Harry Potter and the Puppetmaster of Hogwarts, Chapter 1

AN: For those of you who follow The Greatest Weapon, yes, this was originally part of it. I decided this was much too different in theme, and I also wanted Harry to have to contend with Umbridge, so with input from all my wonderful reviewers, I've decided to make this into a story in its own right. Thanks for understanding!

To be fair, Harry never actually meant to eavesdrop. He'd been on his way to the dungeons when he'd seen Mrs. Norris, the caretaker's mangy cat, wandering the hallways and had pulled his rumpled invisibility cloak out of a jacket pocket for extra help in avoiding Filch himself, if he were following. It would prove to be very fortunate indeed that he had done so.

By the time he'd gotten to the potions classroom, he'd almost wished that he had just gone straight to back to the common room to play chess with Ron; it was chilly in the dungeons, and there's only so long you can walk around under a long, slippery, easy to trip on cloak without feeling just plain awkward. It wasn't like he really needed his potions textbook at this particular time...

Harry drew up short at the door of the classroom, still under the cloak. He could hear Snape's silky baritone, and he had to admit he was curious. Plus, Snape would kill him if he barged into his classroom when he was in the middle of having a conversation. Harry could just wait a few minutes, until he was finished, and then get his book.

"I would like to hand in my resignation," Snape was saying coolly. What? Harry couldn't help drawing closer to the door. It was the dream of nearly all the Gryffindors, Hufflepuffs, and even Ravenclaws to hear Snape say those words, and Harry just had to see the epic moment. What followed changed his world. Forever.

"And what would you do then? I hardly think that anyone else would be open-minded enough to hire you, with your past," the Headmaster replied.

"I'm sure I'll think of something," Snape replied. "I've always wanted to open an apothecary in Italy, or some such place."

"And leave your obligations behind? I need you. Where will I find another potions master with this short of a notice?"

"Get Slughorn out of retirement. I'm sure he'll listen to you."

"I'm afraid that simply won't do. Besides, I need you to continue your other duties. Harry has to learn occlumency, and Horace simply can't teach him. Have you forgotten your oath?"

What on earth is occlumency? Harry thought, wondering if Hermione would know. And what oath? He inched closer to the door.

"I see." Snape's voice was gelid. "You simply don't want your spy to slip the leash."

"My dear boy, surely you want Lily's child to be protected..."

"Leave Lily out of this! You and I both know that this has nothing to do with Lily or Potter or anything else for that matter! It's nothing but power play!"

"What do you mean?"

"If you actually cared about Potter you would do something about it," Snape snapped. "Such as tell him why, exactly, the Dark Lord is out for his blood, or teach him instead of making him jump through your petty hoops and work through your obstacle courses and mind games every year. Or perhaps you might quit sending him back to his pathetic relatives every year."

"I told you about the blood wards. Lily would want him to be protected-"

"Lily would want that bitch Petunia in prison, and her husband with her!"

Harry was so shocked that he almost missed Snape's next words. How on earth did Snape know about Aunt Petunia?

"What good is protection from Death Eaters if his family is a threat?" Snape was saying when Harry tuned back in. "Not to mention that the Dark Lord could just waltz right through those pathetic things you call wards. And then, no doubt, the ministry would scramble aurors there to arrest Potter for underage magic!"

"Lily's protection-"

"-Only worked when Potter was not connected to the Dark Lord via a Dark ritual. They are technically, magically, blood brothers."

"That is not how it works."

"Oh? Than do enlighten me. It's not as if a have a mastery in Defense Against the Dark Arts or anything..."

"Enough. You will do what I say and keep your head down. If you report anything to the aurors, I will bring charges against you. You will continue to spy, and you will start Harry's occlumency lessons. And you will not question me."

Harry nearly forgot to breathe at that. What was Dumbledore saying!

"Fine! Bring up my case in court! I can answer truthfully under veritaserum that I have not raped or tortured anyone, and that I regret joining the Dark Lord. If I'm executed, so be it. I'm tired. Tired of spying, tired of the crucitus, tired of little dunderheads blowing up cauldrons, tired of teach Potter this and watch Potter that and being unable to actually help the bloody boy! I'm tired of coming back from a meeting shaking with the crucitus and being offered a few platitudes and a lemon drop. I've had ENOUGH, Headmaster!"

Harry didn't like the gleam in Dumbledore's eye. The man was silent for a long moment. Then he straightened. "Very well, Severus. If that's what you think. You are free to go."

"Headmaster? Are you sure?"

"Yes. I am immensely disappointed in you..."

Snape turned to lift his cloak off the back of his chair, and in an instant, Dumbledore had drawn his wand. Snape seemed to sense something was wrong, as he turned around, fumbling for his own ebony wand. "Headmaster?"

"Crucio. Culpa exacerba. Vinculas."

The Potion Master collapsed in a heap, shaking, his dark eyes glazed with betrayal and horror.

Dumbledore stared down at him for a moment. "I'm sorry to do this, my boy." And then he raised his wand again. "Parea. Obliviate."

Snape's eyes misted over as the memory charm took effect. Before it could fully wear off, Dumbledore went on. "Imperio. You will forget everything that just occurred. You will let the aurors take you away, and you will plead guilty to whatever you are charged with if you are given a trial. You will not allow the use of veritaserum. When I decide to let you out, you will be grateful. You will return to spying, and you will teach the children without complaint. You will continue to hate and browbeat Harry; you will not reveal either the prophecy or the horcruxes to him. You will trust me and be loyal to me alone."

"Yes Headmaster," the Potion Master murmered dazedly.

"Good. Stupify."

Snape's head lolled back senseless.

Dumbledore stepped back. "Expecto Patronum Littera!" Silver gas swelled from the tip of his wand like a bubble, slowly warping into the shape of a phœnix. "Amelia Bones, I'm afraid I have a problem. One of my staff attacked me- could you come right over?"

The phœnix flew out of sight, and, after casting a quick 'incarcerus' on Snape, and several blasting curses and burning curses that pocked the floor and walls, bursting a few bottles and making the room into a veritable battleground, Dumbledore followed it. Harry, horrified by what he had just witnessed, barely had time to move aside before Dumbledore walked right by him, without seeing him, as he had hastily jumped into an alcove.

As soon as Dumbledore was gone, Harry crept back. Snape or not, he was not going to leave anyone there in that condition. More than that, he wanted to know more. What were horcruxes? What was the prophecy? And what, exactly, was Dumbledore holding over Snape. His entire world had turned upside down in the space of half an hour. He thought for a moment. He had no way of breaking those spells, and he didn't know what Snape would do if he woke up (although he doubted it would be helpful, what with how heavily addled he would be right now.) And who would listen to him, against the testimony of one Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore?

At last he knew.


Pop! In an instant, the elf was beside him. "What can Dobby be doing for Master Harry Potter sir?"


The elf instantly quieted.

"Can you pop Professor Snape here to Moaning Myrtle's bathroom and then come back here?"

"Yes Master Harry Potter sir," Dobby replied in a subdued voice, popping Snape away. Then, as quickly, he returned. "Anything else Harry sir?"

"Is there a way to conceal your magical signature to make it look like, say, Yaxley or someone kidnapped the Professor?"

"Yes, Dobby be doing that," Dobby said, still quiet. Dobby snapped his fingers, muttering a few words that were neither English not Latin. "Dobby done, Master Harry Potter sir."

Harry grinned shakily, even through the horror of what had transpired in the room previously. "Thanks Dobby, you're the best. Can you pop me to where Snape is?"

"Yes Harry sir." A flash of white light and a scent of orange dishwashing detergent, and the two of them were standing in the bathroom.

"Can you possibly pop me and Snape down into the Chamber?"

"Dobby not been in Chamber," Dobby replied, twisting his ears. "Dobby has to be someplace to pop there."

"Ok, it's fine Dobby, I can take him from here. Can you get me a bed with clean sheets and shrink it?"

"Dobby can do," said Dobby. "Extra beds in old quarters for wandmaking teachers."

Dobby popped back with a bed the size of a matchbox. "It get big when Harry sir say 'big'." Dobby told him. Harry absently thanked him and, after opening the tunnel and casting a scourgify down it to remove the slime, he slid down into the tunnel leading to the Chamber of Secrets, drawing Snape after him.

In half an hour, Harry had settled Snape in a small room off the main chamber, which, although bare of furniture and decked with moth-eaten Slytherin tapestries, was at least clean and dry, which was better than Harry had hoped for. He'd planned just to set him up in the main chamber, but this room was smaller, less creepy, and had the added benefit of not having a very large dead snake in plain view. Harry couldn't help thinking that the reptile wouldn't exactly make for pleasant dreams.

Harry then finited the binding charm, situating his teacher as comfortably as he could, and then asked Dobby for a sleeping potion. He didn't like to do it, but he couldn't keep an eye on Snape all the time, and what with the spells Dumbledore had cast on him, Harry didn't think the man could take care of himself just yet. And Harry needed an alibi. Soon.

So Dobby then popped him back to the bathroom, where Harry swore a giggling Myrtle to silence, and from there he headed to the library, hoping both to research the spells Dumbledore had used and to have an alibi when Dumbledore came back with the aurors to find Snape missing.

Dobby he sent back to keep an eye on the drowzing Potion Master.