Disclaimer: Characters and setting are the property of J.K. Rowling, I'm just borrowing them for a little non-profit fun.
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Artalocus Snape was sweating under his mask. He watched his fellow Deatheaters apparate away with mixed feelings. Three years ago he could identify almost all of them by voice or posture despite the masks that hid their faces. They'd been his peers; the sons of old families fallen on hard times, men who'd lost nearly hereditary positions to upstart mudbloods. People like him, older and embittered.
Now nearly a fourth of those who stood in the circle had the half-finished forms of teenagers. They were fanatics and impatient. And more and more they were the ones Lord Voldemort favored. Artalocus felt certain that the pair who habitually flanked Lestrange were his boys but he couldn't even guess at the identities of the others. Artalocus wondered if Severus would have had been able recognize them.
Once again he was being passed over and the question he needed to ask tonight would displease the Dark Lord.
Beneath the long sleeves of his robe Artalocus clenched his fists and felt his nails digging into his palms as he stepped forward and knelt. "My Lord, a moment of your time. I beg you."
The hansom golden blonde heir of Slytherin inclined his head graciously.
"My Lord, I must ask: Did you order my son's kidnapping?"
"Why would you think such a thing?" Artalocus could hear the amusement in Voldemort's voice.
"I know that my Lord wasn't pleased that he saw our meeting, and it was the second time."
"You assured me that he had no memory of our activities. Did you fail me Artalocus?"
"No my lord, but you have favored more extreme methods lately."
"And you disapprove."
"No, never my Lord. You gave me everything, everything they kept from me," Artalocus swore.
"What would you do if I had ordered it? Artalocus, what would you do if I decreed that your only child was a danger to our purpose?"
"If you did not order it, my Lord, I would be free to assist in my son's rescue to the best of my ability."
"You are a cautious man, my Potions Master," Voldemort said. "The younger ones would have promised me his life by now."
"You will have my son's life, my Lord. When he is old enough to understand your vision you will have him," Artalocus said. "Excuse my presumptuousness, my Lord, but I believe Severus will be of more value to you alive than dead. Teenagers will make exaggerated promises, but adults look to the long-term effects of present actions."
"You are a brave one Artalocus," Voldemort said. "See to it that your son lives up to your promises. Your life depends on it."
"Thank you my Lord… Where is Severus?"
Voldemort laughed. "I have no idea, but you have my blessing to look for him."
"Thank you." Artalocus stood. He bowed and walked downstairs. Once he was in the safety of his kitchen he slumped in a chair and buried his face in his hands.
Sirius watched Severus from across the storage area where they were detained. When he'd been brought back after making the Howler for his parents the Slytherin boy had been in the far corner of the room lying curled up on his side, his broken arm stretched out flat on the floor. Severus' arm was swollen to twice its normal size and a dark purple color. Their kiddnapper had loosened the suppression bracelet several times to accommodate the swelling and it still cut into his flesh.
Severus had barely moved in the two days since then. When their kidnapper brought dinner that night Sirius sighed. He scooped up one of the bowls of porridge and took it over to Severus. "You're not going to skip eating again," he declared.
Severus ignored the food. After a few minutes he said, "I would have gotten help. You know that right?" in a dull voice.
Sirius sat down beside him. "It's okay. He's not going to hurt us. Not really, it's just like this huge trick on my parents and they deserve it."
Severus lifted his head from the floor and stared at Sirius. "He's not going to hurt us? Are you mad? What about my arm? What about what he did to your face the other day?"
"I wasn't convincing enough, it was all my fault," Sirius said. "Listen, my parents hurt him. You know what they're like. You know they'd do it."
"He's going to kill us!"
"Shut up! Just shut up! He won't hurt us unless you make him."
The two boys sat in silence for a time. Severus pulled his arm closer to his body and whimpered in pain.
"I'm sorry I yelled," Sirius said. "You're not thinking straight. Your arm hurts too much. Why don't you fix it?"
"All those potions you always carry around like a security blanket, why don't you use them?"
"It's broken. I can't take bone-knit until someone sets it. I can't set it without a wand," Severus said in a tight, pain-filled voice.
"I'll set it the muggle way I saw a movie with Andy, they just sort of pull it straight."
Severus sat up and curled his body protectively around his arm. "That's a stupid idea. You don't know anything. You think he's the good guy and you want me to trust you?"
Sirius scowled. He leaned over and grabbed Severus' hand and arm then pulled. Severus screamed. Sirius gritted his teeth and kept pulling until Severus wrist looked straight again. Confidently the blue-eyed boy reached into Severus' pocket and extracted a roll of cloth holding a number of single dose vials. Sirius picked out a dose of bone-knit and a swelling reducer. Sirius uncorked the vial and held it to Severus' mouth. "Come on Sev this'll help. Come on. It'll be better."
Severus gave in and let Sirius feed him the potions. He stared into space as he felt the potions working on his body. Gradually the red-hot waves of pain receded. Severus tried to flex his hand, nothing happened. He scrambled to his feet ready to attack Sirius. Both boys froze at the sound of the suppression bracelet hitting the floor.
As the swelling in Severus' wand arm had gone down the bracelet had gone from cutting into his flesh to loosely hanging on his wrist. When it came off Severus gasped at the rush of magic bubbling through his veins to fill all the empty places. He couldn't help but smile with pure joy at the sensation.
Sirius watched Severus' expression solemnly. "That's what He's missing. That's what they took from Him. He told me how bad it felt. Don't you understand? They deserved what he's doing to them."
"I don't care, I just want to go home!" Severus said.
Sirius bit his lip. "You promise you won't tell? I could help you escape. He doesn't need you, just me."
Severus stared at the other boy like he was insane. "Of course I promised, anything to get out of here."
"He's got our wands tucked into his belt, beneath his cloak. If you tripped him or something you could probably get them back. You could put a body bind on him then throw my wand in the bushes outside and run off. By the time I got my wand back and released him you'd be long gone," Sirius planned.
Severus nodded bemusedly. He stared at Sirius as if looking at an alien creature completely beyond comprehension but he moved to sit beside the door.
When their kidnapper returned Severus kicked him viciously in the side of the knee. The man gasped as his leg bent in ways in had never been intended to. Sirius' eyes widened with horror. Severus scrambled on top of his fallen enemy and found the wands right where Sirius said they'd be.
Severus stepped back with his wand clenched awkwardly in his off hand and pointed it at his former kidnapper. The feeling of wrongness reminded Severus of his mishealed, currently useless hand, and ball of dark magic he'd been nursing since he'd been captured exploded through his veins. He remembered every moment of pain during the last week as the shattered bits of bones in his wrist burrowed into his muscles. He remembered what the Bogart said and the man on the floor had screamed and screamed.
Severus leveled his wand at the man who'd kidnapped him and held him prisoner. "Crucio!" he hissed.
The former curse-breaker screamed and his back arched until it looked like it would snap.
"Crucio! Crucio!" Severus repeated. The blackness swallowed his mind like a storm of hate. His vision tunneled in until all he saw was his kidnapper. He didn't hear Sirius screaming for him to stop and so he was taken completely off guard when the Gryffindor tackled him.
"Bloody hell, the orb just registered a huge under-aged magic incident," an Auror exclaimed.
"Everyone's off dealing with the kidnapping," his partner said. "You keep monitoring the wards, I'll check it out by myself. I don't want to call anyone else away from the kidnapping until we're sure it's urgent."
"I'll go with you Brown. The monitoring orb can watch itself for a while."
"You do that and you know someone'll bomb the Ministry then we'll both be on the chief's bad side and personally I like keeping my body parts intact.
"I get the picture, just be careful alright."
"It's probably just some idiot tossing his kid out the window to jump start their magic again. Did we get a good signal?"
"Lit up the board like a beacon, you should be able to apparate right in."
Auror Brown put his hand on the orb in the center of the monitoring board then hurried to the department's Apparation Point: the one room in the Department that wasn't warded against apparation.
He disappeared with a loud pop and arrived in front of a small shed in the corner of a heavily overgrown backyard.
Cautiously Brown peered through the open door into the shed. A man lay just inside the door, he was suffering convulsions. Two boys, whose pictures currently adorned every wall in the Auror's offices, rolled across the floor kicking and punching each other.
For a moment Auror Brown stood there and stared in disbelief then he raised his fingers to his lips and whistled sharply. The two boys froze. "What is going on here?"
"Who the hell are you?" Severus demanded.
"Auror Brown. There was a violation of the Under-aged Wizardy laws…"
"He was torturing him!" "He wouldn't even try to escape!" Sirius and Severus accused as they pointed at one another.
"And who is that?" Brown asked with a gesture to the man on the floor.
"He's our kidnapper," Sirius said. "Is he okay?"
"Yeah, I hope he's not okay," Severus added.
A series of pops filled the Aurors' offices.
Esterhazy Black stormed across the room and grabbed her son by the ear. "This is what happens when you go running off with those no good friends of yours!"
Sirius slapped his mother's hand away. "IT'S YOUR FAULT! Not my friends! The only reason He took me was because he had to punish YOU! I wish you actually cared about me so it would have worked!"
"Sirius…" Orion began as he reached out to his son.
"Don't touch me!" Sirius shouted. "I HATE YOU!"
Severus blushed and squirmed as his mother hugged him and refused to let go.
Artalocus took Severus' arm and probed the injury. "The bones are fused. Have you taken leave of what few senses you possess? What idiotic impulse convinced you to take bone-knit without seeing that the bones were properly set? You've studied potions since you were five years old, did you forget everything I ever taught you? This is the sort of basic stupidity I'd expect from a Hufflepuff, not you," Artalocus growled. "We'll have remove the bones and re-grow them. Perhaps the pain will help you to remember your studies."
"I didn't forget; Sirius was trying to help," Severus protested.
"Don't make excuses."
"Severus, I was so scared," Desmona said.
Severus seemed to forget about the room full of Aurors and let his mother pull him closer.
"I'm not going home with them. You can't make me," Sirius yelled. He stared hopefully at Harold Potter. "They're the bad guys, not Him."
"There must be some sort of spell on him," Orion said. He gave his angry son a horrified look.
"I'd like the Healers at St. Mungo's to check both boys out," Harold said. "I assure you they'll find any spells placed on your son."
"He didn't put any spells on me. He didn't have any magic, thanks to THEM," Sirius accused.
Severus hesitated. "Could my mom stay with me?" he asked softly.
Desmona smiled. "I'd like to see anyone try to stop me."
Sirius fidgeted. A Junior Healer at St. Mungo's treated his black eye and swollen cheek. "How's my kidnapper?" he asked.
The healer smiled reassuringly. "It's okay to be scared. I know it's odd being here with him, but you don't have to worry. He can't get to you."
"I'm not worried," Sirius said.
A few hours later Sirius snuck out of his room. He ended up sitting under the stairs in the stairwell outside of his kidnapper's hospital room, unable to get closer without being spotted by the guards. When he heard voices approaching Sirius pulled his blanket around his shoulders and shrank back into the shadows.
"…He was suffering the after effects from a Cruciatus Curse. The Black boy was still wearing a suppression bracelet."
"The boys were kidnapped and held hostage. I've personally seen Severus Snape loose control of his magic in a violently destructive manner," Harold Potter stated. "You can't be sure that this wasn't a case of unintentional magic mimicking the effects of an Unforgivable Curse. He was injured, kidnapped and held hostage. I don't believe it's in anyone's best interest to confuse the issue."
"Sir, you can't seriously be asking me to leave information out of my report."
"The laws don't make any allowances for age or circumstance when it comes to the use of the Unforgivables." Harold said quietly. "We're talking about a twelve year old boy. If you say he used an Unforgivable he'll be sent to Azkaban to await trial, he'll be insane in a matter of days. If he's found guilty he'll be dead in a month. He's a child."
"So we wait until he's an adult, what else will he be guilty of by then?"
Harold played absently with his wand. "Auror Brown, listen to me, Obliviate."
"Sir, what were we talking about?" Brown asked in confusion.
"You were just telling me that Curse-breaker Natas will be ready to stand trial in a few days… you walked into a door."
Under the staircase Sirius bit his lip to keep from gasping. He didn't know what to think. He knew it hadn't been an accident when Severus hurt their kidnapper, but the idea of Severus being dead made him feel sick to his stomach and James' dad acted like he was more mad at Auror Brown than at Severus, but Auror Brown was right…
"Sirius! Where have you been?" James exclaimed and a moment later the blue-eyed Gryffindor was practically buried under a pile of his friends. "They haven't let us see you once since the kidnapping… Then you show up at the station for school like nothing happened!"
"We tried to sneak into your parents' house to see you," Peter volunteered.
"I wasn't there," Sirius said.
"Your parents mentioned that," Remus remarked. "After we got caught."
"Oh, sorry. You should really stay away from them," Sirius said.
"Who cares about them? Where were you?" James exclaimed.
"I spent the last couple of weeks at Professor McGonagall's." Sirius admitted with a shrug.
"I bet that was fun," Peter said sarcastically.
"She didn't let me get away with anything," Sirius said. "It's a whole lot easier to pull something over on her when she's got seventy-five other kids to distract her."
"Why did you?" Remus asked. "Was it because of…"
"Yeah, the Healers said I 'needed a neutral environment' to sort things out. You can't get much more neutral than Professor McGonagall," Sirius explained.
"So you don't, um, well, like that guy that kidnapped you anymore do you?" Peter asked.
"How'd you know about that?" Sirius demanded.
"We cornered Snivellus when he picked up his supplies for school," James replied casually.
"Snape," Peter explained. "Remember how he was crying over that harmless little trick we pulled?"
"Oh right, I forgot," Sirius replied. "So you guys got sick of him hanging around too?"
"You're not going to invite him along any more, even to get away from your parents?" Peter checked.
"Why, I thought you were sort of friends?" Remus asked.
"I guess I saw what he was really like when we got kidnapped. He's evil, like my parents and I'm not going to make nice with any of them anymore," Sirius declared. "They ought to be punished."
Harry's Sixth Year – Summer Break
"Why did things turn so ugly so quickly?" Remus asked
"You don't know?" Severus sneered. "Black never told you? He never could forgive me for harming our precious kidnapper!"
"Severus, what are you talking about? You and Siri were twelve years old. It was a miracle the two of you managed to subdue an adult without your magic."
"You honestly don't know? Black really didn't tell you what I did?" Severus seemed confused. "He tries to kill me, but he never tells anyone, even his closest friends about something that could have put me in Azkaban. Something he hated me for."
"Severus, Siri never tried to kill you," Remus said seriously. "Do you think I would have forgiven them for trying to use me as a murder weapon? Rogue werewolves are 'put down' and when there's an attack the Aurors don't stop looking until someone's paid for it."
"For good reason," Severus replied coldly. "Your parents wouldn't be dead and you wouldn't be a werewolf if we killed the monsters on sight… But it's still not too late for the Ministry to finally start taking preventative measures."
"Equally they could cripple Who-know-Who by instituting regular checks for the Dark Mark and executing anyone who bares it," Lupin replied without loosing his composure. "No one tried to kill you. If you'd died that night I would have been handed a goblet of Silver Nitrate the next day. Even if you believe that Siri and James wanted to murder you, admit that they wouldn't have killed me in the process. Can we please stop fighting about something that happened when we were Harry's age?"
"And Potter, always the hero, got the credit for 'rescuing' me; that stupid dog did more to… protect…" Severus' eyes widened.
"You finally put it together," Remus said quietly.
"James' animagus form was a stag, I don't suppose you ever knew that," Remus continued seemingly at random. "A wolf, a dog, a stag and a rat. Peter got them past the Whomping Willow, but he never could keep up with us. They kept me company during the full moons. Instead of being trapped and tearing myself apart in frustration and rage they took me into the forest and… we called it tag, but if I'd ever caught James it wouldn't have been a game. Oh James was big enough to defend himself in his animagus form, but a deer is still a food animal to a wolf. It was Sirius' responsibility to make sure it never got that far."
"Padfoot was pack, the wolf was as much his friend as I was; somewhere along the line I suppose he forgot werewolves are dangerous. Siri thought he could control the game, like he always did for James, he forgot how werewolves are enraged by the presence of a human then you froze instead of running. Sirius did his best to keep me away from you until James realized it was taking too long and pulled you out. When I came back to myself the next morning I was furious with them, but I know they didn't mean to put you in that much danger. Siri and James were never particularly good at thinking through the consequences of their actions." Remus paused. He waited for Severus to glance at him. "How many times did Narcissa lecture you about the same thing back when you and Siri were friends? I know some of the pranks you helped to pull on Lucius Malfoy weren't exactly safe."
Severus glanced toward the picture in Remus' hand, for a moment a look of uncertainty flickered across his face. "You may have time to waste with pointless rehashing of the past," he spat, "but I have responsibilities. Get out."