Categories > Books > Harry Potter > Brother Z20 Reviews
The Final Battle is over. Harry has left Britain, leaving a devastated magical community, a lost Hermione, and a blinded Luna. Hermione becomes Professor McGonagall's apprentice while she cares f...
Sunday, December 13, 1998
Severus Snape looked at the Headmistress' office distastefully, as Brother Z was there as well as Flitwick and McGonagall. "Well, come in and sit down, Severus," McGonagall commanded.
Snape frowned, but did as he was told. McGonagall nodded to Z.
"Who are you? What do you want?" Z asked simply.
Snape frowned. "I don't understand."
"Let me break this down for you, then. Who are you?"
"You know who I am!"
"I know who and what you have been," Z corrected. "Who are you now?"
Several retorts crowded into his mind.
"The future of your life depends on this night, Severus Snape, former Death Eater, former spy," Z intoned. "You were born a victim, a victim of a marriage filled with rage and hate, and you were victimized by it. Few have the combination of luck and strength of character to emerge from such a background untwisted." Snape scowled as Z went on, "You certainly had neither."
"You came to Hogwarts filled with the belief that all are either victims or bullies. You quickly allied yourself with the darkest members of Slytherin -- future Death Eaters every one -- and so you were rarely bullied inside your House, despite being a Half-blood. That became your refuge, a place where you could punish those weaker than you."
Snape tried to ignore this. "Like most bullies, you hate, you loathe the fact that you can't bully everyone. Some outside fought back. Four in particular fought you and your gang back, and then took to tormenting you just as you and your gang tormented others. Your hatred for those who bullied the bullies twisted you more."
Snape's scowl was by now looking a bit artificial. "Still, you managed to have little episodes of decent behavior, such as the potions work you did with Lily Evans. You treasured them in your heart, trying to use them as proof that you were not evil, that you were not Dark, that you were still the victim instead of now primarily being the victimizer. That is a bit better than most of those who became Death Eaters could say, but it is not much." Snape's brief ray of hope disappeared for the moment.
"You left the school and almost immediately joined the Death Eaters. There, you still did not fit in. You are a cruel bully, but you are not quite a sadist, or at least not one at anywhere the same level of most of the Death Eaters, at least not any of the successful ones. Still, your heart was hard enough to watch the tortures around you without flinching, never mind condemning or even showing any sympathy." Snape couldn't argue with that last point, at least.
"After a few months, however, you realized two things. Voldemort was not what you thought he was. He was not the great defender of old traditions, but a sadistic tyrant who would pervert and use those traditions as his cover for terrorism."
"Second, you hate the Muggle world because of your abusing father and wizarding prejudice, but you know a fair amount about it. As I said, Voldemort was merely a very successful terrorist. You came to realize that no matter how much damage he could cause, he could not win. He didn't have the temperament, skill, or resources to undermine Muggle governments, like Grindelwald had. No, all he could do was batter at the Ministry and kill and torture innocents." Snape had to agree with that as well.
"In short, you knew, in the long run, he could not win." Snape nodded.
"Yet who could stand up to him? Dumbledore, perhaps. Yet how many years passed between the decision and your approach? Almost two? No? Over one? I am not surprised. In the end, you saw your chance. You were in the Hogs Head, picking up illegal supplies, when you saw Dumbledore enter. You followed, and heard the first part of a prophecy. You were caught. You made your offer. Dumbledore then tested your Occlumency shields and mistakenly believed them adequate for his needs." Snape winced at that. "He Oblviated part of your memory, so that you only remembered part of the prophecy, planted a false memory inside your brain, and sent you back."
Snape was stunned. He then turned and glared the Dumbledore's portrait, which shrugged and nodded.
"Now you felt justified in every horror you participated in, but despite your enthusiasm, you were not able to bring much information in, at least none of immediate use. So, when Slughorn, as he often did, submitted a demand for a pay increase, coupled with a threat of retirement, Dumbledore took his retirement instead of the usual negotiations." Z smiled. "That shocked the old boy. The Headmaster hired you, hoping that would increase your value to Voldemort." The others, including the paintings, were caught up in the flow of words.
"It did, but it also meant you could no longer easily cull useful titbits from the rank-and-file, as you had been doing. By raising your profile, your actual usefulness was lessened even further." Snape and the painting both frowned at that.
"Voldemort fell, and for the next ten years you bullied and abused the students of Hogwarts, while also teaching them poorly. Then Harry Potter showed up. Your bile rose to the top, and you acted on it." Snape tried to sneer again, but failed.
"Meanwhile, the Headmaster never clued you in that Voldemort was living in the back of Quirrell's head, did he? What little chance you had in convincing Voldemort that you were in truth a double agent was lessened even further by your attempts to stop that hybrid. Tell me, didn't your Dark Mark start reacting the first night of Harry Potter's first year?"
Snape reluctantly nodded.
"What? You thought it was Potter?"
Snape nodded again, knowing he had been wrong.
"No, Dumbledore and Voldemort both played as you tried to play them both, especially Voldemort. Oh, do stop squirming!" Z almost snapped, unusual for him, as he was usually very dispassionate in his public speech, and really had been to that point. "Anyone who doesn't understand how a person could be caught up when acted upon by those two has no right to an opinion."
Z looked at McGonagall, who had been looking superior. "You knew it was wrong to leave Potter at his Muggle relatives. You knew Dumbledore never checked on him." He now also included Flitwick. "The two of you were senior to Severus, and only made token, if persistent, protests over his abuse of students." As he looked at them, their eyes dropped. "Could it be, in part, that he acted as you expected a Slytherin to act, and you so enjoyed your moral superiority that you did not act as you both know you should have? How many times did you two help Dumbledore gang up on Sprout to prevent her from complaining to the Board?" The two flushed slightly.
"So, there is plenty of guilt to go around. I'd like to think I would have done much better, but who can say? I might have failed as well, and if I had been here and was more effective, I might have just ended up fired, and everything swept under the rug, as so much was between 1981 and 1997."
Z shrugged and turned back towards Snape. "So, that's who you were. Are you any different now?"
"I don't know," Snape admitted. "If I am not, I can see why you think I should become different than what I was."
"Even if you think what I painted was incomplete, was any of it inaccurate?"
Snape tried really hard, and came up with, "Not that I could prove, any way."
Z nodded, "For you, that is an improvement. We are always in a state of change. Sometimes the change is merely a hardening of ourselves, and of our old habits of behavior. To change, to really change, is a difficult and time-consuming process. So, think about who you are, and who you want to become."
"Now," Z went on, "what do you want?"
"I want to delve deeper into potions," Snape answered immediately. "I want to do research."
"Is that all?"
Snape gave Z one of his best sneers, which was saying a great deal considering the source. "I have no interest in perpetuating the species, 'Brother'. It seems likely to continue, with or without my aid. Therefore, I would prefer my contribution to be knowledge. I grant you, I would prefer my name be attached to some major discoveries, but even if my name is unknown, I would hope the knowledge I create will live down through the centuries."
The other three managed not to roll their eyes. "Good enough, I suppose," Z said. "May I assume that any religious beliefs you may have are at least somewhat . . . tenuous?"
"I suppose so," Snape agreed suspiciously.
Z put his hands in his sleeves, and when he pulled them out again, there were two envelopes in his right hand. "I have here two job positions, researching potions. One is with a druid group, while the other is Buddhist. Provided you do not disturb the religious, they will certainly not disturb you. Both have specific areas they wish you to devote at least half of your time to, the rest would be up to you, so long as you are not squandering it. You many join the druids any time through next August. You would have to leave immediately as school is out next summer to travel to the Buddhists. You have until Yule to decide."
Snape glanced at them, and nodded. "Then I shall. However, I will stay through the end of the school year in any event, as I promised to do." Snape fought a brief, internal battle, and then forced himself to say, "Thank you."
With that, Snape, and then Flitwick, left.
McGonagall looked at the enigma before her. "And if he had left at the end of December?"
Z shrugged. "We could have covered for him, although that would mean I'd have to help you smarm up to Slughorn." He pretended to shiver in disgust.
"Very droll, Zed. And if he leaves, will you be leaving as well? Your stated goals were to clean the castle of any lingering Darkness, help Miss Granger and Miss Lovegood, and to take care of Severus."
"So they were," Z agreed. "Then I was going to find a nice cave somewhere and meditate for the next hundred plus years."
"I take it your affections have become engaged?"
Z closed his eyes and nodded.
"Love is not a weakness, Zed," McGonagall said, with compassion. "I loved my husband very much, but I wish I had found someone after his death."
"I understand, Minerva," Z said. "We shall see if they are as understanding when I tell them my secrets."
"Oh, dear," McGonagall said. "Both of them?"
"They are loyal by nature, and neither would be jealous of the other," Z said simply. "Even if I wanted to choose, I would not hurt them by doing so. I'd find my cave first."
Friday, December 18, 1998
One way that the Headmistress ran the school differently than her predecessor was in her belief in non-competitive activities (other than Quidditch). Therefore, she had decreed there would be two student dances/parties, one the evening before leaving on the Christmas break and one the first Friday in May. For all students Third year and older who had a date, there would be a semi-formal dance in the great hall. For everyone else, there was a buffet/party in the largest dungeon.
Brother Z and Hermione were two of the supervisors of the buffet party. There was plenty of food of course, as well magical and Muggle party games, and later on there would be other fun things to do as well -- pin the tail on the dragon (which breathed lightly stinging sparks if you strayed too far from the target), competitions to see who could burst the most balloons using sparks from their wands, etc. There would even be pinatas.
"What are you thinking, Miss Granger?" Z asked formally.
Hermione smiled slightly. "I was just thinking how much Ron would have liked this sort of party to a formal, or even semi-formal, dance."
"Do you miss him?"
"A bit," Hermione said. "He was a major part of my life for nearly seven years, and usually a welcome part of it as well, even if we actually dated for less than a year. Even though we never dated, I miss Harry a bit more, I have to confess." Hermione sighed. "After Hedwig was killed last Christmas, no other owl could ever find him."
"Losing his familiar must have been nearly as difficult as losing a friend," Z said thoughtfully.
"It was," Hermione agreed. "Harry obviously cared more for fully sentient life -- Ron, Ginny, his godfather, a goblin he became friendly with -- but he loved Hedwig."
"That would explain part of what Harry did, then," Z said.
"What exactly did he do?"
"You do know who the Death Eater was that killed his owl?"
"Dolohov," Hermione spat. "He's the Death Eater who ruptured my spleen."
"And that explains even more. Somehow Harry tracked Dolohov down and fed him some potion that turned him into a huge tweety bird."
"Probably a Canary Cream -- one of the Weasley twins' first products."
"How long does it last?"
"Less than half a minute, why?"
"Harry made it last a long time. He hung Dolohov upside down with his hands tied behind his back, and then ripped all the feathers off his body. After that, he disembowled him, and let him bleed to death."
Hermione sniffled. "Poor Harry. No wonder he never talked about it; no wonder he had to leave."
"What he did to the Death Eaters who were holding Luna and Ginny Weasley were equally grisly, not to mention what he did to Voldemort." Z almost grimaced. "He did show imagination, though."
"Oh? Do I want to know?"
"No," Z answered.
"I always wondered what he did to Lucius Malfoy, Peter Pettigrew, Bellatrix Lestrange, and of course Voldemort," Hermione probed. She knew Z had been the first to reach Harry after the battle had ended.
"Did you really want to know that your friend forced Pettigrew's silver hand to strangle himself? Or that somehow melted Bella Lestrange and her sister Narcissa together, and that it took them three minutes or more to die?"
"No, but I think I should know," she said.
"He put Lucius under some sort of contortion spell and made him shake hands -- one hand went down his own throat and the other went up his digestive tract." Hermione winced. "As for Voldemort, well, Harry was somehow able to draw off the blood which was related to himself -- it burst out of Voldemort, causing him to die almost instantly."
"I hope Harry can find peace," Hermione said.
"He can, even if it takes over a decade. Can you and Luna?"
"I believe so, especially if the three of us are together." She smiled. "Come on. Speaking of contortion spells, it's time to cast some so they can play 'Twister' properly."
The next morning, Hermione and Z saw the Hogwarts Express off. "When do we leave?" Hermione asked.
"Some of First years, well, three of them, anyways, asked if we could do something Christmas Eve. I promised them sing-a-long Christmas caroling. We can leave immediately thereafter, if you and Luna wish to."
"Where are we going?"
Z smiled. "Springing the question on me won't make me more likely to answer. I have hired Dobby and Winky for the holidays, and we'll be cozy. We don't have to be back until New Year's Eve at the earliest, after all, but if either or both of you want to come back early, you can."
"I know, you're not kidnaping us," Hermione agreed. "And we did agree to that privacy oath."
"I know, and thank you for trusting me," Z replied. "Are you going back to the castle, or would you like to come into Hogsmeade with me?"
Hermione frowned. "What are you shopping for?"
"There are eighteen students staying over. I don't know if they're getting presents from their families, or if their home situations are such they just prefer to be here. In any case, I'm making certain that 'Father Christmas' visits."
"From your tone, it sounds like you had a difficult childhood," Hermione said.
"To a degree," Z agreed. "Still, I knew others who had things worse. You and Luna might have had somewhat lonely childhoods, especially you, and of course Luna had the tragedy of losing her mother, but at least you knew you were loved." He frowned.
"What?" Hermione demanded.
"I know, we both know, there is physical and mental abuse in the magical world. It just occurred to me how easy it would be to hide sexual abuse, or sexual predators preying on Muggle children." He shook his head in disgust.
"I hate to admit it, but you're probably right," Hermione said. "Considering how sadistic the Death Eaters were, I would imagine at least some of them were preying on Muggles over the thirteen years Voldemort was gone."
"It's so tempting to just leave," Z said. "I came here because Harry loved the school itself, despite all the bad things that happened to him here; because Harry wanted Snape watched; and because of you and Luna. He couldn't leave unless there was someone powerful to come here, at least for a while. Well, the school is cleaned of Dark Magic, I would imagine Severus will be leaving at the end of the year, and at least Luna has her sight back. It's still very tempting to just leave, hopefully with you and Luna." He looked at Hermione with hopeful eyes.
"And assuming that Luna and I would go along with whatever you want," Hermione said drily, making Z wince just a bit internally, "why else would you stay?"
Z shrugged."I know I can't save everyone, I can't right even most wrongs. Still, we are different from Muggles in some ways. I'm possibly the most powerful wizard in Europe, certainly the most powerful in Britain. Until the next wizard of power comes along, and he proves to be Light, I suppose I need to at least stay in contact."
He looked at Hermione. "Yes, I know I was being presumptuous. I'm still getting used to the idea that I have to consider more than just my own desires and views in the near future. I'll work harder at that."
"See that you do," Hermione stated. "Luna is more forgiving than I am, but I don't think she'd put up with that, either."
Thursday, December 24, 1998
Hermione and Luna had sworn the privacy oaths, and had portkeyed with Z out of Hogwarts at 10 pm. Dobby and Winky had already taken their luggage. They arrived in a large formal entrance hall. "You have a manor?" Hermione asked.
Z nodded. He looked at Luna. "You already know, don't you?"
Luna nodded. "I believe so, although I still have a difficult time believing it." That made Z smile and Hermione wonder -- what would be difficult for Luna, who still believed so many odd things, to accept?
"When you first touched me, I wondered. When I first saw you through Hermione's eyes, I was starting to believe. I just still don't see how you managed nearly twenty years of time travel," she admitted.
"You're from the future?" Hermione asked, scowling in her confusion.
"No," Z answered. "I was sent from July of this year to August, 1981." He then balled his fists and seemed to exert a mighty internal effort, as Tonks did when she was making a major change.
Z only changed his nose slightly, however. In addition, his hair, although it stayed very short, turned black. He stopped, and when he opened his eyes, Hermione saw that instead of violet, they were an equally-startling green. It was then that she noticed that a very faint lightening bolt scar had appeared near the center of Z's forehead.