Power the Dark Lord knows not

Chapter 3: Moody

He's thinking, I'm getting old, I'm getting slack, I should have recognised him straight away, after all it's not the first time I've seen Snape in Muggle clothes. Constant vigilance, Moody! He watches Snape drop the wand on the ground, Snape knows the drill if you want to surrender to an Auror, but he's listening for the crack of a dozen Death Eaters Apparating into the square. He's ready to hustle Harry back through the front door of Number Twelve, it's still protected, it's still a fortress, Snape might be able to lead the Death Eaters to Grimmauld Place but he's still the only one who can get through the door of Number Twelve. He thinks, this is madness, this must be some kind of a trap, this is some Byzantine scheme of Voldemort's, he's using Snape as bait for Harry … but Harry had been insistent that they meet Snape, meet him alone as he had demanded, hear what Snape had to say about the Horcruxes.

Horcruxes! He has never heard of them, but instinctively he knows that this is Dark Magic, the Darkest Magic … and Albus had told him the prophecy, sworn him to secrecy, and asked him to help Harry in every way. He thinks, did Albus know he was going to die? Is that why he told me the prophecy? That right hand … it was getting worse, not better, did Albus know he was going to die?

He's made all the arrangements, pulled strings at the Ministry to get his hands on an interrogation chair, "borrowed" the Hogwarts Pensieve – what Minerva doesn't know won't hurt her – and it seems that it isn't a trap, is Snape insane? Scrimgeour has brought back the death penalty, they didn't even do that in the first war, Scrimgeour will have Snape put down like an uncontrollable Hippogriff, and claim all the credit for catching him … what can Snape possible tell them that will save his skin?

He escorts Snape down the hall and into the kitchen at wand point, Snape doesn't need to be told that the chair with the chains is for him, he sits down and fixes his eyes on Harry.

He remembers the night they'd all dined in this kitchen, celebrating the establishment of Headquarters, and Snape had been with them, Albus had made his usual little speech to him and Sirius, we're all members of the Order, subtext, lay off Snape, and he remembers that he'd kept quiet for years about all the nasty details in Snape's Ministry file, he hadn't told Sirius about Regulus or Molly about her brothers, he hadn't given the names of the wizards that Snape had killed or helped to kill to anyone. Suddenly he's really angry with Snape, and he growls, "I'd really do you over, Snape, you filthy traitor, if Harry didn't want to talk to you."

Snape replies, "Take a number, Moody, there's a queue of people lined up to do me over, don't you read the Daily Prophet?" but he knows that this is just reflexive nastiness, Snape's attention is completely focused on Harry.

He thinks, let's get this show on the road, let's hear what the greasy git has to say about the Horcruxes, so he growls again, "Get on with it, Snape, we haven't got all day."

Snape is about to start speaking when Harry says, "It doesn't matter what you say, Snape, I know you're Voldemort's creature." Snape flinches a little at the mention of the Dark Lord's name, and Harry loses the plot and starts shouting, "Voldemort, Voldemort, Voldemort, Voldemort … you're one of his Death Eaters, why don't you like to hear his name?"

He thinks, if Harry keeps shouting Voldemort like that, Snape will piss himself, I wonder why the Death Eaters can't stand to hear their Dark Lord's name spoken aloud, it might have something to do with the Dark Mark, that's the kind of stunt Voldemort would pull, his Death Eaters are just his servants, just his tools … filth, vicious filth, but I can't help feeling a tiny bit sorry for them sometimes, I thought we Slytherins were smarter than that, too smart to sell our souls for a little scrap of shared power. Look at Bellatrix Lestrange, a pureblood princess, a daughter of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black, toujours pur, and she whored herself for Voldemort, from what Remus and Sirius have told me … oh, she was gorgeous before she went to Azkaban, a man would have been prepared to do almost anything to get into bed with her, I used to think she must have been the reason why Sirius went bad, he was always susceptible to a beautiful woman. Poor bitch, Bellatrix was mad enough before she went to Azkaban, but now she's rabid … and what about her brother-in-law, Lucius Malfoy, he's a nasty piece of work, but what could Voldemort have offered him that he didn't already have? Money, position, power, the Malfoys have always had those … and now his kid has got mixed up in it, the boy is still only sixteen, and from what Harry says, Draco doesn't have the stomach for the kinds of tasks Voldemort gives to his Death Eaters.

No, Draco doesn't seem to be made of the same stuff as his father – or his father's best mate, Severus Snape. Oh, Snape had been in a hurry to become a Death Eater, he was only eighteen when he joined Voldemort's followers. He remembers when he arrested Snape, just after Voldemort fell, Severus Snape and Barty Crouch had been the two youngest of Voldemort's surviving Death Eaters, and in his opinion the two most vicious, barring none, not even Bellatrix Lestrange. He thinks, what a joke, Voldemort's chief lieutenant is a half-blood, and those stinking Death Eaters think a half-blood is just one step up from a Mudblood. And he'd been one of the team that arrested Snape's grandfather, he'd been a very junior Auror in those days, only just qualified, it had been a seven days' wonder, and he's surprised that he never made the connection between the Prince family and Snape, but then Snape looks nothing like a Prince, except for the black eyes, he must take after his Muggle father.

Snape has got a grip on himself, and without any preliminaries, he begins to speak, begins to tell some convoluted tale of a task given by Voldemort to Draco Malfoy to punish his father, a task he was not supposed to succeed in carrying out. Snape is saying that Narcissa Malfoy had come to him, to ask him for help, and he'd agreed to look out for Draco, but that hadn't been enough for Narcissa, she'd asked for an Unbreakable Vow, and this has the ring of truth. He knows something of Narcissa Malfoy, she's not a Death Eater herself, but she's completely devoted to her Death Eater husband, and to her son. Snape is saying that Narcissa tricked him, tricked him into promising to complete Draco's task if he failed, and in this way became bound by an Unbreakable Vow to kill Dumbledore if Draco could not, and now he's claiming that Dumbledore ordered him to fulfil the Vow!

Harry is looking impressed, Merlin, does he believe any of this rubbish? And now Snape is saying something more, he's saying, "Dumbledore trusted me, Potter, he trusted me enough to tell me the whole of the prophecy before he … died," and Snape is leaning forward and whispering something to Harry, smirking with satisfaction at the effect his words have had.

How dare the dirty traitor use the words "trust" and Dumbledore" in the same breath! He remembers how he'd warned Albus, time and time again, that Snape couldn't be trusted, and he's on his feet, he's striding around the table towards Snape, shouting, "You slimy lying bastard!" and his fist is swinging. He hears the satisfying wet crunch of his fist connecting with Snape's nose, of Snape's nose breaking, sees the blood spurting over Snape's shirt, and he thinks, I've been wanting to do that for years. And then he thinks, shit, that was totally out of order, hitting a prisoner, Muggle-style … I've never done that before.

He feels a little ashamed of himself, and he watches in silence as Harry mends Snape's nose and cleans up the mess. He's thinking, whatever these Horcruxes are, they have to be destroyed before Voldemort can be killed, and even when the Horcruxes are out of the way, it will still take a wizard of uncommon skill and power to kill Voldemort, I wonder if Snape is playing both ends against the middle? He remembers that Snape had been dangerous enough sixteen years ago, and Snape was just a kid then really, only twenty-two or thereabouts, but he still hadn't been able to get Snape to talk. Veritaserum had no effect, some kind of acquired immunity, and crucio would have killed Snape before it broke him. Eventually he'd got so frustrated he'd broken Snape's wand … Albus had been angry about that, when he found out that Snape was in custody, and came to collect his spy. He looks at Snape and he thinks, the cunning bastard has grown so much more powerful since then, does he fancy himself as Voldemort's successor?

He says, "You're lying, Snape, you've got some scheme on, some scheme to get us to help you to get rid of Voldemort, and then you'll double-cross us, and make yourself into the next Dark Lord."

Snape laughs, and says, "Don't you know what the Dark Mark is, don't you know what it does? It's not just a tattoo, if I were to try to curse the Dark Lord, if I were to raise my hand against him, it would kill me. The Dark Lord runs no risk of disloyalty amongst his servants … he's not as trusting as Dumbledore was."

He thinks, that sounds about right, I've always thought the Dark Mark must have been developed from the spells that are used in an Unbreakable Vow, it would be like Voldemort to use something like that to keep his creatures in order … but I'm not going to believe a word that Snape says without proof.

Harry echoes his thoughts with words, "I don't believe you, Snape, I won't believe you without proof."

Snape sneers, "Obviously, Potter! That's why I asked you to bring the Pensieve. What memory do you want to see – me taking the Vow with Narcissa? The conversation I had with Dumbledore when I told him of the Vow?"

Harry says, "I want to see the argument that Hagrid overheard, the argument that you had with Dumbledore in the Forbidden Forest."

He approves of Harry's choice, this is a memory that Snape hasn't offered, and better still, doesn't seem to think Harry would even know of. He's seen enough memories that have been tampered with to know that this memory of the Forbidden Forest is the real deal, and he's shaken by what he sees, Severus Snape, the wizarding world's premier hard bastard, snivelling and begging to Dumbledore, it looks like he's having some kind of nervous breakdown and has got his two masters confused, it's a horrible sight, a disgusting sight. Merlin, can what Snape has told them be true?

But it makes sense that Albus would sacrifice himself for Harry. Albus was disarmed, he was facing four Death Eaters and Draco Malfoy, if Snape was bound by a Vow that would kill him if he broke it, Snape would have died on the ramparts of the Astronomy Tower and Albus would have died anyway … and Harry, Harry would have attacked them, and he would certainly have been killed, too. Snape had got the Death Eaters off the Tower, he had called them away, he'd got them out of Hogwarts, and Snape had not tried to kill Harry, he had not tried to take Harry to Voldemort.

He looks at Harry and he sees that he, too, has been convinced by what they've seen in the Pensieve, Harry is looking slightly nauseous, as if he's just watched someone being sick, and then he makes his mind up, waves his wand and releases Snape from his chains.

Harry is looking really upset, admittedly it is a shock to find that Snape is still loyal to Dumbledore, and Harry says to Snape, "I'm sorry." Wise to apologise, Snape is clearly peeved with the way that he's been treated, though it's only what he would have expected in the circumstances.

Snape is back to his usual nasty self, he sneers, "I'm sorry, too, Potter, that I don't have any new information for you. The Dark Lord will not share his most precious secrets with me while Bellatrix Lestrange lives, and it may be a little while before an opportunity presents itself to dispose of her."

He thinks, I see, Bellatrix is the problem, but Snape can handle it, and then Snape will be Voldemort's most loyal, most faithful servant. You were brilliant, Albus, to have thought this up, it might just give us the edge we need to win, the edge we need for Harry to win against Voldemort, and there's a good chance it's going to work, if Snape can keep his nerve, if Snape can stay alive … it's a very, very dangerous game that he's playing, he's the Auror Corps' number one target now, and if Voldemort runs true to form, he won't risk his precious new body unnecessarily, he'll send Snape up against the Aurors again and again.

Snape has switched his attention from Harry to him, Snape is telling them that he needs help with Draco, Draco is not cut out to be a Death Eater, and Voldemort will kill Draco if he fails again. Snape has a plan to keep Draco out of the way, but he needs assistance. He asks him to explain …

Snape is curling his lip, "What would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?"

He knows the answer, the Draught of Living Death, but how is that going to help Draco?

Snape goes on, "I shall bring Draco up to London for a little Muggle-baiting fun, but we shall be so unfortunate as to run into a couple of off-duty Aurors, some old comrades from the Order of the Phoenix, perhaps. Naturally, there will be a battle. I'll stun Draco, then enervate him sufficiently to slip him a dose of the Draught of Living Death. He will be presumed dead – the Killing Curse leaves no visible marks - and taken to St Mungo's. Moody, you have a very special relationship with one of the Healers there, you can make sure that he isn't examined too closely. Narcissa will be allowed to see the body only for a moment, to formally identify it as that of her son, and then he'll be buried at Azkaban. He can stay there until the war is over … better put a note about it in your will, Moody, or Draco might be stuck in a coffin for ever."

He shrugs, the plan is OK with him, if Harry wants to be bothered with Draco, they can sort the details out later, when he's had a chance to talk to Kingsley and Tonks, to talk to them very carefully and discreetly. He notes, however, the snarky reference to making his will, that sounds like a warning, that sounds like a threat, and he thinks, Snape is not going to forget that I hit him as if he was a Muggle, he's not going to forget a humilation like that in a hurry, and I would like to know, too, how Snape found out about that "very special relationship".

Harry is asking, "Why can't Draco just join his dad in prison, why does he have to be buried alive?"

Snape is looking at Harry as if he's an idiot. "What makes you think that Lucius will be staying in prison?"

He nods agreement, it will be all out war now that Dumbledore is dead, and the first thing Voldemort will do is break his Death Eaters out of Azkaban, Scrimgeour is a cretin if he doesn't work that out and strengthen the guard.

Harry is looking worried, he asks Snape, "You're not going to kill any Muggles are you, that won't be necessary?"

Snape says, indifferently, "There are sixty million Muggles in Britain, there's no reason to be squeamish about two or three less."

Harry looks to him for support, but he shakes his head. It's tough on the Muggles, but Snape needs to keep sweet with Voldemort. Harry's going to have to learn, this is war, and you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs.

Harry is still protesting, he says something about Voldemort, and Snape loses his temper, tells Harry not to use that name, and starts hissing something about the Dark Lord getting Harry unless he smartens up. Then Snape pulls something out of a jacket pocket, and tosses it on the table. He curses, it's one of those Muggle metal wands, the ones they use for killing each other, a what-do-you-call-it, a firelegs, no, a firearm. Constant vigilance, Moody, my foot, you're a bloody idiot, you never thought that Snape might be carrying a Muggle weapon, did you?

Snape is telling Harry about the Muggle weapon, "You know what this is? The Dark Lord thinks that a wizard without a wand is helpless – Moody made the same mistake today - the Dark Lord has no respect for Muggle technology. From now on, you will carry this Muggle weapon with you at all times."

Oh yes, Snape, rub it in … how careless I've been with the safety of the Chosen One …

He watches Snape's long thin fingers gliding expertly over the firearm, caressing it, Muggle Dark Arts, trust Snape to know about the Muggle Dark Arts, and Snape is telling Harry about how Muggles use the things, saying we'll go into the garden and cast a Silencing Charm, and I'll teach you how to use it …

Harry says, "Not yet, I need to ask you some more questions."

Snape frowns, and Harry explains, "Dumbledore told me that he trusted you because of something to do with my parents, and I want to know what it was."

Snape looks uncomfortable, but he says, "I'll answer the question, but are you sure you want Moody to hear this?"

Harry looks at him, he hesitates, he accepts Snape's story but he still doesn't want to leave Harry alone with Snape, it's a long ingrained habit of suspicion, but Snape says, "Relax, Moody, you can keep my wand," and he thinks, Harry's got his wand and Snape hasn't, Harry should be OK, and he slowly gets to his feet, and leaves the kitchen, thinking, what is Snape hinting at? Could there have been anything between Severus Snape and Lily Evans? Nah, Sirius would have known, and he would have told me, for sure, and Snape's the dark brooding gothic type, there are plenty of women who go for that, but not Lily, not that darling girl, the only man she ever looked at was James Potter.