unless they have heart. To believe is the greatest strength in the universe, and we believe that what we are doing is for the good of all. Of course we can win!”
Harry nodded, and shot Lupin a grin. Snape felt a momentary pang of what felt like annoyance, but he was perfectly rational enough to know it was jealousy. With Lupin returned, and possibly staying for the foreseeable future, Harry would be less inclined to spend his time in the dark, dank potions dungeon…with the dark, dank potions master.
When Dumbledore concluded to proceedings, everyone made their way out of his study.
“Fancy dinner tonight, Harry?” Remus asked.
“Oh yes, great!” Harry replied.
“Don’t forget to bring Ron and Hermoine, I have something for both of them,” Remus smiled secretively.
Suddenly Harry turned around and stopped in front of Snape, “Would you like to have dinner with us tonight, Professor?” he asked.
Taken aback, Snape was temporarily speechless. Why would Potter want him there, when it was so obviously a quiet dinner for friends?
Remus looked up into Snape’s eyes, and cocked his head, “Yes, Severus, please feel free to join us,” he said.
“Oh, well,” Snape’s mind whirled, “Thank you, Lupin, but I’m afraid I have work to do.”
“Oh come on, Professor, it’s just dinner?” Harry pleaded, “I’d really like you to be there.”
Still unbearably flustered, Snape found himself mumbling, “Very well, Potter!”
“Great, seven o’clock in the private Gryffindor tower room.”
With a curt nod, Snape swept away, before he made a further fool of himself. He wasn’t sure why he’d agreed to such a thing, and could only imagine the looks on Granger’s and Weasley’s face when he turned up.
On returning to his dungeon, still unsettled by the idea of spending ‘leisure’ time with Potter and his extended family, Snape ran directly into Draco Malfoy, who was waiting for him.
Malfoy tossed his shoulder length white blonde hair back from his face arrogantly, and stepped forward.
“I’ve been waiting for you!” he hissed. “Where have you been?”
Snape bristled, “And since when did I answer to you, Mr Malfoy, about my whereabouts in this school?” he snapped.
Malfoy visibly recoiled, and at least had the good grace to flush slightly, “I meant no disrespect, Professor, but I was asked to speak to you…by a ‘family friend’.” He replied cryptically.
‘Voldemort’ Snape thought coldly. “Yes?”
“Our friend would like to know what’s going on here, he’s hearing reports of strangers entering the school led by that filthy werewolf, Lupin?”
“Lupin is merely arranging Muggle studies lectures,” Snape spit out the words venomously, “It appears that they’re the only people who’ll have anything to do with him.”
“The people he has with him, are, to my knowledge, a group of Squibs and mudbloods who feel that we should ‘embrace’ our Muggle heritage.”
“Oh that’s rich!” Malfoy guffawed, “They’ll make such grand sport, and maybe even pets some day.”
“Now if you’ll excuse me, Mr Malfoy, I am expected to be a party to this ‘welcome committee’ tonight in my position as Potions Master. I need time to prepare something to keep my food down!” Snape sneered, and the edge of his mouth twitched into an almost smile.
With a snort of laughter, Malfoy turned to leave, “It’s good to have you with us, Professor,” he whispered, before walking away.
Snape swallowed hard, and watched as Malfoy disappeared from sight. What a deeply unpleasant and treacherous young man he’d become, so like his father before him. He could still recall the ‘old days’ before The Dark Lord’s defeat, when Malfoy senior took great pleasures in torturing and killing anyone who got in his way. How the man had avoided Azkaban the first time around was a miracle, and had always left Snape somewhat uncomfortable about the possibilities that there were sympathisers still deep within the Ministry who had entirely too much knowledge of what was going on at Hogwarts.
He let himself into his room, and tried not to dwell on the deeply unsettling idea of spending the evening with ‘friends’.
When he arrived at the tower room, Harry and Remus had just arrived, and they were waiting patiently for the house elves to finish laying out the food.
“Professor!” Harry beamed, and Snape couldn’t help but shoot a questioning glance at Remus.
“Severus, thank you for coming,” Remus Lupin smiled softly.
Snape nodded and handed Harry a bottle of a strange swirling mixture. “The Lunasberry mixture has just matured, I thought you might like to try it, since you’ve spent the past few weeks watching it ferment?” he said a little unsurely.
“Wow, thanks!” Harry took the bottle and swirled the mixture around, it performed the usual display of soothing lights that transfixed Harry.
“If only I could gain your attention so easily in my class, Mr Potter!” Snape sighed.
Harry looked up and gave a bark of laughter that for a moment sounded too much like Sirius Black for comfort.
“It’s nice to see you two getting on at last,” Remus said quietly, “Is everything going well?”
“Very well,” Snape replied.
“I’ll go tell Ron and Hermoine to hurry up,” Harry said, placing the bottle on the table and shooting out of the door.
“I’m glad things are working out, Severus,” Remus said, “I was worried about Harry for a while.”
“We appear to have made progress,” Snape replied, “And I suppose I have you to thank for some of that. I know you spoke to Potter about our ‘past’, and helped him to come to terms with what was expected from all of us?”
Remus smiled, “Harry’s a very bright young man, and a very talented wizard, but he’s still a teenager, and all I did was try to explain that the things we do as teenagers should not be held against us in adulthood. We were all as guilty as Sirius, you know, in our own way?”
Bristling at the name, Snape snorted his disapproval, “Does Potter know about you and Black?” he asked bitterly.
Remus was a little taken aback, “You mean that we were lovers?” he asked, “Yes, Harry knows.”
“He does?” Snape replied with obvious shock.
“Yes!” Remus laughed, “Like I said, he’s a very bright young man. He’d worked it out long before we told him.”
“I’m surprised that you told a boy something so…personal?”
Taking a sip of the drink he’d just poured, Remus gave a quiet smile, “Harry is the nearest thing I have left to family, and Sirius felt the same way. It would have been wrong to lie to him about something that was so much a part of our lives. I’ve loved Sirius Black since I was twelve years old, through everything that happened. He was, and still is, a part of me. Denying that relationship would have been unfair to everyone concerned. James understood, so we had little doubt that Harry would. Severus, surely you must understand that?”
Snape glared, “Spare me your sympathy and understanding, Lupin, you have no idea what my life has led me to understand!”
Remus backed away, and held up his hand in surrender, “My apologies, I meant nothing by my comment,” he sighed, “Let’s not fight, Harry deserves better than watching us squabble over the past.”
Suppressing the anger building in his chest, Snape turned away, and moved across the room, where he poured himself a drink of Gillyflower wine. It wasn’t Lupin’s place to remind him how he felt about the past, he was only too aware of the memories, they played over in his mind nightly to torment his soul.
The door opened, and Harry rushed in, followed a little unsurely by Hermoine Granger and Ron Weasley.
Hermoine smiled prettily at Snape and nudged Ron hard in the ribs. Glaring at her, Ron nodded unsurely in Snape’s direction, and Snape couldn’t help but feel a twinge of sympathy for their plight.
“Come on, let’s eat, I’m starved!” Harry grinned, and headed for the table that was now laden with food.
Snape took a deep breath, and tried to think of other things, anything that might carry him through this ordeal. At least facing Voldemort would be easy after this.
The evening had been surprisingly uneventful, if not exactly pleasant. Snape had coped with the innate gushing that had met Lupin’s gifts of a rare text book from Tibet for Hermoine, and some rich, Muggle chocolate for Ron, but he’d still felt uncomfortable, and very much an intruder at the dinner. Harry had made small talk with him all night, and even the other members of the party had been polite and civil, but he didn’t belong there. No matter what he and Harry were together, he was not a part of Harry Potter’s life.
When the proceedings wound down, he made his excuses and left; hurrying from the room to the sound of Harry’s voice whispering.
“Goodnight, Professor, I’ll see you tomorrow, early, before class?” in a most curiously warm voice.
Snape had nodded, but something had made him feel strangely unsettled.
Turning the corner into the East wing, where his rooms were situated, Snape hurried for home. All he wanted now was a drink, and some sleep, to settle his mind once more.
“Traitor!” a voice came out of the darkness and suddenly Snape was thrust backwards by a blow that pierced his left shoulder and sent shockwaves of pain through his body.
Immediately he set up a defence, muttering an incantation that deflected the next wave of power that would surely have killed him.
Out of the shadows stepped Draco Malfoy, his pale face twisted in fury.
“I trusted you, I even admired you, but you’re a traitor!” he screamed, hurling another curse in Snape’s direction, which was deflected by a counter-curse easily.
Thankfully, Snape decided, young Mr Malfoy was allowing his anger to distort his reason, and he was more interested in inflicting pain, than doing any real damage. If he’d been a more rational attacker, the first blow could have been a death curse.
“You’re helping those filthy mudbloods and half-breeds!” Malfoy raged, “You’re on their side, I saw you!”
“Malfoy!” Snape snarled, “Stand down, you don’t understand?” It was worth trying to bluff the boy, but it was probably too late.
“No, don’t speak to me, you’ve betrayed us, betrayed our Lord, you should die!” Malfoy took a breath to summon up a new curse, but Snape moved first, and threw a petrifying curse at Malfoy that sent him crashing to the floor.
The pain in his shoulder tore into him as he tried to climb to his feet. Snape closed his eyes, and concentrated, summoning up all the strength he could muster; in his mind he called the name ‘Potter!’ as he slumped back to the floor.
What felt like hours later, but was probably just a few minutes, he heard Harry running along the corridor, followed by others.
“Professor!” Harry ran to his side, and reached out helplessly.
“Malfoy!” Snape growled between clenched teeth, “He’s petrified, but that might not hold for long.”
Remus arrived close behind Harry, and stooped down to study the injury.
“Ron, fetch Madame Pomfrey at once, if you please?” he said softly. “I’ll deal with young Mister Malfoy, Severus.”
“Remus?” Harry said with a gasp.
“Don’t worry, Harry, I’m just going to make him safe, and put him in the dungeon to cool down. Dumbledore will deal with him later. You stay here with Professor Snape until Madame Pomfrey arrives.”
The look on Harry’s face was anguished and afraid, and Snape almost wanted to reach out and reassure him.
“Please don’t concern yourself, Mr Potter, my disability is due to the shockwave from the spell, it’s not particularly harmful.”
“It must hurt?” Harry said, almost touching the shoulder, before pulling his hand away, “Are you all right?”
“Yes, I’ll be perfectly all right, please don’t concern yourself.”
The clicking of Madame Pomfrey’s shoes could be heard echoing down the corridor, and very quickly she was at his side.
“Oh dear,” she peered at the wound, “How messy!” She called the charmed stretcher to her side, and lifted Snape onto it with a swish of the wand. “Please don’t get in the way, Potter,” she said curtly, “Professor Snape will be very well cared for. Now, off to bed with you.”
For the first time in many years, Snape found himself in the infirmary for the night. The last time had been many years before after a particularly nasty prank, set by Black and Potter as usual, had gone wrong, and he’d been covered in weeping, pus filled boils. The pain had been horrendous back then, and his Nemesis, Black, had almost been expelled, after taking the blame for his friend Potter.
That was a long time ago, and he knew he needed to rest. Snape relaxed and allowed his mind to wander. The injury wasn’t bad, but it required a calm mind, and rest.
It wasn’t long before he fell into a partial dream state. The Gringlewood juice was deadening his pain, and allowing him to fully relax, releasing long dormant memories.
The room was dark, illuminated only by a single candle.
In the corner, The Dark Lord stood with
his back to the room, and Snape was sure that he was shaking so badly, he could
Voldemort said slowly, “Thank you for coming so promptly. There is something I
need you to do.”
“Yes, my lord, whatever you wish?” Snape replied.
“I need you to clean up a small mess for me, and
dispose of the leftover rubbish.”
Puzzled, Snape swallowed hard, “Yes, my lord.”
“In the cellar you’ll find the package I’m
referring to. Remove it from my presence.”
Snape bowed, and rushed from the room. He was sure that
The Dark Lord had discovered his secret. While his Leglimancy abilities were
excellent, even he was not beyond making a mistake, especially when fear had a
grip of his mind as it did at this moment.
He made his way past the Death Eaters on guard, and down
to the cellar. Opening the door, he was met by utter blackness, and a smell so
vile it took his breath.
“Luminos!” he flicked his wand, and the room lit up.
In the middle of the floor lay a body. Snape swallowed the bile in his throat,
and moved a little closer. There was a pool of blood seeping from beneath the
figure, and its limbs lay in awkward positions, broken and bent out of shape.
Suddenly, the figure moved; Snape recoiled in horror.
Surely no man could survive such a thing?
“Severus?” the voice croaked.
Desperate, cold terror flooded Snape’s mind. “Regulus?”
he gasped, dropping to his knees, and pulling the broken figure to him, “Oh
Merlin’s ghost, what has he done to you?”
“He thinks…” Regulus Black choked, “…I’m a
traitor. Didn’t believe me.”
“What form of curse could cause this?” Snape asked,
as parts of Regulus’ flesh crumbled under his hands.
“Decay…he wants me to rot away, and still be
conscious!” Regulus convulsed, and Snape held on to the rotting body in some
vain hope of offering comfort.
“I’ll find a way to counter it,” Snape whispered.
“No time,” Regulus replied, “Please Severus, if
you love me, you’ll kill me.”
“No!” Snape hissed, “I will not take your life!”
“You must, would you rather I rotted away,
feeling every inch of my body decay? Please Severus, I beg you. Do it now, I
can’t stand the pain!”
Snape shook his head, but he knew that it was the only
way. Regulus was here because of him, he’d been assumed the traitor when it
was he who had turned renegade and informed Dumbledore that Voldemort was on the
move, with a view to complete domination.
He stroked his fingers across Regulus’ once handsome
face, brushing bloody hair out of his eyes.
“I love you, and I’m so sorry for everything
that’s happened,” Snape whispered, placing a gentle kiss on the young
“I love you, Severus. Never forget me?”
“Never,” Snape choked back the tears. He laid
Regulus back on the floor, and stood up. Stealing himself, he swished his wand,
and delivered a death blow, that silenced the ragged breathing once and for all.
Hands shaking so badly, Snape dropped his wand, and
curled up into a sitting position on the floor beside Regulus’ body.
He needed to pull himself together, and get out of here,
get away, just leave and never return.
After a few moments, he reached for the wand, magically
bound the body, and levitated it, ready to move out. Taking a breath, he opened
the door, and strode out, in his usual manner.
As usual, no one challenged him, because no one ever
really paid any attention to him.
Once clear of the mansion, Snape apparated with the
body, and interned it in the Black family mausoleum.
Standing before the casket, Snape laid his hand for the
last time, on the body of Regulus Black and swore his revenge.
When The Dark Lord discovered that he’d allowed
Regulus to die, he tortured him for an entire day, before releasing him to
complete his work for the cause.
That was the day Snape headed for Hogwarts, and swore
himself to Dumbledore’s cause, taking the Oath Of Merlin.
When the day was through, and the moon appeared over the
lake, he looked down at himself to see that he still bore Regulus’ blood on
his hands, and quite rightly so.
He would always bear that blood on his hands, because
Regulus had died in his place, and he would never forgive himself for that.
Never would he allow himself a day’s love or joy again. This would be his
punishment for allowing the only person he’d ever loved to die in his stead.
Snape watched the events in his mind play out, and couldn’t hold back the feelings that came with them. It still felt like yesterday, that Regulus was in his arms, smiling that familiar Black smile, and telling him not to worry.
Suddenly, Snape realised that he was not alone. In his mind, he looked around, and found a familiar presence in the corner, watching.
Reeling his thoughts back in, Snape shook himself awake.
Damn it! How could he be so stupid as to allow Potter access to such dangerous memories?
Forcing himself awake, Snape sat bolt upright in the hospital bed.
“Severus?” Madame Pomfrey said quietly, “Are you feeling quite well?”
“Yes!” he choked, “Just a small nightmare,” he twitched the corners of his mouth into an imitation of a smile, so that she would leave him alone.
“Call if you need anything, but do try to get some rest.”
Snape nodded, and watched her walk away. Potter had seen everything; he knew everything.
At that moment, the door to the infirmary creaked open, and a familiar outline appeared.
“Go away!” Snape hissed angrily.
“I’m sorry,” Harry replied, “You just appeared in my head.”
“Potter, just go!”
Despite his protestations, Harry walked across the room, right up to the side of the bed. In the dim light, Snape could see that Harry’s face was tear streaked.
“I didn’t intrude, I swear. You pulled me in, I was asleep, then suddenly I was standing there watching you. I tried to turn away, but I couldn’t.”
“No? Having too much fun, were we?” Snape snarled, pulling the bedclothes around his chest angrily.
“No! You wouldn’t let me go, I tried to turn away, but I couldn’t move. Please Professor, you have to believe me?”
“It doesn’t matter now,” Snape said at last, still vibrating with anger.
“I’m so sorry about what happened,” Harry said with a sniffle, “I never realised that you…and Regulus Black, I mean, that…”
“Why are you so angry?” Harry said at last, more forcefully. “You loved Regulus, and everything you’ve done has been to avenge him. Why are you so ashamed of that?”
Snape rounded on Harry, his dark eyes blazing with anger, “I am not ashamed of Regulus Black!” he snarled, “There are few things in my life that I know, with every fibre of my being, were the right things to do, and loving Regulus Black is one of those things. Ironically, saving you is another!” he spat, “However, I do not find the modern attitude of ‘sharing my feelings’ in the least bit compelling or attractive, so I would appreciate it if you’d go away and leave me alone.”
Harry’s head hung low, and he simply nodded. Suddenly, as he turned to go, he reached out and grasped the back of Snape’s hand.
“Get well, heal quickly, we need you!” he whispered, and Snape felt a strange jolt of power flow through his body.
The door clicked as Harry left the room, and Snape lay back feeling quite exhausted.
Next morning when Snape awoke, he felt remarkably pain free, and quite well. Almost as though she’d read his mind, Madame Pomfrey appeared to check his wound.
“Oh my!” she gasped, as she studied the previously badly damaged shoulder.
“What?” Snape asked, trying to look at the damage himself.
“Have you been meddling with medicinal magic, Severus?” she asked sternly.
“No, of course not, it’s not my area, I took a Grindlewood root potion last night for the pain, that was all, why?”
She peeled back the dressing and he gasped; the wound was completely healed, and all that was left was a red scar about three inches long, which was fading before their eyes.
“Potter,” he said almost to himself, remembering the feeling that had washed over him last night when Harry had touched his hand.
“Mr Potter?” Madame Pomfrey frowned, “What does he have to do with this?”
“He…last night, he touched me, and I felt the power…” Snape said absently, before looking up into Madame Pomfrey’s eyes, “Never mind! May I go, I’m feeling quite well?”
“I suppose so, yes,” she replied, “Just take it easy for a few days.”
Snape nodded and reached for his robes. It had been years since his emotions had become embroiled in such turmoil, and he needed the solace of his dungeon at the moment. There were so many things to think about. So much had changed, and if he wasn’t mistaken, with Malfoy’s discovery of his treachery, the war had just begun in earnest.