Chapter 41 : Buried Treasure
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It was four and a half weeks since Indigo's birth, and the household had managed to finally settle into a routine that suited everyone. Severus had tested out of both nursery and primary school and now stayed at home with Ginny and Harry. Alby had begged so much to go to school like a big boy that Harry and Ginny allowed him to take the entrance exams for nursery school. When he passed with flying colors, they agreed to put him in Miss Patil's class. Indigo was thriving once they had switched the formula from soy to goat's milk. She was less colicky and slept better, and that in turn allowed the rest of the family to sleep and regain their strength and lose their grumpiness.
Severus and Lily now had lessons together with Harry for flying and Ginny and Molly taught them simple household charms for cleaning and cooking. They also gave them basic Herbology and Charms lessons and some potions as well, though they hardly needed much instruction in that area, as Severus had retained all of his memories from teaching and brewing. Lily had most of her memories as a brilliant student in charms and potions as well.
After lessons, which lasted from mid-morning to early afternoon, the two would help care for Indigo or play together inside or outside, depending on the weather. Severus and Lily learned how to hold and give Indi a bottle and burp her. They sang silly songs to her and tickled her to make her giggle. Though Severus was forbidden to pick her up out of the cradle, he could stay and amuse her to make her stop crying while Ginny and Harry were dressing. Soon the baby came to recognize his voice and smile and wriggle when he came by her. Gradually she was coming to recognize all the people in her family, though she tended to prefer Ginny over everyone.
One afternoon, Lily invited Severus over to the manor, because they were tired of being stuck in the castle. Lucius and Narcissa had agreed to watch them for a few hours while Ginny visited Molly with Indi and Harry took Alby and Cory to a train show in London. Mindful of their agreement with Lucifer, the two avoided the white peacock and his hens, instead exploring the rose garden and feeding the koi.
It was while they were by the fish pond that Severus recalled the talking skull in the library and the buried treasure it spoke of. "Lily, Draconis said there's a spellbook buried somewhere around here. I tried to find it when I was here back in May but couldn't dig that far. Want to see if it's still there?"
"Sure! And I know a charm to help." Lily said eagerly. "Where's some shovels?"
Severus was at a loss. He didn't know where the Malfoys kept their gardening equipment. Maybe in a shed? "Uh . . .maybe in a gardening shed?"
Lily wrinkled her brow. "But I don't think we have . . . wait a minute. Jinxy!"
Jinxy popped in. "You called, young mistress?"
"Jinxy, can you get us some shovels?"
"Certainly, Mistress Lily!" The elf vanished and then appeared moments later with two child sized shovels.
"Thanks!" Lily took one and handed the other to Severus. "All right, where is this treasure supposed to be?"
"Over here." Severus found where they had originally started to dig. He pointed to it, the dirt still looked slightly disturbed.
"All right, give me a minute to remember . . ." Lily shut her eyes and concentrated. The charm was one she remembered doing long ago, in her first life, when she had buried her journal so the Marauders wouldn't find it. The charm's key word had been . . . "Excavato!" She pointed her finger at her shovel, and chanted the word.
Blue sparkles covered the shovel and made it glow.
Lily grabbed it and started digging. The enchanted shovel now bit through the dirt like a hot knife through butter. She dug easily and quickly.
"Lily! Do mine, so I can help!" Severus cried.
Lily continued digging, the dirt mounding up behind her.
"Lily!" Severus shouted exasperatedly. When she still didn't respond, he decided to try the charm himself. He pointed his finger, concentrated, and said firmly, "Excavato!"
Blue sparks shot out and covered his shovel too. As he began to dig, he called over to Lily, "Where'd you learn that one?"
"I don't remember where, just how," she replied.
Soon they had a hole about four feet deep.
Panting, they quit digging and rested.
"Sev, I don' think there's anything down here," Lily said, wiping her brow, dirt smeared across her face.
"I think there is. We just . . . need to keep going."
"How? We're too small to dig any deeper," Lily pointed out.
Severus thought for a moment. "What if . . . you asked Jinxy to come help you? She could dig deeper than we could with the shovel."
Lily considered. She didn't like asking the elf for so many favors. Still, it wasn't like it was wrong to ask her to help. "Okay. Jinxy!"
Jinxy appeared. "What does Miss Lily need?"
Lily told her.
The elf hesitated. "Miss Lily, are you sure you is allowed to do this? Won't Master Lucius be angry that you have dug up the yard?"
"Uh . . . we'll tell him it was all our idea. You won't get in trouble. Promise!" Lily reassured her.
The elf nodded, she could hardly refuse a command from a family member. Then she took the shovel and jumped into the hole and started to dig. Dirt flew out of the hole rapidly, until they heard a distinct clang as the shovel struck something.
"What was that?" Severus called.
"There is a metal box down here, sir!" Jinxy called to them.
"Bring it up! Bring it up!" Lily clapped her hands eagerly, her green eyes shining.
Jinxy dug the box up and blinked out of the hole. When she appeared in front of them, she knelt and presented the box to her mistress.
Lily took the box reverently. It was made of some kind of metal and it had a small lock on it. "Oh, blast it! Now how do we open it?"
"Let me try an Unlocking charm," Severus said. "Alohamora!"
But this time his magic refused to respond, and the lock barely glowed before the magic vanished.
"Ah, my magic's gone on the fritz again," Severus grumbled, glaring at his hand. Sometimes he could cast as well as he had as an adult and other times he could barely summon up anything. Harry said it was because Severus' magical core wasn't fully functioning yet.
"Try again, Sev!"
Severus did. "It's no use, Lil. My magic's not responding. You try."
But Lily had no better luck, despite her former aptitude.
They stared glumly at the box, disappointed.
Dismayed, Lily looked about at the heaps of dirt and said, "We'd better try and put most of this dirt back before somebody sees."
Severus nodded. The Malfoy's backyard did look like a construction site in this corner. He began to fill in the hole.
They had gotten most of the hole filled in when footsteps came across the lawn and they heard a stern voice say, "Great Merlin! Severus Snape and Lily Evans, what have you done?"
Severus gulped and looked up to find a very irate Lucius staring down at them, along with Harry. "Uh . . . Lily and I went digging for buried treasure, Lucius. You know the old legend that Draconis talks about? That there was an ancient spellbook buried on the estate? Well, it's true! See, there it is!" He pointed to the box they couldn't open.
"I wanted to see if we could find it, Grandpa," Lily chimed in. "And we did!"
"You also dug up Narcissa's lawn and gotten yourselves all filthy," Harry said, his hands on his hips. He was trying very hard to maintain a stern demeanor, but seeing the normally neat and proper Lily and his mostly obedient son covered in mud and looking like refugees from a cave in made him want to laugh instead. "Who said you could do that, Severus?"
Severus bit his lip. He had the feeling he was in trouble. "Err . . . nobody. When I was here with Alby we tried to find it but we couldn't." He looked up at Lucius and said softly, "You never said we couldn't keep on looking, Lucius."
"I never said you could either, little snake," Lucius reminded him. He was familiar with how a Slytherin child's mind worked. "How did you manage to dig that hole, anyway?"
"We used a charm on the shovels, Grandpa. I cast it." Lily told him, sending him a pleading look.
Lucius raised an eyebrow. "And what charm was that, little one?"
"It was a charm to make a shovel dig better," she explained.
Lucius was impressed despite his anger. "I always knew she was brilliant," he whispered proudly to Harry. "Shall we see what's in the box? We can punish them afterwards."
Harry slowly nodded. "You two finish filling in the hole."
The two obeyed. As they shoveled the dirt back, Severus asked, "Are we in trouble?"
"Yes, but never mind that now. Finish this!"
Severus bit his lip and obeyed. He wondered if digging up the yard without asking was bad enough to warrant no supper and a smacking. He hoped not, since they were also trying to clean up the mess.
"It was my fault, Uncle Harry," Lily said. "I was the one who got Jinxy to bring me the shovels."
"That may be so, but you're both responsible for your own actions. And Severus knows better than to dig up a lawn without permission." Harry told her. He was trying to think up a suitable punishment. But his curiosity at the box was interfering.
Once nearly all the dirt was back in place, Harry stepped on it to pack it down. "There! Now, let's get you two in a bath. You need a good hot bath to get clean."
They picked up their mud splattered charges and carried them inside the manor. Lucius had the mysterious box tucked under an arm. Lucius went into his bathroom with Lily and Harry led Severus into the bathroom next to Cory's room.
Harry ran the water and told Severus to get undressed.
Severus did so slowly, then asked Harry, "How much trouble am I in?"
Harry sighed. "You'll have to wait and see. Now get in the tub."
Severus stepped into the warm water, not really liking the sound of that statement. Now he wasn't sure if he would be grounded or forbidden to make potions with Lily for a week, or maybe even given a spanking. He began to scrub himself with the soapy cloth Harry handed him.
Harry gently lathered Severus' hair and washed it. He did that twice.
Severus looked up at him and said, "I'm sorry, Harry. I just wanted to find the book. I didn't mean to make a mess."
"Nevertheless, that's what happened. You should have asked permission first. You could have gotten hurt if you'd fallen in that hole. Broken your leg or arm."
Severus hung his head. "Yessir." He could have told Harry about Jinxy, but like Lily, didn't want the elf to get in trouble.
"I'm surprised at you, Severus. Are you becoming more like Alby?"
"I don't know," was all he could say. He knew that as an adult he wouldn't have gotten carried away like that. But there was something about the lure of a magical spellbook that set his heart to racing and made him become impulsive, just like the six-year-old he was. "Can we open the box at least? Before you punish me?"
"Yes." Harry agreed, still uncertain what to do. Maybe he would discuss it with Lucius. "Finish up, Severus. You don't have time to play in the bath, we need to get home."
Meanwhile, Lily was also being scolded by her grandfather. "Child, if you wanted to search for buried treasure, all you had to do was tell me, instead of digging up half the yard."
Lily looked at him ruefully, soaps suds in her hair. "But you wouldn't have believed us, Grandpa. Sev said you didn't believe him the first time. You said Draconis lied."
"Actually, your father said that. Because it's true, that skull has lied on occasion and no one has ever found Derek Malfoy's spellbook, and there have been members of the family who have looked for it." Lucius said, rinsing off her hair with a pitcher of water.
"Maybe they didn't look hard enough. Or listen to what Draconis said."
"Perhaps. In any case, we don't even know what is in that box. It could be the book . . . or it could be something else."
"Like jewels and gold?"
"Possibly." Lucius sighed. "Did it ever occur to you that the treasure might have been booby trapped, Lily? It could have had harmful curses on it, and you might have died trying to open it. That is why if you ever find something like that again, you must get an adult immediately. Do you understand?"
"Yes, sir. Grandpa, are you mad at me?" she sniffled a little.
"I'm . . . more disappointed than angry with you, Lily," Lucius said. "Next time think before you rush into things." He examined his granddaughter then said, "Come on, out of the tub with you. You're all clean."
He helped her out of the tub, then had Jinxy bring in new clothes for her to wear. He would have to discuss a fitting punishment with Harry for his little imp.
Once they were both dressed, Harry and Lucius told Severus and Lily to go and sit on the couch and be still. The two obeyed, giving each other nervous glances. Then the adults left the room, leaving the box on the table in front of the children.
The two partners in mischief just sat there, staring at the box, and wondering how much trouble they were in.
In the kitchen, Harry and Lucius had put up a bubble of Silence and were discussing what sort of punishment they should give their treasure hunting kids.
" . . . could have been hurt if one of them had fallen in the hole," Harry reminded Lucius.
"True, but neither of them seemed to realize that. It wasn't as if they did something they knew was forbidden or dangerous." Lucius argued.
"That's the odd thing. Severus normally doesn't do things like that. Impulsive things, I mean."
"I believe that Lily had something to do with that. I've noticed that she can be very impulsive sometimes," Lucius snorted. "She has a lot of influence on Severus, Harry. He practically worshipped her in his former life. I think a part of him still does, and that causes him to quit using his head."
"Maybe, but Severus told me it was his idea to look for the book again. I don't think he was just following Lily, Lucius. He knows right from wrong. Maybe this is just a sign that he's becoming more like a child. You know how children are."
"I do. I think that those two are going to give us gray hairs, Harry." Lucius chuckled. "Now, what shall we do with our young explorers?"
"Well . . . I don't think what they did merits a trip over our knees, this time. How about writing, "I will think before I act" twenty-five times tonight?"
"Yes, and a twenty minute time out and no brewing potions tomorrow?" Lucius said.
"That's fair." Harry agreed.
"Now, shall we put ourselves out of our misery and go and open that box?" Lucius asked with a smirk.
They headed back into the den, and found the two children still sitting bolt upright on the couch, looking apprehensive.
Lucius cleared his throat. "We've decided to open the box first before issuing punishments." He pointed his wand at the innocent looking box and chanted several spells to dispel curses and dark magic, just in case. Finally, he cast an Unlocking charm on it.
The box's lock slipped open and fell on the floor. Lucius carefully opened the lid.
Inside was a covering of thick black velvet. Lucius tugged it off to reveal a small book with wooden panels front and back, the pages glued together along the spine. The wood glistened, looking as if it had been lacquered. It was carved, with a simple pattern of vines and leaves along the bottom of the cover, and a snake winding its way across the top. In the middle was a star-shaped pattern with runes on either side.
Lucius traced the two runes and whispered, "After all this time . . . my ancestor's spellbook. The Booke of Secrets," he murmured. He opened it, the pages crackled slightly, but the parchment had been spelled to preserve it and the writing was as clear and sharp as ever.
"Can I see?" Severus jumped up and tried to pull the book down so he could read it.
Lucius swatted his hand away. "No, boy! These spells are too advanced for you to study. They require a master's perusal."
Severus bit back a yelp. He glared at his old friend. "I was a master wizard! Or have you forgotten, old friend?"
"Was being the key word there," Lucius interjected. "You aren't that now."
Severus stamped a foot. He felt betrayed. "I can still comprehend what's in there, Lucius. I'm not stupid just because I'm little now."
"You aren't up to casting the spells in here, Severus, so best to not even look, lest you be tempted," Lucius told him. "Besides, this book belongs to my family, I should examine it first."
"Fine! Be that way," Severus growled, furious. He had found the bloody thing and all he wanted to do was look at it. He wasn't going to try anything with it, for Merlin's sake!
"Severus," Harry interrupted. "You don't talk to adults that way. Now apologize."
Severus' chin came up. "Why? He's treating me like I'm an imbecile."
"No, he's treating you like a child," Harry corrected. "Now apologize."
"Severus, must I count to three?"
Severus crossed his arms over his chest. His dark eyes flashed rebellion. He didn't care what Harry did to him, he wasn't going to apologize because he didn't say things he didn't mean. And Lucius had insulted him first.
Lily was growing alarmed. She didn't know why Lucius wouldn't let them look at the book, it was ridiculous, because they couldn't cast the spells, their magic wasn't strong enough yet. They both knew that. She could understand why Severus was mad, but she didn't want him to get in more trouble than they were already in. She slid off the couch and hissed in Severus' ear, "Sev, please! Just say you're sorry. Who cares if you don't mean it? Otherwise Harry will spank you."
"So what?" Severus hissed back. "I don't care."
"Please, Sev? I don't want him to hurt you. I remember . . . your father . . . please? For me?" Lily begged, tears in her eyes.
Severus could never resist that particular look. He wished they were alone, so he could explain that Harry would never beat him like Tobias had. But they weren't and all he could do was swallow his pride and say through gritted teeth, "I'm sorry, Lucius."
Lucius nodded, then placed the book back in the velvet wrap and into the box. He was going to hide the book, just in case. He sent it into his study with a quick wave of his wand. Then he turned back to his granddaughter and said, "While I am grateful that this heirloom was found, you still did something you know was wrong, even dangerous. Harry and I both agree that you two deserve the following punishment—tonight you will write I will think before I act twenty-five times, you will also get a twenty minute time out to think about what you should have done differently, and lastly, you will not be brewing potions tomorrow."
Both children looked dismayed and upset.
"No potions?" they cried in tandem. "But . . . that's . . ."
"To make you remember to think before you act," Harry interjected. He knew that taking away their favorite pastime would impress on them the folly of their actions even more than a spanking. "Lucius, we've got to be going. Do you want me to Floo Lily back to school?"
"No, Harry. I'll take her. I need to tell Draco about the Booke of Secrets," Lucius demurred. He put an arm about Lily, who was pouting.
Harry tossed some Floo powder down into the fireplace and said, "Potter quarters, Hogwarts!" The flames turned green and he took Severus' hand and stepped through the Floo.
When they emerged in the sitting room, they found it empty. Harry could hear Ginny in the bedroom, singing softly, probably trying to put Indigo to sleep. He looked down at Severus, who was wearing a mulish expression on his face. "Would you like to start your lines now, or wait till after dinner?"
"I'll do them now," the boy sighed. "Are we really not brewing tomorrow?"
"Yes. That's your punishment for almost risking your life."
"I'd rather have been spanked."
"I know. Too bad." Harry pointed to the coffee table. "Sit down and start writing." Harry Summoned an inkwell and a quill and parchment.
Severus walked over and sat on the couch. He began writing, wondering where his brother was. He heard Harry go into the bedroom and the soft sound of Ginny talking to her husband. He bit his lip and wished his guardian wasn't so intuitive regarding punishments. Then he continued to write rapidly across the parchment. With every stroke of the quill, he was reminded to think next time, and not be carried away by emotion. Even so, he knew that if not for him, the Booke of Secrets would have been forever lost, and one day he would read what was in its pages. Lucius owed him that much.
Harry emerged from the bedroom. "Ginny's putting Indi to sleep, and Alby's already taking a nap. That train show wore him out, I guess."
Severus said nothing, continuing to write. After a few moments, he set down the quill. "I'm finished."
Harry picked it up and counted briefly, then he said, "Good job. Now go to your room and think about what you've done and why you won't be doing it again."
Severus obeyed, finding Alby sound asleep on the opposite bed. He sat on the edge of the bed, staring at the floor, his mind running in circles. After the bath, he was sleepy, and without meaning to, he nodded off.
When Harry came in to tell them dinner was on the table, he found both boys sound asleep. He considered waking them, then decided it was better to let them sleep. One missed meal wouldn't kill them and he didn't want to deal with grumpy cranky children. So he pulled off Severus' trainers, and Transfigured both boys' clothing into pajamas, then tucked them into bed.
Tonight, Ginny and he would have a dinner for two, and enjoy some adult conversation. He wondered if her visit to the Burrow had been as eventful as his had been to Malfoy Manor. He quietly shut the door and cast a Silence ward on it, making certain the boys wouldn't be awakened by any loud noises.
Ginny looked up as Harry returned alone. "Where are Sevvy and Alby?"
"Out like lights. And we are alone at last, love."
Ginny grinned at him. "Let's celebrate, Harry," she suggested with a wicked smirk.
"My thoughts exactly," he returned her smile with one of his own. "But first, let's eat."
Ginny passed him the plate of cracker coated chicken. She couldn't remember the last time she had been able to spend time alone with her husband, and she was going to savor every minute of this night.
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