AN: This is tome III of the Forlorn Saga. Please read the other ones (Hope and Dream) before reading this.

An Epilogue to Hope

The soft crackling flame and the rhythmic thumps his feet made proved to be the only sounds in the lavishly decorated study, interrupted occasionally by a soft sigh or light scuff. The ornate clock declared sunrise nearly upon the land, and the Persian rug already bore a distinct oval indentation, upon which his feet continued their march. His gray eyes glared at some indistinct spot towards the center of his track; the blond, aristocratic eyebrows scrunched in a most un-charismatic manner. He had been contemplating a way to solve his current problem without alerting Snape, if such a possibility even existed. The obvious answer, of course, was no, but the blonde was way too stubborn to accept that. Not even when 'no' was underlined, fluorescent pink and blinking (as it might as well have been), would Draco stop trying to turn it into a nice, meek 'yes'.

This, he now understood, was precisely why Malfoys did not hold anyone equal to them by default, let alone acknowledge another as their superior. That way, they never had to worry about explaining anything they did or failed to do. for Draco, he had stopped trying to be a model Malfoy long ago. He rubbed the scar behind his ear again, absently wondering how a thing so small could have altered his life so much. This was, after all, what caused him to stop worrying how his father would react to his actions.

He remembered realizing that his father would not be the person who controlled his life, not even Voldemort would, but a then unknown stranger who would be able to not only kill Draco on a whim, but order Draco himself to perform the deed. He, unlike his delusional father, was well aware that he was not the Alpha, and whole-heartedly believed whoever was must be as cold-hearted and twisted as the Dark Lord. He remembered his shock at learning that the Alpha was actually Horris, and his astonishment that he would rather be this boy's henchman than his father's son.

Opposite to what he expected, Draco had thrived under Horris' guidance and protection, and was now deferring to the Alpha's father as he knew his leader and friend had often done himself. He now knew his earlier worries over the unknown Alpha's temperament were entirely wrong, but could not help but wonder if, upon learning what Draco had kept form him, Snape Sr. would not cut the blond into tiny little pieces. By deferring to the man, he had given his ex-professor the superior position (in Draco's mind, which was what mattered), and thus the man deserved to be told all the things Draco had been keeping from him.

And he had been keeping things from him — many, many things. As the Asps rarely had contact with the man while school was in session (and Snape would have probably glared them to death had they put anything even remotely related to the Asps or Voldemort in owl-post), leaving out certain information proved far easier than it would when school let out for the winter holidays in a few short weeks.

The Asps had left Hogwarts ten days after Horris' most-untimely demise, and the professor somehow managed to hand in his resignation without stuffing it down the Headmanipulator's throat. While the professor was now working at Durmstrang, (thankfully, as teaching proved one of the few things that could keep him from wallowing in his eternal sorrow), the Asps gave up on formal schooling. If this war ended before it had claimed them all, they would be more than ready to take the OWLs and NEWTs, and that would be that. For now, they had the Snape Family Library at their disposal (unless Snape found one page creased or one tome out of place), within which greater knowledge can be attained than in all the magic schools combined. Besides, their wandless magic now served them better than their wands which now lay in a box in the attic.

Lea had remained at Hogwarts, with all the Slytherins on strict (though unknown to her) orders to keep her safe and a private room in their dorms (formally Draco's, as the blond knew asking her to live in Horris' room would be extremely cruel). She had blatantly refused to let a bad Headmaster keep her from her education, and would reap the fruit of her labors in a few short months.

However, what would happen months from now was far from Draco's mind. Lea would be here in a little over a week for the winter holidays, and the professor would follow soon after. And here he was, with a right mess on his hands — three dead Asps and a living corpse.