Wild Magic - Part II
Chapter 14 - Emancipated Minor - Wild Magic - Part II
Remus circled around and into Severus' line of sight so that he could catch Severus' eye, tilting his head and giving Severus a wide-eyed, raised eyebrowed look that asked, what the…?
Severus rolled his eyes, but broke the eye contact to hide his emotions from the werewolf by ducking his head and pressing his cheek to Harry's hair. Severus was experiencing what he would later realize was a rite of passage - as in the exact moment that he'd pledged his heart and soul to keeping Harry safe and happy. The fact that Harry was clinging to him, and not Albus or Lupin, both of whom had had far greater opportunity to earn this bond with the boy, heightened Severus' sense of responsibility to levels he'd not yet experienced in any context. Let alone that it was Lily's son - that it was James Potter's son who was holding onto him, Severus Snape, for comfort and security. Perhaps this was an opportunity to atone for his most horrific error in judgement nearly fifteen years ago, when he'd revealed to the Dark Lord that there was a child who was prophecised to be his nemesis. Suddenly overwhelmed, Severus conjured a magic replenishing potion and handed it to Harry to distract his thoughts from going down that road.
Dumbledore had transfigured a squashy armchair and placed it beside the one Harry usually favored, which was where Lucius was now seated. Harry was vaguely aware that the room seemed to be larger than he remembered, for there was now space for those two chairs and the one that Remus had just transfigured from the straight-backed chair that Lucius had been seated in when he'd healed Harry's eyesight. Part of Harry wanted to comment on this, but he didn't want to distract from the opportunity to get real answers for the things he'd been pondering for years now.
"Albus, at this stage, what should we assume about the state of affairs with the Ministry of Magic?" Remus was asking.
"I'm afraid we will still be at odds with the Ministry," Dumbledore replied. "I had just decided to appear on a summons to meet with the Minister of Magic, and was quite surprised to be greeted by Pius Thickeness at about the same time as Harry was being attacked by Voldemort. At that point, they were aware that Cornelius had perished and Pius had already elevated his role to Minister from Deputy Minister."
"And Pius was the Dark Lord's first choice to play that role," Lucius added grimly.
Severus' knees were protesting painfully at his extended kneeling while holding Harry. He stood creakily, scooping the limp teen up briefly to turn him to the side so that he could seat himself on the sofa and keep his arm around the boy. Harry's energy was reviving, but he still leaned weakly into Severus, albeit alert enough to be avidly listening to the discussion. "What concerns do you have that Pius has realized your true loyalties?" Severus asked his fellow Slytherin.
Lucius sneered smugly. "Pius Thickness is aptly named, emphasis on the thickness. I've little fear that the Dark Lord had already informed him of what he'd realized about you and I," he said, nodding his head at Severus to indicate him to the others in the conversation. "But neither do I think he had any idea he'd fail with whatever he was attempting with Harry today."
Harry frowned at that. His eyes wandered over to Remus and caught the incredulity on the normally wan man's face as their eyes met. Oh yeah, as far as Remus knows, Snape and I still hate each other. A small part of Harry was glad it was Remus sitting there, taking this in, and not Sirius. Unfortunately, his godfather would have purposefully ignited the historical discord between Snape and all things Potter-related, which seemed to be gone now. Harry smiled at his father's best friend, and received an ironic smirk in response.
"What exactly do you think he was attempting, Harry?" Remus asked.
Revulsion rushed through Harry and he had to fight the urge to squirm. "I think he thought he could recruit me to be his special helper, or something. He was taking an awfully long time getting to the point, but right before I froze him, he was trying to get me to talk about the 'good times' we'd shared when I'd seen him attacking Mr. Weasley." Harry would have had to have moved out of the comfortable sanctuary of Snape's protective one-armed embrace to see the older wizard's response to his comments, but the looks on Remus' and Malfoy's faces told him they too were revolted by Harry's answer.
But Malfoy was nodding his head in spite of the distasteful proposal. "That would be an expected progression in his thought process, Harry. I do believe the Dark Lord would have preferred to have you as a malleable tool in his arsenal, rather than an enemy. He must have been assessing the potential for this with you today."
"How were you transported, Harry?" Remus asked.
Harry had a slight rush of fear that he'd be in trouble with Snape for what he was about to reveal, but after a split second, went ahead and answered. "I think I disapparated," he admitted. He began to grow tense as he flashed a look up to Snape's profile. "I feel like I might have done it myself. Or maybe it was Tom who pulled me to him. I don't know." He could feel his potions professor's eyes on him, and he began to shake. Again.
Dumbledore was doing his typical over-his-spectacles survey of Harry, while he worked through his own thoughts. "Were you aware of your own magic when you left this room, Harry?"
Harry considered this, but really couldn't know for sure. "I don't know," he said shakily. "I'd thought I had been coming up with these clever ideas all on my own to harness my wild magic, but I think it was Voldemort planting the suggestions all along. I think he used that same kind of magic to pull me to him, but at the same time, it felt like I was choosing to go to him." Saying this out loud actually unsettled Harry profoundly. Hearing his own recital of what had happened was as confusing as the the experience had been terrifying. "Did you see that magical barrier he had up? It was like a shield, I guess." The elderly wizard nodded. Harry kept his eyes on Dumbledore, vaguely aware of Snape's hand gently patting his arm, but the intensity of the recent memory he was reliving was making him quake violently. "I was really, really weak while it was up, both in the forest and here, when he was in my head. I couldn't move… the same exact way as after I'd practiced my wild magic really hard." Now his teeth were chattering. "Maybe he wasn't realizing I was learning it too, while he was. Maybe that's why I got the upper hand today in the Forest."
"Your wild magic?" Lucius asked Harry.
"Yeah, like what we all have when we're little," Harry explained. "I just started sensing mine again this past week, and I've been playing with it."
"Per chance, while you were summoning pillows?" Lucius asked with a smirk tugging at his mouth.
Harry smiled reluctantly. "I'm really lucky I was successful with the things I tried out there," he said. He clenched his teeth against the infernal tremble in his jaw, and it seemed to reverberate through his body instead. "I don't even know what to call what I was doing."
Severus could feel the boy's nervous shaking and squeezed him again. "Perhaps after you've had some time to process your experience, you'll gain some insight. You don't have to have answers just now."
"He had possessed you briefly, hadn't he, Harry?" Remus asked. "But you pushed him away. We could all see that happening. What did you think of when you repelled him?"
Harry could feel his face heating up. "Er, uh, well I just thought about people I care about," Harry said. "He gets really put off by that sort of thing." Desperate to deflect the topic from having to put into words the thoughts he'd had when he'd repelled Voldemort that last time, Harry went on to ask something he'd wanted to know for ages now, "Were either of you aware of the way Tom was existing before he was resurrected?" Harry asked Snape and Malfoy. "Of that sort of undeveloped, humanoid thing he was when Barty Crouch Jr. and Wormtail were looking after him?"
Lucius' mouth turned up in amusement at Harry's description. "Humanoid, hmmm?" He winked at Harry. "I'd heard from Bellatrix that she'd seen him in that state. According to her, he was small and childlike in physical body, but growing steadily."
"I had been harboring the understanding that he was dwelling with his snake all those years, venturing out to find sustenance in things that would slowly restore his body," Severus added. "When Crouch Jr. escaped Azkaban, I wasn't entirely certain what he was actually planning. There had been no organized communication among the Dark Lord's circle."
"Do you think he's returned to that spirit-like state now? The one that needed to leach onto a host to get around in the physical world?" Harry asked.
"That would be my first guess, Harry," Dumbledore said. He had a serenely content expression on his face as he took in the sight of Severus and Harry so clearly beyond their previously adversarial relationship. "Time will tell, but I think it's a safe assumption that you have destroyed the vessel body that he'd created from the combined elements of his father's bone, your blood and Peter's flesh. We would be foolish to believe that he would not be able to find another way to gain human form, but I can say that I believe we have some time before he could possibly achieve this, yet again. And with that, you should get some relief from the ongoing hardships you have suffered."
"But we need to watch out for signs that he's latched onto someone again," Harry said in agitation. He turned to Remus. "In first year, Professor Quirrell walked around with a turban on, and Vol-" he darted a look up at Snape and then across to Malfoy Sr. "If I say it now, do you feel that same, you know, feeling?" Snape's arm squeezed him from where it lay across his shoulders, as Malfoy smiled wickedly, and shook his head. "Brilliant," Harry said with relief. "It was really hard to stop saying his name. Anyway, the whole back side of Quirrell's head had Voldemort's face on it. It was utterly vile, but that was all that there was of him. Still he seemed to be able to mentally influence Quirrell, but not really control his body. And Quirrell wasn't all that powerful, that I could see anyway." Now he looked over at Dumbledore. "Professor, he's in my head too," he said. "What if he's able to clamp onto me that way?"
"Well, your sudden flair for turban fashion might be a blatant give away," Malfoy deadpanned.
Harry laughed in spite of himself. "And where did his snake go?" he suddenly remembered to ask.
"She took off, like any sensible serpent would do," Snape said in a matter of fact tone.
"So she's in the Forbidden Forest?" Harry asked. "Do you think she'd stay there, or return to that place he'd been holed up in? Does anyone know where she was all that time that Voldemort was without his body?"
"No," Severus said. "And before you decide to go and hunt her down, let me reiterate your restrictions and the promised consequences of breeching them."
"Can we not have a conversation without you bringing that up?" Harry complained.
Harry ventured down to Remus' quarters after a six hour nap to find that the returning DADA professor had fully restored his office and quarters with the furnishings he'd used in Harry's third year.
"Harry, come in," Remus greeted, opening the door wide and holding it for Harry to come through. "Are you feeling stronger now?"
"Yeah," Harry said, smiling wanly as Remus led him over to his comfortable sitting area. "Looks like you never left. I'm really, really glad you're back, Remus."
Remus bowed his head with a smile. "Have you given any thought to your next lessons with your DA?" he asked.
"Not really," Harry said honestly. "But before the holidays began, I was planning to research some other shielding spells. Protego only goes so far. We have to have options."
Remus nodded. "You aren't thinking of teaching them the tactics you employed today?" he asked carefully.
Harry blinked. "Um, no," he said softly. "I wasn't planning on teaching them how to destroy someone. Only to defend themselves."
Remus leaned forward and put his elbows on his knees. He tilted his head and looked at Harry with open regard. "You are a very good soul, Harry Potter," he said with genuine pride. "I don't know if you would benefit from hearing this yet again, but your parents would be unbelievably proud of who you are, Harry."
Harry gave Remus a pained look. "Do you think so? Even though I've gotten close to Snape?"
Remus chuckled. "Your mother and Severus were very close as children, so I've no doubt she'd be pleased for you." he nodded at Harry's gaping reaction. "She told us all, early into her courtship with your dad, that she'd yet to find anyone who could hug as nicely as Severus. I've always been reserved in that regard. Sirius was fit to be tied. Your father took it as a challenge… I never did find out if he'd measured up, but considering she married him, I'd say he figured it out."
"Why didn't anyone ever tell me they were friends?" Harry asked in shock. He was struggling yet again with his emotions, this time frustration. "Why is everything about my parents such a secret?"
"It's not so much that it's a secret, Harry, just that it's painful," Remus said. "I cannot speak for Severus, but I can tell you that it has been difficult for me personally to revisit those days. Those were my glory days, Harry, and it's hard to accept, even all of these years later, that they're so far behind me. I believe that was true for Sirius, as well."
"Don't you think you'll have good times like that again?" Harry asked softly.
"I'm afraid to hope, to be honest, but I will say that seeing the dramatic change between you and Severus is heartening." Remus winked at Harry and checked his watch. "Are you hungry? Shall we have some dinner?"
"Yeah," Harry said. "But I need to check in with Snape."
"Perhaps now would be a good time to learn to message with your patronus?" Remus suggested.