As always, I apologise that this took so long to finish and upload! I've just finished my first semester of uni so, I'm going to try and get lots of chapters done in my break. Hopefully this chapter doesn't seem too disjointed as I started it two months ago and only finished today! Anyway, happy reading! :)
Severus slept in later than normal, his quivering occulmency barriers taking a toll on his usual sleeping pattern. He knew that he was missing something, something that was extremely important to him, and that he had been dosed with some sort of mind potion. Using these two facts, he abandoned his usual morning routine, sweeping into his potions laboratory, manipulating his clothes on the way. Upon entering, he saw that he had already laid some vials out on his desk, showing that he had expected to be dosed with something so, after checking that the potions hadn't been tampered with, he downed each one in quick succession, ignoring the horrid taste. As they took effect, a wave of melancholy passed over him as he realised what he had been made to forget, or rather, whom.
After yelling all sorts of obscenities into the dungeons, even damaging the walls slightly with a lapse of control over his magic, Severus Snape sat down and planned. Even though his sons plan was good, there were still some alterations that had to be made, seeing that he was not sure how the others were supposed to behave now. Giving one last audible sigh, he realised that he would have to use some of his habits from his spying days on his closest friends and allies. He quickly analysed the potion to see how he was to behave and was, once again, left disgusted by the old man. No person should have to act like that around children, but he would have to, for their benefit. He drew the new persona up like a cloak around him, sweeping from his private rooms down to the Great Hall for breakfast. Luckily, it was Friday and he only had three filled periods today. Unfortunately, two of those were going to be spent with his manipulated son.
He decided to not go to breakfast, he knew the crackpot would tell him off for it, but he could not bring himself to care. As he breezed through the breakfast period in silence, he raised his Occlumency to an unrecommendable rate in order to organise his time properly to get his son back. He thought over his class schedules, seeing that both groups were supposed to be brewing, he could use those lessons as breaks and all the rest of his free time today to work out what was in the devilish brew. Deep into his second slice of toast, he summoned the bottle that had his flushing potion in and begun the procedure to see what he had been dosed with. He already knew about the liquid obliviate and the mechanisation of the second potion, what he needed now was the ingredients. As he dipped a sterilised quill into the regenerating liquid in the used flushing potion bottle, he knew that this would take a while.
About half way through his first period teaching, he heard a little bell sound in the distance, telling him that the ingredients had finished being listed. Seeing that it had taken a full forty minutes, he felt disheartened as it was obviously an intricate potion, however, seeing as there may be several different ingredients, he could use his knowledge of the relationships between them to construct a basic process.
His fourth years were brewing, the Slytherins getting on smugly while the Gryffindors seemed to be floundering, something extremely unusual for this class. He then realised how he was being set up, an unapproachable teacher who favours his own students was what he had sensed from the potion, but this was too extreme. He thought he would be favouring those who were good in his class but, this was causing even more segregation in the school than there had previously been. What in Merlin's name was Dumbledore trying to achieve with this? Wrapping his shock back up, he directed his insults towards the Gryffindors, hating himself while doing it as there were some extremely capable brewers in this class who were being suppressed by the senile old man.
After that near catastrophic class, he let out an audible sigh at how inept some of his greatest students had become. He was dreading the rest of the year with them under the fool's control. He just hoped that the seventh years hadn't been affected to the same extremes as there were many jobs that now called for having a potions NEWT. Potions were essential to the magic world and by removing the next generation of brewers, the old man was welcoming their damnation.
After a momentary brood, he glanced at the list of potions. It was certainly a complex creation but, he knew that he could crack it. How long it would take, however, would be another question entirely. He turned his head and looked towards his clock, he had a little under two hours before he had to be in public. Groaning, he began to discern what ingredients were in the potion. One of the major problems in his list was that the quantity of the ingredients was not listed, he had never been able to make that adaption work accurately, mostly because several ingredients were often added at numerous different stages within the brewing process. He rubbed his forehead with the back of his hand, tied his hair back at the nape of his neck and got to work.
When two hours had passed, he felt more hopeless than he had since his spying days. The old coot had created something that was a league above complex. This would definitely take him a while but, he could not be beaten, his son had been taken. People should know not to mess with family. Putting a status on his notes, and asking his house elf to make duplicates and store them somewhere safe, he put on his mask and walked towards the Great Hall for a mediocre lunch.
On the other side of the castle, Harry was wandering around the castle with Hermione and Ron. They were arguing, again, over something meaningless, again… He felt like he should but in and try to stop the fight but, he knew from his childhood that it was safer to stay away from things like this, especially as he now had friends that Dudley couldn't take away from him. A sudden wave of dizziness swept over him, this had been happening a lot today, it was probably from the… troll? He wasn't sure but, Madame Pomfrey told him that. After he had woken up with a head injury of course, he was quite suspicious of that but, unlike the Dursleys, he had no reason to be suspicious of these people.
Once they finally got to the Great Hall, the arguing had died down, due to Ron's attention being fiercely drawn away from the young witch by the lumps of food in front of him. After a disgusted hiss, his friends parted ways and went to their opposite sides of the table. Harry dillydallied a little, before choosing to sit next to Ron. He picked up meagre portions, and began to eat slowly as he felt someone glaring at him. When he saw that it was the potions teacher who hated him for some obscene reason, he rolled his eyes and looked back to his plate. Eating a little quicker, as Snape seemed to be in a bad mood today, Harry finished his meal at the same time as Ron had finished devouring the table.
They lined up early for Snape's class, an insistence on Hermione's part, one he couldn't fault seeing that he had already been glared at today. He looked at the door in a questioning manner, wondering what could have happened and why the door wasn't open like it usually was this close to class. His curiosity got him to walk a little closer to the door but, the old saying of 'curiosity killed the cat' kept him from opening the door. The small voice in the back of his mind, telling him that 'satisfaction brought it back' was quickly ignored. There would be no coming back from whatever Snape could do to him.
The class had been a nightmare. Snape hadn't snapped at him or Hermione, which was peculiar. But, the teacher kept on staring at the students and asking them questions to rile them up, it was as if he was testing their reactions. Harry hated it. He felt like he was back at the Dursleys. That he was some sort of experiment for the man. He hated that he was glad it wasn't just him getting this treatment, he never wanted to put someone through what he had gone through, but, the idea that someone could understand… He quickly shook that thought out of his head.
Class ended badly. Gryffindor had lost most of the points they had gained and Slytherin were confused at the strange behaviour of their head, fearing his expulsion. They all left the class, weary, and went to their respective common rooms, confused at the hour they just had with the dour man.
Snape sat back in his office, nursing a tumbler of brandy. The hour had been a nightmare for him. It was obvious that whole parts of the students' personalities and abilities were manipulated to be as the old man wanted them. He sipped thoughtfully, aware that he couldn't drink himself into a stupor. He had work to do. Putting the tumbler down on a coaster, he walked into his private laboratory, ready to try and decipher the recipe of the original potion. He could only wish that it was a batch potion, designed to affect everybody.
First thing he did was cancel the status charm on his notes and cross reference them with the copy he had gotten a house elf to put in a safe. They were identical and neither parchment had any spells placed upon them. A good start overall. He breathed out a sigh of relief and got back to finding relationships between the potion ingredients. There were some obvious relationships but the overwhelming quantities led him to believe that this might not be the place to start. With every common relationship he found, there was one that would counter the original affect. He began to tug at the ends of his hair, a nervous tick from his childhood that he thought he had gotten rid of. However, the stress of the situation was too much. He needed his son back.
After an hour of hair pulling and listing possible ingredient pairs, his floo flared to life, baring the image of his closest, yet most impatient friend.
"I got a rather strange letter from my son today."
"He seems to have forgotten himself entirely. At least Narcissa is somewhat pleased. He is becoming the spitting image of her uncle and you know how that turned out."
"I suppose Harry has become the opposite. A mini-James, as it were?"
"The Gryffindor Golden boy?"
"One of Dumbledore's little favourites?"
"For once in your life, Lucius, shut the hell up!"
The blond man looked down at his friend, raising an eyebrow in interest. He seemed to consider his friend for a second before nodding, smiling slightly and claiming a chair at the table.
"Good. Use your anger to sort this out. You don't mess with family."
Severus looked confused for a moment and then nodded. Thanking his friend silently. He considered all that his friend had said and realised that the more time he spent stressing and over-analysing the possible outcomes of his failure, he was more or less letting that future happen. He breathed out and lifted his occulmancy shields higher, considering every single word that was said to him. He paused slightly and looked to his friend.
"Narcissa is… pleased?"
"She is glad that he is supporting blood supremacy more as she believes it will stop him from falling in love with that Hermione girl. We know more than you think about what our son gets up to! She loves our son unconditionally but, she would not be as loving towards his significant other unless they were of a more respectful background."
"I'd definitely prefer if he chose someone from one of the purer lines but, if he chose the Hermione girl, I would support him."
"I seem to have underestimate you slightly."
"I am aware, Severus, but, I know things about our Lord that has made me look at things a little differently."
"That's for me to know and for you to not get killed for knowing."
"Let me guess."
"I will neither confirm or deny anything you say."
"Our Lord is a halfblood."
The slight widening of his eyes, told Severus all he needed to hear. He felt the need to go a step further and present more evidence to the man.
"Tom Marvolo Riddle. Born from a muggle and a near squib, yet one of the most powerful wizards of our time. The other powerful halfblood wizards of our era include Albus Dumbledore, myself and Harry Potter. After all, interbreeding does cause mutations and disabilities as proved by muggle genetic studies…"
"You don't think I checked myself."
"Of course, just thought I'd drive the point home further. I've been waiting for this for a while, after all."
"So, how did you find out?"
"Before he vanished, he left an item in my possession with the initials TMR on it. Naturally, I was curious as to why the object was held in such importance, so I had a peak. There was some heavy spell work on the object that seemed to give off some sort of compulsion… it was most undesirable. Though I admit, I dabbled with the item to know more about it and for everything I told it about myself, it told me something about it."
"That's highly dark magic. Veil worthy. Have you disposed of it?"
"No. Our Lord entrusted it to me so, I shall make a contract with the goblins for housing the item. They do seem to have an area for their more unsavoury clients, for a cost of course. Now, I believe we are here for a different reason."
Severus merely rolled his eyes and continued to list possible relationships, passing them over to Lucius who could see the problem after a few minutes. As many of the effects were balanced and there was such a higher quantity of different ingredients, it would be hard to create a counter potion. The man's brow furrowed a bit as he put the list down. He looked to his friend, now knowing why he was so frustrated with the process.
"I'm guessing you'll be looking into creating triads and groupings next."
"Obviously. Then, it is a matter of comparing the lists to try and discern an order."
"What can I do to help?"
"Pour me a drink. Then go home. This is going to take a long time."
"Let me help. I am quite good at potions, as you know. I can easily help you sort these out. Also, a fresh pair of eyes may do some good."
"Don't you have to go home to Narcissa?"
"It's not just your son affected by this Severus. I will not have my boy return home acting like a pompous idiot. He was raised better than this. The only reason I let him come to this school was because of its reputation and I knew you were here to look over him or bring me to him."
"Now, if you've done with your depressed solo act, move over and let us begin."