A/N: I would like to give an immense thank-you to my reviewers, I do not thank you as much as I should. I am always super chuffed when I get such good feedback
13: The Opening Move
Malfoy burst through the kitchen door, panting and clutching the wooden box that opened into a small store of Snape's key potions. He stopped short when he took in the scene. There was blood on the floor and the potions professor seemed to be wrestling with the now sobbing Harry, attempting to keep him still while the boy twisted from side to side, half kneeling, half sitting on the floor.
"Get over here Draco!"
Snape was pale as he drew his two arms around the green-eyed-boy's torso, pinning him to his chest as Harry struggled, eyes scrunched tightly, almost in hysterics.
Malfoy placed the potions down beside the pair, trying not to step in any blood nor touch Potter, but Snape did not have the patience for Malfoy's delicate ways at that particular moment and he barked orders. Draco's pale fingers rooted through the vials, his fingers slipping on the glass due to a slight layer of sweat coating both his hands but he retrieved a blood replenishers easily enough, followed by an anti-infection concoction. But it was quickly very clear that they would not be able to treat Potter as he was, the boy had gone into some sort of seizure or attack, so the professor ordered him to stun Harry, unable to perform it as he tried to keep a grip on him. Malfoy swallowed as he pulled out his wand and trained it on Harry's form, well aware of the many times he had been in this position before, but he sent the stunner regardless and instantly the other boy went limp in Snape's arms, unconsciousness claiming him and his face finally relaxing.
Snape grabbed the vials Malfoy had retrieved before taking hold of his own wand, preparing to treat the wound. But both he and Malfoy froze when they caught sight of Harry's arm lying limp against the cold floor. There, clear as day, in large but sickeningly elegant script, the word 'MINE' was engraved into Harry's skin. Neither of the small party had any doubts as to whom would assume such a claim over the boy. But the worrying fact was, how on earth did he cause it to happen when he wasn't even near the boy?
The Dark Lord was not happy. He had not managed to access Potter's mind in some time, either the boy had been blocking him somehow, which he doubted or perhaps the old fool had doubled his efforts to protect his golden boy. After much magical effort and concentration, he had managed to cut through the barriers, however his fun had been cut short and his presence was forced to fade from the boy's mind as Harry was knocked unconscious.
Voldemort seethed, sitting in a high backed wooden chair, scraping his rather long nails along the armrest, wand on the table beside him. He had almost had full access to the boy. His spell was working as intended but had been cut short. If Harry had simply been asleep it would not have been interrupted, but the spell that had knocked him out had interfered with the Dark Lords own casting, thus he was thrown out of the boy's mind. It was infuriating. Though he did not know Potter's whereabouts, for a few glorious minutes, he had corrupted Harry's mental balance, fully capable of affecting him mentally and physically. He had only intended to cause mental disturbance, but Voldemort assumed his overpowering presence had led to a manipulation of the boy's physical being, causing the delicious carved letters to appear in Harry's skin. The moment he had accessed the Gryffindor's being, his main intention was pain and he was driven by the will to possess, so, happily, that thought came into existence in its own twisted way. That was the beauty of the dark arts, sometimes they produced unintended but satisfactory results. It made him wonder how much farther he could take it. At the ministry the boy had banished him, though unknowingly, with disgusting memories and thoughts. This time, things were different. Things never worked according to plan when it came to the two of them, but perhaps that fact didn't always have to work in Potter's favour.
However despite the slightly greater success this time round, he had been denied his fun far too soon. It had taken an enormous amount of concentration and magic to affect the boy so from such a distance and under the various protections as he was. To enact it again would require some recovery time, and patience was not something Lord Voldemort possessed in great quantities. But when it came to Harry Potter, he did have certain…enthusiasm, so he would wait. But that did not lower the disappointment and irritation at having been interrupted. He stood quietly, moving to the empty fireplace, staring into the ashes that had gathered there. Things were not going as smoothly as he had expected. Draco Malfoy might have been a spineless traitor-and make no mistake, he would pay dearly for such a betrayal-but Voldemort did not doubt that the boy had divulged all he had been ordered to. It was only afterwards he had lost his nerve and ran. He had assumed that the information would make things run more smoothly and in his favour, but Potter remained the ever annoying thorn in his side, avoiding capture at every turn. His servants whom were sent to Hogwarts would see no mercy from their lord once he saw fit to release them from Azkaban. There was no excuse for failing him in any way, let alone in such an important manner. He would leave them to rot for a while longer, to ponder their sins and think on what punishment awaited them.
In fact, he had a similar plan for the young Potter boy. Once he connected to the boy once more, they would be having a little chat. He had wasted enough energy on mental torture on the first try, Harry and he needed to converse. There was nothing like planting the seed of absolute fear. The victim would end up torturing himself first and then the Dark Lord could make the final move and set fire to the boy's bones. And as for a certain potions master…his betrayal ran deep, something Voldemort would not admit to and there would be no place in the universe the man could hide that he would not be found.
Nagini hissed from a corner of the room, but he didn't turn to his beloved snake, much too engrossed in his thoughts. The boy and Snape needed a warning… that much was clear. He was coming for them both and they would not pretend they were safe any longer. To allow them to do so was an insult to his own power and influence. He may not know where they were cowering, but his message would get through.
The wound had been examined and treated to the best of Snape's abilities. But he had absolutely no clue how the Dark Lord had managed such a feat. The house had extremely strong protection, never-mind the fact that distance alone should prevent magic being cast in such a way.
Harry was still asleep, recovering on the couch in the sitting-room. Snape didn't feel right putting him in his bedroom, he needed to keep an eye on him, so he sat reading in an armchair, not really taking in the words, but listening to Potters shallow breaths.
It was very clear that things were escalating now. Severus knew an opening move when he saw it and this was most definitely one.
Malfoy had been so shaken he had not reappeared downstairs after Snape had patched Harry up and cleaned the kitchen floor. The potions professor supposed he was in his bedroom. Though he understood why the blonde was in shock, this type of attitude was not going to cut it if the young Malfoy intended to survive the war. The quiet, uninvolved, hiding-in-the-shadows may have worked under the Dark Lord's rule, but to oppose such a force required a completely different approach and Snape had yet to see the boy act with strong conviction. Running from the Dark Lord was impressive, but Draco didn't seem committed to anything at the moment. However, Snape had not witnessed Malfoy's discussion with Harry.
Throwing down his book, Snape stood and began to pace, avoiding looking at the sleeping boy. He was agitated and edgy, something he could usually keep under wraps, but this was different. Something didn't feel right. The dark man had a good perception of things and he doubted his fears were unfounded.
Raising his wand, he tested the wards. They were still there, strong as ever. It was true that Voldemort could influence Harry from anywhere, but certainly not to this extent to Snape's knowledge. The headmaster had informed him of the possession at the ministry, but also that the Dark Lord was expelled from Potter's mind very quickly. This however, was different. It wasn't a possession but nor was it the common and unintended connection through the lightening scar. Being in the dark about something always made Snape angry and dare he admit, nervous?
He had tried to contact Albus by floo, but he was not in his office so he had sent a letter as soon as he had patched the boy up, but the headmaster was clearly out on business as he had not had a reply. He did not think this reason enough to send a patronus. No one was dead or dying and he didn't want to make fuss over nothing. A letter was suitable to explain what had happened and Dumbledore could visit when suitable. There was no lasting damage and the professor could handle anything that wasn't too serious. He just needed to make sure Potter kept up his regular dose of potion as well as a few blood replenishers and any other pain relief he might require. The Gryffindor looked peaceful enough now at least, so Madame Pomphrey was not necessary.
A few hours passed and still the boy slept and still Malfoy remained hidden. Snape had finally had enough of the silence, something he usually savoured and decided he had better go check on the blonde boy. Potter was in no danger at the moment regardless and he detested sitting there like some sort of nursemaid.
With one glance back at the pale Harry, he left the room, leaving the door open just in case and ascended the staircase. As he passed through the house he noted how dark the place even felt, even after being used by the order for so long. He couldn't imagine Sirius Black growing up here and he smirked at the thoughts of Mrs Black's portrait. What a charming mother the rabid dog had.
He didn't bother knocking on Malfoy's door, but simply spoke sharply.
There was no answer only silence, so he opened the door stealthily, ready to berate him for hiding for so long. However he stopped as he saw the boy asleep atop the four poster bed inside. He was still dressed in his day clothes, hinting that he had not meant to fall asleep. Snape however, was satisfied. At least he hadn't been up here moping. Closing the door, he decided to have a cup of coffee. He was beginning to feel tired, but had no intentions of sleeping.
After two cups and a half-hearted glance at the previous day's newspaper which he had already read, he looked at the time. It was now into the early hours of the morning.
Scowling at nothing he stood up and decided to see if Potter was awake. He didn't want to enervate the boy, it was always safer to let someone wake up on their own after an injury, unless completely necessary. Dusting off his robes, he left the room. As he walked the hallway he noted how cold it had suddenly gotten, there was an uncomfortable chill through the house. Entering the sitting room he hoped Malfoy would have the sense to actually get into bed if he awoke. Taking a side glance at Harry, he was slightly irritated the boy had not yet woken, however he had moved in his sleep, which may signal he was beginning to stir.
Noting the empty fireplace, the fire having long since died, he cursed and strode over the grate. No wonder it was so bloody cold. Pulling out his wand he filled the grate with hot flame, relishing it somewhat and staring into its depths. Snape was tired of being cooped up. His betrayal to the Dark Lord had cost him his freedom and his usefulness for the order. He was reduced to babysitter and brewer. Brewer he could take, babysitter he could not. So engrossed in his bitter contemplation, he never noticed the green eyes behind him snap open.
Harry had not been aware of existence, lost in unconsciousness, until the pain began to stir within him. He wasn't sure when he had started screaming, his body suddenly aflame, his scar searing across his forehead, his chest threating to burst open as his heart fought to be free of its confines. He couldn't move, he couldn't hear, too aware of the pain that captured him.
Without movement he couldn't fight, but there was no-one to fight. He seemed alone. But he wasn't. And that became all too clear when suddenly dim light filled his vision as his eyes snapped open without his consent. Screaming louder in his head, he tried to gain control, feeling his arm lift itself from where his body lay, but it was useless. Even the screams he let loose in his mind didn't move his actual mouth to even a twitch. Horrified and terrified, he could only watch as the world tilted, feeling himself stand.
Then his body began to walk around the room, in an alarmingly casual manner. If he was more aware of himself, he would have felt that his face was curled into a smirk without his consent.
Feeling as if he was fighting the petrificus totalus curse, he tried to twitch a hand, anything, but his body was completely disconnected from his mental awareness.
The pain seared up worse than ever and he felt blinded, until it dulled down again and he was more aware of his body's independent actions. Despite the lack of another literal presence, Harry was left in no doubt as to what this was and who was doing it. This was possession.
He suddenly became aware of a cold object, now held in his right hand and he felt his eyes roll down to look at it. Taken unwillingly from the library shelf and held firmly in an unwanted grip, was a long thin and rather beautiful steel letter opener, with a gilt handle. It was clearly old and probably valuable… and extremely sharp looking, the blade being thin but well carved on one side, so as to cut parchment better. The point was slightly blunter than the side, as was typical of letter-openers, but no doubt with enough force it would be deadly. Harry knew as much and he fought like a maniac against the power holding him when the object was easily pushed up into his sleeve, well concealed, before he returned to the couch, lying down in a similar position, forced to be silent and still.
It was a moment of complete horror and desperation when Severus Snape entered the room, glancing at Harry. Harry's eyes were forced shut, feigning sleep, but he could hear the man stepping toward the fireplace, before the telling sound of a crackling fire popped in the room.
Once more, green eyes snapped open, his body rising like a snake, silent and deadly. Harry fought, screamed, bit and wrenched himself, trying to escape the magic, but his body didn't waver in its control.
The intent of his puppeteer was crystal clear when the sharp object was slipped from his sleeve and clutched tightly in his hand, the point facing its intended target.
Harry was suddenly frozen in fear, watching the scene from his own eyes, as his body stepped right up behind Severus Snape, waiting for the opportunity to strike.
From somewhere in his mind, Harry felt slimy satisfaction and glee that was not his own and he prayed and wished for the opportunity to warn the professor, but it was too late.
Snape, having finally turned back around from the fire, intent upon checking Harry once more, found himself face-to-face with the most dead green eyes he could have imagined.
Harry gave out a final mental scream as his arm suddenly shot forward, driving the make-shift weapon straight into his once hated potions professor's gut. The sound of the thud would never leave Harry, not would the absolute shock in the obsidian eyes in front of him. Snape's pale face seemed to drain even more and a slight intake of breath was silenced as the length of steel was suddenly wrenched out and straight back in again, slightly to the left of the previous mark.
The twisted smile on Harry's face which Snape had witnessed fell off quicker than one could imagine as Harry seemed to be shoved back into control, a laughter suddenly ringing in his ears that had not come from his own body. As soon as he was there, the scream that had been silenced tore through him and shot through the house, just as the potions master sank to his knees, blood now seeping and staining his robes.
"No…" The Gryffindor said it in a whisper.
Harry sank with him, hand still unknowingly clutching the blade, eyes wide with horror. His knees hit the floor and he was suddenly aware of the crimson fluid coating his hand as Snape's mouth opened and closed, struggling for speech due to the two holes fashioned in his stomach.
Harry grabbed at the man's shoulders, preventing him from leaning back toward the fire and he looked around, absolutely panicked, a million thoughts flying through his brain, sweat pouring down his forehead.
"No, no this can't-"
"Look what you did Harry."
His eyes flew wide as he tried to keep a grip on the potions master and look around for the voice, before realising it was coming from his own head.
"You killed him."
He could hear someone going 'tut-tut' mockingly and it drove him mad, he felt like pleading and cursing all at the same time.
Desperate to do something, he laid the barely conscious Snape on the floor, blood now beginning to seep onto the floor and into the cracks. Harry noticed the potions kit on the ground beside the couch he had been asleep and he dove toward it, just as Malfoy crashed through the door, having heard the scream, blood leaving his face as he absorbed the scene.
"Help me! Professor Snape he- just help, please!"
It may have been the serious tone of Harry's voice and the slight desperation, but Malfoy was shook from his daze. Snape was now unconscious and alarmingly still and stiff.
"I don't know any serious healing spells!" he ran over and knelt beside the other Slytherin.
Harry felt it would be stupid to point out that neither did he. But he continued his mad search through the vials and bottles.
"Dittany, essence of dittany will save him- there's none in here!"
"I'll keep searching, you send a patronus to Dumbledore or floo him or something!"
They were both nearly shouting now, their panic evident.
"Not enough time! Wait- there'd be some in the lab…wand, where's my wand?! Malfoy summon essence of Dittany!"
After fumbling to get his wand out quickly the blonde did as he was bid and Harry nearly collapsed with relief as it came zooming into the room. He grabbed the bottle and dived toward the potions master, smacking his knees into the floor as he did. Grimacing, but too terrified to hesitate, he pulled the letter opener from his professor's body, wincing at the squish-like sound as it was removed. He swallowed at the amount of blood that followed, before administering three drops to each stab wound, nearly shouting in relief as they began knitting themselves together.
"You send a patronus to Dumbledore, I don't know where my wand is" Harry said hurriedly, not even looking at the blonde, still too focused on the man he had very nearly murdered.
It took Malfoy two tries but finally a silver blur shot past Harry, and then Malfoy knelt beside him, pushing two blood replenishers into Harry's hands. Ironically, these had intended to be for Harry, but now they would save the one who should have administered them. Uncorking one he managed to get most of the contents into the professor's mouth. Too afraid to try anything further, in case he mixed unsuitable potions, Harry sat back on the ground, watching and letting it sink in. He had almost murdered Snape. He shook his head ever so slightly, guilt beginning to swallow him, watching as Malfoy had the sense to place a cushion under the greasy-haired man's head. Both boys were white as ghosts as they sat there in the dim light.
Voldemort was far more pleased this time. That was the perfect message delivered to both Potter and Snape, all wrapped up in a delightfully bloody bow. He knew that Snape would not die. It was inevitable that the boy would save him and though the two given wounds could have killed him, it would have taken a few minutes for him to bleed out, giving Potter plenty of time to act. But this would be a lesson to them both. It should teach Snape that he chose the wrong side and was accessible anywhere and it would not only teach Harry a lesson in what his opponent was capable of, but would instil a fear of himself and his proximity to others. Voldemort knew that if Harry didn't trust himself, he would not trust himself around others. It was the ultimate fault in hero-types.
If a wedge came between them and Potter made any attempts to go it alone, he would be all the more easy to capture. Safety in numbers was a particularly infuriating and effective manner in survival.
The Dark Lord decided that traumatising the boy further was simply a bonus in any case.
Severus also needed to be punished physically and what better way to do it than through the one he sought to protect. It was a glorious turn of events.
Voldemort let Nagini curl around his shoulders, knowing she sensed his good mood, and he whispered sweet nothings to her.
He wondered what his next move would be. Things were starting to escalate nicely and it would not be long before he himself entered the fray. Draco had told him of the many months that Potter had been imprisoned in the future and though he relished the idea, it had clearly been a mistake at the end of it all. But he faced the challenge of killing the boy without destroying the horcrux. Due to its placement in a human being, Voldemort supposed that it could be destroyed a lot more easily than If in an object. The objects required the destruction to be irreparable magically, but flesh and bone was more fragile and the magic mix might create a more fragile horcrux. It was a complicated situation.
The blade his future-self had sent back was capable of carrying out the deed and he agreed with himself that it would be rather poetic for the blade to finish what it started. Too many failed attempts with Avada Kedavra had proved that it was not a suitable death for Harry Potter. The poisoned blade he now had in his possession was not simply poisoned to cause an agonising death, it was a specifically brewed poison which would bring about the death of the victim, but the body would still be suitable to encase his horcrux. The belladonna and blood loss would kill, while the unicorn blood would work to preserve the horcrux. If he wished to kill the boy quickly, he could plunge the blade into his flesh and let the blood loss do its work and the horcrux should still remain untouched due to the unicorn blood. The poison was an extra measure, in case of escape or simply to provide a more agonising and humiliating death. Voldemort wasn't fussed over a slow or fast end, for they both brought about the same results, however, a slow death which would have occurred with Harry already, had the poison not been countered, left time for the provision of an antidote. Potter had gotten away from his future self before the deed was finished, thus he was healed, saving him from bloodless and provided with an antidote, saving him from the poison. Both measures taken to ensure death were foiled and it was not acceptable.
He wondered if he should fashion another method of extracting the horcrux safely, but that would take time. He would also have to find another object to hold the horcrux. He found the idea of using the boy's corpse rather suitable. It would be a trophy, as all his other vessels had been, perhaps of a more unusual nature but it would be safer not to transfer it, even at the risk of a flesh vessel being more perceptible to destruction.
There was an added bonus. He doubted if anyone from the order came across the body, their consciences would let them destroy the boy.
He chuckled darkly as he weighed the pros and cons, deciding to wait and see what was more suitable at the time. All in all it had been a very productive evening. He had taken possession of Dumbledore's precious golden boy and gotten a taste of Severus' blood. Success was in the air.
Dumbledore had arrived after several minutes and had immediately delivered Snape to the hospital wing under strict security. The St Mungo's healer whom had replaced Madame Pomphrey had reported he would be fine after a few days recovery thanks to the quick actions of whoever had healed him. He required observation for a night in the hospital and could then return to hiding, given that Harry and Malfoy would aid him in certain things.
Dumbledore had then returned to Grimmauld Place. Harry and Malfoy were not to leave it due to safety reasons, so he informed them of Snape's condition.
Harry had then quietly told the headmaster what had happened, while a very pale Malfoy sat on an armchair.
Of course the headmaster had no blame for Harry, but the situation was alarming. He made sure the boy took the required potions after his ordeal and ordered Draco to take a calming draught.
Voldemort had not been able to achieve this level of mental manipulation before this and from what Harry told them, he hadn't gone to such an extent in Harry's future either. So this was a new path.
Seeing it was dangerous now for Harry and for the young Malfoy, Dumbledore devised a temporary solution. Clearly the basic occlumency Harry possessed could not prevent these events. He spent over twenty minutes with his wand at Harry's temple, much to Harry's discomfort, creating a magical mental barrier. Harry questioned why this had not been done previously and Dumbledore explained that it was not a long-term solution. It would only be effective for three days at most and any longer could be potentially damaging to Harry's mind and magical core, due to the sheer amount of magic used. However the circumstances were dire and this was the only solution at the current moment. When he had finished, he assured Harry and Draco it would be safe at least for a few days from this type of intrusion and he would check up on them every few hours until Snape returned to them the next day.
Harry and Malfoy both agreed to aid Snape's recovery at Grimmauld Place, Harry most particularly, as he was the one who inflicted the need for recovery. It was unsafe for the potions master to remain elsewhere for too long.
Just before he left and out of Malfoy's earshot, Dumbledore murmured to Harry that it might be the best idea to begin an advanced form of occlumency in order to permanently combat Voldemort's actions. Harry didn't think it appropriate to point out that occlumency had not worked previously, so he just nodded glumly.
Before he exited, the headmaster, with a serious look in his eyes, told Harry that this was not his fault. Naturally, Harry didn't believe him. Voldemort would have smiled.