Continuing Tales

The Buried Life

A Harry Potter Story
by Kalina Lea

Part 16 of 27

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Hermione stepped out of the fireplace and immediately understood why the cottage was called what it was. She was in a room unlike any she'd ever been in before, with expansive floor-to-ceiling windows on every side letting in light and bursts of colour from the gardens that seemed to mingle with the décor. She could hardly tell where inside stopped and outside began. Wide French doors in the centre of the room led out to a patio that curved around the edges of a tranquil pond. There were no interior walls, just scattered furnishings mingled with plants and flowers, and a small stand of trees at one side of the room. Like the Great Hall at Hogwarts, the ceiling had been charmed to reflect the sky, so the room was filled with natural light. There was a conversation area in front of the fireplace, with a low sofa and a scattering of comfortable-looking chairs. On either side of the fireplace was a bookcase, filled with books and various interesting objects that begged to be examined more carefully. At the opposite end of the room were a small round dining table and four chairs. The single jarring note in what she was sure was the most peaceful room she'd ever seen was the Potions Master standing in its centre, looking around with a sneer of distaste.

"This is lovely!" she exclaimed.

"You think that now," he said. "You might change your mind."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"The Headmaster tends to get bored while on vacation," Snape explained. "He entertains himself by enchanting various parts of the house. I've only been here once, but it was a memorable visit."

She giggled at his tone – which was an odd mixture of impressed and repulsed – and looked about the room more carefully, realizing that the only solid wall was the one behind her, with the fireplace and the bookshelves. Where on earth were they supposed to sleep? "There are rather a lot of windows, aren't there?"

"Indeed. If memory serves, that one there leads to the kitchen," he said, pointing to a window that appeared to look out over the woods.

She inspected it more carefully. It gave every indication of being a perfectly normal window, but when she touched her hand to a pane, the window slid open and revealed a small kitchen. She saw a basket of fresh fruit sitting on the counter next to a gleaming coffee pot with Snape's Slytherin mug sitting beside it.

"Well, you'll have your coffee in the morning," she said.

He poked his head in the door…window. "Still the kitchen, then. It wouldn't have surprised me if he'd moved it. It's been years since I was last here."

"Why were you here then?" She moved out of the kitchen and began inspecting the rest of the expansive room.

Snape snorted. "Albus heard of some idiotic Muggle bonding ritual called a 'retreat.' He decided all the Heads of House should retreat here one summer for a weekend."

She laughed. "What purpose was it supposed to serve?"

"It was to 'facilitate inter-house relationships through better cooperation and understanding'," Snape said sarcastically, obviously quoting. "He got us all T-shirts with our House emblem on them. We had to wear the bloody things all weekend long."

Hermione burst out laughing. If she tried really, really hard, she could imagine Snape in a T-shirt – she had at least seen him in Muggle clothing before – but Professor Flitwick? Never! Professor McGonagall in anything but staid robes? Impossible.

"Did Professor Dumbledore wear a T-shirt too?" she managed.

"Professor Dumbledore makes it a habit to retain his dignity while all around him are losing theirs," Snape answered caustically. "No. He did not wear a T-shirt."

Hermione was still laughing as she made her way instinctively over to the bookshelves. "These are all Potions books," she said with surprise, running fingers lightly over the bindings.

"You've been thinking about Potions," he said. "The books reflect the topic most on the witch or wizard's mind – the thing you most want to read."

"Really? I've never heard of an enchantment like that. Why did you bother packing books then?"

"Well, in the first place, I'd forgotten about that particular charm, which is one of several hundred here, and in the second place, as I recall it was very imprecise. You can't guarantee that any particular book will be there – just the general subject matter. Albus doesn't do research here, so all he cares about is that he has something to keep him entertained. I believe when he approaches the shelf it generally fills with Muggle mystery novels."

"I have the feeling I'm going to learn a lot about the Headmaster while I'm here," she said. She closed her eyes and thought about Transfiguration, and sure enough, the shelves filled with Transfiguration books. She'd give anything to have a shelf like this in her room, imprecise or not.

She left the books reluctantly and continued to wander the room. "He certainly managed to find a nice spot for the cottage," she said, looking out at the pond. "The pond is beautiful."

"It comes with the house."

"Of course. Silly of me," she said, shaking her head in disbelief. "This place is amazing."

"This place is absurd." He began examining the shelves to the right of the fireplace and picking up one strange-looking knickknack after another. Hermione watched curiously until finally he lifted a small silver ball and the bookcase disappeared, revealing an arched doorway into a lavish bedroom. "I'll take this room. There are several more upstairs."

She glanced around the room again and saw no sign of a staircase. "Can you give me a hint?"

"Other end," he said, gesturing toward the far end of the room, near the kitchen. "It's one of the windows, but I don't remember which one."

Hermione felt silly patting windowpanes, but she finally found the right one, and the window slid to one side and revealed a narrow spiral staircase, which led to two more comfortable bedrooms with an adjoining bath. She picked one based on its superior view of the pond, little trusting that the same view would be there the next day or even an hour hence, but at that moment it gave the room a slight edge over its neighbour. She went back downstairs. "Can I borrow your wand to move my bag up the stairs? They're a bit narrow."

"I'll do it." He reached for his wand and transported her luggage to the top of the stairs.

"Thank you." She spent a few minutes settling in, changing from her robes to Muggle jeans and a shirt, and then went back down to find Snape. He was eying the chairs in front of the fireplace with a wary eye.

"What are you doing?"

"Trying to remember which of these chairs is Albus's."

"They all are, aren't they?"

"Not exactly. There's one that only Albus can use. I think it's that one," he said, pointing to a chair upholstered in muted blues and greens and settling on the sofa instead. "I'd avoid it."

"Surely the Headmaster doesn't mind us using his favourite chair."

"He doesn't mind at all," Snape said bitterly. "It's the bloody chair that minds."

"Oh." She looked at the chair more carefully. It seemed perfectly normal to her, but she decided she'd take his word for it and chose the chair opposite, only to be bucked violently onto the floor. Snape laughed.

"You did that on purpose!" she exclaimed, rubbing the elbow she had banged on the tiles and gathering herself up with what dignity she could muster.

"I didn't," he said, still chuckling, "but that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it immensely. If it makes you feel any better, I had the exact same experience when I was here last. But now that we know which one it is…" He took his wand and banished the chair to an empty corner. It sat there for a moment, long enough for Hermione to tentatively seat herself in another chair, and then scuttled back to its customary place before the fire.

"I begin to see what you meant," she said, glaring at the cantankerous piece of furniture. "Mr Weasley has always told us never to trust something that can think for itself if you can't see where it keeps its brain. This place would shred his nerves."

"Indeed. Flitwick and Sprout enjoyed it immensely, but Minerva and I couldn't get back to Hogwarts fast enough."

"It does all seem a bit fanciful for Professor McGonagall," Hermione said with a grin, recovering her good humour. "I'm still trying to picture her in that T-shirt."

"And I'm still trying to forget it," Snape said dryly, making her laugh. When she had sobered he changed the subject. "If you're done with the tour, perhaps we should discuss our plan for today."


"Albus said that Finbar's cottage is about two miles North of here. He gave me precise coordinates so that I could Apparate to a clearing in the wood just out of sight of his house. I'll go there just after lunch today and check the place out. If it appears completely abandoned, I'll come straight back here and we can head to London."

"And if it's not?"

"Then we settle in and decide what to do next."

She nodded. "I'll continue the research on the antidote while you're gone," she said. "Where are the books you packed?"

"In my room," he said, rising. "I'll get them."

When he returned he gestured toward the dining table. "Let's spread out over there," he suggested.

They picked up where they had left off the previous night, and as he questioned her about the reading she had done, it occurred to her that he was treating her almost as…an equal. He wasn't drilling her as he had about the Ashwinder eggs or deliberately trying to catch her in a mistake as he usually did in class. Instead, he seemed genuinely interested in her insights and opinions. He wasn't gushing over her – she wouldn't expect that – but the heavy layer of sarcasm that usually coloured his speech seemed to have been lifted overnight, and she found that she was actually enjoying their conversation. She had seen brief flashes of humour in him over the last few days, and she had definitely found him more approachable out of class than in it, but she had never been able to actually relax enough to enjoy talking to him. This felt much like sitting with Harry and Ron in the Hogwarts library, except that his mind was attuned to hers in a way that theirs had never been.

She liked it.

And she felt a bit guilty for liking it. They were there because her best friend was missing and was being threatened by someone who had dark plans for him and the world. She shouldn't be enjoying anything about it. But there was a part of her that viewed Severus Snape as the last frontier. He was the final holdout on the Hogwarts staff – the one teacher who refused to acknowledge her intellectual achievements. She didn't count Sybil Trelawney because Trelawney was a fraud and not worth cultivating. But Snape was different. She didn't care if he liked her; she wanted him to show her abilities the respect they deserved. Finally, it seemed like that was happening.

Despite her feelings of guilt, she liked it.


They ate their lunch with the books still spread over the tables, discussing the relative merits of Yekko brains and Billiwig stingers in potions treating psychological conditions. It would have put most people off their meal, but neither of them gave it a thought. Afterwards, he stood, cleared the table with his wand, and prepared to leave.

"Wait," she said, running up the spiral stairs and returning with Harry's knapsack. "Take this with you." She handed him the invisibility cloak, and as he took it from her hand, their eyes met and she knew they were both thinking of the last time he had used the cloak. It had been in her third year, and it had not been a good night.

He nodded briefly and tucked the cloak under his arm.

"If I don't return within three hours, send an owl to Dumbledore. Do not attempt to come after me, is that clear?"

"Yes," she said. "Be careful. Have fun storming the castle."


She shook her head. "Nothing. Muggle movie. Forget I said it. Just…good luck."

He gave her a curious look and nodded – apparently the words "thank you" weren't in his vocabulary – and then Disapparated, leaving her alone in Dumbledore's enchanted cottage.


An hour later, she'd mentally replaced the word "enchanted" with "booby trapped" and was much closer to adopting Snape's view of the place. While looking for a cloth to wipe up the table, she'd had her hand snapped by two angry kitchen drawers. She'd gotten too close to Dumbledore's chair again on her way to the bookshelf and had received a kick on the ankle. It was apparently holding a grudge. She accidentally touched one of the windows in just the right place and fell into a broom closet, which provoked the brooms to begin sweeping up the place with alarming energy. She'd just barely gotten them corralled again when a sudden rainstorm erupted in the small stand of trees nearby, soaking her to the skin.

How on earth does he dream this stuff up? she thought, irritated, as she made her way upstairs to change. She was combing out her wet hair when she realized that the mirror in her bedroom must be charmed too. It didn't seem inclined to talk, ironically enough, but there was something odd about her reflection. It was like her in every respect – feature for feature she recognized herself – but it was an enhanced version, improved somehow in ways she couldn't put a finger on. Even soaking wet, she thought she looked more attractive than usual – certainly more attractive than she had looked when she had gotten dressed that morning. She made a mental note to ask Snape about it when she saw him next, and that prompted the realization that she really had expected him back already.

She glanced at her watch, a comfortingly Muggle device that had numbers on it and told actual time, and saw that Snape had been gone nearly two hours while she had been busy wrestling with various enchantments.

Worry set in, and she made her way downstairs and took a book to a large upholstered rocking chair in a corner near the bookshelves, which fortunately behaved exactly as a chair should. She tried to read and couldn't. Where was he? Apparition was virtually instantaneous. Surely it wouldn't have taken him more than a few minutes to confirm whether someone was living in the house. He should have been back long since. She hadn't really taken him seriously when he'd told her to owl the Headmaster if he didn't return; she was still clinging to her naiveté about how dangerous this business really was. She glanced at Hedwig, napping on Fawkes' elaborate perch amongst the trees, and thought of how terrifying it would be if she had to stay alone here, not knowing where Snape was, waiting for the Headmaster to come for her. She uncurled herself from the chair and began pacing the room, avoiding contact with any of the furnishings.

It was ridiculous to feel cooped up in a room that was more outdoors than in, but she felt drawn outside to the pond. Snape hadn't told her what her boundaries were outside, but surely the patio was safe? Her hand was on the knob of the door when she gasped, startled by Snape's Apparition on the other side of the glass.

She wrenched the door open. "Where have you been?"

He gripped the doorframe to hold himself upright. "Could we save that conversation for later?" he managed.

Her eyes flew up and down his dark form, finding a bloody tear in his trousers and catching a glimpse of mangled flesh beneath. "You're hurt!"

"Your grasp of the obvious is impressive, as ever," he said, reaching one arm out to her and indicating that he needed her help.

She shifted to his side, putting an arm around his waist and supporting as much of his weight as she could as she helped him into the cottage.

"Bedroom," he said through clenched teeth. "I need to get off this damned leg."

She could hear his sharp intake of breath with every painful step, but she didn't dare rush him. She let him set the pace as they made their way toward the bookshelf that led to his bedroom, looking up from the floor, a bit queasy, when she saw splatters of blood.

"We need to get you to Madam Pomfrey," she said, feeling a bit faint.

"The Floo is closed, and I'd get splinched if I tried to Apparate again in this condition. I'm amazed I got here at all. You're going to have to do it."

"I'm going to have to do what?" she said, a shrill edge of panic to her voice.

"Whatever needs doing. Touch the silver ball."

She did, and the bookshelf disappeared and revealed the room behind. "There's no way I can lift you up there," she said, eyeing the huge four-poster bed.

"Down, bed," Snape commanded, and the bed seemed to kneel, lowering itself enough that she could shift his weight away and he could roll onto it, hissing as the injured leg was jostled.

"You need to see how bad it is," he said, when he could speak again. She saw that he had broken out in a fine sweat, and his normally sallow complexion was ashen with pain and loss of blood. "It must have missed the artery, or I'd be dead by now. It might be that you can tend to it in the Muggle way."

She didn't dare point out to him that her Hogwarts education had given her precious little instruction in Muggle first aid. She would come a lot closer to being able to deal with it magically than in the Muggle way. She reached tentative fingers to the tear in his trousers, separating the soaked material and grimacing as she saw the wounded thigh beneath. It was a ragged gash, perhaps six inches long and angled across the thigh but so covered in blood that she couldn't tell how deep it was.

"Well?" he demanded.

"I can't really tell how bad it is," she said. "There's so much blood. I need to get some towels and clean it up a bit."

"Check the bathroom," he said, gesturing to a doorway and then closing his eyes.

Hermione went into the bathroom, opened the cupboards, and searched for something – anything – in the way of first aid supplies. She found an old-fashioned shaving kit complete with a straight razor that looked as if it could easily decapitate a careless user, several different bath potions, and a silver toothbrush, but absolutely nothing that would help her tend the injured man in the next room. There wasn't so much as a Band-aid. She had always revered Albus Dumbledore, but she was certain that if he were to walk in the cottage at that instant she would hex him on sight. A straight razor? The man hadn't shaved in a hundred years! He packed a pond, for crying out loud, but apparently he couldn't trouble himself about a bit of iodine.

She growled her frustration and then stepped out to the bedroom and borrowed Snape's wand. Back in the bathroom, she reached for a glass and filled it with water and then used his wand to transfigure the water into a simple rubbing alcohol solution. She sniffed it to be sure it had worked and then grabbed several towels, dampening two of them and leaving a third dry. She took her crude supplies back into the room where the injured man lay on the bed awaiting her ministrations.

"I'm…er…going to have to remove your trousers."

"Get on with it then," he growled. He seemed to have recovered himself a bit now that he was resting on the bed.

So that's how it's going to be, she thought, determined to handle the moment with the same degree of equanimity. Still, she blushed when he reached for the buttons at his fly and kept blushing the whole time she helped him pull the tattered fabric away from his body. Thank goodness he was wearing boxer shorts beneath. She felt sure that anything more revealing would have undone her completely.

"Really Miss Granger," he said disparagingly. "You're seventeen years old, and I feel quite sure you've seen a man's legs before."

"I'm not in the habit of undressing my Professors," she snapped.

"Commendable, I'm sure, but in this case I would be much obliged if you'd get over this ridiculously Victorian attack of blushing and get on with healing my wounds. I'm looking forward to walking again sometime soon."

"Fine." She gathered control of her nerves and somehow willed the blood in her face to return to whatever obscure parts of her body it had come from. She looked more closely at the mangled flesh of his leg; the blood had begun to clot and now merely ran in a trickle, but it was obviously a deep wound and would have to be healed magically if he was to avoid infection. "I'm going to clean the wound first, and then I'm going to have to use my wand. I've never done this before, and I don't dare try it with yours."

"For once I happen to agree," he said, gritting his teeth as she gently explored the ragged edges of the wound with her fingertips. "Albus can handle the Ministry if there's a problem. Better that than lose the use of my leg."

"Quite so, since I have no intention of carrying you," she snapped.

She got to work immediately, pressing the damp towels to the wound to clean off the blood that had dried and matted in the silky hairs on his leg. She worked gently and carefully to make sure there were no debris that would be trapped when she healed the incision, and then glanced up at him and said, "Hold still, Professor. This is going to hurt you much worse than it hurts me." She drenched a corner of one towel in the alcohol and then began wiping around the wound, moving closer and flinching a little when she knew she was about to make contact with the raw flesh.

He arched up off the bed with a stream of profanity, and she held the leg down with all the strength she possessed. "I told you to hold still!"

"Have you lost your mind?" he shouted. "Do you know how many antimicrobial potions there are that don't sting, that don't cause any pain at all?"

"I do, Professor, but oddly enough, none of them were immediately to hand," she snapped. "I had to do a transfiguration with someone else's wand, and this seemed the safest thing to try. If you have a better suggestion, I'd love to hear it."

"Just finish," he hissed through clenched teeth.

"With pleasure. You make an abominable patient." She reached for her own wand and concentrated, recalling the reading she had done on healing traumatic lacerations. Stop the bleeding first, she thought. "Sutura venae."

She glanced at Snape, but he was merely watching her with an edgy attentiveness, and she couldn't tell from his face whether he had noted any improvement. She didn't want to worry him by asking, nor did she want to look for herself to confirm that the vessels had reconnected. Snape shifted restlessly and she decided to move on. It had been years since she had botched a charm, and she had no reason to doubt her abilities now. She went on to heal muscle and sinew, and once these charms had been completed, she felt him relax enough that she believed they had been successful, and the knot of tension in her stomach began to loosen. She spoke the final incantation, "sutura dermis," and watched in breathless relief as the skin knit itself together again, leaving only the faintest trace of a scar.

Snape exhaled as the last of the pain left him. "I am once again happy about the fact that you are an insufferable know-it-all, Miss Granger. I would not have wanted the fate of my leg to rest in the hands of most of your classmates."

"A simple 'thank-you' will suffice, Professor," she answered coldly, his sarcastic drawl landing like a splash of acid on her frayed nerves. She began gathering up the bloody towels without looking at him.

He wrapped long fingers around her wrist, staying her hand. "Thank you."

She stared at him then, astonished by the simple words and the tone in which they were issued. His dark eyes were utterly sincere and the sneer had been wiped from his face. He looked…pleasant, she realized, and a little amused at her response to his words.

"You're welcome," she said softly, suddenly aware that he was still holding her wrist. He seemed to become aware of it at the same time and released her, leaving a tingling sensation where his fingers had been. She was still staring at him, she realized self-consciously. "Uh, perhaps you should try to do something about your trousers," she suggested, handing him his wand and feeling the dreaded blush creep over her cheeks.

"Yes," he agreed. "Perhaps that would be best." She wasn't sure, but she imagined that she saw a hint of colour on his own cheeks at that. She bustled out with the towels and left him to it, and it was only a few minutes before he was joining her in the solarium, again choosing the sofa as the safest option.

"Well," she said, curling up in the chair opposite him. "Now that you're in one piece again, suppose you tell me what you found out and what on earth happened to your leg."

"It's him," he said bluntly, rubbing one hand over a cheek still pale from his recent trauma. "The place is heavily warded – so heavily that it took me a good deal longer than I expected to counter them. He's checking for sound, body heat, motion – everything you can think of. I entered through the back door after checking the windows to make sure he wasn't in the room. I was in the kitchen, which is probably the least informative room of the house, but it was obvious that someone was living there."

"But of course you knew that already. Why would someone bother casting wards on an abandoned house?"

"Of course," he nodded. "And wards such as these took some thought. It was obvious that whoever was living there didn't want company. I made my way into the study, thinking I would certainly find my confirmation there, and in fact I did. The shelves were filled with potions books, many of which I recognized as belonging to Finbar's private collection."

"But they could have been there since he died," she pointed out. "It was his house, after all."

"True, but there were also some notes on the desk, and there was no question but that they were written in his hand. The parchment seemed fresh. It looked as if he had just set down his quill to go tend to something and planned to return soon."

"Why didn't you just leave right then?" she demanded.

"I should have," he conceded. "I should have just gotten my confirmation and left, but instead I decided to look for some evidence that connected him to Potter. The fact that Finbar faked his death is obviously incriminating. It virtually guarantees that he's been on the Dark side for years. But it doesn't necessarily guarantee that he has Potter or has it in for Potter. And even if it did, I'd feel more comfortable about calling in the Aurors if I had an idea of whether Potter might be hidden in that house. It's an old house with nooks and crannies from attic to cellar, and if what we think is true, Finbar has already succeeded once in spiriting Potter away before the Aurors even had the chance to arrive. The more information we can give them, the better the chances of them getting him out alive."

Hermione nodded. "So what did you find?"

"Not a bloody thing," he said bitterly. "I walked out of the study and heard his footsteps on the stairs. The passageway is narrow right there, and if I'd stayed where I was he'd have walked right into me. I started backing toward the kitchen, and he must have heard me because he pulled his wand. I stood still for a few seconds, hoping he'd think it was nothing, but he kept coming toward me and I decided just to Disapparate." He gave her a wry smile. "Only to learn that he had established a Disapparition shield."

"You can't Disapparate from there?"

"No, and I would assume the opposite is also true – another reason why I would like to give the Aurors as much information as possible. If they can't Apparate directly into the house, they'll have to enter from the outside, as I did, which will give him a greater chance of getting away. Anyway, he kept coming toward me, and I had to keep moving. I made it to the kitchen and wound up backed into a corner behind the table, so of course, he decided that would be a good time to have a snack."

"But he wasn't still following you?"

"No, that was the good news. He seemed to have decided there was nothing there. He fixed a sandwich and sat down at the table to eat. I was no more than three feet away and I could hardly breathe for fear of being discovered. I feel certain that you and your friends have had similar experiences over the years."

She smiled. "Once or twice."

"Well, he took his time finishing his meal, and then he did something really intriguing. He fixed a second sandwich. Fixed a whole tray, as a matter of fact."

Her eyes widened. "Harry," she breathed.

He shrugged. "It's circumstantial, of course, but it's obvious that there's someone else in the house – someone who's not taking his meals at the table. Unfortunately, I couldn't risk looking just then. I stepped out the back door and decided just to return to the woods to Disapparate. I climbed the fence and reconstructed his wards from just outside and then began the walk into the woods."

"Why didn't you just stun him there in the kitchen?" Hermione interrupted.

He sighed. "A list of reasons. You can't cast spells through that damned cloak, so I couldn't have done it without revealing myself. We don't know for sure yet that he has Potter in the house. If I had drawn my wand, I'd have likely wound up in a duel, and if I had lost the duel, I'd have left you stranded here by yourself, and you'd be no closer to finding Potter. If I had won, I would have been killing our best witness. If he has Potter, there's no telling where he's hidden and no guarantee that we'll find him on our own. It seemed best to come back here and plan a bit more carefully before I started throwing curses around."

Hermione didn't look entirely satisfied by that, but she let him move on. "So you were going to come back here…" she said, glancing at his leg.

He followed her glance. "It is not a friendly forest," he said. "I consider myself lucky to have gotten off so easily. I'd only gone about a hundred yards when I found myself face to face with a very angry Graphorn."

"A Graphorn! I thought they were only found in the mountains."

"Well, apparently no one has informed this one, as he seemed quite territorial. It would have taken four wizards to fend him off with magic; you know how thick their hides are – everything I tried bounced right off."

Hermione was on the edge of her seat. "What on earth did you do?"

"I did what any sane person would have done. I climbed the nearest tree, hoping to catch my breath enough to Disapparate without getting splinched. Unfortunately, I chose my tree poorly, and this one belonged to a rather nasty Bowtruckle. It attacked, and I slid part of the way down the tree, cutting my leg on one of the branches. At that point, I decided that being splinched was preferable to staying in that infernal forest. I shook off the Bowtruckle and Apparated back here."

"You were lucky," Hermione breathed.

"I didn't take that view at the time," Snape said dryly, "but inasmuch as I'm in one piece now, I suppose you're right. I do wish I'd managed to kill the Graphorn, however. I could stand to replenish my private stores of powdered horn, and the prices they're getting these days are outrageous."

"Well, now you know why." Hermione chuckled and then fell silent as she processed all he had told her. "Professor, is it possible to shield a house so that people can Disapparate directly out of it but no one can Apparate directly into it?"

"Of course," he said. "I was merely assuming that he would have blocked Apparition into the house. I don't know for sure that he's done it."

"No, I think your assumption is a logical one. I was just thinking that if it is possible to do a one-way block, it would make far more sense to block Apparition into the house than out of it. You're only inconveniencing yourself by warding the place so that you have to go outside to Disapparate…"

"Unless," he said, picking up on her train of thought, "You have someone who is being kept in the house against his will."

"Exactly," she said, "and even though Harry's not old enough to Apparate and hasn't had any lessons, I'm willing to bet that Finbar doesn't want to take any risks. Harry told me once about a time when his cousin and some of his cousin's friends were chasing him, threatening him with something or other. He said he suddenly found himself on top of the school building."

"How old was he at the time?" Snape asked, sounding impressed in spite of himself.

"I'm not sure. Nine or ten maybe."

"He's fortunate he didn't wind up splinched beyond all recognition."

She shrugged. "It's Harry."

"Quite," he agreed, "only it seems that his luck might have run out."


He yearned for nothing more than a blank mind.

In the past, he had been able to cling to a single happy thought during times of trouble. His return to Hogwarts at summer's end…the next Quidditch match…time in Hogsmeade with his friends. But now, there were no thoughts that didn't cause him pain. He had nothing to look forward to, and nothing but pain came from looking back.

He would start out remembering a happy time, but most of his happy times had involved Ron to one degree or another. Now, all thoughts of Ron led to the final image of him fallen at Voldemort's feet, Voldemort's laughter providing a sickening soundtrack as the hatred boiled through Harry's veins.

His time with the Dursleys could hardly qualify as happy, and even his brief time with Sirius had been coloured by his grief over Ron's death. And then it, too, was cut short. There were moments at Hogwarts that had been happy, but Hogwarts was inexorably tied to his being a wizard, to his being The Boy Who Livedand those thoughts brought no comfort now.

Hogwarts had led him here – wherever 'here' was. He was a corpse with a beating heart, consigned to a furnished grave, and he wished for nothing more than to drape the blackness that surrounded him over the vivid canvas of his treacherous memory.

A sudden shaft of light came and went, burning his eyes.

"Hello, Harry. I've brought you some food." The soft voice seemed to surround him, breathed out by the earthen walls. "There's a bottle here as well. Just a little something to help you sleep. You need your rest, Harry."

Muffled footsteps, the flash of light, and he was alone again in his quiet tomb.

He leaned forward, his nose guiding him to the food, and he let his fingers play lightly over the tray until they closed on the bottle…the promise of sleep.

He drank.

The Buried Life

A Harry Potter Story
by Kalina Lea

Part 16 of 27

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