Continuing Tales

The Buried Life

A Harry Potter Story
by Kalina Lea

Part 14 of 27

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"Professor, I've found something I think you need to see." Snape looked up from the cupboard he had been examining and saw the Granger girl looking grave…a bit frightened even. He reached for the roll of parchment she held and managed to keep his reaction to a subtle clenching of the jaw as he saw what it contained. He scanned the decades-old document, notes made in his adolescent hand, and then looked back at the girl who had brought it to him.

When he spoke it was with his normal collected distance, as if he were questioning her from the safety of his classroom dais. "And what did you make of this, Miss Granger?"

"It's your handwriting, is it not?"

"It is." He held her gaze, insisting that she say more.

"It appears to be some notes you made as you were working on a potion. I couldn't really tell more than that."

He raised an eyebrow at her. "Oh come now, Miss Granger. I am too familiar with your abilities to believe that."

"Well, it seemed – from some of the ingredients, I mean – it seemed like it was probably Dark Magic. It appeared to have some of the same properties as the memory-altering potions we studied last year, but I really couldn't tell its specific purpose."

"No, probably not. The books that might help you divine its purpose are in my private collection, unsuitable even for the Restricted Section of the library." He gave her an appraising look. She was standing quietly before him, answering his questions with a bit of pale hesitation, but answering them honestly. He ventured another to satisfy his own curiosity. "When you found this, did you consider, even for a moment, not bringing it to my attention?"

She looked frightened again, bit her lip, and couldn't meet his gaze. "Yes, sir," she said, looking down at her feet. "I considered taking it to Professor Dumbledore."

"It would have been an understandable course of action," he said, causing her to look up at him in surprise. "It might even have been the most prudent course of action. Why didn't you?"

"I…trust you," she said simply.

"How very Gryffindor of you," he said, sounding disgusted.

"Must you always turn the word Gryffindor into an insult?" she snapped.

"Yes, actually. I find that I must," he answered. "You all make it so easy. However, in this case, I confess that I am glad a Gryffindor found this particular piece of parchment. A Slytherin would have probably had the sense to make things very uncomfortable for me – a situation I'm happy enough to avoid…for the moment."

"I'm rapidly regretting my decision," she said, glaring at him. "So, am I to be rewarded for my Gryffindor faith with an explanation?"

"You're assuming that I have one," he said, sinking into a chair and tapping the parchment against his leg. "The fact is, I have absolutely no idea how that parchment came to be in this house. I haven't seen it in twenty years and don't even recall it going missing. It is, as you correctly surmised, some notes I was making as I worked on developing a new potion. I was in my seventh year at Hogwarts and had worn the Dark Mark since the previous summer. I hoped that this potion would elevate my position among the Death Eaters, bring me into Voldemort's inner circle. It would have, too, if I'd ever gotten the damned thing to work. As a student, however, I just didn't have the resources. Couldn't get the proper ingredients – some of which are, as you noted, very disturbing. I would add that they are also hard to come by, particularly for a student."

"How did you manage to work on it at all?" Hermione asked. "I mean, when we brewed Polyjuice in our second year, we had to do it in abathroom. I can't imagine doing this kind of research anywhere but in a lab."

"I had a lab," he said. "The same lab I use now, as a matter of fact. Our Potions Master was killed by the Aurors in the middle of the first term that year, and the only replacement Dumbledore was able to find was so inept that the older students were allowed to pursue their studies on an independent basis." He snorted at the memory. "It's a wonder the castle survived it. Most of them weren't any more gifted at Potions than your classmates are. But it meant that I had free rein, more or less, to pursue my project. I abandoned it when I finished Hogwarts. I apprenticed to a Master in Italy for a time and continued to serve Voldemort." He shrugged. "My time was not my own then. Later, of course, I had cause to be glad that the work was never finished. I destroyed my notes and thought that was the end of it."

He looked down at the parchment again, unrolling it carefully. "I wish I could remember when I wrote this, or if I even noticed it missing. It appears that this was drafted in the very early stages of my research, but I can't tell anything beyond that. Twenty years is a long time to remember such trifles."

"What was your goal, Professor? What was the potion supposed to do?"

He looked at the girl, pitying her for the second time that day. She loved Potter, that much was obvious. It would be easier – kinder – not to tell her what the potion was – theoretically, at least - capable of, but he rejected that idea out of hand. She had committed herself to helping him, and he refused to have an assistant who was too weak to handle the truth.

"It would act in much the same manner as a Dementor," he said with a sigh. "Only it does a Dementor one better. A Dementor feeds on happy thoughts; given in its full dosage, this potion would eliminate happy memories and begin eroding the conscience. Since I never completed work on it, I don't know to what extent that would occur, but my theory was that this potion would be a way to create new Death Eaters, even of men who never would have considered serving Voldemort otherwise."

He saw the look of revulsion that crossed her face. It was quickly followed by horror, as the implications of what he was saying sunk in. "You think someone wants to use the potion on Harry," she said, a slight tremor in her voice. "That's what all this is about, isn't it?"

"It's possible," he said. "Likely, even, given what you've just found, especially when put together with what we learned two nights ago. What Kenan says makes perfect sense now that we have this." He raised the roll of parchment.

"What do you mean?"

"Remember, he said that things had been so 'quiet' lately that he wasn't sure when they might he able to get the ingredient that had been requested." He looked at Hermione and she nodded, but it was obvious she was still confused. "The central ingredient to this potion is blood from someone who has been killed using the killing curse," he explained. "It was during my sixth year at Hogwarts that the effect on the blood was discovered and various witches and wizards began doing research on the changes. I followed the research as best I could and began to conceive of a potion that made use of the victim's blood. There are others now, of course, none of which will appear in your Potions text."

"I should think not," she said with deep feeling. He expected her to turn the look of revulsion on him, to hate him for conceiving of such a horrible thing and to be furious that his Dark work was now endangering her friend. She surprised him by doing nothing of the sort. Instead, she sat on the bed directly across from him, apparently deep in thought. He was beginning to realize that he had misjudged Miss Granger by a considerable distance. He had known that she was brilliant. He had not expected the quiet strength he was sensing in her now.

"We need to figure out who's doing this," she said finally. "It looks as though Pettigrew was in on it, but he wouldn't have been the brains behind it. He didn't have what it took for that."

"No," Snape agreed. "Nor would he have been capable of brewing this potion," he held up the parchment, "or the one that killed Black. The man ranked just above Longbottom as the most incompetent Potions student I've ever seen. No, we're looking for a Master, and there just aren't enough of those to keep me out of Azkaban if all of this comes to light."

She looked at him, startled. "But you didn't do it!"

"Thank you for your vote of confidence, Miss Granger, but I'll have a difficult time proving that. The Sharps already think I'm the one who was trying to get my hands on the cursed blood sample, the notes are in my hand, and I'm one of the few Potions Masters in England – and the only one who is a former Death Eater." His voice was heavy with bitterness. "But I'll be sure to tell them that Hermione Granger says I didn't do it."

"Don't forget to add that I'm Head Girl this year," she said, glaring at him. "Maybe that will help."

He gave a snort of laughter at her unexpected comment, and seeing it, she chuckled along with him. "Thank you, Miss Granger," he said. "I needed that. I would not have credited you with such a twisted sense of humour."

"You seem to bring it out in me."

"We all have our gifts," he said lightly, rising. "Right now, we need to finish searching up here, and then I need to Apparate to St. Mungo's."

"Why St. Mungo's?"

"We need to find out if Peter Pettigrew's death qualified him as a blood donor."

"Oh! I hadn't thought of that," she said, and then, seeing the look of disdain on his face, she added, "I know, Professor. That's why you're in charge."

"Get back to work, Miss Granger."


Hermione finished the books downstairs and then moved to the few that were kept in an upstairs bedroom. She searched the rest of the room as well, but found little of interest beyond the fact that a man appeared to have been using the room. His clothes hung in the cupboard, including a set of plain wizard's robes at the far back. It was clear, however, that whoever had been using this place had taken great care to limit their possessions to things that wouldn't give their identity away.

Snape appeared in the doorway. "Come look at this." He led the way into the bathroom in the hall, where the mirrored medicine cabinet was hanging open, revealing the contents inside. Most of the items appeared to be neatly organized Muggle products – shaving cream, toothpaste, lotion, and the like. There were several stoppered bottles, however, that were obviously potions.

"A quiz," he said, handing her a bottle filled with purple liquid.

"Dreamless sleep," she answered, barely giving it a glance.

"And this one?" he asked, putting the purple potion back in its proper place and removing one that was yellowish and slightly thicker.

She opened the stopper and sniffed at it, immediately recognizing the smell of lavender. "It's an anti-wrinkle potion," she said. "Apparently we have a vain villain."

He chuckled a bit at that and handed her a third bottle, filled with nearly clear liquid. She sniffed at it. It smelled a bit sour, with a slight citrus tang, but she declined to taste it without further information. "I'm going to have to guess at this one, but it seems to have some of the properties of an analgesic."

"Very good, Miss Granger. You're close. This is a particularly effective curative for hangovers. I'm not surprised to find it here, given the amount of alcohol I found in the kitchen." He put the bottle back where it belonged, closing the cabinet. "I'm afraid there's nothing here that's very helpful, however. There was an antiperspirant and a breath freshening preparation as well, but it all just confirms what we already know, which is that a wizard gifted at potion-making has been residing in this house."

"Well, we can guess that he's older," she said, "from the anti-wrinkle potion."

He shrugged. "Given the lifespan of the average wizard, that's not terribly helpful. He could be anywhere from 30 to 150."

The house yielded no other clues, and after an hour more of searching they gave up, collecting what evidence they had found. Snape drafted the owl to Dumbledore, promising that they would take the Floo to Hogwarts that afternoon.

They were on the verge of leaving when Brody stopped them hesitantly. "Er, Professor? I'm going to have to ask that you sign for the things you're removing from the house. I'll need to make a list."

"Fine, then," Snape said impatiently. "Get on with it."

He unpacked the things they had found in the kitchen and allowed Brody to itemize them. As the two men worked, Hermione surreptitiously tucked the roll of parchment into her knapsack. Snape cut his eyes at her briefly, and she gave him a round-eyed look of innocence in return. He returned to the list, scrawling his name at the bottom with the quill Brody handed him. "There. Let's go."

"Just a minute," Hermione said. "Harry's bag. You said you found it. Can we take it with us?"

Brody shook his head. "I'm sorry. We can only release his personal items to his next-of-kin."

"Professor Snape is Harry's godfather now," she said, causing both Brody and Snape to give her a look of surprise. "He is his next-of-kin."

"Is that true, Professor?"

"I'm afraid so," Snape replied with obvious distaste. "If you find that as unbelievable as I do, you're welcome to confirm it with the Headmaster."

"Uh, no need for that," Brody said. "I'll just need you to sign for it like you did the other things." He produced another piece of parchment and handed Snape the quill, and then he handed the bag over to Hermione.

"Thank you," she said, clutching it tightly. She wished it could talk, could tell her where Harry had been, what he had done, and where on earth he was now.


"I begin to think you were mis-sorted," Snape murmured, once they had gained the street.

"I can't imagine what you mean, Professor."

"I think you can," he said, but he allowed the subject to drop. They walked in silence for a few minutes. "I would prefer to go to St. Mungo's alone. The wizard in charge of the morgue there knows me, and I believe he'll allow me to take a blood sample from Pettigrew, but he'll be more cooperative if he thinks I'm working alone."

That made little sense to her, but she could only assume he knew what he was talking about – and besides, the St. Mungo's morgue wasn't anywhere on her list of Fun Places to Visit. "OK," she said. "What should I do while you're there?"

"You can go ahead to Hogwarts, if you wish."

She looked down at her clothes. "I might take the Floo home first, if that's all right," she said. "I need some more Muggle clothing, and I may as well use my own. My parents should be at work. They'll never know I was there."

"That's fine," he said. "Go home, get what you need, and then take the Floo to the Headmaster's office. I'll see you there."

"Er, do you know what time you'll be there?" she asked. "I'm not sure I want to face the Headmaster alone."

"Tut tut, Miss Granger, where's that famous Gryffindor courage?" he derided.

"Misplaced, at the moment," she answered crisply. "So what time do you think you'll be there? I'll time my arrival for just after yours."

"There's no need for that," he said. "You may take the Floo to my private quarters. If you follow the hallway to the right, it will lead into my laboratory. I'll give you the ingredients we found, and you can leave them in there. The bookshelf contains some of those books I mentioned earlier. You might begin with Bottling Death and Derangement, Volume II."

"You're going to let me read that?"

"Of course," he said. "You're of no use to me uninformed. If you think you'll get squeamish, best tell me now and bow out of the whole thing."

"I do not get squeamish, Professor," she said, affronted. "You just surprised me. Most of our teachers are forever trying to keep us from learning anything to do with the Dark Arts."

"Most of your teachers spend their lives arse over elbow," he said snidely. "It's absurd to think students can defend themselves against something they know nothing about. You are certainly intelligent enough to read this material without being damaged by it. If you weren't, I wouldn't have considered having you along."

Well, that was a surprising compliment, she thought, even if it had been delivered in that annoyingly Snape-ish tone and juxtaposed with an insult to her teachers, many of whom she adored. She knew better by now than to thank him or even to comment. "I'll get started on the book while I'm waiting on you."

"Good. We'll meet with Dumbledore when I arrive, and then, assuming he doesn't send you home, you can help me in the laboratory this evening." He gave her a stern look. "Under no circumstances are you to touch the things we removed from that house before I get there. Understand?"

"Of course, Professor. I can't imagine why you feel the need to praise my intelligence one minute and then insult it the next."

He snorted. "It keeps my world in balance, Miss Granger."

She rolled her eyes.


Harry felt his way around his prison, finding the bed the other man had said would be there and sitting down, pulling his knees to his chest. He wondered idly what the object was in keeping him there. Possibly the idea was to drive him crazy through confinement or claustrophobia, but he thought the chances of that were slim indeed. He never believed he'd be grateful to the Dursleys for anything, but life with them had been the perfect training ground for the situation he found himself in now. His cupboard had actually been smaller, he reflected, though it had had the advantage of some light. He remembered the time when the Dursleys had locked him in his room just before his second year at Hogwarts. He'd thought he might go crazy then, until Ron and Fred and George came to rescue him, but that had been because he missed his friends so terribly and couldn't bear the thought of not being able to return to Hogwarts.

Having independently made the decision to forsake his friends and his school, being confined was easier. In fact, this might be the best place he could possibly be. He couldn't hurt anyone there, and if he stayed long enough, they would all eventually give up looking for him and go back to their lives – which would certainly be longer and healthier for his absence.

He wasn't stupid. He knew he would probably die right there in whatever hole he was hidden away in. He'd never been suicidal, had never thought he could willingly choose his own death, but he didn't fear it either. He had faced death so many times that it had become familiar, and familiar things lose their power to terrify. Perhaps he would see his parents again…and Sirius…and Ron.

He was seventeen years old, and more of his loved ones were dead than alive. The statistical wrongness of that boggled his mind.

He curled up in the bed and embraced his isolation.

The Buried Life

A Harry Potter Story
by Kalina Lea

Part 14 of 27

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