This story has been translated from the original French by RaeWhit, and uploaded with the author's permission.
A/N: It's been a long time since I've written Snarry—hopefully I've not forgotten how. As I'm not particularly fond of Book Seven, I'm writing an AU story. Ever since I was a teenager, I've been fascinated by "The Name of the Rose" universe and the Cadfael series. I wanted to incorporate these into a Snarry.
Disclaimer: The characters belong to J.K.R., even those she so cowardly assassinated…. weeps
Translator's Note: This story is unique; it's a combination AU/AR, having its beginning and ending in Harry's fifth year, and the bulk of the story taking place in a cloister in the Middle Ages. If you're wondering if this 'works', consider the scene that finally sold me: Harry making his confession to Brother Snape. Talk about your medieval UST; I guess there really isn't anything new under the sun. It's well-written and plotty, incorporates appearances of most of the major canon characters we know and love (and hate).
In the Great Hall, Harry was eating his porridge with a marked lack of enthusiasm. He was still half-asleep, he was painfully aware of not having finished his homework, and to top it all off, he was less than thrilled at the prospect of his first class of the day—Divination. Come to think of it, the word 'class' was really a stretch. What was there to learn? Except that Sybill Trelawney was an ass….
One day when he'd voiced this thought aloud, Hermione had stiffly said, "A class where you're not learning anything—nothing out of the ordinary for you."
With the stress of the upcoming OWLs, Hermione was becoming a pain. It was fortunate that Ron was around, as he showed the same boredom in the face of accumulating homework, tests, and the whole kit and caboodle. To a certain extent, it was comforting to know all his friends were in the same boat; it gave him a warm fuzzy feeling—belonging to a group that shared a common bond.
Harry's inane daydream was cut short by Ron nudging him with an elbow.
"Eyes open! Time to go!"
Harry answered with a groan, but then stood and fell in behind his friends.
Fifth year Gryffindors, all of them on their way to the North Tower. Only Hermione, who'd opted for a different class, went off in another direction. Harry wondered if he shouldn't have chosen Ancient Runes, Arithmancy, pulling weeds, whatever, anything but Divination….
Resigned, the little group walked along slowly, up the steps to the top of the tower, then climbed the ladder into the attic loft and lair of their fantastical professor. Only Lavender and Parvati wore happy faces. They were as crazy as Trelawney, Harry thought to himself.
His gloominess was as much because Trelawney was obsessed with predicting his horrible future as it was because she gave him bad marks, considering his lack of talent for the subject matter.
The Gryffindors sat, or rather collapsed into their chairs without bothering to unpack a thing. Besides, there was nothing to write, and their wands weren't needed. Harry noticed that the cups, which the students used to read tea leaves, were gone from the tables.
"There's a spot of luck!" Ron exclaimed as he noticed this too. "At least we'll not be doing that rubbish."
Lavender professed energetically, "It's not rubbish. You can really read the future in tea leaves!"
"Come off it, Lavender," Dean said calmly, "your tea leaves said you were going to marry Prince William."
Dean shrugged, and Lavender, vexed, began to sulk.
Parvati soothed her. "Ignore the berk. All he can see in his tea is that it's decaf—"
Just as the quarrel threatened to become a fistfight, Sybill Trelawney made her entrance, gliding dramatically across the room. She seemed particularly elated, which could only be bad news for Harry. When she claimed to have had a vision of the future, it was always an apocalyptic one with bodies strewn everywhere. Since Voldemort's return, Harry shuddered at the thought that for once, these visions might just turn out to be true.
But the professor seemed to have happier thoughts today; she was actually in a positive mood for once.
"We've already studied various methods of divining the future," she reminded them cheerfully. "The future is the greatest mystery of all, but it will be fruitless to foresee it if you do not first reconcile yourself to your past."
The students glanced at each other, surprised.
"What's she on about now?" Ron muttered through his teeth.
Trelawney continued her speech, eyes ceiling-ward, as if she'd forgotten she had an audience. "The past holds many secrets. It can teach you much about yourself, and lead you to knowledge of your destiny…."
"For now, we are not going to dispel the darkness of the future, but we will look deeply into…your previous lives." She began to chuckle with excitement as the Gryffindors looked on dully.
Their previous lives. Nothing would save them now.
Only the Trelawney Fan Club squeaked enthusiastically. Lavender exclaimed, "Oh, this is wonderful! I've always wanted to try and see what was there before. My mother believes in reincarnation as well."
Dean opened his mouth to say something, but when Lavender shot him a withering look, he reconsidered and didn't make a sound.
Trelawney directed the students to leave their cushions and stretch out on the floor, arms at their sides, palms upward, and then to close their eyes. An enchanting melody arose in the room, slowly chiming out its notes.
Harry relaxed. He was happy with the turn this class was taking. With a bit of luck, he'd fall asleep and only awaken at the end.
He was vaguely aware that the professor was speaking an incantation, but the words were unclear. His eyelids were heavy, his head spun around a bit, and his throat was dry. He wanted to ask Ron if he felt strange as well, but he soon lost the thread of that thought. He felt as if he were slowly being sucked into a black hole.
The first thing of which he became aware was the ringing of a bell. But it wasn't the one that rang at the end of class. This sound was much more solemn, like a church bell being rung.
Harry opened his eyes and staggered with astonishment. He was, indeed, in the middle of a church.
He turned and looked all around him, and found that he was standing in a row of young people, all of them clothed in long black robes. It was apparently a mass; a murmuring rose up from the entire assembly.
But then Harry felt ridiculous. Why would he dream (and he was dreaming, without a shadow of a doubt) of a mass? He hadn't set foot in a church since Dudley's first communion several years ago. Dudley had taken catechism, not him—a waste of time for someone with as little intelligence as him, according to Uncle Vernon. And anyway, degenerates like himself were by definition heretics. Harry'd never grasped the sense of that word; he only knew that the Dursleys were proud of being Anglicans, proof of belonging to the noble nation of Britain.
Harry thought he should be dreaming of a mystical gathering of wizards, men who addressed Merlin in their incantations. That would make much more sense.
Then his gaze settled on the other members of the assembly, all of them men; most of them were balding at the top of their heads. Harry'd seen Robin Hood and Friar Tuck's monastic haircut. He realized that the robes worn by these men weren't wizarding ones; instead they were monks' habits.
He was standing in the middle of an assembly of monks.
Harry almost cried out, but he remembered that he was in Divination class, lying on the floor. This could only be a dream, he repeated to himself stubbornly. This has to be a dream.
Still, it was an incredibly realistic dream. Harry heard the voices, he shivered from the chill that pervaded the choir, and he could even feel the rough fabric against his skin. He himself was also wearing a monk's robe; he was one of them!
And what was even stranger still, he recognized some of the men around him. The one leading the mass was the spitting image of Albus Dumbledore. And beside him, an exact copy of Lucius Malfoy proudly lifted his chin, instead of lowering his eyes in the customary posture of one who prays. Harry turned halfway to his right, and was stopped in his tracks by the red hair of the boy next to him—Ron Weasley.
This time, it was definite: Voldemort's persecution of him had made Harry lose his mind, and his madness was manifesting itself when he was asleep. He shook his head; he didn't like this dream. Closing his eyes, he counted to five, then opened them again.
He'd definitely moved to a new place, but it still wasn't the classroom. This looked like the Great Hall at mealtime, except there weren't any students; the occupants were still wearing their monastic habits. Harry took a look to make sure he was sitting next to Ron. There were other faces that seemed just as familiar, but he was so confused that he couldn't remember their names anymore.
The monks ate in silence. A single voice could be heard; it came from a man standing in the center of the room as he read aloud from a book.
"It is the master who speaks and teaches. The disciple is silent and listens. This is what is right for the one and the other."
Harry, still struck dumb and in a stupor, turned to his neighbor. "Ron, what…?"
"Shhhh!" Ron quickly hissed. "You're risking a penance. Tell me afterwards."
Ron hadn't lifted his nose from his plate, and only his lips had moved. Oddly enough, his stature was more impressive than usual, as if he'd grown during the night. Harry was disoriented and glanced around. The mixing of the familiar with the unfamiliar was downright disturbing; he was cold and he was lost. The light was low, cloaking him in sinister shadows. He wanted to wake up; he fought inwardly with all his might.
He startled violently when a hand, sharp as an eagle's talon, took hold of his shoulder.
"Stop your daydreaming. Build up your strength while you have food in front of you, because you can count on me to burden you with work."
That voice! Recognizable above all others, it made his eyes widen with surprise and distrust.
Snape. Snape was here!
Harry turned around, but the dark figure was walking away, and he could only see his back, stiff and straight in the black robes.
If Snape was here, Dumbledore too, Ron as well, why wasn't this Hogwarts?
Harry rubbed his eyes, then his cheek without thinking. He was stunned to feel the rough beginnings of a beard on his face. How could this be? He was only fifteen! He'd been perfectly clean-shaven the last time he'd checked. He looked at his shaking hand—he didn't recognize it either. It was larger and less delicate. How old was he? He still felt young, but in this dream, he wasn't a teenager anymore.
Was it a dream?
Harry looked up and connected with the sharp eyes of Lucius Malfoy staring at him. There could be no mistake, as he'd seen him close up when Voldemort had taken his blood in the graveyard. Malfoy's light eyes bored into him piercingly; Harry bristled in annoyance and quickly looked down.
This time, he'd had enough—Harry pinched himself.
He did it again. In vain.
How horrible! He was a prisoner in this absurd and disturbing world. At the very moment when he was ready to do anything to make this nightmare stop—to stand up and scream and challenge Lucius Malfoy to a duel—he felt the ground beneath him fall away as he was once again pulled into a yawning black hole….
A strong hand was shaking his shoulder.
He opened his eyes. Ron—the Ron he knew—seemed amused.
"Don't worry—you're not the only one who fell asleep. I think most of the class is dozing. But we're almost done here, so you have-to-wake-up!"
Harry blinked his eyes several times. "We're not monks anymore?"
"Nothing. Forget it."
Harry was calm again, and got up, brushing off his robes—wizarding ones, he verified with a glance.
Sybill Trelawney was going from student to student, pulling them from their astral journeys to previous lives, or so she believed. Actually, to see the Gryffindors stretch and yawn, it seemed that most of them had benefited from this extension of their night's sleep.
Harry, though, was still feeling disoriented, more so than at the end of a simple nightmare. And yet, he'd had his fill of night terrors since the Triwizard Tournament the year before. But this one had been so real, as if he'd actually lived the experience.
"Well?" Trelawney asked, eager to hear the practical results. "Did you catch a glimpse of your previous lives?"
Many of the students just sat and watched, laughing up their sleeves.
Inspired, Parvati gushed, "I think I lived near the Artic Circle; I felt cold…"
"She was actually lying in a draft," Seamus mocked.
There was the sound of stifled laughter. Trelawney didn't take notice—had she even heard them?—and congratulated Parvati for having opened her mind to the divining inspiration.
Class over, the students raced down the stairs, exchanging ironic comments about their eccentric professor's latest whim. Harry didn't join in the chorus—he was still thoughtful and uneasy. He'd lived through a weird experience—no sense in lying about it. He'd not fallen asleep; he'd lapsed into an hypnotic trance. He hadn't dreamed; he'd seen…his previous life?
He would've been a monk, then. What an odd idea! One thing of which he was certain was that he had no calling to lead a cloistered life.
Unless he'd not had a choice.
Harry spent the following days trying to shake off a sense of uneasiness. He had enough problems—he didn't need to add any more.
Voldemort was sending him disturbing visions through his scar, Dolores Umbridge was making it her mission to make his life miserable, and he had to take Occlumency lessons from Snape—lessons which were simply horrific.
The week was atrocious, yet it passed much too quickly for Harry. He'd absolutely no desire to show up for Divination. He could only hope that Trelawney wouldn't go on about their previous lives, and would've found another gimmick, like life lines or chicken entrails.
He hoped in vain, of course.
As soon as the Gryffindors arrived in the tower, Trelawney had them lie down again. The students didn't even try to hide their glee.
"Time for another nap," Ron laughed.
Harry shot him a forced smile. He stretched out and made an admirable attempt to stay awake.
But the shrill music began again, and in spite of his efforts, Harry could feel himself slipping away. He struggled, but it was useless.
Once again, he was submerged in darkness.
TBC: (Next: the great plunge into the Middle Ages)