|skitty_kat (skitty_kat) wrote,|
@ 2010-04-28 20:25:00
|Current music:||supernaturals - smile|
Fic: The Mystery of the Missing Miss (2/4)
The Mystery of the Missing Miss
A Snupin Holmes Mystery
Word Count: 3613 (this part) 11498 (total)
Summary: A new case for wizarding detective Severus Snape: a missing girl. Elopement, abduction or maybe murder? Follow him and his trusty companion, Doctor Remus Lupin, as they find trouble on the streets of Victorian London.
Warning: may contain deductions that Adam West’s Batman would find a step too far.
Beta’d by the ever marvellous and eagle-eyed drachenmina.
Dedicated to the lovely red_day_dawning
The next day our investigations began in earnest. Having learned that Miss Weasley could not have eloped with young Harry Potter – a fact I relayed to Snape that morning over breakfast, while he glared at his boiled egg and pressed a hand to his aching forehead – we had to begin looking elsewhere. For Snape this involved (after taking one of his own hangover remedies) staring out of the window, head propped on one long hand, a look of serene contemplation on his face. On my part I am rather afraid I sat glaring at him with a look of what was probably poorly-disguised irritation.
‘You could ask me,’ he said suddenly.
‘Ask you what?’ I said. He didn’t answer, merely continued perusing the street below our window. I sighed. ‘You are a trying man, Severus. What great conclusions have you deduced?’
He finally turned to look at me. ‘Oh, nothing great, Lupin. No thoughts round which worlds may be turned. But perhaps some small ideas from which may grow answers.’ He crossed his legs, leaning back comfortably against the cushion behind him. ‘I suspect that however Ginevra Weasley vanished in the night, she did on her own two feet.’
I said nothing, merely inclined my head to show I was paying attention.
‘For a young girl, growing up in a household of boys, I would imagine she has developed her own ways and means of doing things – probably a hidey-hole to call her own, methods of avoiding her brothers when needs be. I suspect that if she wanted to creep from the family home without attracting attention she would know how to do it. Her father said nothing of anyone in the house noticing anything in the night and one would assume that this would be one of the first things any sensible person would ask. The metaphorical krup did nothing in the night so therefore nothing unusual would seem to have happened.’
‘But why would she do such a thing?’ I asked. ‘She didn’t go to meet her young paramour.’
‘Not Master Potter, no.’
‘You’re surely not suggesting -!’
‘That Miss Weasley may be a touch generous in her affections?’ His lips twitched with amusement. ‘I merely suggest that she may have more than one admirer. That is not a bad thing for a young lady – indeed, it is rather flattering, I am sure.’
‘I would tread carefully with what you say about the matter before her father if you intend to suggest she may have run off with someone other than Harry.’
‘I will be the soul of discretion,’ he said, standing from his chair, ‘and you shall be there to curb my tongue if needed.’ He looked at me. ‘Well? Get your coat, Lupin. We are going to visit the domicile in question.’
The Weasleys’ house was a precarious balancing act whimsically titled The Burrow (I found this moniker charming, Snape rather less so). It was a little way outside the village of Ottery St. Catchpole; a well-shielded Wizarding structure near the predominantly muggle settlement. Snape glanced across the rural surroundings with a frown.
‘Little likelihood of witnesses,’ he noted. We halted at the gate. ‘And strong wards – as I surmised the only way Miss Weasley could have left was on her own two feet.’
‘Unless they have only erected these wards today,’ I suggested, wanting to puncture his self-assurance.
‘Rather like locking the stable door after the Thestral has bolted, don’t you think?’
I gave an exasperated snort. ‘They do have other children they probably wish to protect.’
‘Ah, but Miss Weasley was the only one to disappear. If she has been abducted, clearly her abductor had no need of her brothers.’
Any retort I may have given – no doubt something intelligent and erudite, I flatter myself – was interrupted by Mr Weasley hurrying up to the gate to meet us. He was less formally dressed than he had been when he called at our rooms the day before. He wore no tie or jacket, and only carpet slippers adorned his feet. Snape most likely had noticed these, and probably more besides, but mercifully said nothing. Not that he could criticise – I have seen him in far greater a state of dishabille before, particularly when in one of his moods. At least Weasley had trousers on, which is more than I can say for Snape at times.
‘We hoped,’ my companion was saying as we entered the house, removing our hats, ‘to see the place itself to gain more of an impression of what may have occurred.’
‘She hasn’t,’ Weasley’s voice dropped to an awkward whisper, ‘run off with young Potter then?’
‘I’m afraid not,’ Snape said. He had confided to me on our way to the place that the Weasleys had likely hoped for an elopement with such a well-born young man and the marriage that would have naturally followed. I had pooh-poohed his cynicism towards human nature but had to admit he may have been right upon seeing the disappointment on Weasley’s face.
Nevertheless, the concerned father showed us to his absent daughter’s room. It was a small room near the top of the house, naturally separate from the rooms inhabited by her brothers. I imagined if their number was anything like Snape had implied they probably had to share. Miss Weasley’s room was fairly plain but with feminine touches that distinctly identified it as that of a young woman. An inexpertly-stitched sampler on one wall exhorted its reader to ‘Remember a kind worde [sic] is magic in its own way’ and was marked as the work of ‘Ginny Weasley, Aged Nine and Three Quarters.’ A white coverlet embroidered with pink roses lay across the bed, freshly turned, and a doll, slightly the worse for wear, lay against the pillow.
Snape encouraged Weasley to leave us there alone to better pursue our investigation. When the man had gone and the door shut behind him, Snape sighed heavily.
‘They have tidied the room,’ he said. ‘I had hoped to gain some clue from the state Miss Weasley had left the room in. As it is, I learn that her mother puts quite some store by neatness.’
‘Some people see it as quite a virtue, Severus,’ I said, thinking of the mess our own rooms inevitably ended up as. ‘Not that I’d expect you to understand that.’
My companion ignored me and waved his wand abruptly before sniffing the air like a bloodhound after a scent. He closed his eyes.
‘Tea…’ he murmured. ‘And tweed … a touch of dog … well, canine, at least … Lupin, what can you smell?’
I sniffed awkwardly. I didn’t have the sensitivity of his magnificent nose, not at that time of the month, but I could sense something very faintly.
‘Books, I think, possibly something bitter. Nothing like what you’re getting.’
He smirked. ‘I suspected as much. Amortentia, Lupin.’
I was surprised. ‘The love potion?’
‘It smells different to each person. Now, if only we can find its source.’
He bent down, casting more charms and peering under the bed. I made a few deductions of my own to explain his very swift conclusion and wondered briefly if I really did wear that much tweed. Probably, I realised, if Snape had noticed. I wandered over to Miss Weasley’s dressing-table. Several bottles lined up across its surface along with the other fripperies of a lady’s toilette. One, adorned with a quite unnecessary picture of a man with exaggeratedly blond curls, caught my eye and I picked it up.
‘Professor Lockhart’s Tonic for Young Beauties,’ I read out, ‘contains extract of pure sucrose to enhance your natural sweetness. Good grief! What idiot would buy something like this?’
‘A young foolish girl in love?’ retorted Snape, peering behind the curtains. ‘It’s most likely sugar and water with a touch of colouring.’
I unscrewed the lid and gave it a sniff. Old books and bitter herbs again.
‘Something more potent than that,’ I said, holding it out.
Snape took it and inhaled. ‘By George, Lupin, how do you manage to stumble over the very thing just like that?’
I shrugged, not bothering to hide how pleased I was to have found it before him. ‘I suppose I have a natural talent.’
He frowned, studying the other bottles on the dressing-table. ‘Or you were intended to. See, this is by far the most garish container Miss Weasley owns. Together with the very obvious quackery it was guaranteed that either you or I would be drawn towards it.’ He turned to lift Miss Weasley’s pillows as I inwardly deflated. ‘Still, I am intrigued as to why we would be encouraged to discover such a thing. It is hardly standard criminal practice to point the way to one’s pursuers.’
‘It could be a blind trail,’ I suggested.
‘Or our kidnapper is purely that arrogant. A-hah!’ He pulled a folded sheet of parchment from Miss Weasley’s drawer. I bit back an exclamation of horror at his going through the young lady’s - not to put too fine a point on it - underthings. He had no remorse about his rummagings. ‘It has the date of the night our young lady vanished, along with instructions to “Meet me by the gate, my dear heart.” As I said, Lupin, Miss Weasley left this house on her own two feet.’
‘But not of her own free will.’
‘I never intimated she did. But it would appear that was indeed the case.’ He headed for the door. ‘I think we have learned all we can here, my friend. Further investigations are called for, and for that I require my own equipment.’
Further investigation, as it turned out, involved Snape doing an awful lot of bizarre, probably dangerous and often disgusting things with his laboratory equipment. While as a doctor I am familiar with both a wide range of odd appliances and the newer researches of Science, I am rather afraid the art of potions is something of a closed book to me. And not a book, I confess, I have much interest in reading. I administer its results but of their creation I know little. Snape, who enjoys nothing better than explaining his methods at great length, finds me endlessly frustrating on that score.
I sat myself in the armchair in the corner – my usual haunt when Snape is busy with his experiments, leading him to christen it ‘the Dog Basket’ – and watched him go about his work. He stalked from cauldron to flask, eyes dark and intent and mouth pursed in a concentrated frown. It was always a sight I enjoyed. The man was in his element at such times; chopping, stirring, simmering and slicing, all with the most acute focus.
After some half an hour’s work, he dropped to sit on a stool with an extremely disgruntled look on his face. A cauldron beside him billowed green smoke, which settled around him like an unsettling aura.
‘It’s certainly Amortentia,’ he said, ‘but I’m afraid my analyses have drawn blank as to its origins. It lacks the weaknesses of a commercial product but I can find no familiar markers to betray its maker. Whoever brewed this was a very clever man, possibly almost as brilliant as me.’
‘So our clue is worthless.’
He fixed me with such a look that I felt I was suddenly back in school again, about to be lectured by the fiercest teacher in the school.
‘Not worthless, Lupin,’ he admonished, ‘its very lack of useful information is in itself a clue. It tells us we are dealing with no common criminal; rather that we are facing one with uncommon cleverness and some amount of wit. To leave us such an obvious signature but to make an unbreakable cipher of it – somewhere, Lupin, our villain is laughing at us.’
‘Well, that’s all very well for him,’ I grumbled, ‘but how are we to knock the smile from his face if we do not even know who he is?’
‘There is a simple solution,’ my friend said, and I knew that comment couldn’t bode well. I was, naturally, correct. Snape picked up one of the vials he had been experimenting with. ‘I shall take some of the potion – heavily diluted, of course – and see where my affections then fall.’
‘This is madness!’ I burst out, grabbing his hand to stop him. ‘Merlin knows what he’s done to that!’
‘Lupin,’ Snape’s lecturing tone was back, ‘I have just spent half an hour analysing this potion. I know precisely what is in it and I assure you that none of it will harm me, merely make me feel mildly in love with our adversary.’
‘And if it gets out of hand, well, that’s what you’re there for.’
Snape brushed my hand aside and jerked his head back, downing a mouthful of his diluted potion. I snatched the vial from his hand too late, setting it on the desk with a click as Snape dropped into my chair. His eyelids fluttered as he gazed up at me with eyes that were slowly glazing. I stroked a hand across his cheek, watching as he turned his head against it.
He was as lethargic as I have ever seen him without the influence of a narcotic, leaning against the chair back while his eyes stared past my left shoulder.
‘How are you feeling?’
He smiled widely, which was eerie enough to me. Snape only smiles like that when it bodes extremely ill for someone else. I have never seen him so openly display happiness without even a hint of malice.
‘I feel … wonderful,’ he murmured.
He was starting to look a little ill, in my professional opinion. Admittedly, his usual colour would encourage most doctors to recommend a tonic immediately but he was certainly looking pale even for him. A faint sheen of sweat was glistening on his forehead.
‘Have you ever been in love, Lupin?’ he asked suddenly, lips still incongruously curved upwards.
‘You’d laugh at me whatever I say to that.’
‘I don’t think I’ve ever been in love,’ he said dreamily, ‘not like this. Every thought, every feeling … it’s all about him.’
I fought the jealous feeling that was clawing through my chest. Of course Snape had never been in love like this – this was artificially induced, a clumsy imitation of the real thing.
‘About who, Severus?’ I asked, keeping my voice calm.
Heat flushed in his cheeks as he smiled again. ‘Tom.’
He looked at me slyly, tipping his head to one side. ‘You’ll disapprove,’ he said, hugging his arms across his chest.
‘No, I won’t,’ I promised.
Fingers came up to worry at his lip as he considered this. The potion had apparently affected him quite strongly for him not to be able to instantly see through my falsehood. It would seem he failed to dilute it as much as would have been necessary; either a detriment to his potions skills, which is most unlikely, or a testament to the cleverness of our adversary.
‘I love,’ he confided in an almost shy tone, ‘Tom Riddle.’
‘Lord Voldemort!’ I barked, quite taken by surprise. Justifiably too – the man had, as I thought, been dead for two years or more.
Snape’s hands slammed down onto the chair arms. ‘I knew you’d react like this,’ he fumed, standing abruptly. ‘Get out of my way!’
I pushed him back down. ‘You stay right there,’ I told him. I couldn’t have Snape wandering the streets in a love potioned-madness, not while I was reeling from the identity of our villain.
‘I don’t think so,’ he growled, ‘I’m going to find Tom and you are not going to stop me.’
‘Oh, I think I am,’ I snarled back before I could stop myself. ‘Besides, how do you think you’re going to find him?’
‘Love will find a way,’ he said, perfectly serious.
I would have laughed if I hadn’t been so angry. Snape never talked that way about anybody. I believe that if he could, he would have the word ‘love’ banned from the dictionary, deeming it a word for fools and ninnies. To hear it fall from his lips so earnestly about such an awful man was more than I could bear.
I seized Snape by his collar. He retaliated by drawing his wand but luckily for me his reflexes were far from their usual. I disarmed him easily and pushed him back into the chair when he tried to attack me physically. A quick Confundus charm set him blinking in bemusement, gazing up at me, and most importantly no longer attacking me. It was fairly dark in our rooms by this point so I suppose I must have appeared quite shadowed to him. That would explain what he asked next.
It wasn’t what I expected him to say but I’m not so dunderheaded that I can’t see an opportunity when one arises. It was time to see whether the magic kiss of fairy tales worked.
‘Yes. Close your eyes, Severus.’
I laid my hand across his eyes and he quietened, going passive under my touch. I leant down, brushing my lips across his. He started, stiffening slightly before sighing and rising to meet me for another kiss. For all its initial awkwardness, I soon found no difference between it and our usual intimacies. Snape suddenly broke away.
‘Ugh, Lupin, that moustache of yours.’ He tweaked my facial hair gently. ‘I think that’s the first time I’ve been grateful for it. It’s like kissing a hairbrush – and thankfully quite distinguishes you from any other person.’
I don’t think I have ever been more glad of my moustache either, despite Snape’s griping. We usually have differing opinions of it. I think it looks dignified; Snape insists it looks like a Lesser Furred Flobberworm (whatever one of those may be, even supposing he hadn’t made it up on the spot) is trying to mate in a most half-hearted fashion with my upper lip and failing miserably. Either way, my whiskers had at least saved the day this time. Or saved Snape’s dignity, at least.
‘Back with me, are you?’
‘Just about,’ Snape said, straightening his collar distractedly. ‘The obsession effect seems to have faded for now, at least. It would probably be a little different were Voldemort to be in the room now…’ His voice drifted off.
‘I’m astounded it’s him,’ I said. I took one of his hands, attempting to hold his focus. It was becoming plain to me that the potion’s effects were not fully gone from my friend’s body. His eyes were still a little glazed and his reactions a touch slower than usual. ‘I thought he was long dead. He was hanged at Pentonville some years ago, as I recall.’
He blinked slowly at me. ‘Easy enough to fake,’ he said dismissively. ‘Especially when the man is such a genius as he is.’
I didn’t like the infatuated tone his voice was taking on again. ‘But what do you think he wants with young Ginevra Weasley?’
I could see him fighting with jealousy and almost laughed in spite of myself.
‘Human sacrifice?’ he suggested. He was, I fear, only half joking. ‘But then, why her particularly? Perhaps he has a particular dislike of those with red hair – but that isn’t a trait I’ve noticed in our previous … our previous confrontations.’ He rubbed a hand across his eyes. ‘Most interesting. I’m still having considerable problems focusing on the task at hand, despite the dilution of the original potion.’
‘Anything I can do to help?’ I offered. He waved me off.
‘Perhaps my old adversary has merely succumbed to that to which we all fall victim,’ he continued, frowning in concentration, ‘love.’
‘All of us?’ I asked, unable to stop myself.
‘Even you apparently married for it,’ he shot back. ‘It is possible even he has felt its pangs and wishes for an affectionate companion of his own.’
‘So much so he has to drug her for it?’
‘His values have always been a little different from the normal. But for love – wouldn’t you, Lupin?’ His eyes were burning, his tone impassioned. ‘Would you never consider such tactics even if you believed you were in love?’
No need, I thought, not when the man in question manages to drug himself into insensibility quite well without my help.
‘It’s rather romantic really,’ Severus continued with a soft smile, and then looked shocked at himself for the sentimentality. ‘Remus,’ he suddenly pleaded, ‘can we continue this discussion later? I fear I will send myself quite fit for Bedlam with these artificial desires if you do not do something soon!’
‘What do you expect me to do, Severus? Brew you an antidote?’
‘Oh, you fool!’ he said exasperatedly. Standing abruptly, he fairly flung himself into my arms and pressed a kiss to my lips. ‘If you can’t knock all thoughts of Voldemort from my head then you’re not half the man I thought you were!’
He has always had a prodigious talent for provoking me. In no short order I was dragging him off to the bedroom to prove I was at least twice the man, if not more. He had a few confused moments of calling me ‘Tom’ as I undressed and prepared him but as I pushed myself inside his eyes were only on me and his lips murmuring my name alone. The ecstasy seemed to exhaust him and he fell asleep in my arms soon after. I stayed awake a little longer, brushing sweaty hair from that high forehead until my eyes too drifted closed.