Grazhir :: Harry Potter :: Crumbling Pedestal :: 33 :: Mirror Linking

33 • Mirror Linking

Two days later Arthur Weasley arrived at headquarters, hale and hearty once more, or so Heru was told. The day after that the students returned to Hogwarts, which made Mark happy as the remainder of his friends were now back. Heru had made a halfhearted stab during that period on the mirror, but his disagreement with Albus made him rather less than enthusiastic about it.

He was somewhat grateful to get back into teaching and was in a fairly good mood when lunch was over and his class started, despite the fact that he was the only buffer between Remus and Severus at the table. When his students had settled down, he began after perching himself on the edge of his desk.

“Right! I hope everyone had a good holiday and is ready to get back to work. Today we’re going to be discussing dowsing. That actually covers several forms, so I’ll go over each at least briefly. The first involves using a forked rod or stick. While it isn’t horribly important what kind of wood is used, you will get better results with ash, hazel, willow and rowan. Obviously, we aren’t going to go outside and try this. I don’t know about you, but it’s a bit cold for my tastes.”

A few of the students giggled, but most of them simply smiled.

“Dowsing has been around for at least seven thousand years, if not longer, and it is still used to this day, even by muggles. Common things it’s used for are for locating water, gold, people, fuel sources, and so on. When dowsing, you would hold the forked end of the rod with a hand on each extension, palms up. You’d know you found what you’re after when the rod dips down, and it will give you a certain sense of which way to head prior to that. Personally, I find it a horrible bore, and feel quite silly wandering around outside following a stick. I keep thinking I should woof.”

Some of the students laughed openly.

“The reason you hold it palms up is so that you don’t subconsciously try to influence the rod. If you were holding it palms down, you would be far more likely to drop it yourself inadvertently—it’s rather difficult to do if you’re holding it properly. Moving along, there are several forms of dowsing which use a pendulum suspended by a line, often a crystal or a ring—it depends on what you’re trying to do—though technically, you could use this the same way as you would a forked rod outside. For example, if you were trying to locate a person or an item, you might get yourself a map and spread it out, then suspend a crystal over it and let it start swinging as you move your hand above the surface. If your target is somewhere in that area, the tip of the crystal should hit the map in a specific spot.”

“The next two are also fairly simple. The first involves marking a cross on a sheet of parchment and suspending a ring from silk thread over it. You ask your question, and the direction the ring swings in will tell you yes or no. Anyone know offhand which is which?” Ron raised his hand, surprisingly enough. “Mr Weasley?”

“If it swings from side to side, the answer is no. Up and down would be yes, professor. Just like how we shake or nod our heads.”

“Exactly so. Five points to Gryffindor. Though, I ought to point out that in some countries or cultures, those head motions can be reversed. The next involves silk thread and a ring—or a crystal—but this time it is suspended inside a glass. You ask your question, and the number of times the pendulum taps the side is your answer. Any guesses there?” Neville’s hand crept up, causing Heru additional surprise. “Mr Longbottom?”

“One is yes, two is no, and three or more means it’s uncertain or you’ve asked something that isn’t a yes or no question, sir.”

“Very good. Another five points to Gryffindor. You lot certainly are prepared today considering I didn’t bother to mention what we’d be covering before the holiday started. There is one more method, but it involves materials that you aren’t likely to see just yet, though if anyone is interested, see me after class and I’ll give you some extra credit work on it. For now, let’s start with the two easiest methods, shall we? If you look under your stations you’ll find the necessary tools. Keep in mind—those of you who do not have any trace of the gift—muggles also use dowsing, so you might be surprised at the results you get. If anyone has any trouble or questions, let me know.”

Though there was a great deal of giggling, there were very few questions. He wandered among them for a few minutes, murmuring things like—“be sure to properly visualize your target or think clearly about your question”—and—“don’t try to force it in any particular direction, just let it circle and find its own path”—before heading back to his chair and relaxing. He was quite pleased, actually. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves, and even his rather silly jokes had been met favorably.

He was even more pleased to see that students like Neville were having some success if their faces were anything to go by. When the class ended, several students did stay behind to ask about the extra credit. Heru handed them each a slip of paper with the assignment and waved them off with a smile.

The next morning was not as pleasant. The Daily Prophet ran a small article on Broderick Bode. He had been strangled in his bed at St Mungo’s by a potted plant delivered for him over the holiday, which turned out to be a cutting of devil’s snare. Obviously, someone had wanted the man dead, probably to prevent anyone from learning who had used an unforgivable on him.

A look from Severus told Heru that his mate was thinking the same thing. Neither of them glanced down the table to look at Albus. Heru was not surprised when Albus didn’t even call a meeting over it. It was simply confirmation of what Heru had discovered months ago, albeit in a rather gruesome way. That night he awoke abruptly and went through his ritual of checking on his mate and son; both were fine. With a sigh Heru reached out across the link to find Voldemort, then drew back with a startled cry and woke Severus.

“Get dressed. We need to go see Albus.” Heru grabbed the first robe that came to hand and called Praecino, asking him to wake the headmaster. As soon as Severus was up they apparated directly into Albus’s office. Albus had barely appeared when Heru blurted out, “He’s gone to Azkaban. He’s getting back his supporters and taking the dementors with him.”

Albus’s face went ashen. “Perhaps I was wrong about your ideas for that mirror.”

“Is now really the time to be concerned about that?” Heru turned away and conjured up a mirror, tuning it to Peter Pettigrew with barely a thought. “It’s too late.”

Severus stepped up and scowled. “They’re already leaving the island.”

“Why the hell wasn’t I warned earlier,” hissed Heru. “What the fuck good is this if I don’t get information in time for us to do anything? Bastard just had to hold in his emotions this time.” Albus cleared his throat, causing Heru to turn around and say, “What?”

“We could not understand you.”

“It doesn’t matter. By the time you could send anyone after them, they’d be long gone, apparated to who knows where.” He turned again, watching as Peter groveled at the feet of his master with a mixture of joy and fear twisting his face. Arrayed behind him were ten others, most of whom were holding themselves proudly upright as best they could manage.

“The worst of that lot is Bellatrix Lestrange,” murmured Severus. “Black’s cousin.”

“Well, I guess The Daily Prophet will have another article in the morning,” Heru said rather calmly. “Albus, I will leave this mirror here. If Peter is as much the right hand of Voldemort as he thinks he is, you should be able to learn quite a bit from it. That is, assuming Voldemort doesn’t kill him for being so pathetic. I have to wonder if that’s the only reason he was released with the others.”

“Quite possibly,” murmured Severus.

“I haven’t met the others, damn it. I’m not sure I can locate them if Peter dies,” Heru said softly.

“Severus, Heru, thank you for coming up here, but it is obvious there is nothing we can do at the moment. I will handle things from here, as much as is possible.”

They turned back to face him, then nodded and apparated out. Back in their room they stripped off their robes in the dark and slipped back into bed. “Severus, I’m starting to get a bit worried about Albus. You know him much better than I do. Is he still up for this?”

“Despite appearances, yes. He is simply old, but I have the feeling he would refuse to die even should death come wielding his scythe and try to take him personally. Not before all this is over, anyway. Go back to sleep, my dear Heru. You’ve done what you could for now.”

*

The most exciting thing that happened during the next few weeks was that Mark had attended several classes of Severus’s and was thrilled to have done so. He seemed to be completely unaffected by the news that had thrown most of the British wizarding community into fresh spasms of terror and panic. He had managed to inveigle his way into being Margaret’s Potions partner on the strength of their mutual love of chess, displacing a slightly disgruntled girl who occasionally shot him dark looks—according to Severus.

Mark had learned, though, and quite quickly, that Severus was a different person inside the classroom. The evening after the first lesson found the two of them snuggled up on the couch, no doubt in an attempt to make up for the coldness that Severus generally displayed during lessons. Heru made no comment, only smiled softly at the sight, and went back to working on his mirrors. Having already made the assumption that Voldemort’s newly freed followers would need to recover from their stay at Azkaban and be provided with new wands, he had decided nothing was likely to happen anytime soon.

Remus had occasionally been caught giving both Heru and Severus odd looks, but he never actually asked anything aside from the usual, mundane queries. He generally restricted himself to normal comments about work and classes when Heru saw him at meals. Of Sirius there had been no sign, though Mark had told him that the man had visited the castle on several occasions. And, strangely, or not, there was no word from Lucius.

On the last Saturday of the month, Heru failed at his attempt to use Voldemort’s blood to bypass whatever protection he had against attempts to locate him. After dutifully informing Albus—he chose to send a note via Praecino—Heru destroyed the mirror in disgust.

Severus found him staring at the ceiling from his underlake bed. Instead of offering false comfort he said, “Your link. You lied to Albus about the dinner with Voldemort, so you must have been thinking about your link.”

“Yeah,” Heru said softly.

“Why?”

“I don’t know. I can use it to find him anywhere. There’s got to be something in that, right?”

“Can you duplicate it?”

“What? I can’t even see it!”

“Don’t be so bloody cranky. I’m trying to help.” Severus sat down and scowled at him. “The founders modified your link. Obviously they could see something. Has it occurred to you to ask their portraits?”

Heru sat up abruptly. “Well, no.”

“Then perhaps you should have a little talk with them to see if they have any bright ideas. They might be able to lead you in the right direction to using your link with Voldemort as a template to create one to a mirror,” Severus said patiently. “I’m not suggesting you try to transfer the damn thing, just borrow its structure.” Then he paused with a thoughtful look on his face. “Though, when it comes down to actually defeating him, that might be a wise idea. The fact that you can still sense his emotions, however distantly, makes me quite leery of you remaining linked up through his death.”

“You’re amazing, Sev, did you know that?”

“Yes, quite. And my name is not Sev. I hear enough of that from Draco, thank you very much. Now, are you going to stop moping around over a single failure or do I have to take drastic measures?”

“No, no need,” Heru said hastily. After a pause he squinted at his mate and said, “Have you had any success with an antidote? You haven’t said.”

Severus shook his head. “Not as yet. But I will continue my experiments. I may need to purchase more cauldrons, though, as I seem to be blowing them up or melting them at an alarming rate.”

Heru squinted again; Severus seemed inordinately cheerful. “Are you . . . feeling all right?”

“Of course, why should I not be? I have a pet project I’m doing simply because I wish to, and you, my dear Heru, obviously need me. For all your luck and quick thinking during near-death experiences, you don’t reason all that well at times when things are calmer.”

Heru snorted and batted a hand feebly at Severus. “Fine, you win that round. I already knew you were smarter than me, so I don’t see why you have to rub it in.”

“How could I possibly pass up such a golden opportunity?” Severus grinned at him. “You do leave yourself so delightfully open at times.”

“Fine, fine, fine. Now are you going to be nice to me, or should I get out of bed and go chat up some paintings?”

Severus arched a brow, then leaned in.

*

Heru found it somewhat inconvenient that the portraits he had hung in his study were behind his desk, as that meant he could not lean back in his chair and prop his feet on the desk while he conversed with them. Since that was unacceptable, and he refused to turn his desk around so that his back faced the door, he moved the portraits—or at least, those of the four founders.

Once they were arranged on easels in front of his desk to his satisfaction, he began by briefly explaining the current situation he was facing and trying to overcome. Then he folded both arms behind his head and waited.

Predictably, it was Rowena who spoke. “Heru, I suppose that it is possible for you to detach your link entirely, now that you can actually sense it and use it. But, we’ll get to that later. There is a way for you to see it, though.”

Heru would have dropped forward were his legs not already half on the desk. “You forgot to teach me something?”

She flashed him a quick smile that was entirely unrepentant. “Well, I suppose you could say that. I never really saw the point of it. It’s like being a ghost, only with less ability than even they possess to communicate. I suppose you could use it to spy with, but . . . you would have to be very, very good to reach any distance.”

“So what is it?”

“Why, astral projection, of course. I’m sure I mentioned it, at least.”

Heru shook his head.

“Are you quite sure? No? Well, all right. Before I get into any kind of an explanation, let me ask you a question. Do you know if this Voldemort person is able to possess other people?”

“Er. . . . I don’t know. Wait, yes. Of course he can. He shared a body with Quirrell, doesn’t that count?”

“All right, though in that case he may have been invited. Still, that means it is likely he can possess someone against their will as well. In what you’re going to try to do, it should not matter. But I would advise that you always stay underlake when you attempt this. There is too much at risk for you personally to allow others to be privy to these attempts.”

“Okay.”

“Do you remember that day, Heru, when I took you into your mind? You set aside everything around you, and those feelings and thoughts of your own?”

“Yes.”

“This is somewhat similar, so I do not think you will have much, if any, trouble. When you can achieve the state, you’ll be able to look at yourself, and see the link for what it is. To do this, just find a comfortable place, a safe place—I would recommend your bedroom—and close your eyes. Relax—you may even approach that point where dreams are just beginning—and simply see yourself floating away from your body. You may feel it, or hear something, but don’t be alarmed. With your sight, you’ll be able to see not only the connection you have to your physical body, but your link to Voldemort as well. Study it, work with it, and if you still have questions after that point, come back to us.”

Salazar nodded sharply. “I’m sure we can figure something out, brother, if you cannot.”

Heru cast an affectionate smile at his brother before saying, “And to get back?”

“Just wish it so, Heru. Or, failing that, try to fall asleep. It will happen naturally.”

“All right, thank you. I’ll go let Severus know what I’m up to so he doesn’t inadvertently interfere, and give it a try.”

He found Severus in the underlake laboratory, and peeked inside cautiously, having remembered what his mate had said about his failures. Severus looked entirely focused, so Heru hovered uncertainly, wondering if interrupting him would cause a catastrophe or not. He was startled, therefore, when without bothering to look up Severus said, “Yes, Heru. What is it?”

“I wanted to let you know I’d be trying an experiment. Rowena was able to give me an idea, and I don’t know quite how I’ll look from the outside. I didn’t want you to be alarmed or anything.”

Severus looked up and arched a brow.

“Astral projection,” Heru said.

“I see. I assume you won’t be projecting yourself into the lab, then.”

Heru shook his head. “Of course not. Who do you think I am, one of the twins?”

Severus snorted and dropped his gaze back to his potion. “I will check on you later, then, assuming you do not come find me first.”

“Sure.” Heru ducked back out of the door and went to his bedroom. Mark was revealed to be off with friends, so Heru made himself comfortable in his bed again, precisely where he had started before Severus had come after him in the first place.

*

Someone was shaking him gently, but as he felt very comfortable as he was, he grunted slightly in protest and rolled over. He ignored the exasperated sigh and snuggled up to his pillow.

“Heru, if you do not wake up this instant and come to dinner, I assure you that you will not like what I do. As it is, I do not know how you plan to manage to fall asleep tonight if you insist on taking naps at such odd hours.”

“Can wear me out later,” Heru said faintly, drawing the blankets closer around him.

“Oh, I assure you, I will. Did you even manage to accomplish anything?”

“Mm. Link very interesting.”

“Will you please get up?”

Heru cracked open an eye, then closed it and rolled over. A second attempt brought Severus into focus. “Didn’t mean to fall asleep.”

“As you say.” Severus reached out to brush the hair away from Heru’s face, then rose and tugged back the covers. “Come on. Dinner. Food? You’d like that, I’m sure. Then we can talk.”

Heru sighed at the loss of his warm, cozy nest and sat up. “I really didn’t mean to fall asleep, Severus. And I was having such an interesting dream.” He slanted a look at his mate. “You would have liked it.”

“Oh?”

“Mm. There was this Potions Master and his naughty student—you wouldn’t believe what his detention was like. . . .”

*

Heru spent the next few weeks studying his link and trying odd little experiments with mirrors in between classes, meals, and time spent normally with Severus and Mark. Lucius had still not contacted him, and that was becoming something of a worry to him. Heru did not know if it meant his little act had inadvertently convinced Voldemort that he was beyond his reach, or that Voldemort thought he was too wily and needed additional consideration before another move was made.

His first attempt at mirror linking—as opposed to tuning—was done with him trying to link a thread of his own magic to one. Of necessity, he did not simply spin it free—he left it attached to himself. One thread provided no visible result, so he added more slowly, one at a time. The surface fuzzed at first, then gradually, as each thread was added, it started to form a more definite image.

Heru left it at a blurry mid-stage. Though he had not linked a huge amount of his own magic to the mirror, he wanted to see the actual results of his tinkering so far and see if it had any adverse reactions for him personally. He did, of course, ask Severus to please keep an eye on him, as his mate would be as likely to notice anything odd as he himself might.

When nothing untoward happened over the following week, Heru went back to the mirror and continued to link threads to it until the image was perfectly clear. He went to bed that evening satisfied for the moment, intent on letting it sit for at least another week. As the following day was St Valentine’s, he decided that was just as well, not that he had some sappy idea of him and Severus hieing off to Madam Puddifoot’s for a cozy lunch—he’d sooner die than be caught in that place after what he had heard of it.

Something of interest did happen, however.