Disclaimer: The world and most all of the characters belong to J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter Universe. I am forever thankful she allows us to use the world for our own amusement.
Summary: Set in the Fifth Year of the Harry Potter Series, this Alternate Universe deals with a more aggressive link between Lord Voldemort and Harry Potter and the various attempts to contain the damage such a link creates. Severus Snape plays a prominent role in protecting Harry, much to his dismay. His own history is stirred up when a past acquaintance is revealed as the catalyst required in order to end Harry's nightmares. Adding to the complications in Snape's and Potter's lives Sirius Black runs into trouble of his own when caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. For once the questions surrounding his loyalty are truly necessary. The conclusion of the confusion could very easily end more than one life.
Harry fluttered his eyes. Something was in his room with him, but he was too weak to do anything about it. Surely that alone should have pulled him from his half sleep. He was laying in his half made bed staring at the ceiling wondering how long until Aunt Petunia came in to yell at him to get down stairs and make breakfast. Maybe he could play sick and be left alone. If he couldn't stand on his own two feet, the Dursleys might actually leave him alone.
A violent shutter took control of him and he fell unconscious. But the thing about falling unconscious was that Voldemort always seemed to be there, ready to scare the living day lights out of him, or subject someone to the Cruciatus Curse and let Harry feel the consequences. He was certain by now that the Dark Lord knew about the connection they had and could use it to his advantage. He had let Ron care for Hedwig this summer to avoid any conflict with Uncle Vernon, but now he wished he had her here with him. He would be able to owl Professor Dumbledore about his suspicion.
The location of the graveyard was unknown to him, but he had been there many times. This time Voldemort had his famed Inner Circle around him. He could tell by the severe pain in his scar that the Dark Lord was angry. In a rage he had not yet felt before. Harry guessed that someone had failed the evil wizard. "Lucius Malfoy, step forward," the red eyed devil spoke in a deadly calm. Severus Snape did the same thing. The angrier he became the quieter, lower and deadlier his voice became. Snape must have picked up the habit from his 'Master.' It was a scary thought. The man he was supposed to trust was a servant to the most powerful evil wizard in existence.
"Yes, my Lord," Malfoy said bending his body for a formal bow. He did not seem troubled by the dangerous quality Voldemort's voice possessed.
"You came forward with some disturbing information, Malfoy. Proceed to tell you colleagues."
"Thank you, my Lord," he said repeating his bow. "Sensitive information has been leaking into the Ministry. I have quelled most of it as mere rumor of paranoid minds. Fudge is starting to suspect he is being played false. I believe someone is informing the Ministry of our movements. Our last few raids have been spoiled by Aurors before our victims could possibly have had time to raise an alarm. I fear the leak is in this Circle." Malfoy inclined his head respectfully, signaling his report was finished.
"As I said, it is very disturbing news," Voldemort continued, pacing the edge of the circle. He motioned Malfoy to return to his position. "Unfortunately I trust none of you explicitly, nor do I have any concrete suspicions. All of you are in a position to anonymously tip off the Ministry, though I doubt any of you would be so foolish to do so. The threat of Azkaban is far to frightening to you. No. If there is a leak, then it would first go to Dumbledore, since the Ministry fails to recognize my rebirth. Isn't that so, Severus," he hissed to the man he now stood before.
Harry felt his stomach clench. He had known Snape was in Voldemort's service after seeing the Dark Mark on his forearm, but he had never seen the Potions Master at one of the Dark Lord's meetings. "Yes, Master. It is true that the Ministry will not take action against you, my Lord; and that Dumbledore is actively fighting against you." Snape's voice was hollow but respectful. It was so different from what Harry was use to that he was first uncertain if it truly was Snape who was talking. You never could be sure with those masks of theirs. What threw Harry off was how submissive the voice was. A far cry from the sarcastic git that roamed the hallways of Hogwarts, searching for students out of bounds.
"And tell us, Severus, how do you come by this knowledge," Voldemort hissed.
"Dumbledore is quite vocal about his views towards you, Master," Snape said, tipping his head out of respect. Harry was disgusted. The most feared teacher in the school was playing devoted servant to Harry's archenemy. It was something worthy of Wormtail, maybe even Malfoy, but he had always thought Snape was too proud to bend his knee to anyone. Hatred towards the git not withstanding. "He has also told the few staff members he believes he can trust about Fudge's refusal." Snape continued.
Suddenly Harry noticed a change in the scene. There was a larger gap between Snape and those next to him. A lead ball dropped his stomach. The isolation was never good. And Snape did not even appear to notice the change. "Is that so, Severus? Does that fool trust you?" The deadly quality had returned.
"I believe he does, Master," Snape returned. Nothing in his voice betrayed fear of the present situation. In fact it was far more humbling than his previous statements.
The dry chuckle that followed froze the vary marrow of Harry's bones, but Snape didn't even flinch. Harry knew what was going to follow. It had happen far too many times for him to be remotely comfortable about the situation. "Indeed. You haven't given him any reason to suspect you, have you?"
"Nor have you passed along any vital information?" The inquiry sounded innocent, but behind it lay a far more sinister intent.
"Don't lie to me, Severus. But you may have been under that Muggle-loving fool too long and have forgotten what it means to follow me."
"I have not, Master." The slight edge of pleading surprised Harry.
Voldemort smiled and chuckled again, humorlessly. "I certainly hope not." He paused. Harry knew what was coming and wondered why the Dark Lord had taken so long to reach this point. "Crucio."
Snape twitched mercilessly, but no sound left his mouth. The scene was a far cry from the incident Harry had imagined immediately after the encounter with the Unforgivables and Mad-Eye Moody. Snape was not screaming uncontrollably. Was not begging for mercy. He was not begging in the least. He was on his knees as violent muscle spasms wracked his body. If Harry could see the face behind the mask, he would not be surprised to find the man biting his lip to keep from screaming.
Minutes after the application and no screams issued from the hated Professor, the Curse was lifted. Snape dropped his hands for support, muscles still twitching. Harry could hear the heavy breaths of a man in pain. He felt guilty for ever wishing this on the man. He cursed himself for even having that thought. Having that type of control over someone was evil. Now he prayed not to see the face behind the mask. He did not want to see the hated man's weakest moment.
But Voldemort had other plans. Leaning over the suffering man, he removed the white, faceless mask. A slight sheen of sweat glistened over the sallow skin of the Potions Master. The sight made Harry sick. The tunnel black eyes were out of focus as if the wizard was looking deep within himself. Voldemort reached to cup the man's chin in his hand; to his credit, at least to Harry's mind, Snape flinched at the touch.
The first breathless words from his mouth, however, stole whatever hope he had in the man. "Master, I swear I never told him anything. I swear, master, I would never betray you." The most impassive man Harry had ever known was begging. "Please, master, please." The plead trail off as Voldemort removed his hand.
"You are far to weak to test my fury, Snape," the Dark Wizard said, disgusted. "Your actions are being watched. Be sure you give no one the opportunity to peg you as a traitor. Crawl back to your dungeons, Snape, and keep an eye on that fool Dumbledore. I want to know exactly where he is getting his information from."
"Yes, Master. Thank you, Master." Then the Hogwarts professor Disapparated. Harry would never be able to look at the teacher the same way again. The small respect he had held towards the teacher was crumbling. He was a teacher knowledgeable in his area of expertise, but most of it had come from Dumbledore's trust in the man. That was gone. The man had no pride if he was groveling before the enemy. That was something he only expected of Wormtail, the betrayer of his parents. Perhaps all traitors were like that. Snape was either betraying Dumbledore or Voldemort, one never could tell for certain Maybe they lost all their pride when they made the decision.
Without realizing it, Harry was back in his room feeling weaker than before he was sucked into the vision. He couldn't even open his eyes to find the person he felt was in there. Why was he so weak? It frustrated him that he could not even protect himself from an intruder. It was impossible for the presence to be any one of the Dursleys. They were far too afraid to enter his room, especially at night. Even Uncle Vernon had started to ignore him. He figured that the less he associated with the boy then the less real he was. That didn't bother Harry too much. He at least got some time on his own.
But there was someone in his room, standing beside his bed. It was a feeling he could not shake. Something cold touched his forehead, right on the scar. The pain was bearable now, but the cold touched made it flare up again. To his dismay, he whimpered. He couldn't move. He feared he might be paralyzed. Did someone cast a Petrificus spell on him? Was that why he couldn't move? But the only wizards that knew where he lived were Dumbledore and McGonnagall, right? Why would they freeze him?
The touch reached his scar again, and he whimpered again. It hurt. It hurt so damn much and he couldn't do anything about it. The cold touch didn't leave his scar that time. The pain remained, but at least he stopped whimpering like a sick dog. After a moment the cold feeling traced along his cheek to his chin. He shuttered at the memory of Voldemort doing the same motions to Snape. It was impossible for Voldemort to find him here. Dumbledore had said so.
Somehow the cold touch felt warmer as it brushed his lips. The touch stopped, as though stunned. The small touch of what could have been a finger was replaced by some shape large enough to be a hand. It felt warm. Reason told him that something that cold could not have suddenly warmed up. The hand was on his neck. Harry wondered why. All the movies and T.V. shows he had watched with Dudley had people searching the necks of dead people for a pulse. But he wasn't dead. He was still thinking about the situation. Dead people weren't supposed to be able to think. He doubted if dying people were able to as well.
He no longer cared who was in his room. He felt cold and wanted to curl up and go back to sleep. To hell with Voldemort and the visions. They no longer scared him. Disgusted him, yes. But not scared him. For some reason logic told him that seeing the most terrifying teacher in existence cower before that wizard should make him very afraid. But he just couldn't find that level of fear within him. He just wanted to go to sleep.
Pain. A searing, white hot pain ripped through his body. It was the type of pain usually isolated in is scar, but this time his entire body felt it. A blinding white light blazed into existence. He tried to shut his eyes against it but they were already closed. Before his body could even adjust to the strange condition there was total blackness. Nothingness. Then he knew nothing more.