Chessboards of Dark and Light
Summary: What if Voldemort had been a more calculating villain? What if he saw the similarities between himself and Harry that we see? What if he did something about it? Can Harry and his friends withstand the lure of darkness when everything they could ever want sits within its shadows?
Pairings: Harry/Many, some Ron/Hermione, mild Ron/Many and Hermione/Many
Author's notes: I know there are a lot of people more eager to see a new part to one of my old stories rather than the beginnings of a new one. Rest assured that despite the chaos of my life at the moment, several parts are nearing completion. I just don't have the time to write that I used to.
The genesis of this story comes from Drakes story idea on the Pottersplace3 yahoo group. It was such a good idea that I had to write my own version rather than pester him with my ideas for his story I recommend that everyone look up the group and read Harry Potter and the Dark Lords Blessing.
Warning: this story is going to be dark and very AU. I take the words alternate universe very seriously so expect to be surprised and don't take anything from the novels for granted.
Enjoy the ride
Prologue-Opening move: Dark
The windowless dungeon room held a labyrinth of gently bubbling beakers, their surprising range of colors in stark contrast to the generally dank décor of the room. Retorts and distillers steeped quietly, infusing the essences of dozens of creatures and plants into potions ingredients. The aroma from a hundred phials transformed the air into a haze of perfume that caused ordinary people to recoil in disgust, but the lone occupant of this laboratory was undaunted by the sights and scents of his magic at work.
The sallow man moved efficiently among the glass devices with the surety born from years of long practice, occasionally pausing to stare into brews and writing small, cramped words into the notebook he carried with him.
Severus Snape whirled around, a long wand appearing as though by magic from his sleeve. A mammoth serpent with flat, red eyes lurked behind him, swaying hypnotically and coiled less than three feet away. The potions master noted with some alarm the venom oozing from fangs the length of long knives. The serpent's jaws moved as if in speech, and a thin voice that sounded like the rustling of ancient parchment issued from its lipless maw.
You have grown complacent over the yearsss, my pupil. There wasss a time when Nagani would have been blasssted across the room before I could have gotten within ssstriking dissstance…
"Lord Voldemort? Master?" Snape took a step backwards and raised his wand.
How quickly I have been forgotten. How could you fail to recognize the teacher that brought out your formidable skillsss with Potionsss and ssshowed you sssuch vissstasss…
Snape bowed low. "Master, forgive me. I was momentarily distracted, and I did not believe that a serpent such as Nagani could have penetrated the Hogwarts defenses."
"For the heir of Sssslytherin, Hogwartsss hidesss little, and Nagani ceasssed to be an ordinary sssnake many transformationsss ago…
"My Lord, how is it that you still live? Everyone believes that you were destroyed at Godric's Hollow. They call the Potter brat 'The Boy Who Lived' because he survived and you did not."
Oh…but I have survived, my young servant. Diminissshed, perhaps, but not destroyed. My ssstrength hasss grown and sssoon I will have my body back and we can continue where we left off…
"As you say, my lord. I long for the day. I chafe beneath the yoke of the old fool, forced to teach imbeciles not worthy to clean the scum from my cauldron bottom. What can I do to hasten that day?" Snape asked. "I am as ever, your faithful man."
Jussst what I wasss hoping to hear…
The serpent and the potions master plotted long into the night.
Albus Dumbledore sat in his office, meditating. His mind sought out the quiet place of power lurking within his soul. The school year would be starting soon and with it would come Harry Potter.
The Boy Who Lived would be coming to Hogwarts at long last.
A shiver crawled up his spine. The boy was an unknowing giant, whose footsteps would echo down the Wizarding halls of power for centuries to come. What would he do? How would history record the life of Harry Potter? Would he even be remembered coming before the Juggernaut that the lightning scarred boy would inevitably become?
A knock at the door disturbed his thoughts.
"Enter, Severus." the aged headmaster beckoned.
The thin sliver of pale darkness that was Severus Snape slipped through the door. Albus considered the man—still young by the standards of Wizarding society. Pallid, thin features, greasy black hair, and a pencil-thin mustache and goatee sitting beneath a long beaked nose. Barely restrained hatred seethed beneath his eyes. Albus prayed daily that his young friend would find peace.
But he never did.
"Albus," he began politely, "I had an idea I wanted to run by you."
Dumbledore steepled his long fingers. "Of course. I always have a few moments for my favorite teacher."
Snape allowed himself a brief smile that barely reached his eyes. "Aren't we all your favorite teachers?"
"Of course you are." Albus replied back humorously. "Now, what can I do for you?"
"You're aware of the Slytherin study group I proctor when I find enough worthy students?"
"The last of my students have graduated, and I wish to form a new group. Unfortunately, I find myself with a dearth of talent in the Slytherin house, and I wish to open my study group to the other houses. Do I have your blessing, or will my plans interfere unduly with the house system?"
Dumbledore stroked his long beard, his eyes betraying nothing of his thoughts. "Who?"
"Cho Chang. The girl has the potential to be one of the most impressive potion makers I have ever seen. I believe that with adequate instruction, she could sit her OWLs at the end of the year and will be capable of surpassing the Potions NEWT record by the end of the next year." Snape said; the affection in his voice evident only to those who know him well.
"Miss Chang is only one student, however notable. Who else, Severus?"
"A few others. I will perform a more through examination of the students as they are sorted. I will find my future pupils then."
"Still Severus, you must have a few ideas on who these other students can be?"
Snape spat out a single word that seemed to cause him almost physical pain. "Potter."
That gave the old man pause. "Harry." he whispered. "You are certain that he will have the power and mind to learn what you are planning to teach.
Snape grimaced. "The son of James and Lily Potter will be many things. Weak could never be one of them."
"You would train the son of your enemy?" Dumbledore asked insistently.
"I hate his father and mother more than words can adequately express, Headmaster, you know that; however, I see it as a point of honor. I can either hate him or do nothing about my debt to James Potter, or I can teach him enough magic so that he will survive—shaping an enemy's son is revenge enough for any Slytherin…even me." Snape answered back, his eyes failing to meet Dumbledore's assessing gaze
Dumbledore smiled. "What will you say to Lucius when he complains about his son not receiving special treatment?"
Snape let a genuine smile cross his face. "I will do what I always do: Blame it on you."
Both men shared a laugh over that. When the light moment had run its course, Dumbledore grew serious. "Although it is irregular, since you are not their head of house." Dumbledore said slowly, "You have my permission to form the group. In fact, I may take some time to give a few lessons myself."
"I'm sure they would love that, Headmaster. You won't even be the only one—Professor Quirell has expressed interest in the group as well."
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