"Master….," a tentative voice interrupts his thoughts and he turns a glare on the silver-blond haired man standing before him. He watches with satisfaction as the man's mask of calm slips under his icy glare. Panic flits across his face and unconsciously the man takes a step back before regaining enough of his composure to bow low.
"Please forgive me for interrupting your thoughts I was just wondering what you would like done with the boy," Lucius says respectfully doing well to keep the fear out of his voice yet he still cannot bring himself to look the Dark Lord in the eyes. He would have kept his silence but it had unnerved him to see the Dark Lord staring so intently at the boy for such a long time. While he might see the reason and need for killing the boy he did not want to see the Dark Lord torture the boy he was younger than his own son Draco. He wished the Dark Lord would just kill him already or at least allow one of them to kill him and end this. The deadly silence seems to stretch on forever and finally Lucius looks up slowly only to find his lord staring at the boy once more. Lucius shivers at the coldness in his lord's eyes but the child only looks back at him with big innocent eyes. To Lucius's surprise and horror the child reaches out toward the most evil Dark Lord in known times making grasping motions as he demands to be picked up. Lucius looks back up at his lord fearful of what he might do.
He considers the boy before him curious as to why it would pick him to pick it up. Nothing in his appearance would attract favorable attention from anyone. He had long ago lost the good looks he had in his youth as he had devilled further and further into the dark arts used to keep him from dieing. Most children cried immediately upon seeing him yet this child had not even made the slightest whimper but instead smiled innocently up at him as he had scrutinized him. He wonders if maybe he could…. He pushes the thought away before it has truly had a chance to form but it refuses to leave him brushing and teasing at the back of his mind. The boy lowers his arms looking at him with frustration then looking down at the cold stone he is sitting on before once more looking at him and holding his arms out and saying in a demanding voice "Up,up." Voldemort clearly hears Lucius and the rat gasp obviously expecting him to kill the child on the spot for the impertinence but he finds himself rather amused by the demands and strangely drawn to do as the child requests.
Ignoring the child he turns to the rat still groveling on the floor. With a disgusted sneer he signals for the traitor to rise. He hates the pathetic worm in front of him and knows that this man who brought him the boy would turn on him at the drop of the hat if he thought it would save his own skin. After all he had already betrayed his best friends by delivering to him, their most hated enemy, their only child. Calming himself he reminds himself firmly that he should not kill the rat yet, that he might still have his uses. Staring coldly at the worm until he is shifting nervously he finally says in a silabant voice "You have done well wormtail and for a job well done you will be rewarded by being allowed to join the middle ranked Death Eaters." He sees surprise flash in the traitors eyes and realizes that he had actually thought that he would be allowed to join his elite. Voldemort sneers at the very idea. There is no way he would allow the rat so near him. He did not truly fear him sticking a knife in his back; he never turned his back on anyone anyway and he was positive he could take wormtail no matter the situation but still he just did not want to have to be that close to him if he could avoid it. "Of course you will also be rewarded monetarily. Now leave us," Voldemort says dismissing him and starting to turn his attention back toward the boy. "Thank you, my lord but what of the boy," the worm once known as Peter Petigrew asks in a low frighten voice. "What of the boy. He is no longer your concern now leave," Voldemort says anger building in his voice. The worm looks at him pathetically before bowing low begging his forgiveness as he makes a hasty retreat to the door.
Voldemort watches as the door closes wondering that the fool dared to question him on an issue that was so obviously finished. Still scowling fiercely he looks back at the boy sitting on the floor. Instead of being frighten as most would the boy stares up at him with a fierce scowl of his own obviously not having liked being ignored. When he lifts his arms once more to be picked up saying again up and yet again Voldemort just continues to look at him he finally gets fed up. Voldemort watches in fascination as the small face before him screws up fully expecting a scream of rage from the boy but is unprepared as a small rock in front of his throne slowly levitates into the air then flies at him with force. Dodging it easily without taking his eyes off the baby he watches as he smiles at him triumphantly.
"I'm sorry, my lord. I will immediately get rid of it," Lucius says horrified starting to reach toward the child which gives him an annoyed look. "Don't touch him," Voldemort hisses enraged not by the fact that the child sent the rock toward him but by the fact that Lucius would dare try to touch what is his. Standing up abruptly with a graceful swishing of his cloak he moves past a terrified Lucius to scoop up the delighted child. The child immediately snuggles into his warmth looking up at him happily.
Moving past Lucius he sits on his throne the child held protectively in his arms. Looking once more into those beautiful emerald depths with the boy held close to his chest he finally allows the idea that has been creeping at the edge of his thoughts free reign. He does not see why it might not work. The boy is surely young enough and already seems to accept him. Unknowingly, he smiles down at the boy finally deciding on a course of action. The boy smiles back up at him then burrows further into his chest. Voldemort can actually feel the power within the boy and knows that as he grows that power will only increase making him perfect. Glancing up at Lucius who is staring at him uncertainly he smirks.
"Lucius you are one of my most trusted but never again will you touch this boy without either my or his express permission," Voldemort hisses enjoying the confusion in the usually stoic blonde's expression.
"His permission," Lucius questions shocked and Voldemort's smirk widens. "Yessss, his permission. His word will be second only to mine as my son and heir," Voldemort hisses enjoying the absolute shock on Lucius's face. "Your son…," Lucius repeats stupidly. "Of course, this boy will rival even me in strength. It would be a waste to kill him and even more so to leave him with those muggle lovers. No I shall raise him to be strong and to be my right hand," he says glancing down at the boy who looks up at him with a sleepy smile.
"You are dismissed," he says carelessly much more concerned with the infant drifting off to sleep in his arms. As Lucius walks toward the door he says softly just loud enough for him to hear "I hope I don't have to tell you to tell no one of this."
"Of course not, my lord," he says just as softly bowing low to him. "Also tell wormtail that the he died by the cruciatis curse," Voldemort says an evil light in his ruby eyes. He knows it will hurt the rat to imagine the boy dying in such a way. Despite his betrayal he still held some feeling for those he had once called friends. "As you wish, my lord," Lucius says a hint of amusement in his voice. Voldemort knew that Lucius loathed the cowardly wormtail and would enjoy hurting him in any way he could. With a final bow and a florish of his cloak Lucius left leaving him alone with his new son.
Said son shivered as the cold of the palace began to effect him and without thought Voldemort lays a fold of his outer robe across the boy watching as he relaxes into the warm soft material.
/Well what is it that we have here/ a soft female voice says from beside him. Seconds later he feels the slide of scales across his hand before a huge snake settles gently into his lap beside his son. His son just stares at the creature fascinated and Nagini moves to smell the boy flicking her tongue in and out as she tastes him. /That my dear is my new son and your young master/ he replies in parceltongue. Nagini looks up at him curiously then with renewed vigor she sets about investigating the child. The boy giggles as the tongue flicks across his skin and much to Voldemort's surprise the boy hisses distinctly /Nice/. Nagini pulls back staring in surprise as does Voldemort before moments later. 'Yes truly the boy is my son,' he thinks smiling down at the boy who ignores him for the moment in favor of trying to touch his familiar. /He is a speaker/ Nagini hisses amazed. /Yesss, truly a worthy heir don't you think/. /What is his name?/ Nagini asks curiously as she allows the boy to pet her and pull her towards him. /Um, that is a good question. I have not thought of what to call the boy./ Voldemort thinks for a moment while Nagini brushes her head against the boy making him laugh. He knows the name will need to be a strong one that the boy will be able to carry with pride but also nothing common. Looking at the boy in his lap as he plays with his familiar a name pops into his head. Rolling it around in his mind for a moment he decides it will fit perfectly. /What do you think about the name Valn, my dear./ Nagini cocks her head then nods appreciatively saying /I like it. It has the proper ring to inspire fear./I think so to/ Voldemort says smiling wondering if his new son the former Harry Potter now Valn will like it. As if in answer the young boy hisses /Valn/. /I think he likes it/ Nagini says butting her head once more against the child obviously scent marking him.
/Now that that is settled I believe it is time for bed/ he tells her and she slides down his leg moving toward the back passage out of the throne room. Voldemort follows quickly and soon they are at his bed chamber. Calling a house elf he has one get him a crib and some soft, warm blankets. Smiling almost gently he places his son into the crib covering him with the blankets and makes his way to bed. From the corner of his eye he catches sight of Nagini sliding through the bars of the crib to curl around his son, Valn, protectively and smiles in satisfaction knowing she will not allow anything near her self appointed charge.
A hundred miles away in a little town a woman with long red hair sits sobbing on a couch while her husband tries to comfort her through his own grief. Not far away a handsome young man with long black hair sits in an armchair guilt eating away at him as he wonders over and over again why he had ever suggested him. Unable to stand just sitting any longer the black haired man jumps to his feet only to stifle a gasp of pain as his chest forcible reminds him that less than an hour ago he was thrown against the wall with enough force to knock him unconscious and break a couple of his ribs from the feel of it. He relishes the pain though as a way of distancing himself from the guilt running rampant through him. James looks up at him dried blood covering his face and a look of despair in his eyes seeming to be begging for someone to make this all be just a fleeting nightmare but with a wrenching feeling in his gut Sirius realizes he can do nothing. Fighting back tears of anger and heart break Sirius paces the living room wishing that the traitor had just killed him and left his friend's son alone. 'It would have been so much better,' he thinks bitterly. A medi-wizard tries to tend the cut on James head but he only waves the man away telling him tend to his wife first. Sirius winces as Lily looks up and it is not just from the bruise darkening the right side of her face but because of the half crazed look in her eyes. He wonders briefly if she will be able to come out of this sane then pushes that thought away having faith that she is stronger than that. Though there is no doubt in his mind that this will test her to her limits.
Lily pushes the medi-wizard away from her after only a few moments saying that she will be fine and reluctantly the young man nods before turning his attention to James who ignores him and then to Sirius who shakes his head. Sirius does not want anyone to treat him. He knows he deserves this pain and more for ever thinking that the rat could be trusted.
James glances once more at Lily but quickly looks away knowing better than to try to comfort her right now and in all honesty what could he say. He wishes for the thousandth time that night that he had made Sirius the secret keeper. Looking over to his best friend as he paces the room he wonders why he didn't. He knows Sirius had thought it the perfect plan to use Wormtail while he himself acted as bait to draw Voldemort away but he could have vetoed it. He should have seen that Peter was a traitor. Looking back on it now it seems so obvious that Peter was the one. He cannot believe they ever suspected Remus. At that thought a pang of guilt runs through him for ever doubting his other friend. That pang intensifies as he wonders if they had only suspected him because he was a werewolf. He hopes that they had not all been so prejudice but somehow he cannot help but feel that that is the truth of the matter. He clenches his fists, not even noticing as his finger nails start to draw blood, as he wonders if his son has died yet because of his mistakes. At this thought a clear picture of Harry with his bright emerald eyes sparkling as Sirius had spun him around just earlier that day fills his vision. Fighting to hold back a sob he buries his head in his hands trembling uncontrollably. The events of the night replay themselves over in his head and he wants to scream as he remembers letting Wormtail in.
The night had seemed like any other night. The door bell had rung unexpectedly and James after looking through the peep hole had opened the door. Struggling to hide a smile he had raised an eyebrow at his best friend and Sirius had held up his hands defensively though smiling all the while as he had told him that he was just coming to check on them. James had rolled his eyes all too aware that Sirius was just using that as an excuse to come play with Harry. Sirius had given him a perfectly innocent smile as he had walked in and shut the door but a voice from the kitchen had stopped him in his tracks. "Sirius Black you had best leave Harry alone. I just got him to go to sleep and I will not have you waking him up unless you want to be the one to stay up with him all night," Lily had called warningly from the kitchen. James had groaned inwardly knowing that the best way to get Sirius to do something was to tell him not to do it. Sirius had grinned at him before calling "I wouldn't dream of waking him, Lils." They both had heard a loud skeptical snort from the kitchen but Lily had declined to comment further. "Bathroom," Sirius had told him cheerfully before heading up stairs and James had rolled his eyes knowing that both of them were about to get yelled at very soon. After all if Sirius had really been going to use the bathroom and not going to get Harry as he strongly suspected then it would have been much easier to use the bathroom down stairs. True to expectation not three minutes later Sirius had walked down the stairs carrying a happy Harry who was gleefully bouncing around in his godfather's arms. James had scowled at him but he had only smiled back saying happily "Well he was awake." "Yeah after you woke him up," James had muttered to which Sirius had only grinned and twirled Harry around to which he had laughed happily. Moments later Lily had popped her head around the corner scowling but had simply said "Sirius you will be staying up with him you know and don't think your getting any dinner." Sirius had grinned back at her saying "I will and I don't." That had only made Lily scowl more fiercely before she had glared at him. He had quickly held up his hands saying "He said he had to use the bathroom." "Oh and you didn't question why he was going to the second floor to use it," she had said knowingly and he could not help a sheepish grin. "Come on its not like Sirius gets to visit that often and beside look how happy Harry is to see him," James had said giving her his best puppy dog eyes. Rolling her own beautiful green ones she had refrained from comment but James could have sworn he saw her smile as her eyes had fallen on a happy Harry before she had gone to finish fixing dinner. Sirius and he had shared a triumphant grin and settled down to play with Harry. It had not been ten minutes later when the door bell had rung again and James had went to answer the door. He had opened with a grin after looking through the peep hole and let Peter in asking what he was doing there. Peter had muttered something about wanting to check on them then jumped badly as Sirius had said hello standing up from where he had been playing with Harry on the floor. James wonders why he did not wonder at that, why he did not become suspicious as Peter had nervously sat through dinner, or why he did not wonder at the multiple other things that had been off about Peter. Instead they had all blindly started to get up from the table totally unprepared as he had attacked. The first thought that had gone through his head when Sirius went flying into the wall was that he had fallen badly but then Lily had cried out and he had turned to see her lying on the floor with a broken chair beside her. Turning to look he had seen Peter with wand out turning to him and still he had not understood. He had dodged the first curse sent his way and pulling out his own wand had said quickly "Finite Incantatum." He had assumed Peter was under the Imperious curse that once he had said the counter spell everything would be fine once more. The spell had hit true and for a moment a blue light had surrounded Peter but even before the light had completely faded Peter had sent him flying against the wall. The last thing he had heard was Harry crying before he had blacked out.
Abruptly James comes back to the present as the door opens quietly and Albus Dumbledore walks in. For one brief moment James dares to hope but that hope is crushed as he sees the sadness dulling the once twinkling eyes. He realizes a moment later that Lily must have also seen it as she seems to crumble in on herself sobbing even harder if possible. James collapses back onto the coach but for the life of him he cannot remember standing up. He seems to be looking through everything in a daze watching as Sirius collapses to the floor, as Moody comes in moments later leading a squad of hurt and exhausted aurors behind him, and finally as Remus comes in. Remus looks around the room and James briefly meets his eyes before looking away guilt and pain eating away at him. A gentle hand settles on his shoulder and he looks up into Remus's gentle, grief ridden brown eyes before looking away. He sees all the pain he himself had been feeling and wonders once more why they had not trusted him. Moony had considered Harry like his own cub they should have known he would never do anything that might harm him. "I'm sorry," he says simply unable to think of any other way to express the guilt that is crushing him with the knowledge that if he had of trusted Moony instead of Peter Harry would still be here. Thinking back on it he realizes now that it had been Peter who had first planted the doubts in their minds in the first place. "For what," Remus asks shocked and James looks up at him wretchedly seeing for the first time that Moony has not realized that they had suspected him of being the traitor. He opens his mouth to explain but the words just won't come out. "For not trusting you," a stranger's grief roughen voice says from behind them and they look to see Sirius standing unsteadily behind them. Remus stares at him then sudden comprehension dawns on his face before he quickly ducks his head but not before both of them are able to see the new pain added to the grief in his eyes. "I'm sorry," James says still unable to think of anything else to say. "It's alright….," Moony starts but James interrupts him furiously screaming "No, it is not alright. None of it is alright." As he says this fresh tears stream down his face and he cannot stop trembling. He clenches his fists so hard that blood starts to drip down the sides and he stares at the slowly dripping blood wanting to turn that slow drip into a steady stream until there is nothing left. A strong worn hand settles over his hands prying them apart and he looks up to see Remus staring down at him in concern. "It's ok," he says simply and the next thing he knows he is enveloped in a hug. He feels Sirius hug him from behind and with that the last wall holding back his grief breaks. He lets out an almost inhuman keen of loss causing everyone in the room to freeze as their own hearts stutter at the depth of sadness held in that one cry before they are once more brought back by the racking sobs of the man clutching at his two friends as though afraid that they to would be taken away from him. Lily gives a frantic sob at the sound and Sirius pulls her into the group hug. She clings to her husband's back trying to gain some semblance of sanity once more. Many people around the room had unknowingly started crying as that keen had gone through them feeling the grief within it all too clearly. One young medi-witch collapses to the floor sobbing and has to be helped from the room by one of her colleagues. Dumbledore just stands by the door watching the family on the floor grieving for the loss of their only child knowing that this is his fault. That he should have protected the boy better but he vows that the other boy would have the best protection possible and that he would help Harry's grieving family recover from this as best he could.
James clutches Remus tightly as though his very life depends on it and just focuses on existing for a while. A commotion by the door breaks through to him in some way and he looks up at the door with dull eyes. His body tightens and his blood runs cold as he stares into the black eyes of the man standing in the door. Eyes filled with guilt, sorrow, pity, and an emotion he never thought he would see directed at him by Severes Snape; concern. James knows instantly what the man has come to report. Pain like nothing he has ever felt fills him and he struggles away from the people trying to comfort him. Without conscious thought he stumbles over to Snape ignoring Dumbledore and the others. He can see that many think he is going to attack Snape and that even Snape himself seems to believe that he will attack him but strangely he does not move away but just continues to stare sorrowfully at him. In truth he does not even know his intentions fully; all he does know is that he needs to know how, how they killed his son. Moody, dressed in his aurors robes, reaches out to stop him and without thought he throws him against the wall where he slumps down unconscious. He stops in front of Snape breathing hard as he struggles to keep the pain filled cries inside. "How," he simply asks. Snape looks at him confused for a moment then he adverts his eyes but not before James had seen the pity filling his eyes. James grips the front of Snape's robes more to keep himself from collapsing than for anything else. Snape looks up at him in surprise and meets his eyes. He seems unable to look away and taking advantage of the opportunity James begs "Please tell me how." Snape looks down once more and James thinks he will refuse to tell him but finally he looks back up at him. "The cruciatis," Snape tells him quietly pain and sympathy in his voice. James barely registers as his legs give out and he collapses to the floor trembling nor the arms that are holding him keeping him from hurting himself. He blindly clutches at the man in front of him. Liquid is forced down his throat and he coughs slightly before feeling his mind slipping away. The last thing he remembers is a pair of black eyes gazing at him in concern before the dreamless sleep potion carries him down into darkness.
Snape watches as Potter slowly relaxes into the potion induced sleep yet even then the pain on his face only diminishes slightly. He fills concern fill him and pushes it away wondering why he should feel any kind feelings for a man who he would have gladly called his greatest enemy only hours before. However, hearing that pain filled cry not even he could hate the man any more. He had known instantly the source of the cry and even he would not have wished such pain on the man. Even if he had he would not have wished it on the child. No adult deserved to be killed by the cruciatis let alone a child. He can still remember the child's innocent emerald eyes the last time he had seen him. Then he had been jeering at Potter but now he finds himself soothing Potter into the potion's embrace. He clutches the small vial in his hand as he looks up to see the devastated looks on Lily's, Moony's, and Black's faces. Sighing he draws three more vials out of his robes and goes over to the three still sitting motionless on the floor. He glares at the medi-wizards standing around in shock wondering why they had not already given the family at the least a calming draught. He hands Remus the three vials, and explains patiently as the man just stares at him as though begging for someone to tell him this was all just some horrible joke, "They are dreamless sleep potions give one to each of them and take one yourself." Remus stares at him for a moment longer then a whimpering whine from Sirius breaks him out of his stupor and he nods before turning to coax the other two to take the potion also. He gets back up and moves into the dining room where a group of aurors is going over everything in the futile hope that they will find some sort of clue. He almost laughs at this. They already know who did it and why. It is foolish to be wasting time with this when they should be out hunting that rat, Peter and especially Voldemort. He had been wavering in his loyalties before this but now there was no way he could follow a man who would torture such an innocent child to death. "That was a kind thing you did," a kind grandfatherly voice says from behind him. He turns in surprise to find Albus Dumbledore standing behind him a small, though sad smile on his face. Severus quickly covers his surprise schooling his face to indifference as best he can. Glancing over at Potter and the others who are finally being taken care of by the medi-wizards he says simply "It would have been kinder if I had just stabbed Potter through the heart. He would have been in less pain." The smile dies completely from Albus's face as he looks to Potter who is still wearing a pained expression. "He will heal and eventually they will be able to go on with their lives," Dumbledore says his voice sure and strong but still sympathetic. Severus glances at the aged wizard wondering if he is just foolish or if he is being willfully blind. Even he had been able to see the agony in Potter's eyes and he knew better than most that pain like that left deep scars on the heart and soul. No matter how much Potter might want to he might not be able to go on with his normal life. Severus holds his tongue though and Albus changes the subject to the one he would most like to avoid. "I'm sorry Severus but I must know exactly what happened," Albus says gently but he can see the fear that he actually stood by and watched while the child was killed. Starring furiously up at him Severus snarls "I wasn't there if that is what you are asking." "I did not think that at all by boy I just wanted to know who told you about this," Albus says gently but Severus can see the slight relief in his eyes. Severus considers for a moment storming out but strangely the sight of Potter's pain filled face stops him and he sighs in defeat as he pushes the uncomfortably feelings the image invokes within him away. "I learned it from Lucius Malfoy. He was telling that rat Peter about it while laughing. I listened in and learned what had happened."
"Is there any chance he was lying," Dumbledore asks a hint of hope in his voice but Severus just shakes his head.
"Lucius is arrogant but he would not lie where the Dark Lord is concerned. He knows the punishment for that and would not risk it even to hurt the rat," Severus tells him sadly. The light seems to leave Dumbledore's eyes completely as he sighs. "I must get to order head quarters and coordinate the search for Peter and to unsure that the Longbottoms will be safe. May I ask you to stay here and look after them," Dumbledore asks gesturing to the room in general but Severus knows he wants him to look after Potter and the others being carried to bedrooms up stairs. Severus glances once more at Potter then nods reluctantly. Dumbledore pats him on the shoulder before disapparating to order head quarters. Severus watches for a while but everyone has there hands full with other things and while the others had been carried up stairs no one has time to spare to carry Potter up. Cursing slightly Severus picks Potter up himself and starts the long trek up the stairs. He curses out loud as he stumbles and hits the wall with his shoulder just as he makes it to the top of the stairs. He straightens with a groin and a soft voice asks "Why are you carrying me, Snivellis." Severus tenses with anger but relaxes moments later as he realizes that the name was used out of habit and not from malice. "Shut up, Potter. You should be asleep," he informs the dazed man but said man just snuggles deeper into his embrace before mumbling something. "Sorry didn't catch that," he says and Potter looks up at him saying softly "Sorry for the Snivellis remark." Severus stares at him in something akin to shock then turns away saying "Forget it." Picking a room at random he opens the door with a bit of effort and sees that it is empty. He considers for a moment finding the room where Lily is but sets aside the idea as his back gives a particularly painfully stab. He sets Potter down on the bed with a groan and the soft voice asks once more "Why didn't you just levitate me." Severus curses himself for not thinking about that but covers quickly by saying "Go to sleep." He starts to leave but is stopped by a hand on his wrist. "Please stay," Potter says softly from behind him and he looks back despite himself. Potter's eyes are glazed over with the effects of the potion and Severus wonders if he truly knows who he is talking to but with a sigh he sits down on the bed. After a while Potter seemingly relaxes back into sleep and once more he is about to get up when the man arches off the bed screaming his son's name. Severus struggles to hold him still so that he will not hurt himself and is shocked when Potter hugs him sobbing as though in the ultimate pain. Not knowing what else to do Severus whispers soothingly in his ear wondering if he is even hearing what he is saying. They stay like that for what seems like forever till finally Potter truly falls asleep. Severus gently wipes away the tear tracks on Potters face then wipes his own face shocked to discover tears running down his own face. Shaking his head in confusion he leaves the room but not before looking once more at the silent figure sleeping on the bed.