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People of the Goddess by Meadowsweet

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In Winthrop Heathers’s office Severus Snape sat completely still. He’d circled this tiny hamlet for an hour, and the spell refused to budge away from this twee paradise. But the moment he tried to get closer it would start spinning in all directions. Knapp was here, somewhere, but had gone under protection again. He must have briefly caught her between wards, otherwise he’d have overshot Frog’s Hollow altogether. Rather than knocking on doors, he’d presented himself at Heathers’s office. The Ministerial representative would have access to all the registered locals. Heathers had been pompous at first, but once Snape had revealed his Dark Mark, he’d cooperated beautifully. True to Ministry type, Heathers was an idiot, had even asked a member of the Knapp family where their daughter was. Now that she was forewarned, would she go underground? Snape gritted his teeth. Everyone knew the Knapps locally but could only give a hazy idea of where they lived.

“Some distance away,” Heathers had explained. “Not really locals, but we’re the closest town, so they are registered here.”

Snape kept his eyes on the vial. The hair inside was still. Heathers had been delighted when a message had arrived informing him that the Knapps would report to him when their train got in.

“So she’ll come to us, very law-abiding, these Knapps. You say she has valuable information for you?”

Snape hadn’t answered. If Heathers thought that Theophany Knapp was going to walk meekly into his office, he was thicker than dragonhide. Besides, the wand had pointed him to Frog’s Hollow, and the train wasn’t due for another thirty minutes. She was already here. He’d bet she’d left the train shortly after being told to report. Snape heard the office door open and didn’t bother looking up.

“Just wanted to let you know, sir, the train is reportedly on time and should be here—”

At the same moment the wand spun. Spun and pointed northeast. Knapp was unshielded again. Snape snatched up the wand and pointed it at Heathers, stopping him in mid sentence.

Obliviate!

The official rocked back on his heels and hit the door frame. Snape left him blinking dazedly, sitting on the floor. He wanted no trouble for the Knapps; best Heathers forgot they were ever of interest.

Snape slipped out behind the station house. Here it was unlit and he could take to the air without being noticed. His wand was still pointing him steadily northeast, towards the forest. If the Knapps were indeed farmers, as he had been told, then surely they would be to the south of town where the land was level. The far side of the forest was another village, no place for a remote farm. Was she leading him away from the nest? It’s what he would expect. Let’s get this over with.

Theophany wished she had brought another vial with her. She could store memory until the last possible minute. But if it was discovered, all would be lost. Hiding it wouldn’t make sense, as she wouldn’t remember to look for it. She sighed and shivered. It hadn’t snowed properly yet, but the ground was frozen hard and the forest crisp with cold. Was she really prepared for this?

She was in the western side of the forest. Beyond Jacka’s house and outside the anti-Apparition jinx. Theophany stopped walking and took a few deep breaths against the rising nausea. She could have stayed hidden, but for how long? How long would this war last? Theophany continued walking along the forest path. It was a very pleasant path; Muggles interested in bird watching and seasonal foliage would walk it, their arms full of picnic baskets and those funny cameras you throw away. Of course for them the path was much shorter and appeared to cut straight through the wood.

Theophany considered a bench, placed picturesquely away from the path overlooking the frozen stream. She saw no reason to continue walking; she had no way of knowing exactly how close he was. Theophany turned her back on the path and sat down. Her cloak was warm, and if she lowered her chin into the high collar, she was quite comfortable. This was it, no planning, no running, just waiting. Theophany stopped trying to imagine what the Memory Charm would be like and focused on staying warm. After a while she experienced that curious sensation of not being aware of her extremities and found her mind floating in bemused observation.

When she heard the crunch of leaves behind her, she came to herself with a jolt. Pleased to find her breathing continued to hold steady, she was able to ask calmly, “Is that you?”

Snape came alongside her bench.

“Yes.”

She was oddly glad it wasn’t someone else.

“What do you intend to do?”

“A Memory Charm.”

Theophany sucked in her breath. Partly in apprehension, partly in amusement. He couldn’t guess that she’d prepared for this, could he?

“Do you intend to leave me any memory of the past few days?”

“I could, yes. Shall I?” His wand was already at his side. “Shall I rifle through your mind, learn everything about you, your family and associates, and purge only those memories pertaining to me? Could you even stop me?”

Theophany looked up at him.

“I’d die trying.”

“I believe you, which is why I won’t be selective.”

“That’s three nights and two days....gone. So much has happened and there are people who depend on me—”

“You brought this on yourself by getting involved,” Snape snarled. “Had you just delivered the sword, I would have wiped your memory then, but you decided to be clever. Even after Gringotts, once you’d healed, it wasn’t too late. You would have lost the memory of one night only. Since you seem to have guessed my intention, why sneak out in the night? Why not just let me—?”

“I didn’t sneak out in the night. I left at seven in the morning and you were sound asleep.”

“Satisfy my curiosity. How did you manage casting a bewitched sleep without your wand?”

Theophany blew on her hands and stood up.

“I didn’t. You were just really tired.”

Snape blanched a little. She couldn’t tell if he was embarrassed or furious.

“You did something! I rarely sleep.”

Theophany put her head to one side.

“You look it.”

And Disapparated. She heard him shout, felt a hand snatch at her robes, and together she and Snape Apparated to the foothills north of the valley. The forest was west of them now, and the lights of the valley were few and distant. Theophany had intended a destination further from her home than Phiny’s Peak but he’d thrown her off.

Snape’s wand was already in his hand and he’d a hold on her shoulder, but Theophany had the advantage of anticipating the slope of the hill. As he regained his balance she lashed out, aiming for his kneecap with her boot. The contact made an awful cracking sound, and he fell to his other knee.

“Sorry!” she cried, and took off running.

She had only a minute’s head start before sensing the invisible ropes reaching for her. Theophany slashed her borrowed wand.

Diffindo!

He was up again and limping after her. He didn’t seem in any hurry. Theophany blocked a Stunning Spell and two more Restraining Spells before she stopped running. The jinxes were coming too fast; she couldn’t run and defend herself. He couldn’t move swiftly with that knee but, Theophany wondered as she blocked another spell, did he really need to? She was annoyed with herself. Apparition had been a mistake. In the forest she had more cover and ammunition. The hillside was bare, no place to hide here, no chance of running and losing him. The spells came quickly; if she paused to Apparate, she’d be hit.


Snape stopped walking—his leg was in terrible pain—and focused on Stunning Knapp. Her pace was erratic, and he was beginning to see it was intentional. Her rhythm would change, forcing her opponent to change pace with her. She’d switch seamlessly from defense to offense, and she certainly wasn’t afraid to use any means. Twice now he’d blocked an attack from the front, only to dodge some piece of rock or branch flying at him from behind. Her free hand could cast simple spells even as her wand finished hurling something at him.

Theophany had nearly clipped him a couple of times; his injury was definitely slowing him. She sent a burning jinx past his shoulder. He flinched as he sidestepped it, probably a combination of the heat and his bad leg. Using his pause Theophany pressed forward. Her Expelliarmus Spell nearly got through his defense, and she followed it quickly with another Stunner. Snape stepped backward for space, gritting his teeth as his knee crunched painfully under him

“I...really...don’t have time for this,” he hissed between spells.

Theophany was close enough he could see her eyes, wide and burning bright.

“So sorry to be an inconvenience,” she panted. “You...could...just...leave!”

Snape waited for her to come closer, then staged a stumble on his bad leg. Theophany hurried to attack, and as she raised her wand he quickly righted himself and went under her guard. Theophany’s wand flew from her hand and landed at his feet. Instantly she raised both hands, and he felt that same forceful jinx that had shattered the cabinet wash over a Shield Charm he’d barely managed to cast in time. He again cast a Restraint, and Theophany’s head whipped back as cords wrapped around her and brought her to her knees.

Snape dropped his wand to his side and cursed softly. Gingerly he inspected his leg; it seemed the kneecap was split.

“This was all so unnecessary,” he drawled.

Theophany lifted her face. The intensity had left her eyes, and she smiled that crooked smile. Her cheeks were wet.

“Can’t blame a girl for trying to keep her head.”

Snape limped toward her.

“This won’t hurt.”

“Have you ever had someone take your memories away? No? Then shut up.”

“I’m sorry.”

Theophany squinched her eyes closed and bowed her head.

“As the person about to Obliviate me, you’re allowed no opinion or sympathy. Just hurry up.”

Her hair hung over her face but he could hear her breathing was ragged.

“Nonetheless, I regret its necessity.”

She didn’t answer or open her eyes. Her clenched fingers were trembling. Snape raised his wand.

“But I can spare you experiencing this.”

The Stunning Spell knocked her over. There’d be a few bruises, but she was the one who had resisted. At least she wouldn’t feel her thoughts slipping from her mind.

Obliviate.”

The light from the charm lit up the grass around them briefly, startling something in the hedgerow below. Then the only sound was Theophany’s gentle breathing.

“It would have been more fair, perhaps, had I returned this to you earlier.” He drew her wand from his pocket and dropped it by her unconscious body. “But I don’t take chances.”

Snape released her restraints and then turned his wand on his knee. Once he could move comfortably, he Apparated to Hogsmeade and then walked thoughtfully up to the school. He met Filch briefly in the entrance hall, but neither of them felt compelled to speak, for which Snape was grateful. Snape ascended the stair to the Headmaster’s office and cast the usual Anti-Eavesdropping and Warding Spells before falling into a chair.

“All right, Severus?” Dumbledore’s portrait asked.

Snape reached into his pocket and removed the vial with its single hair. He placed it on the desk.

“Albus,” he sighed. “I’m a complete bastard.”



Which woke her first, her headache or the cold, Theophany wasn’t sure. Her body was stiff, her knees and right shoulder bruised, and she couldn’t remember where she was.

Jethro. She’d been looking for Jethro, but hang on. Theophany stood carefully, her head swimming. She was home, or nearly, the valley was just beneath her. How had she got back when she’d just left? Had she even left to find Jethro? Had that little...no he wouldn’t attack her. Run, definitely, but not hurt her.

Theophany looked down. What was her wand doing on the ground? She picked it up and tried to pocket it, but there was already a wand in her pocket. She drew it out and looked at it, and didn’t recognize it. Whose was it? Why was there dittany in her other pocket? Was someone hurt? Theophany started to feel queasy and not just from her headache. Home, she should go home and figure out what had happened. Theophany looked about. She was on Phiney’s Peak, so she’d Apparate to the path and walk home from there. Easier said than done. Apparating made her promptly sick. Feeling green and shaky, Theophany walked down the sloping path to The Mill.

“Dad?” she called, in case he was in the barn or back garden. “Concord?”

The front door unlocked under her hand, and she stepped inside. Maybe everyone was asleep. It was dark, but she was completely uncertain of the time. It could be evening, or the small hours. There was a little light coming from the kitchen.

“Dad?” Theophany whispered, in case the twins were asleep.

“Theophany?”

She heard the scraping of a chair and Mr. Knapp hurried toward her.

“Oh, God, I was terrified. Silyn and Prosper already left, you have six minutes to get to the station. What happened, dear? You’re all over dirt and leaves.”

Theophany held him back.

“Wait, what? Why did they go to the station, Dad? I have to go find Jethro. Why is Prosper at the station? I know I just left but…”

“What are you talking about? Sweetie, you said the official on the train told you to report to Heathers, and because you had those people pretending to be Silyn and Prosper with you—you decided—”

“Dad! Stop!” Theophany held her head. “What train? I left just after dark to find Jethro, after he sent that letter. Next thing I know I’m coming to on Phiny’s Peak. I wasn’t on a train…”

Mr. Knapp gently removed her hands from her head.

“Oh, oh, my little girl, I don’t know what to say.”

Theophany was horrified to see he was fighting tears.

“I wish—oh, you have no idea how I pray—that I was useful. I can’t do anything to protect you.”

“What are you saying…”

“Theophany, listen to me.” His mouth worked, then stiffened. “You left
almost three days ago—”

Dad?”

“No, what’s important is that you Apparate to the station, right away. Heathers is expecting you, Silyn, and Prosper to present your papers for inspection. Tell Silyn—tell him you don’t remember anything after you left; he’ll take care of you and bring you home. Then, then we’ll talk. Okay? You have to go now.”

Theophany took a step towards the door.

“...Dad?”

Go!

She ran. The path away from The Mill was painful, her head pounded mercilessly with every step, and when she Apparated into Frog’s Hollow, she was sick again. The station was just around the corner. If she had been on a train as Dad said and was supposed to disembark, she shouldn’t be seen entering the station. Casting a quick Disillusionment Charm, she made her way through the station to Heathers’ office behind. Frog’s Hollow was too small to really have town offices, so the Ministry official had taken over a small office behind the stationmaster’s. Silyn and Prosper were hovering just outside, moving slowly and glancing at the clock. Theophany waited for a couple of wizards moving crates containing kneazles hybrids to pass.

Theophany Knapp!” Silyn hissed murderously, “Where—?”

“I don’t remember anything after I left Tuesday night.” Theophany cut him off in a low voice. Prosper was happily distracted by the one of the kneazles who seemed intent on unlocking his crate. “Dad sent me here, my head's splitting, and I might be sick again any minute.”

Silyn’s mouth had slowly widened then shut tightly. He eyes quickly scanned her face.

“I’ll do the talking. Tiff, I—I can see there’s something very wrong.”

“No kidding,” she muttered.

Silyn shot her a look, equal parts worry and exasperation, and led the way into the office. He addressed Heathers politely but with a definite edge of annoyance, as befitted a law-abiding wizard undeservedly detained. Heathers starting nodding politely halfway through Silyn’s explanation and just couldn’t seem to manage to stop.

“Yes, yes, yes, happening all the time now. Random checks, random checks...security! Aye, that’s our watchword.”

Heathers' eyes glazed over. Silyn waited, but he seemed disinclined to continue speaking though he was still nodding cheerfully while gazing vacantly at the ceiling.

“So, our papers are in order?” Silyn prodded pompously.

“Papers? Oh yes, papers. Let me just…”

His nod became more affirmative as he looked them over. Opening a lower drawer on his desk, he produced a set of scales on which perched a brass owl. When he placed their registration papers on the scale, the owl began to squawk metallically,

“Seal, correct. Stamp, current. Watermark, positive. Paper grade and weight, Ministry issue. Ink, India black—”

Heathers winced and held his temples. Before the scale finished speaking, he lifted the papers off, silencing the grating voice.

“Well, that seems all in order.” He started nodding again, then stopped, holding his head. “Have a good evening, Mr. Knapp, Miss Knapp. So long, sonny.”

He waved at Prosper in a friendly manner. Prosper waved politely back as Silyn ushered them out. As they left, Heathers again subsided to smiling glassily and nodding at nothing.

“Looks like a Memory Charm to me; do you have anything to do with that?” Silyn whispered to his sister.

“I wouldn’t know!

“Pipe down, sorry. Let’s get you home first. Come on, Prosper.”

It turned out there would be no discussion that night. Mr. Knapp had contacted Merryn, and Theophany found herself bundled into bed with a quick draught for her headache. Merryn sat by her bed and asked her some questions, none of which she could understand or answer. After a few minutes he seemed satisfied and told her to sleep. Theophany closed her eyes to please him. It felt like she lay awake for hours, chasing her mental tail. Frustration, fear, and anger all shook her in turn, but beneath it all was a greater sense of betrayal.

Like a recovering invalid she was served breakfast in bed, which she only submitted to under the condition that Merryn fill her in concerning the last three days. He did the best he could, but it was little more than confirm that she’d spoken to Otho and gone to London to meet with Allsop.

“You play your hand close to the chest. There was something bothering you, but you wouldn’t say. Otho could tell you why you needed his assistance.”

“He could. But maybe it was talking to Otho that got me Obliviated.” Theophany pushed the crumbs around on her plate. “Other than that letter, we’ve heard nothing further from Jethro?”

“No, and that letter was more than enough. Jethro’s definitely gone too far this time—actually supplying the black market. He’s not underage anymore; he could be arrested.”

Theophany nodded soberly. Merryn was watching her, forehead wrinkled. They were all watching her all the time, and it was hard to think. She handed the tray to her brother and swung her legs out of bed.

“I’m going to the workshop.”

“But—”

“I’m fine.” She pulled her coat over her dressing gown and started hunting for her galoshes. “At least physically. I’m not going to faint or lose my head.”

“Last night after you...came back...”

Theophany suppressed a groan. It was like she had a chronic illness. Would they be forever tiptoeing around the words Memory Charm?

“...Dad and I went out to the shop and it was locked up pretty tight. Do you remember doing that?”

“I always lock it.”

“Yeah, but I mean, I got blown off my feet just for trying the handle. Dad almost had a nasty burn.”

Theophany stared at him, then dropped the single galosh she’d found. Taking the stairs at a run, she was opening the back door while Merryn was still yelling at her to take it slow.

A light snow had fallen in the night, covering the frosted stone path. It melted away beneath her socks. Theophany ignored the unpleasant chill. There had to be something there. If she had thought she was in danger...could she have really known it would be a Memory Charm? The door didn’t unlock instantly but grew very warm under her hand. With a crackle and short burst of light it popped open and the inside Warding Spells shivered away.

It was tidy, nothing looked interrupted or disturbed. There was quite a large batch of Wolfsbane aging. Why had she made extra? On the worktable were two pieces of parchment; one looked like a newspaper and the other was torn from a larger scroll. Probably scrap.

She picked up the newspaper first. It wasn’t a full spread, just a copy of an article. Severus Snape pictured read the tiny print. It was dated September, so she must have read it at the time, but why did she have a copy now? This Ministry puppet headmaster didn’t spark any recollection. Theophany looked closely at the picture. The wizard seemed to be listening to someone outside the frame, then directing his attention at the camera. As he squared his shoulders and shifted uncomfortably, Theophany was reminded of the twins having to sit for a school picture. The picture scowled impatiently at the camera, eyes constantly sliding away, only to square off against it again. The photo was hardly his idea, it seemed. His posture was belligerent. The Ministry seemed to attract mostly thugs and knuckle-draggers these days.

She looked under the worktable, in her ingredient cabinet, and checked her work notebook. Nothing. She reached for the news copy again and brushed the scrap of parchment out of her way. It quivered. Theophany snatched it up and watched as her own handwriting scratched.

Talk to Jacka.

Why Jacka and not Silyn or Merryn? She trusted her own brothers surely? Or perhaps this was a reminder of something else. The extra wolfsbane maybe. But it was charmed so only she could read it. Someone was calling from the house. She stuffed the parchment into her coat pocket guiltily as Silyn ducked into The Mill. He was carrying her galoshes.

“Merryn sent me out. Find anything?”

Theophany hesitated, but really she didn’t know what she was hiding. Why not?

“Y-yes. I need to talk to Jacka. I think.”

Silyn took in her soggy socks.

“Come inside and get dressed, then get him on the Floo.”

Theophany hated the Floo. Their parents had always been careful, so she’d been spared any accidents, but she couldn’t get over the uncontrollable sensation of being launched through spinning space. Flying was much preferred. She shivered. Now why did she feel there was something wrong? Flying...

“What?” Silyn asked, holding the door for her.

“Nothing, just a goose walking over my grave.”

Brushing one’s hair and tidying up seemed rather pointless when communicating by the whirlwind that is Floo, but Theophany made the effort. Settling herself on the kitchen hearth, she carefully enunciated, “The Forester’s Cottage,” and thrust her head into the green flames.

With a sickening lurch she was aware of her hands clutching the weave of the hearth rug at home but also of a sudden distance between her head and her shoulders. She opened her eyes and saw Jacka’s kitchen, the breakfast things still on the table.

“Jacka? Hello? Oh, Col! Hi.”

Jacka’s son didn’t looked surprised to see her. Maybe she’d left a message she was coming? Feeling hopeful, Theophany asked if Jacka was around.

“Sure, he’s just outside. Come in, have some tea. I’ll get him for you.”

Theophany thanked him and withdrew her head. She’d collected the wolfsbane that was ready from the workshop and was sitting on the rug next to her. In another breathtaking, nausea-inducing moment she was through the hearth and in Jacka’s kitchen. No one was about yet, so she unpacked the basket of potion bottles. The back door swung open.

“Jacka! I’m sorry for coming so early. I really needed to talk to you —”

Someone else entered the room. She was tall, much taller than Theophany, with perfect waves of hair and long curling eyelashes. Behind her Jacka carefully wiped his boots.

“Ah, um.” Theophany tried to school her expression. “Sorry, um. I didn’t realize you had guests.”

The horror this statement received was beyond her comprehending. The witch paled and staggered to a chair, but somehow looked graceful the whole time. Jacka swore and covered his face with his hands.

“I’m sorry, what did I say—?”

The woman spoke shakily.

“I’m Lavinia Honeysett. You brought me and my son here last night...if you don’t remember that, I can only assume something terrible has happened and we’re in danger.”

Refugees. She’d had her memory wiped while transporting refugees. It was a miracle they were safe at all.

“Well, I guess there’s no point in pretending I’m okay then. Jacka?”

Jacka’s eyes were full; he looked terribly crushed.

“I had hoped you wouldn’t—I’m so sorry Theophany...come with me.”

Lavinia stood and made to follow, but Jacka raised a hand.

“I’m sorry. Some things remain secret, even to guests like you.”

She nodded and turned away. Poor woman, Theophany thought, entrusting yourself and your son to someone who can’t remember meeting you.”

They descended to the cellar where Jacka did something complicated with a sliding panel in the wall. He produced a satchel Theophany recognized.

“That’s Jethro’s old school bag. I’ve been using it for shopping and such—”

Jacka opened the bag. Glowing in the dim cellar, misting under her breath, were half a dozen or so memories. They crawled and idled in bottles and vials of various shapes and sizes. Theophany bent over the bag, scared to touch.

“Are these mine?”

“You gave me this, saying someone was looking for you.”

“I knew? We’re all in danger of losing our lives, my brothers face it every day. How could I know someone wanted my memories?”

Jacka squinted at her.

“I was under the impression you were going to wipe them yourself.”

“...Huh? What now –”

“There’s only one way to find out.”

“How? I don’t have a—oh Jacka. I didn’t. Did I ask you to let me use it?”

“You didn’t have to. As the guardian, I protect the collective memories of our ancestors, and as you are Secret-Keeper to our home, I think you have a right.”

“But any interference with the Pensieve could be detrimental to any memories. Some of them are ancient—”

Jacka raised a hand. His voice was remained soft but like the quiet sound of a knife being sharpened.

“I am the guardian. I have spoken. Late tonight will be safest. Nine o’clock. I will attend you but these—” he pointed to the bag of memories, “are only for you to see.”

Theophany handed the bag back to him.

“Then I’ll leave these with you. Thank you, Jacka.”

With a formal bow he accepted the bag and returned it to the sliding panel. His position was an ancient one, keeper of the memories of the Tuatha De Dannan, and tonight Theophany could see him wearing the office like a stole. He led her from the cellar, and in the light of day his royal demeanor fell from him and he became large but apologetic Jacka again. Theophany felt awkward saying goodbye so casually. She shook his hand and thanked him.

“See you tonight then.”

“Yes. Oh, and thank you for the wolfsbane.”

There was a loud crash as Lavinia dropped the teapot. She’d just entered from the kitchen.

“Wolfsbane?” Lavinia repeated faintly.

Theophany stepped protectively in front of Jacka but he brushed her aside.

“Go home, Theophany. I’m sure your family is worried about you.”

Jacka sounded weary but firm. Theophany hesitated. What if the Honeysetts demanded to be moved immediately rather than stay in the home of a werewolf? Last night Theophany had left them with Jacka for some reason. It wasn’t safe to move them, or act at all, until she’d reviewed those memories and found out what was going on. She raised a hand but didn’t quite touch Jacka’s shoulder. He was too tall and too shy.

“I’m sorry to land you in my mess,” she said softly and stepped back into the flames.

Silyn put down the Quibbler as she stumbled back into The Mill.

“Helpful?”

“Very.”

“What’s next?”

“Bed. I think it’s going to be a long night.”



The last solid date was Barnabas Deverill. Born late in the seventeenth century, died 1730 or 32. It was a little uncertain when Loxias murdered him, or indeed where he was buried, if at all. Loxias was the beginning of a slippery slope into the shadows. So many people had claimed to have killed him over a range of dates, his lifespan was difficult to bookend. His activities seemed to have been kept exclusively in the west of Ireland, and there, according to legend, a great monolith marked his grave. Anybody could be buried under that rock, but it wasn’t entirely unlikely.

After Loxias’s demise the Elder Wand was claimed by either Livius or Arcus. Dates unknown. No family name. They were thought, by some, to be mere filler in the legend to bring the story up to present day.

Snape scowled at the book in his hand and tossed it on a discouragingly large reject pile. Fine, he would continue with what he did know. The wand had somehow passed from one of their hands to Gregorovitch but must have lain dormant for sometime. Until Gregorovitch started running his mouth, there were no rumors of a master wand anywhere. At last, Grindelwald. If the height of his power, and the year of his defeat, was 1945, how long had he possessed the wand? Albus said Grindelwald left the country in 1899, which left forty-five years for his slow rise to infamy.

Dumbledore wouldn’t say how he knew when Grindelwald left, and Snape didn’t press. There were no lights in the sky, no miraculous acts or shows of power until the early thirties. Did Grindelwald have the wand all that time and suppressed its power? Either way, Snape had to create a path for the Elder Wand from 1830 to roughly 1900, when Gregorovitch lost the wand, and continue that path after that point, carefully editing Grindelwald out of the story. Everyone knew who had defeated the last dark wizard. Grindelwald pointed irrevocably to Dumbledore, and he had to remove that glowing sign post.

The portraits in the Headmaster’s office were all asleep; he always cast this spell to ensure ultimate privacy and security. No portrait could betray the school’s current head, but he didn’t want any witnesses to his extra activities, even oil-based ones.

He picked his way past his scattered books to the shelf. The wizarding Who’s Who of the magical world, fondly nicknamed Whizoo, dated much further back than the seventeenth century, unlike the Muggle editions named after it. It seemed a simple-minded place to start, but Snape flipped through anyway. Beginning at an obvious point was better than casting about helplessly. He was nothing if not thorough. It was what had made him a good student.

Thoughtfully he checked against the Muggle editions, despite Livius and Arcus most likely being purebloods. The hierarchy of blood and family had forever underscored magical society. There was no indication of any powerful person matching the names or the theoretical dates of Livius or Arcus, but there was a family named Archer who caught his interest. They seemed to own vast amounts of land.

The industrial revolution had done wizards no favors. Magic could not be put on an assembly line, and so many of the magical arts were dependent on nature. Moreover, after the Secrecy Act in 1689, the need for privacy and space for wizarding communities became more desperate, the more urban Britain became. Was Arcus being anglicized to Archer too much of a stretch? Was it plausible enough for his purpose?

“Severus? Have you found something?”

Dumbledore’s portrait leaned forward as if to leave the frame and peer over Snape’s shoulder.

“Hum? Yes, I can make it work.” Snape returned the books to their respective shelves with a wave of his wand. “It will be a paperchase at first so I know the field; and then I make a paper trail of my own, one that The Dark Lord will follow. Hopefully.”

He pinched his nose bridge,

“What I need right now is access to the sort of books not kept in your study, Albus. I need to tie Arcus or Livius to some ancestry. The Dark Lord isn’t as much of a pureblood snob as a general snob. One great ancestor is, to him, greater than an unbroken line of inbred aristocrats.”

“I didn’t know you were such a champion of the bourgeois, Severus.”

“And the most complete collection of pureblood directories”— Snape chose to ignore any commentary from Albus—“would be in the possession of one of the ‘Sacred Twenty-Eight’.”

He checked the clock.

“I’ll be at Malfoy Manor all evening.”

“And they’ve offered you their private library?”

Snape swept books and papers off the mantel in search of the Floo pot.

“They will now.”

“What if Riddle is there and finds you in the library?”

“You forget Albus, I’m an academic.”

He was gone in flash of green flames, hearing Albus sigh, “I wish you wouldn’t smile when nothing is funny.”
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