Perfect Slytherins - Tales From The Third Year
After forever, or so it seems, finally a new chapter.
I'm hoping that I will be posting once part of the three a week - but that might not happen. I'm on holiday from tomorrow.
So, this is where the story changes, a little darker, and a little less comedy, not to mention new characters.
Writing the entire story from Severus' perspective is limiting, and leads to a lot of exposition, but that's what I sent out to do. And the idea of a participating narrator is one I enjoy. The mental image of a looming Snape in the corner, quietly watching everything that happens, is one that fits his character.
Like the two years before, Harry and Wednesday’s third year stood out from the preceding eighteen years Severus had taught.
The third year was often the time when puberty started to bloom among the students. It was the start of a long and awkward process as children became adults.
As far as he was concerned, Harry and Wednesday were past that – they were already adults, only in children’s bodies. He was interested to see how the new emotions and chemicals surging through their bodies would affect them.
His friendship with the two adult-children had grown, as had his self-knowledge.
It was liberating, and that liberation, made the price of his decision worth it.
In his recollection, the year was exceptional, beginning earlier than any other as well.
Severus Snape was bored.
He had enjoyed his annual holiday - a week in Bordeaux.
He’d planned his next year of lessons.
He’d caught up on his journals, and even written a few articles for Potions Monthly.
He’d dined with Narcissa a few times, which had been enjoyable. With Lucius in jail, he was able to spend some quality time with her.
And yet he was bored. He wanted to be back at Hogwarts, teaching – which was a first for him. Normally, he was quite happy to be as far away from the school, and the children it contained, as possible.
There was a knocking on his window, and as he opened it, an owl entered. He removed the message attached to its foot, and smiled faintly.
If anything was going to show how much things had changed, this was it.
He stood abruptly, thanking the owl – who flew off with a hoot. He grabbed some Floo powder and threw it into the fire. “The Burrow,” he called, as he stepped in.
He emerged into the cosy living room of Molly and Arthur Weasley, and absently cast a spell to clean off the residue powder and dust that had attached itself to him.
The youngest male Weasley wandered into the living room, a piece of pie in one hand and a drink in the other. He looked at Snape, and squealed like a small girl as he dropped his food and drink.
Snape sighed and cast a spell to clean up the mess the boy had just made. Molly bustled into see what the fuss was.
“Ronald!” she scolded. “Is this how I taught you to greet guests?”
“But Mum,” Ron whined, “its Snape, he’s evil!”
“Bedroom, now!” Molly roared.
Ron paled and ran out of the room.
“My apologies, Professor,” Molly said, embarrassed.
“Not at all, Molly,” he replied, “and please, call me Severus.”
“Thank you,” Molly said, her eyes wide in surprise. “What brings you to our home?”
“An interesting letter I received from Ginny and Hermione,” he admitted. “It caught me during an impulsive moment, and I acted without forethought.”
“Oh,” Molly said with a smile. “They did say that they might owl you. They’re due back any second, would you like a cup of coffee while you wait?”
“Please,” he said, which was how he came to be sitting at a kitchen table, enjoying a conversation with Molly Weasley. Another thing that he never thought that he would end up doing. By mutual silent consent, they avoided the topic of her male children, and spoke about Ginny instead.
Molly had been delighted by her grades, and held Harry in the highest of regard because of it. She also gave scant regard to Ron and Percy’s protestations that he was evil. When pushed, she admitted that he might be a bit on the dark side, but that didn’t make him a bad person.
The door to the kitchen opened and Ginny and Hermione traipsed in.
“Professor Snape,” Hermione cried excitedly. “You came.”
Molly laughed under her breath.
“Great,” Ginny said, “we’re set up in my bedroom. Come on.”
“As delighted as I am at your invitation, Miss Weasley,” he said dryly, “a student’s bedroom is not the place for a Professor to be found.”
He noticed Molly nodding approvingly out of the corner of his eyes.
“Oh,” Ginny said, “I didn’t think of that,” she admitted. “I just have to have somewhere quiet we can work and where Ron won’t try and ruin it.”
“We had to cast wards,” Hermione added disgustedly.
“And you managed to avoid the Ministry sanctions on under-age magic?”
Hermione and Ginny both blushed as they nodded.
“Excellent,” he praised, “a good Slytherin will always find a way around nonsensical laws. Perhaps, if Molly doesn’t mind, we can set up an area in the garden that will be safe, and where we may be seen at all times.”
“Absolutely, Severus,” Molly said. “I’ve seen their research, and while it’s beyond me, it’s for a good cause.”
“We’ll start bringing it down,” Ginny said, bouncing excitedly. “Come on, Hermione.” The two girls rushed off.
Molly placed a plate with a piece of apple pie in front of him. “You’ll stay for dinner?”
He was about to decline, when Molly continued, “The chances of you getting away from my girls before dinner is slim to none.” She grinned, “and perhaps it will help show certain members of my family who take after my Great Aunt that you are not the devil.”
“Why Molly,” he said gently, “how ever will my reputation survive?”
Molly laughed. “Eat up,” she ordered. “And don’t think that the parents of your students haven’t noticed that their marks are rising.”
He smiled faintly, and ate the apple pie. As all the world knew, Molly Weasley made an exemplary apple pie.
The girls made quite a few trips through the kitchen, carrying potions equipment and books, as well as a large table.
They both appeared back in front of him, large smiles on their faces. Fortunately, he had finished his pie.
“Molly, would you care to accompany us for a few minutes?”
She nodded and set down the tea-towel she was holding. Outside, in one corner of a garden, next to a large shed was a perfectly functional Potions laboratory. He allowed an amused look on to his face; leave it to Hermione to do the proper research.
“First,” he said, “we need a roof.” He cast a spell that created a transparent roof above the area. He tethered the floating roof to the shed, canting it at a slight angle so that any rain would drain off. “I expect that you will be able to provide your own heating.”
“Yes, Professor,” Hermione said confidently.
“Now,” he continued, “we need a way to secure this place. Ginny, what is the best spell to use when you want something protected and invisible from others?”
She frowned and looked thoughtful. He could see that Hermione knew, but was refraining from waving her hand like an overeager swot. “The Fidelius?” she asked.
“Excellent,” he nodded. “Indeed, the Fidelius charm, an immensely complex spell involving the magical concealment of a secret inside a single, living soul. The information is hidden inside the chosen person, or Secret-Keeper, and is henceforth impossible to find -- unless, of course, the Secret-Keeper chooses to divulge it. This is not a spell to be used lightly, and I do not want you experimenting with it, unless you have an adult or Harry and Wednesday present.”
He waved his wand in the proscribed square, and said the short incantation. He set himself as the secret keeper. Before their eyes, the laboratory vanished.
“The Potions Laboratory is in Molly Weasley’s garden,” he said quietly to the girls, including Molly, so that she would always be able to see that he was acting properly. The open air laboratory reappeared.
“Thank you,” Molly said.
He nodded at her, and smiled at the two excited children.
“I’ll leave you to it,” Molly announced, “dinner doesn’t cook itself.” She bumbled off cheerily, as they walked inside the now-invisible area.
He took one of the stools and looked at the two of them. “So,” he started, “why am I here?”
Hermione and Ginny looked at each other. “As we said in the letter,” Hermione said, “We’re stuck in our potions research.”
“You see,” Ginny said, “you mentioned that there was a Basilisk potion that would let someone transcend their body, so we started looking for it.”
“And we found it,” Hermione continued, “and it seemed like a great thing to do for Harry’s birthday. Pugs mentioned that, because of the whole Christmas malarkey, that everyone in the clan does their best to make up for it on Harry’s birthday – as much as he might protest.
“So we thought it would be great to do him and Wednesday the potion.”
“But,” Ginny said, “we got to a point and realised we’ve not got a clue what these instructions actually mean.”
“And after discussing it, we hoped that you’d help, and then we could share giving the present,” Hermione finished.
He looked at the two of them for a moment, smiling internally at their hopeful expressions. He also hid his pride. He had looked at the potion himself, and knew how fiendishly difficult it was.
“It looks like,” he said slowly, “that we have a lot of work to do.”
The two girls cheered.
“Why don’t you show me where you are up to?” he suggested.
The next few hours past quickly as they explained the steps they had taken and where they were.
Again, he was impressed, as well as enthusiastic. There was nothing like a complicated potion to make him happy, and this one was certainly that. Over two hundred ingredients – he decided not to ask where they had obtained some of them, which were not only exceedingly rare, but also on several restricted lists – and a contradictory brewing process that was fraught with pitfalls.
“Dinner,” Molly’s voice floated across the garden.
He stood. Hermione looked surprised, “But…”
“A mistake due to hunger can ruin a whole afternoon’s work,” he said in his ‘lecture’ voice.
They nodded and followed him through to the kitchen. Arthur was already seated at the table.
“Welcome, Professor” he said cheerfully to Severus.
“Thank you,” he replied formally, as he took a seat. Hermione and Ginny sat next to him.
“Had a good afternoon, Gin-gin?”
“Brilliant,” she said excitedly. “Professor Snape’s going to help us with Harry’s present.”
“Good,” Arthur said, “and Ron, we’ve discussed your opinions before, we will not be discussing them again in front of our guests, so kindly keep them to yourself.”
Snape hadn’t even noticed Ron enter the room, and he was mildly impressed with the calm way in which Arthur had handled a potential situation.
The door burst open and the twins bounded in. They paused as they spotted the tall potions-master at the table, before they shrugged and sat at the table. “Professor Snape,” George said, “would you mind us picking your brains for a second?”
Internally he sighed. “If the outcome isn’t to be used on me, or was perhaps used on another austere head-of-house, then perhaps a hypothetical question might be answered as such.”
They blinked at him, then each other, before they smiled wildly. “Deal,” they agreed. “We’ve got a sweet that we’re working on that will mimic the effect of a Boggart when people look in the mirror. It will only be a minor version and give people a bit of a scare. It’s supposed to wear off after the first time it happens.”
“The problem,” George continued, “is that the potion part of the sweet only lasts for five minutes, before the base sweet becomes useless – and it doesn’t even taste good.”
“Have you tried adding Allspice?”
They looked at each other. “Never heard of it?” Fred admitted.
“It’s a Muggle spice,” Hermione said softly.
“Correct,” he agreed. “It is the dried unripe fruit of the Pimenta dioica plant. I’ve used the plant before, but it was always so much work to get the useful pieces out, that it has never been used widely. You can imagine my surprise when I found it on a rare foray into a Muggle grocery. I picked up more from a Supermarket than I have from some of my longstanding suppliers.
“I wrote an article about it, and I expect that a lot of people will be examining other Muggle spices to see what they can do for us.”
Arthur’s eyes were alight with interest. “You went shopping in the Muggle world?” he asked. “Did they have an eklectrical cash registrar?”
Snape nodded faintly. Molly placed a heaping plate in front of him, before she served the others. “Right, no more shop-talk at the table,” she ordered as she sat down. “And Arthur, don’t badger our guest.”
As the conversation moved on to more general things – politics, sport and the like, he found that he was actually enjoying himself.
Severus Snape enjoying dinner with the Weasleys – well, most of them – he had come a long, long way in two short years.
After dinner, he made his excuses and left, promising the girls that he would arrive back tomorrow to continue their work.
Both girls grinned, before they hugged him and dashed off.
Their hug rested on his mind for a long time.
It had been spontaneous, and natural. He could not remember the last time he had been hugged by anyone. It made him question even more what he had given up, and that made him wonder what it would be like to have children of his own one day.
The problem with that, of course, was that there was only one woman alive who he could see himself wanting to have children with.
And she was married to Lucius Malfoy, and already had a son. Well, almost a son, anyway.
He sighed, and reached for his books. He wanted to make sure that he knew the next step for the potion they were making.
Thereafter he was a frequent visitor to the hidden potions laboratory, and he could always rely on the fact that Hermione and Ginny would be there before him, hard at work on one of the sub-potions that it needed.
He had never worked with assistants before, and found that not only did things go smoothly, it was pleasant to have someone to talk to during the periods when there was nothing to do.
He ate with the Weasley family frequently, and found himself starting to like Arthur and Molly – even if he did have to make it very clear that he was not interested in Molly’s match-making. The woman seemed to have more female friends his age than Poppy Pomfrey – and he’d been avoiding her for years.
Ron and Percy seemed to detest him as much as ever, which didn’t surprise him at all. Percy was too in love with himself, and Ron had formed an opinion and refused to see that he might actually be wrong – and the more people badgered him, the more he dug his heels in.
But on the second last day of July, the potion was finished. It sat in a vial in front of them. It had passed every test he could think of. There was one test he refused to do – and that was actually take it.
The three of them were silent for a long while as they stared at the purple liquid.
“You are coming with us tomorrow, aren’t you?” Hermione asked.
Ginny grinned and handed him a piece of paper.
The paper was thick, and written in exquisite calligraphy, was an invitation for him to attend Harry’s birthday party.
“If you say no,” Hermione said, “we are under instructions to pester you until you say ‘yes’, and if that fails, we’re to tell Morticia who will have a word with you.”
He play-acted a large wince. “I’ll come,” he agreed.
“Brilliant,” Ginny cheered. “That way we can all see the effects of our potion.”
“I will see you in the morning,” he said, as he walked to edge of the wards and Apparated away. The letter made it clear that he would be staying for a couple of days, so he did some washing and tidied his cottage, before he packed a small bag that was far bigger on the inside than the outside.
He really hoped that they’d allow him to look into their library.
That night, he used some dreamless-sleep potion to provide a good night’s sleep, and arrived at the Weasley’s at two minutes to eleven, bang on time.
Hermione and Ginny were waiting for him in the living room; both of them had suitcases next to them.
“They’re already shrunk,” Ginny said excitedly. “We promised we’d bring a few things.”
Hermione nodded in agreement. “Some of it took a lot of space,” she added.
“I can’t wait,” Ginny was bouncing in excitement.
“Severus,” Molly greeted him warmly as she walked into the living room. “Hermione and Ginny are going to stay there for the rest of the summer. Arthur and I are taking Percy, the twins, and Ron to Egypt, to see Bill.”
He nodded. “I hope you have a good time.”
“I’m sure we will.” The clock started to chime. “Be good,” she said to Ginny and Hermione.
Hermione held out a small ring and grabbed her suitcase. Ginny did the same. He took a hold, and a second later, they were thrown into space.
It was the longest trip he had ever taken by Portkey, and he shuddered to think of the cost of an international Portkey – either financially or magically. They were not easy to create.
They arrived in a large garden. The sun was just rising, showing that it was still early in this part of America. He remembered that they were five hours behind England, so it was just six in the morning here.
Ginny was looking around with great fervour, and he found himself doing the same. As Hermione had described the year before, the gothic mansion stood tall, reaching into the sky in front of them.
“Good morning,” Morticia said, her smooth voice cutting through the early morning. “Ginevra, Severus, welcome to our house.”
“Thank you, Mrs Addams,” Ginny said, curtseying.
Morticia smiled at her. “Hermione, take Ginevra up to your room. And Ginevra, please call me Morticia.”
“Yes, Morticia,” Ginny and Hermione said together.
“It is good to see you again, Hermione.”
“Leave your luggage, Lurch will deal with it.”
“Come on, Ginny,” Hermione called, grabbing the girls hand. The two ran off.
“Don’t forget to wake Pugsley; the hose is in the cupboard.” Morticia called after them.
The girls laughed and vanished into the door.
“Hermione and Ginevra tell me that your help was invaluable with Harry’s present. Thank you, Severus.”
“You’re welcome,” he said formally, a little surprised. “Although you should know that Ginevra prefers Ginny.”
Morticia's face lightened slightly. “Thank you. We all participated, some of the ingredients where difficult to obtain.”
“I didn’t ask,” he said. “Although I was very curious to know where they had come from, some of those ingredients haven’t been seen in centuries.”
“Not by shop-keepers, no,” she agreed. “Our clan is very wide-spread.”
“May I ask a slightly impertinent question?”
“You may,” Morticia said, as she focused entirely on him.
It felt like she was examining his soul as the overwhelming pressure of her full attention and personality was bearing down on him. He realised this was how Hermione had felt in the first year, only Morticia was a stronger witch than her daughter.
“Why have you not dealt with Voldemort? You know that he will not be able to leave Harry alone, and well, you appear quite capable of dealing with him?”
The pressure vanished. “A good question,” Morticia said approvingly. “If we fought Harry and Wednesday’s battles for them, they would grow up spoiled and overly reliant on us. That is not how we do things. The problem is a serious one, but they have been aware of it for many years, and have plans with how to deal with it.
“If they fail, then Gomez and I will mourn our children, and then we will deal with Voldemort. We hope that does not happen, but it is the price we pay for raising children who will rule the Addams clan in the future.”
Severus thought about Draco, and the way that Lucius had always fought his son’s battles for him.
“Thank you,” he said.
“You are welcome, Severus. Lurch will show you to your room.” He turned and almost jumped out of his skin at the sight of the seven foot tall butler standing next to him. He hadn’t heard or sensed Lurch’s arrival.
He followed Lurch through the house, it seemed vaguely familiar from Hermione’s description of it, and she was right – the shabbiness was a lived-in feeling that complemented the house.
His room was painted dark green, and looked very new. The bed was just as he liked it, and his clothes were all set up – although exactly how that had been done when he’d seen Lurch carrying his suitcases and dropping them inside the doorway as he arrived, he had no idea.
There was a knock on his door, and as he opened it, Pugsley, Hermione and Ginny walked in.
Pugsley was wearing a dark brown suit. The two girls had changed and were both wearing dresses. Ginny’s was light green, while Hermione’s was periwinkle blue. Both of them had had their hair styled – Hermione’s animated mop was smooth for a change.
“You look nice,” he said.
The three children beamed at him. “I thought I’d come and let you know a little of what to expect,” Pugsley said. “Today is the one day of the year that Wednesday acts like a girl.”
He raised his eyebrows in surprise.
“She will be guarded at the party around other people, of course, but until then, you will see her smiling, dressing in something other than her normal black and white clothes, and generally having a good time. She does it because she knows it will force Harry to be more open, and have a good time himself.”
“Yeah,” Ginny said, shaking her head. “It surprised me as well. Mum and Dad always told me that a marriage was full of compromises. Harry acts like he does the rest of the year because that is how Wednesday is, so on Harry’s birthday, Wednesday acts differently for him.”
“Anyway,” Pugsley interrupted. “At the party this afternoon, most, if not all, of our family will be there, and if you need a calming potion, I’ve got one here.”
“No, thank you.”
“Because you’ve been at Death Eater meetings?” Pugsley asked. “You won’t get tortured here. Well, not much anyway, and especially not if you don’t ask for it. Anyway, it’s time for presents. Just remember not to react to Wends.”
With his agreement given, they traipsed downstairs and into a large living room, where Morticia and Gomez were waiting.
“Professor Snape,” Gomez greeted him. Despite the early morning time, he had a large brandy snifter in one hand, and a cigar in the other. “Brandy, cigar?”
“No, thank you,” he replied. “And please, my name is Severus.” He looked at the kids. “You too, for the duration.”
“Take a seat, Thing, be a chap.”
The disembodied hand snapped his fingers, creating four more chairs. Severus sat down in one, next to Hermione and Gomez. Thing sat back on the arm of Gomez’s chair, and took one of the cigars, which he quickly lit.
“Here they come,” Pugsley said excitedly.
Down the stairs, Wednesday came, leading a blindfolded Harry. She smiled brightly at him, and Snape was glad that he had been forewarned.
As Ron had noted the year before, Wednesday was gorgeous. Dressed in a green and black sheath smock dress and a pair of dark blue jeans, she had her long black hair loose and hanging straight down her back. She was barefoot, and even had her toenails painted pink. In the few weeks since he had last seen her, puberty had somehow managed to do an amazing job in such a short amount of time, and he wondered how much further she had to go before she had her fully-adult form.
He almost smiled to himself. Harry had inherited his biological father’s luck in attracting beautiful women. Fortunately, Harry didn’t seem to have received anything else from James Potter.
It was Wednesday’s face that gave him the most surprise. The smile she had on looked natural, and her eyes were shining brightly with pleasure.
He was surprised, but he shouldn’t have been.
If Harry could mask his natural emotions for so long, without dropping cover, how could he have doubted that Wednesday would not be able to assume natural expressions – at least for a day?
She bounced over to the main armchair, and pushed Harry into it, before she straddled him. Her actions were smooth and graceful; they showed none of the nervousness that most girls her age would have shown. She was every thing that a woman secure in her own sexuality would be. Narcissa would have been hard-pressed to do it better.
She kissed Harry tenderly as she removed his blindfold. Severus glanced at Gomez and Morticia, who both looked amused.
“Ginny, Hermione, Professor Snape,” Harry said happily as Wednesday pulled back. “It’s great that you could make it.”
“Thank you for inviting me,” he replied. “And for the duration, it’s Severus, or Sev.”
Harry and Wednesday grinned at him.
“Presents!” Pugsley yelled cheerfully. “Me first!”
Wednesday slid off Harry and curled up by his legs, leaning against him.
Pugsley dashed over to a corner and grabbed a parcel. He dragged it over to Harry.
Harry bounced out of the chair, kneeling next to Wednesday and started to rip off the paper. Without pause, he held out his hand mid-rip and Wednesday placed a knife in his hand.
It was another display of the synchronicity that existed between the two of them. Wednesday had drawn the knife so that it was ready the exact second that Harry needed it.
Harry ripped open the box and chucked the knife high into the air, back to Wednesday. It arched and spun toward her, and she caught it by the blade. She waved her hands and it vanished.
”Pugsley,” Harry said in a stunned voice.
“Every clan-leader needs one,” Pugsley said. “Most of the family helped me make it.”
Harry pulled out a large black ball; it was about the size of a football and appeared to be made out of obsidian. “Pugsley,” Harry called into the ball.
Pugsley’s smiling face appeared inside it.
“It was an idea I had after reading Lord of the Rings,” Pugsley said happily. “Sauron was an idiot, and making globes radiate evil is just puerile, but the idea was a good one. The people who helped are in a list on the inside. It will work globally, and it is encrypted, so that anyone trying to listen in will just hear the weather – and even that will be wrong.”
“Brilliant present, Pugsley,” Harry said, as he rolled it next to him.
Pugsley was beaming with pleasure, and Wednesday was looking proudly at her brother.
Thing jumped to the floor next, and walked over to Harry. He snapped his fingers, and a wrapped present appeared.
Harry ripped it open. “A thousand and one ways to make someone suffer, Volume 4,” he read out. “Thanks Thing, that’s the one I’m missing.” He held up his hand, and Thing jumped up and high-fived him.
Morticia clapped her hands and a long thin present appeared. She handed it to Harry.
He unwrapped it, revealing a Firebolt broom. “All right!” Harry yelled, jumping up and exuberantly hugging Morticia and then Gomez.
“Cool broom,” Pugsley said admiringly.
“You fly?” Severus asked in surprise.
“Would you consider Quidditch?” he asked hopefully.
Wednesday laughed. “Can you see us on a team?” she asked in amusement.
Severus sighed, “Just once I’d like to beat the Gryffindors.”
“Don’t be greedy,” Harry chided. “We already get you the House cup.”
“I’m a Slytherin,” Snape retorted, “I’m allowed to be greedy!”
Harry stuck his tongue out at him in response.
“Our turn,” Ginny announced. “With help from most of your family in gathering the ingredients, Severus, Hermione and I have spent the last few weeks working together. The result?”
Hermione moved forward and offered them the vial. It was a deep purple liquid. He looked at it curiously.
“The Potion of Transcending Life,” Severus said softly. “It will free your consciousness from your mind. I warn you, not many have taken this and retained their sanity.”
“That’s okay,” Pugsley called, “Harry and Wends haven’t been sane for years!”
Wednesday swayed slightly, and her knife appeared, embedded in Pugsley’s chair next to his ear.
“Missed,” Pugsley taunted as he chucked it back.
“Only because it’s ‘be-nice’ day,” she replied as she caught the knife easily.
“Children,” Morticia murmured, “do think of the furniture.”
“Sorry Mom,” they said in unison.
“Thank you, Hermione, Ginny, Severus,” Harry said, examining the potion. “We’ll take it tomorrow.”
“Yay!” Wednesday cheered.
“So, one last present,” Pugsley prodded.
“Ahh,” Wednesday agreed. She stood gracefully and looked over her shoulder at Harry. She slid her hands around her back, and a rope snaked up her legs, binding her hands together. “Perhaps the present is me,” she purred.
Harry grinned at her. “A present beyond price,” he said solemnly. “However I think that some people would be upset if I was to unwrap you now.”
Wednesday giggled as Pugsley gagged.
This time it was a knife from Harry that narrowly missed Pugsley’s ear. Harry followed it up with a summoning charm and a repairing charm.
“Thank you,” Morticia whispered.
Wednesday dashed out of the room, her hands freeing themselves, and returned a minute later with a small package wrapped in dark blue paper.
She sat on Harry’s knees, her feet by his hips, facing him, as he opened it. Unlike with the other presents, Harry didn’t rip at this one. He carefully un-wrapped the gift, his eyes never leaving Wednesday’s.
He looked down and slowly opened the box. Inside was an elegant gold watch. Harry picked it up and passed it to Wednesday, before he held up his left arm.
Wednesday solemnly placed it on his wrist. They sat there for a few seconds, just looking into each others eyes.
“Why don’t you two go and get changed,” Gomez suggested, not showing his usual exuberance. “The guests will be arriving soon.”
Harry’s hands went to Wednesday’s bum, and as he stood, he lifted her with him, she wrapped her legs around his waist. She placed her head on his shoulder, as he carried her out.
As soon as they were out of earshot, Ginny sighed. “What did I miss this time?”
Severus found himself grateful that she had asked first.
“Yeah,” Pugsley said looking at his parents. “A watch? Last time she got him that gorgeous sword; the time before that it was the Assassin’s Ring.”
Morticia smiled proudly. “Exactly,” she agreed.
Pugsley looked blank.
Gomez stood abruptly, an excited expression appearing on his face. “Guests,” he said, and vanished.
Morticia smiled fondly at the space that had held her husband. “Yes, Pugsley, this is the first time that Wednesday has got him a present that isn’t designed to kill or maim.”
“Oooo,” Pugsley said. “No wonder he was touched!”
“Indeed,” Morticia agreed. “Shall we make our way down to the Ballroom?”
Hermione and Ginny looked at each other, and pulled out flasks of a potion. They downed them and placed the flasks on the table.
“Calming potion?” he asked.
They grinned and nodded at him. He looked at Pugsley who shrugged, before his eyes darkened a little. “Shall we?”
The Ballroom was full. Full of what, Snape wasn’t quite sure, now how they had all arrived. From the two headed lady, to the giant Hairball that Albus had described, the room was a Pure Blood’s nightmare. A Veela chatted happily with a Vampire and a Goblin, while a couple of hairy children played games with what looked like a baby Nundu, but probably wasn’t. Or maybe that was ‘hopefully wasn’t’.
He turned, and blinked. “Remus?”
Remus was supposed to be doing something for Albus. Remus was supposed to be upset about life in general, and grateful for what Albus was doing for him.
Remus was not supposed to be looking fit and well and be present at Harry’s birthday party. Somehow, though, he wasn’t surprised. The fact that Remus was a Werewolf would not bother anyone here.
He reached down and tried to drag up his hatred from all the years ago, but it was an effort, and to be honest, he really couldn’t be bothered anymore.
He had better things to do with his life.
Remus nodded and stood next to him. “I’m teaching at Hogwarts this coming year,” he announced.
“You’ll be needing Wolfsbane then?”
Remus looked surprised. “Thank you, but the Addams have prepared a ready supply.”
“Severus,” Remus started.
“Don’t,” he replied, knowing what the werewolf was going to say. “Let the past stay where it is.”
Remus looked shocked, and he mentally added one point to his column. “Neither of us acted our best in those days, however, if Black shows up at any stage, I retain the right to prank him left, right and centre.”
“Noted,” Remus nodded, now looking amused.
Morticia arrived in front of them. “Remus, Severus,” she said politely. “Dance with me, Severus.” It should have been a question, but it was a command.
Severus Snape did not dance. Severus Snape could not dance. Which was why he was surprised to find himself moving around the dance floor with Morticia Addams. There were a few other people dancing, not minding the fact that it was still early.
“Some of them are on different time zones,” Morticia explained. “But enough about my family. Talk.”
Severus sighed. He could feel Morticia’s power work on him, and he didn’t fight it. “Remus is here, and looking in good condition. If there is going to be any family in the world that would accept a werewolf, it would be this one.
“I have no wish to have Harry disappointed in me, and as he seems to have made it a personal project in the last two years to force me to grow up, I thought I’d act like it.”
“Good,” Morticia said approvingly. She spun away, leaving him dancing with the woman with two heads. It was a struggle for him to keep his eyes from the impressive cleavage they shared.
As the music ended, Severus found himself back next to Remus, as the lights dimmed.
“Albus doesn’t have a clue, does he,” Snape said quietly.
“I hear that the house Dumbledore left Harry in was not fit for a prince.”
“It wasn’t fit for a dog.”
Snape sighed. “Do you have any idea how hard I worked to keep my prejudices?”
Remus laughed softly. “The longer you hang around, the less you’ll be able to keep them.”
“I’ve made friends with Molly Weasley,” Snape admitted.
“Oh yes, quite a nice person really, now that Harry has introduced the concept of grey into her life.”
Remus laughed again. “I’ve been here three years,” he admitted. “I’ve got a place down the road, and Gomez and Morticia are nothing but accommodating hosts.”
“And Albus has invited you back?”
Remus nodded. “He hopes I’ll be a positive influence on Harry.”
“Not a chance. Harry and Wednesday are their own people, always have been, always will be.”
A spotlight highlighted the door, and Harry and Wednesday entered, pausing in the light.
“Thirteen didn’t look like that when I was that age,” Snape whispered.
“Tell me about it, you didn’t know them when they nine – do you know how bad it is for your ego to get into a philosophical debate with a nine year old… and lose?”
Snape looked at them. Harry had changed, and was wearing a pair of black trousers and black shoes, with a simple white shirt.
Wednesday had changed into a pure brilliant white dress that hugged her body, confirming his earlier belief that she was well on the way to her adult form. Her hair was still down, and she still had the happy smile on her face. She was wearing a hint of make-up, as her face had a healthy tan to it, and her lips sparkled. Her legs were bare, and she had white high heels on, with sufficient lift to make her almost the same height as Harry.
“Looks like an angel,” Remus muttered, “and has the heart and soul of a killer.” He sighed, “and yet I find myself envious of them, I remember when he was born, and yet here I am, single, and there he is, with a girl who – if you ignore the slight fact that she’s nearly as psychotic as Voldemort – is intelligent, powerful, and utterly devoted to him.”
“I think that love advice from a thirteen year old would be as difficult to accept as the aforementioned philosophical discussion.”
Harry and Wednesday moved to the side of the dance floor, where – in orderly fashion – the guests walked over to wish him happy birthday. It was only because Severus happened to be looking that he saw what happened when someone tried to push in place. It wasn’t much… it was just a flash of Wednesday’s eyes, but the person seemed to quickly remember a prior appointment.
“She banned me from going after the Dursleys,” Remus said in a conversational matter.
“You’re not the first person to mention that, Pugsley was rather peeved as well.”
“Severus,” Remus said, and took a deep breath. “James asked me to tell you that he was sorry for some of the stuff he pulled. Not all of it, but some of it.”
“So, you’ve talked to them as well?” It was a rhetorical question, as he contemplated what Remus had said. He would never have accepted a full apology, as there was no way that James would ever have given one. However, an apology for the more outrageous and bullying things that James had done, maybe he could accept that. Now. A few years ago he would have laughed.
He nodded at Remus. “Accepted.”
Remus smiled at him. “Do I want to know what the potion you developed with the two girls does?”
He accepted the conversation change. “It will free their minds. From there, I really don’t know. Most people go insane after taking it.”
Remus laughed under his breath. “Which is, of course, why they are so excited by it.”
The vampire that he had seen earlier suddenly materialised in front of them. “Rumour has it that intelligent conversation can be found in this corner.”
Severus pointed at Remus. “Talk to him, I’m just the comic relief,” he said with a straight face.
Remus choked. “Severus, you made a joke!”
He smiled thinly, nodding his head in a hint of a bow. “Severus Snape - contrary to Remus and friends assertions, not a vampire.”
“Remus Lupin, Werewolf,” Remus said.
The vampire looked at him strangely. “Marcus,” he introduced himself. “Vampire for more years than I care to remember. Were you born a werewolf?”
“No, I was bitten when I was young.”
“Then what on earth where your parents doing naming you that!?”
Remus opened his mouth and then shut it again. Snape laughed under his breath. “Prescience?” he suggested.
“Indeed,” Marcus murmured. “Do you think if I called a child of mine, Princess Angel, that would work?”
“Probably not,” Snape replied, “I’ll bet it only works for negative connotations – which is a good thing, as it’s hard enough to remember children’s names each year as it is, without having half of them named Minister.”
“Two jokes, Severus?” Remus chided.
“I have a few years to make up for,” he shrugged. “Is it rude to ask a Vampire how old he is?”
“How old are you?”
Marcus laughed. “You’ve learnt Morticia’s lesson on asking direct questions. I’m a shade over two hundred years old.”
“And how did you meet the Morticia and Gomez?”
Marcus looked faintly embarrassed. “I tried to bite Morticia. I didn’t know she was a witch, or who the Addams where. She smacked me on the nose like a bad puppy, and when I attacked her, Gomez put a sword through my stomach. I listened most attentively when they told me to change my ways.”
“I’ll bet,” Remus agreed.
“A couple of decades later, we became friends. Gomez and I got very drunk after Wednesday was born.” He smiled. “Morticia told us to go away and get out her hair before she gave birth. That was a good weekend; we ended up in Cairo, where we were arrested for being terrorists. Gomez defended us with a hangover, and before we knew it, we’d been deported to Africa, where we met up with a nomadic tribe, who challenged Gomez to an ancient hunting competition.
“Gomez accepted, as long as he could have another drink before hand. They were planning on killing us when we lost, so they were happy to let Gomez have some of their local hooch – I could feel the damn thing rot my liver, and I’m immortal!
“Anyway, it was a spear throwing contest. They went first, and hit a target over a hundred metres away. Gomez stumbled over, picked up one, threw it, fell flat on his face, rolled over, sat up, and started to steer the spear with his hands, after a few loops he banged it into the bulls-eye, and then demanded the right of victor.
“The African’s were already calling him a witch-doctor, and demanded to know what he wanted.”
“More drink?” Remus asked.
“Exactly, we cleared them out, before Morticia summoned us home. Gomez went from toasted to sober in around about three seconds, grabbed me, and transferred us home. And scared around a hundred years off of my life in the process. We arrived back, straight into their bedroom.
“Morticia was lying in bed, looking immaculate, with Wednesday in her arms.
“Gomez dropped to his knees beside the bed, and just said, ‘‘Tish, she’s as beautiful as her mother.’ Smooth tongued bastard showed just why he got Morticia in that moment. She, of course, just smiled. As for Wednesday, well, I just looked at her and knew she was special. After all, how many babies give you chills just by looking at them?”
“Marcus old boy,” Gomez said as he dropped into the conversation. “You’re not boring our guests with old stories are you?”
“Absolutely,” he replied. “I get so few chances to describe you legless.”
Gomez looked horrified. “Me?” he demanded regally. “Stick around after the party,” he whispered conspiratorially. “‘Tish got me some Peruvian Ice Brandy that I’ve been killing to share. You two, too.” He winked at them, and wandered away.
“Goody,” Marcus said cheerfully. “I think it’s our turn to go and see the guests of honour.”
Severus followed Remus and Marcus over to the young couple. As they arrived, Marcus launched a punch at Harry. He moved so fast that all Snape saw was a blur.
Another blur launched forward, catching the punch, and twisting Marcus’s arm into a painful looking position.
“Marcus,” Wednesday sighed.
Marcus pouted. “I’m a two hundred year old vampire; it’s bad for my reputation to be unable to welcome a new teenager with a punch.”
“You have no reputation, you git,” Harry responded cheerfully.
“If you could persuade your intended to let me go, I do have a present.”
“Harry would like your arm,” Wednesday teased, “that would make a fine present, he could use it as a lamp holder.”
“Sorry, but I’m attached to it,” Marcus replied.
Harry groaned, as Wednesday’s knife seemed to spin into her hand. Severus recognised it as the knife that Harry had given her for Christmas.
“Something I can rectify,” Wednesday offered sweetly.
“I’ve not seen that knife before,” Marcus pointed out, looking unconcerned about the precarious position he was in, nor the playful look in Wednesday’s eyes.
“I only use it at special occasions.” Wednesday sighed. “It better be a good present,” she said grumpily as she released his arm.
Marcus stood and grinned at them both. “It is good to see you,” he said seriously. “I heard about what happened at school.”
“Did you try the Basilisk soup Grandmama made?” Harry asked.
“I did, it was delightful.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small golden cup with two handles, and a Badger inscribed on the side.
“You are so lucky,” Wednesday sighed, as Harry grinned and hugged the vampire.
“Thank you,” Harry said.
Marcus smirked at Remus and Severus. “All you have to do is do as you’re told, and provide presents of unspeakable evil, and you can get away with murder.” He gulped. “To a point,” he finished calmly, despite Wednesday holding a knife against his throat.
“Arrogant bloody vampires,” Wednesday sighed.
“Bloody?” Marcus asked. “English swearwords now? What ever next, tea and crumpets with the Queen?”
Wednesday giggled. “Maybe,” she allowed. “But only because I like Harry rubbing off on me.”
“That,” Marcus said, “sounded disgusting, and I’m going to pretend that it was completely innocent.”
“If that lets you sleep at night,” Wednesday purred.
“Evil child,” Marcus sighed.
“I make that Wednesday firmly in the lead,” Harry interrupted.
“I can make a come-back,” Marcus pleaded.
“Sorry, you’ve lost this round.”
“Fine,” Marcus groaned. “I’ll be back on top soon.” He spun dramatically, and walked off, his head held high, his cape streaming behind him.
“You know, he does the cape thing better than you do,” Harry said to Severus.
Severus smiled faintly. “Many years more practice.”
“True. Hey Remus.”
“Do I want to know about the Cup?”
“Am I going to know?”
“Thought not. Happy birthday, kiddo.”
“Many happy returns, Harry,” Severus added.
“We’re glad you came,” Harry said with a smile. “Although I hear that Miranda and Mirande like you.”
“The two-headed ladies?”
“With the big cleavage,” Wednesday added. “Nice people,” she said encouragingly.
“I had enough of that from Molly,” he complained. “Look, there’s only one woman I’m interested in.”
Harry studied him hard for a few moments. “Blonde, Brunette or Red-head?”
“Hmmm,” Harry mused. Suddenly his expression cleared. “Really? The breeding result didn’t put you off?”
“Subtle,” he grunted. “I blame the father.”
Harry frowned. “This changes things. We’ll do what we can to keep her out of it.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Severus sighed. “But thank you.”
Harry nodded and pulled Wednesday into a hug. She hooked a leg around his and pulled herself closer, and closed her eyes as he whispered into her ear.
Her eyes opened suddenly, and Snape actually saw the light vanish from them, and her normal look re-appear. He was starting to realize that her power was different then her mother’s, as he felt her examine and judge him. He tried to look away, but couldn’t. He knew it wasn’t magic keeping him in place, but he didn’t know what it was. Slowly, she nodded, and the light re-appeared.
He shuddered deeply as the two broke the hug.
“Relax,” Harry grinned, “It’s a party – we’ll tell the twins that you’re off the market.”
“Thank you,” he croaked, and walked off with Remus.
“Here,” Marcus said, handing him a drink. “You passed.”
Snape took the drink and drained it in one go. Marcus filled it again. Snape drained it again, before releasing his breath slowly.
“You okay?” Remus asked.
“What is she?”
“Wednesday Addams,” Marcus replied dryly. “A teenage witch still discovering her inherited and inherent abilities? Or perhaps, you could call her the ultimate outcome of the biggest genetic experiment in history?”
“Pugsley is a more normal child,” Marcus explained. “He was never destined to rule the Addams clan; there was a chance that Wednesday was, so Morticia and Gomez did what they had to do, to ensure that she could.”
“What does that mean?” Remus asked.
Marcus smiled. “I’m a vampire, I kill people for food. Melissa,” he pointed at the Veela, “is part Succubus. We’re all like this. We follow the rules, and the rules include the notion that the strongest is in charge.”
“But what about Harry?” Remus asked, now looking concerned.
Marcus sighed. “Everyone knows that Wednesday is a strong witch. Everyone in the family has felt her power, has felt her ruthlessness. And everyone knows that she has willingly given herself to Harry.
“Wednesday would be a fine leader. So why have we accepted Harry? We’ve never seen him fight. We’ve never seen him kill. We’ve never even seem him lose his temper. We have very little idea of his skill, or his power.
“All we know is that he can dance, that he has been through things that made even Wednesday scream, and that Wednesday follows him. We’ve all thought of challenging him, even though that means going through Wednesday, but,” and he sighed again. “I’ve tried. I got him alone. He knew what I was there for. He told me to go for it. And I couldn’t.”
“Why?” Severus asked.
“Fucked if I knew at the time,” Marcus said with a roll of his eyes. “Later, I realised I’d lost before I met him. I let him choose the time and the place without realizing it. He knew my weaknesses and had plans for them. And I understood then, what Gomez, Morticia and Pugsley already knew – that Harry doesn’t need to do anything, he arranges others to do it for him.
“Which leaves one question: what if he was truly alone?”
“And?” Severus asked.
“No one knows,” Marcus said, pouting. “He’ll either make Wednesday look like a summer’s breeze, or he’ll be dead.”
“But you suspect the former,” Remus offered.
“I’d agree,” Snape said slowly. “But you’re right; all I’ve ever actually seen is Harry throw a sword. The rest has been hinted at, but never actually shown. Apart from the intelligence, naturally.”
Marcus nodded. “Welcome to the Addams Family.”
“You three are talking like a Witch’s Coven,” Fester said as he ambled up to them. “Not talking about the birthday boy are you?”
“Aye,” Marcus agreed.
“You still on about that?” Fester said with a roll of his overly-large eyes. He paused and turned. “Melissa’s getting ready,” he smirked.
Marcus spun around and grinned. In one corner of the room, the Veela drained three glasses of something suspiciously dark red, before she marched up to Harry and Wednesday.
In the background, a soft tune started to play. It was a simple short, slightly banal tune that repeated itself endlessly.
Harry and Wednesday both adopted bright smiles as the blonde woman approached them. The Veela started to look more and more nervous, and she started to glow slightly. She was incredibly beautiful, with her long blonde hair swaying in the wind and the way her blue dress hugged her body intimately.
“Keep a hold of yourself,” Marcus ordered. “Think about someone you care about, not the Veela. Watch, but don’t let yourself go.”
Severus nodded, and wrestled control of his mind back to himself. It was not quite Occlumency, but he quickly got the hang of ignoring the effects of the Veela.
The tune seemed to increase in volume, just a little.
Remus exhaled next to him, “Damn.”
Marcus smiled faintly. “Poor Melissa.”
Harry was standing dead-still, a small smile on his lips and an amused cast to his face. Wednesday’s eyes were shining brightly, and she reached out, touching the Veela on the cheek, stroking it softly.
The Veela moaned and dropped to her knees, as Wednesday leaned in and kissed her on the lips. Harry moved forward after Wednesday and hugged the Veela gently. He stroked her hair, before he kissed her as well, matching the tenderness that Wednesday had shown.
Harry and Wednesday turned, held hands, and walked away, leaving the Veela on her knees, her head bowed, tears running down her face.
“Such is the price of defeat,” Marcus said softly. He grinned suddenly, “but at least she’ll be up for a bit of consoling later from a handsome Vampire.”
“What is that damn tune?” Snape growled, as the music seemed to get louder.
Marcus and Fester turned to him and frowned, before looks of fear appeared on their faces. “Gomez!” Fester called.
Gomez appeared a cigar in one hand. He had changed and was now wearing a dinner jacket with an extravagant red cravat. “Enjoying the party old boy?”
“Listen,” Fester said.
Gomez looked confused. “Oh my,” he said. “If I may suggest stepping back a place or two.”
Severus followed the advice exactly, moving backward with Remus. “Any idea what is going on?”
“Not a clue,” Remus whispered back. “I’m glad I took the calming potion earlier.”
A deep black shadow seemed to emanate from the corner of the room they had been standing in. The guests moved to the sides as well.
Harry and Wednesday strolled into the middle of the dance floor. Gomez looked at them, before he stepped to one side.
From the darkness a bell tolled and a man walked out. He was tall and graceful, wearing a leather cowl, with six open wounds on his chest. Severus looked up, at the newcomer’s face, and wished he hadn’t.
The man had a faint grid tattooed on his head, and a metal pin hammered into his skull at each intersection.
Wednesday and Harry both went down on one knee.
He walked forward and stopped before Harry and Wednesday. “Happy Birthday,” he whispered.
Harry lowered his head respectfully. “Thank you, Captain Spenser.”
“A name from a past long gone,” the guest murmured. “I am referred to as Pinhead these days.”
Pinhead started to walk around the two. “Such fear,” he whispered. “And yet such control. And from children, no less.” He stopped in front of them again.
“I thought you needed to be summoned,” Wednesday pointed out.
“A common belief,” Pinhead agreed without answering the question.
“Can I offer you a drink?” Harry asked.
From nowhere, two rusty chains flew toward Harry at an incredible speed. Wednesday moved, standing and grabbing the chains before they could hit Harry. Blood poured from her hands as she struggled against them. Two more flew forward, for Harry to grab them. Like Wednesday, his hands started to bleed profusely.
“Not a drinker then?” Harry asked calmly, despite his struggles.
The chains vanished, and Wednesday stared at her blood spotted dress distastefully. The still-dripping blood from her hands was forming a pool by her feet.
“You ruined my dress,” Wednesday hissed at Pinhead.
Harry reached out and lightly touched the dress causing the material to become blood-red in colour. She shook her hands, and they stopped bleeding.
Pinhead looked at the two teenagers solemnly. “Did you learn my lesson?” he asked.
Harry smiled. “There are only two ways to deal with pain. To go mad or to accept that pleasure and pain are the same thing.”
“You have sent me an unusual present,” Pinhead said, abruptly changing the subject. “Curious on two fronts, no one’s sent me a present before, and certainly not an incomplete one.”
Harry shrugged. “We’re working on making it a complete present. It’s a bit of a challenge.”
Pinhead smiled. “If you fail, it will be you that I come for.”
“If we fail, we’ll be in need of a holiday,” Harry replied evenly.
“An everlasting holiday,” Pinhead noted calmly.
Wednesday stared at him, tilting her head. “Perhaps,” she agreed.
“Such a challenge,” Pinhead said as he slowly walked around the stationary teenagers again. “Belief forged in fires hotter than hell, backed by a will that seems familiar. Would you succeed or would you fail?” he asked himself. “I have time. I have nothing but time.”
He stood back in front of them. “My apologies, what is a birthday without a gift?” he asked rhetorically. A light appeared in his hand. It was incredibly bright, bathing the room. Slowly the light seemed to shrink, until all that was left was a silver chain with an inverted cross as a pendant.
He passed it to Harry. “For your intended.”
“My thanks,” Harry said, bowing once more. He turned and moved to Wednesday, placing the necklace around her neck.
“I hope this makes up for the dress,” Pinhead said absently. “I can not decide if I want you to succeed or to fail in the task I set you.” He turned, and started to walk back into the darkness. He paused and looked at Morticia and Gomez. They met his eyes equally. “You have raised good children,” he said, before he slowly walked into the darkness. The irrepressible tune rose to a crescendo, before it vanished completely.
Severus turned his head and looked at Harry and Wednesday. They had dropped to their knees and were holding each other tightly, shaking.
“What the hell was that!?” Remus almost shouted.
“The Angel of Suffering,” Fester said, his voice deadly serious. “I thought he was a fairy tale that mother told Gomez and I to amuse us at night.”
Gomez and Morticia moved to the children. “You did well,” Morticia said gently.
Harry cradled Wednesday against him. “He attacked on the wrong day,” Harry protested angrily. “Wednesday was trying to be nice.”
“I know,” Morticia replied, as she knelt and started to stroke Wednesday’s back.
“Harry,” Gomez said softly, “how do you know Elliott?”
“We met him when we dealt with my problem,” Harry whispered. “As part of our journey, we ended in his domain. We paid for our intrusion.”
“You should have told us,” Gomez said.
Harry shrugged. “It was not something we particularly wanted to think about again.”
Wednesday raised her head; she looked lost and upset. But her face slowly blanked, and she looked at Harry. She focused fully on Harry, her hands going to his cheeks. “You were so strong,” she whispered proudly, “but now you can relax, my love.”
He nodded and seemed to slump, before he buried his face in her neck. Wednesday held him tightly, and started to whisper in his ear. The room was silent as everyone watched the four people in the middle of the floor.
When Harry raised his head, there were two tear tracks running down his face. Wednesday gently kissed each one, before she waved her hand and his face cleared.
“Red looks better on you,” he said, smiling as he stood, a little unsteadily.
“Looks good off of me too,” she answered with a happy grin.
Harry laughed, and pulled her close. He waved his hand and some music started, and together, they started to dance. Morticia and Gomez did the same, twirling around the dance floor.
“I wish,” Severus said, after a few moments thought, “that I had accepted the potion this morning.”
“You didn’t take it?” Marcus asked, sounding impressed.
“I was a Death Eater.”
“Don’t you find the taste goes after a while?” Fester asked curiously. “I’ve tried a few dead humans, and they taste pretty awful once the freshness has gone.”
Remus laughed, and even Snape had to smile. “It was the name of Voldemort’s followers,” he explained. “We didn’t actually eat dead people.”
“Oh, my bad,” Fester said cheerfully. “Pugsley!”
Pugsley approached them with two very pale girls trailing behind them. “Hermione, Ginny, this is Marcus, and Remus Lupin,” he said in a short-hand introduction. “Uncle Fester, who was that man, and why did he scare the pants of off me?”
“Hermione, Ginny,” Severus said gently. “Why don’t we sit down and talk about this?”
The two girls nodded silently, as they all moved over to a one of a series of tables the other side of the dance floor.
“I’m not sure if I’m the right person,” Fester said apologetically, “I’m not the head of the family.” He turned and walked into the dance floor, and started to dance with Morticia, freeing Gomez to walk over.
“My apologies,” Gomez said as he sat down, a new cigar appearing in his hand. “I quite forgot we had young guests. I’m sure you have a thousand questions.”
“Who was he?” Hermione blurted.
“Captain Elliot Spenser, we met him around five decades ago when he was searching.”
“Searching for what?” Severus asked.
“Experience, would be the best word,” he mused. “He’d done rather badly in the war, watched a lot of people die, and during that time he lost his belief in everything – including God. He filled the void with pleasure, drink, drugs, sex, but eventually reached the plateau.
“The plateau is a dangerous place for a human, the only way is down. Elliot wasn’t quite a human though, a distant relative of ours, he delved into the occult, going deeper and deeper, before well, he became a Cenobite.
“Cenobite, in the modern tongue, means member of a religious order, in the olden tongue it was a little more than that, but the concept is hard to describe. He is the leader of the Cenobites – or maybe Pope would be a better word – and now lives outside of our time. He is immortal and lives for the experience.” Gomez looked at Hermione and Ginny, who had wide-eyed looks of fear on their faces.
“I’m sorry,” Gomez whispered, “you’re too young for this,” he waved his hand abruptly, and the two children went very still. “The memory of the last few hours is not one you need to remember,” he said, his voice having a strange hypnotic power behind it. “It will remain with you, but you will never want to access it again, and slowly it will fade to the depths of your mind, never to be seen again. Now, you will sleep for a while, and when you wake, you will enjoy the party.”
“Thanks, Dad,” Pugsley said, as Hermione and Ginny fell asleep.
“Do you need it as well?” Gomez asked.
Pugsley shook his head. “I am an Addams,” he said proudly. “But I’ll talk to Mom later.”
“That’s my boy,” Gomez said and rubbed Pugsley’s hair. “Anyway,” Gomez continued, “Elliott is powerful, far more powerful than any human can be, he has lived for eternity, and honestly, I expected him to claim Harry and Wednesday. Although it was only a few years ago that we met him for us, for him, it was an eternity ago.”
“You would have stopped him?” Marcus half stated, half asked.
“Morticia and I would have tried,” he agreed, “and we would have failed. We are from this dimension; he has no constraints and can call forth a power of a demonic dimension. Those chains that they grabbed he has complete control over. He allowed them to grab them, and he has many more under his control. He was testing them.”
“Why?” Severus asked.
Gomez looked worried. “I don’t know. I dislike that my children were under his control, although there is nothing I can do about it. I will talk to them about playing games with him, because he never loses.” Gomez shook himself, and then a small smile appeared on his head. “My children stood up to the Black Pope,” he said proudly, “they are going to bring the Addams clan into a new future.” He paused. “If they live.”
“They will,” Pugsley said confidently. “They have to.”
“Absolutely, now, if you’ll excuse me, more guests have arrived!”
“Is it always like this?” Severus asked.
“No,” Marcus said, “and let’s hope that the rest of the party is simpler.”
If you ignored the creatures that were guests, and you ignored some of the strange customs, the rest of the day was simply a birthday party. Harry and Wednesday danced a lot, and had a good time. Hermione and Ginny, when they awoke, were back to being un-damaged children, and each girl danced with Harry a few times; Pugsley danced with Wednesday once.
Severus spent the rest of the day talking with Marcus and Remus, as well as some of the other guests who wandered up to them, and even danced a few times with Morticia, the twins, and Melissa. He also had a highly entertaining conversation with Nicholas Flamel, who promised that he would answer any of Severus’ questions over the next few years.
That night, he collapsed onto his bed and spent a few hours staring at the ceiling going through the events of the day. Despite everything, he was pleased he had attended the party.
He took some dreamless sleep potion, just in case, and fell asleep.
The next morning, he arrived for breakfast to find only Morticia in the kitchen. She was reading a paper. “Good morning, Severus.”
“Good morning,” he replied as he settled down.
She passed him a paper, and he smiled – it was the Daily Prophet.
The next to arrive for breakfast were Harry and Wednesday. He greeted them, and tried to hide his surprise at Wednesday. She was dressed in a similar black and white outfit that Hermione had described the year before. Her hair was back in her standard immaculate pigtails, but it was her body that truly surprised him. It seemed to have regressed several years.
“Wednesday,” Morticia said without looking up, “have you lost weight?”
Wednesday sat next to Harry. “Yesterday was Harry’s day, so he got a preview of coming attractions,” she replied. “Good morning, Professor Snape.”
He smiled faintly at her. He accepted the message that things were going back to normal today. “Good morning Wednesday, Harry.”
“Are you going to be free this morning?” Harry asked politely. “We’d like to take the potion you made for us.”
“Of course,” he replied. “You don’t want to wait a few days after yesterday?”
“No,” Harry replied. “Yesterday has gone.”
Snape nodded, and the conversation moved on. Hermione, Ginny and Pugsley joined them next, before Gomez and Thing appeared. Grandmama was the last, and she immediately started cooking.
Breakfast was… something. He wasn’t sure what was in the broth, but it was certainly tasty and filled him up like nothing else ever had.
“Where are we going to do this?” Hermione asked eagerly as they finished.
Harry looked at Wednesday. “My bedroom,” he decided.
Severus smiled faintly. “That’s perhaps not the most appropriate place,” he said, “a Professor should never be found in a student’s bedroom.”
Wednesday rolled her eyes. “That rule is for other people,” she said flatly. “If you tried to touch me like that, you’d be dead. You want to live, so you won’t do that, therefore you are perfectly safe in our bedroom.”
“And,” Harry said, looking faintly amused, “if you tried to touch me like that, Wednesday would get very upset.”
“Children,” Morticia chided, “stop playing.”
“Sorry, Mom,” Harry and Wednesday said together.
“Come and see your father and me when you’re done,” Morticia said. “We will want to hear all about it. Gomez has work today, or we’d be there as well.”
“I do?” Gomez asked, “how disappointing. What am I doing?”
“You’ve been appointed to defend that nasty Mr Jackson.”
“Of course,” Gomez cried. He bounded to his feet, “I’ll be back later,” he said as he vanished.
“Grandmama and I will remove the guests who have outstayed their welcome,” Morticia announced. “Severus, Marcus said that he’d pop by later to finish your discussion.”
“Come on then,” Wednesday said, as they walked back toward the bedrooms, and then up another flight of stairs. They turned right, and entered a bedroom.
The room was huge, far larger than his guest room. In the far left corner a fully featured potions laboratory had several test tubes bubbling. Spoons were stirring themselves in an intricate pattern.
In the far right corner was a small library area. Two bookcases that reached the ceiling dominated the corner, with two arm chairs next to them.
To his left was a doorway that led to what appeared to be a bathroom. He could see the tiles and a towel-rail. Harry’s bed was to the right. It was a large bed, but wasn’t a four-poster.
“What happens?” Harry asked, as he pulled out his wand and conjured four chairs.
“All we know is that it lasts for half an hour,” Severus said slowly, “and that most recorded attempts have noted that the people who imbibed the potion were insane when they woke up. You only need a mouthful.”
Harry nodded, as he lifted the beaker from a cabinet in the potions area. Wednesday climbed onto Harry’s bed, on the right hand side. Harry moved next to her, and took a deep sip, before he passed the beaker to Wednesday and rested so that he was flat on his back.
Pugsley walked around to the side of the bed, and took the beaker from Wednesday after she had taken a drink. The girl relaxed back on the bed and clasped her hands over her chest.
“They look dead,” Ginny whispered as two teenagers on the bed suddenly stiffened, then didn’t move at all.
“There is nothing we can do now, but wait,” Severus replied.
If you're going to bow to anyone, you may as well bow to the Dark Pope himself.
I've wanted to write something with Pinhead in it, after reading Ruskbytes 's Evil Be Thou My Good. And this was the best opportunity.
Thanks to Kokopelli for giving this the once over. All remaining errors will remain as they are.