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Lily rocked back on her heels but didn’t fall. Something was propping her up. It was the Archivist, still drawing his ragged breaths, still dissolving slowly around the edges. His scabbed grey hand was holding her beneath the elbow, and it felt like she was leaning on a sack of cold water.

It was this unpleasant sensation that brought her back to her senses. She found her balance, grabbing the edge of the Pensieve for support, and backed away from him. The ice-cave was darker without her Patronus, and the unwholesome cold that resonated from the Dementor was getting to her, in her exhaustion and dismay.

To try and calm herself, and partly to check that it had been real, she let her eyes linger for a moment on the Pensieve. Its contents had become turbulent again; the surface rippled and jumped. Gradually, as she watched, it began to assume a shape. The memories themselves were holding a form. The smoky liquid gathered and spread and curled, until it shimmered into a large, recognizable shape.

It climbed out of the Pensieve and trotted to Lily’s side, gazing up at her with large, bright eyes.

It was a silver doe, a smoky impersonation of Lily’s Patronus. At first, it appeared fuzzy around the edges, like the Archivist but, as she watched, it grew more concentrated, pulled itself together somehow. Its brightness increased until it dazzled, even amongst the glowing ice.  

Guillotine Valance’s memories wanted to escape.

Well, Lily thought, with the cold logic that often settled upon her when she was distraught, it was the least she could do, really...

The Archivist was the only witness, and he was in no position to protest. The silver doe looked more solid than he did.

If she had not seen the horrific conditions of the prison, Lily might have hesitated, or at least confided in Idris Mulligan, but she was feeling sickened and shaky. And surely an innocent woman’s memories couldn’t do any harm. A criminal’s perhaps, but not Guillotine Valance’s, not the memories of a dead, wronged mother.   

The glittering doe nuzzled its head against her robes, and pushed her in the direction of the ice bridge. With one last furtive glance at the Archivist, Lily crossed the bridge and climbed the stairs, into the rank-smelling warmth of the prison.     
Idris Mulligan was at the top of the stairs, fumbling in her handbag.

“Ready, girl? We’d better be off. The Dementors are getting restless; their hospitality has limits, you know. And I’ve got a sick rug at home.”

When she got back to the fireplace in the cavernous Hogwarts Entrance Hall, Lily stepped into the shadows, conjured a glass bottle from mid-air, and held it out to the almost-invisible doe. The creature sniffed it tentatively, and then drifted into it, nose first.

Lily stuffed the bottle inside her robes, looking over her shoulder to check that the room was deserted. It wasn’t for long. Professor McGonagall was walking towards her with purposeful strides; her face was anxious, and her lips pressed so tightly together that they had almost disappeared.

“Chocolate, Evans!” she barked. “This instant!”

Lily was understandably confused by this statement, until she saw that Professor McGonagall was waving a bar of Honeydukes’ Finest chocolate under her nose.

“Oh,” she said, the mists clearing, “because of the Dementors.”

“I’m surprised that Madam Pomfrey didn’t mention to you the necessity of taking some.”

“She did. I did bring some with me, I just… lost it.”

Professor McGonagall seemed to attribute her confusion to the after-effects of Dementors, because she didn’t ask any more questions. She waited for Lily to swallow a few squares of chocolate, and her voice was softer when she spoke again. “The Headmaster wants to see you,” she said.

Lily’s stomach tightened guiltily. “Why?”

“Presumably to ascertain that you have recovered.”

“I’m fine.”

“Then you may tell him so yourself. Off you go.”

Dragging her heels slightly, Lily climbed the marble staircase to the second floor, stopping sullenly at the gargoyle-guarded entranceway to Dumbledore’s office.

“Fizzing Whizzbees,” she muttered.

The gargoyle sprang aside, and Lily stepped onto the moving spiral staircase that lead up to Dumbledore’s office. The door was standing open, and Dumbledore was seated behind his desk, humming cheerfully. Lily knocked anyway.

“Professor McGonagall said you wanted to see me, sir.”

Dumbledore blinked at her benevolently. “Ah, yes. Sit down, Lily. Madam Pomfrey informs me that you have been viewing memories in the Archives of Azkaban.”

“Yes, sir.” Lily paused uneasily. She didn’t want to get Madam Pomfrey into trouble, but she didn’t want Dumbledore to think she had left the castle without permission either. “I was just going instead of Meg, I didn’t think there’d be a problem…”

“There would not have been a problem if Meg had gone,” Dumbledore replied.

Lily wondered whether she had broken Ministry Regulations by viewing Guillotine Valance’s memories when she wasn’t even her relative. Now she thought about it, it did seem a bit intrusive.

“I don’t understand, sir.”           

“It is by no means clear to me, either, Lily,” Dumbledore remarked cheerfully, “but I will endeavour to explain. You see, magic is very… personal. Especially healing magic. Just look at Poppy; she has to walk a very fine line between professional compassion and healthy detachment. She needs to care that her patients recover, in order for her Charms to be effective, but she needs to maintain a certain detachment to keep from… shall we say… disapproving?… of her patients, on account of the rather stupid and unkind things they do to one another. That is why she is such a valuable woman. She can close her mind at will. You won’t find another Healer like her, Lily, not even at St Mungo’s.”

Lily was about to open her mouth to say something, but Dumbledore held up a hand amicably. “There is a lot to get through, Lily; I must beg your indulgence. Like all teachers, I am a story-teller; it is imperative that I create the right conditions for understanding to thrive.”

Lily settled back into silence. She preferred this, at any rate, because it gave her an opportunity to frame her defence. She didn’t understand how he knew about the escape of Guillotine Valance’s memories, but it appeared that he did, and she was preparing to explain. Dumbledore would understand; perhaps he would even be able to publicly clear Guillotine Valance’s name. She didn’t know why but, for the first time since she’d known him, she felt slightly uneasy about confiding in him.

“Have you heard the story of Alaric the Unwieldy?” Dumbledore asked.  

Lily shook her head.

“A Dark Wizard of the middle ages - a tyrant, in point of fact. He was fatally wounded in a battle against the muggles of Romania. You see, his aim was the subjection of all muggles - a rather unoriginal one, Lily, even then. He was shot through the chest with an arrow but, being a fierce warlord, convinced of his own invulnerability, he ignored it, until he was on the point of death. The Healer sent for to attend him knew that there was not much hope for his life, but she administered an Anaesthesia Charm, to try and ease his suffering. You know that, in order for an Anaesthesia Charm to be effective, you have to care about the patient; you have to establish a certain empathy with him?”

Again, Lily nodded.

“Well, this empathy created a magical bridge between Healer and tyrant. Alaric, even in his dying state, was able to exploit it. He used her empathy to possess her. He abandoned his own body, which was weak and dying, and crossed the bridge of magical understanding between them, in order to inhabit hers.”

Lily couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Forgetting Dumbledore’s request for silence, she said: “I didn’t know that could happen.”

“It is dark magic, Lily; dark and dangerous magic, but a truly desperate being will attempt it.”         

“What happened to the Healer?” Lily asked.

“The Healer - or rather, Alaric, in the Healer’s form - continued her bloody campaign against the muggles of Eastern Europe, until she was killed by a young traveller named Godric Gryffindor.”

Lily gasped. “Gryffindor?”

“Yes. It was a considerable trial for him. He knew that he had to kill the innocent Healer in order to slay Alaric - possessor and possessed were too deeply intertwined by this point; they could not be separated. When they were at his mercy, Alaric allowed the Healer to speak to Gryffindor, to beg for her life. It is said that Gryffindor never forgave himself.”

“So he killed them?”

“Yes, he killed them; there was nothing else to be done. Cases of possession must be caught early, Lily, if there is to be any hope for the victim.”

“Yes, Sir,” said Lily miserably.

Dumbledore allowed silence to descend, seemingly distracted by a bird that had appeared on the windowsill. She knew he was giving her a chance to volunteer the information he wanted, before he began to interrogate her. She sighed.

“The memories took the form of my Patronus,” she murmured, staring at the blue carpet, which was embroidered with stars. “That’s how I got them out."

“Extraordinary,” Dumbledore muttered, still staring out of the window. He seemed to be still waiting.  

Lily took the bottle containing Guillotine Valance’s memories out of her pocket and offered it up to him.

“But Guillotine Valance isn’t a Dark Witch, sir,” she said, almost peevishly. “She was innocent; she never killed her children. And she is dead, after all. I didn’t think you could be possessed by a memory.”

“It depends how strong the memory is,” Dumbledore told her, “and how sympathetic the person who sees it.”

Lily said nothing. She didn’t understand how anybody could not be sympathetic to Guillotine Valance.    

“Memories can be evil, Lily,” Dumbledore went on. “They can stop one from living ones life. They are like Kelpies, lurking beneath the surface of the water, waiting to drag their victims down into the depths with them. Because misery loves company.”

Lily kept silent, watching the pearl-coloured memories slosh gently against the sides of the bottle. She wondered if they realised what was going on. The idea made her shiver slightly.   

“Please don’t take them back to Azkaban, sir,” she murmured. “She never deserved to be there.”

Dumbledore seemed delighted by this stipulation. “I believe you are right, Lily. Margaret Valance enjoyed her time at Hogwarts - I know, because I was her Transfiguration teacher at the time. Let’s allow her unhappy memories to reside in the same place as her happy ones.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“On a related topic, Lily, I see that you have been reading Sympathetic Magic.” He nodded towards the cut on Lily’s arm, which had faded to a swirling white scar, still taped-over with Spellotape.

Dumbledore showed her the back of his left hand, where the same swirling, silver-white design could be seen.

“It may interest you to hear that Voldemort, though he never discovered the secret Chapter in Sympathetic Magic himself, and so never sustained a mark like this, had heard of this curious magical phenomenon. It was a dark parody of this magic that he used when marking his followers with the Dark Mark. Though a significant difference, and one that may function to our advantage someday, is that, while the Light Mark, as it has become known, exclusively chooses people that have no trace of malice in them, the Dark Mark does not only choose people that have no trace of goodness in them. The Dark Mark can be fooled; the Light Mark cannot.”

“You mean a Death Eater might have a change of heart?”

“Stranger things have happened.”

“I can’t think of any,” Lily replied.

Dumbledore smiled. “Well, you’re young. When you have seen as much of the world as I have, Lily, you will learn that nothing is so endlessly fresh and puzzling as the human heart.”

Lily didn’t argue with him. She wanted to believe it - she just didn’t want to be fooled again.

Dumbledore seemed to understand, because he didn’t press the matter.

“Very well, Lily, you had better get back to your classes - although, given that they will be finishing in about ten minutes, perhaps it would be best if you went straight down to the Great Hall for dinner. You have, after all, had a trying day, and mysteries and morals always seem to make me hungry.”
The final part of Lily's adventures in Azkaban. For people anxious to see the return of sarcastic, bad-tempered Snape (and he will be getting more sarcastic and bad-tempered as the story goes on), he will be back in the next Chapter.
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Veronika-Art Featured By Owner Apr 26, 2015
I love your Dumbledore and I am hoping my suspicions are wrong... I guess I better keep on reading, this "Guillotine Valance’s memories wanted to escape" and the talk about possesion... It makes me think that could be the only possible way Lily would marry Potter, being possesed by some evil spirit :(  I truly hope I am wrong.... 

Amazing writing!
kel-bell Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Your Dumbledore is superb! What a lovely chapter :)
ls269 Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2012
:giggle: I love writing Dumbledore! I especially love writing his conversations with Severus (there are quite a lot of those later on in the story) because Sev gets so exasperated by his permanent cheerfulness! ;)
Anouk-Lisole Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2011
Oh, yay! You write Dumbledore really well! He can be a bit tricky.
ls269 Featured By Owner Jul 11, 2011
Thank you! :hug: I love writing Dumbledore-dialogue (especially when he's arguing with Severus!) I'd hate to give you more reading, but if you want to see some Dumbledore/ Sev dialogue, this chapter has lots of it: [link] (It's a stand-alone fic, so it won't give away any of the plot of Sympathetic Magic. Anyway, totally no obligation to read. :ashamed:)
Anouk-Lisole Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2011
Ooh! Awesome! Probably I won't get to it for a while, but I'm totally looking forward to it :D
WeAreSevenStudios Featured By Owner Apr 28, 2010  Professional Artisan Crafter
This seemed to be a pretty cryptic chapter, though I can't put my finger on any one thing that isn't clear...

I feel like some of the topics and details here will surface again later on.
ls269 Featured By Owner May 1, 2010
You know, I was quite surprised, when I read this chapter again, to discover that lots of the points here actually do crop up later in the story (usually, I forget about old plot threads in my haste to write more scenes between Sev and Lily! ;))

Although it does seem like a lot of information in one go, so I can see how it would seem cryptic. These early chapters weren't written in order, so I sometimes lose track of what has been revealed at this stage and what hasn't. Must go back and edit these some day!
anime-kelsey26 Featured By Owner Feb 15, 2010
I love how simular the relationship between dumbledore and lily is to the one he has with harry!
ls269 Featured By Owner Feb 15, 2010
:hug: Thank you! I always thought, since Dumbledore seems to think Harry is so like his mother, that he and Lily must have got on really well! :) It's a shame we never really see them together in the books.
northangel27 Featured By Owner May 13, 2008  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I loved this. All the stuff with Lily was very interesting, and your Dumbledore was perfection. I am looking forward to seeing Snape again too. Did I see a little bit of foreshadowing in this chapter:

“You mean a Death Eater might have a change of heart?” ;-)
ls269 Featured By Owner May 13, 2008
Thanks, I'm really glad you liked it! Dumbledore's a great character to write for. And, yes, that bit was about Severus - he's my favourite character so, even when he's not in the scene, I'm usually finding ways to write about him!
northangel27 Featured By Owner May 13, 2008  Hobbyist Digital Artist
lol. I do the exact same thing. Severus is always on my mind :-)
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