Title: Harry Potter and the Forgotten Place (title subject to change)
Disclaimer: Owned by J.K Rowling and the publishing agencies of her book. I am not gaining profit from writing this. All quotes, paraphrasing, or likeliness to Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince are intentional, but I do not take credit for those works.
Warnings: periodic profanity, fantasy-violence, (pre)slash, some sexual situations, slight OOC, an American writer attempting to write British slang :]
Pairing: cannon pairings, eventual dmxhp
Rating: M for mature
The war against Voldemort is becoming a strain on the Order of the Phoenix. Suffering occasional losses of members, the Order is losing their vehemence and control. Aurors are failing to comply, and the new Minister of Magic is slowly losing a war against fear and propaganda. The slaying on both sides of the war is forcing more and more youth to be immersed in the battle. And yet… Harry Potter lives his life trying to find a balance between being a Sixth-Year at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and the so called "Chosen One". With extraordinary help from a mysterious source, love perfuming the air, and classes full of surprises, Harry is stretched far too thin. In this remake of HP6, Harry finally realizes how he tiptoes along a knife's edge and how exactly to trust.
THE UNBREAKABLE VOW
Narcissa Malfoy lifted her chin proudly underneath her black hood, heels tapping along the dark London streets. Her eyes unconsciously kept flickering to the horizon, where a budding plume of clouds began to build. Since He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named returned, the world was slowly darkening, like nearly sixteen years prior. She remembered - with a chill that settled on her slender shoulders- the stormy skies and haze that filled the world, so palpable she once choked on the fumes. It was a world of oblivion prior to His temporary demise, and oblivion it was slowly returning to.
Narcissa's heel caught on the edge of the sidewalk, and she stumbled, using a newspaper dispenser as an anchor. Her majesty disbanded, anxieties bubbled to her stomach, greening her face. She immediately cursed her beloved Lucius for placing her in such a revolting position - it was his love for the Dark Arts and lust for power that forced the Malfoys to tip-toe along a knife's edge. But pride be damned if she was going to allow her only son, Draco, to fall victim to such a fate.
An image of her son hardened her resolve. Her convictions hardened, tightened, and created an impenetrable shield around her. A fire replaced the sickness in her stomach, darkening her alabaster cheeks red, tightening her sharp jaw. She would not allow her son, her only physical attachment to sanity, to be punished for his father's misgivings.
Regaining her balance, she marched confidently towards Monroe Avenue. Her eyes flickered over the slow stream of muggles that shuffled by the street. They glanced fearfully down the black alley that gaped between two run-down apartments like a pulled tooth. Perhaps they should be afraid, Narcissa thought darkly, as she strode down the alley, sidestepping rubbish.
"Oi, a purdy layde," a scraggly looking wizard murmured from his seat by the garbage bin. "Lookin' liyk she jus came frum Gringotts. Prolly got hur purse fulla gol', tha' 'un."
Narcissa dropped a few Knuts into his emptied coffee cup, ignoring his gratuitous thanks as she stepped around him to a large, green garbage dumpster. She raised her white-ash wand and tapped it four times against the metal.
"Bibamus, moriendum est," she said in a quiet breath, tapping harder at the dumpster. At first, nothing happened. She heard the rattle of the beggar investigating the money he now posessed, the clacks of heels as muggles passed by. A rat scampered over her De Luca boots and she suppressed a shudder. Then, a low whine and an uncanny rush of wind began to come from the dumpster. The cover slammed, with an alarming screech, slapping a brick wall. The front and sides folded down onto the concrete, revealing a stack of stairs that oozed the scent of firewhiskey and cheap, elfin wine.
Thankful that she wore a darker pair of hand gloves that day, she gripped the filthy banister and descended into the abyss.
Walking into Spinner's End, she gripped her wand a tad tighter apprehensively. The uncommonly known community was full of trash: filthy mudbloods, half-breeds and squibs; men who relied on a roll of the dice or a drink of firewhisky; convicts who had managed to escape Azkaban by sheer luck or Death Eaters hiding from capture - by haughty Aurors or the Dark Lord himself. Spinner's End was for those not quite dark enough for Knockturn Alley; Spinner's End was for those who wanted to be forgotten.
Narcissa ignored the catcalls from either side of the cobble-stoned streets, either begging for a few Knuts or advertising a smoother night (not that they could tell the time of day, gauging the concrete sky), men and women alike. Scraggily men attempted to sell her stolen jewels or shouted about potions that would murder her husband and prolong her beauty. She smiled thinly - she doubted that they had a potion that could give Lucius half of the just desserts he deserved.
Passing Griffith's Potions: For friends, enemies, and a tad of both and OOWLS Escort Service onto Wenlock Street, Narcissa tiptoed around a slobbering drunk, who was raving about his lost "Melissa" into a street sign. The action brought her closer to another gaping alley, and allowed her to be grabbed.
A slight hand slapped over her mouth and tugged her deep into the abysmal gap, while the other tossed her wand to the ground. Narcissa kicked violently, trying to focus her thoughts; a silent spell she could handle, or even a wandless, but at the same time she was completely distraught and at her captive's mercy.
"Now, now, Cissy; wouldn't want to harm your only sister," an overly sweet voice said in Narcissa's ear. Bellatrix slacked her arms, allowing her sister to be freed.
"What are you doing here?" Narcissa hissed, straightening her cloak so she looked once again unruffled and regal.
Bellatrix's smile waned until a look of madness crossed her eyes. "You're betraying the Dark Lord, Cissy by merely stepping into the Forgotten Place. Your intentions are-"
"My intentions are that of my own, Bella, and if you don't like it I say you Apparate back to His side. Accio wand." The white-ash wand flew back to its owner's paler hand with gusto. "I told you not to follow me."
"Since when have I listened to you?" Bellatrix asked in her sickly-sugar tone. She lowered the hood of her cloak and straightened her frizzy, unkempt curls to no avail. "Getting quite hot under there."
"What are you doing?" Narcissa demanded. "You're compromising my invisibility. I told you-"
"Ah, still uptight as usual," Bella sighed, placing her hood once again atop her head. She squeezed her sister's shoulder quickly before regaining sight of why she traveled to Spinner's End in the first place. "Cissy, this is ridiculous. You're endangering yourself, and Draco, especially on the heels of Lucius's failure… And to trust him of all people."
"He is trusted by the Dark Lord," the blonde said tiredly. "Do you not trust the Dark Lord?"
"I do!" Bella whined. "I do." Shadows of madness flickered across her face - Azkaban certainly had chiseled the woman into something more, something different from what she once was. Her eyes were hardened and glossed with hatred. Her cheeks hollowed, yet the skin was stretched tight, like the most delicate of plastic, across her bones. Narcissa remembered cynically the grin that stretched upon her plump lips when she recreated the stories of her murders, a favorite pass-time of hers.
Narcissa only shook her head gently and stepped out of the alley. "I'm carrying through with my plan, regardless of what you attempt to say otherwise."
Bellatrix hissed under her breath, snake-like and reminiscent of the Dark Lord Himself before following her sister. The slight figures walked quite quickly now, cloaks billowing behind them. They turned onto a quieter, darkly lit street titled ironically, Merrywit.
Narcissa stopped at a badly built brick building that looked a few years or so close to dilapidation. The black colored bricks were caused by amounts of dust and ill cleaning - the few that remained in the structure resembling a house, that is.
"We can always turn back, Cissy," Bellatrix whispered softly in her ear, a hand on her shoulder. "You doubt your son's potential."
"I doubt my son's decision," Narcissa quickly amended. "It is his potential that I am attempting to save." She quickly walked up to the door and grasped the snake knocker; it was so gaudy and Slytherin it made Narcissa chuckle humorously and shortly under her breath.
The door creaked open slowly, immersing them in a candle-lit parlor. Bellatrix stepped in only seconds before the door closed of its own accord.
"Mrs. Malfoy," sighed a familiar voice. "And Bellatrix."
"Zabini?" Bellatrix questioned, pushing her hood back. Her eyes were tightened with anger. "What are you doing here?"
"She came on the Dark Lord's orders," a slick, oily voice murmured. Severus Snape stepped up from his desk, where he once was scrawling something seemingly important. He spelled the quill to keep working as he greeted his new guests, standing behind the slim figure of Capricia Zabini. She swiveled her hips slightly, emphasizing the curve of her body temptingly as she placed a hand on her waist. She shot Snape a large, smoky smile before turning to the two women.
"Snape," Bellatrix growled quietly, poising herself like a cat about to strike. Narcissa rested a hand on her shoulder daintily.
"Professor Snape," the blonde said regally, extending a hand to undoubtedly be kissed. Snape did not disappoint. Capricia didn't pretend not to notice, letting her cat eyes slide over the pleasantries. "Ms. Zabini. I hate to intrude unannounced on what seemingly is an important meeting."
"No matter," Snape said. His eyes flashed on Capricia's figure in the doorway darkly. "She was just leaving."
"Indeed I was," she said in her heady, lounge-singer voice. She grasped her cloak from the peg by the door, smiling at Narcissa. She shot Bellatrix a side-long contemptuous glare before sighing her goodbyes. The latter watched Capricia leave apprehensively. No one moved until they heard her footsteps retreat and disappear.
"Knowing Zambebe, she's going to blab to the Dark Lord now, the lousy wench," Bellatrix growled, intentionally debauching the woman's name. "I'm not placing my neck on the line for this."
"It is perpetually pleasant to know where your loyalties lie, Bella," Narcissa said coldly. "I did not ask you to follow me, but you did behind my back. You have no choice but to fall with me now."
"No!" the raven haired girl shrilly responded. "I have worked hard to regain The Dark Lord's favor; I am not losing it for your dimwit of a son."
"Ladies, ladies," Snape coolly interjected, when he noticed Narcissa angrily recoil, her hand gripping her alabaster wand tightly. "If you came here simply to argue, I may have to turn you away. In such trying times, a man does value his privacy."
Bellatrix snorted. "I'm sure you'll have plenty privacy when you return to Dumbledore's bosom like a good boy."
He merely smiled, gesturing for the two women to sit. Narcissa elegantly sat on a blackened sofa, her long, silvery hair pooling around her. Besides her, Bellatrix plopped down, her face pinched tighter with rage and deep loathing, a sparkle of fear collecting in her irises.
"Accio wine," Snape hissed. A red bottle flew to his palm. He poured two gothic goblets full and handed each to the fuming women before serving himself.
"Probably poisoned," Bellatrix grumbled, Vanishing it with a quick wave of her wand. Snape's smile stretched thinner. He flicked his wand quickly, halting the quick scrawl of the quill, and whispered the charm to make a room Imperturbable.
"So may I ask to why I have been graced with your presence, Mrs. Malfoy?" he asked, obsidian eyes focusing upon her.
"It's about my son, Draco."
"Yeah, the one who's almost of age and should be able to make his own decisions," Bellatrix snarled under her breath. Snape and Narcissa chose to ignore her.
"Being his head of house, and most favorite teacher, as well as a life-long friend of the Malfoys, I've come to ask you for guidance over my son, as well as reassurance for his mother."
Snape's eyes tightened. "I am glad that Ms. Zabini chose to speak to me before you arrived."
"Zabini?" Bellatrix asked. "She knows of Draco's calling?"
"The Dark Lord...knows of Draco's substance," Snape said, casting Narcissa an unapologetic glance. "The boy will need as much help as possible to commit his task, especially one so great, so He chose to inform me for my connections to the target. Zabini... well, overheard, and I say overheard lightly, the conversation between the Dark Lord and I. As it so happens, however, her son Blaise, who I'm sure you are both acquainted with, is also being lured into the service of the Dark Lord. I've also heard he's become good friends with Draco over the past few years and I figure they will be useful to each other."
Bellatrix snorted and mumbled, "If being Dumbledore's pet is valuable, then I might be daft."
"I suppose you're daft then," Snape snapped. "By showing false loyalty to Dumbledore, I have gained his trust, and certain allowances."
"Mm, which is why he won't let Snapey be the Dark Arts teacher. Wouldn't want the mean ol' Death Eater corrupting the poor Hufflepuff twats," Bellatrix said in her mock-babying voice. "Not that he would of course. That would mean Snapey's gotten his head straightened out and chose the right side."
"Bella," Narcissa stage-whispered. "He is the Dark Lord's adviser and most trusted among us all. You would do well to watch your tongue."
Snape puffed up immediately, drinking his goblet of wine with a superior gaze cast in Bellatrix's direction. She stared him down with enraged jealously, casting her mad eyes back on her sister's.
"As would you; you dare speak against the Dark Lord's judgment. You've attempted to undermine his decision on Draco too many times." Bellatrix stared at her unblinkingly before smiling. The grin split across her face, pinching her face tighter. "Cissy, Cissy, when will you understand that your plan won't work?"
Narcissa shot a shamed glance at Snape, before turning to her untouched goblet of wine.
"May I ask about this plan that Bellatrix seems to think will betray the Dark Lord?" Snape asked. "I don't mind aiding Draco in his mission, if he requires it. In fact, the Dark Lord has willed it."
"I didn't venture to Spinner's End to ask for such a thing," Narcissa said slowly, ignoring Bellatrix's fuming face. "I came to ask you not to assist Draco, but to stop him."
Snape paused before taking a long sip of his wine, as if to wash Narcissa's words down his throat. He rolled them over in a pregnant silence, dark eyes never leaving Narcissa's.
"I suppose that is why you look so tortured," he finally said. "The quests that Draco has been proposed have been completed by you."
Narcissa hung her head. "It is no matter for me to split my soul for my son. However I cannot, will not, allow him to split his in fear." She glanced at Snape, eyes glistening. "He is my final and only son."
Bellatrix, in contrast to her sister's vulnerability, physically hardened to something almost stone. She sounded to be growling under her breath like a mere animal, and a mere, slow animal Snape treated her.
"Bellatrix, you may talk now if you wish" he said slowly and distinctly with severe gesticulation, as if speaking to someone impaired.
The woman flinched. "Do not speak to me with your traitor tongue, Severus."
"Traitor?" Snape asked, eyes dancing. "It is I that has proved to be the most useful to the Dark Lord, while you rolled around in Azkaban, playing with the Dementors."
"I KILLED SIRIUS!" She reminded him shrilly. "I delivered that bratty baby Potter to the Dark Lord, and if you distracted Dumbledore and that goody-two-shoes Order, the boy would be with his Mudblood mother."
"It was not what the Dark Lord willed."
Bellatrix screamed and pulled at her hair limply. "Cissy, tell me that it is not dodgy!"
Narcissa maintained quiet, dabbing at her eyes where tears were forming.
"I believe that you should bring your accusations to the Dark Lord, and he will tell you if I am lying. I am quite accomplished at Occlumency, but He is a much more powerful Legilimens; He could read my mind like an open scroll," he spat, grinning at the ever-growing hatred on Bellatrix's face. "Also," Snape whispered, "you have no proof."
"You slimey git," Bellatrix howled. "Your true colors will be revealed soon, Snape, and I will be glad to finish you off, you know."
Snape merely shrugged, Conjuring a dusty-lace handkerchief. He handed it to Narcissa. She smiled kindly at Snape, and dabbed lady-like around her makeup to catch the falling tears.
"It's amazing you still have enough feeling to cry, Mrs. Malfoy, after all the deeds you've committed," Snape said in an odd tone; neither bemusement nor astonishment.
"She's offed many blokes for Draco," Bellatrix pointed out with a twist of her lips. She tapped her forefinger with each name, sighing approval. "Ainsworth, Rowley, Lamport, Landon, and Lawley, Hurst, Weller…tortured a couple muggles too, didn't you Cissy? And didn't you kill a Mudblood? Forgot his name, though. Silly lil' fellow he was."
Narcissa only gasped a sob into the handkerchief.
Snape shot Bellatrix a scandalized glance; the woman merely grinned smugly, almost proudly.
"I only did it so Draco wouldn't have to," Narcissa breathed. "I can't let him see…let him see the light leave someone's eyes and know that he was the culprit. He's a good boy!"
Snape pinched his nose.
"The Dark Lord suspects what I have done, yet he hasn't spoken against it. Perhaps it's because the tasks have been completed, or because he favors Bellatrix strongly." Narcissa turned the power of her gaze on Snape now, trying desperately to reach out to him with her eyes. "I'm begging you, please, do all that is possible to keep my son from committing this heinous act. It will only result in either his failure or his own death himself - even the Dark Lord has not faced him."
Bellatrix's hackles raised and she opened her mouth to retort to the last comment before revising. "The Dark Lord wills it. See? It's not going to work, Cissy."
"Even," Narcissa continued over her sister, "if you must do it yourself."
A silence filled the sitting room, only broken by the continuously clicking of the clock, placed on the mantle of the fireplace.
"I will do what I can," Snape said warily.
"That's not good enough," Narcissa whispered. "The Unbreakable Vow."
Again, the clicking of the clock filled the room, accompanied now by Bellatrix's mumbling. She had pulled her knees to her chest, and was now rocking back and forth, eyes wide and dancing. "Snapey, Snapey, what will you do?" she hummed to herself. Her voice got higher. "Oh, it's one thing to leave the task incomplete, but another to have Snapey do it."
Snape pounced from his seat and began pacing along the back of the decrepit sofa, his beak like-nose more prominent from the side-view. His beady eyes flickered between the two sisters, then to the ground.
"The Unbreakable Vow: a tie between the three of us," Snape said coolly. "A promise, a vow that cannot be broken."
"We know," Bellatrix snapped, wide eyes widening further.
Snape glowered at her as he paced. He paused mid-stride, turned towards Narcissa, then thought better of it.
"You're asking me to halt Draco - to sabotage him somehow. This could endanger him. The Dark Lord's wrath is unforgiving."
"Like He expects much from Draco," Bellatrix cooed sweetly. "Better yet you could prove your loyalty, Snape darkling."
Narcissa shot her sister a glare, but cleared her throat. She couldn't sweeten her wants for Snape's benefit; he would see through her. "I want you to commit the task in Draco's stead."
Snape's eyes bore into Narcissa's. Quietly, he murmured, "Bellatrix, will you be our Bonder?"
Bellatrix didn't need convincing. A light of wonder and cruelty passed her face, making her look mockingly giddy. She unsheathed her wand quickly, gazing at Snape, as if to dare him to step down. Darkly, she began the ritual.
"Will you, Severus Snape, do as Narcissa Malfoy asks?"
"I will," he replied.
"This includes," Bellatrix said, madness coating her eyes, "taking on Draco Malfoy's task in his stead to the best of your ability. Will you comply?"
Bellatrix licked her lips before continuing. "Will you, Severus, finally kill Harry James Potter in a year's time?"
Snape faltered, before whispering, "I will."
A/N: Please excuse the likeliness to the second chapter of HP6. It was that chapter and the whole "Half-Blood Prince" thing that inspired this fic, so I might steal and modify some things from the book. Of course, there'll be some things the same, but the storyline will be immensely different. For example, the whole dmxhp thing. I doubt Rowling considered that in the series. xP Anyway, please enjoy the much delayed first chapter of Harry Potter and the Forgotten Place. Please review, seeing as this is my first Harry Potter fic, and also my first attempt at slash.