Chapter 22 – Summer Days
Harry and Mrs. Weasley arrived in Hogsmeade and made their way to the castle, both quiet as they worried about the escape of Lucius Malfoy and what Arthur Weasley was going to do about it. When they arrived at the school, Mr. Filch greeted them at the door.
"Argus," Molly said with a smile. "How good it is to see you again. We're looking for the headmaster. Do you know where he is?"
"I have no idea, Molly," he said with less of a snarl than Harry was used to seeing on the usually nasty man. "But I know he's not in his office. Feel free to search the castle. Just don't make any mess," he said with an eye at Harry.
Molly laughed and patted his arm fondly. Harry shook his head in wonderment at the unusual behavior of Mr. Filch, but realized that no one could be dour around Molly Weasley. Heading in to the castle, Mrs. Weasley agreed with Harry's plan to search the dungeons first, to see if Dumbledore was with Snape.
"Professor Snape," she said, gently chiding Harry in a maternal way. Harry simply broke eye contact, not wanting to irritate this wonderful woman, but not willing to give the potions master any respect which was, in Harry's opinion, decidedly unearned.
Making their way to Snape's classroom and office, they were gratified to hear the voices of both Severus Snape and Albus Dumbledore. Firmly knocking on the door to alert the two wizards of their presence, Molly opened the door and greeted them with a summary of why she and Harry were there.
"Albus, Arthur needs your advice and assistance," she concluded. "I'm sure he's worried about people panicking over this news. And we know how they like to celebrate their victories, so the Aurors will have to be on full alert for the next few days."
Albus nodded his head and sighed. "Yes, Tom will certainly try to take advantage of this situation. But you say that Draco was there as well?" He asked this with a quick look towards Snape.
"Yes," said Harry, pointedly refusing to look at the potions master. "I watched him the whole time. He knew something was going on, I'm sure of it. He was just too cool and collected."
"Severus," Dumbledore said, turning his attention to the potions master. "What do you think? Was Draco involved in this or is there still a chance?"
"I don't know headmaster," Snape snarled, obviously displeased to discuss this in front of Harry. "But I'll do what I can to find out."
"I'm sorry Professor Dumbledore, but before I rely on any information he has, I need an explanation about the attack on my Aunt's house."
"Potter, it's not your place to demand anything of me," Snape said curtly.
"I wasn't talking to you," Harry growled. "I was talking to Professor Dumbledore."
The two glared at each other, scowling with venom in their eyes. Rage emanated from both of them, and things would have likely escalated if Dumbledore weren't there.
"Harry please," implored Dumbledore. "We have discussed this before. You know I have faith in Professor Snape, and I ask you to trust me."
"Headmaster," both Harry and Professor Snape said in unison with anger in their voices. "I do not think-"
"ENOUGH!" shouted Mrs. Weasley, startling all three of them, and probably herself as well. "Dumbledore has asked you put aside your feelings for each other for the moment, and by Merlin's beard you will do so."
"Molly," said Professor Dumbledore, trying to gain control of the discussion. "Thank you, but-"
"You as well Albus, you as well," Molly thundered. "I've had it with this absurd behavior. Albus, you think too much of your grand design, your master plan, but you fail to see the very human frailties we all exhibit. You forget that Harry is still a young man and, despite all he has taken upon himself, still needs guidance. But you must guide him not order him around, you must explain things to him. He's too intelligent to just do what you tell him to do, he thinks for himself, he questions, he's a normal teenager in that regard."
Turning to face Snape, she spoke in a cold, brittle voice. "Severus, let me point one thing out so that it is perfectly clear. HARRY IS NOT JAMES!" she thundered. "No matter how much you feel that you suffered at the hands of James, of Sirius, of whomever, Harry was not responsible for their actions. It is a miracle that Harry can even stand to be in the same room as you after the way you've treated him because of the memory of his dead father, and don't give me that look, you know what I'm talking about."
She continued in a voice barely above a whisper. "And no matter how much you want to blame others for your decision to follow Voldemort, however briefly, you made that decision on your own, and don't you displace your anger on anyone, much less Harry, for that mistake."
Finally turning to Harry, she spoke in a calm, but firm voice. "Harry, you have faced more than anyone could ever imagine, and you have faced it with a grace and dignity that few others could match. I know you have your doubts about Professor Snape, but Albus has his reasons, we all do, for trusting him. I ask you to accept that our reasons are valid. But I agree that you will need your own reasons for trusting him and you need to try. You don't have to like him, but you will have to work with him, he is our best link to the other side's plans. What he has done to you over the years is inexcusable, but it is not unforgivable. Please try to find a way to work with him, to trust him. It is our only way out of the darkness, to come together."
Addressing the three stunned men in front of her, she gave a small, sad smile. "Now Albus, the Minister of Magic has requested your presence in his office to help him in yet another bloody crisis. I would appreciate it if you would join him at your earliest opportunity. Harry, Severus, you owe it to yourselves to find a way to work together." Raising her hands at the outraged looks on both men, she continued. "If not to yourselves, then you owe it to the rest of us. To the Order, to the wizarding world, perhaps even more," she concluded with a grave voice.
"I am going up to the infirmary to look in on my son, Albus is going to the Ministry, and you two are going to settle this, once and for all. I don't care how long it takes, but end this feud, today," she said, her voice as cold and hard as steel as she swept from the dungeon classroom.
Albus looked over at the shell-shocked men on either side of him, his blue eyes twinkling fiercely as his lips quivered in a smirk. "It seems that Molly has quite an amazing power. The three of us were effectively cowed into submission, and she never even raised her wand."
Harry and Severus stood silently, glaring at each other, neither willing to be the first to budge. Dumbledore continued to grin as he made for the door.
"Harry, Severus, I hope that you will be guided by my wisdom," he said. "As you can see, I am hastening to comply with Molly's wishes. I suggest you do the same."
As Dumbledore left the classroom, he quietly pulled the door shut, closing the two wizards in behind him. Severus stood there, arms crossed, glaring at Harry with tremendous hatred in his eyes. Harry returned the fury, his hands stuffed in his pockets as he clenched his teeth while trying to figure out what he was going to do. This was not part of his overall plan, but Harry realized that Mrs. Weasley was right. The constant fights with Snape, and their mutual distrust, threatened to destabilize the entire Order, and Harry had to resolve this one way or the other.
"Professor," he said, clenching his stomach in determination. "I think Mrs. Weasley may be right. We need to talk."
Snape scowled at Harry. "If you think that I'm going to listen to that unstable woman and bow to her wishes-"
"Shut up," Harry growled, slamming his hands on the nearest table to make his point. "Mrs. Weasley deserves your respect, Professor, and I won't have you talk ill of her."
"Or else what Potter?" Snape sneered. "What do you propose to do?"
"LEGILIMENS," Harry shouted, with a flick of his wand as he whipped it out of his pocket.
Severus Snape was accustomed to keeping his shields up almost 24 hours a day every day of the year. The only time he ever let his shields down was when he was conversing with the Headmaster. It had started that way from the first time Snape came to Dumbledore seeking a way out of the Dark Lord's clutches. It was the only way Snape knew to demonstrate his sincerity, and trustworthiness, to the Headmaster. From that moment on, whenever the two were discussing the Dark Lord's activities in private, Snape immediately lowered his mental shields to prove to Dumbledore that he hadn't gone back. Dumbledore had protested that such action was unnecessary, but Snape had insisted. Over the years it became an ingrained habit, and today was no different. Since his shields had been down while conversing with Dumbledore, Snape was unprepared for Harry's mental assault. It was the first time in years that he had been caught so unprepared.
Harry dove in to Snape's mind, pushing past the basic defenses that were in place in all minds, stunned that Snape's mental barriers weren't up. Then again, Harry thought to himself, mine weren't fully up either. Delving into Snape's mind, Harry quickly threw up several barriers and mental grips on Snape's mind, as he had been taught by Mr. Smith, to keep Snape from ejecting him. Feeling secure, Harry probed out from his stronghold, searching for Snape's awareness.
Professor, he inquired. Professor Snape, I know you can hear me.
Potter, get out of my mind you insufferable brat, Snape sent back as he pounded at the grips Harry had in his mind. How dare you do this!
Stuff it Professor, Harry sent with irritation. You weren't willing to talk, and this was the only way I could get your attention. Now, can we discuss this calmly?"
"GET OUT OF MY MIND, POTTER!" Snape snarled, launching another savage attack.
Arthur Weasley couldn't believe the predicament he found himself in. The Ministry was in shambles from the Death Eater attack, Malfoy had escaped, Diagon Alley was a mess from the Dementors, and Merlin knows what else was going to happen. Sitting behind his desk, he watched with morbid humor as Kingsley Shacklebolt paced back and forth across the office, cursing like a fiend.
"Arthur, I just don't understand how Malfoy escaped," Kingsley said with disgust. "We confiscated wands from his wife and child before we let them in there, scanned them both for potions or artifacts, and we would have heard any incantations or spells being cast. I just don't see how that could have happened."
"Could it have been done with assistance?" Arthur asked quietly, fearing the worst. An infiltration of Deatheaters into the ranks of the Aurors would be devastating to the Ministry, to the entire efforts against Voldemort.
"No," Kingsley said vehemently. "Samuel is a good man, a dedicated Auror, and loyal to the hilt. He was tricked, somehow."
"Can you be so sure?" Arthur asked. Kingsley grimaced and muttered something that Arthur didn't quite hear. "I'm sorry, I didn't catch that."
"You have to understand," Kingsley sighed. "I have no choice but to do this." Looking at the confused expression on the Minister's face, Kingsley grimaced and continued quickly. "Every three days I stun every Auror during a confidential meeting in my office. I strip them and look for the Dark Mark. Then I restore their clothing, and memory, and they never know I did it. I'm sorry Arthur, but I would have told you, it just was the only way I could be sure."
"Kingsley, I would never question your methods in securing our safety. It is an unorthodox approach, but what else can we do. We have to change our tactics to respond to these assaults. Why don't you write up a secret decree with that strategy as a Ministry order and I'll sign it and make it all official. Who watches the watchers, indeed," Arthur said with a sigh.
Kingsley looked at the Minister with deep respect and dedication. "Thank you Arthur. I appreciate the support. Now, do you want me to bring Narcissa in so you can question her?"
Arthur nodded his head grimly, and Kingsley walked over and opened up the door. Two burly Aurors, their eyes flashing fire, escorted Narcissa Malfoy into the office of the Minister of Magic. Her eyes were tear stained, and her nose was raw, obviously the woman had been weeping hysterically since she had her magic removed by the ritual in the courtroom chamber.
"Sit down," barked Kingsley, shoving her into a chair. "Drink," he ordered.
Numbly Narcissa took a glass laced with Veritaserum and drank the contents. Kingsley briefly led her through standard questions to ensure that the potion worked on a non-magical person, and turned to Arthur.
"Minister, do you want to interrogate her?" he asked.
Nodding, Arthur looked at Narcissa, his face almost sad, but the steel in his soul was evident. "Narcissa, how did you switch places with your husband?"
"The Dark Lord gave me two buttons for my robe," she began, her voice numb with despair. "He told me to put them in a glass of water with a hair of mine and a hair of my husband's. When I did, the water bubbled and fizzed and turned into Polyjuice Potion. Somehow Lucius knew this would happen. We quickly switched clothing before the Auror came back in, and I followed the Aurors to the courtroom and Lucius left while disguised as me."
Arthur and Kingsley exchanged somber glances. Arthur knew he'd have to talk to Severus about this newest twist of the Polyjuice potion. He would never have suspected something like that could work, but it obviously had. He also realized that he would have to significantly change procedures in handling prisoners. While Arthur knew that Harry had meant well in trying to preserve the dignity of Dumbledore, the Ministry, and the wizarding people of Britain as a whole, it was obvious that certain standards would need to be set aside for the duration of the war. Sighing at the worry of losing his own humanity in the process, Arthur knew he'd have to discuss any plans with Molly, and then Dumbledore and Harry. His thoughts returning to the present, he looked at Narcissa with a deep sadness.
"And your son, Narcissa?" he asked. "What was his involvement? He was with you up until your switch. I'm told that he suggested that your husband, disguised as you, return home, obviously to escape. And he stayed with you in the courtroom. What was his involvement? What does he know?"
Still under the effects of the Veritaserum, Arthur could see her struggle against having to tell the truth. Finally the power of the potion won out.
"The Dark Lord put him under Imperius, forcing him to comply," she said heavily.
Arthur and Kingsley exchanged glances. Neither believed that this was the whole truth.
"Why would he need to control Draco?" Kingsley asked. "Wouldn't Draco have agreed to help his father?"
"Draco is not a servant of the Dark Lord," Narcissa replied quickly, defending her son. "And the Dark Lord doesn't allow anyone to serve him unless he controls them or they have taken the Mark."
"So that means that you have taken the Mark," Arthur said grimly. "And despite the fact that you have already received your husband's punishment, you will face your own charges and penalties."
"No," gasped Narcissa. "You can't punish me any more than you already have. You've taken my magic and you've taken my husband's fortune. I have nothing else to give you."
"You have your freedom, which is now forfeit as an enemy of the wizarding world. You will be charged, tried, and sentenced to life imprisonment as soon as possible," Arthur replied coldly. "You will never see the light of day as a free woman."
"I will when the Dark Lord destroys you and your absurd Ministry, you fool," Narcissa said venomously. "You will all fall to his power, and you will all die. I will be free when he conquers you."
Arthur shook his head with a rueful smile and looked at her sadly. "If your hopes come true, I doubt I will be alive to care one way or the other. Nevertheless, I think our business here is through. Kingsley, have your men take her down to the new cells that we have established. Make sure Mrs. Malfoy is comfortable- she'll be staying for quite a while. You and I will talk with young Draco when Amelia is done with him. Perhaps he can be saved unlike his despicable parents."
Kingsley nodded his head with a broad smile and nodded to the Minister. Her eyes shooting daggers at the two men, Narcissa stood with all the dignity that she could muster and swept from the room, the burly Aurors escorting her to her cell.
Arthur exhaled explosively after she left and looked at Kingsley with a grimace. "What a bloody waste. I can't blame Harry for what he did, I sympathize with it, Merlin's beard, I agree with it. But we need to think about..." he said, trailing off.
"What, Arthur?" Kingsley asked. "Think about what?"
Arthur regarded his friend and fellow Order member. Realizing that it was not fair for him to burden the head of the Aurors with the delicacies of the conscience of the Minister of Magic, Arthur shook his head waved his hand wearily at his friend.
"Never mind, Kingsley. It's just been a long day in a series of long days. I rue the day that Harry put me in this spot, but I can honestly say that there are few I'd rather see making the decisions made in this office, not while we're facing what we're facing. Any way, let's finish this matter today. Would you see if Amelia is done with young Mr. Malfoy? Tell her I'd like to talk with her before we decide what to do with him."
Kingsley nodded silently, sensing the need for Arthur to collect his thoughts, and left the office. As he walked out into the hallway he was greeted by Albus Dumbledore, who had obviously just arrived from Hogwarts.
"He's in there," Kingsley said with a tilt of his head. "And Albus, help him out, please. He's under a lot of strain and today's been bad."
"I understand my friend, I understand," Albus replied. With a friendly nod, Albus sighed and knocked firmly on the door of Arthur's office before walking in.
Harry marveled at how much he had learned in such a short time from Mr. Smith. Snape, enraged by Harry's intrusion into his mind was attacking Harry's mind with an inchoate fury. Without the training that Mr. Smith had provided, Harry would have been expelled from Snape's mind almost immediately. It took every ounce of mental strength that Harry had to keep his grasp on the foothold he had established in Snape's mind, but somehow Harry managed. After what seemed like an eternity of mental attacks, Harry could sense that Snape was tiring from the constant assault. Probing gently while maintaining his grip on Snape's mind, Harry reached out again.
"Professor, this is senseless," Harry said. "We have to talk. I'm sorry I invaded your mind, but it's the only way you'd talk with me. No one will overhear us, and we can't lie to each other here. Or to ourselves."
Sensing that Snape was not about to bend, Harry decided on another approach. Sifting through his own memories, Harry enveloped Snape's awareness with them. Snape experienced every humiliation, every indignation, and every abuse that Harry had suffered at the hands of Petunia, Vernon, and Dudley. Harry forced Snape to feel the emotions that had guided Harry's young life, the lack of a loving parental influence, the lack of close friends until he came to Hogwarts, the confusion about his place in the world. Harry knew it paled in comparison to the likely trauma suffered by Snape in his lifetime of being a Slytherin, a Death Eater, and now a spy, but it certainly explained the way Harry viewed the world.
Harry focused on the thoughts that he had about his father, his mother, Sirius, and Remus, trying to show the complexity of those feelings and thoughts to Snape so that Snape would finally see that Harry was not his father. Yes, they had physical similarities, and certain personality traits in common, but Harry was not responsible for the childhood enmity between Severus Snape and James Potter, and Snape had no right to continue a childhood grudge against his dead rival's son.
Harry ran through his years at Hogwarts, the unfair attacks by Snape, the unreasoning hatred for a child who didn't even know magic existed, much less that he was the supposed hero of the magical world. The bias that Snape showed against Harry just for existing, the cruel pleasure Snape showed in punishing Harry at every opportunity. Harry never did anything to merit the abuse, at least not at first, but over the years Harry started responding to Snape's incomprehensible hatred.
Finally, Harry focused his thoughts on conversations he had previously had with Professor Dumbledore about Severus Snape. The compassion and respect, and love, that Dumbledore had for Snape shone through in Harry's thoughts, and Harry could sense that this was the final straw in getting to Snape.
"I don't know why Professor Dumbledore trusts you as much as he does, but he does, and that means a lot to me, Professor Snape. But we need to come to our own understanding, for the sake of all that we are fighting for. Can we agree to put aside our differences and talk?"
Harry knew that they would never be friends, they would never like each other, but he sensed that there was the possibility that they could have a grudging respect for each other. He knew that they had much to discuss, and hoped that Snape would agree.
Instead, Harry felt a renewed assault upon the anchors he had placed in Snape's mind. Mentally shrugging, Harry concentrated on maintaining that connection, hoping to wear down his formidable Potions master and come to an understanding. Several minutes later after Snape's attack subsided, Harry reached out again.
"Professor, as you can see I've learned a lot this summer. I understand more now, about what I have to do, what the Order has to do, to defeat Voldemort-"
"DO NOT SAY THAT NAME!" Snape thundered at Harry. "NOT IN MY PRESENCE AND NOT IN MY MIND!"
With an overwhelming force, Snape renewed his assault on Harry's mind. The force of the desperate fury stunned Harry, and his grip loosened, allowing Snape to get a lever against Harry's intrusion into his mind. In a split second Snape finally succeeded and shoved Harry's mind out of his. Harry, still stunned by the mental assault from Snape, found himself flying forcefully backwards across the dungeon classroom. Crashing into the wall, he looked dazedly at his Potions professor who had fallen to his knees, gasping for breath as he muttered under his breath, obviously trying to calm himself down.
As Snape's breathing started to calm down, he looked over at Harry with a panicked expression on his face. "GET OUT!" he screamed in a begging tone. "Get out of here, now. Go to the hallway and wait for me if you must, but LEAVE! NOW!"
Suddenly, with a convulsive movement, Snape clutched at his left arm, his hand grabbing onto the spot where the foul Dark Mark was burned into his arm. Moaning in indescribable agony, Snape kept muttering under his breath.
Unsure of what to do, Harry decided to follow the pleadings of Snape. Scrambling to his feet, Harry rushed to the door, threw it open, and left the classroom. Panting heavily, Harry closed the door, wondering what was happening, when a bone-chilling scream sounded behind the recently closed door.
"Albus," Arthur said in greeting to the venerable wizard. "Thank you for coming so quickly. I've certainly buggered everything up, haven't I?"
"Not at all, my friend," Dumbledore said with the customary twinkle in his eyes. "Not at all. We can not control all events, or even that many when you get right down to it. But we can learn from our errors and we can ensure that we don't make the same mistakes twice."
Arthur nodded his head with a grim smile and quickly briefed Dumbledore on how Lucius had managed to escape.
"Tom always was a clever boy," Dumbledore said with a sigh. "But I trust we can develop methods of dealing with this new development. Better observation of prisoners, and perhaps we can ask Severus to see if there is a way to detect the presence of Polyjuice in this new form."
"I agree," said Arthur. "But we also need to come up with a better plan of action for how we deal with Deatheaters."
"What do you mean?" Dumbledore asked with an intense look at his friend.
"I think we need to be more aggressive, we must bring the war to them. We have to find a better way to secure prisoners, when we capture them, but we also need to think about how to deal with those that are too dangerous to try to capture."
Dumbledore looked calmly at the Minister, his eyebrows raised in deep thought. "What do you mean?" he asked.
"How do we deal with Riddle, or Malfoy, or the Lestranges, or the rest of his elite?" Arthur asked with a weary voice. "We can't ask the Aurors, or the Order, to risk their lives to take any of them alive, can we? But can we, can I, live with ordering our forces to use lethal force?"
Dumbledore regarded his friend and loyal supporter with compassion etched all over his ancient face. For several moments the two wizards stared past each other, both reflecting on the decision they were grappling with.
"When I set out to defeat Grindelwald," Albus said into the silence. "I was not prepared to use lethal force. In fact, I almost lost my life once when I spared the life of one of his followers. After I thought he was subdued, a wizard by the name of Anthony Blarden managed to loosen the bonds I had conjured. When my back was turned he got hold of a dagger somehow and stabbed me in my stomach, leaving the blade in.
"It was instinctive, really, what happened next," the venerable wizard said, tears standing in his eyes. "In a flash I spun around and spat out the first curse that came to mind.
"It changes you, when you kill another human being, Arthur," Dumbledore said heavily. "You never forget the circumstances when you take someone else's life, not if you have a conscience. You see, in my haste, in my agony, the only spell that came to mind was a blasting curse. My wand was no more than a foot away from him, and I had enough power in me, enough rage, to tear down whole buildings. All they found were bits and pieces, nothing bigger than a fingernail, really. But what was worse, in an odd way, was what I saw next. He had another dagger on him, which he must have dropped as I sent the spell that destroyed him."
Arthur stared wordlessly, not sure what to say, and he was relieved almost when the ancient wizard continued.
"So, you see, I had no other recourse, and if I hadn't acted on that instinct, it is possible I would not be here today. I still regret that I took his life, though he was an enemy, but I am able to see that it was necessary. I have had the misfortune of killing several wizards in my life. All would be considered to have deserved it, Grindelwald especially, and in each case I had no other options available to me, yet I still feel those actions, even some decades later. But it is that pain, that remorse, which keeps us human.
"One should never take a life unless it is in the direst of situations, but in those situations, we need not worry about losing our touch with humanity. I think we can craft acceptable rules of conduct for our friends in the Order and your Aurors, rules that will help us maintain our link to humanity, while still enabling us to defeat Voldemort's forces."
"Thank you, Albus," Arthur said with a hoarse voice. "Thank you. These are not the best of times, and I find it a struggle to see how we will defeat him."
"But we will my friend, we will. There is always hope."
Harry sat in the hallway, gasping for breath after crashing through the doorway, fleeing the potions classroom. Wondering what caused the panic in Snape's voice, he listened intently to the haggard breathing coming from the classroom and the muttering from Snape as he was trying to restore his mental shields.
Harry's scar burned fiercely, flaring intensely with Voldemort's anger. With a flash of insight, Harry realized that he had called Voldemort's attention to the open mind of the Death Eater turned ostensible spy, and that Snape was in incredible danger, especially if he was as trustworthy as Dumbledore had suggested.
As panic raced through his mind, Harry realized that there was only one way he could save Snape's secret from Voldemort, possibly even Snape's life. Taking a deep breath as he tried to control his worries, Harry quietly focused his mind in the way he had been taught by Mr. Smith. Forcing the pain of the scar connection away from his thoughts, Harry sought the control and serenity of his mind. When he reached that calm point, Harry took another deep breath as he prepared to fight for the life of a man he wasn't entirely sure deserved saving.
Pushing out of his mind, away from his body, Harry reached out along the connection of the curse scar to the swirling pit of foul emotions emanating from Voldemort. Waves of fury radiated from the evil man and Harry could sense that all of Voldemort's attention was focused on the mental attack on Snape. Snape screamed in terrible agony as Voldemort bludgeoned against his mind.
"What are you hiding, Severus?" Voldemort asked as he battered against the feeble barriers Snape had managed to scramble together. "Your loyalty is in question, and I demand proof of your fidelity."
Snape screamed again in agony. "My Lord," he thought desperately. "I have proven my faithfulness to you. But if Dumbledore senses that my barriers have been breached, he will question whether he can trust me any more, and my use to you will be ended."
Harry was even more confused than ever. He didn't know whether to trust Snape, or to let him suffer with the continued mental attack of Voldemort. If anyone deserved it, Harry thought harshly, it would be Snape. Pushing that thought out of his mind, Harry pushed roughly against Voldemort's awareness.
"Who are you torturing now, Tom?" Harry asked with a savage shove, trying to break the concentration of his enemy.
"What are you doing boy?" Voldemort asked in surprise, while keeping up his attack on Snape's mind. "How did you get in my mind?"
"You aren't the only one who figured out the role my scar plays. You've known that we're connected for some time, I've just now figured that out. Now tell me, who are you torturing today? Are you punishing one of your lackeys or attacking an innocent?"
Voldemort let out a startled snarl of rage. "How dare you, boy? You think to match strength with me?"
Even with Voldemort's power and vast knowledge of Dark magic, it was impossible for him to concentrate on both Potter and Snape. Despite his desire to get into Snape's mind, Voldemort knew he couldn't risk letting Potter get past his own defenses, which was possible if he was mentally occupied elsewhere. So his concentration shifted and he focused his mental rage on Potter.
"Tom, I've already figured out how to keep you out of my mind, as you've seen me do already, so tell me, who are you torturing?" Harry said calmly, relieved that Voldemort's attention was focused on Harry. Now possibly Snape could restore his mental barriers to keep himself safe from Voldemort's fury.
"DON'T CALL ME THAT, BOY!" Voldemort howled with rage as he tried to force his way into Harry's mind.
"Do you prefer Mr. Riddle, Half-Blood? Or is it Tommy, the Muggle's son?" Harry asked sarcastically.
Fortunately Harry was prepared for the fury of Voldemort's assault and quickly pulled himself out of Voldemort's mind, rushing back to his own body in a flash and restoring his own barriers as he felt Voldemort's furious attack on his mind. Harry concentrated on his training exercises and quickly built back up those barriers that would keep the evil wizard out of his mind, and managed to succeed. Bracing himself as the onslaught continued, Harry used the calming techniques he had learned to maintain control and keep the evil wizard at bay.
What seemed like an eternity passed by as Voldemort assaulted Harry's mind, but failing to grab a hold on Harry's mind, the Dark Lord abandoned his attempt with a howl of rage. As quickly as the attack had started, it ended, allowing Harry to slump against the wall and take a deep breath.
Gasping for breath, Severus Snape clutched his hands on the counter, pulling himself up from the floor in his dungeon classroom. Damn that insufferable brat, he thought to himself. He knows not what he has wrought with his little escapade.
"Professor Snape?" a voice asked loudly, obviously a repeated attempt to gain his attention. Snape weakly lifted his head up to look with scorn at the teenager in the doorway.
"I thought I told you to get out," Snape snarled.
"You are welcome," Harry muttered under his breath. "Professor," he said, loud enough for Snape to hear, "I wanted to see if you were okay, to see if you needed anything."
"More likely come to gloat," Snape said with a heavy sneer. "Your heroism saved the day, Potter. Isn't that what you want me to say?"
"No," Harry said with tightly controlled anger as he ground out his words. "I realize that this episode was partially my fault, but you refused to listen to me." Taking a deep breath to overcome the anger that the foul man in front of him usually pulled out of Harry's subconscious, he continued in a measured tone. "Mrs. Weasley, Professor Dumbledore, they're right sir. Our feud cannot continue to divide those around us, it weakens us and divides us, when we have to pull together to defeat, erm, Tom."
"Always playing the dutiful hero, aren't we?"
"No more so than you playing the aggrieved loner. But we have to reach a truce. I've shown you what's in my mind, why your preconceptions about me are so absurd. Can you really be so willing to hold on to a childhood grudge against my father and blame me for any indignities he made you suffer?"
"You know not whereof you speak," Snape said bitterly.
"No, I don't, not really," Harry sighed. "But I am not my father. I never knew him, I have no real memories of him, at least none of my own. So you cannot say that he raised me to hate you. I have only reacted in kind to the way that you have treated me. Do I need to show you again the pain you caused me by hating me even before I knew who you were?"
"This is foolishness."
"No," argued Harry. "It is foolishness to continue the feud you had with my father, with Sirius, with Remus, and take it out on me. It is foolishness to blame me for your current predicament with Riddle.
Voldemort was screaming.
His Death Eaters could not tell what was causing his outrage, and none were brave enough to enter his chambers to discover the reason. Despite their own love of thuggery that led them to join his ranks, most of the dark wizards had a strong sense of survival and self-preservation.
The last time the Master had been in such a rage was when Dumbledore had thwarted his plans at the Ministry, and five Death Eaters died at the Dark Lord's own hand. Granted, they were new recruits and thus unprepared for the terrible power of his Cruciatus Curse, but they were dead nonetheless.
"LUCIUS!" the angry wizard bellowed with terrible rage. Lucius Malfoy, chief among the lieutenants of the Dark Lord, paled with fear at being summoned. But knowing that delaying his obeisance would only add to the Master's rage, Lucius quickly entered the Dark Lord's chambers. Falling to his knees in order to kiss his master's robe, Lucius steeled himself for the inevitable pain he was about to receive.
"Yes, my master?" he asked, pouring as much subservience as the proud Malfoy line could ever possibly put into his voice.
"Bring me your son. He is to be marked and given a mission of utmost importance. And you will have a mission of your own."
"Yes, my Lord. I will bring Draco immediately. May I ask what my mission is to be?"
"I want you to kill Severus Snape."
AN – okay, took me forever to update, no good excuses so I won't waste your time with them. I'm hoping for one more before HBP comes out and I honestly don't know what I'll do after that. Maybe I'll continue this story or start a new one, we'll have to see what happens to my muse after I read the most anticipated book of the past two years.