Perfect Slytherins - Tales From The Third Year
With thanks to Kokopelli for betaing this for me.
“Professor,” Hermione said, “why don’t we learn how to enchant objects to stir for us?”
“How would you enchant it to brew the Draught of Living Death?”
“I don’t know,” she replied, looking embarrassed.
“Precisely,” he agreed. “You have to know what to enchant the object to do, before you can do it. You learn automation tools in the seventh year, when you have a better understanding of how potions work.”
“That makes sense,” Ginny added. “Any idea what Harry’s brewing?”
Severus wandered over to the area and had a careful look. “Well, that’s Polyjuice potion,” he noted, “but I have no idea what this one is.” He itched to analyse it, but knew from long experience how that could ruin the whole thing. There was an open book, and he walked over to it. “Strange,” he muttered to himself, “what would they need a soul destroying potion for?”
“Well, take a seat,” Pugsley called from the library area. “I didn’t even know Harry had some of these books.”
Severus nodded, and fetched a potions book from the library, before he returned to the seats that Harry had created. It didn’t feel right to sit in the chairs that were obviously Harry and Wednesday’s.
Twenty seven minutes later, Hermione said, “About a minute.”
“How do you do that?” Ginny asked.
Hermione looked blankly at her. “I have a watch…”
“Oh,” Ginny said, blushing slightly.
Wednesday was the first to move. She opened her eyes, but didn’t seem to be able to move. With a slight groan, she forced her muscles into action, not much, but enough so that she could roll over and be against Harry.
Harry moved next, a single arm moving to pull her closer.
Snape could see both of their faces, and how expressive they were, and yet they hadn’t changed since he had first seen them two years ago. What had changed was his ability to read what they were thinking.
Slowly, they started to move more freely, and they sat up. They both rested against the headboard, sitting close enough so that their sides were touching all the way along their bodies, their arms around each other.
“Well?” Pugsley demanded.
Wednesday smiled faintly. “Tell them,” she whispered.
“We started in this room,” Harry said in a voice that was barely a whisper. “We could see ourselves, and we could see that our bodies were just shells. So we went, up, speed was irrelevant as we had no mass. We were pure thought. We stopped and looked down on the planet, but it wasn’t enough.
“We moved away, slowing for the planets, and then speeding up again. We tried to find a limit to how far we could go, but we couldn’t, we were imagination itself.
“We paused, when our solar system was barely a blink of an eye and looked around. Everywhere we looked was beautiful, colours you can’t believe, sights never before seen, we could hear the sounds of the cosmos.
“But it wasn’t enough, and we knew that there wasn’t much time, so we flew, faster and faster, through our galaxy, through the next, doubling in speed every minute. We flew through solar systems like they were dust, galaxies like they were cardboard boxes.
“And the more we saw, the more we felt it. The more we felt what the price was. The knowledge we held was too much, too big, and it demanded payment. It demanded our sanity. But we didn’t slow down, we knew we were running out of time, so we kept going, kept viewing the next horizon.
“Until we stopped, or maybe we didn’t, the price was demanded. The universes stood before us and demanded we pay, they were horrible, they were incomprehensible, indescribable, they were creation and destruction, life and death, trillions of planets making up billions of galaxies making hundreds of millions of universes, and we could see it all. We stared infinity in the face, and it demanded our sanity.”
“What happened?” Pugsley asked softly.
“We spat in its eye and returned,” Harry said calmly. “Our sanity is our own.”
“Yeah!” Pugsley cheered.
“That is our goal,” Wednesday said. “We have seen eternity, and we want to see it again.”
“But not with a time limit. We need to free our souls from our bodies, and allow us to travel anywhere.”
“And you’ll take us with you?” Hermione pleaded.
“The whole clan,” Harry promised. “The whole clan.”
His time at the Addams family was one that he would remember for the rest of his life. He also gained a small insight that, while he may be his own man, that there was no problem with being part of an organisation. It was good to be part of something bigger, grander. Something that seemed eternal.
And so, he’d set himself a new goal, acceptance into the Addams clan.
He had been happy to be back home, if only for a few days before he was due at Hogwarts. While he sat on the bank of a lake, he had the opportunity to think about one last conversation he’d had with Harry.
Severus sat on the balcony overlooking the graveyard that separated the Addams family estate from the next one.
Down below, Fester, Pugsley, Hermione and Ginny were playing a game of Cowboys and Indians, with real crossbows. They were all wearing authentic outfits, and seemed to be having a great time.
Gomez was at work, and Morticia was knitting in the kitchen with Grandmama. It seemed a rather prosaic hobby for someone so strong, but she enjoyed it.
Harry and Wednesday were in their rooms, and he had no idea where Thing was.
“Good afternoon, Professor.”
Severus looked up, “Harry,” he greeted the other person in surprise.
Harry took a seat near him and looked at the people playing. “Nice, isn’t it.”
“Quite,” he replied.
“I wonder what it would be like, sometimes; to be normal.”
“Overrated,” Snape sighed. “At times, at other, it’s the most amazing feeling of freedom.”
“You had a few moments?”
“One or two,” he agreed.
“Freedom,” Harry said softly. “I have freedom, and yet I don’t.”
“Oh?” Severus got the impression that Harry just wanted to talk, so he didn’t say much.
“I can do anything I want, and yet I can’t, because I have more important things to worry about.”
“The Addams clan.”
Harry looked at him strangely, “No, Wednesday.”
“She needs worrying about?” he asked in surprise.
“Wednesday and I match. We are broken children.”
“Broken? I don’t think I’ve met two less broken people.”
“Thank you,” Harry said with a slight smile. “A palatable lie, if nothing else. We weren’t always like this, getting rid of the scar without killing me was damaging. Pinhead was not the only dark thing we met on our journey.”
Severus didn’t think that there was anything he could say to that.
“I try not to feel guilty, because it was Wednesday’s decision to join me. But, at times it is hard. They saved me, and because of me, their daughter became more broken. And that’s why, you know.”
“Why I’m focused on her. I helped break her, so now I’ll mend her. The girl you saw on my birthday, the funny, beautiful, charming, deadly girl, that’s the real Wednesday. And each year, she becomes more like that, and less like the way she acts at the moment.”
Harry smiled as Fester tripped, and the three kids piled on top of him. “Wednesday has been trained since birth to be the new Clan leader. As soon as I came here, I joined – I never wanted to be weak again. I’ve been weak once.”
“At the Dursleys?”
Harry nodded. “Never again,” he said softly. “Trust is a strange thing. It took me two seconds to trust Wednesday, and several years to trust others. And as much as I changed with Wednesday, she changed with me. She made the decision as soon as we met, but didn’t tell me until later.”
Severus frowned, that wasn’t what Wednesday had described to Hermione.
“Not about our relationship,” Harry said, an amused tone in his voice. “About the clan leader. She wanted me to have it. Me, Harry Potter, abused orphan – nobody. She didn’t tell me, she asked me. She gave me the choice, and offered her support.
“I couldn’t believe it, here was this beautiful child, offering me everything, and all I had to do was promise to look after her in return. I swore on everything that mattered to me, and it was the best decision I made. So now, I sit with a world-wide clan in front of me, the most amazing girl in the world beside me, with a goal that is out of this world.
“I owe the Addams a thousand times more than I can ever pay them back. And I owe Wednesday much more.”
“You don’t seem as broken,” Snape said softly.
“That’s not a question,” Harry said with a quick grin. “But I am more broken, and less broken. I was used to pain before I got here – mental pain as well as physical. Wednesday is an Addams, physical pain is never an issue with them; they learn to control what they feel from a very young age. Mental pain, that is different. So I was able to get through my ordeal slightly easier. As such, I appear less broken, even though my morals are not what they once were. Death is not something that scares me, either my own or anyone else’s.
“But I do have a weakness – Wednesday. And that is why I am telling you this.”
Snape couldn’t move, didn’t want to move. There was a strange power from Harry, not one of magic, but as effective.
“If anything happens to her, I will burn this world before I meet her again.”
The threat was soft, quiet, and carried the force of a hurricane. The laughter from down below drifted up to them.
“I will help,” Snape said, “for a price.”
Harry looked amused.
Harry nodded. “Granted, provisionally.”
Snape smiled and looked down. Evidentially it was as simple as that. He was now a provisional member of the Addams family clan.
The door to the balcony opened again, and Wednesday walked out. While she was back in her long black and grey dress, she had foregone her normal black tights, and was barefoot. Her toes were free of polish.
She curled up next to Harry and looked down. She didn’t say anything, nor did Harry. They just sat there and watched people play as the sun slowly started to set.
Hogwarts was a home away from home. For many years he had been through a love-hate relationship with it.
These days it was much more love. He was happy teaching, and was starting to do a much better job of it.
His apartment was larger than his cottage, and he had a private potions laboratory.
And with his good mood, he started the year as positive as he could remember being.
“Did you have a nice holiday?” Severus asked Minerva as they walked toward the Headmaster’s office.
“I did,” Minerva said, she was looking a little shifty, as if she knew something he didn’t. “Portugal, this year.”
“How lovely,” Severus replied, opening the door for her with a flourish.
She smiled at him and almost ran into the room. He followed her at a more sedate pace. They were the last to arrive.
“Ahh, Minerva, Severus,” Albus said, his eyes twinkling. “I was just about to introduce our new Defence Against the Dark Arts professor.”
“Oh?” he asked silkily. He could feel the tension in the room.
“Yes, Remus Lupin.”
Remus walked slowly forward from the back of the room, where he had been hidden by the shadows. His clothes were dishevelled and thread-bare, and he looked tired.
“Werewolf,” Snape hissed.
“Vampire,” Remus hissed back as he approached.
Dumbledore’s eyes were twinkling brighter, as the other staff members edged backward. “I’m sure you two can work together,” the headmaster said softly.
Severus sneered at the Headmaster, before he moved over to Remus. “You look like shit.”
Remus rolled his eyes. “Damn international Portkey people lost my luggage; this was all I had that was clean.”
Severus winced as he clapped Remus on the back cheerfully. “I’ve got some stuff that might fit you,” he said, “pop by after the meeting and we’ll get you sorted until those fools find your luggage.”
“Thanks, Sev. You’re looking more relaxed.”
“I had a few days to think,” he agreed as he took a seat next to Remus. “I talked to Nick, and he seems to think that my ideas about the Wolfsbane have promise. We’re going to work on it this year.”
“Well, I’m happy to volunteer for testing,” Remus replied cheerfully.
Snape looked up, the rest of the Professors were staring at them, as if they couldn’t quite mentally process what had just happened. Even Professor Dumbledore was looking nonplussed.
“Shall we get started?” he asked smoothly.
“Err, yes,” Minerva said slowly. “The first order of business is the Head boy and girl.”
“Just give it to Harry and Wednesday,” Severus said, only slightly serious.
“They’re third years,” Minerva pointed out with a roll of her eyes. “Penelope Clearwater is the leading candidate for Head girl.”
“No objections from me,” Severus said. Pomona and Filius agreed, and then Albus did as well.
“The leading Head boy candidate is Percy Weasley.”
Pomona and Filius both looked to Severus. He mentally rolled his eyes; it looks like he was designated spokesman. “If you’d asked me at the end of last year,” he said silkily, “I’d have agreed completely. I dislike the boy intensely. Putting him in the Head boy position would pretty much guarantee that he ends the year either dead or beyond help.” He paused to let his statement sink in, before continuing, “However, as I like Molly and Arthur, I’ll say ‘absolutely not’. We need a Head boy who is open minded and has the ability to think on his feet. What we do not need is a brown nosing rule-follower who’ll try everything he can to get in Harry and Wednesday’s face.”
“But his standing…” Minerva said weakly.
“The boy might take the opportunity to grow,” Albus interjected. “It could be good for him.”
Severus turned and stared at Dumbledore. “The school is not here for your entertainment,” he said coldly, “Nor is it a personal fiefdom, where games are played for your amusement. If you want Weasley dead, just say so, and I’ll poison him tomorrow and save us all the bother.”
There were several gulps from around the table. And one mostly hidden snigger from Remus. “Pomona, who’s your best male Hufflepuff?”
“Jack Stroper,” she replied instantly.
“Tall boy, good at duelling?”
Again, the other professors gaped at him. “What?” he sneered, “my senior Slytherin would be Marcus, and we’re not having a Head boy who had to do a year twice.”
“I’m happy with him,” Filius added. “Minerva?”
“He does have good grades,” she admitted. “And perhaps we should let it be known that personality and leadership skills are just as important as good marks and following the rules.”
“Good,” Severus said before the headmaster could interrupt. “What’s next on the agenda?”
Severus sat next to Remus at the Professor’s table as the students started to wander in.
“Nervous?” he asked Remus.
“A little,” Remus replied.
“Don’t be. They’re not bad kids, and with your personality you’ll be fine. What are you going to do about the club Harry and Wednesday run?”
“Very little, I’ll concentrate on the traditional curriculum, and let them deal with the skills you’ll need if Death Eaters actually attached. If I was to teach a student to use the bone breaking curse on someone’s genitals like Wednesday did last year, I’d be lynched.”
Severus laughed softly.
As the year before, all the returning students were in their seats before Harry and Wednesday arrived and took their places.
“You can’t tell, can you,” Remus whispered.
“What they did over the summer?” Snape replied. “Not at all. The other kids have no idea at all, it’s almost scary.”
“Indeed,” Remus agreed. “Percy’s not happy.”
The prat of a Weasley was glaring at Harry and Wednesday, and further down, the boar was matching him. “Some things don’t change.”
“Don’t be too hard on them,” Remus suggested. “Ron’s got issues with being the youngest male, and after the first year he then had to watch his sister make friends with his enemy, and join the house of 'evil'. And Percy still thinks that the answers to life are found in a rule book.”
“Those are not excuses for closed mindedness,” Severus replied.
“True,” Remus agreed, “but they are kids, they’ll grow out of it.”
Snape grumbled, but didn’t disagree. The first-years entered, and the Hat sung another of his songs. Severus never paid to much attention to them. He really didn’t need advice from decrepit haberdashery.
He applauded politely as Remus was introduced, and hid a smile as the biggest cheers came from Hermione, Ginny and Pugsley.
Remus stood and bowed, as Dumbledore gave his next speech in the rotation, and the feast started.
Severus poked his food with his fork.
“Missing Grandmama’s broth?”
“Yeah,” he admitted.
“You’re not the only one.”
Snape looked at his Slytherins, to find that Harry was speaking to Hermione and Ginny, before Ginny said something and smiled happily. Harry nodded and went back to pushing his food around a plate. Ginny was talking animatedly to Hermione, who pulled a quill and a piece of parchment out of her pocket, and they started to write.
“A galleon says that Ginny’s just volunteered to cook,” Severus said softly.
“Never mind that,” Remus replied, “concentrate that Slytherin nature of yours on getting us some of it.”
Severus laughed softly. As the meal finished, Jack and Penelope stood and headed toward the Slytherin table.
Severus climbed to his feet and walked over so that he could listen in. Remus was a second behind him.
“Hi, Harry, Wednesday,” Penelope said.
“Penelope, Jack,” Harry replied solemnly. “Congratulations.”
“Thank you. We know that you had a good relationship with Jacob and Miranda last year, and we hope that can continue this year.”
“Are you planning on keeping the club going?” Jack asked.
“Professor Lupin is a competent professor,” Harry replied.
“I might be,” Remus said, as he walked forward, “however, I’m going to be teaching the curriculum, there is plenty to explore outside that.”
Wednesday tilted her head at Remus. “Will you pay the price?” she asked.
Remus rolled his eyes. “Why don’t you just ask me?”
Wednesday looked innocent, “because then we might owe you, we prefer to be in credit.”
“What is the price?”
“Private lessons, for whatever we want to learn.”
Harry looked back at Jack and Penelope and nodded. “Hermione, Ginny and Pugsley will organise the times with you. Tell everyone to send home for any family weapons they might like, we’re going to teach some more hand-to-hand stuff this year.”
“Cool,” Jack said excitedly.
Wednesday looked at Remus for a second, and then at the two Head students. She raised her hand and a dome of silence appeared – separating them from the rest of the student body. “Professor Lupin is a werewolf.”
Remus went white.
Penelope and Jack looked at each other, then at the Harry and Wednesday, before finishing on Professor Lupin. Penelope frowned, and then said, “Werewolves are dark creatures, but we’ve been learning that Dark doesn’t mean evil, and besides, we’ve been told that by the Ministry, so it’s possibly not true. It doesn’t matter, as long as you can teach.”
“Yeah,” Jack added.
“Thank you,” Remus replied.
Wednesday nodded. “See, it wasn’t that difficult, was it?”
“I’ve had many years of people’s responses,” Remus replied.
“Idiot’s responses,” Wednesday said dismissively. “Secrets always come out at the worst time, now you can control how it will be disseminated.”
“Thank you,” Remus said.
Harry and Wednesday nodded. Harry cancelled the spell Wednesday had created and they walked off slowly.
Penelope watched them go and then turned to Pugsley, Hermione and Ginny.
“We can meet up tomorrow,” Pugsley suggested, “after we have our schedules.”
“Thanks,” Penelope said, and then sighed as Percy walked over.
“Penelope,” he said.
“Percy,” she replied formally.
Jack rolled his eyes.
“So, Jack,” Ginny said, as she hopped up and walked over to the Head boy. “What’s it like being the Head boy?” Her voice was flirtatious, despite her age, and she held herself confidently.
“It’s good,” Jack said warily, looking at Ginny.
Ginny preened at him, and reached out to lightly stroke the badge. “It does look shiny,” she said huskily, as she stepped into his personal space, and used her sleeve to polish it.
“Ginevra!” Percy choked.
“Go away, Percy,” Ginny purred, “and let the Head boy and I have a chat. You should never interrupt the Head boy, he deserves our respect, and we should do everything he says, right? No matter what that might be, right?”
Percy went white, and then red, and then white again. Hermione sniggered at him, and he looked offended, before he turned on his heel and stormed away.
Ginny giggled and sat back down again. “Sorry,” she apologised to Jack, “but I’m actually not interested in you at all – you’re far too old for me, and I’m too young to be interested in anything to do with sex apart from gaining knowledge in a strictly academic sense, but I do enjoy playing with my darling brother.”
Jack slowly started to laugh. “If you were a few years older,” he muttered regretfully.
She smiled innocently at him. “If you ever want to see someone do that properly, watch Morticia. She’s amazing.” Ginny turned to Penelope, “congrats on getting Head girl, Pen, you deserve it.”
“Thanks Gin-gin,” Penelope replied with a grin. “We’re still friends, right?”
“Of course,” Ginny said eagerly, “I’m not going to blame you for coming to your senses. Besides,” she added with another grin, “there are plenty of other, more open-minded, boys in the school.”
“I’ll see you tomorrow,” Penelope said as she put her arm through Jack’s and led him away.
“You’re going to make a fine Addams,” Pugsley said.
Ginny smiled happily, “That’s the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me.” With a happy bounce in her step, she walked out of the Great Hall.
Hermione laughed softly. “She also spent some time with Melissa.”
“Common room, you two,” Snape ordered with a slight smile, and watched as Hermione and Pugsley walked off.
“Is it always this much fun?” Remus asked.
“Occasionally,” Snape admitted. He looked at his watch. “Want to come for a walk while I do my rounds?”
“Why not,” Remus replied.
As was par for course, the rest of the year did not go smoothly. But, it certainly wasn’t boring. His attitude about how bad things could be might have been changed by discovering that Pinhead existed.
It taught him that nothing should be taken at face value, that there was no knowledge that could not be changed, and perhaps more importantly, just because something hadn’t been done before, didn’t mean it couldn’t be done.
Albus had continued to be a puzzle, and as Snape put more pieces into it, he did not like the picture that was forming. Albus almost seemed to resent the friendship between him and Remus.
“Enter,” he called. The door to his office opened, and Daphne Greengrass walked in.
“Can we talk?” she asked.
“As Head of House or as your godfather?”
“Take a seat, Daph,” he said, nodding toward to chairs next to his bookcase. “Drink?”
He clapped his hands and ordered a tray of tea, before he sat opposite her.
“What can I do for you?” he asked as he poured the tea into two cups and passed her one.
She sighed and curled up in the chair. “The balance of power has been shifting since Harry and Wednesday turned up. The older students who are into the pure blood stuff are leaving, and the moderates are in charge.”
“But that’s just the school. It’s changing out there, but no one knows. And you’re part of it.”
“I am?” he asked, neither agreeing nor denying.
“You spent some time with them, and you’ve changed. You’re happier, but are a bit sneakier.”
He allowed a hint of a smile to appear on his face.
“And you don’t answer unless someone asks you a direct question,” she added.
“As interesting as this is,” he said softly, “what is it that you want?”
“And you’re a lot more direct. How do I get in?”
“Get into where?”
“Harry and Wednesday are not children,” she stated. “They do things with magic that I would have sworn was impossible. And they are dragging Pugsley, Hermione and Ginny behind them. Ginny is the top student in her year, and Pugsley and Hermione are behind Harry and Wednesday in ours.
“No one in Slytherin doubts where the power is, and as they grow, it’s going to become harder to enter. I need to get into the group now to have any sort of influence when they explode out of Hogwarts.”
Severus nodded slowly. “All true,” he agreed. “And yet, I would advise against it.”
“Because they do not accept prejudice, they do not accept any thought that is not your own, and they welcome creatures. I had a most enjoyable evening talking to a werewolf and a two hundred year old vampire.”
Daphne nodded. “And if I don’t particularly care if someone is a vampire, a Muggle or anything else?”
“That’s a good start.”
“I could try seducing Harry.”
Severus looked at his God-daughter and sighed. “Aren’t you a little young for that?”
“I meant in a few years time,” she said weakly.
“Do you think it would work?”
Daphne titled her head slightly and grinned. “Possibly, I’m going to be very good looking.”
“As your godfather, I’d advise you to drop that idea.”
“I met a rather nice lady by the name of Melissa over the holidays. I thought she was a full Veela, when actually she was part Veela-part Succubus, so you can imagine how attractive she is.”
Daphne wrinkled her nose and nodded.
“I found out later that she tried something with Harry in the past. She failed, and now, she is in love with him, and knows that she will never have him. She tries to avoid him, but can’t at his birthday. And every year, they put her under the worst torture possible – they’re nice to her. And that is the Addams clan, leadership challengers are encouraged, but you better be prepared to pay the price when you lose.
“I take it you saw Ginny’s playing with Jack after dinner?”
“A lot of that came from Morticia. Don’t think that just because she doesn’t flaunt it, that Wednesday can’t be even more devastating.”
Daphne nodded slowly. “And I doubt I could beat Wednesday in a fight anyway.”
“You couldn’t,” Severus replied. “She has been trained all her life. She has killed already, and will kill again, and she has no compunctions about it. While you were still toddling around, she was being taught how to throw a knife.”
Daphne nodded. “I expected as much. But I still want it. How do I do it?”
“You’ve talked to Pugsley?”
Daphne shook her head. “I don’t want to go in that way, I want in at the top level.”
Severus smiled, “If you can accept that your nightmares will pale into comparison with what you will see with them; then there is a very simple way to try.”
“And that is?”
“Ask Wednesday. She’ll give you an answer.”
Daphne nodded slowly. “Thanks.”
“How’s your mother?”
“She’s good, wondered why you weren’t around as much this year.”
"The little bitch is still obsessed with marrying Malfoy. I seem to have failed to inform her of his little problem," she replied, a visible smirk on her face.
Before Severus could answer, his internal Floo activated. “Everyone turn on the Wireless,” Pomona said. The Floo closed almost instantly.
Severus waved his wand, and his Wireless burst into life.
“… had Chadwick reporting for the Wizard Wireless Network, earlier today, there was a daring escape from Azkaban, Ministry Officials are blaming He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, although insisting that he has not returned to a fully corporeal state.
“Convicted criminal Lucius Malfoy, along with the infamous Sirius Black and Bellatrix Lestrange had all escaped. Black and his cousin, Lestrange, were both prominent Death Eaters during the war, and it is expected that they will be after Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived, and defeater of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named all those years ago.
“Minister Fudge has promised strong and decisive leadership, and we will see his actions tomorrow.
“This is Chad Chadwick, for the Wizard Wireless Network. We now return you to your scheduled programme.”
Severus flicked his wand at the radio and it fell silent. He looked at Daphne, who had a thoughtful look on her face.
“If Black expects to get to Harry, he’s going to have a problem.”
“Especially as he’s completely innocent,” Severus added.
Severus smiled faintly. “I suspect that not everything is what it seems,” he predicted. “And that things are going to be interesting around here. Again.”
Daphne looked at him and grumbled, “And this is why I need to be in – I hate not knowing what is going on.”
“Get used to it,” he replied.
Daphne grinned and rolled her eyes at him. “I’ll see you later.”
“Don’t be a stranger.”
“You know,” Daphne said as she stopped at his door. “You’re a lot more likeable these days.”
“Get,” he ordered, hiding the smile on his face.
Daphne poked her tongue out at him and left.
The next morning Severus found out exactly what “strong and decisive” leadership was.
And just he felt that the decisions in this school couldn’t get any worse, they did. What sort of idiots would allow soul-suckers into a school?
Apparently the idiots named Albus Dumbledore and Cornelius Fudge.
“Explain, once more,” he said in the meeting, “just what good Dementors that were unable to keep these people in prison, are going to be for us?”
“They will be able to capture them,” Fudge blustered.
“Right,” Severus agreed. “Albus, you are accepting this?”
“He has no choice,” Fudge replied, “I am in charge of security.”
“Excellent,” Severus said silkily, “I’ll ensure that you get all the credit.”
Fudge looked suspicious, as Snape spun dramatically, raising his arm at the right moment so that his cloak would stream behind him as he walked out. It was a technique he’d learned from Marcus.
He walked down into the Slytherin Common Room. Most of his house was gathered around a Wireless, listening to a report on the Dementors.
“Sir,” Adrian Pucey said, “this is ridiculous.”
“Agreed,” he said sourly. “Unfortunately, the Minister insists.”
“But Malfoy, Lestrange and Black escaped from them,” Adrian continued.
“A point I made,” Severus sighed. “I will be informing the press of his response.”
“Professor,” Pugsley said, from where he was sat with Hermione and Ginny, “What’s the problem with them?”
“For normal people, Pugsley, they tend to have a devastating effect.”
“Oh,” Pugsley said and frowned. “Can you mimic the effects?”
“I can,” Severus replied slowly.
“If you do so, then maybe we’ll be able to see if we can deal with it,” Ginny suggested. “Fear of the unknown is often worse than fear of a fact.”
Severus nodded and pulled out his wand. He cast the spell on himself.
Screams rendered the air, as students turned away from him.
He cancelled it immediately, before he clapped his hands, and ordered chocolate from the house-elf that appeared – a lot of it.
Ginny and Hermione were shivering as they tried to control their emotions, Pugsley looked faintly surprised. “That’s a memory I don’t want to think about,” he muttered. “What did you two remember?”
“I don’t know,” Hermione whispered. “It was bad, but it’s gone now.”
“Yeah,” Ginny added. “I was terrified, but now I’m not.”
“Bugger,” Pugsley said as he took some of the chocolate.
“Problem?” Harry asked as he walked into the Common Room from his bedroom. Wednesday was beside him.
Pugsley said something rapidly in a language that Snape didn’t understand.
Harry replied in the same language.
Pugsley talked for another minute, his tone and body language pleading.
Harry nodded. “Call for a meeting in thirty minutes, in the Great Hall. Advise everyone to bring anyone who wants to learn, we’ll have an open meeting.”
“Thanks,” Pugsley said, as Harry and Wednesday walked out of the door.
Everyone turned to look at Pugsley, who was grinning. “They’re gonna teach us how to fight ‘em,” he cheered.
There was a feeling of relief that swept through the room.
“Ginny, you’ve got the Gryffindors, Hermione, the Ravenclaws, I’ll do the Hufflepuffs.”
“And I’ll mention it to the Professors,” Severus added in amusement. “I’m sure some of them will need a refresher course.”
“Cool,” Pugsley grinned. “Everyone else who wants to learn, twenty-eight minutes in the Great Hall.”
Without exception, every single student turned up – even the Weasleys. Most of the Professors were standing around the edges of the crowd. Albus Dumbledore was a noticeable absentee.
“Professor Lupin,” Harry called. “What is a Dementor?” He was standing on a raised platform where the Professors’ table usually sat.
“Dementors are among the foulest creatures that walk this earth. They infest the darkest, filthiest places, they glory in decay and despair, they drain peace, hope, and happiness out of the air around them. Even Muggles feel their presence, though they can't see them. Get too near a Dementor and every good feeling and every happy memory will be sucked out of you. If it can, the Dementor will feed on you long enough to reduce you to something like itself...soul-less and evil. You will be left with nothing but the worst experiences of your life.”
A lot of the students went very pale at this.
“And this,” Harry said, barely audibly, “is what the Minister sees fit to guard us with. It would be better for all concerned, if Wednesday and I had a picnic and waited for them to come to us. But as our request has been denied, we’ll continue.
“Dementors are alive. There is one rule in life that we know. Everything dies. Nothing is immortal. We’ve just not discovered how to kill them yet, but we are working on it.”
“Everyone has to have a hobby,” Pugsley called, breaking the tension neatly.
“In the meantime, there is a way to fight the effects, and that is, Hermione?”
“The Patronus charm,” Hermione replied instantly.
“Indeed, the Patronus charm. The charm gives form to your most positive emotions. These positive emotions are the antithesis of everything that is a Dementor.
“We will teach you how to cast this charm, and you will be able to do it in your sleep after we have finished.”
“Isn’t it supposed to be difficult?” A fifth year asked.
“No,” Wednesday replied flatly. “Unless your name is Fudge, in which case, it would be impossible. For any competent Wizard or Witch, it is easily achievable.”
From the side, Ron Weasley opened his mouth, only to be hit by eight curses from nearby students.
“Wednesday,” Harry said softly, “please demonstrate.”
“Expecto Patronum,” she called, her voice not changing in the slightest. From her wand, a bright silver light appeared; it coalesced into a glowing white Nundu, that prowled around, looking for a Dementor. It sniffed the air suddenly, and took off, straight through a wall.
“Are you going to cancel it?” Severus asked.
Harry looked at him. “Why?”
Severus laughed under his breath.
“The incantation itself is easy,” Harry continued. “But the hard bit is calling up a positive memory. Magic is about belief, and the belief in a positive memory will help ensure that you are successful.” He looked at the students in front of him. “You,” he said, pointing at a second year Hufflepuff.
“Me?” she squeaked.
“I’m not going to harm you,” Harry said, “come up here.”
The girl took a deep breath and walked forward.
“Twenty points to Hufflepuff,” Severus murmured under his breath.
Harry crouched down on one knee, and put his hand on the girl’s cheek. She smiled tentatively at him.
“Megan, you remember the incantation?”
“Yes,” she whispered.
“Expecto Patronum!” The silver light exploded from her wand, and contrary to what Severus would have believed possible, a silver horse quickly took shape.
“I did it,” she gasped. The horse faded away as she cancelled the spell.
“Can you do it again, without my help?” Harry asked.
She nodded firmly and cast the spell again.
Harry smiled faintly at her. “Good girl.”
“Thanks,” she whispered as she bounced off the stage and back to her friends, who crowded around her, patting her on the back and generally congratulating her.
Harry looked at Pugsley and said something in the same language they had used earlier. Pugsley nodded, whispered something to Hermione and Ginny, and joined them on the platform.
“Form three lines,” Harry said, “one at a time, from each line come on the stage and perform the charm.”
The first up was a Ravenclaw first year boy, who shivered as Wednesday touched his cheek, but sure enough, a few seconds later and a shout, a silver fox appeared.
Ginny and Hermione cheered loudly – a cheer that was quickly taken up by the others. The cheering continued as the students performed the charm. From the strongest to the weakest, all it took was the touch to the face, and the charm was produced.
The atmosphere in the Great Hall was electric, everyone was in a great mood, and that, perhaps, helped some of the weaker children.
Even Longbottom performed an adequate charm.
Both Ron and Percy Weasley switched queues to avoid Harry and Wednesday. Eventually, Hermione and Ginny were the last students to have a go, and they went to Harry and Wednesday. Pugsley was on his knees, breathing hard and looking absolutely shattered.
Two shouts, and two more animals appeared, before fading away.
“Remember,” Harry said quietly, “and you will be able to cast that every time.”
“Okay everyone, Common Rooms,” Snape called, before he decided to try a joke. “It’s the professors’ turn, and we don’t want to look bad if we fail after you all did so well. Prefects, make sure that no one goes missing, we’ll be checking later.”
There were more than a few surprised looks, and a fair amount of laughter as the students poured out, talking and joking with each other.
The doors slammed shut, leaving the five students and the Professors.
Harry and Wednesday were now looking even more expressionless than normal. Snape was positive that this was because they were utterly exhausted.
“That was impossible,” Remus stated.
Harry sighed. “Clearly it wasn’t.”
“Harry, most adults struggle to perform that charm – it’s not even taught at Hogwarts!”
“They did it,” Wednesday pointed out. “Therefore, it is not impossible.”
“I’ve never managed to do it,” Severus interrupted the nascent argument before it could explode. He walked up to Harry, choosing him rather than Wednesday for more reasons than he wanted to go into.
Irma Prince walked up to Wednesday.
Harry touched him on the cheek, and all of sudden he remembered something from his childhood. He was sitting on a couch, studying, when Lily Evans sat beside him, and they talked all night.
“Cast the charm.”
“Expecto Patronum,” he whispered. He felt a rush on his magic, and that his magic was somehow supported. From his wand came the bright silver light that quickly formed into a large bear.
He let it vanish and stared at Harry. “Explain.”
“I plucked your happiest memory from your mind and bolstered your magic,” Harry said softly.” “It’s not quite Legilimency, as I can’t see what you were thinking of, but it’s close enough to be illegal. Now that your magic knows how to cast the charm, you’ll be able to do it now.”
“You’ve each cast over three hundred charms?” Filius asked in shock.
“Helped,” Harry corrected. “Is there anyone else?”
“I can cast it,” Filius said. The other remaining professors agreed.
There was a knock on the door, before it slowly opened and Kingsley Shacklebolt entered diffidently.
The Auror wandered around the Hall, looking at the walls and suits of armour.
“Mr Shacklebolt?” Minerva asked.
“Hmm?” he replied.
“Can we help you?”
Kingsley reached up and used the sleeve of his robe to polish a plaque. “Oh, the Minister sent me,” he said casually.
“And what did he want?”
“For me to give a message,” Kingsley said, as he sat on a chair and took his shoe off.
“And what,” Minerva said icily, “is this message?”
Kingsley yawned, and then stretched. He put his shoe back on. “He asked if the owner of the Nundu Patronus would please cancel the spell as it’s scaring the Dementors.”
Severus couldn’t help sniggering to himself.
“And I’ll give that message shortly. Do you know whose it is?”
“Miss Addams,” Minerva replied. “You can give the message to her immediately, however, before you do, how is your mother?”
Kingsley smiled broadly. “She’s doing grand. Grand. She asks about you.”
“I must go and visit her soon.”
“She still makes that cake you like.”
“It goes straight to my hips, but it is worth it.”
Kingsley sighed and stood. He wandered over to Wednesday. “The Minister of Magic hereby demands that you stop the Patronus spell forthwith,” he recited in a bored voice.
“Okay,” Wednesday agreed.
“Thank you. I shall report back to his Fudgeness immediately. I’d hate for him to be any more inconvenienced.”
“Could you ask him a question for us?” Harry asked.
“But of course,” Kingsley said, dropping the bored tone.
“If you could ask in front of a journalist, that would be better,” Harry added. “Just ask him how the Dementors are supposed to protect the school if a charm by one student can frighten them away?”
Kingsley smirked. “I know just the journalist,” he agreed. “Well, I’m on duty, so I’ll see you all later.” He wandered out slowly.
Harry took Wednesday’s hand. “We’re going to eat, then sleep for a few days, please excuse us from lessons.”
“Of course,” Severus replied, as Harry and Wednesday lead Pugsley, Ginny and Hermione out of the Great Hall. Hermione and Ginny were practically carrying Pugsley.
The doors slammed shut. Severus sat down on the edge of the platform.
Remus conjured a chair and sat near him. The other Professors soon joined them. For a few minutes there was silence, as everyone was lost in their own thoughts.
“Expecto Patronus,” Severus said quietly. His bear appeared as before. “I had the Dark Mark,” he continued, “and I’ve never found a happy enough memory to successfully cast that charm. Harry was correct, my magic knows how to produce one now, and it’s as easy as a levitation spell.”
“That’s just not possible,” Minerva said in disbelief.
“That’s what I just said,” Remus added.
“It leads to the question of what else could be taught like that?” Filius wondered.
“It leads to the question of how the bloody hell did they give me some power?” Severus said, “never mind the teaching. Harry supplanted my magic with some of his own. That’s not supposed to be possible either.”
“Actually,” Irma Prince interrupted. “We have some books on power-sharing. They’ve over a thousand years old and written in Latin. They went through them last year.”
Minerva sighed. “I was wrong, Severus,” she said. “I am glad they are here. One hundred points each to Harry, Wednesday and Pugsley for successfully teaching a difficult charm to all the students and challenging my assumptions.”
“Thank you,” Severus replied, a little shocked.
“We’ll still beat you at Quidditch,” Minerva replied with a small smile.
“Only because they won’t play,” Snape pouted. “They told me not to be greedy.”
Minerva smiled. “This is a weight off of my shoulders. I am pleased that the students will not have any problems with those Dementors.”
“Yes,” Pomona agreed. “My Hufflepuffs were very despondent before Pugsley dropped in and told everyone that Harry and Wednesday were going to teach anyone who wanted to know how to fight them. The faith my children have in those two is amazing.”
“When it comes to killing things,” Filius said lightly, “it’s accepted that they’ll know how to do it. No one likes feeling helpless and this knowledge will ensure that the Dementors have a limited effect.”
“It’s a publicity stunt,” Aurora Sinistra said with a sniff. “I don’t exactly feel safer knowing they are outside the school gates.”
“None of us do,” Remus agreed.
“I wouldn’t worry too much,” Severus said. “For those that don’t know, Black is innocent. Lucius is hardly worth worrying about, he’s a politician more than a fighter, and Bellatrix is about as sane as Albus is these days.
“Black, if he comes looking for Harry, it will be to help him. Lucius will try to kill Fudge, and that just leaves Bellatrix – and frankly, I wish she’d just attack so that Wednesday can kill her and we can get on with more important things.”
Most of the Professors nodded along with him.
Severus climbed to his feet. “I’m going to go and see if they are still awake, if they are, I’m going to move them to the Slytherin Head boy and girl rooms. If they are going to sleep for a few days, then I want them feeling safe.”
Remus got to his feet and accompanied him out. “I’ve never seen so many shell-shocked adults before.”
“And you’re not?”
“Not really,” Remus replied. “Did you notice that yet again, we didn’t see Harry do anything?”
“Except boost my magic.”
“True, but I’ll bet it’s a relatively simple spell.”
Snape nodded. “Probably.”
“Damn it, just once I want that boy to show what he can do.”
Severus laughed softly and entered the Slytherin Common Room. Harry, Wednesday, Pugsley, Hermione and Ginny were sat around one of the tables, three of them eating.
He walked over to the table. “Harry, Wednesday, Pugsley, I’m going to allow you to use the Head boy and girl’s rooms while you recuperate. They are protected so that only people you allow in can enter.”
“Thank you,” Harry replied.
Severus clapped his hands, and ordered the House elves that appeared to move Harry, Wednesday and Pugsley’s stuff.
Harry stretched and looked at Hermione, “take notes.”
Snape met Harry’s eyes for a second, and he could see just how exhausted the boy was. But it didn’t show in how he walked to the far side of the Common Room. The doors opened, and the three of them entered.
He decided not to ask how the two rooms were split between three people.
The next morning, the Daily Prophet showed that at least some of the kids had Owled home, as it was full of the fact that all the students now knew the Patronus charm.
Anonymous sources from Hogwarts recounted the whole thing in detail. It appeared that someone at the Prophet had worked out what charm had been used, and was demanding to know why such a useful charm was forbidden.
The charm did exactly what Harry had said – it brought the most positive memory to the foreground, and as that was the hardest part of the Patronus charm, it was of great benefit.
The reporter finished the piece with the opinion that the Ministry didn’t want people to know it, so that they could use Dementors as a threat – a sign of a regime completely out of control.
Fudge’s denials were on the second page, along with Kingsley’s questions. It wasn’t a good day for the Minister.
The students were all in a good mood, even Ron and Percy were keeping any negative thoughts to themselves.
Hermione and Ginny fielded a lot of questions and accepted grateful thanks. Pugsley returned a day before Harry and Wednesday, but as he explained later, it was more so that he could be the public face, so that Harry and Wednesday wouldn’t have to deal with people they didn’t want to.
Harry and Wednesday had helped because Hermione and Ginny remembered Pinhead when they felt the effects of a Dementor, and because Pugsley had asked on behalf of the rest of the school.
Their motivations for saying ‘yes’ to the rest of the school remained unclear.
The rest of that year was pleasantly unsurprising. He started his private lessons with Harry and Wednesday, and discovered that rather than him teaching them, it was three people working together on a research project.
He hadn’t had so much fun in years.
His work with Nicholas Flamel gave him several avenues to follow for an improved Wolfsbane.
Every Tuesday he spent the evening with the other students, watching Harry and Wednesday teach how to fight with weapons and spells. Harry never demonstrated himself, beyond showing how to hold a blade perfectly.
Christmas came and went, and while it was difficult for him to overcome the feeling that he shouldn’t give presents to a couple of students, he ended up giving in and passed his journals to them, so that they could learn everything he knew.
Wednesday accepted the present with a grateful thanks, and in return, he got the newest self-stirring cauldron. A present he was ecstatic about.
It was after Easter that things started to happen again, when he had let down his guard a little.
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