‘I can’t believe you talked me into this,’ Lucius muttered.
‘You’re the obsessive,’ Severus replied.
‘I just want to make it clear that I’m doing this for Hogwarts and for Bellatrix,’ Lucius snapped.
Severus had to bite his tongue to stop himself from defending Lily.
Lucius was no friend of Muggle-borns but it wouldn’t do to get into a fight now.
Severus heaved his trunk out from under his bed and unlocked it.
‘Wow, Severus, what is all this?’ Lucius asked upon sight of the contents.
Severus reached into the glittering mass of vials and pulled out one containing a murky, grey and white liquid.
‘This is Ghost Potion,’ he said, ‘it lasts for an hour. It’ll get us out of the school, and defend us against the vampires. We can’t be bitten if we can’t be touched,’
‘What else have we got?’ Lucius asked, excitedly.
Severus held up an oily-black potion.
‘That’s the Draught of Living Death,’ Lucius said, ‘Why are we taking that?’
‘Emergency reasons,’ Severus replied, uncomfortably, and there was a very tense pause. Severus only hoped that they wouldn’t have to reach that point.
‘What’s this?’ Lucius asked, raising a potion which glowed a dazzling yellow.
‘Liquid Sunshine,’ Severus replied, ‘We have four of those. There’s a cauldron-full in Slughorn’s private stores downstairs, but we won’t have time to get it. We’ll need this to weaken the vampires,’
Lucius appeared to be having an internal struggle.
Severus bet he could guess what it was about.
‘’Never thought you’d fight one, did you?’ he asked, smiling a twisted smile.
‘I never thought I’d meet one, to be honest,’ Lucius muttered, looking embarrassed.
‘Let’s go,’ Severus said.
He and Lucius shut the door to the dormitory, there wouldn’t be any point in the others hearing what they doing unless they wanted a panic.
The boys wrapped themselves up in cloaks, and cast Unbreakable Charms on the vials before filling their pockets.
They began moving, but to Severus’ alarm, the tinkling of the glass was extremely obvious, so they emptied their pockets again and cast Silencio.
Severus handed Lucius a vial of Ghost Potion before taking his own.
They uncorked them and a wisp of steam escaped with a tiny hiss.
Severus swallowed his in one mouthful. It tasted like raw fish.
He felt a strange hollowness all over him, as though he was suddenly made of little more than vapour. He still gripped the vial in his hand and the wand under his robes, but after an experimental wave, Severus found his hand passing straight through everything, including Lucius.
Lucius gaped at Severus’ hand as he past it straight through Lucius’ shoulder.
‘You scare me, sometimes,’
‘Come on,’ Severus replied.
Their trip through the castle was a surprisingly short one now that walls and doors no longer restricted them. The teachers were prowling the corridors, but they snuck behind them, keeping to the shadows. The Ghost Potion lightened their step, so foot-falls and creeping floor-boards weren’t a worry either.
‘If only it could make us invisible,’ Lucius sighed.
‘Don’t push it,’ Severus muttered.
They drifted through the double doors at the end of the Entrance Hall -
Someone dived straight through Severus and crumpled in a heap, moaning, on the floor. Severus and Lucius cast Lumos and whirled round.
‘Ha! Potter!’ Lucius laughed, ‘better luck next time you attack someone who’s drunk Ghost Potion,’
‘What are you doing out here?’ Severus snarled, ‘trying to earn another detention?’
That’s when Lupin stepped into their midst from behind a nearby wall.
‘What’s this, Hogwarts’ worst ambush?’ Lucius chuckled.
‘Actually, Lucius,’ Lupin said, mildly, as Potter got up, ‘We wanted to help find the vampires,’
‘He wanted to help,’ Potter said, nodding at Lupin and glaring at Severus, ‘I just want to catch the one that attacked Evans,’
Severus looked from a scowling Potter to a calm Lupin.
He could tell that some serious arguing had gone on about this, but was unconcerned with the details.
‘Alright,’ Severus said, casually, to the surprise of everyone, ‘as much as I detest having the pair of you this close to me, there’s safety in numbers,’
Ignoring Potter’s look of suspicion that he had accepted so easily, Severus led the way towards the Forbidden Forest.
It looked brooding and sinister in the moonlight. Severus breathed out to calm his nerves. It’s alright, nothing can touch you.
‘Lumos,’ they muttered, raising their wands, and four tiny lights appeared in the dark.
Severus wondered how Potter and Lupin might be feeling. After all, they hadn’t any Ghost Potion, and were perfectly solid.
He smirked, but only briefly.
He didn’t want any more attacks tonight, particularly while they were all in the same forest this adventure had started; the Gryffindors would surely mash him into a pulp.
As they progressed, Severus began regretting taking the other two with them.
The trip would have been much quicker after the Ghost Potion, but they had to stop for Potter and Lupin every time they became entangled in bushes.
Severus swore under his breath.
Every moment they stopped was a moment wasted.
‘This is taking too long,’ Lucius said, irritably, the sixth time that this happened.
‘Well, unless anyone knows how to Apparate, it’ll take as long as it takes,’ Potter snapped back. Severus put a finger to his lips and they hushed.
It could go very bad for them if they were heard in a place like this.
Twenty minutes passed, but there was no sign of life in the forest, just the snapping of twigs under their shoes, and the distant calls of owls.
‘Do we have any more Ghost Potion?’ Lucius asked in a low voice.
‘No,’ Severus murmured back, ‘Slughorn emptied my cauldron,’
From what he could see of Lucius’ face in the dark, he was worried.
Severus was privately getting scared as well.
‘If we did, would you have given them any?’ Lucius asked, jerking his head over his shoulder at Potter and Lupin.
There was a pause and then Severus halted, abruptly.
‘Oh alright,’ he hissed, grudgingly.
He marched up to Lupin and Potter and pushed two Ghost Potions, roughly, into their hands.
Severus stomped on past Lucius – ‘I lied,’ – and went on ahead.
‘Thank you, Snape,’ he heard Lupin’s voice call after him, and grit his teeth.
‘Just shut up and follow me, all of you,’ he snapped, speeding up.
No one answered, which he was grateful for. He must have talked some sense into Potter and Lupin at last.
After a short way, Severus stopped and cast his wand around.
‘This is where it carried me and Black off last time, the other vampires must know we’re here by now. What do you think, Lucius?’
He looked round ... and discovered that he was completely alone, somewhere, deep in the Forbidden Forest.
Severus whipped round, looking here and there for the others, his heart hammering, but they had gone. His wand-light offered little visibility in this blackness, and he didn’t dare call out for whatever else might hear him.
Willing his heart to slow down, Severus began to move back the way he had come.
He hadn’t gone far ... They had probably just gotten stuck in something again ... That was it ... He was overreacting ... Weren’t they roundabout here ... He hadn’t gone that far ahead, surely?
Severus stopped, and listened to what his gut was telling him.
He reached a hand into his pocket, drew out four vials, and drank their contents, one after another.
‘Hello?’ Severus called and strained his ears for an answer.
‘Hello, young blood,’ said a voice right behind him.