Summary: A time travel story. When fifth-year Severus Snape tries to create a forward time-travelling elixir to prove his worthiness to Lord Voldemort, he is disappointed to find that his creation is worthless. Or is it?
Disclaimer: All recognizable characters and fictional places do not belong to me; I am merely borrowing them for playtime before (respectfully) putting them back. Thank you, JKR, for allowing such things to happen.
Pairings/Main Characters Hermione Granger and Severus Snape, the other Severus Snape. A cast of other canon characters and couple of OFCs as well.
Warnings: This story is rated NC-17/MA, and it is not suitable for children under age 18. It is Alternate Universe, and includes strong language, lemons (graphic sex), violence and mention of violence/torture, unresolved sexual tension, and major character death.
Thank You: To the village that has raised this baby over the course of several chapters: Roo, Tom Without, Allee, Lauren, Nathaniel Cardeau and ThornedHuntress. Additional thanks to my current amazing "Team Tyche," who have listened to me bounce ideas and have cleaned up my writing, making this story so, so much more than it would have been otherwise: Dragoon811, BSC_AG, AdelaideArcher, Vezza and Stgulik.
A thousand further thank yous to the extremely talented SusanMarieR, who created the official banner and cover art for this piece.
Chapter Thirty-Two:(In which the research is abandoned and the Felix Felicis used)
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, 03 March 1997, 4:16 PM
The silence following Potter's statement was dramatically ominous, until Severus gestured impatiently. "So? We obviously haven't. What is a horcrux, then?"
The other boy looked taken aback, and then admitted, "To be honest, I'm still not sure. I was really hoping you two might know. It's something important, and evil. Professor Dumbledore showed me a memory; Voldemort asked Slughorn about them once, when he was about our age. Whatever he said, he regretted it or got scared later, though, because he's-Slughorn I mean-changed the memory. It's blank in some places, and he's tried to make it look like he didn't say anything. Dumbledore is hoping I'll be able to find out what really happened. I haven't been able to, so far-Slughorn's started to avoid me instead."
"That's why Professor Dumbledore told me that he has to really like you, and to not tell anyone about the Potions book." Hermione sat down on the bed next to Ron, her expression grave. "Whatever horcruxes are, he thinks that Voldemort went ahead and did something with it."
"Dumbledore told you what?"
Weasley chose that moment to stir, and groan, "Whazzit?"
Hermione gave him an exasperated look. "Lavender hexed you because you're an arse."
"Hermione?" He drew the words out slowly and his eyelids cracked open. He winced a little, his hand reaching up to probe at the tender new skin Madam Pomfrey's paste had grown. His eyes flicked briefly from Hermione to Severus, then back to Harry. "Um. You're here. I… why?"
Feeling a little evil, Severus responded. "Professor Flitwick asked Malfoy and me to bring you to the hospital wing." To his amusement, Weasley paled even further, his freckles standing out against his skin starkly. Severus let his smile widen. "Don't worry, we didn't do anything to you."
"Oh. Erm, thanks?" He looked uncertain, then continued distrustfully, "You're really him?"
Severus flattened his expression into one of indifference. "A version of."
Weasley nodded slowly, then took a deep breath, glancing at Hermione. "Alright. So… what're we talking about?"
"An apology wouldn't be amiss."
"I said I was sorry," Harry interjected.
"But Ron hasn't. It's good practice, seeing as he'll have to say it to Lavender, too."
"Oi, she hexed me," he protested.
"After you treated her like rubbish for weeks and called her names behind her back," Hermione fired back.
Impatient, Severus cut in. "Just apologise for being a wanker and get on with it, Weasley. We were discussing Horcruxes." He stared down at the other boy until he muttered an apology. "There then, all better. Now horcruxes. What have the two of you discovered?"
Weasley shook his head glumly. "We haven't been able to find out anything. We've even looked through the library." He sounded both horrified and proud of himself as he explained, "It took days, and the card system is confusing and we couldn't even ask for help because Madam Pince would've asked what we were looking up." Severus found himself snorting a little in amusement as Ron finished plaintively, "I really missed you, Hermione."
"So, really, all we know about them is that we need to know about them?" Hermione huffed out an irritated breath. "It's always about Dumbledore's little puzzles, isn't it? He can't ever just tell us anything."
Severus scratched his jaw, thinking aloud. "Dumbledore hasn't asked you to find out about Horcruxes. He's asked you to find out what Slughorn knows… and what he told You-Know-Who about them. That means he already knows as much as there is to know about them in general, which makes sense. He's got a lot of resources, and he's not stupid. Whatever it is that he's missing, it's something Slughorn specifically told You-Know-Who that can't be found in a book, or even by doing it yourself. Which means that as far as Dumbledore is concerned, Slughorn is the only resource that matters, and now he's just been poisoned."
"What?" Weasley's eyes went wide as saucers, and Hermione filled him in. "Well, that's it then," he said defeatedly. "We're buggered. He already wouldn't talk to Harry when he hung back after class."
Hermione, clearly horrified, stared at Potter. "Tell me," her voice was quietly menacing, "that you didn't just walk up to him and ask."
Both boys appeared nonplussed. Potter shrugged. "How else are you supposed to do it? That's how Riddle did it. He was a lot better at sucking up than I am, though."
Incredulous, Severus growled, "You tried to approach him the same way You-Know-Who did? Are you stupid?" He ignored Hermione's low-toned "Atreus…" and continued to rant, his voice growing in volume. "You are supposed to find out using care. With planning and strategy and with some notion that it might be important to not fuck it up."
Potter looked uncomfortable. "What else could I do? It's not something that can casually be worked into a conversation, and I don't know how to flatter and pause at the right moments, even if I could."
Severus lifted an eyebrow. "I know you have a vial of Felix Felicis. Use that."
"I wouldn't want to waste it!"
"Using a potion you cheated to get to help destroy the dark wizard that murdered Lily-your mum-is wasting it, is it?" Severus' voice was cold and biting. Hermione laid a hand on his arm, her hand sliding down to thread through his. Severus reigned his anger in and squeezed her fingers.
Potter looked abashed. "Didn't think of it that way," he mumbled. "Alright, once Slughorn's better, I'll try that."
Severus nodded curtly. "Do. Hermione and I will re-check the library. It can't hurt for us to have some idea of what we're trying to find out about, and it doesn't sound like Dumbledore is willing to tell you." He tapped his fingers against the hospital bed for a moment, then said, "We should go." Once they were out of earshot, he continued quietly to Hermione, "I bet Vector would know something about them, but I'm not sure he'd tell us."
Hermione shook her head. "I don't trust him not to tell someone else we were asking. Half the time he acts like he's telling us information to trip up someone else rather than because he wants us to succeed. He might turn on us just as easily."
Severus nodded slowly. "We'll have to think about it. Let's try the library first, later tonight after classes."
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, 29 March 1997, 9:30 AM
"Saturday at last. I feel like this week lasted three times longer than usual!" Hermione said fervently. "It's too bad we can't go to Hogsmeade with the others."
Severus grimaced and ducked his head toward the long library windows. "It's raining out, anyway. You know we'd end up hiding in the book store and then making a mad dash back after only an hour or two. I am sorry the daydream charm didn't work out the way it was supposed to." They had tried it at last earlier in the week, and to his disappointment, it hadn't gone as expected. They had each been able to influence the dreamscape so that the other could see the changes, but they had not been able to see or interact with each other. The closest they had been able to come was write messages to each other. "I've gotten more with the gift certificate Ginny gave me, I'll keep working on it."
She sighed and glanced at the book in front of her. "Almost a month, and we've found absolutely nothing about horcruxes. Just the one book that mentioned that they were too foul to mention. As if there is any point at all to that!" She glared and shut the book forcefully. "Harry is planning on using his next Monday to talk to Professor Slughorn. He reckons the professor is finally feeling a bit less jumpy since it's been nearly a month. I don't know that he's given it enough time, but since we're not really sure how much time we have…" Her voice trailed off, and her expression became wicked. "Anyway, it got me thinking about how we might benefit from yours. Especially since the castle is a bit emptier than usual."
"Perhaps we could use your Felix Felicis to find some alone time." Hermione winked. "I hear it's a great way to get… lucky."
Severus snorted despite himself. "That is the worst pun I've ever heard in my life."
Hermione dissolved into laughter. "Yes, rather. I couldn't help it, though."
"Indeed." Severus smiled at her. It had been three months since they had been able to be intimate since their first and only time. He fished the small bottle from his pocket, holding it up to the light. "If I only take a small swallow, that should at least be a couple of hours, and it would save some for later."
Hermione's smile was brilliant, and without further thought Severus broke the seal on the small vial, carefully eyeballed how much would be roughly a third of it, and sipped. Instantly he felt suffused with confidence and good humour. He tried to analyse the feeling, and found that certain thoughts felt strangely… right, and some felt suddenly unimportant.
"Well?" Hermione asked eagerly.
"It feels… a little bit like drinking a bit too much, honestly," he answered slowly. "There's clearly a confidence potion as part of the base. I think a fair bit of arithmancy is somehow involved, though I'm not sure how it was put in a potion. Like… I'm strangely happy and confident about the world in general, but I also suddenly feel like certain activities would be excellent to try now… like I'm being nudged towards them." He was quiet for a moment, then nodded decisively. "I think I should go find the professor, take a bit of a walk around the castle."
"You… what? I thought we were going to try to find some private time."
Severus found himself nodding vaguely. "Later… I think. Right now it feels like a really good idea to find the professor. On my own," he added, when she rose to go with him. "I'll see you in a bit."
Hermione looked a bit flabbergasted, but she nodded and called softly, "Alright, I'll see you later."
Energized, Severus left the library, hesitated slightly, and then eschewed the conventional route for a more circuitous one, taking side-stairwells and wandering the halls a bit on his way down to the dungeons. Knowing there was more of a jaunt to his step than he would usually allow, and not really caring, Severus affably greeted some of the portraits and even waved at a startled Filch. The man started, and then just as oddly, his lips twisted up in a small, strange grimace that Severus felt sure was the man's version of a smile.
On the second floor, he rounded a corner and saw a pair of shoes flashing in and out of existence, as someone settled in to wait outside Moaning Myrtle's bathroom. Potter, in that invisibility cloak. Long habit had Severus stopping short, quietly observing the other boy's actions. His wand poked out, appearing to be suspended in mid-air, and flicked silently, nudging the door open a crack. He was obviously trying to spy on someone in the bathroom, and doing a surprisingly good job at it, for a non-Slytherin.
Today was just not Potter's day, however. Perhaps on Monday, when he used his own Felix Felicis, but today… Today, Severus pulled his wand and, with a bone-deep feeling of karma, stunned the other boy. There was a thump as Potter hit the ground, a long strip of his side now visible from the cloak's opening. Stepping past Potter, Severus pushed the door the rest of the way open and peered inside, curiously.
It was Malfoy, who had already glanced up in surprise, his wand in hand. If anything, he looked even worse than he had a month before. His usually impeccable hair and clothes were tousled, and his sunken eyes were now red and swollen on top of the accumulated shadows. He was clearly in the process of having a bit of a mental breakdown. He raised his wand threateningly, his embarrassment of having been seen in that state reddening his cheeks in bright, unattractive splotches. "What do you want? Get out."
Moaning Myrtle hovered nearby, crossing her arms and giving Severus a look of avid dislike. "We are having a private conversation," she said imperiously.
"Shove off, Myrtle," Severus answered. "Malfoy and I need to talk." Rage settled across the ghost's features, and Severus added, "Or I'll stun you, too."
Myrtle shrieked just as Malfoy confusedly asked, "Too?"
Severus quirked his lips and ignored the ghost. "I caught Potter trying to spy; I've got him stunned in the hall. Thought I'd take a look and see who he was trying to spy on. Got something to say, though, if you've got a minute to listen."
Malfoy's mouth thinned and he gave a short nod, then looked at the ghost, still fuming beside him. "Would you mind?" He was surprisingly courteous.
Moaning Myrtle glared at Severus again, but left, exiting with enough drama that her toilet splashed obnoxiously.
Severus waited a moment, then said quietly, "I meant it, you know. If you want someone with more intelligence than Crabbe and Goyle to have a listen."
"You must think I'm really an idiot if you think I'll just start talking to you." Malfoy's voice was tight, but there was something… a slight edge of desperate longing to it.
"Of course not." Severus lifted his wand and cast the strongest silencing spell he could manage. "Tell you what, we'll trade. I'll tell you a secret, then you tell me one." Swishing his wand again in the complicated manoeuvre that created a binding wand oath, he swore, "I swear that I will tell no lies and reveal no secrets spoken by Draco Malfoy whilst in this room to any soul, living or dead, without his express spoken permission." He felt the oath settle on him subtly, tightening the edges of his consciousness. Unlike the Unbreakable Vow he had witnessed the professor making in the pensieve, this oath wouldn't kill him if broken, but it would literally prevent him from breaking his word, tying his tongue and enforcing silence if he tried. Severus raised his brows at Malfoy. "Your turn, Malfoy. I'll not tell you my secret until you swear the same."
He watched the other boy think over the oath for a moment, searching for a loophole in the wording that might be exploited. Severus had worded it very carefully, however. Telling no lies did not mean that either boy had to explain the whole truth, and revealing no secrets neatly bound up all forms of communication, including writing, pantomiming, and Legilimency, not just speech. Finally, Malfoy swirled his own wand, and repeated the words back to him. "Well?" he asked guardedly.
Severus sheathed his wand, and guided by the Felix, stated simply, "Professor Snape is not my uncle. He knew the Dark Lord would come back someday, and when he found out about my existence, he created a fake half-brother to protect me." It was the truth, and yet the false implication was strong.
"He's your father," Malfoy breathed, realisation dawning.
"Naturally, if that got put about, we would both likely be killed. Now surely that kind of trust in you deserves some in return?"
Malfoy gripped his wand tightly, and a frightened, hounded look appeared in his eyes. Finally, he slowly pushed back his left sleeve, revealing the tattooed serpent-and-skull writhing on his forearm. "I wish… I wish I didn't have this. And that he… he wasn't living in my house. I don't want-" he swallowed. "I don't want to serve him."
"No." Severus agreed. "I wouldn't want to, either."
"He's ordered me to… " Malfoy whispered, then his face crumpled and a tear leaked down his face. "I almost killed Slughorn, and Bell. If it wasn't for your… for Professor Snape…" He gave Severus an anguished look. "I don't want to be a murderer. And I don't want to die. But I can't get out. There's no leaving."
The two boys were silent for a long moment. Severus spoke delicately, "Last time, Professor Snape said something to that effect to Professor Dumbledore, and Professor Dumbledore protected him after, once the Dark Lord fell."
"The Dark Lord has to fall for that to happen, and Dumbledore has to survive. Neither prospect seems particularly certain to me. I also don't think," Draco cleared his throat. "The Dark Lord would find out. I'd be killed first."
"Possibly. If you decide to do it, it won't be easy. You know that, and so do I, but if you succeed, if we succeed, he'd be gone for good. Then you wouldn't have to serve him, and neither would Professor Snape."
"He chose it, though. He wasn't forced into it by his dad. Maybe he wants to give you the choice, but it doesn't mean he wants the same thing I do." Malfoy crossed his arms, looking mutinous.
"My turn for a secret, I suppose. I've looked through some of Professor Snape's memories in a pensieve without his knowledge."
"I am not going to tell you that. But I can tell you with absolute certainty: Severus Snape wants the Dark Lord dead." Severus said it plainly, certain that even if he was wrong-and he really did feel confident that he wasn't-the oath he had made would accept the truth that he at least wanted that. Suddenly, it struck him that he was on the way to see the professor, and it would be absolutely brilliant if he brought Malfoy along. The feeling of imminent success and good fortune nearly made him giddy with its strength.
Severus cleared his throat. "He would help you if you asked him."
Malfoy looked uncertain, wavering.
"You know I can't lie under this oath. I really do believe he would help you. Plus, Potter's about to wake up. You can stun him again on the way out, just for fun."
That brought a small, ghost of a smile to Malfoy's face, and he finally nodded. "Alright. I'll at least go with you. I do not give you permission to say anything about me wanting… what I want, though."
"And I do not give you permission to tell him that I've been nosing about his pensieve or spilling our secrets to you." Severus answered tartly. "He'd bloody well pickle me and put me on one of his shelves if he found out."
Malfoy nodded, agreeing, and straightened his robes and hair with a flick of his wand. They exited the girls' loo together, and as luck would have it, Potter did start to stir, suddenly appearing as he blurrily started to sit up.
Malfoy's stunning hex was silent and a much closer range than Severus' earlier one had been. Potter fell over again with a heavy thunk, barely managing to groan before he was knocked out cold again. Malfoy gave a soft little sigh. "That did feel good. Nosy Parker. Surprised you were alright with it though. I thought you two were friends?"
"Not as such. It's more like we tolerate each other for Hermione's sake."
"And the two of you are really...?"
"Yes." His voice carried a hint of warning to Malfoy. "I'd pick her over either you or Potter, or the professor. If she gave the word I'd make sure we both disappeared forever and no one would find us, no matter who won. She won't, because she's a Gryffindor, and you know how they are, but I would. I'm going to marry her someday," he added matter-of-factly.
Malfoy's eyes widened, but he didn't say anything.
Equally stunned, Severus continued walking down the hall. The words had slipped out without thought, startling him rather badly. He had been fairly certain that he was in love with Hermione Granger, but he hadn't really, seriously considered marriage. More to the point, he hadn't really, seriously believed that she would consider marriage. Yet he had said it unhesitatingly, without any doubt. The Felix Felicis apparently thought it would be a successful endeavor. Not right now, of course, but someday. It was very reassuring.
Professor Snape's brusque "Enter!" held an edge of dangerous displeasure. Next to him, Malfoy grimaced. Whilst office hours were a requirement of all professors, there wasn't a student in school who didn't know that actually calling upon Professor Snape on a Saturday was a Very Bad Idea.
His expression didn't change much when he saw them enter together, but Severus could tell his older version was surprised. He blinked, the impatience in his eyes suddenly chilling as his Occlumency shields strengthened, and his shoulders twitched ever so slightly. It was the Professor Snape version of gaping astonishment, he had come to learn.
"What can I do for you… gentlemen?" he asked slowly.
Malfoy appeared to struggle a moment, and glanced at Severus as if looking for help. Severus raised his eyebrows in response. "This is me, not saying anything," he reminded the blond. "You're the one who specifically said not to."
Malfoy gave him a sour look, and then straightened his shoulders, his chin lifting, his attention turning back to the professor. "Sir. I… I think I need your help. A matter of some delicacy, I'm afraid."
Without missing a beat, the professor ordered, "Prince, get out. Speak of this to no one and go." Severus gave a quick nod and opened the door. As he retreated, he heard the professor call out loudly enough that anyone lingering nearby my might hear, "...and a week's detention!"
The door closed behind him with a thud, and Severus stood there for a minute, wondering if the last hour had really just happened. Then the Felix Felicis reminded him with a niggling idea. McGonagall and Flitwick were in Hogsmeade, minding the upper years with Professors Saxena and Sinistra. Professor Snape would likely be with Malfoy for quite some time. Which meant that none of the teachers who had been particularly invested in running interference between Hermione and himself were available to do so.
A grin spreading across his face, Severus jauntily made his way back up to the library to collect his girlfriend for some much needed alone time. It looked like he was going to achieve the original goal of trying his liquid luck, after all.
A/N: Hope you guys enjoyed my latest installment. XOXO -Tyche