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|Scene Title||The Old Potions Master|
|Synopsis||Snape pays a visit to Horace Slughorn to ask some serious questions.|
|Date||September 17, 1994|
|Watch For||Dark Arts Talk|
|Chronology||Snape interrogates Horace Slughorn about the location of a recipe for the Draft of Immediate Death.|
It's a quiet night in the secluded countryside where Horace Slughorn calls his home. The small village on the outskirts of London has afforded him the seclusion and protection he's required. As such, tonight is tea night, and finds Slughorn standing before a kettle on a stove.
Snape apparates with a loud crack down the small country lane leading up to Slughorn's residence, an ominous figure that - a lifetime ago - may have heralded death and destruction. He stalks through the overlong grass, black robes sweeping about him like a bat as he approaches the home of the old Potions Master. He crosses the verge, moving towards the building with a purposeful gait.w
The kettle on the stove sounds off it's whistle as the water boils, thus preventing him from hearing the crack of apparition. Who boils water for tea anyways when you're a wizard? Pouring the water into a cup, he gently filters the tea leaves, allowing them to steep slightly as he heads for his favorite reading chair.
As Snape lurks through the garden and finally arrives at the door, he lifts his wand to drum it three times against the frame - the result being a resounding thud as though he had pounded his fists upon it. He tucks it away again, although he does keep a grip on it within his sleeve, and waits.
"Who could be calling at this hour?" Slughorn asks himself, taking the time to sip gingerly from his cup before setting it down. As he pushes himself to his feet, his green robes unwrikle and touch the floor. "I thought we agreed to meeting in the morning, Cornelius?" he says, opening the door. But it's not Fudge standing there….instead….
"Horace," Snape says slowly, staring impassively - even coldly - at the old Potions Master, "May I come in?" Although he has no reason to visit harm upon the man, the way he moves and speaks all seem quite predatory - even the way he stalks into the house past Slughorn without waiting for an answer.
For a moment, Slughorn seems puzzled, but then realization hits him smack in the face. "S….Severus." he starts, clearly not at all at ease with the arrival of said person or their movements. Composing himself, he nods and moves out of the doorway. "Of course. A respected potions master, especially one who teaches at Hogwarts, is always welcome in my home. Tea?"
"No," Snape answers, moving down the hallway for a moment - stalking about as though he is checking to make sure there is nobody else there. No listening devices. Nothing that might incriminate him or link him to the questions he is about to ask. That done, he turns about swiftly and lifts a small vial of black liquid from within his robes, "You know what this is."
"Very well then. Won't stop me from enjoying mine." Slughorn replies, shutting the door behind his 'guest'. As he watches the man move throughout his house, he settles back down in his chair. "Wonderful tea, Chamomile. I see why the muggles use it often." The cup is raised and lowered as he tries to keep his collective calm. As the vial is produced, he squints at it. "Looks like tar, or molasses to me." he replies, shaking his head.
"Does it?" Snape hisses through crooked teeth, leaning uncomfortably close to Slughorn as the latter sits down in his chair, "Then perhaps you would not mind a drop in your Muggle tea? Do not toy with me - I have no patience for it. You narrowly avoided the Dark Lord when he was in power and many of his followers still bear a grudge against you for defying him. Look closer." He plucks the stopper from the vial, holding it out to the man.
"I trust you've tested it then." Slughorn retorts, casually sipping his tea. "Otherwise you wouldn't offer to test it on me. Though, considering the resentment you seem to bear for me…" he pauses, to take a closer look at the vial, "…it doesn't surprise me. You should be one to mind your own tongue with accusations. Having turned against the Dark Lord yourself to hide in the comforts of Hogwarts."
"So you've grown a spine," Snape answers back, lip curling in a sneer, "I have my suspicions as to what it is, yes, but since it was you who first told me the story … " He holds the vial precariously over the teacup, as though it may spill it's contents at any moment, "I believe I have here a sample of the Draft of Immediate Death."
"At least when it comes to you I have." Slughorn retorts, a sly grin slipping onto his face. But as the suspicions are revealed, the teacup and saucer in his hand falter and fall to the floor with a crash. "Th….that's DAFT! There hasn't been a known brewing of such a thing in over a hundred years! It's improbable!" Not, he didn't say impossible.
"It bears all the same hallmarks," Snape replies, his tone softening just a little - the hostilities falling back for the time being, "And it worked just as your tale said it would."
Slughorn leans closer to the vial. "You've tested it then. I suspected as much." he says, working hard to regain his composure. "If it is the Draft of Immediate Death, then it has to have either been brewed recently, or someone has had it for some time. And no one recently has mentioned it." Yes, he keeps up with the fellow potions masters. "Where did you get it?"
"An acquaintance acquired it but did not know exactly what purpose it served … he asked me to test it and find out what it was," Snape replies, putting the stopper back in the vial, "Where would someone get the recipe for the Draft?"
Obviously it's an acquaintance that Slughorn doesn't know. Reaching for his wand, he does a quick tergeo to clean up the mess of the tea on his floor. "There were only two known copies of the recipe said the exist. One, is secured in the Department of Mysteries at the Ministry. And I assure you, it is still there." It's not said how he knows….
"As trustworthy as your favourites are," Snape begins, sounding entirely unconvinced, "It isn't beyond the Ministry to cover up it's own failings - especially the theft of such a potent and dark concoction."
Slughorn looks up at Snape with a stern look. "What are you saying? That I'm lying?" he says, accusingly. "Rest assured, the recipe is safely stored in the Department of Mysteries. I saw it myself just yesterday. Fudge had some questions about destroying it. I recommended he not do such a thing as it was a part of history."
"And the other copy?" Snape asks, lip curling yet again as he hides the potion within his robes once more.
Slughorn looks down as the other copy is mention. There's a notable silence as he frowns and mulls over revealing that information. "It was supposedly lost over a century ago. There was a book…old, tattered. Belonged to some old wizarding family with ties to the dark arts. Rumor had it that the Dark Lord had the book, but failed at the attempt to have the potion brewed. But no one has seen it since his downfall."
"Rumour?" Snape hisses, obviously not pleased with mere rumours and possibilities. He wants hard facts or at least a decent lead, "Which family?"
"If you must know, the Bateson family." Slughorn finally admits. "But if you're thinking of questioning them, you'll have a hard time. Nearly wiped out in the first wizarding war. Their only remaining daughter, Abigail…." he pauses, briefly, and a flicker of pain drifts over his face, "…is in Azkaban."
"Azkaban," Snape says with a thoughtful look, having only narrowly avoided the place himself he does not quite enjoy the possibility of visiting, "And she would know about this second copy of the recipe? How it came to be stolen from her family?"
"She would be able to tell you about the book, Severus." Slughorn replies, addressing the man by his proper name. "When the Dark Lord came to power, the Bateson's were one of the first to swear their allegience to him. They willingly surrendered a book containing a wide range of dark spells and potions far beyond the comprehension of anyone." As the man slumps down into his chair, he shakes his head. "But no one has seen the book since the Dark Lord's fall from power."
Snape cannot help but frown - why has he not heard about this book? Surely he was, and is, capable enough to have been able to brew it. But then, the gears in his head whir - what if it was lost before he joined their ranks? One of the older Death Eaters may know. Either way, Abigail Bateson has the misfortune of being his first port of call.
Slughorn sighs from his chair. "I dread to think of where that book might be today. Or the hands it might have fallen into." he says, shaking his head.
Snape quirks an eyebrow at that - wondering just what other ancient, dark brews might be hidden within the pages. It would certainly make an interesting addition to his collection. All the same, he begins to move towards the front door once again without a word.
Slughorn doesn't say much else, as his eyes barely notice Snape moving towards the door. He's almost drowning in his own thoughts and memories at this point. "Shut it behind you, please." is mumbled as he starts to rise and head towards the kitchen for more tea.