Summary: PostHBP, not slash. Severus Snape and Mad-Eye Moody meet unexpectedly. Will the murdering spy and the paranoid Auror unite to get a job done to save the war?
Rating: PG-13 ( T )
Disclaimer: All characters you recognize are owned by J.K.Rowling.
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Sugar and Spice
Chapter Three: Mad Man Moody
"Oh, really, Alastor!"
Minerva banished the ropes binding the captured wizard, after shooting a disapproving look in Moody's direction.
For his part, the ex-Auror ignored her and kept a careful eye on the supposedly harmless wizard he'd caught. Apparently, the man had been trying to repair an ancient spellbook and hadn't been "aiming his wand to kill," as Alastor had put it. No one had believed him, the greatest Auror the Ministry of Magic had ever employed, over a shifty book salesman! What was the Wizarding world coming to these days?
Tonks helped the man into the kitchen for some tea and a nice "Obliviate" charm. Of course, the last bit was a surprise on her part, but it needed to be done. Moody did not miss the look she gave him for taking up valuable Order time, but he ignored her as well. She was young; she didn't know how bad things could get in war.
I'm forgetting something, a little voice whispered somewhere in his head. Alastor rolled his eye around to see from every angle, but nothing was out of the ordinary. Sure, headquarters was a mess and people were yelling across hallways, not to mention the fact that there was an odd stench coming from upstairs, but that was just another normal day in the Black household.
"Alastor, could I have a word?" The Weasley patriarch's unusually low-toned voice drifted from behind him.
Moody turned and ran his magical eye over the other adult wizard. The man looked absolutely worn out. It was, no doubt, a side effect of having a crying wife clinging to him for half the day and working at the Ministry the other half. Moody didn't reply, but followed Arthur into an empty room away from the commotion.
When they were both inside, Arthur shut the door and faced the ex-Auror. "Alastor," he began and then paused, unsure of how to say what he wanted. He'd always been on good terms with Moody, and wasn't very keen on ruining that. But, what had to be said, had to be said, regardless. He finally continued with, "Not everyone with a wand is out to get you. I know you've got due reason to be suspicious, but you can't go around tying up witches and wizards who are going about their daily business."
I wondered when I would hear this. Moody took a step forward and narrowed his normal eye at the Weasley. "I was an Auror, I know the Wizarding Laws just as well as you. If there's someone out to attack me, I'll not be standin' and taking it."
Arthur held firm under the gruff man's tone. "Yes, I know, and you shouldn't. But-"
Moody cut him off. "That salesman was not 'going about his daily business', he was out to attack. And I was under the impression we all wanted Potter alive."
"You wasted valuable time in finding my son!" Arthur nearly shouted. Apparently, the Weasley boys didn't get their temper from only their mother.
"Your son shouldn't have been gallivantin' off to Ghoul Lane, Arthur. They're Gryffindors, they are! You can't take your eyes off them for a second! And while we're on the topic, I'd like to know who let them boys of yours go out alone," Moody finished in a growl.
Mr. Weasley's ears went pink. He'd lost some of the heat behind his words when he replied, "I gave them permission to go if they promised to wait and Floo with Hagrid." When Mr. Weasley sighed, Moody knew what had happened after that. Ghoul Lane was particularly famous for its exotic pet shops, and it would have only taken a moment for a rare animal to catch Hagrid's eye. That moment alone was all that was needed to grab the youngest Weasley boy and haul him off to Merlin-knows-where! It was a predictable scenario and anyone with half the talent Trelawney possessed should have thought of it. Why hadn't they? "They went and only Harry came back," Arthur finished and dropped his gaze to the floor. "This is all my fault," he continued as he ran a hand over his face while Moody stood watching him.
"We'll find him, Arthur, don't you worry about that." Moody attempted to sound reassuring but his voice was just as grave as ever. "If anyone's going to find him, it'll be your lad's pal Potter."
Mr. Weasley perked up a bit at hearing Harry's name. "Amazing, isn't he?" he asked, referring to Harry. Moody grunted in response but he secretly thought the same of their young savior. If Potter kept up with this record, he'd take Mad-Eye Moody's title for best Auror in Ministry history. Mad-Eye himself wasn't too sure how he felt about that yet, but there wasn't much he could do to prevent it. He was not about to go up to the boy and yell, "If you save one more person, you'll be off to Azkaban!" No, that would not go over well with anyone. They'd all think he was being impersonated again.
But, then again, perhaps not, since most thought him to have lost his mind some years back. His so-called "mistake" earlier just raised the possibility that much more in everyone's mind. In conversations he'd overheard, Mad-Eye Moody was quickly becoming Mad-Man Moody. What was an ex-Auror to do? Alastor was brought out of this stream of thought by the other man's next question.
"Did you happen to see Harry when you returned? Molly's been asking after him every hour and no one can seem to find..." Mr. Weasley trailed off as he saw the look on the ex-Auror's face. "Alastor?"
But Moody wasn't listening any longer. His mind was far away in a place called Ghoul Lane... the very place he had left behind the boy who was supposed to save them all. He'd forgotten the most important boy on the Light side in a place filled to brim with evil wizards, places, and objects.
This day couldn't possibly get any worse, he thought as he marched to the Floo with a confused Arthur Weasley hot on his heels.
"You told me that only people you trusted would be able to get through the wards!"
"My dear brother, that is nothing like what I told you! 'No one can pass the wards unless I am aware of it.' That is entirely different," the woman insisted.
"You knew! You knew he was coming, and yet, you said nothing about it!"
"And your point being what, Odos?"
"I cannot believe this," the man whispered incredulously. "My sister, what has changed you? Whatever have I done to you that would make you act this way?" He grasped her hands in his and pleaded with his eyes to tell him the truth, but the witch wrenched her small hands from his grip and narrowed her eyes. With a sigh, the man stepped back a few paces and surveyed his sibling from where he now stood across the room. She seemed unconcerned with the man in the next moment, as she studied her primly shaped fingernails and rubbed away imaginary dirt from them. When it was evident he would get no reply, the man before her continued on with a more resigned tone. "I gave you a home, I gave you food, and I protected you in the first war. How can you turn your back on me now?"
The woman looked away for a moment and took in a long breath before she replied, "It was necessary, Odos. Just think of what he would do to Gabby! My sweet little daughter in the hands of that monster! She would be ravaged, and then she would be killed. I will not condemn my child to such horrors." By the end, her eyes were wide in a perfect imitation of Professor Trelawney of Hogwarts. That alone was enough to see that this grown witch was lying through her teeth, and doing a pretty lousy job of it. She didn't give one whit about any child, her's or otherwise.
The man stared back at her with his moon-like eyes. How can she just sit there like nothing matters? he wondered sadly. "You are a fool, Olivia. He will come after you both." With one last glance around, he turned and headed out the door, and set his mind about finding a safer location.
The next day, Ollivanders Wand Shop was empty.
Severus grunted as he rolled over onto his back. Since when do I sleep on the floor? he wondered as he struggled to open his eyes. What he saw made them widen, then snap closed again. I'm dreaming, he reasoned with himself. Or, I'm dead. A bitter laugh escaped him despite the thoughts rushing through his head. Maybe someone has finally taken pity on me and just poisoned my wine. Severus sighed and rubbed a hand over his face. Of course, he knew that wasn't the case. Poison would be too quick for him. He was destined to die at the hand of the Dark Lord, thoroughly tortured and mentally broken.
Cautiously, he lifted his eyelids a second time. There above him was none other than himself.
He stared for a moment than reached out slowly in front of him and immediately drew back his had as his "other self" did the same. Was this some kind of joke? Had Albus tried again to-
Severus closed his eyes once more as a stab of pain cut through his nearly nonexistent heart. Albus isn't here, he yelled at himself silently. You killed him, or have you forgotten so soon?
Letting out a long breath, he returned to studying what was above him. The figure lay motionless and just scowled back at him. Snape was determining if he'd be fast enough to catch his impersonator off guard. What have I got to lose? We can't just stare at each other forever. Three... two... Severus snapped out his wand from his pocket and stiffened as he was met with the other's wand pointed right at his head. Well that was just a brilliant idea.
A giggle from somewhere to his right drew his attention and he aimed in its direction. His other self forgotten, Snape used his free arm to lift himself up while he kept his wand steady. Severus narrowed his eyes at the source of the laughter. A small girl, about ten or eleven he guessed, was huddled in the far corner with her arms around her knees. He was slightly irritated to see that the child didn't look even mildly afraid of the wand he held directly at her.
With a grin, the girl said quietly, "Reflection."
He watched her closely. What is that supposed to mean? Reflection?
Severus had to overcome the urge to slap his hand to his head as understanding dawned. For the love of Merlin... you bloody idiot. He glanced up and scowled at his other self. My own reflection.
"Why?" the small child asked him suddenly, and he turned his gaze to her.
"Why what?" he returned harshly, glaring in her as if daring her to continue questioning. She gave him no reply, and he snapped, "Well?" Silence reigned again. Severus growled and stepped toward her and this time was rewarded with a small whimper from her as she tried desperately to crawl away. Snape didn't pay it much mind and came up close to the child and kneeled down. "Who are you?"
The girl closed her eyes tightly and willed the tall man to go away. She did not get her wish though, as she felt him grip her arm and shake her slightly. She cried out and flung her free hand to cover her mouth and pressed her eyelids down more firmly. The tall man shook her again, but that just made her scrunch herself into an even smaller ball.
The Tall Man pried the hand away from her face. She expected a bottle to be shoved at her, but was surprised to find out she'd been wrong. She heard him sigh, and his tone was calmer when he spoke.
And here I thought I was finished with children. Just bloody wonderful. "I will not harm you."
It was as simple as that. Those five little words were said somewhat gentler than before, and she felt safe enough to take a peek at him. The Tall Man was watching her closely, no longer glaring and frightening. Well, not too frightening, anyway.
Severus was about to try again for an answer to his questions when a rustling sound came from behind him. He spun around, his wand held at the ready, and looked down at the prone figure that had somehow gone unnoticed until now. Black, unruly hair was all he needed to see before he knew the other wizard's identity. For the second time that night, Severus felt a wave of surprise and hatred run over him.
'Coward,' his mind echoed to him and he gripped his wand even tighter. Do not lose control, he told himself firmly, not that it helped tame his raging emotions overly much.
The form at his feet moved again, his head shifting from one side to the other almost as if he were captured in a dream. Severus was just about to give the teen a not-so-happy awakening when the mirrored walls shuddered. He looked around cautiously but could not see anything new. That changed when a new body came flying through some invisible opening in one of the mirrors and landed in heap a few feet away.
Severus cursed his luck for the thousandth time when he saw the person was yet another one of his old "friends" from the Order of the Phoenix.
Dumpling Travers was currently laying in a heap on the floor of the House of Mirrors, panting as he saw spots dance before his eyes. He had been prepared for a couple of jinxes that the ex-Auror might have thrown at him, but he wasn't expecting to be thrown against every wall in his shop. Well, technically, the shop belonged to an old Potions master who was tied up (literally) somewhere in the Ministry, but he was running it for now.
Travers felt himself leave the floor again and groaned when he slammed into the ceiling, then crashed back down. Now that one had hurt. 'Enough is enough,' he thought.
"In the back," he gasped out. "He's in the room in the back. Please, no more!" Travers begged in his most pathetic voice. Inside he was laughing at the stupidity of his attacker.
Moody leveled his wand at the flustered shopkeeper. "And why should I believe you?"
'Damn.' Maybe he wasn't as stupid as he'd thought. 'Well, no matter.'
Travers locked eyes with Moody. 'Legilimens!'
The ex-Auror jumped back, startled. He could protect his mind just as well as the next wizard, but that one second pause was just enough time for Travers to get the better of him. With unnatural power, Alastor was blasted backwards and crashed into the wall that he'd just used as a tormentor for the shopkeeper.
Travers aimed his wand before Moody could recover. 'Confundo Illegibilus!'
Alastor grabbed his head with both hands as he fought to keep the world from spinning before him. He scrambled to come up with a coherent thought. Get-move-spell-stop!
"There is nothing wrong," Travers guided his mind. "You are dreaming."
Moody's normal eye glazed over as he lost his previous train of thought. "I am dreaming," Alastor agreed groggily. He shook his head to clear it but that only made the floor tilt again. Instead, he leaned his throbbing head back against the stone wall he'd flown into earlier.
The shopkeeper decided to have a bit of fun now that he had the great ex-Auror at his mercy. "You are terrified of the color orange." He had to keep himself from laughing at the horror on Moody's face. "Orange."
Alastor shivered at the mention of the word.
Travers suddenly became very serious and determined. He had to chose his next words very carefully, he knew. "You must not let any harm come to the wizard Severus Snape. He is your greatest ally; protect him with your life."
"Protect," Alastor echoed with a nod of his head.
"Go through that door," the shopkeeper pointed to his right, "and walk into the largest mirror. Do not tell anyone who gave you these orders." It would not do to be captured by the entire Order of the Phoenix, so no one could know of him.
Without another word, Alastor got to his feet and left the main showroom of the House of Mirrors.
Dumpling jumped nearly a foot in the air when the door chimed to alert a new customer.
"Ah, Mr. Odos. What can I do for you today?" he asked politely, as if he hadn't just captured three of the most powerful wizards in the Order.
While the man told him what he needed, Dumpling couldn't help but wonder if his plan was going to work. 'Merlin help me, I must be losing my mind.'
AN: A point to anyone who can tell me who Odos is. Another point for anyone who can tell me the little girl's name. One last point to all those who can guess correctly the next two people (after Moody) to be trapped in the mirror. It's gonna be crowded!
Oh! Who liked Goblet of Fire? I thought it was great compared to the last one (they left too much out!). I love to hear Neville say: "Oh no, I've killed Harry Potter!"