It is somehow comforting here. A Hogwarts dungeon familiar from childhood, and while still a prison, less of a confinment to him than it might be to many.
To stay here, to recite his litany to himself... Not just to recite, Albus has promised him vials, sweet vials, and beauty's treasures of earth and air and fire and water to fill them with.
The container for a potion is important. Stone flasks will keep the liquid cool and still, but only if well cleaned and kept out of the light. Clear glass made with Monkshood flower ground small can work as well for potions containing poison brewed cold.
The words fill his head, give him strength, protect him from horror, build familiar walls around him, more familiar than these he's known since he was a boy.
"Ah Severus. We haven't many stores yet, I'm sure you will want to see to them yourself. But that can wait, you must come with me, let us take a walk and relax"
There are four commonly used Invisibility Potions, but each has its flaws. One burns skin if used too thickly, one can stain the walls you pass, one requires 6 days and 6 nights to brew, and one can being nightmares to the user. Better by far to protect yourself with something more substantial.
"Come Severus, let us go out into the sun. Come with me, there is time enough to do things that need doing, right now is for relaxing."
The first hurdle is the bright light of a warm noontide, seen from under the shadow of the castle entrance. The black eyes are nearly shut with the strength of it, with the unaccustomed onslaught of sun and space and the gentle sounds of summer.
"Come Severus, the sunlight will warm you. We shall walk together and relax, there is time enough for things that need doing, right now is for relaxing."
Together they walk, the sunlight and the open strange to his eyes and his skin and his understanding.
The ground is green, the green of a just turned Roseate Enhancement, not yet ready, not yet ripe. Was grass always that colour?
"The lake water is not clear, I wonder why? Redfern would be best, would clear it enough without contamination, you need clarity for the brewing."
"We aren't brewing with the lake water Severus. You can let that go for now, just enjoy the warmth of the sun."
It is warm isn't it. Is it alright to enjoy the warmth? Will they take the warmth away?
"It's warmer than I thought it would be Albus. I'm... I'm not used to it."
"No, but you will be. It's alright to relax and enjoy it Severus, There is time enough to do things that need doing, right now is for relaxing. It's good to have you here Severus, you mean a lot to me, You've been through a lot, relax, enjoy your freedom."
The warmth is not enough to heat a cauldron, nor to slowly cure even a simple clearing draught. But it warms me through, The potion master takes less warming than his creations, is that truth?
I think I remember being warm.
"It's strange being here Albus. Strange. So open. The colours... The light. I am not used to being able to see such a long way."
The black eyes scan the ground, the lake, the overarching sky, as though they had never seen anything but cold dead rock before. Clear and clean and maybe not so far away, a dark shape flying.
A raven I think, soaring free and black. I wonder what you think of, my nightbrother, free up there? Black feathers for use in.... No. You are not a potion nightbrother, not a name on a list, I don't need the list. I can watch you without the naming of parts.
Dumbledore's eyes follow his, to see the black bird rise over the lake, away from the walls. "You have trained a raven haven't you Severus? As a familiar?"
"Yes... You must stay with them and teach them to speak with you, they must value your company and you must value theirs, must earn their trust and their understanding. They are not easy birds, ravens. But if you can gain them, they are worth ten of any other."
The two of them stop for a moment, watching the bird as it glories in its freedom, the sunlight warming their backs and glinting on the obsidian wings of the bird, black on black, lustrous and alive.
Most people cannot make their footsteps loud on grass. But the man in the officially dark, officially badged robes can do it, he's had practice with this intrusion into privacy, practice with many invasions.
"Well Headmaster. Time for the regular check. Snape, Severus, Convicted and sentenced. I do think you could do better for the children than this Headmaster, he's not what I'd want near my child. Come on you, let's have a look at you, move! I said move! Right, hand out. Move! OK, Headmaster, the Identifier checks him out, I'll be back some time next week. Hope you find a replacement soon, I'm sure you don't want to have to cope with this useless Death Eater bastard much longer. Look at him, white as a ghost and nowhere near as useful!"
"Severus? He's gone, it's alright. Severus? Severus!"
The black eyes are hooded and hard, focusing somewhere off in the middle distance, not seeing lake or trees or anything of the daytime, anything of the world around him now.
The lines of the face are cut deep, cutting off all human contact.
"The colour of the second heating must be darker than the first, to darken it, add newt eyes cut twice across" says the deep, dead, voice, made harsh by stone walls remembered and the attention of monsters.
The raven is gone, a corner of the stone-dark mind notes as the familiar litany rebuilds vital walls. Perhaps the bird was wise to forsake the open dangerous sky, sky the colour of wound salve over-filled with scales.
Dumbledore sighs, stooped and worn for a moment, straining to hear the faintest echo in that voice of the man who once hugged learning joyful as a lover, not gripped it as a shield to protect from demons, from sunlight, from the faces of friends.
He straightens and reaches for the rigid arm, turning the narrow face away from the Auror's trail to the bright shimmer of the lake, towards where the raven had been.
"Severus? Tell me about Antrimor's Flying Salve? Aren't there raven feathers in that?"
"Raven feathers can be used in the Flying Salve, if clean and straight and from a healthy adult bird in full plumage. Damaged feathers can send the flyer down at the change of the wind."
"Then we will make sure the feathers are clean and mended, and the bird is strong Severus. Come over here, let us walk on the grass, down to the water. Feel the sun. It's alright to relax and enjoy it, right now is for relaxing. It's good to have you here Severus, you mean a lot to me, You've been through a lot, relax, enjoy your freedom."
A long job and a hard one, for an old wizard, to find his raven again. To teach it to value its own self, to mend and straighten the broken wings.
Hope for the healing powers of the sunlight and the strength given by friendship. Hope against hope to see the black bird take wing again, free, and flying, and no longer needing the naming of parts.
"the naming of parts" is a reference to the WWII poem by Henry Reed, see http://barney.gonzaga.edu/~mquieto/papers/reed.html amongst others.
Yes, it is a different view than in Transformation I. He is beautiful and damaged like a diamond flawed in the cutting, and if he stays hard and brittle he will shatter.
I owe J.L. Matthews, via SilverFox, for Severus having had a raven, makes a nice metaphor for him that isn't a potion!
Anna Black, I am thinking about a pre-Azkaban snapefic, how he came to realise he wasn't a Death Eater. But it's a leap from 1 page poetic mood pieces to something with a plot, so no one hold their breath.
I don't know if there will be more parts to transformation, guess it depends if another moment tells me it needs to be written.
Oh, and OK, I take it back about Sirius!