Disclaimer: You should know by now that I'm not JK Rowling. Really, I'm not.
Author's Note: Yeah, I'm ashamed. I've left you all hanging for nearly a month. I'm sorry, and I hope this chapter makes up for my serious lapse in updating.
Chapter 12: The Breaking of Curses
Harry Potter had done it. He had got an idea on how he could get the bottle of shampoo in Snape's quarters without going to Gringotts and begging them to loan him a curse-breaker so he could play a prank. The solution was so simple, and all he needed to do was write to his parents. He knew his wonderfully loving father would help him, even though Harry was trying to undermine his own prank. He just wouldn't tell his father that. Yet.
He reached the Owlery in good time. The hundreds of owls, both family and school owls, hooted above his head. He searched the rafters for his own owl, Hedwig, and finally found her nestled next to a rather nice-looking barn owl. “Hedwig, sorry to interrupt your cavorting, but I've got a letter here,” Harry said, not really sounding sorry at all. The truth was that he had no idea of how to care for her if she should lay eggs. The thought of his owl possibly becoming a mother caused color to rise in his cheeks.
Hedwig hooted once and flew down to perch on his shoulder. She held out her leg, ready for him to tie the letter on. Once the letter was secure, Harry watched her fly out the window into the sunset. As he left, he could have sworn the barn owl that had indeed been trying to put the moves on Hedwig glared at him. Note to self, Harry thought, try to sleep with dorm windows closed.
The next morning, Harry looked up as the post owls flew into the Great Hall. However, Hedwig wasn't among them. Harry started to get worried; she had never failed to complete a delivery before. He was looking frantically for a hint of snowy feathers among the owls diving down to the recipients of their burdens, but there was still no sign of her. At that moment, the great double doors into the Great Hall opened. Harry looked, and finally saw his owl. She was perched on his father's shoulder.
“Harry, is something wrong?” Hermione asked worriedly. “Your dad doesn't come often, and he seems to be in uniform.”
“Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you,” Harry said. “I've figured out a way to plant that shampoo in Snape's room. I've called my dad for help.”
“But Harry, Professor Lupin said it was your parents who pranked him in the first place, remember?”
“I'll tell you later,” Harry said, waving at his father. James grinned and waved back.
“James, is there something wrong?” Dumbledore asked after breakfast after he'd met the much younger man in his office.
“There might be,” James said. “However, you're not going to like what I have to say.”
“What is it?” Dumbledore asked. “I'll try to keep an open mind, I promise.”
“Harry has told me that he thinks Snape's planning something big. He wants help in getting into the greasy git's lair in the middle of the night,” James said.
“Probably to play a prank on him,” Dumbledore finished for James. “Thank you for informing me, James.”
The veteran Auror scowled. “You think I came here to inform on my own son?! What is wrong with you? Harry believes Snape has probably increased the wards over his door, and he asked me to ask you to help us get through them. Remember, I've been teaching my son the finer points of being an Auror, and I trust his judgment and his suspicions, even if you won't.”
“Then why didn't he ask me himself?” Dumbledore asked, unfailingly logical. James looked skyward, praying for patience.
Chronos was nearly pulling out his heavenly hair, trying not to shout with frustration at Dumbledore's obstinacy. He had never liked Snape, and not just because he already knew whose side the slimy serpent was on. It didn't take a genius to see the sorry excuse for a human male was a foul creature; On second thought, maybe it does..., Chronos thought to himself. Fine; if Dumbledore was going to be that way, then Chronos would intervene. Instead of sticking his finger into the pool and poking the reason he had to turn back time to save humanity, he stuck his entire hand in the pool and smacked Dumbledore upside the head.
“Take that, Dumbledore,” he muttered to himself.
Dumbledore jumped, like he had been slapped. James looked down, having caught the movement out of the corner of his eye. He saw Dumbledore's expression, and recognized the look of a man who had previously forgotten something which had just been recalled. “Don't answer that question,” Dumbledore muttered. “I already know the answer. You had to pin your own badge on Harry before I would look at him as anything more than a child. Alright, I'll help.”
“Thank you,” James said with relief. “I'll go tell Harry the good news. We'll go in around midnight; by then, Snape should be asleep.”
“I'll even slip him a sleeping draft,” Dumbledore offered.
“By any chance, do we know if he's had practice doing that?” Odin asked Chronos after wandering into the room and peeking into the pool.
“Good question; let's see here...” He pulled out the file and scanned for early mentions of Dumbledore. He went white, and looked up in horror. “That's not good.”
“What's not good?” Odin asked, now very worried.
“Remember when McGonagall accused Dumbledore of what would technically amount to treachery in their world?”
“Yes, I remember,” Odin said slowly.
“She wasn't far wrong,” Chronos whispered. Odin looked at the file, and swore quite colorfully.
“Well, it's a damn good thing that patch of filth was eliminated,” he said, handing the file back to Chronos.
Dumbledore confirmed it: Severus Snape was sleeping like a baby. James didn't ask how his old friend knew that with such certainty. Harry had already given Remus his part to perform; or rather, Fenrir Greyback gave Remus his part, thirty years before. He stood up on his toes to whisper in his father's ear. “Dad, isn't it the full moon?”
James' look of horror lasted for a split second, and then he nodded. “Alright, Harry has just reminded me of something very important that I must do tonight. I'm afraid you're on your own,” he said to Dumbledore before running down the hall. Dumbledore watched his retreating back, and then turned his piercing blue gaze onto young Harry Potter.
“What did you do?” he asked simply. Harry grinned.
“Keeping a promise,” Harry said. “By the way, thanks for helping me.”
Dumbledore proceeded to remove the wards, which he was forced to admit ruefully, would have killed any potential intruder within moments. Harry stepped nimbly over the threshold and into Snape's room. Dumbledore watched as the thirteen year old Gryffindor proceeded to the Potion Master's bathroom. After a moment, he followed Harry.
“What are you looking for?” he asked him. Harry looked thoughtful, and went to Snape's bed.
“Wait, you've probably already seen that...” he muttered, his outstretched hand hovering over Snape's left sleeve. Dumbledore winced. At that point Harry got an idea. His eyes ranged across the room, looking for anything obviously out-of-place. They alighted on a bright and cheerful-looking Oriental rug. “What the hell...?”
Dumbledore looked at the rug, then at the rest of the room. “I think for once I agree with you completely,” he muttered. “Not once have I seen any aspect of his character that warrants a piece of furnishing like this.” He waved his wand over it, and the rug vanished. Harry stared at the floor.
“Specialis Revelio!” he incanted, pointing his wand at the floor where the rug had been. Lines of magic glowed a ruddy green, and Dumbledore muttered something under his breath. Snape stirred.
“Sir, if you get me murdered, I'm never speaking to you again,” Harry muttered, his green eyes wide. Dumbledore took the hint, and augmented the sleeping potion with a spell. “There, I've put him in a bewitched sleep.” Harry nodded, and broke the curses he could, using the skills he had gained from his father the Auror. Dumbledore broke the rest, and they opened the secret compartment under the floor.
“I think we've found something,” Harry said. Dumbledore got on his knees, reached into the hole, and pulled out a stack of missives. Harry shined his wand on it and read over the Headmaster's shoulder. “The handwriting looks like...” he trailed off as something changed. The background noise, which had changed when Dumbledore put Snape in a bewitched sleep, had changed again. It was the sound of an extremely angry person breathing, and it was getting closer...
“I would thank you not to go through my personal belongings,” Snape snarled coldly. Dumbledore jumped; he had been caught completely by surprise, since he had been focused on this marvelous evidence Harry had discovered. “Obliviate!” the irate teacher yelled. Dumbledore's eyes unfocused, and he seemed disoriented.
“Wh-what did you do to him?” Harry asked, now quite fearful. Snape sneered, and fell into the same trap as so many other crooks: he gloated.
“Oh, relax, Potter, I've only modified his memory,” Snape sneered. “Now he has no memory of ever regarding you as anything more than just a very annoying little brat who's going to die very painfully.”
Harry knew he was in deep trouble, and he raised his wand. If he was going to die, then he would do it thinking of kissing Hermione. “Expecto Patronum!” he suddenly yelled. A gigantic silver stag burst from the end of his wand, reared up, and waved its hooves at Snape. The startled “ex”-Death Eater fell back reflexively with a cry.
Suddenly, there was a shout. A spell impacted Snape in the chest, then a moment later, another spell. Snape fell to the floor, not moving, and Harry looked up. McGonagall was standing there in her tartan bathrobe, lines of fury on her face. “Despicable,” she muttered. “Threatening to kill a student, no matter if the student was caught wrongdoing; it's still despicable.” She turned to Harry. “That was a very impressive Patronus there, Mr. Potter. It makes me wonder if you were capable of casting it two years ago.”
“Th-thank you, Professor. You saved my life,” Harry whispered. She smiled, and then glanced at Dumbledore. From his posture and disorientation, she was able to determine what had been done to him. Then she took the pieces of parchment from his unresisting hands, and glanced at them.
“He's forgotten you helped him find this, hasn't he?” she asked. Harry nodded. “Then take these and give them to your father when he returns. I'm sure your family can store these until I'm able to gradually restore Albus' memory of these events.”
Harry ran back to Gryffindor Tower, and hid the pilfered documents in his trunk. This evidence would be more than enough to put Snape in prison and throw away the key, or shrink it into nonexistence. Letters written in the Dark Lord's own hand, and dated after Snape had supposedly left his ranks, were a big thing. And they were more than letters; they were standing orders. Snape had been ordered to kill Dumbledore, as of October 30, 1981.
I go in there to play a prank on him, and come out with irrefutable proof of his treachery, Harry thought to himself. I just have to wait for McGonagall to restore his memory. Lucky for us the git didn't bother to burn the orders. That's real arrogance, right there.
He collapsed onto his bed, bone weary. He was sound asleep the moment his head hit the pillow. His dreams were innocuous, and just the sorts of things a thirteen year old boy would dream about; meaning, they focused rather heavily on a certain pair of brown eyes.
Right after bolting his breakfast, Harry ran to the Entrance Hall, where he met his exhausted father, godfather, and uncle. He saw his new aunt, as well. She rushed to her husband's arms and started fussing over him, which Harry could tell Remus found endearing.
“Harry, thanks for reminding me of the full moon,” James said. “I can't believe I forgot.”
“Dad, we found something last night,” Harry said, reaching in his pocket to pull out the stack of letters. James took them, scanned them, and nodded. He looked up, only just now noticing that Dumbledore wasn't present. Harry saw the question in his father's eyes, and continued, “Snape caught us, and he modified Dumbledore's memory.”
James winced then looked searchingly at his only son. “Did he...?”
“He was going to, but McGonagall got him first,” Harry answered.
“I must remember to thank her, then,” James said, putting his arm around Harry's shoulders. He handed the papers to Sirius and said, “Get these to Lily, now. Tell her we need to put them in our vault.” Sirius nodded, and left.
Less than ten minutes later, Lily Potter arrived breathless. Harry hugged his mother tightly, still frightened from the night before. It had been the closest he'd come to death that he could remember; he couldn't remember very much of his encounter with Lord Voldemort in the bowels of the school in his first year, and he was glad of that.
“James, I came as soon as I could,” Lily said. “I put the papers in our vault, and I must say that I'm not surprised. Not one little bit.” She looked up as the door from the Great Hall opened, and Dumbledore came in.
“I thought I heard voices,” he said easily. He noticed the scarlet of Lily's robes, which clashed with her dark red hair, and the brilliance of her eyes, which were clearly copied in the young boy hugging her. “Are you an Auror, ma'am?”
“Yes, as is my husband,” Lily said, smiling at James. “I'm Lily Potter, this is James, and Harry,” she continued, gesturing first to her husband, and then their son.
“Nice to meet you, all of you,” Dumbledore said. “I'm Albus Dumbledore, the Headmaster of Hogwarts.”
“The world knows who you are,” James said, his voice just slightly cool. “Lily and I were both Hogwarts students, you know. We were Gryffindors, from 1971 to 1978.” He placed his hand on Harry's shoulder.
Dumbledore seemed to have noticed James' tone. “Is there something wrong?”
“You have a wizard named Severus Snape teaching here, do you not?” James asked in response. Dumbledore nodded. “Yes, he teaches Potions.”
“That's the problem,” James said. “The bastard's evil.” Lily nodded firmly, emphasizing James' point.
“He's just misunderstood...” Dumbledore began.
“Hagrid says the same thing about dragons and chimeras,” Harry interjected. James and Lily looked to be barely holding in laughter.
“He's got a point, you know,” James said.
“Yes, but they're completely different...”
“They all kill,” Harry said, quite seriously. “And you know it.”
“Yes, but how did you know it, little one?” Dumbledore asked, his tone so obviously condescending that James glared.
“It's because both of his parents are Aurors, numbnut,” Chronos said scathingly into the pool. He couldn't believe how close he had come to losing Harry Potter again. It was only through interfering once again that disaster had been averted. If Harry hadn't cast that Patronus Charm, rather than just thinking of his loving girlfriend, things would have ended badly for him...
Well, it's time to interfere some more, Chronos thought to himself. He had to move things along with Dumbledore and McGonagall, or the former would never trust or respect the Potters to the same degree again.
“It's because both of his parents are Aurors, numbnut,” James said coolly, echoing the Fates' earlier thought verbatim, though he would never know it.
* * * *
EIDTOR’S NOTE: I just love that James called Dumbledore a numbnut. And it’s probably true, too.
And at least Snape is on his way down. Good riddance, I say.
Thanks for reading and please review.
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