Remembrance and Renewal by Avatar Arkmage and Nigel Tatsuya
Fandom: Harry Potter
Disclaimer: JKR owns the characters. The said characters merely assumed the form of a relentless muse which we are powerless to oppose. We're men enslaved until this is completed
Feedback: Please please please please...? Good or bad, feedback is welcome. Flames will be either passed around and laughed at or else shred and used as catbox media...perhaps both!
Archive: Ask and you shall receive.
Chapter One: Asphyxia
"Yes, Aunt Petunia."
"And you had better work at it properly," Aunt Petunia warned, her already long neck appearing markedly longer, "if there are any weeds left over, your Uncle will see to it that you to do the entire garden over again before supper. I'm preparing steak and kidney pudding tonight, and if you want more than just pudding and lettuce, you'll work doubly hard to finish on time!"
With that, the scrawny, blonde woman did a curt 'about face,' and walked briskly back into the kitchen, lest the crust be overdone.
A droplet of perspiration ventured from Harry's raven hair into his collar, as though it were seeking refuge from the heat of what was no doubt one of the hottest days of the year. Although Harry was clothed in oversized long sleeves, shoes, and baggy jeans, the few exposed areas of skin seemed to be doing their best to emulate the appearance of a boiled lobster's exoskeleton as it singed in the merciless sun's rays.
Harry longed for more dishes to wash, or even more steps to sweep, not because he harboured an innate love of domestic work, but because he desperately wanted chores he could do whilst in the shade. The Dursleys, having been soundly warned by Mad-Eye Moody, Lupin and Tonks not to mistreat Harry over the Summer, refrained from starving him (much), or incarcerating him in the cupboard, or in Dudley's second bedroom.
They saw little wrong however, with making him do his fair share of chores around the house, which meant 95 of anything which needed attending to. They also saw nothing wrong with sending him into the garden during the hottest time of the day, as it was the sun, and not they themselves, that caused the sunburns and the heat exhaustion.
The Dursleys thought it was a kindness that Harry would not suffer from dehydration, having adequately supplied the garden with new hoses and a sprinkler system. If the fool boy still ended up suffering from hyperthermia, it was his own fault for not drinking enough water.
Harry truly believed the Dursleys fertilized their garden with media especially made to encourage the vigorous growth of all species of weeds. He was expected to finish weeding the whole garden by mid-afternoon, although Harry suspected that the daunting task would more than likely take him until mid-afternoon tomorrow; and that was if he took no breaks to sleep, relieve himself, or eat.
"Work faster, cousin!" shouted Dudley, as he led his friends Piers and Rufhauser into the house. "You're behind your time!"
Harry mentally turned off his cousin's badgering with relative ease. Compared to the emotional blows he had weathered over the last year, Dudley's pestering had the impact of an errant dandelion seed on his cheek. What was teasing compared to witnessing the death of Sirius Black, the nearest person to family Harry had? What was Dudley's harassment compared to the knowledge that Harry's own father, James Potter, had been a ruthless bully, and his friends were either bystanders or active participants?
Memories of Sirius Black's death held Harry's attention like the symptoms of a plague for which a cure was yet to be found. It whipped nausea into his empty belly, when he saw the accursed veil in his heavily weighted mental shelves. It made his head hurt, when he agonized over all the things he could have done differently. His heart ached worst of all, for he knew that it had been in his power to prevent his godfather's death.
Ponderings over what Harry had seen in Professor Snape's Penseive followed not far behind in frequency. When he gazed into the neither solid nor liquid surface of Snape's Memories, all he believed of his father and the other Marauders passed from his mind. Although Harry knew he would not have been able to prevent the horrible, humiliating act his father and his friends had committed against his most despised professor, he knew he could have avoided witnessing it altogether.
Blaming another person was an easy course to take. Was it not Snape's fault for not teaching him occlumency properly? Sure, Harry could have invested more effort into it, but did Snape have to be such a cruel teacher? A greasy git? And if Professor Snape was such a good Occlumens, why did he need to use a Pensieve at all? Could he not have left those memories locked in his head? Away from where they could potentially prove to be an irresistible temptation to Harry?
Harry once again tried to clear his mind, something he should have mastered months before while he still had to endure the Occlumency lessons with Professor Snape. Normally, clearing one's mind was something to be done when he was going to sleep. Harry now found it necessary to engage in the ritual several times during the day, to prevent himself from feeling sicker than he already did in the summer's heat.
Harry could hardly distinguish Dudley's taunts from the twittering of the birds in the vicinity, until he felt a broken plastic toy strike him in the back of the head. "Hey, cousin! Have you got a girlfriend? Who would be stupid enough to want a scrawny bloke like you?"
Harry looked up to see Dudley waving an envelope out of his barred window. Were he not so physically uncomfortable, Harry would have been straining not to laugh, for the letter in Dudley's grasp was from Professor Minerva McGonagall, his Head of House back at Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The letter contained nothing more than academic advice toward his courses for the upcoming year, and his O.W.L. results.
"Give it to me it's mine!" Harry shouted at his behemoth of a cousin, as he sprinted into the house.
By the time Harry had reached the doorway to Dudley's second bedroom, Rufhauser was already in position. The lanky boy stuck his foot out in time to trip Harry, sending the bespectacled youth sprawling onto the bare floor.
"Clumsy Git!" Dudley laughed, conveniently failing to notice what Rufhauser had just done. "The only type of girl who would even notice you would have to be even more accident prone than you are." With that, Dudley yanked Harry up by his now longer hair and thrust an envelope at him. The abrupt movement nearly smashed Harry's glasses against the bridge of his nose.
Although the writing was too close to his face to actually decipher, Harry could tell by the cerulean marbled envelope that it had been sent by Hermione, who often used muggle stationery whilst she stayed with her family during the summers.
"Who the ruddy hell is Hermeeohnay?" asked Piers dully. "Some exchange student?"
When Harry refused to answer promptly, Dudley tugged harder on the lock of hair he was still holding, "Is she your personal tart? How many times have you shagged her?"
"More times than you'll ever shag in your lifetime!" Harry lied, but he couldn't resist insulting his cousin. "But then you..."
Dudley brought his other fist hard into Harry's midsection before he could finish. The lighter youth made to double over, but Piers brought his knee firmly into Harry's nose. Blood spattered the nearby walls like errant red globular star clusters, in a galaxy of off white wallpaper.
Although Harry had developed considerable reflexes and fighting skills from heading the D.A. club during the previous school year, the fight at hand was unfairly matched. Although Harry may have been able to avoid one attack, there were two or three others following in quick succession.
Further to his disadvantage, Harry knew he did not have his magics at his disposal. Number Four Privet Drive was monitored too closely for him to even employ magic to cleanse his hair.
Narrowly ducking a punch from Piers, and dodging Rufhauser's grasp, Harry sprinted out of the room. He had grown several centimetres since the beginning of the Summer holidays, and as with many adolescents, was awkward and often misjudged the length of his newly elongated limbs. He rapidly descended the stairs, taking them two or three at a time. A few steps from the bottom, Harry missed altogether and fell the rest of the way, effectively spraining his ankle.
To a chorus of chortles and guffaws from Dudley and his friends at the top of the stairs, Harry desperately tried to stand, but only succeeded in staggering a negligible distance. He crumpled to the floor, and was treated to even more laughter.
"I'm surprised your freak school hasn't expelled you yet!" Dudley shouted, making to stomp on the ankle that Harry was obviously favouring. "You're so clumsy, you'd probably turn your professor into a cockroach when you sneezed."
As if on cue, the blood issuing from Harry's nose really did cause him to sneeze. Piers, Dudley and Rufhauser backed away in terror, but they were only sprayed lightly with blood from Harry's broken nose.
"Why you...!" Dudley kicked Harry's rapidly swelling ankle with such force that both Harry's legs buckled. Piers was over him on the instant and stomped on Harry's ankle again.
Screaming, Harry somehow managed to roll onto his hands and knees. He tried to stand, but his ankle would no longer support his weight. He then attempted to crawl away, but Rufhauser, Dudley, and Piers launched themselves onto the smaller boy like a pack of wolves set on tearing apart their prey. First Harry's glasses were broken, then, judging from the pain, and the gristly crack heard close to Harry's left ear, his clavicle. Soon, Harry was sure his left shoulder and right hip had been dislocated. Harry was uncertain how long the beating continued, but his entire body hurt.
Even Harry's hair ached from all the times when Dudley or his friends pulled it. Still, Piers, Rufhauser and Dudley persisted, each subduing blow fiercer than the last.
Uncle Vernon Dursley returned from work some time later. He quickly assessed the condition of the house and decided that it was quite tame...if compared to a warzone or disaster area in a time of great political unrest.
Mr. Dursley had been known to take issue with hedges Harry cut a mere millimetre too short. "BOY! What did you do to provoke Dudley and his friends this time?"
Harry opened his mouth to say explain that he did exactly what he normally did to provoke them. He had done absolutely nothing. Unfortunately, Harry had bit his tongue when Dudley had punched him in the jaw, and it was now too swollen to allow him produce speech any more comprehensible than that of a baby's babble.
Aunt Petunia, hearing the commotion, came out of the kitchen drying her hands on a dishtowel. "Look at all the dirt you've tracked on the carpet!" she shrieked. "You think because you've got those freaks from your magic school watching us, that you can get away with anything!"
"Clean this mess at once, boy!" Vernon stomped over to a closet and threw a bucket, some rags and a mop at the youth, who was still sprawled on the floor.
After years of conditioning, Harry complied with his uncle's demands... or at least tried to. He reached for a rag and tried to sit up, but the sharp pain in his shoulder and chest commanded him back to the floor with more urgency than his Uncle ever could. Harry then attempted to roll himself over, but a sharp pain from his hip forced him back down.
"You're only stalling!" shouted Uncle Vernon, making as though to kick Harry, but stopped with his foot mere centimetres away. At least the threats from the wizards appeared to have had the desired effect. The fact that he was not dead yet was further testament to that.
Harry longed to hurl a string of epithets at his uncle and cousin, but could not achieve more than a soft mewling.
Impatient, Uncle Vernon grabbed the collar of Harry's gardening wear and yanked him to his feet, causing pain to explode in various places throughout Harry's body. "Look at how dirty you are!" uncle Vernon turned to the other youths in the room while motioning to Harry, "under no circumstances are you ever to mimic this sort of behaviour. Go wash up!"
When Harry failed to move from the spot, Vernon manually dragged Harry into the washroom and pulled off his soiled clothes as though they were the rinds of a rotting fruit. Harry groaned in protest, and feebly tried to cover his nakedness, even though Uncle Vernon carefully kept is eyes averted. Harry's near emaciated form was hardly worth his attention.
Heedless of the water temperature, Vernon turned the faucets to maximum and threw Harry into the tub. "You had better come out clean, and don't dawdle either, you still have to clean up the mess you've left out there!" And with that, Uncle Vernon slammed the door.
It was all Harry could do to keep his head above the water as the tub continued to fill. The water temperature was slightly hotter than Harry would have liked, but it felt almost soothing against his bruised and battered body. Once more, Harry tried feebly to raise himself to turn off the taps when the water's level reached his chin. Unexpectedly, his arm slipped, causing him to pitch beneath the water. He desperately attempted to shift his position, but his dislocated shoulder was useless, and the other arm was numb because it had been bearing his weight.
Harry grew fatigued, and let out the breath he did not know he had been holding. When his need to inhale overwhelmed him, he drew an indeterminate quantity of bath water into his lungs. Nearly asphyxiated, Harry wondered if blissful unconsciousness was not far away.
And it wasn't.
The unrelenting heat of midday bore down on the castle's grounds. Within the dungeons of the much venerated Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the dour potions master, Severus Snape, peered into the cauldron. Satisfied with both the colour and consistency of the Wolfsbane potion, he began processing the final ingredients.
A faint 'pop' issued from the fireplace behind him. At first, Severus assumed that Remus Lupin, the returning Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, had arrived for his monthly dose of Wolfsbane; but the slow and slightly uneven footsteps, and the gentle swishing of heavy robes announced that it was Headmaster Albus Dumbledore.
One very curious thing about the aged headmaster, was his uncanny ability to raise the ambient temperature of the normally cool areas within Hogwarts. If he were to wander into the room containing Professor Snape's potion stores, Snape would be more surprised not to find the better portion of his heat sensitive ingredients and infusions compromised. Severus could feel the warmth of the older man's azure gaze on his back now, as through it were forged from the purest energy.
For a few moments more, Albus Dumbledore watched the relatively young potion master work. Professor Snape's grasp of his discipline far superceded that of any of his predecessors, and Albus Dumbledore had seen many potion masters come and go during his many years at Hogwarts. Although it was early afternoon, the windowless laboratory was dark, save for the faint illumination from the torches, the flames beneath the caldrons, and the fireplace in the far corner of the room. Yet, professor Snape seemed unperturbed by the darkness, and could blindly reach behind himself for ingredients on the nearby shelves with remarkable accuracy. The scales, more often than not, lay unused on the table, serving more as a decoration than anything else. Snape's feel for the ingredients assured measures accurate to the milligram.
Apparently satisfied, Professor Snape moved the caldron to the cooling area and nodded in the direction of Albus Dumbledore. "Headmaster?"
"Severus, you have been working from well before daybreak, it is time for you to rest and..." as if on cue, Dobby the house elf appeared just to the left of Albus, bearing a tray of sandwiches, two bowls of soup, pastries and chilled pumpkin juice, "...have some refreshment."
"I am not some infant who needs to be reminded of naptime," the dour potions professor grumbled, but led the Headmaster to the dining area of his chambers, and invited him to sit nonetheless. Severus then sat down hard in the chair opposite, and gratefully helped himself to a bowl of soup and half a sandwich.
Albus Dumbledore placed the other half of the sandwich, and a scone on Severus's plate.
"I am capable of feeding myself," Severus protested.
"I must attend to some business at the Ministry, "Albus began, pouring himself and Severus some pumpkin juice, and ignoring the barb as though Severus had not spoken at all. "It seems Minister Fudge is still in denial of the very real threat of Voldemort's second rise."
Severus flinched at hearing He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named's name being spoken so freely, and burned his tongue on the hot soup he shovelled too quickly into his mouth. "But he already acknowledged the Dark Lord's return?"
"Yes, child but alas, he does not want to cause panic within the magical community and is downplaying the magnitude of the threat." Albus lamented, taking an absent bite of his sandwich. "As it is, reports of the latest Death Eater raids have been relegated to the fourth page of the Daily Prophet, right next to the advertisements for the Weasley's new joke shop."
At that less than affectionate assessment of the ministry's officials, Albus's eyes twinkled like B-Class stars. The urgency returned to them shortly thereafter. "Severus, I must ask a favour of you..."
Having angrily stuffed the entire scone into his mouth, Severus could not readily protest. Perhaps the headmaster had been waiting for such a moment...?
"I must ask that you go to Surrey personally, and check on Harry Potter..."
For once, Severus was glad that he had solid food in his mouth. Had it been pumpkin juice, it would have been adorning the headmaster's face.
"I would do the task myself, but I am expected at the ministry this afternoon." Dumbledore said, suppressing the urge to laugh at Snape's choking on the confection in shock. "I trust you to observe him stealthily, unseen by both Harry and the muggles. Your skills at stealth and covert operations being unmatched, Severus."
"Headmaster," Professor Snape said, recovering. "the aurors are already observing him, are their reports not sufficient? And with all due respect, I am not the person..."
"...who is not best for this job..."Albus finished for him.
"But Albus, the boy dislikes me, and after he went into my Pensieve..." Snape said, his normally colourless cheeks flushing with barely repressed anger.
"Severus, I am not asking you make amends or even to speak with him. All I ask, is that you see that he is being cared for and that he is well." Dumbledore said, reaching across the table and putting a hand on the younger man's shoulder.
"How could he be otherwise? He is Harry Potter." Snape said, standing abruptly and stomping over to his wardrobe without finishing the small quantity of food before him. "That spoiled, arrogant..."
"Now, Severus," the headmaster said to forestall him, having followed Snape to his room. "Surely your opinion has changed somewhat? You did after all, have a glimpse of his life whist teaching him Occlumency."
"Well what of it...?" the potions master began, but the rest of his rant died somewhere in his throat. Some images which flashed from the boy's mind reminded him so much of his own youth, that he had lashed out in anger more from his own recollections than from the boy's concentration, or lack thereof.
When he had glimpsed the memory of Harry running from an attacking dog, Severus's dreams that night were of the time he had been lured to the mercy of a werewolf, who was not subdued by the then undeveloped wolfsbane potion. That nightmare, though infrequent, caused him to wake in a cold sweat with his heart hammering.
When he witnessed Harry being chased by his own cousin Dudley and his friends, Severus was reminded almost immediately of his own similar treatment at the hands of the Marauders. If James Potter and his friends ever caught Severus alone in the halls, Severus would have to run or face having his homework and class notes nicked in the best case scenario, or hexed and/or beaten in the worst. They had humiliated him before the entire school that horrid day they had sat for their OWLs, when he had not run away quickly enough.
The knowledge that Harry Potter, the son of James Potter, had seen that memory, filled Snape simultaneously with rage and mortification. Why should he, of all others in The Order, be charged with this task now?
The headmaster appeared to be reading the images playing in the potions master's mind and patted his back soothingly. "Please, Severus I only ask that you check on him. For my peace of mind, if nothing else?"
Professor Snape nodded in acquiescence, there was little he could refuse Professor Dumbledore. He began removing his potion-splattered clothes and throwing them into a tub of neutralizing potion. After having many outfits ruined over the years by potions splashing out of the cauldrons or potion's class mishaps, the instructor had taken to keeping a tub of neutralizer in place of a receptacle for his soiled clothes. The house elves would still take his clothes and launder them just the same.
Although the Headmaster had seen Professor Snape in various states of undress before, he still could barely suppress his feelings of outrage and shock at seeing the scars that riddled Severus's alabaster white flesh. As always, feelings of guilt ended up at the forefront as Albus glumly knew that many of those scars had been inflicted during Snape's service as a spy for the order.
The potions master reached for an outfit which looked exactly like the one he had discarded, when the headmaster snatched it from him. "We have to be more cautious, my boy. Both the Ministry and, without a doubt, Voldemort's forces, are watching the area miles around Magnolia Crescent. Any apparitions in the vicinity of Surrey will raise suspicions, as will anyone in Wizard's robes."
"But. Albus, I haven't any muggle clothing..."
"No, but that can be remedied." Albus waved his hand over the younger man's outfit and the white dress shirt transfigured into a ripped muggle tee-shirt; the frock coat into a black leather jacket with a decidedly evil looking snake embroidered on the back; and the black trousers become a pair of faded, ripped dungarees embellished with gold chains.
"WHAT THE--!" Severus yelled, his eyebrows rising so high that Albus thought it looked as though the brows had gained sentience and wanted to see the top of Severus's head. "This looks like an outfit a muggle who lost a particularly violent fight, and narrowly escaped being captured in a metalsmith's shop would be wearing!" Angry, but knowing better than to argue with the older man, Severus pulled the clothes on, struggling a bit with the undersized jeans. Sarcastically, he said: "Albus, could you have made these just a bit tighter?"
"As you wish." Albus promptly spelled his colleague's jeans two sizes smaller.
"YAAAAAARGH! Now I shall find it difficult to sit, or move about properly." Severus shouted angrily, becoming even more enraged when he saw the amusement in the headmaster's eyes.
Albus spelled the jeans one size larger, stating that the muggles he had seen in London several years ago wore dungarees equally as snug.
"Odd that muggles are as prolific as they are, then." Severus snarled, tugging at the unyielding fabric in his groin area in a futile attempt to relieve the pressure. "If one were to wear these every day, their reproductive processes would be severely inhibited; assuming the man is capable of the sexual act whilst their reproductive organs have gone numb."
Severus was about to add that he had always wanted his voice to go an octave or two higher so he could join a choir in the falsetto section, but decided against it, as the Headmaster led them both out of the castle. Once they were outside the gates, they apparated several kilometres away from Magnolia crescent.
Albus then handed Severus a broom and transfigured it into a muggle "eccelectric two wheel vehicle. "This way you will blend in well with the muggles."
"I can understand the need for camouflage, Albus." Severus said as he mounted the transfigured broom and tapped the ignition. "But did you have to use a means that would attract so much attention? This muggle transport device is louder than a clutch of Cornish Pixies rutting in a covered tin cauldron!"
Albus merely shrugged his shoulders to indicate that he had not heard a word over the thundering hum of the engine. Severus took that opportunity to say some not so nice things to Albus before he sped away toward Privet Drive.
Professor Severus Snape continued on the transfigured broom en route to Magnolia Crescent. As the near unbearable rumbling of the engine continued, he wondered how all the muggles who traveled in this manner managed to avoid permanent hearing impairment. After only several minutes on the "eckelectric two-wheeled transport," the potions master began to feel numbness in his ears. The numbness soon transformed into a dull ache, and Severus decided that it would be imperative to take a regenerative potion when we returned to his labs.
Nearly at his destination, Severus happened upon a group of similarly dressed muggles who were all riding noisy vehicles which resembled his transfigured broom. Grateful for the opportunity to blend in, Severus fell into formation near the back of their ranks.
The other members regarded him with everything from interest to disdain, and proceeded to perform pop-wheelies and hairpin turns. Some rode dangerously close to him, while others leaned from side to side as though to entice him to do the same. Because his own "chopper" was indeed a broom, and thinking that showing off was something that muggles on noisy vehicles did as a matter of custom, Severus attempted to duplicate all their stunts. He did so with a relative ease akin to one who had been carrying out such stunts for many a year.
Most of the bikers seemed impressed, but when Severus began to ride his" bike" backwards, did handstands on the seat, performed a step-dance routine on the chassis, and finally did a pop-wheelie with both legs on the handlebars, some of the bikers appeared offended. Unbeknownst to Severus Snape, a few even made obscene gestures at him.
Try as he might, Severus could not understand why the eckelectric two-wheeled transport riders were trying to remind him which way was up with their index and middle fingers. Perhaps without the use of magic, they needed to be reminded which way was up frequently, and they were doing this as a courtesy.
He was about to return the gesture, when the one who appeared to be the leader of this group rode abreast of him and shouted: "Bugger off, you Douchebag!"
Snape bid them farewell when he turned onto Magnolia Crescent and rode toward to Privet Drive.
'I wonder what a dooshbag is?' Snape thought to himself as he parked the vehicle some distance away, and ambled to the entrance of Number Four.
End Part One