Tangible Schizophrenia


The Black Road VII: No Stone Unburied

Author: Guede Mazaka
Rating: PG-13. Mention of torture.
Pairing: Sirius/Severus, implied Harry/Lucius
Feedback: Good lines, typos, etc.
Disclaimer: These characters are J. K. Rowling’s, not mine.
Notes: AU. Does refer to all the books up to HP:HBP, and does not draw on the movies except for visuals (because the only one I ever saw was the first).
Summary: Voldemort puts his plans in motion, Severus lays his, and Harry sits back to watch.


“Heaven and earth are ruthless, and treat the myriad creatures as straw dogs; the sage is ruthless, and treats the people as straw dogs.”
--Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

* * *

In a rare moment of commonsense, Voldemort allowed Severus to take Black to his estate. While doing so, he let slip a hint to the effect that Harry seemed to have some restrictions on his powers—namely, he had problems entering places he hadn’t been before—and so Severus let down his guard a little once they were safely within the estate wards. He’d gained ownership of it after Harry had died, so there was no way Potter could have ever been to the place before.

Severus deposited Black, who seemed near-comatose, in a guest bedroom and ordered the nearest pair of house-elves to see to the man’s care and feeding. Then he withdrew to his library.

He’d had a very little spare time in between working on Black’s resurrection and he’d used it to track down the few references to horcruxes that existed. Now he sat down and pulled out his notes, reviewing them against his memory, which was blurred and fragmented by a week of almost no sleep and unending work. When he’d finished, he called for some whiskey.

After he’d had a glass, he tossed his notes aside and got down on his knees before the fireplace to light a fire. It had been kept scrupulously clean, he noted, so at least he didn’t have household problems to add to his list of worries.

As soon as the fire was going, he tried calling Lucius on a secured private line of theirs. He kept his wand at hand in case he ran up against some detection spell or ward of Voldemort’s; he wasn’t entirely clear on what treatment Voldemort was meting out to the other man.

The flames turned black and Severus immediately lifted his wand to untraceably end the call, but suddenly they cleared and Lucius’ head appeared in the flame. He looked exhausted, and strands of his hair had been pulled out of his braid to loop in front of his face. I’d almost forgotten about this, he said. One hand absently went up to push the locks out of his face. Well, has our other lord and master ordered you to contact me, or did you act on your own initiative and call up to gloat?

“How safe is it for us to use this line?” Severus asked, ignoring Lucius’ sarcasm. “I heard Greyback was killed on your property.”

Lucius flinched. Then he rubbed at his face with his hand and let out a cracked chuckle. Pure rumor. He was killed about two yards from my property line. You see, Harry’s never been here, and he’d need an invitation. Of course, even if I’d had time to mention that to Greyback, I doubt he would have taken me seriously.

“Sir?” said a timid voice.

When Severus whipped around, the house-elf almost tripped itself in its haste to get back into the hall. “Gimpy is so sorry, sir, but sir is telling Gimpy to say when the guest is stirring, and—”

“Thank you, Gimpy. Leave. I want privacy.” Severus turned back to the fire with gritted teeth. He saw Lucius smiling and nearly lost his temper. Even if the smile lacked any good humor, he found it unsuitable to their situation. “For Merlin’s sake, Lucius—if you’re going to have a breakdown, have it and get it over with. We can’t waste time.”

Feeling a bit nervy, now that Voldemort’s made you Harry’s second least-favorite person after himself? Thankfully, Lucius immediately followed that snide comment up with a dry but concise summary of what his research had yielded and some of his conclusions. He probably was holding back a good deal, but basically everything he did care to reveal dovetailed with Severus’ own findings. He also related the skeleton version of his latest visit from Potter, which made Severus inwardly knot up. I think he’s in contact with Draco, he concluded.

If that were true, then either Draco had finally learned the lessons his elders had been trying to force into him or he was a good deal more broken than Severus remembered. “That might be his best chance.”

Why, Severus, are you growing a sense of optimism this late? Lucius replied. He abruptly glanced over his shoulder, then turned back with a worried expression fading from his face. Have you located any of the Horcruxes?

After rechecking the security of their line, Severus leaned forward. “I’ve seen the Hufflepuff cup. Voldemort keeps it in his…resting chamber at his private estate.”

Lucius wasn’t so shaken that he missed the catch in Severus’ voice. His eyebrow rose. I don’t suppose you also know whether he wears the locket. I think now I’m rather glad he never favored me with such…attentions.

“I do not know, and I suppose your opinion comes from firsthand experience,” Severus acidly replied. He took a small pleasure in watching Lucius twitch; the other man unconsciously lifted his hand to rub along his jaw, where Harry had cut him with his own cane. “What kind of guard are you under?”

Spells, mostly. Patchwork now, which is why your call came through, but I believe they’re sending Macnair over to properly do the place. They’re also evacuating Narcissa and Bella, much to my wife’s displeasure. Lucius shrugged. But Voldemort prefers not to lose any more of his Death-Eaters to Harry. That rather leaves me out of the horcrux-tracking, but I think I’ll busy myself with finding out what Potter is.

“The quickest way would be to ask him.” Severus ended the call before the spreading outrage on Lucius’ face could result in speech.

He spent another few minutes making certain that his call couldn’t be traced back before he doused the fire and headed for the guest bedroom.

The last time Severus had seen Black, the man hadn’t reacted even to a finger prying up his eyelid to lightly touch the white of his eye. If Severus hadn’t been able to hear Black’s wheezing, he might have thought him dead. So he didn’t take any special precautions when he walked into the room.

Then he saw that the bed was empty, and he immediately took out his wand and whirled to put his back against the nearest solid piece of furniture. He carefully scanned the room.

A shadow lurched from the far wall and Severus nearly hexed it to kingdom come. Then it dissolved into one of the pale strips of light in the room and he saw it wasn’t Potter.

Black looked…cleaner. Severus had ordered the house-elves to inform him if the man hadn’t eaten so Black must have, but it didn’t look as if that had made any difference. Lank black hair hung in Black’s face so Severus couldn’t get a good look at Black’s eyes till the other man had staggered to the bed. There Black seemed to mean only to lean against the side, but he stumbled and fell so he was hanging off it by the arms. In the process some of his hair flopped out of his face, and Severus could see some kind of intelligence looking back at him.

“Snape,” Black said. His voice was slurred, hoarse, and yet carried a distinct tang of hostility. “The hell am I doing here?”

Severus lowered his wand, but kept it in hand. “You died three years ago, Black. You’re probably not up to the explanation.”

“Bullshit. I could watch, you know. I know what happened.” Either Black was telling the truth, or his time…wherever…had twisted his mind so much that he readily accepted anything now. The way he glowered at Severus as he clawed his way onto the bed indicated the former. “I…” His eyes spaced out and grew dreamy. “Three years? I…I’ve already been to Azkaban, right? That’s already happened?”

Of course, it always could be a combination of the two. But Severus found himself less ill-pleased than he—all right, he would have been near ecstatic with relief if he’d not maimed that capability to uselessness years ago. He hadn’t failed.

He pushed his wand back up his sleeve and came over to the bed, waiting till Black made the inevitable lunge at him. Once the man had, Severus slipped to the side and seized Black’s jaw, tilting it upwards so he could examine Black’s pupils. They were rapidly flickering from wide and round to needlepoints. “You can thank Voldemort for resurrecting you.”

Strangely enough, Black’s reaction was to sob, with enough force that Severus nearly dropped him. Suddenly long bony fingers—Severus reminded himself they belonged to an arrogant nuisance--banded his arms so the flesh trapped beneath them went numb. “Oh, my God, James and Lily…but they killed him. They—Pettigew! I’ll rip that bastard’s throat—”

“Black!” Severus snapped, now more than a little disturbed. He gave the man a hard shake.

Black’s head snapped back, then slowly came forward. His eyes focused with difficulty on Severus; beads of sweat began to roll down his forehead. “Wait. No. That was over ten years ago—almost twenty. You’re—you always were a Death-Eater, weren’t you? You never were really spying, you greasy son of a bitch. I knew it. I knew it.”

“It’s a moot point when your spymaster dies.” Severus roughly pried himself from the other man’s hold and pushed him back onto the bed. It didn’t take much effort, as Black offered about as much resistance as a sack of feathers.

“You killed Albus. You bastard.” After falling over, Black lay in a crumpled heap for so long that Severus began to think they were finished. But then Black slowly began to roll over, bones shifting to jut grotesquely from beneath his skin. “Don’t think that you can go running to the Headmaster forever, you little sneaky bastard. You keep your nose out of our business, or—”

This conversation was beginning to sound uncomfortably like the lead-up to Severus’ ill-advised decision to listen to Black and go out to the Whomping Willow. Severus leaned over and slapped Black. “I know you never grew out of your schoolyard immaturity, but damn it, Black—try to get hold—”

The man always had retained a wild last-ditch strength, which Severus would have done well to recall. He was seized and rolled over on his back, and he barely had enough time to jam his wand beneath Black’s throat before Black was snarling and squeezing at his own.

“Where’s Harry?” Black growled. “I couldn’t see him anymore…I don’t know when, but—”

“Harry’s dead,” Severus gasped.

The hands around his neck loosened, then fell away. Black stared dumbly down at him.

Stupefy,” Severus snapped.

The spell went out, but all it apparently did was snap back Black’s head; Severus quickly followed up with a crude punch that sent the other man over completely, though the ineffectuality of the spell was evidenced by Black’s weak kicking.

“No, he’s not. He can’t be. Can’t.” The blankets coiled sluggishly about Black’s hands as he kneaded and twisted them. He shook his head hard, then looked up at Severus with a shockingly raw plea in his face. “Is he really?”

Severus tightened his grip on his wand and kept it pointed squarely at Black. “He died at the hands of other Death-Eaters. But he…returned, somehow.”

Black let his head fall to the mattress again. He grimaced and pressed his fist against his face, then rose enough to come over and, for some peculiar reason, clutch Severus’ knee. He banged his forehead against the joint, and when Severus attempted to withdraw the limb, Black only climbed further up. He ground his forehead into Severus’ shoulder while Severus stared at him and willed shock-slackened fingers to lift his wand.

“Came back,” Black muttered. His nails dug through Severus’ robes and rhythmically pushed them back and forth over the same spot. “Wasn’t anything there, really—not even unhappiness, not even a fucking stone floor. Didn’t know what was up, down, anything…and then there was someone…some bastard was petting me and I was so relieved I could feel again…”

“You hugged Voldemort’s knees.” The memory of it rose and renewed the sour taste in Severus’ mouth before he succeeded in banishing it.

A cracked snicker spilled from Black. As it was trailing off, he lifted his head to look at Severus. His eyes seemed firmly fixed in the present, but Merlin knew how long that would last. “Fuck. I’m never going to live that down.” Then his face froze. “He didn’t—he didn’t bring—”

“No, Harry came back a different way. A very different way,” Severus muttered. He got his leg out from under Black and attempted to swing off the bed, but a desperate grip held him back.

Black shoved an icy nose into Severus’ neck. His hands might have had an iron hold on Severus’ robes, but they were shaking so hard the knuckles should have been rattling like so many dice. “Goddamn it, you lousy git. Don’t leave me here with that—that fucking voice. I can’t remember—I can remember but I can’t get it right and it’s telling me how things went but what it says feels wrong--”

It had worked. And it hadn’t. What Severus had wasn’t a mindless puppet on Voldemort’s string, but it wasn’t what he’d wanted, either. But, he told himself, that was the story of his life. He had to work with what he received, not with what he wished for.

He glanced at the door, then slowly got back on the bed and stiffly wrapped his arms around Black. With any luck, the nuisance would fall asleep soon and Severus could move on to the next stage of his plan.

* * *

Draco had no idea how Harry got them out of the house. They’d been walking up the stairs and Harry had reached back to grab Draco’s hand, and the shadows had suddenly come flooding towards them. In self-defense, Draco had thrown up his free arm and that turned out to be fortuitous because the next moment, bright harsh fluorescent light was stabbing at them from all sides.

Of course, number twelve Grimmauld didn’t have fluorescent lighting. When Draco had dropped his arm, he saw that the wooden steps had somehow transformed into concrete, and that they were just emerging onto a Muggle street. “I thought we were going to see Macnair.”

“I said we’ll see what he’s been up to.” Harry watched till the slowly-moving car with the high-beams moved on past them. The darkness fell over him like the welcoming arm of an old friend.

He was still holding Draco’s wrist, and now he pulled Draco along by it till Draco finally hurried up enough to walk by Potter’s side. Though it didn’t look like it, Harry was walking along at a blistering clip and in a few minutes, Draco’s breath was coming short with the effort of keeping up.

They still appeared to be in London, in one of the grimier Muggle districts. The road on which they were was dominated by a large but crumbling stone building, which was surrounded by a high iron fence. As they got closer, Draco could see the remains of iron bars over a few of the windows on the top floors.

“That’s where your grand Dark Lord grew up,” Harry said. “A Muggle orphanage.”

Draco critically studied the place. Every single window was broken and the few glimpses he had of the inside showed blackened walls and burnt plaster. “No wonder he dislikes them so.”

“It looked all right till a few days ago—it’d been converted into a kind of local community center. But then Macnair’s team hit it. Gutted the place out with fire. They put four or five people in the hospital.” Harry dropped Draco’s hand and moved forward to lean against the bars. He put one arm over his head and pressed his face against a wrought-iron curlicue. “They were moving something from it, and they wanted to cover up afterward. But I can’t…I can’t see what the damned thing is. Was. Or where it went.”

“Take it that’s why you’re up here again?” Now that Draco was looking for it, he did catch the faint traces of magic clinging to the ruins. It’d been a reasonably well-done job, which translated into spectacular for Macnair. The bastard’s usual idea of circumspection was not kicking the corpse afterward. “I’ve been to—well, what Macnair thinks is a home. It’s basically a slaughterhouse with some bedrooms upstairs.”

He waited a bit, but Harry merely continued to stare at the burnt-out building. When Draco shook out a new cigarette, a flame appeared to light it, but otherwise it was like Harry had forgotten that Draco was there.

“Oh, well, since I’m being self-destructive: what’s the deal you made to come back from the dead, anyhow?” Draco asked. He wasn’t expecting an answer—at least, not a nonviolent one that was actually relevant to his question. But at the very least, he was hoping for some action on Harry’s part. He’d barely begun to get used to the new version of Potter, and now the fickle wanker was turning around into yet a third version.

Harry finally pushed back from the bars, throwing the ruins one last fierce look. He shoved his hands in his pockets, then pivoted on his heel and walked past Draco, seizing Draco’s elbow again as he did. “Funny, you know—the more people offer me things, the more I start to hate them.”

Draco stiffened a little, but he couldn’t stop because of Harry’s hold on him. He smoked a bit faster, just in case this ended up being the last one. “I thought I’m alive because you needed to go places.”

“I wasn’t talking about you, you arrogant little twat,” Harry snapped. “Think of a specific room in Macnair’s house. And not the—”

The shadowy houses along the side of the road grew hazy and lumpen, then flowed across the road. Once again, there wasn’t even the queasy sense of dislocation that accompanied traveling by Floo to warn Draco; the shadows merely scrolled off to the other side and suddenly they were standing in Macnair’s front parlor. Well. What Macnair called the front parlor. His ideas of entertaining were more or less summed up in the bloody mess strapped to the heavy antique table in the center of the room.

Macnair apparently had stepped out for the moment, because Draco could hear his voice bellowing nearby, but they were the only people in the room.

Harry released Draco and slowly walked over to the table, head bent so Draco couldn’t see his expression. He stopped by the poor moaning bastard’s head and lifted his hand, but instead of pushing the matted hair out of the person’s face, he…strands of blood and gore quickly stripped themselves off, unraveling from broken nose, bruised forehead, slashed cheeks. Pretty soon Macnair’s latest playtoy could be identified as Mad-Eye Moody. He’d been snatched shortly before Harry’s reappearance, but Draco had thought he’d just been taken off and executed somewhere. No one in their right mind would believe that Moody would ever crack under torture.

“Well,” Harry said. He lowered his hand and slung himself around; all Draco could see of what he was doing was that it involved adjusting his shirt-cuffs. “Draco, get him off the table.”

“What about Macnair? Sounds like he’s coming back.” Though Draco already was taking out his wand.

By way of an answer, Harry walked out of the room. Draco looked around, saw a heavy chair and sent it scooting over to brace the door shut. Then he wrinkled his nose, rolled up his sleeves, and attended to Moody while the most horrendous noises went on outside.

Moody came round in the middle of it. Creepy old freak that he was, he didn’t even have the grace to flutter his eyelashes a few times: they snapped right open and the blue eye fixed Draco like a crossbow bolt through the head. “Ferret.”

“I am incredibly tempted to whack one of Macnair’s knives through your throat for that, so don’t push it,” Draco snapped.

He had just finished getting Moody into good enough shape for transportation to be risked when the door flew open—the chair Draco had shoved beneath the knob skidded to the side and lost an arm during its collision with the stone wall. Harry stormed in, shadows and red strands rising and falling behind him in time to his agitated breathing. “It’s not here. He gave whatever it was to Voldemort—why the hell am I always too late? Even now?”

Draco chose not to answer that. Instead, he gestured towards Moody, whose fake eye was rolling around and around in his skull. “He’s up, Potter. Now what?”

“Potter,” Moody hoarsely said. “How can you—” Then he stopped, and his fake eye did as well. He hunched so he could drag his arm into a semi-protective position before himself.

Harry’s face was a fascinating kaleidoscope during the eight or nine seconds it took for him to get himself under control. First it was startled, but that quickly passed to understanding, thwarted rage and finally to cynical humor. He stepped back to slouch against the doorframe. “Moody. Tell them I’m going to finish Voldemort, like I didn’t before. And tell them not to look for me. Ever.”

“You’d best not be thinking of sending me away with a miserable line like that,” Moody snarled. He hunched himself again and nearly fell off the table. Then the bastard glared at Draco—what had he been expecting? A helping arm? “Macnair was going to kill me, but then he changed his mind. Came in all hysterical, asking what we were up to, what kind of Dark Arts we’d gone to…that supposed to be you?”

“Probably.” Now Harry was a study in elaborate diffidence. He lifted his hands to wipe them with a rag, and for the first time, Draco noticed the blood staining them. “Come on, Moody. I think you can see what I mean.”

Moody snorted and wheezed. A little bit of fresh blood came dribbling out the corner of his mouth. “I can see you’re not the boy I thought you were.”

“No. No, I’m not.” The rag ripped in Harry’s hands, and he had to struggle to keep his voice steady. It went colder. “Goddamn it—I can’t help now. I—did Macnair say anything else? Did he mention what he’s been doing?”

Silence, but it wasn’t empty. That idiot Moody was trying to stare down Potter, which might’ve worked a bit when Harry was at Hogwarts but had no chance now. And Harry knew exactly what Moody was doing, and Draco could visibly see the frustration rising in Harry’s eyes. “For Merlin’s sake, Moody,” he started. “Whether or not how we go about things lives up to your morals is a little picky for this day and age, isn’t it? We’ll still—”

“He’d just come back from your daddy’s estate,” Moody spat out. His head creaked around so he could glower at Draco. “Setting some sort of trap for some new foe—guess he meant Potter, here. Something about a locket.”

Draco clenched his hands into fists and took a step forward, but a flicker of motion at the corner of his vision distracted him. It wasn’t a long distraction, but it was long enough for Potter to make Moody go pop and disappear. “Well, thank you, Harry,” Draco snarled. “Nice to see you still favor the weak-minded and useless.”

“It’s nice to see you still assume everyone’s on your side. ‘We’? Don’t start getting attached, Malfoy. That’s where they get you.” Harry raised an eyebrow and waved Draco towards the door. “Come on. Forget Snape—we’ll have to see your father first, after all.”

“What? Wait—you’re looking for some locket, and Macnair casually drops notice to Moody and Moody can tell you? Doesn’t that seem a little far-fetched to you?” Wonderful. Just when Draco was finally convinced to jump ship, his new ride turned out to have a leaky bottom. Fine, Harry was rattled by the news of his godfather, but couldn’t he keep his head together for a little longer? “It’s a trap! They told you it’s a trap! So it’s a—a—a double-trap, and damn it, don’t look at me like that. This is not about keeping you away from my father. You can go do whatever you want to him, for all I care! He and I haven’t been living on the same planet for months now.”

Then Draco fell back against the table from lack of breath. His hand landed in something sticky and he grimaced, pulling it quickly back. He hit it with a cleansing spell and hoped to Merlin that Moody wasn’t carrying anything infectious.

“You done now?” Harry finally said. He seemed unnaturally calm again. “I know it’s a trap. I was hoping Voldemort would be that stupid and try this. Wouldn’t have bothered your father otherwise.”

“You mean you would have just killed him outright?” Draco asked. He was on the verge of laughing again. Before he could, he shoved his cigarette hard between his lips and took a long drag. “Oh, Merlin, it doesn’t even matter now. Fine, let’s go.”

* * *

Severus left Sirius sleeping with one house-elf to watch him and another posted outside the door. If the man was to wake, they were to slip him food laced with Sleeping Draught.

He Apparated to the Catacombs and walked in to find it strangely empty. The few people he did see were all minor officials or slaves, and they went about their tasks in a tense, expectant state. It reminded him of the last hour before a major battle, only as far as he knew, no major battle had been planned.

Lucius, he instantly thought. But it was probably too late for Severus to ascertain what Macnair really had been doing at Malfoy Manor, much less do anything about it, so Lucius would have to fend for himself. He told himself to be content that the lack of population in the hallways made the odds that Voldemort would hear of this visit much smaller, and continued on.

Ginerva had apparently been preparing for her next session when Severus knocked, for she answered the door with hair loose and only a loose dressing-gown on. Her eyes widened. “Snape! Sir, I had no idea—”

“And you’ll continue not to. In fact, you never met me or had the talk that we’re about to have,” Severus interrupted, pushing his way past her. He set up every possible security and privacy ward that he could think of before he turned around and faced her. “Miss Weasley. I will ask you this question once before I resort to Veritaserum. Are you in contact with the resistance?”

Her mouth rapidly worked and she withdrew so the shadows of her room shaded the top part of her face. She brought up one hand to her mouth with practiced coy surprise, which shaded the rest of her face.

Severus readied his wand. If he detected any wrongness, he’d have Obliviate her at once and find another channel.

After some time, Ginevra lifted her eyes to him. They darted nervously all over before settling on his nose. She dropped her hand, and her posture changed to that of a belligerent prepared for the firing squad. “Sir. I was. I’m telling you this because you never wanted an appointment with me, and you’ve always called me ‘Miss’ even though—”

“Your reasons are not required. Neither are mine,” Severus harshly said. He watched her flinch, but almost immediately lift her chin. “What do you mean by ‘was’?”

Her eyes flicked around the room again. “Draco’s gone.”

That did make sense. Severus briefly regretted that he hadn’t kept a closer eye on the boy, but Draco’s early promise had deteriorated so very quickly that he never would have suspected. But damn it—this meant she’d be of no use to him, after all. “Thank you, Miss Weasley. I shan’t be taking up any more of—”

“Is this about Harry?” she abruptly asked. Then her eyes widened again and she backed up a step, clutching at her clothes. “Draco said—before he left—he said Harry’s alive. Please, sir, if I can help in any way…”

Something about her desperation was convincing. Not in the sense that he doubted her sincerity, but in the sense that it stirred an idea in his head, and that he thought the idea worth trying. “Miss Weasley…has Voldemort ever requested your services?”

A violent revulsion went through her face, but she managed to get herself under control. She nodded shortly. “In fact, I’m to…attend to him in a few days, at his private estate. But this is the first time, and…and sir, I thought he didn’t…is it really for that, or does he want to kill me?”

Rape her, torture her, and leave her broken body somewhere where Harry would get wind of it, though Severus decided against telling her that so explicitly. Voldemort always had been one for the tit-for-tat sort of warfare, and so far Harry had gotten away with murdering two high-level officers without a hand being raised against him. Severus supposed that after Harry had been worked into a fine rage, the idea would’ve been to bring out Black. We’ve killed one, but you might be able to save the other, would the negotiating ploy.

“Not right away,” Severus told her. “There’ll be a chance—a very slight chance—that you’ll have time to help. You have to retrieve something from his chambers: a golden two-handled cup, engraved with the Hufflepuff crest. You may have to sacrifice your life for it.”

Ginevra didn’t appear to think it over. Her eyes showed fear, but also a kind of fierce, sudden joy. “That’s all right, sir. I’ve been waiting years for a chance to make use of it.”


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