Disclaimer: I don't own any aspect of Harry Potter. End of story, please don't sue.
Author's notes: I was re-reading my reviews and I really didn't see anything huge to note or correct. I will make the same statement I always have for the few people who haven't seemed to get it yet. I KNOW my story is not according to cannon. I KNOW that I am a year different on many things, reread the first chapter and it explains all that. I don't want to offend anyone but there is always at least one reviewer who chooses to point this out to me.
Another question that was asked by Shinigami about about Luna. I don't know how she would swing in all of this and since my version of book five hasn't even happened yet she really isn't a factor. I might write her in as a minor character but nothing major by any means, maybe as a friend to Neville ifI bring him in. I really don't have definite plot just lots of well developed ideas of major events that need connections to make them a story.
Just a heads up to all. I like responding to reader reviews but if you don't sign in and leave anonomous reviews instead it makes it much harder for me to respond to you. I love talking with my readers, it makes me know that somebody actually cares.
Keep the reviews coming and don't feel bad about telling me if you think something is wrong. Also don't be afraid to write long winded reviews.I appreciate good strong critics of my work. Thanks to everyone who has reviewed so far. I hope to hear from you guys again in the future
It took longer than Ginny thought it would for her mother to finally calm down but when she did the younger woman was grateful. She cared about her mother but the woman's protectiveness of her children became a little annoying at times. It frustrated Ginny when her mother tried to shelter her from everything that was bad in the world. Ginny knew that the world wasn't the simple black and white that her mother saw. It was a world of bleak dreary grays where nothing made sense and little was worth following.
Ginny recognized what was happening and she saw her family splintering. Before her experience during first year family had been the most important thing to her and anything her mother and father said must be true. Parents didn't lie to their children right? She knew different now, she knew just how often parents sugar coated the facts to make things not look as bad as they were. Now that sugar coating was fracturing her family in as many different directions as there were Weasleys.
She knew that Fred and George were planning to leave Hogwarts and start their own joke shop. She had overheard them talking about the money that Harry had given them after the Tri-Wizard Tournament and how they were using that money to make their dreams come true. Her mother would never approve but the twins didn't care. They were doing what they wanted to do with their lives regardless of their mother's wishes.
Her older brothers had even gone their own ways despite her mother's wishes. If Molly had her way Bill and Charlie wouldn't work with dragons or break curses for Gringotts. Both boys would have nice quiet jobs at the Ministry where they would be relatively safe. They might even become like Percy who had so distanced himself from the family that he never even spoke to them. Then there was Ron. Ever since the Tri-Wizard Tournament Ron had been walking around like the world had betrayed him. He was on his own without his former best friend and he had finally realized too late that his best shot to fame was on Harry's coat tails. Too bad that Harry and he would never reconcile.
As for herself, well she had gone dark years before. She had turned away first and that may have been the straw that broke the camel's back. When the events in the chamber had changed her it had changed her whole family. Her parents knew that their family was not immune to the dark lord's reach and it had frightened them more then they had ever been frightened during Voldemort's original rise to power.
Once her mother was finally gone Ginny stretched out on her bed and stared at the dark burgundy canopy that hung above her. The bed's dressings were shabby and slightly faded but Ginny still managed to get lost in the dark coloring. If she thought about it hard enough it was almost as if the canopy was the sky, an angry red sky that was waiting to spill its bloody tears over an all too gray landscape. At least there would be color when that happened. She thought bitterly. She knew that a major battle between the white and black was coming and when it was over only red would remain. The blood of the dead would litter the battlefield and the victor would blame the loser for starting the conflict in the first place. It wouldn't matter that half the blood on the field was their own.
These thoughts and more poured through Ginny's head as she laid there and stared at her canopy. She was not aware of anything else and took no notice of the passage of time as the seconds turned into minutes and the minutes to hours. She took no notice of anything until a sudden wave of anger overcame her. The feeling immediately brought her out of her haze and she found herself in a sitting position as she clutched her head and prayed that Tom's anger passed quickly. She struggled to get her mental shields in place and gasped in relief as the iron walls that separated her and Tom slammed into place.
She knew that something had happened. It wasn't often that Tom became so truly enraged that he allowed his anger to show so strongly. From the safety of her shields she allowed herself to mentally study the few brief fragments of memory that had accompanied Tom's wave of emotion. She was able to gather that Lucius had told Tom something he didn't want to hear and it had infuriated Tom to no end. She knew from experience that Tom was not easily angered unless one of his people severely screwed up or he felt betrayed. On this occasion Ginny got the impression that Tom felt both.
She also got the feeling that whatever had happened it involved Harry in some fashion. Harry was never far from all the problems that the rest of the wizarding world floated around. It was his job as its' supposed savior to be in the thick of things. Ginny sighed in frustration as she stood and began pacing across her room. Tom was restless now and his frustration was bleeding over to her through their mental link. It didn't matter whether or not her shields were in place, some emotion always bled through. It was the nature of their bond. They were connected and would be until one or both of them were dead.
Malachi leaned with his back against the wall as he watched his new found father work furiously over several bubbling cauldrons. He had some idea of what was brewing in each pot but there was no way he would be able to give specific details to anyone later on. He had never realized or considered that Severus might have actually enjoyed his job as a potions master. Not after the way he treated his students in his classes. Now however, after watching the man in his element for only a couple of hours.
Malachi could see that the man truly enjoyed what he did and that he seemed secretly thrilled to have an audience. It was like watching a well rehearsed play when the actors truly enjoyed their parts. It was obvious to him that Severus knew the potions he was brewing by heart and took great care to make sure that no single detail was left out.
Malachi knew that this perfection was due, at least in part, to the nature of the craft. Potion making was a very dangerous trade. If the wrong ingredient was added at the wrong time the whole mixture could turn deadly. This was the reason that there were so few fully trained potions masters. Most of them did something wrong and got themselves killed before they could achieve their goal of a mastery in potions.
As he watched his father apprehension started to form in the pit of his stomach. Lucius was due back from his visit with the dark lord at any time and Malachi dreaded the man's return. He wanted to know how Voldemort had taken the news of his parentage but at the same time he wished for the blissfulness of ignorance.
He realized that Severus must be more than a little worried about the encounter that was to come. He had betrayed Voldemort for years and the truth of his betrayal had suddenly become common knowledge to those he had been hiding it from. To his credit though Malachi saw no signs of worry on his father's face. The man appeared calm and perfectly focused on the potions that bubbled around him.
A noise near the back of the room almost caused Malachi to fall off the stool he had been perched on. He had not expected he and his father to be disturbed while in the lab. A quick glance towards the door revealed Lucius, another glance at his father revealed that the man hadn't even looked up to acknowledge his friend. The door to the lab slid closed and Lucius made his way towards the pair. He cleared his throat to speak but Severus effortlessly raised a hand to silence him and continued working.
Malachi was surprised when Lucius acknowledged the gesture and leaned against one of the work tables to wait. The position was of great interest to Malachi because he had never seen the elder Malfoy seem so relaxed. It seemed so unnatural for a Malfoy to be anything less than proper. The silence stretched for several minutes before Severus began moving the bubbling cauldrons from their fires in order to let them cool. When each potion had been tended to he turned back to Lucius.
"When am I expected to meet with him?"
"Tomorrow night. He expects a full confession and absolute honestly. He was furious when I told him Severus. Do not expect him to be forgiving or accepting. This matter is a blow to his pride and you know how he hates such things."
"I expect no kindness Lucius, you should know me better than that. I betrayed him, I knew the danger of doing so and I will accept the consequences of my actions. I am not afraid." Lucius chuckled despite himself.
"I don't think I've ever seen you truly afraid of anyone or anything. Even in school, you may have hated Potter and Black but you were never afraid of them." The elder man cast a glance towards Malachi. "We will have to do something about that appearance of yours my dear boy. Despite your recent changes you still resemble Potter too closely."
Malachi nodded, on some levels he was looking forward to the change. It would mean that he was no longer the boy who carried the weight of the world on his shoulders. On the other Lily and James had loved him and would have raised him well should they have lived. He saw the changes that his appearance would undergo as the final death of the people who had been his parents.
It was a point that he would have to ignore in his new life. Yes that had been loving parents but at the same time his father had suffered fifteen years of torment all because one control obsessed man saw the fate of the world hanging on the life of an infant. It was a cruel destiny and it was one that he was more than willing to escape.
With a sigh he pulled himself from his internal musings to focus on the conversation between Lucius and his father. Currently his father was speaking.
"I'm surprised that he did not call me before him immediately upon hearing the news."
"Be glad for that, he probably would have killed you immediately. Your one saving grace is your willingness to tell us everything you know about Dumbledore and the fact that you came forward with this information. I dread to think of his reaction should he have found out by some other means." Severus rubbed his eyes tiredly.
"True, Merlin Lucius what have I done?" Malachi was surprised by his father's sudden reversal of thought. "I betrayed the only man who actually treated me like I was worth something, completely threw it away for something that meant nothing. I was a fool." The elder Malfoy placed a gentle hand on Severus' shoulder.
"You will do what is necessary to amend your failures and in the end we all shall benefit from your unique wisdom of the light's inner workings. Think of this as the ultimate gift of knowledge that will allow us to defeat Dumbledore at his own game."
"I suppose, still that brings me little comfort in light of my betrayal. In any case I will place myself at Voldemort's feet and allow him to do with me as he will."
"Yes, in the end that is all one can do. I wish you the best of luck my friend."
The conversation ended and Lucius took his leave. Once he was gone Malachi returned to watching his father. The man seemed more drawn and tired than he had before and Malachi knew that it must be the stress of his upcoming meeting that was weighing heavily on his mind. Suddenly the older man spoke.
"You will have to be completely dedicated to him if you want to survive." Malachi silently watched his father as he waited for him to continue. "Any wavering on your part and he will kill you. I don't care if you disagree with him on something. You will not show it." Severus looked up at the boy across from him for the first time. "Do you understand me?" Malachi nodded. "Say it."
"I don't think you really do." The bluntness of the statement surprised Malachi but it also made him think. "You have no idea what you are getting into, you can't have any idea."
"Why don't you enlighten me about it than rather than ranting about it? Tell me what I have to do. You are right, I don't know what is going to happen." Severus ran a hand through his hair in frustration.
"You have to be dedicated to him." It was a simple statement yet infinitely complex at the same time. "You have to believe that what he wants is the right thing for wizards."
"Do you believe what he believes? Are you dedicated to him?" Severus clearly did not expect the question and an uncomfortable silence settled between them. Severus looked lost, as though he were trapped in his memories and Malachi wisely chose to remain silent.
The boy's words had caused a whirlwind of emotion and memory to rise within him. Memories of the way things had been when Anna was still alive, memories of his loyalty to Voldemort, the thrill of being a spy for his master and knowing that he was playing an invaluable role, the pain of watching helpless as his life had been ripped out from under him. Everything he had cherished had been tainted by Dumbledore's manipulations.
When Severus finally looked back at his son he knew his answer and spoke clearly with a conviction that Malachi had never heard from the man.
"I'm completely loyal to my lord, as I should have been for all along. I will leave it to you to make your own decision, just remember that you can't have the best of both worlds. You started down the dark path when you came with me seeking revenge, you most likely will not live if you turn back now." Malachi nodded and swallowed past the lump that had formed in his throat.
Not for the first time he wondered if he had made the wrong choice. When he considered the situation however he saw no other path he could have chosen to follow at the time. He would bring Albus Dumbledore to his knees if it was the last thing he did. If he did not do it for himself than he would do it for everyone who had been hurt by Dumbledore's manipulations. His mother, the Potters, his family, his father, that was an ideal he could accept and he knew that truthfully he wanted closure for himself as well. He also realized that he was not sorry for deciding to come with Severus.
"My loyalty is not something you have to question. I made my choice and I'm ready to see it through." Severus studied him for a second and nodded.
"I think you made the right decision and I think you will find the dark lord's ideals to be much more well thought out than you believe them to be. It will not be the difficult choice you believe it to be." With that Severus checked the cauldrons that were cooling behind him and when he found them to his satisfaction he cast sealing charms on each one to preserve them.
When he had finished he moved towards the exit of the lab and Malachi followed him in silence.
The rest of the evening and the early part of the next day passed far too quickly for Malachi. He was forced to watch as his father and Lucius prepared for the meeting with Voldemort. The boy knew that there was a good chance that Voldemort might simply kill Severus but Severus and Lucius both seemed somewhat confidant that this would not be the case.
While the two men were preparing for their meeting Narcissa busied herself by packing and prepping the boys for their trip to the Malfoy's German vacation home. Lucius had announced the departure to Malachi, Draco, and Severus over dinner the night he returned from his meeting with Voldemort.
Severus had immediately agreed to the idea but Draco had been far more difficult and refused to go. He had finally agreed after he and his father traded a few angry words at the end of the meal. Lucius had made it quite clear that he would not have any of them endangered by his son's childlike behavior and Draco had reluctantly agreed that their safety was more important than his grudges.
Shortly before it was time for Severus and Lucius to leave Severus pulled Malachi into Lucius' study and motioned for the boy to take a seat. Malachi was curious as to what his father wished to speak to him about before such an important meeting. He immediately expected the man to start lecturing him about something but instead Severus took a seat across from him and picked the decanter of fire-whiskey on Lucius' desk.
Malachi expected the man to pour one for himself but when the man poured two glasses and handed one to him he took it in confusion.
"Why are you giving me liquor?"
"Because you are more than old enough. Have you ever drank anything like this before?"
"I've had butterbeer before, does that count?" Severus sighed and downed the shot with a sigh and a slight grimace.
"No." He stated a little hoarsely as he reached across the desk and poured himself a second shot. "Drink it." Malachi downed the shot as his father had done and almost gagged as it burned its way down his throat. A quick glance at his father revealed that the older man appeared amused.
"I don't know how alcoholics drink this stuff. One would think the taste alone would prevent them from becoming addicted." Severus chuckled softly.
"Yes, one would think but sadly it rarely ever works that way." The older man fell silent for several seconds before continuing. "I have something to discuss with you. In the event that something happens to me my will has been rewritten to make you the primary beneficiary, there are some assets that will go to the Malfoys and some that have been promised to Voldemort, on the whole however you will be receiving most of my lands and the Snape family titles. I expect you to look to Lucius for aid in settling everything. He is your primary ally in all of this remember that."
"Do you truly expect Voldemort to kill you?" Severus sighed and shook his head slowly.
"I honestly do not know the outcome of this meeting. I just want you to be prepared and to know who you can trust, it never hurts to be constantly vigilant in things like this." Malachi smirked at him and Severus scowled. "This is not funny."
"You sounded like Mad-Eye Moody for a moment, for someone who hates him you sounded remarkable like him." Severus stared at him for a second and the corners of his mouth twitched slightly.
"Say that again and I will not hesitate to hex you." Malachi nodded quickly and Severus was momentarily overcome with emotion. The last few days had worn heavily on him but whenever saw the boy that sat before him he was overcome with both sadness and anger. The fact that he had missed out on his son's life haunted him and his hatred for the man who had caused his pain infuriated him. With a sigh he downed the second shot of fire-whiskey.
"This is the one time where I have actually been able to sit with you and consider you an adult. If we have nothing else after this I die knowing that we shared one moment together as father and son. I'm proud to know that I could do that."
The boy across from him was stunned. When he had followed his father into the study he had never thought that Snape would say those words to him. His brain reasoned that a large part of it might be due to the alcohol but it was still nice to hear and he nodded in understanding.
"I would like more moments like this one." He would have said more but at that moment Lucius knocked on the door and informed Severus that they would need to leave. Immediately Severus stood and followed the man out of the room. Malachi watched them in silence before standing and walking over to the desk.
He was only going to place the shot glass back where it had come from but when he thought about it he poured himself a second shot and downed it quickly. It burned its way down just like the first had and he muttered bitterly about the taste and whispered.
"That was for you."
Severus and Lucius apparated to Riddle Manor and quickly adjusted their cloaks. The manner was absolutely silent for this early in the evening and the only sounds were the soft sounds of their footfalls as they made their way across the tiled entrance hall towards Voldemort's reception chamber.
As they neared the elaborate double doors Lucius placed a reassuring hand on Severus' shoulder and squeezed. There were no words between them as Lucius removed his hand and the doors opened on silenced hinges.
They entered silently and once the doors had closed Severus dropped to his knees as a sign of respect. Lucius continued further into the chamber and knelt at his lord's side. Voldemort placed a hand on top of Lucius' head for a moment before standing and advancing towards Severus.
"So you betrayed me, you led me to believe that others were the traitor in my ranks while you sat safely at my hand. Why Severus? After everything I've done for you?" Before Severus could respond Voldemort gave into his anger. "CRUCIO!" The anger behind the curse caused cold fear to course through Severus' being and he barely had time to steel himself before the curse hit him.
One of the things he had been most proud of was never screaming when he was hit by a bout of the cruciatus curse and he managed barely to keep himself from breaking even as the curse stretched on for what seemed like forever. When it finally ended he found himself gasping for breath and the ache of his entire body frightened him. He dared not look up to see his Lord's reaction.
"You were always the strong one, by far my favorite you know that don't you? I never dreamed in a million dreams that the traitor was you Severus. I should have seen it though, you were so close to Dumbledore but I thought you were just playing your part. I never dreamed you would betray me, not you."
Severus detected a hint of pain in his Lord's words, pain and deep seated betrayal.
"I am truly sorry my lord." It was a heart-felt apology but he knew that it would not be enough to erase what he had done.
"Crucio!" This time the curse held sufficiently less force behind it and was much shorter. Before Severus could recover Voldemort threw another curse at him. "Legilimens!" Immediately Severus was lost in the flood of memories that surged to the forefront of his mind. He usually tried to block Voldemort's efforts when he did this but he knew that to do so now would be suicide.
He was vaguely aware of Voldemort kneeling in front of him and tipping his chin up. Instinctively Severus met his master's gaze, knowing that by doing so he was giving the spell more power. The assault of memories became harsher as Voldemort dug deeper into the chambers of his mind that had been tightly locked away up until now.
He struggled with the urge to fight against the invasion of his mind. His mental shields flared momentarily and he pushed them back desperately. His lord deserved to see everything that he wanted to see and he had no right to deny the man anything he wanted, not after betraying him.
The onslaught continued and Severus suddenly felt trapped in the center of a giant maelstrom. As more and more of his memories revealed themselves to his master's relentless attack it almost felt as though he was unraveling and loosing himself in the process.
He had never felt this out of control since he was a child. Memories and emotions were flashing through him so fast that he couldn't grab on to any single image and he felt panic bubbling inside of him as Voldemort pushed deeper, making sure that nothing was being hidden from him.
Suddenly all that remained was blackness.
Voldemort was thrown from Severus' mind when the younger man passed out.
He knew that he had probably overdone it a little but he had gained more information through that method than he ever would have through any other manner and he was somewhat pleased with what he had found out.
Severus' attempts not to fight him had only proved to Voldemort how well Severus had trained his mind to resist invasion and the fact that the shields had fallen into place when Severus had fallen unconscious impressed him even more.
He turned to see Lucius looking at them nervously. He knew that the two men were extremely close and to see his the eldest Malfoy on the verge of running to his friend was something he had not seen in a long time. Obviously this whole ordeal had brought them close again.
He glanced back down at Severus and sighed. He had wanted to stay angry at Severus but with the younger man's memories so fresh in his mind he found that difficult to do at the moment. He also had realized just how deeply Severus had remained loyal to him despite Dumbledore's manipulations. The fact that Harry Potter was no longer a target was also something new to play with. He would have more time to take out other key targets that he had long been ignoring in favor of plotting against his nemesis.
He turned back to Lucius and indicated that he was allowed to approach. As he did so Voldemort reached down and checked Severus' pulse. It was returning to normal and there was little doubt that Severus' mind was working to repair the damage that had been done to it.
"Dead, no, just unconscious. He should be up and about soon enough. For now take him to my chambers and when he awakens alert me immediately. I will be in my study." With that Voldemort swept from the room and Lucius was left to move Severus on his own.
That was the chapter, I hoped everyone enjoyed it. Don't worry about Sev, he will be fine. The method I used just seemed more effective and humiliating than constantly having Voldemort screaming "CRUCIO!" every five seconds. I'm also trying to create a kinder, gentler dark-side. If that isn't a contradiction in terms I don't know what is but that is what I'm trying to do so just bare with me.
Reviews, please review, let me know what you thought. I promised you guys torture and for once I actually delivered what I promised. I'm trying to advance the plot with each chapter and since I update so infrequently I think you guys deserve good strong chapters. Let me know what you think.
TATA for now,