Convergence of Birth - REVISED
Disclaimer: There is no fee to read this. Therefore, the lawyers chasing me can go away.
Summary: Back story and missing scenes to Contemplations of Birth. Not full accounts, mostly just story elements from different POV's other than Severus'. This explains some of the events hinted at in Contemplations and Complications. AU taking place directly after Book 5.
Warnings: Spoilers for Book Five big time. Mild Death Eater scenes.
A/N: As the summary says, this is a grouping of missing scenes and backstory to Contemplations of Birth. If you haven't read it, don't read this. It won't make any sense otherwise. For those of you who have read Contemplations, this is taking place sometime between the summer of Hermione's fifth year and the winter break of her sixth.
Chapter Four: Misterioso
The manor was more than a little imposing. Soren Wales shivered and pulled his cloak tighter. The note he'd received from the rather impolite owl that morning was clutched in his left hand. The parchment looked innocent enough, the words even seemed innocuous.
You are invited to dinner this evening at the request of a family friend. Please take the enclosed Portkey at exactly 6 p.m. if you wish to attend. It will deposit you directly outside the manor's wards. Your company will be most eagerly anticipated.
Eagerly anticipated. Soren snorted. Anticipated his arse. He was expected. In fact, he'd be at the manor one way or another. It didn't matter that the short invitation was unsigned, the sender and intent was obvious. Lord Voldemort would not be disappointed.
Soren nervously checked his robes for wrinkles as he neared the door. He had a difficult game to play. His father had refused the Dark Lord once, and the Penwrath House now lay in shambles with the bastard son, himself, in charge.
He took a deep breath and knocked. The door slowly opened. A man wearing black Death Eater robes and a silver mask stood back to allow him to pass. Wordlessly, the masked man took Soren's cloak and led him down a long hallway to a paneled dining room.
There were two place settings out on a small ebony table in the far right corner. The larger formal table had been pushed to the left wall. On top of it were arranged various maps, parchments, and scrolls charmed to be unreadable to anyone not possessing the Dark Mark. His silent escort pointed to the chair on the right side of the little table then left. Soren carefully seated himself and waited.
It was several minutes until a second door he hadn't noticed opened across the room from him. A breeze rustled in and made the candles flicker. Soren squinted trying to see through the doorway. A rustle of cloth later and he was suddenly face to face with the legend. The Dark Lord's blood red robes moved like silk over the worn carpet as He took His place across the table. Soren swallowed nervously and waited.
Lord Voldemort smiled slightly. The sight was eerie. The man's hair was as black as midnight and it hung just to His shoulders. His face didn't look like a monster's anymore, not like Soren had heard it did after His resurrection and the fight in the Ministry building. Either Voldemort was putting on a show for the public or him, Soren didn't know which, but the man across from him was quite simply gorgeous. And rather feminine when you paid attention. His mouth was small and the lips full and puckered. But the eyes ruined it all. Blood red eyes that had no pupil.
The Dark Lord let Soren appraise Him before He spoke. "I am so glad you were able to make it this evening, Mr. Wales." He seemed amused at the stares the Penwrath steward was giving Him.
Soren squirmed slightly in his chair. "I was honored by your invitation my lord."
The Dark Lord's smile grew broader. "Really? Why do I have a suspicion you were more shocked than honored?"
"Shocked that I, a halfblood, would be worth your attention." Soren was starting to sweat.
Voldemort chuckled. "Your answers please me. It is unusual to find one already trained." The Dark Lord picked up His napkin and their plates filled automatically. "Please join me. I have been in strategy meetings all day. As I am sure you noticed from the parchments." He waved towards the long table Soren had noticed upon his arrival. "I haven't had anything to eat since breakfast this morning. I'm positively famished."
"I hope your hard work has been worthwhile, milord." Soren hesitantly picked up a fork.
"Very." Voldemort picked up His glass of wine, red, and took a sip, eyes closed in bliss. Soren tentatively tasted the rice and beef on his plate.
"How do you find the filet?"
"Excellent, my lord."
"Good. I will make sure to tell the cook." Voldemort then picked up His own utensils and cut a large chunk of the beef.
"Cook, my lord? I would have though a man of your stature would have elves." Soren was surprised. He hated having a human cook. Why would anyone voluntarily use anything other than house-elves?
"I despise house-elves." The Dark Lord narrowed his eyes. "Filthy loathsome things."
Soren nodded and quietly poked his food. The man really was crazy. He'd kill for a house-elf. And how could anyone be expected to eat like this? He briefly closed his eyes. Show no weakness. He took a heavy breath and began to eat as if he wasn't intimidated half to death. The Dark Lord smirked and continued with His own meal. When both plates were cleared a small tinkle sounded and the dishes disappeared. Two tumblers of brandy popped into their places.
"Now, Mr. Wales, I'm sure you know why you are here. Let us get down to business. I believe you have something to offer my organization. In return I have something to offer you." Voldemort leaned back into His chair and smirked.
Soren mimicked him and leaned back. It was now or never. Time to put the game into play. "Continued life perhaps?" He asked with a raised eyebrow.
Voldemort laughed. "Very perceptive. Yes, if you except my Mark I will let you live, unlike the rest of your family."
Soren used every ounce of his will power to keep from reacting and maintain his cool demeanor. "A most generous offer, but I believe a better arrangement can be made." He calmly took a sip of brandy and congratulated himself on keeping his hand steady.
Voldemort cocked his head to the side. "Do you think so? Hummm, what do you propose? I could use a little amusement, one way or another."
The threat was clear and Soren didn't allow himself to wonder exactly what the Dark Lord liked for His usual after dinner entertainment. "I think…" Soren cursed himself as his voice cracked. "I think I might be more useful to you without the Mark."
Voldemort rolled his eyes and drew His wand.
"No! Wait, at least listen to my proposal." Soren squeaked. So much for cool, calm, and collected he thought.
The Dark Lord twirled His wand absent-mindedly. "You have three minutes."
Soren started to ramble. "Penwrath House isn't dead." Voldemort sat straighter. "I can deliver the heir to you. But I can't do it if I'm Marked. She'll pick up on it."
"She?" The Dark Lord put His wand back into His sleeve.
Soren continued quickly. "Yes. Father hid my squib half-brother and his wife after you killed the other heirs. The girl is his granddaughter."
"I don't concern myself with squibs." Voldemort hissed.
Soren was starting to panic. "She is a witch, a powerful one. I arranged for my niece to become pregnant by a wizard. The child is a pureblood. I promise you, she's every bit her grandfather's heir."
"And you think this girl is worth your life? You think giving her to me will allow you to walk out of here without my Mark?"
"You won't find her without me. And when she takes her place as the Lady Penwrath she'll publicly humiliate you. Your death sentence for all the Penwrath heirs will not have been carried out and everyone will know it. She won't join you willingly and she'll be under Dumbledore's protection as soon as she reveals herself. She'll be another Harry Potter, another child that escaped you." Soren was desperate to find some bargaining power. Voldemort had to know His power base couldn't afford another symbol of His failure.
"And what can you do to prevent it?" The air around the Dark Lord was positively crackling with rage. His magic was leaking out and causing the chairs to vibrate on the floor.
"She's still underage. I can force her into marriage with someone of your approval. Once she is married she'll loss control of the House to her husband. If he is loyal to the cause, you will have direct control of the House." Soren looked the Dark Lord in the eye. "Penwrath, Malfoy, and Snape. All three Houses united under your banner. You will have attained the goal you have been working towards for over three decades."
"And Slytherin will once again be whole." The Dark Lord spoke wistfully.
"Exactly, my lord." Soren sighed. It had worked.
Voldemort smiled and shook His wand back down into his hand. "Nice attempt, Wales. But now that I know she exists I will find her on my own. Thank you for the information."
Soren's eyes grew huge and he almost whimpered. He took a several quick breaths. He had a plan B for a reason. He forced himself to concentrate. "But I still have another minute." He managed to contain the whimper. Soren pulled out an old parchment out of his robe pocket. "I assume you will recognize the language." His voice sounded shaky even to him.
Voldemort reached out for the parchment. He skimmed over the page and gave a visible start. "Parseltongue?"
Soren got his breathing back under control with effort. "Salazar Slytherin's journal. That is just the first of many parchments, scrolls, and a few books that I have in his own hand." Merlin he hoped this would work. It was his last chance to come out of this alive.
Voldemort read through the cracked page with reverence, His lips curling in pleasure. "Oh yes, Mr. Wales, I believe we may be able to work something out after all. I have another little task that you may be able to help me with in addition to delivering your niece. It too will require a delay in your Marking." Voldemort raised His eyes. His look made it clear that Soren would receive the Mark, even if the day was delayed slightly. This was only a temporary reprieve.
Soren swallowed. "Yes, my lord?"
"I have a traitor in my midst, or at least I believe he might be. And you just handed me the perfect test." The Dark Lord gave a cruel smile. "Wales, I believe I have a most amusing use for you after all. I will contact you within the week about the match for your niece. Until then, keep Salazar's documents safe. I will let you know when I wish to have them delivered." Voldemort chuckled evilly. "Enjoy your freedom while you may, Wales. It will be short lived."