Madness and Mayhem - Part I
Chapter 30 - EM-E - Madness and Mayhem - Part I
Neville was called to give his statement, along with Severus and Lucius, just as Harry was beginning to have a strange sensation in his awareness. It started as a wooziness and a hum of agitation but then nausea kicked in. He wouldn't necessarily have realized Wormtail was causing it, if his scar hadn't tingled within the first few minutes of its onset.
There you are, Harry, Wormtail's voice came into Harry's thoughts. And then the rat wizard laughed his creepy vermin laugh, the one that was enhanced by his buck teeth and nose breathing.
It was an all new form of violation, and it made Harry's skin crawl and induced a desperate need to escape. He jumped to his feet without even really thinking about what he was doing and stormed off towards the passage that led to the front of the school.
"Harry?" Remus called after him.
"I need space!" Harry yelled angrily over his shoulder.
Remus flashed a look over to where Severus sat with Kingsley and saw the dark haired wizard's suspicious frown. "I'm going to go check on him," he said softly to Tonks.
Harry stomped along, struggling not to think the thoughts he wanted to think, because bloody Wormtail would hear them. He couldn't let himself register the fatigue he was feeling after suffering the spinning spell for nearly two hours, and being in a state of intense fear all that time and afterward.
He couldn't let himself think about the fact that not having his galleon made him feel terribly disconnected from the other coin holders.
He couldn't let himself analyze the fact that his scar hadn't hurt as much, once he'd gone into the spin, and then not really at all, when he'd faced Bellatrix. He couldn't wonder, now why's that?
He couldn't let himself realize that he was at the end of his tether, that he had no more desire to do things honorably, only that he wanted this to be done. Whatever it took. And right on the edge of that realization would be his belief that Wormtail needed to die to end it.
But Harry couldn't think these things, because Wormtail would hear them.
It's quite a treat to be able to speak to a snake, Wormtail announced. It's a strange language, isn't it, Harry? Nagini responds to me as if I'm the Dark Lord. And the power she has! I'm almost afraid to link with her! But if I speak to her and coax her over to me, all I need to do is let her slither over my foot and our power combines. I feel it now, Harry. She's slithering in a figure eight. You should see this. I think you should join us. I've been learning more and more about this power we have. Do you have it too? We should talk, Harry. I can bring you to me when Nagini and I touch…
Bugger off! Harry railed inside his head, clenching his hands into fists and coming to a standstill while he glared at the floor and visualized his coin laying there. It appeared! Thank Merlin!
"Harry?" Remus asked quietly, approaching from behind, but seeming to know to be careful because he circled around to face Harry.
Harry stooped down and grabbed his coin, temporarily feeling a tad better. But when he looked up at Remus, his frustration returned at the disapproving expression on his older friend's face. "It was a liability to not get it back!" he said loudly, defensively.
I think I'll resurrect my Lord in another formal ceremony, just like before. He'd like that, wouldn't he, Harry? And I'll have you there again, all trussed up, and I'll add your blood to the cauldron again. Only this time I'll use a different servant's contribution. Severus would gladly give a hand, in exchange for your life.
I said, BUGGER OFF!
"-should not engage him further, Harry," Remus said sternly to cover a fleeting panicky realization of what Harry was going to be struggling with until they caught Wormtail. "We have to be sensible about future interactions with him."
"We?" Harry rasped. "It's me who has to have him in my head! This is worse than Voldemort! That slimy, nasty rodent is just chatting away to me now!"
"Calm down, Harry," Severus said in a low but commanding tone. His soon-to-be-son spun to face him, and the ragged rage on the boy's face spoke volumes about his exhaustion and stress. "Ignore him-" Severus started to direct.
But Harry cut him off. "Impossible!" he snapped angrily. And once again, I'm in this alone! Dammit! Now he'd done it. Wormtail had heard that.
Yes, Harry, hmmm hmmm hmmm, you are alone. Yes, you should come be with me. Imagine our combined pow- ahhhhh!
Wormtail's hand appeared on the floor in front of Harry. Harry kicked it with all of his might and it went flying through the air and out of sight down a corridor.
"Harry!" Two angry adult voices were yelling at him.
Harry felt a movement where his wand should be. He scrambled to find it in his sleeve. It was gone! "My wand!" He yelled, scrunching his eyes closed and beginning to visualize the diadem.
Two strong hands grabbed each of Harry's upper arms and he was pulled forward against Severus' chest, and then to his surprise, he next received two sharp smacks on his behind. "Stop. Now." Severus said severely into his ear. His arms were like an iron vice, clamping Harry against him in a rock-hard embrace.
Harry stood still, struggling with his rage, debating blatant defiance to both Severus and Remus. He wasn't convinced they knew best just now. "I don't have that luxury," he seethed, glaring at the school's massive front doors from where his head was being pressed into Severus' shoulder.
"Calm yourself," Severus said firmly. "No one is arguing that your plight is not challenging. Tell us what he's saying to you." He began to rub Harry's back, hoping to help the boy come out of his angry state. He hadn't seen this side of Harry in a long while. Not since one of their more volatile Occlumency lessons, when he now knew Harry had felt completely trapped. When Harry remained silent and not particularly receptive to the physical comfort he was being given, Severus tried again, "Remember you're not in this alone, son. The rest of us may not be experiencing what you go through, but it's quite difficult for each of us to watch you suffer. Lupin and I, and Lucius as well, have acute knowledge of just how vile and evil Peter Pettigrew is capable of being-"
"So do I! Why doesn't anyone ever remember that I've been in the thick of it with him! More than once!" Harry couldn't reign in his temper. He tried to pull away, but Severus was too strong. "Let go of me!"
"Let the others know we'll be in our quarters," Severus barked at Remus, not waiting for a response as he turned Harry, keeping a firm grip on his upper arm, and directed him down the corridor that led to the dungeons.
Harry had a fleeting fearful thought that he was going to get a real spanking now, and damned if Wormtail didn't hear that too. The creepy former "lump of a boy" Marauder giggled nastily in Harry's head.
Severus was following his instincts by taking Harry back to his quarters and isolating him. He glanced down to assess him as they walked and found his charge to be gulping in air, as if trying to quell an upset stomach, but the rage was still etched into Harry's profile, and he was clearly not alone in his mind.
I have to be the wiser between us, Severus reminded himself. But just what exactly would that entail?
"Accio…. hand," Remus said with disgust, summoning Peter's pewter hand. "What in the hell am I supposed to do with this?" he asked Lucius, who had just made his careful approach.
Lucius scowled his own distaste, directing Remus to toss it into the air and quickly blasting it to bits with the strongest bombarda he could cast. The powder that drizzled over the floor of the entrance hall, all around them, was reminiscent of the dust Harry had reduced Voldemort to just a few short weeks ago. The two wizards banished the remains to parts unknown.
"Where are they?" Lucius asked with a worried frown.
"Severus needed to get Harry under control," Remus replied. "We've got to find Peter," he added adamantly. "Harry is in terrible peril until we do."
Severus pointed to Harry's pillow where it now lay near the arm of the sofa. "Stretch out and try to relax," he directed the boy, who was standing with posture so tense he appeared to be vibrating. "Do as I say, Harry."
Harry was having trouble shifting gears. He had been expecting to be punished and yelled at once they'd reached their quarters, so this was yet again a side of Severus he had not experienced previously. Add to that, Wormtail had grown silent while they'd walked, so perhaps just ignoring him had been a good idea, after all. "I didn't mean to be disrespectful," Harry said in an agitated tone.
"I know. Lay down."
When Harry had stretched out on his side, Severus sat close to him on the edge of the sofa cushion. "What's happening in your head right now?" he asked carefully.
"He's quiet," Harry whispered.
"Good. Take the time to be calm."
"You don't know what it's like," Harry said, still whispering, but the frustration was still on the surface and adding an edge to his words. "If I think any kind of thought, he hears it. He makes fun of it. He's taunting me."
"I see," Severus said. He reached out to where Harry's shirt had ridden up and rubbed a warm hand on the chilled skin of his back for a moment, before tugging the shirt down and resuming the gesture over the shirt. That seemed to have an impact, because Harry's eyes filled. "It's alright, son. We'll end this soon. You have my word."
Remus and Lucius returned to the group in the Great Hall in time to see that Molly, Arthur, and Madam Longbottom had arrived and were currently fussing over Ron, Hermione and Neville. Narcissa Malfoy had also made an appearance and had sequestered Draco over to a quiet corner to see for herself that he was healthy and whole. Remus informed Kingsley that Severus had needed to tend to Harry and went ahead and gave his interview, able to set aside his deep worry for Harry for the moment because he was confident that Severus would look after him, and would ask for help if he needed it. Remus joined Albus, Minerva and Lucius when he'd finished.
"I strongly advise that we close the school," he told Albus. "The sooner the students are safely out of here, the better."
Dumbledore nodded. "I am in agreement."
"I need you to know that I love you, with all of my heart, Harry," Severus said quietly, when he could sense that Harry was feeling less agitated.
"I love you too," Harry returned without hesitation, but he was still struggling to not think thoughts that Wormtail could ridicule.
"Do you have any concerns about how I handled you earlier?"
"No, sir," Harry said. "I'm glad you intervened. You probably saved my life. Again."
Harry had refused dinner, only wanting the addition of a sleeping potion to the dreamless sleep draught he took regularly, and was now soundly sleeping in his room. Severus had checked on him twice already in the past hour, leaving the door open after the second time, and warding the room to alert him to any sort of change in Harry's physical or mental state.
A knock on his door announced the arrival of Lucius, Albus, and Lupin. Severus waved his wand and gestured them in, summoning a chair from the kitchen for extra seating. He was testy, waiting to see if any of his friends would criticize him for swatting Harry earlier.
Remus transfigured the kitchen chair into a more comfortable armchair and took a seat in it opposite Severus' leather one. "What did you find out?" he asked.
Severus blinked. Well then. "Wormtail has discovered their link, and is exploring his capabilities, all the while providing a taunting narrative for Harry. He did let Harry know that his power to bodily summon Harry was contingent upon linking magic with Nagini. Albus, why is it that you feel we must leave her destruction until after we get to the diadem?"
"I've reconsidered that, Severus," Albus replied. "I'd been under the impression that Nagini's unique understanding of Voldemort's will would be vital in revealing the full power of the horcruxes. But we have that understanding now, and I can't see a reason to refrain from destroying her if given the opportunity before we catch Peter."
"That is good to hear."
Lucius summoned a bottle of Ogden's Finest and a tray of crystal tumblers from his manor.
"If my glassware is lacking, Lucius, by all means, supply your own," Severus drawled as a small degree of relief settled in.
The wizards were nursing their drinks, the unspoken reality that they could not let down their guard keeping them each from becoming inebriated.
"Harry?" Severus drew their attention to the tousle-haired teen, who was standing in his doorway, his frustration having returned full force.
"He's pulling me," Harry announced. "I'm so done with this."
And he was gone.
See? it was a good thing I… got the coin back, wasn't it?…. I'm back in the bloody… Great Hall, by the way…
"Stop talking to them, Harry," Wormtail ordered, standing in what he probably thought was a regal pose in the center of the large hall, a few feet away from where he was currently forcing Harry to suffer the Voldemort Special, in the clearing created by the retracted tables. "Where's my hand, you little bastard?"
"Dunno," Harry said, struggling not to grunt under the heavy weight he was feeling. Does anyone know what's… happened to Wormy's hand? he messaged silently as he watched Nagini slither around Wormtail.
"I said stop talking to them! Ahhhh!" The last was a response to the way Harry was trying to summon the diadem, in an effort to disengage it from where Wormtail was currently wearing it on his upper arm, like an armband.
"OPEN! OPEN! OPEN-" Harry chanted forcefully.
"OPEN! OPEN! OPEN!" Harry continued to speak in parseltongue.
But then Wormtail began chanting, "CLOSE! CLOSE! CLOSE! AHHHHHHH!"
When the forceful tugging Harry was directing at the round wizard's arm became excruciating, Pettigrew changed tactics and began to attempt to summon Harry again, causing that horrible pulling sensation to disrupt Harry's concentration. "OPEN! ...OPEN! ...OPEN!" he battled to chant through the awfulness and the heaviness.
PULL. PULL. PULL.
The stress on Harry's awareness became intolerable, and it was a struggle to remain conscious. He narrowly registered soft cracks of apparation somewhere close by.
The four older wizards arrived on the scene simultaneously, acting under the temporary re-warding that Albus had done to allow them to travel within the school by apparation, and began a furious assault on Wormtail a fraction of a second later. In the midst of the onset of mayhem, Nagini sensed Albus' presence and disappeared from sight, clearly not interested in being detained in a ball of water again. Wormtail had no protective field around him, but he was shielding himself with Harry's wand with alarming precision. And he was very clearly torturing Harry.
"Let him go!" Severus raged, frantically slashing his wand in a useless sectum sempra, while Lucius blasted at Wormtail's arm and Remus casted a sweeping hex at the rat wizard's feet, all to no avail.
Albus sent a pulse of magic at Wormtail that nearly got past his shield, knocking him slightly off balance, but not enough to interfere with the magic he was directing at Harry. It quickly became clear, however, that the addition of Albus' magic to the scene was a threat to Pettigrew, and they sought to capitalize on it before he could escape.
Harry realized help had arrived. He had to act, and did the only thing that came to mind, squeezing his eyes shut and concentrating with all of his might. Two simultaneous POPs sounded then, accompanied by a tearing and burning sensation on his forehead. The appearance of an oddly shaped, skin-covered piece of flesh on the floor in front of him was all that Harry remembered of the next couple of minutes as he slipped into oblivion.
Peter had no idea what he'd just induced to happen to Harry Potter, but that little bastard had managed to cause the diadem to POP off of his handless arm. He caught it with his good hand and portholed to safety. I'll get you soon, Harry, he promised inwardly, but he received no response.
"What the hell just happened?" Remus barked in furious agitation.
Severus was on the floor beside his boy, casting a silent renervate to bring Harry back to awareness, as he assessed the bleeding patch of torn flesh in the area of Harry's scar. He looked up at Lucius in alarm, realizing that he was feeling an externally induced irritation that was reflected in his best friend's eyes.
Harry felt a warm hand on the top of his head that carefully avoided his injured forehead. He heard Severus' use the lethal tone of the old days when he directed, "Have a look for that infernal divot."
Harry struggled to come out of his fugue. "I get to do it!" he rasped, eyes still closed. He held up his hand and attempted to summon a basilisk fang, but the familiar presence of his wild magic wasn't there. "It's gone!" It had been Voldemort's magic all along! He rolled to his side, curled into the fetal position and burst into tears.
"Gentlemen," Albus addressed them a few minutes later, when Harry had pulled himself together enough to explain that he could not summon a basilisk fang to destroy his horcrux, "we can certainly make a trip down to the Chamber of Secrets to deal with this." He eyed the small version of the now standard horcrux-containing wash of swirling water that hovered just outside of their circle. Harry's divot resided within.
"I'll go get a fang with Dobby," Harry said, sounding like the sullen and surly teen he truly was at this moment.
Severus bit his tongue to suppress a curt reprimand while Harry gave him a challenging look. "I will not argue, but I will accompany you."
A couple of soft pops later and Harry was now poised with a fang over the flopping blob of what looked like raw chicken at this point. Blech. His stomach was turning. He was going to be sick. But first, he raised his hand and stabbed furiously down on the "skin envelope" that contained his piece of Voldemort's soul.
Severus quickly banished the sick that had come up when reality hit Harry and pulled the boy against him to hold him while the enormity of what had occurred hit them both. He shielded against the half-hearted swirl of black sandy smoke that attempted somewhat feebly to posses each of them. And then it faded away.