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Chapter Twenty-Four: The Shani Theoris

It was the middle of February before Harry decided to visit the Dursleys in their new home. Last thing on a Tuesday, Harry had Charms, and as the corridor was so close to the Muggle Studies department, he thought he would wander down and just see how they were settling in. Just as he was approaching the classroom, the door opened and Kainda came out slowly. Since January, she had been encouraged by Madam Pomfrey to walk around and try to get her stomach muscles used to it. She was improving immensely, and she could now walk without much discomfort, though she liked to have somebody to lean on just in case.

"Harry? What are you doing here?" she asked, shouldering her bag.

"I've come to see my aunt and uncle," he explained. "Check how they're settling in, you know."

She grinned. "They're doing okay really. I'm sure Professor Chetry will let you." She pushed open the door of the classroom, and beckoned him in. He followed her, and for a moment, wondered if he was seeing things or not.

The back wall of the classroom had been turned into glass, like the front wall of a cage at a zoo, and inside was the Dursley's living room, exactly like he remembered it. Uncle Vernon was sitting in his favourite armchair, reading the paper, and Aunt Petunia was watering the plants delicately.

"You're keeping them in a cage?" said Harry in surprise.

Kainda grinned. She leant against the tank wall. "They can't see us. It's one way glass. They just brought them in, and put them there. They think they're at home. Watch." She spoke aloud to the glass tank. "Main bedroom." The view shifted to the Dursleys' main bedroom, complete with the vile pink duvet Aunt Petunia had owned forever. "Living room," said Kainda, and it swapped back to the view of Mr and Mrs Dursley. "They're perfectly happy. It's so much fun studying them. We keep putting them in different situations, to see how they would react. You should have been here yesterday, there was a mad buffalo escaped into their house. Man, that was a fun lesson."

"How do Uncle Vernon and Dudley go to work?" asked Harry.

"Oh, we sent them letters the moment they arrived," said Kainda. "Saying that they'd been fired. They work at home now. Your uncle makes garden gnomes and sends them off to a firm somewhere, and Dudley's doing stuff with computers. Designing games or something. I didn't really understand what Professor Chetry was saying."

Harry laughed a little. "Well, I suppose it's the best place for them really. If you ever let any more zoo animals free in their house, tell me. I'd pay money to see that. So are you ready for dinner? Can I walk you down there?"

Kainda grinned. "Being romantic today, are we?"

"I'm willing to try," he replied. He took her arm, and she leant on him, as they walked down to dinner in the Great Hall. She went slowly, but Harry didn't really mind. He had no homework that night, and Hermione was planning for them all to spend the time in the library, looking for more information about the Shani Theoris. They still hadn't found anything, despite searching for months now. Harry didn't admit it to anybody, but he was slowly starting to lose hope.

There were a lot of wolf-whistles as they walked into the Great Hall. Harry grinned and tried to ignore them, as they both sat down at their usual table. Hermione handed him a plate of lasagne.

"I've got you and Ron permission to use the restricted section, Harry," she said promptly. "So we can have a really good look and try to crack this at last."

"Alright," said Harry wearily. He tucked into his lasagne. "Haven't we already read every single book about the Egyptians in the library though, Hermione?"

"The Egyptians?" Draco had looked up across the table, pausing with a forkful of lasagne halfway to his mouth. "What do you need to know about the Egyptians? For History of Magic, is it?"

Harry glanced at Draco. "No, it's something else... you don't know anything about Jendayi, do you?"

"Oh, the sorceress?" said Draco. "Of course I do. She was the first chocolate frog card I ever got. Buried with that ankh... what's the name again? The Shani Theoris, that's it."

Harry, Ron and Hermione were staring at him avidly now. Harry leant across the table. "Tell us absolutely everything you know about that ankh, and I promise to do all your Potions homework from now until I die."

Draco looked quite shocked. "I... well, I can give you the book where I got all my information from. Bill Weasley gave it to me at Grimmauld Place over the summer. Shall I go and get it?"

"I'll come with you," said Harry, jumping to his feet. "We really need that book. Badly."

Draco gave him an odd look, but got up and left the Great Hall anyway. Harry followed him doggedly. Draco was in the Slytherin common room for a few minutes, before he came out again holding a thick book titled "Ankhs - The Lost Power". Harry took it off him.

"Thankyou," he said. "I'll get it back to you as soon as I've found out what I need..."

"What is it you're looking for, specifically?" said Draco.

"The Shani Theoris," said Harry. "I need to know what it does... and where it is now."

"Buried with Jendayi," said Draco, shrugging. "I haven't read that section. Have a look through it anyway Potter, you might find something useful to you. I need to get back to dinner now; I have to eat quickly... I have a lot of homework to do."

Draco left, heading back towards the Great Hall, but Harry didn't feel remotely hungry anymore. He stopped just where he was and opened up the book. His eyes ran down the Contents page. The names of Egyptian ankhs flashed past his gaze, until he found the one he was looking for towards the bottom - "Shani Theoris: The Psychic Ankh". Harry flicked quickly to the pages listed. Upon finding them, he opened the book again, and a large picture of an ankh appeared. Harry recognised it from the dream he had in Snape's rooms, after the Quidditch accident. A deep purple stone was set into it, glittering beautifully in the photograph and giving off a soft lilac glow. Each rune carved into the gold seemed to sparkle with some unseen magic. Praying that he had finally found out what horrors awaited him if Voldemort found the ankh, Harry let his eyes travel down into the text. He scanned it for anything worthwhile, and there, at the bottom, he found just what he was looking for.

Hermione and Ron were running up the corridor towards him as he read. "Harry," Ron panted. "Is it in there? Have you found anything?"

Harry held up a hand, and he read aloud. "The Shani Theoris is regarded as one of the most dangerous and powerful ankhs, among all currently discovered, rivalled only by the Death Ankh, which was destroyed in the medieval ages. The Shani Theoris has the ability to plunge the user into a psychic battle with their deepest and greatest enemy. In the world created by their minds, the two wizards will face each other before the spirits of the Egyptian wizengamot, and their fate will be decided. The winner will bring death to the loser, and only one will walk away from the encounter alive. The ankh was owned by the Egyptian sorceress Jendayi, and she took it into her death with her. While alive, Jendayi left accounts of the ankh's power, saying that wizards and witches who skilled themselves in the Psychic Arts had far more power when using it. The ankh was buried in her tomb when she did, guarded by Khepri beasts, and if the Shani Theoris is released into the world again, terror will befall the enemies of its new owner."

There was silence when he finished talking. The realisation slowly sunk into Harry's mind, of just what power he was facing. Voldemort was one of the most skilled wizards in the Psychic Arts. And if he got hold of the Shani Theoris... Harry would never win a psychic battle against Lord Voldemort. There was no chance.

Ron swallowed. Hermione was silent, watching Harry closely. After a moment, she whispered, "There are only two things you can do, Harry..."

"What?" asked Harry.

"You can either go out into the world, and find the Shani Theoris before Voldemort," said Hermione quietly. "Or you can prepare yourself. Learn the Psychic Arts, properly. Oh, Harry... this is so bad... we've got to tell Dumbledore. He might know where the Shani Theoris is."

"No, he won't," said Harry. "Only the Khepri beasts will know for sure. I've got to find Khepri... why is he only here when I don't want him?" Harry closed the book, and held it tight in his hands. He couldn't remember a time he had felt more worried and frightened. How long did he have until Voldemort found the Shani Theoris and killed him in his own mind, where nobody could defend him? "I'm going to go and see Snape," said Harry. "Here, take this book, have a look through it for any information you can find at all... don't wait for me."

He turned and hurried away through the dungeon corridors, heading for Snape's office, hoping that Snape wasn't at dinner. He found the door, and knocked on it, hard. A few moments passed, then it opened. Snape stood there.

"Potter? What are you here for?"

"Voldemort's going to kill me," said Harry, desperately. "He's looking for one of the Egyptian ankhs. The Shani Theoris. And when he finds it, he can kill me in my mind. A psychic battle."

Snape raised one eyebrow. "He can, can he? Care to show me a shred of proof for any of this, Potter?"

"What will it take for you to believe me?" said Harry. He gazed at Snape, wishing he would listen, and just trust for once. "Will they have to show you my dead body before you take me seriously? Because that's what it's going to come down to, if you don't listen! Can't you just trust me? Why would I be lying? Do you think I'd make such a fuss if this weren't important? You're supposed to be protecting me. Please, just - "

The unmistakable click of high heels was coming towards them through the darkness. Harry turned. The person he least wanted to see was standing there in the half-light.

"Ah," said Madam Ivy, softly. "Harry... Severus... imagine seeing you two together..."

Snape's lip curled. "Potter is here about Potions homework, Ivy. This has nothing to do with you."

"Oh, I think it does," said Madam Ivy quietly. "You see, Severus, it's taken me a long time to get this far. But I finally have. I would like you both to tell me what is going on, and now."

"There is nothing 'going on'," Snape snarled. "If you need proof that Potter comes to me for Remedial Potions, then I suggest you go and talk to Albus Dumbledore."

"This is out of Dumbledore's hands," said Madam Ivy. She raised one eyebrow. "No matter how hard Dumbledore tries, he cannot argue with the safety of children in this school." She glanced over her shoulder, and two men came out of the darkness behind her, watching Snape with dark expressions. "These men are from Azkaban, Severus. You have the usual rights."

Snape stepped backwards, drawing his wand. Harry did the same. "What am I being charged of?" Snape growled.

"Attempted murder on four accounts," whispered Madam Ivy. "Grievous bodily harm. Gareth Jones, Pansy Parkinson, Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy are all your victims, Severus. We know what you have done."

"Ridiculous," hissed Snape.

Madam Ivy raised an eyebrow. "That is for the ministry to decide. Take him away."

The two men grabbed Snape by the arms, and one took away his wand. Harry stood, terrified, with no idea what on earth he could do. Finally, he decided. He wouldn't let them take Snape, even if it landed him in Azkaban. He drew his wand, and was about to perform a spell, any spell.

"Don't," said Snape's voice in his head. "Don't move."

"But... they'll take you away," Harry thought desperately. "I can't..."

"It's no use," Snape replied. "Just be still. They have no proof. Innocence prevails."

Harry just watched, torn between fright and desperation, as the guards put magical hand-cuffs on Snape's wrists and pushed him roughly towards the steps of the dungeons. Madam Ivy was following them, looking very pleased with herself. Harry didn't know what on earth he could do. He ran through the dungeons to Snape, wanting to at least talk to him, but the guards pushed him back. Finally, in the entrance hall, he stopped trying and just watched as they took Snape away. People were crowding around and watching. Some were whispering behind their hands and looking at Harry curiously, the others were just staring, as though it was entertainment. Madam Ivy had disappeared now. Harry found himself hating her even more, that she hadn't even stayed around and let people know it was her who got Snape taken away.

Snape was lead down the steps of the castle. The whole school was watching now. He was blindfolded roughly, shoved into an Azkaban carriage, and then it moved away. Harry couldn't stay here any longer, amongst people who were acting like it was all a show. He turned and hurried away, rushing up the marble staircase and practically running along the corridors. He didn't even notice going through portraits and trick doors. Finally, he found the hallway where the entrance to Gryffindor Tower was. Madam Ivy stood before him, smirking from ear to ear.

"I thought you'd be running back here," she said, slyly. "Care to give a statement, Harry? I can't give you your rewards now, but at least I could save you your NEWTs, if you're clever enough to tell us everything we need."

"Take them!" Harry spat, furiously. "Just take my grades! Give me Ts! I don't care!" He pushed past her roughly. "Black cat," he snarled at the Fat Lady. She swung forward, and he disappeared into the Gryffindor common room, slamming the portrait behind him.

He sank into an armchair, and covered his face with his hands. Snape was gone. What chance did he have against Voldemort now? He hardly even knew any Psychic Arts, and he couldn't do Dangerous Mind Techniques without being in contact with Snape. He had never felt so helpless before. He closed his eyes, and curled up in his armchair, just as the portrait hole opened.

"Ron? Hermione?" he said, without looking.

There was no reply. Footsteps came across the room, and then a paw rested on his shoulder. "You know who it is," said a voice he didn't have any trouble in recognising.

"Go away," he snapped at Khepri. "Just leave me alone. Just go tell Voldemort where the ankh is, I don't care anymore."

"I've got something for you, actually," said Khepri calmly. "But if you don't want it, I can take it away. Odd that you don't want a reward for coming so far. Learning so much."

"What is it?" said Harry, rather brusquely.

"A clue," murmured Khepri. "You need to find the ankh... and I shall tell you that it is owned now. Somebody who know of, and yet do not know. Somebody who is least expected. Her name... Morgan."

Harry said nothing. He put this information to memory, and then closed his eyes. "Go away," he whispered. When he next glanced over his shoulder, he saw that Khepri had complied. Tired, frustrated and worried, he simply closed his eyes and fell asleep where he was.

He woke up to Hermione's concerned face, and a drink of water being pushed into his hands.

"How are you feeling?" she asked.

"It wasn't a dream then," said Harry quietly.

She shook her head sadly. "Have a drink, you'll feel better."

"I don't think I'll ever feel better," he said. He had a drink anyway. "I can't believe they actually took him away... I mean, he's innocent. He hasn't done anything."

"Sirius didn't do anything," said Hermione quietly. "You know what the ministry are like... they just want somebody they can blame for everything, put them in Azkaban, and then boast about what a good job they've done putting a dangerous criminal behind bars. They did it with Hagrid too, remember? In second year. They're really going to town this time though... I thought you'd want to see." She produced a paper from the inside of her robes. It was a copy of the Evening Prophet. "An owl just brought it to me..."

Harry opened up the Prophet and glanced at the front page. A banner headline proclaimed, "EVIL VAMPIRE CAPTURED BY MINISTRY", and underneath was a large picture of Snape, blindfolded, being lead out of the Azkaban carts. Harry skimmed through the article, but eventually he just got angry and closed the paper, handing it back to Hermione.

"It's just lies," he spat. "All lies. I hate Ivy. She started all this. Why's she done it though? What's she got against Snape?"

"It's her job," said Hermione. She sighed. "The ministry must brain-wash most of their employees, into doing the ministry's bidding. Look at Umbridge, and what they did to Percy Weasley."

"They can't take Snape now," Harry murmured. He shook his head and closed his eyes. "Just as things get really bad for me, with the whole thing about Khepri. I don't know what I'm going to do, Hermione. Any minute I could be sucked into a psychic battle with Voldemort, and I can hardly get anywhere in DMT without Snape."

"There are other Psychic Arts apart from Dangerous Mind Techniques," said Hermione. "We could have a look for books in the library. Maybe you should go to Firenze. I know that the NEWT students in Divination do things like the Psychic Arts. Maybe he'll teach you."

Harry shook his head. "It won't be the same... it's really hard to explain, Hermione. And I know you're just trying to help..." He sighed. "It's just that... I've really got to know Snape. He's nowhere near as bad as I once thought, and I was starting to enjoy his company. I... I was starting to rely on him. You understand, don't you?"

Hermione nodded, and didn't say anything for a moment, before she spoke again, in a very wise sort of voice. "He was becoming a father substitute, and a protector. Now your protection's gone, you're bound to feel vulnerable. Listen, Harry... I've often wondered something... can I ask a question?"

"Go ahead," said Harry.

"You and Snape... in Potions, you both act oddly. Like you're constantly sharing some secret, all the time. Has your guardian bond become telepathic by any chance?"

Harry nodded dully. "Yeah, during the siege of Hogwarts."

"Can you hear him now?" asked Hermione quietly.

Harry thought about this. His eyes instinctively fell shut as he thought across the space between him and Snape, asking, "Are you there...?"

To his utter relief, Snape replied. "Potter..."

"He's here," said Harry to Hermione. He directed his thoughts at Snape again. "Are you okay? Where are you?"

"Azkaban," came the reply in his mind. "The ministry have found out about the guardian bond, Potter. Dumbledore is doing his best to keep it out of the papers, as far as I know, but if we aren't in the Evening Prophet then it will be the Daily edition."

Harry felt his insides sink. "That doesn't matter," he thought, determinedly. "When's your trial? They haven't sent you there without any proof, have they?"

"They have," was the quiet reply. "Guilty until proven innocent. Fudge says it's a precaution. They will only release me if another culprit is caught."

"What if there are more attacks?" thought Harry.

"No," said Snape's voice in his mind. "They need the perpetrator standing before them and confessing until I'll be released. Look... Harry... the chances are that the real vampire at Hogwarts will lie low from now on. Perhaps forever. I... could be here for a long time."

"I'll find who it is," Harry whispered, unaware he was doing it aloud. "I promise. I won't let them keep you in there."

"Do not put yourself in danger," Snape thought. "In no circumstances must you risk yourself, or your education."

"I've already lost my NEWTs," Harry replied quietly. "Madam Ivy told me she's dropping my grades anyway. I don't care about them anymore. Some things are more important than test results."

"I'm sorry you had to get caught up in this, Potter," Snape's voice said softly.

"It's not your fault," Harry whispered. He cut off the link gently, and opened his eyes. He wasn't surprised that they felt very hot.

"He's in Azkaban already, isn't he?" said Hermione.

Harry nodded. "They're not going to let him out until they catch the real person who did it."

"Then we've got three jobs to do," said Hermione. "Everything else can wait. First thing - we have to catch the vampire. Secondly we need to train you up in the Psychic Arts, using books from the library if we have to. And thirdly... we have to make Madam Ivy regret ever being born for what she's done."

Harry nodded. He made option number three his new ambition in life. He had no hope for his NEWTs, not with Ivy on his trail, and he knew he would never find the ankh before Voldemort, not when he was stuck in school. But he could make Ivy pay, or die trying.


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