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Dance by the Light of the Moon, pt. 2 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Dance by the Light of the Moon, pt. 2
Part One

Marauders, sixth year. It's October, leading up to the Prank, but all they know so far is that Sirius's behavior is more erratic than usual, and Regulus has been trying to prove the family's loyalty by consenting to humiliating hazing himself whenever Sirius taunts Snape. Sirius hits Snape over an episode of this, but when Snape throws back a Cutting Curse, he accidentally hits an animal in Care of Magical Creatures. Since that's all Professor Kettleburn saw, only Snape is punished--a week's detention, and, worse, a letter to his father.




Letter from Siseal Snape to Severus Snape.
...That you have disrupted a teacher's routine and shamed yourself in so doing is quite enough as it is, but what your Professor Kettleburn describes as your infraction is beyond my ability to tolerate. We have discussed theses curses you know all too frequently, these things your mother taught you. You will not use them. There is no compromise with Dark Arts. The school authorities are willing to be considerably more lax than I would be, were you at home. While it would grieve me to see my only child in Azkaban, do not imagine I would hesitate to do my duty on your behalf, any more than I hesitated on your mother's...





Severus wasn't watching where he was going, and he had no excuse for it. After five years of ever-less-amusing pranks and jokes at his expense, he was normally wary of any path that seemed too clear, any task that appeared to be too easy. But he'd spent dinner struggling with his Transfiguration homework, trying to finish a particularly complex problem involving changing loose particles into a solid form, and as he walked down toward the paddock for detention, his eyes were sore and his head was throbbing, and he was going over his work for the sixth time, trying to find the spot where his theory was off, because in practice, he was thoroughly unable to make the spell work.

A part of him still wanted to take it to Bellatrix Black for help, not because she was a brilliant Transfiguration student, though she was. No, Bellatrix would take the problem and form a real talk from it. Severus even knew how it would go. She would take the box of dust that McGonagall had given him, and let a handful of it flow through her fingers. Dust, she would say. The end of everything, when everything has finally broken down... shapeless and gray, substance that isn't substance. Of course it can't be made solid again! When they grind us down to nothing, what is there left to cause us to be? Then she would put the dust back into the box, work the spell properly, and say, But we won't be dust. We will never be dust. And she would draw out something beautiful--a gold necklace, possibly, or a marble sculpture.

If Severus could learn to work the spell, he would give the talk, but he would never be able to give it as she would. Those who remained of Bella's group knew that when Lucius Malfoy had left Severus in charge of these periodic reminders (Narcissa Black lacked her sister's charisma with groups, though she was always good for one-on-one conversations) and they listened when he told them to listen--he had always been able to make people listen--but they wouldn't be touched. He couldn't seem to touch people as Bella and even Lucius had.

Still... it wasn't a bad lesson. He would give it if he could just find where in the spell theory he'd--

The world flipped over.

As he stepped down onto the final slope that led to the paddock, the grass seemed to become a slick patch of ice. His feet slid out from under him and he flailed gracelessly to keep his balance, his Transfiguration notes flapping in one tightly clenched fist. There was no purchase. He came down with a solid smack into a bit of slushy mud near the paddock, his wrists sore from catching his full weight, his notes drenched and illegible.

His momentum carried him further, pushing him up against the wall that Black had threatened him at earlier. Thin lines of light appeared on the stones:

"Have a comfortable detention, Snivellus. Regards, JP."

The words flashed red and gold, then disappeared.

Severus glared up at the castle, where the lights of Gryffindor Tower were starting to glimmer for the evening. Potter wasn't as easy to reach as Black--Black's brother had a knack for getting under his skin--but he would be reached.

Splashing sounds came from the paddock's equipment shed, and then Kettleburn was helping him to his feet. "Are you all right? That was quite a spill! Did you hurt yourself?"

"What do you care?"

Kettleburn shook his head. "If that's the way you want it, Severus. Come into the equipment shed. You can dry yourself off before you begin. Was there a curse?"

"No, sir," Severus said evenly. He had long ago learned that there would be no evidence left. "I just tripped."

After he dried off, Kettleburn set him to bandaging injured Dugbogs. The purpose of this was unclear to Severus; the animals were utterly useless. But it was an assignment, and he did it accurately. Kettleburn let him out shortly before nine o'clock, and he made his way back to the Slytherin common room to sit in front of the fire and try to piece together whatever he could from his Transfiguration notes. He changed into fresh clothes and left the muddy robes he'd been wearing for Regulus Black to clean. Granted, it hadn't been his brother who had set the trap, but it was certainly because of his brother, so Severus didn't feel particularly guilty about this. Regulus was anxious to prove himself, anyway. An overeager first year named Barty Crouch--the son of the man currently persecuting pure-blood loyalists at the Ministry--pestered for a talk about beating back the Mudbloods, but Snape glared at him until he went away (straight to Narcissa, who started speaking to him amiably enough, though of course she trusted him no more than Severus did).

He squinted at the blurred lines of his notes, trying to make some kind of sense of the running ink. It had to do with imposing shapes. They'd be going into Conjuring sometime within the next week and if he didn't get the gist of this--

"No."

Severus looked up. Regulus Black was standing in front of him, the bundle of muddy robes Severus had left for him held out in one hand.

"What do you mean, no?" Severus asked.

"I mean, no. I'm not going to take care of your dirty clothes for you. That's what house elves are for--real ones--and this isn't anywhere that anyone sees, so it's just... well, it wouldn't be proving anything." Regulus took a deep breath, and gulped. His hands were shaking. "I heard that the curse you threw at my brother killed a Dugbog."

"It wouldn't kill a wizard. People absorb some of the force of it. The most it would have done is give him a shaving nick."

This seemed to stump Regulus momentarily. Beyond him, Severus could see Narcissa looking over Barty's head with vague curiosity. She hadn't interfered one way or the other with her cousin's efforts to make up for his brother's shortcomings, but she did seem interested in knowing just how far he would take it.

Regulus found his voice. "Still... I... Well, I don't think you should have done it. He's a pure-blood. We shouldn't be attacking one another."

"I suggest you share that theory with your brother."

Regulus nodded. "I know. I try. Really. He's just... you don't know him."

"Don't I?"

"I guess... Well..." He set the bundle of robes on the footstool by the fire. "I'm not going to clean the robes," he said. "That's all."

"As you like."

"Really?"

"I've no interest in forcing you to do anything. If your loyalty is to your brother before your House, then that's your affair." Snape waved him off, and bent over his Transfiguration notes again. Narcissa turned away without much interest and went back to her conversation with Barty.

After nearly an hour more, Severus thought he had the basics of the spell theory. It was too late to do anything with it tonight in terms of speaking, so he went up to his dormitory, intending to at least get some practice in before tomorrow's class. Terrance MacDougal was the only only one still awake; he jabbed his elbow up toward the narrow windows at the top of the room. "Owl," he grunted. "Came earlier."

Severus looked up slowly, already knowing what he would see.

Father's owl was a common barn owl, but it had never been permitted to have a feather out of place, and had developed a habit of picking at itself meticulously to meet Father's standards. It hadn't been given a name. Father thought it improper to address non-speaking creatures by human names.

It swooped down to the table beside Severus's bed, and dropped the letter it held in its beak.

At least it wasn't a Howler. Father didn't care for yelling.

Severus picked it up, then tossed it onto his bed disdainfully. The owl stared at him severely.

"You're to stay until I open it?"

The stare continued.

"Very well." Severus opened the letter.

He didn't notice his fingers tightening on the parchment until it tore, somewhere around Father's less-than-veiled threat to send him to Azkaban, a threat Severus knew full well wasn't empty. Father, paragon of the fight against the Old Magic, tireless advocate of good over evil, had sent his own wife to prison, and he had presumably cared for her at some point. Severus lacked even that advantage.

You will return this letter, along with your reply, Father had written. You will not repeat this behavior, and you will take what punishment your teachers see fit to impose with gratitude that they are taking care to instruct you in this matter. I assure you, you will prefer their methods to my own. With regret, Your Father.

Severus almost balled the letter up and tossed it aside, almost burned it. But he would hear of it again if he didn't follow instructions. There was a large blank space at the bottom of the parchment, and he wrote:

Thank you for your letter, Father. I have no plans to further injure school creatures. If it eases your mind to know it, my loyalties are unquestioned here.

He re-sealed the letter and returned it to the owl, sending the bird back into the night, hoping it would wake Father up with a sharp peck to the face.

"Was that about the Dugbog?" Terrance asked, shaking his head. "Did us a favor, as far as I can see. Who needs more of the little ankle-biters, anyway?"

Severus didn't answer. He had never cared for his dormitory-mates and didn't think the contents of the letter were any of Terrance's concern. He took out the box of dust from McGonagall's lesson to practice, but was unable to change it at all.

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Comments
lizbee From: lizbee Date: April 13th, 2005 05:41 am (UTC) (Link)
One of the things I love most about your fic is the way it reminds me of the things I loved when I first entered the fandom. Marauder-era fic with an interesting Snape being high on the list. I don't think I've ever seen this version of Snape's family history before, yet it seems so perfect. *fangirls like whoa*
azaelia_culnamo From: azaelia_culnamo Date: April 13th, 2005 11:59 am (UTC) (Link)
Here, here! I used to like MWPP fics, and then I got tired of them all basically being the same thing. I tried writing one, but in the end, had no ambition for it. So finding the odd MWPP fic I like is really nice. :)
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: April 13th, 2005 05:54 am (UTC) (Link)
I love Snape's total concentration on trying to figure out where his theory is off... and I love what his motivation for wanting to get it right is. You've written him so that there's such a fine balance between feeling sorry for him, and not. I also really enjoy your characterisations of Regulus and of Narcissa... and I don't know if I've mentioned this before but I love the way that you slip canon characters in so smoothly - the younger Barty Crouch in this case, but the other example that comes immediately to mind is Tonks's chapter in Of A Sort, with half of the Irish Quidditch team in cameos on the train! :)

Edit things that I caught:

We have discussed theses curses you know all too frequently - theses=these

If Severus could learn to work the spell, he would give the talk, but he would never be able to give it as she would. Those who remained of Bella's group knew that when Lucius Malfoy had left Severus in charge of these periodic reminders (Narcissa Black lacked her sister's charisma with groups, though she was always good for one-on-one conversations) and they listened when he told them to listen--he had always been able to make people listen--but they wouldn't be touched. He couldn't seem to touch people as Bella and even Lucius had.
...something missing around the parentheses, somewhere.

I'm really enjoying this so far, Fern... and looking forward to seeing where you'll go with it next. :)
siegeofangels From: siegeofangels Date: April 13th, 2005 09:38 am (UTC) (Link)
Daaaayyyum.

That's some delicious creepy backstory, there.
sreya From: sreya Date: April 13th, 2005 01:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
An overeager first year named Barty Crouch--the son of the man currently persecuting pure-blood loyalists at the Ministry--pestered for a talk about beating back the Mudbloods, but Snape glared at him until he went away (straight to Narcissa, who started speaking to him amiably enough, though of course she trusted him no more than Severus did).

Good grief, with just that one sentence you've reawakened my Crouch fascination. Barty Crouch was the character who drew me into writing HP fic in the first place.

Probably a good thing, since it's making me look at Fideles again and realize that Bella's almost completely overshadowed him in the plot line. I need to rework that again

It's strange, but these particular two HP villains really grab at my attention. I think it's the contrast of the pre-Azkaban and post-Azkaban personalities. When we see them in the pensieve in GoF, Bella is regal and Barty is blubbering, and yet both come out of their imprisonments with the deepest fanaticism for their lord. There's clearly a serious flaw with the wizarding justice system. Between Sirius being imprisoned when he was innocent, and the way imprisonment hones villains, rather than suppressing or rehabilitating... something's clearly wrong here.
jetamors From: jetamors Date: April 14th, 2005 03:40 am (UTC) (Link)
As a Snape fan, this really hits the spot. I really like how you show him; he's the Snape from canon, but he's fifteen at the same time. Also, yay backstory!
eir_de_scania From: eir_de_scania Date: April 14th, 2005 09:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
Nice fic, and very IC! And I appreciate you making Peter as a part of MWPP! I will definitely be following it.
izhilzha From: izhilzha Date: April 18th, 2005 09:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
Whoa. Not really a background I've seen for Snape before--but so very believeable.

I cannot wait for more of this!
summoner_lenne9 From: summoner_lenne9 Date: January 20th, 2008 07:01 am (UTC) (Link)
I love your fics Fern, all your endless plot bunnies, and it does make me very sad than this one died before it even really got going.

*Sighs*
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