Chapter 5 – Retribution

Severus Snape was a man who rarely entertained much fear. Quite the opposite, he usually doled it out in generous proportions to the unfortunate souls he taught. As he felt his forearm burn, however, he barely managed to conceal his trepidation. There was no one around to witness his moment of weakness, but Snape's inner demons refused to allow him to outwardly show any weakness. Paranoia was the closest friend he had ever had, and he now clung to it tighter than ever before.

Sighing, he prepared to leave the rundown hovel he called home. "Wormtail!" he snarled, "I have been summoned. Stay inside or I'll be more than happy to turn you over to the Dark Lord… after a few choice curses of my own, of course." He smirked and slashed his wand at a seemingly random bookcase, pleased when he heard a crash and a squeal, proving that the rat would be sufficiently… occupied. With a last look at the doorway, he grabbed a vial and briskly pulled on a black robe and stalked out of the house.

Voldemort glared at anything that moved, as he waited for Snape. He snarled and sent a curse out at random, catching a new recruit and turning her blood acidic, a glimmer of satisfaction flickered across his deformed face as he listened to the unfortunate woman's howls of pain. The smarter deatheaters had avoided the room like the plague, knowing full well that when the Dark Lord got angry, agony was not very far away.

How the brat had managed to escape Azkaban, demolishing everything that came in his path Voldemort couldn't possibly fathom. His carefully thought out plan had come crashing down around his flat ears. Tnstead of permanently eradicating a menace, he had, seemingly, empowered his greatest foe. The deatheaters would feel pain as they had never before felt, they would rue the day Potter managed to flee hell on earth.

So Voldemort sat on his throne, probing his mind, searching for the most painful tortures he knew, crucios, while prodigiously painful,would not do for this most heinous of tortures

The fortress loomed, tall and forbidding in front of him, and this time, he couldn't hide his shiver of apprehension. The sentinel smirked as he saw Snape arriving, "I doubt we'll see you again Severus, the Dark Lord is in quite the mood." Sniggering he muttered a complicated phrase under his breath, while waving his wand in an intricate pattern. The gate slowly, shuddering all the way, pulled itself off the ground, allowing Snape passage into the Dark Fortress.

Hearing a howl of pain in the distance Snape felt another involuntary shudder course through him as he furtively glanced around, searching for the wail's source. Groaning, Snape steeled himself and pulled his impressive occlumency shields together, it would not do to show any weakness in front of the dark lord. He wondered how events had so rapidly spiraled out of control.

"Rise, my loyal potions master," hissed the dark lord. "Why have you come to me unasked? You wish to risk exposing your loyalties?" There was a distinct edge in his voice, betraying his anger.

"My Lord, I apologise for my untimely visit, but I have devised a plan, my lord. A plan that I believe can greatly aid us in our cause." Snape said, slowly, but surely.

"Crucio." Voldemort let the curse run for a few minutes before lifting it. "Do not stall Severus, it is unbecoming of one of your stature and an immense waste of my time. Tell me of this stratagem."

"S..Sorry my lord. I propose that instead of sending incompetent fools after Potter, we turn his friends against him. I propose that we divide and conquer, my lord".

"You deride my methods Severus?" Voldemort softly said, "However, your idea is intriguing, continue."

Breathing a sigh of relief Snape did just that, "After listening to one of the Potter brats many rants, I realized that he is very unhappy at his summer home, with the Dursleys. The house is purely muggle, my lord, and has no wizards standing guard - "

"Stop right there Severus, I know of this house. Did you really think I wouldn't? But the blood wards Dumbledore has erected are formidable, and will prevent any attack."

"My lord, I do not propose to attack the house, merely send in two deatheaters there in the guise of… muggles," Snape spat the word out in distaste.

Snape then proceeded to elucidate his plan without further preamble, for fear of inciting his lord's deadly wrath. He spoke of how the deatheaters would befriend the forlorn Potter, go to Ottery St, Catchpole when he did, draw him out of the Weasley's house with yells and frame him.

"Do you think Dumbledore to be a fool? He will never fall for it!" Voldemort snarled, and just as he was about to raise his wand, Snape suddenly spoke out. "My lord, I have recently read about a potion that works similarly to a confundus charm."

"You dare interrupt me?"

A few minutes later, Snape staggered to his feet and hastily fell back on his knees and stuttered, "I'm so.. sorry my… lo.. lord - " stopping abruptly when Voldemort slashed his wand at Snape.

A behemoth of a door, made of yew and reinforced by a solid metal matrix, covered the entire corridor; it was indeed a daunting sight. Two onyx statues stood watch on either side, each holding a staff at attention, wary obsidian eyes peered out, keeping their eternal guard. As one, each statue thumped their staves on the ground, which rumbled under the force, and the door slowly swung open.

Inside, a room shrouded by the deepest of shadows, was revealed; two red eyes gazed hatefully outwards. A man walked in, with slow, measured steps, head bowed respectfully low. The doors slammed shut as soon as crossed the threshold; the impact almost sending him stumbling to the floor. The man waited edgily in the absolute darkness, not daring to look back at the imposing eyes.

"I have, in my hands, a cursed blade," the eyes hissed dangerously. "Tell me why I shouldn't bury it in your disgraceful body, and rid humanity of the filth that you are."

The man scarcely managed to hold his tongue, having seen such scenes before, but never before had the eyes shone with such a fell light, their fury knowing no bounds.

All of a sudden, the torches in the hall lit as one, bathing it with a black light; the eyes, however, remained cloaked in shadow. The hall was decorated with the same morbid décor as the door and passageway before. Shackles lined the walls on the sides of the hall, most of them occupied by corpses in various states of decay and disembowelment. Several fresh corpses were strewn across the floor, and so were a few poor dying souls. The man wasted no pity on them, realizing his own life was in mortal peril.

The ceiling was covered by a gruesome fresco depicting a battle between several magical beings, bodies littering the ground, and fed enormous beasts, the man knew they concealed defensive runes; he himself had contributed to their creation. The black stones that made up the hall were stained red with blood in so many places, that one no longer knew which one had been the original colour.

"Stop admiring the chamber and answer me!" The eyes snarled furiously, spraying saliva that sparkled in the torchlight.

The man reluctantly turned his attention back to his summoner and watched as the shadows around the eyes slowly lifted, revealing a face so hideously deformed people would hesitate to call it human. Two slits pierced the pale visage, where a nose should have been, another diagonal slash betrayed the presence of a mouth, which was now twisted into the wrathful expression that so often adorned the face. The head, devoid of all hair, glistened, and expensive black robes draped the wraith-like body. The man clutched his wand in an emaciated hand and raised it in anger, as Severus Snape remained silent, defying him.

Grindelwad's potion master had invented the Betrügen Sie potion during the height of his powers, allowing him to appropriate many of the light side's strongest fighters. The potion befuddled the drinker, leeching all previous knowledge of a given instance or person. The next major incident involving said person or incident would shape the drinker's knowledge of the person, all earlier knowledge would be viewed through the incident. The potion was colourless, odourless, and virtually undetectable.

The potion, however, had several drawbacks, as its creator was assassinated before he could perfect it. It took an entire year to brew, mainly to allow the various ingredients to fuse together, but also several hundred painstaking hours of intense observation, and the minutest mistake would ruin the potion. Several of the ingredients used were extremely rare and cost an arm and a leg to acquire. A powerful, or strong-willed person could overpower the relatively weak potion if they felt strongly about the issue in question. The biggest snag however was the fact that if all memory of a person should be removed, blood from said person would be needed to be mixed with the potion.

It was this potion that Snape suggested lacing the food of several key figures with. He suggested using Fudge's blatant hatred of Potter to speed to trial through, and hopefully avoid the trial altogether… After all, having the Chief Mugwump on his side should make things decidedly easier.

The next year saw Snape toiling in the Hogwart's dungeons, telling Dumbledore the truth, saying he was making potions for the dark lord. Dumbledore, of course, had no cause to doubt his spy, and decided to ease the man's workload, allowing him to complete his potion for dark lord.

Snape reveled in Dumbledore's stupidity and, deciding to take advantage of the man's lenience, was excessively nasty to all non-Slytherins. He watched with glee as Umbridge tortured Potter, as his Slytherins were bestowed more power than had ever been held by students. The only breaks he took from making the Betrügen Sie, he spent assaulting Potter's mind, on orders from the dark lord. He also took great pleasure in the fact that with Harry's mind weaker than ever, his friends were beginning to lose trust in him, and the wizarding world as a whole thought him to be an attention-seeking brat. His plan was coming to fruition much better than he had ever hoped.

The timing of Dumbledore's exile was excellent as that was when he would need to spend most time with the potion, and most importantly, when he would need to add Potter's blood to the potion. Umbridge had made collecting the blood impossibly easy with the abuse of her Blood Quill.

A student had managed to sneak in and catch him making his potion, but the threat was quickly disposed off, and over the next few days Snape forgot about the incident entirely.

The only sour point of the year came when the dark lord decided he needed to acquire the prophecy in its entirety and lured Potter to the Department of Mysteries. The subsequent battle led to the incarceration of five of the dark lord's finest, but most importantly it finally revealed, to the wizarding world as a whole, that the dark lord had, indeed, returned. The one positive that came out of the fiasco was that Harry's friends now doubted him more than ever, after his demented rescue attempt had led to the death of Black. This combined with his visions over the year would no doubt make the administration of the potion easier than he had ever thought.

So it was, that with little trepidation, at the end of the year feast, Snape spiked the food of the better part of the staff table, and all of Harry's friends. He even went so far as to send Lupin Wolfsbane spiked with the potion, as a gesture of truce. Though in his haste, he forgot to spike Hagrid's as he wasn't in the castle, having being earlier captured by the Ministry.

As a reward for the successful implementation of his idea, Voldemort gave Snape a potions book written by Salazar Slytherin himself, quite possibly one of the rarest books in existence. He was also given the prestigious task of being the one to kill Dumbledore. Voldemort gave him a carte blanche to do the necessary.

So Snape took a force of twenty junior deatheaters and stormed Azkaban, and with the help of the dementors released the five Inner Circle members, and left the twenty juniors to be slaughtered. Placing five of their now soulless bodies in the cells the Inner Circle members had occupied.

Fudge, who had saved his office by incarcerating Potter, kept the entire operation under wraps to protect his unsteady tenure. Snape obviously couldn't tell Dumbledore what he had done, so Dumbledore was left ignorant of the most daring escape yet. With the five freed, he quickly secured their cooperation and resources, and started plotting the downfall of his saviour.

Six hooded figures stood at the edge of a forest, all of them intent on brining the wards protecting the area down. Another man, from inside the wards, cast his own ward, impeding the passage of the magical presence in the area, forcing it to stay inside a manageable boundary. Outside interference at this point would ruin the entire procedure. After an hour of complicated spellwork, they tpre down the wards in the gap and quickly ran through, allowing the wards to slowly slide back in place as they left.

"Remember, no more magic," the inside man hissed under his breath. "I should be able to open the doors if the wards don't sense your presence." So the seven figures swiftly made their way to the door.

Then the, so far, perfectly executed plan started to fall apart. Upon reaching the door, they realized it was jammed shut. After several minutes of cursing and hurling hexes at the inside man, the group settled on opening the door themselves, using spells of ever increasing complexity. An hour or so later, the door had not come any closer top opening and the group's frustration showed clearly, as they threw stealth to the wind and started flinging explosive curses at the door and walls around it, one even tried transfiguring the ground to water.

Under the intense barrage of spells, the door eventually gave one last shudder and showered the group with a hail of splinters and dust. By the time the dust settled and the seven prepared to enter the castle, they found themselves face to face with their furious target and a dozen other witches and wizards. The wizened target raised his wand before anyone could react and brought the wards crashing down on the intruders, hurling them from the castle grounds and onto a painful heap in the forest.

"Should you ever enter these grounds again, I will not be as merciful Severus!" Dumbledore's amplified voice roared.

"Sadly you are far too useful to be disposed off," Voldemort said softly. "Do not fail me again, or the consequences will be… much harsher." The skeletal figure slowly rose and gracefully left, heading for the emergency meeting he had called, leaving the broken body of his potions master behind.

As Snape lay on the floor, his wand just beyond his grasp, thoughts of revenge swirled through his mind. All his misfortune could be placed squarely on one man's shoulders. "You will pay Potter," Snape muttered. "You have defied me one last time, and that is a promise!" His voice grew in volume as his declaration proceeded until finally the oath echoed across empty walls and dead ears. "Let the tortured souls be my witnesses, I will have my vengeance." Gaining strength from his oath, he dragged himself to his wand and started the process of healing himself, knowing no hospital would welcome him again; his loyalties had finally been revealed. After the basic healing spells had been cast he downed the potion he had brought along for the torture he knew he would experience.

Once he could stand, he waved his wand in an intricate pattern and slashed his left wrist with a bright purple lance of magic and started chanting in Latin. The skeletons chained to the walls started to glow, their shackles vibrated with increasing intensity. Snape's chant continued, his voice growing in volume to be heard over the din caused by the shackles, sweat glistening on his sallow skin, and greasy hair. As blood poured from his wrist onto the floor, it began to organize itself into a convoluted rune. The rune grew in size, extending in all directions, hissing as it burnt its way through any obstacles, his already pallid features grew even paler. His eyes glinted with power, and his robes swirled in the powerful magic. As one all the shackles snapped, as the vibration got too intense for them to sustain. The freed skeletons slowly floated towards Snape, joining hands to form an impenetrable ring that finally stopped the flow of the blood, an eerie blue light glowing in their sockets.

As Snape finally stopped his chant, with one last shouted word, the skeletons suddenly slumped and fell to the floor, once again shattering the hall's silence. Snape recoiled as one of the skulls soared towards him, almost crushing his chest on impact. He knew the imprint would remain for the rest of his life, forever reminding him of the curse he willingly accepted for revenge. With the ritual complete, Snape almost glowed with power, a small smile poised on his face.

"I will have my retribution, Potter," he whispered and with a swish of his robes, stalked out of the hall, a few flicks of his wand repairing the shackles that ensnared the corpses once more.