10. Vox Populi

What a heavy burden is a name that has become too famous.
~ Voltaire

"Don't you dare to say his name, Potter!" Severus shouted. "You will endanger all of us! The Ministry—"

"What do they make such noise about, Luce?" Narcissa murmured sleepily, turning to her other side and burrowing deeper under the covers.

"Do not worry, my darling, I will check," answered her husband.

Yawning, Lucius donned his robes and looked out of the hut. Severus towered above a very stubborn-looking Potter, obviously trying to educate the boy. Again. This time, the Potions master was explaining in his unique pedagogical manner that Potter should not pronounce the Dark Lord's name aloud. Granger and the Weasley boy were silently watching from safe distance.

"Sev's abandoning himself to his passion again," Lucius said with a small laugh. "Mentoring Potter, that is. I guess I should interfere before someone says something indiscreet."

ss SS ss

"Snape, can't you stop looking at me as if I—"

"Your impudence, Potter, is above everything I have ever—"

"Good morning," Lucius said amiably.

Both went silent and gave him very similar glares.

"All right, Sev, tell us, what new surprise has our Ministry invented now?" Lucius was sincerely curious.

"Those idiots prohibited pronouncing even the name Vol—"

"SHUT UP!" roared Severus in a fury, and Potter did shut up. The Potions master looked as if he could have a stroke every moment, and Lucius started to worry.

"There is no need to get so upset," he tried to console his friend. "Please do explain everything. And you, Mr. Potter, should just listen silently and resist from drawing any conclusions until later."

Severus inhaled slowly.

"The Ministry," he began, visibly trying to stay calm, "ordered to place a jinx on the Dark Lord's name. Saying it breaks protective enchantments. The moment it is uttered, the place where it is pronounced becomes marked on a map, and the area is immediately invaded by the newly-formed—"

"Punitive force goons?" Hermione proposed.

"More or less," Severus nodded darkly. "So if this idi—"

"Calm down, Sev," Lucius interfered hurriedly. "I am sure Mr. Potter has already understood that the matter is serious, so he won't say the Dark Lord's name in vain."

"Of course I won't!" the boy pouted. "I am not an idiot!"

"There can be different opinions on the matter," Severus drawled.

"Alas, but nobody is interested in yours," Sirius Black smirked from behind Lucius' back. "So, what are we going to do?"

Lucius turned around in surprise to look at his brother-in-law. Well, his almost brother-in-law, for the lack of the better term.

"What are you saying, Black?"

"This is an atrocious infringement on the freedom of speech," Granger declared. "I think Sirius is right. We must do something immediately, make an appeal to the public, probably..."

"Ahem. I had another idea, actually," Sirius shrugged. "Sitting here, doing nothing... it's boring! So I thought we should..."

Albus Dumbledore chose that very moment to appear in the sky as the golden phoenix and to come down on the clearing (which was starting to look very trampled on, as a matter of fact).

"Oh Merlin..." Severus quietly groaned. "I think I am going to lie for a bit. Just in case."

ss SS ss

Around midday, when the Potions master deemed it safe to look out of his hut, Lucius was finishing his second beef sandwich.

"Ah, you're just in time, Sev. We are having lunch," he said. "Help yourself."

Severus looked around, but saw nobody except for Lucius and Narcissa.

"And where is everybody else?" he asked suspiciously. "I hope they haven't gone to take the Ministry by storm?"

"That plan was declared not detailed and sound enough yet to put into action," Lucius answered without batting an eye. "So, our Gryffindor friends went out to organize a flash mob."

"A flash ... what?"

"A flash mob. Miss Granger assured me it was some newest Muggle from of entertainment. Something of pop-culture, as far as I understood."

"Really? And what exactly does this entertainment involve?" Severus became more and more suspicious.

"Once again, as far as I understood, it involves many people doing some silly thing together at the same time. The more people, the merrier, and the more silly this thing is, the funnier. Personally, I don't see how this differs from their usual behaviour."

"And what silly thing," the Potions master said slowly with some dread, "are they going to do this time?"

"Saying the Dark Lord's name," Lucius answered, courteously making a sandwich for his friend. "As often as possible, and all over the country. They consider it making the vox populi heard and at the same time being a big pain in the Ministry's... neck, so to speak."

Severus groaned.

"Has Potter gone with them? How could Albus let him?!"

"What do you take me for?" Lucius looked offended. "Even if the old man had allowed this, I would not let the boy go without us. However, everybody felt that Potter should not go, so he is lying in their hut, all tied up. Draco is reading him aloud, so that the brat would not get bored. The latest Potions text, I believe."

Severus almost choked on his lunch.

"By the way," Lucius continued, "it was me who persuaded Dumbledore not to bother you with this. Somehow, I thought that Muggle pop-culture was not your style... Hey, are you all right? Should I pat you on the back?"

Severus shook his head and continued coughing.

"You know, Luce," he said at last, "I think I have come to a surprising conclusion that I owe you a thank you."

"You owe me nothing," Lucius smirked. "As it happens, it's time to feed Potter. Draco and I were somewhat apprehensive about doing it without you. What if he is a biter, you know?"