"Harry!" cried Dumbledore at the sight of the teenage hero´s head in his fireplace. "Do I see correctly? You are free?"
"Yes!" Harry confirmed urgently. "But now Snape and Sirius are fighting. We need your help!"
"Now, now. Those two are fighting all the time. You should be used to it by now. A little bit of bickering is nothing to get excited over."
"They are not bickering, they are fighting like in hitting each other with their fists." Harry looked behind him. "Oh, and Snape is pulling Sirius´s hair."
The headmaster shook his head sadly. "This kind of behaviour is totally uncalled for for a teacher! Step aside Harry, I´ll come through." He threw a small handful of floo powder into the hearth and stepped into the flames.
The old wizard was greeted by a quite unusual sight. Snape and Sirius were both rolling on the floor, hitting, spitting, biting, scratching like two tomcats fighting over a fish. Draco Malfoy and Ron Weasley were egging them on with a chant of "fight, fight, fight!" and Hermione Granger was nagging at the boys to shut up. Harry Potter, wizarding hero and Gryffindor´s golden boy, was standing by the fireplace, his head hanging tiredly.
"Since when has this been going on?" asked Dumbledore.
"Ever since Hermione managed to free me," Harry informed the old man.
"Did she? That girl really is an exceptionally bright witch." Without further ado the headmaster pointed his wand at the two fighting cocks and cast Aguamenti. Both wizards jumped back when they were hit with cold water.
"He started it!" they cried in unison, pointing at their respective opponent. "What? I did nothing of that kind! – Stop lying, nobody believes you anyway!"
"Stop it now!" roared the headmaster. "You´re setting a bad example for the children. You should be ashamed! Both of you!"
The two wizards didn´t answer as Lord Voldemort chose exactly that moment to call Snape again. The potions master doubled over with pain.
"I have to go!" he moaned. "He´s angry!"
"Be careful, Severus," the headmaster said softly.
The potions master acknowledged the advice with a curt nod before he hurried to meet his other master.
"He´s so brave," Hermione Granger whispered with awe.
"Brave?" snorted Black but he shut up when everybody glared at him angrily.
Was the Dark Lord going to punish Snape for not answering his last call? All they could do was wait.
In spite of having been freed and therefore being able to walk away from each other, Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy spent the rest of the day in what had been their quarters together. Hermione, Ron and Dumbledore had left about an hour after Snape had gone to meet his master.
Harry and Draco sat on the couch, leaving a spot just wide enough for Snape to sit in empty between them.
"Do you think he´s alright?" Harry asked for the umpteenth time.
"We can only hope," Draco replied like he had every single time before.
Sirius Black, who was the only one to stay with the boys, bustled about pouring tea and bringing biscuits. Of course the animagus wouldn´t admit that he was worried for his childhood enemy, but his behaviour gave away how anxious he was.
"Why don´t you go to bed? It´s past midnight," the wizard tried to coax the boys.
"I want to be up when he comes back," said Harry.
Unlike the past ten times Sirius had attempted to send them to bed, Draco didn´t agree.
"You know," the blond said, "sometimes they stay at one of the guest rooms over night. The Manor is big enough after all. I guess cousin Sirius is right. Let´s go to bed."
Harry followed the blond to their bedroom without further ado. If anybody knew about deatheater meetings, it must be Draco.
Snape didn´t return until after lunch the next day. By that time everybody was on edge. Even Dumbledore was pacing his office.
"Severus!" the old wizard cried, overjoyed when he saw his potions instructor. "Where have you been so long?"
Snape made a face as if he had bitten into a lemon. "Three guesses," he muttered. He was made sit down and eat a bowl of pea soup before Dumbledore demanded he report about the meeting.
"You seem unhurt, my boy," the headmaster pointed out gladly. "So I take it everything went well?"
"Better than I had dared hope for," nodded Snape.
"Then why are you so late?" cried Black, who had insisted to wait at the headmaster´s office for the return of the potions master if Harry and Draco were allowed there.
Snape snorted. "What do you think, Black? I presented him with a tale of how I´ve been molesting Potter when he last called me. He wanted details and he wanted the story retold again and again. More than once I was in danger of being found out when I mixed up details."
Harry paled. "You gave him details?"
"Of course. He loves his juicy story."
"How could you!" The wizarding hero looked sick.
"I had to," Snape pointed out. "It was that or die. He knows about that birthmark on your left buttock."
"Great," muttered Harry. "That´s all I need. Voldemort wanting to see my left buttock when we next meet."
Snape smirked. "Don´t worry. He´ll rather go for the scar I gave you on your hip-bone to mark you as mine before I obliviated you. We have to make that scar, by the way, or he´ll know about my deceit."
"I will not be scarred by you!" cried Harry. "Why did you have to come up with such a stupid lie? And why did you say you obliviated me?"
"To answer your first question, I knew it would please him. And for the second, I don´t want to rely on you remembering what I´m supposed to have done to you correctly." Snape sneered. "It is vital for my spying that you have that scar I said you have."
"No!" Harry looked at Sirius for support. "Definitely not!"
Surprisingly, Black was on Snape´s side in the matter. "Think of it as a tattoo, Harry," he suggested.
Harry snorted. "I guess you didn´t tell him you gave me a cool scar that looks like a dragon."
"A basilisk," Snape corrected him. "He liked the symbolism. Now lower your trousers so I can give you that scar."
"No! I will not have you point your wand there!" Harry wrapped his robes tightly around his frame.
"Maybe I can help," the headmaster made himself heard. "I´m good at scarring."
"If anybody scars my godson, it will be me," growled Sirius Black.
"So, who shall do it, Harry?" Dumbledore smiled.
It was a hard decision to make. Sirius was enthusiastic, Snape hated him and Dumbledore was, well, Dumbledore. Harry thought about it.
"I want Draco," he then announced.
"Draco?" spluttered Sirius. "But he´s your enemy!"
"He is; but he´s also the only one I can hex to my heart´s content if he does anything less than a perfect job. – So, will you do it, Malfoy?"
"I´ll do my best."
They did it after Black had threatened Draco to extinguish not only him, but his whole family from the face of the earth if the scar didn´t meet his standards. Harry lay down on the sofa after wriggling out of his trousers just far enough to give Draco access to the spot where the scar was supposed to be.
Draco was nervous, but after taking a deep, calming breath, he cast the spell Dumbledore had taught him two minutes ago. For a beginner, he did a splendid job. The scar looked like a basilisk, though like a slightly drunken one.
"There!" Harry spat at Snape once it was done. "Content? He has another reason to be after me now."
"See it as an insurance," Snape didn´t raise to the bait. "He won´t kill you at first sight, because he wants to see your scar first."
"Oh come on, Potter," grinned Draco. "Just think of the fame one scar gave you. And now you have two!"
Harry paled. "You won´t tell anybody about this scar!"
Draco smirked. "Not at the time being. It´s supposed to have been made by the professor. But once the Dark Lord is gone I wouldn´t say no to being known as the wizard who gave the golden boy a scar."
"You will do no such thing!" snarled Black. "This scar is private!"
Draco was interrupted by the floo bursting to life. Harry fastened his trousers hastily when Nicholas Flamel stepped into the office.
"I think I have the solution," he announced without preamble. He stopped short when he saw Snape stand boyless by the desk. "Since when have they been unstuck!" he cried angrily.
"Yesterday evening," admitted Dumbledore.
Flamel shot his old friend an angry look. "And you let me waste another day on finding a cure?"
"It was a quite hectic day. I was going to notify you in the evening." Dumbledore said soothingly.
"Hectic? Once you reach my age, you will see that every minute of the day is prescious. I don´t have time for petty excuses!"
Dumbledore smiled and waved the other wizards out of his office.
"Nicholas, why don´t we take some minutes to sample that excellent wine I have in my cabinet?"
"Wine?" Flamel´s anger faded away like mist in the sun.
Harry, Draco, Snape and Sirius tiptoed down the staircase.
"I´ll see you at potions," snarled Snape before he set out for his dungeons.
"I´ll go home. Remus has been alone for too long." Sirius Black resumed his dog form and followed the potions master.
Harry and Draco stared at each other awkwardly.
"Potions," muttered the blond. Then he turned around and followed his head of house.