Part 17:

"Peter, my faithful, how is the child?" Voldemort asked.

"He's doing well." The reply was humble.

"And the twins were there?"

"I took them there myself."

"Odd that they would go with you when they know you are mine."

"Master?"

"Don't play dumb with me, my faithful. Of all my death eaters, your loyalty is the one I have never questioned. I have long suspected the divided loyalty of the twins. There is too much affection for this Lily Potter-and by extension Potter and his son. They must be dealt with."

"And the twins?" Peter wanted to see them squirm and hoped for the chance to exact his master's vengeance on them.

"Are mine, and mine alone, to deal with." Harsh. Voldemort was well aware of how his companion felt about the two. But they were his and it was time everyone recalled that fact. "They will be reminded of that is no uncertain terms."

"Of course." Chastened.

"But, back to my point, how did you get them to go with you?"

"As far as they knew, I was Sirius Black. Having watched that man for seven years, I am more than capable of impersonating him. Plus, my potions skills have improved over the years. When the Potters gave me a letter for them, I delivered it in the form of Black. They never suspected a thing, though they were extremely reluctant to go with me."

"Yes, they have no idea that Sirius Black chickened out and asked you to take over. Though I find it hard to believe that they don't know about the switch, they must be aware on some level they refuse to recognize."

***

Septina rested her head against the cool stone, sighing.

Severus was concerned, she looked decidedly peaky. "Something wrong? You've lost that delightful shade of white we've worked so hard to perfect."

"I'm tired." She revealed, rubbing her arm. "Also, I've developed some kind of rash."

"Has Madame Pomfrey seen it?" He asked, putting his quill down.

She nodded. "Doesn't recognize it. But she told me she'd look into it."

"How long have you had it?"

"Since that last mission, I only sought Poppy's advice when your ointment didn't work."

"That would've been when you were with Lucius in Sumatra, right?" Severus was clinically detached as he studied the blotches that decorated her arms. "Are there any more?"

"Several." She went into the next room and changed into an examination gown.

"Did something bite you?" He asked, continuing his study.

"I don't believe so. Then again," she winced when he touched an open, rancid one. "I don't remember much of it."

"Oh, yes. You spent most of it under opium, trying to induce visions. Not one of Voldemort's best ideas." Dry.

She nodded. "At first I thought it was a reaction or an allergy to the presence of the opium. But it didn't leave after I purged my system-twice."

"Did you try a skin peel?" He finished and handed her a robe.

"Three times." Pulling on the robe. "No change."

He nodded, making more notes. "Odd. But not unexpected after examining those scars. They're bone deep but I don't understand how that could've happened from what you've described. Did anything happen that was out of the ordinary?"

The fire flared up briefly before she could answer and Dumbledore appeared in the flames. "Come to my office. The password is Lily."

"But Lily equates with..." Using magic, she changed.

"Don't finish that thought." Sev ordered as they ran through the hall and up the stairs.

"Preliminary ward has been breached. Why didn't you warn us so that they could be moved?"

"Voldemort said nothing to us. I suspect he's on his own for this."

Dumbledore nodded. "Godric's Hollow." They flooed into the town, heading for the Potter's home after the headmaster overturned the magic protecting the house.

Severus stopped, heart thudding furiously as he recognized the robed figure. "He's at their gate."

Running now, they failed to note when Septina stumbled and suddenly wasn't there with them. "Come along, cousin. We don't want Lord Voldemort to see the both of you betray him." There was an unhinged quality about the voice but she would have recognized it anyway-even without the familial reference.

Lucius.

"Don't worry about Severus, our mutual friends are waiting for him. They will make sure that the only one Voldemort sees is the old fool."

Lucius took Septina to his inner sanctum, something he had been building ever since it became apparent that Voldemort was not going to win this battle as easily as he thought. In the lower level was a gelatinous cage that striped the magic from his cousin. Holding her hostage in this void, he knew that no power could find her. Not Voldemort's and especially not her brother's. He had definite plans for his new little seer. After all, with Voldemort's fall, they would need a new leader to usher in the new era and protect the wizards they'd keep for their usefulness. And who better than a Malfoy.

James looked up when he felt the protective wall around their shelter dissolve, he saw two familiar figures running towards him. Dusting off his hands, he went through the side gate to meet them-missing the figure who now entered his home.

A movement to the left caught his eye. Someone was in the bushes, aiming a wand at Severus. "Sev, look out!" Without another thought, he leapt in front of his reluctant friend's body and was struck down with the killing curse.

"Potter, you wanker!" Snape caught the body before it connected with the ground. "You never could leave things alone."

"And you never did like it when I helped you out." James whispered surprisingly before his eyes closed for the last time.

Black eyes hard, Sev snarled at the approaching death eaters. "Go see to Lily and the brat. I'll take care of this."

"Just don't lose yourself in the process." Albus' words warned as he disappeared into the house. He stopped in the doorway, Lily's body lay on the floor, beside the boy who looked up at the wizard. Harry was surprisingly calm as he sat on the ground, the visible signs of distress having faded from his face. Voldemort was nowhere to be found.

Albus moved to the fireplace. "Hagrid, I need to see you." The request was quiet but the half-giant responded to it as if it had been shouted. "Take young Potter to Hogwarts. Do not let him be seen by anyone."

"Aye, Professor Dumbledore. About Snape?" He asked, having seen the younger wizard outside surrounded by immovable bodies.

"I will take care of young Severus." He watched the odd looking pair departed and studied the room reflectively. Something glimmered around Lily's wrist in the evening light. Picking it up, he noticed that it was a dragon much like the ones he'd seen the twins wear. A letter fell into his open palm.

Albus, if you are reading this then I

must be dead. This is the dragon

that I use in connection with Severus'.

It helps him stay grounded. For once,

don't play innocent, I know you've

heard me speak of it. I hope you

remember how to use it, he needs that

reassurance now more than ever. You

will note that I did not give you

Septina's. Hers is elsewhere and you

need not fear for her. Keep Severus

and my child safe. Try not to let this

night's events haunt either of them,

though I know in Severus' case, I might

as well ask you to paint the moon

Slytherin green and silver without magic.

That would be easier.

Affectionately yours,

Lily.

Wiping away tears, Albus left the house behind and took Severus with him to Hogwarts. The aurors would be there soon and it wouldn't do to have them catch the Slytherin youth there.

***

"Albus, he isn't dead." Severus said one evening. They had just returned from the last trial and were trying to recuperate form the strain of it.

Fawkes was silent in her corner, watching the two men carefully. She needed to know if her powers would help them, though she knew that their pain was more emotional-something she couldn't touch.

"How do you know?" He didn't doubt the young man he'd recently made full time professor of potions and head of Slytherin house. But he realized that the boy needed to put his feelings into words and gave him the chance.

"The mark. I can feel him feeding off of it. He's living off of his death eaters, the ones he can still reach out to. If my sister was here, he'd be back among us."

Albus laced his fingers around his brandy glass. "And where is your sister?"

"I don't know. All I can tell you is that I don't feel her." Pause. A reflective, "I don't feel anything anymore."

Blue eyes widened at that, he had some inkling of what that meant. "Dear boy, I'm sure that it is nothing. She might be injured, unable to respond to your calls."

"No. She is either dead or will be soon. It has been to long for any other reason to exist, I would know it. There is nothing. Never fear, Albus, I am faithful to you and your cause. I will protect the boy." Twisted smirk.

"I have never questioned your loyalty." Quiet.

"No. I appreciate that more than you know." Echoing words said once to his friend.

Albus knew that the conversation was coming to a end. "My door is always open to you."

He nodded. Then in a flash of black, he was gone.

***

Lucius approached his cousin. She was glaring at him. "Awake, are we? I'm glad to see that the years haven't addled your mind any."

She was silent. He couldn't hear her anyway.

"Well, you'll be happy to know that Headmaster Dumbledore," the name was spat at her, "has vouched for your brother. Said he was a spy and got him off. He, like I, won't be serving in Azkaban. Aren't you thrilled? Would you like to hear about all those who went? Or may be just the ones you'll find deliciously ironic?" Pause. "I know you'll love this one the most, Sirius Black is there."

Shaken, Septina stared at him.

"Does that surprise you? Now, I wonder how that could be. You knew that he was the Potters secret keeper. He must've betrayed them to Voldemort and he felt no need to share that delightful tidbit with us." He abruptly left off his conversation and picked up a kit from the desk. "Cousin, let's find out a little more about your psychic eye, shall we?"

Fear laced her eyes as she backed up, stopped by the wall behind her.

Lucius looked behind him before he entered the dome. Narcissa watched from the stairs, a smirk on her face. "See, I've taken a few precautions. If you try anything, Narcissa will help me out. Did you know she was also high in the ranks? Probably not, she has quite an ability to blend in. Quite handy, wouldn't you say?"

"You slimy, weasel! Have you no decency? No conscience? I'm your cousin, not your enemy!" Septina spat in his face, reeling back when he slapped her.

"I think you've confused me with your brother. I don't know how you ended up in our honored house, your attitude is more Gryffindor than Slytherin."

"If being Slytherin means trading on our dignity for slavery, I'll pass." She retorted, earning another harsh blow. Arms bound, mouth covered, no words could pass from her lips.

He pulled out a slender object and she tried to move away, never looking away from it. "I see you recognize this. Excellent. I don't have to waste time with explanations, which is good since I have never been very good at giving them. Of course, I'm sure you remember that." Condescending.

The instrument touched her forehead, cold before warming up. Burning its way through her mind and seeking for something. Hours passed before Lucius moved back in disgust. "We'll try this again tomorrow. And we'll keep doing it until I've found what I'm looking for. Have a nice night."

It was dark. Septina tossed fretfully on the floor. A light tapping alerted her to someone else presence in the room. She looked up and groaned. "Oh, now I know that I've entered Hell. Its you."

"You know, you could show a little more consideration. I am only here to help you."

Black eyes met her 'rescuer's'. "I am not considerate to the likes of you. Would you mind leaving before they come back."

"Fine. But I'll be back. And I'll keep coming back until you accept my presence."

"Why?"

Shrug. "I don't think I can help you if you don't let me."

"Potter, even dead, you are the most irritating person I've ever come across-excluding Black."

"Nice to know you still think of us." He said, before departing.

End