A/N Solution Chapter! Don't miss chapter ten!
"Chester! No more visitors," Draco Malfoy ordered his secretary. "Don't let anyone else in or out, because I really want to hear from Professor Snape exactly how this business of one escaped siren turned into an interracial headache."
The faun shifted his gaze between the Minister, the Headmaster, and the other guests before finally bowing and excusing himself from the room. Charlie Weasley, Thomas Craw, and his assistant Adler Bosworth were all present as well, while Harry made himself comfortable on the other side of the room near Aurelius and Jennifer. At first, Severus stood casually behind Jennifer's chair, but finally moved up when none of the others were inclined to speak at all and looked expectantly at him instead.
"Well, the first thing that needs to be made clear to everyone is something that's been rather obvious to me for some time," Severus said solemnly, "and that is, there was no siren involved in this entire situation at all. The person murdered was a Fomorian Scout."
"Well, that would explain why we were nearly drowned by them, wouldn't it?" Harry said. Aurelius said nothing, but his expression spoke volumes, knowing that a great deal of the mistake had been his doing. "You say you've known it for some time? Like before we even went north to investigate?"
"Oh, yes, although I wasn't the first person to suspect something was strangely not sirenish about the girl. That was my wife," Severus said, leaving Jennifer momentarily surprised. "The day she was murdered, Jennifer, you wondered why she hadn't even attempted a siren attack, even when she was by the brook. It is true that up until that point she had been silenced by Aurelius," he said, shifting his eyes over to him. "Proper procedure when dealing with a siren, of course. His assignment as presented to him was to deal with such, and therefore he held the preconceived idea that was what she was and had no reason to suspect otherwise."
"Yes, yes, Severus, you don't need to defend the actions of that son," Thomas said, waving him on.
"I only mention it in case that you may want to overlook your own procedures on how such missions are presented, Thomas," Severus said evenly. Thomas raised his brows in response, and Adler frowned disapprovingly at the Headmaster. "But as I was saying, the prisoner had escaped them and had been on her own at least overnight before she was discovered, and therefore any muting spells Aurelius and Andrew may have placed on her would have worn off by the time of the confrontation with her murderer. Were she a true siren, we should have heard something, especially since, as you know, a siren's voice can echo for several nautical miles.
"I then had some words with Aurelius, who is, as some of you know, a sort of expert on the Dark Forest, and he himself reported that the forest did not act as if it had just been invade by any sort of foreign creature. They were simply put out by the number of wizards in the forest and otherwise stayed completely out of the issue."
"But Severus, wouldn't a Fomorian be an unknown to them?" Charlie asked.
"As far as the forest is concerned, Fomorian is simply a proper name for a giant with magic," Severus said. "And in that consideration, they are nothing more than a type of wizard."
"Like Rubeus Hagrid was a wizard," Harry said. "That makes sense, now that I think of it. What about your bird?"
"Halbert Hagrid, as you may remember, has been around that Stymphalian since it was a chick. Descartes would not sense such a being as an abnormality either," Severus shrugged. "But it was the method of magic that intrigued me the most…Fomorians are known for their control over elemental magic and most especially water. It was the only logical explanation for who may have commanded that much power over the sea. My trip to the morgue and then to our Fomorian ambassador confirmed those suspicions, but unfortunately, they could not tell me what exactly the girl had been involved in. She had been missing for some months after going looking after another one of their artifacts. I still needed to find out who may have killed her and why."
Just then, there was a timid knock on the door and Severus paused thoughtfully. Draco stared viciously at the door, gesturing for Adler to answer it. The deputy minister opened it just enough for Chester to poke his head and horns in.
"What is it, Chester? I thought I told you we were not to be disturbed!" Draco scowled at him.
"No, Minister, as I recall you said, 'no more visitors,'" the fawn said, unperturbed by the dangerous flash in Draco's eyes. "But there's a wi…well a um, well, there's someone here that wants to see Minister Craw over a matter of some urgency…quite insistent…life and death…"
"It's going to be life and death if we get interrupted again," Draco warned him.
"Adler, take care of that," Thomas said.
"Yes, sir," Adler said quite reluctantly, slipping out of the room with the secretary.
"You were saying?" Draco prompted Severus, who watched them leave with a curious expression on his face. "Who and why?"
"Yes," Severus said, turning his attention back to Draco. "The 'why' was actually in the forefront of my mind by that point. So on my way to speak to the Fomorian ambassadors, I stopped by to see Thomas and find out if it would be possible to arrange some sort of trap from what would seem to be a third party. So, using our cover as the B.E.L.A. league, he was able to help me get the MCA to set up a 'sting' in a possible 'smuggling' operation in the area, although at that point I was not aware how close my guesses were to the truth. Of course, that first attempt to gather information ended up being rather… counterproductive," he said, glancing at his wife, who was exchanging a sheepish look with Aurelius. "By this time, however, I had gotten into the area myself, and decided to use a more tried and true method of finding out information. I met up with an old man who chartered his boat to touring groups and monetarily convinced him to take a short vacation and grant me the use of his boat for a few days. That meeting proved to be even more beneficial than I may have hoped for, for Beatey Cates had a suspicious eye and a fast tongue, and between them I learned more than I had expected.
"In fact, he asked me point blank after I made the offer what exactly I was looking for and where, and I saw no reason not to tell him that I was planning to take the boat up around Papa Stromsay and have a look about. 'Are you looking for treasure then?' he asked, and I in turn asked him why. He then provided me with the sound answer that had I merely been fishing or diving that I had no reason to want him to leave. He believed that I may be planning to illegally salvage some of the recent wrecks, and soon I was able to learn why. For that was when he told me that he happened to catch a fish that way which had swallowed something peculiar; a misstruck gold coin as he had never seen before…this one, as a matter of fact," Severus said, pulling it out.
"A Galleon?" Charlie Weasley said with interest. "I've never seen one so badly struck before. They're normally melted and remade."
"Notice also how the width varies slightly from one side to the other as well…my guess is that the gold is impure and therefore when it was set into the mold settled at a different height, causing the misstrike. Because it was caused by impurity, I would say it was discarded, and improperly…the motive, then, became quite clear at that point. But how would I find who was behind it? A Goblin was involved, of that I was sure, but I was just as certain that he would not be able to run such an operation alone. And where did the gold come from? Considering the impurities in this piece, I concluded it came from a variety of sources. I learned later this was correct; the gold was both scavenged from the sea and from inside unsuspecting Muggle houses. It was the bartender, I believe, who tipped them off to when certain residences may be empty, as well as helped distribute the coin. Asterman, the burglar of the group, could pop in and out with ease and with very little danger to himself. Erikkson would then collect the items and bring them to Beowulf in his small yacht, who would pay them in the minted coin…except, that is, for the other partner, this girl whom I've learn was named Isa. She had been drawn to the area because of its archeology sites, looking for some sort of holy artifact that the Fomorians refused to tell me about. I imagine she ran into the thieves and made a deal with Beowulf that she would help them scour the sea so long as she was able to pick through everything retrieved by both she and Asterman to make sure any item she might have been looking for wasn't in the mix. She also helped provide some protection for them as they met at this island, for in true Goblin fashion, Beowulf had created a small, hidden cave in one wall of the cavern you found, Aurelius, to horde their finds and to hide a small smelting area he had set up there.
"Of course, at the time I first met up with the old man, I merely suspected this was going on. I still needed not only proof of this theory, but to learn the names of those behind it. So I traded the old man several real Galleons for the fake coin, sent him on his way, took his semblance and his story and took the boat in to several ports, in Stronsay in particular, with a Telepathy potion in my system to not only cover any tracks I needed to if he was known in the area but also to look for those who may have been involved. But Stronsay, strangely enough, turned out to be a rather dead end, except for hearing more rumors that strange currents and swells had been noted around the islands lately, and along with inept piloting were being blamed for the accidents.
"None of them seemed much interested in the coin itself, except for asking me to dispense with it and not telling anyone where I got it, although I did note several going out to sea to see if they could find some of their own. Nevertheless, it was getting late, and I decided it was high time I got back. I had driven the boat back into Kirkwall with the soul intention of meeting up with Jennifer and Aurelius to see them out of their predicament with the coast guard, but soon learned that Harry had already done so. I then happened to spy Jennifer through the window of a local pub, listening to the local banter. It was for that reason alone that I entered, to have words with her and let her know I was around, when some of the locals recognized me, and I decided to try there as well. As it turned out, it was a good thing I did. The bartender, it seemed, was a wizard, albeit not a very adept one, and was acting as the middle man in the very operation I was attempting to uncover. I had no doubts that it wouldn't take him long to come to the boat looking for me, so quickly I formed a plan.
"Using what I could quickly grab out of my pockets, I hurriedly took out three items and went over to Jennifer, setting a gold ring under a card where the boat was berthed on the table, distracting her momentarily while I put the other, admittedly, in her drink…"
"You did what?" Jennifer said, staring blankly at him.
"It was quite harmless, Jennifer, it simply acted to further aggravate any stomach issues you were already having with so much ale. I had hoped to keep you out of this whole affair," Severus admitted, his apology not quite as sincere as Jennifer might have wanted.
"Perhaps if you hadn't thought of cross-referencing the boats with owners that had leases well over a typical Muggle's lifespan with when the boats were in port and their destinations, I may have kept you out. I should have known better than to offer that clue to you," he acknowledged with a respectful nod to her, despite the fact she was obviously still annoyed. "But at the very least, I was hoping to provide a stall, for I knew neither Harry nor Aurelius would leave your side until they knew you were feeling better. That gave me the time to confront Pole and tuck him away before using my second Polyjuice to transform into him and hurry back to meet with one of Pole's counterparts, who had been waiting at the bar to meet him, and then be back in time to 'surprise and be surprised' by Harry and Aurelius…who soon attempted to sneak on Catey's boat to meet someone different."
"Are you saying that you had us kidnapped on purpose?" Harry said aghast.
"I knew that once they realized exactly whom they had tied up that they would very much want to consult the ring leader, and I also knew that during such a journey to that leader that I would be able to quickly learn the extent to each individual's involvement of the crime. Asterman and Pole had been active members in the counterfeiting but knew nothing of the murder. Ericksson had known, but it was Beowulf who actually did the job, using his Goblin hunting sense and sense of smell to track her down."
"One moment, son. You're forgetting, I think, that the girl was killed with a wand," Craw said.
"Not at all, Thomas," Severus said. "Actually, it was the very fact a wand was used that made me realize who we had to be dealing with, even before I saw him. Grendelbane and Beowulf were sons of a wandmaker and, despite the fact they were Goblins, had to know rudimentary wizard spells to be able to test them. That means that except for his own brother Grendelbane, who has a poor reputation within his own kind by the very fact he does not care much for wealth, Beowulf was the only Goblin that I know of who could have committed the crime. He had no doubt discovered the wand in the forest and decided to make some use of it, and I believe was also labeled by the Centaurs as 'a wizard' for that very fact."
"And where is Beowulf now?" Charlie asked. "I know you didn't bring any Goblins in."
"The Fomorians decided to retrieve him before we could do that," Severus said.
"Yes, I found out about that the hard way when I ended up with both their ambassadors on my doorstep, protesting each other's actions," Draco grumbled. "This is yet another occasion where you've given me a political nightmare, Severus."
"Yes well, everyone has their jobs," Severus shrugged.
"Well, you have a lot of explaining to do for drugging me again, Severus Snape," Jennifer said.
"And kidnapping us," Harry put in.
"Shall I draw up charges?" Thomas asked with a wicked smile.
"Thanks, but I'd prefer to think up my own punishment," Jennifer said crisply, receiving a rather speculative gaze from her husband in response.
"Wait a minute, aren't we forgetting something here?" Aurelius said. "Like what happened to Andrew?"
"Oh, that, yes, well, I'm sure Jennifer would care to explain that," Severus said, disarming Jennifer and making her blink with surprise.
"Yes, what was it you were telling me earlier, about what you learned from Ginger?" Severus said.
"She simply said that he said he was helping a friend, and that the friend was a girl," Jennifer said.
"Yes, let's forget that last part a moment, Jennifer, and let me ask you this. Who do you know, besides immediate family, that our son Andrew would be willing to risk his reputation and career, let alone time in Azkaban, rather than betray?"
"Well…Halbert Hagrid, I suppose," Jennifer said cautiously as Severus swept over to the door and opened it. Immediately, loud arguing could be heard within the reception room as Severus stuck his head out, and a moment later, a figure burst through the doorway, followed by a huffing and puffing Bosworth.
There in front of them was the part-giant himself…Hagrid's one and only son…only, she wasn't a son any longer. Curly hair draped down over her heavy snow coat, her beardless face rosy as if out of breath, and a face that reminded Jennifer distinctly of his…her…mother. Even more strangely, white fur covered the top of her hands and around her neck, and pointed canines were obvious whenever she opened her mouth.
"It's not his fault! I'm telling you, Andrew had nothing to do with any of this!" Halbert said in a husky, almost sultry voice as she shook a newspaper at them. "He tried to hide what's been going on, but someone was nice enough to send an Owl with a Daily Prophet to the Himalayas. He couldn't deny what he was hiding from me then! But he had nothing to do with the murder! He was just trying to…" Halbert burst into a wave of tears and hysterically motivated French, Jennifer's wide gaze shifting to her husband's expressionless one and back again, noting the thickly spiked snow boots that she was wearing.
"Perhaps he was trying to fix what you had done to yourself while attempting to keep your condition from becoming public?" Severus suggested calmly. Halbert tried to say something but ended up simply choking and nodding. "I believe you were doing some sort of experimentations with veterinary medicines relating to Yeti?"
"C'est vrais, they are going extinct, as I'm sure you know!" she said. "I was trying to develop some sort of potion to help them…a potion to give to the male Yeti's so that when they did mate they would have a greater chance of having a female. But they won't take potions normally, even in their food, so I decided to try injecting it…" she burst into tears again.
"And ended up injecting yourself instead," Severus finished. "Well, someone had better tell that son of ours there's no Transfiguration Spell out there that can permanently change you out of something you manipulated at such a base level of cell development. Only a potion can do that."
"I don't care if I'm like this forever, but I'm not going to have him spending time in Azkaban because of me," Halbert said.
"No need, Hagrid. Severus had already gone and cleared him before you even came in here ranting like a little girl and looking like a dolled-up teddy bear," Thomas said, earning dirty looks from Charlie, Harry, and Jennifer. Aurelius and Draco snickered.
"This wouldn't have ever gotten so out of hand if Andrew had come to us with this in the first place," Jennifer said, standing up. "I suppose I should get back to the school and get to researching, if you have a list of what you put in this thing, Halbert."
"I suppose I had better assist you," Severus offered.
"Oh? What makes you think I'm even talking to you after what you just pulled, let alone willing to accept your assistance to help?" Jennifer retorted.
"Let that be a lesson to each and every one of you. Don't make me get involved," Severus said, a faint, wicked smile appearing on his face.
"And here I thought you had him tamed by now, Jennifer," Charlie teased.
"I don't think Snapes can be tamed," Harry said dryly. "Sure you don't want us to arrest him, Jennifer? I'll happily do it."
"Well, like it or not, he did solve the case, but I can assure you he's not going to be let off the hook for awhile," Jennifer assured them.
"Please, no more fishing references," Aurelius protested. "Or siren ones for that matter, thank you very much."
"Yes," Severus agreed. "Proof that silence still can be golden." Everyone in the room stopped and stared at him.
"That didn't mean you had to say it," Jennifer chided him, shaking her head with exasperation as they followed Halbert out of the room.
A/N And there you have it, and here we are, the week gone, and movietime is upon us! I need to get back to serious writing again, but when I'm ready to take a break (and considering I'm redrafting hand-written stuff I wrote years ago, I will need it :P) I shall be writing the second in the short story series; Headmaster Snape and the Avatar of Death...maybe around the first of the year, depending on how my original fiction project is going. But in any case, I hope you enjoyed this little nostalgic piece. Now, go see GoF...and if you haven't heard...they start filming Phoenix is February. Yay! duck> JCWriter.