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Fifty-Three: Comfortably Numb

In his mind Harry knew he was just standing there in shock at Parcelsis Snape's announcement. He knew that he should do something: ask questions of Severus' father, tell McGonnagal to contact Dumbledore, run through the floo and rip Severus out of Voldemort's clutches...

Well, at least Professor McGonnagal was wise enough to carry out her bit of his internally voiced orders. Soon enough Dumbledore's features came out of the Floo, gazing at the Professor in concern. "Minerva? Is everyone all right? You look terribly pale."

"Oh, Albus, please come to Severus' rooms - quickly." The trust that Dumbledore held in his Deputy Headmaster was proven as he studied her only for a moment before the floo fire whooshed and he stepped through. If there was a situation that she couldn't handle herself, it must be serious indeed.

Wondering how McGonnagal would summarize what just happened and how she would introduce Parcelsis to Dumbledore, Harry was very surprised when he instead heard her whisper, "Harry," with what sounded like a deep concern.

There was a whisper of robes as Dumbledore walked over, and Harry felt the Headmaster's hand, cool and soft, touch his forehead - brushing at the scar and soothing his hair. So quietly that only Harry could hear him, Dumbledore murmured, "It's the Prophecy". Another moment and Harry felt himself moving towards the couch and being guided to sit there. "Give him a few minutes to recover," Dumbledore assured the others.

But Severus, Harry wanted to shout. They've got him - they could be doing things to him, taking him away!

Dumbledore's hand gently ran over his hair again before the aged wizard turned away and walked over to McGonnagal and Parcelsis. "I believe I should call Poppy over to see to this gentleman, and Sirius I'm sure would like to assist Harry."

Time passed in a murmured conversation across the room and the whoosh of the Floo. There was an exclamation of surprise from the new arrivals before Harry heard Parcelsis' rasp of a voice, suddenly sharp with suspicion. "How did you get out?"

There was a pause during which Harry could imagine Sirius' frown. "Out from where?"

"Don't pretend you don't understand what I mean." Harry could guess where Severus got his commanding tone from, even if that tone was worn down and unsteady at the moment. "I was removed from Azkaban by Voldemort upon their taking over the prison with the Dementors on their side. You, however, seem to have been out for a while."

Again Sirius paused before replying; Harry vaguely noticed that Sirius looked to Dumbledore who nodded his approval before moving to one side to consult with Professor McGonnagal. "I escaped around two years ago."

Parcelsis' voice grew contemplative, his words slower as though struggling with memory. "Two years ago ... You are Sirius Black? I remember that being spoken of."

Sirius sounded somewhat surprised. "You remember much from there?"

"Unfortunately," Parcelsis coughed. Madame Pomfrey promptly urged him to drink a potion she had with her, shooing Sirius away from her new patient.

Soon Harry felt the couch dip next to him, a firm hand settling upon his shoulder. "Harry? Can you hear me?" Sirius' hand felt firm and strong; Madame Pomfrey had done her job well.

Sirius' voice sounded a little startled as he said, "Yeah; I'm feeling much better now."

Harry was glad. He could hear a deadened voice say so. He wasn't surprised when he also heard it say that it wanted to get Severus back.

"We'll get him back, Harry," Sirius tried to control his voice, but there was still an edge of hatred and accusation directed at Severus as he spoke of him. "He'll be back soon."

"It's the Prophecy," Harry thought of saying, but that deadened voice said it for him. "I have to go over there. Together we can kill Voldemort." Harry considered being surprised by the touch of venom the voice had when declaring its intention to kill. Harry thought that perhaps he should turn his attention away from that voice...

Hearing someone else approaching, Harry turned to see Professor McGonnagal walking towards the couch, settling herself there with a pleasant smile. Across the room Madame Pomfrey was treating Parcelsis with expertly cast diagnosis and healing charms, but Harry knew it would take a long while before the man would truly start to recover. Even now he was still unable to stop his body's trembling; his features wan under the glowing light from the Mediwitch's wand. "Harry." McGonnagal's voice drew his attention away from Severus' father again to regard the smiling witch politely. "How are Ron and Hermione doing this summer?"

Hearing his Head of House refer to his friends by first name made Harry confused for a moment; she was usually quite thorough in keeping to formal protocol. Distracted, Harry looked down at the pile of letters she returned to his lap. His friends... Harry thought he could talk about them a bit. "I've not read these yet," he murmured.

"Whyever not?" Professor McGonnagal inquired, her voice lilting with curiosity. "No doubt they would greatly appreciate hearing from you. Some writing implements can be provided for your use, of course."

No. Harry shook his head repeatedly as that detached feeling washed over him again. "Now." Need to get Severus back now. No more waiting; that would only lead to more problems.

Fortunately the contrast of Harry's shaking his head in negation and saying the word "Now" confused the Professor and Sirius long enough for Harry to recognize the opportunity and to take it. He bolted out of his place on the sofa and ran across the room. At the fireplace, Dumbledore was just opening the floo for Poppy to bring Parcelsis to the Hospital Wing. As Dumbledore threw the floo powder into the fireplace, Harry leapt in front of Poppy and shouted, "Malfoy Manor!" before diving in and disappearing.

As Severus stepped out of the floo in Malfoy Manor, he steadied himself for a moment on the nearby wingback chair. Off to one side towards the large windows, Severus saw Lucius just starting one of a probable series of Post-Cruciatus convulsions. Grimly, Severus grasped the potions bottle in hand and started to walk over, intent on getting something to put in Lucius' mouth to make sure he didn't swallow his tongue. It was then there was a white-hot flash of pain. He cursed himself for his lack of caution before everything went black.

Hands on stone ... cold and hard on his back ... splitting headache ... murmured voices in the distance ...

Muddled memories sluggishly swirled before Severus felt himself regaining awareness ... remembering the dizziness of the Floo travel and his concern for Lucius before he stupidly allowed himself to be cursed from behind. Severus tried to move but found himself hexed to stillness. He was likely better off this way as moving would likely cause him more pain than he wanted to think about. The last thing he wanted, however, was to lie helpless to await the pleasure of his captors.

The surface below him was of cold stone, and from the looks of his current height the surface was elevated. He was resting atop an alter-like slab of stone inside what appeared to be a large dungeon room. As he tried to focus his mind into coherency, something about the room seemed familiar to Severus. Disturbingly familiar.

At the sound of others approaching, Severus closed his eyes most of the way to feign unconsciousness before the small group became visible through the doorway out. A man completely enshrouded in black robes and hood led the way with a couple trailing behind him. The man moved with slow deliberation, his hair was long and shorn unevenly, with a sharpness to his gaze that seemed rather unstable. A woman walked with him, one hand settled upon his arm as though they were out for a stroll through the garden. The quirk of a smile upon her lips was something that Severus would prefer to have not noticed.

Not wanting to risk discovery against observing them further, Severus closed his eyes completely. Inside he was seething at his current situation. The most he could do is hope to overhear something useful and to delay the proceedings. The latter was a futile hope at best; Severus remembered Voldemort showing no hesitation to work upon his unconscious form.

The best he could hope for was an improbable rescue ... or that he would be able to overcome whatever Voldemort had in mind for him.


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