Secrets in the Dark

Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

Author's note: This is a sequel to "A Nightmare", though you do not have to read that fic beforehand (but you might want to ...)

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Severus Snape entered the gloomy house in Knockturn Alley through the backdoor. With only the faint light emanating from the tip of his wand and careful not to make any noise, he made for the staircase. An encounter with his - most probably drunk - father wasn't exactly what he wished for after his latest mission for his master. Of course, he had been successful, as always, and he had accomplished his task in much less time than. But it had been quite exhausting, and for the moment his only desire was to catch up with several nights' sleep.

There was still light in the living-room. Severus could see it through the cracks in the old wooden door. And he could hear the muffled voices of Scelestus Snape and Caligula Malfoy. Wonder what deviltry the two of them are plotting this time? Curiosity got the better of him, and he cautiously sneaked up to the door. But what he now heard, should turn his whole world upside down …

"… and the best is, he doesn't know a thing. Not the tiniest inkling of a suspicion. Can you believe it? We did act the perfect parents, poor deceased Sylvia and I, didn't we?"
Scelestus's intoxicated laughter filled the filthy room. The drunkard neither noticed the disgusted expression on his guest's face, nor the silent listener outside in the dark corridor.

Caligula Malfoy despised this fellow Death Eater from the bottom of his heart, but once in a while he was forced by necessity to associate with the sorry excuse of a pure-blood. This time he had come to collect some special ingredients for a certain illegal potion which only Scelestus could provide. And the bastard was not willing to hand over the costly items without making Caligula share a drink with him beforehand. The cheap whiskey burned down Caligula's throat and made him gag. But the story sounded interesting, some untold secret he might be able to exploit later on, who knows? So, Scelestus and Sylvia weren't Severus's parents. Who would have thought of that? With his greasy black hair, pale skin and hooked nose the boy did look like a rather unfavorable mixture of his parents - no, not his parents, if what Scelestus just told him was true and not the meaningless rambling of an old gibbering drunkard.

"Who are his parents, then, and what happened to them?"

"This you want to know, dear friend. But it's top secret by highest order." Scelestus broke into an insane chuckle. "Curiosity will kill you one of these days, dearest Caligula."

"And fulsome secrecy might kill you, Scelestus Snape. But anyhow, I don't believe you. What could be so special about the lad's origin that the Dark Lord himself would take any interest in the affair?" This was the best way to outsmart the filthy, self-contented bastard. Pretend to not believe in the importance of the information. He'd blab out the secret soon enough, the greasy git.

"You don't believe me?" Scelestus leaned closer, his boozy breath almost choking the younger man. "And what if your Highness himself dumped the boy onto his most trusted and loyal servant and his wife? What if the Dark Lord is his father?"

In the darkness of the corridor, Severus held his breath.

"You can't be serious. You've had far too much whiskey!"

"Take it or leave it, then. But I can tell you, there are graves out there, three graves. Our master did a thorough job when he retrieved his boy from that mudblood whore, who is his mother, and her parents. By the way, I'm sure you knew her. Went to Hogwarts, same year as you and Tom. Quite a beauty. Her name was Helana Evans, Gryffindor."

Caligula gaped. He knew what had happened between his class-mate and fellow Slytherin, the former Tom Riddle, and Helena Evans. But he never knew that there had been consequences. And never ever had he suspected that these consequences could go by the name of Severus Snape.

"Can you prove it?"

"Just look the two of them in the eyes and you have your proof." Scelestus leaned even closer, his nose only inches away from Malfoy's. "And, Severus speaks parsel ..."

The young man, whom the two wizards in the living room were talking about, leaned heavily against the door, too stunned to think or move, he hardly remembered to breath. The Dark Lord was his father. The one person who had shown interest, the one who had bought him his wand when he was only three, who had given him fascinating books full of dark magic, who had clapped him on the shoulder when he had managed to cast the Imperius curse on a rat at the age of seven. His admired godfather who had explained the concept of power to him. And who had taught him how to torture and kill on his command. Without thinking. This man was in truth his father. And this father had dumped him into this abusive hell in Knockturn Alley. With a 'father' who had beat him up on a regular basis when he was drunk, and, when sober, lashed out at him with his vicious sarcasm. Even today, he couldn't tell what had been worse. He had learned early how to sneak noiselessly around the house, how to make himself invisible by melting into the shadows - his sanctuaries - which the gloomy house provided in abundance. Just to avoid attracting his 'father's' attention. Sometimes, he had managed to keep out of the way for days. Those were his lucky ones. But then again, his 'father' would seek him out as an outlet for his drunken rages. Or he would demand for his help down in the potions lab.

Severus had always loved the lab. It was the only room in the entire house that was kept clean and tidy though it rather resembled a dungeon than a room. Cauldrons were arranged on smooth stone tables, phials of all sizes, forms, and colors sat orderly on wooden shelves, and all kinds of ingredients were neatly stored in drawers, boxes, and baskets. Others were kept in numerous glass jars on more wooden shelves. Those glass jars with their mysterious contents submerged in nameless fluids always gave him the creeps when he was a kid, but at the same time they held a strange fascination that drew him close again and again. Now, at the age of twenty-two, and with a mastery of potions that exceeded his "father's" by far, he knew the contents of those jars by heart and there was little mystery to it, really, but nevertheless, he could still feel the slight prickle down his spine, the surge of fascination, when looking at them. If it hadn't been for his 'father's' menacing presence and the beating that was inevitably waiting for him after the work session - mostly for no reason at all - he could have been happy in the potions lab.

His 'mother' hadn't been any help, either. In the beginning, she had argued with her husband on behalf of their son a few times, but mostly, she had stared at something only visible in her own dazed mind and was hardly aware of his existence at all. If it hadn't been for Ickly, the old house elf, Severus would surely have died of starvation and neglect long before he ever came to Hogwarts. When his 'mother' died during his 2nd year at school - most probably of some potion overdose - he felt nothing, it didn't make any difference whether she was there or not. Since she had never been there for him. She was no more to him than a once beautiful piece of furniture that had long lost its usefulness and was finally discarded.

But the death of old Ickly that same year had left him devastated. Now he was truly alone and at his "father's" mercy. Would that the summer and those dreaded holidays never came. But they would come as inevitably as the earth would keep on spinning and rotating on its never-ending journey around the sun. The only hope that kept him from utter despair was that his godfather might come visit once or twice during the summer break and bring new books and, if he was very lucky, teach him some new hexes.

His godfather. He could have had a loving family, or at least a mother and grandparents who cared for him, could have lived in the light if not for this "godfather," who was in truth his father. Who had killed his true family. Who had condemned him to a life in hell. Who had made him his soulless slave. A murderer, as heartless as his father himself. The bloody bastard, curse him!

He felt nauseous, sick. Didn't hear the soft steps approaching the door. Didn't notice as Malfoy pressed down the handle. When suddenly the door sprang open, Severus lost his footing and fell backwards into the living-room with a gasp of surprise. Malfoy and Snape senior were no less surprised as the young wizard came tumbling on the floor before their feet.

"What the hell are you doing here, bloody son-of-a-bitch?!" Scelestus inquired, towering menacingly over his fallen "son." He grabbed the flabbergasted Severus by the neck, jerked him upwards, and slammed him painfully into the wall in unconcealed fury.

Though Severus was a couple of inches taller than his old man, being of a rather narrow and lean frame left him unable to physically fight the burly, heavy-set Scelestus, who was, in spite of his drinking habits and his almost sixty years, strong like an ox and always ready to charge.

"What have you heard, you bloody sneak?" Snape senior growled dangerously. "Answer!"

"Don't you see that he can't possibly answer. You are throttling the boy." Caligula sneered. He seemed to genuinely enjoy the drama that was unfolding before his eyes.

Reluctantly, Scelestus loosened the suffocating grip around Severus's throat and waited impatiently until the young man had somewhat recovered from the lack of oxygen.

"Now, answer your father, what have you heard?!"

A terrible rage and boundless hatred suddenly swelled up in Severus's breast.

"You are no father of mine, you bloody, worthless bastard!" he spat with vigor, and with a quick, unanticipated move he freed himself from his "father's" grip, drew his wand and sent Scelestus flying through the room.

"How dare you - ?" Scelestus was up again within seconds, his wand at the ready.

That was going to be interesting, a father-son duel, or not father-son after all. Caligula stepped back a little, far from trying to stop the entertaining performance. Scelestus seemed to have sobered up by the excitement, and he was known to be an expert duelist who didn't care for rules. What young Severus was capable of, he couldn't say yet. But considering what his son Lucius had told him about his fellow Slytherin, he knew his stuff, too.

Hexes flew quick as lightning. Soon, they proceded to the darkest curses, and there was murder in both men's eyes.

"Crucio!" Scelestus shouted, already panting heavily.

But Severus, with a smooth, catlike leap, managed to dodge the curse, and now, it was he who attacked.

"That's enough! Expelliarmus!" The combatant's were blasted backwards, their wands flying high into the air.

"Don't you interfere, Malfoy!" Severus roared while struggling to his feet again, his attention and rage now directed at the sneering blonde, who had snatched Severus's wand.

"I can hardly let you two kill each other, can I? As much as I would enjoy the spectacle. But what should I tell the Dark Lord if you were missing at the next meeting? This is for your own good, you know, and mine." And with an elegant wave of his wand Caligula conjured up thick ropes which wound themselves tightly around Severus's arms, chest and legs.

In the meantime, Scelestus had crept towards his wand, unnoticed. He would kill the boy, no matter what. Deadly madness had taken over.

"Avada kedavra!" Green light shot from the tip of Scelestus's wand. But instinctively Severus let himself fall just in time to avoid the death curse by mere inches.

And then, hell broke lose. Severus never knew how he did it, but all of a sudden his burning wrath exploded in a thundering burst of blistering energy. The ropes which bound him flew through the air torn into hundreds of sizzling pieces. And, with a thundercrash, half the ceiling came down upon his attackers, the heavy wooden beams burning like torches from purgatory.

The whole room caught fire instantly. Severus, exhausted from the powerful display of wandless magic, stumbled towards the door through dust, smoke and flames, blocking out the frenzied screams of deathly pain coming from the one he used to call father as the flames consumed him. Malfoy, at least, had found a quicker death.

In the backyard, his legs gave way and he collapsed into the wet grass. The flames were already spreading to the second floor, writhing tendrils of fire reaching up into the night-sky.

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There would be people here soon. He had to get away. But where should he go? What the hell was he supposed to do now? Severus couldn't think, couldn't concentrate. He wanted out, out of here, out of this nightmare. And he wanted revenge. His father had betrayed him - now he would betray his father. Strangely enough, the thought had a calming effect. At least, he had a purpose now. Left him to figure out a strategy, though. But not now. Some time later when his head stopped feeling ready to explode any minute. Now he had to get away. He had to.

Too drained to dare apparate, he slowly dragged himself to his feet. Without looking back at the inferno of flames he had created, Severus summoned up the last remnants of energy left to him, and staggered out of the garden.

Aimlessly, he drifted down along the nightly streets, oblivious to the cold and the pouring rain. Finally, he ended up in some nameless park and collapsed onto a timeworn wooden bench. He closed his eyes. But sleep didn't come, only images of his Death Eater existence, of the raids, the chaos, flames and blood. The faces of the people he had tortured and killed. The screams. And above all, the cold, menacing voice and the high-pitched maniac laughter of his master. Of his father. He wanted to retch with disgust and self-loathing.

How he hated it now, hated himself, hated the mark that bound him to the Dark Lord forever. The mark of evil, of sin and damnation burned into his flesh. And though he knew it was in vain, though he knew it would never come off, he tore and clawed at the mark on his left forearm with teeth and nails, welcoming the pain. But clawing wouldn't do. In the pockets of his heavy traveling cloak, he found the little knife he used for collecting herbs and cut at the bloody mark that still grinned viciously in his face. He cut deep.

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The cold and dreary December morning found Severus on the damp ground, slowly awakening from unconsciousness. His head throbbed and there was a numbing pain pulsing through his left arm. He neither knew where he was, nor why he was still alive. He shivered from the cold, his drenched cloak providing no comfort. He felt more miserable than ever before, dizzy and nauseous, and just wanted to curl into a ball and die in this godforsaken park.

But there was something he had to do first. Before giving in. - Revenge. That was it. He clung to the word as to a lifeline. And suddenly, the image of an old wizard with long white hair, a long beard and twinkling blue eyes behind half-moon spectacles formed in his mind. Dumbledore. Albus Dumbledore. The headmaster. Of course. He would listen. If he turned himself in to the Ministry they would throw him into Azkaban without a second thought, or have the Dementors's Kiss performed on the spot. Not that he didn't deserve it. He knew, he did. He would even welcome it. It would make an end to the chaos of emotions, to the terrible memories that kept on flooding his sanity after the revelation of the evening before had broken down his mental defenses. But first he wanted to cause as much damage to Voldemort as possible. Tell the enemy all he knew. Dumbledore would listen before condemning, and he would know what to do ...