Just a second chapter who requested one... it WAS mean of me to leave it where it was.
Chapter 2– Golpalott's Laws
When Albus Dumbledore entered the Library he immediately rushed to his young teacher's side. One glance at the man who was still lying on his side on the floor told him it was a very serious incident and Severus was fighting for his life.
"What happened?" he demanded whilst examining the fallen man. Severus' convulsions had ceased, but the blood tinged froth at his mouth remained and was beginning to overflow in rivulets to pool on the floor beneath his face.
"We don't know," Arthur told him. "The kids found him and called us down; he'd seemed fine when we last saw him in the hall only minutes ago," he insisted.
Albus, checking the man's pulse, thought to himself a moment, then nodded. "I didn't notice anything amiss either…" he said with regret, "… but Severus was certainly trying to tell me something. Evidently this," he admitted, nodding toward the collapsed man.
Arthur inhaled a sharp breath, suddenly recalling Severus trying to get his attention too. "Me too," he disclosed softly. "The kids said he'd swallowed a Bezoar, but I have no idea if it's really the case."
"Which kids?" Albus queried, gauging Severus' pallor.
"Ron, Hermione and Harry," Molly answered promptly from near the door.
"Fetch them," Dumbledore commanded decisively, checking beneath the dark man's closed eyelids and assessing his pupils.
Albus then waved his wand and loosened the dark man's collar, exposing a small amount of his chest. The Headmaster rested his hand inside Severus' garments to feel and count the man's breaths, and then he leaned in closer to Severus.
"Keep breathing, lad… keep breathing," he encouraged in an urgent and hopeful whisper, before removing his hand.
The twins came up behind the three younger Gryffindors leaning over the balcony and staring down the empty hall below.
"So, what's going on?" asked Fred, his tone worried but curious. They'd obviously heard the shouts for help but had been firmly told to stay out of the way by their mother.
Harry answered gloomily. "Snape collapsed in the Library."
The twin's eyebrows disappeared into their hairline simultaneously and their gaze swiftly shot to the lower level and the Library door. "What… collapsed?"
"Yeah… he keeled over… dropped straight to the floor. We think he's been poisoned… it didn't look good," Ron elaborated.
The twin's eyes widened with shock and the sudden revelation that their horrid teacher was not merely the infallible and immovable, hardened spy, but also a man, capable of, and apparently at real risk of, being hurt carrying out his Order duties.
"Merlin… is he… you know…" began Fred.
"Rhymes with Fred?" George finished.
Hermione looked horrified at their suggestion, and quickly corrected them. "No! At least, not yet… that we know of anyway."
"Blimey," George expressed, looking to Fred who was already searching out his twin's gaze. They often did this in times where they needed to feel solidarity. How lucky they were to have each other when some people had no-one to turn to.
Their younger brother added a little bit peevishly, "No-one even noticed that he'd looked so dreadful right beforehand… not even Dad… and he was right there in the hall with him!"
The twins stared curiously at Ron, wondering about the implied, subtle accusation regarding their father. Before either could remark however, Molly pushed open the Library door and entered the hallway gazing up to the congregation of teenagers on the landing.
"Quick, quick, you three, down you come. Professor Dumbledore wants a word," she beckoned.
Molly returned promptly with the trio.
The three of them looked earnestly toward the fallen man who was now surrounded by three adults, including the concerned Headmaster, who appeared to be caringly tending to him.
"Tell me what you know about this," Dumbledore demanded of them, indicating to Snape whilst monitoring the ill wizard's condition.
Level-headed Hermione took the lead to explain before the boys could organize their thoughts; saving the boys from useless blathering and hopefully the ill Professor more suffering.
"We were on the landing und-" she began, but stopped swiftly when she realised what she would be admitting to, but it was clearly too late and too important to try to save their own necks now, so continued on. "-we were under Harry's cloak," she admitted, with a small apologetic look toward her two friends. "We saw Professor Snape come out of the meeting alone, but then we noticed that something seemed wrong with him. As we watched he suddenly doubled over as if in pain and vomited at the base of the stairs."
Hermione paused as she tried to remember what had happened next… beginning to feel slightly ashamed that she and the boys had just watched the whole thing without doing anything to help their Professor.
"Um… Professor Snape then seemed to panic and started rifling through his pockets, looking for something. We saw him take out what looked like a Bezoar; we're under the impression he believed he'd been poisoned," Hermione revealed.
Dumbledore glanced briefly at the young woman, a little astonished that this had all occurred whilst the majority of the Order were gathered right in the next room. "Go on…" he prompted.
Molly looked quite distressed that the spy had suffered and agonized over this without calling out to any of his comrades for help – the dark man had certainly seemed fine the few moments prior; when he'd excused himself from the meeting early.
They all knew Snape was stubborn and seemed a very independent and reserved person… but it bothered Molly that he apparently did not feel at ease enough with his fellow Order members to know he could, and should, be able to rely upon every single one of them to assist him should he fall gravely ill or be injured… he could have died had the kids not happened to have seen him in a moment when he'd let his guard down!
Hermione continued, "He then went to go back into the kitchen, but that's when everyone else came out. It looked like he was attempting to tell someone, but, well…" she trailed off, apologetically.
The Headmaster acknowledged Hermione's assertion; he'd already stated that Severus had obviously been trying to let him know something was wrong and he'd failed to appreciate the urgency.
Arthur and Remus glanced at one another; both realising that indeed, as they too had already gathered, Severus had also tried to gain Arthur's attention when the Headmaster had swiftly left without hearing Severus out, but, like Albus, neither had known there was any urgency at the time and had instead believed keeping the squabbling adversaries (Severus and Sirius) apart to be the more pressing task.
Severus' particularly desperate act of reaching out to Arthur against his wont, because he'd not been able to alert Albus to his escalating troubles, had gone unrewarded; and Arthur in particular felt dreadful about it.
"But he didn't seem unwell… just his usual bitter and smug self!" Sirius interjected. "Are you sure it was a Bezoar… and did you see him swallow it down?"
Harry answered insistently in place of Hermione. "Yes… and yes, he definitely swallowed it down." Harry was perplexed to notice Sirius grimace.
However the Headmaster nodded approvingly, looking mildly relieved at the news… at least if a Bezoar could help the dark man in this situation it was good to know it had already been employed. Severus was certainly known for his quick thinking, and in this case it might already have saved his own life.
"Is this all you know… you didn't hear him say or indicate with what substance or where he believed he might have been poisoned?"
All three teens shook their heads in the negative.
With a lack of new information Dumbledore changed tack and abruptly swung into authoritative action; ordering the adults around him to fetch items and complete tasks as quickly as possible.
Harry noticed that Sirius slunk into the back of the room as everyone else got busy with the Headmaster's orders. Frowning deeply the Azkaban escapee reached over and plucked a couple of old, lace doilies from the side table next to the sofa and transfigured them with his wand into small, soft toweling washers. He then enlarged and reshaped the small vase from the mantle so it resembled a small bowl and he promptly filled it with water. Sirius made an apparently covert movement of his wand toward the newly filled bowl, but the gesture appeared to do nothing in particular, so believing he had misinterpreted Sirius' movements Harry promptly dismissed it.
Sirius then stepped forward and reached in between Remus and Arthur to deposit the bowl to the floor within their reach. They each gave him a questioning expression.
"It's pooling beneath him," Sirius said, indicating flippantly to the mess dribbling from the prone man's mouth to the floorboards. The comment seemed rather callous to Harry, as though Black was more concerned with the flooring than the ill man; yet as both the wizards tending the ill man took up a cloth and moistened them in the bowl they nodded their comprehension and rewarded Sirius' gesture with a grateful word of 'thanks'. Harry mentally shook himself… what was he thinking?
Arthur cleaned the bloodied dribble and froth from Severus' mouth deftly whilst Remus swiped the other across his pasty forehead, pushing back the drops of hair that frequently hung like a curtain masking the man's expressions.
Severus made a soft sound in response, but nobody believed he was particularly lucid or aware of what was going on around him in that moment.
Molly returned with a large cauldron from the kitchen and lighted a flame beneath it to begin heating a measure of water within it. Sirius then assisted Molly to locate as many of the ingredients as Albus listed off as they could from other rooms in the house. Arthur handed over the cloth he'd been using to wipe the dark man's mouth clean to the older wizard, and then removed the Potions' Master's Cloak and Frock Coat, possibly to make him more comfortable, but he also added several packets he found within their many pockets to the pile that Sirius and Molly had begun to accrue.
Harry, Ron and Hermione retreated quietly into the background where they marveled in awe at the competence of the adults around them.
Deftly Professor Dumbledore began adding a range of base ingredients to the steaming cauldron before taking the used cloth he'd been given that had the remnants of Severus' sputum within the fibers and submerged it into the cauldron.
He added a few further ingredients to the cauldron from the pile that had accumulated, drawing several, successive eruptive and colourful reactions from the mixture within.
"What's he doing?" Ron whispered; thoroughly perplexed.
Harry and Hermione both shook their heads in the negative, neither any wiser about Dumbledore's intentions than their red-headed school mate, until suddenly Hermione came to a swift understanding.
"Oh… Golpalott's Laws," she announced to her confused friends with triumph; looking impressed with the Headmaster.
"What?" Ron and Harry replied in unison.
"Golpalott's Laws… we'll learn about some of them next year in Potions. I read about Golpalott's Third Law in the Potions text," Hermione explained.
"You have next year's text book already?" Ron blurted, both amazed and incredulous at the same time.
Hermione sent him a scathing look for interrupting her. "Yes… but that's not important. The important thing is that I've read about them… nothing in depth, but Golpalott's First Law helps to deal with quickly extracting hidden potions. Then once that's done," she said, indicating toward the Headmaster who was now performing a non-verbal spell upon a tiny amount of liquid that had been separated from the contents of the cauldron, "you can then use Scarpin's Revelaspell to identify each ingredient of a poisonous potion. The Second Law is about defining different classes of poisons… but the Third has to do with blended poisons and creating antidotes."
Suitably impressed with their friend's knowledge yet again, the boys watched in awe as the old wizard wielded his wand and the cauldron masterfully. After only twenty minutes of difficult to follow discussion, and complicated input each from Dumbledore, Sirius, Remus and Arthur, and a few corrections, they'd managed to brew what was hoped to be a successful antidote to use on the Order's spy.
The dark man still lay on his side unmoving except for laboured breathing. Remus had continued to monitor his condition as Albus worked on the potion. Barely waiting enough time for the brew to have cooled to a safe temperature, Severus was raised into a position so as to be able to be dosed with a mouthful of the antidote. The brew was massaged down the Potion Master's throat and all in the room waited with baited breath for any sign of success.
Professor Dumbledore tried a light reviving spell and everyone sighed softly when the dark man began to move his arm of his own volition.
As Severus began to come to, Sirius suddenly retreated from the room. Harry watched him go with curiosity, and a slightly uneasy feeling. 'Did Sirius have something to do with Professor Snape falling ill?' he wondered… his misgivings about his Godfather's behaviour finally adding up to a tangible thought.
"Severus?" Albus gently urged, gaining the waking man's attention. "How are you feeling?"
The ill man took several long moments to get his bearings, but as his awareness sharpened he recognized the worried man leaning over him.
"Yes, my boy. It seems you were poisoned?" he queried.
Severus reached a hand up to sweep over his sweat lathered face and groaned softly. "Yes… I think so," he confirmed.
The dark man's gaze then took in the several onlookers in the background and he appeared rather mortified to find so many people currently staring down upon him. He wrapped an arm around his stomach and attempted to push himself up into a sitting position.
"Easy lad… you're unlikely to be out of the woods just yet," Dumbledore cautioned while helping him to sit upright. He guided the younger man to lean against the armchair nearby to steady him.
Proving the Headmaster right, Professor Snape gasped softly and reached his spare hand his head as if he had a headache or felt dizzy… or potentially both; and then what must have been a further cramp in his gut made him grimace in discomfort and clutch at his stomach.
"Any idea who might have done this to you, Severus?" Albus asked directly.
Snape shook his head… he had no idea at this point; his mind was still clouded from his ordeal. He'd need to consider the circumstances further to try to sort it out.
"You felt fine when you arrived here?" Dumbledore inquired.
Snape nodded. He had certainly felt no symptoms at that point.
"Wait, are you proposing that one the Order might have been responsible for this?" Remus asked, rather astounded at Albus' suggestion.
"We must consider all possibilities, Remus," Albus insisted. "Severus?"
"Let me think," he replied softly and Albus nodded his agreement.
Snape said nothing further and kept his eyes averted from the rest of the onlookers… he knew nobody here genuinely cared for him, and it was entirely possible in his estimation that some of the Order would rather he was not among them and might have endeavored to rid the Order of the, in their opinion, untrustworthy spy.
But did he believe someone had attempted that? And, did he believe they'd had the opportunity?
Of course… Black had wanted him gone since their school days. The feeling was mutual, but so far Black had been the only one of the pair to act on this impulse. Had this been attempt number two?
As always Mrs Weasley had provided refreshments for the meeting… Black had placed them on the table. He'd distributed the cups of tea among his friends… leaving one sitting on the bench to go cold. Arthur had seen it and delivered it to the only member who'd been missed. He'd placed the beverage in front of Severus.
At that moment Sirius approached from the kitchen and stood in the doorway to the Library, carrying a mug of steaming tea. He handed it to the Mrs Weasley who was closest to the door. Severus noticed him, observing his reluctance to enter the room, and pleased for it. But something stirred within his mind as the beverage's aroma filled his nostrils.
"Molly… here, it's Chamomile," Sirius announced. "It might help sooth his stomach."
"Oh… yes, probably. Here Severus… try some when you feel ready," said Mrs Weasley, placing the mug on the low table closest to the recovering wizard.
"And tell him he can stay until he's feeling better," Sirius sneered, before he turned to disappear down the hall way, in the direction of the staircase.
Severus, eyeing off the cup to his right, suddenly spoke up. "That filthy animagus! It was HIM!
"What?!" exclaimed Remus. "Sirius wouldn't… you wouldn't?" he repeated, directing it at his friend who had returned to the doorway.
"Sirius?" Harry questioned, the disappointment in his tone unmistakable. "You swore to me you weren't like that… I believed you."
Sirius was frowning deeply. "I'm not… Harry… Remus…what kind of monster do you all take me for? Severus, you son of a-"
"Not you," Severus scoffed with irritation, waving off the very idea. "Pettigrew! The stupid rodent has been in my stores again… he's gone a fouled up a batch of… Veritaserum, hasn't he?" Severus said, recalling the Death Eater's hardly subtle volley of questions before he'd departed. "And then he's slipped it to me disguised in a cup of tea."
Everyone in the room just breathed a small breath of relief and stared at the Potions Master; incredulous.
"He made Chamomile… to disguise the scent and flavour. But, of course, it is supposed to be undetectable. Instead of interrogating me, he's bloody well poisoned me!"
"Ah… well at least it wasn't intentional," commented Albus, "all's well that ends well," and it was Severus' turn to be incredulous.
"Come, my boy… Sirius was good enough to invite you to remain here until you are well again… lie up here on the couch and rest," the old wizard insisted, patting his hand on the furniture.
Molly and Remus quickly escorted the trio of teenagers out of the room as glares noxious enough to kill passed between the two adversarial wizards and an apparently oblivious and jovial Dumbledore.
Sirius, suitably disgusted, swung on his heel and retreated to sulk upstairs in his room for the rest of the day… or at least until Snivellus was out of his house! He couldn't believe he'd actually felt some concern for the danger the slimy snake put himself in on a daily basis for the Order… when, in truth, the cretin was sipping herbal tea with his pet rat while they played with his Chemistry set! Maybe Pettigrew would get it right next time and have Snape choke on a chocolate biscuit laced with swelling solution!
Severus, equally disgusted, was assisted onto the couch to rest and recuperate… though he vowed to be out of there as soon as he could walk securely. Bloody Pettigrew had made a pillock out of him… for what sort of Potions Master couldn't recognize a rancid brew in his tea when he smelt one? He knew it had tasted funny and hadn't had more than that one sip… yet it had certainly been enough to take him down. Bloody Pettigrew was a menace!
At least the Veritaserum, though poisonous, had been inactive… his secrets were still safe, and Pettigrew none the wiser that his interrogation had been compromised. Severus hoped that would prevent the imbecile from trying again.
The dark man's stomach was still cramping, despite resting for nearly an hour… and he eyed the cold cup of Chamomile upon the low table now positioned next to him. Dumbledore had reheated it before he had left him to sleep, encouraging him to partake… but it needed another shot. Out of principle he'd decided not to touch the brew prepared by Black… but the soothing properties beckoned to him now… eager as he was to feel better and be going.
Severus pushed himself up and reached for the cup… using his wand to reheat the brown liquid within… and brought it to his lips. It smelt delicious and he drew a small sip into his mouth and swallowed it. He took three more sips before he needed to lie down again… and there he stayed; the rest of the afternoon and most of the night; exhaustion and finally finding relief from the discomfort both playing their part.
At subsequent Order meetings, Severus considered it complete coincidence that he was served Chamomile tea whilst everyone else enjoyed regular.