Beta-reader: Vaughn 8. You Can See Clearly Now (the rain isn't gone) ':-:' 11th February 1997 Voldemort didn't even have to touch the door. One hissed word was enough and the handle answered, turning and granting the Dark Lord access to the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black. Bare walls and empty rooms greeted him. Silently and confidently, he strode across the hallway, heading towards the one door which would lead him towards the cellar. Anticipations soared high in his blackened heart, but Voldemort bit back on his maniac cackling. He wasn't finished yet. The stairs down to the cellar were dark and damp, the Lumos only helping so much. When Voldemort arrived in the circular room, though, he conjured a magical fire, letting it float in midair. The grimace marring his snakelike face could almost be considered a pleased smile. But only for a few seconds. Voldemort's features contorted into a furious snarl as he took in the whole room. It was covered in silvery werewolf hairs, large claws, dozens of rat skeletons – and a few bright feathers. There was no other sign of the phoenix. Rage was starting to come off Voldemort in heavy waves, but he didn't care. This wasn't supposed to happen! The wench had told him everything he needed to know about his final battle with the Potter boy, and the Black phoenix should have delivered him the means to end him once and for all. Where the hell was the blasted bird? Just then a low noise could be heard, causing Voldemort to turn around to the stairs. Someone had dared to cross his plans, and this someone was going to pay. "Carroty? Didn't I tell you not to venture down here..." Remus said, cursing the countless rats living down there, that were obviously so juicy, phoenixes and cats alike seemed unable to resist. His voice trailed off when he reached the last step, freezing in place and eyes growing wide. "Why, hello..." ':-:' Harry's lungs cramped, screaming for breath, as the boy fell to the floor in a heap. The connection between him and Snape cut off instantly, leaving him dizzy for only a second. Then he was back on his feet, rushing to the door in a mad dash. "Potter!" Snape bellowed, panting himself from the exertion. This Occlumency session had been the most exhausting by far. Snape had been taken off-guard as Potter's scar had suddenly started burning, not letting the Potions master stop the Legilimency Spell. He had been forced to watch the same scene as the boy, unable to do anything than watch as Lupin walked down directly into Voldemort's arms. "We've got to help him!" Potter cried, whirling around to face the Potions master, and Snape was dismayed to see that Potter's eyes had a wild look to them. "Voldemort's there! Remus will-" He choked. "Think for one second, boy!" Snape snarled. "How should Voldemort have gotten into the Order's Headquarters? There's no way! This has to be a false vision!" "No!" Potter said emphatically. "I hadn't had a false vision for months! This was real!" Snape took a quick breath, thinking. It was possible. The Occlumency lesson could have weakened Potter's mind for a few minutes, enough time for Voldemort to break into his head again – unwittingly or not. That would be a big coincidence, though. Potter dashed back to the door, saying, "I'm going to tell Dumbledore." Snape, ever the quick thinker, spelled the door shut and sound-proof. "No," he said. "You're going to stay right here. I'm going to see what's going on in the Headquarters. Do you understand, Potter? You're not to leave this office until I am back." "But why-?" Potter said. "I'm not-" "Don't waste any more time," Snape snarled, moving to throw some special Floo powder into his fireplace. "If I'm not back within the hour, Floo to the Gryffindor common room. Don't talk to anyone, especially not Dumbledore." And then the green flames consumed Snape, leaving behind a bewildered Potter. But Snape was on a mission to reassure that the Boy-Who-Lived would keep on doing so, that's why Snape didn't concern himself with the confusion of the boy. As the swirling of the flames came to a halt, Snape stumbled out of the hearth in number twelve, Grimmauld Place. His thoughts didn't follow their example, though. The Potions master hadn't wanted to voice them, he hadn't even wanted to just think them, but he couldn't help it. If it was true – if this had really happened – then there was only one possible explanation: the Keeper must have spilled his Secret. Clearing his mind, Snape rushed to the cellar he had only been to once. He took out his wand, casting a strong Disillusionment Charm on himself, making it appear as if he were nothing but thin air. When he reached the circular room in the lower house, though, there was nothing in it. No Lupin, no evidence of a fight, and certainly no Voldemort. Snape scowled and went back up. Potter would see himself on the receiving end of some dozens detentions for that lie. No vision in months, oh yes, sure! And Snape had even bought it... Just as the man's teeth threatened to crush themselves, Snape heard a pitiful meowing and screeching coming from the kitchen. Only seconds later, the painting of Mrs. Black was screaming herself. "You disgusting animal!" she shrieked. "Now you got what you deserve! Die and join your foul friends!" Snape's blood froze at that. He rushed to the kitchen, trying not to think about what he might find. When he entered the kitchen it was empty – no Voldemort – as the non-existent throbbing of his Dark Mark had already suggested. Then Snape saw some movement from the corner of his eye - something small and furry – Lupin's cat. Sitting and now once again mewling next to the body of her master. Snape found himself hurrying to the prone man, hoping that he wasn't too late. Too many deaths were on his conscious already; he didn't need Potter blaming him for this one, too. Lupin was awfully quiet - unlike his ginger cat and the painting - and motionless on the floor. Snape's finger were hesitant to test his pulse, but when he brushed them against Lupin's throat, he released his unconsciously held breath. There was a heartbeat, however weak at the moment. "Be quiet!" Snape hissed at the cat, shoving it out of the way. Lupin felt cold, but there was no blood, no open wounds suggesting what had happened to him. Curses, hexes, internal injuries? Snape wasn't a medi-wizard; he had no idea how to help people. He needed Pomfrey. But as the Hogwarts' matron was no member of the Order, Snape would be forced to bring Lupin back to school. Snape conjured a stretcher, levitating the werewolf onto it and transporting him back into the drawing room. Then he thought of something. Quickly Snape ran to the library and brought the aged phoenix to the drawing room, trying to bring it to spill a few tears. The bird didn't cooperate, though. After twenty seconds, the Potions master lost his nerves, drew his wand and cast a spell that that forced the phoenix to cry, as he was holding it over Lupin. The clear drops hit Lupin's cheek, his forehead and his lips, but there was no reaction. Lupin stayed still. Snape left the phoenix on the floor then, cocooning the werewolf in a Protecting Spell, enabling him to travel with Floo securely. ':-:' Harry was pacing the floor in front of the door when Snape finally returned to his office. Worry was etched deeply into the boy's face as he wrung his hands, unsure of what to do. He was not used to staying useless when he knew – or even suspected – that someone he cared for was injured. He was glad that Snape had wanted to use this additional DADA lesson for some Occlumency training time. "What happened?" Harry asked immediately, rounding on the Potions master, even as the older man was brushing the soot from his robes. "Is Remus all right? Was it Voldemort? Did he really get into the house?" "Lupin is safe for now," Snape said, scowling at the boy's fidgeting. "Is he hurt?" Harry demanded, eyes growing wide at the telltale silence. "Where is he? I want to see him." "You can't see him now," Snape said. "Lupin's in a secret room." "A secret-" Harry repeated. "But why does he need a Secret Keeper? That's just-" "That's not important at the moment," Snape interrupted firmly. "We've got a bigger problem at hand. Someone managed to get into the Headquarters – even I doubt that Lupin managed to do that to himself. Whether that someone was Voldemort or someone else is not important. Someone managed. But not alone. Secret places tend to be untraceable, as even you might know, Potter." Tick. Tick. "My God," Harry whispered, the bomb dropping, and staggered back a few steps. He realised the implications of that statement, and it was like a blow to the stomach. "Dumbledore?" he breathed in shock. Then he shook his head. "Impossible." "Nothing is sure," Snape said. "We have to be cautious, however. More so than ever." ':-:' Harry was still repeating Snape's words in his head, hours later walking to the kitchen to get something to eat. Only half a year ago, Harry wouldn't have listened to Snape at all, and now he was forced to trust him even more than Dumbledore. It was very strange. But he could see the point. How could Voldemort – Harry was convinced it was Him, because of his vision - get past the Fidelius Charm? He had managed it once, after Peter Pettigrew had sold out Harry's parents. But this time? Dumbledore was the Secret Keeper of the Order's Headquarters. He couldn't have sold them out. That was ludicrous. Impossible. Maybe Voldemort managed to get the information somehow... Maybe someone had forgotten to burn the paper containing the information? Harry didn't know. His head was spinning, worry about Remus on the forefront. Snape hadn't really managed to ease his mind, but Harry hadn't been expecting him to either. And now the boy was in front of the portrait, tickling the pear that would grant him access to the kitchen. A few minutes later saw Harry seated at a small table, an array of delicious food in front of him and Dobby beside him. Harry's stomach growled – he hadn't eaten since breakfast – and the boy started with some roast beef sandwiches. "Is Harry Potter, sir, wanting something else?" Dobby asked eagerly, fingers clasped together and rocking on his socked feet. "No, thanks," Harry said, swallowing quickly and reaching for his pumpkin juice. "Not even something sweet?" Dobby wheedled. "Dobby has been making apple cake!" Mildly exasperated, Harry turned around to the house-elf. "It's all right, Dobby," he said, voice getting slower as he caught sight of something peculiar. There was something sticking inside of Dobby's 'hat', which was really just some oversized green-blue striped sock. "What's that?" he asked, pointing with his chicken leg towards the creature's head. Dobby blanched, looking distinctly close to smashing his face into some solid object or another. "Nothing!" he said quickly. "Dobby needs to do the laundry now, sir, Mister Harry Potter, sir!" Harry frowned. "You can't tell me?" he asked. "Okay, you don't have to," he said, even as he thought why Dobby would have reason not to tell him. What could be so important that the elf couldn't tell Harry Potter, whom he adored like no one else? ':-:' When Harry reached Gryffindor Tower, it was quite late already. He hadn't encountered any patrolling teachers or Filch, so he was unprepared when he caught sight of a figure huddled together in a dark spot. It was Neville, and he was snoring softly. Harry sighed. The portraits no longer opened up after curfew – just one of many security measures after the Howler incident over Christmas -, so Neville must have either stayed out for too long or, which was more likely, nobody had been down in the common room to hear his knocking as the boy once again forgot the password. Shaking his head, Harry spelled the portrait open – he was the only student able to do so, seeing as his additional training sessions ended usually long after curfew -, cast a Sleeping Charm on Neville, and levitated him into the dorm. Once he was settled in his own bed, Harry let the weariness engulf him. It wouldn't take very much longer, he knew. Everything was building up to a great crescent: Harry's training, Voldemort's scheming, and the people's anxiousness. Voldemort had been laying low for long enough. Harry was convinced that with Remus' assault, things would change quickly. The boy sighed, turning on his side to be able to gaze out of the magical window. It was cold outside, and Harry snuggled deeper into his blankets. From his position, he could overlook the lawn in front of Hogwarts. On the other side of the castle, a huge cemetery was situated. 'Potter's Field,' it read in rusty letters, housing nameless bodies that couldn't be buried in Hogsmeade or anywhere else. Harry sometimes wondered whether the name would prove prophetic. When Harry wasn't wondering about his own death, he thought about those of others. The only thing he liked about magical wars was that it wouldn't get bloody – hopefully. Not for the first – and, certainly, not for the last time – Harry asked himself which students would fight for the Dark side, because there would be peers he would be facing off against, he knew. He Knew many things he had never wanted to know, nor wanted confirmed. Draco Malfoy – along with his girlfriend Pansy Parkinson – had not returned to Hogwarts after the Christmas holidays. Harry couldn't really say he was surprised. He wanted to, but some things were just destined to be, whereas others weren't. ':-:' 12th February 1997 Wednesdays were Harry's favourite days of the whole week – even better than Sundays, where he had time to study, because he didn't have to endure Snape. After Charms, Harry, Ron and Hermione had a free period of time they usually spend together in the library. This Wednesday was no different - almost. "Remus was injured," Harry said without preamble when they'd claimed their usual spot in the back of the library. He hadn't had the time to tell them before, and he was feeling awful about the knowledge that he couldn't do anything but tell his friends about their ex-Professor's condition. And Harry didn't know much about that either. "What?" Ron said, as Hermione looked up from the books she'd laid out on the table. "What happened?" "Voldemort," Harry said, ignoring Ron's obligatory flinch at the name. "He broke into Grimmauld Place, went into the cellar and nearly killed Remus..." Harry hadn't realised the similarities before, but now that he told Ron and Hermione about yesterday, he couldn't help the feeling that the cellar Voldemort was in and the one he'd seen in Snape's memories were fairly familiar. He decided to leave this bit for later. "How is he now?" Hermione asked, eyes glowing with concern. "I don't even know. I was in the dungeons with Snape, training in Occlumency when a vision struck. Snape left to check up at Headquarters, then he came back and told me Remus is in a secret room to recover." Ron and Hermione sat in shocked silence, trying to absorb everything. Finally, Hermione breathed, "That's impossible." Harry grimly shook his head. "What's impossible?" Ron asked, looking from Hermione to Harry and back. "Voldemort couldn't have managed to break into Grimmauld Place," Hermione said. "It's under the Fidelius Charm. So, there's only one way he could have done it..." She left the sentence hanging in the air. It took a few seconds for Ron to catch on. "Dumbledore?" he breathed. "But – that doesn't make any sense. That's just – illogical – wrong - impossible... Couldn't it be possible that You-Know-Who broke the Fidelius?" Hermione frowned, looking over to Harry. "It happened yesterday, right?" At Harry's nod, she sighed. "Yesterday was February the 11th." "Yes, and today is February the 12th. Other than it's two days before Valentine's Day, it doesn't say much," Ron said. "The 11th of February is the second Tuesday in February, the second day in the second month," Hermione explained and sighed once more. She averted her gaze and leafed through her Arithmancy book. "You remember the train ride to Hogwarts, don't you?" she said. "Luna's words and – everything else." She reached the site she had searched for. Her eyes were grave as she fixed her gaze on Ron and then Harry. "The number two is an incredibly powerful number in Arithmancy, and Luna's words made me look some things up. There were some wrongs – my number's one and Ron is six, for instance -, Harry's number was indeed two, though. I calculated a few things through – the result is not something I would have guessed. You were born on the 31st of July in 1980, Harry. My calculations showed that two is not only your birthnumber, it's also the cross sum of both your birthday, as well as when I add your birthyear. That's pretty rare, Harry." Harry sighed. "What's new?" he asked quietly. "What's that to do with anything?" "It means that the biggest events in your life might – and I mean might because even Arithmancy is not exact in this category – happen on days were the number two is essential. You were born on a two-heavy date. Your – your parents were killed exactly two years after you were conceived. Those two dates' cross sum's difference is exactly two. It's everywhere, Harry. And yesterday was the second Tuesday of February. Voldemort broke into Grimmauld Place and Lupin was hurt. I wasn't sure whether this Arithmancy branch was reliable, but now... I think it might be possible." "It sounds an awful lot like Divination," Ron said condescendingly. "Making calculations with dates and foreseeing the future or telling about past happenings..." he trailed off at Hermione's glare. "It's nothing like Divination," she said emphatically. "It's all about Numerology. The same difference as in Astronomy and Astrology. Honestly, Ron..." "It sounds like something – Trelawney – would have said, though," said Harry haltingly. The Trelawney-topic was still not something he liked to think – let alone talk – about. "It's perfectly serious magic," Hermione said again. "It's just that the numbers don't always play such big parts in everyone's life – which makes Numerology quite unsure." It was enough for Harry to think about. A wounded Remus, a potential leak in the Order, and now a calculation divining his life. Harry was not shocked, merely mildly surprised by these happenings. If his life so far had taught him anything at all, it was to expect the unexpected. ':-:' 13th February 1997 Harry was trying to have a peaceful breakfast whilst deciding on whether he should confront Snape before or after lunch, questioning Remus's whereabouts once again. This lethargy, slowly seeping into his bones, was making Harry crazy. Despite all the training, the usual classes, the stress, he couldn't help feeling useless. He needed to see Remus for himself. Snape's reassurances of "he's safe" didn't do much for the boy's mind. The safest place had been the Order's Headquarters, in Harry's opinion. You could see how far that got Remus. Harry's quiet meal was abruptly disrupted by Hermione plopping down next to him. She looked out of breath, as if she had been running from the Tower all the way to the Great Hall. She didn't give Harry the time to greet her, let alone ask why she seemed in such a hurry. "I made some more calculations," Hermione said, leaning closer to Harry and dropping her voice even lower, "and I know when Voldemort is going to strike." ':-:' "My Lord," Snape said, dropping to his knees in order to kiss the hem of the Dark Lord's robes. "Everything went smoothly, I assume?" Voldemort said softly, eyes burning down on the Potions master, who didn't dare meet his gaze. "Yes, my Lord," Snape said. "Lupin is at Hogwarts, still in a magical coma. Madam Pomfrey is still not able to improve his condition." Which was a lie, but Voldemort didn't need to know that. It had taken a lot of Poppy's time, but she'd managed to determine the numerable curses that were placed on Lupin. He would be able to wake of his slumber in a few hours and be the same as before. "Very well." Voldemort moved quietly across the room, reclaiming his stone throne. "You may rise, Severusss..." He fixed the dark-haired professor with a chilling gaze, quietly marvelling at the other's ability to obscure his thoughts so well. Not that it would help, naturally. "How wasss Dumbledore's reaction to all of thisss?" "He was not pleased," Snape replied, allowing a small smirk to play at the corner of his thin mouth. "The next Order meetings will be held at Hogwarts." "Excellent." Voldemort's bony fingers flexed against the stone armrests. "Excellent, indeed. The spy – sss – at Hogwarts." Voldemort smirked, and it was not pretty. "Dumbledore is such a fool, so predictable. Tell me, Severus: How does Dumbledore suppose I acquired access to Grimmauld Place? Does he suspect you, my little double spy?" Snape swallowed dryly, not showing his unease at the address. He was used by now to Voldemort's little mind games to draw him out. Voldemort knew that Snape spied for both parties, he was just not aware where his alliances truly lay. "Dumbledore says he suspects no one," Snape said with a sneer, as if the thought alone was laughable. "So, he suspects everyone." Voldemort smiled, a terrible grimace when someone doesn't have lips, as if he hadn't expected otherwise. "Such a fool," he said softly, almost gently. "Cannot see what is right in front of his eyes..." He traced off, and Snape knew he was dismissed. He went to respectfully kiss the robes' hem once more, before Disapparating until further notice. Voldemort's words kept echoing in Snape's head. 'Cannot see what is right in front of his eyes...' Snape couldn't say he was seeing much more, to be frank. After the confirmation that Voldemort had indeed been at the Order's Headquarters, Snape had wreaked his brain for explanations. How could it be possible? How? Answers, one more outrageous than the next, kept popping up, and Snape was nowhere near the resolve to his problem. And now Voldemort's cryptic words. It didn't make sense. '... right in front of his eyes...' There was nothing in front of his eyes! '... eyes...' Snape stopped abruptly in the middle of the Forbidden Forest. His eyes were unseeing as he listened to the hissing of the wind. '...eyesss...' There was a sound to the left, maybe a snake, Snape wasn't paying attention. '... spy – sss...' Had he heard correctly? Had Voldemort said spies instead of spy? Snape had thought he was the only Death Eater at Hogwarts, but his Lord's words made him begin to doubt that. But who? And what was right in front of his eyes, Dumbledore's eyes? Who was at Hogwarts, who hadn't been there earlier? What was in front of his eyes? Snape raised his head and gazed at the stars, searching for an answer. And She gave it to him, when he caught sight of the moon.
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