Disclaimer: The rights to all of the Harry Potter characters, the magical world and the Harry Potter cannon on which I have based this story were created and are strictly owned by JK Rowling. Furthermore, the name of my story and each of the titles given to the chapters within this piece of work (ie. the fan fic titled: 'It is our choices…') are all quotes that have been spoken by a character in the Harry Potter novels. I do not own these quotes and have used them to indicate the plot line of each of the chapters to which they refer. Although a majority of the plot line has been created by me, the characters, settings, spells etc are all a part of JK Rowling's creation, not mine.
A/N: This is the first chapter of 'It is our choices…'- a story that I hope will have many chapters to follow this one (about 100,000 words at least). 'It is our choices…' has been developing in my imagination for a few weeks now and I hope that you will enjoy it. Please review as I would really like to know what you think of the story and where you would like it to go.
A/N: A final note, this chapter has some relation to 'The Elder Wand' (Chapter 32) in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. You will probably notice how my story connects to the plotline of DH once you start to read. Anyway, enough from me. Please enjoy.
It is our choices…
Chapter 1- 'The truth…'
Ear-piercing screams chilled the air. Snape's heart jumped every time someone yelled in pain. He felt like a coward sitting rigidly at his desk, but he knew better than to enter the fray; he could vividly imagine the look on the Dark Lord's face if he saw Snape protecting someone from the Order, but killing someone fighting against Voldemort was also out of the question. Snape had to admit to himself that he was slightly- only slightly afraid that he would foolishly blow his cover, even though he had managed to maintain his apparent loyalty to the dark side for many years. But even the slightest possibility of being caught out by Voldemort was a risk that Snape was not willing to take. Therefore, he needed to keep out of the way and only enter the fray if the Dark Lord orders him to do so.
As if on cue, a tall, pointed nosed man entered the dungeon out of breath, his blonde-white hair aloof around his face.
"I have been looking everywhere for you, Severus!" the man announced, clearly angry.
"Why have you been looking for me, Lucius?" Snape asked looking the man up and down, realizing that not only did his fellow Death Eater look exhausted but positively unwell. His eyes were swollen and his face was slightly bruised, Snape would not have been surprised if Lucius hadn't slept in days. "You look ill, Lucius."
"That is not of your concern, Snape. The Dark Lord wants you, he told me to find you fifteen minutes ago."
Snape gulped and started to shake slightly. Although he was expecting his master to call upon him soon, he had no idea why Voldemort would have a need of him and hoped it wasn't because he was cowering in his study like a petrified animal.
"Do you know why he has asked for me?" Snape asked, trying to sound indifferent as he rose from his chair and headed towards the door, however reluctantly.
"No, how am I supposed to know such things Severus? You are his most trustworthy follower now; no doubt he wants you to do something important."
Snape walked out of his office contemplating the several possibilities, Lucius trailing behind him, still out of breath.
"What were you doing in your office anyway? I thought you would be fighting."
Snape didn't answer but increased his speed in an attempt to escape Lucius' prying.
"Where is the Dark Lord, Lucius?"
"In the Shrieking Shack, but god knows why he chose that place as his hide out."
Snape nodded his head in agreement, but felt uneasy about meeting his master in such a confined space.
Eventually, the two men approached the trunk of the Whomping Willow. Snape bid farewell to his companion and prodded the knot of the tree with a stick that was conveniently lying nearby. Slowly creeping up the stairs, the floor boards creaking as he climbed, he heard his master hissing to Nagini. Knocking on the door to the main bedroom, Snape's heart began to pound against his chest; his fear was threatening to consume him.
"You asked for me, my Lord?" Snape asked in polite interest as he transformed his face into what was hopefully a calm, unconcerned expression..
"Ah, Snape," Voldemort said maliciously, looking away from his snake to stare at Snape, "Yes, I ordered Lucius to find you because I have done enough waiting. It appears that Harry Potter is not going to approach me and I think it would be best if you went to find him."
Snape was taken aback; he expected a much worse assignment. However, he was still skeptical.
"No offense my Lord, but weren't you saying that you wanted to wait for the Potter boy to come to you, knowing that he would after seeing so many of his friends die for him?"
"Yes, that was my original plan, but I am an impatient man- the boy has taken too much of my time already. So, I think it would be best if you captured him now before he is killed by some thoughtless individual."
Snape nodded, understanding perfectly where his master was coming from; he had seen the way Alecto and Amycus looked at the boy and wouldn't put it past them to kill Harry, if only by 'accident'. And yet, Snape was slightly nervous, finding Harry was one thing, but there was something else too…
"Am I detecting a hint of fear, Severus?"
"No my Lord, absolutely not."
"Good, because you are the best man for the job. As a professor here, you know the school better than most of my Death Eaters and seeing as you also taught the boy for six years I assume that you would have a greater chance of finding him and coaxing him into coming with you. Or do you think that I am mistaken?" Voldemort asked staring intently into Snape's eyes.
"No, my Lord, of course you are absolutely right. I will leave immediately to search for him."
"Very good Snape, but may I remind you, that if you fail to retrieve him or resort to killing the boy, your punishment will be… severe." Voldemort smiled evilly at Snape, who repressed a shudder.
As Snape turned to leave, his heart leaped when he saw Nagini out of the corner of his eye, nestling in her magical sphere.
"Oh and Snape," Voldemort added. "When I call for my Death Eaters, you will return here with the boy and I will kill him in front of you all, something I am sure you are much looking forward to."
"Do not worry my Lord; I will not deprive you or my fellow Death Eaters of that pleasure," Snape answered, before he swept out of the shack, his heart hammering inside his chest.
Thousands of ideas were flying through the man's mind as he thought of what he had to do and what his master expected of him. I must find Potter. Yet Snape knew that was a long shot; how was he to find the boy when hundreds of people were currently fighting at Hogwarts?
Suddenly, he had an idea. Turning the corner and bounding up the stairs, Snape skidded to a halt in front of the gargoyle that lead to the headmaster's office, even though he was the rightful headmaster, he rarely inhabited it himself.
"Dumbledore," Snape panted at the statue.
Taking the stairs three at a time, Snape let himself into the large, circular office.
"Ah, Severus, what a pleasant surprise," Dumbledore's portrait asserted, smiling as he surveyed Snape over his half moon spectacles.
"Albus, the Dark Lord has requested that I find Potter," Snape panted at the portrait.
The sparkle in Dumbledore's magnificent eyes died, the old headmaster's face became solemn.
Not waiting for the man to reply, Snape continued.
"He is going to call for me and if I don't have Potter…" Snape shuddered, unable to complete his sentence.
"Well, we must first take every precaution to ensure that, while he may torture you, he will not kill you."
"What are you speaking of, Albus? We are talking about the same wizard aren't we? If the Dark Lord wants to kill me you know nothing will stop him."
"Ah, but that's where you forget Voldemort's weakness, Severus. You see, Tom believes he is superior to every man, woman and child and consequently will not waste his power and time killing you, a person who he believes incapable of finding Harry Potter. If you return empty handed my guess is that he will torture you, like he has many times previously, but he will not kill you himself." Snape could feel his blood pressure rising, his anger was threatening to overflow; it was as if Dumbledore was explaining the logic behind one plus one equaling two. Snape, after all, was risking his life, not attempting to solve a mathematical question.
"So what do you suggest I do, Albus?" Snape asked with his jaw clenched.
"I think our best guess is that Voldemort will command Nagini to kill you because that way he can watch you die a painful death and also, it will give Nagini something to eat."
"You speak so carelessly of my life, Dumbledore! Have you no conscience?"
"Of course I have a conscience, Severus, but you must understand the reality of the situation."
"So, you're suggesting that I stock up on anti-venom antidotes and blood replenishing potions just incase Nagini doesn't manage to kill me?" Snape retorted with a sneer, knowing too well that Nagini would never fail to do her master proud.
Dumbledore smiled. "Yes, exactly my point, Severus."
Snape looked dumbfounded.
"This is ridiculous…"
"I know, but it is your only hope of surviving. If I am wrong and Voldemort decides to kill you by his own wand, then alas, my ideas continue to fail me. But if I am right, you may live, Severus."
"Fine, I will summon the required antidotes from my stores."
But something was preventing Snape from taking action; he could feel Dumbledore surveying him intently from his frame and knew what the man wished to discuss. As Snape expected, Dumbledore asked, "I assume you intend on telling Harry the message yourself?"
"Do you think he will listen to you?"
"I have a plan, Albus."
Dumbledore paused, contemplating Snape's assertion. Finally he replied: "Well in that case, I will search for Harry. Hang on…" and Dumbledore left his portrait.
"Accio blood replenishing potions," Snape said, his wand arm shaking slightly. About a minute later, five small bottles of red liquid flew into the palm of Snape's outstretched hand. Pocketing them, Snape summoned his anti-venom stores. When each of the bottles were safely nestled in his pockets, he heard Dumbledore enter his portrait once again.
"Severus, Harry is coming down the staircase from the first floor; he will be in the Entrance Hall at any moment."
Snape nodded in reply, his hands still shaking. While Dumbledore was absent, he had gone over the plan several times in his head, but he had no idea if it would work.
Snape walked towards the door, hardly thinking about where he was going or what he was about to do.
"Severus," Dumbledore said as Snape put his hand on the door knob, "Good luck my friend."
Although Snape could tell that Dumbledore was worried and apprehensive, he was nevertheless reassured by the calming look the old man gave him.
Snape nodded his head in response to the headmaster's wishes and let himself out of the office, hoping that he would one day return.
The complicated and risky mission Snape was determined to accomplish filled his mind so much so that he hardly noticed the many bodies lying motionlessly on the ground before him. Snape had one job and one job only and that was to find the Potter boy and tell him what he needed to know so that he could have a chance at defeating the Dark Lord once and for all. Having seen Nagini enclosed in her spherical cage just as Dumbledore had previously described, Snape knew he had to tell the boy soon; whether he liked it or not, the final battle was getting closer.
Although Snape had a plan, he doubted it would work, but he knew that, for Dumbledore's sake and for Lily's, he had to at least try. Slowing his pace substantially, Snape descended the staircase leading to the Entrance Hall and saw Harry about ten meters away from the front doors. Remembering his plan, Snape whispered: "Expecto Patronum" and watched his silver doe fly out of his wand and gallop towards Harry as if enticing him to follow her.
Snape breathed a sigh of relief when Harry took the bait and began to follow the doe towards the dungeons. Slowly and quietly, Snape crept behind his Patronus and the boy, hoping that no one would see him walking so stupidly down the corridor. When they finally reached the dungeons, Snape had to leap behind a pillar when Harry turned around to see if anyone was nearby before entering Snape's classroom. Thankfully, Severus' plan was working as well as he could have hoped. But the difficult part was still to come.
Snape peered around the door and into the room where he saw the boy patting his Patronus. Snape couldn't help but sneer; it seems the boy has lost all sense of rationality- if he had any to start with. There is a war occurring and he takes his chances by following a mysterious Patronus? Careless, Potter, Snape thought.
Yet, for the first time in living memory, Snape was grateful for Harry's stupidity.
Walking into the room and closing the door behind him, Snape entered with as much caution as possible, preparing for Potter to attack him. Indeed Harry spun around, a mixture of fear and anger in his eyes, as Snape walked towards him, the Patronus disappearing through Harry's fingers with a flick of Snape's wand.
"That Patronus is yours? You led us to Gryffindor's sword?" Harry asked dumbstruck.
"Yes, Potter, but there are more important things to discuss right now."
"And why should I listen to you?" Harry demanded, raising his wand ready to fight.
So the boy acknowledges that I helped him get the Sword of Gryffindor, yet he still doesn't trust me?
Snape shook his head; already he was becoming impatient with the boy.
"Listen, I don't have time for your doubts and pointless questions. The Dark Lord has sent me to find you and bring you to him so that he can murder you in front of his Death Eaters. He thinks that I am coming to find you and when my Dark Mark burns he expects me to return with you," Snape stated in a matter-of-fact tone, not wishing to portray his concern and anxiety to the boy.
"Well it looks like your plan worked. I'm right here where you want me, but I'm not coming without a fight!" Harry yelled brandishing his wand.
"Don't be stupid, Potter and lower your wand. I am not here to capture you. I wanted to find you so that I could pass on a message from Dumbledore-"
"But you don't think I'm that stupid to believe that you are still in contact with Dumbledore, do you? After you murdered him? After everything you have done?" Snape watched as Harry continued to hold his wand in front of his body as if about to attack.
"Put your wand away, Potter and listen to me very carefully. I am here to inform you that the night the killing curse rebounded off you and hit the Dark Lord, a bit of his soul broke apart from the whole and connected itself to you. This has given you the power to speak Parseltongue and gain a privileged insight into the Dark Lord's thoughts-"
"A privilege? Well, I don't see it that way." Harry replied sarcastically.
"Enough of this, Potter! You must listen to me. Dumbledore made me promise to tell you that until that part of the Dark Lord's soul has been eradicated from your body and destroyed, he cannot die."
Harry froze, evidently processing the information his ex-professor had given him.
"I don't believe-"
"You not believing me is not an option, Potter! As long as you promise me that you will heed my advice and act upon the knowledge I have given you, then I don't care what you do or what you say to me! You must understand that someone needs to be told exactly how to defeat the Dark Lord because by the sound of things, that person won't be you."
"I- we, don't have time to argue about this!" Snape yelled, but then paused in thought; knowing Potter he'll need evidence. He may blindly follow a Patronus, but he won't believe me, the man who killed Albus Dumbledore, without substantial proof… Finally, Snape's mind was made up.
"Here, take this." Aggressively, Snape pulled out his wand, to which Harry flinched and raised his own wand.
"I'm not going to attack you, Potter!" Raising his wand to his temple, Snape extracted several memories from his mind and placed them neatly into a vial, corked it and handed it to Harry.
"If you get the chance, go to Dumbledore's office and look at these memories. They will explain everything..." A fleeting feeling of embarrassment and fury escaped Snape as he remembered the day he found Harry deep into his worst memory. But Snape forced himself to push it aside; there were more important things to consider.
"Everything you want to know will be there; we don't have the time to discuss it."
Harry was evidently worried and on the verge of panic as he glanced at Snape and then the vial held tightly in his hand. "Voldemort's at Hogwarts- I have a job to do! I don't have time to look at these!"
"Then don't! I don't care what you do as long as you listen to me and ensure that someone knows of your plan, because otherwise the Dark Lord will never be defeated!"
"So, you're not going to take me to Voldemort?"
"No, Potter. I will return empty handed and likely be tortured and killed for my efforts so that you or someone else will have the chance to defeat the Dark Lord once and for all. Do not allow my sacrifice to be in vain, Potter!"
"So, you are on my side?" Harry whispered.
Harry paused, clearly contemplating this significant discovery about his ex-professor. "But why did you change sides?" Harry asked, suddenly skeptical once again.
Snape flinched as the Dark Mark burnt black on his arm. Both Harry and Snape stared at it, not immediately recognising the significance of the mark. Suddenly realising how much time they were wasting, Snape said, "Potter, the Dark Lord will be on a rampage once he realizes I haven't brought you with me. He will search for you. Make sure you tell someone what must be done before he finds you."
Harry nodded, clearly surprised that Snape was in fact going to return to Voldemort without him. Yet there was something else that was disturbing Harry even more than Snape's loyalty.
"Why is your Patronus a doe?"
"It isn't important; you must go- I must go!"
"We'll talk about it later, now go!"
"But what if we don't get to talk later?"
Harry ran towards the door, but paused in mid motion as if he wanted to say something further.
Snape felt a mixture of fury and anxiety; didn't the boy understand that a war was occurring and that efficiency was of the essence?
When Harry spoke however, Snape was not expecting the words that escaped the boy's mouth.
"I'm sorry- "
"Go, Potter!" Snape yelled as he watched Harry run from his office.
Snape stared at his Dark Mark lost in thought. You know there is no way out; just keep your head high… remain loyal to Lily.
As he ran from his office towards the Shrieking Shack, Snape saw Harry running up the staircase towards the Headmaster's office. Snape genuinely hoped the boy would have enough time to see his memories because deep, deep down, he wanted Harry to know the truth: who he was and what he had done. Yet Snape couldn't help but be grateful that he would never have to explain his feelings to the boy and consequently, for the first time in living memory, Snape appreciated the way the Dark Lord punished his followers.
Feeling slightly optimistic, Snape whispered, "Good luck, Potter" as he continued to run towards his master's headquarters.
A/N: A part of the plot line in this chapter was taken from another one of my fan fics: 'The Prince Redeemed' (please read it if you haven't already).
A/N: I hope you liked the first chapter: 'The truth…'. The second chapter has already been written: '… death is but the next greatest adventure' and I will post it up shortly. Please review!