Remembrance and Renewal by Nigel Tatsuya and Avatar Arkmage
Chapter Thirty-Eight: Muggle Baiter
Although Hermione had studied until nearly four o'clock that morning, she found that she was still not sufficiently tired enough to sleep. She was too fatigued to go on with her studies though, so she went downstairs and helped herself to a tub of sugar free tin roof sundae ice cream.
"There's probably nothing worth watching at this hour." Hermione huffed to herself, but turned on the telly notwithstanding. She rolled her eyes when a reggae beat blared from the speakers and police cars flashing their lights appeared. "Oh no, not another one of those American inspired programmes!"
The word 'Bobbies' flashed across the image of police cars chasing a criminal somewhere out of the camera's view. And although the beat was reggae, the lyrics were done by British vocalists.
Bad fellas bad fellas
Wotcha gonna do, right, wotcha gonna do wen they come for yer
Bad fellas, bad fellas
Wotcha gonna do, right, wotcha gonna do wen they come for yer
"Well that's an easy enough question." Hermione replied to the telly, putting another spoonful of ice cream into her mouth. "Run away."
Wen yer were eight and yer 'ad bad traits
Yer go ter school and yer learn the bloomin' golden rule
So why are yer actin' like a bloody fool
If yer cop hot yer must cop cool
Bad fellas, right, bad fellas. Wotcha gonna do? Wotcha gonna do wen they come for yer?
Bad fellas, bad fellas. Wotcha gonna do? Wotcha gonna do wen they come for yer?
Yer chuck it on this one. Yer chuck it on this one.
Yer chuck it on muvver and yer chuck it on yer favver.
By now, Hermione was interested in the programme. In true Hermione fashion, she decided to take notes for a possible essay in the future. She would compare and contrast the methods employed by Muggle Police and the Aurors.
No bloke nor give yer no break
Bobbies nor give yer no break
Soldier nor give yer no break
Not even yer children nor give yer no break
The announcer started speaking even before the song ended. "Bobbies is filmed on location with the men and women of law enforcement. All suspects are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law."
Hermione quickly scrawled down everything the bobbies did when arresting an abusive spouse. She gaped in horror when the bobbies raided an illegal drug lab, and she immediately scribbled notes about the lab as well, thinking she would write an essay for Professor Snape in Advanced Potions class about muggle drug labs. She almost spat a mouthful of ice cream on the telly when the bobbies went after their next criminal. "That's the boy I saw outside the hospital..."
"We've been pursuing the blighter from Central London." The police officer said whilst in pursuit of a speeding, though shimmying vehicle. "He's hasn't slowed at all, and threw an innocent man out of the car he stole."
When the mysterious boy, who reminded Hermione of Draco Malfoy, seemingly vanished into an open field once the bobbies had managed to force him to pull over, Hermione began scribbling. She was not scribbling notes for a possible essay in class, but a letter to the Ministry of Magic.
Bad fellas bad fellas
Wotcha gonna do, right, wotcha gonna do wen they come for yer…
"Master Lucien! OH MASTER LUCIEN, you has brought back Master Se..." Rastus's amber gaze fell upon his beloved master's damaged form, and then upon Lucien's elbow and right leg, or rather the absence of them. "...OH! What has happened to Master Severus? And Master Lucien, what has happened to you?"
"Come along, Rastus. I require your assistance." Lucien hoisted his son more securely in his arms and glided in the direction of Snape Manor Two. Before Rastus could fully open his mouth to question this, Lucien replied: "I must render aid to Sevvie here, but I dare not attempt to pass through the wards of Snape Manor One again." Lucien looked to his missing elbow, and noted sadly that a few centimetres more of his arm had faded.
Lucien floated up the stone steps to the Manor constructed by his son. He was about to try the maple doors, when the tawny haired elf reappeared suddenly in front of him. "Allow Rastus to give assistance?" Without waiting for a reply, Rastus flailed his arms and spelled both doors wide open; allowing the pale ghost ample room to pass through without having to readjust Severus's position in his arms.
"Draw him a tepid bath." Lucien instructed. He carefully unfastened the shredded robes binding Severus's wounded form to his semi-solid torso, and lay him on the pelt on the tiled floor next to the tub.
"Ungh...! No more! Please..." Severus groaned when his flayed back came in contact with the slightly coarse fur.
"Do not be afraid, my son." Lucien spoke in a tone he had longed to use with Severus whilst he had lived. "You're safe now. Father will care for you."
Severus gave an expression which could be interpreted as relief, then closed his dark eyes once more.
Lucien wrapped Severus in the pelt to keep him warm while he rummaged through the cupboards seeking healing salves and potions. He found a few rolls of parchment and a pen before he could find any concentrated potions he could pour into the bath. He began scribbling crude pictures on the parchment, for house elves were not typically taught to read. "Rastus, I need you to return to Snape Manor One and gather these supplies."
"Yes, Master Lucien." The elf nodded.
"Very good, Ras..." Lucien paused when he noticed the elf had already vanished.
Little Albus Dumbledore eagerly looked up from colouring on parchments at the sound of the Gargoyle statue, which guarded the stairs leading to his office, moving aside. It was 5:20 in the morning, and Albus surmised that Severus Snape must have returned from the Death Eater meeting to report on Voldemort's latest movements.
Professor Snape had not informed Professor Dumbledore of his summoning last night. He had neither had enough time, nor would it have been safe to attempt to send word via Owl Post.
But Dumbledore knew the exact moment Severus was summoned anyway. He always did. Into his small hands, little Albus summoned a golden model of a serpent curled around an antiquated sextant upon his desk. His de-aged mind travelled back to a night many years in the past when Severus, then the young potions master of Hogwarts, had returned from a Death Eater meeting. He reported to Dumbledore's office straightaway, gave his account on the meeting as always, and left immediately thereafter.
Young Severus's abnormally calm affect put Albus Dumbledore ill at ease that night. In the early morning, when Dumbledore's sense of foreboding still would not subside, he stole into the dungeons to check on his potions master. As he feared, Severus was laying motionless on the stone floor next to his bed...with deep incisions through his wrists.
One of the deepest cuts traversed the Dark Mark.
Horrified, Albus Dumbledore had dragged Severus Snape to Madam Pomfrey, despite the young man's protests. Severus's blood stained Albus's bright fuchsia sleeves profusely, but Albus took little notice as he lovingly admonished Severus all the way to the hospital wing. When the nurse halted the bleeding, and had bandaged Severus's wounds, the young potion master admitted to attempting suicide.
When Severus would not elaborate on exactly why he had attempted to take his own life, Albus initiated a legillimency session on the younger man without warning. Even so, Severus forced Albus from his mind. He could not disclose the reason, not even to Albus Dumbledore, his mentor and father in all but blood. Albus reluctantly respected Severus's wishes for privacy on that matter, and from that day onward, Severus was one of the most, if not the most, skilled practitioners of Occlumency in all of Britain.
Unbeknownst to Severus however, Headmaster Albus Dumbledore did not immediately hand his blood soaked fuchsia robes to the Hogwarts house elves to launder. Instead, he tore off the sleeve which had soaked a considerable measure of blood from Severus's Dark Mark. He noted how the blood remained bright red even though most of it had dried. Albus charmed the blood back into its liquid form, and wrung it into the mouth of the golden serpent and sextant statuette on his desk. He uttered a few incantations, thereby sealing the blood within the golden serpent's belly. Now the ornament bore minute quantities of the same matter contained in Severus's Dark Mark, and would react similarly to any summoning from the Dark Lord. Thereafter, whenever the Dark Mark burned on Severus's arm, the charmed and preserved blood encased in the ornament would produce heat and luminesce slightly as well. To better allow any changes in the preserved blood to be seen, Albus later transfigured the gold forming the serpent's underside into transparent crystal.
The ornament had started glowing once again at some time during the night. Because Albus Dumbledore was a child once more, Deputy Headmistress Mcgonagall had sent him to bed early. Hence, he did not know the exact moment when the ornament had started to glow. Only when he awakened to use the toilet at roughly 3 o'clock did he notice the change. Although the ornament was no longer glowing brightly, the fact that it was still slightly warm to the touch, and glowing at all indicated that Severus had been called to Voldemort at some time that night.
Worried both about Severus Snape, and his young son Harry Potter, Albus had not returned to bed. He paced about his office, thinking on what he should do. Harry was all alone at Snape Manor.
Albus Dumbledore could neither apparate, nor find transportation to Snape Manor at that time of the night. The Knight Bus was not an option, for an untrustworthy individual might be aboard and could recognize him, even in his de-aged form. He entertained the thought of utilizing the floo network, but the network was too closely monitored, and the fireplaces in Snape Manor were not connected to the floo network besides.
In desperation, Albus had run all the way to YiChung Chang's room at The Ol' Barmy's Inn in Hogsmeade, in the hopes that his long time friend would take him to Snape Manor in his Draconian form. Although YiChung was also a youth at the moment, he could still assume his animagus form and fly great distances, albeit slower than when he was an adult. It would be better than nothing.
Sadly, YiChung was not at the inn, and Albus concluded that he must have been spending the night with his son's family in Whitby. YiChung adored his granddaughter Cho, after all, and was seldom seen away from her whenever he visited the U.K. during the summers. The only reason YiChung Chang stayed at the inn at all was because he was allergic to some of the herbs his son grew in the garden, and was a considered a walking fire hazard when he sneezed. Once while his son was crushing herbs for tea, YiChung sneezed right into Cho's hair and set it on fire.
With a sigh, Albus Dumbledore returned to his office at Hogwarts, berating himself for not thinking of sending either Remus Lupin or Minerva McGonagall to Snape Manor to fetch Harry instead. As he did when he was an elderly man, the child Albus Dumbledore sat at his desk, looking toward the Forbidden Forest for any sign of his potion master's return.
"Albus! What are you doing out of bed?" Minerva McGonagall yelled as she entered the office. It was she who had caused the gargoyles to move aside. Her usually neat bun was tousled within her hairnet, and she was clad in nothing more than a tartan dressing gown thrown sloppily over her night dress.
Albus was hard-pressed to hide his disappointment. Severus was not behind her. He was nowhere in the vicinity of Hogwarts. "The dear boy has been summoned this night."
"Ohhhh..." Minerva shuddered visibly. "What about Harry?"
"Severus would have had to leave Harry in his house elf's care." The de-aged Headmaster clambered out of his chair and ambled to the window. Once there, he kicked the pane. "Severus assured me that he and Harry would have only stayed at Snape Manor for a few days. Just until they settled a few affairs. They were to be back at Hogwarts well before the Interventio Interferous potion wore off."
Minerva did some quick calculations in her mind. "The potion would have lost its potency some time yesterday! You-Know-Who must have known."
Albus gripped the side panels of the window and spoke in a soft voice, as though he were not addressing anyone in particular: "Severus has endangered Harry. The very future of the wizarding world rests with that boy."
Minerva McGonagall's face, already pallid from her lack of time outdoors in the daylight hours, went marginally paler. "If He-Who-Must-Not-Be-named finds out that Severus Snape has a son..."
"...and that the aforementioned son is Harry Potter." Albus continued for her.
"He'll surely be killed." McGonagall withdrew her handkerchief and dabbed at her eyes. "And Harry will surely seek revenge."
"Harry is not ready to confront Voldemort yet." Albus stated. "We must go to Snape Manor and bring Harry back to Hogwarts immediately. It is not safe for him to stay there any longer. Minerva, you must accompany me..."
"Albus, look!" Minerva forestalled him and motioned out the window. "That must be Professor Snape!" At the farthest edge of Hogwart's grounds, Albus and Minerva saw the behemoth silhouette of Hagrid emerging from the Forbidden Forest. In his arms, he bore what appeared to be the form of a man. The man was bloodied, nude, and unconscious. Perhaps the poor creature was dead.
Albus jumped onto Minerva's back. "We must awaken Poppy. To the medical wing, now."
"Walk on your own feet!" Professor McGonagall said irately, setting the de-aged Headmaster on the floor.
Harry awakened just as the dawn's twilight faintly illuminated the spacious bed chambers. He rolled languidly onto his back. As he often did of late, Harry gingerly let his arm fall across the bed, hoping to 'accidentally' make contact with his father's sleeping form. Harry was very careful to make the contact seem inadvertent, for Severus still disliked being touched, and would surely be infuriated if he thought the boy had touched him on purpose. One morning, Severus had irately tossed Harry's hand back onto his own side of the bed, and on another, when Harry kept wrapping his tiny arms around him, Severus rolled the youth tightly in his blankets, immobilising him.
Keeping his eyes closed, Harry continued to pat the bed, wondering where his quarry was. But there was not even warmth to indicate some one had been sleeping on that side of the bed recently. Just a few months ago, Harry did not know the warmth and reassurance of sleeping beside another person. Waking alone now, with neither Severus nor Rastus, was unsettling. "Father?"
Reality meandered in, in tandem with full consciousness. Severus had not retired with Harry the night before. For that matter, Harry did not remember retiring at all. Only grieving after Severus had been summoned. Father had not been home for the greater part of the night. No, he had not been home the entire night. "Father?"
Harry sprang from the bed and ran from one room to the other. "Father? Grandfather? Rastus?" Within a few minutes, Harry had explored the entire Manor twice, but found no one.
Snape Manor One was all but deserted.
Returning to sit on the bed, Harry selected a fluffy down pillow and hugged it tightly to himself . Father must not yet have returned from the Death Eater meeting. "Damn you, Voldemort!" Harry shouted, constricting the pillow, and secretly hoping it would turn into Voldemort's neck. Didn't Death Eater raids occur mainly at night? If so, why wasn't father home yet? Did one of their raids run late? Did Severus go back to Hogwarts to report the proceedings of the meeting to Albus Dumbledore personally? Or did Voldemort demand an exorbitant quantity of potions, and was working Severus to the point of exhaustion even now?
Memories of what little Harry had witnessed the night before came back with the intensity of a storm surge. Voldemort had been very angry at Severus and subjected him to horrible forms of Cruciatus torture and humiliation before the other Death Eaters. Harry had only witnessed the first few minutes of the meeting's "festivities." What must Voldemort have done to father during the subsequent hours? Harry shuddered, remembering how his father had had to remain in the infirmary for days after he attended the last Death Eater meeting. On the very night Severus had rescued Harry from the Dursleys...
Harry clutched the pillow tighter, noting absently that its coverlet had likely been knitted by his own grandmother. Mervidith Snape, yet another victim of Voldemort's cruelty. Once again, Harry's mind wandered through dark thoughts of revenge. For the tortures of his father and grandmother, Harry would subject The Dark Lord to similar tortures...but would Harry have enough hatred within him to cast the Cruciatus effectively? And for the deaths of James Potter, Lily Potter, Cedric Diggory, Sirius Black and Lucien Snape, Harry would kill Voldemort, resurrect him, and kill him again! Five times over. No, that would be too humane. What of all the others who suffered and/or died at the hands of The Dark Lord?
Better yet, what would a victim of both torture and murder at the hands of Voldemort, such as Lucien Snape, do? "Grandfather?"
"Grandfather!" Where was Lucien Snape? Grandfather would not leave Snape Manor, would he? He could not. After all, wasn't he trapped here within its wards? Trapped for nearly seventeen years? If he wasn't here, then where...? Harry's heart sank. Might Grandfather have gone to wherever people go when they die?
"Rastus?" Harry called in desperation. "RASTUS?!"
The light brown haired house octarelf popped into the room. "Yes, Young Snape sir?"
"Rastus!" Harry was so relieved that he nearly asphyxiated the poor octarelf whilst hugging him. "I'm so glad to see you."
"Rastus is happy to see Young Snape too! Is Young Snape hungry? Is there anything you be wanting Rastus to prepare for breakfast?"
"No. Thank you, though." Harry said, still holding the elf like a life-sized doll. "I really want to know where Grandfather and Father are, though."
"Oh! Master Severus and Master Lucien is in Snape Manor Two." Rastus replied. "But you is not to go... " Harry had already sprinted out the door.
"Young Snape!" shouted Rastus as he gathered bottles of potions and jars of salves from the massive stores Lucien had prepared over the years. "Young Snape, you is not to go there."
Harry ignored the octarelf and charged across the grounds and into Snape Manor Two. "Father! FATHER!"
"Harry, NO! Do not come in here." Lucien quickly attempted to wrap Severus in a towel, causing the half-conscious man to groan as the material abraded his broken flesh. "You must not see this!"
"It's nothing I haven't seen before," Harry said defiantly. "This is hardly the first time I've seen father after a Death Eater meeting."
It was the second.
Albus Dumbledore and Minerva McGonagall charged into the nurse's quarters, and shook Poppy Pomfrey so hard in their effort to wake her, that the act sent waves of pain through her head.
"Wha-what?" The school nurse puffed.
"Professor Snape has returned," Minerva dabbed at her eyes, "from a summoning."
Madam Pomfrey jumped from the bed as though some one had installed box springs that really did what their name promised. She quickly threw on her robes, and the trio dashed into the infirmary just as Hagrid entered with the bloodied man.
"Fang found 'im lyin' unconscious in a patch of apogeeraniums." Hagrid explained, placing the man onto a triage bed.
"Severus...are you..?" Poppy began, before stopping abruptly. "This is not Severus!"
"Aye, is Prof'ssor Lupin 'e is." Hagrid said, "ain't seen 'im this bad b'fore."
"Remus?" Minerva Mcgonagall brushed some greying locks off of the man's badly scratched forehead.
Little Professor Dumbledore sat heavily on a nearby chair. "The moon must have been full last night..."
"Musta not 'ad 'is potion." Hagrid helped straighten out Remus Lupin's body on the clean linens. "Didn' Prof'sor Snape come back to 'ogwarts to mek Woofsbane for 'im?"
"No, he has not." little Albus said, tears filling his blue eyes as he traced a mighty gash along Remus Lupin's arm. "Remus had to bear his transformation unaided."
The Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher screamed when Madam Pomfrey realigned his clavicle before healing it. "All right! Leave! All of you, and let me work!!"
In the hall, Minerva's face darkened. "Severus has been away from Hogwarts for too long! He's endangering Harry Potter, and he didn't even brew Remus's wolfsbane for this month! He knows very well with all the unrest of late that Lupin would not have been able to acquire wolfsbane from another source!"
"Time ta bring 'em back to 'ogwarts, I say." Rebeus Hagrid muttered.
Little Albus regarded his groundskeeper and his deputy headmistress with eyes devoid of their usual twinkle. "As soon as we see to Professor Lupin's well being, we will go to Snape Manor.
Ordering Harry not to do something, was a fail-safe method of assuring that he would quadruple his efforts to do just that. Harry charged into the spacious bathroom and shrieked. "Oh father! FATHER! What's happened to him?"
"He'll be just fine," Harry could tell that Lucien was in no way sure of his answer, "his wounds need to be tended, that is all."
Harry kneeled beside the pelt his father lay upon. Severus's feet were horribly swollen and his legs were covered in bruises. When Lucien finally sighed and removed Severus from the towel so he could continue applying a salve, Harry saw that his father's entire torso was covered in bleeding lacerations, bruises and angry red welts.
"BLOODY HELL!" Harry cried, then covered his mouth immediately afterwards, shocked at his own usage of profanity. "Oh father! What did Voldemort do to you?!"
Severus made no response, even though he opened his eyes briefly and looked directly at Harry. Over the next few minutes, he slipped in and out of consciousness, and did not appear to be fully aware of his surroundings.
When Rastus arrived bearing the caches of potions and salves, Harry chose a jar that contained a substance resembling the one his grandfather was applying to Severus's wounds. "Is this the same as the one you're putting on him?"
"Yes, Harry," Lucien released his hold on Severus somewhat to allow Harry access to some of his father's wounds. "This is a tissue regenerating salve."
Harry looked from his father to the filling bath which Rastus was attending. "But won't this wash off?"
"It has an oily base." Lucien replied, cringing when Severus vociferated once more. "It will wash off eventually with the heat of the bath, but it should remain on his wounds long enough to close them adequately."
Lucien clutched the jar he was holding tightly, "your father created this concoction when he was only a few years older than you are now."
"Wow!" was all Harry could say, noticing how the substance halted any bleeding seconds after coming in contact with the wound.
"One night when I returned from a Death Eater meeting..." Lucien paused, as though the memory itself was painful, "I was so downtrodden that I passed out on the floor in this very bath...no, not this bath, but in its brother in Snape Manor One. I meant to pour healing potions into the tub and soak in them until they did their work, but I had no strength to accomplish the task on my own. When I regained consciousness, I felt Sevvie applying the unfamiliar salve to my wounds. The pain dulled or disappeared completely wherever the balm was applied. It regenerated tissues faster than anything I could brew, and was comparable to the best regeneratives available at most apothecaries at the time. Perhaps even better..."
"You must have been proud of him." Harry ventured, watching the skin close on a deep cut.
"I was very proud, and amazed. Not many potions masters were capable of what your father was at age nine." Lucien replied, his face twisted in shame. "But I couldn't encourage your father to follow in my path as a potion master. It was, and is, too dangerous. The Dark Lord, and other opportunists would surely exploit his gifts... so I..."
"...You hurt him?" Harry asked.
"Yes..." Lucien exhaled heavily. "I could not bear the thought of Severus living as I did. I did not want The Dark Lord, or some greedy apothecary owner in Knockturn Alley enslaving him or otherwise exploiting him. To be sure, I was paid well for my services to the apothecaries, and service to The Dark Lord was not without considerable recompense, but it is only to be alive and not living. Never free. At some one's service at all times as well as their mercy like a common house elf." Lucien turned his head away in shame. "If I made a small miscalculation in one of my brews, The Dark Lord punished me. If the apothecaries were displeased with any of my potions, brigands would visit my laboratories at the University and..." Lucien swallowed hard. "Anyway, when I regained enough of my wits to speak coherently that night, I admonished Severus for brewing potions, despite my forbidding him to do so. I ordered him to his room to await his punishment while I finished my bath.
But even though I resorted to throwing bars of soap at him and kicking him stoutly, he would not leave me until he had treated all my wounds and had helped me safely into the tub. Only then did he walk out of the room with his head lowered."
Harry started sobbing. His poor father. His poor grandfather.
"Sevvie...your father returned shortly thereafter bearing bottles from my hidden stash of concentrated healing potions. I had brewed those special potions for those times after The Dark Lord had been particularly displeased with me. Somehow, Severus knew to pour them into the bath. Exactly how Sevvie knew about their existence, as well as how, and in what combinations, to employ those special potions is a mystery to me. I do not even know why he was awake at that late hour."
"He stayed awake waiting for you. Father loved you so much that he probably watched many of the things you did." Harry sniffled, wondering how many times Lucien, and later Severus, had returned from Death Eater meetings in this condition or worse. "He was worried about you, and probably couldn't sleep until he knew you were safely at home. He loved you that much. Just like I love him." Harry wiped his nose. "Did you still punish him for brewing potions? Even though he helped you then.. did you still beat him?"
"I could not bring myself to." Lucien whispered, tears glistening in his icy blue eyes. "When I entered Sevvie's room after my bath, I found him cowering in a dark corner. He had removed his nightshirt, and was leaned over, as much as to say 'get it over with quickly.' I threw him onto his bed and told him that I was too tired to beat him, and that the beating he had received earlier would have to suffice."
For the next few moments, Lucien said nothing more. Harry was sure it was because he was temporarily incapable of doing so, being so moved by how Severus could still love him, even after how cruel he was.
Once all of Severus's external injuries were coated by the healing salve, the pale ghost silently carried his son to the tub. Before immersing him, Lucien poured the concentrated potions into the bath, turning the water to a pale silvery-green liquid.
"Aghh!!" cried Severus.
"Just relax, Sevvie." Lucien helped his son recline so that the level of the water came just below his chin.
"Your body will grow accustomed to the potions shortly."
"Is it hurting him?" Harry asked
"It's only a little uncomfortable at first. You see, Harry, in order for the properties of the healing potions to be most effective, the water they are diluted in must be no warmer than the ambient temperature of the room. The interactions between the potions will produce heat as they work, you see, but they are dilute enough not to make the bath water too hot."
"But hot enough to eventually melt off the oily salve we put on?"
Harry put a hand in the water, and found it to be pleasantly cool. He wondered if it stung Severus's wounds. It was then that Harry noticed Lucien's right arm, or rather what was missing from it. In the last hour or so, even more of Lucien's upper arm and forearm had faded away. "Grandfather! Your arm! Part of it is...IS GONE! What happened?!"
"Nothing really," Lucien fabricated, moving behind the opposite side of the tub so Harry would not be able to see his missing leg and part of his torso. "I'm a ghost after all, I'm already dead, so what can happen to me eh?"
"You're not fading away are you?" Harry asked, splashing some of the potion-laden bath water onto Severus's flushed face.
"Why ever would you think that?" Lucien asked, knowing that fading out of existence was a very real probability. "Uh...I got tired of the style of sleeves I had. Yes, I have dreadful sleeves. After all, you'd not want to wear the same garment for years would you now? Granted Sevvie was wise in choosing to bury me in this outfit, but uh... wearing the same clothes can get rather tiresome after seventeen years."
Harry concluded that it was a good thing his grandfather had chosen to be a potion master, and not a member of parliament, for he could not lie brilliantly enough to convince even a dustbin to vote for him.
The attention called to Lucien's arm only made Harry stare harder at him, so Lucien reached into one of the cases and handed Harry a bottle of a thick potion. "Here, pour this into your father's hair, and take care to saturate it well, he has a cuts on his head."
Harry did as he was told, finding the task somewhat difficult, as chunks of Severus's hair were matted together with dried blood.
Without warning, violent spasms tore through Severus's body. Harry jumped back, both in surprise at the suddenness, and in revulsion at the knowledge that these were the aftereffects of the Cruciatus curse. Lucien levitated the potion bottles and bars of soap out of the way, to prevent Severus from injuring himself upon them, and quickly transfigured the metal faucets into pliable rubber taps hundreths of seconds before Severus slammed against them.
"Oh!" Lucien gasped as Severus's head slipped beneath the water when his convulsions subsided. Lucien helped him surface straightaway. To prevent such a recurrence, he propped his son against the sides of the tub with a series of rolled towels. Harry further helped to achieve that end by moving directly behind Severus and wrapping both arms around him.
Lucien lathered a soft cloth with a bar of mild soap, and began to gently cleanse his battered son's body. He had done this many times when Severus was a young child, and Lucien went through all the motions with the same level of proficiency he had had in life. To his dismay, Lucien could feel the residual trembling from the Cruciatus curse still coursing deep in Severus's muscle tissues, poised to erupt into full blown convulsions at the slightest provocation. As Lucien carefully leaned Severus forward; supporting the younger man with his remaining forearm as he gingerly cleansed the dried blood away from his flagellation injuries, Lucien noted the slight imperfections in Severus's spine.
"Grandfather?" asked Harry, noticing that Lucien was trembling. "What's wrong? His back isn't broken is it?"
"No..." Lucien clenched his teeth as he felt along Severus's spine. "But several of his vertebrae have been cracked at some time in the past. They're healed now, but...without being properly set. This one...appears to have collapsed altogether. Oh Sevvie...how much pain you must be in..."
"I thought you're supposed to have a doctor or a healer sort out broken bones or they won't heal right?"
"In most cases, one should seek a healers help." Lucien shuddered, for he did not truly know whether Severus's injuries had occurred as a result of Voldemort's ire...or his own. Lucien vaguely recalled one day when he had literally thrown a very young Severus out of his labs. The force of the throw sent Severus crashing against a shelf in the hall. He lay on the floor crying for a long time afterward. At the time, Lucien's muddled brain concluded that Severus was overacting as usual. When little Severus did not stop wailing after a few minutes, Lucien threw a heavy tome into Severus's side to silence him. He recalled little Severus stifling his own sobs by cupping a hand over his mouth. Now, with a heavy heart, Lucien wondered if it was he or Voldemort who had once cracked Severus's vertebrae.
Once again, violent, seizure-like twitching wracked Severus's body. This time, Lucien could do little more than pray that the intensity of the spasms itself didn't snap Severus's neck or otherwise cause him mortal damage.
When the trembling resolved once more, Lucien hugged Severus to him. He hid his face against Severus's blood soaked hair and began sobbing.
Lucien raised his head. "I've tried so hard to keep Severus from following in my path! To save him from enduring the existence I had in place of my life!" Lucien broke down completely, cradling Severus in his arms as though he were an infant. "And yet...and yet..." more sobs. "He is now very much as I used to be! The tortures! The drudgery of bone cracking potions duties! Vacillating between consciousness and insanity!" Severus's hand began shaking, and Lucien steadied it with his own, which functioned normally even though it appeared to be virtually detached from the rest of the ghostly arm. " Harry...these spasms...the aftershocks from the Cruciatus Curse...are just like mine used to be only months before I died! I returned from meetings beaten, just as badly as Severus is now...many times...The Dark Lord had never missed a chance to punish me for doing something that displeased him... and now he is doing that to Severus...I couldn't save him. I couldn't keep my own son from harm! "
"Grandfather...it isn't your fault. Not entirely. If father is anything like me, and I think he is, he's very stubborn. If you tell him not to do something, he'll want to do it even more just because you've told him not to. Besides, how can he not be a great potions master like you? He's your son, after all." Harry wrapped his arms around Lucien and noticed that his entire body was quivering with sobs. Evidently, though Lucien was a ghost, he cried very much like a living person.
"All that separates us is our blood, and yet he is so much like me." Lucien whimpered, raising Severus's still quivering hand out of the water and noting that even the length and shape of his fingers were nearly identical to his own. Although Lucien was taller and more broad than his son, they bore a similar proportion of muscle and fat on their frames.
Harry knelt beside the tub and leaned his head against Severus's, his tears falling on his father's cheek. "And you and Sevvie," Lucien went on, seeing on Harry's face, the same look of concern he had so often seen on his son's, " separated by time and distance, and yet you're so much like him. Your mannerisms, your temperament, your intelligence. Your appearance..."
"I guess there's more to being a father and son than blood, or who raised you." Harry concluded. "It must a spiritual bond. I've felt it with father, even before I knew who he truly was. He knew when I needed help, even before I knew I needed it myself. And I knew when he was feeling sad, even though he never told me." Harry gazed into his grandsire's eyes. "You and father have a spiritual bond as well. A very strong one. Father's spirit reached out to you, even before he was born. He called you father then. And when I saw you brew the Amorvi...amorvir-"
"Amorvirtutisumbra Vivosvoco." Severus whispered, still looking quite dazed and only semi-conscious.
"Yes, when I saw you brewing that potion..." Harry began, smiling at the fact that Severus could still help him pronounce the difficult name of a potion even whilst not in full control of his senses, "...I knew only some one's true father would love someone enough to do that. Most parents give their kids life from their flesh. You did the same thing, just in a different way."
"You've only lived for sixteen years." Lucien whispered. "When did you gain the wisdom of a man who has seen more seasons turn than his own grandfather?"
"Your life was too short. Mouldyshorts is going to pay for that! I'll make sure of it." Harry said, rage growing within him once more. "And we're going to make sure father's life doesn't end at the hands of Vol-Moldyshorts until he has lived long enough to see his great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great" Harry paused to draw a deep breath "great great GREAT Grandchildren."
Although Lucien would never disclose this to Harry, he knew that if he hadn't been there to intervene, Voldemort might have tortured Severus until he either went insane or died last night. Lucien knew Severus too well; Severus would never endanger Harry's life, and would allow the Dark Lord to tear his living flesh from his bones, cut out his still-beating heart or even burn him alive before he would even hint at his son's true identity. Even more chilling, Voldemort might have killed Severus anyway and sent his corpse back to Hogwarts in the hope that it would discourage Dumbledore or traumatise, as well as reveal the identity of Severus's son.
"Is father really going to be okay?"
"I believe so," Lucien once again did not sound sure of his answer.
"Then why is he like this?" Harry asked. "Why does he seem like he's awake, but knocked unconscious at the same time?"
"Are you familiar with the expression 'beaten senseless?'" asked Lucien. "The Dark Lord thrashed your father for a considerable length of time. What a human body can ultimately endure is finite, especially when the Cruciatus is also employed."
"You were there?!" Harry hissed.
"Yes. I followed him to the meeting."
"How?" Harry scooted over to where Lucien's ghost was kneeling.
"Because the mask your father wore to the meeting last night once belonged to me, it bore traces of my magical signatures. Before your father left, I cast a charm on the mask to enhance those signatures and used it to track him."
"But how did you get out of Snape Manor One? Aren't the wards around it supposed to keep you trapped there?" Harry asked, noticing that Severus had once again opened his eyes and appeared to be paying attention to their conversation. Lucien put a hand on Harry's shoulder, and recounted the previous night's events in a highly abbreviated fashion.
"Why didn't you let me come with you?" Harry exclaimed. "And you had no right to drug me like that!"
Lucien answered with comparable intensity. "Forgive me, but there was no alternative! I could not endanger you, Sevvie's only child, my only grandson, in that way! What would it have accomplished had The Dark Lord captured you as well? And how could you have defended yourself in your present state? Even if I had re-aged you, The Dark Lord is many years your senior!" He softened his tone upon seeing tears appearing in the boy's eyes, and was taken aback once again at how much Harry reminded him of Severus. "I've lost my wife and nearly my son to The Dark Lord. I will not lose my grandson as well!"
"That is why I asked you to brew a re-aging potion and make me even older than I really was before!"
"And what would you have done? Hundreds, perhaps thousands of people have perished at the Dark Lord's hands!"
"I've beat him before!" Harry retorted. "And I'll do it again
"And if you lost to him last night? In fair combat, perhaps you would win, but the Dark Lord's method is to triumph by any means at his disposal, fair or not. If you are going to chance his enmity, do so when you KNOW you can be victorious!" Lucien pressed. "As unfair as it may seem, only a fool enters a battle he has no chance of winning. You have to fight the Dark Lord using the very same tactic!!"
"You mean cheat back? Outclass him? Outnumber him? Out-strategise him?" Harry smiled deviously. " Or Use muggle weapons. Battle tactics used outside the British Isles. Fight him in a way that a true Slytherin would?"
"Exactly! " Lucien said, a Draco-like sneer firmly planted on his face. Lucien's expression turned sombre a few moments later. "Besides, if you had confronted The Dark Lord last night, and he had killed you, how do you think it would have affected your father? Especially knowing that you had given your life trying to save him?"
"I love him! And I would give my life for him! Gladly!" Harry said resolutely. "But I suppose he'd feel really sad about it though... and..." Harry's eyes grew wide with fear. "And because Voldemort would still be alive, he'd be really angry at father and hurt him even worse! Maybe Voldemort would kill him anyway, and in a really bad way!"
"Harry! You will stop saying 'Voldemort!'" Lucien clamped his hand over his own mouth when he realized that he had said the name of He-who-must-not-be-named.
"But you just said Volde-Moldyshorts's name!"
"I did not say it on purpose!" Lucien's ghostly cheeks turned reddish. "I've made a mistake!"
"I guess I would have made one too if I had followed you and father to the Death Eater meeting. I may not even be alive right now. And other families would still be hurt by Moldyshorts." Harry slipped into his six year-old story telling mode. "And if Mouldyshorts had killed me last night, I'll bet he would do something real mean like make father bury me after I'm dead or something! And to be even more mean, he'll make father dig my grave with something like a muggle plastic shovel. And because the shovel is plastic, father will only be able to dig a really small grave and will still get sore shoulders doing it. Because the grave is so small, my body probably won't fit, so Voldemort will tell Wormtail to cut me up in a paper shredder, but then the paper shredder will break because my bones are too hard, and to be even more mean to father, he'll make father fix the paper shredder. But father probably doesn't know how a paper shredder works, so he'll have to take it to a muggle repair shop. When the muggles there see fragments of my body in there, they'll accuse father of committing murder and throw him in a muggle jail. Because the people in jail are mean anyway, they'll probably beat up on father. Because father won't like being trounced, he'll probably transfigure the other prisoners into dung and then flush them down the toilet, which will cause the toilets in the jail to overflow."
Severus opened his eyes and made a face to indicate that he was repulsed, but little Harry continued.
"Because the paper shredder got broken, what is left of my corpse didn't get buried. Because it didn't get buried, it's going to start to stink, so Voldemort will probably say "Wormtail! Go bury Harry Potter!" And since Wormtail can't dig a bigger hole with the plastic shovel, and the paper shredder is gone, he'll be the lazy guy he usually is and just throw my corpse over the neighbour's fence or something. When the neighbour sees my corpse, they'll either have cardiac arrests and die, or else they'll scold their dog for dragging dead bodies into their yard. When yet another neighbour hears all the shouting, they'll call the bobbies for the disturbance but then the police will come over and see my dead body and start a murder investigation. Because the muggle investigator had never seen a person who died from the Avada kedavra curse before, they'll write that the cause of my death was 'old age' or something. The news media will somehow hear about it and report on the evening news about how incompetent the bobbies are because I was only kid who couldn't possibly die of old age. Meanwhile because father flushed the other prisoners down the toilet, they got out of the prison and turn back to their human forms in the sewer system. Because they won't want to stay in the sewers, they climb out and when they do, the paranormal investigators will report a new species of hominids that are born from the waste matter of other humans."
Lucien looked as though he couldn't decide whether to laugh or cry. Harry's story did sadden him, for he was talking about his own death. Yet, Harry's narrative was tempered with an innocence that made it both funny and endearing at the same time.
"And back in the muggle jail, because the toilets overflowed, the jail fills with water. If father can't get out of the jail cell, that would be bad because he would drown, but the guards won't want the prisoners to drown, so they'll let them swim out. When father swims out, the Aurors will be mad at him for transfiguring the other prisoners and flushing them down the toilets. So then father will have to run away from both the ministry and the bobbies."
Lucien turned to Harry, wanting to hear the rest of the macabre, though rather cute story, but Harry had apparently finished it. "I guess it wouldn't have been a wise thing to do, going after Vol- Moldyshorts without preparing first. Father would be sad if Voldemort killed me." Harry lowered his head thinking of that man with hollow eyes he had met in his first year at Hogwarts. "He'd...he'd be alone again..."
"A father cannot bear to bury his own son." whispered Lucien, silently praying that his own son would not soon join him in death.
"Do you think Mouldyshorts used the Cruciatus Curse on father enough times to cause him damage like you had when you were alive? Will he be brain damaged like you were?"
Lucien cringed. "I cannot be sure, although I pray that Sevvie NEVER behaves toward you as I did toward him..." A violent spasm shook Severus's body, and Lucien had to once again pull him from beneath the water's surface.
"What if he's damaged even worse, and is like grandmother now?" Harry lightly tapped Severus on the chest, and only received a blank stare in response. "At other times, father would be annoyed if I did that and might say 'Harry, stop it.' But he's just looking at me like he doesn't know what's going on. I think we have to get father back to Hogwarts right away."
"But a school nurse may neither have the equipment nor the training to treat your father adequately." Lucien stated, sounding as though sending Severus to Hogwarts was the same as sending a ferret into one of the abodes of Hagrid's dangerous creatures.
Harry sighed. "Hogwarts is quite far away, besides. We'll have no way of taking him there, and father is in no condition to try apparating." Harry did not realize that Lucien, freed from Snape Manor One's wards, was capable of travelling great distances. He could have easily taken Severus to Hogwarts. "Even though Madam Pomfrey is a great nurse, and can heal his wounds, she may not be able to do much about his nerve damage. I'll have to owl St. Mungos..."
"St. Mungos?" Lucien asked incredulously. "If he turns up at St. Mungos with Cruciatus injuries, they'll surely report him. Anyone with injuries due to unforgivable curses will be questioned and investigations will be conducted. His activities with the Death Eaters will be..."
"I know some one at St. Mungos." Harry interrupted. "And she won't tell on father. Dr. Chang. Dr. Chang and Madam Pomfrey both took care of father when he had the Interventio Interferous potion in his system."
"Why was a mediwitch from St. Mungos at Hogwarts?"
Harry recounted the time immediately following the raids over the summer. He covered everything from the arrival of Dr. Ayame Chang and the other St. Mungos staff at Hogwarts, to how he and his father had helped supply healing potions for the patients in the infirmary. He also elaborated more about the Chang family's perceived obligation to the Snapes and how YiChung Chang, in his draconian form, had transported them to Snape Manor.
"I wish we had a similar means to transport Sevvie to St. Mungos." Lucien sighed.
"Right now, Grandpa Chang wouldn't be able to transport us anywhere. Headmaster Dumbledore and he were playing pranks on each other, and ended up de-aging themselves. Kids don't have enough magic to transform into their animagus forms, I think."
"Dumbledore..." Lucien hissed.
"I could owl Dr. Chang that father needs to be sorted out, and we'll bring father to St. Mungos. We could take him there in my invisibility cloak so no one else sees him."
"Shouldn't we ASK Dr. Chang if she agrees to attend Severus first?" Lucien asked.
"She'll agree. And I'll make sure she doesn't say a word to anyone about it." Harry said, rubbing the excess salve off of a gash on Severus's shoulder and marvelling at the way the wound had sealed itself beneath.
"Maybe after father's been sorted out, we could go an visit grandmother too?"
"I would love that." Lucien nodded, smiling at Severus when he opened his black eyes.
It took a few minutes for Severus's eyes to focus properly. Although he knew he had been injured considerably, Severus found that he was not nearly in as much pain as he might have expected to be. Two blurred images materialized slowly before him. One was a tall ghostly being with gleaming white hair, and the other was little boy with eyes the colour of the first leaves of spring. Severus smiled as he recognized the entities; one was his imaginary, kind father; and the other was the mysterious green-eyed angel who had appeared at various times throughout his life when there seemed to be no reason to live.
They had returned to help him now. Severus could feel their gentle hands healing his broken body, and their soft voices soothing him; and their love surrounding him heavily, as though it were something almost tangible. What had he done to deserve such love? For years he had been forced to treat his own wounds. To bear them in silence. Not this day. His imaginary father and angel were helping him feel better.
Although Severus knew his imaginary father, and the green-eyed angel would disappear if he lost consciousness again, he could not help himself. He smiled wearily at each of them in turn, before closing his eyes once more.
Harry jumped back as violent spasms tore through Severus's body once again. This time, Severus was thrown over the side of the tub and thrashed about on the floor like a displaced aquatic creature. Lucien scrambled about, making sure there was nothing in the immediate area that Severus could potentially wound himself further on, even turning each individual floor tile into down filled cushions "Harry."
Harry met Lucien's gaze fully, even as the ghost struggled to keep Severus from breaking his own back. "Harry, when the time comes for you to go after The Dark Lord...I'll be with you...helping you along, no matter what."
"We'll make Voldemort pay!"
Lucien returned Severus to the tub and finished cleansing him. "Harry, you have an owl do you not?"
Lucien and Harry made their way to the roof of Snape Manor Two bearing two large lagomorphs captured in the yard and owl treats to barter for the brooding Hedwig's services. To their surprise, Hedwig's mate stepped forward and held his leg out to Harry, as though he were offering to deliver the post in his mate's place.
"Can you deliver messages too?" Harry asked the male snowy white owl.
Hedwig gave Harry a look that said, "what a foolish thing to ask," while the male owl thrust his foot up once more.
Knowing the dangers sending an owl could entail, Harry had written the entire message to Dr. Chang in homemade tempera paints; so that it would look to be nothing more than an innocuous letter from a child to a healer should it fall into the wrong hands. Hopefully, Dr. Chang would understand its meaning though, as Harry was careful to hint at who they were, while not using either his or Severus's names.
The snowy white owl returned shortly thereafter with a reply from Dr. Ayame Chang. It was written in such a messy scrawl, that Harry pondered whether she had penned it with her non-dominant hand, or even with her feet. Harry wondered if her barely legible writing was a result of training with muggle physicians, for roughly all of the ones Harry had met had atrocious handwriting. It was only fair though, as Harry's coded writing with tempera paints must have been equally hard for her to decipher.
"Will she sort him out?" asked Lucien, trying to make sense of the scrawled letter.
"YES!" Harry said, relief gracing his features. "She said we can bring him to St. Mungos this afternoon at two thirty."
Hermione keyed herself back into the Ministry of Magic headquarters, bearing a videomachine and a miniature telly. The Bobbies programme, which featured that muggle baiting boy, who reminded Hermione of Draco Malfoy, had spawned so much interest that it had been re-telecast on several independent paranormal interest networks throughout the morning. Having endured so much prejudice from intolerant pure-bloods, she could not condone muggle baiters such as this Draco-like wizard, and recorded evidence to present to the ministry.
"Hermione! Delighted to see you..." Arthur Weasley said, putting away a rather large stack of parchments. His gaze moved rapidly to the metallic devices in her arms. "OH! What's that?"
"This is called a VCR. And this is a telly." Hermione explained. She knew that Arthur enjoyed anything muggle, and revelled in tinkering with electronic devices. Most of all, he would be very interested in what she had to show him.
Arthur rose from his desk and gazed upon all surfaces of the curious devices. "How do they work? Don't they need eccltricity?"
"Yes they do." In her excitement, Hermione momentarily forgot that the ministry would have no source of electricity. She was about to invite Mr. Weasley to her house, when Mr. Weasley ducked into a nearby cupboard and emerged shortly thereafter with what appeared to be a portable generator.
"We've confiscated it from a group of wizards who were using it in Knockturn Alley to test eccelectric weapons." Arthur explained. "I haven't had the opportunity to investigate it further, but I've heard this jammerator is a machine that makes ecceltricity."
"It is called a ge-ne-ra-tor," Hermione corrected. She sighed with relief to find that the generator's fuel tank was nearly full. She plugged her mini television and the VCR into the device. "Mr. Weasley, you might want to cast a silencing charm over this machine, portable generators can be rather noisy."
Even with the charms in place, the generator still sounded like a clutch of cornish pixies batting their wings in a steel container when Hermione powered it on.
"Amma-a-azzzing!" Arthur exclaimed, putting his hands on the generator's vibrating chassis and enjoying the tremors.
Hermione rolled her eyes and switched on the VCR and the television. "Mr. Weasley, look here. I have something to show you."
Arthur was absolutely transfixed on the life-like images playing in the little box. When the theme song from Bobbies began, Arthur swayed to the music and commented how infectious the Muggle's songs were. When the police cars flashed their lights whilst in pursuit of a crook's car, Arthur asked why all cars like his old Ford Anglia didn't also come with flashing lights. He jumped back when the Bobbies kicked a criminal's door in and cheered when they took the troublemaker away. "Hermione! This is just amazing! Simply miraculous what the Muggles can do without magic. This is magic in its own right! I wonder if I might acquire a tellie as well?"
"You can have this one if you want it." Hermione said, rolling her eyes once more. She wondered if Mr. Weasley would get over his child-like fascination with the television before the segment with Draco would play. A commercial for a chewing gum that made one's teeth sparkle had Mr. Weasley inquiring where he might purchase some muggle gum. Another advertisement for a laundry detergent had him trembling in his chair, how much Molly would love a box of that! And when the commercial for a talking baby aired next, Arthur Weasley knew he would have to buy one for Samsonite, and another for Ginny. The girls would love those talking ecclectric babies.
Hermione rolled her eyes once more, even if a herd of hippogrifs were to stampede through his office right at this moment, she doubted Mr. Weasley would have noticed. He was too fascinated by the images on the telly to listen fully to her. "Mr. Weasley, I think you should really pay attention to this. There's a muggle baiter here."
"Hmm?" At least Hermione knew that Arthur Weasley was devoting his attention to fully to the programme as the police cars chased Draco out of London and down the long stretch of road.
"WHY!" Arthur gasped when Draco, wearing dyed hair and muggle clothing, 'surrendered' to the police, before quickly disappearing through the barrier. "That's the Malfoy's Estate! That must be Malfoy's son!" Hermione was astounded. So that boy really was Draco!
"But why would he be baiting muggles? That is so unkind of him!" Arthur wondered out loud. "Hermione, is there a way we could watch this scene again?"
Hermione rewound the tape and played for Mr. Weasley so many times, that Hermione was sure the tape was beginning to wear thin. "We should to show this to Madame Hopkirk," Hermione instructed. "He really shouldn't be baiting muggles in that way! And they'll be able to stop him."
"Oh...uh...you're absolutely right, Hermione." Arthur stated, his heart evidently more on watching the entire program than on reprimanding the son of Lucius Malfoy at the moment. "That was very wrong of him. Very wrong of him indeed. The poor muggle law enforcers, they must have been so frightened when saw Malfoy's son disappear like that and how must it have felt for them when they tried to traverse the wards as well, bless them!"
Before Mr. Weasley could ask to watch the scene for the thirty-seventh time, Hermione stopped the tape and turned off the television. "Let's take this to the others immediately. If Malfoy is committing crimes against muggles while his father is in Azkaban, who knows what he will do today?"
"I wonder how Malfoy's son learned how to drive?" Arthur Weasley thought out loud.
End Part Thirty Eight