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The room that Scarabaeus Betelgeuse had called their “main base of operations" was larger than the chamber they came from. Rolls of parchment and quills were scattered on a table. The room was illuminated by a magical band of light that ran the entire way around the walls just beneath the low ceiling.

“Amazing, isn’t it?" Scarabaeus remarked while pointing at the lights, “This is an ancient light device we discovered here. Took us a while to find out exactly how it works, though."

“Most amazing" Snape replied wryly, “so which part of this parchment jungle will I have to dig through?"

"Erm, basically…well, all of it." Scarabaeus hesitated uneasily, then hurried to add, "Of course not all of this is really relevant, but the important parts are not, well, not all in one place."

The notes were even more chaotic than he had feared. It was a sad fact that the Dark Lord had to fall back upon third-class wizards to get the assistance he needed.

Three hours later the two of them had managed to assemble the information Severus needed to proceed with the spell-breaking.

“As I see it," he said, “you have broken through the Muggle protections so far, and we still have to deal with the enchantments that were set up to hide the papyrus from wizards."

“Yes, that’s the impression we got." Scarabaeus replied, “Depressing, thought, to think we are just a bit better than the average Muggle."

“It would certainly depress me," Snape agreed, already absorbed in the parchments.

“This magical shielding," he broke the concentrated silence about an hour later, “appears to have a centre where it is far stronger than on the edges. It seems you tried to penetrate it right in that centre, which was apparently not successful. We should now try the outer edges of the protection."

“Kind of sneak up from behind?" Scarabaeus asked, “I like that idea!"
“I believe you do," Snape retorted, sneering.

He now started muttering several spells that Scarabaeus had never heard before. They all sounded rather complicated, and he couldn’t think what effect they might have. After some time Snape stopped, shook his head and said, “We’ll have to make some drawings on the ground, the spells alone seem to be too weak. Get some chalk or something like that."

“We got chalk here somewhere," Scarabaeus replied, starting to search one of the drawers of the table; all of which seems to be stuffed with magical items at random. “What kind of patterns shall we draw?"

“It is known that of old certain circles, runes and other symbols, drawn while speaking the correct incantation, can make a spell stronger. I won’t explain the whole pattern to you, it’s rather complicated, but you can help."

“Ah, and here’s the chalk!" Scarabaeus exclaimed, “So what can I do?"

“Try to draw a circle, as close to perfectly round as you can, and speak ‘detego rem arcanam' while drawing it the whole time.

"Detego rem arcanam," Scarabaeus tested the spell, “I’ve never heard of that one before."

He started carefully drawing a circle on the ancient stone floor, repeating the incantation over and over. Ridiculous as this might have looked for a Muggle, he fulfilled his task diligently, glad to be of importance after all. Meanwhile, Severus Snape started on the runes within the round chalk line, and an hour later the floor was covered with difficult symbols of all kinds.

“That’s it now," he said, getting up from the floor, “I will try the revealing spell again."

Closing his eyes, he concentrated again and muttered something under his breath. He then stood silent for a moment, as though listening to something only he could hear.

“I think I’ve got it," he finally said to Scarabaeus, then held out one hand and spoke, “Accio papyrus!"

For some time nothing happened, and Scarabaeus already grew nervous. What would the Dark Lord do to him if the protecting curses killed Snape? But after a few minutes the stone wall shifted a bit, allowing something to pass through and land on Snape‘s hand. It was some kind of earthen vessel.

“So the recipe we were looking for is in that thing, and we can just take it out now?" Scarabaeus asked excitedly.

“Well, I wouldn’t ‘just take it out‘ exactly. I suppose there is some kind of poison inside the vessel which has to be neutralised," Snape answered, “But for that I will need quite a number of things you probably don’t have here. I will take the whole thing back to England."

“Well, I suppose that’s a good idea," Scarabaeus said disappointed, “I hope you’ll let me know how it all went on?"

“That will be for the Dark Lord to decide. But if the potion in the recipe works, he will certainly be very grateful to you."

Back outside they said goodbye and Snape apparated back to his small house at Spinner’s End.



He put the earthen vessel with the papyrus on his table, then fetched parchment, ink, and a quill and started writing:

My Lord,

with the support of Scarabaeus Betelgeuse I succeeded in retrieving the papyrus scroll you need. I will now go to Hogwarts because there I have the best chances of getting everything I need to brew the potion itself. I expect to give you the details in a personal meeting.

Yours,

Severus Snape


He rolled up the parchment, spoke a short sealing spell and tied it to the leg of a brown owl which had already been waiting. “Take this to our master," he told the owl and opened a window to let her fly out. Then he sat down again and wrote a new letter:

Dear Albus,

I expect to arrive at Hogwarts tomorrow night. I need to talk to you as soon as possible.

Yours,

Severus Snape


After the second owl had taken off he made himself comfortable in his armchair, summoning a glass of old elf-made wine, and laid back with a satisfied smile on his face.

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