Severus was beginning to regret not ditching Argus when he had the chance; he could easily have left him with Sybil but no… he was still stuck with the moron. He took a left turn and leapt inside a passageway to the side of him but it was no use; the caretaker knew the school better than anyone else in it, much to his inconvenience. As he admired the way that his cloak billowed out behind him as he walked, a plan began to form in Severus’ mind. True, it was a plan extremely similar to his previous plan but that had worked and he was certain that there was more to Sybil than met the Inner Eye. He laughed at his own joke before stopping abruptly, causing Argus to run into him. “Merlin! Is that the sound of students defacing school property which meets mine ears?” Severus cried out and span round to Argus who regarded him coolly. Severus had the time to wonder just why he thought this plan would work as he tried to look as horrified as he could. “No,” Argus said after listening for a moment, “it’s the sound of you making up implausible situations in an attempt to escape me, isn’t it?!” Severus looked suitably alarmed at Argus’ realisation that he had just lied badly in an attempt to remove him from his company. He began to look even more alarmed when the caretaker burst into noisy tears. “J-just bec-c-ause I’m only a c-c-caretaker doesn’t mean I don’t have f-feelings you know!” he choked out between sobs and Severus moved to comfort him. He had been expecting to pat Argus on the back and then run off in the opposite direction which wasn’t quite what actually happened. What did happen was that he found himself with a face full of fist before he fell to the floor with what felt like a broken nose. The last thing that he saw before he blacked out was Argus running off in the opposite direction and quite a lot of blood coming from his nose.
“NOOOOOOOOOO!” Heilia screamed but there was no one there to hear her terrified shrieks at the sight which met her eyes. This was the worst thing that she could ever have imagined and she burst into hysterical tears as she sank to the floors. If anyone had told her that the school contained such horrors then she would never have taken the job at the school.
“HEILIA?!” Poppy yelled from behind her as she raced down the corridor with as much speed as she could whilst still maintaining some dignity and style. Needless to say she was going rather slowly.
She found her friend lying on the floor of a large chamber sobbing. Poppy looked around the room to see dozens of old broomsticks chained to the walls, most of them badly rotting and a few of them reduced partly to piles of dust on the floor.
Poppy rolled her eyes as she sat down next to Heilia and put an arm around her shoulders. She should have known that it would be her luck for Heilia to find a room full of rotting brooms; it had the same effect on her as it would for a normal human being to find a room full of corpses. She briefly wondered whether there was such a room in the school and prayed for Severus to come across it before she tried to get Heilia out of the room.
“No! I’m not leaving them!” Heilia sobbed as Poppy pulled her out of the room, “they need my help, Poppy!”
Poppy raised an eyebrow as various thoughts raced through her mind. The most predominant of which involved the fact that with Heilia out of the way there would be more Youth for her. A smile touched her lips.
“Okay then, well if this is something you have to do then you have to do it,” Poppy said to her and smiled in as friendly a manner as she could manage without laughing manically, “I’ll come back later, okay?”
“Okay…” Heilia managed with a slight smile as she stared around at her with a feeling of nausea.
Poppy gave her one last smile as she left the room and sprinted off as fast as she could in the opposite direction. One down, about a dozen to go, she thought as she ran. Unluckily for her she wasn’t watching where she was going. There was a dull thud as she ran into someone and knocked them flying down a flight of stairs.
“Oh my… are you all right?” she asked and then, when she had a better look of the person’s face she added, “oh, it’s you.”
“Let’s rock and roll!” said Sabina Sinistra with a slight smile as she marched down the corridor from the staffroom, Professors Sprout and Vector close behind.
“When was the last time that anyone said that?” Thomadius Vector asked her as he followed behind her, she turned around sharply and he came very close to getting an eye full of wand but luckily he pulled back just in time.
“Be quiet boy, or I’ll have you in detention so fast…” she warned him. Thomadius looked to Pomona Sprout but she merely shrugged. He wondered if she had any idea who he was and knew that she hadn’t taught him in more than twenty years now. He shrugged it off as the followed her up to the Astronomy Tower.
“Now, be quiet as I try to get us into the ceiling,” she said to them causing Pomona and Thomadius to raise an eyebrow.
“Is that how you… Stupefy!” Thomadius said quickly and Sabina dropped to the floor with a thud.
“Nice work,” Pomona complimented as the two of them raced back through the trapdoor and down the tower, ensuring that the way was sealed; they would have no more trouble from Sabina that night.
“Right, so where the hell do we go?” Thomadius asked her and she thought for a moment.
“I’ll tell you where I bet we can get to it…” she said but didn’t finish her sentence as she ran off with Thomadius close behind. Although he didn’t know where they were going, he still had a very bad feeling about whatever plan she was probably only half-baking in her mind.
“I bet they’ve already got there,” Tonks said glumly as she walked behind Mad Eye, “I bet they’ve already got to the Fountain of Youth and they’re all young and happy again…”
“Tonks, you’re twenty six! Isn’t that young enough?!” he demanded of her as they walked along. She scowled slightly at him but he didn’t notice; both his eyes were wandering around the school.
“I’d like to be younger again, perhaps about seventeen,” she said and Mad Eye gave her a cool look, one which said ‘you’re already half my age, isn’t that enough’ but he didn’t comment. “So do you know where we’re going?”
“Oh yes, I know exactly where we’re going,” he grinned and she was, as always rather unsettled by his lopsided smile. He walked quickly along the corridor and up onto the next floor with Tonks just struggling to keep up with his quickened pace. They were on the third floor corridor now and, after checking that the area was clear of students, Mad Eye stepped through a door to the side of them and into a darkened chamber beyond.
The silence which was there was almost over whelming and Tonks had a strange feeling about the place. It was as if there was a lot of magic gathered there and she didn’t like it one bit. She had heard tell of the things which Harry, Ron and Hermione had done to get to the Philosopher’s Stone before Voldemort and she knew somehow that the Fountain Of Youth was in there, most likely guarded by similar spells and enchantments to keep them well and truly away from their younger years.
“I think I’ve changed my mind…” Tonks mumbled and turned away, moving towards the door but Mad Eye grabbed hold of her before she got more than a step.
“Don’t be ridiculous,” he growled, fixing her with his normal eye; his magical eye was roving around the floors below it, scanning the obstacles which they would have to get past. “You’re just getting nervous, but the obstacles are nothing. We’ll be young by tea time!”
Tonks mumbled something in reply but he never heard it as he bent down towards the trap door. He yelled and Tonks screamed. They certainly hadn’t been expecting that.
Albus Dumbledore was becoming rather amused. His plan was working perfectly and to somehow have convinced Cornelius to go along with it was a stroke of genius. Of course he would never allow his staff to make it all the way to the Fountain of Youth which, as Mad Eye had correctly said, was located under the third floor corridor. It would have been all too easy to take an overdose and either become an infant, losing all memory and intelligence at the same time, or they could even wipe themselves out completely. If such a thing should happen then they could never be born again which could cause infinite problems but they were not his, they were the problems of those foolish enough to seek out a fountain of which they knew relatively little.
The name was the giveaway of what the Fountain did, but there was no telling of how much of their age it would remove, or what it would do to their memories. They may desire to be young again but would it last and would they remember everything which they knew from their thirties when they were back to being seventeen?
Albus wasn’t bothered and observed Phineas skulking around his portrait with a feather duster; he had been attempting to keep things a little cleaner for a while now but it was clear he did not like the mocking of the other portraits. This was the fourth occasion that week when he had caught Phineas attempting to clean and, luckily for him, all the other portraits were either asleep or out visiting other portraits.
“I say Phineas, what a most marvellous feather duster!” he said loudly as he exited the room, going in search of his evening’s entertainment. The teachers were all in different parts of the school now and it was highly interesting watching them all go about their devious ways to beat each other to the Fountain. Indeed it was not just they who had desired entertainment on one boring afternoon, but he also. And at the moment he was getting the most fun and amusement out of the situation, far more than they could.
Albus Dumbledore’s eyes twinkled manically for a moment as he slipped into one of the passageways to the side.
Severus wasn’t pleased. He had just awoken on a cold stone floor with what felt like a broken nose and no sense of the time, the day or his current location. He dimly remembered being hit very hard by Argus after attempting to fool him with one of his less than ingenious plans, something he was rather regretting now.
He got to his feet although he was not sure how he managed to; the flow of blood was much faster than he would have liked or have thought possible. In fact there was a small pool of deep crimson below him and it did not give the best of impressions: the students’ most hated of professors walking around the school with a dark smile and sporting blood covered robes. Come to think of it that might be just what was needed to keep the damned morons out of his way…
It was this bizarre train of thought which led to Severus marching out of the mysterious passageway he had found himself in looking rather menacing and causing several Ravenclaw students to scream at the top of their lungs at the very sight of him.
He spun round at the sight of some bright blue hair disappearing up a set of staircases to the side of him and he was almost sure that he heard Mad Eye’s distinguishing growling laughter. Most likely at the expense of Auror Tonks, he decided as he followed them stealthily and suddenly decided that this was not the best course of action. He was following a man with a magical eye which could only too easily see through very thick walls. The aforementioned man was also extremely paranoid about being followed, especially by people covered in blood.
Severus decided that dying at the hands of the most paranoid member of the Order of the Phoenix was not high on his list of things to do that day and satisfied himself with taking a much longer route to their destination as he supposed it. The third floor corridor – the place of the Philosopher’s Stone, he remembered and ran through the second floor, attempting to reach the staircase at the far side of the school before they disappeared into the chamber on the underside of it.
Hoping that they would provide him with some protection of whatever obstacles they were sure to meet, Severus sped up slightly. He wanted to be with two highly trained individuals who could tackle whatever Dumbledore was throwing at them this time but at the same time he wanted more Youth for himself. This was a touch decision to make.
He had dallied far too long thinking of the idea and he heard screams from the floor above. Severus ran up the staircase and onto the third floor. The chamber in which the trapdoor was located was just to the side, although he would never have guessed what came oozing out of the door at that moment. He would also never have guessed that it would then go on to bursting through the door and carrying him down the corridor along with the two rather surprised Aurors. Nonetheless, that was exactly what happened. Severus was as surprised as Tonks when he began to laugh, despite the fact that he was now rather sticky and wet and yet he laughed. It was the strangest feeling but he carried on, letting his hysterics echo around the school.
A/N: I'm writing... I'm actually writing. Anyway, if you fancy an email when I update this then just leave your email in a review and I'll make sure you get notified when I post one of my rare chapters on this fic :o)
Next chapter coming soon with more on Minerva, Remus and Filius, Cornelius will make an appearence and Pomona Sprout and Thomadius Vector make a rather large mistake.
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