Chapter One: The Clandestine Experiment
The Minister of Magic tramped down the hollowed dungeons, holding his green bowler hat in one hand and a snake-skin briefcase in the other. He was assisted by an Unspeakable as well as an Auror for protection on the journey, as one could not apparate into Hogwarts. He had already written a letter to the so-called "former" Headmaster of Hogwarts several months ago and had gotten his okay on the secret experiment being arranged.
He knocked on the door of Severus Snape's office, who immediately said in his deep voice, "Enter." The Minister walked in and Kingsley shut the door behind the three of them.
"Hello Minister….," Snape acknowledged, but did not rise from his nearly cleared off desk. He nodded towards the sallow-faced wizard wearing cobalt-blue robes and a grave expression deep lines etched over his forehead, "Avery,…and forgive me,…." Snape inclined his head to the tall, muscular wizard standing beside the candles on one of the shelves.
"Shacklebolt….Kingsley Shacklebolt," the Auror answered in a plain, but confident voice.
"Yes…an Auror," Snape said shrewdly. He knew perfectly well who Kingsley was, as they were both members of the Order of the Phoenix. But because he is a spy for the Order, Snape could not let slip even the slightest hint that they were on speaking terms.
Cornelius Fudge cleared his throat, "Let's get down to business Snape….er Professor Snape. You have been teaching at this school for nearly sixteen years, correct?"
"Yes, Minister," Snape answered smoothly.
"As Potions Master. Dumbledore gave me a most pursuasive reference on your abilities in Legilimency and Occlumency. I must say you are the only one we want for this aspect of the research."
Snape's blood drained from his head at the mention of this power that he usually would not tell anyone of. But because this was supposed to be clandestine, and he was going to gain quite a lot if it succeeded, he was more than willing to do so.
Snape nodded appraisingly and said, "I will do my best to discover innovative techniques to use these powers for what you wish to accomplish."
"Yes…" Fudge said looking down at the floor for a second frowning as he began to complain, "With all that has been going on, I can only hope this works. My Aurors could then possess the intelligence needed to capture them…. I would at least have them back in Azkaban and my approval rating would be satisfactory like it once was." Fudge sighed in exasperation, his blood-shot eyes focusing on Avery, "You have the details of the procedure and contract with you?"
The sallow faced wizard answered in the affirmative, in a murky voice as he fumbled through a pocket of his robes. Avery laid on Snape's spotless, ebony desk a scroll of parchment and a gold quill.
Snape raised an eyebrow and glanced down at the contract, "You sent me a copy of it last week, I reviewed it and wish to sign it now if isn't revised….but first whom is the subject you have selected?"
"Well…Professor Snape you must understand this research needs presence of a rare ability that the learned wizards in the Department of Mysteries wish to explore further. Not everyone is a seer by all means, most question their credibility….We have chosen someone, whose family has seers in their lineage. She is young, so her powers are still alterable. And her father works in the Ministry, which makes her trustworthy. Because she is under-age, he signed her contract."
Snape frowned deeply, as realization dawned upon him, "Is this a Hogwarts student?"
"Yes. She has already been interviewed and will be no problem at all," Fudge answered automatically sensing Snape's displeasure.
"Who is it?" Snape asked sharply, a vein showing up on his left temple, imagining having to give extra lessons to a little brat.
Fudge dropped his jaw stupidly, taken aback by Snape's change in demeanor to such ill-temperament. "er…Blanche Runecord. Age sixteen."
"I know the girl," Snape interrrupted as he started thinking about her. At least it wasn't the worst-case scenario, as there were plenty of other students in the school that he would loathe giving private lessons to much more. Snape had only stopped giving Occlumecy lessons to Potter a few months ago.
"Will you still sign the contract Snape?" Fudge asked,with almost indecent impulsiveness.
Snape suddenly stood up and moved closer to Fudge. "That all depends on your promise that I would get an Order of Merlin, Minister if any of this research turns out well."
"Yes. I'll be glad to do so for you. Train her to see the death eaters meetings through a combination of Legilimency and the seer's power of…" Fudge faltered and glanced expectantly at Avery, "What is the term, Unspeakables coined it as Avery?"
"Remote-Viewing," he answered.
"Make this work… and first class if I can arrange it Snape!….As well as a few hundred galleons!" he said enthusiastically.
Snape smirked and his black eyes glittered with the desire to have this most prestigious award given only to the most accomplished wizards in the world bestowed upon him. His thoughts went back to the subject of the study, as a crucial question came into his mind. "Has she shown any signs of being gifted at….Divination Minister?"
Fudge clenched his teeth and admitted, "No. but as I said she turned out to be the most promising in the files of records we have on the magical population of Britain, for the reasons I already explained."
"So she doesn't have any raw talent at all. This will be difficult, but I'll do everything I can to achieve your objective."
"Please sign then," Fudge reminded him.
Snape grasped the gold pen in his right hand and quickly signed it. Once the point of the pen left the parchment, his signature was lit with a red flame and the paper rolled itself up with a red coil wrapping around the roll, to bind it closed.
Fudge smiled broadly and clapped his hands together, "It's settled then. Remember it is a binding magical contract, so you can't back out of it."
Snape nodded and said, "Yes, the terms are that I only teach her until the end of the school-year."
The Minister nodded and said, "Best of luck Snape and I hope to get you an Order of Merlin…I do apologize about raising your hopes for one two years ago. But unfortunately Black escaped."
Snape looked down for a second, his jaw clenched. Remembering that night when Potter had somehow intervened and ruined Snape's sadistic pleasure of getting to watch Sirius Black receive a dementor's kiss.
"Good-bye for now Snape. The Unspeakables will analyze her performance in July. We would like to come as well."
"Yes I will be there Minister."
Avery followed Kingsley and Fudge out of the dimly-lit office and shut the door.
Snape just stood there, his lips tightly compressed and his forehead furrowed. Thinking about how he could teach Ms. Runecord. Of course it would primarily be about understanding Occlumency and Legilimency before trying to get her to use Remote-Viewing, which Snape could not do himself.