Chapter Seven: Bound to Happen
Snape sighed internally as Slytherin took a sip of brandy from his snifter and sat back into the leather seat next to the fireplace, involuntarily flinching in pain as he did so. He was glad that at least he and Salazar shared a similar taste in alcohol for he didn't think the strongest potion known to wizard kind would have done as well to calm his nerves and numb his body.
Slytherin was physically exhausted, Snape could feel, and was aware that his own body was battered and bruised. He wished the man would just give in and go to bed so he could forget everything that had happened that day. Though he had been on the receiving end of cruel curses more times than he cared to admit, Snape could not remember the last time he had actually been involved in a common Muggle brawl. His jaw ached and one eye was almost entirely swollen shut. He hadn't seen Potter coming and neither, apparently, had Slytherin.
The grief over the loss of their dearest friend had not lasted long. While Slytherin had wandered over to the far end of the hospital wing to regain his control, Rowena had evidently taken the time to fill Godric in on his little Dominatio attempt. Gryffindor had flown across the room, fists raised, and sent the older man flying before he had even opened his mouth to comment.
Despite the fact that Snape had known on an intellectual level that it was Godric Gryffindor assaulting Salazar Slytherin, it had still galled him no end to see the face of Harry Potter squinting up at him before feeling his head knocked back against the wall. He would never have guessed the scrawny little brat could pack such a wallop. The fist fight and general fracas that ensued had quickly moved out into the hallway outside the hospital wing, travelled down several flights of stairs and finally ended somewhere near the main dining hall, just in time for lunch.
Snape was too horrified to even think how many students had witnessed Professor Severus Snape scrapping it out throughout Hogwarts with Harry Potter. He was certain, however, that as he was being flung down a set of marble stairs he had heard at least one student exclaim, "Well, I mean, it really was bound to happen some day, wasn't it?" to a gawking peer.
It had taken most of the teachers at the Head Table to break up the fight, not an easy task with several hundred screaming children crowded around the Entrance Hall, all chanting some variation on the theme of, "Bloody him up, Harry! Whack the greasy git!"
Snape had made certain to take mental note of all the children egging Potter on as he intended to make them pay generously and in quite horrific ways for the rest of the their academic careers at Hogwarts. He was a patient man.
More than anything else, however, Snape didn't know if he would ever manage to live down Minerva McGonagall. After the teachers had broken up the fight, his fellow professor had grabbed Potter by the ear and hauled him up the main staircase, glaring at Snape to follow. The entire trip to the Headmaster's office had consisted of a non-stop tirade. "Never, in all my days, have I seen such a display!" she had raved. "What were you two thinking? The entire school just witnessed a teacher Muggle fighting with a student! I don't even know where to put myself, I am so shocked! Founders indeed! Spoiled children, more like!" And on it had gone.
While he certainly respected McGonagall, the rivalry between their two houses assured that he would be reminded of this event for the rest of his days at Hogwarts, despite the fact that she knew it wasn't actually Snape's fault. The only bit of satisfaction he had managed to derive from the situation came from the fact that Minerva had grabbed Gryffindor by the ear and marched him down the hallway, apparently too flustered to remember that she was grabbing the ear of one of the Founders of Hogwarts. Godric seemed too gallant to point this out to her, however; a fact that made Snape snicker even harder to himself. Stupid git, he'd thought.
The meeting with Dumbledore had not gone much better. After sending Minerva away, he had placed his hand on top of the Founder's Pendant Box, which sat reproachfully upon his desk, and regarded them both with displeasure. He was very disappointed, he had advised them solemnly, drumming his fingers on the ornate lid. As two of the Founders of the school, the two of them, more than anyone else, should have been aware of the dangers of fighting around students.
Surprisingly, it had been Gryffindor who had piped up to defend their actions. He had explained that after a rather unfortunate wizard's duel a thousand years before, he and Slytherin had almost brought the entire castle down around their ears, so powerful was their magic. After that, they had agreed that if they had a problem with one another that could not be resolved with dialogue, they would keep their altercations to physical Muggle brawls.
At this Dumbledore had lifted an eyebrow and politely asked if, in fact, they had actually tried "dialoguing" about their problem before brawling.
The uncomfortable silence that had followed had pretty much answered his question. And then the 'Dumbledore Speech' had begun. Having been on the receiving end of more of them than he cared to admit, Snape had sighed and settled in for a wait. His concentration had wandered and he had only managed to catch snippets of the lecture. "The students are not supposed to know, blah, blah, blah," "Should be acting like Severus and Harry, blah, blah, blah," "Great danger if Voldemort figures out what's happened, blah, blah, blah," "It's possible to release the spirits back into the pendants, blah, blah, blah." Snape's attention had snapped back to the present at the last statement. What had Dumbledore said about being able to remove Slytherin from his body and return it to the pendant?
It had been then that something had happened that had made Snape almost weep with relief (almost). Dumbledore looked him in the eye and addressed him directly. Not Slytherin. Him. Severus Snape. The Headmaster had looked solemn and sincere when he had told Snape that it was possible to return Slytherin to his pendant but that he would have to work out the safest way of doing so and that he must hang on in the meantime. Though unable to answer, Snape had felt eternally grateful to the old Headmaster for acknowledging his presence.
Dumbledore must have known that this announcement to his Potions Master would end the conversation, because he did not look surprised when Salazar had hissed with displeasure and swept from the room. Indeed, Slytherin had not stopped his incensed march until he had reached the safety of Snape's living quarters where he had promptly poured himself a drink and flung himself moodily into a chair to stew in his own anger.
Which, apparently, he was continuing to do. "I wouldn't get too excited in there," Slytherin said, obviously having followed Snape's reminiscing about the evening's events. "I have no intention of returning to that pendant."
Though somewhat deflated by the words, Snape was pleased to note that Slytherin's voice had not held it's usual amount of bravado. Perhaps he knew that Dumbledore was powerful enough to carry through on his promise.
With a single swift movement, Slytherin suddenly rose from the chair and threw the brandy snifter into the fireplace. "For your sake, Severus, you better hope Dumbledore doesn't try too hard to return me. I would rather see both of us die than go back to that half-life existence!"
Snape mentally recoiled as he felt the truth of Slytherin's threat seep through him. He tried to push aside his excitement at Dumbledore's words and find a neutral place to put his thoughts so as not to provoke the old Founder further.
Seemingly satisfied, Salazar threw off his clothes and unceremoniously tossed himself into Snape's large bed. With a last mumbled curse, he quickly drifted to sleep.
Snape wasn't certain what he'd been expecting when Slytherin fell asleep. Perhaps that his own conscious mind would drift off into a sort of sleep as well? Whatever, he had been expecting, it certainly hadn't been this. For the first time in almost twelve hours, he was alone. He could feel the presence of Slytherin as merely a far off shadow with no distinct form. Somehow, he knew that in his unconscious state, Salazar was not able to read his thoughts. A thrill of excitement ran through Snape as he realized he could finally think clearly about the day's events without fear of discovery. Immediately, he began to assess his situation.
*Alright then,* he thought. *I need a plan. Dumbledore told me to hang on. Does that mean that he fears Slytherin will try to expel my personality or somehow silence me permanently? Though, if he was able to do that, would he not have done so already? Unless he still needs me intact to get information from me. Perhaps as soon as I can provide no more useful information, he will expel my spirit permanently. So, if that's the case, is there some way that I can hamper his ability to access important information from my mind? Perhaps feed him misleading information? Or is he too closely tied into my thoughts when he's awake to not see through that? Is there something I'm missing here that can allow me to fight him reading my mind when he's awake?*
As Snape worked through the various aspects of his predicament, he absentmindedly reached up and rubbed his nose with his hand. He froze in mid rub, however, his eyes flying open in surprise. He had control of his body!
Slowly, he commanded his arm to lower back to the bed and dared to try opening his eyes. The resulting snorting and grumbling from Slytherin, made Snape withdraw immediately. He felt Salazar's personality draw closer to him for a moment before finally receding and going back into shadow.
*Alright then,* he thought. *So, I have the use of my body back when he's asleep, but I can't do much without waking him up. How can I make use of this?*
And then it struck him. He had to find a way to communicate to Dumbledore that Salazar, as the person in actual control, would be rendered unconscious when his body was sedated. Snape wouldn't be able to use his body either, of course, since it would be physically knocked out, but at least he would not be in danger of being expelled by Slytherin while Dumbledore worked out how to return the reluctant Founder to his pendant.
Now he just had to work out how to communicate this to Dumble...
Snape quickly silenced his thoughts as he felt Slytherin abruptly awaken and sit straight up in bed. The man's thoughts seemed fevered and anxious and Snape wondered if he had been dreaming.
Swiftly Slytherin threw back the covers of the bed and redressed quickly in his clothes from the previous day. Without a backward glance, Salazar crept from the room and out into the hallway beyond Snape's quarters, looking both ways before quietly sneaking off.
Snape had a very bad feeling about this.
By the time Snape figured out that they were headed back towards the Headmaster's office, he had also guessed what Slytherin was likely up to. He intended to steal the Pendant of Slytherin. It made sense. It was what he would do.
"Absolutely correct, my boy," Salazar whispered as he swept quickly and noiselessly down the chilly hallway. "I can't very well be released into a non-existent pendant now, can I?"
Snape cringed internally and hoped that Dumbledore had thought ahead to this possible scenario and hidden the Founder's Pendant Box.
As usual, Slytherin snickered unkindly at his descendant's thoughts. "Not good enough I'm afraid, my boy. I don't think even Dumbledore knows that we can sense the location of our own pendants, where ever they may be. I suppose you would be somewhat disappointed if I told you the box is still on the old fool's desk?"
Despite the fact that a part of him wanted to despair at Slytherin's chiding, Snape forced himself not to travel down that path yet again. The Headmaster had proven time and time again that he was no fool and he had faith that it would prove to be the case again.
His optimistic appraisal of the situation, however, found itself being tested once they were inside Dumbledore's empty office. Apparently the Headmaster had not only neglected to change his entry password, but had also left the pendant box right on his desk, just as Slytherin had said.
Snape steeled himself. It had to be a trap. Any moment, Dumbledore would come through the back door and regard Slytherin with a knowing raise of the eyebrow.
His confidence wavered even more, however, as Salazar opened the box and removed the silver snake from amongst the pendants and stuffed it into his pocket. Perhaps Dumbledore had replaced it with a copy? Perhaps as a trick to ensnare Slytherin?
Salazar snickered and shook his head, "Sorry, lad. It's not a fake. I can sense its inner presence. Remember, this thing still holds a feint imprint of my spirit. That can't be replicated. Not by any witch or wizard." He laughed softly to himself and closed the lid to the box.
As he turned to leave the office, Snape felt Salazar's mind suddenly change gears and slowly begin to scheme. The Founder turned back to the pendant box and slowly lifted the lid again. With a wicked smile, he reached back inside and removed the Pendants of Ravenclaw and Gryffindor, his eyes now luminous with glee. He shut the lid again, stuffed the bronze eagle and the golden lion into his pocket and fled from the office, smiling triumphantly the entire time.
Snape felt his confidence collapse as they swept out of the office door and down the deserted hallway without anything or anyone attempting to stop them. Why Dumbledore had left the pendants out and unguarded by even the simplest protective spell, he could not fathom. Was he perhaps getting old and senile after all?
Slytherin chuckled. "I have told you already, lad, that you should not put your trust in that old man. His day has passed and he is no match for the Founders. None are."
Despite his attempts to trust Dumbledore, Snape was beginning to wonder if Slytherin might not be right. These were, after all, the Great Founders. The most powerful wizards of all time. How could they possibly hope to resist them?
"You can't, my boy," Slytherin hissed with obvious pleasure. "Learn to accept and assist me and you may have a future. Resist me, and you may say farewell to your soul, Severus Snape."
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