Complete header information may be found in Part One.
Return to Part Eight
Acts of Will, Part Nine
Severus had been so preoccupied with his disembodiment and nascent relationship with Harry that it had not occurred to him to ask Harry how he'd achieved the Dark Lord's destruction. Now, however, as Harry's power-raising, sorcerous incantation shook the very foundations of Grimmauld, he suspected that he might have a clue as to how Harry had managed it.
"'The power the Dark Lord knows not'—Harry can access raw magic. Without his wand. He can channel it directly through his body. Sweet Merlin! "Harry, what are you doing?" Severus asked, starting as Harry turned to look at him.
His eyes were wide and the pupils dilated—there were no visible whites—and Severus didn't think Harry was actually seeing him. He had no real desire to know what Harry was seeing.
But I can't allow him to do . . . whatever he's planning to do. If he harms Weasley, he'll never forgive himself—and he might destroy himself in the process of invoking so much magic.
Harry's Latinate incantation twisted into the hiss of Parseltongue then: "Find him. Find me the body of Severus Tobias Snape. Find him, and return him to me." Immediately, fell glowing serpents began to writhe up through the floor.
It didn't surprise Severus, given their bond, that he could understand Harry's intonation. At least he's not calling for Weasley's death, he thought, only slightly relieved.
"Let nothing and no one interfere with you as you undertake your task," Harry continued.
"Fuck," Draco said, from the threshold of the room. "Severus, are you here? You must be—do something! What if Hermione should try to stop them?" he asked.
It didn't surprise Severus that Draco had so quickly understood the serpents' purpose, either—not that it mattered. "What would you have me do?" he asked, even though he knew Draco couldn't hear him.
As the mystical snakes began to slither up the masonry and melt through it, Draco tensed. He then rushed Harry, only to be thrown back by a shower of blue sparks that erupted from Harry's body for his pains.
"That wouldn't have been my first choice," Severus muttered, focusing his will on Harry. "Stop this! Harry, call them back! Your magic might kill someone."
"Go! Let no one stop you from finding and returning the body of Severus Tobias Snape to me!" Harry hissed, concluding his incantation and collapsing as the last of the serpents left the sub-basement.
Severus looked from Harry to Draco and back again, wondering, How the hell can I warn them?
It was then that a heavily pregnant Unspeakable Granger-Weasley entered the room at the head of a group of other Unspeakables.
"Get Malfoy out. Place the crystals. Begin your tracking magics. Bind him!" she ordered, pointing at Harry.
His eyes widening, Severus thought, This can't be good, as he stepped well out of the way of the apparent circle of power that the Unspeakables were creating without the benefit of wands. Perhaps they don't use them, either.
Severus, like most wizards, had only a vague knowledge of the purpose and workings of the Department of Mysteries. It wasn't considered polite to speak of the department, which was why those who worked there had come to be known as "Unspeakables." What was clear to him, however, was that the Unspeakables present had obviously practiced raising this particular sort of circle.
Of course they have. She was present, wasn't she, when Harry faced him? She would have seen Harry's power and known to plan for this day.
It was unnerving to know that one of Harry's dearest friends would have thought to plan for a time when he would have to be restrained.
Or worse, Severus thought, remembering quite clearly that Albus had sent him into deep cover for precisely the same reason. "You will help him when the time comes, Severus, help him to focus, or help us all by doing what is necessary."
At the time, the thought of killing Harry had been a welcome one, but now all Severus wanted was to find a way to save him.
"Right. That's done. All of you, out!" Hermione barked, turning her attention to the unconscious Harry, who was now lying bound within an opalescent ward the likes of which Severus had never seen.
The crystals the Unspeakables had used to channel their ward had disintegrated utterly when the circle had charged into existence.
"Again, I tell you that you shouldn't be alone. What if the circle fails?" the only other female Unspeakable asked.
"Yes," a male Unspeakable said. "You shouldn't even be near this sort of elemental energy, given your—"
"Get. Out," Granger-Weasley ordered, from between gritted teeth.
Severus was struck by her tone of command; it was impressive, implacable, and alarming.
"And do check on Smythe's progress in locating my husband. I'm almost positive he'll return here to destroy Snape's body. Be ready to take him into custody before the other Aurors arrive—but don't allow anyone to harm him—wizard-level spells only."
"Wizard-level"—so they are practicing sorcery. That explains their lack of wands, Severus thought, fascinated in spite of himself.
"As you will," the previously protesting Unspeakable replied, his manner now submissive.
Severus couldn't help himself; he grinned. His appreciation of Granger-Weasley's ferocious competence was, however, short-lived as he once again began to worry about what she was planning to do. He was also concerned for her, remembering what Weasley had said about her previous miscarriages.
"Stop it, Cedric! You can't be coming now!" she exclaimed then, rubbing her abdomen and beginning to take deep breaths.
"The baby's coming," Severus said, feeling intensely frustrated by his state of helplessness.
Harry stirred. "What's coming?"
"You mean, besides your Constraining Hearing, you idiot?" Hermione asked, peering into the circle.
"What the hell is—ow!" Harry yelled, as he rolled into the magical barrier. "That hurt. What're you doing to me?"
"Something I hoped I'd never have to."
"Severus . . . I can't sense him!"
"That's because he's not here," Hermione replied.
"He is! Ask Malfoy. Malfoy knows that—"
"Draco knows what I tell him. He came here on my orders."
"After Ron saw me this afternoon, I knew he'd come to see you. I suspected you might tell him about the body. I began arranging for this then."
"You told Malfoy where I was?"
"How could you? How'd he get past the Fidelius Charm?"
Hermione sighed. "Draco found out the same way a lot of people did. Don't you remember Skeeter's photographs of Dumbledore's stolen papers?"
"Damn that bitch!"
"He saw Dumbledore's note to Shacklebolt, the one in which he revealed this location to him. That was good enough to break the Fidelius Charm—and Draco already knew where Grimmauld Place was, so all he had to do was get through the apparent void between the other visible homes on this street."
"Hermione," Harry pleaded, "you have to talk to Malfoy. He knows now. I'm not mad—but I can't feel Severus, so when his body returns to me, I won't be able to—"
"Whatever magic you invoked will be prevented from finding you again because of the elemental ward. Professor Snape's body is safely hidden. Those . . . tracking conjurations of yours will remain with it."
"You can't do this!"
"I already have. For your sake, I hope no one dies. I don't think there'd be anything I could say to the First Sorceress that would prevent her from ordering your Constraint."
Harry's expression twisted into something dangerous. "Your precious little shining wall won't hold me for long, you know."
"If you try to break it, I'll send word to my people to destroy Professor Snape's body."
"I would, so sit down, belt up, and listen to me. There's loads to sort out before my labor incapacitates me, and—"
"Let me out of here!" Harry shouted, again throwing himself against the ward.
"—if your selfish fucking recklessness ends in the death of my son or husband, I'll Constrain you myself."
It seemed to Severus that Granger-Weasley and Draco spent much of their resultant conversation throwing around words that carried inherent capitals, and he hated the fact that he didn't recognize several of the terms. From context, however, he did know the implications of a Constraining.
But I seriously doubt, he thought, with a worried glance at Harry, whose repeated attacks on the elemental ward had caused it to dim significantly, that there are sufficient Unspeakables to achieve that task.
"You're talking nonsense, Draco!" Granger-Weasley shouted.
Draco flushed with anger. "Potter told me things that there is no possible way he could have known!"
"Well, what things? If you don't tell me—"
"They were personal."
"Harry's a Legilimens," Granger-Weasley retorted, "and fairly good at sensing others' feelings to boot. He was manipulating you."
"Famulus Granger-Weasley?" an Unspeakable asked, stepping just inside the kitchen.
"Smythe?" she snapped.
"Your husband has been apprehe—detained. He's outside. The Aurors are demanding to speak with you about the nature of the disturbance."
"They can stuff their questions up their arses. First Sorceress Yaxley arranged their orders personally—they are not to ask anything. Remind them of this and take Auror Granger-Weasley to—"
Smythe was shoved into the room.
Severus saw Ron Weasley stumble in after the Unspeakable, moving with difficulty due to the bright yet disintegrating chains of some form of Incarcerous. He slammed shut the door, which he warded at once.
"Ron! You can't be here."
"My own wife," he spat, brushing off the remains of his chains. "What the hell do you think you're doing?"
"Famulus?" Smythe asked as he steadied himself, looking from the Auror to Draco and then to his superior.
She groaned as if in frustration, but Severus knew better. How far along are you? And what an interesting title you have.
Ignoring Smythe, the Famulus replied, "I'm trying to keep you out of Azkaban and Harry from being sealed in a column of rock or the trunk of some large tree! Why are you being such—do nothing, Smythe—a fool? I told you that I would deal with Harry. It's. My. Job."
The door behind the Auror disappeared.
More wandlessness, Severus thought, watching several Unspeakables swarm into the room.
"Famulus?" one of them asked, as if awaiting orders.
"Not a word, Draco," she replied as Draco opened his mouth, before turning to her husband. "Ron, please. Go with them quietly. I don't have time to deal with—oh, damn it!"
"How long have you been in labor?" Weasley asked, calming somewhat as he went to kneel at his wife's side.
A susurration of surprise rippled around the room before all but the female Unspeakable hastily exited the kitchen, and Hermione—seeing her so obviously distressed and clutching her husband's hand, it was impossible for Severus to think of her by any of her titles—muttered, "Superstitious idiots."
"What can I do?" the remaining Unspeakable asked.
"Get everyone downstairs to mind the ward."
"It's the fear of—"
"I know what it is, Brinks."
"No, you don't!" Draco interjected.
"Don't worry about it," Hermione ordered her subordinate. "I'm not going to explode forth some monstrosity just because . . . just be—fuck."
Brinks nodded and left, Draco glared, and Ron—who also looked too scared and young for Severus to see him as anything other than a worried father-to-be—said, "I don't understand."
"I know you don't, but I don't have time to discuss my job with you now."
"No," Ron said, rubbing the small of Hermione's back, "I don't understand why they're afraid. You're just having a baby."
"I can't. Not before I sort out what's to be done with Harry."
Ron snorted; Severus and Draco snorted with him.
"Cedric's coming now. You need to leave things to me and my team and get to hospital."
"No. Ron, don't you understand? Harry just called forth more raw magic than twenty sorcerers could do working together without significant and prolonged preparation! The First Sorceress sent me here because—"
"She doesn't know what to do about Potter, either," Draco said.
"You need help, Hermione," Ron told her. "I'm not leaving you."
"Severus," Draco said suddenly. "If you're here, prove it. She needs to see—"
Ron snapped his head toward Draco and growled, "Don't you start, Malfoy."
Ignoring both of them, Hermione said, "If those . . . creatures Harry loosed should hurt anyone, his life won't be worth spit—no matter what he's done in the past."
It occurred to Severus that the First Sorceress was no doubt now in possession of his body; it then occurred to him that neither Ron nor Draco would know how to deliver a baby. But there is an enchanted birthing manual in the library, he thought. Perhaps my bringing it would prove—
Before he could complete his thought, he'd willed himself to the drawing room, found the book, and come running back into the kitchen.
"There! You see? That's proof!" Draco exclaimed.
"That's summoning, you prat," Ron declared.
"You're not helping matters, Weasley."
"Granger-Weasley," Ron spat, wincing as Hermione gripped his hand, hard, as another of her contractions began.
"Oh for fuck's sake! Bind me."
"What?" Ron asked.
"Temporarily bind my magic so that you know I'm not summoning books," Draco urged.
"Why?" Hermione demanded.
"Because then you'll know it's Severus who's—"
"You're mad, too!"
"No. Wait. Ron, I—Draco, are you sure? Because if Harry's managed to Confound you into believing his . . . delusion, you know I'll have to report you, which means you'll loose your apprenticeship."
"I'm not making this up!" Draco raged. "Cast the sodding hex!"
Hermione, with only a little difficulty, did what Draco asked. "Now then, Severus, bring me Bledsoe's Treatise on Enslavement Draughts for the Dead."
Ten minutes after Severus had done as Hermione asked, he was once again in the sub-cellar, listening to Draco—who had been escorted downstairs by Brinks—tell Harry that Ron and Hermione no longer thought he was insane.
"But if you don't stop acting like a twat, they won't let you out of there—and you know you need out, so stop it!"
Brinks began quietly explaining matters to the other Unspeakables.
"I don't believe you," Harry said, his voice lower than Severus had ever heard it. "They took him from me!"
"What the hell's gone wrong with your eyes?" Draco asked. "Stupid question. Potter, believe me, they know."
"THEN WHERE ARE THEY?"
"Right," Smythe said. "That's the picture of sanity, that is."
"Would you be quiet, Smythe? No one asked you. Listen to me," Draco continued, stepping, in Severus' opinion, too close to the ward. "Hermione's in labor. Ron's helping her deliver your godson. Do you want to live to see him, or would you rather this lot sealed you up in an oak tree?"
Harry blinked. "What?"
"That is the classical Constraining maneuver—not that I'd expect you to know that."
"Cedric's coming?" Harry asked, blinking more rapidly.
Oh, thank gods, Severus thought, as each blink revealed more of Harry's eye whites.
"They're calling him—I mean, yes. He is. And now. So stop hurting yourself. When it's over, I'm sure Hermione will let you out."
"And then they'll bring him back to me," Harry replied, faintly.
"Yes. Then they will. What are those things, anyway?"
"Shouldn't you know that?"
"What do you think they are?" Draco asked, running a hand through his fringe.
"Fuck if I know."
"What?" Harry and Draco both demanded.
Harry looked at the Unspeakable. "Bollocks. What?"
"He's buried under a ton o' rock somewhere, isn't he?"
"No," Harry replied, shaking his head. "Voldemort's fertilizer now."
"What?" Severus asked, relieved that his question was echoed by several of the others.
"Fertilizer. Dung. Shit. It's what I thought he was—and now he's feeding the roses in my Mum's old garden."
"Godric's Hollow?" asked Smythe.
"Greeley, you're with me," Smythe said, ignoring Harry's question as he left the room.
"Potter, you did bind the plot of earth there, didn't you? To keep people from being able to pick things from that garden—to keep them out of it?"
"Why would I have done that?"
Draco's eyes flew open. "Did you teach him nothing, Severus?"
"Albus refused to allow it," Severus retorted, damning his old friend for having kept Harry in the dark about so many things that might have helped him.
"Would someone tell me what's going on?"
Draco smirked. "Why should people start doing that now? You'd only make bigger messes."
First Sorceress Yerbaya Yaxley was an unusually tall, hollow-eyed, almost skeletally thin woman, and she brought to Harry's mind the idea of a somewhat humanized Dementor.
"You have asked several very good questions, Mr. Potter, but ones I am not inclined yet to answer."
Harry narrowed his eyes. "I've had enough of people not inclining to tell me things."
"I am certain you do feel that way. It does, however, have no bearing on how I will act. Do you know why you are here?"
"I'm not inclined to answer that," Harry replied, feeling foolish and vexed and exhausted.
The First Sorceress smiled, at least, that is what Harry thought she was attempting to do before saying, "You are young. You have a great gift—but no understanding of it. That is part of the reason you are here."
"I thought I was here so you could satisfy yourself that I wasn't mad," Harry said, glaring at the amulet Draco had insisted he wear, which Harry knew functioned just like the circle had.
"When Hermione came to us, it was at my invitation. She, too, is young—too young to have been given the task of monitoring someone of your ability. At the time, however, I felt it important to remember that all of us owed you a great debt, and, as you had not displayed any rash actions, any disturbing tendencies, I felt it right to leave you as much alone as possible with your friend to monitor you."
"Why should you have cared what I did?"
"After what you did today, you ask me that?" the First Sorceress asked, maintaining her eye contact with him.
Harry found that he couldn't look away, even though he very much wanted to. "Severus is . . . I couldn't allow—"
"You were protecting your lover. I understand, but the manner in which you sought to achieve that goal was unacceptable because—as you said yourself, albeit rather more colorfully than I shall put it now—you did not know exactly what you were doing. Is not that correct?"
Harry shifted uncomfortably in his chair.
"It is. Now then, tell me: Why do you suppose you were taught to use a wand to focus your magic?"
"I . . . isn't that how it's done?"
"Indeed, that is the modern . . . tradition."
Despite his intense desire to find Severus, Harry couldn't help but be intrigued by the First Sorceress' words. "You mean, wizards didn't always?"
"No, and sorcerers—sorceresses, too—did not always equate the 'Dark Arts' with evil."
"I don't understand."
"A fault of your education," the First Sorceress replied, her lip curling downward as if in disgust. "But I will not give you a history lesson now. What I will say is that the supposed Dark Arts are concerned with the mysteries inherent in natural magic. You can channel and use such magic through your very being. Unfortunately—"
"Why can you use it?"
"I do not like to guess, but to posit a theory, I would say that the sacrifice of your mother, made before you while you were yet so young, caused you to develop a stronger than usual connection to the elemental magic that surrounds us all, something that most practitioners use wands and other foci to control. If true, I am amazed that you lived as long as you did, and I suppose it was for the best that you were raised as a Muggle and trained in wizardry, but I digress. . . . Mr. Potter, you have not received any formal training in using your gift, and it is one that has driven a great many people mad—and, in the process, destroyed property, reputations, and lives."
"I'm not mad. I haven't—"
"Please do listen carefully, Mr. Potter. . . . You are here for three reasons: One, I needed to know your heart. Two, I needed to know if you were a danger, that is, if you were likely to remain one. Three, I wanted to know if you would care to receive the education and training you so badly need."
"Are . . . are you asking me to come work here?"
"Certainly not. You will forgive me, but your life has left you . . . too emotionally scarred to be an Unspeakable. Mysteries has no use for the damaged."
"Hey," Harry protested, feeling insulted.
"You are not without hope, of course. You can heal, yet, but I fear that such healing will not take place without your also receiving the education of which I have spoken, among other things. What I suggest firstly is that you become my pupil—in what you have been taught to regard as the Dark Arts."
"Severus can teach me—"
"Your Mr. Snape was almost my pupil once, himself, and no, he is not a suitable teacher for anyone."
"What? But why? How can you say that?"
"As an adolescent, he had a penchant for wandless magic that alerted the Ministry's watchdogs on more than one occasion, as well as Mysteries."
Harry swallowed. Apprenticing here seems like something Severus would have wanted. "Why didn't he study here, then?"
"His impulse control was decidedly lacking, among other reasons which I am confident that you can glean for yourself if you reflect carefully on the matter. In any case, Mr. Snape is not a good candidate to teach a subject about which he knows much but has no true understanding."
"What makes you think I'd have any better of one?"
"Nothing, as it happens, save for my hope that anyone who can actually control the kind of power you have already invoked without completely ruining himself shows enough promise to be able to learn what, precisely, it is that he can do—and how best to protect himself and others."
Harry thought about how many times he'd believed he was losing his mind. But that wasn't to do with my magic. It was about . . . what I did with it, about what happened to me. "I've never done, I mean, I've only used magic that way three times."
"Yes, and on at least one of those occasions, you left a malevolent essence unbound."
"Because I didn't know to bind it—that's your point?"
"Smythe seemed to think I'd done something like that to Voldemort."
"Ah, so I gathered, but young Brian was not in possession of all the facts. I dealt with Godric's Hollow, myself, not long after Hermione explained all that she had observed you do there."
"That's why you're the First Sorceress now, isn't it?"
"No, not entirely. I have served Mysteries for many decades, but we are not here to discuss my career. What do you think of what we have discussed?"
"It's, uh, a lot to think about, but I need to get home, now. I promise not to—"
"Mr. Potter, while the Department of Mysteries is not precisely under the auspices of the Ministry, we do share the concern that magical practitioners not be allowed to endanger our entire society. Your 'promise', unless in the form of a binding agreement, means nothing to me."
"Are you saying I have to train with you or you'll . . . you'll Constrain me?"
"But I saved you people. I saved everyone!" Harry exclaimed, rising from his chair. "I'm not dangerous."
"That you believe so makes you all the more dangerous. Come, where is the harm in exploring your powers in a controlled manner?"
"I . . . I don't suppose there is any, but Severus—"
"Yes, it is fascinating, your situation, and his."
Harry frowned. "Bet you'd like to study him, too."
"It is you I want to see studying, Mr. Potter, and you should be grateful for it."
"Because if the Ministry were to truly understand what you can do, Constraining would be the least of your problems. Scrimgeour and his ilk are hidebound, superstitious, fearful little fools. They would not suffer you to live."
Harry's mouth went dry; he wanted to say, "They could try to kill me," but he knew that, if they did, he'd most likely do a great deal he'd regret. I don't want to fight anymore, he thought, his mind racing, and I would like to—"Hey!"
"The Ministry suffered Voldemort well enough," Harry said, suddenly wondering how powerful a threat to him the First Sorceress, Mysteries, and the Ministry truly were.
"Ah, yes. What an excellent observation. There is a reason I am First Sorceress well before my one hundredth birthday. Our previous First Sorcerer failed, as did so many others, to see Tom Marvolo Riddle as anything more than a megalomaniacal cultist."
"But couldn't you lot have done something about him?"
"Mysteries is primarily concerned with scholarship, Mr. Potter. True, we train in what are now unconventional ways, but we none of us is as powerful as you—or as was the self-styled 'Lord Voldemort'—and we were prevented, under our late master's guidance, from preparing any form of . . . remedy to Voldemort's acivities."
"But because of Hermione, you've been planning on a 'remedy' for me?" Harry asked, his stomach twisting as he considered—and didn't know how to feel about—what Hermione had done with regard to him.
"Do not think less of your friend for doing what was necessary. Her love for you was primarily responsible for her actions, and you must at least be beginning to understand that practitioners who wield natural magic are prone to . . . instability and outrage."
"Seems like it."
"Do you understand a little better the source of my concern, and why I am encouraging you to study?"
"Yeah, I suppose I do."
"I am pleased to hear it. So, what say you to my offer?"
"Will I be able to . . . restore Severus if I say yes?" Harry asked, still uncertain how he'd respond.
"Of course. I would not seek to prevent the correction of Mr. Snape's unfortunate disembodiment."
"Then I'll agree to make whatever sort of magical agreement you like—in terms of my studying with you—as long as it doesn't mean you'll bind my powers. I want this amulet off."
The First Sorceress' mouth twitched. "I suspected that you would say as much."
Continue to Part Ten