Potions and Snitches
Snape and Harry Gen Fanfiction Archive

Bowtruckle Island

Hermione would have been proud, Harry thought. It was December twenty-sixth, he was on holiday, and there he sat, hunched over a book in the Hogwarts library. He might write to her later to let her know and to thank her for her Christmas gift.

“Found anything?” Draco asked as he returned to the table with a new volume in hand.

“Shhh,” Harry said. “Keep your voice down.”

Draco chuckled. “You do realise that we’re the only ones here, right? Even Madam Pince is on holiday.”

Harry looked up, glanced around the empty room, and realised Draco was right. They had the whole place to themselves. “There’s no mention of anyone with the Snape surname,” he said of the book he was flipping through, Wizarding Families Through the Ages. “But I found a few mentions of people by the name of Prince.”

“Do you know of anyone other than their mother, Eileen Prince?” Draco asked. “One name is not much to go on.”

Harry shook his head. He knew it probably would have been faster to ask Severus or Saturnine about it. But with everything the D.A. had done for the past four months, Harry had developed an investigative mind. Besides, it was too cold to go outside, and they had nothing better to do.

“What’s this one?” Harry asked, glancing at the book in the blond’s hands.

The Founders’ Legacy,” Draco replied. “It’s a book about the Hogwarts Founders’ lineage. Who knows, maybe old Salazar was our great-great-great-great-great grandfather or something.”

“You wish,” Harry said, closing his book and picking up another. That one was on family crests, and it had many illustrations. He flipped through it at random to examine the various symbols and mottos other wizarding families used.

“You know, there are chapters on others besides Slytherin,” Harry said when he caught Draco skipping an entire section of the book for the third time in a row. Though he couldn’t see what Draco was reading, he had no trouble guessing the blond read only the parts regarding old Salazar.

“This is actually quite interesting,” Draco said. “Though Salazar Slytherin was a cunning, determined, bigoted Pureblood idiot, he was also a loner. He spent a lot of time on his own and often retreated to that island in the middle of the Great Lake to get away from—well, those he deemed unworthy.”

Harry guessed that Draco had embellished the truth, and the book actually used the word ‘Mudblood’. “That man was an idiot. We wouldn’t be in this mess without him.”

Draco shrugged. “Yeah, well—no one’s perfect.”

Harry shook his head before returning to the volume in his hand. He was startled when Draco unexpectedly yelled, “Merlin’s bollocks!” a few minutes later.

“What?” Harry asked, looking up. “What is it?”

In response, Draco turned over the book he was reading before pushing it towards Harry.

“Shite! Draco!” Harry exclaimed after looking at it. “You found it.”

***

Severus was surprised to see two teenagers barrelling into his Potions classroom at a sprint, huffing and puffing as if they’d just ran a mile. He was immediately on high alert, wand in hand, his eyes scanning his surroundings to identify possible dangers.

“What is it?” he demanded, the simmering potion he’d been working on for hours instantly forgotten on his desk.

“We found it; we found it!” Harry exclaimed gleefully.

“Found what?” Severus asked, his worry not abating. “What’s going on?”

“The locket,” Harry continued. “We found it, Severus.”

Draco, who hadn’t said a word yet, cleared his throat audibly. “Rather, I found it,” he said in a more measured voice. Then he opened the book and placed it on a nearby table.

Assured that there was no immediate danger—save from the unattended potion that risked exploding—Severus vanished the liquid that had turned a most displeasing dark-brown colour before moving to stand by the boys. When he looked down at the old leather-bound volume, he immediately detected what had them so excited.

In the middle of a long paragraph on Salazar Slytherin’s time at Hogwarts was a moving painting of the man sitting against a tree trunk. A small, hand-sized creature, seemingly a cross between an insect and a twig, ran up and down the Founder’s arm. It had two long, sharp fingers on each hand, and in its left dangled a very familiar-looking locket. The little creature’s antics seemed to amuse old Salazar to no end.

“Where was this?” Severus asked. “Does it say in the text?”

Draco cleared his throat for show before announcing in a clear, only mildly pompous voice, “Salazar’s Slytherin’s favourite place in Hogwarts—Bowtruckle Island.”

Severus’ head whipped to the left—where the Great Lake stood past the thick walls—on instinct. They had searched the castle top to bottom to find the last two missing Horcruxes, but they hadn’t thought to explore the outside grounds. But if that island was a place old Salazar enjoyed, and if Tom Riddle had heard about it…

Severus pulled out his wand to call for Saturnine. As far as he could remember, he had always resorted to memories of Lily to call forth his Patronus. But today, Severus found himself thinking back to their first Christmas as a family instead. A bright jet of light pulsed out of his wand, more strongly than he had ever seen it. And where he expected to see a familiar-looking doe stood a vivacious-looking cobra. It slithered around his feet for a moment before lifting itself upward and tilting its head to the side. There was intelligence in the creature’s slanted eyes, and it looked to be eagerly awaiting instructions.

“Message for Saturnine,” he told his Patronus, his voice quivering slightly. “Meet me at the castle’s entrance. The boys may have found the locket.” The snake’s forked tongue darted out happily before the creature gave its master a nod to confirm it had understood the instructions. It was back on the ground an instant later, slithering away and through the closest wall.

“It—changed,” Harry said, stating the obvious. “Your Patronus.”

“I noticed,” Severus answered, feeling more than a little amazed. As far back as he could remember, it had always been a doe—Lily’s doe. His last anchor to her—the final manifestation of his everlasting love for her. Its absence today felt like a betrayal—like he didn’t love her enough anymore.

A comforting hand wormed its way around his back, and Harry pressed himself against his side a moment later. “She wouldn’t mind,” he said, ever the insightful one. “It was time you let her go.”

“I—I didn’t mean to,” he admitted. He couldn’t understand why this had happened; his feelings for Lily hadn’t changed, had they? No, they never would. “I still…”

“It’s okay,” Harry said when it became clear he wouldn’t finish his sentence. “It doesn’t mean you don’t love her anymore. Just like me changing my last name and accepting you and Saturnine as my parents doesn’t mean that I don’t still love James and Lily Potter. My heart’s big enough to hold all of you in it, and so is yours.”

***

Bowtruckle Island was found in the Great Lake, south of Hogwarts Castle. It was an uninhabited, small plot of land where no one ever went. Aside from a few shrubs and half a dozen trees, there was nothing on it.

Severus, Draco, and Harry flew over on broomsticks, and Saturnine simply flew. It had been a while since she had taken to the air for the sheer joy of flying, and she let herself enjoy the moment. Her acrobatics garnered the boys’ attention, and Saturnine went as far as a few loops and swirls. While she couldn’t match them in speed, she more than made up for that in agility.

Severus—who she remembered had never liked flying and only ever resorted to mounting a broom when he had to—spent the whole trip frowning at their antics, his back ramrod straight and both of his hands firmly clutching his broom handle.

She was the last one to touch the ground on Bowtruckle Island. She’d done one final sweep of it to ensure that it was a safe environment before coming in. She still pulled out her wand when they started to explore and saw her brother do the same.

There seemed to be no signs of life on the tiny islet—nothing but vegetation. And all the trees looked the same.

“Over here,” Harry called, catching their attention.

Looking to where he stood, Saturnine saw that he was crouching down to inspect the snow at the foot of a tree. Coming closer, she noticed small markings in the white canopy. The trails were numerous, but they all led to the same tree.

“That must be the Bowtruckles’ home tree,” Severus said, moving closer.

“Careful,” Saturnine cautioned. “They’re shy creatures. But if they feel threatened, they will attack.”

“I know,” he said, pulling a small jar from one of his frock coat’s pockets. Saturnine quickly recognised its content as fairy eggs; her brother shared her knowledge of the twig-like creatures. Fairy eggs were the Bowtruckles’ favourite food after woodlice. But she knew the Potions Master didn’t have those in stock in his storeroom.

As he studied the tree more intently, Severus found tiny scratches on the bark and disturbed snow on some branches. It wasn’t hard to track the creatures’ path to a hollow about five feet off the ground. Unscrewing the lid on the jar, he held it out closer to the entrance.

Saturnine and the boys remained at a safe distance, and she caught both of their attentions and motioned at them to be quiet by raising a finger to her lips. They nodded before returning their attention to the tree hollow.

A few scratching noises broke the silence, and a flat-faced stick figure poked its head out of the hole. There were two leaves on its head, and it stared at Severus’ offering in confusion, its round brown eyes peering at it cautiously. Her brother remained impossibly immobile and silent, and a few minutes later, the Bowtruckle pushed itself out of the hollow on gangling legs. It jumped from the tree onto Severus’ arm, then clawed its way down to his hand to peer inside the jar. Saturnine held her breath and tightened her grasp on her wand. She knew these long, twig-like fingers to be sharp enough to cut through a man’s skin and muscles easily.

The Bowtruckle seemed happy with its discovery, though, and it soon reached inside the jar to pull out an egg. He bit into it with gusto and squeaked a little in delight. Two more green stick figures poked their heads out of the hollow tree at the sound. They looked at their friend, still perched on Severus’ arm, then at each other, then back at their friends. And a moment later, they leapt forward as the first creature had.

Severus waited a few more minutes to see if more Bowtruckles would pour out of the hollow. When it was clear everyone was at the feast, he took a few slow, measured steps to the side, moving away from the tree.

“Stay there,” Saturnine whispered to Harry and Draco. Then she lifted herself off the ground to glide forward soundlessly. Using the wind, she pushed herself upward slightly to reach the hollow. Then pulling out her wand, she cast a nonverbal Lumos to peer inside the creatures’ nest. They had made a cosy home for themselves, Saturnine saw. A mix of dried leaves and bark had been used as furniture, and she was loath to disturb it. Inching closer, she tried to look further inside. She smiled when something metallic reflected back at her. It was nearly hidden underneath a pile of twigs and dried dirt, but she had caught the shimmer of gold. Not wanting to touch the thing, she killed off the Lumos Spell and used a Leviosa instead. Trying to do as minimal damage to the Bowtruckles’ interior as she could, she levitated the foreign object through the opening. She smiled when Salazar Slytherin’s locket was revealed for all to see.

Saturnine floated away from the tree with the necklace in tow, and Severus carefully returned to stand by the hollow. His jar was nearly empty, and when the last fairy egg disappeared down one of the twigs throats, all three of them jumped back inside their home.

“Is this it?” Harry asked once they had reached the shore where they had left their brooms.

Severus nodded. “It is. Salazar Slytherin’s locket.”

“And is it a—” Harry shuddered. “Has it got a piece of the Dark Lord’s soul in it?”

Saturnine was peering cautiously at the floating piece of jewellery. None of them had dared touching it, and she had refused to let anyone but Severus step within a foot of it. Conjuring a ball of air to float the locket so that she could use her wand again, she tried ascertaining its nature using a few spells she knew.

She shuddered at the utter darkness she felt emanating from the golden heirloom. It felt wrong on so many levels that it was hard to catalogue the enchantments that enveloped the artefact. It was so far removed from what magic ought to be, so perversely twisted, that it made her sick to her stomach.

“Definitely,” she said, cutting the analysing spells off. “Magic doesn’t get any darker than that.”

Severus pulled out a small cotton pouch, and she levitated the locket inside it. Then he pulled out a small cotton bag, and she levitated the pouch into it. Her brother then pulled out a small, shrunken wooden box that he promptly returned to its proper size. He opened it, and Saturnine levitated the bag into it before closing the lid.

Only two left, she thought as they flew back to Hogwarts. The wooden box was tucked safely under one of her arms. Nagini and the Lost Diadem of Ravenclaw still eluded them. Saturnine felt her resolve strengthen as she looked at the imposing castle to which they flew. The diadem was in there somewhere; she knew it. With Severus, they had searched the Ravenclaw quarters top to bottom, but there were still many nooks and crannies to go through. And they had two more pairs of hands and eyes to help them with now. It was only a matter of time before they would be ready to spring their trap on Lord Voldemort.


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