Disclaimer: My house belongs to the bank, my work belongs to my boss and my money is always confiscated by my wife. And Harry Potter belongs to JK Rowling... Damn...
Rocking the boat
Chapter 33: Anchors aweigh!
The situation in the potion lab was dire.
Severus was huddled under the doorway to his office. Waving his wand awkwardly with his left hand, he mumbled the incantations through gritted teeth.
It would leave a scar, but he managed to close the jagged gash in his right biceps.
The way out was definitely impassable. He had tried to stay low, but an errant shard of stone had hit him with enough force to rip his biceps open. He had barely managed to retrieve his wand and crawl back to safety.
Only a bit higher, and he would have been knocked out and/or killed.
A brief glance into the classroom told him that this option wasn't off the table, yet.
The destruction wasn't complete, mainly by virtue of the thick outer walls. He estimated that only a third of the shots had passed through a window, smashing into shelves and furniture.
That didn't mean that the other shots were harmless. In fact they were more lethal than the others. Clean hits through windows were predictable. Ball flies in, smashes a shelf and digs into the wall. Splinters from the shelves fly around. The other shots caused a spray of jagged rock fragments to erupt from the outer wall, which were unpredictable and potentially lethal, as Severus knew now.
By the time he had mended his arm, a full section of the wall had come down near the middle of the classroom. This had knocked over the table where Longbottom used to sit. Of course, this had caused a fire. He should never had let the boy into his lab. He had cursed it.
Anyway, the spreading fire, with various potion ingredients and spilled potions all over the floor was a volatile situation.
He instinctively stooped lower when another impact sent a shelf flying apart. This time, it set off a chain reaction.
The ball had grazed the upper window frame, and had been deflected downwards, taking out another table, and smashing the cauldron there to pieces before coming to a rest deep in the wall behind the once existing shelf. Splatters of potion flew through the room, some falling into other cauldrons, some onto ingredients on the floor. Most potions were simply ruined, but two or three reacted badly, causing cauldron meltdowns that added to the mayhem in the classroom.
Within two or three seconds, a good quarter of the classroom was in flames.
It took about that long for fate to prepare the next step of 'Armageddon light'. With the lower part of the shelf reduced to splinters, the top part was only held by a sticking charm to a now crumbling wall.
Severus' eyes widened in realization when it slowly, almost as if it wanted to taunt him, leaned forward, pulling the next shelf with it.
By the time three shelves, most still half filled with ingredients, were at the brink of tipping over into the flames, Severus finally snapped out of his trance.
Ignoring the hazard of crossing cannonballs, for it didn't matter, anymore, he half ran, half stumbled through the rubble that once was his office.
He was lucky that his desk was still intact, so instead of having to rely on arresto momentum spells and his skill in swimming, he grabbed his escape broomstick from underneath his desk.
Just in time.
He was halfway to the still intact window at the viaduct side of his office, when the shelves finally tipped over.
The shock wave hit him in mid jump engulfing him and shattering the window, before hurling him outside, just before the flames consumed the office.
While Professor Snape was still mending his arm under battle conditions, and the others carefully sneaking down to the entrance hall, Molly Weasley was busy searching the area near the office's fireplace.
"Found it," she cried in triumph as she spied the broken pot of floo powder inster the remnants of some silvery instrument.
Grabbing a handful of the spilt floo powder, she kicked a burning piece of picture frame into the fireplace.
"Let's hope it still works," she told Luna as she took a pinch of it and thew it into the fire. "Yes!" She called out triumphantly when the flames turned green.
Turning around, her euphoria was dampened when she realized that the boy was quite large.
"Luna, he's too heavy for us to carry. We need to get him on his feet and hold him up in the floo," she remarked. "Sorry, my boy, but this is going to hurt," she mumbled as she reached for Neville's arm.
Luna was crying freely by the time they had managed to wrestle Neville to his feet. They dragged him into the green flame, where Molly shouted out their destination.
By the time they stumbled out of the floo, Neville was unconscious. Luna and Molly dragged him away from the fireplace, Molly already calling for healers.
"What's that?" A female nurse asked, looking up from closing a gash on some small boy's forehead, alarmed by the fact that somebody was dragged into St. Mungos, bare chested.
Stepping closer, that nurse's alarm turned into professional hectic when she got a glimpse of Neville's back.
"Merlin!" She gasped as she saw the wound. "HEALER ASSISTANCE IN ARRIVALS!" She yelled as she grabbed a rolling bed and pushed it over to them.
"Put him here, gently. Who did this?" She inquired, already rushing to collect some stuff from a nearby trolley, while Luna gently lowered Neville onto the bed, face down.
"Dumbledore," Luna huffed, causing all action in the room to freeze. Dumbledore attacking and wounding a student was unthinkable. The nurse even shot a questioning glance at Molly for confirmation. The other patients started whispering amongst each other.
"It's true, I helped subduing him, he was trying to kill a handful of students with this fire spell," Molly confirmed.
"Unfathomable - why would he do this?" Some man behind them gasped.
"He tried to kill Harry Potter, right after the boy managed to kill You-Know-Who," Luna snapped at the man, shutting him up quite fiercely. He sputtered for a moment, but then his brain processed the other bit of information within that quote. Among others, which caused a quite noisy murmur of questions and muted celebration arise.
Not that Luna or Molly cared for that.
"Will you now take care of Neville?" Luna ranted at the nurse, but still running her hand softly through the boy's hair, even though she sported a fierce glare. Neville's breath still came in gasps as he tried to deal with the pain.
"There is no need to raise your voice, Miss," the nurse argued back, quite angry to be told to do her job, even, or maybe because, it was justified. "See, help is on the way," she said as a man in healer's robe jogged closer.
Seeing she had gathered cleaning supplies, Molly informed her of the boy's status.
"I cleaned up the wound already."
"Maybe, but we have to be thorough," the second healer spoke as he arrived at the boy's side and started waving his wand.
"You said you helped subduing Dumbledore? Is he in custody?" the female healer asked, while dropping her burden on the nightstand next to Neville.
"No, he's tied up in his office, along with Auror Kingsley, who was in with him on killing Harry."
"Both tied up? Not in need of any healer assistance?" the healer asked, still waving his wand, while the nurse started to apply some green goop to Neville's back. Although it started to bubble and hiss where it touched the burnt flesh, Neville visibly relaxed under the treatment.
"Come to think of it, Arthur said Albus wasn't too well, he was hit by a quite powerful stunner," Molly stammered, just now remembering that part.
"A stunner? At his age?" he spoke. "That is extremely dangerous. I hope he is being cared for," he remarked.
"After what I've seen, I couldn't care less," Molly growled.
Luna only huffed, and continued stroking Neville's head.
Most people would think it was difficult to mount a broom in mid-air.
Actually, it wasn't that hard. Put it between your legs and use it.
The only constraint to this was altitude. And gravity. Not that Severus was aware of the fact, but he was currently subjected to an acceleration of roughly 9.8 m/s².
He was aware of the fact, though, that the water was coming closer at amazing, and increasing speed.
He actually managed to activate the broom, particularly the brakes, but inertia, another concept of physics wizardkind had only a rough grasp of, demanded its toll, as well.
Snape caused a big splash.
Rising out of the water, sputtering from the cold, Snape was livid. He had been bombarded, wounded, blown up and tossed out of a window. Actually, none of this was a first.
But no one ever managed to toss him into the lake. Snape was wet, cold, and his backside did hurt profoundly from the impact.
Worst of all, his hair had gotten wet, and was starting to curl. And all his hair products had been incinerated.
Drifting in the small bay beneath the aqueduct, Severus was toying with the thought to assault the ship. The thing that kept him from doing so was the realization that such a ship probably housed a crew of at least a dozen.
Also, he wasn't a good enough swimmer to board a ship.
Snape wasn't one for heroics, unlike Potter.
It suddenly occurred to him that this boy should be available to receive his wrath, at the Headmaster's office.
Contemplating what parts of said boy could be turned into potion ingredients and what he would brew of it, Severus sped up his strokes, closing in on the aqueduct and the maintenance entry near its shore.
"Fred, cease fire!"
"Why, I just started a magnificent one," the other twin replied with a wide grin.
"You got nothing better?" George mocked back.
"Well give me an hour or two, and I'll think up the perfect spontaneous reply for a situation like this."
"Speaking of 'git', you think we got him?"
"I doubt so. Even if not, I doubt this day could get any better."
"Well, remember the fact that the Slytherin common room has a window into the lake?"
"The balls are going to bounce a lot," George voiced his concerns.
"Any idea how Angie and Alicia are doing?" Fred asked.
"Mind, gutter, OUT!" George laughed, but couldn't stop following that path of thought, himself.
"Look, a boat is closing in," he suddenly alerted his brother.
Both immediately turned serious. They exchanged a look, drew their wands and rushed upside to ready the deck guns to repel boarders, if necessary.
"Quite handy, having a werewolf in your team," Henry remarked as Remus pulled the oars with long, powerful motions. He had to use one hand on the rough wood of the boat to steady himself. The other hand, he used to steady Margret's head in his lap.
Remus had to smirk as he heard that comment a second time within a couple of minutes. The first time he heard it was when he had almost ran down the stairs, not hindered in any way by Margret's weight. 'Minuscule weight,' his well mannered conscience, or maybe survival instinct corrected him. Remus knew very well that there was no easier way to earn the wrath of a woman than not to instantly deny that she had any mass, at all.
He shook his mirth off and corrected the course slightly. He had instinctively corrected for waves, and since the lake was flat and motionless, he had not veered off as much as he had expected. Pulling both oars again, it once more crossed his mind that using oars was definitely faster than the slow glide the boats were charmed for.
He quickly glanced at Tonks , sitting in the back of the boat, watching out for pursuers. She noticed him, and replied with a quick wink and blew him a kiss. She also knew how handy he was to be around, he thought with a lewd smirk that made Tonks blush slightly, as if she were reading his mind.
"Headmaster, that brat has gone too far," Severus yelled as he stormed into the office.
The scene in front of him told him that he didn't knew half of it.
He ignored Kingsley, who was tied up right next to the door, his mouth and jaw full of encrusted blood that seemed to come from the very crooked nose, and stepped over him.
A few more steps took him across the barren office. There wasn't any furniture left, and the bookshelves would make Pince cry. He absentmindedly noted that maybe one out of five or six might be salvageable. The alchemistic manuals he always wanted to study, someday, were gone, as were most of the portraits. The sticking enchantments still held the scorched, teared and dissolved remnants to the wall, which was full of long, scorched lines, and holes of various origin.
Approaching Albus, he quickly dispelled the ropes, but his spell failed. Trying once more, he finally resorted to a cutting charm to free his boss.
Checking his pulse, he frowned and started waving his wand.
His frown turned into a scowl as some gray spots were visible in the yellowish glow around his body, his withered hand registering as black.
Twisting his wand in a complicated pattern, the glow changed and several shades of gray made the picture more detailed.
He was no healer, but skilled enough to know that he was out of his depth here. With a shout of "Expecto Patronum", a misty doe sprang to life from his wand, walking across the room, as if looking for something to charge at. "Poppy, Dumbledore needs your help, massive stunning spell overexposure," he spoke to the fake animal, before he swished his wand, and it took off, straight out of the door.
Waiting for the nurse to arrive, Severus did his best to stabilize the man.
Poppy rushed in a couple of minutes later. Ignoring Kingsley but for a quick spell that made him glow orange, she stepped over him and dropped to her knees next to Albus, already uncorking a flask to pour into his mouth, before using a spell to make him swallow.
Severus stopped casting his supporting spells, knowing that most magics do mix, and usually for the worse. And he didn't want to hear the line about 'professional help' again. He felt insulted whenever Poppy said it, true as it was.
"Where is Fawkes?" Pomfrey asked, working diligently. "I could use his help here."
Snape shrugged. "Don't know. Haven't seen him for days, I think. Not the first time he disappears for a time. Albus might know," he remarked, looking out of the window. His eyes tightened into slits when he noticed a small boat approaching the huge ship in the lake at slow pace.
He whirled around when he heard a cough behind him.
"Headmaster, are you alright?" he asked, even though he already knew the answer.
"Severus?" the suddenly frail man moaned.
"Yes. I'm here. What happened," Severus asked. Poppy frowned and barked at him.
"Severus! Leave him be, he needs his rest. Headmaster, please. I need to stabilize you a bit more before I can transport you to St. Mungos," she told everyone, trying to exert authority.
Albus always had problems respecting any authority but his own, but he could read the signs. He wasn't feeling to chipper, and there was at least one thing he needed to be told.
"Severus, go to my quarters, the library," he croaked.
"Yes, Headmaster?" Severus replied, earning himself a sharp look from the nurse.
"You shouldn't talk, Headmaster," Poppy protested.
"There is a file," Albus continued, ignoring her.
"In the right," he said, interrupted by a cough, "... right... drawer of ...study desk," he wheezed.
"Professor Snape, you are disturbing my patient. It would be better you leave now," Poppy demanded with authority. Serious authority. This glare left no room to discussion.
"Import.. ort.. tan..." Albus wheezed, before he lost consciousness, again.
Severus needn't to be told to leave once more. He was already rushing towards the door to the private quarters. The instructions were clear enough that he had the file in his hands within a moment of entering the rooms.
It wasn't much, three or four feet of parchment. A practiced reader like Severus could skim it over pretty quickly. He had to read the last page a second time.
This was a will, and a legate to his successor. And a mandate. Severus wasn't averse to fulfill the Headmaster's last wish. A grim expression on his face, he rushed out of the door, past Pomfrey caring for Dumbledore, and down the stairs.
It had taken Harry and the others a long time to get down the stairs to the boat shed. Hermione was nursing her left side, probably a couple of cracked ribs from her collision with the bookshelves. Harry wasn't much faster, for he was still feeling the after-effects of Bella's loving caresses. Only a good night's sleep with potions and Margret's wonder injection would ease that pain. Currently, he was glad he didn't have that many cramps while stumbling down the stairs.
Ginny was protecting their backs, since she was still the most mobile, and had no problems navigating the stairs while walking backwards. She was just as fast as these two could walk forward in their condition.
At last, they had arrived at their destination. By now, Harry was hardly able to move anymore. All his muscles had stiffened, gradually locking up. Every small movement caused him pain. Ginny guarded their rear, while Hermione helped Harry into one of the boats, still puffing from exhaustion, but growing increasingly nervous with every passing second.
Pushing off the shore, Hermione gave the boat a tap with her wand, just like Hagrid had done in their first year.. Much to her delight, it worked, and she used her wand to direct their small boat towards the safety of the warship.
Arriving at the ship, Hermione expertly navigated their boat alongside and to the ladder. Quickly conjuring a short rope, she secured the boat for them to board the ship. She climbed up and directed Ginny as she levitated the poor Harry up and over the rail, before the girl left the boat to join the others.
"Nobody here," Hermione stated as she watched the empty deck.
"They are probably under deck, taking care of mum," Harry replied, grimacing as he hobbled along towards his cabin, using the rail to steady himself.
Leaving Harry in the safety of the rail, Hermione stood and glanced out onto the lake, taking a last, sentimental look at the castle. She didn't have much time to watch, as a hoarse yell and the sound of spellfire behind her scared her.
The source of the yell was easy to discern. It was Ginny, but she hadn't cast a spell - she had dropped behind the railing for cover, her hands over her head.
Harry was on the ground, stiff as a board, a sure sign of petrification.
They were under attack, she realized. Someone had cast spells at Harry, which seemingly had passed close enough to scare Ginny.
Only, Hermione couldn't see anyone else, and even a quick turn of her head didn't show any opponent. When another spell - probably a stunner, according to the colour - ricocheted off the planking and into the rigging, it took her but a second to deduct the source. It definitely came from the outside of the ship, but it would be impossible to fire onto the deck from a boat. The rail was at least four meters above the surface.
When she saw a swish of black rushing by, she cursed herself for her stupidity. Wizards do fly brooms, of course. And the person steering the broom was easy to identify. Except for the dark ponce they had stamped the ticket earlier today, only one was known for billowing robes.
She had barely turned around when another two spells impacted with the planking from behind her, one hit a hatch covered with a grating, and disappeared into the hull, while another got deflected in her direction by the main mast, but went wide.
The third one hit.
Hermione moaned in pain, as a gash opened at her shoulder, not deep, but enough to drop her to her knees. She fuzzily realized through the pain, that Snape had problems to fly and cast at the same time, and was using easy curses, and volleys of spells.
The boat was pelted with spells once more when Ginny crawled towards Hermione, which probably saved her life. The curse missed her by inches, causing an angry welt on her neck to appear, before exploding against the rail when the spell unloaded its power into it.
Whirling around while feeling the burn on his neck with his left hand, Ginny scanned for targets. His seeker instincts immediately made out the broom and the rider. With a scream of fury, she started to unleash hell as she casted without pause.
Obviously, Snape was circling them on a broom in a counter-clockwise direction. Hermione quickly imitated Harry's position against the rail, giving her protection from an attack from port. When Snape circled to the starboard position, he gave off another two spells, a stunner and a petrification hex, which Ginny both dodged.
Arriving at Harry's side, Hermione quickly tried to cast a finite spell at him, knowing how painful petrification must be on his Cruciatus-ridden body. Luckily, it worked, and true to her prediction, Harry immediately curled into a ball.
She kept her head down against the port side barrage, and moved a bit forward. When she saw Snape passing the bow, she pointed him out to Ginny, who raised her wand and gave a barrage of stunners and other jinxes, whatever she came up with, variating the wand angle ever so slightly to get a wide field of coverage.
A yelp from Snape as a blue spell hit him gave her a satisfied grin. Even more so when Snape nearly fell of his broom as the slapping hex did what it was designed for. She readied herself for his pass on port, but it didn't come. Instead, a stunning spell hit her from the left. She turned just in time to see the conjured ropes connecting with her, Snape standing near the wheel. Obviously, he had realized her tactical superior position, too.
Hermione had no chance to evade the ropes binding her, as Snape cast the next spell, before he sauntered down the stairs to them, the broomstick in his off hand.
Snape casually threw another Petrificus at Harry, who snapped rigid again, but unable to scream out in the pain his eyes showed clearly, even at this distance. The smug look on Snape told her that he did that on purpose.
"You bastard!" she yelled helplessly, struggling against the coarse hemp rope. A quick wave of his wand sent a slapping hex at her. The impact made her reel and fall to the left, as well as seeing stars.
"That's Professor Bastard, you insolent Mudblood." he sneered, sauntering closer. "And that's one hundred points from Gryffindor, Granger."
"I'm no student!" she raged, but he just shrugged it of.
"Then Miss Weasley earns the bragging rights, I guess," he sneered.
"I should probably issue a detention as well, but since she'll be expelled tonight, at least, I'll desist. I'm in a much too good mood, anyway," he said with a disturbing grin. "Finally, I'll get my biggest wish granted, and see the last Potter die," he laughed, throwing his head back and roaring in laughter. Just as he had proceeded to insane cackling, his eyes widened as the amidships hatchway opened, revealing Remus and Tonks rushing up, wands blazing.
Snape immediately dove towards the railing, mounting his broomstick in mid-jump. Remus and Tonks blanketed the whole area in a hail of spells, while Henry rushed towards Hermione, and began tearing at the ropes.
Remus came to their aid, dispelling the ropes, and restored Harry while Tonks watched for Snape.
That man suddenly rose over the bow, casting curses at the group. Tonks barely managed to shield against those, and Snape dove over the starboard railing, out of sight before she could retort in kind.
By the time Remus had freed Harry and woken Ginny, Snape had done two more attack runs, each from a completely unpredictable location, as the railing gave him good cover. Remus joined her in defense, and both shielded the group from the vicious attacks, countering anything Snape threw at them.
The man was weaving over the ship almost undisturbed, in erratic patterns, hailing spellfire at them. By the time they had spotted his next approach, they had to hastily counter his attack, leaving them little time to retort.
Meanwhile, the twins had also run up onto the deck, drawing vicious fire from Snape, and only a hasty volley of covering fire by those left on deck ensured that they made it back into the safety of the ship.
Snape made three more attack runs, that made all of them cower underneath the combined defensive efforts of Ginny, Remus and Tonks. Even Hermione tried to help, but the cutting curse she managed to cast fizzled out before it even had formed fully. Henry had discharged Margret's gun, as well, but hitting such a mobile target with just one shot were just too bad odds to beat.
"This is getting us nowhere - Ginny, you shoot him down while Tonks and I shield us," Remus ordered. "Don't get fancy, just get h.. WATCH OUT!" he yelled, pulling Ginny behind the railing when Snape suddenly appeared right behind them, thankfully passing too fast to aim correctly, as his bone-breaker sailed wide.
Tonks screeched in fury, sending a colorful rain of spells after him as he rushed away on his broomstick.
Snape evaded her fire, this time by a sharp turn that he flew until it led him back towards the ship, instead of hiding once more. Raining down piercing curses, he rushed over them, coming from astern.
Tonks gave a sharp hiss as her arm was perforated while she tried to cast more spells at him. Switching her wand to her left hand, she fired a vicious blasting curse back. It sailed clear, and exploded harmlessly in the air above the ship, as Snape had executed a sharp turn in the direction he first came from to get out of the rigging, throwing off the groups aim, again.
Suddenly, Snape had to yank his broom to the side and into a roll to avoid a ball that suddenly showed up in his path. At the exact moment he hung upside down, clearing the projectile, a second ball dipped lower behind the first, now exactly lined up with Snape. There was a meaty thud when the iron ball struck him in the chest, separating Severus cleanly from his broom, which travelled another 10 feet, before it crashed into the railing of the aft deck.
There was an almost comical moment when Snape was hanging in the air, almost folded in half, while the two adjacent forces of momentum were canceling each other out, until gravity got a word in.
There was a satisfying mixture of moaning, cracking and a meaty thud when Snape came on board without asking permission, first. Within no time, he was hit by three stunners, and then bound in two sets of ropes, just to be sure.
Only then, the group left the cover of the railing, just in time to see Fred smugly come down the stairs to the upper deck, a beater's bat resting on his shoulder, meeting an equally smug George down there, who leaned on his bat like a true sir.
They exchanged a high-five, a low-five and then jumped to bump their chests together, before breaking down in tears, hugging closely.
"What is wrong?" Remus asked, worried, as he took possession of Snape's wand, which had come to a rest near a grating.
"Yeah, what's up? Everyone's fine, but me, and that won't take a minute," Tonks spoke as she approached the twins, already tending to her arm.
The twins still didn't reply, but when the whole group finally came closer to look at them, they snatched Harry into this hug.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you," Fred blubbered, desperately in need to blow his nose.
"We dreamt of a day like this, and you made it possible," George whined in agreement.
Harry's surprised face was the thing that pushed Ginny over the edge, the others following quickly, as stress gave way to laughter.
"You alright, Capt'n?" Hermione asked.
"I'm fine," he pressed through gritted teeth, trying to give her his lopsided grin.
"Ok, then let's set sail, shan't we?" she laughed as she pulled him to his feet. While he staggered to keep his footing, Hermione had reached his side, and between her and the rail, he managed.
"What do we do with him?" Henry asked, poking Snape with a foot.
"Him? Harry's choice," Remus said, wiping his eyes dry and thumbing at Snape's crumpled form.
For a moment, Harry was tempted to just kill Snape and be done with it, but when Hermione started to grin in a sinister manner, he couldn't resist to chuckle in anticipation. "I think I 've got this covered," Hermione replied, whispering into Tonk's ear.
With a broad smile, Tonks interrupted the work on her arm in order to twirl her wand at the deck.
Suddenly, it became quiet, as the twins stopped and stared at the plank now lying there. They almost tossed Harry aside as they threw themselves at Hermiones feet, hugging her ankles.
"Wake him," demanded Harry, and Remus was eager to comply. With a quick enervate, Snape came around, and was shocked when he found himself prone on the deck. His shock soon turned into hate and rage when he saw his capturers. "Potter!" he spat. Literally, his spittle drenched the planks before him.
The quick movement did its work. Snape moaned as the fragments of the broken radius in his right arm rubbed against each other. Unable to even cradle the arm, his pain fueled his rage.
"You won't get away with that!" I'll have your wands snapped, and you all in Azkaban. Or even better, have you kissed!" he screamed himself hoarse at them.
"The kissing part is already taken care of, Professor Bastard," Hermione sneered, and gave Harry a kiss on the cheek to punctuate her statement.
Ignoring his girlfriend's antics, Harry had a new order for Remus.
Remus complied, but from a safe distance. Tonks moved to cover the Grangers, just in case. Snape stood, as graceful as he could. He even managed to not cradle his arm, and dusted his robes with his left one. "At least you know when you have no choice, Potter. Give up! And all others can go on with their lives," he sneered.
His disdain turned into rage when Harry chuckled at him.
"Now who is the one with an overblown ego, Snivellius?" he chided the man, before looking at Hermione and giving her a nod in the general direction of the rail door.
"Ready the plank, dear."
Snape gaped as Hermione opened the railing door, allowing Tonks to levitate a fifteen feet long plank into place. Hermione stepped onto the end to fixate it for a moment, until Tonks could drop the spell and use a sticking charm, earning herself a smile and a posh "Thank you," just as if the women were having tea.
"Are you crazy?" Snape bellowed as he took a haughty pose. All people just ignored him, except for Tonk's holding her hand, measuring half an inch between her index and thumb, in his direction, with a crazy smirk on her face.
"It's your choice, Snivellius - either jump or - well, to be honest, you actually have no choice but jumping," Harry smirked through the returning pain, not wanting to miss any of his wildest dream to come true. Well, actually not one of his wildest - those always had Hermione as the star - but one of the better ones.
Snape made no move to use the plank not even 10 feet away from him.
"You are crazy! I've got a broken arm!"
Harry replied by flicking his wand.
Before Snape could react, the curse had already hit him on the right arm, breaking the ulna, as well. With a roar, Snape jumped three feet back and sank to a crouch. "You can't do this, Potter!" he spat, clutching his arm.
"Now you are begging. A few moments ago, you were bragging about killing me. Anyway, I don't bear grudges, so I repeat my offer. You can jump now, while you still have one arm and two legs left, or you will jump later," Harry spoke, with no sign of empathy, at all.
Snape crawled backwards until he bumped into something. The plank. Slowly, he staggered to his feet and a step forward, away from that cursed plank. "Potter! It's at least four hundred yards, and the water is nearly freezing. You are crazy - you can't..." he stammered, for the first time fearful.
Harry simply stared at him, not moving.
"There are Grindylows in there, and the Giant Squid," Severus pleaded from a doubled over position, before making a desperate lunge at Harry. He was stopped, hurled back and far onto the plank by two very well aimed spells from Remus before he made it two feet.
He impacted hard, face down, and skidded along until instincts took over and he curled his arm around the plank to steady himself.
Not thinking this was enough, Hermione tried to use a certain spell. A small spell like this was something she could pull off even in her exhausted state, and Snape's right calf now had a shiny new look, not that you could see it.
It also resulted in the man screaming in pain and nearly rolling off the narrow plank. Against his will, Harry was impressed by the man's ability to keep from falling off that narrow strip of wood.
They gave Snape a few moments to get onto his feet on the wobbly plank, all of them convening along the rail, smiling feral at the man standing out there over the water. Even Henry stood next to them. Severus definitely lost all goodwill with his last attack.
Then, Harry spoke again. "You know, I think this is even better. Hermione, for the next spell, could you aim a little higher?" he said in a sing-song. Snape blanched when Hermione brought her wand to bear and instinctively tried to cover her target area with a hand.
"You've got five seconds, Snivellius," Harry sweetly told him and started to count down. Remus sincerely wished that the greasy git would remain stubborn, but the panicked look on Snape's face told him that he would get disappointed. Well not that it wouldn't be that bad to see him walk the plank, but if he were to fall in while tucked into a squeaking ball would be so much better.
To his credit, Snape waited until 'one' before he took the jump.
Captain Potter and his crew were laughing heartily as Snape squealed and flailed around in the lake, Harry leaning heavily onto the rail, ignoring the now considerable pain to savour every last moment of Snape struggling to keep afloat.
"You know, it's far from over," Remus said while they watched Severus shedding his robes before they pulled him down.
"If they want to try, I say 'Bring it on!'" Harry replied through clenched teeth. "I fought too hard to just give up. Freedom is something worth fighting for. Let's get out of here!"
While the others prepared to submerge the ship for the trip back into the open sea, Hermione stood next to him, pointing out various students along the beech, all cheering as Remus chose to let the Jolly Roger fly on the flagpole.
And although it hurt like hell, a broad grin split his face as one sentence passed his mind over and over again.
"It's good to be a pirate."
(Of Book 6)
To be continued…
And it is continued... s/11685990/1/In-enemy-waters (still work in progress)
Well, it has been a long journey, but I arrived at the words I had planned to write for such a long time.
For now, it's time to close this book, and start a new one, and to continue all the books that have been put on hiatus while this one consumed all my time.
I am grateful for all the help that I had with this story (alix33 and embi, I'm bowing in your direction here), and the things I learned while it went on. I now have at least a slight clue about how to write a story.
Also, thank you all for hanging on to this ride.