A/N: Happy Birthday, Severus!
Beta Love: The Dragon and the Rose, Dutchgirl01, and Flyby Commander Shepard
Kiss of the Basilisk
Chapter 6: Between the Stacks
I am not afraid of storms, for I'm learning how to sail my ship.
Louisa May Alcott
"Hrm?" Cadmus raised his head from his mountain of scrolls— all correspondence from far and wide asking for consulting on envenomated maladies.
Severus and Hermione looked at him with nervous looks.
Cadmus frowned. "Did I forget something?"
"You promised a day off," Sithiss hissed, sticking her nose into the sanctuary window. "That hardly looks like enjoyment."
Cadmus startled. "Oh, I'm so sorry." He stood up, looking flustered. "I only meant to check on a few things and saw— well, it doesn't matter. Haruni will have my head if I forced you to stay inside on a lazy day, eh?"
Hermione and Severus looked more hopeful.
Cadmus took a scroll and shrunk it down, tying it to a small owl's leg. "Here you go, Pepper," he said. "Let me put the heat protection charm on your leg too. We don't want you passing out over the desert."
The little owl hooted appreciatively, waiting for the charm, and then took off.
"I'm glad she only has to get out of the desert and deliver to the city. It would be a bit much to ask her to fly all the way back to England."
"Is there a relay?" Severus asked.
Cadmus nodded. "Most people don't think about what happens when they send owls, but for long distance, they fly to owl post hubs where they can rest in between, or the mail gets helped along the way with Apparition or owl-floos. You should see the owl-Apparitioners. They are covered in side-along owls. They look like trees covered in birds. It's quite amusing."
Hermione grinned at the mental image. "Kind of like Daemon at the water hole."
"Hah! Quite." Cadmus took their arms. "Okay, I'm going to Apparate us because you two need to get used to the sensation. Once you're no longer nauseous, we will work on the lessons on how to do it, okay?"
"Hold tight to my arm. Ready?"
They were gone.
Diagon Alley, as usual, was bustling with activity. Cadmus chuckled as the pair went from store to store deciding on what interested them the most enough to buy. Severus, he noted, was still a bit discombobulated about the idea having money to buy what he would really like instead of settling for something lesser— apparently his memories back when he was rightfully younger were not very good memories. Hermione, on the other hand, was always looking for things for other people rather than herself, and Severus had to remind her that it was okay to get things for herself too.
Cadmus, of course, had to remind them both that as their master, he often provided for them as well and not to feel guilty that he could and would pay for their things. He'd been alive a very long time, and he'd had many centuries to practice investing in accounts all over the world. He had more than enough to purchase the potion ingredients, supplies, and more, but while he could share it with his apprentices, he couldn't always make investments into places like Haruni's sanctuary without being under the cover of multiple investors. His wealth was kept well under the radar, much like his true age— or his true species for that matter.
His apprentices were well on their way to being quite well off before even "growing up" all by their own work, which he found amusing. Hermione had a side-business of "bringing rain" to drought-stricken areas after her little stunt at Haruni's sanctuary. It had only taken her bringing rain to the water-hungry drought-lands in a a few key magical agricultural areas for word to quickly spread about "Thunderbird Hydromancy".
True to Hermione's nature, she would often detour to areas that were in desperate need of rain to bring relief without any expectation of being paid for it. Taking money for the agricultural businesses and people who wanted rain for whatever reason was one thing, but Hermione was a compassionate soul that cared for the well-beings of just about everyone—
As long as she didn't have to be in the spotlight too much.
Social appearances where people would be looking at her always had her clinging to Cadmus or Severus with nervous trepidation. Even with her circlet to hide her eyes, she could feel their gazes upon her, and she did not like it one bit.
Severus, of course, had a well-practiced scowl— even so young he was perfection in the fine art of intimidation, at least when it came to scaring people off Hermione.
The bond between them had only grown stronger, and Cadmus was glad of it. Young serpents should never be left alone during the adventure that was childhood. Perhaps, he thought, it was a gift to Severus too. He highly doubted that he'd had a fulfilling childhood the first time around.
Cadmus paid for their ice cream, nodding respectfully to Mr Fortescue. The man recognised Hermione, and she showed a rare moment of trust in the older wizard, allowing him to touch her hand without flinching as he passed the ice cream cones to her.
She thanked him shyly and handed the largest one to him before giving one to Severus.
The pair grinned at each other, licking the ice cream before the enchanted bits could escape into the confection. They held out the ice cream to Tosa and Tika and let the serpents test the sugar with their tongues. The vipers got ice cream all over their snouts and spent considerable time licking it off.
Severus gave Hermione a genuine smile as they licked their cones together and talked about the applications of neutralised venom as a delivery system for potions that normally took weeks of application for efficacy.
Listening to the two of them— you'd never know they were thirteen or fourteen. They were brilliant, and together they were a prodigious supermind joined together like a top think tank. Cadmus couldn't help but be proud of them. He had no doubt they would excel in healing— and neither of them would be restricted to "just potions" or "only healing."
Daemon yawned with a whine, having polished off the meaty bone he had been chewing on. Between all three heads, there wasn't a scrap of meat left on it, and his teeth had worn down the bone into large grooves. He let the bone drop with a loud thump as his tail wagged to get Hermione's attention.
Hermione hugged the cerberus, wrapping her arms around the middle head as the other two pegged her face with fond slurps. She reached around the collar and traced a rune on it, and Daemon shrank down to a more door-friendly size.
Browl, he ruffed, and tail wagged happily.
"Shall we get a roll of parchment and order some bandaging cloth for the sanctuary?"
"This is your day, Hermione. Let's go check out the bookstore."
Hermione tilted her head. "Oh, right. Okay."
"Coming, Master?" Hermione asked.
Browl! Daemon said.
"Of course," Cadmus answered, finishing off his cone. He stood, his robes fluttering like a long mane of feathers.
The bookstore owner seemed a little leery of the cerberus in the bookstore, but when Hermione had him sit near the main store front window the poor witch relaxed a little.
Hermione looked around nervously, parting from Daemon as she relied on his vision to guide her around the store.
"I'll be over in the alchemy aisle," Severus said, gently touching her arm with his fingers.
"Okay," Hermione said, swallowing hard.
"Did you want me to stay with you?"
Hermione shook her head. "I can do it."
Severus extended his hand to her, his brows furrowing. "You are sure?"
Hermione took his hands and smiled at him, putting on a brave face. "I can do it."
He nodded, squeezing her hands with a gentle reassurance before heading off to another section.
"I'm here," the viper around her neck chimed. "Don't forget Tosa!"
Severus nodded, rubbing under Tosa' chin. "I do not."
He turned and disappeared down one of the aisles.
Hermione felt her way down the aisle, seeing the label on the aisle thanks to Daemon. Being able to see magic and energy did little for reading.
"I could help!" Tosa said. "I can see in the light very well."
Hermione touched Tosa's head. "You're okay with that? I mean— I don't want to use you."
"Don't be silly. I want to help. You share your food with me and my mate. You keep us from being stepped on. You share your water. What better to share what you have given by helping you see?" The viper seemed adamant, and Hermione touched his scales with a soft caress. "Thank you."
With Tosa's help, the books became clear again, almost more so than when she had been wholly human. Colours more more vibrant, sharp. She could almost taste them. She looked around the shop with wonder, her fingers touching the embossed leather bindings with joy. To see in the daylight without pain? What a wondrous thing.
She went row by row, taking in all the titles. Some she picked up, marvelling at the "taste" of them. She allowed Tosa to reach out and tongue-flick the books as she looked at them, smiling as the serpent gave the writing odd looks, as if he expected something better than just parchment and ink.
She might have been looking for hours, and sometimes Cadmus would come to check on her, but mostly he found a book and propped himself up by Daemon to read, allowing his apprentices to have as much fun as they could— buried in books.
"Sssseverusss," a voice wheezed. "It seems you got in the way of my little gift to the blind whelp."
Hermione covered her mouth, stifling a gasp.
There was a thud, then a choking noise.
Daemon! Help him! Please!
The three-headed dog immediately spun around, stood, and ploughed down the aisle.
"What the hell is this? A snake dares to bite me!"
"No one strangles my friend!" a small voice cried, the female viper's mouth wide open to bare her bloody fangs.
Cadmus was now running forward, casting spells to move the shelves over even as Daemon snapped up someone between his jaws and shook him violently, like a terrier would a rat.
A body went flying headlong into the front desk, a pile of tattered, third and fourth quality books landing squarely on the attackers face.
Aurors Apparated in shortly after as a long stream of screaming gawkers pointed and lost their minds.
"What is going on here?"
"That man attacked the boy!" the witch from the desk cried. "And the dog shook him and threw him over there!"
"I saw it too!" a young wizard said. "I thought he was just being pushy until— until—" He flailed his arms around as if that explained everything.
"Severus are you okay?" Hermione cried, placing her hands on his chest as her friend made desperate choking sounds.
Cadmus was beside her instantly. "Child, put your hands here. Take your wand. Hold it like this. Good. Press the tip to his throat here. Now repeat after me."
Her wand flashed and a golden glow came from Snape's throat. He stopped choking and his hands, which had been desperately clasping his throat, released.
He looked at Hermione and Cadmus with pure gratitude as the panic left his eyes.
Cadmus cast a few other spells as Hermione tried to undo her work by hugging the life out of Severus.
"I was so scared!"
Severus put a comforting hand on hers. "I'm okay."
Hermione just hugged him tighter.
"Come, let him up," Cadmus said. "We must report to the Aurors."
He held out his hand for Severus and Hermione both, and they took their places at his side.
The attacker's body was sprawled under a pile of books with just his head and legs showing. His teeth were chattering as if he had a fever, and sweat was rolling down his face.
His head, which had sported a turban, was unwrapped—
Exposing a second face on the back of the man's head.
Both faces were spewing a chain of verbal confessions from "I'm wearing the Dark Lord" to "I'll escape. I am Tom Riddle, the great Dark Lord Voldemort! Rookwood will get me out!" all between chattering teeth and excessive sweating.
Cadmus ran his wand over the man. "Aurors, he has the desert fever. If you wish to interrogate him or trace any magic, you must do it fast or move him to the desert to keep him from being drained completely of all magic."
"Carl, take this man to the medical holding cell."
Cadmus frowned. "Did you not hear me?"
"Protocol, sir. He must be put in holding."
"Is your holding cell located in the desert?"
Cadmus' expression darkened.
Daemon growled, all three heads dripping copious saliva.
"Dangerous beast!" the young Auror in the group cried, pointing his wand at Daemon.
"Stay your wand," Cadmus ordered sharply. "That is my apprentice's familiar and a registered protected cerebus under Grecian law. If you release your magic upon him, I will have every right to allow him to eat you."
The young Auror looked conflicted, his wand shaking. "There is no collar!"
"The collar is behind the middle head."
Daemon growled lowly.
Hermione rushed up to hug Daemon. "Don't hurt him!"
"Don't go near that beast!" the Auror cried, firing a spell that sent Hermione tumbling backwards—
Multiple things happened at once as total chaos descended.
Daemon's three heads whipped around to focus on the Auror that had hurt his beloved mistress, lips pulling back from yellowed teeth.
Cadmus rose up to his full height, hastily throwing a shield around Hermione to protect her and cushion her fall. Severus caught her before she did, his black eyes fierce and lit with an eerie green glow.
His hair was standing on end as his magic was fueled by protective fury. His fists clenched as his jaw set. Feathers seemed to sprout out of his h air like a mane as a storm began to brew outside. Wind howled as it tore through the alley, and rain pelted down in a wall of water.
The lighting struck, blinding everyone in the store and in the alley with its sheer intensity.
As the whiteness faded, Cadmus had two young thunderbirds embraced in his arms. "Peace be upon you," he whispered into their ears, the two irritated storm-birds crackling with energy between their feathers.
Slowly, the darker thunderbird nuzzled the lighter one, making a soft warble. The lighter one tucked her head under his, chirping softly.
The rain turned to a softer drizzle as a CRACK of Apparition sounded of and one seething Alastor Moody stepped into the store. "What the bloody hell is going on here?"
Daemon perked, distracted at the Auror's entry. He wagged his tail and bounded over, bowling him over.
"Oof! Yes, yes, Daemon. It's nice to see you too. Sit down over there please. You're huge."
The great dog sat—
On top of the Auror that had so rudely attacked his mistress.
Alastor looked at his squished Auror, the two-faced man on the floor, the Master-healer with an armful of thunderbirds, and the two other Aurors that were trying really hard not to look as stupid as their fellow—
"First, who the hell is that?" he asked, pointing to the two-faced man. "That looks like Quirrell got mashed together with some old guy."
"I'm Tom Fucking Riddle, you stupid one-eyed Muggle-lover. I murdered your wife to make a Horcrux, but you got there before I could use her soul!" He cackled madly and started detailing every single time he'd succeeded in vivid, gruesome detail. Meanwhile the other face started spewing the secret recipe for his family's lasagna— and the secret location in Albania where he had found the Dark Lord's wandering spirit.
"If you want him to survive any magical scans, he needs to be moved to the desert. He has the Desert Fever," Cadmus said, calmly tolerating the two thunderbirds pecking at his hair and tugging on it.
"Master-healer Chadwick, do I have your permission to create a holding cell at the Desert Sun for the purpose of dealing with— this?" Alastor said.
"Yes," he said. "Haruni will agree."
"Avis, Conners," Moody barked. "Get a stasis on this— person and get the magic-dampening shackles on him just in case. Prepare for transport."
Moody narrowed his eyes as he turned his head toward the unlucky Auror that was being sat on. He turned away, disgusted, storming over to where Cadmus was standing, still cradling two thunderbirds against him. He whipped out a scroll and a quill and started writing in probably the worst shorthand hurry-Auror scrawl anyone had ever seen. He held out an ink pad to the black bird. "Severus, I presume. Put your talon print on the form please."
The black thunderbird pressed one foot into the ink pad with a squish and then pressed it against the parchment.
Severus plucked one from his breast and held it out.
Moody attached it to the scroll with a quick sticking charm. "Congratulations, under witness of stress-induced transformation, you are now hereby officially registered as an Animagus. Do you want a foot bangle or a magical tattoo?"
Severus narrowed his eyes and stuck out his foot.
Moody attached a goblin silver band to his foot, tapping it with his wand. The band grew warm and then disillusioned itself against his foot.
Hermione pecked Moody's wrist, glaring at him.
Moody's expression softened. "Hello to you too, lass," he said, bowing slightly. He scratched under her chin, earning himself a warble and a warm breeze to dry himself off.
Moody turned around. "Would any other idiot like to proclaim anything before I start arresting everyone?"
Everyone shook their heads.
Moody sent a cranky-looking badger Patronus back to the DMLE office to get more hands on deck. "No one is going to believe this."
Cadmus shrugged. "Time to teach my apprentices how to extract pertinent memories into vials. And today was supposed to be a nice, calm, day off."
"Welcome to my life," Moody said, patting Daemon on the flank. "You can let this ignoramus up, Daemon."
Browl. Daemon stood up and "accidentally" stepped on the Auror's groin and then kicked him into a nearby shelf where a copy of Hogwarts: A History bonked him soundly on the head.
The Auror moaned softly.
Cadmus didn't miss the tasty biscuit passing from Moody's hand to Daemon's head number three.
SHOCKER: Hogwarts Professor Harbouring He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named on the Back of His Head!
Some believed that the jinx on the Defence Against Dark Arts professorship was defeated when Professor Quirinius Quirrell survived not only his first year teaching at Hogwarts but well into his second.
The luck ran out for Quirrell when he apparently let his "other head" get the best of him— HWSNBN's head on the back of his own!
The teacher, who had gone on sabbatical to Albania, came back with a nasty problem in the form of an apparent possession by You-Know-Who.
While it is still under investigation as to how he influenced the series of unfortunate events that plagued a few students at Hogwarts, any doubts as to the authenticity came from a chain of verbal confessions resulting from a case of Desert Fever.
Due to an altercation at Flourish and Blotts, it is unsure what caused Mr Quirrell to attack the apprentice of Master-healer Cadmus Chadwick in a bookstore of all places. In the confusion, a young Auror, who had only been on the force for a year, did not recognise a registered familiar and tried use magic to push Apprentice McGonagall out of the way. This triggered an outpouring of defensive ire from the cerberus, protective shields from their master, and enough chaos to result in stress-transforming his two young apprentices into a pair of distressed thunderbirds.
On the bright side, London's three-month drought has now ended.
The Auror who attacked the highly protected Grecian cerberus is facing a hefty fine as well as additional disciplinary action for his reckless behaviour as well as carelessly endangering two young apprentices and a number of other children who were visiting Flourish and Blotts on that particular afternoon.
We will bring you more information as soon as we uncover it, dear readers. Please stay tuned to the Quibbler for the very best in news.
Albus looked out his window as a heavy rain poured down like cascading curtains of grey on the lush Hogwarts' green. His robes were still charred from the last potions class, and his beard was considerably sootier than he preferred— smelling of boiled toad and star anise, the latter of which didn't even belong in the potion he had been trying to teach.
Always before, Severus had taught the class, and the man's complaints about inept students had always seemed like exaggerations to him. Horace could teach potions, after all, so it couldn't be quite that bad.
Apparently, he was wrong.
So very wrong.
No one wanted to come teach potions in the middle of a year, and Horace was still under treatment for a case of Desert Fever— and the small matter of some strange delirium-fueled confessions about brewing illegal recreational potions that were purportedly being sold out of Knockturn Alley.
Master-healer Chadwick now had two apprentices under his wing, so asking him to teach potions seemed a bit far-fetched. Poppy just gave him that "Hell no, Albus" expression that promised the imminent need to use a bedpan for a month for even asking.
That left him.
Technically, he was being paid to do it— and it was in his contract to cover for sick or missing teachers, but—
He'd never imagined that potions could be quite so, well… explosive.
Fawkes was raucously singing London Bridge is Falling Down from his swing and looking far too amused—
Hell, even the gargoyle had given him a wrinkle-nosed look as he went by, as well as some of the portraits of former Hogwarts headmasters.
Phineas Nigellus had even dramatically gagged and held his nose, the ruddy berk.
"You really should take a bath, Headmaster," Phineas complained as he walked by. "You look like hell. I can only imagine that you smell even worse."
"Thank you ever so much, Phineas," Albus said sarcastically.
"Anytime," Black said with a pretentious sniff, stalking out of his portrait frame to go pester someone else.
Albus threw his wand down on the desk and stormed into his private bath, utterly exasperated.
As the sounds of burbling water and the scent of lavender soap wafted in from the Headmaster's chambers, no one noticed the two young thunderbirds sitting on Albus' balcony, their eyes locked on the Headmaster's unattended wand.
Hermione warbled, and her beak and eyes glowed.
The wand flew to her beak and she clutched it tightly.
They launched of the balcony into the raging storm.
Returned to my Father
One of the Three
The next is the stone
Once much closer to thee.
The last is the cloak,
We will find it together.
Wherever it's hidden.
The thunderbirds played together in the rain, locking talons and swinging about in a loop before letting go and flying back up into the storm clouds again. The lightning struck, energizing their feathers, and the rain fell even harder. They played across Black Lake, gleefully chasing each other in the storm.
Minerva stood with Cadmus on the castle's ramparts just under a ledge to keep dry.
"I'm so glad she's having fun out there," she said, smiling.
Cadmus smiled. "They are together. They will find adventure, and happiness will find them."
Poppy joined them, her arm looping around Cadmus' as she leaned into him. "Hullo, love."
Cadmus wrapped his arm around her. "Care to enjoy the rain with us?"
Poppy beamed. "Welcome home, love."
Down below in the courtyard, the young Luna Lovegood was walking in the rain holding an umbrella that looked a lot like a large jellyfish on a leash. She had no shoes to be seen.
A/N: This short chapter brought to you by the letter S and Severus Snape's birthday. Hope you enjoyed it. Thank Dragon and the Rose for staying up late again!