2. The Doctor is In
Over the course of the summer, Dr. Eregion settled into the life of Hogwarts
as if she had been there for years. Madam Pomfrey gave her quarters in one of
the towers above the infirmary. During the day she could be found in the clinic
with Madam Pomfrey, attending to anyone who had an illness, and going over the
supplies. When there was need, they would journey to Hogsmeade to make house
calls to the wizarding community. Once word spread of her location, the doctor
was sometimes summoned to Saint Mungo's to assist the staff there. Severus
became used to seeing her about in the castle or on the grounds. Dressed in
simple robes of pale aqua-green, she was a distinctive form. When not on call
she could often be found in the library reading some of the old volumes on
magical medical cases or riding her spotted horse over the countryside
surrounding the school. The Wild Hunt, at the request of Dumbledore, returned
to their normal haunts. Several weeks passed quietly and July turned into August.
Severus flipped through a potion-spotted book, keeping half an eye on the
heavy cauldron that boiled thinly near his desk. The smell of sulfur and skink
tails combined to make the air in his office stifling, but he ignored it.
"Students will be back in three weeks and have I found anything new yet
to keep the seventh-years out of trouble? Hah!" He marked a page in
triumph with a flick of his wand. A breeze of clear air entered the room and he
looked up to see Dr. Eregion peering in at him through the half-opened door.
"Good Day, Master Snape. Will it disturb your work if I enter?"
Severus looked at her in some surprise. He had never seen the healer in the
basement halls of Hogwarts. "Not at all. Do come in."
She moved into the chamber, leaving the door ajar, which served to draw out
the fumes that had gathered during his potion brewing. She looked around in
curiosity at the tall shelves filled with ingredients and completed potions.
Potions in all the colors of the rainbow, in bottles tall, squat, faceted, and
plain; they crowded the shelves from floor to ceiling. Jars of pickled screwts
vied for place with canned jubjub eyes. Tins marked "Mummy Dust" sat
beside laquered boxes labeled "Caution - Ashwinder Eggs".
Severus checked his cauldron quickly and gave the magical stirring spoon a
poke; it stirred a little faster. When he turned back to Eregion, he found the
doctor looking at him with a calm, quizzical expression on her brown face.
"To what do I owe the pleasure of your company, Doctor?" He gestured
at the cobweb-hung recesses of his office. "It cannot be for the
Eregion smiled at that, teeth flashing whitely for just a moment, then she
sobered. "I need a potion brewed, Master Snape. Professor Sprout said you
would be the person to consult on this."
"Professor Sprout?" Severus considered this reference for a
moment. "What sort of potion were you wanting? Is the infirmary pharmacy
out of boneheal or sleeping draughts? I believe Madam Pomfrey usually acquires
standard medical stock from the apothecary in Hogsmeade, or from Saint
Mungo's." He glanced at his bubbling cauldron, but the product seemed to
be progressing well on its own. With a word, he banked the fire underneath and
left it to steam.
"Yes, I know Master Stilwell in Hogsmeade normally supplies all of our
medical stock here at the school, but what I require is not normal medical
stock." She gazed thoughtfully at her hands, touching the long fingers
together lightly before her. "I require a potion that has not been brewed
for long ages of men."
"Do you, indeed?" A gesture of his wand served to close the door
to his office. Severus sat on the edge of his desk, folding his arms across his
chest, still holding the wand. He eyed Eregion suspiciously. "You are not
wanting anything illegal, are you?" His voice dropped a tone, becoming
much darker. "There are any number of potions that have not been brewed
for ages - and for good reason. Many of them are hideously perilous. Knowledge
of them is dangerous, as well; the minions of Voldemort are eager to collect
all such forbidden potions and will stop at nothing to acquire them."
Eregion looked at him, sitting upright like a man on guard, holding a wand
in lieu of a sword and once again her sober face lightened for a moment in a
smile. "No, Master Snape, it is no potion for harm, quite the opposite.
The brewing of it has been lost and I feel that it is time to return it to use,
given the situation at hand. I wish to have some on stock in our infirmary
against any future need." She opened her outer robe and rummaged in an
inner pocket, drawing out a handful of dried leaves. "Here is the main
She passed the dried leaves to Severus who handled them carefully, turning
them over and inspecting them closely, then sniffing at them delicately. Even
long dried they had a faint, clean smell. "What are these? I'd say Mentha
piperita , but I know it would not
be correct, the leaves are far too long."
"In the common tongue we speak it is called 'kingsfoil'. In the old language
it was known as Athelas."
"Athelas. Have you the recipe for this potion?" Severus was
becoming interested. A truly new potion was a rare thing. The smell of the
dried herb had convinced him that the main ingredient was not in and of itself
harmful, which lessened his worries that Eregion might have ulterior motives.
"I do indeed." Eregion drew a slip of parchment from her robes and
gave it to him. Severus unfolded it and quickly scanned the list of ingredients
and the instructions, his keen face thoughtful.
"This appears to be a simple decoction, with the leaves of Athelas
being brewed after first soaking." He glanced up at Eregion over the
parchment, dark eyes narrowing.
"You have a question."
"Yes. This recipe could be followed by a first year student, or by
yourself, since I assume that you are competent in the basics of potion
brewing. Why ask me to make it?"
"It is not simply a matter of throwing the correct ingredients into a
cauldron and brewing tea," Eregion chuckled softly. "If it were, I could
indeed make it myself, as you say."
Frowning Severus dropped his gaze back to the instructions. "What is so
difficult then? Your recipe says, 'first take the soaked leaves of Athelas into
your hands and breathe on them, then place them in water just off the
boil…' really, Doctor, anyone could do this."
"Let me see your hands, Master Snape." Eregion held out her own
hands in invitation.
With a shrug, Severus held out his hands to her, and she took them and
turned them so she could see either side. Her fingers traced delicately over
the surface of his potion-stained skin in a way that somehow felt intimate, as
if she could read both mind and heart by the simple act of touch. Severus
shuddered inside but before he could snatch his hands away, she released him
"I was right. I knew it when I healed your hand, when we first met. You
can make this potion."
"Will you please explain why I can make it, and not yourself?" he
asked with some asperity, tucking his hands into the sleeves of his robes.
"Athelas was an herb created to serve the ancient kings. Other
healers such as myself might find it useful, but only the king's hands could
release the full power of the herb." She looked at him expectantly.
Severus rolled his eyes skyward and took a deep, steadying breath.
"Doctor Eregion, last I looked, I wore no crown, nor do I stand in line to
"Ahh, the external trappings are irrelevant in this day and age, my
good Master Snape. The kings of yore are long gone, but their bloodline lives
on, in the blood, body, and bone of their many descendants. Quite a few of them
live on these fair isles. Many are muggles. And some are wizards. And then
there are the very few who understand the subtleties of herb-lore and potions.
Like yourself. Please Master Snape, do try." She leaned forward in
urgency. "I could indeed brew the potion as described in the recipe you
hold, it is hardly beyond my skill. But it would simply be a sweet-smelling
tonic to cleanse the air in a foul room. To make the Potion For the Lifting
of the Shadow, the hands of the king - or his descendent - are needed. Will
you not try? Many people who may otherwise die this year might live, if you
"Potion For the Lifting of the Shadow?" he murmured,
looking again at the parchment, the dour lines of his face becoming deeper as
he thought. He raised his eyes to meet her pale gaze. "You must understand
that my hands are not… clean. The potion may not meet your
expectations." The confession came slowly, painfully. "I have
something of a past, you see."
"It seems I have more faith in you than you have in yourself. All I ask
is that you try. And believe this; the ability is as much part of you as the
color of your eyes. No person, no deed, no matter how dire, can remove it from
you." She did not seem the least bit worried by his oblique reference to
his years as a Death Eater.
Severus knew when he'd been outmaneuvered. "Very well, Doctor, I will
do my best. Come by tomorrow, after lunch. I should have some results by then,
whether positive or negative."
"I will, and thank you." Eregion gave him a formal bow and left,
closing the door behind her.
Severus stared at the barrier blindly for a minute, then looked again at the
recipe, his mouth forming a pained scowl. "Potion For the Lifting of
the Shadow. Brewed by me." Rubbing his left arm absently, he sank into
his chair, pondering the vagaries of fate and the blissful ignorance of
1. Mentha piperita - common peppermint. An herb used
to aid digestion and clear the sinuses.
Grateful thank-yous to my local beta-readers Judi and Kat, and A.L.
-Colleen (aka Murasaki99)
Further disclaimer: This non-profit fan-fiction is not meant to infringe on
the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, either. All his stuff still belongs to him (and