Grazhir :: Harry Potter :: Induction :: 02 :: Finessing the Truth

02 • Finessing the Truth

Sunday, 3 November 1996

Severus once again found himself striding forcefully toward the headmaster’s office, muttering under his breath at the waste of his time. However, he knew that if he did not go to Albus, Albus would come to him, and it was a foregone conclusion that the headmaster would pick a very bad time to do so.

He hissed the password as he approached the gargoyle, not even breaking stride as it leapt out of his way and he stepped onto the staircase. Reaching the top, he walked the remainder of the distance to the office door, knocked sharply and yanked it open and stepped through, kicking it shut behind him.

He sat down and leveled a dour glare at the elderly man who was in the act of reaching for his dish of sweets. “No, Albus, I would not like one.”

“Ah, Severus. So good to see you, dear boy. I trust you have come to update me on Harry’s progress with his Occlumency lessons.”

“My day would hardly be complete were I to miss such a golden opportunity, Albus,” he deadpanned.

“Well then, what have you to report?”

Severus tactfully refrained from speaking his mind plainly and instead settled for saying, “He progresses. Potter has finished the text I provided him with, and been tested on his retention and comprehension of the contents. After sorting through several ways for him to try to visualize the kind of defenses he’ll need, we finally settled upon one which seems to be holding up fairly well. However, it will still be quite some time before I can be sure of that. In the meantime, I’ve been continuing to investigate alternate methods in my copious spare time in the event that our current handle on the situation disintegrates.”

“Oh my, that does sound interesting, Severus. So he’s been creating an image in his head and concentrating on how that could reasonably react to such an attack. Yes, yes, he is a rather visual sort, isn’t he.”

Severus arched a brow at the headmaster.

“Do you have any idea how long it will take before Harry is as skilled as he must be at Occlumency?”

Severus shook his head slightly. “No. It will take quite some time before I’d have a reliable indication. Just because his defenses usually stand up does not mean they will continue to do so without regular practice and reinforcement, not to mention testing. I expect that the Christmas holiday will be a different kind of test as well.”

“Yes, I see,” Albus said, reaching out to grab a sweet and popping it into his mouth.

“You can rest assured that they are at least holding for the nonce. Every lesson I must endure with the brat will reinforce those defenses as reflex, not reaction, and that is all to the good.”

“All right, Severus. It appears that everything is in your capable hands. Please do let me know if you run into any problems.”

Severus stood up smoothly and said, “As you wish,” before exiting.

*

Potter arrived right on time, knocking politely to let Severus know he was there and waiting for the door to be opened. Seeing Severus jerk his chin toward the chair, the boy quietly went to it, lowered his bag to the floor, and sat down.

“Good. Wand on the desk, Potter. You should know the drill by now.” After the smooth cylinder of wood clicked against the surface, Severus finished setting the privacy wards and moved to stand between the two desks, facing Potter.

“Now, you should also know by now that I expect you to be prepared from the second you walk in that door. In fact, I would expect you to be prepared if I bumped into you in a hallway and attempted to break into your mind. So from this point on I will dispense with the pleasantries. With me so far?”

“Yes, professor.”

“Good. From now on, when you step into this room you will seat yourself as you are now and place your wand on the desk in front of you. If you prefer, you can simply leave it in your robes or your bag. And I will not coddle you and give you a moment to prepare yourself, because I am quite certain you will have already done so.”

He paused to give the boy a significant look then said, “So once you are seated in that chair, expect to be attacked without warning. Are you clear on this, Mr Potter?”

“Yes, sir.”

It was an hour into the lesson and Potter’s defenses hadn’t faltered once, so Severus told him to rest for a few minutes before they would continue. He paced back and forth for a few minutes to stretch his legs, then turned to face the boy. Clearing his throat, he said, “Haze, go under,” the moment his eyes lifted.

Potter immediately sagged in his chair, his eyes rolling back slightly before they closed entirely.

“Haze, go deeper,” Severus said, and watched as the boy’s body seemed to bleed out tension, then repeated the trigger several more times with a short pause in between each repetition. When he was satisfied he said, “Haze, wake up.”

Severus shifted position, then started the process once again, repeatedly having the boy fall into a trance, bringing him to a deep state of relaxation, then waking him. A half hour later, he decided that he’d given Potter enough reinforcement for the moment, and allowed him to remain in trance.

“Very good, Haze. Tell me how good you feel.”

“Feel very good,” he mumbled softly.

“That’s right. You feel very good. You like this feeling a great deal. You’re happy when you feel like this, and you’re happy to obey me, aren’t you, Haze?”

Potter nodded a few times.

“Haze, I’m going to ask you to open your eyes in a moment, and when you do you’ll be able to see, but you will remain in this pleasant, deeply relaxed state. Any time I ask you to open your eyes, you’ll remain like that, because it feels so very good. Haze, open your eyes for me.”

Such pretty eyes, Severus thought, as the boy slowly opened them, much more interesting than his father’s had been. “That’s very good, Haze. I want you to know that every time you answer my questions truthfully you’ll feel a pleasant sensation flow through your body. Something that encourages you to always answer me truthfully. Isn’t that right, Haze?”

Potter jerked slightly, nodding his head. Severus took note that his lids half closed for a moment and smiled, knowing that the boy would never remember seeing such a foreign expression on his face once he was awakened.

“We’re going to go over a few things to make sure you understand what’s expected of you, things that will make you feel happy and relaxed when you do them. Now repeat after me, Haze. Every night before I go to sleep I will spend at least ten minutes working on my visualization for my sphere defense.”

Potter dutifully repeated the statement, so Severus moved onto the next, pausing in between each of them so the boy could respond. “Repeat after me, Haze. If I have a bad dream or a nightmare when I’m asleep at night I will let it slide off my defenses and replace it with something that gives me pleasure.”

“Repeat after me, Haze. If I have a vision of Voldemort, I will write it down as soon as I am awake and make sure to deliver it to Professor Snape.”

“Repeat after me, Haze. Obeying Professor Snape and answering his questions truthfully makes me feel pleasure.”

“Repeat after me, Haze. My waking mind will never consciously remember the details of these lessons unless Professor Snape specifically instructed to do so.”

“Repeat after me, Haze. After every lesson I will know that I worked very hard and that I feel proud of myself for doing so well.”

“Repeat after me, Haze. The only people who know how to make me feel this relaxed and this good are myself and Professor Snape.”

“Repeat after me, Haze. The only people I will allow to make me feel this relaxed and this good is myself or Professor Snape.”

“That’s very good, Haze. You feel pleasure because you’ve done so well in obeying me, don’t you?”

The boy nodded.

“That’s right. I’d like to know a little more about you. Tell me what has bothered you the most in the past month, Haze.”

“‘m lonely.”

“You’re lonely?” Severus asked in surprise.

“Lonely.”

“Why are you lonely, Haze?”

“Can’t trust nobody t’see me fer me.”

“I see. What would make you feel less lonely, then?”

“Someone t’talk to ‘bout stuff. Trust.”

“You can trust me, Haze. You know that don’t you?”

Potter’s forehead wrinkled slightly as though in confusion.

“We’ll come back to that later,” Severus said smoothly and was rewarded when the boy’s expression relaxed again. Haste would get him nowhere fast. “What’s something that makes you feel good, Haze?”

“Flyin’.”

“What else?”

“Learnin’ stuff.”

“That’s right. Learning new things makes you feel good. Do you ever have trouble learning some of the things you’re taught in classes, such as Transfiguration?”

“Yeah.”

“Is it because you get frustrated or distracted, Haze?”

“Mebbe. Dunno.”

“Would you like me to tell you how to help learn better?”

The boy nodded.

“When you’re in classes, Haze, I want you to remain focused on what the professor is saying, and ignore any distractions around you. You will not become tense if you’re having trouble. You will remain calm and think about what you’re trying to accomplish before trying again. Sometimes if you want something too badly, you can’t do it. Do you understand me?”

“Yes.”

“And you’ll do that for me?”

“Yeah.”

“Excellent. You’ll start to see very quickly that you’ve become much better at learning new things. I have a new thing for you to learn, Haze. Do you want to learn and feel even more happy and relaxed?”

“Mmm.”

“That’s right, of course you do. From now on, whenever I tell you to open your eyes, you will not only remain in this deeply relaxed state, but you will act normally, almost as though you were awake. You will remain respectful at all times, though you do not need to call me sir or professor unless someone else is present. You will continue to feel mild pleasurable sensations when you obey me and answer my questions truthfully. Do you understand me?”

Potter nodded.

“Good. As your eyes are open right now, Haze, I want you to act normally.”

Potter blinked his bloodshot eyes and slowly straightened in his chair, gazing steadily at Severus, his expression alert and slightly wary.

“Very good. Tell me, Haze, how do you feel about being a parselmouth?”

Haze, as Severus was quickly beginning to identify him as in this state, looked off to the side for a moment before replying. “I’m not sure. I mean, it’s just something I can do. I don’t think it makes me a bad person, or that it means I will become bad.”

“Do you wish you weren’t a parselmouth?”

He shrugged and wrinkled his nose. “I like it. It can be a very useful ability. If someone told me they could take it away, I’d refuse.”

Severus nodded and stepped back, lifting himself with his arms so he could sit on his desk. “Why do you think it could be useful?”

Haze tilted his head to the side and said, “Snakes are hard to pin down, mostly. I think that a parselmouth could find some willing to scout out unknown territory or spy with very little danger.”

“Yes, I can see where that might be the case. But suppose that you sent a snake on a mission to spy on the Dark Lord. What about the fact that he can also speak Parseltongue?”

“I’d like to think I’d be clever enough to warn the snake against him beforehand, and let it know he’s not to be trusted. But anyway, obviously the snake could understand anything he said in Parseltongue and be able to tell me when it returned.”

“A very good point. I bet that right now you feel a warm sensation flowing through your body, don’t you?”

“Yes, it feels good.”

Severus said, “And you’ll do anything to feel good like that, won’t you, Haze?”

Haze’s brow crinkled and he replied, “Well. . . .”

“Would you like to know an even better way to feel good, to feel pleasure?” Severus asked, distracting the boy from his previous question.

“Yes, I would.” The boy’s glistening eyes were fixed on his.

“I’ll tell you what, Haze. If you continue pleasing me like you have been, I’ll tell you when you’re ready for that particular lesson.”

Severus shifted uncomfortably on his desk, glad for his robes. “Haze, I need you to tell me what you’re going to do when I allow you to leave at the end of the lesson.”

“I’m going to gather my things and go to my dorm and get ready for bed. Then I’m going to practice my defense sphere for at least ten minutes before I fall asleep.”

“Very good. You’ve been so good that you feel tingles of pleasure all over your body. Give in to them for a moment and let your eyes close so you can concentrate. That’s right. You’re going to feel those tingles all the way up to your dorm, Haze. You’ve done very well, and you deserve it. You won’t even question why you feel that way. You’ll just know you’ve done very well and you feel good because of it.”

Severus pulled his wand from his robes and removed the privacy wards, then said, “Haze, wake up.”

Potter’s eyes blinked open, he gathered his wand and his bag, then stood. “Good evening, professor,” he said, before exiting the room.

Severus glanced down at his lap, snarled, and stood. His last thought before sweeping out of his office and locking it behind him with a backward wave of his wand was that one boy may have been denied him, but this one was looking very promising indeed.

Wednesday, 6 November 1996

Potter was sitting in his standard, student-type wooden chair resting when Severus looked over and said, “Haze, go under,” followed by several spaced repetitions of, “Haze, go deeper.”

“That’s right,” Severus said in a silky, slow voice. “I know that because you’ve done very well so far today that you’re currently feeling pleasurable tingles all over your body, Haze. I want you to sit there and relax, and concentrate on those feelings. The more you concentrate on them, the deeper your relaxation becomes. That’s right. Feel the tingles move through you and let yourself give in to the sensations. You’ll know when you’ve been rewarded enough, Haze, because your eyes will open of their own accord, and you’ll act normally, just like we discussed last time, though you’ll still be in this same deeply relaxed state.”

Several minutes later, Haze opened his eyes and sat up straight, his gaze casting around the room for a moment before coming to settle on Severus.

“Why don’t the two of have a conversation then, shall we?”

Haze nodded agreeably.

“Would you be happy if you needed to do homework for these lessons?”

“I’m not sure I understand. Aren’t I already?”

“Yes, but I’m referring to things like research and essays, Haze.”

“Oh. I don’t know. Um. . . .”

“You know that research means you’d be learning things right?”

“Yes,” Haze replied thoughtfully.

“What does that tell you?” Severus prompted.

“That I’d like it if you gave me more homework to do, because then I could learn more, and learning makes me feel good.”

“Very good,” Severus drawled. “In that case, I have an assignment for you. You know how you’ve been using visualization to effectively defend your mind?”

Haze nodded and looked expectant.

“I want you to consider that in conjunction with two things, and write me an essay that details how these three things are alike and how they differ. All right?”

“Yes.”

“Good. You already know the first, and that’s what you’ve been doing with the defense sphere. The second is the effects that harsh words and taunts have on you. I know you understand what I mean by that, Haze, so there’s no need to comment yet.”

Haze nodded, more slowly this time.

“The third thing is the Imperius curse. We both know you cannot be controlled using it. Those are the three things. I want you to consider and detail how they are alike and differ. I want you to consider and detail why you think you’ve been able to resist Imperius for several years, and yet have had so much more trouble with the other two. And last, I want you to outline how you think you could improve, knowing what you do now, and what you can find.”

Severus paused, shifted further back on his desk, and said, “I will give you two weeks to work on this, Haze. I’m not going to specify how long the essay must be, because I know you’ll do your best to obey and do an excellent job, won’t you?”

“Yes, I will.”

“That’s right, you will. Now, let’s move on to other things, shall we?”

Haze nodded.

“That chair doesn’t look very comfortable, Haze. Would you like me to start conjuring a nicer one for your lessons from now on?”

“I guess I don’t mind. But it would nice all the same.”

“You don’t have an opinion either way?” Severus asked, arching one brow.

“It’s irrelevant, because I’m here to learn, not to be comfortable.”

Severus smirked with pleasure. “Yes, but if you’re even more relaxed than you are now, you won’t be distracted by how uncomfortable that chair is, and you’ll be able to do better, won’t you.”

Haze considered that, then nodded. “Yes, I expect you’re right.”

“I usually am, Haze. I usually am. Starting with your next lesson, I’ll make sure we have better seating.”

“That would be nice.”

“I want to know more about you, Haze. I know that when I ask questions, you’re happy to answer them for me to the best of your ability. So let me ask you—does it bother you that people compare you to your father so much?”

A frown appeared immediately on Haze’s face and his mouth tightened slightly.

“We’ll come back to that one. Do not answer.”

The boy nodded, his expression relaxing at once.

A sound from outside caught Severus’s attention, but it faded away almost immediately. Now, Severus was not a stupid man by any stretch of the imagination. He used wards that specifically kept those outside from hearing himself and Haze, but they did not prevent him from hearing what went on outside.

“Good. But I want you to remember that if anything upsets you, you can just let those negative feelings just slide away and not affect you. If you don’t wish to answer something, you don’t have to, but it pleases me when you do. I’ll ask you something simpler, then.”

Severus was part way through asking, “Were you directly involved in the escape of Sirius Black during your third year?” when he sensed movement outside the door again. By the time he was finished speaking, the door had unlocked itself and Albus’s head became visible through the opening.

As the headmaster stepped into the frame he said, “Why exactly would you need to know that, Severus? Don’t you think that’s a rather odd thing to ask under the circumstances?”

“Stop interfering, Albus. No one is going to use Legilimency to discover the boy’s favorite colour. If we don’t practice with things he wants to keep secret, it’s pointless. I gave you my word that nothing I learn would leave this room or be used against him, and I will keep that promise.”

Severus shot an exasperated look at the headmaster and asked, “Why are you here, anyway?”

“Oh, I was just checking to see that everything was going all right, Severus. I haven’t seen Harry here in a while and I wanted to pop in and say hello,” he said with a cheerful smile in Harry’s direction.

“It’s good to see you, professor. I trust you’ve been well since I last saw you,” said Harry in response, making Albus’s smile widen.

“Albus, either come in and close the door, or find trouble to get into elsewhere so we can continue our lesson,” demanded Severus with an icy stare.

“Oh, I will, I will. I just have a small question for Harry here. I won’t take but a moment.” Albus twinkled his eyes at Harry and asked, “Are the two of you getting along all right, Harry? You do know if you have any problems you can come see me, or even if you just want to talk.”

“Everything is fine, sir. Professor Snape is teaching me a great deal. I don’t understand why it was so hard for me before, actually. I’m quite lucky to have him as my instructor,” Harry said sincerely.

Albus shot a startled look at Severus before gracing Harry with another smile. “Yes, then, I’ll just be on my way. Do come see me if you need anything, Harry. My door is always open to you. Good evening, Severus.”

A moment later he had wandered out the door, which closed and relocked itself behind him. Footsteps could be heard fading off into the distance, so Severus held back the growl that threatened to escape and checked the integrity of the privacy wards he’d cast, then turned his attention back to Haze.

“You did very well, Haze,” Severus said in a very soft voice. “I bet you’re feeling those tingles of pleasure throughout your body again, and you feel the need to close your eyes and give in to them. I want you to close your eyes and focus on the sensations coursing through your body. The more you concentrate on them, the deeper your relaxation becomes. You’ll know when you’ve been rewarded enough, Haze, because your eyes will open of their own accord, and you’ll act normally, just like we discussed before, though you’ll still be in this same deeply relaxed state.”

While Haze was lost in what he was feeling, Severus spent a moment trying to burn a hole through the door with the glare he was sporting, then snorted and waited for the boy to wake up again.

A few minutes later Severus had Haze’s attention. “Let’s continue our discussion, shall we?”

Haze nodded.

“Were you directly involved in the escape of Sirius Black during your third year?” he repeated.

Haze shifted a little, his eyes flicking to the floor. For a moment Severus thought he’d balk again, but he was proven wrong, though the boy’s voice was soft and hesitant.

“Yes, I was.”

“You helped save an innocent man’s life. I know that makes you feel good. Doesn’t it.”

“Yes,” Haze replied, his voice still soft and his eyes still averted.

“I’m pleased that you trusted me enough to be honest with me, Haze.”

“Mmm,” the boy said, his voice a little stronger.

“I know that you feel so good about it that those tingles are back, sweeping over your body, forcing your eyes to close so you can concentrate on them and slip deeper into relaxation. Yes, that’s right. It feels so very good, Haze. It feels so good that you answered my question and were honest that you’re having a little trouble sitting up straight. Yes, I can see that you’re sliding down a little in your chair, because the feelings are intense. It will always feel good when you obey me, Haze. And over time, it will feel even better, because the more you obey me, the more of a reward you deserve.”

Severus continued to drone on softly, repeating the same concepts in various ways for several minutes. His eyes widened slightly as Haze’s face began to flush and his arms hung limply at his sides, twitching occasionally. Haze’s lips parted in a soft exhalation that Severus could barely hear, causing the professor to shift uncomfortably and grasp the edge of the desk tightly.

“That’s right, Haze. You feel so very good right now. You’d do almost anything to feel this good. You feel so deeply relaxed that you can’t even lift your arm, Haze. Try to lift your arm and you’ll see that you can’t. Your limbs are loose and you feel boneless right now. The harder you try to lift your arm the deeper you relax until finally you can’t try any longer. That’s right. Haze, go deeper. You’re such a good, handsome boy, Haze. Soon you’ll have made me so pleased that I won’t be able to help showing you how to make it feel even better.”

When Haze rolled his head back and moaned softly Severus bit his lip hard. It was getting to be way too much, and he couldn’t risk furthering his plans just yet. And for that matter, he needed a much better way to tell if interfering old coots like Albus were roaming the dungeons.

“You feel so very good, Haze. You deserve this reward and you know it. But the sensations are starting to fade away, leaving you deeply relaxed. You’re getting ready to open your eyes again, Haze. I want you to enjoy the fleeting sensations as they fade from your body, and when you’re ready, you will open your eyes and sit up a little straighter. You’ll know when to do this. That’s right.”

He watched hungrily as the flush began to drain from Haze’s flawless complexion and his head began to tilt forward, until at last the boy was sitting as he’d been before. The major difference this time was that his eyes were hazy instead of alert; it gave him a distinctly debauched look that Severus found nigh well irresistible.

“Breath deeply and evenly, Haze. That’s right. In a moment I’m going to wake you up completely, Haze, and you’ll be able to go. You know what to do when that happens, don’t you.”

Haze nodded lazily and flashed Severus a silly little smile.

“Good, that’s perfect. I think you should have a very pleasant dream tonight, Haze. In fact, I insist that you do, so you can feel just like you did a few minutes ago during your reward. That’s right. You’re such an obedient, pleasing boy, Haze.”

Severus removed the wards, inhaled sharply, then said, “Haze, wake up.”

Potter gathered his things and stood. “Thank you for the lesson, professor. I’ll get started on that essay tomorrow morning during my free period. It should be very rewarding.”

Severus nodded, then watched as the boy left. As soon as the footsteps had faded he stumbled out the door, closed and locked it, then fled to his quarters.