After his initial pride of discovering the means wore off, he started to doubt himself.
What if it was two potions? It seemed more likely. After all, why would he collect the blood samples. Those would key the potion to an individual and the distribution means would counter that effect. But then again, it could be one potion and Dumbledore could house the instructions with the blood, that way the potion would always be keyed. But blood has a life, it would soon become stale… unless he used a blood replenisher on the sample blood to continue to generate more. All he would have to do is convince the potion that the blood was part of a living body and as magic is based on intentions… he surely would have enough will to do that. He was quite a control freak.
As more ideas blossomed forth from Severus' head, he gathered a long scroll of parchment and began to jot down ideas in the form of a spider diagram. He would burn it after, of course. Dumbledore would never be able to find it, and he would never let anyone know that he had used that plebeian method from muggle primary school!
In the space of two hours, he had summarised his diagram into about five ideas. He would discuss them with Lucius… when he became available. Or, he could risk asking Narcissa… that seemed to help last time. This is when he needed his son. Though he was still learning, it was easy to bounce ideas off him as he gave quite imaginative responses, which would usually spark a more logic retort in his own mind.
Looking down at the sheet, he felt the urge to continue but, also knew at the back of his mind that he wouldn't be able to achieve anything more productive today. He read over the scroll thrice times and then succumbed to calling an elf for an evening meal. Looking at his clock, he had passed dinner quite a while ago. He would be called up for that. He didn't care. He knew he should though, as if this was anything but a game of appearances anymore.
An elf brought him a tray of food with a rather haughty expression. It seemed that he wasn't eating enough by their standards. He rolled his eyes and tucked into the food, once again rolling his eyes when the elf disappeared with a smug little nod. It was probably at the rate he was eating it, he would admit that he was quite hungry.
Drinking the tea afterwards, he felt himself begin to relax and fall into a drowsy state. He begun to feel alarmed, due to paranoia from his recent project, but, then relaxed, knowing that this was natural. After all, this was a slow, gentle affect on his mind, rather than the intrusive force that the other potion had been.
Absentmindedly leaving the saucer on the table, he walked to his bedroom, quickly changing before collapsing on top of his bed clothes. Once again, an annoyed elf came to his rescue, popping the covers on top of him after a general cleansing spell. Intrusive little buggers. He muttered a thank you before heading to the land of Morpheus.
Waking up the next morning wasn't pleasant. On one hand it was Sunday and his day was completely empty, however, the emptiness in the dungeons once again hit home for him. It was the same as when Lily and himself had parted ways in fifth year, she was surrounded by people in her house while he was left alone. She deluded and he still living in truth. She dead and himself alive. He would not let history repeat itself. Harry would survive.
He trudged down to breakfast, preparing a cover story about not wanting to see dunderheaded students yesterday before sitting down at the table, close to Minerva. Her expression looked incredibly pinched today. Her expression frequently changed between confused and blank, an unusual combination for the Scottish witch. He hoped she was somehow fighting the potion, but he wasn't sure how she could be.
"Ah, Professor McGonagall, how has young Harry been fairing in your house as of late?"
Usually she would not allow this talk in the Great Hall, due to the presence of the students, but after a moment of consideration, she answered him. He felt disheartened at her answering before attaching himself onto the fact that she had lingered. He was not the only one that noticed, Dumbledore had frowned momentarily.
This he could use.
"I don't know why you would need to ask, Headmaster, the boy thrives on his popularity and flaunts it to his house, letting them boost his immeasurable ego as the lions are only happy to."
He was keeping McGonagall in his peripheral as he spoke. The confused expression came upon her face before becoming dazed over again. He smirked as he turned to the elder witch.
"Confused, Minerva, we wouldn't want your mind to become addled this suddenly in your older age."
The outraged look on her face was betrayed by the understanding in her eyes. Of course, anyone with the will to complete the Animagus transformation would have the will to battle a potion. However, her will could always be helped along by a cleanser, or maybe a touch of Legimancy.
To his surprise, Filius suggested just as much. He was not sure of the half-goblin's intentions but, his expression showed that he knew something was up.
It looked like there were soon to be more players in this game.
Filius' heritage would also aid his resistance to potions. To ignore that the concentration on the potion must be higher was an ignorant mistake. One Dumbledore seemed to be making. He smirked at the witch, riling her up to agree, which she did.
However, Dumbledore seemed too pleased with this turn of events. Was he welcoming a challenge, he shouldn't know was there, or was he truly amused by the confusion in his heads of houses. He brushed his gaze over the hall, falling on Palmona. What had he changed in her? It didn't seem to be a lot. She met his eyes and gave a slight nod. She seemed unsure but willing to try something. Had the old coot looked over her as well, or had she also been using a protective force to aid her that day.
This could be interesting. If he and the other heads of houses could get together, they could appeal to Hogwarts to help them thwart the headmaster. Call it a mutiny, if you must. It was ancient magic woven in by the founders to democratically remove the control the headmaster had, if all four found him to be undeserving of the power of Hogwarts.
Letting a low rumble sound in his throat, he quickly finished his morning brew and swept back to the dungeons, levelling a disdainful glare across the hall. To create further commotion in his wake, he called back a taunt to Minerva over his shoulder, just before the doors shut. It would be just the thing the Slytherins would now be looking for to report back to their parents.
"I'll happily check over your mental facilities, Professor McGonagall. I'll owl you a time and date."
With his robes billowing behind him, he planned to do just that. He would owl her when she had the first year Slytherins and Gryffindors, this way both his god children could report his appalling behaviour to someone… He must clean his rooms up, he had a feeling that Narcissa would be visiting again. She was rather fond of the no nonsense teaching of McGonagall, though she would never let her old teacher know that, of course. One must not freely give compliments, unless it works in their favour. That is not the Slytherin way.
His Sunday was rather unproductive. Due to the massive information influx yesterday, today he had to refine his ideas and sort out methods to test. Suffice to say, it took a while. As he lay out what he needed to do, he saw that this theorising would take a fortnight at least. A fortnight well spent, he thought.
Harry knew it couldn't be Snape. He didn't know how he knew this, it just couldn't. However, the other two had had the idea planted firmly in their minds. With Ron, the distrust of the man was to be expected but, Hermione's unwavering belief that it was the man, got him to go along with their plans.
It had been a few days since that Halloween where they had knocked out a troll. If he were honest, he didn't remember it that much, nor did he have the amount of injuries that he expected. Was this the true power of magic? As he thought along this path, he barely noticed that his friends were dragging him to Hagrid's house.
Once they arrived, the rather large man let them in, beaming the whole time. He was always happy to have guests. It saddened Harry that more people didn't visit him because he was genuinely nice. Then again, anyone who put a pig's tail on Dudley AND brought him a cake would always be a great guy to him. He smiled up at the larger man, patting Fang on his way past towards the inedible scones.
The whole meeting was used to try and squeeze information out of Hagrid. Harry didn't like this. He didn't want the poor bloke to get in anymore troub-
Anymore? Harry stopped in his tracks. What did he mean by anymore? He had only known the bloke for three months. Was it just a slip of the mind? No. His instincts had never failed him before and his mental commentary was based off of his memories… What was going on?
As he grew more panicked, a low alarm started to go off in Dumbledore's office. The headmaster chuckled as he gently readjusted Harry's thoughts. Convincing him that it was the slip he had first thought it to be. After all, people should follow their primary instincts.
The old man felt the bond calm. He couldn't let this pawn go, it was much to precious. After all, he was the prophecy child, destined to bring the downfall of a dark lord. He would just make sure which one it was.