Grazhir :: Harry Potter :: One Winged Angel :: 02 :: Admissions

02 • Admissions

“I don’t see why you’re so nervous, Harry, but I will if you insist.”

“Please?” Then Harry lowered his voice to a bare whisper and said, “And make him stop smirking.”

Tom chuckled and took the letter, saying, “Severus, forgot where you put your Slytherin mask?” The faint sound of wax breaking was heard, then the rustle of parchment. After a minute Tom said, “Well done, Harry,” then whispered in his ear, “though I think Severus will be most upset with you.”

Parchment appeared in front of Harry’s face.

The following scores listed are the final averages. For more detailed information as to results of both theory and practical scores (as applicable) see the reverse.

A — Astronomy
E — Care of Magical Creatures
O — Charms
O — Defense Against the Dark Arts
P — Divination
E — Herbology
P — History of Magic
E — Potions
O — Transfiguration

Total OWLs: 7

“Oh dear,” Harry whispered, then shot a speculative look at Snape. “It doesn’t matter, Tom. He only accepts Outstandings, and I don’t really want to be an auror now anyway.” In a louder voice he said, “I still failed two of them, which isn’t so good. At least I knew Divination was a dead loss.”

“I could make him accept you,” whispered Tom conspiratorially.

Harry shook his head. “No, he doesn’t like me, and he’s given me little reason to like him either under normal circumstances. I won’t force myself on him.”

“If you say so. Let us see what this next page is. You’re supposed to fill out which courses you’d like to continue with and return it to the school.”

“So, five classes.”

“Dare I hope you failed Potions miserably, Potter?”

Tom pulled Harry back against him and did something that made Severus pale drastically, then said, “Severus, you’re only alive at the moment because of my whims, and because you were wise enough to assist earlier. I suggest you keep your sarcasm to yourself for the time being or I will become vexed. If you must know, Harry obtained an Exceeds Expectations for his Potions OWL.”

“Don’t worry, professor. I know that I won’t be in your NEWT level classes,” Harry said evenly.

Snape mumbled something under his breath that sounded suspiciously like, “Thank the gods.”

“But you might want to be wary of Professor McGonagall,” Harry added with a slight smile.

Snape opened his mouth to speak, then shut it when another owl flew in through the window and landed on the bed.

“Hedwig! You’re all right. But—did you just get back from delivering a letter to . . . someone?”

She hooted at him affirmatively.

“This presents a problem,” Snape stated.

“Should I assume that your fat muggle uncle was holding your owl hostage against you ‘behaving’ yourself, Harry?” Tom asked.

“Yes. And if tho—” Harry gave Snape a desperate sort of look, hating himself for doing it.

“He”—Snape nodded at Tom—“already knows I betrayed him, Mr Potter.”

“Oh,” Harry breathed, then twisted around to look at Tom. “In that case, if the Order doesn’t get letters every three days, they’re going to suspect something is up and send someone to check on me.”

“Can’t you just send letters from here?”

“Maybe, but—well, I don’t know. I don’t know if they—I guess they couldn’t. It’s not like they have an owl.”

“Sorry, Harry, but could you try that again in English?” Tom asked archly.

Harry sighed and frowned. “I do not think the Dursleys would try to find a way to contact Dumbledore because I went missing. But, I have no idea when the headmaster was planning on removing me from their . . . care . . . this year. I’d have to be there for them to do that.”

“Severus?”

The Potions Master arched one brow in consideration. “Albus has not mentioned when he plans to remove Mr Potter from Privet Drive.” After a moment he added, “But I can try to find out if you wish.”

“Do you know if the wards at Harry’s present home preclude the use of the Imperius Curse to prevent his relatives from harming him?”

“To the best of my knowledge, no. They are designed to protect Mr Potter from you. Magic used within the wards is noted, but I am not aware that they would trigger if a controlled person were to enter the domicile.”

“Tom?”

“Yes, Harry?”

“What’s going to happen now? I mean. . . .”

“The answer to that, Harry, is simple, though the execution is not. I fear I am fast losing my previous ambitions, but that does not mean stepping away from them will be easy.”

“All right, but what does that mean?”

“It means that even were Lord Voldemort to vanish, others would continue to seek your death in his name. Further, there are plenty of people who could continue to flock to that cause who have not already, and for the chance at exercising their sadistic tendencies, especially on those without magic.”

Harry gazed at his hands for a minute. “Then I suppose you’d have to find a way to finish recruiting those who are willing, then make sure they either die in the line of duty or are caught, right?” he said quietly.

“Very astute, Mr Potter. Ten points to Gryffindor.”

Harry eyed Snape for a moment, then said, “Thank you, professor.”

“Severus, I am willing to make you a deal. In exchange for your willing help and silence on these matters I will give you your freedom.”

Harry thought the look on Snape’s face was priceless. It wasn’t that he gaped, or that his face went slack with surprise, or even that he blanched. It was the stubborn spark of hope that lighted his eyes for a split second, the most alien thing Harry had ever seen in his professor’s face.

“When?” Snape asked slowly and cautiously, drawing the word out.

“Now, if you like, though I would have to arrange something different in order to be able to contact you easily. After all, if you’re going to play a role in this, you can hardly tell Dumbledore that Voldemort set you free in a fit of insanity. Or would that be . . . sanity?”

Harry could just tell that Tom was smiling.

“What would you want from me?” Snape asked evenly.

“That, my dear man, is simple. You will assist Harry and me in keeping what you’ve learned tonight a secret. You would assist me by making sure that you overheard . . . certain plans of Voldemort’s at times, hopefully ensuring that certain followers were unfortunately captured. It would also be useful if you could manage to find out which children are not actually interested in taking the Dark Mark, or at the very least, make sure that serpent portraits are placed in every single room of Slytherin house to do my spying for me, with Harry to question them on whatever they find. He can tell you, or myself if it’s convenient. That is, of course, if Harry is willing to lend a hand.”

“If it means that this will finally be over, yes,” Harry said quietly.

“Splendid. Harry, would you like me to see if your relatives can be adequately controlled? If so, and it does not set off the wards, you could return to Privet Drive with no one the wiser.”

Tom made it sound like a terribly reasonable plan, which made Harry obscurely nervous. “I need to learn Occlumency,” he stated.

“Why?” Snape asked in a curiously flat voice.

“Because the headmaster likes to call me in for chats from time to time. He always tries to get me to say more than I wish to reveal. I’m worried that he’ll manage to pick something up.”

“I see. So you’re just going to go along with all of this blithely. Is that it?” Snape asked with a faint hint of sarcasm.

“Tell me, professor, did the headmaster ever reveal the first prophecy to you?” Harry challenged.

“No,” Snape said curtly. “And thanks to you, it was destroyed.”

“Mm. In any case, professor, I think it’s in my best interests to go along for the moment. If I’m the complete and utter waste of life you claim me to be, then I guess you’ll have the last laugh when I turn up dead at Voldemort’s hand, probably after being tortured into insanity, though, I expect, that wouldn’t be nearly as satisfying to a sadist as knowing that your victim is aware of his life slipping away. Otherwise, you may just find out what my reasons are after my oh-so-loving family is leashed and I end up back at Hogwarts quite safe.”

“Advocating use of the Unforgivables, Mr Potter?”

Harry shrugged. “Of course. After all, I’ve used one myself, or tried to.” He smirked at the faint look of shock that flitted across the professor’s face. “And if it means the Dursleys can’t abuse me any longer, why not?”

“You’re acting almost Slytherin, Mr Potter.”

Harry laughed softly. “Am I? Maybe you’re just seeing me for who I actually am, professor.”

“As delightful as I find this wrangling, perhaps we should get back to the plans?” Tom suggested. “And as for going back to Privet Drive, that can wait until I’ve had a chance to stumble over your family outside of their home, and after I’m sure you’re healed up properly.”

“At least I’m not in the infirmary,” Harry muttered.

“Is there anyone you trust implicitly, Harry, that you could see being here with you for the next few days?” Tom asked.

“Dobby,” Harry replied promptly.

“A house-elf?” Snape sneered.

“Yes, a house-elf. Though I’m not sure if the headmaster would notice him gone from the castle.”

“The only people who live at Hogwarts over the summer holiday are the caretakers and the house-elves, Potter. We do have lives, you know.”

“Why don’t you try calling this Dobby, then, Harry,” suggested Tom.

“Call him?” Harry furrowed his brow. It wasn’t like there was a class for muggle-borns on how the wizarding world worked.

“Are you that—” Snape began, then abruptly stopped.

Harry shot Snape a dark look, even knowing that it must have been Tom keeping the man from being too much like his usual self. At least Tom was allowing him to handle most of it himself, though it was somewhat annoying that he couldn’t see what Tom was doing most of the time being propped up against the man’s chest. He wasn’t really sure just how much Dobby could protect him, especially against a Dark Lord as powerful as Voldemort should Tom slip, but it was worth having the elf nearby regardless. With a slight sigh, Harry closed his eyes briefly and called for Dobby in his mind, hoping the odd bond they had formed would be enough.

A pop announced the arrival of an elf, causing Harry to open his eyes and see Dobby standing next to the bed looking around with wide eyes, his hands clasped together in front of him. “Harry Potter sir!” Dobby cried, then hopped onto the bed and looked expectantly at Harry.

“Hello, Dobby. It’s good to see you again.”

Dobby had another look around, pausing on Snape and Tom, then looked back at Harry as he tested the bounce factor of the bed. “What is Harry Potter sir wanting?”

“Will you stay with me here for a few days, Dobby, until I’m better?”

“Here?” Dobby looked around a third time. “If Harry Potter wishes it, Dobby will do it. Harry Potter is ill?”

“You can . . . protect me, Dobby. For the moment, though. . . .” Harry twisted around to look at Tom. “He is going to have full run of this place, right?”

“Of course. There are no Death Eaters here, Harry. Just you, me, Severus, and the house-elves. Well, and Peter, but he’s prevented from entering certain parts of the house.”

“Then you won’t be offended if I ask Dobby to be the one to prepare my meals.”

“No, Harry, I won’t.”

“Dobby, will you promise me something?”

Dobby stopped bouncing and looked at him. “Dobby already promised never to save your life again, Harry Potter sir.”

Harry grinned and said, “I know, and thank you. Will you promise not to tell anyone about any of this? Even Professor Dumbledore?”

“Dumbledore isn’t Dobby’s master, so Dobby doesn’t need to say anything. Dobby will keep Harry Potter’s secrets.”

“Thanks, Dobby. If you want to go look around so you know where everything is, that would be all right.”

Dobby clapped and nodded, then scrambled off the bed and out the door.

“A house-elf, Potter?” Severus repeated.

“Shouldn’t you know this already, professor? I tricked Malfoy into setting Dobby free, so Dobby is pretty fond of me, aside from what he felt before I ever met him.”

Snape gave him a pointed look. Harry translated that to mean he wanted more information, but wasn’t about to come right out and ask for it. Harry sighed and fiddled with his hair. “Why do I get the feeling that the headmaster keeps things from you, professor.” The affronted look he received told Harry what he needed to know, so he explained briefly how he had met Dobby and how he had come into play during his second year at Hogwarts.

At that point, Tom cut back in. “When Dobby returns, how about you get some sleep, Harry, and tomorrow Severus can see if there’s anything more he needs to do for your health.”

*

When Harry was finally resting comfortably—he had refused a sleeping draught—Tom led Severus out of the room and down the hall. It took only a minute to reach the study Tom normally used, and he waved Severus into a chair as he took his usual seat behind the desk. “So, will you assist us?” he asked calmly, then added, “And, I’d prefer you speak your mind, Severus. It’s easier that way. The absolute worst I will do to you is obliviate this entire evening. Unless you anger me beyond reason, that is.”

“Do you truly mean to remove my mark?”

“If you cooperate, yes.”

“I don’t understand why Potter is handling this turn of events so well. I understand even less why you are.”

“I would not be surprised if Harry knows the contents of the original prophecy, Severus, and if so, I imagine that has something to do with his current attitude. I have no doubt that he is conflicted, but trusts that for this time, at least, I will not harm him. He obviously expects me to protect him from you.” Tom smirked slightly. “A conscience, once awoken, is a difficult thing to put back to sleep. For myself, it is like waking up from a decades long dream. I have what I want now, just not in the way I expected it. I do not plan on driving him away.”

“Do you honestly think he’ll forgive you for the death of his parents?”

“Time will tell. In any case, I won’t die until he does, so I have a very long time to convince him of my sincerity.”

“If you remove my mark, how do you plan on contacting me?”

“For Merlin’s sake, Severus, there is such a thing as a Protean Charm, you know. Get your head out of your cauldrons occasionally—you might actually learn a few things.”

Severus’s lip twitched faintly. “Then what do you suggest, if I may ask?”

“You wear no jewelry? You carry no charms? No pieces of superstitious good luck?”

“I have never been fond of adornments and have never thought they would benefit me.”

Tom snorted. “Then I suggest an armband to go where your Dark Mark currently is. Unless, of course, you prefer a ring or pendant, however badly that might clash with your undeniable fashion sense.”

Severus snorted. “Do you have anything suitable here?”

“Nothing I’m prepared to give up.”

“If I may ask, why don’t you simply contact Albus and tell him this is over but for the farce involved in subduing the more . . . enthusiastic . . . Death Eaters?” asked Severus rather bravely.

Tom smiled softly. “And open myself up, and Harry, to interference from that old man? He’s already run Harry’s life for him, setting him up to be in a position almost every year to thwart whatever my plans were, not to mention having left him with those muggles. Harry has been extraordinarily lucky to have survived and is apparently blessed in the friends he has made. But if Albus knew? I think not. Harry would become a bargaining point, Severus, a different kind of tool, to ensure my behavior. In all likelihood, Harry would have to fight his way free of Albus’s domination, or I would become a different kind of darkness.”

Severus nodded slightly. “Yes, I understand.”

“How is Harry?”

“Fine, or he will be by morning. The cracked and broken bones will be fully mended by then, as well as the tissue damage. I will have to check him over again tomorrow—rather, later today—to see if there is anything I missed.”

“Very well. You can take the time to find something suitable for use with a protean charm and bring it with you when you return. Once that has been set up, I can remove the mark.” When Severus nodded, Tom asked, “Tell me, Severus, why did you answer the summons?” He thought it was interesting that Severus’s expression blanked out at the query. “What? You did not think I’d ask?”

“I was prepared to die.”

“How very interesting. Well, if we all play nice together, perhaps you won’t desire that any longer, hm? Come along, then.” Tom rose and swept out of the room, sensing that Severus was following, and led him back to the audience chamber, checking first that Peter was still sleeping before entering. “As you’ve never been here before, you should know that the majority of the property is protected by apparation wards, so you will need to return to this room. I’ll expect you at noon, properly masked to avoid any accidents, with something suitable for the charm. Are we clear?”

Severus nodded. “Tomorrow, then,” he said, then disapparated.

Tom glanced down at Peter and sighed. “I hope I didn’t just make the biggest mistake of my life.” After summoning a house-elf to remove Peter to his rooms, Tom returned to Harry’s room.

*

Severus arrived promptly at noon in full Death Eater regalia. Tom smiled and held up a vial of clear liquid. “I think I’ll assure myself that all is well, hm?” He gestured toward a plain chair and was pleased to see that Severus sat down without protest. After administering three drops, he waited for the potion to take effect.

“State your name.”

“Severus Tobias Snape.”

“Did you inform any living person, portrait, sentient creature, or ghost of what happened while you were here earlier?”

“No.”

“Did you record what happened while you were here earlier in any fashion?”

“No.”

“So you did not inform Albus Dumbledore or any member of the Order about those events.”

“I did not.”

“Are you genuine in your willingness to assist me and Harry?”

“Yes.”

“Did you really answer my summons last evening with the expectation of death?”

“Yes.”

“Hm.” Tom shrugged and administered the antidote. Once Severus was no longer influenced, Tom turned sharply and gestured, then strode off toward Harry’s room. It was well that Peter remained out of sight and the wards on the areas of the manor he was allowed to roam in prevented the use of his animagus form. They arrived without problems, with Harry’s only reaction being a brief glance up from the book he was reading.

*

Harry assumed it was Professor Snape and looked back down at his book as Tom dropped into the chair next to the bed. Rustling noises made him glance up again in time to see the man divesting himself of the mask and cloak and returning to the much more familiar sight Harry was used to. Out of politeness, Harry lowered the book to his lap and waited.

Somewhat to his surprise, Snape approached and brought out his wand, then proceeded to do scans of his body similar to what Madam Pomfrey would do in the infirmary. Several minutes and several measuring looks later, Snape returned his wand to hiding and began producing potion vials from his robes.

“Things are progressing nicely. These are for muscle soreness, residual pain, and the like. I’m quite sure you’ve had these before, Potter, so you should be able to recognize them for what they are.” Snape held up another vial and said, “This is a nutritive potion to help with what I suspect was a decided lack of food since you left Hogwarts. This one you take all of, the others only sips as necessary.”

Harry nodded as Snape placed the vials on the bedside table. “Thank you, professor.” He tracked Snape as the man took a seat, then looked at Tom when he cleared his throat gently.

“Where does your uncle work, Harry?”

“A firm called Grunnings. They make drills, I think.” Harry furrowed his brow. “I have no idea where it is, though.”

“What about your aunt and cousin?”

“Aunt Petunia doesn’t work, but she’s in and out fairly often. Dudley usually hangs out with his friends, bullying whoever they can find in the neighborhood.”

“Then I can experiment on one of them first and see what happens. If there is no response, I can take care of the other two. Assuming things go to plan, you would be able to return to Privet Drive and be assured of your safety at their hands.” Tom paused, then said, “Severus and I have a few things to take care of. Are you in need of anything?”

Harry shook his head. “Dobby will have lunch up here soon. I’m fine, but thank you for asking.”

“All right. I will make sure you know if I leave.” Tom rose and swept out, followed by Snape.

Harry stared at the open door for several seconds, then shrugged and went back to his book.

*

Tom was amused to see that Severus had brought with him a simple silver ring with absolutely nothing to distinguish it. The inner surface was smooth as glass, which suited Tom just fine. After a minute of study he replicated it, then cast the spell to link the two bands. Severus reclaimed the original, and slipped it onto his right hand after Tom ran a test.

Tom felt the slightest twinge of guilt at the pain he was about to induce in his companion, but pushed that away as he extended his wand. Several minutes later, after Severus had got himself back under control, Tom smiled, and was surprised to see an answering smile from Severus, faint though it was.

“So, Severus, are you interested in tracking down some muggles with me to curse?”