Nothing… nothing at all.
A black space filled with no colour, no sound. A never ending, ever stretching land of shadow.
Terence no longer felt pain, his heart beat was steady and his mind at ease… it was quite peaceful, not at all what he was expecting. If only he could see something, anything to help him determine where in fact his departed soul had found its place of rest.
As if in answer to his silent request a small glimmer of bright light appeared a little way off in the distance, it shimmered and waved as if beckoning his full attention.
If a place such as heaven did exist then this wasn't quite what he was expecting although then again at least it was better than going the other way… unless… this was hell. Doomed to spend the rest of his afterlife in a sea of shade and empty space.
No words of comfort, no one to tell him it was all going to be alright from now on.
"Vomit everywhere and nosebleeds galore."
Hang on that doesn't sound right. The voice was familiar too.
"If I see one more student rush in here with their head buried in a bucket… I could kill those Weasley twins I really could."
After a few more seconds the slither of light increased in its size as it spread in one direction and then the other. To Terence's surprise he found he still had the shell of a body (which was most odd for a past on soul) he used it to hoist his torso up from the soft surface he had been lying on.
He could make out the silhouette of a woman in front of the blinding light, her hands on her hips shaking her head. She disappeared off to the side momentarily but reappeared in front of another large square of warm light which had just appeared in a similar fashion to the first one.
"How they didn't think a sudden overnight upsurge of ailed students wouldn't seem suspicious I'll never know."
When Terence's eyes finally became synchronised with the sudden bout of illumination he realised he was occupying one of the corner beds in the Hogwarts hospital wing.
He had grown rather tired of falling unconscious in one place and waking up somewhere else all together but on this occasion the feeling was mixed with an overwhelming sense of joy and relief to discover that he had actually woken up at all. He cast a weary glance over the room to find Madam Pomfrey the school's nurse striding her way around the wing lashing open the large drapes that adorned the windows, muttering to herself as she went.
Looking outside Terence could see the soft shimmering surface of the lake in the distance, the sky was grey and overcast and droplets of rain were pattering a steady rhythm on the glass but it did little to dampen Terence's spirits as he sat up, wincing as the pain that had momentarily left him came rushing back and ravaged his entire body.
Upon hearing his stirring Madam Pomfrey turned in his direction and gave him a curt smile before walking over and fluffing his pillows. "It's good to see you're finally awake. You were starting to blend in with the furniture young man, I thought we were going to have you here until Christmas."
Terence meanwhile who was still struggling to come to terms with his unexpected outcome merely mumbled, "How long have I…"
"Nearly two days. I'm not surprised, you were in no fit state to be walking around when Dumbledore brought you in." she replied busy checking on the numerous cuts and scrapes on his body. "I've managed to heal most of your wounds but it seems you took a fair old knock to the head so don't go off on any longs bouts of flying and I don't think you'll have much of an appetite for…"
"Hermione?" Terence blurted out sitting up straight in his bed. "Is she alright?"
"Miss Granger?" asked the nurse with a frown. "Why she's perfectly fine, why shouldn't she be? Mind you she was a little shaken up over the state you were in. Didn't move from that chair for the best part of a day, she even slept here last night. It was only after some avid persuasion from myself and a few of her friends that she finally went for some proper rest. She looked fairly tired but she's stubborn that girl."
Terence felt a huge weight lift from his chest and he glanced over at the chair at his bedside which had a Grythindor house robe draped over it. "I must say…" she continued as she drew back the last of the curtains. "You've only got yourself to blame for making her worry like that."
"What do you mean?" he asked craning his neck round to look at her.
"Well if you will go around fighting with your house mates at the drop of a hat, that's all you boys seem interested in now days, fists first ask questions later. If Dumbledore hadn't explained what had happened, from the state of you I wouldn't have been surprised if you'd had a run in with you-know-who himself."
Terence laughed nervously and laid back down on the bed trying his best to let his mind process everything. "Now you can get up and walk around if you wish but I suggest further rest before you do so. If you have any bouts of dizziness or nausea then straight back here with you and no arguments?" she gave him a last studying look before disappearing out of sight behind her office door, leaving him alone.
Terence barely had time to let his mind settle when the large doors of the Hospital entrance creaked open and in walked Professor Dumbledore looking very much the same as the last time he had seen him. He glanced towards Terence's bed and smiled when he saw he was awake and walked over slowly taking the seat next to his bed but not before using his wand to fold Hermione's robe and lay it neatly on the table next to him.
"Sir… Hermione is she ok?" Terence asked again desperate to find out what had happened. Dumbledore smiled once more and patted the boys shoulder reassuringly, "I promise you Terence she is fine, a little shaken up but fine none the less. The curse has been completely lifted with no after effects." Dumbledore looked out of the window and added, "It could have been so much worse… if it weren't for you." He sat back in the chair and kept his gaze on Terence, twisting the tail end of his long grey beard between his fingers.
"But I don't understand sir how did I not…"
"Die?" finished Dumbledore with a calm nod. "It would appear you played a rather big part in this turn of event as well." Dumbledore continued to smile as he observed the boy's baffled expression. "Miss Granger informs me you have been teaching her a few things about the art of silent incantations?" the headmaster inquired letting his hands rest in his lap.
"Oh… yeah. I was helping her out with her Dark Arts homework. Sorry sir I know we shouldn't be out at midnight and no doubt Snape has told you about our little argu…"
"Professor Snape." corrected Dumbledore with a small grin. "It's surprising how many students tend to miss that word. Anyway Miss Granger didn't say anything about being out at midnight nor has Snape said anything of concern so let's pretend I've suddenly gone mysteriously deaf and didn't hear your last sentence." Dumbledore grinned again before continuing.
"It appears Voldemort wasn't in as complete control over Hermione as he thought he was, again you come into this as it was something you did that managed to break the tight hold he held and I must tell you this was no mean feat and it was also something you said that brought the memory of your practice lessons into her mind. You gave her enough self control that she was able to implement this at a most vital moment."
Terence was beginning to understand what Dumbledore was implying and nodded as he thought back on the last few moments in the cellar. "She didn't cast Advada Kedavra?"
Dumbledore nodded and added. "It would appear Voldemort still had control over her body but not her mind so she managed to change the spell she cast without the vocal command. Considering the circumstances I think you'll agree that you were very lucky that it was someone with the magical talent of Miss Granger who was with you that night."
Terence didn't need telling, he knew himself how hard that must have been to do under the influence of the Imperious Curse and once again he found himself in awe of Hermione's ability.
"But how do you feel Terence?" Dumbledore looked concerned as he focused on his student's tired face.
Terence grinned and once again rubbed his aching head, "Apart from a few scratches I feel ok, pretty much." Dumbledore nodded and then continued, looking more serious, "Good, although it's not the physical scars I am most concerned about. Revealing ones past and true identity can have different effects on everyone but to discover a truth so daunting as what you now know is more than a boy of your age should have to cope with." Dumbledore's face softened as Terence looked down.
"So it's definitely true then?" he asked frowning. "I had kind of hoped that part had been a dream." Terence closed his eyes and gripped his fists, "I'm… Voldemort's son?"
Dumbledore nodded once again looking sad, "Yes it is true, you were once born Morfin Smith… son of Thomas and Rezelda. Only now do I know that for certain." the old man hesitated but placed a hand on the boys arm, "Terence I am so sorry I was not able to tell you this from the start, to expect you to go all this time with your father's attack hanging over your head and with no explanation is unfair but I had sorely hoped that by keeping you in the dark it would prevent Voldemort from getting closer to you, for if you knew the truth then I feared Tom Riddle would find out too." Dumbledore sat back in his chair but did not deter his eyes even though a look of guilt lingered on the lines of the wizard's face. "I suppose you could say I took a rather cowardly stance on the whole matter for half of me desperately hoped I may never need tell you."
Terence who had remained silent still did not speak as he pondered on Dumbledore's words. In truth Terence did not feel like blaming anyone, he knew as well as Dumbledore that little could have been gained from informing him of his parentage.
So why did he still feel angry and who was it directed at? It seemed to stem from distant memories of days spent alone in his common room and the numerous guarded stares he would receive from other students as he passed them in the halls and the evasive shuffling that often accompanied them but what about the others, the rare few who didn't see Terence for the colour of his badge, for the status that badge tended to hold… what would they say now… if they knew? Who in their right mind would ever trust the son of the darkest wizard that had ever lived?
"I suppose I can't blame anyone for not telling me." the thought came from no where but he instantly knew where the anger had derived from. "I guess they feared what would happen if I was to find out. Son of Voldemort. They probably think I'm a dead cert to be just as evil as he turned out to be." the mocking tone in his voice didn't go unregistered as Dumbledore leaned on the arm of the chair and narrowed his gaze over his half moon spectacles. "Do you really believe that?"
"Don't you? Let's face it, like father like son… my mother wasn't much cop either."
"Your mother," Dumbledore raised his voice slightly but still kept the calm tone of his speech constant. "was under the influence of a man who held no love for anyone over than himself. She was under the disillusion that your father had been good friends with her grandmother Hephzibah, she thought she could trust him… little did she know that he was in fact her grandmother's killer, but she was young at the time and fell for your father's charm and power like so many other wizards and witches before her."
"Terence I would never claim your mother to be a saint, of course not but she was deeply in love with a man who in turn felt nothing for her and used her for his own gain. A blind love unreturned can be just as powerful as any spell and Voldemort knowing this very fact ordered her to murder Simon Petalsnout. No doubt claiming it would act as a show of her love for him. Having failed in her task and fearing his revolt she went for the next best thing… his wife Margarete." Dumbledore pushed his spectacles back onto his nose and continued,
"When Rezelda herself gave birth to you her reason for living changed, she now held a love stronger than that she held for Voldemort and begged him to hide them away from the ever brewing war, for your safety. She wanted nothing more than to protect you Terence. True she still loved Voldemort and hoped you would grow into just as dark a wizard as he was."
"Voldemort seeing the sense in her proposal agreed and hid you both far away in a little cottage in the countryside hills, a non-descript, random location away from the burning lust for revenge Simon had held over his wife's death. One of the only people Voldemort divulged this information to was Felonious Folts, he didn't tell him who you were but explained the importance of your protection… a year later after Voldemort was felled Felonious himself was captured by the Ministry and interrogated for information, he was desperate and revealed your mother's story and hiding place along with the fact she had carried a child that Voldemort seemed to think important enough to hide away. Armed with the knowledge of a possible heir Simon himself requested that he go in search and track you down… I assume you know what happened then?"
Terence nodded and answered, "I had a dream, I heard them fighting."
"Yes, Simon found your mother and requested that she handed you over, he put aside his grudge and vowed not to kill her… but when it came down to the love she held for you she felt forced to attack and was killed in the process. Overcome with guilt Simon asked that you be taken into his care, he raised you as his own the best he could all the while racked with guilt for taking your mother away from you and also pained that you were her son, the woman that killed his wife and unborn child that he so wanted to protect. It affected him in ways you'll probably never know but he would not show that side to you Terence."
"Years went by with only Simon, myself, Robert Burtleton, Professor Snape and the current Minister of Magic ever aware of your possible identity. When your real father appeared again it was decided that you would not be told anything due to the fact that we believed he may be able to read your mind and discover the truth for himself, of course he was suspicious, you being Simon's son without a mother but until Voldemort was sure of this he would not make a move, instead he sent Felonious Folts in his place to spy on you who was helped by Madame Portal a once avid death eater and still is it appears to give him information on you and provide him with shelter by means of the cellar behind her shop."
"All that he required to confirm the truth was a memory I had hidden away in my office which contained the events of that night your mother was killed. It appears Voldemort may have always suspected my involvement with this matter but our talk in my office must have been enough to convince him I possessed vital information. He was right and I must apologise Terence that I did not do more to stop you from obtaining this memory."
"I had at the time misjudged the situation and believed he was more interested in Harry Potter than finding his son… if he even believed his son to still be alive but his eagerness to have his heir serve as his right hand man appeared to be stronger than I had anticipated and he used you to enter my office, not the easiest of tasks and one that neither he nor Felonious could do and take the memory believing you were preventing it's discovery rather than taking it to him."
Terence looked ashamed as he shook his head and admonished himself. Dumbledore chuckled and waved his gesture away, "Terence, it is not your fault and I do not blame you. I know a certain other boy who would have done the same thing… I know you were only trying to help. After confirming that you were in fact his son Voldemort felt it was now time to lure you into his trap with the help of Felonious and Madame Portal. When you and Miss Granger did not return from Hogsmeade myself and Professor McGonagall went out to look for you, along with Harry on his broom and Ron on foot, it was only pure luck that Harry spotted Voldemort's curse from the sky that we were able to find you."
Terence nodded, "I know, I spotted Harry flying in the sky through the hole the spell made, that's when I knew I had to hold out until he brought help." Dumbledore nodded looking impressed, "Anyone who ever doubted the kindness and bravery the son of Voldemort could possess would only need look upon your actions that night. The very fact you feel so ashamed to be Voldemort's son proves you are nothing like him Terence. Would he have ever put someone else's life above his own not to mention the life of a Muggle born?"
"But sir." Terence said, "There were times… down in that cellar, times when I could have killed Felonious… and there have been other times when the anger inside of me seems so immense it's as if it's tearing me apart to get out. I know it's got nothing to do with Voldemort's control over me… it's different… it feels different. It's as if this is what Voldemort is feeding off every time he attempts to invade my mind." Upon mention of this Dumbledore leaned closer in his chair and spoke in a far more serious tone. "That is the one thing I must now talk to you about." Dumbledore shifted in his seat and pressed his fingers together.
"Terence you are born from the incomplete soul of a man."
Terence frowned and looked on Dumbledore with questioning eyes.
"Terence, your father around the time of your birth was in the process of using a very dark piece of magic to create what is known as a Horcrux." as if in answer to the boys further confusement Dumbledore hastily continued, "A Horcrux is part of a wizard's soul which has been separated from the body and stored in an object to prevent the person in question from ever truly dieing. It can only be done via an act of great evil, in most cases murder." Dumbledore spoke slowly to give Terence a chance to keep up with what he was saying.
"I fear it possible your father may have gone even further, doing something unthinkable and creating more than one of these which means he has also split his soul more than once as well. How many he had created before you were born is unknown but you must understand Terence that doing so even once is enough to ensure that person's soul will never be the same again, it is a curse Terence, a magic so beyond the realms of what we know as dark magic that it has never been documented as to what would become of the offspring of a wizard who had performed such an act."
"You are the child of a wizard who's soul is so tarnished and so unstable that the likely hood that something could be past on, even if it's just lingering thoughts or feelings… it still remained a possibility. Unlike most things magic related I'm afraid I can not be completely sure on the matter but I feel this most likely to be the case with you." Dumbledore removed his glasses and placed them on the table next to the chair before returning his attention to Terence. "So what… I'm one of those Horcrux things?" Terence's whole body ran cold at the thought of having part of his father's soul inside him, so it came as a small comfort to hear Dumbledore chuckle lightly.
"No my dear boy, you do not have to fear that being the case. You have my word." Dumbledore smiled warmly but something in his eyes looked pained, a small hint of distant worry traced the old headmaster's face which for some unknown reason Terence knew was held for someone other than himself.
"But it is this part of you that Voldemort can use to his advantage. It is the only thing you have in common and it is something you must learn to control in the future because Terence, even though you showed your resistance to your father tonight, that does not mean he will not try again… I hope you understand that your trials are by no means over but as long as you realise you are not your father, you are a good person Terence… then I don't think I need worry about the wizard you'll turn out to be." Dumbledore laced his fingers and stared at the boy warmly. "It is also important that you learn not distance yourself from others Terence, true friendship can be the greatest ally a person can have in times of trouble, I trust you to remember that."
Terence nodded and looked out of the window again as the sun forced its way through the gloom to shine down on the school. It was this very subject that Terence still pondered on.
"Is there something else you wanted to ask me?" inquired Dumbledore upon looking on the boy's thoughtful expression.
"Yes sir… it's Hermione." the thought of her alone was enough to bring a smile to his face. "Whenever I feel like I've lost control… when the hate and rage that overcomes me threatens to push me over the edge, Hermione is the only one who seems able to pull me back, I just wondered why that was?"
Dumbledore smiled and once again leaned back comfortably in the chair. "I would not be able to tell you for certain Terence but if you would like me to divulge my thoughts then you are welcome to them?" Terence nodded which prompted the headmaster to continue. "Apart from the obvious affection you feel for Miss Granger, let's not forget I was a young wizard myself once… many moons ago." he added with a chuckle, "I believe she herself represents something to you that acts as a constant reminder, something that brings you great comfort, even though you may not realise it yourself." Dumbledore pulled out his wand from his robes and levitated it in the palm of his hand, letting it twist and turn in midair. "If I told you that Hermione wasn't a Muggle born witch and that her parents were actually from highly regarded wizarding families, would that be of any great surprise?" he questioned glancing over at Terence.
"No sir, it would make even more sense. Hermione's better than any other pure blooded student at this school. But she's not though is she sir, she's Muggle born?"
"Exactly, then is she not living proof that it's not the life we are born into that shapes who we are to become, that we are not destined from birth to be guided by current circumstances. You should know this by now Terence but there's no harm in being reminded every once in a while."
Terence smiled and nodded, he had never dwelled upon this thought before but to hear it said it now made perfect sense. "Is there anything you don't know sir?" Terence asked with a grin.
Dumbledore returned the smile and replied, "I'd like to think there was but you know I've never come across what it is."
Even though he had learned many things that were prone to trouble his mind, right now Terence felt calm and relaxed for the first time since waking up.
Dumbledore's soft voice broke the silence, "So do you think you'll be up to meeting Simon in hospital yet?"
Terence darted up from the bed his eyes wide in shock, "My…father he's not dead… he's not dead?" Terence could feel his heart leap as a tear rolled down his cheek.
Dumbledore look confused and shook his head, "No Terence, your father is awake and safe. Whatever gave you that idea?"
"Well Voldemort said Felonious had killed my father, he said he had left him dead in the middle of nowhere… he…"
"Lies Terence my boy, Voldemort just wanted to get a rise out of you, he wanted you to carry out the act of killing Felonious, he was goading you. Felonious had used a particularly devious curse that kept your father in a constant state of unconsciousness, obviously a spell given to him by Voldemort. I believe he had hoped it would lure you out of the safety of Hogwarts so that he could make his move without my presence. That is why we could not let you visit him Terence, I hope you understand." Dumbledore looked worried as he asked the boy but Terence merely smiled and agreed, "I understand Professor." The feeling that was dancing around inside Terence now was uncontainable. His hands shook and he could hardly stop the tears from falling now.
Dumbledore grinned back and added, "It appears that the moment Felonious was killed the curse lifted and your father awoke, unaware of what had happened. Considering the circumstances I can see no reason for you not to go visit him… so when would you like to?"
"Now?" asked Terence desperate to confirm his father's safety with his own eyes.
Dumbledore smiled and nodded, "Very well but you can't go dressed like that now can you?" pointing to the boys stripped pyjamas, "I'll leave you to get ready then come see me in my office afterwards." Dumbledore patted him once again on the shoulder as he stood up then turned and walked towards the door, Terence waited until he was gone before he burst into even more tears, happy that his father's fate had not been what he had originally thought.
The halls of St. Mungo's hospital echoed loudly as Terence and Dumbledore walked down the long winding path leading to numerous wards.
As they walked many thought's ran through Terence's mind, now that he'd had time to get over the initial shock of Simon being alive he was now unsure as to how he would react upon seeing him for the first time since learning he wasn't his real father. Also the fact that it was Simon himself who had killed his mother… the thought cut deep into his heart and now the time had come to actually reunite Terence was beginning to wonder whether he was in fact ready too.
Before he had the opportunity to echoes these thoughts to Dumbledore however they had already come to a halt outside a small door with the words "Private Room 12" written across the middle. Dumbledore turned towards him and removed his glasses. "This is it. Your father is in this room. Terence I'll leave you alone for this, it's not my place to intrude. Your father is now aware of all that has occurred, please keep that in mind. I assume you have numerous conflicting thoughts inside of you right now but I think it would help to consider the life you may have had if you had not been taken in by Simon." Dumbledore smiled and then held the door open for him.
Holding his breath Terence stepped into the room, the light from the open blind covered the lone bed by the wall in a warm, soft glow. There in it lay Simon fast asleep under the covers resting peacefully. For some reason Terence had never remembered his father looking so old. His long greying hair lay on his pillow with strands of it trailed across his tired, unshaven face, a face that Terence had once considered similar to his, now they couldn't be more different.
Again the troubling thoughts that occupied his mind came into play as he watched his father sleep. Terence sat down in the comfy chair beside the bed and continued to watch in silence as his father breathed in and out, piercing images of Voldemort's serpent like face overlapping his, the father that is and the father that could have been.
Even though Terence was happy to see him again he couldn't hold back the stinging thought that he had killed his mother from entering his mind. He knew full well why his father had to do what he did but it didn't stop his chest aching horribly all the same. In honest truth Terence didn't really know how to feel, the memories of his dreams still thick in his mind.
"Terrence?" Just then his father stirred and turned over facing him, he opened his eyes and looked at the boy, it took him a few second to react before leaping straight up and hugging the boy tight in his arms. "Thank god Terence you're safe."
Terence felt strangely awkward but smiled and patted his father on the back as he sat back into bed. "I heard about what happened at Hogsmeade son, I always feared he would try something now you're old enough, now he knows that you're…" Simon suddenly broke off his face fretful as he looked into the boy's troubled eyes. "I take it you know then… everything?" his father looked down as Terence merely nodded remaining silent.
His father sat on the edge of the bed in front of him and bowed his head holding his hands in his lap, "I'm so, so sorry Terence. I… I… had no choice…I…" there were tears already in his eyes as he tried to explain himself to his son. "Your mother she didn't want to let you go, I offered her the chance to do the right thing but she… I'm not excusing what I did, It just happened so quickly I panicked and then… " Simon was struggling to make his words fit and he kept his head down with his hands shaking. "Who can blame her, if someone was trying to take my child I would have done the same thing."
Terence unable to look at his father's pained expression also looked down and spoke "She did kill your wife though."
"I know but to take away your mother like that, to have never known her all because of me. I've lied to you all these years, what kind of father am I?" Simon buried his head in his hands, shaking. Terence felt numb and ashamed of himself for having been so unsure as to how he should feel seeing his father again.
"Margarete had always wanted a son." his father was sobbing now as he forced out the words, "She always said she knew it was a boy and that she wanted to call him Terence… she would have loved a son like you, I'm sure of it. If my child had lived I couldn't have been prouder if he had turned out to be half the young man you are. I am proud… son." he hesitated on the last word as if fearing rejection for using it. "I understand what I did is something you can never forgive me for, I wasn't even there to protect you when you needed me most, I am a failure as a father and a guardian… I'll understand if you want to have nothing more to do with me but please understand that I'll love you no matter what, you are my son and no one else's. My son…" his voice trailed off as he broke down and buried his face in his hands crying.
It was so odd for Terence to see his father react like this, the same father that seemed so invincible when he was a small child. Always badgering him to keep his room tidy and to stop flying around near the greenhouse in their garden. The same man that was always busy but never too busy to spend a good few hours playing quidditch with him as soon as he got home. Always insisting Terence fight fair and not get dragged in by the pompous beliefs of pure blood wizarding families such as Draco Malfoy's. Terence once confused felt nothing but warmth for the man sitting before him now, his greying brown hair over his face and his heavy blue eyes full of remorse.
Terence thought back to the vision he'd had of Dumbledore's office and how Simon had been so willing to protect him from danger, to take him in as his own and even give him the name of his unborn son. To love and care for him despite the connection he held with his wife's murderer was amazing and Terence couldn't even usher a slight feeling of anger as the dream involving his real mother came to mind, Simon had no choice Terence knew that. His dad had been willing to spare the person that had brought his life so much pain for the greater good and it took more will power than Terence could imagine. He softly placed a hand on his father's and smiled into his face, "Don't be daft dad, what's a little hiccup here and there… we'll work through it, I promise."
His father looked stunned and hugged his son once again. "Thank you, thank you Terence. If I lost you…"
Terence hugged his father back and desperately held back his own tears. "Come on dad, I'm going nowhere," he patted him on the back as he added, "I didn't think an Auror would cry so easily, I thought your lot had nerves of steel."
His father laughed and sat back on the bed wiping his eyes, "Yeah, I'd appreciate it if you didn't tell my bosses about my blubbering, they'd think I'd gone soft in my old age."
For the next hour Terence and his father sat inside the hospital room talking, Terence asked his father to tell him all about Margarete which his father happily obliged, she sounded like a wonderful person, so kind and gentle. To think his own mother would kill someone so harmless made him feel ashamed. Terence silently apologised to his father from the bottom of his heart as the man drifted back to sleep still heavily affected by the medication and charms placed upon him. Terence stood up from the chair and heaved a heavy sigh as he felt the burdens of his past lift off his shoulders. He placed a hand on his father's arm and thanked him. Then he turned to exit the room, shutting the door quietly as he left. He met back with Dumbledore who was busy chatting with a heavily bandaged old witch on the state of the wallpaper in the waiting room.
When they finally arrived outside the school gates leading to Hogwarts Terence felt more drained than he ever felt possible and was looking forward to double helpings of tonight's dinner. Keeping pace with the headmaster they were soon greeted to the sight of the old castle as they strolled passed Hagrid's hut which was billowing out thick clouds of smoke from its chimney. The sun had finally started to emerge from the dispersed grey clouds and it shone bright rays onto the castle windows causing them to shimmer and sparkle from the rain.
"Terence." A familiar voice carried its way across the school grounds and he looked up to see Hermione making her way over. "I shall see you at Dinner Terence, I feel my presence would be most unwelcome at a time like this." Dumbledore smiled and made his way towards the courtyard greeting Hermione as he passed. She ran across the space between them and wrapped her arms around Terence. He held tight as the thoughts of the dark cellar came flooding back, he knew how close they had been to not making it out of there alive and this thought alone made him hold her tighter still.
Hermione looked up into his face, her eyes writhe with worry. "How was your father?" she asked. Terence smiled and took her hand as they walked towards the edge of the great lake. "He's fine. Should be back to normal any day now."
"Thank heavens." Hermione gave a heavy sign and then shifted her eyes as she asked tentatively, "Did you talk about…"
Terence squeezed her hand and nodded, "Yeah we did. He was pretty cut up about it but we'll be ok, I know we will." if he was certain of anything it was this. They came to the water's edge and remained silent for a while as they watched the distorted reflection of light dance off its surface. "How are you Hermione? That was pretty scary down in that cellar wasn't it?"
"Thank you." Hermione's voice was so quiet Terence wasn't sure if she'd spoken at all but as he turned to face her she instantly leant up and kissed him. Their lips lingered momentarily before parting. "Thank you." she said again not breaking her gaze on him. "When that flash of green light came hurtling towards me I thought that was it… if you hadn't…" she trailed off having lost the nerve to dwell on such a prospect. "Anytime Hermione but I should be thanking you. Anyone can stand in the way off something but what you did must have been tough. I owe you my life, how did you manage to break out of his control?"
"I think it was "confunded ostrich" that did it." she said trying to contain her smile. "You're not quite that bad Terence… almost but you try hard."
Terence laughed and patted her on the shoulder. "Thanks Hermione, that means a lot."
As they laughed a small clatter of distant thunder rattled off in the distance. The grey clouds that still remained in the sky once again covered the sun as a strong wind blew its way across the vast forest only a short distance away. The trees hummed and swayed as if coming to life from a long sleep, the cry of some unknown animal echoed from its depths.
"I suppose… this it then?" his voice sounded weak and barely registered as he struggled to carry on. "You and me."
Hermione spun round to look at him, her eyes questioning, a confused frown on her face. "What do you mean?" she asked focusing her full attention on him.
"Hermione as much as I hate to admit it I am Voldemort's son. I'm more trouble than I'm worth for anyone right now… let alone Harry Potter's best friend." he smiled warmly at her, forcing himself not to turn his eyes away from hers.
"So? Nobody knows about it apart from me and you. Dumbledore hasn't even told Harry." she explained, the frown still prominent on her brow.
"But people will find out Hermione. Voldemort is probably planning my death as we speak. He no doubt knows I'm not dead and even if he doesn't it's only a matter of time. Then it'll be straight back to me or if not me then you. We know how he feels about us."
"So what? Why would you care what he thinks about anything?" her voice rose and a hint of anger traced her words.
"I don't but it makes you a prime target. I can't watch you get hurt Hermione, I can't. If anything were to happen to you I'd…"
"Oh but you're perfectly willing to let me get hurt as long as you don't have to see it?" she took a step away from his side and balled her fists up at her sides. "If you hadn't already noticed Terence I happen to be rather good friends with Harry Potter? I can't be in any more danger, I'm bound to get hurt along the way Terence, I accepted that fact quiet a while ago. You just don't want it on your conscience is that it?"
"Don't say that, you know that's not what I meant." it was Terence's turn to get angry as he grabbed hold of her hand and turned her to face him. "You think I don't know you're already in danger, do you think I'm that stupid? I can't begin to imagine how hard you three are going to have it when this war heats up. You don't need me adding to your problems. He can use me to get to you, Harry and Ron. Don't you get it? You're a thousand times safer away from me than if I was there fighting by your side. If it wasn't for me you'd have returned back to school with everyone else that day in Hogsmeade, instead you were nearly killed because of me." Terence bit back the stern tone of his voice and smiled at her. "I care about you so much Hermione that in all honesty if I had it my way I'd be as selfish as I could, I wouldn't spend one day without seeing you but I can't can I… life's like that, full of problems and I won't be one of them."
Hermione wiped the tears from her eyes and grabbed hold of his arm. "What if I say I don't care? What if I refuse? What if I decide to be selfish for once? Are you going to just ignore me in the hope I'll give up and leave you alone because trust me Terence I won't." she looked determined as she returned his smile.
Terence finally voiced his main concern hoping she would understand why they couldn't carry on like this. "Look Hermione Dumbledore may have said I would be fine but the truth is I'm connected to Voldemort. It's possible the connection I have with him is more than just about me being his son, it's about something he did before I was born. I know it's only a matter of time before I end up just like him, full of hate and anger. I know myself Hermione, I'm too weak to be able to resist him forever, I…"
"SHUT UP!" Hermione screamed at him and grabbed him hard by the collar, shaking him violently. "Stop saying that. You're nothing like him and you know it. Why are you so willing to doubt yourself all the time? You're making me look like a fool as well as yourself. I trust you Terence and every time you say these things it's as if you think I'm an idiot for doing so. Well I'm not and I don't care what you say I'm going nowhere. If I need to remind you every day then I will, if that's what it requires to get you to stop believing you're nothing but trouble then so be it." she smiled once again through her tears and held his face in her hands.
Terence was lost for words and looking back into her eyes he knew there was little chance of her backing down. That fact alone, knowing she held so much faith in him was enough to fill his mind with new resolve. He wiped away the last of her tears and sighed. "Are you sure?"
"Of course I am. I always have been."
He kissed her, feeling the warmth of her lips on his and realising how truly lost he would have felt without her.
As they walked back towards the school hand in hand Terence finally let his doubts rest. Knowing full well he must if he was ever going to protect the girl walking by his side. As they entered the courtyard she leaned in and kissed him on the cheek before letting go of his hand. "I'm going to get changed. I think I might have left my robe in the Hospital Wing." she made her way across the yard but turned to look at him. "I've lost a few days study so I'll be in the Library most of the afternoon but if you want you could always…"
"I'll be there." he smiled back at her and waved her off as she disappeared into the large school doors, his heart feeling lighter and more complete than he had ever known it to feel. His eyes wandered around the empty yard until they fell upon that same spot they had first met. Never before had he felt so grateful for Draco Malfoy's knack at being such a horrible little creep.
The distant sounds of students could be heard filtering through the halls of the school and Terence was about to make his way towards it when a voice broke the muted atmosphere.
"Terence." if the voice hadn't sounded so calm it would have prompted Terence to duck immediately as it belonged to Ron Weasley who had emerged from across the other side of the yard leaning up against one of the stone pillars with his arms crossed firmly in front of him giving Terence a piercing stare. "Ron." unable to read the boy's intentions Terence opted to simply nod in his direction before taking a step closer. "Can I have a word?" it was Ron's turn to advance now as he paced across the empty courtyard before coming to a halt with only a few yards separating them.
"I'm sorry Terrence." even though every mannerism Ron displayed screamed awkwardness the painfully sincere look on his face forced Terence to match his gaze as the boy continued. "I'm sorry for everything, all the things I said and er… I'm sorry for you know… whacking you on the nose and chucking you down the stairs. Cheers for not fighting back, that helped quite a bit."
Terence laughed and nodded back at him. "No problem."
Ron's face seemed to drop at once as a look of relief came over him. He wrenched his hands into his pockets and turned to the side pacing across the yard, his eyes following the flight of a distant eagle hovering beyond the hills. "You see I always thought you were up to no good from day one, I didn't need a reason, I just did. I'll admit it was the badge that did it. I thought all you Slytherins were the same. It didn't matter to me that you didn't get on well with them, I just assumed you were the worst of the lot." Ron furiously concentrated on his shoes as they scuffed into the stone ground.
"Hermione means a lot to me you see and I wasn't going to let anyone just walk all over her. I suppose my feelings for her also added to a lot of it, I just couldn't believe for one second that you were any different, even when she told me about you being under a spell or what ever it was that day in the great hall, I was having none of it. I just thought it was another trick or attempt to hurt her all over again but…" Ron turned and stared hard at Terence before continuing, "She told me what you did, that night in the cellar… with Voldemort… you could have died saving her… you would have so… I just wanted…." he stuck out his hand rigid in front of him, "to say thank you." Terence stood motionless staring at Ron's gestured hand. Having only just gotten over Ron's original apology it took a while for his words to fully sink in before he smiled back and shook it.
"You'd have done the same Ron."
Ron remained focused on Terence as he nodded, "Yeah I would… but that's my point. I didn't realise how much you…" his voice trailed off as he let go of the boy's hand and his face straightened up. "Let's face it we're never going to be the best of friends. I have to be honest Terence, I hate the fact you make her so happy, I really do. I can't help it. I'm glad she is happy but I hate the reason why… it's a bit messed up." for the first time a small grin ran across Ron's face.
"But for her sake… if it's ok with you I'd like to give the whole not hating each other thing a go." the oddly worded request sounded perfect to Terence as he agreed.
"Definitely… but you know Ron I never actually hated you?"
"That's odd because I thought you were a right foul git, sorry." they both laughed as they turned towards the entrance of the castle the wind picking up it's torrid pace as the last of the blue sky was eclipsed by a field of grey cloud.
"But Terence…" Ron stopped and once again turned towards Terence his eyes burning with determination. "This doesn't mean I've given up on her, I'm not going to try and get between you two because I wouldn't do that but if you slip up or take one too many whacks to the head to make you forget what a good thing you've got going, don't expect me to be a gentleman about it ok?"
Terence stared back at the Ron, both pairs of eyes suddenly hinting that same old fire of past before fading once again. "Good." Terence clapped the boy hard on the shoulder before grinning back at him. "I wouldn't expect any less."
Ron smiled and nodded before disappearing through the large oak doors. Terence stood at the entrance and turned around. The sound of chatter and footsteps danced around the halls of the castle and filtered through the entrance as the afternoon light slowly began to fade.
Terence let out a heavy sigh and breathed in the strong smells of the succulent culinary delights wafting forth from the kitchens. He ran a hand through his hair and pulled his robe around him to block out the remaining chill. He glanced down at the Slytherin crest on his breast pocket and smiled, it didn't seem to bother him as much as it once did, it was just a name after all. Why would anyone fear a name? He ignored the example that instantly sprung forth as his mind referred back to Dumbledore's words inside the hospital wing.
"Terence, even though you showed your resistance to your father tonight, that does not mean he will not try again… I hope you understand that your trials are by no means over but as long as you realise you are not your father, you are a good person Terence… then I don't think I need worry about the wizard you'll turn out to be. It is also important that you learn not distance yourself from others Terence, true friendship can be the greatest ally a person can have in times of trouble, I trust you to remember that."
Terence dwelled on this as a voice broke through the cold air, "Are you still here Terence?" Hermione now dressed in her robes stood between him and the castle entrance, she smiled and held out her hand.
"I thought you could join us at our table for dinner? Fred and George were all for forcing Pollyjuice potion down your neck and turning you into Neville. Don't worry I told them were they could kindly shove that idea… why they feel the need to disguise you anyway is beside the point but how they were they going to explain away two Nevilles at the dinner table I'll never know. If they applied half the time they spent thinking up stupid ideas to their studies they wouldn't have a problem but no that would be time wasted to them, I swear I'll never understand why they…"
Terence walked along side Hermione, feeling the warmth of her hand as a constant in his mind. I think Dumbledore was right, he needn't worry, Terence thought to himself and that night as he drifted off to sleep amongst his Slytherin classmates he never felt happier or more content to be residing within the grand walls of Hogwarts.
"Morfin… my boy, my son. Father has had time to dwell on his actions since we last met and I must say I fear I was rather rash in my decision to give up on you." "I saw that look in your eyes as you foolishly threatened to kill me. You looked alive my son, the anger and hate danced across your face like fire. The lust to kill and torture is in there Morfin, buried deep beneath the muck and mud of your conscience blinded by the words of my enemies but still there my boy… still very much within you." "And a conscience can be changed if given the right amount of pressure. They could all fear you and cower in your wake, for you are the dark lord's son after all. My blood, Voldemort's blood still runs within your veins and as long as that remains true then hope still lies within for you to finally see the light." "Sleep well son."
"I saw that look in your eyes as you foolishly threatened to kill me. You looked alive my son, the anger and hate danced across your face like fire. The lust to kill and torture is in there Morfin, buried deep beneath the muck and mud of your conscience blinded by the words of my enemies but still there my boy… still very much within you."
"And a conscience can be changed if given the right amount of pressure. They could all fear you and cower in your wake, for you are the dark lord's son after all. My blood, Voldemort's blood still runs within your veins and as long as that remains true then hope still lies within for you to finally see the light."
"Sleep well son."