Disclaimer: I am not J.K. Rowling. I do not own Harry Potter.
Note: The following one-shot is an experimental piece set on an alternate universe where Lily Evans never showed up at Hogwarts in 1971, and where James Potter and Severus Snape (for reasons involving a scheme of Salazar Slytherin's) both sorted into Ravenclaw and ended up as friends.
Warning: This piece is rated 'M' to be on the safe side on account of swearing and implied gore.
June 30th, 1978, somewhere in the Caribbean
It amused the thing which had once, many centuries earlier, been a man, to surround himself with the paraphernalia that muggle wild stories in the area credited as being necessary to the function of magic. The very many skulls with black wax candles burning in them filling niches of the walls of the subterranean lair were not actually necessary to the function of his magic however. Neither were the tom-tom drums being beaten by specially enchanted chicken bones to produce a particular musical rhythm. And the crucifixes, in a number of orientations, mounted on the ceiling, walls, and floor, of the dozen foot long chamber were all completely unnecessary except as pure theatre.
The many smouldering incense-sticks were however useful as a meditational aid, and the small silver sigil-inscribed cauldron hung over a hawthorn log fire and filled with what was mostly blood, with a few extra ingredients added, was definitely essential.
The young woman chained on her back to a low-lying slab, her body daubed with various symbols of power with a paint made from chalk and particular fungi was also essential, as was her otherwise absolute nudity.
The thing presiding over this scene, looming over the young woman, had had many names and titles over the years, some of which it had given itself, and some of which others had applied to it.
For current intents and purposes, it was known as 'Mxzarvratigan, the High Slayer and Demigod', although it wasn't actually a god of any kind, even if it itself believed these days that it might as well be.
It had savoured a moment of anticipation now for long enough, and the potions which it had administered to the captive earlier should by now be having their proper effect, it gathered itself to lift two of its six arms in gesture, a wand clasped in the clawed 'hand' of one, and drew a deep breath…
"I say, Severus. Do you suppose that that was an attempt to become an animagus which went dreadfully wrong?" a voice drawled from the bottom of the steps of the entryway into the chamber.
"I don't know, James. It looks to me more like someone annoyed a gaggle of the wrong witches and got well-and-truly hexed for it." a voice snarked back.
The thing behind the slab shifted its stance, holding the wand at a different angle, better suited for combat. It looked down the length of the chamber to address these irksome intruders.
"I am Mxzarvratigan." it boomed. The head of the thing – or at least the mouth and teeth and tongue within and vocal chords below in the throat – was still sufficiently human to enunciate words clearly. "It has been many moons since anyone has been impudent enough to disturb me in one of my places of power, on the edge of important business."
"That sounds almost like you're accusing us of being brainless Gryffindors." James Potter drawled. "Sorry: Hogwarts thing. Severus and I were at school until recently in Scotland… they have these four houses, you see…"
"I am more than familiar with Hogwarts, thank you." Mxzarvratigan responded, cutting in. "Over the centuries, renewing myself, I have availed myself of the occasional witch from there, if nothing of greater interest has been available. The only truly worthwhile thing to come out of your school, from what I have heard, are a couple of minor dark witches and wizards and of course, back at the time of the founding, the notorious Salazar Slytherin."
"Yes, well: funny you should mention him, since it turns out that actually Severus and I are here on a piece of his business." James said. "In fact it actually 'actually' turns out that we rather need the young woman you have chained in front of you. Rather embarrassing, and all that – especially since it turns out that you seem to have your own designs for her, which I'm afraid are likely to be wildly incompatible with our own errand."
"Do you have any idea who and what you are dealing with? I am Mxzarvratigan, the High Slayer. I am a demigod, and I am utterly invincible."
"You were also either once Marcos of Santiago de Compostela, or someone who met him and borrowed the name for a while." Severus said. "We don't know exactly who and what we are 'dealing with', but we have at least carried out some research. You have been moving from body to 'new and improved' body for approximately five hundred years, you've probably gone mad half a dozen times over, you are a highly competent dark wizard in some areas of magic, and you have an amulet of invulnerability which you suppose grants you perfect luck in almost any combat situation. You don't usually need to fight because your enemies are too busy tripping over and stabbing themselves in the eye with their own wands, or hexing each other by mistake. Your amulet was forged with the assistance of a legendary diviner, who tried to betray you, but all that they could manage was to predict and supposedly ensure that the amulet would only ever fail you if you were ever confronted by the child of a magical wand-wielding prince."
Mxzarvratigan's laughter boomed around the chamber.
"Hah! Yes, you have done 'a little research', as you said. And guess what?" his eyes sparkled with amused malice. "The magical world has no royalty. That old fool tried to bring about my downfall, with a prediction, but instead ensured my eternal triumph!"
"Well prophecies and predictions aren't always what they're cracked up to be," said James, "but we're prepared, if you just hand the young woman there over to us, to go on our way, peaceably, and since we won't have fought, your 'unbeaten' record will continue, for certain, to be unbeaten."
"No: and I think your skulls will make interesting additions to my favourite throne, and remind me of an amusing five minutes, at least for the next few decades." Mxzarvratigan rumbled.
"Well: we tried to do it peacefully." Severus said.
Mxzarvratigan was an abomination, loosely speaking, which resembled a six-armed bat-winged centaur with a scorpion tail, not much neck to speak of, and an oversized head.
The middle pair of arms were more crustacean appendages than anything remotely mammalian, ending in lobster claws, and the whole lower body, below the humanoid waist, was covered in scales. Even the uppermost and lowermost pairs of arms ended in something more akin to claws than hands. Mxzarvratigan's torso above the waist was about as nude – bar a harness with pouches attached for carrying things – as the rest was, below it.
Mxzarvratigan also had an overly long nose, greenish skin (or scales), and midnight blue hair. In so far as it was possible to compare him to a human, he looked like he might have been approximately middle-aged and exceedingly fit, in terms of smoothness of skin and muscle build.
There was an amulet of silvery metal, studded with gemstones, around his neck, and his wand was long and fashioned of roughly carved hickory.
In contrast, the two wizards from Hogwarts were dressed in sky blue robes, with cloaks emblazoned with the eagle of Rowena Ravenclaw. They were both in their late teens, Severus having a slightly dishevelled look to his black hair, and with dark eyes gleaming beyond a hooked nose, and James being black haired also (although his hair being considerably neater groomed) and his own hazel eyes gleaming from behind a pair of round glasses. They each held a wand in their hands, too.
Severus raised his wand first and sent the glowing beam of a spell darting across the chamber towards the amulet dangling around what passed for Mxzarvratigan's throat.
Mxzarvratigan was unconcerned by the incoming attack, slowly moving forward around the slab and into action to cast some sort of spell of his own, right up until the beam of Severus' spell struck the amulet and caused it to EXPLODE.
The moment the amulet detonated, staggering the monster, James flourished his own wand, slashed it through the air, and snapped off a couple of spells. Mxzarvratigan, still staggered and reeling from the explosion of the amulet, seemed to feel his wand slipping away from him as the first of James' spells struck, fumbled to try to retrieve the situation, but dropped the wand anyway.
Then James' second spell was potent enough to smashed the wand Mxzarvratigan had just been wielding – hickory though it might be – to splinters, as it dropped through the air.
There was a pause and then Mxzarvratigan gave vent to a bellowing roar. Any hint of urbane or witty conversation upon his part was completely gone. A number of profanities and blasphemous descriptions of his foes emerged from his lips.
"I think he still wants to fight." James blanched slightly.
"I can see that." Severus said, his own wand flickering through the movements of invoking another spell.
"****!" said James, a while later. "Is it dead at last?"
"I think so." Severus said. He looked pale.
Both wizards were as much as possible avoiding looking at the remains smeared along much of one side of the chamber – which had now finally stopped moving of their own volition.
"I think I'm going to be sick." James said. "We just killed someone."
"We had a bit of help from the target, but yes." Severus said.
"And to think I once imagined I'd be in Gryffindor. Some Gryffindor I would have been, almost throwing up after that." James said. He paused and then actually was sick. "Okay. That's better."
Severus paused and vanished James' vomit.
"Now it is." Severus said.
"I mean this is a usually Gryffindor thing, right – kill the monster, rescue the damsel?" James continued.
"We still have to rescue the damsel and determine exactly what the monster did to her." Severus said, now inspecting the young woman secured to the slab, and grimacing slightly at the amount of uncovered skin displayed. "She seems to be in some sort of trancelike state."
"How come you're so much better at this than me?" James asked.
"I'm not." Severus said. "I just had a tougher childhood, and am better at being immediately practical whilst pretending to be cold and detached. I'm probably going to throw up at least as much as you just did, once we're out of here, and I let the shock of it hit me."
"Right." James said, and made a face.
"We need to set up 'evidence' to pin this on someone or something else in case any followers the deceased Mxzarvratigan had acquired decide to go looking for revenge, to collect the damsel, and to get out of here." Severus said.
"How about we make it look like it was the work of a 'voodoo spirit'?" James suggested. "After all that… thing… claimed to be an ascending one, and it should be halfway believable that another one got annoyed and smacked him down. Heck, if voodoo spirits are real, given all the assistance that Odie woman gave us, maybe something out there did want him smacked down, and saw us as convenient tools for the job."
There was a pause, and then:
"The idea sounds workable, as long as we can remember enough information to make it look really plausible." Severus decided.
Author Notes: (updated: late December, 2020)
Originally I was looking for an idea for a James Potter/Severus Snape team-up, and one where they both sorted into Ravenclaw and had some destiny to hunt down and confront Herpo the Foul (still around and plotting after a couple of thousand years, and a much bigger threat than Lord Voldemort) was what occurred to me, but this was the only full-length scene which finished up being written. As mentioned in the opening notes, Lily Evans never showed up at Hogwarts in this particular alternate universe, and both James and Severus are free with regard to long-term girlfriends.
As far as I know Mxzarvratigan is not in Harry Potter canon and I have invented it. Reading, in late December, 2020, through the description I wrote, I think it highly possible that 2nd edition AD&D tanar'ri, yugoloth, and baatezu imagery may have been at the back of my mind as at least partial inspiration when I was coming up with an appearance.
Severus' Snape's mother, as in canon, is a witch who was born 'Eileen Prince.' Big 'oopsie' moment there for the villain of this scene. Not that James or Severus waste time, under the circumstances, to explain that or gloat about it to their adversary.
Since Mxzarvratigan had 'come forward', around the slab, towards James and Severus, its body was positioned to (unintentionally) shield the captive on the slab from flying splinters, when the wand exploded. (For what it's worth, I selected hickory for Mxzarvratigan's wand since it is, I am given to understand, a fairly sturdy wood.)
The captive due to be rescued by James and Severus is a female descendant of the branch of the Gaunt family which emigrated to North America. One of them was a squib, as far as I can make out from Pottermore articles about the American magical school, who married a muggle. I'm undecided if the captive is a muggle-born witch, or an otherwise non-magical with one ability, but she was going to be capable of Parseltongue (which was why James and Severus would need her, going up eventually against Herpo.)
I'm not too sure on when the Hogwarts school year is normally meant to finish, but I think that James and Severus probably left early, after taking their NEWT exams, to embark upon this rescue mission.
Yes, I know that there's a character in a Disney film who is called 'Mama Odie'. When I was looking for a name for a minor character for James to mention towards the end ('...that Odie woman...') that inspired me.
This piece is a one-shot.