Chapter 15 : Scared Senseless
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Harry barely even had the chance to step out of the telephone booth that served as the visitor’s entrance to the ministry before he attracted attention. A plump middle aged witch ran up to up him immediately and began shrieking.
“OOO! Harry Potter! What a pleasure to see you here! I can’t believe that I am meeting you! Me and my family cannot thank you enough for everything you have done,” the woman explained excitedly.
Naturally this woman’s loud behavior called everyone else’s attention and Harry was soon engulfed in a crown of adoring, grateful and overwhelming witches and wizards. He attempted several times to excuse himself stating that he had business that he needed to be attending, but his pleas feel on deaf ears. He even attempted to push his way through the mass of people only resulting in him being pushed back.
The crowd grew larger and larger and Harry began to feel panicky. He tried to look through the crowd for a familiar face, but had no such luck. He was supposed to have been meeting Professor Snape and his former classmates to begin the process of enrolling in the auror program. He searched desperately to try to catch a glimpse of the familiar scowling face as he began to feel the tightness in his chest that threatened to restrict his breathing.
Harry began taking small careful steps backward towards the gilded fireplaces that lined the forum. The crowd of people followed his movement, pressing themselves in closer to him. When he at last felt the pointed corner of a mantle pressing into his shoulder he very quickly ducked into the fireplace and shouted the first thing that came to his mind.
Once he had stopped spinning and was shot out of the fireplace he immediately realized that something was seriously wrong. It was as if he had arrived in a completely dark and empty room. He tried to blink his eyelids to clear his vision, but saw only a pressing sort of darkness. There was no sound even when he attempted to speak aloud. He tried to reach for his wand, but found that he had no sensation in his fingers, hands, feet or anywhere else.
He thought for a moment about what he possibly could have done wrong, before remembering what Kreacher had said about Grimmauld Place not being safe. How could he have been so stupid? He had been so determined to get away from the crowd at the ministry that he had forgotten about the warning he had been given by his elf.
Concentrating hard as he could he attempted to disapparate out of the house but felt no change. He tried to summon Kreacher but could not get his mouth to work. He wanted to walk or even crawl his way to the front door or back to the fireplace, but found himself unable to move with the lack of feeling in his extremities.
He knew that he had been foolish in running off and was only left to hope that his absence would be quickly noticed. His heart sank as he realized that it could very well be quite a long time before he was discovered, and if someone were foolish enough to search for him here they would most likely be struck with the same afflictions as he was. He knew without a doubt that he had gotten himself into a hopeless situation.
When Snape arrived at the ministry he was much annoyed to see that Harry had not yet arrived. He had been certain that he had been quite clear with the time. Looking at the small gathering he took a quick mental roll call. Ron Weasley, Seamus Finnegan, Dean Thomas and Neville Longbottom were all patiently waiting for him to provide them with further instruction.
He had delayed nearly twenty minutes before resigning that it was unfair for the others to be kept waiting, especially considering how many things needed to be accomplished.
“Come along. Let’s get this all over with. I have much better things that I could be doing that would not involve babysitting,” Snape grumbled.
“Um…sir? Shouldn’t we wait until Harry gets here?” Neville asked.
Snape shook his head. “Mr. Potter was informed, the same as the rest of you, of the importance of today’s errands. It is not my concern if he chose not to grace us with his presence.”
“I know Harry will be here. He owled me just last night to make sure I was coming,” Ron argued.
“Obviously he has changed his mind,” Snape sneered. “Now, should we proceed?”
“Should we at least call on him, sir? To at least make sure that he is ok?” Neville pressed.
“I will inquire about him once I have deposited you at the auror office to begin the paperwork for your security clearances,” he resigned with an annoyed sigh.
Everyone seemed appeased by this and followed him to the lift. Snape was incredibly annoyed by Harry’s absence. This all had been arranged, after all, for the boy’s benefit so his failure to show when he had been required to do so felt like a personal slap in Snape’s face.
True to his word he made his way straight to one of the apparation patios on the ground floor that was used by ministry employees to report to and from work. He only had to wait for several minutes before it was his turn and quickly found himself at the end of the lane at Prewett Manor.
Trying to keep him irritation in check he quickly made his way up the lane to the front door which was answered promptly after he had rung the bell. When the door swung open he was greeted not by Alexis as he had been hoping, but Trixie the house elf who bowed and ushered him inside.
“I need to speak with Mr. Potter. If you could fetch him here for me,” Snape said smartly.
Trixie bowed her head and replied, “Master Harry is not here, sir. He left earlys this morning for his appointments at the Ministry, sir.”
Snape stared at the elf in confusion. “Surely you are mistaken. Mr. Potter did not arrive for his scheduled appointment. Is your mistress home?”
Trixie looked up at Snape with alarm. “No sir. Mistress Alexis had business to attend to herself and left shortly after Master Harry, sir.”
“Very well then, please inform Alexis that I called and inform her that Mr. Potter missed his engagements at the ministry,” Snape said shaking his head. Trixie bowed deeply and led Snape back through the hall and out the door. Snape made his way back down the lane beyond the reach of the protection charms around the property in order to disapparate back to the ministry. With each stride he took he did his very best to try to quell the growing uneasiness that was growing in his stomach.
Harry had been very much unaware of how much time had passed at he laid on the floor in the kitchen of Grimmauld Place. In all honesty there was very little that he was aware of. The absence of all of his senses had begun to take a very serious and alarming toll on his mind.
It had only taken but a mere half an hour for the hallucinations to begin. The tricks that his mind played on him took him to believe that he were, first back in the Dursley’s cupboard under the stairs, then to the graveyard when Voldemort had first been resurrected and then to various moments of the battle at Hogwarts. He was forced to relive the worst moments of his life and to all of them were added new elements of horror in the form of all of the people that he loved and cared for most throughout his life taunting and accusing him of the most dreadful things.
He had tried desperately at first to keep in mind where he was, but was very quickly overwhelmed by his addled mind. The constant roar in his ears did nothing to lessen the viciousness of his altered memories.
His mind did not only show him his own memories. He was most particularly confused as he saw in his mind images that he knew for certain were not his own. He saw Alexis crying in her sitting room while Snape paced back and forth in front of her. He was not sure what he was seeing but it seemed to him that Snape was very angry with her. Other times the images took on the forms of his friends Ron, Neville, Seamus and Dean whispering to each other across a long table in a grey room. Still other images showed him of a horrific fire that was quickly consuming a very drab and dark room and he felt fear for the unknown inhabitants of the house.
Unfortunately for him these images were fleeting and he was not allowed to dwell on them before they were gone and replaced with the memories that he very much wished to forget. As the tears rolled unfeelingly down his cheeks, his mental turmoil continued causing him such enormous amounts of pain that he wanted nothing more than to let himself pass through the veil and be done with it all.
The afternoon passed by excruciatingly slow as Snape escorted the auror prospects through ministry making sure that everything was properly taken care of. When he had arrived back from Prewett Manor he met up with the recruits whom were all engrossed in their security clearance and background check paperwork. They next had gone to the security office where they had their pictures taken and issued their ministry identification cards and badges. The last stop on their visit was to the department of mysteries to complete several personality inventories and behavioral assessments.
As soon as everyone had successfully completed their required tasks for the day and Snape had sent them off with notice to expect an owl from him with further instructions, he rushed off to Prewett Manor. He could barely explain his anxiety as his rung the bell and waited to be greeted. He tried reassuring himself by insisting that he was still angry that Mr. Potter chose not to grace them with his presence. He would, he reasoned, find the insufferable boy engaging in some ridiculous activity completely ignorant to all of his obligations as soon as he went inside the house.
All of these thoughts quickly vanished as the door opened and he was witness to the worry and anxiety etched on Alexis’s face.
“Oh Severus! Please tell me that Harry was just dreadfully late and met you at the ministry,” she exclaimed.
“I am afraid not,” Snape replied. “Are you quite sure that the ministry was his destination when he left this morning?”
Alexis nodded as she lead Snape into the house and into the front sitting room. “He even left here early saying that he wanted to stop by Mr. Weasley’s office since he hadn’t seen him since Fred’s funeral.”
“Well perhaps he got distracted after meeting with Arthur,” Snape mused. “Let me check in with him.”
Snape knelt in front of the fireplace threw powder down, stuck his head through the green flames and said, “The Burrow.”
Within seconds he found himself peering out of the fireplace into a small cramped kitchen with a wooden table and mismatched chairs. He was just about to call out to get someone’s attention when he heard a voice speak his name.
“Severus! You startled me!” Molly Weasley shrieked. “What can we do for you?” she continued after she caught her breath.
“I’m sorry to bother you, but I need to speak with Arthur as soon as is possible if he is available,” Snape recited.
“Of course! I do hope everything is well,” she asked with concern.
“That is yet to be determined,” he replied grimly.
Molly faced paled and she quickly left the kitchen calling out for her husband. She returned quickly with Arthur who knelt down in front of the fire.
“Good evening, Severus. Molly said that you needed to speak to me?” Arthur said cordially.Severus nodded at the man and said, “I’m terribly sorry to disturb you at home, but I need to know if you saw Harry today.”
Arthur looked confused. “Harry? No sir. I have not seen Harry since Fred’s funeral. Why would I have seen him?”
“Alexis had told me that Harry had intended to stop by your office for a visit before he met up with me. Since he had failed to make his appointment with me I had been hoping that he had just gotten sidetracked after visiting with you,” Snape said with an obvious tone of disappointment.
“But where could he have gotten off to?” Molly cried out from behind her husband.
“I have no idea, madam, but I will find out,” Snape said stiffly.
“Please let us know when you have found him,” Arthur requested.
“Of course,” Snape replied. “For now, if you’ll excuse me, I will leave you.”
When he backed out of the fireplace, he saw that Alexis was sitting down and appeared to be crying. Being particularly unaccustomed to being in the presence of an upset female, aside to the occasional incompetent female student that would burst into tears after his correcting their failed attempt at some potion or another, he began pacing back and forth in front of the fireplace. He did his best to try to think of any and every place that the boy could have gotten off to, but was met with no ideas. All of his best friends had been at the ministry with him all day and seemed truly worried and surprised by his absence.
Alexis sniffed somberly and looked up at the pacing man, “Where could he have gone, Severus? I fear that something dreadful has happened to him!”
Snape was about to reply when Trixie entered the room bringing a tray of tea. He stared at the elf as she went about the business of readying tea for the both of them.
As soon as the elf left the room he turned to Alexis and asked, “Did Harry make Kreacher swear his allegiance to you and Prewett Manor when he came here?”
“No,” she exclaimed in surprise. “What does that have to anything?”
“Kreacher!” he called. The elderly elf appeared in front of Snape immediately. “Where is Harry?” Snape demanded.
Kreacher’s eyes grew bigger and he began shaking his head and muttering, “Bad place, sir. Master Harry is in a very bad place.”
“Where? You must take us to him,” Snape barked.
“Kreacher cannot take you, sir,” he replied adamantly. “Kreacher would be stuck like Master Harry is.”
Snape felt his stomach drop. Where in the world would Harry be where even a house elf could not retrieve him?
“Where is this place Kreacher?” Alexis asked fearfully.
“Master Harry is at Grimmauld Place, the home of my former mistress.” Kreacher said. “Kreacher told him it was not safe, but he wents anyway.”
“Not safe how?” Snape snapped at the elf.
“It is cursed. Bad curse. Kreacher could not see or hear or feel. Kreacher could barely get out,” he muttered as he shook his head.
“The sensibus curse,” Snape mumbled in horror.
Alexis’s head snapped up and she met Snape’s eyes. “You can’t be serious! That would be enough to drive him completely mad in as little an hour or so!” she cried.
He resumed his pacing in front of the fireplace as his he fought back a tidal wave of emotions. He was so angry that Harry had foolishly gone back to that house despite being warned away from it. Typical Gryffindor foolishness!
“Which means we need to get over there now,” he said grimly.
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