Chapter VI - Glow Worms


When Severus arrived at Lupin's house in the small fishing village of St Mellyan, the other occupants of the house had already returned. It was Harry who opened the door for him. The first thing Severus noticed was that Harry had slashes and bruises all over his body.

"What is this? What happened?"

Harry shrugged. "There were some nasty rats and insects there."

"You are bleeding! Rats? You could get a disease!"

"It's just a few cuts! I hadn't even seen them before. I was all covered in mud, and I just had a bath, you know."

"Come here and I will heal you," said Severus, taking off Harry's robes, making him lie on the sofa and kneeling beside him.

"Sirius won't like to see me lying here in my underpants in front of you."

"Black can go to hell, for all I care. By the way, where are the two puppies?"

"Sirius is upstairs, having a bath, and Remus went out to buy Murtlap essence to heal our cuts."

"Not a bad idea. But I can take care of you." Severus started touching on Harry's bruises with his wand and chanting the healing spells. Harry stroked Severus's face and hair.

"Tell me your big adventure. I'm too tired to use Legilimency now," said Severus.

Harry told him the whole story, from the moment they had Apparated in a field of asphodels to the destruction of the cup. Severus attentively listened to his words. In his opinion, Black and Lupin had been appallingly reckless, and Severus was amazed that the three of them had managed to escape alive.

When Harry finished his report, he looked fixedly into Severus's eyes, and Severus shivered.

"You're using Occlumency with me," said Harry in a disappointed tone.

"I am entitled to some privacy."

Harry looked offended. "All right. But if you're worrying about something, and you insist on keeping it from me, we're going to annoy one another."

Severus sighed. "Obviously you are right. I shall renounce any desire for privacy. Since your Legilimency powers exceed my Occlumency ones, the tension that would result from my efforts to keep my mind closed would be not only tiresome but useless."

Harry rolled his eyes. "There's no need to make a drama out of it."

"I am being serious."

Severus looked at Harry intently, letting the boy see the images in his mind - the images of Voldemort telling Severus he had ordered Draco to kill Dumbledore.

"Draco?! Has Voldemort gone completely mad?"

"I don't know. I'm afraid this is a plan to test me."

"How could that be?"

"I don't know, Harry. Now put your robes on. If they see us like this, all hell will break loose."

~* ~* ~

When all of them had finished their baths, they talked to Dumbledore by Floo, had dinner and went to their beds (or sofa, in Snape's case). Sirius was so exhausted from the day's adventures that he couldn't sleep. Feeling thirsty, he got up to go to the kitchen for a glass of water.

As he went downstairs, Sirius noticed something different about the leather Chesterfield sofa where Snape was sleeping: it looked larger than usual. Sirius approached it. How strange! Snape was pressed against the sofa's back; in front of him, there was a bulge almost as long as Snape's body. And Snape's head... wasn't entirely there - only the back of his head was. The front part, including his infamous nose, was missing.

After the initial shock, Sirius understood what was happening. He took out his wand and pulled the Invisibility Cloak and the blankets down from Snape's and Harry's bodies and... "Levicorpus!"

Hit by the spell he himself had created, Snape was dangled upside down by his ankles. The same happened to Harry.

"Do you think I'm a fool?" Sirius snarled. "Did you think I wasn't going to find out? I wasn't born yesterday!"

Snape and Harry looked completely befuddled for a second.

Harry was the first to react, a few moments later. "Sirius, let us down!"

Even upside down, Snape managed to grab Harry by his waist and whisper in his ear. Then, wonder of wonders, even without their wands, they countered the spell and did a loop in the air, landing gently on the floor.

Sirius was so flabbergasted he didn't react until Snape had summoned his wand from the coffee table. Sirius and Snape screamed "Expelliarmus!" at the same time and were thrown to opposite sides of the room.

By this time, Harry had already summoned his wand too, and placed himself between Sirius and Snape. "Stop this now!"

"Step aside, Harry. This duel is between me and him," said Snape, moving to place Sirius within his line of sight. "Incarcerous!"

Sirius dodged the spell and looked for an angle to cast a spell without hitting Harry. "Stupefy!"

The bolt of red light passed rather close to Harry and didn't hit Snape.

Harry turned to Sirius and screamed: "Expelliarmus!"

Sirius had to dodge Harry's spell. Harry tried to cast Expelliarmus on Snape too, and failed. From then on, it was chaos. Harry, Snape and Sirius engaged in a duelling dance, relentlessly casting and dodging spells. Vases and other decorative items were broken, and even a window was smashed.



"Locomotor Mortis!"

Spells were exchanged in rapid succession until Sirius's felt his body become rigid and immobile. He still had time to look at Snape to verify whether it had been Snape who had hit him. But Snape and Harry were as rigid and immobile as himself. They had all been hit by a Freezing Charm. But who had cast it?

Sirius couldn't understand what had happened until the moment Remus appeared, his face contorted in rage, and ripped their wands from their hands, one by one.

"I can't believe you! How old are you, five? What are you thinking? Look at what you've done to my house! Get out of here, all of you. You'll have to sleep outside. Mobilicorpus!"

Remus levitated them into the kitchen, unconcerned if they were bumping into the walls and doors. Remus opened the back door of the house with an Alohomora. As soon as they were out, he cast a Finite Incantatem on them and locked the door, leaving them in the back garden.

"Brrr." Harry shook his body like a puppy. "I hate Freezing Charms."

"Brilliant," Snape snapped. "Look what you have done, Black."

"Me? Who broke our deal and took Harry to sleep on the sofa?"

"Hey, I went to sleep on the sofa because I wanted it!"

"You're not of age," said Sirius sternly. "It doesn't matter what you want. He was the one who had to be responsible and..."

"Ah, is that so? It doesn't matter what I want?"

"That's not what I meant, Harry."

"Can you stop this inane debate?" Snape snarled. "I'm going to sleep in the shed. After all, Lupin told me I could use it to work on potions. I have even taken my trunk there this morning. I was going to start preparing the Wolfsbane tomorrow."

"What do you mean, was going?" asked Sirius.

Snape shrugged. "I need tranquillity to prepare this potion. If I do not have the ideal conditions, the risk is considerable."

The slimy git was trying to blackmail him! The idea that Remus's safety was in Snape's hands and that Snape must be very angry now didn't seem auspicious.

"Well, I agree with you: the best we can do is go to the shed," said Sirius, walking to the shed door and opening it with the "Alohomora" spell.

The wooden shed was tiny but cozy. The floor was carpeted and there was no furniture besides an old cupboard. Remus used the shed to hide when he transformed.

"We can sleep on the carpet," said Harry.

Sirius opened the cupboard. "Luckily, Remus keeps his bed and bath things here." Sirius pulled down three blankets and three pillows and gave one to each of them. "You'll stay by the left wall, Snape, and you, Harry, by the right wall. I'll be in the middle."

Snape sat by the wall, near his trunk, and Harry sat by the opposite side, as Sirius had ordered. Sirius was expecting more resistance from them, but they looked too tired to argue.

"The worst is that I'm dying of thirst," Sirius grumbled, still standing up. "I was going to the kitchen to drink a glass of water when I saw something abnormal on the sofa."

"Could we not start this all over again?" Harry whimpered.

Silently, Snape opened his trunk and produced a green bottle.

"Severus... Is that what I think it is?"

"Absinthe!" Sirius exclaimed, kneeling beside Snape. "That's exactly what I need now."

Snape's lips curled in a sardonic smile.

"Be careful, Sirius. Severus's absinthe is not an ordinary one," Harry warned him.

"I know. Nothing this git does is normal."

Sirius expected Snape to counter with some obscenity, but Snape looked concentrated in what he was doing: transfiguring three empty jars into glasses and pouring a glass of absinthe for each of them. The glass he gave to Harry contained only a third as much as the other two glasses.

"I don't think you should drink this, Harry," said Sirius.

"The amount I gave him will just make him sleepy," Snape replied.

Sirius looked at both of them suspiciously, held his glass and waited to see if Snape was going to drink his absinthe or not.

Snape shook his head at him. "It's not poisoned, Black. If I wanted to kill any of you, I would have done it long ago."

Snape sipped his drink slowly, and only then did Sirius venture to taste it.

The drink burned down his throat and all the way down to his stomach. "Whoa!"

Harry, who had drunk half of his dose in one sip, laughed.

"Slow down, brat. This is not Butterbeer," Snape admonished Harry.

They drank in silence for a few minutes. Sirius was starting to feel marvellously well and self-confident. He remembered the duel - their wild movements, their wands spinning in the air. The initial anger started to dissipate, and he looked at his shed companions with curiosity. "Boys, how did you counter a Levicorpus wandlessly? It was amazing!"

Harry flashed a proud smile. "We've been practising wandless joint magic this week. But we hadn't managed anything as difficult as that before. It was beautiful, wasn't it, Severus?"

"It was... interesting," said Snape, a light sparkling in his eyes.

"Interesting?" Sirius imitated Snape's bored expression and tone. "Interesting my arse; it was brilliant. The world will kiss your feet one day. You're two in one. I can feel it. Snape, Harry... The Snarry. Yeah, that's it: the Snarry. Like a fantastic beast."

Harry exchanged significant looks with Snape. "He's flying high as a kite."

Snape smirked, and Sirius stared at him, fascinated.

"I'm in an empty hall," Sirius drawled, "where everything's mysterious and dark and nothing has a name; the mystery of the Phoenix challenges me with its endless transforming possibilities. I know what you're thinking, but no, it's much more than that, Snape." The liquid flowed and disappeared into his veins like a glow worm twinkling in the night, disappearing only to reappear a second later. Was Snape feeling as he was? And Harry? "Don't you... feel like I do?"

Snape gazed at him with piercing, crystalline eyes. "The Green Lady is fugacious. She seeks the kernel in just that fleeting moment while what it is doesn't shatter in the next moment."

Sirius vaguely understood that that intuition wouldn't last a moment beyond the moment itself; unexpectedly, someone was able to understand his core, to pierce him with unsurprised eyes. "The waters of the river of death are so corrosive that they destroy all vases, except one. The bottle of poison is on the mantlepiece, and there is nothing else there, not even a ptyx. You, however, are able to nullify the null, and we will fill the nothing together," he said, lying on the carpet and closing his eyes.

Merry laughter punctuated Sirius's dreams of a bright and colourful magic that would combine all the different tones in a harmonic symphony.

~* ~* ~

When Remus woke up, he went to the shed and found Harry, Sirius and Severus sleeping like angels. He rang a small bell to wake them up, and was greeted with mumbles and grumbles.

"Okay, boys, if you promise to behave, I will let you come in and have breakfast," he announced.

"We will behave, Moony," Sirius replied.

"Do you - all of you - promise not to duel inside the house again?" asked Remus.

Severus grimaced. "If he hadn't attacked me, I..."

Remus interrupted him. "You and Harry have to promise you will follow the previously established rules."

Severus looked at Harry. "We will follow your rules."

"Then I promise not to duel inside the house," said Sirius.

"Okay," said Harry.

Strangely, they all looked more amicable towards each other. Remus wondered if the green bottle and the glasses scattered on the carpet had anything to do with that.

(Story Index)

Review here please!

Ptyx, November 2005