The Owls and Newts examinations were coming to an end so the examiners would stop snooping around, which Snape was happy about, the students would soon leave; McGonagall wasn't around to nag at him, if only Dumbledore was here instead of that dragon in pink.
He was in his office marking the homework of the Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw 4 th years which was always heavy going as the Hufflepuffs generally didn't get anything and the Ravenclaws cant help but search for the meaning behind every potion, that its subtle complexities of a blend of ingredients over time wasn't enough, there had to be some hidden infrastructure.
The door knocked and opened before Snape had looked up from the parchment. It was Draco Malfoy, only Draco would have got away with that.
"Sir, Umbridge has sent me to fetch you." His face was lit with troublemaking enthusiasm.
Snape supposed he should correct Draco with his address of that woman, but he didn't consider her to a 'Professor' of anything (definitely not the Dark Arts) and she certainly wasn't 'Headmistress' even if technically she was.
"What for this time?" He said wearily
"Again, now what's he done?"
"Umbridge found him in her office with his head in her floo" Draco went on unable to contain the gossip. "Earlier Potter fell asleep in the History of Magic exam, he fell off his chair and tried to cover it by saying his scar hurt, we all laughed, it was so pathetic. He uses that as an excuse for everything." he scoffed.
Snape walked up to Umbridge's office with Draco at heel like an overzealous puppy. "You wanted to see me Headmistress?" He opened the door to find the walls covered in plates with kittens on and that dreadful woman dressed in a pink tweed suit was bent over Potter, who was gripping the arms of the wooden chair for dear life. Her sickly round face inches from his. Snape almost nearly felt sorry for him. There were several Slytherins in the room tackling Potters friends; Granger and Weasley but also Weasleys sister, that drippy blond Ravenclaw girl, and Neville 'everything I touch turns to dark green mush' Longbottom, who teaching potions to was just a waste of school resources he thought.
"Ah Professor Snape, Yes I would like another bottle of Veritaserum, as quick as you can please"
"You took my last bottle to interrogate Potter" He lied though his teeth. "Surely you did not use it all; I told you that three drops would be sufficient"
"You can make some more can't you?" She said, her cheeks turning pink
"Certainly, it takes a full moon-cycle to mature, so I should have it ready in about a month."
"A month! A month - but I need it this evening Snape! I have just found Potter using my fire to communicate with a person or persons unknown!"
"Really?" Snape tried to muffle his interest, "Well it doesn't surprise me. Potter has never shown much inclination to follow the school rules."
Potter stared at him intently, his face covered in soot, his eyes begging to be understood, there were almost tears in them. But Snape couldn't get a fix on exactly what had just happened; his emotions were all over the place making it impossible to get a clear picture, just flashes of the black door seen often in Potters mind, and also of Voldermort; but this time there was a shape lying at his feet? In order to perform more accurate Legilimency Snape would have to use his wand. So he stared calmly, coldly back at the boy, waiting for a more opportune moment.
"I wish to interrogate him" Umbridge was getting irritable, "I wish for you to provide me with a potion that will force him to tell me the truth!"
"I have already told you, that I have no further stocks of Veritaserum." Snape said unruffled by Umbridge's barking "Unless you wish to poison Potter - and I assure you I would have the greatest sympathy for you if you did - I cannot help you. The only trouble is most venoms act too fast to give the victim much time for truth-telling"
Snape turned his attention back to Potter who eyes were on fire with frustration.
"You are on probation" Umbridge yelled furiously, her face was now closer to purple. Snape looked back at her at little shocked at being shouted at in front of students. "You are being deliberately unhelpful! I expected better! Lucius Malfoy always speaks most highly of you!" (I'm sure he does Snape thought) "Now get out of my office!"
Snape bowed at her slightly with an 'only when I'm dead' attitude and turned to leave the room. He hovered in the doorway for just a few more seconds waiting for some inclination of what Potters problem was.
"He's got Padfoot!" he suddenly blurted out "He's got Padfoot in the place where it's hidden"
"Padfoot, what's Padfoot? Where is what hidden" Umbridge became excitable at the concept of some breakthrough "What does he mean Snape?"
"I have no idea." He looked at Potter indecipherably and continued to speak as he worked out the message
"Potter when I want nonsense shouting at me I shall give you a Babbling Beverage" - Of course; they use to call Sirius Black Padfoot when he was at Hogwarts. - "And Crabbe, loosen your hold a little." - Does Potter know about the prophecy? - "If Longbottom suffocates it will mean a lot of tedious paperwork and I am afraid I shall have to mention it on your reference should you apply for a job."
Snape closed the door and stood outside listening. He hadn't heard of any plan that involved getting Black into the Ministry. He would be of no use anyway unless it was to lure Potter there. He could hear Granger wailing on about Dumbledore's weapon.
Does anyone tell him anything anymore?
He heard people starting to move so he hid in a nearby cupboard, leaving the door ajar so he could see who left the room. Potter and Granger were being frogmarched down the corridor by Umbridge, her wand poking them in the back as they went.
That left four of Potters little friends and about six Slytherins in the office. It wasn't too long before he heard kittens meowing and plates crashing and furniture scraping the floor. As embarrassing as it was that the Slytherins were getting a bashing at least it would speed up the process of emptying the room. Then two of the Gryffindors burst out the office and ran to a window just out of sight.
"Look they're going into the forbidden forest"
"What for? What's Hermione's plan?"
"I have no idea"
"But what's Dumbledore's secret weapon?"
"I don't know, it's the first I've heard of it"
"We need to follow them; Harry needs to get to the Ministry to save Sirius?" said a third voice
"How's he going to do that?" They started to head off down the corridor; Snape was straining to hear the rest of the conversation.
"How are we going to get there?"
"I have an idea" said a dreamy voice in the distance.
The Slytherins were still pushing each other around in the office. Snape heard more kittens crash to the floor and the unmistakable sound of Dracos rage could be heard above the commotion.
It seemed Potter was convinced that Black was in danger. The Order of the Phoenix had its own method on contacting one another that didn't involve fires and floo powder. Snape opened his mind and thought clearly of a message to send to Black. 'Sirius where are you? Are you in danger?' The sentence formed itself into bright white lettering in Snapes mind, then wrapped itself up into a small ball of light and flew into the distance. All he could do now was wait.
The Slytherins finally stopped arguing and stormed out of Umbridges Office. Through the crack in the door, Snape saw Draco still smacking the nearest Slytherin on the arm.
Then a prick of light appeared in his mind, getting closer and closer until the ball finally unravelled into a message from Black. 'I am at headquarters; I am in no danger, why do you ask'
This was not good news, if Potter was so convinced that he was persuading his friends to go to the Ministry of Magic with him to save Black, The Dark Lord must have performed Legilimency on him to convince him so. Snape sent back a message 'Potter thinks you are captured by Voldermort'
Now everything had finally gone quiet he left the cupboard and walked over to the window, just catching sight of the four students entering the forbidden forest. Snape always thought that that was the stupidest name for a forest so close to a school. It enticed trouble. It should have been called 'the really dull forest'
A reply came back, this time in capital letters 'IS HARRY IN DANGER?' Snape was getting irritable by the tag of messages. The charm was never meant for in-depth conversations, he would have to explain face to face what was occurring and that would mean a visit to Grimmald Place . This was not an easy task, it would be foolish to use the Floo network as Umbridge may arrive back at any moment, obviously he couldn't disapparate from castle grounds and he couldn't just walk out; it was dinner time, people would notice.
There was one method, the Vertulomus, it was considered dark magic but that was because it was so dangerous to perform. Vertulomus allowed a wizard to apparate when it wasn't physically possible, but that didn't mean it wasn't mentally possible. The spell allowed a persons mind, their soul, to apparate to another location whilst projecting the minds perspective of their body. Not like a ghost, more like a hologram.
It was particularly dangerous for dark wizards, as whilst performing, left the body comatose, which is a vulnerable position when your friends and enemies may just be the same people. The Dark Lord hardly ever used it, certainly not anymore, the only time Snape had witnessed this, Voldermort was unstable for days after.
It was highly risky, but then, when wasn't it? Snape found the nearest classroom and locked the door, he also performed some security charms for added protection. Then closed the blinds so the room was in near darkness and concentrated hard
He apparated into the kitchen of Grimmauld Place . The house was dark and dusty, there were a few lights on but no one to be seen. Snape quickly searched the house shouting "Sirius" as he went from room to room.
Black appeared from the room that housed the Hippogriff, looking a little shocked to see Snape standing there. "What's happened?" his voice wobbled with panic.
"It would appear that The Dark Lord has realised the connection between them and entered Potters mind, he had a dream earlier today that I believe led him to think that you were being held by Lord Voldermort at the department of mysteries. He was then caught in Umbridge's office using her fireplace to contact you I suspect"
"But I am here, I'm always here, I never saw him"
"I assure you he is convinced otherwise" Snape said
"Where is he now?"
"He was last seen going into the forbidden forest with Umbridge"
"Why didn't you stop them?" Blacks shock was now leaning towards his usually aggressive self
"Because I wasn't in a position to do so!"
"So why is Voldermort reading his mind, Dumbledore told you to teach Harry Occlumency."
"I don't think Lord Voldermort is yet fully reading his mind. I think he is aware of the connection and is planting visions into Potters mind in order to lure him into a trap. He wants the prophecy for himself and he needs Potter to get it for him."
"But you were supposed to stop that happening, it was your job to teach Harry Occlumency" Black took a step closer to Snape, his voice sounding more and more agitated. "It's your fault this has happened, you were slack and you probably did it on purpose to allow Voldermort in, you instrumented the trap. I knew something like this would happen, Dumbledore should never have trusted you" Black held his wand like he was ready to stab Snape with it.
"I cannot teach someone whose mind is closed," Snape snarled back at him "I spent many hours with that boy and he showed no sign of improvement, more of insolence." Snape's wand appeared in his hand, despite the fact that it wasn't real. "He is so convinced he doesn't need any help and people like you pander to him; make him think he's better than he is."
Black took another step "Justify yourself as much as you like Sniv."
Snape launched forward at him and he quickly shut up. Both men were poised ready to throw down their wands and have a fist fight however impossible this would be. Snape was so furious his image began to flicker, he needed to calm down and regain his concentration or else he might not find his way back.
"We do not know yet where Potter is, when I am convinced I will contact you again" Snape said sharply, holding on for just a few more seconds, and then he vanished.
Snape drew a deep breath back in the class room, he was shaking but he was still alive.