Holding his plastic library card as though it were made out of gold, Remus strode confidently into the library once more. He had been coming here nearly every day since mid-September as he continued the research on why magic and electricity responded to each other the way they did. While nowhere near an answer, he had learned many interesting things about electricity and the way it responds to various things and how things respond to it.
Currently, he was fascinated by magnets.
Various magnetic elements were occasionally used for magical artifacts as the elements were said to have an effect on the magical usage of the user of the artifact. Some users of these artifacts had stated that they could feel the energy of the Earth itself while wearing these. This was generally seen as hyperbole on the part of the users of these artifacts, but now Remus wasn’t quite sure that it was.
The knowledge of the true extent of the magnetosphere of Earth was enough to make Remus want to cry. All of the knowledge of the ancients and their worship of the Northern Lights made so much more sense when this level of muggle understanding was applied to it. Especially when he learned how very the magnetic field surrounded and protected the planet much like a ward.
In fact, calling it anything but a ward would be doing it a disservice. It was a ward placed by the planet to protect it’s beings.
But waxing poetic was not what he was here to do. Today he planned to venture off the path he had found himself on and work back towards electricity. More specifically, how muggles were able to create it.
He had not had any luck coming to a good understanding as to how magic was actually created within a witch or wizard or within any magical creature, but his hope was to find out how muggles managed to make and control the energy and work from there. Surely there had to be some sort of simple explanation as to how it was done.
Remus sighed as he made his way to what he was rapidly considering to be his corner of the library and groaned slightly as he sat in one of the office chairs next to a computer. He was still sore from the previous full moon and was inordinately thankful he was still being allowed to live at Hogwarts and was being provided with a safe place to transform.
Flipping open the book on electricity generators, Remus sighed. Despite all of the good that the muggles' obsession with electricity had brought to the world, it had always countered the good with the bad. And their ways of producing energy certainly seemed to fall in the category of bad.
Pictures of smokestacks filled most every page as the book spoke about the burning of various substances to produce electricity. Coal, oil, natural gas; Remus couldn’t believe what the muggles had done to the planet in their quest to create a modern society. And the amount of labor, the amount of people involved, the amount of children involved in the creation and maintenance of such a system was unfathomable. All for the creation of steam to turn a turbine.
Flipping the page, Remus was met with a picture of a different sort. A large, foreboding building on the horizon with several large, curved smokestacks dominated the picture. Remus studied the picture with earnest before turning to the title of the chapter. The building was odd, other than the smokestacks, the actual building was quite small and squat with a few tall, slender smokestacks rising from it as well.
‘Electricity Production via Nuclear Fission’ the title of the chapter read.
Remus frowned. He hadn’t come across that term yet and was rather hesitant to know what it was. He knew what a nuclear bomb was, as did every other witch or wizard his age. There had been a very real threat that the muggles would go to war and use such weapons on each other so even the wizarding world had to know what to do in case of such an attack. So what in the world were the muggles doing with that kind of power now?
Reading and re-reading the section several times, Remus was still unsure how he felt about it. It seemed like a good idea on paper, but he wasn’t sure how it would work in reality. The muggles had already built multiple power plants around the world using nuclear fission as a means of electricity creation and their scientists were the ones to discover the method of utilizing it. And if he was being honest with himself, he wasn’t sure he had enough knowledge to make any sort of judgement call on the situation anyways.
Flipping the page to the next section within the nuclear fission portion of the book, Remus felt his heart drop. The picture on the section header was a picture of what appeared to be a nuclear power plant with one section of its roof blown off.
Was that a real event? How had that not made the news? What even had happened?
Remus felt his heart racing as he quickly skimmed the section of the book.
Three Mile Island.
Remus swallowed hard as he sat back in his chair. He had been alive when all three of the major meltdowns had occurred and couldn’t remember hearing about any of them. The Three-Mile Island incident had occurred when he was nineteen and in the midst of some of the worst fighting during the war against Voldemort so he could understand not hearing about that one and he had been a child when SL-1 occurred, but the one which made his skin truly crawl was Chernobyl.
The war against Voldemort had been over for five years at that time and, despite being depressed at having lost all of his best friends in one foul swoop, he had no recollection of ever being told of such a disaster occuring. He could not remember anything about it even being in the paper. Maybe he had seen it in a muggle paper, but he had no idea what they were talking about at the time. In fact, if he had seen it, he was fairly certain he had simply discounted it as muggles doing muggle things. And muggle things had little bearing on the wizarding world.
Swallowing thickly, he closed the book and laid it on his pile of books he planned to check out before getting up and heading down to the information desk. He had to know what happened. He needed to know what had happened for a supposedly safe device to explode. And everything he had read said that they didn’t, or at least shouldn’t.
Once he found the book he wanted, he returned to his corner in the electricity section and began to read, looking for anything which may have been the reason this information wasn’t passed on. He would, of course, have to go through the archives of the Daily Prophet to be sure, but he could not recall anything having been mentioned about such a disaster.
Looking at where the disaster site was located, he was rather surprised to find it hadn’t even taken place worlds away. It had happened right here in Europe. There was no reason for the ministry to have kept that information from the wizarding populous. Especially since the worst of the fallout had spread with the wind all over Europe and even up into Scotland herself.
As he looked at the map of the fallout, a realization rolled over him like a bucket of ice water. Had any of the wizarding world been informed of this incident? He hadn’t heard of any illness or repercussions following this, but he also hadn’t known to look. It was a pity he didn’t know anyone from the former Russian states to ask them what they knew.
Turning back to his pile of books, he sighed. He had lost both his appetite and his desire to study any further. He would just have to check out the books he wished to read and be done with it.
As he packed his bag, he couldn’t help but notice the computer screen next to him was flickering various colors as he moved. It was almost in response to his movement, almost as though it could pick him up.
Reaching a finger out to the screen, Remus was surprised to find the screen immediately changed from flickering to a strange rainbow of colors emanating from where his finger was. As he moved his finger, the orientation of the rainbow changed as well. It looked almost as though his fingers were a droplet and the computer screen was water. The rainbow lights rippled out from his finger.
Suddenly a shock of static shot from the screen of the computer jolted him in the finger, causing him to yank his finger away from the screen and shake it off. It was oddly painful too, almost like being burned by silver but not quite to that extreme. Looking at his finger once more, he put it in his mouth instinctively as he slung his bag over his shoulder, thankful for the featherlight charm he kept on it at all times.
Making his way out of the building, he was momentarily distracted by a large world map which was pinned to one wall. His eyes immediately flicked to the border between Ukraine and Belarus. It was odd to think that not even ten years ago an entire section of the two countries had needed to be evacuated, some being sent to Kyiv, some being sent farther away to Minsk or even Moscow.
Wasn’t Elias’s main healer living there?
Elias’s head was swimming as the mediwitch pushed him down the hall in an old wicker wheelchair towards a lift at the end of the hall. He couldn’t remember where they were going, but it certainly felt nice to be out of bed for the first time in a long time.
Maybe they were going outside? It would be nice to see the flowers and feel the spring air on his face. Maybe they would let him play some Quidditch with Ron? That would be a fun activity to do. Or even just sit under one of the trees and play Exploding Snap while watching the squid float by lazily on the lake.
“You’re smiling awfully big, Elly,” the mediwitch said with a giggle. “Are you excited to see your new ward?”
New ward? Where was he going? They weren’t going outside?!
Rounding one last corner, the mediwitch stopped the chair and pushed the button on the lift to tell the driver to come to their floor. The entire hall surrounding the lift itself was decorated to the nines for Hallowe’en. Only a few more days and the most celebrated holiday for witches and wizards everywhere would be upon them.
Elias looked around in confusion before rubbing his eyes. His head was hurting, his back was hurting, his legs were hurting, and he was extremely confused as to what was going on. Why was this floor decorated for Hallowe’en? Was it not spring time yet? How long had he been here?
Looking around frantically, he immediately stilled when he saw the large, dark figure of his father standing quietly not too far away. Surely his father would know what was going on and would help him understand. Or at least explain things to him so he could understand what was happening.
“D-da?” Elias asked as they entered the lift. “W-w-we’re g-g-going h-home, y-yeah?”
Severus sighed and crouched next to his son as the mediwitch told the lift driver which floor to go to. This would be the fifth time they had gone over this and every time it broke his heart when it finally sunk in for his son that he would not be returning home for the time being. Maybe during the summer when he wasn’t teaching they could work something out, but right now? There was no way for Elias to be at Hogwarts with him safely or without breaking the bank by having a caregiver with him at all times. It just wasn’t going to happen.
“No, Elias,” Severus said gently as the lift began to move up to the next floor. “Not yet. We’re moving you to a ward where you will be able to move around and work on getting stronger.”
“B-b-but I’ve b-been good-d!” Elias cried. “Y-y-you s-said if I w-was g-g-g-”
“I know what I said,” Severus interrupted gently, trying to prevent his son from breaking down in tears before they even got to the ward. “But it isn’t safe for you to come home right now. You aren’t strong enough and we would need someone to stay with you at all times.”
“D-da, p-p-please!” Elias yelped, tears welling up in his eyes as the mediwitch pushed him off the lift and towards the locked ward at the end of the hall. “I w-wanna g-go h-home!”
Severus’s mouth was set in a grim line as the mediwitch stopped the wheelchair and approached the door to deactivate the wards. He had been warned that Elias wasn’t going to be happy about the transfer, but he would get used to it soon enough. There would just be a bit of an adjustment period and he would be fine. And the healers on the Janus Thickey Ward were used to dealing with the effects of long-term spell damage.
If ever there was a safe place to put him, this would be it. And he wouldn’t be the only person on the ward suffering from the effects of Cruciatus damage.
The mediwitch pulled open the door just as Elias threw himself out of the wheelchair, managing to make a few staggering steps back towards the lift before Severus caught him around the waist and placed him none too gently back in the wheelchair.
“Elias, stop this nonsense,” Severus snapped, his heart clenching as tears continued to fall unabated down his son’s face. “We have discussed this multiple times. You need to stay here. Please. I know you don’t want to, but it’s for your safety.”
“I w-w-wanna g-g-go hom-me!” Elias wailed, trying once more to get out of the wheelchair and make a break for it, only to find a seatbelt had been placed around his waist to prevent him from easily getting up again. It wasn’t fair! “D-da, p-p-please!”
An additional mediwitch had come to hold the door open as they entered, saying “watch his hands, love!” as they entered, gently pushing his hands away from the door frame as the wheelchair was pushed through so he couldn’t grab on.
Once the door was shut behind them, the second mediwitch turned to Severus and smiled slightly before motioning for the entire entourage to follow her to the back of the ward. Severus couldn’t help but notice the other patients on the ward were watching them in curiosity as they passed. The only one who didn’t turn to look was a man who was laying in one of the many beds of the ward, staring at the ceiling open mouthed..
“Put him near the back, dear,” one of the healers said as she handed a blond man in pajamas a roll of parchment and a quill, motioning towards the end of the unit.
“Across from Frank?” the mediwitch said, skillfully ignoring both Elias’s cries and the groan Severus did as he looked at the blond man.
“That would be fine,” the healer said before turning back to the blond man in front of her and saying. “I need to go for a moment, Gilderoy, dear! I need to greet our new guest! You keep working on your letters, ok?”
“Have they come to see me?” the blond man said excitedly. “Would they like an autograph?!”
“No, dearie, the young boy is going to be a new roommate!” the healer said, handing him a fresh sheet of parchment. “Though it is a lovely idea for you to practice your autograph!”
The mediwitch pushing Elias smiled wryly before pulling the wheelchair he was in alongside the farthest bed on the left and spelling away the wheels, leaving it a simple, wicker chair with arms. No matter how much he squirmed, Elias couldn’t get out of the chair. He didn’t want to be here! He didn’t want to help Lockhart with his autographs and fanmail again! He just wanted to go home!
“Now, who have we here?” the healer said as she trundled over to the entourage which had just entered.
“This is Elias Snape,” the young mediwitch from Ward 34 said as she pulled a copy of his chart out of the back compartment of the chair he was sitting in. “16 years old, Shervil’s, came in due apnea caused by severe muscle spasms…”
“Oh my,” the healer exclaimed, interrupting the mediwitch. “That must have been terrifying! I’m assuming he hasn’t had any more episodes?”
“No, ma’am,” the mediwitch responded, looking rather flustered at the interruption. “He also has rather advanced dementia and …”
“Has he had any seizures?” the Healer interrupted once more. “Since he’s been here, that is?”
“Yes, ma’am,” the mediwitch responded, the muscles in her jaw beginning to flex at the repeated interruptions. “He had three while under a runic dark ward and …”
“And how is his mobility?” the healer asked, ignoring the redness in the mediwitch’s face.
“I don’t…” the mediwitch started to say.
“I c-c-can w-w-walk!” Elias cried, trying once more to climb out of the chair. “L-l-let m-m-me up-p! I w-w-w-wanna w-walk!”
“Elias, stop,” Severus said sharply, removing his son’s hands from the seatbelt and holding onto them as the healers continued their increasingly stilted conversation. “I know you can walk, but you need to be patient with them. They need to tell each other what is going on…”
“I w-w-wanna g-g-go h-hom-me!” Elias said with a wail, slapping Severus’s hand away and ripping at the seatbelt with such fervor that, had it not been a magical restraint, he would have broken it free from its attachment points.
“Elias, stop!” Severus snapped, stepping out of the way as Elias kicked out. “You are being ridiculous. Do you honestly think this is how you get home? By kicking people? By hitting? If you want to act like a toddler, I can quite easily treat you like one.”
“P-p-p-please?” Elias stuttered softly, taken aback by the harshness of his father’s voice. Severus hadn’t snapped at him like that in months; not since he’d been Harry Potter at the least. He’d been exasperated by him, frustrated with his memory problems, and annoyed by his general teenage ways, but he hadn’t snapped at him.
“No,” Severus said firmly, trying to ignore how frustratingly like Lily he looked when he was upset. He knew Elias wasn’t going to be happy about coming here, but he had to stand firm in this decision. “And you would do well to listen to the healers. They want to help you. That’s why you’re here.”
Elias looked morosely at his father before sniffling several times and wiping his eyes with his hands, knocking his glasses rather askew. He was so confused as to what was going on and the more he tried to wrap his head around it, the more it didn’t make sense. His head hurt, his body ached, and he wanted nothing more than to lie down in his bed at home and sleep.
“Elias?” a rather soft, grandmotherly voice said, pulling him from his thoughts. “My name is Miriam, or Healer Strout if you prefer. It’s nice to meet you.”
“‘L-lo,” Elias mumbled, rubbing his eyes once more. He didn’t want to talk to her right now. Not unless she was the one sending him home. He was supposed to get out of the hospital today, or that’s what he’d heard. Or thought he heard. Dredging up the memory of what was supposed to happen this evening was like trying to pull something out of a vat of molasses. It was there, he knew it was, but actually seeing it and getting it out was nearly impossible. “‘M El-l-l-lias Sn-nap-p-p-pe.”
“We were just about to start having dinner,” Healer Strout said with a rather chipper tone. “Have you eaten yet?”
Elias bit his lip as he thought, before frantically looking at his father. He didn’t know if he had or not. It had been such a long afternoon and he didn’t want to mess up the first question the new healer asked him, but he just didn’t know. He couldn’t remember.
“It’s ok if you don’t know, dearie!” Healer Strout said before Severus had a chance to answer. “Are you hungry at all?”
Elias thought about it for a moment before shaking his head. He wasn’t ravenous by any means, nor was he craving anything. But he didn’t want to ruin his dinner by snacking. Or had they had dinner yet? He wasn’t sure.
“That’s fine, that’s fine,” Healer Strout said with a smile. “If you get peckish later we can always get you a snack.”
Elias nodded, confused why his head hurt and his eyes stung as though he had been crying. Had he been crying? He didn’t know why he would have been. This healer seemed nice enough, maybe he could get her to give him some ice cream later? Maybe she would let him go on a walk, too. He felt like he would be ok to walk.
Had he fallen? Was that why he had been crying? His knees and hands didn’t feel like he had hit the ground, but he couldn’t think of another reason for having gotten as upset.
Or maybe it was because of the strange, thin man sitting in the bed across from him, staring at him with unfocused eyes. He looked rather familiar, though Elias couldn’t place where he knew him from.
“Elias?” Severus’s voice cut through his thoughts as he frowned. “Elias, I’m sorry. I need to go back to Hogwarts.”
Elias nodded, looking curiously around the rest of the ward and wondering how he had ended up in such a place. So many people seemed oddly familiar to him and he couldn’t quite place why. He knew Professor Lockhart and he knew that Lockhart had lost his memory, but why was he here? It was so confusing.
“C-c-can I c-c-come?” Elias asked, finally turning back to his father as Severus slipped on his travelling cloak.
“Not yet,” Severus forced out, his voice tense as he hoped this line of conversation wouldn’t lead to another breakdown.
“You get to stay here with me!” Healer Strout said merrily, summoning a puzzle and placing it on a table which she slid in front of him.
Elias nodded, a small smile gracing his face as he looked at the puzzle. Finally, a more difficult activity than the simple puzzles he was given while in the other ward. It wasn’t a difficult puzzle by any means, but it was more than eight pieces and didn’t look like it was made for children. Already he liked it better here than in the previous ward.
Severus nodded in approval as he took in his son’s smile. Today had been rough, but the hope was Elias would settle in quickly. While he would have liked to have stayed for a bit longer, he was needed back at Hogwarts. The High Inquisitor had called a meeting to discuss the ministry’s ‘interests in the education of the children’ or some such drivel. It was just one more thing he had to do to appease the woman who made his skin crawl in ways only rivaled by the Dark Lord.
“Listen to the healers,” Severus said with a small smirk.
“I w-w-w-will,” Elias murmured back, already beginning to become engrossed in the puzzle in front of him. “H-have f-f-fun.”
Severus snorted before turning on his heel and striding towards the exit, giving a curt nod to the healer who responded with a knowing smile and a nod of her own. There was no way he would be enjoying this meeting without at least a small glass of whiskey to follow.
Elias’s head swam as figures moved into and out of his line of sight. Dark figures moving into and out of his field of view, whispers of conversations filtering into his ears. The murmuring continued until suddenly he raised his hand and hissed a muddled command to those in the room.
The dozen or so figures surrounded him, lining up as though they were soldiers waiting to be told an order, their silver faces swimming in and out of focus. No, not faces, masks. Their dark robes fluttered around them in an ethereal manner, making them appear as though they were floating, though he knew they weren’t.
A short, squat man with a silver hand approached him and whispered something to him, though his ears felt as though they were filled with fluff and he couldn’t make out what was being said. No, not fluff. They were buzzing. Buzzing as though they were a television with a poor signal. Static. The static filled his ears, drowning out most of what was being said.
“... prophecy,” the man said, kneeling down in front of him.
He felt himself stand and draw his wand before the static suddenly increased, wrapping around him as though he had jumped directly into it. It gave him a metallic feeling in his mouth, as though he had just licked an iron rod. His teeth shuttered in his mouth before a shockwave shot through him, making him feel as though he was falling.
Something was patting him on his shoulder, but he ignored it as the static fell away for a moment as a sudden clarity rushed over him. The connection with Voldemort was active. He could see through the man’s eyes, he was watching as Wormtail was being tortured for … something regarding the prophecy.
The prophecy. They were searching for the prophecy. He wasn’t sure why they needed it, but that wasn’t important right now. He needed to know if Voldemort could feel him. If Voldemort could tell that he was watching. If Voldemort could tell what he was thinking in the same way he could feel Voldemort’s feelings.
Suddenly he felt it, the cold eyes of the Dark Lord boring into his soul. He was caught! He was seen!
Elias’s eyes opened like a shot, terrified of what he would find. Did Voldemort know where he was? Had he seen that? Had he known what had happened to him?
The patting on his shoulder slowed and changed to a gentle rubbing. Even without turning over, he knew it wasn’t one of the healers of the ward who had been trying to wake him. The fingers were far too boney and trembled slightly as they moved. They were so thin, infact, he was rather afraid of what he might see when he rolled over. What creature was hunting him?
Why would he be hunted in the hospital, anyways?
Shrugging his shoulders in an effort to shake off the being which had been touching him, he slowly turned himself over, blinking the sleep from his eyes. Moonlight streamed through the small windows on the back wall of the ward, casting shadows on the floor which looked rather ominous themselves.
“Frank!” one of the healers whispered sharply. “Leave him alone!”
The hand jerked off of his shoulder as the man huffed, an unintelligible moan uttered from his lips as he shakily rose and staggered back to the bed on the other side of the ward. Once he was sat on his bed, he looked curiously at Elias before frowning and looking towards the woman in the bed next to him. He spent several minutes looking back and forth between Elias and the woman before shaking his head as though to clear it before finally laying back down on his bed. A spell pulled the covers over his shoulders as he huffed once more.
Elias laid there staring at the man across from him for several more minutes. He wasn’t sure who the man was, but he seemed rather familiar in the face. So did the woman next to him, for some reason, though he couldn’t place where he had seen them before. Even though the man had gotten told off for waking him up, it felt rather nice to have someone wake him from a nightmare.
Eyes heavy as sleep once again called to him, Elias rolled over and stared at the moonlit window. Was his dream real? He couldn’t remember. It felt real, but he would have to deal with that another day. Tonight he would sleep, then tomorrow he would go home.