Chapter Seven: Brewing and Surprises
"P-professor Snape?" Neville stammered as the glaring potions master swept into the Apprentice's private common room. "H-harry isn't here..."
"I know that he's dawdling--"
"DAWDLING! You're a bloody foot taller than me and were acting like you had a dragon on your heels, as fast as you were moving!" A slightly winded and thoroughly furious Harry entered the common room. It was perhaps an exaggeration, though not by much; Harry now stood about 5'8" or 9", Snape was in the ballpark of 6'6" or 7".
"HARRY!" Neville gasped.
"Potter," Snape snarled warningly.
Harry took several harsh deep breaths, owing more to fury than exertion. "Sorry, sir," he bit out in an irate tone that was anything but sorry.
Snape's dark eyes narrowed.
"Er, uh..." Neville looked worriedly from one to the other.
"Harry! There y' are, mate! Dumbledore summoned Tonks and she was gone 'fore I could ask--" Seamus burst into the common room, grinning then broke off nearly as quickly as he began speaking, noticing Snape's presence.
"Sir, may we have permission to go to the kitchens and get something to eat ... and uh, when and where are meals in the summer?" Harry asked Snape.
Snape stared in disbelief. "McGonagall--"
"Didn't tell us diddly but the ruddy passwords," Seamus muttered.
"As much as it grates me to say this--you do not need permission to go to the kitchens. You are no longer students, but apprentices. You do not have a student's restrictions. Dinner is served in the staff room an hour later than during the school year, and there is a summoning bell for house elves, so you may order what you wish at your convenience for breakfast and lunch in the staff room. Professors can summon elves to their offices or private rooms ... as Apprentices you cannot, but you can certainly go get a bloody sandwich." Snape's rant got progressively louder, Neville was flinching by the time he bellowed. "CAN'T YOU LITTLE DUNDERHEADS THINK FOR YOURSELVES!!!"
"Don't you shout at them! It's not our faults. It was a simple, reasonable question."
"REASONABLE? YOU THINK IT REASONABLE TO ASK WHETHER OR NOT THE STAFF INTEND TO LET YOU STARVE? THAT IS REASONABLE?"
"Yes, sir, and if you grew up with my Uncle you likely would too," Harry shot back hotly.
"Mis-ter Pot-ter," Snape drawled out, each syllable said with deadly clarity.
Harry managed to clench his teeth and not say a word.
"Er ... Harry?" Neville managed to get out.
"Potion. Going to take close to a good ten hours, all said and done; even if the book says nine that's just on the actual potion, not the set up spellwork. I set up in my work room. So--see you tomorrow probably. Make sure to let Millicent and Blaise know about the kitchen."
Seamus nodded. "Not a problem."
"Aren't you dunderheads going to ask where the kitchens are?"
"Uhm ..." Neville said, wide eyed and pale.
"Er, well," Seamus, with a slightly guilty expression, looked everywhere but at Snape.
"No," Harry said simply.
Snape shook his head at the three. In a tight, please-say-something-stupid-so-I-have-reason-to-hex-you sort of tone Snape informed the other two Gryffindors that there would be seven apprentices, not six, and the events of the morning at the Ministry.
Seamus mumbled something in horrified Gaelic under his breath that Snape didn't catch.
"Who'd've thought Bellatrix LeStrange's sister would actually be capable of maternal instinct--warped yeah, but ..." Neville murmured.
"How do you know that name?" Snape demanded, thrown completely by Longbottom's musing. Where was the cheering? The gloating? Who was impersonating these little Gryffindor snots? This was most certainly not the reaction that he'd expected from the Gryffindor Apprentices. Why couldn't they behave like proper little Gryffindor brats and cheer? This day had already been too long, just too much, without witnessing the death of one of his few school friends. He hadn't been thinking when he'd assigned Potter to actually brew the potion that morning, reeling from the conversation with the boy, but then again he hadn't expected anything remotely like what Narcissa had staged either.
"She's the one who drove my parents insane with the Cruciatus," Neville said flatly.
Only sheer will power kept Snape from openly performing the spells that would reveal use of polyjuice or glamours and control of behaviour by Imperious.
Neville and Seamus hurried off in search of food from the kitchens as Harry tiredly led Snape up to his rooms. Snape said nothing but a few "hmms" and "huhmphs" as he inspected the notes Harry had put together and the preparations set up, trying to gather his own frayed nerves while making the boy as nervous as he possibly could.
"Acceptable. Questions, Potter, before we begin?"
"What are they?" Snape demanded impatiently.
"Why the heh--er, why does this have to be done nude and in front of a witness?"
"To ensure it's done correctly and that no substitution of blood was used." Snape's tone clearly conveyed that he thought Harry the greatest of imbeciles for not figuring that out immediately. "Remember, this is rooted deeply in Ancient Magic and was in existence long before Ministry bureaucrats restricted magic to the bare minimum which anyone not a squib could usually perform and spells wholesome and sanitary enough for a First year."
"With certain Dark Spells a substitution could be made. The spells that would are illegal now."
"The Heir of a Magical Dynasty was taken extremely seriously in centuries past, Potter. Many of the most powerful families had their own Spell Grimoires which were carefully guarded secrets, spells, potions, magical items which were exclusive to that family line. There were inheritances of land and money. The Lineage Markings were a sign of prestige--and would make a large difference in marriage negotiations."
"Markings--I didn't quite understand that bit."
"When applied to the skin it will create a Magical Tattoo. There should be two emblems--the sigil or crest of the father's family with a smaller mark next to it of the mothers family. Just below that will be two lines, which indicate the magical strength of the wizard or witch. Between the two lines will appear the marks of the family lines that the brewer takes after magically. In rare cases there will be a solid band instead of two thin lines, with the marks of the brewer's magical inheritance or inheritances. When the potion is spelled into a scroll or empty journal it creates a family tree."
"Where do the tattoo markings go?"
"Left upper arm, practically on the shoulder."
Harry nodded thoughtfully.
Severus groaned. "Very well, you bloody irritating Gryffindor. If you want to have the tattoos as well as create the family book I will not stop you, but I will not take responsibility with Albus."
"The potions are still made quite often?" Harry guessed, "With the Slytherin families, at least?"
Severus nodded. "But most do not apply the potion to skin. Now, are you through stalling?"
"Yes sir," Harry sighed, and reluctantly stripped down to absolutely nothing. Then he waited for Snape to cast the Glamoris Purgis, which by all accounts was a slightly painful spell in and of itself, both to cast and to receive. The book described it as sort of like a three-second sandstorm scouring over skin, worse on the receiving end if one had a glamour on. Which, of course, Harry didn't, at least to the best of his knowledge. Horrified, and blushing a brighter scarlet than the Gryffindor house colors, Harry somehow managed to keep his hands at his sides. He definitely did not want to hear any mocking Snape might come up with about modesty.
Snape cast the spell.
Harry dropped to his knees screaming in pain that outstripped the Cruciatus as the Glamoris Purgis warred with whatever spell was on him.
"Gods Above and Below, what did you do, Hellion?" Snape whispered, his patented guarded mask dropping and staring in astonished horror.
That Lily Evans was a powerful witch was never disputed, no matter how Albus and others cared to gloss over the fact to get quicker to singing the praises of their sainted precious James. Dying for her son had gained her belated approval by many more, but alive she'd been one to set many on edge. Clever, cunning, ever-curious witch--the most powerful witch seen with specialized talent in charms in centuries.
Nor had Lily been afraid of Dark Arts and Ancient Sorceries. Truly, she'd been fascinated by them, much to the dismay and disapproval of many. Of course, there was a difference between what the Ministry sweepingly declared Dark Arts and what were truly Dark. Almost all of the Ancient Sorceries that had survived were classified as Dark for the simple fact the mindless bureaucrats at the Ministry couldn't manage them, therefore the magic must be Dark rather than simply requiring a truly powerful witch or wizard of strong will and convictions. Lily had been truly repulsed by the actually Dark Spells--the Black magics--but the "misclassed" ones fascinated her.
A yelp of pain was torn from the unprepared Snape as a blinding lash of lavender-white light burnt his eyes for a second; his arm raised reflexively to shield his face. The energy recoil from the broken glamour was undoubtedly Lily's. Her magical signature was so distinctive and pure it was unmistakable. Rather like her son's.
"Potter?" Snape demanded, worried and shaken.
"Sir, are you alright?" the boy panted, lifting his head to look up at Snape.
"Me?" Snape managed, staring at the small precise runic tattoos that had appeared. Harry had a band of them across the top of his forehead, nearly in his hairline, another row across his left cheekbone, and a line ringing his throat.
"You--you're worried? About me? Did you hit your head, sir? Do you need to see Madame Pomphrey?"
Snape gaped. The boy's utter sincerity and worry was unmistakable. He suddenly laughed as the memory sprung forward of an earnest, sincere redheaded witch all of twelve worrying he should go to Pomphrey that he'd had a fever, concussion or brain damage when he had shyly and awkwardly thanked her for the healing charms she'd used on him after finding the battered bloody mess that he had been after Black and the rest of his gang had gotten done with him. "You might look like Potter, but you are truly the Hellion's son, aren't you?" Severus shook his head, chuckling darkly. He could almost hear Lily snorting at him that it had taken him long enough to figure that out.
"Do--do you need a calming potion, sir?" Harry managed to get out as the searing pin jabs of pain retreated fully from his nerve endings. Wide eyed and frightened, he was quite certain Snape had finally lost his marbles.
"To your feet, Potter, let's see what the devil your mother did," Snape snapped, impatient bordering on sarcastic, which seemed to reassure the boy that the bit of momentary insanity had passed.
Snape stared the boy over. There was an intricate Celtic knot with runic designs on the boy's chest, directly over his heart. Thin bands of runes ringed both wrists. "Hold out your hands, palm up," he barked.
Harry blinked and did so. On each inner wrist the band of tiny runes was broken by a circle, within which was a branch, specifically a rowan branch (the Gentry sigil) with a lily blossom on it and a serpent twined about it.
"Your mother's spellwork. I'm quite certain that not even your father knew." Snape said sharply.
"No, mainly because the Ministry couldn't find a way to make such powerful protection spells Illegal, but they are classified as Dark."
"Dark? How is a protection spell Dark?"
"Because it takes more magic than Fudge and his band of boot-licking morons have combined. It's Ancient Magic that takes an unusually powerful caster--beyond your normal wizard, it takes a Sorcerer, or in this case a Sorceress. It also is insulting and dangerous to muggleborns to allow Sorcery." The last words were sneered.
"Your mother was not a muggleborn, she might have cropped up out of a forgotten line of squibs gone muggle but she was not muggleborn. Sorcerer's are rare, usually the result of the blending of powerful magical blood, or the revitalizing of an old blood line in someway. The spell that left those markings is sorcery. Ms. Granger could never master any sorcery spells, she is muggleborn and would like as not kill herself or render herself a squib in the attempt. No matter how powerful a muggleborn might be, there's never been a record of muggleborn Sorcerers. A sorcerer is always the product of two magical lines mixing, not popping spontaneously out of a single line or from an entirely non-magical line. Sorcery spells are immensely dangerous to those who are not a sorcerer or sorceress. However, if Granger and Weasley breed, Merlin forbid, she could very well have a sorcerer or sorceress for a child--she's certainly powerful enough and Weasley's blood old enough magically. There are some things in which blood makes a difference. Not better or worse--no different that someone inheriting athletic ability or intelligence, just something that is. I have no doubt Ms. Granger will be the start of a very powerful magical line--but she is the START--and limited by certain aspects of that. That is truly one of the few things that limits Ms Granger magically, she's more powerful than most, including those that spout purity of blood and have nearly inbred themselves out of existence. Is that in clear enough terms to sink into your thick skull, Potter?"
It actually made sense. Snape not giving a half-explanation or misleading explanation was a bit disturbing, but it did make sense.
"Get started, boy!" Snape bellowed.
Harry began setting the wardings on the room. Snape caught sight of his hand and frowned; when the first set of wardings were done, he interrupted. "Let me see your hand, NOW."
//I must not tell lies// was carved into the boy's hand.
"Where did that come from?" Snape snarled, rage at his own distraction carrying ferociously to the tone of his voice. He had been so rattled and distracted by the runic markings that he had missed the scars completely. Dangerous, stupid; the least inattention could get him killed.
"Detention last year with Umbridge. She made me write lines, every time I wrote it out it was carved into my hand. It's been there in plain sight since," Harry bit out, glaring.
"No I assure you it hasn't. She must have used a knowledge-based glamourie--you could see it, so could she since she knew it was there, but if one didn't know one wouldn't see it--this will be discussed further tomorrow. Continue."
Harry was never sure how he managed to get the potion brewed, exhausted from lack of sleep and the pain of the Glamoris Purgis. Not to mention the strain of casting the wards on the room and spells on the potion. The potion itself had been tiring, with its precise instructions of timing and stirs. It also took a fair amount of blood, making him lightheaded. Also, casting healing spells on oneself was extremely energy draining, but the alternative was passing out from blood loss and botching the potion.
It was a weaving-on-his-feet boy that cast the final spell on the potion.
"Done," He whispered.
"If you're going to apply it to your arm do so immediately before bottling up the rest." Snape's sharp voice cut through the exhausted haze of Harry's mind.
Harry had somehow managed to forget that the glaring old bat was standing in the corner watching. Forgot he was stark naked, everything but concentrating on the blasted potion. Damn right he was going to have the lineage tattoo. He managed this--and what the hell, his mother had made sure he already had a collection of tattoos as an infant. Another wasn't going to hurt. Mostly, though, he wanted it because HE had made this monster of a potion--and he was going to have indisputable proof of it.
He hissed at the burning pain of the scalding-hot potion. It didn't actually burn his skin--not blisters or what one would expect of a severe scald, though it certainly felt like it.
A stag's head appeared first and just under the stag's chin, a rowan branch with a serpent wrapped around it. Below that was a near-glowing bright pearl-white colored band perhaps half an inch wide wrapped about his upper arm. Within the band appeared a miniscule but perfect stag's head, a gold lion, a gold griffin, a green serpent, a rowan branch, a crossed quill and wand, a streak of blue lightning, a ram, and an oak tree.
The last of his physical and magical energy spent, Harry promptly passed out.
Severus barely managed to get to the boy in time to prevent him from cracking his head on the stone floor, though that entailed grabbing the boy's arm and nearly pulling it from the socket. A sore shoulder was easier dealt with than a cracked skull, though.
He carried the boy through the main room and into his bedchamber, tucking him under the covers with a gentleness no one would have believed Severus Snape capable of--except for four girls once, two now dead, one mad, and one a recluse who hadn't been seen in nearly 20 years. "Acceptable, Potter. Acceptable," he murmured, brushing the wild black hair back to get a better glimpse of the runes. "Still full of surprises, even from beyond the grave, aren't you, Hellion?" Severus murmured, then hurried back to the lab to bottle the rest of the potion before it spoiled. Potter had worked too hard for him to allow that. He had no patience for laziness or ineptitude but Potter had, for once put every bit of his magic and intelligence into a potion and the results shouldn't be wasted.
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