Nazis, homicidal Catholics, and Severus Snape's cousins, Harry certainly has his hands full of people trying to kill him this year. (Sixth year AU, elements of HBP incorporated)
Harry lay on his back in the middle of Green Cottage's front lawn. It was mid evening and Harry was watching the first fireflies emerge from the thicket of honeysuckle that covered the cottage. Harry scratched at the peeling sunburn on his nose.
The past few weeks had consisted of waking up early, being fed breakfast and then helping Mrs. Adler take care of the expansive gardens at the local manor house. (Mrs. Adler, who, since he met her at 4:54 the second night at Green Cottage, was always awake before he was, defying every expectation he had of her, Harry was not used to anyone waking up before him during the summer.) It was usually late evening when they'd return to Green cottage where he'd be left to his own devices for the rest of the day. He could do homework, he could help Mrs. Adler prepare dinner, or he could lie around doing absolutely nothing.
Professor Kirke had returned weekly as promised, he checked the wards, which consisted of checking the soil consistency around the cottage, and rewriting the arithmantic equations above the doors and windows. Before he left he slipped Harry three thick books. Two were on Occulmency, and the third on Transfiguration. In turn Mrs. Adler had handed him three Cornwall reinforced clay pots containing purple bulb-headed flowers, Harry overheard her muttering something about ' last time I ever try to cultivate fitillaria meleagris'
He'd had his first Vision, or dream or what ever they were as You-Know-Who last night. It hadn't been nearly as bad as it could have been; he'd woken up feeling like his head was splitting down the middle and an intense desire to break the room's small window. He'd punched the wall instead and the bloody knuckles he came away with somehow made him feel much better. After that Harry started reading the Occlumency books
He'd still not been able to shake the desire to break things for the rest of the day, he felt it coiled up in the back of his head and already he'd had two screaming matches with the as always completely unflappable Mrs. Adler. He'd been the one doing the screaming; the first time she'd raised her thick black eyebrows at him and told him to move the begonias another two feet southward where they'd get better light. The second time she'd not even dignified him with any change in expression but instead rapped his hand hard with a wooden serving spoon and told him to set the table.
And to top it off he still had no inking as to who she was or the why she was protecting him. A few nights ago he'd come up with a list regarding who Mrs. Adler was. It had looked something like this:
Things I know about Mrs. Adler
- Muggle (thinks magic is 'rubbish')
- Calls Prof. Snape by first name
- NOT a deatheater (at least no mark, and why recruit a muggle??)
- Doesn't flinch at Voldemort's name
- Doesn't like Headmstr Dumbledore (takes Prof. Snape's request over Headmstr's) control over members of her family? Is Snape her family? would mean he was a half-blood.
- Has advanced herbol botany? degree. Works as gardener
- Is she married or not? Mrs. But no husband?
And then under all that he wrote
Possible Connections to Prof. Snape????
He underlined it twice, then after staring at it for a few moments of coming up with nothing he scratched it out, crumpled up the paper into a ball, and stuffed it into his trunk.
Harry had his second dream as You-Know-Who that night.
He was very pleased.
Two hours ago McNair had found Harry in the Malfoy library poring over a battered copy of Grindelwald, The Church, and the Teutonic Knights: An Alternative Reading of the Second World War. The copy at some point had belonged in the Hogwarts Restricted Section, but he'd liberated it years ago and doubted they missed it. Very few wizards had any interest in the Second World War, as far as they were concerned it was an entirely muggle affair and what ever wizarding parties had been involved had never made it off the continent.
"We've caught him, my lord"
Klaus Eckstein, formerly the leader of Grindelwald's elitist of followers, the Teutonic Knights was dragged forward by two masked deatheaters. He'd had a group of deatheaters traipsing all across the Continent and good portions of Asia looking for this man.
Eckstein was covered in mud and he was bleeding from gashes all across his face. He wore a threadbare muggle suite.
"Show it to me"
The death eater holding Eckstein's left arm reached over and unbuttoned Eckstein shirt. He pulled the fabric free and displayed a thick black cross with flared ends branded just above Eckstein's heart.
Harry stood up and took Eckstein's blood jaw in one hand and pulled the small man to his feet. He looked over to the death eater nearest to him
" Where did you find him?" he asked. Eckstein gurgled blood onto Harry's hand in his attempts to get out of the strong grip.
"In a slum in Paris"
"Imagine that. "
"Ja, Herrle. Imagine that" Eckstein echoed as Harry's fingers slipped on the blood coating Eckstein's jaw as the German pulled free.
A flare of anger roiled deep inside Harry's gut. He reached out again smacking Eckstein across the face.
The German looked back at him defiantly. "Leck mich im arsch" he said and snickered. Then he wrenched his arm free from the death eater holding it and drew his wand and fired of a whiplash of green light at Harry
Harry took a few steps back dodging the lash of color impacted against the wall and raised his wand. "Idiot! I told you to disarm him!"
Eckstein held his gnarled, twisted wand out and began to back up towards the door.
Harry rolled off the bed and cracked his head against the floor. From the pain in his head he couldn't do much more than curl up into a ball and clasp his head. His eyes shut so tightly that tears began to ooze out.
He only barely heard the creak of a footstep inside his room before he felt a cold hand on his back.
"Shhhhh" Mrs. Adler reached over and put her freezing, damp hands on his forehead. Their coldness sank into his skin. Harry tried to shove her away, but she held him tightly around the shoulders and his knees were starting to cramp up.
"Stop it!" He told her. "It wasn't that bad. Let me go"
"Not a chance" She pulled him roughly to his feet, and held him steady as he stamped out the cramps knees, her cold hand still on his forehead.
"If that wasn't that bad...." Mrs. Adler started to say.
"Stop it!" Harry told her. " I don't want your help"
Mrs. Adler let out a hiss of irritation through her teeth, and flicked her hair. " You, Mr. Potter, never really had a choice in the matter" She helped him back onto the bed.
Harry's hands were shaking at he tried to pull her hands off his face.
Finally she let go. "Wait here. I'll get you something to help you sleep"
"No, no, wait, I don't want to go back to sleep"
Mrs. Adler ignored him and left the room, Harry heard the creak of the stairs. He stared stupidly at his bedclothes and twiddled his thumbs and thought rebelliously about getting out of bed. Downstairs a cupboard opened, then the fridge opened, and liquid poured. The stairs creaked again.
Mrs. Adler returned and thrust a glass filled mostly with ice, at him. At the bottom of the glass was a small measure of something amber colored and smelling strongly of alcohol.
Harry sniffed it. "This is scotch," he said accusingly.
Mrs. Alder raised an eyebrow. " I'm glad you recognize it. Drink, it'll help you sleep." She said.
Harry downed the glass with one fast swallow; the scotch burned the back of his throat and he felt heat rising under his ears.
Mrs. Adler smiled and took the glass back from him. "I might have added John the Conqueror root to it as well"
"You bastard" Harry managed to slur before his head landed on the pillow again and was dead asleep.
Severus Snape caught up with the German after about three hours of stalking through the wet, dewy underbrush in the early morning half-light
Eckstein was hidden half asleep in a small thick copse of trees, none of the wounds the Death Eaters had inflicted on him in during his capture had healed, and his color looked awful. Apparently, the escape had not been nearly as easy as he had made it look.
" Du, wichser. Taking me back to your Herrle?" Eckstein was more awake than he looked; the German struggled to retrieve his gnarled twisted excuse for a wand from his coat pocket.
Snape was on him before he even got his arm across his body to retrieve it. " We did eliminate your wand if I remember correctly. McNair broke it"
Eckstein's throat bobbed against Snape's wand tip. Snape kicked it out of his hand. It looked like little more than two thin twigs braided together and tied with horsehair.
"That thing?" Eckstein managed to smile nervously. "Never used it much. Results were always unstable. Very inefficient."
There was something very wrong. Snape took a step back. Eckstein had far to many teeth in his mouth to be human. Snape, his own wand still aimed at the German, bent down, and picked up Eckstein's wand. He ran his fingers along the wand's uneven surface
"Braided mistletoe and hag's hair, defiantly not a human's wand. Tell me, did Grindelwald know you weren't human?"
"Schleich dich!" Eckstein made an angry bleating nose deep in his throat; he tried to scramble away from Snape's wand.
"No need for obscenities. Verum in vultus" Snape's spell caught Eckstein before he could get out of range. The German collapsed into the underbrush
Snape prodded Eckstein's prone body with the tip of his boot, and then knelt down, wand still at the ready, to turn the other man over.
A hoof caught Snape in the stomach, knocking him backwards and kicking the wind out of him. Eckstein scrambled forwards, head butting Snape around the waist and dragged him to the ground the rest of the air in his lungs coming out in one big wheeze. Eckstein sank his teeth into Snape's shoulder.
Eckstein's eyes were bright yellow; all those sharp teeth were embedded in his shoulder. Hoofs. One came down hard on his shin.
Snape pushed at Eckstein's head ripping the creature's teeth out of his shoulder, he rolled over trapping Eckstein below him. Horns. Eckstein's teeth, already red with both of their blood snapped closed far to close to his cheek for his comfort.
Through the scuffle he'd managed to keep his wand. He jabbed it, hard, into Eckstein's throat.
"Hoofs, horns, yellow eyes, and a mistletoe wand."
Eckstein gurgled in protest.
"I do suppose you're a satyr. Stupify!"
Midday sunlight cut into Harry's eyes jarring him awake. He head was fuzzy, his mouth was dry and his eyes stung.
"You can't dose him John the Conqueror every time something happens!" a familiar voice drifted upstairs through the floor.
"Oh and you would probably overdose him on Valerian and kill him I suppose" Mrs. Adler snapped in reply.
"Valerian has a much better reputation. How do you know John the Conqueror won't send him into a trance?"
"And how do you know Valerian won't either?"
"Don't you dare lecture me about the properties of Valerian"
Mrs. Adler's grandfather's voice broke into the argument. " You're both acting like soddin' children again."
Harry could hear the Mrs. Adler and the man she was arguing with both draw breath getting ready to launch in their argument again. He rolled off the bed trying to put his foot down on the floorboards as quietly as possible.
"Shut up Severus. He's awake"
Harry cursed; Mrs. Adler had the habit of always knowing exactly where he was in the house and what he was doing.
"You're lurking again Mr. Potter. What did I tell you about lurking?" Her voice drifted up though the floorboards.
And then " Potter!"
Now that Harry knew. Professor Snape was downstairs. Guilt stabbed through his gut, but he pushed it down and buried it under layers of irritation and anger.
"Bugger" said Harry "Just what I need." he struggled to get dressed before Snape decided to humiliate him completely and barge in on him half dressed.
Ten minutes later Harry rushed into the kitchen just in time to hear a flowerpot crashing against the wall in the greenhouse.
Mrs. Adler stormed out; her cheeks flushed red under her suntan. She stomped up the stairs and disappeared into the second floor.
Professor Snape emerged from the greenhouse brushing dirt off of his black jumper.
Wait, Snape, jumper?
"Good morning Professor Snape' Harry managed to blurt.
"Afternoon Mr. Potter. Sit down"
Harry looked down at the floor. He stared at the ladder laces on Snape's black work boots and the meticulously folded cuffs of his trousers. He wore a black wool jumper over an equally meticulously creased white work shirt. Despite the proletarian ensemble, Snape still emulated barely disguised menace, now tinged with an unpleasant sense of violence.
"Yes sir" He didn't sit down.
Snape angrily kicked out a chair from under the table. He thrust it at Harry.
"Sit down Mr. Potter" Snape said warningly.
Harry sat down so fast his head stung. An apology welled up in the back of his throat but he angrily thrust it back down. Snape did not deserve apologies, thanks, be might begrudge him, but apologies? Never.
"I trust Mrs. Adler is treating you adequately," Snape continued, pulling out a chair on the other side of the table. He sat down and rested his elbows on the table.
Harry sat stiffly in his chair starring at a point just left of Snape's shoulder. "Yes sir" he replied. Part of him wanted to add all the details about adequate food and no backbreaking labor and nicer living conditions and he could go on and on, He doubted Snape would care, or believe him for that matter.
He stared at the floor.
"Mrs. Adler says you had a dream last night. Tell me the details."
"Why? Weren't you there?"
"No. I didn't become involved until later."
"And why isn't Dumbledore here?"
"Not your concern."
Harry angrily stared at the tabletop. "I want tea. That stuff she gave me is still making me fuzzy" He didn't wait for permission from Snape, got up from the table, and pulled out the kettle down from on top of the stove.
"I can give you some mugwort. There is some in the greenhouse"
"No thanks. Sir." Harry filled the kettle and pulled the tea can from inside the breadbox. He lit the pilot lighter, lit the stove, and set the kettle on the flame. He emptied the cold tea out of the teapot into the sink.
"I...Voldem..." Harry started "You-Know-Who, he was reading, a book on the Second World War. From Hogwarts. And then Walden McNair came in and told him that they'd caught this man who was a follower of Grindelwald." Harry stared at the kettle trying to dredge up the memory of slapping Eckstein across the face. " And then the man, Eckstein, escaped" The whole thing, even so tightly abridged left him feeling angry and wanting to hurt things. He gripped onto the kettle's handle so tightly his hand turned red than white.
Behind him Snape snorted and wrinkled his nose in disgust. "That was pathetic Mr. Potter"
"I'm...'m sorry sir"
Snape didn't answer for a long moment; he stared at a point just past Harry his bony fingers fiddling uncomfortably with the cuff of his jumper. Harry made himself tea with copious amounts milk and sugar.
Finally, Snape pushed his sleeves up to his elbows. The Mark stood out through the thick hair on his forearms. "I don't take milk in my tea, the lemons are behind the coal scuttle with the potatoes" Snape said grim determination. " Now try again. Tell me what you saw."
After Potter had left in a huff and very nearly in tears, Severus Snape stood and emptied is teacup into the sink. He washed the cup slowly and methodically. Potter was surly which he expected, but even with the remains of You-Know-Who's anger roiling below the surface of his mind Potter was strangely restrained. That Severus hadn't expected. (But then he felt the need to remind himself the boy had made it to Green Cottage, Severus had had a bet with himself that Potter would throw himself in front of the train rather than take orders form him.)
However, the restraint wasn't passivity, or submissiveness, Potter wasn't cowed in the least, if anything he'd just redirected his anger inside. Not always the best option he decided, but the less egotistical the boy was the easier it was to endure his presence.
He hadn't even fought back after the fifth retelling of his vision. At that point, Severus had gotten sick of toying with him and triumphantly listening to the catch in his voice watching Potter's eyes flare with vicious anger, as he described smacking Klaus Eckstein across the face.
He heard the sound of Abigail pacing in her room waiting for him to leave so she could come down again and clean up the mess in the green house.
He could see Potter out the back window lying on his stomach in the middle of the back garden with Belanus Cadoc's The Delicate Art of Occlumancy open in front of him. The other book Professor Kirke had given him Severus had proclaimed to be garbage, but Cadoc's book was a good solid grounding in the basics. He would return next week and lessons would resume. He hoped this new subdued, calculating Potter might prove less infuriating.
Abigail's boots sounded on the upstairs landing. She appeared at the top of the stairs.
"Bugger off, Severus," she told him nastily. " Its bad enough I have to take care of that whelp with out having to see you moping about the house like you used to"
"You haven't improved him," he told her spitefully. " I would have thought that your unique ability to treat everyone like dirt could improve even an arrogant brat like him"
"If you stopped toying with him you might find that I have." She replied taking a few more steps down, "and don't you dare talk all posh at me!" she hissed " I have your father come by every month to shout abuse at me and granddad. Maybe I'll tell him you've been around, see how he likes it."
Severus's mouth flattened into a thin line "Your still petty and spiteful"
Abigail sneered. "So are you."
Severus Snape found Hagrid, the Headmaster in the infirmary with Madame Pomfrey tending to its newest resident.
Klaus Eckstein was fading in and out of unconsciousness his legs overshooting the end of the infirmary bed, so much that the tips of his hooves brushed the floor.
Fading into consciousness he growled and his teeth snapped closed inches from Madam Pomfrey's hands as she changed the bandages on his shoulders. Moment's later his head thumped back on to the pillow.
Hagrid gently lifted one of Eckstein's hooves off the floor and examined the inside of the delicate clove hoof. "He's been shod before, so 'e's not wild dwelling." He said. "Though 'e hasn't for years. Can still the nail marks, 'ere, and 'ere" Eckstein woke up slightly and attempted to lift his head off the bed. He jerked his leg weakly against Hagrid's tight grip. "LoÃŸ laÃŸen!"
"If he's the Klaus Eckstein of course he's' not wild dwelling" Snape snapped at Hagrid "This, this, creature held a important position in the Reichstag. I should never have brought it back here"
"You tommy bastards" Eckstein was suddenly fully awake; he attempted to pull himself off the bed, his legs jerking up, before being snapped back into immobility by a spell. Hagrid dropped the hoof,
"He held that position until 1945, until I thought I killed him." The Headmaster pursed his lips "Though it seems I only took off one of his horns" Dumbledore bent over Eckstein, and fingered the stub of the satyr's left horn. Eckstein, unable to move freely recoiled from him, his yellow eyes bulging. "Ich bring dich um," He hissed through his teeth.
Severus flinched; his shoulder ached at the memory of Eckstein's teeth sinking into his own flesh.
Eckstein chuckled from the bed noticing his reaction. " Not in much better condition are we Herr-Professor"
"Halts maul oder du fÃ¤ngsch eine!" Snape snapped.
"Oh so you do speak German!" Eckstein sounded pleased, his head rolled back and he howled with laughter.
Snape leaned over to the Headmaster "You should get rid of it, it's insane"