PG-13 Methos takes a young Severus Snape under his wing.

Disclaimer: I don't own any of these characters, much to my dismay and their relief.

Death & Betrayal
by MarbleGlove

Severus hated himself.

He was a young recent Hogwarts graduate and he was brilliant. He should be a potions apprentice. Instead, like a fool, he had believed and trusted the other, more popular members Slytherin, his school house. They had said that he would get a better master and learn more if he were affiliated with Lord Voldemort. The Dark Lord. Potions were always somewhat dark. They used the death of the ingredients after all. And brilliant, powerful, young wizards did not always survive long under the care of ambitions old potions masters. But, Lucius had said, if he were under the protection of a dark lord he'd be treated better. And as soon as he became a master he could be the potions master to the new lord of the British wizarding world.

It had all sounded reasonable. Severus didn't really understand people and so he had trusted Lucius, who obviously did understand people.

That had been an obvious mistake. The fact that Lucius understood how to manipulate everyone around him should have made Severus trust him less rather than more. It was a lesson learned too late.

Severus had already given over his freedom, his future, to a man who treated him little better than his father had.

Potions study was now done only in his spare time, and there was little of that after the hours spent attending to more senior Death Eaters. It was surprisingly boring. And the breaks in the monotony tended to consist of violence toward muggles and mudbloods. Lord Voldemort and the Death Eaters seemed to think this made them more powerful. Severus thought it made them animals.

Power was subtle. True power used only a light touch, a gentle fume.

And wore white robes.

Severus shook his head. Where had that last thought come from?

He forced himself to focus on what the Dark Lord was telling him and a group of other minor Death Eaters. Severus wanted to sneer at the others for being idiots and powerless flunkies within the Death Eater ranks, but then again, he was one of them.

They were all being sent to a large muggle estate and were supposed to search it for a particular artifact. The Dark Lord had described their mission five times, the artifact seven times, and was starting another of the countless little diatribes on pureness of blood and eventual leadership of all of Britain.

Severus fazed it out again and thought about white robes.

No one wore all white robes. For one, they weren't sold in the wizarding world. They were extremely bad luck, a sign of doom. All white meant death and betrayal. The loss of everything you knew.

He had dreamed about a man in a white robe. The man had extended one hand and said, "You have a choice." All purebloods had a touch of the sight; it was part of being such an inbred society. Severus didn't have much of the sight but he still kept track of his dreams as all purebloods did. Seeing a man in all white was not a comfortable event.

And he knew he didn't have a choice. He had allowed the Dark Lord to mark him and that was that. No more choices. Just following orders. Just going with a group of other young fools to steal an artifact from a muggle.

He would think about the man in white later.

-----------------

They had barely all apparated into the large white marble building when a muggle found them.

As all the other wizards tried to point their wands at the quickly moving muggle and shout out curses, the muggle said nothing but moved a muggle device in front of him with one hand. The device of black metal made exploding noises and seemed to jerk around a little. The Death Eaters fell with a little black circle on each forehead.

Finally only the muggle and Severus remained standing. The only ones who remained breathing.

The muggle continued to point his device at Severus, but did nothing further. Severus was frozen with his wand half raised as he had been since he first saw the muggle's face. The muggles skin was pale, his bone structure prominent creating places and hollows, and his eyes were green-gold.

Severus remembered to breath eventually and spoke, "you're the man in white."

The muggle continued to watch him, his face giving nothing away. "Why do you say that?"

"I dreamed of you. You said I had a choice."

The muggle nodded and finally lowered the device he had been pointing at Severus. "You do have a choice. Do you know what you want?"

"I don't have any choices!"

"Run away, little wizard. When you know what you want, you may return. Now go."

And Severus had raised his wand, making sure it was never pointed at the strange man and apparated away.

------------------

Methos sighed.

He had ten dead wizards littering his entranceway. At least they were all on tile, so the blood would be easily cleaned up once he removed the bodies. Well, that would give him something to do while he thought about the eleventh wizard whom he had allowed to escape.

Wizards had power. Enough power that for him to survive when dealing with aggressive wizards, he had to be more aggressive and more immediately deadly than he normally liked. So when the silent alarm had gone off and the surveillance cameras had shown intruders in robes with wands, he had entered the room with his gun already drawn and started sighting for head shots.

But one of them hadn't attacked. That wizard was young and rather gawky and looked at Methos with shock and recognition. That look had bought him time.

And then the wizard had said he recognized Methos from a dream, and in it, Methos had been wearing white.

Methos knew himself to be the oldest living person on Earth as well as a character in many of the worlds religions. He tried to tell himself and others that he was just a guy, but he knew that he was also a symbol. And to a wizard who saw him wearing white in his dreams, it could only symbolize Death or Betrayal. As infamous as Death was, the Beloved Traitor was equally infamous. He had betrayed them, but he was still their brother and they loved him. For that matter, he loved them. He just couldn't be with them. His brothers hadn't understood that and searched for him for millennia after he had left them. Kronos continued to search sporadically even three thousand years later.

The wizards with their black robes and silver skull masks were already trying to be Death-like, but were obviously minions. None of them would have dreamed of him and of a choice if they wanted to be more like Death. And the surviving wizard had seemed angered and despairing over his perceived lack of choice. Thus he had probably dreamed of Methos in his role as Traitor.

Methos finished completely stripping all the dead wizards, sorting their gear into things to wash (clothing), things to add to his various collections (wands, silver masks, and the odd coin), and things to look at more closely (scraps of parchment, various talismans, etc.) He started dragging the bodies to the garage for transportation.

Did he really want to start mentoring a young wizard in the fine art of betrayal? He was a master of that skill after his years as a harbinger of the apocalypse. He was the one who would check out the cities in advance of any attacks. He would befriend the guards and learn all the defenses before returning to this brothers with a plan of attack. He had spent a thousand years making friends and betraying them, and he had topped it off by betraying his very brothers.

He was more than capable of teaching the young man how to follow in his footsteps. But it would not be a pleasant journey for either of them. Given his situation, the young man probably had many true friends. And young men do not make true friends when they are learning how to be false friends. Methos might have gone through friendless stages in his long life, but one thing about being immortal is the knowledge that any situation will eventually end. A mortal had no such reassurance. If he mentored the boy he would create a great traitor, but not necessarily a great human being.

Methos started loading the bed of a truck with the bodies and remembered what he had said tot he young wizard. He had said, "When you know what you want, you may return."

He had already decided to mentor the boy if asked. And he knew enough of human nature to know that the boy would return.

--------------------

Severus returned to the Dark Lord and informed him of their failure. He said nothing about his conversation with the muggle, or about recognizing the muggle from a dream. Instead, he merely said that he had apparated away after the others were all dead. The Dark Lord was less than pleased and after being Crucio'd, Severus was thrown into an empty room and left there.

He spent the empty hours thinking about what it was he wanted. He wanted power. He wanted fame. He wanted respect. And he wanted to study potions. What he didn't want was to be a flunky for the rest of a very short life. However that seemed like his fate, especially since he was currently locked in a cell.

He came to a decision. If he got out of here, he would go back to the muggle and tell him everything he wanted, even if it was impossible. Maybe the muggle was right and he did have a choice even if he couldn't see it now. Asking didn't seem likely to make his life any more unpleasant or brief.

He dozed for a little bit, and dreamed again. The man in white looked at him and extended his hand. "You have a choice." Severus was just putting his hand into the man in white's when he was woken up by the door of his cell opening.

"You can go."

He left.

It was a few days later that he heard the story about how ten dead naked wizards had been left on the Ministry's door step, at the main entrance into muggle London. Ministry officials had been forced to move quickly to avoid the scandal of the bodies being found by any muggles.

Lord Voldemort was ignoring the situation completely and had crucio'd the only Death Eater to ask about it. Severus was trying to build up his courage to return to the house, as he had decided to do while locked up.

Severus finally had a free day and apparated back to the large white marble house. He half expected to be killed on sight. Instead he was invited to dinner. Before he could think better of it, Severus poured out all his dreams and desires to the impassive muggle. The muggle listened to everything and occasionally pushed him to say more.

Severus paced and ranted and whined and impatiently wiped away the few tears that came, though whether they were from sorrow, despair, or rage, not even he was sure. And eventually he ran out of things to say. He felt completely empty.

Severus flushed with embarrassment when the muggle finally spoke after that and said, "Okay. Dinner should be on the table now." And the muggle gestured for Severus to follow him.

They ate in silence.

When dinner was over, the muggle once more gestured for Severus to follow him, and they went to a library. The room was large but the book shelves that covered the walls were only half full.

"This is my magic library. As you can see, it is far from complete. However, there is enough for me to begin teaching you a mastery of potions. I am not a wizard. However, neither am I purely muggle. You might find it easiest to think of me as a magical creature. I have enough magic innate to me that I am capable of both potion making and arithmantic calculations. I have mastery's in both these subjects, though I'm not up to date in either of them.

"In exchange for teaching you potions, you will bring me catalogues of books published within the last five hundred years. I pick what I want, and you will track down those books and purchase them for me."

Severus flushed but opened his mouth anyway to tell the man that he had no money.

But the man waved him to silence. "I will give you a token that will allow you to pull funds from my Gringotts account. You will use this token to purchase the books for me, and all the ingredients you'll need. Over time, you will also purchase other items. If there is anything you wish to purchase purely for yourself, you may ask me in advance and I may agree to it. I do not enter the wizarding world without a very good reason, so do not expect it."

The muggle, the man, the magical creature, was silent for a moment, apparently lost in thought. "Sir? I, I'm a Death Eater. I can always be summoned by Lord Voldemort. I can't be a proper apprentice."

"I know. You will come to me when you have time. Along with potions, I will teach you how to gain respect and power over those around you, and this will allow you to have more time. Do not expect immediate results. And you may call me Adam."

"Adam. And I'm Severus. Severus Snape."

For the first time the man, Adam, smiled. It was bright and seemed to light up Adam's face and it made him no less of an enigma. "Severus. It had been a long time since I have taken a student, but I think you will do me proud."

Severus was unnerved by the warm feeling this gave him. No one had ever told him they were proud of him. He reminded himself that the man was still dangerous.

He was a magical creature with unknown abilities. He had killed ten Death Eaters without being hit by a single curse. He had two magical masteries. His personal symbol was that of Death and Betrayal. And he was proud to have Severus as an apprentice.

-------------------

It had been a long time since he had taken a student, Methos thought. He had forgotten how fun it could be to mold someone into a form of one's own imagining.

And Severus was a perfect student. He was brilliant. He wasn't immortal and never would be, so there was no need to worry about teaching the competition. And he was borderline autistic so teaching him to read and manipulate people around him could be done almost completely on the conscious level. Severus would ask rather than assume anything, and he forced Methos to consciously analyze some of his own habits of manipulation.

They would go out people watching in muggle England. At first Methos would give a running commentary on everything taking place. More and more though, he would make Severus tell him what he was seeing. And Severus was seeing more and more as the months passed.

They would make potions in Methos' lab, once more fully stocked. And read and discuss various writings on potions in the rapidly growing wizarding library. He was teaching Severus all the skills of a potions master that weren't necessary for grade-school potions classes. And Severus in turn, was teaching him about modern potions.

He was also teaching Severus knife fighting. Severus hadn't wanted to learn anything so very muggle. Methos had pointed out that one, in a deadly situation it was a skill that would take most wizards by surprise, two, the lessons would teach him to be more comfortable in his body and move with more grace and control, and three, Severus was the student and would learn anything that he was taught. Severus had replied with a sneer, "But of course, Adam, sir. Forgive me."

Methos was pleased.

--------------------

Severus had always sneered at and insulted those around him. Adam could more than match him sneer for sneer and insult for insult. Along with all his other lessons, Adam was also refining those skills: commenting on ways to make a sneer more contemptuous, and an insult more cutting. From the long lectures and conversations with Adam, Severus was also learning a finer control of his temper and how to manipulate a conversation to go where he wanted it to.

He slowly discovered that he was given more respect by the Death Eaters around him, and was holding conversations with more and more important Death Eaters. After such conversations he would go back to the big white marble house and tell Adam everything that he could remember and the two of them would analyze everything that was said or not said for true meanings.

And Adam had been right that he had more free time as the months and then years progressed. He was no longer ordered to attend upon other Death Eaters. Instead he was invited to converse with them. And he would occasionally watch a torture session because he felt the more he learned the better, and if he gave the details to Adam, Adam would in turn tell him exactly what the torturers were doing right or wrong and what other torture methods there were and how to avoid breaking under various techniques and how to break others. It was during those times that Severus remembered how incredibly dangerous his mentor was.

Severus had only been invited to participate once. He had raised a single eyebrow and stated, "I don't feel the need to bath myself in mud as hogs do." The older Death Eater had turned red, cast a single killing curse at the mudblood he had been about to torture to death, and stormed out.

He had power, he had respect, and he had an increasing knowledge of potions. It was when he saw his first published article that Severus finally admitted to himself that he was still dissatisfied. He did not respect the Dark Lord and he did not respect himself. He could hide both of these facts from everyone but himself. And he wasn't sure if Adam knew. When Severus spoke to him about it, Adam did not look surprised. But then, Severus had yet to see Adam surprised by anything.

Adam started teaching him the theory behind hiding information from people who could read his mind. And they started studying the various truth serums and creating vaccines for them. Severus discovered that he already knew from their conversations how to manipulate words to hide his real intentions. And he realized that the tricks in knife fighting could be used to great effect in other situations as well. Hidden knives, distracting with one knife from the other, flashing knives but finally attacking with a foot which isn't considered a weapon but can still be deadly, or simply fighting left-handed to give the appearance of a weaker right hand. These were all tricks that could be changed to be used in other circumstances.

It was from the large white marble house that he sent his owl to Dumbledore requesting a meeting for the first time.

And it was there to the big white marble house that he went when he first heard of the death of the Potters and the destruction of Voldemort. He was furious.

It was like the first time went to talk to Adam all over again. He poured out all his feelings as he paced. He ranted and raved, tightening and untightening his hands into fists. "After everything I've done, they couldn't protect their own! They gave important information to that rat! They had to run away. What happened to proud, courageous, Gryffindor Potter? When did he decide to be scared and run away? They were fighting a war! Wars don't just peter out. They are either won or lost! But no, they all run and scamper away, so when finally a massive blow is struck on Lord Voldemort, there is no one around to give the coupe de grace! A mistake has sent the Dark Lord into exile! And now he's hidden and who knows when he'll be back, but he will be, and we're stuck waiting! That damned coward Potter! And his damned brat of a spawn! Everyone's out there celebrating the great Boy-Who-Lived, did you know that? They're out celebrating the brat who put the Dark Lord into hiding, the brat who made it impossible to finally defeat the Dark Lord. And they're happy. They can postpone the fight a little bit, and wait until it comes back ten times worse! This is like the slow simmer in making a potion. Years will pass, and when their done, the remaining Death Eaters will be a concentration of what they are today." Severus finally sank down into a chair and put his head in his hands. He looked up at his mentor who had been sitting and watching him all this time. "What do I do now?"

"Now? Now you wait. You're right, this isn't over. However, it does give you a chance to live a little. You're twenty-four years old, Severus. You're twenty-four years old and you've been accepted as a potions master by the entire scholarly community. Up to now, you've spent all of your time with the Death Eaters or with me. It's time for you to spend some time with yourself and with your potions. Go out and get a job and concentrate on your potions.

"When I first met you, I was here just to put this house in order before I started another life. I put that life off to teach you, but now we're in a holding pattern. There's nothing to do but watch the world simmer. When the next stage is about to start, you'll know. Until then, I'm going to go start my next life, and you should do the same.

"Good luck, Severus. You make me proud."

And Adam left the room. By the time Severus followed, Adam had completely disappeared to whatever his other life was.

It was ten years before Severus sent an owl addressed to Adam, "The Potter brat is come to Hogwarts. Voldemort attacked him through a follower." He got back a response, "wait for it."

It was another four years before Severus sent an owl saying, "The simmering is over. I have been summoned."

A/N: I intend to continue this at some point or another. I even have the next section more or less written, but it needs to be given further structure, so it might be a while. This is my first multi-chapter fic.