The Facade of Innocence
To beguile the time;
Look like the time,
Bear welcome in your eye, your hand, your tongue:
Look like the innocent flower
But be the serpent undern't
Macbeth Act 1 Scene 5
Chapter One: Something Wicked This Way Comes
The night of October 31st, 1981 was a wet, damp, chilly affair. The Dark Lord had finally succeeded in discovering the location of the blood traitor, the mudblood, and the child that was destined to destroy him. Not that Lucius Malfoy put much credit into prophecy. In fact, he cared very little for divination of any sort. There was too much guesswork, too much room for speculation in it.
As a business man and a Malfoy, Lucius tended to put his money – and his support – behind those things that were sure to bring him fortune and power. The Dark Lord had promised him those things, and so far, he had more than delivered. It wouldn't be much longer before they had control of the wizarding world, with Lucius in the position of Minister of Magic. Oh, Lucius knew that he would be merely a figure head with the Dark Lord making the decisions, but even still, Lucius would be respected. He was, after all, the Dark Lord's right hand man. The man he went to when he needed advice or counseling.
Lucius wasn't a fool, however, so when his Lord expressed anxiety over a prophecy overheard in a pub, he listened and guided his Lord as best he could. It went without saying that Lucius didn't share his feelings – good or otherwise – about the prophecy or divination in general. No, he merely watched as his once great Lord became side-tracked and obsessed with the destruction of a mere infant, bidding his time until the madness cleared away.
When that fool of a man told the Dark Lord the Potter's location, Lucius couldn't help but be relieved. The sooner the brat was killed, the sooner they could begin implementing their plans – his plans – and the sooner the wizarding world would be free from the filthy mudbloods and muggles that were running rampant. There was no fanfare in this mission. Just the Dark Lord, Pettigrew and himself apparated in front of the cottage in Godric's Hollow. Lucius heard the screams of the blood traitor and the mudblood as they pleaded for the life of their son. He was surprised, however, when the house exploded with a flash of bright white light.
Pettigrew fled only seconds later like the coward he was, leaving him behind. After several minutes passed and the Dark Lord still hadn't left the wreckage, Lucius became suspicious. It was for that reason alone that he ignored his master's command and entered what was left of the house. He stepped over the body of the blood traitor Potter and made his way upstairs where the Dark Lord was supposed to have been. Instead of finding his Lord, however, Lucius found only the body of the mudblood and a crying infant.
Next to the infant was the Dark Lord's wand. Not knowing exactly what had happened, but knowing enough to surmise that the child had, at only the age of fifteen months, brought about the destruction of the darkest wizard in over a century, he made a decision. He reached down and picked the child up, stopping to also retrieve the fallen wand. Lucius was nothing if not opportunistic. He had no doubt that the Dark Lord would return eventually. Lucius himself knew of the steps the man had taken to become immortal. But he also knew that the child in his arms was extremely powerful. He could only imagine what rewards would be bestowed upon him if the child was under his – and by default, his Lord's – control. His mind made up, Lucius apparated away from the wreckage child in tow, not knowing what effect his actions would have.
Thirteen years later
As a spy, Severus Snape prided himself on his ability to retrieve information and secrets of the utmost importance, so suffice to say that he was more than a little surprised when Lucius firecalled him asking if he would like to accompany him to visit with his elder brother and retrieve his nephew, Julian, who would be attending Hogwarts this coming year. Severus had reluctantly agreed. He knew it was important to Dumbledore that he maintain his Death Eater contacts in preparation for the Dark Lord's eventual return to power, and the Malfoy brothers were both excellent contacts.
Severus wasn't sure what he expected when they flooed into the Parisian mansion, but it was definitely not the scene they stumbled upon. Augustus looked just as Severus had remembered him, features so similar to Lucius' yet so completely different. He seemed to be in disagreement with a boy whom Severus assumed to be Julian. .
"But Papa! It isn't fair!" pouted the blonde-haired boy. "I've been training for months so that I could compete in the Tri-wizard Tournament! Now all of my hard work will be for naught!"
"Is not," corrected Augustus Malfoy automatically before turning back to his newspaper. "And what have I told you about whining, Julian?"
The boy in question sighed. "That it is unbecoming of a Malfoy." A frown settled on the boy's face.
"You can still compete in the Tournament, only for Hogwarts – not Durmstrang."
"But Professor Karkaroff says Hogwarts is full of blood traitors and mudbloods! You can't possibly expect me to go there…" the boy trailed off.
"I can and I do, Julian. Going to Hogwarts won't be so bad, will it? You like your Uncle Lucius, don't you?"
Another sigh. "Yes."
"And you like your cousin Draco?"
Reluctantly now. "Yes."
"Then you'll go?" he pressed further.
"Fine, I'll go," Julian huffed and crossed his arms over his chest. He looked at his father, betrayal blazing in his steely eyes. "But I'm taking Nyx… and Tobby I don't care what that man says, no self-respecting Malfoy would ever take on a kitten or a rat as a familiar. It's insulting. And no personal house elves? That's barbaric!"
The man arched a pale eyebrow at his son's antics. "Very well, now if you're quite finished with your tantrum, I think you'll discover we have guests."
Seeing their guests for the first time, Julian promptly straightened up. "Hello Uncle," he murmured, inclining his head slightly. "I thank you for inviting me to your home this summer."
Lucius seemed pleased with his deferment. "Julian," he returned the greeting. "This is my friend, Severus Snape. He will be spending the summer with us as well."
"It's nice to meet you," said Snape calculatedly. He hadn't been aware that Lucius even had a nephew. From last he knew of the older Malfoy brother, his tastes in females had run decidedly too masculine which was how Lucius had come to be the Malfoy heir in the first place.
The boy's grey eyes widened. "The Severus Snape?" he breathed, looking from his uncle to the strange man.
"The one and only," chuckled Lucius. "Severus, this is my nephew, Julian Malfoy."
Julian gave a small bow, his pale cheeks tinted pink. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Master Snape."
"Master?" asked his father.
Julian gaped at him. "Of course, Papa, he's only the youngest Potion Master in a century! You know that! Remember? We talked about this only last week when his latest paper documenting his new findings about the wolfsbane potion was published in the Potions for the Betterment of our World journal!"
Augustus smirked at Snape. "Of course, how could I forget? Youngest Potion Master in a century," he simpered at the blushing man.
"Well, come along now, Julian," drawled Lucius. "Say good-bye to your father. Draco and Narcissa are spending the day in Paris shopping, but they should return in time for dinner."
The boy threw his arms around his father and pressed a kiss on his cheek. "Be good," he admonished him.
"How's that for role reversal?" he chuckled, returning the hug. "Have fun this summer. Make sure you keep up with your studies at Hogwarts, and for goodness sake, Julian, do not let me hear about you tormenting your cousin or his friends with that snake of yours," he called after them as they disappeared one by one into the fireplace.
"Snake?" asked Severus after they'd all come through.
"Yes," said Julian. "I have a snake, well, specifically; I have a runespoor, named Nxy. Don't worry – she won't bite you, if I ask her not to."
"Ah, I had forgotten your father found you a runespoor. Julian is a Parselmouth, Severus, and quite a talented student. Top of his classes in Durmstrang," Lucius told Severus offhandedly.
Julian gasped. "I nearly forgot, Uncle. I have some news for you. News I couldn't trust to letter."
Lucius raised his eyebrow in inquiry at his nephew. "Shall we retire to the study then?"
"Very well, then. Dobby?" the blonde wizard waited for a small elf to appear.
"Yes, Master Malfoy? How may Dobby be serving you today?"
Lucius sneered at the cowering creature. "A tea set for three in my study, Dobby, and do try to be a little more prompt! Also, see that you help Julian's elf get settled in. Any mistakes he makes will be on you."
The elf blabbered for a moment before popping out once more.
Once they were enjoying tea and sandwiches, Lucius turned towards Julian. "You had some news for me?"
"May I speak freely, sir?" asked the boy. Severus did not miss the fact that those grey eyes flashed to him briefly before settling back on Lucius.
"Of course, Julian. Severus can be trusted," was the reply.
The boy pulled out his wand and murmured several words in Latin before speaking. "I've made several interesting new friends this year, Uncle," he commented. "A snake that goes by the name of Nagini, for one."
Severus made a sputtering sound as he choked on his tea. Even Lucius seemed surprised by this new information. Julian continued on as if he'd never been interrupted.
"Well, actually Nxy met Nagini whilst hunting in the forest near school. Seems her master," the boy paused for a second, eyeing both men, "was trying to get in contact with one of his faithful servants in Durmstrang. He'd grown tired of that sniveling rat – not that I blame him, of course, who'd want to be around him anyway? Pitiful excuse for a wizard, really." Julian shook his head.
"The Dark Lord is alive?" breathed Lucius.
Severus echoed the same sentence in his head – his mind reeling, his entire body tense.
"Yes," replied Julian. "Well, as alive as can be – for now. I, of course, passed along his message – my dear Headmaster was less than pleased to hear it, however. He was acting quite skittish towards the end of term come to think of it. Trying to shirk his responsibility to our Lord – what a fool!" the boy muttered.
"You've seen him, then?" asked Severus, barely containing the quiver to his voice.
"Quite a bit actually. He was fascinated to discover another Parselmouth, and a Malfoy no less."
This seemed to shake Lucius up momentarily. "Had he any messages for me?" he asked.
"Not at the present time. Our plans are progressing nicely, and will continue to do so – especially now that I'll be at Hogwarts."
"Well, well," Lucius murmured. "Convenient that your headmaster thought you would benefit from Severus' tutelage, isn't it?"
Julian smirked. "Was that the excuse he gave my father? Father isn't fond of the Dark Lord, you know, but he's even less fond of Albus Dumbledore. It took quite a bit of orchestrating to get him to agree. Headmaster Karkaroff, on the hand, was much easier to manipulate. He should have taken advantage of the Mind magic classes he had available to him at school. It was simple enough to place the suggestion there in his mind, and once in there… well, let's say I doubt he'll make it to the end of the tournament. Legimancy is an extremely useful little trick, isn't it Master Snape?" The boy's grey eyes watched him silently for several minutes. "Especially when dealing with potential traitors."
Severus hid his disbelief and fear behind a mask of indifference. Who was this boy? The boy was helping the darkest wizard in a century return to power and there probably wasn't a damn thing he could do about it – not when his very life was being threatened. No doubt that's what the boy had meant when he'd made that remark. He'd known the Dark Lord would be unhappy with Severus for thwarting Quirell's attempts to steal the philosopher's stone. It was easily explainable, though. Luckily enough, Severus really had been blissfully unaware of the fact that the Dark Lord had been living life as a parasite attached to Quirell's head! Not that it would have changed his actions, mind you. Severus had no intentions of allowing the Dark Lord to become immortal.
Lucius could not help but smirk at Julian. "You planned this entire thing, then? That scene with your father that we witnessed was very well-played.
"Well, not all of it was a lie. I don't particularly care to attend Hogwarts, but I'll make do. In less than a year, the Dark Lord will be returned to power, and I'll be rewarded handsomely for my efforts. As will you, Uncle. He is very pleased with you." The boy stifled a yawn. "I think I'll go rest a bit before dinner. Have a good afternoon Uncle, Master Snape."
Snape watched incredulously as the boy left the room. And he was just a boy – not even yet fifteen, if his looks were any indication. No matter what he'd done, he was still just a child, much like those insufferable brats he attempted to teach potions to.
"Remarkable, isn't he?" asked Lucius softly. "I've sometimes wondered if I'd done the right thing, but it looks like everything is going to turn out much better than I'd hoped. Don't look so downtrodden, Severus. Julian is a delightful child, and I'm sure you two will get along nicely."
"How is he in potions?" Severus asked warily.
Lucius chuckled darkly. "Good enough but it's the Dark Arts he excels in."
"He's just a child!" hissed Severus.
"I think you'll discover that quite the opposite is true. How about a game of chess?" Lucius asked. It was clearly a diversion tactic which Severus could appreciate and even welcomed at that point.
The rest of the afternoon and evening were uneventful. Dinner was a quiet affair with only the three of them. Narcissa and Draco had decided to stay overnight and wouldn't be returning until the next day. Severus took the opportunity the quietness awarded to observe Julian. He seemed very much the image of what a young Malfoy should be. He was polite, intelligent, extremely self-assured, not to mention powerful, and the spitting image of Lucius – so much like him, in fact, that there were times when Severus felt like he had been transported back in time. He had a shorter stature than Lucius, however, but he would be an average height when he matured. The only perceivable imperfection on the boy was a small lightening shaped scar on his forehead.
It was very late into the night when Severus was finally able to sneak out of Malfoy Manor. He apparated to the edge of the forest, nearly running all the way to the Headmaster's office. He began barking out the names of all of the muggle and wizzarding candy he could think of before the door finally opened.
The headmaster was sitting behind his desk just as he always was whenever Severus had need of him.
"Severus, my dear boy. Bit late for a visit, isn't it?"
Severus took a deep breath. "Albus," his voice was stricken. "We have a problem – a rather large problem, I would say."