The once busy hallways of Hogwarts had cleared up an hour after dinner. They sat empty and silent, with paintings slumbering in their frames; all except for one. At a corner of one isolated hallway were two figures whispering in the shadows. They were whispering not because they were afraid of being caught by a prefect, but because Peeves was still lurking around.
“Do it tonight,” Lucius said.
“Tonight? But we’re not suppose to be at the owlery at this hour,” Severus replied.
“You owe me, Severus. And I’ve done more for you than you’d ever be able to repay.”
“A short and simple letter will do. Just verify what this doctor does. Do you need me to spell it out for you?”
Severus shook his head.
“Good. When you show me his letter, I’ll let you in on a secret.”
Severus nodded in reply.
Lucius took a quick look around before waving Severus off. The task was not hard and Lucius could have done it himself, but he was afraid his mail would be intercepted. He did not want the Dark Lord to know what he was doing, nor did he want his father to discover he was snooping. If it was possible, Lucius was going to find out what he needed to know without his parents ever knowing.
The following morning, there was no news from Severus. It was expected, unless the doctor was a night owl. However, Lucius did receive a letter from his mother. It was short but it told him more than he should know.
‘Everything is fine. He is fine. Don’t worry. Love, your mother.’
Lucius patted himself on the back for cleverly wording his letter to his mother. He merely hinted as though he knew what was going on, and his mother confirmed his suspicions. Something was going on, something revolving around his father.
Two days after that letter, the rush of owls into the great hall brought along the letter Lucius was eagerly waiting. When it fell on Severus’ lap, Severus hurried over to Lucius and handed it over. Lucius did not open the letter immediately, even though he was dying to do so, and waited till night came. When he and Severus were the only two left standing in the isolated corridor again, he tore the letter open.
It may seem strange to some that Lucius had company at such a private moment in his life, but he had no choice. Severus stayed by his side after dinner and insisted that Lucius tell him the secret he promised a few nights ago. Severus was getting bolder around Lucius and Lucius should have shooed him off, but something convinced him it was better to have someone around when he read the letter. So there he was, with Severus.
“What does it say?” Severus asked, just as Lucius pulled out the parchment.
“What did you write to him?” Lucius asked in reply.
“I said I had a problem and I needed his help. I asked him about his area of expertise too.”
Lucius nodded and began to read the letter silently.
‘You must have heard of me from my colleague. Rest assured, I am the best in this field. My expertise is anything and everything under the sun of dark curses. May I know if you are enquiring for your sake or for someone else’s? I would need to see the victim in person. Don’t worry, I’m a very discreet man.’
Severus was peering over the letter and he did not hesitate to ask, “Is someone cursed?”
Lucius slowly folded the letter up before pocketing it. He remained silent for a while, and when he finally spoke, he complete ignored Severus’ question.
“What cures dark curses? Spells, potions, or rituals?” Lucius asked, not ashamed that his question was directed at a boy years younger than him.
“It depends, but all cures need a potion. Potions for dark curses are very complex and they contain a handful of rare ingredients. Sometimes even dark ingredients. Who’s cursed?”
Lucius’ answer caught Severus off guard. With Severus unsure on how to respond, a brief moment of awkward silence lingered between them. And then, as though the subject on curses was immediately dropped, Lucius said, “I’ll tell you the secret now.”
Telling Severus about the Dark Lord and his plan to take over the wizarding world briefly took Lucius away from the fact that his father was in danger. It was effectively detouring his thoughts, so Lucius held nothing back. By the time Lucius sold it all to Severus, he was sure the boy would be on board.
“So, are you with me?” Lucius asked.
“Yes,” Severus replied with a smile. It was the kind of smile that came from a belief that life would get better, even though he was extremely naïve to think so.
“Good. Time to-”
“You say the Dark Lord is a powerful man and he knows your family well. Why don’t you ask him for help?” Severus interrupted.
Lucius overlooked the rudeness out of curiosity and asked, “Ask for what help?”
“Your father. The Dark Lord should know a lot about dark curses. The doctor is probably not as good as him too.”
Severus made a good point. He was right about the Dark Lord, but Lucius contemplated. Was he bold enough to ask for help? Will there be a price if he did? Lucius knew the Dark Lord enough to know he never does favours.
To Be Continued…
(Leave a comment below or vote on whether Lucius should ask the Dark Lord for help or stay out of it completely!)