Author's notes: Erm…I know I said I wasn't going to continue the story here, but here you go ;)
Now begins my favourite part of the story, part 2. The other chapters were written before I got Splatt to beta for me, but these chapters were written after, where I had learned to write better and I have hardly needed to change anything in these chapters. You'll also see more character development from now on along with more flowing chapters.
Beta-reader appreciation: Many thanks to the amazing Splatt.
Frozen in Time -Part II
Chapter 7 - Dumbledore's Project
September 1st 1994 The Hogwarts start-of-term feast …
"I wonder where Isolde is," little Professor Flitwick said to Professor Sprout as he looked at the empty chair beside him.
"I'm wondering that myself," Professor Sprout said, also glancing at the chair.
Severus Snape, who was sitting a seat away from Professor Sprout, looked around the staff table. Professor Moody, the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, had just plunged down in his chair and was eating feverishly after his late arrival. His grizzled dark grey hair lay in clumps around his face and his big, round magical eye was glaring at Snape while his normal eye was fixed at the food. Feeling quite uncomfortable under Moody's stare Snape shifted his eyes over to Dumbledore.
Professor Dumbledore had seemed agitated before the feast as he had constantly been looking at the door, checking his watch and pacing the floors. It wasn't in Dumbledore's nature to reveal his worries like this. Snape had heard Professor Flitwick ask Dumbledore where Isolde was, but he hadn't received an answer. Dumbledore was now finishing announcing the Triwizard Tournament to the students, who were listening excitedly and some of them were nose-to-nose, undoubtedly trying to figure out a way to get past the age limit that was set on the submissions to the tournament. Dumbledore had just told them to go to bed when...
BAM. The doors to the Great Hall burst open. Startled, once again everyone turned their heads toward the door. Isolde was standing there in her winter coat, short of breath, trying to take deep breaths with her mouth slightly open. Her dark hair was messy and locks of it were surrounding her face. She stepped inside the hall, glanced at the students and then walked up to the staff table after closing the doors behind her. Dumbledore, who had been walking back to his seat, had stopped and was looking at her with questioning eyes. She nodded, as if to confirm something when she stopped in front of him.
"Is she going to do this every year?" Madam Hooch asked and rested her elbows on the table.
"She certainly knows how to make an entrance," Professor Flitwick said in a low voice while craning his neck to get a better look.
"I must speak with you," Isolde said quietly to Dumbledore, looking steadily into his eyes.
The doors suddenly opened again. Isolde jumped, turned around swiftly and pointed her wand at the newcomer. She stared at him alerted with bared teeth, but lowered her wand slowly when she saw a second year boy trembling with fright in the doorway. The boy fainted and fell on the ground with a loud thump. Still trying to take controlled breaths, she turned to face Dumbledore again.
"Someone is following you?" Dumbledore asked quietly so the students couldn't hear. "Come, let's go to my office. Minerva, would you handle things from here?"
"Yes, Albus," she answered distractedly with her eyes wide open.
"Cockroach Cluster," said Snape as he stood outside Dumbledore's office. After the stone gargoyle came to life and jumped aside, Snape stepped onto the staircase, which moved slowly upwards.
He had waited an hour after Dumbledore and Isolde left the Great Hall before deciding to go and try to find out what was going on.
Before he could knock he heard Dumbledore call through the door, "Come in, Severus."
Snape entered the office and saw Dumbledore sitting behind his desk and Isolde in a chair, reading a scroll. "Headmaster," he said as a greeting.
Isolde seemed to have calmed down after her grand entrance earlier. She remained quiet while shooting him a hard glance.
"Please, sit down," Dumbledore said to him and pointed at the empty chair next to Isolde.
Snape walked up to the desk and sat down, not at all surprised that Dumbledore had known he had been outside the door – he was used to it by now.
"After Christmas last year I told you that I was conducting some research and that I would need your help," said Dumbledore as he picked up some scrolls from the floor and put them on his desk. "Well, the time has come to start working on it."
"I'm afraid I do not understand…" said Snape, looking from the scrolls to Isolde whose expression was quite empty.
"Then I will explain," said Dumbledore and smiled. "These scrolls are written in ancient runes and were thought to be lost forever until recently. I do no know what exactly they say or how they travelled all the way to Siberia. I even do not know their exact history, as it has changed over the centuries into an almost forgotten rumour, but I do know that they describe the ancient and long-lost way of Telepathy," Dumbledore paused and picked up one of the scrolls, "Isolde has been doing a lot of research for me on what happened to the scrolls and discovered over a year ago that they were being guarded in a hidden temple in northern Siberia," he put down the scroll and smiled at Isolde, "She made contact with the guardians just before the beginning of last school year and we have been meeting with them and discussing the possibility of us possessing the scrolls. It was a long process, gaining their trust, but just after Christmas last year, Isolde finally managed to convince them." Dumbledore had finished talking and leaned slightly forward with interest as if waiting for Snape to comment.
"Telepathy?" asked Snape with a raised eyebrow, slightly disgruntled, "As in mind reading?"
"No," said Dumbledore patiently, "As in sending and receiving messages through the mind between two or more people."
"I see," said Snape calmly, "And how can I be of use in this…research?"
"I need you and Isolde to work on the translation," Dumbledore answered lightly, "She is very skilled with runes, but there are many scrolls and it would take too long for one person to translate. I think that you could be of great help since you're a very skilled Occlumens and Legilimens, and…" he paused with twinkling eyes, "…I know that the two of you used to work well together - I'm hoping thatthathasn't changed."
He gathered from the fact that Isolde didn't look at all surprised, that she'd already known that Dumbledore had planned for them to work together. She sat motionless in her seat, looking at the scroll she was holding before looking back at Dumbledore as if waiting for him to continue.
"When do you want the translation completed?" Snape asked coolly.
"As soon as possible," Dumbledore replied putting the tips of his fingers together and leaning back in his chair. "Of course I realize that you are both busy with teaching and I realize that I'm asking you to spend a lot of your personal time on this…"
"That won't be a problem on my behalf," said Snape softly and watched curiously to see if Isolde would react.
"Good," said Dumbledore cheerfully before standing up and gathering all the scrolls which were scattered around the desk. "To answer you question," he said, "it would be nice if the translation could be completed before the end of the school year."
Isolde stood up and started helping him pick up the scrolls. She shot Snape a quick glance, but Snape couldn't quite interpret the feeling behind it.
"Headmaster," Snape started reluctantly, "Does this have anything to do with ProfessorMontagebeing late this evening?"
Dumbledore didn't answer, but glanced encouraging at Isolde who was now putting on her coat. Isolde seemed to realize that he wanted her to answer and simply said, "No," while pulling her hair from under her coat.
Snape exhaled impatiently and made his way towards the door.
"One last thing," Dumbledore said suddenly before Snape and Isolde left, "I prefer to keep this a secret as I do not wish the wrong kind of people knowing about this. I ask that you work in secrecy and I trust that you can find a place?"
Snape caught Isolde's eyes and turned back to Dumbledore, "Yes, we know of a place," he said curtly.
They didn't exchange words as they worked their way down through the castle, but Snape couldn't help glancing at her every once in a while, noticing that she too was occasionally glancing at him. She turned away from him on the fourth floor and headed towards her office.
"Wait!" he said sharply, "When are we going to start?"
Isolde turned around and shrugged, "Soon," she answered shortly before turning on her heel and heading down the corridor.
Well that was rather unnecessary, Snape thought as he started walking down the stairs and through the empty corridors towards his office. He was getting quite weary of her constantly turning cold on him. But then again, he couldn't shake off the knowledge that he deserved it…
He was sitting in Potions class in his sixth year at Hogwarts and was concentrating on his Pepperup Potion when he felt someone watching him. As he looked up he saw a pair of grey eyes staring at him from the front row. It was that annoying Ravenclaw girl again! Ever since the last two weeks of their fifth year she'd been smiling at him and greeting him every time they met in the corridors. What did she think? That he'd saved her out of the kindness of his heart? It had been so worth it seeing the stupid look on Black's face. Vengeance is very sweet.
"All right," Professor Lamdon, Slughorn's temporary replacement, said in his grouchy voice, barely looking up from his book, "Time's up. Leave your cauldrons on the shelves…your potions need to simmer for two days…"
He put away his school things, picked up his bag and hurried out of the classroom thinking about the Fire-Demon report he was supposed to hand in that day. Not paying attention to his surroundings, he was unaware of his least favourite group of people until he reached the top of the stairs; James Potter, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin and Peter Pettigrew, all leaning against the wall, grinning.
"Hey Snivellus," said the overly arrogant Sirius Black in his usual wry voice, "How was old Lamdon this morning?"
"Snape!" he heard someone call and turned around with narrowed eyes.
"Snape," said the Ravenclaw girl, panting, "I'm so glad I caught you, I-"
"Isolde," said Sirius with a stupid smile on his face, "you're not really going to talk to this git are you?"
"Stuff it Sirius!" she said angrily, narrowing her eyes at him, pursing up her lips disapprovingly and turning her head away.
"Aw, that hurts," he said grinning with his hand over his heart.
Ignoring Sirius and his laughing friends she turned to Snape, "I was just thinking," she said in a sweeter voice, curling the end of her long hair, "you're the best in Defence class -"
"BEST?" Sirius shouted with a surprised expression, "James and I could take him on any day!"
"You mean you and James together?" she snapped back with a raised eyebrow only to be answered by Sirius's smug look.
"Anyway," she continued, turning away from Sirius, "I need help with some of the defences and I was wondering if you could help me…you know, teach me…" she said, tilting her head slightly and holding her breath for an answer.
Was she mocking him? She really wanted HIM to help her? Was this a trick set up by Sirius Black?
"No, I will not help you," he answered coldly and turned to walk away.
"No, wait," she called, "Please, I really need help with this…"
He glanced at her over his shoulder. Nice touch with the injured deer look!
"Ask you boyfriend to help you," he sneered, pointed at Sirius and hurried off to avoid further interruptions from that irritating girl.
Without realizing it, he was back in his office, staring at his poetry book on the desk. "Fool," he admonished himself bitterly. It wasn't like him to leave such things lying around in his office – not when there was the risk that Potter boy might break in again…
Snape shuddered. It brought back too many memories of how close he'd come to being found out by Potter's father and his thugs years ago…
He picked the book up and it fell open in his hand, almost as if by its own choice, on a well-used page. Sitting down, Snape read the familiar poem to himself, his lips moving silently over the words.
Though my ears are sore, I embrace your roar.
Despite my fear, you're ever so near.
Ever so graceful, ever so cold.
I hear you seek through gaps and holes.
Your steps are weak, your speed of foals.
Ever so fearful, ever so old.
He softly turned the pages of his book and without realizing it he continued his previous thoughts. This was the second time Isolde had asked him to help her…the first time was after they'd shared the carriage towards the Hogwarts Express. At both times he had thought that she'd approached him out of pity… With a sigh he leaned back in his chair and let his mind wander…
He sat down in the innermost part of the library behind shelves and stacks of books. He had just learned about Swamp Engulfers in Care of Magical Creatures class and wanted to read more about them. They were quite interesting –
He looked up from his book at the whispered sound of his name.
"I really don't get why Snape is so mean to you," he heard Lily Evan's voice say, "It's not like he's got a lot of friends."
He really hated that know-it-all Evans, always trying to prove herself in class by jumping up and down in her seat to answer a question! Slughorn adored her but fortunately Lamdon had more sense… It was really quite intolerable.
"I'm sure he was just uncomfortable having Sirius standing over him like that," Isolde defended him in a low voice, "I'm sure if I ask him again he'll help me…"
"Why do you even want him to help you?" Lily said with disgust, "He called me Mudblood!"
"Oh, after the Defence OWL last term?" asked Isolde, "I'm sure he was just embarrassed…Sirius was lucky I wasn't there!"
"Yeah, well, it's the last time I'll ever stand up for Snape – I only did it because he rescued you…and I felt sorry for him."
He stood up quietly and shifted some books in the shelf until he managed to peek through. He could see the two girls sitting by a desk with their books and quills at hand.
"But what is this fascination with him anyway?" Lily asked, smiling.
"I'm not fascinated," Isolde said while softly running the feather tip of her quill over her cheek, gazing at the chandelier, "I just find him… interesting."
"Interesting?" Lily giggled quietly, "You've been walking on clouds ever since the end of our fifth year – And don't try to deny it!" she said, trying to stifle a laugh.
"Yeah, but it was so brilliant, the way he did it I mean," Isolde said while laying her head on the open book in front of her with a sigh, "He really is something…"
Lily let out a loud laugh, "Oh, you're such a hopeless dreamer!"
"Keep your voices down!" hissed a woman's voice out of nowhere.
"Sorry, Madam Pince," whispered Lily before turning back to Isolde, who had quickly raised her head from the book.
Normally he would have thanked Madam Pince for shutting them up since libraries really weren't the place for talking, but he was curious about what they were saying…
"James asked me out again," Lily whispered," but I told him that I might consider considering it if he'd bury the hatchet with Snape," she started giggling silently again, "which is never going to happen."
"Oh, why don't you just go out with him? He's liked you for ages!" Isolde said and started curling a lock of her hair with her fingers.
"Why don't I?" said Lily and leaned over to Isolde, staring into her eyes with a smile on her face, "Why don't YOU go out with Sirius?"
"Are you mad?" Isolde said, throwing her lock into the air and looking slightly shocked, yet amused, "Become one of his many girls? Besides, you know I don't like the way he treats Severus."
Severus? She was calling him by his first name now?
"Ah, but you just don't want to go out with him because you fancy Snape," Lily said tauntingly.
"I told you, I don't fancy him!" said Isolde tensely before leaning back in her chair and running the end of her quill over her cheek again, "I'm just a little curious about him… you know, what he's like and all that."
Lily rolled her eyes and shook her head.
"DIDN'T I TELL YOU TO KEEP YOUR VOICES DOWN?" Madam Pince screamed. "GET OUT OF THE LIBRARY! OUT!"
The girls hurriedly picked up their bags, quills and books and ran out.
Snape sat back down and stared at his book. Perhaps he could use this to his advantage… Black certainly wouldn't like it…
To be continued in chapter 8 – Attempted Teamwork
I apologize for any grammatical errors – English is not my first language. Also, this is my first fiction, so please bear with me ;)