There is a theory that for every decision we make, even for such important decisions as whether or not to have one lump of sugar or two with our tea, there is a new universe created. This has caused many problems for interdimensional travellers, especially when they are attempting to find a friend's flat in a universe that no longer exists because someone sneezed at the wrong moment ten thousand years before. Be that as it may, every one of our actions does create an entirely different universe…for at least a second. Then the universe realizes just how much work it would have to do to maintain such an elaborate network and decides to take it easy and have a glass of lemonade. You'd be surprised how often this happens.
Be that as it may, this universe in itself is not inviolate. Certain actions by certain people can change the past, the present and the future. These certain people are catalysts, lucky beyond all hope and twice as damned. It is unfortunate for all involved that Uric Beaufolle is one of these.
Uric looked around the room with curiosity. It looked a lot like his study at home, only without the hole in the wall and the giant paper sculpture of a newt. A long table lined one wall. A cauldron was bubbling in the middle of it, with all kinds of potions ingredients in tidy piles beside it. Two ostentatious arm chairs were clustered around the fire to Uric's left. It took him a moment to realize that they were occupied.
"Kindly explain what you are doing in my lab and why I shouldn't curse you out of existence?" asked a sallow, hook nosed man in dark robes. "Nevermind. Stupefy." Uric had a moment to reflect that this was quite enough petrifying for one day, thank you, before he was out cold again.
He awoke with a headache. "Badgers?" he mumbled, keeping his eyes closed. He heard, rather than saw a snarl of disgust.
"I think the stupefys addled his brains, Lucius. You might as well go," said the voice Uric remembered from the study.
"Are you sure you don't need any help, Severus?" asked another voice solicitously.
"I am perfectly capable of taking care of deranged man in a tea cozy," sneered the first voice.
"A deranged man with a dead woman in his arms. That's not something that appears in your study every day, especially since you can't apparate here," pointed out the second voice.
"Yes, that was an oversight on my part. If one could apparate here then you could leave faster. Floo powder's by the fire," said the first voice flatly. The second voice sounded amused when it spoke.
"Charming as usual, Severus. I hope for your sake, that you've lost that attitude when we face our Emperor later." There was some noise. I wonder if you can breed cheese like people breed dogs? I'd like to see what you get when you cross a nice Cheddar with an Applewood?
"Alright. Get up," said the first voice irritably. Uric remembered to open his eyes. He was tied to one of the arm chairs he had seen before. He frowned. Where was Elizabeth?
"Where's Elizabeth?" he asked the dark-haired wizard. The wizard – the other one had called him Severus hadn't he? – Severus, gestured towards the other side of the room. Elizabeth lay on her back, her eyes open. A sadness came over Uric. Forever open, and she wanted to find the badgers with me. His captor didn't seem to have time for Uric's grief. He moved impatiently.
"Is she a muggle?" he finally demanded. Uric looked at the wizard, than back at Elizabeth, than back at the wizard. He wasn't sure why it mattered.
"Maybe," he said. He certainly hadn't asked. Anybody with an upside-down duck on their jumper was good enough for him. The other wizard seemed to take his answer as a yes. His dark eyes were troubled as he looked at Elizabeth.
"Where did you get her? She looks well fed. Well dressed. She doesn't have the mark either, but I found no wand on her." Uric had no idea what the wizard was talking about.
"I'm Uric Beaufolle," he said, deciding to introduce himself. He made to shake hands but only managed to shift the armchair a little. "Who are you? Where am I? When am I? What mark?" The wizard regarded him with distaste.
"I am Severus Snape and you're in my house. As for the date, it is the forty-fifth year of Emperor Voldemort's reign. As for the mark." He gestured at his own shoulder. "She should have an 'M' tattooed onto her right shoulder marking her as a muggle."
"Why?" Uric asked.
"So that all may know them on sight." Snape sounded like he was quoting someone. "All mudbloods are killed at birth so that only purebloods and muggles may live, one subject to the other forever." Uric's eyes widened. Mudblood was a very bad word, but Severus said it so casually. Uric wasn't sure if he liked the dark-haired wizard much.
"So do wizards have 'W' tattooed on their shoulders? What happens when you see a wizard doing a hand stand? Are they then considered a muggle?"
"What are you blathering about?" demanded Snape.
"The 'W' would look like an 'M' from upside down," explained Uric patiently. Snape exploded.
"Wizards don't have marks! Only Voldemort's trusted circle is marked, and then only with a secret sign of his own so that he may call us to him."
"So how does that make you any different from the muggles?" asked Uric in a puzzled tone. He had no idea how close he came to dying in that moment. Snape glared daggers at him for several minutes, but Uric had always liked staring contests and Snape had to give up after Uric rolled his eyes back inside his head for the third time in a row. The wizard threw up his hands in disgust and paced back in forth in front of Uric.
"You're not making the carpet very happy," pointed out Uric. Snape ignored him, than abruptly paced over to stand in front of him.
"How did you end up in my study?" he demanded. Uric told him. Everything. Starting with his birth and moving onward. Snape listened surprisingly patiently, but then many people over the years had found Uric's voice strangely compelling. It was a voice you could listen to for hours until you finally went mad and it started to make sense. Snape turned in horror to stare at the young woman lying dead on his carpet when Uric was finished.
Her death had done something. What would have happened if she hadn't died? He remembered a Sirius Black from his days at Hogwarts, but no James Potter. All the Potters had been 'disappeared' soon after Voldemort came to power. An abrupt stab of pain in his arm brought his musings to a hault. He ground his teeth in annoyance. Attending at the Emperor's court was considered an honour by many. Severus would have given up the honour in second, if it meant a few more hours of peace, but he had to go and not just for himself. He stared hard at the man before him.
"I'm going to let you up out of the chair. Touch, or destroy anything in my lab and you die," he threatened. Uric didn't seem to understand the threat, but Severus let him up anyway. The pain in his arm was becoming more insistent. "Tell no one what you told me. When I get back, we'll decide what to do with you." He locked the door and took the key with him, than hurried to the fireplace. He hoped the Emperor was in a good mood tonight.
I have to admit that this story has taken a turn towards the dark, but a future with Voldemort in power is bleak indeed. Darkness really doesn't lend itself to humour so I apologize if the chapters with Voldemort aren't as funny as the earlier chapters.
Thanks to all my reviewers:)
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