Chapter Twelve: Sloshed
Slytherin finally settled himself into the soft leather chair next to the fire and opened the book he had been carrying with him for the last half hour. Snape had thought the man would never manage to find his way back to his rooms and was relieved to finally have him on familiar ground. He had been somewhat confused as to why Salazar had stopped off at the library to pick up a copy of Hogwarts: A History first, but had supposed he just wanted some reading for the afternoon.
The meeting with Dumbledore had ended on a cordial enough note, all things considered, with all the Founders agreeing to meet him back at his office later that evening. There, they were to begin the process of forging the pendant that the Headmaster would claim as the newest member of the Founding Four. Apparently, once forged, he was to hold it in his hand until an impression of his life's spirit transferred into it. The Pendant of Dumbledore, as it would then be known, would be placed with the remaining three into the Founder's Pendants Box. Snape had wondered idly what the point of it all was, but had not pressed the question with Slytherin as he had seemed most preoccupied at the time.
Salazar had promised to retrieve Godric and Rowena's pendants and bring them with him to the Forging. Snape had been able to tell that his ancestor had absolutely no intention of doing so, of course. Why Dumbledore had let Slytherin out of his sight with such a lame promise was anybody's guess, but Snape had given up trying to guess at the old man's motivations long ago. As usual, it seemed to be up to him to fix the situation and find a way to tell the Headmaster where the pendants were hidden.
So, now they sat in Snape's rooms once again, Slytherin flipping through his newly acquired book and Severus biding his time.
Salazar sighed and studied intently the portion of the book entitled, 'The Chamber of Secrets: Why Did Slytherin Do It?'. He read the entire chapter thoroughly several times before snapping it shut brusquely. "Dammit!" he said harshly and then sighed again, his mind working furiously over what he'd just read.
Snape could feel his ancestor's intense mental frustration and knew this was his first, best chance to attempt to implement his plan. Clearing his mind, he forced himself not to think only feel. With focused concentration, he did indeed make himself feel; the intense, overwhelming desire for a drink, that is. He visualized a glass of brandy in his hand and imagined he could smell the delicious fragrance of it next to his nose. He could practically taste it on his tongue.
Slytherin licked his lips and rose abruptly from his seat. He dropped the book unceremoniously onto the coffee table and moved to the brandy stand next to the fireplace. He poured himself a generous glass and returned to the leather chair, sinking back into it with a sigh. He sipped the liquid lightly, his mind still focused on what he had been reading in the book.
Internally, Snape switched directions and immediately forced himself to feel extremely thirsty. He visualized picking up the brandy glass and draining it down in one satisfying gulp. He felt only that would quench his sudden tremendous thirst.
Slytherin automatically picked up the glass and drained it back in one shot. He shivered at the sudden introduction of the alcohol into his system and looked at the glass in surprise. "Hmm," he mused. "I guess it was a harder day than I thought."
Snape nodded internally and kept himself from formulating any clear thoughts. As he had guessed, though quite able to distinguish Snape's rational thoughts from his own, Salazar did not seem able to distinguish between his own raw emotions and his descendant's. He seemed, therefore, to be assuming them all to be his own. Snape knew, however, that Slythein was simply too intelligent to be fooled for long and understood that he must be precise with his one chance. He was going to have to get Salazar Slytherin sloshed.
Snape had taught himself long ago to resist drinking alcohol during the summer holidays because of the amount of time he spent in the Dark Lord's presence and since Dumbledore prohibited any kind of imbibing on school nights, he had essentially reserved school term weekends for any drinking. Always aware that he could be called away to a Dark Revel on weekend evenings, however, he rarely drank more than a small snifter of brandy on a Friday or Saturday evening. Basically, Snape knew he was extremely sensitive to the effects of alcohol and that he was going to have to be very careful with Slytherin as a result. He had to give his ancestor enough to get him to pass out, yet not get him so drunk that Snape's body would not obey him once Slytherin was asleep.
Snape suddenly became aware that Slytherin's mind was moving away from the contents of the book and drawing closer to him as a potential source of company and entertainment. He knew that he would have to keep Salazar thinking about something as he continued to get him drunk.
*Why are you bothering to have Dumbledore put his spirit imprint into a Pendant?* he blurted out without much thought. *I don't understand what the point of all this is. I mean, with all due respect, what's to be gained by keeping your spirits hanging about?*
Slytherin sighed and looked at the empty glass in his hand.
Snape forced another strong desire for a brandy.
"Well," Slytherin said as he rose once again from his chair and crossed to the brandy stand. "We need the Fourth Pillar for the Refounding, when it happens. Dumbledore fits the bill, as it were." He poured another large snifter and returned to his seat.
*Refounding?* Snape asked absently. He wanted to take a large gulp from the newly poured glass. He knew it would taste so good.
Slytherin took a large gulp of the brandy. "There was a prophecy made during our life times that one day Hogwarts would fall."
Snape's attention snapped fully to Slytherin and he momentarily forgot to feel thirsty. *What?* he said, shocked by the revelation.
Slytherin nodded, his eyelids already a little heavy. "It was prophesied that when it fell, we would refound a new Hogwarts upon the remains of the old," he said. "You may not know this, Severus, but this school does not just hold our names, but actual elements of our spirits. When we founded this place, we all put our hands upon the earth that it was to be built upon and infused it with the essence of who we were."
Snape forced himself to keep enough of his mind back from the conversation to continue with his plan, despite how astonishing he was finding it, and made himself feel extremely thirsty again.
Salazar emptied the glass again and put his head back against the chair. "So, you see, when we discovered that we would once again have to Refound the school, we decided to leave imprints of our spirits behind for the task. The only thing we would need would be the living flesh of a descendant, with our spirits inside, to touch the ground and transfer our essences back into its foundation," he said, stifling a yawn. "Problem was, we knew it could be potentially dangerous if anyone with ill intent ever got their hands on those pendants. You know, before the Refounding could take place. It would essentially mean the end of Hogwarts if they did." He looked at the empty glass again. "So we hid the Pendants the best we could and decided never to have any portraits made of ourselves. That way they couldn't ever be forced to blab about the pendants' whereabouts. Not that it did much good in the end, obviously, since they were found."
Snape felt an overpowering need for more brandy as he listened. The more he craved it, he noted, the easier the task was becoming.
Slytherin rose again and made yet another trip to the brandy table, this time leaving the glass and simply grabbing the bottle. When he returned to the chair, he seemed somewhat light-headed and stumbled a little. "But, anyhow, that's where Dumbledore comes in," he was saying.
*Ah,* Snape said, suddenly understanding. *He replaces all the qualities that went missing when Helga died.* Snape was sooooo thirsty. He visualized tilting the contents of bottle back into his mouth.
Salazar was nodding as he took a large swig out of the bottle. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. "Without those qualities, Hogwarts would basically be founded as a school of Dark Arts. What Dumbledore said about us was bang on you know, my boy," he said with a shaky nod of his head. "It doesn't matter how many good qualities we each have, without forgiveness, love and morality, we are all dangerous." He took another swig of the bottle and this time, let out a very loud belch. He seemed instantly horrified at himself. "Oh, excuse me, son," he said before taking another large drink.
Snape was surprised to hear his ancestor admit his potential shortcomings and even more shocked to hear him admit his need for the "sissier" emotions that Dumbledore seemed to embody.
Salazar scoffed. "Please, Severus, you insult me! Just because I'm a complete and utter bastard most of the time, doesn't mean that I don't know that we need those 'sissy' emotions, as you so eloquently call them! I helped found this school as a place that would fight against darkness. I love kids, my boy. They're my weakness. My wish is only that they be safe within these walls."
Snape stopped himself from thinking clearly the obvious thought hovering near the surface of his consciousness. Except Muggleborns, he was dying to say. You just feed them to the snakes. Instead, he just felt like a long, refreshing drink of brandy which Slytherin happily obliged him with.
"I had ten kids of my own, you know," he said, his words starting to slur.
*How interesting,* Snape said, not interested in the least. He actually despised people's stories of their offspring and would usually be edging towards the door at this point. Right at this moment, however, he needed to keep him talking. *I feel for your wife.*
Salazar shook his head dismissively, "Never had a wife," he said, spittle flying from his mouth. "Rowena wouldn't marry me, so I just chose not to have one." He took another drink.
Of course, Snape thought. He should have seen that one coming. His children probably all had different mothers. Slytherin really was a piece of work.
With a hiccough, Salazar tilted his head to one side, obviously too drunk to catch Snape's snide, ill-hidden thoughts and began reminiscing. "God, I loved them. Each one so different, so unique."
*Who was your favourite?* Snape asked absently, not really caring.
His ancestor scoffed, "Parents don't have favourites, Severus!" he admonished, but quickly dropped his head back against the chair, a dreamy smile crossing his face, "Though, I must admit that some just touch your heart in a certain way. My youngest, Laurella, was like that. Proud and intelligent, she was. When she was a little girl, she hated crying so much that she used to stuff her fist in her mouth to try and stop herself," he chuckled at the memory. "Of course, when I picked her up, she'd fight for a minute and then end up weeping on my chest." He sighed and the smile slowly slipped from his face. "God, I miss them," he whispered, his eyes misting over. This time, he took a large gulp of the brown liquid without any prompting from Snape.
Salazar sighed again, his mind becoming slow and foggy. "Speaking of parenthood, Severus," he said sloppily, "I've been meaning to tell you how sorry I am about what happened last night."
Snape stiffened internally and tried to force down the anger that suddenly threatened to wash over him.
"It's just that I never stopped to consider anything beyond saving Rowena," Salazar continued. "You have to understand that because you're still a child yourself, Severus, I just didn't put the idea together of you actually being a parent." He took another deep swig. "So, I'm really sorry, son. I hope you can forgive me one day." He suddenly brightened, his grin lop-sided. "If it's any consolation, being a parent is great!"
Snape felt indignation wash over him and could not push it down. How dare Slytherin minimize his experience! And the old Founder dared to call him childish? With a final internal push, fuelled by a sudden rush of indignant anger, Snape visualized putting the brandy bottle to his lips and draining the entire contents into his waiting mouth.
Already too drunk to resist, Salazar shakily pulled the bottle up to his mouth and tilted it back. He drank the entire contents, allowing some to slop down his face. The bottle slipped from his hand and smashed onto the floor. Salazar's eyes rolled back for a moment before refocusing on the room around him. He looked quite puzzled.
"I don fee so well," he slurred. He tried to rise from the chair, but only managed to fall forward onto his knees. He swayed there for a moment, his eyes rolling back into his head again. He finally closed them tight and slumped forward.
Slytherin was unconscious before he hit the floor.
Snape would have loved nothing more than to spring into action once Salazar was down, but, unfortunately, his body was too drunk to obey his commands. He screamed internal orders at his arms, demanding that they push his body up off the floor, but the only thing he managed to get by way of a response was a slight twitch in his left thumb.
He knew that his own offended anger had worked against him again. He had forced Slytherin to finish off the bottle out of irate spite without stopping to think that it was likely too much for his own body to handle. He sighed internally. He had lost track of how many times he had gotten himself into trouble by acting impulsively on his own anger. Despite years spent training himself to force down feelings of rage and resentment and react instead with cold, calculated logic, his darker emotions tended to have a way of bubbling back up at truly inconvenient moments. Maybe Slytherin was right. Maybe when push came to shove, he did act like a child.
Well, he thought, he was just going to have to wait and keep testing his body until enough of the alcohol had worked its way through that he could make it obey again. Hopefully Slytherin wouldn't wake up before that happened.
After twenty minutes of waiting and testing without success, Snape was beginning to wish that Slytherin had passed out in the soft leather chair as opposed to spread-eagled across the living room floor. He hadn't realized before now just how cold the flagstones were, even through the thick woollen rugs.
Just as he was beginning to despair that his body would never process the alcohol, he heard a knock on the door. His heart leapt hopefully. Help was at hand! He tried to make his voice work, but managed only a pathetic croak that was muffled into the carpet. The person outside knocked again, this time louder.
*Dammit!* Snape thought. If someone actually came to him, then all he would have to do was tell them how to get to Slytherin's secret chamber and he could forget trying to move. "Rhhmmmfffff!" he cried desperately, his voice cracking with the effort.
There was silence from the other side of the door and Snape assumed the person must have given up and left. His heart sank.
The forceful pounding that suddenly assaulted the door, however, immediately told Snape two things. One, not only had the person not given up but was actually getting quite impatient out there and, two, that it could, therefore, only be one person. The Gryffindor-Potter hybrid.
*Of course,* Snape spat internally. *Who else?* Didn't anyone not named Potter ever think about trying to save him?
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