Blood Leads the Blind
Part 2 - A Most Bothersome Cure
by Meimi

_____________________________________________________________________

Disclaimer: Harry Potter and so forth obviously belong to J.K. Rowling and whoever, besides Warner Brothers, own any rights to it. No infringement intended.

Spoilers: Up to the third book, at the very least.

_____________________________________________________________________

Handsome. Cunning. Quick. Draco Malfoy was all of these things and more, but physically fit he was not. He didn't exactly keep Crabbe and Goyle around for their pretty faces after all. He certainly wasn't fit enough to be hauling an unconscious and bleeding Harry Potter from the south courtyard and down to the bloody dungeons without -some- strain. So it was with no small amount of relief when he finally managed to drag his burden over to Professor Snape's office door. The damned man had better be in because there was absolutely no way he was dragging Potter back up those horrid stairs.

Staring blankly at the forbidding door, Draco considered his options. He could put Potter down and knock like any civilized wizard would do, but he wasn't sure he'd be able to pick Potter back up. His arms were really, really starting to burn like nobody's business from the strain. They might give out completely once he let go. No, that wasn't an appealing idea at all. So what else could he do? He couldn't use his wand to do anything, both of his arms were full. He could probably balance on one leg for a short length of time... yes, that would be the best idea.

Getting a better hold on Potter, Draco lifted his left leg slightly and banged insistently on the door with his heel. He thought he heard the sound of smashing glass, but wasn't certain so kept up his barrage. He did hear the sulfurous cursing though, right before the door was flung open and a very irate Potions Master peered out into the hallway.

"What is it-," Snape trailed off, his fury at being interrupted fading into pure annoyance as he got a good look at who it was. "Mr. Malfoy-," he started out, then trailed off again when he noticed what Draco was holding on to. He cocked a bewildered eyebrow at the odd tableau before him. "What exactly are you doing with that?"

"Somebody thought murdering Potter while I was around would be great fun," Draco growled, not waiting for an invitation as he dragged his unwanted burden into the dark, smoky room. Snape closed the door once he was past and indicated that Draco should continue over towards the desk. "While I don't particularly care whether Potter is among the breathing or not, I refuse to be implicated in such a shoddy job of it."

Snape's lips twisted up in a bitter, almost half-smile at Draco's blasť explanation. He knew there was more to it than that, but there were more pressing matters at the moment than Draco Malfoy's motivation. Waving his wand and muttering a few choice words under his breath, Snape moved the veritable apothecary off of his desk and replaced it a few moments later with the bleeding form of one of his most annoying students. The boy just could not stay out of trouble.

Draco stood off to the side, rubbing his arms as they alternated between going numb and having a thousand needles speared into them. Perhaps hauling Potter around hadn't been the wisest decision. He was certainly going to regret it in spades in the morning. Tilting his head to the side in curiosity, Draco watched as Snape circled his desk, and then winced when the Potions Master yanked the arrow out of Potter's shoulder. Nasty thing that, the arrowhead was barbed.

Humming to himself thoughtfully, Snape studied the bloody arrowhead, sniffing it almost daintily before pressing a fingertip to it and smearing that finger together with his thumb. Sneering at something his student couldn't fathom, Snape wiped his fingers off on his robes and said, "Do be useful Mr. Malfoy and go fetch the Headmaster and then Madame Pomfrey... and Professor McGonagall." He grimaced at the last name, as if he were adding it in afterthought but really didn't want to.

"But sir, it's after hours," Draco protested, scowling at the useful comment. He was the best of Slytherin house, he was far more than just useful. "What if I run into Filch? He won't care if I have a good reason for being out or not. He'll just drag me off for more detention. And besides, I'm not even supposed to know where the Headmaster's office is."

"Don't be coy, Mr. Malfoy," Snape snapped as he glared over at Draco. "I expect you to do exactly as I have told you. And should you encounter any problems, the password is owl cookies. Now get going."

"Yes sir," Draco grumbled as he stalked out of the office, slamming the door shut behind him. He did not appreciate this particular task one little bit. Fetching people was the job for a servant or a house-elf or something other than him. Really, he should have just left Potter to bleed to death.

Snape returned his attention to the arrowhead once Draco had left, absently reaching down and feeling Potter's forehead with his right hand. The boy wasn't feverish or anything of the sort, and that helped confirm some of his suspicions. Potter hadn't just been shot. He'd been poisoned as well, and this type of 'poison' was very rare indeed. "Well Mr. Potter, someone really doesn't like you," Snape said absentmindedly, not noticing as his thumb started rubbing softly against the skin on Harry's forehead.

A minute passed, another, and then Snape shook himself as if waking from a stupor. Sighing at the work that lay ahead, he went about gathering the implements he would need to extract the 'poison' and fix whatever else might be wrong. Pomfrey was an excellent healer, but she wouldn't be able to handle this type of crisis. No, he was the only one available with the necessary knowledge and experience. How ironic, here he was about to save the famous Harry Potter again for no other reason than because he was there.

A faint crunching sound under his foot distracted him from his musing for the moment. Looking down, Snape grimaced in distaste. He had forgotten about that. Draco's charming little entrance had startled him enough that he had dropped the potion he had been working on. A most disturbing occurrence if nothing else. He wasn't the type of person who should allow himself to get so wrapped up in something that a student banging on his door was something of a shock. That type of reaction wasn't anywhere near being healthy in his line of work, as it were. Something very strange must be bothering him, but he couldn't figure out what it was. Perhaps it was also the reason he had been watching some of the more troublesome students with a keener eye of late.

Ah well, it was something to ponder upon later. Right now he had something a bit more 'annoying' to take care of. Scuffing the broken glass out of the way for the moment --He'd clean it up later--, Snape walked over to and began digging through his vast, unorganized mass of vials of all sizes, oddly shaped bottles, strange bubbling concoctions and things even Dumbledore would have great difficulty identifying. He needed one particular tiny, crystal vial...

As if his thoughts had summoned them, Snape heard harried footsteps echoing down the hallway just outside of his office. --Why hadn't he at least heard Draco dragging Potter around out there?-- A few seconds later, the door swung open once more and revealed the extremely worried countenance of the Hogwarts' Headmaster.

"Severus," Dumbledore said by way of greeting before rushing over to Harry's side. It was a testament to his distress that he used Snape's first name outside of what he considered a controlled environment. He rarely used the young man's first name because of certain unpleasant factors, though he knew he was more than welcome to. In this particular case, unfortunately or not, his concern overrode some of his better sense. Looking over the boy's wound, he felt he had more than enough reason for that. "What happened?"

"As Mr. Malfoy has stated," Snape began, still digging for that one vial he wanted, "Someone, or something, decided it would be great fun to murder Potter in his presence. Since he didn't want to be implicated, and not knowing what else to do, my student dragged Potter down here to see what I could do about it." Digging down a little deeper amidst his clutter --He was really going to have to clean this up one of these days. Such chaos was unbecoming of a Hogwarts' professor--, Snape smiled triumphantly as he felt his fingers close around what he knew to be the vial in question.

"Yes- yes, very strange," Dumbledore mumbled as he glanced over at Snape who held the bloody arrow in one hand while he dragged his find out of his mass of glass with the other. Frowning at the gruesome appearing scene, Dumbledore continued, "Well then, I do believe the first course of action would be to get Harry up to the hospital wing-"

"Not unless you really want him to die," Snape said amiably, something that was more than a little disconcerting to Dumbledore. Snape was nowhere near being anything remotely resembling amiable. And he knew, without a doubt, that when Snape was congenial about anything at all, then reality was going to be very unpleasant for the foreseeable future.

"Oh dear, what is it?" Dumbledore asked wearily as he looked back down at Harry. If Snape was feeling 'chipper' about this ordeal, then it had to be some type of potion, poison or a combination of both that was incredibly difficult to cure. His Potions Master did so like a challenge. The boy was bleeding a bit more than he felt comfortable with though. "Shouldn't we do something about the wound? I really wouldn't appreciate having to inform the world at large that 'The Boy Who Lived' bled to death on your desk, Severus."

"I think it's brittleblood weed," Snape said as he deposited the arrow on one of his bookcases and then dug around for the bottle with the specific ingredients already blended in it that he would need. "I'm not quite certain though. And as for the bleeding, it would be best to let it bleed out for the time being."

"But Severus, Harry would be dead already if it was brittleblood weed," Dumbledore said curiously. If Snape was correct, and there were very few instances where he was not, then there had to be something else preventing the weed from dissolving all of the blood present in Harry's body. That left a very narrow margin of what else could possibly be in the boy's blood, and none of the choices were anywhere near being pleasant. Some were, in fact, incurable.

"I'm quite aware of that," Snape said, having found the bottle rather easily. Grasping the spout, he shook it vigorously and walked back over toward his desk. "I'm not certain that it is brittleblood weed because it's being masked by Odin's Blood."

"Odin's Blood?" Dumbledore mouthed in amazement. Odin's Blood was nigh impossible to acquire because it was in actuality the blood of Odin, the fallen ruler of the Norse pantheon. Someone, or thing, would had to have been powerful enough to slip through Valhalla's protective sphere, but would also had to have been clever enough to escape the notice of its denizens. That last bit was the most difficult because the valkyries were incredibly perceptive of even the smallest change in their environment.

No truly mortal, living being could enter Valhalla. Only the valorous slain and very specific 'gods' were allowed within the legendary hall. However, no 'god' was interested enough in the human world to interfere in this manner, and thus would not have cared one wit about whether 'The Boy Who Lived' lived on or died. Dumbledore couldn't really rule in Voldemort either. The dark wizard hadn't been 'dead' enough to enter Valhalla, nor had he been valorous in any sort of way to have thus been allowed anywhere near it. That meant there was in all likelihood another force moving against them. Now that was a very disquieting thought indeed.

Snape, in the meantime, had set the bottle and the crystal vial down beside his 'patient'. Frowning as he studied the wound, he brought out his wand and cast a simple spell that would remove any trace bits of fabric from the puncture. At least that little bit he could do with basic magic, everything else, on the other hand, was going to be very difficult.

Snape sighed as he reached up into the left sleeve of his robes and pulled out the knife he kept strapped to the inside of his upper arm. He could never be too careful, and when he couldn't reach his wand sometimes a sharp blade would do just as well. And sometimes, like now when he was about to do something he'd rather not, he could easily make himself believe that Potter was more trouble than he was worth. He knew differently, of course, which was an annoying upset for his typical hatred of the boy, but he could usually ignore it.

"Oh my! Oh dear!" Dumbledore and Snape both looked up as Madame Pomfrey, the resident mediwitch, burst through the door. She leaned against the doorjamb for a moment, as if to catch her breath, and then bustled over to the desk. She clucked as she circled the desk to join Snape, placing her hand on Harry's forehead to check for fever as she glanced over the wound. She frowned worriedly at what she felt. The boy didn't have any sort of temperature, which was unnatural to say the least. "Now now, this is strange," she muttered. "Poor boy." Quickly going over which spell would be best in her mind, she raised her wand and was stopped from doing anything else when Snape's hand closed over her wrist.

"I wouldn't do that Poppy. We don't need you dying on us," Snape explained when she looked up at him questioningly. Her face fell at his words. She knew at least some of what that meant: poison of a very dangerous kind. While she was more knowledgeable about such things than a school mediwitch ought to be, there were some things that were just beyond her capabilities. She was relieved though that the school at least had a master for such things in the form of Professor Snape. He knew everything about anything that could possibly be put into any sort of potion, and thus poisons as well. Sometimes she even harbored the thought that he knew more about herbs than even Professor Sprout.

"What is it and what can we do about it?" Pomfrey asked, switching herself over to complete professionalism. It was at times like this, when she couldn't really do much of anything to help, that she felt like falling into hysterics. She wouldn't allow herself to do so though, there was always something she could do to help. She just needed them to tell her what that something might be.

"It is Odin's Blood," Dumbledore said, waiting for Pomfrey's nod of acknowledgment before he continued, "As you now know, casting a spell to heal directly onto the wound and thus it, would have ripped your own magic out and killed you. I do believe there is a type of layered spell which can be used to remove it without causing too much damage. Am I correct in my assessment Severus?" He looked up at Snape inquisitively, waiting for the Potions Master to either agree with him or correct him.

"Mm, yes," Snape answered absently as he sliced the palm of his left hand with the blade of his knife and allowed the blood to drip down into the bottle. "However, the All Blood Tonic must be completed first. Madame Pomfrey needs to be ready to administer it directly after you and I have completed that spell, Albus, or to be more precise: spells."

"All Blood Tonic? We can't keep that in stores. It goes bad far too quickly," Pomfrey murmured while Albus nodded his assent at Snape. Thinking swiftly over the very, very few things that required All Blood Tonic, she easily came to a conclusion. "Brittleblood weed. It can't work while there's such a magical black hole like Odin's Blood in the body, but the instant you remove the Odin's Blood it will start working. I see, the All Blood Tonic will be needed to replace all the blood that is dissolved by the weed." She nodded finally in understanding as they all watched the liquid in the bottle turn an unhealthy appearing crimson red. A few more drops of blood from Snape and the red began to glow ominously, a fair indication that it was ready to be used.

"We are quite lucky you had some of that on hand, Severus," Dumbledore said with a sparkle of admiration in his eyes.

Snape healed the slice on his palm before answering the unvoiced question, "I've been trying to discover a way to preserve the mixture for any given length of time without damaging the effects. I haven't been successful so far, but I'm sure I'll find something that works eventually." He smirked self-importantly as he handed the completed All Blood Tonic over to Madame Pomfrey.

"So productive, Severus," Dumbledore chuckled lightly as he pushed the sleeves of his robes up. "Now then, shall I be the one to cast the containment spell while you handle the extraction?"

"Yes, that would be for the best," Snape said as he took the tiny, crystal vial up in his left hand and stretched his wand out over Potter's wound. When Dumbledore's wand joined his own, he added a warning, "I expect McGonagall will be showing up shortly with Mr. Malfoy. Don't let their arrival distract you otherwise the Odin's Blood will claim all three of us. I, for one, don't particularly care to die anytime soon."

"Noted." Dumbledore then closed his eyes and let his consciousness sink down into his own magic. Once he felt familiar enough with every little nuance and tingle, he muttered a single word that was both spoken and not and let his consciousness flow into the boy's body. There, he let himself spread out over the vast network of veins while he began his search. It was a difficult task, to say the least. He had to search for minuscule particles that simply just didn't feel like there was anything there. Once he found them, he had to surround each little particle with the solidity of Harry's own blood and then his magic so that Snape would have something to grab onto. And he had to do all of this without letting any of his own magic directly touch those places that didn't feel like they were there. It was quite delicate work, and quite straining as well. He'd be lucky if he could even levitate one of Flitwick's feathers in the morning.

Snape waited a few minutes before allowing his consciousness to also sink down into the boy's bloodstream. He traveled along vein after vein until he found the first little globule of magic and then began to gently tug it out. It wasn't easy. If he went too fast he risked damaging the surrounding vein. If he went too slow he risked the chance of it causing a clot and then there would be very little they could do to keep Potter from dying. He felt some small amount of relief when the little globule floated up out of the wound and over to hover directly above the crystal vial. He then popped the bubble of Dumbledore's magic causing the small droplet of Odin's Blood to fall into the vial while the remains of Potter's blood spattered over his hand. It was messy and it was going to get messier. Scowling, he let his consciousness fall back into Potter's blood so he could do it all over again.

Sometime during the entire process, neither Dumbledore nor Snape could spare the attention the find out exactly when, two more people entered the room, one muffling a distressed exclamation and the other remaining silent though radiating disgust. It had to be McGonagall and Draco Malfoy. A whispered explanation was passed between Pomfrey and McGonagall and then silence reigned again. It was taking a long time to remove all of the Odin's Blood and they could both feel Harry weakening around them. If they didn't finish soon, he really would die of blood loss and their great efforts would have been in vain.

It was with a heavy sense of relief that Dumbledore felt Snape latch onto the last remaining bubble of magic. He followed along with it until it was close enough to the wound that he could withdraw back into his own body. He gave a stilted nod to Madame Pomfrey, indicating that she should be ready to administer the All Blood Tonic when this next globule emerged. The brittleblood weed had already begun its deadly work even as he had withdrawn.

The last bubble floated out, followed instantly by a horrendous hiss from the wound. Madame Pomfrey acted swiftly, pouring the tonic directly onto the wound. It would take a few seconds for the All Blood Tonic to transform itself into the appropriate type for Harry, but by that time the brittleblood weed would have dissolved itself out and would no longer be a danger.

When Pomfrey finally withdrew, Snape reached over, wand still in hand, and felt Potter's forehead. The boy was incredibly pale, but it felt like his temperature was rising, which in this case was a good thing. As long as his body reacted correctly, then Potter would recover... with time. Unfortunately, they couldn't heal the wound immediately. When Odin's Blood was introduced into the bloodstream of a magical being, or in this case, person, their natural magic went into a sort of hibernation to save itself. It would take a little while after the Odin's Blood was removed for the magic to 'wake' back up again. Casting a spell on the person in question before that happened would cause it to 'wake up' prematurely and possibly damage itself in the process. Potter was just going to have to deal with bandages and pain until enough time had passed for his to wake up.

"Well then, now that that's taken care of, I think it would be prudent to move the patient to the hospital wing," Madame Pomfrey said cheerfully as she summoned up a floating stretcher. Scratching her chin, she gazed down at Harry and the stretcher for a moment, then looked around at all of them. "Would one of you mind helping me heft Mr. Potter over onto the stretcher?"

Snape rolled his eyes and turned his back to them, indicating that he had done more than his fair share and didn't plan on doing anything more. He ignored Pomfrey's titters as he waved his wand over his hand to remove the blood. It had been congealing where it had spattered across his skin, a terribly disgusting sensation. He studied the little crystal vial he held and the small amount of dark red liquid within it. Someone had gone to a lot of trouble for this. He highly doubted they'd leave the job unfinished. That wasn't the only worry though. Someone else would come looking for this, and they would not be pleased in the least.

"Severus?"

Snape jerked his head up, noticing that Dumbledore was the only one remaining in his office. The Headmaster leaned heavily against his desk. He was obviously exhausted. They both were, though Snape would never admit to it. "Yes Albus?" Snape asked after a moment, too tired to bother with formality.

"You do know what that means?" Dumbledore inquired, pointing vaguely at the tiny vial. His eyes were half-lidded with his need for rest, but they were clouded ominously with the knowledge of the troubles that lay ahead.

"Oh yes. We'll be having a rather unusual guest soon. It is a concern but not the most bothersome one," Snape said blandly as he leaned against his desk and faced Dumbledore. "What worries me is what is here now and just exactly how it got past Hogwarts' various protection spells without any of us knowing about it."

"That is the mystery," Dumbledore muttered as he reached up and adjusted his glasses. "It cannot have come from within as the basilisk did. When something like that happens, the atmosphere within the castle shifts and there has never been a time when none of the castle's denizens haven't felt that. It had to have come from outside. However, there are only two ways that something truly dangerous could enter the castle. Either it was charmed to fool the castle's protections or someone from inside helped to bring it within."

"It wasn't the Dark Lord. Of that we can be almost certain," Snape said as he considered the possibilities. "He would rather kill Potter himself. It has become something of a personal grudge between them."

"I had already thought of that. It is a rather disturbing truth and Voldemort has never had the resources necessary to acquire Odin's Blood. No one and nothing we have knowledge of does." Dumbledore squinched his nose up in what appeared approximately like a grimace for him.

"Meaning there's something going on we know absolutely nothing about," Snape said sourly. As if the Dark Lord wasn't bad enough.

"Not entirely. It's very probable that we do know something about it, but it is so unlikely that our minds refuse to acknowledge it as a possibility," Dumbledore explained, waving his wand around slowly as he pondered upon the crisis.

"That's all well and good to say Albus, but it doesn't really help us," Snape snarled in annoyance at the obvious return of Dumbledore's maddening whimsy.

"Something occurs to me, but I'm not sure what relevance it has upon this particular situation," Dumbledore said, his voice going soft and quiet as if he were remembering something he would rather not. "It is very odd for it to come up now. Perhaps I'm just too tired."

Snape blinked in surprise at that admission. He had never known Dumbledore to excuse any train of thought upon his physical condition, no matter how bizarre said thoughts might be. It must be something very painful for him to remember for the old wizard to try and brush off whatever meaning it might contain.

"I think it is more than time for me to take my rest," Dumbledore said at last. Looking up as Snape, he continued, "I will drop by the hospital wing beforehand. Severus, would you-"

"I'll do a little investigating before I head to bed, Albus," Snape answered, cutting Dumbledore off before the question could even be completed. "I do need to get a little cleaning done in here though. Would you be so kind as to inform Mr. Malfoy to return here instead of heading back to Slytherin House. When McGonagall and Pomfrey are through with him, of course." He smirked at the last bit.

"Of course. We wouldn't want to interrupt them," Dumbledore chuckled slightly, the twinkle returning to his eyes. Professor McGonagall would even now be grilling Draco Malfoy on just exactly what had happened that had ended up with one of her House's students having an arrow sticking out of his shoulder. Madame Pomfrey would be bandaging Harry up, with one ear keenly focused on the conversation. Once she was certain she couldn't do anything more for Harry she would join them and cluck over everything. Yes, he should check in and hopefully Snape's request would somehow rescue the boy from them.

Snape watched Dumbledore walk wearily out of his office before he directed his wand at his desk. A quick spell cleaned the blood off of the surface and another levitated his apothecary back to its proper place. He scowled as his wand hand shook slightly during the entire process. He was tired, but it shouldn't be that bad yet. Or was it something else?

What had possessed him to go out and check on the boys during their detention earlier in the day? He had been working on an interesting potion, but he hadn't been able to focus on it. A niggling urge to get up had driven him from his office and out into the hallways. The whispering of the students as they headed to their respective houses had informed him of where Potter and Malfoy had been serving their detention. There had been no specific reason for him to go and check up on them like he had though.

There had been no a specific reason for the utter shock he had felt when Draco had shown up at his door. Nor had there been any specific reason for the solid determination that had told him in no uncertain terms that he would fix the problem one way or another.

He had told himself he was only doing it because he was there. It was a bald lie and he knew it, but he had no idea what he was lying to himself about. He hated Potter. He utterly loathed the boy. Everybody knew it too. So why did he still feel like he was lying to himself when he thought about his hatred for Potter?

He hated Potter. So why had he had to fight back panic when he had felt the boy weaken around him while he and Dumbledore had been removing the Odin's Blood? Why did he have the sudden urge to walk up to the hospital wing and find out if Pomfrey had bandaged the boy up properly?

He really was such a fool.

_____________________________________________________________________

*pets on Snape and then kicks his ass for being so difficult for this part* Ahem. I am somewhat surprised I finished this part in the time limit I gave myself. I was out of town a lot last week. But anyway, I did finish it, and like I said: more Snape for your pleasure... or something. I'm not quite sure how well this turned out, so do please let me know what you think.

 

BACK  |  FORWARD