On Archive of Our Own
On Twisting the Hellmouth
VI: Dear Diana
It was Pomona Sprout's turn to be duty teacher; since it was a Saturday afternoon that meant that she was stuck in the staff room marking while most of the other teachers were relaxing. In the case of the Carrows and Snape that meant that they were probably torturing puppies or grovelling to Voldemort, she hadn't seen them since breakfast and didn't particularly want to. The only other teacher in the room was Horace Slughorn, who was telling one of his interminable stories about living the high life in Vienna before Grindlewald's war. Pomona mostly tuned him out, apart from counting how many times Slughorn described a minor celebrity with the words "dear old" - she thought she was up to eighteen, but it could be twenty.
Just after four Filch came in, saying "Lady to see Professor Snape."
"Is he in his office?"
"Out somewhere, I think."
"I'd better see her then."
Filch went out, and came back a few moments later with an attractive brunette witch who appeared to be in her thirties, wearing a stylish feather-trimmed robe. Horace looked at her, did a double-take, and said "Diana! How are you, dear lady?"
She kissed his cheek and said "Horace! I'd heard you were retired, evidently that was wrong. How lovely to see you again." She turned to Pomona and said "Apologies, it has been many years. I'm Diana Prince, I was hoping to see my cousin."
"I'm afraid he's gone out somewhere. Can I help at all?"
"Not really, it's family business and needs to be discussed privately. I don't mind waiting."
"I must admit, I never really thought of Severus as having family."
"It's not exactly a close connection. I think Severus and I are all that's left, and I live in Paris and haven't seen him since his mother died."
"That would explain it." She rang for a house elf, and one appeared a moment later. "Would you like some tea?"
"Coffee, if you have it."
"Of course. Horace?"
"Oh, tea would be lovely. And some of those little marzipan cakes, perhaps?"
"Why not? I'll have tea too, Wilkiss. And if you can find Professor Snape please tell him that his cousin is here to see him."
"Professor Snape is not in Hogwarts now," said the house-elf, "but we will tell him when we sees him." He disappeared as abruptly as he'd arrived.
"Do take a seat," said Pomona. "If you'll excuse me, I really need to carry on with my marking. The second years seem to have some rather curious ideas about pollination, and I need to disabuse them of their errors."
"I'll look after Miss Prince," said Horace. "Now then, Diana, how's dear Steven?"
"He died some years ago."
"Ah." There was an awkward pause, interrupted when Wilkiss reappeared levitating two trays.
"And that German lady, Professor... ah... Maru? Such interesting theories!"
"She's also dead, I'm afraid. Her last attempt to brew the Elixir of Life went badly."
Horace poured the tea while Diana helped herself to coffee. "Only to be expected, I suppose. Without a Philosopher's Stone it's almost impossible. And for a muggle to try it..."
"She succeeded several times."
"Really? I had no idea."
"There were ethical issues about her methods, especially her test subjects, and she spent some years in prison. I believe that all records of her work were destroyed, and her surviving associates obliviated once the German Ministry found out what she was up to."
"Remarkable. You, on the other hand, don't look a day older than the last time we met."
"I moisturise." There was something in her tone of voice that seemed to make Slughorn wary, and he didn't ask any more questions.
Fifteen minutes later Wilkiss returned, saying "Professor Snape can see you now," and led Diana out.
When they were gone Pomona said "What the hell was that about?"
"You know bloody well. 'Dear Diana', who you've mentioned in a lot of the stories you've told me over the years. I thought she'd be about ninety."
Horace looked smug but wary. "Well over a hundred, I believe. But please keep it to yourself. There are those..." He wrote a glowing V with the tip of his wand "...who crave longevity."
"Of course. You're really not joking?"
"We first met at one of Flaumel's parties in Lyon in 1922. She doesn't look a day older."
"It's mid-summer and this room has windows. But it irks me to admit that I simply don't know. It isn't the Elixir, the side-effects of that are readily apparent. I've never seen her appear to be tired or ill, and she's extremely strong. I've never even been entirely sure that she's a witch, although I noticed she's carrying a wand today. And I've heard her called 'Princess'; my best guess is cursed exile from one of those little magical kingdoms, Guilder or Florin say, with the spell preserving her youth until she's allowed to return."
"Princess Diana. That's weird..."
"Just a coincidence, so far as I know. Just a coincidence."
"'We've got a few hours to kill', he said," Hermione said furiously. "'Nobody's looking for us in Paris', he said."
"Hermione, calm down!"
"As for you, mister 'I'm pretty sure that we can fix that fairly easily'! Grrrrr..."
"All right," said Ron, "I admit it, it was a bad idea. But we're okay, and I'm pretty sure that we weren't recognized."
"No thanks to you," said Harry. "'We've got away from them, we might as well stop for some noodles.' I ask you!"
"Nobody told me there was a Chinese wizarding quarter!"
"Now we've got half the wizards in Paris looking for junior Death Eaters with counterfeit francs! Not to mention that weird guy with the big hat and the lightning..."
"At least they don't know it's us they're after," said Hermione. "Let's keep it that way. There's a supermarket on the way back to Diana's place, we'll get food there and you and Harry can cook it."
"I can do breakfasts," said Harry, "but I'm not that good at other things."
"Same here," said Ron.
"Time to learn then, because I want a decent bloody meal, and you two are going to pull your weight cooking it for a change. Am I making myself clear?"
"Good. Because if I was as evil as the Prophet claims I'd be shopping for some new minions about now. Let's get out of here before anything else goes wrong."
"Diana?" Severus Snape said with a distinct lack of enthusiasm. "What an unexpected surprise."
"I was in the country for a funeral, and I thought I'd drop by. It seemed a good time to review my obligations." Diana looked around the room and its assorted portraits and magical gadgets, and seemed less than impressed.
"Take a seat."
"You don't look well, Severus. Should I assume that your... ah... Lord is being his usual self?"
"That's one way of putting it."
Diana gestured to one of the portraits, whose subject had an ear trumpet aimed at them. "Might we have a little privacy?"
"If we must." Snape tapped one of the ornaments with his wand, and shutters rolled down over each of the paintings. "They're soundproof, of course."
"Good. Now then... nearly twenty years ago you asked me to stay out of this. I agreed, reluctantly, because you implied that you had the matter in hand. What was the plan, Severus, get close to him then take over?"
"I was young and idealistic..."
"You joined a racist death cult. Unless you were planning to destroy it from within from the outset I can see no way that you could possibly think it would end well."
"I miscalculated. When you couldn't save Lily I..."
"Do you still want me to stay out of it?"
There was a long silence.
"Do you want me to rescue Draco?"
"That would be difficult at this stage. The Malfoys are very close to the Dark Lord."
"That's not what I asked. Do you want me to rescue Draco?"
"There would be retaliation against his mother, at the very least. And the Dark Lord would be able to find and summon him. He has taken the Dark Mark."
"I see. Do you want me to try to keep them both alive? What about the father?"
"Lucius has made his own bed, he can lie in it. I take it that this is where you tell me that the only way to keep Draco and Narcissa alive is for you to get involved in the war."
"No. It's the most likely to be successful, in the long term, but there are other possibilities. I might be able to persuade Hephestus to shelter them, for example, though he'd probably try to seduce Narcissa and put Draco to work at his forge."
"And you would then feel that you've fulfilled your obligation and join the fight."
"The Dark Lord is... there are reasons why this shouldn't be your fight."
"You told me about the prophecy when your friend was killed. Nothing in what you told me precludes my helping the boy."
Snape stared at her appraisingly, and eventually said "I heard from Potter this morning. Would you know anything about that?"
"Do you really want an answer?"
"I.. No, I don't. I really don't need one, do I?"
"That's up to you."
"Very well." Snape thought for a moment. "I release you from all debts you may have incurred to my family, implied and otherwise. I ask you to save Draco and his mother if you can. Beyond that, do what you like."
"Thank you. I agree to your terms." She stood, and flicked her lasso to wrap around him. "Now, I came here today to discuss maintainance of family graves in Paris. If you are questioned you will remember talking about the costs, and an eventual reluctant agreement that your contribution will rise from fifteen to twenty-four galleons a year beginning next year. We discussed nothing else."
"Unfortunately I remember things differently."
"You won't if you are questioned, and if it is important that you forget. And afterward you will remember again. Think of it as an additional level of occlumency. It isn't the first time we've done this."
"In Voldemort's presence, if you are asked about me you think of me as a distant relative you barely know, and have done so for many years. When you first turned against him you asked me to do it, and remove the memory of having asked. You'll forget again after I leave."
"If you can do that... can you do the same for some other memories? It would help considerably."
"If they aren't too old. Beyond a few days it gets difficult. A month or more and it is impossible."
"Damn. Thank you, then I think that's all."
Diana maintained the lasso's hold on him. "One more thing; you may hear from Harry Potter again, do you wish me to apply the same protection?"
"That... might be very useful."
Twenty minutes later Diana left the castle via the floo in Snape's office, coming out at a public floo on the outskirts of Salisbury, fifteen-odd miles from Malfoy Intrinsica, the village nearest Malfoy Manor. She felt like a little exercise, so she made her way out of town at a fast walk, stopping along the way to buy a pair of binoculars and a map of the area and make a phone call, then started to run.
Notes: Guilder and Florin are borrowed from The Princess Bride.
We only see one vampire in Harry Potter canon, in one paragraph of Book 6, and we learn nothing of their capabilities or weaknesses, except that they dislike garlic. I've assumed that they are more or less as described in most legends.
The Chinese wizard with lightning is of course from Big Trouble in Little China. And yes, that was a noodle incident.
I've stretched the powers of the lasso a little, but not much. In comics and TV canon it has been shown as erasing memories when necessary, the protection against occlumency shown here seems a logical extension.
The village of Malfoy Intrinsica is borrowed, with permission, from A.J. Hall's fanfic. I'm not planning to use much apart from the name.
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