Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter, it is the property of the brilliant J.K Rowling. This story is the product of her marvellous characters and world and my imagination.
Story Title: Fighting The Darkness
Author: Keira-House M.D.
Major Characters: Hermione Granger, Severus Snape, Rabastan Lestrange, Remus Lupin, Lucius Malfoy, Lord Voldemort, Draco Malfoy and Dumbledore's portrait
Minor Characters: Harry Potter, Sirius Black, Tonks, Kingsley Shacklebolt, Ron, Ginny, Arthur, Molly, Fred, George, Bill, Charlie and Percy Weasley, Minerva McGonagall, Bellatrix Lestrange, Rodolphus Lestrange, Antonin Dolohov and Peter Pettigrew
Summary: The supposed traitor still serving two masters - the unexpected spy in Voldemort's camp - the pureblood with a dangerous obsession - the Dark Lord plotting in the darkness. Hermione finds herself surrounded by all four in a struggle to bring the light back to a darkened world and finds something unexpected as well - love.
Spoilers: Harry Potter 1-6 and occasional elements of book 7
Important Information: This story is canon with books 1 - 6 and begins two days after Harry's seventeenth birthday in the summer holiday after sixth year. The following has happened between the end of the sixth book and the beginning of this story; Sirius returned from the veil a week after Dumbledore's death, though no one is quite sure how and Remus and Tonks have got married. There is a huge manhunt looking for Snape and Malfoy, but they have had no luck yet. We've had the whole seven Harry's and guards to get Harry away from Privet Drive, with Moody dying. Dumbledore's portrait has remained asleep the whole time, except for five minutes when he spoke to Harry and instructed him to let the rest of the Order in on the Horcrux hunt, which has been done. The reasons for this will be explained in the story. While I've used the Horcrux storyline, there will be nothing on the Deathly Hallows and the trio were never given anything in Dumbledore's will, though they managed to procure the sword of Gryffindor just after sixth year ended in order to destroy Horcruxes. You may recognise bits of Deathly Hallows in this story, but it is AU to the book. Snape is good, for the reasons shown at the end of Deathly Hallows book (aka Lily). The prologue is Severus' musings and the actual story begins on the morning of Bill's wedding to Fleur.
Prologue: Severus' Lament
"Youth is a malady of which one becomes cured a little every day. He's turned his life around. He used to be depressed and miserable. Now he's miserable and depressed."
He'd known it all along really, known he was destined to be a fugitive of some kind. He hadn't been sure of the when or how or why, but he'd known it would happen … and it fucking had, in the worst way possible. Albus Dumbledore was probably the only true friend he had left, then again he'd only really had two, Albus and Lily, but she'd been gone seventeen years and now so was Albus, by Severus' own hand.
He took another swig of firewhiskey, wincing as the burn hit his throat, yet relishing it as well. He was still having trouble adjusting to the fact that Albus was dead, he'd had little time to process it before now. He said the two words and then got Draco the hell out of there. The Dark Lord had been ecstatic at Dumbledore's death, though Severus had to use all his increased influence to help prevent Draco's untimely death. The little brat had barely given him a thank you, Lucius and Narcissa had shot him grateful looks, yet another thing they owed him for.
This was the first moments peace Severus had gotten since that awful night on the tower at Hogwarts. First there had been explanations for the Dark Lord, then those bloody revels where he was supposed to celebrate the death of his mentor - he'd been severely drunk for that, he didn't think he would have handled it otherwise. Finally there had been a celebratory bout of muggle torture, which he had tried to stay out of, only killing the poor muggles to put them out of their misery and refusing to join in Macnair and Rodolphus' rape of the women. He'd cited their 'dirty blood' as the reason, though it was merely the fact that he didn't want to inflict pain. He'd been forced to be more involved in these revels before, but as guest of honour he was allowed some reprieve if he wished it.
The Dark Lord had let him go then, with what could almost be termed a smile, but really leant towards evil smirk, on his snakelike face. Severus had never seen anything uglier. He'd immediately gone to his quarters in the Malfoy mansion, the Dark Lord's current headquarters, and rushed to his ensuite bathroom. He was sick almost immediately, the memory of the murder he had committed hours ago burning in his mind along with the innocent muggles who had been killed to celebrate. Once he'd finished retching, he'd cleaned himself up and gone to his armchair by the fire to drink and brood. While the Malfoys had a perfectly comfortable home, he wished he could go back to Spinner's End, dour and grey though it may be at least it was far away from the Dark Lord's noxious presence. Unfortunately, he was now a wanted man and couldn't go back to his known residence, the Malfoy Manor was hidden and therefore safe.
Severus remembered the last conversation he ever had with Dumbledore, excluding the moment on the tower. His mentor had tried to reassure him that he was doing the right thing and that he had forgiven Severus for the past. "I will not condemn you for what you did yesterday, if you do it right today," (1) Dumbledore had said, "it is the same for you Severus, you made mistakes but you atone for them every day by helping the Order. Always remember that." Severus had nodded outwardly but inwardly he wasn't so sure - his mistakes had been huge, they had cost Lily (and Potter too he supposed) their lives and Severus, for one, would never forgive himself for that, no matter how long he lived.
Despite the view most people had of him, Severus Snape was not heartless death eater scum. He regretted every innocent life he took, despite what Dumbledore said about the 'greater good'. However, unlike others, Severus couldn't afford to grieve over each murder he committed, there was not room in his façade to do so and if he showed any hint of remorse around the Dark Lord then the chances were that he would be dead by the very next day. So he stored each innocent death he had played a part in within the far confines of his mind, in a special place where they could be forgotten and only brought out when he was feeling particularly depressed and firewhiskey wasn't enough to make him feel like the bastard he knew he could be.
There were positives to his exile from Hogwarts that he tried to think of; he was no longer expected to bring information on the Order's movements and that saved him having to take what little information Dumbledore deemed safe for him to give and try to make it seem worthwhile to the Dark Lord, who wasn't easily impressed. There was also the added bonus of not having to teach the little monsters referred to as students any longer. Severus loved potions, but he had found few students, even when he himself was one, who were as dedicated to it as he. Lily Evans had been one such person and, though he was loathe to admit it, so was Hermione Granger, who had excelled at everything of course. He didn't know what Minerva would think when the Death Eaters managed to capture her precious Gryffindor princess, but he only hoped he'd manage to get her out of the war alive - Granger was far too intelligent to die so young.
Severus supposed he was lucky that his status as a severely wanted fugitive meant he had to remain inside the Dark Lord's headquarters indefinitely, for it was that reason which had caused the Dark Lord to give him responsibility for Granger. He could only hope the girl used her intelligence rather than her Gryffindor rashness and actually deigned to listen to his explanation. It would do no good if she just kept attempting to attack him or escape, as Potter or Weasley would undoubtedly seek to do. Luckily, Granger had always been the more rational of the trio of Gryffindors and no doubt her curiosity would overcome her desire for revenge and she would hear him out - if worse came to worse then he would have to bring out Albus' portrait.
Speaking of the portrait, Severus supposed he better go over the plan one last time with Dumbledore, just to be sure of everything. He went to the west wall of his quarters and performed the complex sequence of wand movements to open the secret compartment hidden there. He rustled around, before pulling out a Dumbledore's portrait, enclosed within a wooden frame.
"Albus, wake up damnit, it's almost time and we need to talk."
The painted Dumbledore stirred quietly and began to yawn, mumbling something that sounded suspiciously like "lemon drops," as he shook himself awake.
"Severus, is it time already, I could have sworn I'd only been sleeping a few hours?"
Severus rolled his eyes, "no old man, it's been two days and I'll have you know I've had to put a silencing spell on my safe compartment because you've been snoring so damn loudly that it's not only dangerous if someone comes in, but impossible to sleep through."
Dumbledore chuckled, his eyes twinkling merrily, "I do apologise Severus, you must forgive an old wizard's sleeping habits. Now, how long will it be before Tom sends out his followers to procure Miss Granger?"
Severus sighed, "they will be heading out any minute, Lucius is just giving them a last minute briefing."
Dumbledore nodded, "I suppose we can just be thankful that Bellatrix and Rodolphus Lestrange are sitting this one out, especially considering Sirius' return, it would likely have led to casualties we don't want. On that note, when will you tell her about Rabastan?"
Severus pinched the bridge of his nose, "I don't even want to think about trying to explain that, she's good friends with Longbottom and it'll be tough going trying to explain that the man's innocent. Still, it'll probably be good for her to have someone to talk to that isn't a painting or me."
Dumbledore shook his painted head, "you underestimate yourself my boy, I'm sure Miss Granger will be as content as possible when one is a prisoner of Voldemort, you must remember she is very intelligent and I'm sure she rarely gets the intellectual conversation she craves. Mr Potter and Mr Weasley are clever in their own way, but they do not share the deep love of learning and reading that both Miss Granger and yourself do."
Severus rolled his eyes, "it doesn't matter either way, she will have to spend time with me and whether she is miserable will be entirely dependant on her own actions. She is intelligent and capable, I am sure we will get on without too many arguments Albus. After all, I do not put much store in the abilities of Potter and Weasley to find the Horcruxes without Granger's help, so it will probably end up being entirely reliant on us to sort it all out."
"I wouldn't worry about that right now Severus, the first thing you need to do is ensure that Miss Granger trusts both Rabastan and yourself, then you can begin work on the Horcrux problem."
Severus nodded shortly, "this is all hard enough as it is without bringing Granger into the mix, which is really my own fault. The Dark Lord asked me to bring information on Potter and his close friends and of course, Granger's file was full of proof of her intelligence. Maybe I should have played it down, then perhaps he wouldn't have ordered her to be brought in to help me."
Dumbledore shook his head, "don't blame yourself Severus, this way she is under your watch and you can keep an eye on her. If this hadn't have happened then Tom may have seen no use for her except as someone to be killed in order to weaken Harry."
"Which would have probably ruined the entire plan and led to Potter getting himself killed in some stupid attempt to avenge her, yes I know Albus. I will endeavour to keep Miss Granger as safe from harm as possible when she is here and shall insure that Rabastan attempts to do the same."
Dumbledore's portrait gave a nod and a brief flash of what seemed to be regret flashed across his painted face, though it disappeared in an instant. Severus snorted internally, Albus better bloody well regret what he'd put Severus through - spying and having to kill the one man he'd always admired, even during his days as a genuine death eater. Even if he succeeded in getting the Horcruxes to Potter to destroy, he had no illusions about surviving the war and if he did, he doubted he'd be welcomed back, even if they knew Dumbledore had made him promise to kill him. Well, he just didn't give a fuck anymore, they could say and do whatever they wanted. If he died then he guessed most people would be happy. If, by some miracle, he survived, then he'd find some small cottage in a remote corner of Britain, or perhaps Ireland, and start his own potions business from home so he never had to see any of them again - he was sure that arrangement would suit them all.
With that depressing thought, he shut Albus' portrait back in the secret niche, silencing his complaints by reminding the portrait that any death eater could enter his rooms to ask something about a mission. His paranoia turned out to be well founded, for not two minutes after he'd put the portrait away with the usual silencing and secrecy charms, Lucius Malfoy knocked on his door and barged in before he'd had time to answer, his face in its normal aristocratic frown.
"We're leaving to get the mudblood now," said Lucius, "so our Lord says you should be in the central chamber in about an hour."
Severus rolled his eyes, "I was privy to the contents of the plan as well Lucius, I know what I'm supposed to be doing."
The Malfoy Patriarch's eyes narrowed, "I still don't know why you got to be in charge of the mudblood, I'd be perfectly capable of breaking the little slut."
Severus' eyes flashed, "that is why you don't have the handling of her Lucius, the Dark Lord doesn't want her broken, just helping our cause until her use has run out. Anyway, after the mission you bungled in the Department of Mysteries, against children no less, not to mention your stint in Azkaban and Draco's failure, you aren't really in our Lord's good books."
Lucius moved to say something - probably derogatory - but Severus cut him off, "watch what you say Lucius, I am higher than you at the moment and if I choose then I could refuse to save your son the next time."
He raised his eyebrows in a silent challenge Lucius did not take, the blonde deciding instead to stalk out of the room in high dudgeon.
Severus poured himself a glass of whiskey and raised it in toast to a girl far away, "I hope you're ready Miss Granger, things are about to change and I only pray you're strong enough to cope."
(1) - Quote comes from Sheldon Maye
Any constructive criticism or reviews are extremely welcome, I adore feedback of any kind. I hope you enjoyed the chapter and the next one should be up in about a week.
This prologue was pretty short and the other chapters should be longer, I'd estimate the next one at about 6,000 words.