Disclaimer: None of these characters belong to
me. They all belong to J.K. Rowling. I am thankful to her for allow everyone
to play with them. I am also thankful to Wombat for beta-reading this.
of Those Potter Nights
Severus Snape, Master of Potions, stood in the headmaster's office. He stared
impatiently at the empty canvas in front of him. Occasionally, his eyes
flickered to the other paintings. The faces of the headmasters and mistresses
past watched him warily.
going to be one of those nights ,
he thought sourly to himself. One of those Potter nights. As if
he didn't have enough work already, what with taking on McGonagall's exams in
addition to his own. And he was missing dinner.
Nigellus sauntered back into his painting. "Did you miss me?" he
Is Black there? " Snape demanded.
painted master smiled slowly, stroking his beard in amusement. "Temper,
Professor," he said. "I'm bound to aid the headmaster, but I have no
such obligation to the staff."
made a sound of frustration and turned on his heel. He paced to the other end
of the office, turned and paced back. "If you don't mind, sir ,"
he said, contempt dripping in his voice, "I would appreciate
there," the painting replied. "I spoke to him directly."
thanks," Snape said, giving a small ironic bow. Again, he turned on his
heel and strode quickly from the office.
slowed a moment as he approached the hallway to Headmistress Umbridge's office.
He would need a reason to knock. A good reason. Fortunately, he had noticed
Peeves rearranging the suits of armor in rude positions. That would do
for the moment.
the door to her office was open. There were signs of a struggle, but no
students. No headmistress, either. The open window looked out towards
the Forbidden Forest, and, as he glanced through it, he saw a strange rustling
down within the trees. Something was disturbing the denizens, but only Hagrid
would have known what it might be. He had more pressing concerns.
He checked Filch's office. No one hanging
from the thumbscrews. Where did she take them? He checked the
classrooms. Nothing. No one in the Library. He even checked that the Firebolt
was securely locked in the dungeons.
he made his way up the moving staircases to the portrait of the Fat Lady.
"Let me in."
me in you corpulent waste of paint before I draw a moustache on you."
climbed through the portrait to find Finnigan and Thomas in the common room,
along with some other students. There appeared to be a celebration going
on; both boys were holding butterbeers. They rose quickly in terror to
see the black-clad potions master in their sanctuary.
is Potter?" he demanded.
Have you gone deaf?"
not here, Professor. We haven't seen him for hours. Not since he had that fit
in the History of Magic exam."
glanced at the stairs. "Check the dormitories."
Thomas scurried up the steps. He came down almost immediately. "Nobody's
up in our room," he said. "Harry's trunk is open, though."
turned and left the two boys staring open mouthed at each other. His next stop
was the hospital wing. There he found the Inquisitorial Squad in various states
of pain and distress. Malfoy looked to be in the worst shape, as there were a
good dozen bats attacking him from all sides. Blood was pouring down his face
from his nose.
goodness you're here," gasped Madam Pomfrey, who was busy deflating Millicent
Bulstrode's head, "I can't get that bat spell off."
Finite incantatem, " Snape muttered. The bats disappeared. Malfoy
glowered at him, his face flushed with humiliation.
Mr. Malfoy," Snape said. "I hesitate to ask how it is I find you
here, when your captives are obviously off enjoying a snicker at your
got distracted watching that Mudblood and Potter leading Umbridge into the
forest," Draco said sullenly. "She wanted to see the weapon. Then
that little red-haired brat kicked me and I dropped their wands."
That weapon they were making for Dumbledore. Umbridge couldn't wait to find out
what it was."
see," Snape said, indifferently. He took a moment to make sure that
Draco's nose had stopped bleeding. "When you are recovered, write me a
list of the hexes they used. It will be helpful in assigning detentions."
left the hospital wing and made his way out of the castle to the Forbidden
Forest. They had left a clear path. Almost as if they wanted to be followed. He
clambered through the forest as quickly as he could. But the sun was swiftly
setting. As the darkness grew, the trail became harder to follow. Twice he lost
it and had to double back. It took him a good hour before he came to a large
violent had taken place. The trees were uprooted, broken arrows littered the
ground, hoof marks were pressed into the mud, and there were dark shining pools
of what looked to be giant blood. The thestral herd had gathered to lick at the
pools, making it impossible to find any coherent trail. He did find a broken
wand, which he recognized as Professor Umbridge's.
Umbridge and centaurs--that was not a good combination. But he could not
believe--for all their bluster--that the centaurs would have harmed children.
Where had they gone? The giant blood was also disturbing. He stepped
closer to a pool to examine it and found himself being nudged aside by a
thestral. He waved his hand impatiently and the solution suddenly hit him. Just
to be sure, he counted the dark grey thestral heads. Six were missing. It was
beginning to make sense.
ran back to the headmistress's office. Grabbing a handful of floo powder, he
threw it into the fire. He flung himself on the hearth and stuck his head into
he roared. A dark-haired figure at the kitchen stove turned and stared back at
him with hostility.
going on?" Sirius Black strode quickly to the fireplace, knocking over a
chair in the process. He knelt down. "Are you checking up on me
again? It's none of your business if I'm in the house or not!"
provoke me, you moron," Snape snapped. "Your precious godson has gone
missing. He went into the forest over three hours ago, and he hasn't come
paled. He reached out for the edge of the fireplace. "He went into the
the question," Snape said. "He and Granger fed the headmistress some
story about a weapon and they all left together. I have reason to believe they
were followed soon after by four other students."
looked completely bewildered. Snape saw a figure step up behind him and
put a hand on his shoulder. He recognized the long fingers of Remus Lupin.
said they had a weapon, " Snape said. "Does that ring any
chimes in that empty belfry you call a mind?"
weapon…" Black knitted his brows. "When Harry first arrived here, he
asked what we thought Voldemort was doing. We mentioned he might be looking for
that what you called it?" Snape curled his lip. "I suppose that was
as good a word as any. No doubt it excited their overactive imaginations."
insulting me and go find him, you useless git!" Black thundered. Lupin
moved to the other side of Black and knelt with a painful wince.
turned his head and glanced out the window. The sun had completely set and the
moon was rising over the mountains.
not that simple," he hissed. "When I sent your
great-great-grandfather to find you it was because Potter told me, 'He has
Padfoot at the place where it's hidden. '"
Black faltered. "There's no way Harry could know where it is."
gritted his teeth, suddenly furious. "Yes, he could."
our…" He couldn't say the word. "I saw something in his mind.
The corridor in the Department of Mysteries."
trial was near the Department--"
the outer department. The inner department."
he'd never have been there."
But he's seen it. He's had it in his mind. Otherwise he wouldn’t have
seen you there."
interrupted gently. "You mean, Lord Voldemort sent Harry a false vision?
Is that possible?"
is…" Snape said slowly. "It's very difficult, but it is
possible." His eyes flickered back and forth as he thought about how it
might be done. The simplest plan would be to Polyjuice a Death Eater.
Getting a piece of Sirius Black was a stumbling block--but not insurmountable.
even if Harry thought Sirius was in danger," Lupin said in his calm way,
"What could they do? They have no way to reach London on their own."
Snape spat the word out like a curse.
eyes widened. "Thestrals," he repeated, shaking his head. "I
can't believe I forgot about Hagrid's herd. Hermione even mentioned them at
Christmas. How long ago did they leave?"
last time I saw them was three hours ago in this office. When I returned, they
had gone. I've been searching for them for at least two hours now."
looked up, as if he were calculating distances. "If it took them half an
hour to get rid of the Headmistress and another half an hour to find the
thestrals--" He glanced sideways at Black, "They'll have reached the
suggest you collect as many of the Order as you can find," Snape said.
"The Dark Lord will not be there alone."
rushed away immediately. Lupin stayed at the fireplace, his eyes searching
many do you think there will be?"
considered a moment. "It depends on what the Dark Lord's true plan is. It
might be as few as ten. It might be as many as twenty. I cannot be more
specific than that."
nodded. Snape could see him calculating again. No matter how you figured it,
the odds weren't going to be good. Looking past Lupin, Snape noticed the
overturned chair by the table.
Black," Snape said slowly, "perhaps he should wait at the house in
case Professor Dumbledore shows up."
used his image for a reason. They must know how fond the boy is."
sighed heavily, and rubbed his forehead. "You know he won't stay. And
frankly, we can't spare him."
leaned forward a little. "Lupin," he said. "I cannot do more,
you understand? I have done all that I can here."
other man nodded. "Perhaps you could check the forest again--just in case.
We'll take care of things here." He gazed silently at Snape for a few more
seconds than was strictly necessary before turning away and rising slowly to
rose from the hearth and brushed the ashes from his clothing. On the wall,
big-eyed kittens tumbled adorably in endless play on the many ornamental plates
Dolores Umbridge owned.
raised one eyebrow. He glanced out the window again. Dolores Umbridge was with
the centaurs. No matter what else took place this night, her reign was at an
cool deliberation, Professor Snape raised his wand and aimed it, shattering
each plate into fragments, one by one… by one.