Hi, this is my first fanfic so have pity on me! I've read quite a few fanfics recently, and for the most part, they talk of Harry getting amazing new powers or skills at the age of 17. How else is he to destroy the Horcruxes and kill Voldemort? Well I thought that it would be mildly unrealistic – I say mildly because after all, we are dealing with a fictional world of magic – that Harry suddenly displays powers he has never shown before. These I thought wouldn't appear overnight as some people imagined. This is not to put down other people's fanfics; some of them are truly amazing.
Anyway, I thought to myself that there had to be another way for him to succeed; so I decided to try and write a fanfic about it. It is based purely on canon, and I have gleaned as many details from the books as possible to create a world, which I hope, will be close to JK Rowlings world of Harry Potter. I hope you enjoy it, I'm finding it a lot of fun creating a world of almost infinite possibilities. As the Prime Minister in HBP said, "But for heaven's sake – you're wizards! You can do magic! Surely you can sort out – well – anything!" And as the creator of this story, so can I.
Standard Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters in this story; they all belong to JK Rowlings. This is a work of fan fiction, produced solely for enjoyment. No infringement of rights is intended.
– CHAPTER ONE –
Night had fallen over Little Hangleton, and the villagers had all retreated to the safety of their homes. Overlooking Little Hangleton was a large building, a manor, Riddle Manor. The villagers thought that Riddle Manor might be haunted, especially after the mysterious and unexplainable death of Frank Bryce a few years earlier, so similar to the deaths of the three he had been accused of murdering. He too had died for no visible reasons. Although not in good health, he did not have a mark on him when he died, and the doctors had said that he hadn't been poisoned either. The grounds around it had been examined for poisonous gases escaping and radioactive activity; and nothing had been found. Nor were there any gas leaks from the piping in his cottage. The Manor was a mystery, which most people were happy to stay safely away from. The last owner had tried to sell it, but no one had wanted it, so it continued falling into disrepair, parts of it collapsing during particularly violent storms.
The Riddle's family graveyard, which was on the grounds, was also abandoned, so no one noticed when two cloaked figures suddenly appeared, accompanied by two faint pops. The only thing to notice this phenomenon of nature was an owl, which hooted softly in their direction. One figure, marginally shorter and slimmer than the other, began walking towards the Manor. The other hurried to catch up, calling after him.
'Draco, wait, you cannot afford to enter alone. The Dark Lord does not forgive easily; you will need my help.' Catching up with the man called Draco, he grabbed his arm. 'Draco, do you understand me? Let me speak to him first, unless of course you wish to follow your mother.' Draco faltered.
'Do not speak of her!' He cried out, 'It is your fault he killed her! If you hadn't agreed to make the Unbreakable Vow, she would still be alive.' He collapsed, sobbing.
The other man stood uneasily, unsure of how to respond. After an uncomfortable silence, broken only by Draco's quiet sobs, he whispered gently, 'I know how you grieve Draco, but I could do nothing to prevent it. Your Aunt Bella still didn't trust me. If I hadn't taken the vow, she would have run to the Dark Lord to announce my treachery. Your mother would have died for her lack of trust in the Dark Lord, and I would have been hunted down shortly after. You would have been left alone, and even if you had killed Dumbledore, the Order would have in all likeness stopped you escaping. You would have been almost certainly sent to join one of you parents long before now.' There was a long pause before he continued, 'She was dead the moment she walked through my door.'
Draco stopped crying, straightened up and nodded. 'You're right of course. So what do we do now?'
'We rejoin the Dark Lord immediately, and hope our tardiness goes unnoticed. Remember Draco; let me speak to him first. You have already angered him by forcing me to reveal my true allegiances; do not give him any more reason to kill you.'
Draco lowered his head in acceptance, 'Yes Severus.' Severus marvelled at the change in his godson. Where there was once an arrogant, spoilt, and often childish boy, stood a humble and matured young man.
Starting off again, Severus said rather brusquely, 'Right, let's go then, and if you want to live to see dawn, you better beg for the Dark Lord's mercy.'
'Yes Severus.' Draco mumbled again, following Severus up the Riddle Manor.
They made their way up to the back door, and waving their left arms across the doorway, they entered the rundown house. Climbing the creaky staircase, they heard raised voices and hesitated. It was imprudent to enter the Dark Lord's chambers when he was angry at someone, especially when your presence was more than likely to anger him further. Stopping half-way up the staircase, they waited.
A cold voice echoed through the house, 'I don't care what it takes Wormtail, I want him found. I cannot have Harry Potter coming of age without my knowing his whereabouts. He loses his last defence against me in a few weeks; I need to know where his good for nothing Muggle family is hidden. Find him, and when you do, post a lookout and report straight back to me. He has escaped me for the last time.'
'Yes Master,' a whimpering voice came back. 'I will do everything in my power to find him in time.'
'Well that's not saying much, you're a worthless excuse of a wizard.' The cold voice sneered. 'Now kiss my robes and go.'
'Yes Master.' A soft flutter of robes was heard.
'Remember, use any means necessary to find him, use Bella and anyone else available if you must, but don't forget, he is not to be touched, you understand? He is mine.'
'Yes Master.' A short, balding man scurried out of one of the first floor room, saw Draco and Severus, squeaked and vanished in a loud pop.
Draco and Severus edged forward cautiously, making sure to make enough noise to alert their master of their presence. As they entered the room, all they saw was a roaring fire burning in the grate, and a large armchair facing it, away from them. It was empty. Confused, Severus wheeled around as a man stepped out of the shadows; well it would be generous to call him a man. He was paler than bone, his eyes wide and scarlet, and his nose was flat like a snake's with slits for nostrils. He spoke, his voice high, but jubilant.
'Severus! How good of you to join me, I was beginning to worry that your old friends from the Order had found you; and Draco. I'm so sorry about your mother, but her foolish act of desperation almost ruined my plan.' Draco noticed that his Master was now making it sound like he had planned the Death Eaters entry into Hogwarts, even though he had not even heard of the vanishing cabinets until recently. 'Ah, you question my involvement in last month's attack? Quite right, it was after all, you who fixed the cabinet and got my faithful followers into the castle,' had Severus heard right? The Dark Lord was complimenting Draco, yet he should be furious. He had failed to kill Dumbledore and forced Severus to reveal himself, the Dark Lord continued, 'it was you too who disarmed that Mudblood lover Dumbledore,' and his voice suddenly turned cold. Severus immediately knew what was coming, 'but you did not kill him, why?' Draco gulped audibly, hoping that Severus would intervene as he promised.
'Master, if you would let me speak.' Severus interrupted, hoping to draw the Dark Lord's attention away from Draco.
'Yes Severus?' Thanking his good fortune for a chance, Severus quickly started talking before his master changed his mind.
'The boy has never killed before, nor practised. No one expected him to succeed in his plan so he wasn't given any training in how to actually carry it out. He should not be blamed for not being able to kill Dumbledore, he didn't know how. He couldn't have even given Dumbledore a nose bleed if he'd used the Killing Curse.' He ended his last comment with a sneer, to try and cover his worry. His master pondered this view for a few minutes, during which Severus and Draco stood anxiously, before making a decision.
'Fine, Severus; you are to train him in the Unforgivables and anything else you think could be of use. I want him ready to take out on raids within the month. Do not disappoint me.' Draco exhaled in relief, releasing a breath he didn't know he was holding. His relief was short-lived however, as his master continued, 'Draco, as a token of my appreciation for your efforts, I'll let you live tonight. However, next time you disappoint me, I will not be as gracious, and to show you what lies ahead if you fail me, here is a demonstration. Crucio!' Draco collapsed on the floor, screaming. The Dark Lord, had a look of ecstasy on his face, and held the curse for 45 seconds. When released, Draco groaned and passed out. Severus was about to revive him, when his master spoke, 'Leave him for a moment Severus. I need to speak with you; I don't want him to hear us.'
'Yes, my Lord.' replied Snape.
'Now that Dumbledore is dead, there is no one who can resist me. I read in the Daily Prophet that Hogwarts is being reopened. The Ministry probably wants to keep an appearance of normality and control. I want to break it. I want to mount an attack on Hogwarts with the help of the Dementors. If successful, the Ministry will almost certainly sue for peace. They could not stay in power after such a loss. You and Bella are my most trusted servants; I want you two to work together on a plan to destroy the school. Come back to me with a list of possible plans by September 1st, I will decide on the final plan and choose a date.'
'Yes my Lord.' Severus replied, shuddering.
'Is there something wrong Snape? You do not approve of my methods maybe?' the Dark Lord enquired mockingly.
'It is not that, Master, but if we did murder every child in Hogwarts, every wizard and witch in Britain will stand up to us. We would most likely lose a lot of support and funds, and no one – except perhaps Bella and Fenrir – likes murdering children. It will be very difficult to get people to carry out such an order, especially the young recruits. You would be asking them to kill their classmates; very few of them would have the stomach for it.' The Dark Lord inclined his head to one side, pondering this response.
'Hmm, you are probably right. Maybe we should just attack Hogsmeade, there's no one there that could cloud their thoughts, apart from Rosmerta perhaps!' He cackled, sending shivers down Snape's neck. 'Yes, we shall attack Hogsmeade instead. Snape, go and make plans with Bella, but make sure you do not choose a Hogsmeade visit, that would result in the same problem as before. Oh, and take Draco with you, I almost forgot about him; now go.'
Severus took a step back, pulling out his wand. Flicking it casually at Draco's inert form, he muttered 'Enervate'. Instantly, Draco's eyes fluttered open, and he woke up.
'Get up Draco, before I change my mind about being gracious.' The Dark Lord threatened coldly. Draco dragged himself off the floor, all his bones felt like they were on fire. He let out a small moan as he straightened up, watching his master fearfully. 'Ah good, now you fear me as you should. Severus, take him home and train him properly.'
'Yes, my Lord' Severus replied humbly, 'I'll have to improve the boy's Occlumency skills, Bella hasn't done a good enough job' he thought. It was dangerous to let the Dark Lord read your innermost, most secret thoughts; he would surely turn them against you for his own amusement.
Snape grabbed Draco's arm firmly, pulling him into a bow as they retreated from the room. As soon as they left Riddle Manor, Draco collapsed, drained of energy. Fortunately, Snape had expected this would happen (well, he'd actually half-expected the Dark Lord to murder him), and had brought some Pepper-Up Potion. He pulled Draco into a sitting position, and poured the potion down his throat. Having revived Draco somewhat, he held his arm firmly and Side-Along Apparated them away. Their departure was only noticed by an owl, which hooted softly in the direction of the pops then flew away into the night.