Title - To Consort With the Devil 12/14

Rating - PG-13/T

Disclaimer - I own none of this, it all belongs to Rowling

Spoilers - None I can think of, AU from OotP

Warnings - Implied violence, tattooing against someone's will and dehumanization

Summary - In the Ministry

A/N - To everyone who has followed this story I am actually hoping to finish it soon. To be honest I lost interest in Harry Potter fandom a long time ago and have moved on to other fandoms and more mature writings. Attention to specific canon details and continuity may be missing or rushed, however I feel it's only fair that I conclude this and maybe edit my other HP fics to provide closure. Thank you for reading!

To Consort With the Devil

Chapter 12

The hallways of the Ministry of Magic were empty as Dumbledore calmly, but determinedly, strode along them. If there had been anyone to note his journey they might have speculated he was late to a meeting with the Minister or summoned to an emergency meeting of the Wizengamot. They even might have tried to stop him for a nice hello or conversation about the goings on at Hogwarts. Had anyone actually been in the Ministry at that particular early hour of the morning they would have seen the angry fire burning in the normally friendly blue eyes and hastily turned in the other direction.

Good fortune had smiled upon the Ministry however as no one had arrived for work yet so no one could have remarked how furious Dumbledore seemed as he entered the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures and focused his considerable attention to the hapless officer behind the welcome desk. Said wizard jerked upright at his entrance, feet falling to the floor from where they had been propped on the desk, the look of boredom on his face changing to one of surprise.

"Ah good morning my friend, so sorry to barge in here at the early hour but I'm here on urgent business on behalf of a dear friend that was brought in this evening. I must speak with whoever is in charge." said Dumbledore with what he hoped was a friendly smile.

The junior wizard's mouth dropped open and he hastily tried to make himself and his desk seem presentable. Papers were swept into drawers and robes tugged into place as Dumbledore stood there, trying not to let his anger turn murderous.

"Well begging your pardon Headmaster Dumbledore sir, Mr. Smythe won't be in for a few more hours yet and I'm not authorized to floo him unless it's an emergency."

"And what constitutes an emergency in Mr. Smythe's book? I dare say the friend I am here for was brought here against his will and under misleading circumstances. You would know him as the vampire brought in from Hogwarts earlier. I'm sure I can clear this unfortunate apprehension up with Mr. Smythe before breakfast." Dumbledore paused and kept his smile genial, but leaned forward and made sure the young officer knew there would be no more delays. "Now why don't you go floo Mr. Smythe and I'll wait right here for his arrival. There's a good lad."

The Ministry wizard opened his mouth as if to reply but at Dumbledore's frosty look snapped it shut, left his desk and went to summon his superior.

Dumbledore waited a moment to be sure the young man had left the office then stepped around to the other side of the desk and began sifting through the papers looking for Snape's name or face. Sure enough the second page down was a typical departmental form, Intake and Receiving of Dangerous Level 4 Creatures, and at the top was a photo of Snape's unconscious face. He quickly scanned the form noting that Snape had been stunned when he had been brought into the Ministry, processed and left to awaken in a mandatory holding cell. His stomach dropped when he read that the standard identification and tracking runes had already been tattooed onto Snape's skin and that he was scheduled for further punishment in the morning. With those runes the Ministry would have a way of keeping a metaphorical leash on Snape until the day he was killed. There would be no removing them. Snape could be tracked, summoned and have his entire life subject to Ministry perusal. Like an animal.

It was the very fate Dumbledore had been fighting to keep Snape from and it would seem he had failed.

Fortunately for Snape however, Dumbledore was not without his resources and back-up plans and when Mr. Smythe arrived with the junior wizard in tow Dumbledore nodded politely, shook his hand and said,

"Mr. Smythe I presume? Lovely, wonderful to meet you despite the early hour and I do apologize for such an early wake up call but our business is quite urgent."

"Yes Gregory here explained to me the nature of your visit. Let's see what we're dealing with." Smythe replied as Gregory handed him the same papers Dumbledore was peeking at earlier. He flipped through it quickly and said, "Well it appears to be a standard capture and processing of an unmarked vampire. It was brought in per protocol and as it had no Ministry identification we processed it and gave it the normal tracking runes. I see no problem here Headmaster."

Dumbledore listened to this with gritted teeth. This was a living being, a wizard they were talking about here, not some unintelligent pet dog or houseplant! How dare they talk about Snape as if his existence came down to fangs and internal parts and not the wealth of his experiences and knowledge as a wizard.

"Unfortunately I see a big problem. The vampire you have in custody is my friend and former colleague, Severus Snape. He has been a professor at Hogwarts for many years and was recently rescued from wizards who changed him against his will and then tortured him. The Ministry would have eventually been informed of this change and proper paperwork filled out when Mr. Snape was fully healed from his trauma and able to present himself to you properly. I'm afraid I must ask you to stop all further actions regarding Mr. Snape and release him to me immediately."

"I'm afraid I can't do that just yet Headmaster but if - "

"Mr. Smythe, I must insist that we proceed down to wherever you are holding my friend and begin his release. Gregory can start filling out the necessary paperwork. Are we clear on this?" There was a moment of silence where everyone was glaring at each other and Dumbledore was sure Smythe was going to keep on arguing and delaying the inevitable. So he gave a hard little smile and continued, "Of course I wouldn't expect you to be aware of the Decree of 1910 passed by this very Department and Ministry that states that a Level 3 or 4 Dangerous Creature who has obtained the sponsorship of an extraordinary witch or wizard may be exempt from all Ministry harassment. I am willing to be Mr. Snape's sponsor and take responsibility for his future. If you don't believe me we can always ask the Minister, but I think he'd be less pleased at an early wake up call than you were Mr. Smythe."

Smythe's eyes widened and he cleared his throat nervously, gesturing towards a door behind the desk.

"No need for any of that now Headmaster Dumbledore. If you'll follow me I can take you to our holding cells while Gregory finds the release and sponsorship forms."

A moment later and they were walking down a quiet and empty corridor where they stopped in front of a door marked with the number 10 and a sign that read 'Warning! Vampire inside! Handle with Caution!'. Smythe waved his wand and the door opened, revealing the darkened cell interior.

"Thank you, I can handle him from here if you would like to wait back in your office." said Dumbledore as he waved his own wand to bring a little light upon his friend. Smythe mumbled his excuses and quickly left. Dumbledore held his wand a little higher and stepped inside the small cell. It was completely barren save a small shelf along one wall that served as a bed. On this shelf Snape was curled with his back to the door and his long hair covering his face. His robes were torn around the back of his neck and even in the meager light from his wand Dumbledore could make out a few of the tracking runes tattooed in black on the back of Snape's neck.

"Severus? It's Albus. I've come to bring you home, back to Hogwarts."

There was no answer from Snape but the lithe body began to uncurl, trying to sit up and face him. Dumbledore conjured a steady ball of light to see by and tucked his wand away. He moved forward to help his friend and almost recoiled once he saw the damage Snape was trying to hide. One of Snape's eyes was swollen shut and a trail of blood dripped down his temple from a hidden head wound. Now that he was sitting up Dumbledore could see the runes tattooed along Snape's collarbones and at the base of this throat. These runes were surrounded by bruises, some finger shaped, as if he had been roughly held down while the runes were conjured. Dumbledore had no doubt there were more bruises hidden under Snape's robes, given by those who would have no problem hurting one who they considered less than them. But all these wounds paled when compared to the thick, black leather muzzle currently holding Snape's mouth closed.

"Oh Severus." Dumbledore whispered and bent to remove the vile contraption meant to keep a vampire from biting. Snape recoiled sharply against the wall and breathed hard through his nose. His visible eye was glowing with rage above the muzzle. Dumbledore stopped in his removing of it to look over his face and wonder if Snape was sane or if the night had broken him again. "Severus will you be alright if I remove this? Can you calm down a bit?"

Snape inhaled deeply and nodded once, his hands tightly gripping his knees as he looked down. The Headmaster bent again to his task, using a bit of wandless magic to pop the lock at the back of the muzzle and then gently remove it from Snape's face. There was dried blood at the corner of the vampire's mouth where his fangs had cut through the leather to bit his own lip. Snape spat fresh blood on the floor of the cell and concentrated on breathing. While Dumbledore used his wand to repair Snape's torn robes and heal his minor wounds, Snape focused on not going into a murderous rampage against those who had imprisoned him and marveling that yet again that the Headmaster had come to his aid.

"Thank you Headmaster." came Snape's gravelly whisper, "I'm sorry to have involved you in this."

"Nonsense my boy, it is I who should be apologizing. I'm sorry I let this happen, to cause you more pain."

"Do you know what they did to me Albus? Treated me like an animal, branded these damned runes on me! I can't escape them now."

"Don't worry about that now Severus. What's done is done. I've spoken with the Department head and explained to him our situation. You'll be coming home with me; no further problems with the Ministry, I promise."

Snape looked curious for more but Dumbledore knew less time spent in this cell, in the Ministry, the better. He helped Snape get to his feet and together they made their way to the outer office where Smythe and Gregory were waiting. Both wizards looked warily at Snape, as if they weren't sure he should be out of the muzzle, and refused to engage with him.

"Your forms are here Headmaster, if you could just take a moment and complete them you may be on your way." Smythe explained and handed over a stack of paper. "I trust that your word on the whereabouts and activities of Mr. Snape here will be sufficient and that a collar or weekly check-ins will not be necessary."

"You have my word and assurances Mr. Smythe. I'm sure your runes will provide you with all the other information you may need. If they work within the walls and magic of Hogwarts of course." replied Dumbledore as he scratched his quill across the forms. Snape had to smile at the look of uncertainty on Smythe's face. Paperwork complete, Dumbledore used his wand to make copies and tuck them into a pocket. "Gentlemen thank you for your time and expeditiousness in this matter. I hope our paths do not cross again. Come along Severus."

Their first visit upon returning to Hogwarts was to the Infirmary where Pomfrey expertly tended to Snape's remaining wounds. When they were safely secured back in the Headmaster's tower Snape all but collapsed into bed and regarded Dumbledore curiously.

"How did you get them to let me go so quickly? I don't remember much about last night but I do remember them telling me all about those runes and what they were for when they were giving them to me."

"Oh you know me, I'm always prepared for anything. One mention of an obscure law I was confident they were not aware of and could play into our favor combined with the dropping of certain names and my job was done. With my sponsorship you will be free of Ministry harassment and be able to live your life as you wish." Dumbledore replied.

"And how did you come across this obscure law?" asked Snape. Sleep was beckoning but he wanted to know everything. The Headmaster smiled serenely and settled himself in a chair next to the bed.

"I knew about it because I helped write and pass it, all those years ago."

Snape chuckled quietly and let a healing sleep claim him, secure in the knowledge that his friend and mentor would be there to watch over him.

TBC

Next Chapter - Fates are decided and things draw to a conclusion.