-67- Severus -67-
November 16, 1991
Thursday was Severus’s light day. With no classes until the afternoon, he skulked off the Hogwarts grounds. His cloak snapped behind him in the cold November wind.
His mind was in the same place as the cursed Scottish weather. He’d read through all the books Lucius had given him. Although he probably knew more about golems than anyone alive in all of England – not something he was willing to brag about – he still didn’t know what to do with the child haunting his quarters. According to the one book in the collection that seemed to be based in fact rather than mad rantings, Severus needed the precise counter-spell to the one used to create Evan’s form.
Without the caster of that spell, however, that would be nearly impossible to get. And the odds of tracking down someone who managed to cast an incredibly highly restricted spell in the middle of Hogwarts two full weeks ago was decidedly slim. What was worse was the fact that there was nobody at the school anywhere near capable of creating a golem short of – perhaps – Albus Dumbledore himself. While Severus could accuse Quirrell of letting in trolls until his head turned blue, he couldn’t imagine Quirrell having anything near the knowledge of skill necessary to create a golem. And to accuse a seriously dark wizard of sneaking onto Hogwarts grounds without the headmaster knowing was unlikely as well. With a scowl, he twisted on his heel, apparating away from the school.
When the world settled back around him, Severus stalked down a small dirt road. Behind of him lay the town of Peebles, Scotland, ahead of him was the small wizarding community just north of the town. A few sheep bleated at him from a pasture. Severus ignored them – two parts annoyed at being forced out in this wind, and one part frustrated at the person he’d sunk to talking to.
But the information in the books had come to an end. Logic had ended up at a dead end. And there was only one person Severus knew that could possibly have the information he needed.
The house he finally stopped beside looked nothing like a normal wizarding house, save for the elderberry hedge around the outside. Muggle trash bins stood near the road, muggle lawn gnomes and other odd decorations were scattered throughout the garden, and chickens hung out around a small, run-down coop in the corner. There wasn’t a hint of magic in the air, but Severus stayed on the road anyways. The owner of the house was one shade south of insane.
With a sharp glance to the left and to the right, Severus sent a harmless wash of light towards the house – a sort of magical doorbell. For a long few seconds nothing happened, then one of the trash bins shuddered and started to melt. A man formed from the silvery metal, shaking out a dirty brown cloak. One of his eyes was glaring at Severus, the other was roving in circles. “What you want, Snape?” Mad-eye Moody growled.
“The headmaster has sent me for some information,” Severus said, keeping his hands by his sides.
“Aye?” The man clumped forwards, sticking his face just inches from Severus’s. Moody stank of booze and smoke.
Severus fought to not choke on the stench. He was only partially convinced the man had actually been drinking or smoking. “A confidential matter.”
Moody’s magical eye whirled around in his head, finally facing in Severus’s direction. “You don’t have any tracking charms.” It wasn’t a question. The man took a step back. “But I ain’t letting you into my house. We can talk in the coop.”
“Fine with me,” Severus said blandly, keeping back the wince at the idea of going into the smelly chicken coop. “After you.”
The man eyed him for a long moment more before turning and stumping towards the rundown shack in the corner of the yard. Severus followed, chasing chickens away from his feet with well-placed kicks. It wasn’t until Moody stooped to enter the coop that Severus actually took the time to examine the shack.
From this close, the magical enchantments on the coop were obvious. He reached out a hand, touching some of the grayed boards on the side. The wood practically buzzed with energy. “How many spells do you have on this thing?” he asked, startled despite himself.
“All of ‘em,” Moody grumbled. “Get in.”
Severus stepped through the doorway, shivering at the feel of the spells pulling at him. He stood still a moment, centering his mind.
Moody stared at him, seeming to wait for something, then his shoulders slumped slightly. “We’re completely secure in here,” the man said darkly. “Speak.”
Severus wondered exactly what spells he’d just walked through and what they would have done had he any desire to harm the old auror. Throwing his normally cautious way of speaking out the window, Severus decided to just bluntly speak his mind. “I am in need of information on golems.”
Whatever Mad-eye had been expecting, it hadn’t been that. “That information could get you killed.”
“I’m sure you care deeply about my health,” Severus sneered. “You are an expert on the Grindewald case.”
Moody stared at him. “I could get barred from the Ministry for just admitting I know anything about golems, not to mention having a death sentence on my head for telling you about them.”
Severus felt the muscle over his eye twitch. “I’m aware-“
“Not happening,” Moody repeated, his tone dark and deadly. “I could bring you in and have you kissed just for asking me about them, you realize that?”
Severus crossed his arms and waited for the man to finish his rant. He would have leaned against the walls, except for the fact that he couldn’t even begin to imagine what was growing on the old wood.
“Nothing good comes from things like that. There’s a reason why they’re classified so highly. Do you have any idea how much damage those things could do if they got out in the world again?”
“May I say something?” Severus interjected darkly.
Moody swung a finger into his face. “You better have one damn good reason for even bringing them things up.”
“Albus Dumbledore believes the Dark Lord is attempting to create, or perhaps has already created one for himself.”
Mad-eye went absolutely still. His finger slowly lowered. “Explain,” the man demanded. His one good eye seemed to sparkle with hatred.
“You are aware that the Dark Lord is no longer in Albania.” Severus didn’t bother to wait for an answer. “He is back in England, we believe, likely attempting to get himself a Sorcerer’s Stone. The troll that attacked the school on Halloween was likely a diversion of some sort to allow the man access.”
“Potter got rather badly injured, I heard,” Moody added with a frown. “I thought the man was nothing but a bit of soul. What’s he want with a Stone like that? Doesn’t it just grant eternal life?” Severus opened his mouth to answer, but Moody scowled and shook his head. “Stupid question. How else is a soul going to get a new body? And stick a Stone like that in a golem form and that’d be Hell on Earth.”
Severus made a quiet noise in the back of his throat. “I need to know what to look for. How to tell if one’s around. And how to take one apart.”
Moody stared out the door of the little chicken coop. “If you even so much as remember I’m telling you this, I will destroy you.”
Severus nodded. “Agreed. Try to get to me before the Dementors, if you’d be so kind.”
The magical eye tracked back towards him. “Golems are easy to tell apart from regular people. Their auras are distinct.” Moody gestured towards his chest. “Normal people have an aura that covers their whole body, a golem’s aura will be collected in its chest and head, with almost nothing in the extremities. If you know much about auras, it’s also extremely easy to tell that the aura and the body don’t match.”
Moody took a deep breath. “Most golems will show up with a simple aparecium charm. You can weave it into a barrier or a ward if you’d like. Doesn’t stop them from coming in, but it’ll at least let you know if one passes by. There’s probably golem-repelling charms out there, just like muggle-repelling ones, but I don’t know them. Taking one back apart again?” The man’s lips twisted as he thought. “That’s tougher. The Ministry never did succeed at that.”
“What do you know?” Severus asked when Mad-eye seemed to have fallen into a quiet funk.
“Grindewald was long gone before I got into the auror program, so the worst of the golem problem was gone too. I just did clean-up detail for the next few years.” His forehead creased. “Damn things. The souls hate being locked up in a form like that. Drives them crazy. Most of them never could do magic, but they had a distinct lack of self-preservation that was particularly nasty to be around.”
He shook his head, fixing his good eye on Severus. “The first golem I ran across during my apprenticeship had the soul of a little muggle girl inside. She was beyond insane. Since we didn’t know how to destroy her, my auror partner managed to bind her up and throw her into a bunch of fiendfyre. Took hours for the golem to completely fall apart, then we had to spend three months tracking down and exorcising the very pissed off and crazy soul that had been set free. That was before we found the easier way to handle them.”
Severus tipped his head, interested despite the disturbing mental pictures floating through his mind. “What’s the easier way?”
“Kill the monster who made the golem in the first place.” Moody grinned, a bit of insanity working into the expression. “The things don’t last long without extensive renewal spells. Toss ‘em into a room for a month or so and most of them disintegrated. Saved on the hassle and the paperwork.”
Almost against his own wishes, Severus felt himself freeze. He hadn’t been aware that there was a time limit on the golem forms. “What happens to the souls then?” His voice sounded normal despite the worries creeping into his mind.
Mad-eye shrugged. “Vanished back to wherever they came from, best we ever figured out. None of them came back, as far as we ever know.”
“That’s not particularly helpful,” Severus muttered, trying to imagine what would happen to Evan’s soul after the golem form was destroyed.
“The information’s highly classified. Need-to-know style crap, and even then they don’t tell you. That’s all I ever learned.” Moody leaned against the wall of the chicken coop, making the side creak sharply. “I’m surprised you’re not asking how they’re made.”
Severus couldn’t quite keep down the reflexive shudder. “I don’t want to know how to make one,” he said. “Some knowledge is best left to die.”
Surprisingly, Mad-eye barked out a laugh at that. “There are few times I agree with you, Snape, but this is one of them.”
Severus nodded. “I appreciate the knowledge,” he said, taking a step towards the door to the outside.
“I didn’t tell you anything,” Moody repeated threateningly. “You try and even remember this conversation and I’ll throw you into the fire so fast your mind will be spinning.”
Severus didn’t bother to answer, he just nodded and turned and walked away.