Grazhir :: Harry Potter :: Crumbling Pedestal :: 30 :: Territorial Exploration

30 • Territorial Exploration

The next morning Heru was in a better mood. It had felt good in a perverse sort of way to say those things to Sirius. His godfather had been so intent on disassociating himself from his family’s ways that he had gone completely overboard in despising what they stood for. He had never really matured, either, and Azkaban certainly hadn’t helped the situation. As much as Heru wished he could feel about Sirius the way he had as a child, his adult perspective wouldn’t allow for it.

He knew that Sirius was not entirely to blame; Severus had added his own caustic nature into the mix and made things much worse. Heru would never know the whole of it, though, not unless he was able to view the entire progression of events from an unbiased point of view. That being exceedingly unlikely, he was willing to set aside the issue of who started what.

Severus had continued to temper his actions, waiting until it was only Heru or Albus before launching into snide remarks and underhanded digs. Maybe it had started with an eye toward Mark’s feelings, and maybe it had been reinforced when Severus learned the truth of who Heru had been, but he was trying, at least in public.

Heru hadn’t been lying, though. He had absolutely no expectations of Severus and Sirius ever becoming friends. That would have required a miracle of the highest order. He pushed aside his thoughts with a purely mental sigh and started to roll out of bed, reversing himself when Severus snaked out an arm and latched onto him with a sleepy murmur. Consequently, it was much later than he had planned when he did rise, shower, and seek breakfast.

He found Mark reading quietly in his room a short time after and asked him if he wanted to try out a few things. Mark responded by flipping the book onto the bed and leaping to his feet, the picture of eagerness, so they moved out to the lounge and got comfortable.

“Now, some of what I’m going to ask you to do may sound really silly, but bear with me.” When his son nodded, Heru said, “Good. Close your eyes, then.” He pulled his wand out from behind his ear and held it up in front of Mark’s face.

“I want you to try to imagine what you’d be seeing if your eyes were open. Try that for a bit, take your time, and tell me if you notice anything odd, okay?”

Mark nodded and furrowed his brow. After a few minutes the furrow became more pronounced. “Why am I seeing a thin glowing line?”

“Where is it, and how is it positioned?”

“Right in front of my face, and it’s perpendicular to the floor, about a foot long.”

“Open your eyes.”

Mark did and jerked back almost immediately. “Wow.”

“That’s one test, then. When we are done here you’re going to start practicing, trying to identify all the magical objects in a room with your eyes closed, and verify when you think you have everything, all right?”

“Yes, father.”

“Eventually, if you have enough of the Sight, you can do it with your eyes open. But for now, let’s try something else. See that piece of paper over there? Try to call it to you. Don’t speak, just call it with your mind and imagine it coming to your hand.”

“Won’t I get in trouble if it works for being underage?”

Heru shook his head. “You aren’t using a wand, for one thing. And with the magical ambiance being what it is here, I doubt anyone will even notice.”

Mark shot him a suspicious look, then concentrated. After a minute of effort the paper slid an inch across the table it was on, then stopped.

“Not bad,” Heru said with a smile. “That’s something else for you to practice, but only here in our quarters, understand? Start out with small, light objects. If you can master those, you can try something with a little more weight. Actually, that’s enough for right now. Two is enough to begin with. When you get tired of practicing, or bored, I want you to write me up a list of ways you could use these two to your advantage.”

“All right.”

“And don’t forget lunch, either.”

Mark nodded and ran off, possibly so that Heru couldn’t give any more instructions. Heru set about finding something he could transform into a real mirror rather than conjuring one. He was actually a little surprised that his temporary ones had lasted as long as they had. He did not want the one he tried to use as a mirror for Voldemort to vanish unexpectedly, not when he only had a minute portion of blood to work with.

The castle interrupted at that point with a vision, so Heru apparated to the location she specified and returned with a magnificent example of a standing mirror. Severus wandered out of the bedroom just as Heru was preparing to move the mirror to a less trafficked spot in their quarters and headed straight for the fireplace. Heru moved the mirror into their library, then came back.

After pouring himself a cup of tea, he sat down across from Severus and smiled. “I tried a few things this morning.”

“Mm?”

“Mark can apparently see magic and has some ability at wandless magic.”

Severus managed to look more interested. He was strangely out of it for a man who usually passed from sleeping to waking in a heartbeat.

“I have no idea yet how strong he’ll be at them, though.”

“I thought you said you could tell power levels just by looking.”

“Yes, but that doesn’t exactly apply here. For example, I had to work to find the parselmouth ability. If I had sat down in the past and made . . . a map, I suppose you could say . . . then I would know better now how to judge. And, I cannot study myself. Anyway, Mark is practicing right now. Later on I or you can see if he can determine what an object is by its magical signature rather that simply being able to tell that it’s magical.”

“The mirror?”

Heru nodded. “The library. I’ll start work in a bit to see if I can tune it to Voldemort. I’d be a lot happier if it works knowing I wouldn’t have to keep reaching out. Still, it’s only sight and sound, not a look into his mind.”

“The less you’re in there, the better. Then, I’ll be marking papers today, getting them out of my hair. The sooner those are done, the more time I’ll have to relax.” Severus squinted at the clock. “I can get plenty done before lunch.”

Heru and Severus separated shortly after. Heru had a number of things he wanted to check into and try, the first of which was to study in detail the mirrors he’d already been tuning. A lot of time had been spent teaching him how to do certain things, but not much on why or how they worked. He used conjured, transfigured, and normal mirrors, all tuned to the same person, to determine the differences and how much effect they had on the spell, if any, as well as how the spell related to the target. He also experimented with obsidian, but that tended to lose the spell almost as soon as he had placed it.

That, and Severus working with Mark on honing his newfound abilities, took them right through to Christmas day. They opted to remain in their quarters until noon, at which point they took lunch in the Great Hall to be sociable. Very few students had stayed over during the break so it was not a huge gathering. As soon as everyone had finished eating Mark ran off with a friend who had remained, and Heru and Severus retired to cozy up on the couch in front of a crackling fire. Heru hadn’t bothered to spy on the people at № 12 Grimmauld Place, despite having arranged for gifts for each of them—anonymously, of course.

Two days later the tapestry had finally filled out enough to be useful. After a great deal of scrolling Heru found the name he was looking for and began tracing it down to Tom Riddle’s. What he found was a little shocking, and Severus felt much the same when Heru showed it to him. Heru decided to contact Tonks to see if she would be willing to bring her tapestry by so he could do a little comparing. She was, and stopped by that afternoon. This time she was led to their quarters.

Tonks chattered away brightly at a mostly silent Severus as Heru traced through her tapestry; he found the same peculiar results. Heru waited until she paused for breath and interrupted.

“Tonks, I’m not quite sure if this is good news or bad news,” he said. Severus gained new interest in the conversation and straightened.

“What? Is it that odd name?”

“Yes,” he said gravely. “I very strongly suspect that the ancients had a way of becoming another person, so to speak. And if my suspicions are correct, that odd name was actually an alias, a new identity, of Salazar Slytherin after he left Hogwarts.”

“But that would mean—I’m not even a parselmouth!”

“No, but I think I have a good idea why. Look here.” He indicated a spot on the tapestry and began tracing it down. “If you notice, it is not your mother in the direct line. It’s your supposedly muggle-born father who carries Slytherin blood. If you look at the colours of the names as we go along, you’ll see that he descends from a line of squibs. I cannot tell from this if one of them left the wizarding world to live as a muggle or not. The point is, the potential was always there, and when your father married your mother, a pure-blood, it resulted in you, with the metamorphmagus ability.”

“Auntie Tonks?” she said, making the vague connection.

“If you like.” Heru smiled warmly. “I’m sure Mark will be thrilled, actually, though I wouldn’t be very open with this information if I were you.”

Her face dimmed for a moment. “Yes, of course.”

“It gets more interesting, though, and this is where you make the obvious, and not so good connection.”

“Eh? Voldemort?”

“Yes. Look at this one—we’ll start with the same name. You’ll notice that there is a different son born to Yshan, not the one that leads to you.” She nodded, so he continued with, “If we trace this down, we lead to Voldemort’s muggle father.”

Tonks let out a merry laugh. “I bet that would get his knickers in a twist, wouldn’t it?”

“I expect so. Now keep in mind, I have yet to prove that this Yshan is actually Salazar, but it seems frighteningly likely. There are a couple of other suspect names on your tapestry, but none of them appear on this one.”

“How did you—”

“Guile and deceit, my dear Tonks.”

She grinned broadly. Heru thought she was taking the news far better than he had hoped for; she must have an extraordinary sense of self to be so relaxed. “Well, I suppose it comes with the territory for metamorphmagi, eh?” she pointed out shrewdly, giving him an exaggerated wink, then laughing again.

“But this is great,” she continued. “I actually have more wizarding relations who aren’t supporters of the pure-blood manifesto!”

“Would you like to stay for dinner? I’m sure Mark would like to see you again, also.”

She stopped bouncing and dimmed. “Can’t,” she said with a sigh. “I’m on duty in a bit. I planned on grabbing some takeout on the way into the Ministry for my shift. Another night?”

“Sure. You’re an auror, correct?”

“That’s right. A ruddy bore over a holiday, too. Most people end up at St Mungo’s over a family argument. But still, we need to be available in case something comes up. Do you need that for another day or so?” She pointed at her tapestry. “I know you might want to show Albus or something. I can just pop round on my next free day to collect it, and maybe have lunch?”

“That would be very helpful, thanks,” said Heru.

“Right! I need to be off, then.” She bounced over to give him a quick hug, started to do the same to Severus, but paused, remembering who he was, and instead gave him a cheerful wave, then left.

Severus turned to him and slowly said, “I am related to her.”

“Yup! ‘Fraid so.”

“I may never recover.”

“Don’t be such a baby. She’s a nice girl.”

Severus pinned him with a frosty look. “She has enough energy to make a five year old tired just watching her. I suggest we take these tapestries and go see Albus. I’m sure he will be equally thrilled with the news.”

“Just imagine how Voldemort will feel.” They each packed up a tapestry and apparated to the entry, then continued on in to Albus’s office.

The next day a letter arrived at breakfast. Heru checked it over for magic before opening it, as he always did with anything not delivered by phoenix, and shook out the contents. Rather than a normal letter, it was revealed as a rectangular piece of thick, stiff paper. Fancy black script wrote out a message, and the first letter of each line was edged in gilt.

Heru hadn’t even read it yet and he was already suspicious.

You are cordially invited to dinner at Malfoy Manor
on the evening of 8th January,
with cocktails to begin at 7pm.
Please RSVP to let Narcissa and myself know if your
son will be joining you and Severus on this occasion.

It was signed ‘Lucius Malfoy’ and embossed with the Malfoy family crest in the lower right corner. Not having received a formal invitation for anything before, Heru had no idea if this was the proper way of doing things. After staring at it for a minute he flipped it over to Severus, who skimmed it and snorted.

“How utterly delightful. Mark is not going,” Severus said firmly.

“No, he is not. I also note that he seems to assume we will not decline the invitation. What do you know about Malfoy Manor?”

“I’ve been there numerous times. Prepare yourself for understated elegance, a quarry’s worth of marble, the usual. No apparation wards that I’m aware of. I doubt we’d see anything out of the ordinary.”

“Except, perhaps, other guests?”

“That may be. And while I think Lucius would never dare tamper with the food, it would be unwise to assume he might not.”

“That’s not a problem. I suppose we should go see Albus again.”

*

Tonks arrived shortly before noon two days later and announced herself by banging on their door several times. When Heru opened it—the castle had flashed him her image before he could check who was on the other side—she was gazing up at the corridor ceiling, whistling, and bouncing slightly on the balls of her feet. She gave a theatrical start, then grinned slightly when he appeared. “How come you live with Severus, anyway?” she asked.

“It was convenient originally, and temporary,” he said as he stepped back to allow her entrance, “and it seemed silly to change things after a while.” He shrugged with apparent indifference. “Severus does not mind, and he is of Slytherin House.”

“I suppose that makes sense.” She bounced into the middle of the lounge and looked around with bright eyes.

Heru crossed the room to indicate her tapestry, neatly contained in a waterproof case. “Don’t forget to take that when you leave, of course,” he said, then moved to sit down. “I’ve been sent a dinner invitation from Lucius Malfoy, by the way. I do believe that my efforts are beginning to pay off in some obscure way.”

She dropped onto the couch and grinned. “Better you than me!”

“Yes, well. . . .” Heru shrugged and smiled back. “That remains to be seen. Listen, are you free on the eighth?”

She raised her brows and shifted her gaze down, her eyes going a bit wide. Then she blinked and looked up. “Sure am. Why?”

“It is rather short notice, but I thought perhaps you might wish to spend that evening with Mark. And, incidentally, keep an eye on him at the same time. Severus will be going with me, you see, and quite frankly, I am loathe to leave my son in the hands of certain people while we’re away from the castle. You, however, are family.”

“I can do that, sure! It would be fun,” she assured him.

“We will be leaving here at around seven, but you are certainly welcome to arrive earlier than that.” He looked away as Severus arrived, and their son.

Lunch went well enough. Mark was pleased to hear that Tonks was a member of the family and took to the idea immediately. That her energy level was a match for his was just as well. Severus was almost sociable, though it was clear to Heru that he found the girl to be excessively wearying. The concept of a family comprised of—essentially—nice people might be new to him, but he was handling the adjustment well enough, disdaining his usual sarcasm for something a bit more restrained and mellifluous.

Heru smiled frequently during the meal, though he was careful not to aim it at his mate too often. And eventually, Tonks wandered off, taking her tapestry with her, promising to return on the eighth. No one was foolish enough to refer to it as keeping an eye on him to Mark, though.

*

They arrived shortly after seven, Severus having assured Heru that it was never the done thing to show up on time. A house-elf answered the door and admitted them, then took their travel cloaks and showed them into a lounge. Three people rose to greet them; Draco was nowhere in sight. Two were white-blond, naturally. The third, a man, had light brown hair and hazel eyes, with the kind of face that was easily forgettable.

“Ah, Heru and Severus,” said Lucius. “How delightful to see you again. We’re so glad you could come. Narcissa, dear, let me introduce Heru Slytherin. Heru, this is my lovely wife, Narcissa.”

She extended a porcelain white hand and Heru captured it in his own, placing a butterfly kiss on the back before releasing it. She nodded to Severus by way of greeting, then stepped back and settled in the chair she had vacated.

“Heru, Severus, this is a recent acquaintance of ours, Xavier Chaldren. Xavier, Heru Slytherin and Severus Snape.” As they exchanged a round of hand shakes Lucius said in a supposed aside to Xavier, “They are both professors at Hogwarts.” To them he said, “Would you care for a drink to start with?”

Heru glanced over at the selection carefully and determined it was safe. “Beaujolais?”

“Certainly. Severus?”

“The same, if you please.”

“Of course. Please, make yourselves comfortable.”

They took seats in matching chairs, and Heru took the time while Lucius was pouring to briefly study Xavier while Severus engaged the man in a meaningless query about his work. Heru saw what he expected to see, a glamour. Beneath the layer of magic obscuring his real features was a stretched-smooth, pasty-white face with slits for nostrils like a snake and eyes that matched.

Xavier professed to be in the import business. Heru held back his disbelief; everyone knew that was a commonly used euphemism for underhanded activities. Lucius arrived with two glasses and Heru rechecked them; neither had been tampered with. The next fifteen minutes were spent in an excruciatingly boring round of social pleasantries, and he was hard pressed to keep the smile on his face. So, it was something of a relief when a cowed looking elf popped in to announce that dinner was served.