Hello everyone! Welcome to my first attempt of writting a fic in foreign language. Yes, English isn't my native one, hence there could be mistakes (in particular, English punctuation is killing me). Though I hope you will like the story at least a little.
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter world
After the defeat of the Dark Lord young Severus Snape had been suffering a long-lasting impact of his greatest terrible mistake he had made under a bitter impulse that perhaps let the wheel of fate make its first slow circle. He'd wake from rough nightmares with a scream rising in his throat and a burning sensation in his left forearm. Then it'd took him quite some time to realize that that pain was only phantom reminder of his days as a Death Eater.
Now though the pain was real.
Severus gasped in shock and grabbed his arm where under the long sleeve of his eternal black robes the ugly Dark Mark was explicitly hinting that their world had actually crossed the safe line that was drawn by baby Potter almost fifteen years ago.
The Dark Lord was summoning his followers again, and the Potions Master was terrified of this not boding well prospect despite he knew it was coming.
Severus turned to the Headmaster who it seemed had noticed his younger colleague's discomfort and was now watching him with mild concern. However, then he took into his even paler face than usual and the manner he was holding on his left forearm for dear life, Albus leaned closer to him and firmly squeezed his shoulder, solemn understanding in his wise blue eyes.
"Is it Him, Severus", whispered Albus quietly, though he had already known the answer. At the man's nervous nod he said with the tone which left little room for argument: "I insist you take your time considering your options".
"Options, Albus?" Severus snorted and raised a dark eyebrow at the ridiculous statement of his mentor and an old coot all rolled into one. He himself knew only one. His position of a spy for the Light would certainly be vital if they wanted to be informed of Voldemort's steps and intentions. Only this way he could atone for what he did and be useful in the upcoming war.
"Yes, my boy", Dumbledore replied evenly as if he didn't notice not well-hidden sarcasm in his Potions Professor voice. "You are a remarkable person, Severus, and your skills are of no doubt. I understand that we need a spy among the enemy's ranks, but I'm afraid I'm too selfish to allow you to die in the loving care of our mutual acquaintance. I do believe you are suit to complete even more complicated and important task".
Judging by the twinkle in the Headmaster's eyes Severus had a good guess of what that manipulative old coot was talking about. Anger started trickling in his chest.
"By babysitting Potter brat, I suppose?"
Dumbledore let go of his shoulder and winked at him seeing no need in answering a rhetorical question. Then, slightly amused at his colleague's clear frustration, the Headmaster teased: "Why, Severus, if you go to that boring Death Eaters meeting, you are going to miss our Hogwarts champion winning the Cup".
Severus pressed his lips into a thin line and turned his attention back to the small arena in front of the labyrinth. There were indeed only two of four champions left and both were Hogwarts students. Fleur Delacour was now being fussed over by Madam Maxime, and Viktor Krum was sitting still alone in confusion as his Headmaster had undoubtably run away as soon as he felt the pain in his Dark Mark.
Cedric Diggory suddenly appeared out of nowhere clenching on the Triwizard Cup. There was silence above the stands for a while, but then, as if by a click, the deafening roar rose to the darkening sky. Some people were applauding with approval, some were groaning in disappointment. Nobody seemed to be indifferent by the win of the Hufflepuff pet. Cries of delight of very proud Amos Diggory stood out from all the noise. Even almost always calm and collected Severus Snape was touched by the situation but though for a different reason. Why were there no signs of Harry Potter? And something wasn't right with the appearance of a Diggory boy. Something that others were missing while being too enthusiastic about the end of the Triwizard Tournament.
Cedric was covered in dirt from head to toe and was visibly trembling. With horrified expression on his face the boy threw away the Cup as though it was going to bite him. He was trying to shout something through his ragged breaths, but all in vain. He looked actually scared. That was definitely not the picture of a happy winner.
Dumbledore and Snape exchanged concerned looks and hurried up to the distressed Hufflepuff. At the moment the boy had spotted the Headmaster he made a few shaky steps forward and grabbed onto the old man's robes.
"Portkey… The Cup is a portkey… Potter…" came the boy's hardly audible voice. His next words hit like a bolt from the blue: "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named has got Potter! Please, sir, he's gonna torturing him!"
Now Diggory was openly crying completely oblivious of the reaction he had got from everyone on the stands. Disbelief and utmost shock were written all over their faces. Some voices combined in one desperate cry "No!"
Severus didn't need to turn back to know who was shouting. Obviously, they were the youngest Weasley boy and the Granger girl, both lost in their grief. If anyone truly believed in the possibility of the resurrection of the Dark Lord, it was the other two thirds of the Golden Trio who had gone through all the trials and tribulations with Potter and had seen things no children their age should have witnessed. The Potions Master himself felt like an invisible hand had squeezed his guts. Something resembling guilt broke into his rusted heart. Maybe, just maybe the things would have been different if he hadn't snapped at Potter at that fateful Occlumency lesson. Intellectually, Snape knew that he wasn't being fair to himself but he couldn't help it at the moment, when an innocent child was in grave danger and the last thing he had said to him was "Get out of here and never return!"
"Now, Mr. Diggory", Dumbledore put his arm around the boy's shoulder and gently guided him off of the arena, "I perfectly understand that you are in pain and may be injured, but the situation we have found ourselves into is extremely urgent as you yourself realize it, that's why I have to ask for your cooperation right here and now. Would you mind going up to my office and share with me your memories of the ordeal you've gone through?"
Cedric nodded his agreement with firm determination written all over his face. Both adults secretly sighed in relief as they hadn't enough time to calm the teen down if he would become hysterical. They hurried to the castle leaving the job of dealing up with mess on the stands to other Hogwarts staff. Snape was leading their way through the restless crowd throwing promising glares at those who dared approach with questions. When they almost reached the main entrance, they were stopped by a familiar voice coming from behind their backs. It was Moody who had followed them.
"Is it true, lad?" the man asked. "Are you positive that it was indeed Him? Or am I better to demand the answer from you, Snape?"
The auror's glance to the Snape's left forearm vividly explained his words. The Potions Master struggled with himself not to grab his marked arm not wanting the Diggory to connect the dots. He had had enough of the old paranoid since the beginning of the new school year. Moody had been snooping in the dungeons and throwing annoying accusations at him, he had even threatened to put him in Azkaban. Damn the man!
"Well, well, Alastor, it's not the time and place for such conversation", Dumbledore intervened. "Now we are going investigate what has happened in the maze with the young Mr. Diggory's help. You can join us if you wish. That way you will get the information firsthand and will be able to alert the other aurors".
Snape didn't miss the hungry look Moody gave the boy at those words. It was odd. Also he noticed that the man seemed sick. The old auror's scarred face was glistering with sweat and he himself was somewhat twitchy while trying to fish out from his inner pocket his flask and putting it to his lips. Apparently, there was no liquid left and Moody winced.
"I have to decline the offer. If you believe it was him then I must alert the Ministry as soon as possible and keep Diggory Sr. from you for some time. The man has been pretty loud demanding his son is back to his side at once", Alastor said in a hoarse voice nervously licking his upper lip.
Something was really off with the man, and before Snape's brain could figure it out his instincts trained in many battles screamed to him to act. And act Snape did. The Potions Master made his wand slid from his sleeve and attacked so quick the man in front of him didn't even have an opportunity to shield himself. Moody got knocked out at a good distance and hit the earth with a loud thump.
Cedric yelped in surprise. But not only he was taken aback by the Potions Master's behavior. Dumbledore didn't start accusing his colleague in inappropriate actions, he didn't even retrieve his own wand to bind a raged intruder. No, the Headmaster, perfectly keeping his emotions in check, only slightly inclined his head and addressed the man.
"Severus?" In just one word Dumbledore managed to express a warning and show Snape his trust in his better judgment.
"I may be mad, Albus, but I have definitely seen that man before, I'm acquainted with his habits", Snape mused approaching the sprawled body of supposedly Mad-Eye Moody. He rummaged through the man's pockets and pulled out the flask which he inevitably lifted to his crooked nose. After brief examination Snape breathed out, "Polyguice potion".
The other men approached, either. Cedric bent over his Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor and nervously gulped. Understanding of what had might occurred during the lessons creeped to his mind and made him feel sick.
"Wh-who is he then?" he asked his Professors.
"An interesting question indeed", the Headmaster murmured under his breath using Incarcerous spell on false Mad-Eye. "I believe we will soon know the answer. The no less important question is where the real man is and if he is still alive", he added gravely. "Now come".
Dumbledore waved his wand and the intruder rose in the air floating in front of the old man as they resumed their track to his office. Once there, he levitated the unconscious form of false Moody to the bare corner and bumped him there not quite gentle. Cedric could have been amused at that but the recent events were too fresh to feel that way. Then Dumbledore came up to a black cabinet at the wall opposed his desk and opened it reveling a basin with silvery liquid glimmering in it.
"Come here, Mr. Diggory, I will assist you with extracting your memory".
Cedric tried to mind his footing while approaching the Headmaster. All determination he had felt before left him and now he was scared and exhausted once again. It looked like he was going to the scaffold. Severus couldn't blame him for that as he oh well knew what his former 'friends' were capable of. Eventually, the boy gathered his wits enough to provide them with the silvery string which the Headmaster hurried to put in his Pensieve.
"Thank you for your bravery, Mr. Diggory", Dumbledore gave the boy's shoulder a gentle squeeze. "Now you can use my Floo to get to the Infirmary. I'll make sure your father will be there at no time".
Cedric complied. After he disappeared in the green flames in the hearth of Dumbledore's fireplace, the man sent his Patronus to inform Madam Pomfrey and Amos Diggory that their presence was immediately required in the Hospital wing. When it was settled the two Professors bent over the Pensive and then put their faces in it.
And so they watched.