Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or anything affiliated with Harry Potter. Harry Potter is solely the biproduct of author JK Rowling's brilliance. I am merely borrowing a few of her characters for my own amusement.

(Tentative) Title: Book 7 Introduction

Author: RHLover7

Summary: Introduction to the seventh book in the series. What happened to Snape and Draco after they fled Hogwarts?

Author's Note: Submitted to the new Mugglenet competition - "write the opening pages to the 7th book in no more than 1,000 words." Title is tentative and in much need of some creativity. Please read and review; it's greatly appreciated. Enjoy!

Dumbledore was dead, yet no tears had been shed at the Riddle House. After fleeing Hogwarts, Snape had arrived without Draco Malfoy. Lord Voldemort, hearing about Dumbledore's death, and Draco's failure and escape, had smiled, though there was a hint of anger behind it. He had sent a small group to search for him, saying only that he would "be dealt with." Snape had been dismissed, and now, moments later, he found himself buried up to his knees in snow.

He was high up in the mountains, and the sheer face of a massive cliff loomed hundreds of meters ahead of him, casting a long shadow on the ground. He pointed his wand down, muttered a few choice words, and the snow around his legs quickly melted. He moved his wand forward and created a small pathway free from snow. He began to walk forward, his wand melting the snow before him, and as he walked, the path behind him filled back up with snow. When he reached the face of the cliff, he touched the tip of his wand to it and quietly muttered a phrase. When he removed his wand, the rock in front of him seemed to melt away, slowly dissolving until there was a small arch-shaped opening in the face of the cliff, leading into a long, dark passageway.

He walked through the newly created door, and the entrance closed itself behind him. Snape started forward down the cold, damp passage, walking deeper into the cave and deeper into the mountain. After ten minutes, he reached a dead end. Without hesitation, he turned to his left, placed his wand yet again against the wall, muttered the same phrase, and watched as a hole opened up. This time, however, the space beyond was warm and brightly lit. He stepped inside and as the wall closed behind him, he surveyed the area.

He was in a small chamber hidden deep inside the mountain. Candles were placed at intervals along the walls, causing a soft, flickering light to dance among the chamber, which was really a comfortably furnished room. A magical, smokeless fire was roaring at the center. There was a small bed against a wall, a few armchairs surrounding the fire, miscellaneous boxes, rugs, and other furniture. Snape's gaze, however, was drawn to the center, where two chairs were occupied. In one sat Draco Malfoy; in the other sat Draco's mother, Narcissa. They looked up as he entered, and Snape could see that Narcissa had been crying. She stood up quickly and walked over to him.

"Please, come sit down," she said, leading him by the arm to one of the chairs. He sat down and before he could say a word, she fell to her knees and bowed her head at his feet.

"Oh Severus," she whispered. "How can I ever repay you?"

A look of disgust passed over his face at her behavior, and he practically snarled as he said, "Sit up, Narcissa."

She lifted her head but remained kneeling before him.

"I promised you I would protect him," he continued. "I was merely keeping my promise."

"And you have," she replied. "Draco told me what happened. He froze on that tower. But you saved him. You did what he had been ordered to do but could not. You kept your promise, but you've done so much more, Severus. You found a place where he can hide; made it safe…you've done so much for us. How can I ever thank you?"

"It's not necessary, Narcissa. I don't have a lot of time. I must tell you what is going on."

For the next twenty minutes, he told them everything he had told Voldemort: about how Draco had not killed Dumbledore, and how he had taken action; how he had escaped the castle with Draco in tow; how he had Apparated to headquarters to find Draco had not followed. He told them how he had defended Draco as best he could. When he mentioned that a group was being sent to find him, Draco became very pale and his mother whimpered. Snape reminded them about the numerous charms he had set up to protect the place; how it was unplottable; how the dangerous, remote location would deter visitors. When it appeared he had reassured them, he grew silent for a second before he continued.

"You cannot stay here, Narcissa. You must keep up appearances. They cannot suspect that you have contact with your son. I must leave now. You would do well to follow soon."

Narcissa seemed at a loss for words, so she merely nodded. Snape stood from his chair, and Narcissa rose as well.

"I can't thank you enough, Severus. Please, keep yourself safe."

She reached out and gave his hand a quick, light squeeze, and let go. Snape appeared taken aback, so he merely nodded at her. He turned to Draco and did the same, and before either could say another word, he strode out of the chamber.

Fifteen minutes later, Snape was sitting in a chair in his own safe place: a cave buried deep in a remote forest. As Dumbledore's murderer, he was no longer safe at his home. He had set this place up for himself a long time ago in case his alliance to Lord Voldemort was discovered. At least, that was what he had told Voldemort.

In reality, neither his hiding place nor Draco's were created by him. They had been made by someone else - someone who, only hours before, had begged for his death. Snape scowled as he recalled the incident on the tower, saw the look on Dumbledore's face, heard the pleading in his voice, and remembered the other promise he had kept last night. He recalled the night he had joined hands with Dumbledore and performed the sacred bond of the Unbreakable Vow. The last thing he heard before he fell asleep was himself promising Dumbledore that he would kill him.

The End