Snape almost dragged Slughorn into his master’s chambers. The Potions master had started to blabber as his fear was starting to overtake his senses. It was getting very annoying to Snape and he couldn’t wait to deliver this pathetic thing to his master and leave.
“Severus please,” the older man begged, “I can make you rich! Just let me go and I’ll give you anything!”
Snape speared him with a cold glare and knocked twice on the large wooden door. It opened immediately and Snape grabbed Slughorn by the collar and half-pushed, half-threw the man in the room.
“Master,” Snape said, “I have what you asked for.”
Slughorn looked and saw the black-clad figure of evil and dropped to his knees in fear. Voldemort stood from his chair and looked down at the man kneeling in absolute terror before him and smiled.
“Excellent Severus!” Voldemort exclaimed, “You have done very, very well.”
“Thank you Master,” Snape inclined his head in a bow.
“You were being followed Severus,” Voldemort said evenly watching his apprentice’s reaction.
Snape’s eyes widened in surprise, “By whom?”
“Potter and an Auror,” Voldemort said, “I was able to distract them long enough for you to get away. Were there any problems in the castle?”
“Only one,” Snape replied, “I ran into Hermione Granger.”
“Ah yes,” Voldemort said, “I remember hearing about her. And?”
“She tried to stop me and I killed her.”
“Be careful Severus,” Voldemort warned, “She may just have survived if Potter was there.”
“You have done well as usual Severus,” Voldemort waved his hand towards the door, “You may leave us now.”
Once the door had closed, he looked down at the whimpering man in front of him, “Now, my old professor. I am hoping that we might catch up about old times and,” he leaned forward and smiled, “horcruxes.”
Slughorn looked up and saw the face of evil smiling at him with glowing red eyes and screamed in pure terror.
Harry and Kathryn apparated in front of St. Mungo’s Hospital. The entrance was the front entrance for Purge and Dowse, Ltd. clothiers. The sidewalks in front of the ever under-renovation store were crowded with tourists and residents alike bustling about. Kathryn leaned in and muttered to one of the dummies, and with Harry right behind her, entered the building.
They approached the main information desk and saw an older polite-looking witch sitting reading The Daily Prophet.
“Good morning,” Kathryn said.
The older witch looked up with a smile. Her smile faded at the sight of the two slightly grubby and bloodied people in front of her.
“Emergency?” she asked.
Kathryn looked at Harry in confusion then looked at them covered with blood and grime, “Oh, not us,” she said quickly, “We’re looking for Hermione Granger’s room.”
The witch cocked an eyebrow at them in suspicion and flipped the pages of the register.
“Yes, Miss. Granger is here and she’s in room four-thirteen,” she said and pointed down the hall, “Take the ‘lift there to the forth floor and it’ll be in the west wing fifth door on the left.”
Kathryn and Harry turned and walked quickly to the lift knowing the witch was watching them from her desk. The doors opened and those inside looked at them with the same confused looks as from the witch at the front desk. The ride up was quiet, as no one wanted to engage the two in conversation. They exited the ‘lift with relief, which Kathryn remarked on.
“Thank God. That was a little uncomfortable.”
Harry grunted his agreement and they turned down the west wing corridor. They saw a crowd of people in the hallway as they approached room four-thirteen.
“Harry! There you are dear!” Mrs. Weasley nearly shouted when she saw them, “Goodness Gracious! Are you hurt dear?” she asked seeing the blood on him.
He shook his head, “No, it’s Hermione’s,” he looked at everyone there, “How is she?”
“The healers are in there now,” Mr. Weasley said, “They don’t seem to hopeful.”
“Where’s Ron?” Harry asked looking for him.
“He’s inside,” Charlie Weasley said, “He wouldn’t leave her.”
Harry nodded and he looked back at Kathryn, who nodded, and he walked towards the door and opened it.
“Harry!” Ron’s voice said. He leapt up from the bench he was sitting on and grabbed his friend into a bear hug and pulled back, “Are you ok mate?”
“Fine, how’s ‘Mione?”
Ron looked at the curtain that separated them from her and shook his head, “They’ve put up a silence barrier and I can’t get it down.”
The door opened and a nurse walked in and Harry stopped her, “Excuse me, how’s our friend?”
The nurse looked at Harry with surprise before replying, “She’s not good.”
The nurse went behind the curtain and the two friends sat down on the bench.
“Harry what happened?”
“Snape returned to the castle,” Harry said.
“Snape? He did this?” Ron asked pointed in Hermione’s general direction.
Harry nodded, “He came for Professor Slughorn.”
“The horcruxes,” Harry said, “It was Slughorn who told Voldemort about the horcruxes in the first place.”
Ron sat back, “I….”
The curtain flipped open and a tall dark wizard emerged. He looked at saw Ron and Harry sitting in the room.
“I’m Healer Loren,” he said in a deep bass voice, “And you are?”
“Ron Weasley, Hermione’s boyfriend,” Ron said standing with Harry.
The healer’s eyebrows went up in surprise and his eyes flashed to the scar on Harry’s forehead.
“Nice to meet you both,” he said, “I would assume you’d like to know how she’s doing?”
They both nodded and the doctor jerked his towards the door, “Then let’s go outside and talk.”
They walked out and the doctor paused momentarily at the number of people who turned, stood or otherwise.
“Ahem,” he cleared his throat, “I see Miss. Granger has many people here.”
“Yes,” Mrs. Weasley said and stood in front of the healer, “Her parents are being brought here as soon as we locate them. How is she?”
“Not good. The spell used against her nearly killed her,” he sighed heavily, “It still is actually. We can’t stop the bleeding. We’ve used every spell or counter-spell we know. The spell used must have been a very special spell considering the amount of damage it caused.”
“Are you saying she’s going to die?” Ron asked looking panic stricken.
“Yes,” the healer said quietly, “Unless we know what it was that was used on her.”
“It was a version of a cutting spell,” Harry said from behind them, “The spell was invented by an old student from Hogwarts. It’s called Sectumsempra.”
The healer looked at him the same as everyone else, with surprise, “How do you know this young man?”
“I learned it from the student and used it myself,” Harry said, “The counter spell I don’t know, but it can be healed.”
“I see,” the healer said, “Now that I know that I have a better idea about how to help her. Please remain out here. I will send word when things change.”
He turned quickly and entered the room again leaving the rest of them in the hall. After a few moments Kathryn cleared her throat.
“Harry can I see you a moment please?” she whispered from next to him.
Harry and Kathryn walked down the hall a little ways and into an empty room.
“Ok Harry, who was this student?” Kathryn asked.
“Snape,” he replied, “He invented several spells when he was in Hogwarts many years ago.”
“How’d you learn them? Did he teach them to you?”
Harry shook his head, “No, I was given his old Potions text book two years ago. He had invented that spell, plus several others and had written them in there.”
“Well if Snape was behind Professor Slughorn’s abduction then it’s good we know what he knows, at least in some aspect,” she said, “I have to go report this to Filmier and I’ll let you get back to Hermione, but please stay with the Weasley’s here or at your home until Kingsley and I return.”
Harry nodded, “I will.”
Kathryn quickly turned and left. Harry sat down and put his head in his hands. He began running through everything that had happened today. He must have fallen asleep because he was jolted awake by a gentle touch. He looked up and saw Mrs. Weasley smiling down at him.
“I’m sorry for waking you Harry dear,” she said, “I didn’t
mean to startle you.”
“That’s ok,” he said.
“The doctor came out a few minutes ago and says Hermione’s doing much better,” she said, “She’s awake now and asking for you.”
Harry stood quickly and practically ran into her room. He closed the door and saw his friend lying propped up and very pale. She turned her head and smiled at him through dropping eyes. He smiled back and quietly approached her bed.
Ron stood and went to leave, “I’ll be back in a minute.”
Harry looked in confusion as he left and turned back to Hermione, “Why’s he leaving?”
“I asked him to,” Hermione’s tired and weak voice replied, “Please sit.”
Harry did so on the edge of her bed, “You certainly look better ‘Mione.”
She nodded and licked her lips, “Harry, I want to thank you for coming for me.”
Harry’s anger returned, “I wasn’t quick enough to get to you.”
“No Harry,” she whispered, “Don’t think that. You did what you could.”
Harry nodded his head, knowing that Hermione was right, as always. She put her hand on his and gave it the tightest squeeze she could muster.
“Harry, Snape kidnapped Slughorn,” she whispered.
“I know,” Harry said, “Slughorn has a lot of knowledge about horcruxes, that’s why Voldemort sent Snape to get him.”
“Harry, Voldemort maybe trying to gain more horcruxes,” she paused to take in a breath, “After all you and Dumbledore have destroyed, he’s only has one left. Please be careful.”
“I will,” he said and lightly patted her hand, “Get some rest. I’ll be back.”
“Harry,” she called out weakly stopping him, “Please don’t go after Snape in revenge. Voldemort will be hoping for that.”
Harry nodded and left. He quietly closed the door and Ron came over to him.
“Tell you later,” Harry said quickly and Ron nodded, “I should get changed. I’ll see you back at home?”
Ron nodded again, “Later.”
Harry turned and was speaking with Mr. Weasley when Ginny and Bill came rushing from the ‘lift.
“What happened?” Ginny asked.
“Hermione was injured at Hogwarts,” Mrs. Weasley said, “She’ll be ok now.”
Ginny turned and her eyes went wide at Harry’s appearance, “Harry? Are you ok?”
Harry looked down at himself and then back up at her, “Fine, its Hermione’s,” he quickly finished speaking with Mr. Weasley and went to leave.
Ginny caught up with him near the ‘lift, “Harry!”
Harry stopped and turned.
“Harry what happened?” she asked.
“Snape attacked Hermione and Slughorn’s gone.”
Ginny was surprised at that, “But why did Snape attack her?”
“She was trying to stop him.”
“Did you catch him?”
“No,” Harry said, “but I will.”
“Why did he take Slughorn?”
“I don’t know,” he lied.
Harry turned to leave, but was stopped by her hand on his arm.
“I’m just glad you’re ok,” she said.
“Thanks,” he replied and then he was gone.
Two hours later a knock sounded on his bedroom door. He put down the journal from Regulus Black and opened the door. He was surprised to see Kathryn standing there.
“Oh Harry Potter,” came the voice from below. Harry looked down and saw Dobby looking up at him with a severe case of anxiety.
“Oh master,” Dobby said, “I’s is very sorry Harry Potter. Winky tolds me this lady was looking for you so Winky broughts her here.”
“That’s ok Dobby,” Harry said and looked back at Kathryn, “Why don’t we go to the study.”
Harry led Kathryn down into the study and offered her a seat. He sat down across from her.
“Hermione’s doing better,” he said.
“I know. I stopped by St. Mungo’s on my way here,” she said, “Harry, I’ve talked with Shacklebolt and both of us have a proposition for you.”
Harry sat up straighter in his seat.
“I’m due back at Hogwarts soon and I’m missing my teaching assistant,” she said, “Hermione maybe out of extreme danger now, but she’s not going to be back for quite a while,” she paused, “Plus, if I’m going to be there and I need someone who knows all about that castle. Secret passages and all.”
Harry nodded as she talked. He had a feeling where this was going.
“I suppose the bush I’m beating around is this,” she paused and leaned forward in her chair, “I’d like you to join me at Hogwarts. I need help and you seem to be interested in what goes on there. So I figure we can help each other. If that’s ok with you?”
“So I’d be your student then?”
“Yes and no,” Kathryn said, “Just consider yourself on temporary assignment.”
“What about Professor McGonagall?”
“Cleared it with her already,” Kathryn said, “She seems enthusiastic to have you there.”
Harry though about it for a few moments. This would be great for him as he could snoop around the castle without raising suspicion.
“Ok,” he said finally.
“Great!” Kathryn exclaimed, “Bring whatever you need tomorrow. We’ll talk then about the class schedule as well as other things.”
Kathryn stood and went to leave, “Oh, one more thing,” she stopped in the doorway, “With Slughorn’s kidnapping we, you and me, will need to figure out why he was taken, so we’ll search his office as well.”
Harry took a deep breath and exhaled noisily, “I all ready know why he was kidnapped.”
Kathryn looked at him incredulously, “Really? How do you know?”
Harry indicated to the seat she just vacated and said, “I think I should start at the beginning...”
Harry spent the remainder of the night telling her about the last seven years.