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DISCLAIMER (note that this will apply to all other chapters from here on out): Ideas borrowed from the Harry Potter series belong solely to J.K. Rowling and her various publishers. Any characters, elements, and phrases that have been previously claimed under a copyright are not being employed for monetary gain. Any other original ideas, however, belong to me.

A Father's Sin

Prologue

Lucius Malfoy was an imperturbable man. He was impossible to ruffle at the best of times and only a trifle tickled at the worst.

Yet there was something in the urgent ticking of his inner clock and the tangible one nestled within his fingers that told him, if there ever was a time to panic, now was it.

He struggled to reassume the air of a patiently suffering man.

Lucius, after all, had not forgotten that there was an audience.

"How long?" The gruff voice of his waiting companion startled him from his musings, but he was spared from snipping back an impatient response by the crackle of a messy apparation.

A breath of relief released, the Malfoy rolled out his tense shoulders and let the woman unleash her fury on the deserving fool.

"You're late," Bellatrix snarled, "Is it death that you wish upon yourself? Next time, bypass the Dark Lord and tell me, so that I may spare his Lordship of the menial task of doing this world a favour by ridding it of you."

Lucius leveled the cloaked figure a look of condescending vitriol that matched Bellatrix's fevered words, lips curling into a sneer as he surveyed the timorous face plastered with sweaty tendrils of wispy, mouse-brown hair.

This was their Lord's new pet?

He let out an incredulous scoff but turned sharply into his home without a word, leading those he loathed to call colleagues toward the gaping maw of the ostentatious fireplace in the receiving room.

Only the slight twitching of his eye to betray his nerves, he uttered clearly, "Slytherin Manor."

. . .

Snape heard the robed figure next to him swallow nervously once more and discreetly moved his own tongue within the confines of his parched mouth. He suppressed yet another tormented sigh.

The ten Death Eaters including himself that were considered members of Lord Voldemort's Inner Circle had gathered and waited almost three hours in the muted silence. As restless as they were to find out the reason for the summons, asking was naturally not an option in the face of the ever irascible dark lord.

Snape was about to mournfully resign himself to an evening gone to waste when there was a smart rapping on the chamber's entrance: whatever Voldemort was waiting for—and they, by default—was here.

Eyes shifted anxiously towards the shadowed throne on which Voldemort was still, immutable. Those beyond the door knew not to prompt again, and the room was once again plunged into silence.

Slowly, the shadow from the throne extended, and the ashen features of the Dark Lord emerged. Snape almost flinched back at the expression harbored among the lines in the inhuman face as thin lips parted to hiss, "Enter."

Through the door was admitted three arrivals that meandered up to front of the room in desperate haste, bodies tipping humbly towards the ground at the foot of the silver throne.

"My Lord, I beg of you to show restraint and mercy for the wait you have suffered on our behalf. We have failed to be expedient in the task you have been so magnanimous as to bestow upon us." An unmistakable tremble belied the otherwise glibly spoken words.

The circle of Voldemort's followers waited with bated breath while Snape assessed the three newest additions into the room with vengeful indignation.

Only his rotten luck would see Gryffindors detained in Filch's office at that very moment for a good bout of thrashing while instead he was to wait three bloody hours in stifling robes and an equally stifling mask for Malfoy, Lestrange and – Pettigrew?

His eyes widened fractionally before averting to the ground just beyond the tips of his dragon hide boots.

What was the weakest link among the cursed Marauders doing in the enemy lair?

Snape reigned in his occlumency shields while his mind worked furiously to fit puzzle pieces that simply did not belong. Had the rat been captured? Where the hell was Potter and why did he not protect his—

A child's cry suddenly split the room awaiting Voldemort's judgment, and conflagrations of curious whispers broke out amongst the Death Eaters. The curse frothing at Snape's lips died in a spectacular show of abstinence and utter, bewildered surprise.

"Silence," Voldemort intoned softly, dangerously, "Bring forth the boy."

Pettigrew hesitated briefly before inching forward, shakily placing the living bundle onto the stone pedestal in front of Voldemort. The Dark Lord inclined forward slowly, his gleaming eyes taking calculating stock of the young child's features.

Whatever he had seen must have satisfied him, because the wand tip peeking surreptitiously from the sleeve of his wand arm withdrew completely.

"Make no mistake, Pettigrew, that you will be punished for your inefficiency. But, I suppose, that particular transaction can wait…you have, after all, successfully brought the boy to me."

Snape's eyes flew up in surprise. Keeping his head angled to the ground, he squinted for a better look at the child on the pedestal. No, he thought fervently, it couldn't be.

A scant few months ago, Voldemort, in a rare fit of gregariousness, had revealed to the Inner Circle about the prophecized child that was to bring his untimely downfall. He had only been distantly bemused at the time when the Dark Lord relayed the identity of the boy to be none other than the detestable James Potter's child.

What was the boy's name… Gary? Larry? Terry?

But if Dumbledore was correct—and the old coot was somehow always right on the money—the boy would be instrumental in the upcoming resistance against Voldemort's reign of terror. If he was eliminated now….

"You are all here to witness, tonight, the death of one Harry James Potter." Voldemort brandished his wand with a lethal flick of his wrist.

"A woman of divination," He paused to sneer, "reported that this child was allegedly to be the cause of my demise."

His red eyes flashed with morbid amusement before he continued, his whisper low and dark, "Watch, my death eaters, and testify that no one, prophesized or not, will ever be able to stop me."

He leveled his wand expertly and with its tip, almost tenderly brushed away the already grown bangs of the infant. With perverse fondness and almost regret, Tom Riddle watched the luminous eyes of the would-be threat to his dominion and uttered, "Avada Kedavra."

A sudden burst of incandescent light flooded the dreary chamber, and a powerful magical surge swallowed and regurgitated every person in the room, leaving every Death Eater, including Voldemort, tossed and winded on the floor.

Voldemort snarled, roughly pocketed his scorching wand and collected himself in the way only a dark lord could. Heads whipped disconcertedly to the pedestal where the child was lying only seconds before.

Harry Potter was gone.

-End Prologue-