Chapter Twenty-Five: Viper
"Sseveruss," Voldemort hissed.
"My lord," Severus bowed awkwardly.
"I was informed you were injured by a student?"
"No, lord. Thankfully that little idiot Longbottom blew up a cauldron just before your last summons. I put him under a sleeping charm and left him in the mess. I was hexed by Kingsley Shacklebolt."
"Clever..." Voldemort drawled out. "What newss have you from Hogwarts?"
"Very little." Severus managed. "Dumbledore is busy with his little games with Fudge. The full staff are due to return day after tomorrow."
"Still grieving his precious mutt of a godfather and being a brat" Severus managed to sneer.
Severus' blood ran cold. How much did Voldemort get out of Potter's head through the link that they had?
"Who hasss been teaching the boy Occlumency?"
"I don't know. I was not aware that he had been studying it," Severus managed to say apologetically. Did that mean that Voldemort knew of his lessons with the boy the previous school term? Or had Potter managed to find a way to block the Dark Lord out of his head?
"We still have not found that traitor Karkaroff. Have you any information from Dumbledore as to where he is?"
"No, my lord," Severus willed himself to be still. Merlin. Igor? Had he been captured? Did Dumbledore have him hidden somewhere?
"Mmmmm," the Dark Lord said with a deceptive calm, reaching a gnarled hand to stroke Nagini.
Severus supressed a shiver.
"I am displeased with you, Severus. Nott, Avery, Goyle, you may play with Severus, but don't break him. I've need of his potions making. You need reminding of your place, Severus."
"Yes, my lord," Severus barely managed.
"You will have better information for me the next time I summon you, Severus."
"Yes, Lord," Severus agreed readily. He could feel Goyle looming behind him, and Avery and Nott both leering.
"Aunt Aisling? What are you doing here?" Blaise asked, worried. His Aunt rarely left her home. Most of the family did not know where that was; in fact as far as Blaise knew, great Uncle Brandon and perhaps Grandmother were the only two who knew where Aunt Aisling lived.
"I came to visit Severus, and yourself..."
Harry raised his wand. "Roll up your sleeves."
"Zabini," Harry glared.
Aisling raised an eyebrow but did as she was asked. "I don't bear the Mark."
"Well, that's a start. Petrificus Totalis," Harry said, still unconvinced.
"What did you do that for! Finite--" Blaise began.
"Don't you dare, Zabini! Ever hear of Polyjuice Potion?" Harry cut the Slytherin boy off.
"Leave her, he's right." Draco agreed, though it sounded as if it nearly killed him to get the words out. "How did you hear of Polyjuice Potion, Potter? It's not in our books."
Harry rolled his eyes and asked sarcastically, "You've met Hermione, haven't you, Malfoy? And Barty Crouch Junior used it to impersonate Moody our entire fourth year. We had a Death Eater, escaped from Azkaban, teach us for an entire year ... excuse me if I'm a little paranoid."
"You've been taking lessons from Severus," Malfoy snorted.
"Seamus, can you take her in and keep watch?" Harry asked. "If she's still her in two hours, then we'll apologize nicely."
"Polyjuice only lasts an hour," Blaise argued.
"Yes, well, hopefully we'll be busy in an hour," Harry said tightly, with a glare at the dark haired Slytherin. The longer Snape was gone, the worse things likely would be.
"And if she's not her?" Seamus wanted to know.
"Floo Arthur Weasley. He'll bring a couple Aurors we can trust and take whoever it is to the ministry for illegal use of Polyjuice at the very least."
"Why not Dumbledore?" Draco frowned.
"If you were going to watch someone, who would you watch--Arthur Weasley or Albus Dumbledore?" Harry asked.
Blaise nodded reluctantly, seeing the logic. "You are going to apologize big if that is Aunt Aisling," he added with a glare at Harry.
"Of course," Harry agreed.
"Well, crap." Seamus muttered. The two hours were up. Aisling Morrigan hadn't been using Polyjuice and was looking at him, severely annoyed, from her magical bindings. "Baron," Seamus called out to the ghost. "Can y' go ask Harry what to do with her?"
Shaking his head, the Bloody Baron floated through the castle walls out toward the apparition point, muttering that the founders must be turning in their graves over the goings on at Hogwarts the past month.
Seamus looked at the angry woman. "Sorry, not going to let you loose just yet. But hopefully in a minute or two."
Remus' sigh of relief at Severus' appearance at the apparition point didn't last long. "Merlin, Severus!"
Draco stood eyes wide and trembled in horror at the condition of his godfather. Severus was a battered mess. He had obviously displeased the Dark Lord greatly in some way. His robes were ragged in the back. The torn clothes and bloodied stripes down his godfather's back had to be from Avery's whip. Draco shuddered with that realization.
"Bloody hell," Harry muttered. "What--sir?"
"I need to get to my potions, I'll be fine," Severus glared. "This is not an uncommon occurence."
Draco barely managed to dash to a nearby tree for support as he lost the contents of his stomach. He remembered his father's gleeful announcement of how Severus had been punished, time and again this last year.
"Mister Finnegan wants to know what to do with the latest captive." The Bloody Baron bowed to Harry.
"Shite!" Harry hissed.
"I'll take Aunt Ais up to the tower," Blaise offered.
"Don't you dare cast a levitation spell; I can walk," Severus glared.
"Stubborn..." Remus glared.
"Latest captive?" Snape frowned.
"Aisling Morrigan showed up--" Remus looked questioningly at Harry.
"About ten minutes after you left."
"Dare I ask what you did with her?"
"Immobilus," Harry shrugged.
"Polyjuice," Draco added by way of explanation.
Severus snorted then winced.
"I'm fine wolf, don't hover," Severus glared. "You little idiots stayed here the entire time?"
He was answered by glares from Potter and Draco, a stubborn nod from Zabini and a look of hurt concern from Lupin.
"Lupin, Potter, you two help me get cleaned up and changed. Draco, Zabini, bring Viper down to my office in an hour."
Harry rolled his eyes. Severus curled his lip at the boy in a sneer in response. Remus looked from one to the other shaking his head in worried amusement.
"Blaise and Seamus can handle Morrigan. You come with us, Draco," Remus said, seeing the worry on the blonde boy's face and the pain that Harry was chosen over him. Remus understood Severus wanting to protect the boy that he considered family--Remus was the same about Harry--but right now protecting the boy would do more harm than good, in Remus' opinion.
Severus shot Remus another glare.
"Blaise, make sure Neville is brought down with you," Harry said as he touched the runic tattoos on his cheek. "He's as much a part of this as we are."
Aisling Morrigan glared as she was led into the dungeons toward the potions classroom. What the devil was going on at Hogwarts?
The three boys walking with her were not saying much. Their auras were powerful, almost disturbingly so.
She gasped when she entered Severus' office. "You look like pure shit, Shadow."
"Charming as ever, Viper." Severus snorted.
"Er, sorry about the Immobilus," Harry said.
The boy caught Aisling's attention. "Merlin. You are truly the Hellion's son. You have her eyes, and your magic is much more hers than that pompous twit's."
Harry shivered, it was almost as if she could see straight through him.
Aisling's strange gray-eyed gaze turned onto Severus frowning. "Bloody hell!"
"Oh, we'll be having a long chat later, Severus Snape. Count on it!" She glared, eyes drifting over to Remus Lupin, who was failing spectacularly at not-hovering. She smirked.
"I'm so sorry about Cissa, sweetie," she said to Draco after she studied him with the same piercing gaze. Her eyes trailed over Neville. Then Blaise and Seamus.
"Start talking, Viper." Severus demanded.
"Don't by coy, woman, I'm not in the mood. What in Merlin's name did you four do?"
Aisling sighed and nodded. "Is there somewhere more comfortable? This will take a while..."
"Your room, Professor, or do you want to go up to the tower?" Harry asked.
"Tower it is," Remus said. "Mobilicorpus."
"That's going to hurt, Lupin." Aisling grinned. Severus' black eyes blazed with rage.
Remus shrugged and levitated Severus before him. He was sure Severus' retaliation for not allowing him to walk to the Apprentice's tower would be suitably vicious but couldn't bring himself to care.
"Professor, not like any of us are going to think you're weak. We're the ones that put you back together," Seamus offered.
That got the dark glare turned on him.
"Albus, there's certainly no reason for us to stay here..." Minerva McGonagall frowned from where she sat across from Dumbledore in the parlor of the suite they had rented at the Leaky Cauldron.
"I'm concerned as well, the Greenhouses simply cannot be left unattended for so long," Flora Sprout, newly released from the Ministry's holding cells, added worriedly.
Albus shook his head. "Not yet,"
"Why ever not?" Minerva demanded hotly.
"Harry is officially sixteen in just another hour. With a bit of luck and his being the Heir of Slytherin, Hogwarts will bond with him."
Minerva's eyes widened. "ALBUS!"
"It's the best way to ensure his survival and Voldemort's defeat, my dear."
Minerva glared irately. "Albus Dumbledore!"
"If there was an alternative..."
"You haven't looked for it!" Minerva huffed. "You've only known he was the Heir of Slytherin little more than a week."
"True, but I had researched the matter on the basis of his being the Heir of Gryffindor, Minerva." Albus sighed. "We'll return to Hogwarts tomorrow evening. The rest of the staff will return the day after."
"He's going to hold this against you, Albus," Minerva warned.
"It's for the best."
"Hmmph!" Minerva glared and took a drink of her wine.
"I agree with Minerva, Albus, really..." Flora Sprout said shaking her head.
Aisling studied the group. She wasn't sure about speaking to all of them, but even Severus seemed to reluctantly have accepted the presence of the rest.
"Start telling your tale, Viper. Doubtless the rest of this lot will be drug into whatever caused the four of you to put those spells on the boys," Severus said tiredly.
Aisling slowly nodded, uncertain, but they were all tied together. She could see that much; for good or ill she couldn't say, but most definitely tied together. "What do you know of Aura Seers?"
Remus' eyes widened.
"Fuck," Blaise muttered.
"Language, Zabini," Severus snapped automatically.
"What's an Aura Seer?" Harry asked.
"Do you know anything?" Draco asked, incredulous.
Harry's response was to flip off the blond, too tired to go over yet again the fact that if it wasn't an immediate life or death matter, or needed for a grade he hadn't learned it.
"Potter! Draco! Do not start." Severus snapped. "I thought you took Divination, Potter."
"I do," Harry nodded.
"Didn't Trelawney cover--"
Harry, Neville and Seamus all shook their heads.
"Bloody useless class..." Severus muttered.
"Actually, sir, been dead useful lately," Millie spoke up. "We've divination-home-worked most of our 'study records' thus far."
"Divination-home-worked?" Severus sneered.
"Might not have learned anything useful about divination, but we've learnt how to bluff our way through writing up a bunch of required mularkey," Seamus offered.
Severus snorted. "That likely is more useful than the supposed art of divination." He turned his attention back to Aisling. "Start explaining, Viper." He could feel the boys' and Lupin's eyes on him. He was only able to function due to no less than a half score of potions taken and easily double that in Potter's clumsy healing-spells that were possibly more painful than the infliction of the wounds they were used on. "Now." He glared at the woman sitting across from him.
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