For The Greater Good
Disclaimer: All characters were conceived and copywrited by JK Rowling. I'm just enjoying playing in her park!
Summary: This is my answer to a challenge by The Last of the Pendragons on . The guidelines included Harry voting for acquittal during his trial in OOTP, he stumbles unknowingly into a protocol for reclaiming a family seat on the Wizengamot, has several required lines, and a Harry/Daphne, Harry/ Susan or Harry/Hannah pairing.
Warnings: Some mention of child abuse, mental and physical abuse of adults. Some violence in later chapters.
Characters: Severus Snape, Lucius Malfoy, Harry Potter, Albus Dumbledore, Weasley Family, Hermione Granger.
Beta: Burt, thanks for the hard work editing my misspellings and jumps of logic, any errors that remain are solely mine and hopefully do not reflect on Burt!
Author Note: I also post as "fairylights" on Potionsandsnitches, once I get a bit further into the story, I'll start posting it there as well. I have the whole story outlined, but updates are likely to be irregular for awhile. Harry is going to eventually show up, just not in this chapter, the groundwork has to be laid before he can appear. Hope you enjoy it!
Chapter 1 – Unexpected Happenings
Severus Snape glared at the secretary as she lifted a file and entered the office of the solicitor. There were many other things he'd rather be doing with his time than sitting in Amadeus Figgleworth's waiting room on this warm July day, especially since he hadn't the foggiest notion what the famed solicitor wanted to see him about. At least his luck was somewhat in, he'd just moved back to his house when the owl had caught up with him, which meant that no one from Hogwarts was aware of his visit to Figgleworth, Bentknapp and DeForet.
Severus watched as the secretary, Miss Brownwell, Hufflepuff, class of 1989, left the door open behind her and approached him.
"Mr. Figgleworth is ready for you now, sir," she said with a competent air, ignoring his frown. "Follow me please."
He stood and followed the secretary, stopping in the doorway for a minute to inspect the room. It appeared to be a fairly standard room for a solicitor; several comfortable chairs done in green leather, nice Aubusson carpet on the floor, burgundy velvet drapes framed the window. Perhaps a few more book cases than he'd seen in his previous visits to solicitor's offices, but then again, this group was reputed to be one of the premier groups in Britain. A well dressed, grey haired wizard stood patiently behind the large, polished wood desk, watching with amusement as his domain was inspected.
"Severus Snape," he said as he stepped around the corner of the desk to approach the Potions Master, "you have the look of your grandmother Lucretia."
Severus raised his eyebrow in surprise. "You knew her?"
"Oh my yes, young man, she was quite a vibrant personality in her day. Please, sit down Master Snape. May I offer you some refreshments while we discuss business?"
"Iced coffee if you have some, if not, then tea will be sufficient," he said as he settled himself in one of the comfortable chairs in front of the desk.
"Of course," the solicitor said as he wrote a quick message on a pad, folded it, and sent it on its way out the door with a quick flick of his wand.
Amadeus Figgleworth had been involved in representing the elite families of the wizarding world for close to sixty years. In that amount of time you become good at reading people, to his surprise Severus Snape was not an easy read he thought as he settled back into the padded office chair. The young man in front of him did indeed have some of the facial features of his dear friend Lucretia Manousakis, but there was a heaviness, a weariness, perhaps even a hopelessness that he would never have expected to see in one of Lucretia's descendents. Even in the worst times that dear woman had been an effervescent and uplifting presence to all she claimed as friend. Perhaps he could indulge himself in some careful prying?
"If you'll forgive me, I know very little about you other than you are a Master of Potions and that you teach at Hogwarts. What else can you tell me about yourself?" the old man asked.
"What else is there to know?" Severus asked in a guarded manner, not quite sure why the man was interested in his private affairs. "Most of my year is spent trying to impart a little knowledge to a bunch of inattentive, grubby miscreants who would much rather be waving their wands than learning the subtle art of potions. It leaves little time for other pursuits."
"Surely there must be something you like to do for fun, a hobby or two?" Figgleworth watched as the younger man appeared to be debating what to say. "I myself indulge in the muggle game of golf when I get a chance. It's quite refreshing to take out my aggressions on an innocent ball."
"I used to enjoy an occasional game of chess, but it's been difficult lately to find either the time or someone to provide an adequate challenge. I quite enjoy a good brandy on occasion as well, but considering the expense of good brandy, that is a treat that I enjoy very infrequently." He felt he'd done rather well, after all he could hardly tell the man that his free time was mostly occupied in either spying for Dumbledore, reporting to the headmaster, or brewing for the madman he called 'master'.
The door opened before Amadeus could ask another question. He had noted that the Potions Master appeared to be dancing around his question somewhat, which piqued his curiosity. The young man was hiding something. Interesting. "Ah, thank you my dear, you may put the tray over there," he said, pointing toward the sideboard, "we'll serve ourselves."
"Yes sir," the secretary said as she carefully settled the tray loaded with tea, coffee and biscuits where indicated. She gave the tray one more glance to make sure that everything was in place and then left the office, closing the door softly behind her.
Amadeus rose and approached the sideboard, thinking carefully about where he wanted to direct the conversation. "Would you like cream or sugar with your coffee," he asked as he lifted the lid on the ice container and placed ice in a tall, thin glass.
"Neither thank you," Severus replied.
"Biscuit?" the solicitor queried, pointing a thin finger toward the biscuit plate.
"No, thank you."
He handed Severus his coffee and went back to the tray to make his tea and serve himself a biscuit or two. Perhaps it was time to get to the matter, he mused, seating himself behind his desk. It was obvious, upon reflection, that young master Snape was not inclined to trust him on first meeting; trust would have to be earned over a period of time. Hopefully not too long a period of time. "I'm sure you are wondering why we contacted you."
"The thought had crossed my mind, yes."
He shuffled a few papers on his desk, looking for one in particular. "How close are you to the Prince side of your family?"
"Not at all," Severus said glaring at his glass.
Obviously there was a story there and just as obviously Severus was unlikely to unburden himself at this time. "Let me back up just a little, then, there may be some information that you are unaware of."
Snape nodded, fixing his onyx eyes on the solicitor. What could his mother's family possibly have to do with him?
"I was honored to know your grandmother, Lucretia Manousakis, when she arrived in Britain as the affianced of Soren Prince. She was a wonderful woman, full of love and laughter and light. Soren was her opposite in many things, very serious, hardly ever laughed, but he was besotted with his wife. The two were a surprisingly good mach," he said eyes staring into the distance as he reminisced. "In due course they were blessed with three children; Justinus, Giacomo, and Eileen. Your grandmother was happy as a mother, she made sure that each of her children felt loved and important. All was well until your grandfather met with his accident. Stop me if I am telling you what you already know, Master Snape," the solicitor said.
"While I am familiar with some of the family lore, my mother rarely had the inclination to tell me much. Any information you can give me would be appreciated," Severus said as he stared contemplatively at the man across the desk from him.
"Very well," Amadeus said slowly, considering where to go next, and wondering why Eileen had not imparted the family traditions to her son. This might be harder than he expected. "Perhaps it would be better if you told me what you know so that I may fill in the gaps?"
Severus steepled his hands under his chin and thought back to his childhood and the few times his mother had told him stories. "I believe, from what she said, that my mother's family was well to do and lived in a nice house on a bit of land. Her father, Soren, was a businessman of some sort and died when she was at Hogwarts. Perhaps she was 13?" He looked questioningly at the solicitor, who nodded. "Ah, she finished Hogwarts and spent the summer after her last year at school working in an apothecary shop as an assistant with a view toward becoming an apprentice. She met my father in the park, they hit it off, and two weeks later she was engaged to marry him. When she took my father home, her brothers told her to leave him or they would cut her off without a knut. She chose my father and had nothing to do with the family again." He took a sip of his iced coffee and regarded the other man who was looking perturbed.
"Well that is certainly the bare essentials of the matter, if you would allow me the liberty, I'd like to flesh things out for you a bit before we get to the reason for my asking for this meeting." He waited for Severus to nod in acquiescence before he continued his tale.
"Justinus was 11 years older than your mother and Giacomo was 10 years older. Eileen was a delightful surprise to both of her parents. Both boys had finished Hogwarts before their father's death and were settled in their own careers. They were both very protective of their much younger sister, and that grew worse when Soren died. You have to understand, at that time our culture expected young ladies of a certain social status to be guided into marriage by the males in their families, archaic, I know," he said holding a hand up as Severus made a move to interrupt, "but the wizarding world has always been behind the muggle world when it comes to social change. In any case, Eileen had inherited both her mother's fiery spirit and her father's stubborn will, and she was not inclined to allow her brothers to, how did she put it? Ah yes, 'pawn her off on a weak chinned ignoramus with more breeding than brains." He watched as Severus' eyebrow shot up and a small grin creased his mouth. "Quite. Her brothers did not find her opinion edifying, but listening to the counsel of Lucretia, they let her have her head for a summer and planned to begin trotting eligible young men before her in the Fall. Care for a refill?" he asked, pointing toward Severus' empty glass.
Severus held it out to the man and waited patiently as he refilled both Severus' glass and his tea cup. So far the information the man had disclosed had been interesting, but hardly earth shattering. Certainly nothing to warrant the attention of a solicitor of his reputation.
Figgleworth settled himself in his chair and took a meditative sip of his tea. Where had he left off? Ah, yes. "As you said, Eileen took a position in an apothecary close to her home. She was hoping that she would be able to convince her family to allow her to go on with her studies and become a Potions Mistress before she married and settled down. At that time it was unusual for a married witch to attend school, if a witch desired an advanced degree she obtained it before marriage. Your parents did in fact meet in a park, at an open air concert of a muggle singing group called 'the Beetles', you may be familiar with them?" Severus nodded, a subtle expression of surprise on his face. "Your father, Tobias, was a handsome, charismatic man. He swept Eileen off her feet and they were engaged very quickly. I don't know that it was the two weeks that you were told, but it may have been. In any case, Eileen took her fiancé home to meet her family. I happened run into Lucretia shortly after the occasion, and she unburdened herself to my wife and I concerning the happenings of that meeting. As you may have gathered, it was unpleasant."
Severus nodded and took another sip of his drink.
"From what Lucretia said, your mother proudly introduced Tobias, and everything went well until the family was conversing after dinner and realized that Tobias was a muggle, and not just a muggle, but a poor one with few prospects as well. Lucretia was able to smooth things over until Tobias left, but once the door was closed on him, Justinus and Giacomo towed their sister into the study and began an argument that lasted until the wee hours of the morning. Eileen stormed out when Justinus threatened to cast her out of the family if she followed through with this marriage. Lucretia was heart broken, not only because she knew Eileen was far too stubborn to back down when given an ultimatum like that, but also because she was a very perceptive woman and felt uneasy about Tobias' character. The next time Lucretia saw Eileen was when she came to the house three years later, already married and with you on her hip. She wanted her mother to see her grandson, even though her brothers had followed through with their threat and cut her off from the family. Do you remember your grandmother at all?"
Severus thought back to when he was a child, they were not memories that he chose to visit often. "I believe so. When I was very young I remember going with my mother to tea rooms to meet an older woman. I must have been around the age of 4 the last time I saw her."
"Ah. That makes sense, you would have been close to 4 years old when she returned to Italy."
"Was there a reason she left?" Severus asked curiously.
"She had arthritis and the cold, damp air of England was exacerbating the condition. That was before the current treatments were available, she was advised by her doctor to move to a warmer climate. She went back to her family in Italy, settled in Palermo and was able to lead a much more active life there than she did here."
"Is she still alive?"
"No, I'm sorry to say that she passed away almost 10 years ago. She was thrown from her horse one morning and landed poorly. She was gone before her sons could reach her, of course your own mother was gone by then as well."
Severus sat quietly, contemplating the information that had been imparted to him. "That's all very interesting, Mr. Figgleworth, but I'm still not sure why I'm here."
"Please bear with me just a little more, Mr. Snape, I promise you things will become much more clear in just a few moments. Do you have the time to indulge me?"
Severus glanced at his watch. He really had very little that had to be done today, and surely whatever news the man had would be to his benefit. Perhaps his grandmother had left him a little bit of money? "I have time, sir, please continue."
"Good. Where was I? Ah yes, your Uncles. Justinus was a rather cold man, which I always thought was odd considering how warm and caring his mother was. As I told you he and Giacomo both worked in the family business after their father's death. Justinus, as the eldest, was the head of the family, and as such he married a suitable woman from a good family, one Iris Black, shortly after Eileen left. Unfortunately, Iris was unable to have children, so when they died during an outbreak of Wibbling's disease Giacomo was left to inherit. By that time his mother had also passed, so he was the only Prince left. He also did his duty and married a woman of good background, one of the Turpin girls I believe. They had a son, Gardan, who died three years ago at age 5." Amadeus clasped his hands in front of him on the desk and considered how best to convey the next bit of information. He looked up and captured Severus' eyes with his own. "There is no easy way to say this. After Gardan's death, Giacomo retreated from the world and locked himself up in his home. He died almost a year ago, leaving you as the next head of the of the Prince family."
"The House of Prince," Severus mused, thinking furiously. "I am unfamiliar with there being a 'house' associated with that name. I was under the impression that it was my mother's maiden name and nothing else?"
"In one way you would be correct. Your exact title would be "Severus Snape, Lord of Ilfracombe and Baron of Nottingham." Figgleworth took a sip of his rapidly cooling tea and said "the actual family name is not Prince, it's the noble and ancient house of Grantham."
Severus carefully placed his glass on the solicitor's desk, sat back and stared at the ceiling for several moments. Figgleworth let him have the time to gather himself, and was rewarded for his patience several moments later when the man sat up and stared at him.
"You did just tell me that I'm the head of an ancient and noble house, did you not?"
"Yes, Mr. Snape, I did. You'll have to be confirmed by Gringotts, of course, but that should be an easy matter. The documentation supporting your claim is irrefutable, there are no other heirs to the title at this time."
"I believe you said that my uncle died a year ago?" Severus paused as the solicitor nodded his head. "Why has it taken so long for you to notify me?"
Amadeus looked uncomfortable and leaned forward, staring at his hands for a moment. "That's the other half of the situation, Mr. Snape. When your Uncle died last fall we immediately attempted to contact you. As the school year had already started, naturally we sent any correspondence to you at Hogwarts. At first, all of our letters were returned unopened. When we were unable to contact you by November, we contacted the goblins. They suspected, given the information we passed on to them and certain things they had noted during the fall, that you had either a mail diversion charm or a specific correspondence blocking hex placed on you. I believe you paid a visit to Gringotts in the past few days?"
"I did indeed, just yesterday as a matter of fact." Severus was looking increasingly perturbed as the conversation continued.
"During your visit, one of their curse breakers took a cursory look at your aura. You did indeed have several charms and hexes placed on you, they were able to remove the one that they identified as a "modified correspondence blocking hex" keyed to both this office and specific accounts at Gringotts, but recommend that you come in to have a more thorough examination done, perhaps when you see to your confirmation as the head of the noble and ancient house of Grantham."
"And when can that be done?"
"I informed the goblins when you accepted our meeting today, they assured me they would have a goblin standing ready if you desired to attend to your confirmation etc. today."
Severus tapped his lips with the tip of one long finger as he thought. "It seems to me it would be best to get as much done as can be accomplished today."
"Very well," the solicitor said reaching for a sheet of parchment, scribbling a quick note and sending it out the mail slot in his door. "Do you have any idea who would want to place such a hex upon you?"
"Two people spring to mind, but I'm unsure as to why either one would find it necessary."
A gold colored paper bird soared through the mail slot, circled the room once, and landed neatly on Mr. Figgleworth's desk. He unfolded it, read the contents, and looked at his client with a smirk on his face.
"The goblins are ready for us if we would like to step across to them. The firm has a private entrance into the Wills and Bequests office so we will not need to venture into the alley."
Severus rose silently and gestured for the solicitor to precede him. They traveled down a narrow corridor to a non-descript door set into an alcove. Mr. Figgleworth knocked twice and a previously hidden slot opened half way down the door. The men could see an eye staring at them fiercely for a few seconds before the slot snapped shut and the door was flung open.
"Your business?" a goblin demanded from the threshold.
"Amadeus Figgleworth and Severus Snape to see Goblin Advisor Spearfang regarding the Prince account."
The goblin surveyed them a moment more before stepping back to allow them entrance to Gringott's department of Wills and Bequests. Severus noted several more non-descript doors set into the walls of the room they walked through. He assumed that they belonged to other solicitors. A short walk placed them at an elaborate door with the title "Spearfang" in gold letters emblazoned on it.
They were ushered through the door, across the waiting room and straight into the inner office. A wizened, elderly goblin sat behind a large ornate desk with many pieces of paper scattered across it. He stared at the men as they entered.
"Severus Snape, I presume?"
"Yes," Severus said, making sure to stare straight into the goblin's eyes. Anything less could be viewed as a sign of submission, something that he'd never been very good at.
Spearfang nodded approvingly. All the information they'd been able to glean on this man indicated that he was a tough and tenacious individual. He'd need to have both attributes in abundance to assume his rightful place in the wizarding world. "Is it your intention to assume the honors of your family this day?"
"I so intend."
"Very well." Spearfang motioned both men to take seats before his desk. He took a moment to organize the papers on his desk into three piles before looking back at them. "Did Mr. Figgleworth discuss the hex that was removed from you yesterday?"
"Yes." Severus turned to look at his solicitor, noticing that the man had a quill in hand and was writing on a paper resting on a knee desk.
"Do you have any questions regarding that action?"
"Is there any way to tell who put them on me?" Severus asked, looking intently at the goblin.
"There is indeed, and if you'll be patient, I will be happy to go into more depth regarding that matter." Spearfang tapped a small pile of papers to the right of him. "These are the papers that will need to be signed in order for you to attain your hereditary rights. These papers," he said, tapping the sizeable pile in the middle of the desk, "are in reference to the vaults, properties and investments of the family."
The third pile consisted of three pages, Spearfang picked the three up and set them in front of Severus, each sheet set apart from the others so they could be clearly seen. "These papers are permission to scan for hexes and charms; permission to remove said hexes and charms; and a request for Gringotts to determine who cast said hexes and charms." He sat back and watched expectantly as Severus thought.
"What exactly is the procedure for each of these options, and what is the cost," Severus asked.
Spearfang nodded in approval. A human with the intellect to ask questions before jumping into something was a welcome change from the people he usually dealt with. "The scan is just that, a simple scan. The procedure for the removal of any remaining charms and hexes will depend on the exact nature of the spells used, but we will discuss your options before attempting anything. The identification is a charm that is cast prior to removing unwanted hexes and charms, it ties to each spell and identifies the magical signature of the person who cast it. As Gringotts has branches throughout the wizarding world it is rare that we are unable to identify the caster. The cost also depends on the number and complexity of spells to be removed. For the three services the cost ranges from 50 galleons for one or two very simple spells up to 3000 galleons or more."
Severus shook his head. "Unfortunately I do not currently have the money necessary to pay for these procedures if they are complex, as I anticipate that they are. Perhaps at a later date, depending on the holdings I am inheriting, I will be able to afford this service.
"Severus, the estate will pay for this to be done, and I would highly recommend that you attend to it prior to taking up the reins of your lordship. There are certain magics involved that may react badly if you have certain types of spells on you," Amadeus said, leaning forward earnestly.
"In that case, if you would," Severus said, pointing toward the three papers. Spearfang quickly handed them over along with a solicitor's quill. "When should I make myself available?"
"We have one of our best teams standing by as we anticipated that you would wish to avail yourself of their expertise in this matter. If you would follow me?"
Severus nodded and stood up. To his surprise Amadeus stayed seated. He raised an enquiring eyebrow toward the man.
Amadeus shook his head. "I'm not permitted to attend you, Severus, these are rituals that are closely guarded by Gringotts and those who don't have to know are not invited to participate. You should know, however, that I have been assured that whomever attends to you this afternoon, whether they be goblin or human, has been instructed that their oath to the bank includes any and all activities involving you."
"Good to know, I will see you when I return?"
"I will be waiting."
Severus followed Spearfang through a plain door on the opposite side they'd entered from and down the narrow corridor beyond it. The walls were hewn out of stone and lit with torches which cast a flickering red light over the floor. Overall it was a rather ominous atmosphere, Severus mused as they walked. They turned to the right as they got to the end of the corridor and immediately began a slow descent into the bowels of Gringotts, presumably down toward the vaults. Severus had of course visited his meager vault prior to this visit, however, he'd not had the opportunity to be in this part of the bank. They eventually stopped in front of an opening in the wall with what looked to be a simple cotton curtain hung over it.
Spearfang paused in front of the curtain and turned to Severus. "This your last chance to back out Human, are you sure this is what you want to do?"
Severus stared at the goblin for a moment, trying to determine what his expression meant. Slowly he nodded his head. "I believe so."
He received a nod in return from his guide, who pulled back the curtain gestured for Severus to enter the room beyond it. Severus stepped cautiously through the entrance and paused inside to inspect the room. It appeared to be an old fashioned robing room. There were curtained cubicles to one side and racks of plain linen robes in a variety of soft colors hanging in the center. The room was lit with magic sconces scattered around the walls, imparting a soothing creamy light over everything.
"If you would, Mr. Snape," Spearfang said, gesturing toward the robes. "I believe you'll find a robe that will fit you on the far rack. You may leave your clothing in the cubicle, it will be moved to the recovery room for your convenience. Make sure that you remove all metal and animal objects, including your wand. The only things that should remain on your body should come from plant products that have never have been exposed to magical processes. It would be my recommendation that you wear the ceremonial robe and nothing else, the result of not removing all such items can be very….unfortunate," the goblin said with a toothy grin. Severus got the feeling that the Goblins might enjoy seeing him experience the result of such an "unfortunate event".
He stepped to the indicated rack and held a robe from the middle of it up to himself. "How long should this be, and should I pick a particular color?"
Spearfang grunted in approval. Sensible questions! "The length is immaterial, you should choose what is comfortable for you. The color however, that may have ramifications. I would suggest a white one, given that we do not yet know what procedures will need to be done, the purest of the colors would be best."
Severus nodded and shifted the robes over, looking for one long enough to fit his lanky frame. Ah, this one should do, it looked, upon holding it up to his shoulders, as though it would fall to his ankles. He took the robe from the hanger it was on and retreated to a cubby to disrobe. As he'd thought, the robe covered from his shoulders to just above his ankles quite nicely. Severus returned to the goblin and followed him silently to a door hidden behind a rack of robes.
"I cannot enter this room with you," Spearfang said. "Only those who have been through the purification rituals are permitted to enter. I will be waiting for you when you are finished." He nodded his head to the wizard and left the room quietly, leaving Severus staring at the door in front of him. He squared his shoulders and opened the door slowly, and carefully stepped across the threshold. A knot of people were gathered at the other end of a room that was dominated by what appeared to be a stone table covered in carved runes. Each wore a robe similar to his, but of a variety of colors from white like his to deepest red.
A man in a light green robe detached himself from the others and crossed the room to Severus. "I'm Master Healer Candidate Sanderford, I will be assisting in monitoring your health during the removal process. Please come this way," he said, indicating the table. "I'm afraid it's not too comfortable, but we need you to lie in the middle of the table."
Severus sat on the edge of the table and stared at the others still gathered across the room, listening as a tall gray haired man robed in deep red spoke softly. The others nodded in agreement and turned as a group to approach the table, the grey haired man in the lead, several pieces of parchment in his hand.
"Good afternoon, Mr. Snape, I'm Master Curse Breaker Smyth. I will be performing most of the curse breaking that is required this afternoon. Each of the team assembled today has their particular strength and is considered one of the best at their discipline. Due to the unknown nature of the situation we've called in as many disciplines as possible." Smyth bowed his head once and moved away to allow the next person to introduce herself.
"Elisabetta Gerasimo, Detection."
"Manuel Santodomingo, Charms Master."
"Jason Seefarthing, Master of Defense."
"Lyrae Malfoy, Master Healer" Severus stared intently at the woman. She was tall and willowy in her green robe, with long blond hair streaked with grey. "Lucius is my younger brother."
"I was unaware that he had any siblings," Severus said, eyebrow quirked in question.
"I'm not surprised. That is a tale for another day, however." She stepped back and gestured the next person forward.
"Herbert Sanderford, Master Healer candidate:"
"Brendan Finnoch, Master Curse Breaker."
Severus looked at the last person in surprise. The red haired man grinned at him before saying "Hello Professor, William Weasley, Journeyman Curse Breaker. I'm here to take notes and assist as needed. Oh, before you ask, no one will hear of this from me, our oaths cover that."
"I'm more worried about someone removing the knowledge from your head without your being aware of it than I am of you volunteering information," Severus said sardonically.
Bill nodded his head in understanding. "Occlumency is part of our training, sir, we must be proficient before we are permitted to leave our training."
Severus nodded in acquiescence.
Master Smyth came to the fore again. "Generally, Professor Snape, we prefer to cast the detection scan first to determine what we are dealing with, then follow with the identification charm so that as we remove any spells the caster will be detected. That information will be recorded on specially charmed parchment, Bill Weasley will monitor the process from that desk," he said, pointing to a stone desk and chair in a corner of the room. "The final step will be to remove any charms or curses found. We will of course discuss the process with you before we begin. Do you have any questions?" Smyth waited while Severus thought carefully for a moment before shaking his head no. "Very well then, if you would please lie down in the middle of the table, arms at your sides with the palms down."
Severus lay back on the cold table and stared at the rock ceiling above him. Rarely had he ever felt so exposed. It was a feeling that he was unaccustomed to, and one that he would prefer never to have to experience again. Few realized it, but one of the reasons that he buried himself under so many layers of cloth was because of the illusion of protection that it gave him. Not that his clothes weren't spelled with as many useful protective charms as he could afford, but the extra layers gave him a feeling of emotional protection that couldn't be found in other ways. Lying on a cold table dressed only in a thin linen robe surrounded by unfamiliar wizards and witches was akin to his worst nightmare.
Elisabeta Gerasimo stepped up next to him, wand in hand. "This is a special ritual wand. Its only purpose is to assist in this type of situation. Please relax as much as possible and don't fight the magic. It needs to delve deep into your core to analyze any magic that has been placed upon you."
Severus nodded and tried to relax. He focused his mind on the latest potions article he'd read regarding the use of chicken lips in medicinal potions. A wave of magic passed through his body, causing him to tense and shiver slightly.
"You are doing well, Professor, just a few more minutes. Remember to relax as much as possible," the detection mistress said in a soothing tone of voice.
He went back to contemplating the chicken lips, trying to ignore the chill that was rapidly spreading from the outside of his body to his inner core. Perhaps if he added some griffon toenails that would stabilize the second step better than the butterfly talc. Hmmm.
"We're done, you may sit up if you wish."
Severus slowly sat up and swung his legs over the edge of the table. Most of the team were clustered around the desk, peering intently at some parchment. One of the healers, Sandeford, approached him and waved his wand slowly over Severus. "Are you aware that you are showing signs of both malnutrition and prolonged exposure to the cruciatus curse?"
Severus raised an eyebrow and folded the sleeve of the robe from the dark mark on his arm. "It's rather an occupational hazard."
"Nevertheless, there are some things that we can do to help curb the nerve damage it's caused. I am unsure if a full recovery is possible, with your permission I can do an analysis while the others are conferring?"
He nodded agreement and watched carefully as Sandeford chanted softly and waved his wand over Severus' head. "I will return with my diagnosis before you undergo the removal process."
Smyth led the way back over to Severus, several sheets of parchment in hand and the rest of the team following. "Well, it's not the worst I've seen, but you have an impressive collection of hexes, charms, and spells upon your person. Let's start with the most serious and work out from there, shall we?" He waited a moment for Snape to nod agreement and then continued on.
"By far the most serious to your health and mental stability are a block on your magical core and multiple memory charms."
"I take it you were unaware of them?"
"Oh yes, you can safely say that," Severus said, seething. "What else did you find?"
"There is a broken obfuscation charm specifically keyed to Gringotts, several depression charms, a hate hex keyed to a specific person. I am unable to tell who that person is at this time. Several trust compulsion charms, evidence of mind control potions, an appearance hex, and multiple exposures to the cruciatus curse. Of course there is the negative energy from the Dark Mark as well."
"What are you able to do with them?"
"Each of them can be removed, the question is, do you want them all removed?" Smyth waited patiently while Severus thought.
"You can remove them all? Even the Dark Mark?"
"Indeed we can. It's a lengthy process, but it can be done. In fact, after the last war we removed several dark marks. If you'd like my recommendation, why don't you think about it and we'll cast the identity charm. Knowing who cast what spell may influence your final decision."
"Agreed." Severus lay back on the table and waited while Smyth called the Charms master over.
"Please stay still Professor, this will take a few moments," Santodomingo said as he slowly waved his wand over Severus, starting at his head and moving downward. He stopped a few times and flicked his wand toward the desk before finally stopping for good at Severus' feet. "That should do it. Give me a few minutes to look over the results. Until then you can sit up."
Severus watched from his perch on the table as the team met around the desk again and confirmed. Healer Malfoy approached the table and looked at him searchingly for a moment before returning to the group and gesturing to Bill Weasley. Bill nodded and left the room, returning a moment later with a stone cup. He approached Severus, handing him the cup and saying "Healer Malfoy wants you to drink this, it's just fresh spring water," he said as Severus sniffed at the contents of the cup suspiciously. He sipped at the water, determined it was indeed spring water, and drank the rest of the draught.
"Mr. Weasley, attend me please," Master Curse breaker Smyth called from the other side of the room." Bill grinned at his former professor, took the empty cup and returned to the desk.
Severus waited impatiently as the conversation continued on the other side of the room. Finally the team returned to his table, Smyth in the lead.
"This was a bit unexpected, honestly," the Curse breaker started. "I think it's important that you consider carefully what you wish us to do, Professor," he said, handing the parchment to Severus.
Severus looked down at the parchment. The list of spells was neatly divided into two columns, one much longer than the other. He concentrated on the shorter column first. It was headed by the name "Tom Riddle Jr." and consisted of pretty much what he expected, multiple cruciatus curses, the Dark Mark, and a trust compulsion charm. He was a bit surprised to see that the Dark Lord had placed a block on his magical core, but upon further thought realized that he really should have expected it. The Dark Lord would not stand for any competition, he'd want to neutralize his more powerful followers without rendering them useless to him, a block on their power would allow him to ensure no one in his ranks had power approaching his own. He turned his attention to the other column and felt his face blanch. This column was headed by the name "Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore" and was much more lengthy than the other column. The list of spells, hexes, charms and potions that the man he'd trusted above all others had subjected him to stretched to more than half the scroll. He could vaguely hear a voice rising above the buzzing in his ears.
"Professor Snape, can you hear me? William, would you please retrieve a calming potion from my bag?"
"Right away, Healer Malfoy."
Severus became aware of a vial at his lips and a pleasant voice telling him to drink. He absentmindedly sniffed at the liquid contained within, identifying the chamomile and valerian extracts used in most calming potions and readily gulped it down. He slowly became aware of grey eyes looking within concern at him.
He nodded, noting that Healer Malfoy had her fingers against the pulse point in his wrist, apparently monitoring his physical well being.
Curse breaker Smyth stepped up to his side saying "Are you feeling alright Professor? Would you like to take a break for a few minutes? I can have Journeyman Weasley bring you some herbal tea if you like."
Severus took a moment to consider before answering. "No, Master Smyth, at this point I believe it will be more beneficial to continue. I have some questions. I take it there is no doubt these results are accurate?"
"I can certainly understand why you would question the results, I had the same concern and cast several different verification charms upon the parchment. There is no doubt, Professor Snape, Albus Dumbledore did indeed violate your person with the listed charms, hexes and potions. Where we go from here is up to you however. As mentioned before we can remove some or all of the items on the parchment. We would certainly understand if you wish to discontinue the process and take some time to consider your options, the team can be reconvened with 24 hours notice to Gringotts."
Snape gazed at the parchment and thought furiously. He'd been the pawn of one master or another since the summer of 1978, and it appeared that neither of the two wizards he'd followed had been trustworthy. Perhaps, yes, that would be the best thing for now, at least until he had time to talk with someone. "Is it possible to remove everything except the Dark Mark without the caster being aware that they've been removed?"
"Yes. It's a modified glamour spell that fools the caster into thinking that his magic is still functioning as intended."
He thought for a moment more, his eyes searching out Bill Weasley. "Weasley."
Severus noted that his former student was even paler than he normally was, and that his normally brilliant blue eyes were rather dull. "I can trust you not to pass this on to anyone, correct?"
Bill stared at his former professor, his mind still whirling with the information that had been uncovered this afternoon. He lifted his wand and spoke softly but intensely "I swear on my magic that I will not divulge by word or deed the information uncovered during this ritual to anyone save those that Potions Master Severus Snape designates." A brilliant white light flashed through the room acknowledging the oath. "Professor, may I come and speak with you in the next few days," he asked respectfully.
The Potions Master surveyed him carefully. "Send me an owl in the next day or two and we can arrange something."
Bill nodded his head respectfully and returned to his desk on the other side of the room.
Severus thought for a few minutes more as the team withdrew to allow him the time and space he needed to consider his options. "Master Smyth, I believe I've reached a decision." Smyth returned to his side. "I would like to have all but the Dark Mark removed, but I'm a bit concerned with the amount of time it will take."
The Curse breaker nodded his head. "I can certainly understand that. While there are numerous items listed that need to be addressed, most can be removed with either the same incantation or the same potion. I can't give you an exact amount of time, but it is reasonable to assume that it shouldn't take more than an hour to an hour and a half. I do have to warn you, though, that some of the procedures will most likely be extremely uncomfortable. Standard procedure in situations such as this is to place the client under sedation so that they remain comfortable while we work. Is that acceptable to you?"
He thought for a moment before nodding in acquiescence. While the loss of control was not appealing, the thought of remaining fully aware through the entire procedure was not enticing either. Better to allow them to do their work unencumbered.
"Very well, give us a few moments to get things collected and set up, and we'll begin."
Herbert Sanderford slipped quietly up to the table, a parchment clutched in his hands and several vials barely visible in the pockets of his robe. Healer Malfoy had followed him over and gently plucked the parchment out of the younger man's hands. "Professor, according to my results I believe we can completely remediate the effects caused by the cruciatus curse, however, the persistent malnutrition would best be cured through the use of nutrition potions over a prolonged length of time."
Lyrae Malfoy nodded in agreement, handing the parchment back to her younger colleague. "Healer Sanderford is correct, it took time to get into this level of malnutrition, and it will take time to get out of it." She turned to Sanderford. "What potions have you brought with you?"
He plucked 4 potions out of his pocket and handed them to his supervisor, who looked them over carefully before nodding and indicating he should proceed.
Sanderford held out the first potion, Severus took it and looked at it intently. "It's a nerve regenerator, Professor. Drink that one first," he paused as Severus tossed it back and reached for the next. "This is a neurotransmitter regulator. It restores the balance of the natural neurotransmitters in your brain." Severus nodded and drank that one quickly. So far they weren't too odious tasting. Sanderford held up a violent pink, rather oily potion next. "This one is a joint lubricant and tendon strengthener." That one was a bit more piquant in flavor, but not too bad. "The final one I must warn you is rather unpleasant." Sanderford paused and rolled the final vial between his fingers, trying to decide how to describe the effects of the sickly yellow potion.
"Herbert, I find it's best to be blunt in cases like this," Lyrae said, grabbing the vial from his fingers. "Master Snape, I'm afraid this is one of those things that must just be born. It tastes like dirty Quidditch socks, which is bad enough, but its purpose is to purge the damage that the cruciatus curse has done to you physically, and that is not a pleasant process." She handed the final vial to the Potions Master and waited patiently for him to drink it.
Severus winced as he sniffed it carefully. Unfortunately it did smell extremely unpleasant. Well, nothing for it but to drink it. "Merlin's beard," he coughed as the potion burned going down his esophagus and settled into his stomach. He hunched over clutching his stomach and fighting to keep the vile brew down.
"Just a few more minutes, Professor, it should only take a few minutes to work its way through your system and out again. Herbert, hand me that cloth. Thank you," Lyrae said as she gently wiped Severus' face for him. "Ah, there we go."
The pain in his stomach was slowly fading away to be replaced by a burning sensation that ran through his veins and into every part of his body, followed by a noxious smelling cloud that rose from his pores.
"Very well done, Master Snape, I wish more of my patients would cooperate as you have," Lyrae said. "I know that you can't tell right now, but by the time you wake from the removal procedure your body will have healed itself from the majority of the damage that has been done to it. We will have your nutrient potions and instructions for their use waiting for you outside the room when we are done. Why don't you lie back and relax for now, I'm sure Master Smyth will be ready soon, she said, smiling at him.
Severus levered himself down onto the table, surprised at how good it felt to lie quietly on the cool stone. He allowed his mind to drift, considering various scenarios and directions to go as he waited for the curse breakers to return to his side of the room.
"Potions Master Snape?"
Severus shot up from the table, his heart beating. It was very unusual for someone to be able to sneak up on him like that, usually he was extremely aware of his surroundings.
"Easy there, I was just asking if you are ready," Master Curse Breaker Smyth said.
"William, I believe you have the draught?"
The red headed young man stood at his mentor's shoulder, a steaming goblet held in both hands. "Yes sir."
"Give me the goblet, you help Master Snape sit up. I know, you can sit up yourself, but this is a very fast acting draught, and I'd prefer you not to smash your head on the table when it takes effect. We find it's better to have someone brace the client so that doesn't happen."
He allowed Bill to brace him and reached for the goblet. A brief sensation of a surprisingly viscous liquid sliding down his throat and gentle hands helping him to lie back were all he was aware of as he fell asleep.
"Master Snape, can you hear me?"
The voice sounded like it was coming from a long distance away.
"Twenty points from Gryffindor," he mumbled.
"I think he's coming around," Bill said, snickering softly to himself.
"Thank you Journeyman, why don't you retrieve the potions I set out on the desk," a musical feminine voice said from the left of him.
Severus dragged his eyes open and took in his surroundings, a lifetime of spying had trained him to look before moving when regaining consciousness, you never knew what was around you. What was around him right now were the concerned faces of Master Smyth and Master Healer Malfoy.
"Master Snape, how do you feel?" Lyrae asked him.
"Like I was trampled by one of Hagrid's pets," he grunted, trying to maneuver himself into a sitting position, only to have the healer lightly push him down again.
"Lie down again until these have taken affect," she said, accepting several potions from Bill Weasley and handing them to Severus, who looked at them suspiciously. "Nothing more than two specific pain killers, a muscle relaxant, and a potion that we've developed to help counteract some of the negative effects of having your memories restored."
Severus nodded and downed each foul tasting concoction and waited for them to take effect, cataloging the various aches and pains that were present in his body. The slow cessation of pain was a welcome relief, and he tried again to sit up, this time able to reach a full upright position.
"Better, Master Snape?" Smyth asked, watching as his client became more and more aware.
"Rest here for a few minutes, sir, then we'll discuss the results of the procedure. Weasley, bring some water over."
"Yes, Sir," Bill said, filling the stone cup that Severus had used previously from an ewer placed on a small table to the right of the desk and bringing it to him. "How are you feeling, Professor?"
Severus thought for a moment. "Odd, Mr. Weasley, very odd."
Bill nodded and opened his mouth to reply when he was interrupted by his mentor.
"Weasley, come over here for a minute."
"Sorry sir," he said, shrugging and turning back to the people congregated around the desk.
Severus contemplated them as he sipped his water. Most of the team appeared to be quite fatigued. He sat a few more minutes and collected his thoughts before saying "I believe I am ready to hear what you have to say."
Healer Malfoy returned from the table and reached for his wrist to check his pulse and look intently in his eyes. Severus suffered the fussing, feeling quite sure that this woman would not be bullied as easily as Poppy Pomphrey was. In any case, he was more likely to get the information he wanted if he cooperated than if he tried to avoid her annoying attentions.
"Do you think you can stand?" she asked.
"I believe so," he replied.
"Very well. William, would you please come assist Master Snape? I think we'll remove to the antechamber, it's more comfortable for prolonged conversations."
"Yes Ma'm," Weasley said, coming to Severus' side and offering his arm as the man slid carefully off the table. Severus took a few seconds to accustom himself to being on his feet before taking a tentative step. He was a bit surprised to find that he was able to walk without assistance to the small room just outside the door.
"If you think you are strong enough your clothes are behind that curtain," Bill said, pointing to a corner of the room that was curtained off to provide some privacy.
Severus nodded curtly and moved carefully toward the curtain. He slowly pulled on layer upon layer of his clothing, buttoning each button with care until he was restored to his usual order before pulling back the curtain and entering the small room.
To his surprise only three people waited for him, Master Smyth, Master Malfoy, and Bill Weasley.
"Master Snape, we felt that the rest of the team did not need to be present for the results to be given to you, we felt sure that between us, Healer Malfoy and I could answer any questions you might have. I am training Journeyman Weasley on all aspects of curse breaking, and this is a part of the profession that he has yet to learn, if you have no objections I would like for him to sit in on this session," Smyth said, rising and pulling one of the chairs at the wooden table out for him.
Snape settled himself into the surprisingly comfortable chair and gazed at his former student. "I have no objections to Mr. Weasley being present."
"Thank you, Master Snape." He shuffled through the papers that were on the desk in front of him until he found one with a list on it and placed it on top of the others. "First off, I should tell you that we were successful at removing all of the curses, hexes and spells that were placed upon you. Some of them were a bit more difficult to remove than anticipated, particularly the memory charms. I conducted a final scan of your person to ascertain that there were no remaining magics on you with the exception of the curse on your arm, and am able to confirm that it is the only remaining foreign magic on you. Do you have any questions, sir?"
Severus thought for a moment. "Not at this time."
"Very well, you will receive a copy of this report in a few days. Healer Malfoy?"
Lyrae nodded and reached for her stack of papers. "Given the nature of the spells removed from you it is very likely that you will feel unlike your normal self for a few days. "I'm sorry I can't be more precise," she said, holding up a hand as he moved to interrupt her, "but the amount of time to recuperate varies by person. It is somewhat dependent on the number of spells removed, which in your case was a fairly high number." She reached for a bag to the side of her papers and removed several vials of liquid. "These are painkillers. I want you to take a mouthful every 6 hours for the next two days and as necessary after that. Your body will not recover as quickly while it's in pain as it would were it not in pain."
She waited for Severus to indicate his agreement, which he begrudgingly did. She removed several more vials and laid them next to the first ones she had drawn out. "These are muscle relaxants, I am not giving you a schedule to take them on, take one when you need one. If you think a hot herbal bath will be sufficient, it's perfectly fine to skip them. Your discretion. Several more vials appeared from the bag, each filled what Severus recognized as a broad spectrum nutrient solution. "Make sure that you take half a vial of this nutrient potion every morning with breakfast. And make sure that you actually eat a balanced breakfast. In other words, something more than coffee or tea. "
The healer waited once again for his nod of agreement before continuing on, her expression becoming serious as she withdrew 7 vials made of a dark green glass. "These are the most important potions I am giving you, and you must be sure to use them exactly as directed. The memory charms that were placed upon you were not only numerous, they were placed extremely strongly. We were able to break through the blocks, but if we allowed the memories to return all at once there was an increased likelihood that you would be driven insane. You must take one full vial of this tincture with eight ounces of purified spring water every night before bed. They will allow your memories to begin returning slowly at night so that the experience is not jarring. Do not skip a dose, do not combine doses, and do not forget to drink water with them. Is that clear Master Snape?" she asked, staring at him intently.
Severus stared back, an eyebrow cocked in surprise. "What, may I ask, is the name of this potion?"
"Memoria Recidivus Sensim. It is restricted and you are unlikely to have heard of it. We use it exclusively at Gringotts for exactly this type of situation. I am giving these instructions to you now to remind you of the directions that go with the different potions."
He took the offered parchment without comment, it was unlikely that he would forget, but not worth the trouble at this point to scoff at the woman.
"Will you be able to go straight home or do you have further business with Gringotts today?" the healer asked as she put the potions back in the small bag.
"I have business that cannot wait," he said as he accepted the bag.
"I thought that might be the case," she said, pulling another vial from the pocket of her robe and offering it to him. "I'm sure you recognize pepper-up potion, I would recommend you take it with you and use it if you feel yourself tiring. I'd also recommend that you not apparate today, your body has been through a rough time, Master Snape, you would be wise to allow it to recover before stressing it that much."
"Very well. Master Healer," he said, taking the vial and sticking it into one of the pockets in his robe specially cushioned for potions vials.
"Do you have any questions I can answer for you?" Lyrae said, arms folded on the stack of papers.
"Not at this time."
"If you do think of any questions, feel free to contact us through your account manager," Smyth said rising. "There should be a clerk outside the door waiting to conduct you to Spearfang's office."
Severus paused as he walked toward the door and turned to address the others. "Would it be possible for me to talk with Journeyman Weasley privately for a few moments?"
"If you wish," Master Curse breaker Smyth said, holding Lyrae's chair for her as she stood. They exited the room, leaving Bill facing his former professor, a look of curiosity on his face.
"I assume you saw the list of spells and curses that were removed?" Severus asked, Bill nodded. "Did you also note who had placed the majority of them?"
Bill nodded again, a look of anger crossing his face. "Yes Professor, I did notice that."
Severus paused, staring intently at the younger man. "Then you will understand why I urge you to take a close look at your family?"
Severus nodded and reached for the door, saying as he left the room, "Don't forget to owl me in a few days, Weasley."
"I won't sir," Bill said as the door closed softly behind the stern man.