Continuing Tales

The Buried Life

A Harry Potter Story
by Kalina Lea

Part 13 of 27

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Harry had no idea who was behind him when he wheeled around with his wand outstretched. He only knew that whoever had thought that he couldn't resist the Imperius curse had made a serious error in judgment.


The word left his mouth before his brain even knew it was formed, and he watched Peter Pettigrew fall to the ground, writhing and shrieking in pain.

It was an immensely satisfying sight, and he took his time enjoying it, holding his wand steady. The use of his wand would probably mean his discovery, but he didn't care. He didn't care about anything except making Pettigrew pay for his weakness, for his disloyalty to his friends, and for his treachery to Harry himself. He had followed the commands thinking they might lead him to whoever had killed Sirius. He didn't know if Wormtail had been involved in that, but even if he hadn't, he deserved the torturous pain. Harry exulted in the power he held over the pathetic fool. He thought, on the whole, that he would be content to stand on that street forever, soaking in the sight of Pettigrew's suffering.

It was not to be.


The curse hit him from behind, sending him flying and freeing Pettigrew from the grip of the Cruciatus curse. Harry landed in a heap in the middle of the street, unconscious, while Pettigrew gasped and shuddered as the worst of the pain left him.

"It's Potter," he managed. "Saw him in the Post Office." Pettigrew raised himself to a sitting position, his limbs still trembling with the after-effects of the curse. "Brought him here under Imperius."

"Fool," the other man replied with a harsh laugh. "You should have known Potter was strong enough to resist Imperius. Still, he's here, and that's what matters."

"Help me up," Pettigrew said. "Let's get him inside."

The other man nodded and approached Pettigrew. He was only three feet away when he pulled his wand, aimed it at Peter, and said quietly, "Avada Kedavra." He saw his victim's eyes widen in the split second before the flash of green light hit him, and then Peter Pettigrew was dead.

The wizard moved fast then – there was much to do and little time. He summoned a small phlebotomy kit from inside the house, quickly readied the needle and vacutainer, and then plunged into Pettigrew's basilic vein. When the tube was full, he discarded the needle and tucked the tube of blood into the case, putting it all into his pocket. Finally, he gathered Potter up in his arms, staggering under the grown man's weight of him. He didn't dare Apparate with the man in his arms, and the house wasn't connected to the Floo network, for obvious reasons. He had planned, however, for Potter's eventual capture. He dragged the unconscious wizard into the house and, breathless from his exertion, reached for a picture hanging just inside the door. It was a particularly uninspiring Muggle landscape that he had turned into a Portkey just a week ago. His hand closed on the frame, and they were gone.



Harry awoke, blinking his eyes. Awareness came to him in stages, one sense at a time.

Dark. Utter, complete blackness, oppressive in its totality.

Cold. Much too cold for summer, making his limbs feel heavy and unresponsive.

Damp. Clinging to his hair and skin, seeping through the heavy denim of his jeans.

Quiet. A silence so severe that his ears rang with the absence of sound.

He was on his back, and as he reached behind to get the leverage to sit up, his hands told him that hard-packed dirt was beneath him. He felt instinctively for his glasses, settling them more comfortably on his face, for all the good it did him. As he stretched out a hand, feeling for anything that would give a clue as to where he was, his ears finally picked up the first faint sound, and for a split second he rejoiced. His senses had been crying out for stimulation, but when he actually processed the sound he was filled with dread: He could hear someone else breathing in the darkness.

"Who's there?" he croaked.

"A friend," came the soft voice with just a hint of Irish brogue. "I know it might not seem like that now, but I am your friend, Harry. I'm going to help you. I'm going to help you realize your true potential – something those fools at Hogwarts would never do."

"What the hell are you talking about?" Harry's voice was getting stronger now, and anger was overtaking confusion as his primary emotion.

"You'll understand," the soft voice replied. "But not just yet. There are some things I need to do before we'll be ready to proceed. Until then, I'm going to have to keep you here. The accommodations are far from luxurious, I know, but I will do what I can to make you comfortable while we wait. You'll find a bed just to your left, and I'll bring down some food in a couple of hours. I need you strong, Harry."

Harry did not like the sound of that at all. His wand was apparently gone, and a mental run-through of the wandless magic he had practiced with Hermione yielded nothing that might help him in his current situation. He had a vague idea of the direction the voice was coming from, but the sound seemed to bounce around, and even that was uncertain. He wasn't confident enough in his abilities to begin hurling curses around a confined space in the hopes that he might hit his target.

"I'll be back soon," the voice said. There were footsteps – going up - and then a dark shape stood out against a brief flash of light before Harry was left completely alone.


"Professor Snape? I'm sorry to interrupt your breakfast, sir, but you've received an owl. She's at the front desk."

Snape nodded and pushed back his chair. "We were just finishing," he said, putting down enough to cover their bill. Hermione rose and followed him to the front desk.

"It's Hedwig!" she exclaimed, hurrying over to the snowy owl. "I left her at Hogwarts."

"Must be from Dumbledore then." Snape removed the roll of parchment from Hedwig's outstretched leg while Hermione stroked Hedwig's head and received a gentle nip on her hand in greeting.

"I had hoped not to be proven right quite so quickly," Snape said heavily as he finished reading the parchment.

"What is it?"

"See for yourself." He handed her the note and reached absently into a jar of owl treats to offer one to Hedwig.


I received word this morning from Mafalda Hopkirk in the Improper Use of Magic Office that Harry's wand was used yesterday to cast the Cruciatus curse in front of the house at 221 Arnold Street in London. Magical Law Enforcement was notified, and the Aurors arrived within 15 minutes. Peter Pettigrew's body was found on the sidewalk in front of the house.

The house has been searched by the Aurors. It was initially thought to be a Muggle home, but several items were found which indicate otherwise. I have asked that nothing be removed until you have had a chance to examine the house yourself, and I should like for you to do so as soon as possible and report back to me with your thoughts on this matter. I will say no more for now, so that you can enter the house with a mind unclouded by an old man's suspicions.

I will expect to hear from you soon. My best to Miss Granger.


"Oh no!" she said, sinking into the nearest chair. "No. He couldn't have."

"He did."

"Maybe someone else used his wand."

"No one would be fool enough to cast Cruciatus with another wizard's wand. The risks would be enormous if it worked at all, and it probably wouldn't. I'm sorry, but it was Potter." Snape's voice was as kind as she'd ever heard it and it moved over her like a caress, soothing her tattered nerves. He sat down next to her and reached for the parchment, taking it from her shaking hands.

"How could he do something like that?" she asked weakly. "How could he just…and then walk away? Even Peter Pettigrew. He saved Peter's life that night in the shrieking shack. How could he do this now?"

"That was years ago," Snape said simply. "He's changed."

"No," Hermione was embarrassed by the tears pricking her eyes and wished Snape would be his usual sarcastic self. His unprecedented kindness was making it impossible for her to keep her emotions in check, and he may have realized it because he became more businesslike.

"Perhaps we should turn our attention to the rest of the Headmaster's note," he said briskly. "Obviously, something was found in the house that has made Dumbledore suspect…something, and just as obviously, he thinks it's something I will recognize. I need to get over there."

"Right," she said, drawing a steadying breath.

"I trust you noticed the last line," he said dryly. "Apparently we've been given both forgiveness and permission – for the moment. It may be that he has other ideas when we see him, but for now, you may accompany me to the house."

She nodded and rose from her chair. "I'm ready."

Good girl, Snape thought, as he saw her gain control. Aloud he said, "We'll need Muggle clothing. Let's go change."

They went up to their rooms, and Hermione changed into the clothing she had purchased the day before. Her hair was curly and brown again, and she pulled it back into a ponytail and grabbed her knapsack on the way out the door. She and Snape had agreed to meet downstairs, and he was already there when she arrived, wearing the black trousers and white shirt she had seen him in the first night. She wondered absently if he owned anything with any colour in it at all. She couldn't picture it, somehow.

"Ready?" he asked.



A greying Auror on the front steps of the house stopped them. Diversion charms had been cast right away, and he had watched Muggles go by the house without giving it a glance, so it surprised him when two people in Muggle clothing made straight for the front door. A witch and wizard, obviously, but that didn't give them the right to stroll through a crime scene.

"I'm sorry. No one's permitted in," the Auror said.

"We're here at Dumbledore's request," Snape said. "Severus Snape and Hermione Granger."

"I wasn't told anything about…."

Snape glared and produced the letter from Dumbledore. The Auror skimmed it and said, "Well, I suppose it's all right, but you're not to remove anything. We've got another man just inside the house. You might need to show him this."

Snape gave him a terse nod and opened the door, allowing Hermione to pass through first. Sure enough, another Auror came to greet them, but this one was younger and recognized Snape from his days at Hogwarts. "Professor Snape. Professor Dumbledore said we should expect you. We've left everything just as we found it."

Snape cast his mind back a few years and dragged up the boy's – man's - pertinent information. Ravenclaw. Brody. Alistair Brody. "You might have mentioned that to the man on the steps," he snapped.

"Sorry, Professor. I just came back on duty. I guess I just forgot." It was clear from Brody's demeanour that he half expected to receive detention for his error, despite the fact that it had been years since he had sat in Snape's classroom.

Under other conditions, Hermione might have found that funny, but instead of laughing she just looked at Snape and said, "What should I do?"

Snape glanced around. "We need to search the place," he said. "And it'll go faster if we split up. Mr. Brody, suppose you make our job a little easier by telling us what you and your cohorts have already found."

"Yes, sir," Brody said, looking relieved and settling into his usual presentation mode. "We were placed on alert two days ago to respond to any reports that Harry Potter had used his wand. We got that report yesterday, just after noon, and several men Apparated here right away."

"Dumbledore said it took fifteen minutes," Snape said. "That doesn't sound like 'right away' to me."

"We came as soon as we were notified, Professor." Brody sounded a bit defensive. "The hold-up was over in Improper Use. Apparently one of the witches there was out sick and…"

"Spare me!" Snape was furious. "It's a wonder the magical community functions at all the way you people do business over there. It's always someone else's fault, isn't it? And now our only witness has been relegated to the refrigerator section at St. Mungo's."

"Well, sir, that was Potter's doing, now wasn't it?"

Hermione stiffened. "We don't know that! We don't know what happened here yesterday. We don't know why Harry cast the curse or why he left, and we won't know until we find him."

"Who are you?"

"Hermione Granger," she answered coldly. "I'm a friend of Harry's."

"She is also my assistant in this matter," Snape said firmly, "here with Dumbledore's blessing. You will give her every courtesy."

The part about Dumbledore's blessing was a gross exaggeration of the facts, but it seemed to have the intended effect on Al Brody since he looked at Hermione with increased respect.

"I'm sorry," he said, "I mean, if Potter's a friend of yours and all, but what it looks like to us is that he tortured the guy and then killed him."

"Perhaps it looks that way to you, but there are rather too many unanswered questions here for my comfort," Snape said. "I've known Potter for six years now, and one of the few things I can say in his favour is that he doesn't run away from the consequences of his actions, even when that course is by far the most prudent one he could take. I will reserve judgment about last night until I have more facts at my disposal. Now, Mr. Brody, what else do you know?"

"Well, we did Priori Incantatem on Pettigrew's wand and came up with the Imperius Curse."

"Harry's been able to resist Imperio for years," Hermione said. "It wouldn't have worked on him."

"A fact which Pettigrew apparently found out the hard way," Snape said. "Well, that answers one question, anyway. Pettigrew brought Potter here under Imperius, or thought he did."

"Well that would make what Harry did self-defence, wouldn't it?" Hermione asked hopefully.

"It might, but without a witness it would be hard to prove, and leaving the scene makes him appear more guilty."

"But you just said…"

"I said appear, Miss Granger. I am merely explaining how it will look to the Ministry. I've already said that we don't have enough information yet to draw any firm conclusions. They will autopsy Pettigrew; perhaps that will give us some additional information."

Hermione looked thoughtful and tried to remember everything she'd learned about Unforgivables. "I know it's possible to die from the Cruciatus curse, particularly if the victim already has an existing medical condition. That would mean that Harry didn't really mean to kill Pettigrew."

"It is possible," Snape agreed. "But it isn't common. It's far more likely that Pettigrew died from the killing curse. If he did, an autopsy will reveal that. Actually, a simple blood test is all that is necessaryAvada Kedavra alters the victim's blood in ways that are easily distinguishable. A first-year could tell the difference."

"But we know that Harry didn't cast Avada Kedavra," Hermione said, still intent on her defence. "Cruciatus was the only curse reported."

Snape looked exasperated. "Point one: Cruciatus and Avada Kedavra are both Unforgivables. The Ministry doesn't distinguish between them when assigning rooms at Azkaban. Point two: Potter killed without using his wand just a few months ago, and everybody in the wizarding world knows it. The fact that his wand wasn't used is hardly compelling evidence of his innocence. Point three: We're here to gather information, not to prepare his defence. One step at a time, Miss Granger."

"Yes, sir." She sighed and looked at Brody. "What else?"

Brody had been watching their exchange with interest, but he returned to his presentation after giving her a curious look. "We found Pettigrew's body in the middle of the street, and Potter's bag just by the front steps of this place, so this is the first house we checked. We knocked and didn't get an answer, and so we checked for wards and got a hit on the windows. Nothing too complicated, but it was enough to tell us this was a wizard's place. Once we got inside, we found some strange things in the kitchen. I couldn't put a name to any of them myself. They seem to be in your line, Professor."

"I want to see them. Now."

"This way." Brody led the way down a narrow hallway that opened onto a small kitchen on one side and the lounge on the other. The three of them overcrowded the kitchen, particularly when Brody opened the refrigerator. At first glance, the contents of the refrigerator were unremarkable: milk, two kinds of juice, some reasonably fresh produce, condiments and the like. Brody withdrew two plastic containers, the type Hermione's mother used for storing leftovers, and handed them to Snape, who reached into the pocket of his trousers and pulled on gloves before opening them up.

"I trust you took similar precautions," he said snidely, knowing from the worried look on Brody's face that he hadn't.

"Er, well, we just thought they were food. Professor Dumbledore was the one who said you should take a look," Brody said.

"This is certainly not food," Snape said, gazing at the contents of the first container. "You're telling me you didn't recognize this?"

"No, sir."

"Thus proving that you learned absolutely nothing in my class. Miss Granger, would you please enlighten Mr. Brody?"

Hermione shot Brody an apologetic look. "It's Fulcher Moss. It's found in caves and prefers a cool, dark, and damp environment. It's used in-"

"Thank you, Miss Granger," Snape said sharply. "You have humiliated Mr. Brody sufficiently. It is not necessary to show off any further."

She glared at him. "I wasn't trying to…"

"Enough!" he snapped, opening the next container. "Ahhh," he said. "I believe even you might have some trouble identifying this, Miss Granger."

"Do you know what it is?" she asked, gazing at the congealed milky substance.

"I believe I do, but it will be necessary to conduct a test on it to be sure." He looked at Brody. "I'm assuming from the fact that none of you were taken to St. Mungo's that you weren't foolish enough to touch this with your bare hands."

"No, sir." Brody was sounding sulky now, clearly tiring of the presence of his supercilious former Potions Master. "Is it as dangerous as that, then?"

"If it's what I think it is, it's as dangerous as that, and then some," Snape answered smoothly. "And properly combined with Fulcher Moss and several other ingredients, it creates the same incendiary potion that was used to kill Sirius Black two days ago."

Hermione's eyes grew huge. "It's the Ashwinder infusion, then. So whoever lived here is the one who killed Sirius."

"I thought I just said that." He gave her a look of disdain. "Really, Miss Granger, if you can do no better than state the obvious you might as well go home."

Hermione grit her teeth to keep from snapping back at him. "What would you like me to do, Professor?" she managed, barely polite.

He looked at Brody. "Did you have anything else to show us?"

Brody shook his head. "Not really. A few potions in the upstairs bathroom, but nothing exciting. To all other appearances, this is a Muggle home. If it hadn't been for the wards we wouldn't have checked it carefully enough to find the stuff in the refrigerator at all."

Snape rolled his eyes. "In that case, I need to go through the kitchen more carefully and make sure there's nothing you missed. Miss Granger, I'm going to allow you to play to your strengths and start with the books. I noticed a bookshelf in the sitting room. There may be others upstairs. Check every book in the house, as carefully as you can. We're looking for anything connected to potion-making, of course, but if anything else catches your eye, bring it to my attention."

She nodded. "Yes, sir."

Hermione crossed the hall to the lounge, leaving Snape snapping orders at Brody in the kitchen. There was a single bookcase in the room, and the books were arranged precisely, almost as they would be in a library. The top shelf contained fiction, mostly classics with a few modern authors thrown in at the end of the row. The next shelf was devoted to practical guides to Muggle life – perhaps more of these than the average Muggle would actually own. She found several cookbooks, two books on gardening, one on simple home repairs, and several on decorating. The bottom two shelves were devoted to the Muggle sciences – biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics and even psychology. None of it looked terribly interesting or particularly pertinent to the investigation, but she set to with her usual thoroughness, removing the books from the shelves one at a time, opening them to check for a name written inside, and then flipping through them to make sure no papers were tucked between the pages. She kept them organized in piles on the floor and then restored each shelf to its proper order before moving on to the next.

She was about halfway through her project when Brody made his escape from the kitchen.

"How are you coming in here?" he asked her.

"Not terribly well," she admitted. "These are all Muggle books. Nothing about magic at all. Lots of Muggle science though. Has Professor Snape found anything else?"

Brody nodded. "Some more potion ingredients stored in the pantry. I was sure he was going to deduct house points when I couldn't identify them."

Hermione smiled at that. "What house were you in?"

"Ravenclaw. You?"

"Gryffindor. Seventh year."

"Oh, guess I should have figured that. Same as Potter."

She nodded. "Harry's my best friend."

A spark of understanding came into his eyes. "You're the one…" He paused. "I mean, I think I've read about you in the Prophet – in articles about Potter."

She nodded again. "Probably." She reached for another book and began skimming through it, not particularly wanting to pursue that line of conversation.

"Can I ask what you're doing here…with him, I mean?"

"He's trying to find Harry," she said simply. "I wanted to help if I could."

"You're a brave one." Brody said in a low voice.

She chuckled. "It hasn't been as bad as I expected," she said.

"In another minute you'll have me blushing, Miss Granger," Snape drawled from the doorway, causing both of their heads to snap up. He seemed more amused than annoyed, she was relieved to see. "Any luck?"

"Not really," she said. "All Muggle books so far – a diverse lot, but a bit heavier on the sciences than anything else. I'm about halfway through."

"Fine then. I'm finished in the kitchen and am going to examine the rooms upstairs. There can be little question that the potion that killed Black was brewed in this house. I've collected the evidence. We'll take it with us to my lab at Hogwarts."

"Yes, sir."

"Mr. Brody, perhaps you could make yourself useful and find me an owl. I'll need to send a note to the Headmaster before we leave here."

"Yes, sir." Brody was unaccustomed, as an Auror, to fetching and carrying for civilian investigators, but he obeyed Snape out of habit and because he was pleased with an excuse to be out of his presence.

The two men left Hermione alone in the room, and as she went back to her books, she heard the faint sounds of Snape climbing the stairs and then moving around on the floor above. She continued to search and sort, occasionally fighting off the temptation to read whole sections, but generally finding Muggle books much less interesting than books about magic. She was on the bottom shelf when she removed a stack of heavy texts and found a roll of parchment tucked behind. Her heart beat faster as she unrolled it; it could certainly prove to be nothing, she was well aware, but the parchment alone indicated that she'd finally found something written by a witch or wizard. It was quite long, written in a hand that immediately struck her as familiar.

Red. It should be in red, she realized.

The handwriting was Professor Snape's. Snape always corrected their parchments in the deepest red ink; Harry and Ron had joked that it was the blood of students who had killed themselves in the potions lab. Despite the fact that this was written in black ink rather than red, she was quite sure that the handwriting was Snape's. She scanned the notes quickly; it was obvious that he had been trying to work out the formula for a new potion. Some of the ingredients were familiar – she noted jobberknoll feathers and puffapod seeds – but others mentioned struck her as…well, disturbing. Incredibly disturbing. Her eyes riveted on the word "blood" written in the margin. Three drops or four? he had scrawled.

She felt sickened and wondered if it was possible that Snape was involved – if perhaps he had been deceiving Dumbledore about his allegiances. But why, then, would he bring her here? Was he allowing her to help only so that he could turn on both of them the minute Harry was found? She rose from her place on the floor, the parchment still clutched in her hand. She could hear the creak of his footsteps upstairs. Should she seek him out and show him the parchment, or should she take the closest Floo to Dumbledore's office?

She thought for a moment about the dark, forbidding, deeply unpleasant man upstairs, and her mind was made up.

The Buried Life

A Harry Potter Story
by Kalina Lea

Part 13 of 27

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