Chapter 55 : The Questioning
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As they huddled together on the smelly old mattress, Lily tried frantically to think of how they could escape, or at least keep everyone together and safe until someone rescued them. She knew that without full control over their magic, they were almost helpless. Almost. But she also knew that one part of her, the part that was not shuddering in fear, knew more spells than she had a right to as a six-year-old. That part of her, the brave part, the knowing part, was attempting to see a way out of this bleak situation.
Finally, she thought she had come up with something. "Sev," she tugged on his sleeve to get his attention.
"Yes? What's wrong?" he looked at her, his big dark eyes sparkling with concern.
"Besides being offered up like sacrificial lambs and trapped here?" she joked feebly. "Well . . . do you think they'll question us?"
"They might," Severus conceded.
"They will. It's what they do to prisoners," Sirius agreed. His small mouth turned down. "And I promised myself I'd never be another one."
"We have to get out of here," Lily said. "Only thing is, we don't know where we are or how many people we need to get past."
"If they do take us to question us, you have to pretend you don't know anything," Severus instructed.
"That's easy," Sirius laughed. "Because it's true."
Lily nodded. "If they ask us about being UnVeiled . . . we can't give them any sort of answer they'll like . . . because it was out of our hands."
"Perhaps they can accept a half-truth." Severus mused, knowing the Death Eaters would never go for the real truth. "In any case, let me try and tell them it. They won't be able to tell if I'm lying, because I'm an Occlumens."
"Can you still do that?" Lily asked softly.
"Yes. It's instinctive for me now, but I can," replied Severus.
"Even if you can lie to them, Snape, that might not stop them from Crucioing you," Sirius said warningly.
Severus just nodded.
Lily's eyes flashed. The thought of anyone hurting the dark-eyed boy beside her made her blood boil. "No! I won't let them!"
Sirius just stared at her. "How are you going to stop them? You don't even have a wand, Lily."
"I have something better. I have my brain," she flared. "I know how to cast a protective spell over you, Sev. One that can . . . repel any physical magic thrown at you."
Severus' eyes widened. "Like a Shield Charm?"
"Better. Because everyone can see a Shield Charm. The only ones who can see this spell are you and I, unless they're specifically looking for magic on you."
"Which they won't be because they think we're just kids," Sirius said approvingly.
"When can you cast it?" asked Severus.
"Now. No sense waiting," Lily said. Then she lowered her head in concentration, dragging up the memory of how to phrase the incantation and gestures from deep within her mind. She pointed a finger at Severus and murmured softly, "Defendus magicus!" As she spoke the words, she felt her magic gather within her, then shoot outwards in a bright stream of bluish gold light.
The light surrounded Severus with a brilliant glow, so that he and Sirius had to shut their eyes. In moments it had faded, but Severus could feel the magic surrounding him, like a warm fuzzy blanket.
Lily yawned afterwards. "There! How does it feel, Sev?"
"Like a warm blanket is wrapped around me. Are you all right, Lil?"
"Yes. Just a little tired. Guess the magic took more out of me than I thought." Lily sighed. "Maybe I can try and cast another one on you, Sirius, later."
"That's all right. Snape will probably be the one they go after, he looks more knowledgeable than I do." Sirius said. "It's cold in here. Think I'll change into Padfoot and then take a nap."
He blurred into his Animagus form and then curled up on the pallet inbetween the other two youngsters, put his nose on his paws, and drifted off.
"I can't sleep," Severus admitted.
"Me either. I'm too nervous." Lily said. But she did lean back against the mattress. Despite her assertion, her eyes grew heavy and she too drifted into dreamland.
Severus remained awake a few more minutes before he too succumbed to slumber.
That was how Gregory Goyle, former Death Eater, and former inmate of Azkaban, found them an hour later.
His eyes widened as he took in the sight of the three sleeping children (Sirius had heard him coming in time to shift back and pretend he was asleep) and then he scowled fiercely. "We're going to get to the bottom of this . . . right bloody now!" He stalked over and grabbed the sleeping Severus by the arm. "Wake up, kid! I need to ask you a few questions!"
Severus jerked awake, his heart beating frantically in his chest.
Goyle pulled him off the mattress and made him walk ahead of him, through the door and into a cold stone hallway.
"Good luck, Snape," whispered Sirius as the door slammed shut and locked again. Beside him, Lily stirred but did not wake.
Goyle dragged him into a room that was all cold stone walls and a tiled floor. Inside was a straight-backed wooden chair and two other Death Eaters in dark gray, almost black robes. Severus didn't recognize either of them from his former life as a spy and assumed they had been recruited after his death. One was short and rather chubby with brown hair cut in a buzz and dark eyes, the other was a classic tall, blond, with piercing blue eyes and a handsome face. Both men glared at the small boy as if he had done something to offend them.
Severus met their gazes unflinchingly. The first rule he had learned as a Death Eater was show no fear, even if you were shaking and puking up your guts on the inside. The Dark Lord preferred those who appeared brave.
"Sit there in the chair," Goyle ordered.
He pushed Severus and the boy reluctantly went and sat in the chair. Once there, however, he glared at his tormentors.
"Ooo-wee, you gots a live one there, Goyle!" chortled the short fat man. "Never saw a kid who wasn't pissin' an' bawlin' for his mama after we took him away."
"That's because this one isn't an ordinary kid, Adrian. Right, Goyle?" asked the blond importantly.
The one called Adrian scratched his head. "Huh? Looks like a little kid to me. You mean he's Polyjuiced or something, Greg?"
Goyle scowled at his comrade. Clearly the fellow wasn't any too bright. "I told you, Adrian, now pay attention!" he growled, belting the other man alongside the head. "He's Snape, or at least has Snape's memories or something like it inside him."
"But Snape's dead! You said you went to the funeral, saw his body!" protested Adrian, looking at Severus like he was some kind of maggot found crawling on his roast beef sandwich. "This is Potter's brat we took! The one named for the perfessor."
"Maybe. And maybe he's something else," Goyle said darkly.
"What do you mean?" queried the blond sharply. "Nobody can cheat death. Except our Lord. And in the end . . . even he succumbed."
Goyle scowled. "By Potter's hand!" He spat on the ground. "I hate that motherfucking prick! If what Andrea predicted was true . . . we can bring back the Dark Lord, Stephen."
"You think what she said she saw was true?" Adrian asked. "I thought you didn't believe in Seers, Greg."
"Normally, I don't. But she's Trelawney's niece and I think it runs in her line. Look what her batty old aunt predicted, huh? The Dark Lord's death! That's what landed us in this fix. Potter and his bloody little band of heroes. If not for them . . ." he trailed off and gave Severus another murderous glare. "If what Andrea said is right, then there's a way back from the Veil." His meaty fists clenching, Goyle advanced on the child seated in the chair. "And you're going to tell us how you did it, boy! Or else I swear upon my mother's grave that I'll make you wish you'd never been born! Got me?"
I cannot believe this idiot survived this long without a keeper, was Severus' first thought. His second was that he had to keep Goyle and the others guessing if he wished to avoid a short and painful session with the Cruciatus Curse. "Y-yes, sir," he said, making his voice quiver a little, the way a real child's would have in this situation. "But . . . I don't know what you're talking about."
"You don't, eh?" Goyle sneered. He eyed Severus meanly. "You look sort of like old Snape, now that I see you better."
"Potter has dark hair too," said Adrian helpfully.
"Shut up!" ordered Goyle, clearly the leader of this band of buffoons. "I'll do the questioning around here. So, you don't know what I'm talking about, kid? Maybe this will refresh your memory."
He reached out and slapped Severus across the face with one meaty palm.
Severus was thrown back a little in the chair, but refused to flinch or cry out. The slap hurt, but he'd had worse from Tobias and all he did was sniffle a little.
"Hey, maybe you should go a little easy on 'im, Goyle," remarked Adrian.
"Kid can't talk if you pound the snot out of him," Stephens added.
"When I want your opinion, I'll ask it!" spat Goyle. He turned back to Severus. "Start talking, brat! Or there's worse where that came from."
"What do you want to know?" Severus asked, sullenly. He had put up his Occlumency shields while walking down the hallway, but he needn't have bothered. None of these dumbos could muster up enough brains between them to cast Legilimens, much less breach his mind walls.
"What's your name?"
"You know my name."
"Tell me anyway!"
"Severus Potter," Severus lied glibly.
Goyle bared his teeth at him, like a vicious dog. "How'd you come back through the Veil?"
"I . . . don't know what you mean," Severus sputtered. "The Veil's where you go when you die, right?"
"Of course it is! What stupid idiot doesn't know that?" Goyle sneered. He leaned over and shook Severus slightly. "You have Snape's memories. Now answer my question. How'd you get back from there?"
"I told you, I don't know!" Severus half-shouted defiantly.
That earned him a second slap across the opposite cheek.
"Quit being cheeky, brat!" Goyle roared. "Before I Crucio you!"
Severus made himself tremble. "No! I'll be good."
"Greg, you can't Crucio him," Adrian cried. "What if you kill him?"
"Or make him into a vegetable?" argued Stephen.
Goyle swore. He hadn't thought of that. Voldemort had always Crucioed important prisoners. But he had forgotten he was dealing with a kid here, not an adult. He would love to have Potter bound to a chair and make him scream with the Torture Curse. "Dammit!" He cuffed Severus across the back of the head, just because he was angry and needed something to vent upon. "Talk, boy! Snape was always a smart bugger. Tell me how you got his memories."
Severus looked up at Goyle and fought to keep a sneer off his countenance. It was pathetic, what the followers of the Dark Lord had been reduced to. Then again, Goyle had never been the sharpest tool in the shed, even on his best day. "You want me to remember something that happened before I was born? 'Cause my . . . dad told me about the war an' all, an' he said Professor Snape was the bravest man he ever knew. But I don't have any memories except the stories he told me."
"Looks like Andrea was wrong, old chum!" laughed Adrian.
"Yeah, never trust a Seer who says she can prophecy," Stephen hooted.
Goyle spun on them. "But out, you imbeciles. He's got Snape's memories and I can prove it!" He turned back and grabbed Severus by the collar. "What's the ingredients for a Pepperup potion, brat?"
Severus replied almost automatically.
"Good! See, I knew he had Snape's memories!" Goyle yelled triumphantly, making Severus' ears hurt.
"Goyle, any smart kid who's good in potions knows that!" Stephen snorted.
"Uh . . . I didn't," Adrian admitted, scratching his head.
"That's 'cause you're an idiot who doesn't know his ass from a hole in the ground!" Stephen rolled his eyes.
"What hole?" asked Adrian, puzzled.
"Never mind! Goyle, ask him another one. Or better yet, I will," Stephen said. "Hey, boy. How do you make a Draught of Living Death?"
Severus remained silent this time, biting the inside of his lip to keep the answer behind his teeth. He made himself look totally bewildered.
"Well? Answer the question!" Goyle bellowed.
"I . . . uh . . ." Severus pretended to flounder and made up some crazy list of ingredients.
"Wrong!" Stephen cried triumphantly. "Goyle, you rube, this kid's no professor. Any professor worth his robes could answer that question."
Goyle turned red. "How about this one? What's the difference between asphodel and aconite?"
"They're spelled differently?" Severus guessed.
Stephen hit himself in the forhead. "Oi! That's right, but wrong too! Give it up, Greg!"
"Maybe Andrea was drunk," Adrian offered.
"Nobody asked for your opinion!" Goyle snapped. He posed a flurry of potions questions at Severus.
All of them were met with either a shrug, a blank look, or some ridiculous statement.
Goyle looked like a volcano about to erupt. He smacked Severus a few more times, frustrated and growing tired of never getting a right answer. He was sick of his friends laughing at him. Sick of being made a fool out of by a snotnosed brat of Potter's.
He grabbed Severus by the throat and squeezed.
Suddenly Severus saw stars and began choking. He couldn't get enough air! He was going to strangle!
It took Stephen and Adrian to drag Goyle off the boy.
"Stop it, Goyle! Choking him won't get the answers you want," Stephen snapped.
Severus wheezed and gasped. The room was spinning.
"Adrian, take him out of here, before Greg does some permanent harm to him," Stephen ordered. "We need the kid alive to ransom."
Adrian lumbered forward and picked up Severus. He cradled the boy gently, like a pet cat.
"No! Bring him back!" Goyle howled. "I'm in charge here!"
Stephen held the other man back. "Go, Adrian! Put him back in the room and get one of the others. Maybe they know something he doesn't."
Adrian did as he was told, leaving Goyle struggling and cursing behind him.
Adrian placed the injured Severus on the mattress and then said to Sirius, who was the only one awake, "Come with me, kid."
Sirius looked as if he was going to refuse, but before he could do anything, Adrian picked him up as easily as he would a bookbag and carried him away, locking the door behind him.
The loud slamming of the door woke Lily, who sat up and looked totally bewildered, until she saw Severus, who had red marks from Goyle's fingers about his throat and was coughing.
"Sev, what happened? What did they do to you?" she cried. "I . . . I thought my spell would protect you."
Severus looked up at her and the sight of her made him smile despite the pain he was in. "It did, Lily. I'm not dead and not tortured. Well, except from looking at those three oafs. All Goyle did was smack me a little. It wasn't even as bad as when my dad used to beat me. So your spell did work . . . just not like you thought. It could have been much worse."
Lily looked upset. "I didn't want you to get hurt at all."
Severus sat up, rubbing his throat reflexively. "Sometimes the magic doesn't always do what we want. That went better than I expected."
She hugged Severus. "I wish . . . I could kill them for what they've done to you!"
He smiled. "I'm sure Harry wishes that too."
"That big behemoth took him away. They'll probably question him too. But they won't get anything out of him either."
Lily glared at the door. "I hate them! I wish they were dead!"
"Save your strength, Lily." Severus advised. "We have to get out of here. And to do that, we need to let the adults know where we are."
"Can't they just cast a Locator Charm?"
"Maybe. But I think this place is warded. I think we're in the old stronghold of the Dark—Voldemort," Severus made himself say the name once all men feared to speak.
"Then how can my dad and grandpa find us?"
"They could take a good guess," Severus said. "Or . . . we could bring them here somehow."
"It's too bad you didn't have a link with Harry." Lily mused. "Then you could . . . umm . . . contact him with your mind."
"Lily, don't be ridiculous!" Severus began, then he halted. "Wait. I do have a link with Harry. From when I died. I gave him my memories. That forged a bond between us. A small one, but it was enough. And now . . . now he's my legal guardian."
"So try and send to him, Sev!" Lily urged. "And I'll try with Draco."
Both children closed their eyes, picturing Draco and Harry in their minds, and tried to send to them.
Five minutes passed, and then the door opened again, and Adrian came in with Sirius, who looked as if he'd been slapped around too.
Severus opened his eyes when Adrian knelt to grab Lily. "Don't you touch her!"
"Hush, you cheeky little monkey!" Adrian scolded, waggling a finger. "Greg wants to talk to all o' you."
Lily's eyes popped open and she tried to crawl away from the big man and out the door, but Adrian was like a mountain, unstoppable. He picked her up under an arm and turned around.
"I'll . . . I'll burn you up, you stupid oaf!" Severus shouted. If I had my magic, I would! "Bring her back!"
But Adrian ignored him, his threats were like the howling of the wind, and he left with a squirming Lily under one arm.
When the door clanged shut, Severus sagged back against the mattress. "It's no use," he groaned. "Harry can't hear me."
"Well, duh!" Sirius shook his head. "He's like, a thousand kilometers away or something. What were you doing anyway, Snape?"
"Trying to call for help," Severus snapped. "What did you tell them, Black?"
"Nothing," answered Sirius. "Same as you." He eyed Severus. "Why didn't you just send a Patronus for help?"
"Why didn't I what?" Severus demanded. "Black, what planet are you on? I'm only six years old! I have my magical core at half strength or less. How can I cast a Patronus with that?"
"But you did once," Sirius pointed out.
"Yes, and I almost died!" Severus growled, feeling sick to his stomach at the thought of what Lily might be going through.
"Oh. But . . . what if . . ." Sirius frowned. He had an idea, but what if Severus thought it was crazy? Maybe he'd better wait till Lily came back to share it. "I hope they feed us in this place."
"Is that all you're worried about? Food?" Severus snapped. "Lily could be getting tortured or something and all you're concerned about is your stomach!"
"Hey, I'm hungry! And they won't do anything worse to Lily than they did to us." Sirius said.
"How do you know that?"
"Because they're a pack of dumbasses. And Lily's a girl and they don't seem like the type to hurt girls." Sirius said.
"Yeah, but did he ever hate girls when he was in your House?"
"Not that I recall. He had a crush on Daphne Greengrass."
"But he didn't marry her, did he? He married Pansy Parkinson instead," Sirius pointed out.
"What's that got to do with anything?"
"Well, if anyone could turn a man off women, it's her," Sirius said. "She's like an ugly dog's hind end. But maybe Goyle likes them bossy and ugly. All I'm saying, Severus, is to wait and see. Lily's a tough little thing. She'll survive. Same as we did."
"If he hurts her, I'll cut his balls off!" Severus hissed.
Sirius chuckled. "I'll help. But I think they'll go easier on her. When Goyle questioned me, he was drinking several shots of Firkins. Half the time, he didn't hit what he aimed at, the retard."
"They must have got him drunk."
"The other two," Severus said. "Adrian and Stephen." His stomach was still in knots.
Before Sirius could say anything, Adrian returned with Lily. In the other hand he carried a tray with large bowls of some sort of vegetable soup and cups of water. "Here's the little miss back. And some supper. Eat up, kiddies! Greg will be sober tomorrow and ask you more questions."
"We can't tell him what we don't know," Sirius shouted.
"He'll still ask," Adrian remarked, then left again.
"Lily! What did they do to you?" Severus cried.
Lily looked at him. There was a slight smear of blood on her lip. "He . . . he yelled at me and smacked me three times. But I didn't tell him anything, Sev. I played dumb and they bought it."
"Told you so," Sirius said smugly.
"Shut up. There's blood on you," Severus looked at Lily sharply. "Did they cut you?"
"No. I bit my own lip to keep from spitting at them," she admitted.
"Oh," he said. Black had been right. For once. "I still want to kill them."
"Me too. But, like you said, we need to get out of here," Sirius reminded him. "I have an idea. What if you could cast your Patronus, Snape? Without almost killing yourself?"
"How can I do that? I'm a child now, Black! There's no getting around it." Severus crossed his arms over his chest and scowled. What was the mutt getting at?
"I know. But what if . . . what if we could help each other?" Sirius argued. "See, my brothers and I were talking one night and we thought . . . what if we could join our magic somehow? Enough to cast a real spell?"
"Did you try it?" Lily asked.
"No, but . . . Moony's always saying that you can do anything if you have the right motivation. And we need to get the hell away from here. So . . . why don't we try it? What do we have to lose?"
Lily slowly nodded. "Yes. That makes sense. What do you think, Sev?"
"I think Sirius is off his rocker," Severus said. "But . . . we also have no other options beyond hoping our captors are merciful. So . . . let's try."
"Okay. We'll join hands," Sirius said. "Then you start to cast the Patronus spell, Snape, and Lily and I will try and lend you energy. If it works, cast the spell. If not, stop."
"Are you sure you can cast without a wand?" Lily wanted to know.
"Yes. I did it once before. When Alby and I were trapped in a secret tunnel in our vacation house," Severus told her. "All right. Let's begin."
They all joined hands.
Sirius and Lily concentrated upon summoning their magic and sending it along to Severus.
Severus concentrated on summoning his own magic and then casting his Patronus.
At first h felt nothing, then, as he gathered his will, he felt his magic stir.
It gathered into a glowing ball of energy deep within him. He pointed a finger, and said softly, "Expecto Patronum!" At the same time he thought of himself and Lily and how much he loved her in his former life.
He felt his magic gathering, then beginning to charge through him.
Suddenly, he felt his magic joined by another . . . and then another. As the power flowed into him, the spell took it and began to summon the Patronus.
White mist gathered and billowed before him.
Severus continued to concentrate. "Go to Harry!" he hissed, directing the Patronus. "Go to Harry and bring him back here."
There was a burst of light and a shapely doe appeared before him, wreathed in spectral mist.
He could feel magic draining from him . . . from them.
"Go!" he ordered the doe.
The Patronus leaped forward, like an arrow shot from a bow. It went through the door and was gone, like a shadow fleeing the sunlight. Or a messenger on a mission.
"Oh! That was incredible!" Lily cried, then she slumped on the mattress, spent.
"That was great, Severus!" Sirius praised. "But now let's eat, before I pass out."
Severus felt tired as well, but not like the first time. The crushing exhaustion of magical drain was absent. He gave his two companions a smile. "We did it! Harry will follow the Patronus back to us. And so will the rest of them."
He felt something he hadn't felt in a long while. Pride.
They moved over to the tray and devoured what was on it. Then the two boys collapsed on the mattress.
Lily waited until they were asleep before sneaking off to pee in a corner. Then she too went and lay down upon the mattress. She curled up inbetween the two boys and fell asleep too, dreaming about Draco and Lucius coming for her.
Meanwhile, the doe Patronus bounded over rocky hills and down across train tracks and houses, heading for Godric's Hollow and the wizard she had been told to summon.
A/N: Hope you liked this chapter. What did you think of the way the kids handled things? I didn't want some drawn out torture scene, because that's so typical, so I had them (the DE) be a little smarter, but not much!
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