Grazhir :: Harry Potter :: Induction :: 16 :: Secretive Choices

16 • Secretive Choices

As it turned out, the notes Severus had written didn’t tell Harry much more than he already knew or had assumed. It was certainly a painful initiation into the cadre of Death Eaters to be marked. More curious was the fact that the a single spell was used both to create a Dark Mark in the sky and on a person. In the one instance, it created an image in the sky—with no actual target, that was all it could do. Its value and purpose was in the fear or confusion it caused in the populace.

But when used on a person the effect was multiplied. The Mark was created, to be sure, but in addition to the fear it inspired, it served as a means to summon all others so marked, and to serve as a beacon for those same people. Harry knew from his own training that one must have the proper visualization in order to apparate. Death Eaters could apparate to an unknown location simply by virtue of another of their member having their Mark touched by Voldemort.

It had not occurred to Harry that a spell could have such diverse functions. Certainly, one could cast Incendio in an attempt to have it act as a flare rather than to set something on fire, but that wasn’t quite the same thing. Perhaps it was just that he wasn’t thinking clearly to find other, better examples of multifunction spells. Perhaps he needed to understand his own link with Voldemort better.

Harry reviewed what he did know. The Mark may or may not be permanent—in his fourth year he had overheard the conversation between Severus and Karkaroff where they had discussed how much darker it had been getting. He could speculate on whether or not it would have disappeared entirely if Voldemort had in fact died, but that probably wouldn’t get him anywhere. However, the intensity of the colour could be used as an indication of how healthy the Dark Lord was.

Based on what he’d witnessed in the graveyard at the end of that year he could say that the Mark functioned as a beacon, but he couldn’t say definitively if it could also be used to cause pain to an individual not in contact with Voldemort. Harry had spent very little time around Death Eaters, with very little evidence in consequence. Since there were no reports—that he was aware of—of fatalities among the Death Eater contingent when Voldemort had been defeated, he could suppose that the Mark was not a way for the Dark Lord to drain his followers for his own benefit.

In other words, he thought, it’s unlikely that the death of Voldemort would mean the death of Severus.

But Harry wasn’t so sure he wanted to take that chance. He did feel something for the man, after all, something more than just admiration for Severus’s intelligence and talent in the lab. Seeing what Severus had written wasn’t enough, and the only place he was likely to find what he needed was from the mind of his nemesis. How he was going to accomplish that. . . .

The pages went back into the envelope and then into his school trunk in the closet. Harry couldn’t conceive of a reason why Severus would check inside. He didn’t have a better place to put the information in any case. Unless he felt like making the Chamber of Secrets into a storage facility, he would have to trust in the basic nature of his mentor, or pester Remus for an alternative.

Everything he’d been brought through, been taught, was designed to keep him safe from the depredations of Voldemort—to deflect and confuse. Nothing of that was meant to give him a safe bulwark to hide behind if he decided to do a little bit of purposeful spying. It was possible that any of the times he decided to question Severus that he might find out more information, such as when the last time was that Severus felt his mark burning, and how he knew what it meant. And in fact, that probably wouldn’t be a bad angle of attack. But it still came down to figuring out how to spy safely from within Voldemort’s mind.

Harry did know—subconsciously at least—when he was being attacked. That much he understood from what he had gleaned after calling up his memories of the sessions Severus had put him through. If he knew that consciously, it would be a start. Harry didn’t think it was unreasonable to assume that if hypnotism could give him that original measure of safety, that it could also assist him in remaining invisible if he chose to allow the connection to happen. It would, however, take some very careful wording, as he didn’t want to disturb what his protections were already accomplishing.

Harry sat back, suddenly aware that he had no idea if they were working as designed. He moved out to his desk and sat down, pulling out a fresh sheet of parchment. On it he wrote down his current questions for Severus: an accounting of the last time he’d felt the Mark burn or activate; and whether or not his protections were working properly. After drawing a dividing line, he started in on what he needed to do to his own conditioning and reinforcements.

1. I must not interfere with the current function(s) of the protections.

2. I must be able to know consciously when I am being attacked.

3. I must be able to maintain a one-way connection.

4. I must be invisible while spying through the connection.

5. I must still be able to experience things from Voldemort’s POV.

6. I must be able to withdraw at will without alerting Voldemort.

7. I must remove Severus’s directive that I will write down any visions
    I have of Voldemort for delivery to him, but continue to include that
    in the list he can trigger.

Harry included the last one as an afterthought. While he had every intention of being awake when he attempted to spy, he couldn’t guarantee that the wording of the directive allowed him a loophole. It was safer to remove it entirely and pretend that it still existed. Even then, he did not plan to try spying the moment he realized he was being attacked—he wanted to get comfortable with the sensation first, and give himself time for the changes he planned to make to entrench.

It was a lucky thing that Harry had already requested and received from Remus several more recording devices. He could create an entirely new induction routine for himself, one that depended on a rapid induction directive inserted into his original device. He would be able to leave out all of the normal patter designed to take him under and devote the time instead to a listing of directives he could continue to expand as necessary.

But, he thought suddenly, it would be wise to include a directive making sure that no one could use the devices against me.

After revising his list in his warded lab, and then drafting out a new speech to record, Harry went ahead and made the recording. He listened to it to make sure he hadn’t made any mistakes, then marked it with the number two and made a note of where each directive began and ended. He made an addition to the end of his original recording, adding the rapid induction trigger, then labeled that with the number one and fixed the notations.

Satisfied, Harry set up his candle and played the first recording. When he was returned to full consciousness, he played the second recording. Finally, he packed everything away in his trunk and went to meet Remus for lunch.

“Do you think it’s possible to get so good that you’d be utterly silent when apparating?” Harry asked once they had been served.

“In theory, yes,” replied Remus. “But it seems to me that going slowly enough to make that happen would mean you’d be taking a long time to make the transfer, which could render you vulnerable in an emergency.”

Harry thought about that while he ate several forkfuls.

“Why are you asking, anyway?”

“Oh, just curious, Moony. I always wondered why it could be so loud. I understand the whole air displacement thing and reckoned speed was a factor.”

“You weren’t thinking—no, never mind. That’s an unworthy question. I know you’re a curious person, Harry, and that’s a logical question for you to ask.”

Harry shrugged and gave his friend a smile. “I’m not thinking of doing anything foolish, if that’s what you meant. I just like to know how things work. Anyway, it’s not like I’ll have many chances to test theories, if any.”

“How’s the revision going?”

“Great, actually. Professor Snape tells me I’m a little bit ahead—I showed him where I was up to the other day. I think that’s pretty encouraging, and he also lent me a catalog so I could owl order a test booklet. I wanted a way to check my retention, you know?”

“That’s wonderful news, Harry. Have you ordered it yet?”

“No. I haven’t looked through it yet to see what it is I need to order. I was going to do that after lunch.”

“If you want it sooner, I could go. I don’t mind,” Remus offered.

“I’d rather go with you,” Harry said, fluttering his lashes in an exaggerated manner, then held up his hand. “But I know I shouldn’t. I won’t object, though, if you wanted to pick it up. Besides, then you could have dinner with me.”

“If you insist,” Remus said and smiled. “But we have to actually finish lunch or we won’t get anywhere.”

“There you go being all rational again. But all right. After we finish up you can come with me so I can figure out what I need. And since I’ll just be reading in my lounge, I’ll hear when you knock.”

“Done.”

Approximately two hours later, Harry heard the expected knock at his door. He marked his place and set down his book, then got up to let Remus in, after checking to make sure it was, in fact, the right person. Remus dutifully handed over the booklet and a catalog, which made Harry smile, then seated himself on Harry’s couch. Harry sat down in his chair, placing the booklet on top of the book he’d been reading, and faced his friend.

“Moony, there’s something I wanted to talk to you about.”

Remus leaned forward slightly and said, “Yes?”

“It’s kind of a delicate subject.” Harry looked down for a second before continuing. “There’s been some things—well, one thing—I hadn’t been ready to face.”

Remus straightened up and arched a brow.

“And see, I thought—I’d like to think—that I can trust you, and be open with you.”

“I’d like to think so too, Harry.”

“Remember how you gave me that book on self-hypnosis? Well, I tried it. I was thinking, you know, that I could maybe help myself get over how much portkeys still tend to upset me? And I’ve been working on that, not that I’ve had a chance to test the results. But that isn’t what I wanted to talk about. It’s just the beginning. See, I thought, as long as I was messing with my head, that I could get a few answers out of myself about certain things.” Harry felt the faintest stirrings of guilt at not being completely honest, but then, Severus had used hypnosis to reveal the truth, so it was close enough.

“What kind of things?” Remus seemed to be torn between sitting back and leaning closer again.

“That’s where it gets delicate. I don’t know your views on it, so I’m worried—worried that you won’t approve. I’m not trying to be coy, Moony, I’m just nervous.”

Remus patted the spot beside him and said, “This is really awkward with you sitting way over there.” After Harry had taken the indicated spot, he resumed. “Look, I can’t promise you anything, Harry, but I do know this—you’re one of the few people who accepted me being a werewolf. You even gave us the chance—Sirius and me—to explain what had happened all those years ago. Maybe we haven’t been as close as I would have liked, but if I can’t accept whatever it is you’re trying to tell me, then I’m less of a man than I ought to be.”

Harry took a deep breath. “All right. I’d been thinking for a long time that maybe something wasn’t right, but on the other hand I didn’t want to think about it too hard either.” He rolled his eyes and smiled. “I feel like such an idiot. I’m supposed to be brave and courageous, right? So, I’m gay. Does that bother you?”

When Remus didn’t respond immediately, Harry looked down at his hands. A second later his head shot up when Remus said, “That’s it? I thought you were going to tell me something horrible, like you were planning on having a torrid affair with Minerva.”

Harry’s relief came in the form of shaky laughter.

“She’s much too old for you, after all,” Remus added with a grin. “Really, Harry, I don’t care if you fell for the giant squid, except I don’t think he’s your type. Is it a he? I really don’t know.” Remus shrugged and pulled Harry in for a quick hug. “Seriously—I don’t care, Harry. It doesn’t bother me in the least.”

Harry flopped backwards and exhaled. “Well, I feel better now. I don’t think I could stand it if—”

“I take it you haven’t told Ron or Hermione?”

Harry lifted his head up enough so he could shake it, then sat back up. “I thought it would be better to start with you.”

“I realize you took a big risk here, Harry. Personally, I have no idea how either of them would feel about it, and I’m not sure how you’d find out without actually telling them. It isn’t very subtle to walk up to either of them and ask how they feel about homosexuality.”

Harry ruffled his hair and sighed. “Yes, I know. It’s also not very polite to obliviate your friends if it turns out they’re horrified by the very idea.”

Remus chuckled. “No.” He started to look away, then snapped his head back. “Harry, you weren’t flirting with me earlier, were you?”

Harry burst out laughing. “No, not really. Just having some fun. Considering I think of you like an uncle or something, that’d be pretty odd of me.” He paused, frowned, then said, “Well, an uncle I actually care about.”

“Ah, that’s all right, then.” A heartbeat later he said, “Do you really?”

Harry experienced a moment of confusion before he realized what Remus was referring to. “Of course I do, though I know you can’t actually be that. I still care about you, and not just because you were so close to my dad. It isn’t like you had to stick around or anything, but you are still here. I assume it isn’t because of some sick fascination, though I guess maybe you might feel you ought to try to look out for me.” He shrugged. “I would hope you like me for who I actually am, and not just because of who my father is.”

“I do, Harry. I do. Things didn’t start out in the best way, I admit, but I do care about you. The question is, Harry, how do you feel about what you’ve found out?”

“I’m fine. I mean, I knew there had to be a reason I kept—well now I know, and I’ve had a chance to get comfortable with the idea. I’d say it’s just another aspect of being so different, but I know there’s got to be plenty of people like me, so I won’t kid myself. After all, it would already be a circus if I were to start dating a girl. It can’t be that much worse, then, if I were to date a man, right?”

“I suppose not when you put it that way. All that matters is that you’re happy. It would be a different story if you couldn’t accept a part of yourself, because then you’d never be happy no matter who you chose, or didn’t.”

“I reckon I won’t say anything to Ron or Hermione just yet. Maybe it is cowardly, but we’ll all be here all this year, and I don’t think I could handle being estranged from them if the worst happened.”

“That’s your choice, Harry, and I won’t try to change your mind. But I think you know I’m always happy to talk if you need to.”

Harry nodded and smiled, then changed the subject. “It’s almost time for the students to be returning, which should mean my training should also be starting. Anything you want to share about what I should expect?”

They spent the hours up to and through dinner discussing what was in store for him over the year to come when he wasn’t studying for his Mastery. When Remus did eventually leave Harry felt incredibly relieved and comforted. Someone he cared about was perfectly all right with who and what he was—Severus didn’t exactly count.

And speaking of Severus, he thought, I need to have a little talk with him. But first. . . .

As it was still fairly early, Harry went in search of the headmaster, and was lucky enough to catch him on the second floor landing. “Sir, I had a quick question for you, if that’s all right.”

“Of course, dear boy. What is it? Should we go to my office first?”

Harry shook his head. “No, I was just wondering—when the school year starts, where should I be having my meals? I’m no longer a student.”

“That is up to you, Harry. If you wish to sit with your Gryffindor friends, that is fine. If not, you can either sit at the head table with Remus or eat in your rooms. Whatever is most comfortable for you.”

“Oh, all right. Thank you very much, sir. I didn’t realize I’d have so many options.”

“Was there anything else you needed to discuss, Harry? I always have time for you, dear boy.” Dumbledore wore his customary gentle smile and his eyes twinkled merrily.

Harry smiled back and said, “Not really. But you might like to know that Professor Snape tells me I’m ahead of where I ought to be in my studies.”

“Excellent news! Listen, I want you to be able to come and see me at any time, so I’ll be sure to let you know from now on when the password for my office changes. At the moment you can get in using Refreshers. And now, I’ll just be on my way. I have some fresh fruit for Fawkes.”

“Thank you again, professor. Please give my regards to Fawkes?” Harry gave a little wave and loped off once Dumbledore had nodded. Back in his room he grabbed one of the catalogs and went back out and around to Severus’s door, then knocked. Thirty seconds later he was admitted to his mentor’s rooms.

“I wanted to bring back the catalog I borrowed,” he explained. Severus nodded and returned to his chair, so Harry placed the catalog back where he had got it from.

“Haze, as you’re no longer a student, you may call me Severus, but only in private. I still expect you to be properly respectful around others.”

Harry whipped around, startled, and said, “Oh! Thank you, sir. Severus.” He stepped closer and asked, “Have you found anything on soul magic?”

“Unfortunately, no. But I did warn you it would be extremely difficult.”

Harry sighed with disappointment and dropped to his knees. “Oh well.” It had the effect of solidifying his intention to spy, not only for information on the Dark Mark, but also for some kind of weakness he could exploit. He raised his eyes slowly.

“I have not given up, Haze.” Severus favored him with an impatient look.

“Sorry,” Harry said as he twisted his rings. Severus closed his eyes, all expression draining from his face like water sheeting down glass. Harry maintained his position on the floor. “Severus, open your eyes.”

Despite his earlier successes, Harry couldn’t quite trust that it would work each time, so he waited until the signs he knew to look for began to appear. “Severus, I have a new rule for you. You will not, under any circumstances, look in any of the trunks I have in my quarters. Do you understand?”

“Yes.”

“Very good. I also have some questions for you. Do you know if the protections you helped me to set up, the mental defenses, are working as you expected?”

“To the best of my knowledge, yes.”

“So the attempt to use the confundus charm against Voldemort is having an effect?”

“I believe so. The Dark Lord has been making some very odd decisions of late, giving strange commands to his followers.”

“All right. Severus, please tell me what you feel when your Dark Mark activates.”

“I feel a burning sensation coming from it.”

“What does that mean, or tell you?”

“It is a summons.”

“For all those Marked, or just you?”

“It can mean either.”

“Are you able to tell the difference?”

“No.”

“Do you know if Voldemort can exclude specific people from a general summons?”

“To the best of my knowledge, yes, he can.”

“Who are you loyal to, Severus?”

“Myself.”

Harry rolled his eyes. “Are you loyal to Albus Dumbledore?”

“Yes.”

“Are you also loyal to Voldemort?”

“No.”

“Severus, I have another rule for you. Any time you intend to use the secret door in your living area, the one that leads to my bedroom, you will check to see if my bedroom door is open or not before you speak the password. If my bedroom door is closed you will not open the secret door. Do you understand?”

“Yes.”

“Brilliant.” Harry made sure of the position of his hands, then said, “Severus, wake up. I’ll try to be more patient.”

“See that you are, Haze. Now, unless you plan on making this interruption worth my while, please take yourself off.”

“I never mind making it worthwhile, Severus.” Harry got to his feet and advanced, something between a smile and a smirk on his lips. “It’s my pleasure.”