Of Snake Bites and Dittany Cures

by Iva1201

Chapter 17: Six Pieces of the Dark Lord's Rotten Soul

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A/N: I know this won't be adequate but I do not have anything else to offer but the truth – I have a very time-demanding job since a couple of years now and I sadly do not have much free time at all. )-: Unfortunately this means that I also do not have time for writing on my stories most of the time – and I sincerely apologize for that. I can promise one thing, however – I will never abandon any of my stories. You must be only patient with me and my slow writing. Thank you.

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Hogwarts, Room of Requirement

Christmas Day 1997

"Well, Potter," Snape finally interrupted the silence, his voice emotionless as ever. "It seems that you are able to cast me out of your mind after all. Since you still have some information I am interested in, we shall try again. For your own benefit, I hope you will remember how to force me out at some point. Neither of us wants to suffer a bad headache tomorrow, I believe. Long, multiple Legilimency connections would do us just that. But seeing to your experience with the Dark Lord's vision you have already known that, am I not right?"

By some miracle, Potter kept his temper in check. The boy simply miserably nodded, most probably trying to figure out how exactly to fight Snape's next intrusion.

Severus didn't mind the lack of the verbal reaction from the boy at all. He was starting to feel increasingly tired and any avoided unnecessary argument was him very welcome.

Aware that the boy would in all probability not be able to recreate his tactic immediately, Severus left Potter a moment to brace himself for his next attack. He knew enough on the Dark Lord's Horcruxes now to know where to push for more information in the boy's mind – and hoped that the boy would learn more this way as well.

As Severus suspected, when he finally cast the Legilimency spell again, Potter didn't fight him straight away. Snape assumed that it had to do with the fact that he didn't force for any painful or unpleasant memory this time. But then Potter should be able to recognize and fight also a supposedly innocent mental attack by now.

The Dark Lord was known for his many manipulations and the hunt for Potter and his little friends was one of his current priorities. It wouldn't do well if the boy was sent another false vision and would jump over head to "rescue" whomever the Dark Lord felt would be important enough to him – be it one of his classmates, relatives or members of the Order. Severus could even envision a trap offering a revenge on him, the murderer of sainted Albus Dumbledore, to the boy. The Dark Lord would without doubt find such an idea highly entertaining.

All of this on mind, Severus anew felt the intense need to give the boy a tool to defend himself. Once more successfully fighting his fatigue, he concentrated on his attack on Potter's mind, hoping against hope that he would be able to provide the boy just that in the limited borrowed time that was still granted to them…

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Show me what are the Dark Lord's Horcruxes, Severus thought, increasing the pressure on Potter's mind. So far, the stream of the boy's recollections had only showed him a couple of glimpses of the boy's childhood – much like their ill-fated Occlumency lessons almost two years ago.

The pressure had clearly paid off – Potter's memory stream was slower and Albus Dumbledore's face was repeatedly showing on the front of the boy's mind now.

Severus thought to recognize the boy and the Headmaster bowing over Dumbledore's Pensieve – but decided against pressing for more detail as he didn't believe he would be able to see much of an older memory just through Potter's recollection of a Pensieve visit. Legilimency had its limits after all.

The next memory was one of Potter speaking to Horace Slughorn – most likely about his sudden "successes" in Potions. Suppressing his curiosity, Severus left this memory go by as well.

And then, finally, Potter's memories returned to the Head Office and a discussion with Dumbledore. Snape pushed for more detail, curious if the boy would start to fight him now. Despite he desired to have as much information on the Dark Lord's soul vessels as possible, he rather hoped Potter would find it in him to protect his knowledge – and with it also his mind against the Dark Lord's future attacks…

The recollection of Dumbledore in Potter's memory was speaking of a "Diary" – Severus supposed the Headmaster meant the black book connected in some way to Lucius – Potter inquired about the Philosopher's Stonethe Headmaster confirmed his assumption of 7 HorcruxesDumbledore showed Potter his blackened hand – speaking of the mysterious, curse-caring Ring, no doubt; Severus didn't pressed for particulars here, not needing them after having fought the curse on the Ring to save Dumbledore's life the previous summer... When the recollection of Potter asked stupidly: "They could be old tin cans, or, I dunno, empty potions bottles…?" then, Severus shook his head in disbelief. Had the boy not learnt anything at all while attending the school?

Distracted by his musing and fatigue, Severus didn't immediately feel it when the boy finally started to fight his intrusion. When he noticed the pressure against his invasion, he sighed in relief – it was about time. Simultaneously, he increased the power of his mental attack – this particular memory seemed to hold just the information he needed and he hoped to see at least another few pieces of it.

Dumbledore was speaking to Potter about the Diary being a proof of the Dark Lord being a heir of Salazar Slytherin – the Headmaster mentioned objects of certain grandeur – Potter was crying out "the locket" and "Hufflepuff's cup" in triumph – Dumbledore smiled offering a bet to Potter on the nature of the Horcruxes – the Headmaster mentioned objects from Hufflepuff and Slytherin – objects owned by Gryffindor and Ravenclaw – four objects from the four founders…

Four objects from the four founders, Severus repeated in his mind and shook his head in disbelief – yes, it was as simple and as genial as that. He felt a smile forming on his face. Today was not in vain then, no matter what would happen from now on, he thought satisfiedly. The strange Diary was most likely some relict that was connected to Salazar Slytherin if it was proving the Dark Lord's relation to the founder. Yet to be found was the "Hufflepuff's cup", if Snape understood things correctly. The Locket Potter and Weasley were destroying in the other time line had possibly belonged to Rowena Ravenclaw of Godrick Gryffindor in the past.

The Dark Lord most likely wanted to create a Horcrux the night he attacked the Potters – again choosing an object from one of the remaining founders, Snape thought. But for some reason the spell didn't work well, if Dumbledore was right and Potter was indeed a Horcrux himself. The spell must have backfired when Lily's sacrifice protected her son…

The Diary – the Cup – the Locket – the Ring – Nagini – Potter. Six pieces of the Dark Lord's rotten soul.

When Severus fully turned his attention back to Potter's memory, the recollection of Dumbledore was just repeating the information he gave also to him – that Nagini was quite possibly much more than just a Dark Lord's pet. Then Potter was informed that Dumbledore was close to finding another Horcrux – and the boy received a promise that he could join the old man in retrieving and destroying it…

The reason why they were away from Hogwarts the night Draco managed to let the Death Eaters into the castle no doubt, Snape mused. I wonder if the boy would react as strongly as the last time when we touched this memory…

As if prompted by this thought, Potter finally pressed back with such force that Severus was thrown out of the boy's mind. He half expected Potter to enter his own memory stream – but instead the connection broke when Potter's defensive spell, increased by the power of Snape's previous attack, knocked the Professor down together with the chair he was seated in. As his head hit the stone floor, Snape lost consciousness…

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A/N: Thanks for reading. (-: Those of you who do not have Author Alert on me might be interested in my new HP, Snape centric one-shot "Home."