Disclaimer: I'm not muscling in on JK's turf - just gambolling on it, like a spring lamb, having fun working out the literary and psychological puzzles which she is having fun setting us
#9: The Hunt in the Dark
[In which the Death Eaters stumble blindly through miles of tunnels in the dark, pursued by Snape and the shaman.]
"You have your wand: I want a knife! It's like missing a hand, otherwise."
"That's all very well, O'Connor, and I do sympathize - but you might as well ask for a Muggle machine-gun. I can't make you a knife - I told you, Transfiguration is blocked, and even if it weren't, shape-Transfigured objects revert at sunset, and we don't even know what time of day it is."
"No - I can make me a knife, if you'll just stop pacing like a caged bloody panther for ten minutes." She showed him the two rough pieces of flint she had found, tumbled free at a point where the tunnel-wall had started to crumble.
"You mean to make - a knife of stone?"
"Do you have any idea of the - magical implications of a stone blade?"
"No - but I'm sure you're going to tell me."
"Forgive me, but - do you even know how it's done?"
So there she was, somehow, sitting cross-legged on the floor in the pool of light he cast for her, rapping one flint sharply and rhythmically against the other and singing softly to herself:
"Janey wasn't a real survivalist,
She's gone underground;
More of an ancient skills revivalist,
She's gone underground...."
Theory, however, was one thing and practice was another. As an ancient skills revivalist she was beginning to feel she might be lacking something: half the time nothing flaked off at all, or it flaked off the wrong flint, or from the wrong side of the right one, until her proposed blade was starting to look as if it had been chewed rather than knapped.
When she cursed, and slammed the flint down onto the ground beside her in irritation, the professor hunkered down on his heels beside her, his long hair hanging down in swathes and swags around his face, and held out his hand commandingly. "Show me." She passed him her failed attempt at Stone Age technology without a word. "How is this done?"
"In theory, you tap one stone sharply along the edge of the other, I mean just alongside the edge rather than on the cutting surface itself, and that sets up a pattern of shock waves which causes a shallow cone-shaped shard of stone to flake off from the other side - making the edge shallower and sharper as you go."
"I understand. But you seem to be somewhat - out of practice" he said delicately.
"Frankly I was never in it - I learned it from a book. But it looked easy enough."
"Appearances may, however, be deceptive. All right - will you permit me to try?"
"You can't!" He whipped round at that and looked at her coldly, frowning. "Oh, I don't mean - I mean you'll hurt your hands. They look so sore...."
"But there are other things than brute force, O'Connor," he said evenly, and eased himself rather stiffly down to sit on the cold chalk beside her. She watched him turning the flints over and over in his hands, examining every plane, and wondered how he planned to work stone without jarring those long, damaged fingers.
She had her answer soon enough. He arrived at some decision, set one flint aside and balanced the other in the palm of his left hand - and then brought the illuminated tip of his wand over and tapped it lightly just proximal of the edge of the stone. As she watched, a perfect cone-shaped flake dropped away from the underside of the flint.
Tap, tap - turning the flint this way and that, flicking the wand-tip against it with crisp precision, frowning in concentration. The wavering under-light from the wand made him look even more gaunt than usual, with great hollows beneath his cheekbones and his eyes sunken into still-bruised sockets, but there was energy and force in every line of him. He had been in an odd mood since the fight with Lucius - or since the conversation that followed it, perhaps. Lynsey wasn't sure whether it was the getting to turn the tables that made the difference, or the knowing that she knew what his early relationship with Lucius had been and that she wasn't going to make an issue of it or behave any differently towards him: but either way he seemed simultaneously scraped thin and yet much more centred in himself. No longer, she thought, would she need to dance up power to give to him: power raised itself in and through him with every breath, it built up behind him and moved in him with a sense like storm coming.
After perhaps twenty minutes, he wordlessly held out the product of his labours to her, lying across the open palm of his hand for her to take. The stone blade was as fine and delicate as a silver spear-point, as a green leaf in springtime - and it was perfect. Of course it was. She turned it over and over in her own hands, caught somewhere between admiration and irritation.
"Is there anything that you're not good at, my lad?"
"I'm hopeless on a broom" he said with that odd, quick smile - "if that's any help. I get dizzy even thinking about it."
"Oh, yeah - I'm not too good with heights, myself. And - thank you, Prof. For my knife. It's - beautiful."
Sitting in near-darkness with those long hands held loosely in her own, trying to achieve some sort of mental/psychic synchronicity - she could open her mind to him without difficulty but he seemed to find it so hard to do the same; had so trained himself always to guard his thoughts that his mind slid away from her even when he wished to stay. The best they had achieved so far was for him to be able to see a series of abrupt, snapshot images of those Death Eaters she had seen enough of to visualize - she felt as much as heard his breath catch sharply and then continue with conscious effort at a vision of a collapsed, bed-bound Lucius shouting angrily at somebody, raw scars criss-crossing his bare skin - and those images were gone too fast to get more than a flicker of information out of them.
In return, she herself had a sharp, miserable new awareness of just how much physical pain her professor was still in - as if his whole body was wrapped in cold and searing flame, and every joint ached like ice. Not that it seemed to slow him down much. She held his hands gently, and tried to will away some of that fierce pain. She could hardly bear to look at his face, fearing that her own would give away too much emotion, to irritate and embarrass him - but when she did look up his expression, what she could see of it in the half-light, was wry and warily amused.
She smiled back at him. "Take a break for a minute. You were going to tell me about the magical significance of a stone blade?"
Another wry face. "It's old magic. Or Dark magic, depending on the - willingness of the victim. A blade of stone is considered best for certain types of - of blood sacrifice, especially those connected with winter, and with the element of earth."
"Ach - that's very pagan, Prof."
"I think that the early pagans understood the old magic very well - but then, of course, so did some of the early Christians, at least here in Britain."
She nodded. "Yes. The Arthurian myths, the Mabinogion, those are full of that sort of magic - and they straddle the divide between paganism and Christianity."
"Yes. How does it come about that you know how to do something like that anyway? I had the impression from Arthur - and from my own childhood - that Muggles had left that sort of primitive skill behind them."
"Oh, it's - it's a 'pagan thing.' See, here in Britain there's a tremendous overlap between the pagan crowd, which is to say the people who follow the old gods, and Science Fiction and Fantasy fen - that's people who like to read stories which speculate about the future, or about magic - and the historical re-enactment societies. That's people who dress in old styles of clothes and revive old skills and put on displays re-fighting old battles. Oh and rôle-players. Those are people who play games - sometimes on paper, sometimes actually acting them out - which involve play-acting being a character in an adventure - usually in a cod-Mediaeval setting, with added monsters."
"I know a little about Science Fiction, and about the music that goes with it, although I've never exactly - mingled with the fans."
"If you insist. But these different groups are all, in fact, people who feel displaced from their own time. Or who take a very long view of time?"
"Bit of both, I guess. I don’t know how it is in other countries, but here people are as likely to turn up at an SF convention in bearskins and an axe as they are space-suit and ray-gun. And the people on that scene - well, we're just expected to have - certain skills. Old skills. There are people in that crowd who could make you a pair of 17th C roll-topped thigh-boots, commencing with a live cow."
"Assuming, for the sake of argument, that one actually wished him or her to do so."
"Indeed. Nearly knowing how to knap flint is nothing. And we all... well, there's hardly anybody in the whole crowd who doesn't have at least some basic medical skills, in case somebody gets hit with a quarterstaff or something. I have a little more skill than most because I actually studied Biology, so I can do very basic minor operations - I mean I could probably stitch a wound and small stuff like that - but most of the pagan and SF crowd would have at least some idea how to put your shoulders back in for you, for example."
"I'm afraid such - 'hands-on' skills are somewhat rare in the wizarding world. Being able to do things with just a flick of the wand makes most modern witches and wizards sadly complacent and lazy."
"But not you, huh, Prof?"
"Me? I work with my hands - that's part of the appeal of potions." He sighed, looking at his battered fingertips. "Although perhaps not just at the moment. And my shoulders are almost as bad."
"Tsk - you should have said. Come here, then." He bowed his head without complaint and let her work her thumbs into the knotted muscles between neck and shoulders, kneading the cramp away - although she could do little or nothing for the pain of the sprained shoulder-joints themselves.
Like moles in the dark, they travelled the tunnels by lightless instinct only - the better to spot any alien light-source from a distance. That meant Lynsey was back in the lead, supplementing the Dark Sight by fumbling ahead of herself. It was difficult and unnerving - but by this point they were hoping actively to seek out any Death Eaters who might conceivably be carrying food or drink. Lynsey was starting to wonder whether there was any way that they could, like moles, simply dig their way out - but if memory served there was at least fifty feet of chalk and topsoil above their heads.
"The wind blew out from Bergen from the dawning to the day,
There was a wreck of trees and fall of towers a score of miles away,
And drifted like a livid leaf I go before its tide,
Spewed out of house and stable, beggared of flag and bride.
The heavens are bowed about my head, shouting like seraph wars,
With rains that might put out the sun and clean the sky of stars,
Rains like the fall of ruined seas from secret worlds above,
The roaring of the rains of God none but the lonely love.
Feast in my hall, O foemen, and eat and drink and drain,
You never loved the sun in heaven as I have loved the rain."
She was getting seriously dry, now, but Chesterton's Last Hero was altogether too creepy to miss, and one that they both knew.
"...How white their steel, how bright their eyes! I love each laughing knave,
Cry high and bid him welcome to the banquet of the brave.
Yea, I will bless them as they bend and love them where they lie,
When on their skulls the sword I swing falls shattering from the sky.
The hour when death is like a light and blood is like a rose,-
You never loved your friends, my friends, as I shall love my foes."
"Nihilism rocks!" she thought, grinning to herself as she groped uncertainly through the ancient, underground night. Eight thousand years, there had been people fumbling through this darkness, carrying smoky torches or none.
"...The skies I saw, the trees I saw after no eyes shall see.
To-night I die the death of God : the stars shall die with me :
One sound shall sunder all the spears and break the trumpet's breath :
You never laughed in all your life as I shall laugh in death."
As the song rolled to its hair-raising conclusion, she put out her hand in the darkness to feel for the wall and her fingers, her palm touched fat lips, smooth cheek, soft flesh - she opened her mouth to scream but the other beat her to it. As the (presumed) Death Eater shrieked and bolted Lynsey knew in that moment that they were, finally and against all logic, winning. As she tried to swallow her heart, which seemed to be lodged against her teeth, there was a flash of light from the professor's wand and by it she saw something small shoot past her coming the other way, from the fugitive to him.
"What did you get, then?"
"Some sort of painted metal tube containing - oh, yes, about three-quarters full of a liquid which seems to be called Dr Pepper."
"Not my choice, but it'll do. I wonder if snake-features knows his minions are indulging in Muggle beverages?"
"Good grief - what a peculiar taste."
"It is, isn't it? Kind-of like liquid bubble-gum."
"It's wet - it'll do."
She had to agree with that, since sheer dehydration was beginning to make her feel as if her brain had been hard-boiled within the ceramic bowl of her skull. "Anyway," she murmured, "by some miracle we seem to have the psychological whip-hand - sorry" she added, hearing his sharp intake of breath.
"Unfortunate - choice of words."
"Do you not know that under my skin
Are teeth and claws and a furry hide?
Do you not know that the mail and helmet
Are only to keep the bear inside?"
Beside her, the professor caught his breath and looked at her as dubiously as she sometimes looked at him - apparently equally unsure whether to be impressed or simply unnerved.
"Are you so brave that come before me;
Eager to lie in your blood-stained rows?"
It was a song she had always felt able to sing with such genuine feeling and empathy, and she could see he could sense it (and was slightly freaked-out by it).
"Brave young men that come before me,
Mortal men, are you ready to die?
Brave young man in the thick of battle,
Can you not hear the grey sword's cry?
"Hark to the song of metal on metal;
The song of battle: come if you dare!
Come where I strike through the heaviest battle,
My grey sword making the feast of the bear
"Do you not see by the light of battle
Something never a man in my eyes?"
As the song ramped to its final chorus -
"Face what you've dared to summon to slaughter:
Lo, I am hungry and I am the bear"
- he lifted his chin in an ironic, self-mocking gesture. "God - you make yourself sound like a - a werewolf. Were-bear. I should have known better, shouldn't I, than to think you would be shocked by my own capacity for violence!"
"Yes. You should." She frowned at him. "Deliberate cruelty shocks me. But straightforward battle-lust - nah!"
"I've had to be - cruel - on occasion."
"Not of your own desire, from the sound of it. The besetting sin of undercover agents everywhere is to be half seduced by the very organization they are infiltrating - but you are probably less corrupted than most. The fact that you agonize about it so much proves that. You know you're playing puzzle-games with your own persona - so you have a better grasp than most on the difference between what you nearly-really feel, and what you really feel."
"I'd like to think so, certainly. And that's something I am unreservedly thankful for: whether we live or die here, or even if I come to be - retaken, at least I will never again have to be His instrument, to harm the innocent."
"You're a good man, Prof, whatever you may say or believe to the contrary."
He made an irritable little "Tsk" noise at that. "I can be vicious enough on my own account, trust me on this - but at least let it be on my own account."
"Under the earth I go;
On the oak-leaf I stand;
I ride on the filly that never was foaled,
And I carry the dead in my hand"
...she sang softly, remembering - the answer to the riddle, she thought, was "time" but what would be the answer to the Riddle? Her mind was starting to cut out and make odd, disjointed connections. The professor's, too, evidently - the old puzzle sparked something in him, he arrived at a different solution....
"Think, O'Connor!" he was saying, his expression sharp and animated and she was glad at least somebody was awake, as he grabbed her by the shoulders to steady her and her vision, his blazing, eager blade of a face, swam in and out of focus. "What is it that passes down all these halls freely, that whispers through the tunnels in the darkness, that no hand stays?"
"The Death Eaters?"
"Apart from the Death Eaters, of course - and don't accuse me of being difficult!"
"If you can come all over needlessly obscure and poetic, I can be difficult if I damn'-well please. What apart from the Death Eaters?"
"The air itself...."
So there they were, then - this time he was the one sitting cross-legged, his hands laid palms-up and open on his knees and the wand lying loosely across his palm, while she flopped half-asleep beside him, seizing a little rest while she could.
"I call upon the north wind: let the north wind come here to me"
- purred his soft, silky voice like a lick of warm wind itself -
"I call upon the south wind: let the south wind harken to me:
Flamen, flamen, ventus - aquilo, notos, zephyr, superna
As the clear voice swung down and down through the invocation, she smiled to herself, hearing the clipped tones begin to bleed at the edges into the soft, flattened vowels of the Derbyshire mill-towns. His eyes were fixed and empty, deep in trance, and as he murmured on and on she felt the first flickerings of the breeze that would blow to them underground, and guide them to the door out.
So now they went where the wind led them - cautiously, of course, because the breeze would blow in as freely through heavily-manned entrances as through clear ones, and they had no desire to blunder into an armed guard again. But at least their search for an exit was no longer random - and she knew just the song for the occasion.
"Wake up at midnight,
Cold tears on your pillow,
And your hands stretched out, searching
What you're waking from.
Through the silence's thunder
Comes a soft whisper under
Of an angel with a trumpet,
Or a demon with a drum.
"Get up and walk the streets in darkness -
What if a crazy wind is blowing?
It's only showing you
What you're coming from.
And the leaves' rattling laughter
Echoes what follows after:
An angel with a trumpet,
Or a demon with a drum.
"Take the night-train;
Don't worry where you're going,
What you're running from.
Hear the night-train calling;
Hear the cold wind falling;
Like an angel with a trumpet,
Or a demon with a drum.
"Like an angel with a trumpet,
Or a demon with a drum."
"What is it, Prof?" she murmured, laying a hand lightly on his elbow, and seeing the desolation settle over his features like grey ash.
"Far too close to home" he replied shakily, with a suspicion of bitten-back tears.
"Sorry Prof - but I wanted them to wonder what was following after."
"In that case - give me the drum, then, and let us serenade them properly!"
At least they had some sort of guide, now - some direction - though the professor's brainwave wasn't a quick fix by any means. The first and strongest breeze took them back into corridors marked with that ghostly wartime tracery of numbers, marking the beds of sleepers most of whom were now long dead, and they knew that the wind was leading them towards the heavily-guarded main door of Hell.
Picking up another wind was actually quite difficult - they had to go a long way back into the maze to get to a point where the breeze from the main gate didn't overwhelm and obscure all other traces. On the way, they passed a strange, Gothic-looking modern attempt at a Druid altar, carved into the chalk - though it looked to Lynsey more like an overly-ambitious, fussy mirror-frame than a serious attempt at religious architecture.
The wind underground - in her groggy state it seemed to Lynsey an impossibly romantic idea. What did it remind her of? Oh yes - the E'Telekeli, the Bird Beneath the Ground. Perhaps the E'Telekeli could soar on this wind. They followed the wind under the ground, and it led them in the end to a more serious bit of religious architecture - a little chapel deep in the chalk. There must be an entrance very near, or the breeze would not have led them here - but instead of continuing in search of it the professor stopped in the chapel doorway, brought the wand-light up until it filled the whole of that little enclave and stood staring towards the altar, his hard face gone suddenly completely open and soft.
Watching him, Lynsey felt that sense of the inchoate and numinous, something golden in the air - she was curiously impressed to see him cross himself in a hasty, awkward way, looking rueful and embarrassed, and start to murmur under his breath "Hail Mary, mother of God...." She ducked her head, reverent and respectful, and he interrupted himself to give her an odd look. "I thought you were pagan?"
"I can still feel the - the sacred in other faiths: and besides, as far as I can see, what I call gods are just what you call angels, and your Mary is a type of the Great Mother. The divine is the divine, whatever you call it."
He flashed that odd little smile at her and somehow as they stepped forwards to enter the chapel they were holding hands for a moment like schoolkids, weary beyond measure and yet oddly light-hearted - but she should have known a moment of such uncomplicated sweetness was too good to last. As they passed through the door into the tiny church a voice behind them said softly "Pray, Severus - pray and see if it does you any good!" and they jerked round in panic to see Lucius standing in plain sight looking like some grotesque oriental demon, with his flattened nose and his beauty all gone to ruin, all bruised and swollen and red ruin where his right eye should be, his shirt open to show the bandages beneath, and four Death Eaters standing beside him, one of them a woman and all with their wands raised and ready.
As they fell back together, scrambling among the rows of wooden chairs as they tried frantically to find a defensible position, Lucius followed them as far as the doorway. The professor snapped off a shot at him, but he ducked it easily, laughing. "No escape, Severus - the door to freedom is barred to you, always. No escape for either of you, this time, and I have so much more now that I want to thank you both for properly." Lynsey watched him warily, not entirely sure which of them was rabbit and which snake, since any opportunity for him to assault her at close quarters would, tit for tat, be an opportunity for her to assault him and, after all, she had a knife, now. In the corner of her eye she could see the professor trying to bring his wand to bear but even his fluid grace was useless trapped in a tangle of little chairs, and his face was pinched and petrified.
But he was still coherent, always - he seized her shoulder and tried to pull her in behind him, to defend her.... The sickly-sweet voice, like toxic treacle, purred "Touching, as ever. Down on your knees, Severus, and pray - it's where I want you anyway" and her gut tightened painfully in sympathy with her professor's shuddering dread and she wanted to tear this man, she wanted to rend him in a very primal way which had nothing to do with common-sense or even courage, and everything to do with the bear under the skin and the will to defend what was hers -
Oh, gods - she became aware of cold chill behind them, between them and the altar - a seeping mist obscured her vision but she saw the professor's eyes rolling back in his head as he reeled and recovered himself, trying to watch something behind them as well as the Death Eaters before them and she had a horrible idea of what it was he was seeing, she did, misery and failure and the horrified knowledge of what Lucius was going to do to her friend was wrapping its clammy self around her but she was so flyingly filled with blood-lust and hard music that the terror wasn't really touching her - as Lucius and two of the other Death Eaters drifted forwards into the room with them and the professor's wand-hand wavered, trying to cover them all, subjectively in her trance-self she was well into the beast-form and she just wanted something to tear as the black-haired woman's voice giggled inanely and crooned "Don't worry, ickle Sevvie, we won't let the nasty Dementors kiss you - that's for Lucius to do" and Lynsey jerked her head round as if it was on rails, unable to keep from looking at her professor in her concern, even if it killed her - he was as pale and sick and shaking as she had feared but as their eyes met he flashed her a terrible, feral, mocking grin, drew himself up to his considerable height, tossed his hair back over his shoulders and brought the wand round and down like a sword in one long, fluid gesture as silver fire shot out of it and filled the chapel, blindingly bright.
The silver something-and-nothingness seemed to buzz and pulse with power - as she watched it it coiled in on itself and somehow solidified, and suddenly she was looking at a wicked-looking horse, thick-necked and strong and male, with feathered heels and a tail like a trailing plume of smoke, its coat gleaming-black within the silver shimmer of the Patronus field. Iron rang at every step - and how had he managed that trick, she wondered distractedly - as it paced forward with an airy, floating tread that was full of the promise of war.
The professor's face wore a dreaming, detached look she recognized as a medium-level trance-state as the great horse began to circle and the Death Eaters fell back before it, pressing themselves back towards the doorway to keep out of its way. On the one hand, the great stallion looked perfectly solid and real, despite the shimmer - on the other hand, a warhorse in this little chapel should almost fill it, not to mention getting its legs tangled up with the chairs, and yet this beast was moving freely through a space which seemed to be as large as it needed it to be, and was at one and the same time almost on top of them and rather further away than the walls.
There was a burst of light as the black-haired woman shouted "Crucio!" and the professor screamed, sharply and horribly, and began to fall but before Lynsey could grab him he caught himself against the back of one of the chairs and then somehow the black horse passed through him, still looking perfectly solid and yet somehow occupying the same space as his master, and the professor pushed himself resolutely upright and hurled what looked like some sort of shielding barrier, but one that cracked and banged and threw the woman against the wall.
As Lynsey watched the show, fascinated and impressed, the professor's long, bony left arm wrapped round her and pulled her up against him. For a moment she wondered what the hell he was doing - it seemed as if he was using her as a shield, as Lucius had done, but that seemed quite out of character - but then his right hand came down over hers, pressing the wand into the palm of her hand and holding it firmly trapped between her skin and his, and she felt a great electric jolt of energy surge through her - it spiked and all the little needles of her soul swung round to the right and flattened themselves against "maximum" and she saw, she really saw what it was he saw and she was no longer in the slightest bit surprized that the Dementors terrified him, the sight of them made her almost swallow her own tongue but they scattered and began to ooze away like disease through the chalk walls as the great horse charged them, baring a great many horrible yellow teeth and snorting like a steam-train.
Another power-spike, even sharper, until she felt as if the top of her head was going to blow off, and silver shot from the wand again and solidified into - gods, she hadn't used that one for a while. As the Death Eaters scrabbled away in alarm, trying to avoid being touched by the professor's Patronus or by her own, now mysteriously solid and objective power-beast, the professor hurled hex after hex at them to keep them back and Lucius, she noted, actually fell over himself trying to get out of the professor's way as the pair of them half sprinted, half staggered back out through the chapel door and deeper into the maze, away from the wind-source which had turned into a trap. As they did so, they could hear running footsteps ahead of them - not approaching but receding at speed, as the professor took the opportunity to fish after them with his wand.
The professor leant his forehead against the cold chalk and prayed under his breath, hoarsely and jerkily, his hands twitching through the gestures of telling a rosary. Lynsey leaned up against him for warmth and support, feeling sick with nerves and hunger, and beginning to be seriously worried about how feverish and disjointed he sounded. After what she guessed was about five minutes, however, he sighed and somehow dragged himself back into focus.
"Are you all right, sweetheart?" she asked quietly, daring to touch the back of his wand-hand with its splinted fingers.
He nodded tiredly, still severely short of breath. "Fine. Just a bit - drained. But - oh, wow!" Lynsey blinked - it wasn't a word she had ever expected to hear him use, but for a moment he sounded like a kid at a firework party. "My first fully-developed and Dementor-proof Patronus!"
He turned to look at her, frowning. "Yes, and what the hell was that? That didn't look like a Velop - whatever you said."
"Carnivorous caterpillar. I saw it on a wildlife programme years ago, and I thought it was so ghastly I stored it up to freak people out with. Good, isn't it?"
"You, on the other hand, were magnificent in all ways."
"I was, wasn't I?"
"But of course." He gave her the full treatment - both eyebrows arched sardonically, and that tight, quirking smile. "And do you understand why my Patronus took that particular form, O'Connor?"
"Because the horses of instruction are wiser than the tigers of wrath?"
"Believe it. Not that - well, I wouldn't want to lose the first Patronus, the one that was hers, but it's good to have an alternative which is truly mine and which actually can protect me, without the - unhappy associations."
"What did you get this time? Anything?"
"One half of a pumpkin pasty which appears to have been sat on, and a flask containing a trickle of lukewarm tea, very stewed."
"Marginally better than nothing at all, I guess."
He nodded, and then without looking at her he murmured "It's probably very bad of me to gloat, but it gives me some satisfaction to know that after failing to capture me not once but twice in one day, Lucius is really going to get it in the neck from Master. And considering the way he treats his own servants, that's quite poetic."
"'Oh you've spread terror, pain and fear:
Rough justice shall you see,
And as you have the hunters been
So shall you hunted be....'
"'From moon to sun to moon again,
Run hunted, evil men,
And pray the Lady spares your lives.'
They fled in terror then.
She said, 'There's others of your kind,
They too may die unless...
Shall we turn hunter, you and I?'
The unicorn said, 'Yes.'"
I have assumed that Transfiguration takes a lot of power and eventually wears off, and that the more major the transformation the faster it reverts, for two reasons. 1) Because otherwise all those rats and toads and hedgehogs which get turned into things in Transfiguration classes have either been callously killed or condemned to an indefinite, miserable half-life (unless they are deliberately changed back later, of course). 2) Because if that weren't the case, nobody would ever have to rake up the money for a good cauldron or expensive dress robes - they would buy a teacup or a cheap T-shirt and Transfigure it.
"Janey wasn't a real survivalist" - from a filk song by Leslie Fish which I think is just called Underground.
I had to assume that Snape has at least a working knowledge of SF and of filk, because in the companion-story Yggdrasil I have him associating the Hogwarts Marauders with a filk-song called The Bold Marauder, which it is unlikely that anyone who wasn't an SF fan would have come across.
G. K. Chesterton's infinitely creepy poem The Last Hero was memorably set to music by the same British filker (Lesley Something?) who did the same for The Harp-Song of the Dane Women, and whose name I annoyingly can't remember.
"Do you not know that under my skin" - from the filk song The Song of the Bear by Melissa Williamson.
"Oh you've spread terror, pain and fear" - from the filk song The Bait by Mercedes Lackey, Music by Julia Ecklar.
"Under the earth I go" - traditional Scots folk-riddle collected by Hamish Henderson, and which I myself set to music. The answer, if I remember correctly almost 30 years after Hamish taught it to me, is "time."
A Derbyshire accent is the sort of accent in which "much" rhymes with "butch."
Angel With a Trumpet is a filk by Leslie Fish.
The E'Telekeli, the Bird Beneath the Ground, was a being made from mixed eagle and human genes who became a mysterious, Christ-like figure in Cordwainer Smith's underpeople novels.
Nowadays, Chislehurst Caves are full of life-sized waxwork tableaux of wartime scenes, including several figures in the chapel. I do not know when these were introduced and whether they were there in 1997, and they would be a distraction in the story, so I have chosen to omit them. Perhaps the Death Eaters found them too freaky, and got rid of them!
According to the 18th C poet and artist Willliam Blake "The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction."
A few extra comments have been added to the conversation about the Patronus, to bring it in line with the new backstory revealed in Deathly Hallows.
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