|snarrymod (snarrymod) wrote in snarry_games,|
@ 2008-04-21 20:12:00
|Entry tags:||amanuensis, entry, team dragon|
TEAM DRAGON ENTRY: Amanuensis "The Two Magicians"
Title: The Two Magicians
Genre: Postwar, Romance
Word Count: ~4,300
Ratings/Warnings/Kinks: PG-13; none, really
Summary: "So she became a full-dressed ship a-sailing on the sea / But he became a bold captain and aboard of her went he..."
Author's Note: Another one of my Ballad pastiches, this one of The Two Magicians, about a sorcerer's duel with sex at stake. How could I not? Lyrics for the song are here, and a streaming version is here. Much thanks to Team Dragon and fabularasa for helping whip this into shape.
"Bloody buggering bollocks!"
Hermione had the grace to look up from her book, but directed her attention back to it even before she spoke. "Ignore him, Ron. He's alliterative, so he can't really be all that angry."
Torn between his best mate and the girl in whose good graces he was required to stay if he wanted anything beyond a peremptory peck on the cheek that night, Ron was an utter pushover, Harry knew. "She's right, Harry," Ron shrugged. "Can't be anything to get you that wild, can it."
"How," Harry snarled regardless, "am I supposed to apologize to that berk if he won't even let me speak to him?"
Ron and Hermione exchanged a look in front of him. "Snape again," Hermione asked, despite the lack of inflection.
"I can't say a word. Not a word. He sees me and he's gone, out of the frame like someone set fire to it."
"There's an idea," Ron brightened. "You could threaten to burn the thing if he won't stick around."
"Ron!" Hermione scolded. "That's hardly a way for Harry to begin apologizing. Honestly."
"It's Snape, isn't it?" Ron shrugged again. "That's the sort of language he'd understand."
Privately Harry suspected Ron did have a fair measure of Snape. But it wouldn't do; Snape would be sure to call his bluff. Six months dead, and the man could still outmaneuver him.
"Does it have to be you?" Ron continued. "D'you think you'd have better luck having someone else give him the message--someone he'll stay and talk to instead of running off to another portrait?"
"I don't think that would be enough for Harry." Hermione was watching Harry's face; he was too frustrated to shy away from the scrutiny. "From what you've said you're set on doing this properly, aren't you."
"Why's it proper?" Ron had directed this at Hermione. "Snape's not even acting like he deserves an apology, let alone whether he deserves one from Harry in the first place, the git."
"It's important to Harry--" her tone was wistful, not scolding-- "that Snape sees he's no coward, to send someone else."
Hermione had the measure of him, yes, but Harry remained too unhappy to be indignant about that. Besides, it was Hermione; not as if that was anything uncanny. "It's as if he's testing me. To see how far I'll go to make him listen, no matter how difficult he makes it for me."
Now Ron looked thoughtful. "You could paint yourself yellow and cluck like a chicken, next time you go," he said. "That'd stop him in his tracks, I bet."
Because Ron disguised a good deal of sense in his jokes, Harry found himself considering it, though unable to conceal a full-body wince at the thought. "Tell me you don't think that's a good idea," he appealed to Hermione.
Hermione, he realized, also had a thoughtful expression, and for an instant his despair deepened. "No," she said slowly, to his relief. "Not the 'yellow' part..."
"Not that part either."
Snape, who had been standing by the painted replica of the headmaster's chair when he'd turned in response to Harry's approach, had now frozen in place. "No," he said.
Further pleading, Harry had decided, would be a bit pathetic. He set his hand upon the painted desk, marveling at how it felt no different from the real thing under his painted hand. "You're a difficult man to talk to, Severus Snape. Hell, you're a difficult man to find."
"Get out. Immediately."
Harry had never backed down from the man when Snape was alive, either. Even if he was on new, unfamiliar ground--the paint had hardly been dry when Harry had transferred his consciousness into the newly-rendered portrait of himself, and he was still working out the details of portrait-to-portrait travel--he was going wherever Snape went. "No chance," he said, trying to match the man for stubbornness while not spilling over into bravado. "You wanted to test how far I'd go? Well, I'll go pretty far." He turned his hand so Snape was sure to see the wand in it. Harry had made sure his portrait had included that.
Snape's posthumous portrait artist, however, had done the same for him. Snape had it in hand and had aimed a wordless something at Harry in less time than it took a living man's heart to beat; it was all Harry could do to counter it with a "Protego!"
"Typical Potter," sneered Snape, as his spell was deflected. "He learns nothing, not even unvoiced spells."
Harry swallowed back what would have been a stumbling excuse--that he had done well to have time to choose Protego over the first spell that had come to his lips, Expelliarmus; disarming Snape entirely had felt unfair, somehow. "Maybe it's your fault for having died so soon," he retorted instead.
"Oh, yes, do forgive me Potter, for having died and inconvenienced you. However shall I live with the shame. Oh, that's right; I shan't."
Harry considered it a win that Snape wasn't trying to hex him at the moment. "I learned more from you in death than I learned while you were alive. I think that's sad. Everyone I know thinks that."
"My heart bleeds." The statement was dry enough to have evaporated a small lake. "Oh, no wait, it doesn't do that either, does it."
"I'm sorry you died," Harry said. If Snape was going to echo that particular refrain, he probably shouldn't evade it, then.
Snape's mouth twisted familiarly. It made something in Harry's chest twist in a different way, that manifestation of the same old Snape. "That's your apology, then, is it? Good. Go."
"It's not." He kept his eyes on Snape's face, knowing he'd see the hex in Snape's expression before it ever got to his wand hand. "That isn't apology--I mean, it's sympathy, of course I'm sorry you died, but I don't feel like I've got to take all the responsibility for that."
"Have you missed--" the sibilants were vicious-- "how much of my mission hinged on protecting you, Potter?"
"No, I haven't. But you took that on willingly. I'm thanking you for that, if you'll let me, but I won't apologize for that either. Bringing down Voldemort wasn't completely about me, so I'm still not taking all the responsibility for your death, thank you very much."
"At least you've learned something, you idiot child." Snape said it like an accusation.
But he still hadn't tried to hex Harry again. "Yes, well." Harry thought he'd get further with agreement than with argument at this stage. "I still want to apologize."
Snape made a derisive noise. "For whose actions, then? Your father's, perhaps?"
"No. My mother's."
It froze Snape. Harry could see the ice forming--then giving way to slow rage. "You shameless whelp," Snape began.
Harry acted, not caring if or how he stumbled. He had to get it out. "She would be sorry. She would. Sorry she ever doubted you."
Snape's rage was not abating. "How dare you--"
"You knew her better than I ever did! I'm not arguing that, honest, I'm not. But someone's got to make the apology for her, because it would break her heart to know she couldn't do it for herself. Which leaves me."
It was all he got to say. The curse was not deadly--in neither the technical nor intentional sense; a curse could not kill Harry in this state, he knew, nor did he think Snape would go so far even if he knew that. But the curse could and did catch him in the midsection almost before he saw Snape's wand moving, and it could and did leave him gasping and clutching at his gut as he sat straight up on the bed in his room, whole and corporeal and feeling like his belly had been blasted out his back. On the wall was his portrait, again mere paint, no longer inhabited by his consciousness.
"Harry! You all right?"
Ron had spoken, but it was Hermione who had hold of him. "I'm okay," Harry choked out. "I made him--pretty angry." He bit back anything further, not wanting to admit how pear-shaped it had gone.
Hermone looked unhappy, but only pulled out her wand and ran it over him, as if checking to see if he'd had any nasty residuals from the transfer.
"Well, you're done with it," said Ron, who might have folded his arms for all the finality he commanded into that sentence. "Did your best. Snape can have that, and he doesn't even deserve that."
"No." It sat heavily on Harry, but he meant it. "I'm going to try again."
"Bloody hell, you will not!" Harry actually shifted away from Ron's black look. "Not for him, you won't."
"Snape will continue to have the advantage over you even if you do try again," Hermione said. "He knows the territory, feels it, better than you. Having been in it so much longer."
"Well--" Harry swung his legs off the bed. "--I'll have to come up with something else. If I can get into a portrait, isn't there some way to get him out of his?"
Ron rolled his eyes; Hermione looked thoughtful. "There is," she said slowly--Harry knew she was relishing the challenge, even more than she feared for anyone's safety--"though Snape could still get free of it. Which would put him back into one of his portraits, just as you came back to your body. Each of you returns to the primary source of your consciousness."
"But I'd be on better ground than I was, if it were ground less familiar to him."
Hermione nodded; Ron only scowled. "You two." But he wasn't forbidding Harry any longer, and Harry counted that a win.
"All right, then--" Harry stood, only a little wobbly on his feet. "--I'd better start thinking."
Snape blinked owlishly. "Fucking hell, Potter, what have you done?" His palm hit the pane of glass; he stared at it rather than at Harry.
"I was wrong before." Harry would not waste time; he couldn't afford to. "I didn't realize you would react that way when I mentioned my mother, and I should have thought about it more. I should have realized it would sound like I was manipulating you to listen to me. I'm sorry about that."
"This is your definition of 'sorry,' then--you trap me into a mirror, where I have no choice but to stare back at your loathsome face."
"You didn't think it was so loathsome when you begged me to look at you when you were dying, you git." Oh, no. No, Snape was getting the better of him again--why did he have to rise to it? He took a breath, faced Snape in the mirror. "That wasn't what I was going to say. That...that was an important moment, besides--when you asked me to see you as you really were. I hadn't understood, not 'til then. I almost didn't need your memories, after."
In the mirror, the anger on Snape's face, which had been improbably building (improbably because Harry didn't see how it could get any greater) now even more improbably fled. Harry was suddenly met by a stony lack of all expression. "You've learned nothing," Snape said. "Understood nothing, and I am glad of it."
There was an indefinable movement in Snape's mirror-trapped form--Harry later realized it was the two-dimensional limitations that left him unable to quite see it until after--and then Snape's right arm plunged forward against the glass. Harry jumped back from the explosive snap as a web of cracks fled outward along the glass from the point of contact, then he flung himself further back as the pieces of the mirror shivered and fell from their metal frame with a terrible glittery crash.
He was breathing hard as he looked at his sleeves, at his shoes; the glass had not reached him. All that was left was the empty metal frame. Snape had found a way to flee the mirror after all, hadn't he. Trust him.
"Fine," Harry said aloud to no one. "If that's the way you want it, you impossible bugger."
Snape looked up as Harry fell into existence next to him, but did not speak; he dropped his gaze. Harry didn't know if that was a good or bad sign.
He took his time before speaking. This was a form which both of them knew how to escape easily; Harry knew that from experience. He didn't want to bollocks up this chance right away.
"It'd be generous of you if you did explain," he began at last. "You may not feel generous towards me, but maybe you'd like being one up on me in merciful gestures towards someone you don't really like."
Snape gave his version of a smile, a twisted pursed line, without looking up. "That is true. I do not like you, Potter."
"Why are you telling me that like it's news?" He chuckled so it wouldn't sound like an accusation. It trailed off as Harry noticed how Snape was cradling his right hand in his left. He thought he saw something dark and glistening on the palm. "Are you--you're hurt, aren't you. The mirror..."
Snape shot him a look. "It's not as if I can die again. Cease fussing."
"But--you don't have your wand here, do you. Let me--"
"Another step and I shall leave."
But he hadn't done it. He could have just winked out; instead he'd given Harry a chance. "All right," Harry murmured, buoyed by this. "I won't come closer. Will you stay and talk to me?"
"I assume you'll come after me again if I do not." It was flatly said.
"Yes," said Harry, equally flatly.
Snape did not look at him, but his expression said he believed Harry meant it.
"If," Harry said, taking care with every word, "I was mistaken about what I said, was it because I still don't see you as you are--were?" Snape did not answer; Harry had not really thought he would. He would have to hit a nerve, he feared, before Snape would take the bait, and then Snape would most likely flee. Well, so be it. "That was sheer vanity, wasn't it, when you asked me to look at you? I mean, I already had your memories. You just wanted to rub in how much I'd got it wrong, and now you were dying for it."
Too much? No. Snape gave him a look that pierced, but he stayed where he was when he did it. "There's the Potter I know so well--one who assumes I must have been doing it for you."
"What? You said it to me, didn't you--who else was in the bloody room? You weren't saying it to Ron or Hermione."
"Dying men make desperate, foolish requests, Potter. Even when we know the results--and recipients--will come back to haunt us."
There was an audible shoop of air as Snape faded from view. Harry sighed. Rot him, did Snape have any idea how many Chocolate Frog cards he'd had to open to find his? An unstable choice, granted, but it had been worth a go. Time to try something else. Now that his apology had turned into some mystery, damned if Harry was going to let up.
"This has gone beyond a monstrous joke, Potter."
"It's never been a joke. It's your fault you won't stay bloody still," said Harry, flexing his joints, trying to get used to the stiffness.
Like Snape, the features of Snape's action figure seemed primarily made to scowl. He fixed the most vicious of these on Harry. "I do have my wand this time, you know." The black protrusion in his fist lifted to aim at Harry.
Harry, of course, had his own--he'd taken care to choose his Defeater Of You-Know-Who model, rather than the Champion Seeker (With Firebolt Broom!) version, though he'd have to be careful the longer hair didn't get in his way. "'S your answer to everything, isn't it--violence, violence, violence," he said. "Typical Snape, he never learns."
Throwing Snape's words back at him wasn't going to make Snape calmer, he knew. It didn't. Harry dodged Snape's first hex as Snape retreated backwards across the floor. (Harry hadn't been so foolish as to leave them on a table.)
"What's next, Sectumsempra?" he called, starting to advance, wary of Snape's wand. "I don't think I'll bleed as satisfyingly in this state."
He expected another, equally angry hex. Instead Snape retreated farther. Maybe it hadn't been such a good idea to be placed on the floor--Snape had the whole house in which to flee, now.
Harry stopped in his tiny, carpet-hindered tracks. He wasn't going so far as to throw down his wand, but he let it hang at his side. "What the hell do you want me to say? I don't hate you, any longer--I haven't since that night. You went out of your way to make sure I hated you and I'm still letting all that go, do you get it?"
Snape had stopped, a short distance across the carpet. "You expect--" every syllable dripped with contempt-- "that your lack of hatred should cancel out mine? The living man generously telling the dead one that they are even?"
"No." And on this ground, Harry knew what he wanted to say. "I didn't save your life--I couldn't. And knowing you, I'd expect you to hate me if I had saved it. You'd never send a civil word my way for the rest of our lives, would you." He allowed himself another step nearer, still not raising his wand. "You could hate me, and hate me, and go on hating me. But I didn't save you. I failed, all right? Harry bloody Potter couldn't save the one person who'd done him the greatest service of his life. It's the stupidest, most awful irony and it's on me." He threw his arms wide. "You win. You've got your revenge, because you died--isn't that enough punishment? Can't you let the hate go?"
Snape was still, his features unreadable. Feeling he was spent in words, Harry raised his wand in a slow gesture, one that might not look so much like attack. "Riddikulus."
The swirl of magic spiraled into the space between them, then faded without effect. "That only works on boggarts, Potter," Snape said, voice neutral.
"You think you're not?" Harry answered, with the same lack of fire. "My own personal boggart. Everyone who knows me will tell you so."
Snape snorted. "Tripe."
To be disbelieved over this--that was too much for Harry, suddenly. "I care what you think about me because I like you, you idiot--we're a lot alike, I know that now, and I hate that I only like you now that you're dead and it's easy. I've already said my mother would have been sorry--now I'm telling you I am, too, and I don't expect to say that and walk away forgiven, because that would be easy, too. I want better than forgiveness, and I'll do what I can to earn it, however you'll let me do it--I want your bloody like."
And Snape said nothing. Did not move, did not change expression.
Until he raised his wand, and turned the point not towards Harry, but himself.
No,Harry thought, you're not escaping this time. I will make you stay. The realization that he meant it surged through him, powerful, almost an ecstasy. One spell filled his soul, left his lips: "Expecto Patronum!"
That same thrum of ecstasy seemed to burst from the end of his wand, carried it and carried him on the spell; Harry felt himself leaving the framework of his figure into the Patronus form. Snape was fixed in his gaze; he felt his hooves driving against the space that separated them.
He saw Snape lift his own wand, turning it away from himself and towards Harry's advancing form. Saw Snape's mouth form the same syllables though the pounding surge of blood in his stag's ears made the sound of them come as if from a distance. The silver Patronus erupted with such violence Snape fell back, the figure collapsing into stiff immobility, and Harry leapt at the doe that came towards him. Ready to overcome, to overtake...
And it was the stag that pulled back, lifted its crown of antlers away from the leaping doe as Harry's senses were awash with its nearness, with the feel and knowledge and awareness of what was before him: not an enemy to crush, but something kindred to overwhelm, to conquer, to master. He circled the doe, who continued to turn to face him, no easy prey but with every signal--smell, gaze, posture, self--telling him it knew the inevitable outcome.
What could not have been possible in any other form took its most natural course. Stag and doe circled, signaled, turned. Ran and chased, only to stop and circle again. Touched. Came apart again. Circled and touched.
Most natural course.
"What is this."
"It seemed the best idea I had." Harry pushed closer against Snape's side, though no distance separated them in this design. "I was worried that in any other form you might try to get away from me again. You know, embarrassed."
"Why on earth should I be embarrassed. I've only been rutting with the bloody savior of the Wizarding world in deer form." Snape sounded as if he would have fled the distance of certain celestial objects to be rid of Harry, but he didn't shrink away, giving the lie to his words.
"I never understood. You were right, I didn't. Not going to miss out now that I do," Harry laughed. "Fuck, that was--"
"On top of everything else, you're a top-level pervert. Splendid."
"Well," Harry said, letting his hands begin to travel, "I made sure this form was anatomically correct. No objection to finding out what sex with you is like when we're human--well, anatomically human, anyway."
"Potter, there is a mirror behind us. The accusation of your perversity stands." Snape was pretending to ignore Harry's hands--from the reactions of his body, Harry knew it was pretending--and glanced about, further surveying their surroundings. "This is one of the most foolish concepts you could have dreamed up. Next you'll have us as the figures atop a wedding cake."
"You said 'us'," Harry said, still too affected by post-coital tranquility to care about sounding soppy. "I like it."
"And I notice neither of us have wands," Snape continued as if he hadn't heard, glancing down at the tiny pedestal which held them. "How, exactly, do we free ourselves of this one?"
Harry gathered up his courage. "We can both go at any time, just by thinking it," he said. "You back to your portrait, me back to my living body. I don't want you to stay here with me unless you want to, too." He looked Snape--he might have to get used to thinking of him as Severus, wouldn't he--in the eye. "But I was hoping you might stay a little longer, just now."
It wasn't actually all that long before Snape answered, "It does get a bit dull in the portraits, from time to time."
"I suppose that tune can't be changed."
"No, but we'll just keep the lid shut and keep it from playing."
"A wise choice. I don't fancy being forced to revolve in place, either. Nausea is hardly on my list of pleasures."
"Mine either, but I'm going to try to keep you light-headed and off-guard all by myself, anyway." Even in this small moulded shape, which was designed to be flattering, Snape was not lovely and would never be. But he was Harry's personal obsession, and that was by far good enough for him. "I thought the doe was supposed to be my mother," Harry murmured, picking up where his hands had left off.
"Idiot child," Snape said, but his hands were starting a similar exploration on Harry. "Your mother's Patronus--and mine--was a leopard. My Patronus changed to a doe the year you learned to cast your own."
"But...in the memory you gave me...Dumbledore said, 'After all this time...'?"
"Yes, well--" Snape's hands were doing a good job at rendering Harry speechless. "--three years is a bloody long time to realize that one has transferred one's affections to the son of one's former sweetheart, and is staying constant in those affections."
Despite the delicious sensations, Harry tried to sound sober. "I'm sorry. Sorry I never realized."
"Oh, do shut up, Potter, and give a dead man some frivolous comfort, will you."
Snape's idea of frivolous comfort was an excellent one, Harry decided.
"--haven't seen Harry for a week," fumed Ginny. "What message did he leave with you that he couldn't tell me himself?"
Hermione's fingers twisted against themselves. "Honestly, Ginny. He's all right, he's just...indisposed." She tried not to let her eyes travel back to the music box; the lid was closed, and there was no reason for Ginny to suspect. "He promised he'd explain when he...gets back."
"Not like he hasn't left me in the dark before." Ginny turned on her heel. "It's over between us this time, I mean it!"
Watching Ginny's angry departure, Hermione couldn't help but think she was right.
She crossed to the dresser, tapped an impatient finger on the music box's lid, whispering, "Are you ever coming out of there, Harry?"
"Soon," came the tiny reply.
"Eventually," said an equally tiny, but drier, voice.
"Eurgh," said Hermione.