A New Perspective
The Order meeting taking place in the kitchen of #12 Grimmauld Place came to a halt when the light in the room suddenly dimmed. The back of the room became completely dark for a moment, then a shadowy figure materialized out of the dark fog. With a sharp gesture, the darkness seemed to get sucked into his hands. Yet, the light in the room remained dimmed compared to before his entrance.
"Good evening, members of the Order of the Phoenix!" he greeted with a miniscule bow to his head.
"Who the bloody hell are you?" came Moody's gruff voice, along with an even dozen pointed wands.
The still hooded man let out a small chuckle as he pulled back the hood of the long black cloak. "Sorry about the theatrics, I do believe I have an appointment with Dumbledore and Potter this evening," he said meeting the surprised eyes of the Headmaster across the room.
"Indeed, I do believe you do, yes," the old man replied, wisely not using any name since nobody seemed to recognize him as Snape anymore. "Please, everyone, put your wands down."
When nobody did as their leader requested, the dark figure shook his head with a smirk. He held out his hands as to show he was unarmed, forgetting to put away the inch long silver and onyx claws he'd grown since he'd become the Dark Lord.
A gasp came over the room, and he noticed what they were reacting to. He kept his voice casual. "Oh, sorry, forgot about those," he let them melt into his fingers, making his hands look normal again. "I am no threat to you, we have a common goal; the defeat of the Dark Lord Voldemort." He pulled up the left arm of his robe and shirt. "I have left the Dark Lord's service, and I am here to ask your assistance in freeing more of Voldemort's slaves."
The room was still uncharacteristically quiet. "You have a way to remove a Dark Mark?" Dumbledore asked neutrally.
The dark man nodded. "I do. I have removed mine, and I can remove the mark from any Death Eater. As a measure of faith, I will let you in on a Dark Lord secret only known to him and me. All Marks need to be removed before Voldemort can be killed. The Marks tethers him to this world, makes him immortal. We have a difficult task ahead before "The Boy of Prophecy" can kill the menace."
There was a slight wince on Dumbledore's face. He did love to keep secrets, and this would have been one he'd hold close to his chest for sure. "Are you certain?" the old man asked over the wave of whispers across the room.
"Yes, I don't believe in secrets, old man! You people are the main force in the fight against Voldemort, you NEED to know what to do to defeat him!"
"Then tell us who you are!" Moody's voice came from the sideline.
The dark man laughed. "That is actually not an easy question." He turned towards Dumbledore. "Is it, old man?" He turned back to Moody. "Let's see if you can figure it out, huh? Are you missing a marked member perhaps? Is someone not acting the way he used to?"
Moody made big eyes, apparently getting part of the equation.
He nodded. "Yes, I washed my hair, I straightened my nose and I whitened my teeth…" He paused briefly "…and stopped talking in a sneer," he added in a perfectly Snape voice.
"Professor Snape!" the two previously quiet twins called out at the same time.
"Why would that be so difficult to answer?" Moody countered the bored sneer. "Seems pretty straight forward to me."
"Please, do not answer that, my boy," Dumbledore pleaded.
"Why not, old man? I'm sure you're starting to realize things will not return to the way things were."
"Please, let us speak privately before you do."
"You do not trust the people in this room, Dumbledore?" the dark man asked, a dangerous hint to his voice that hadn't been there before.
"I do," came the reply, but they could all see the slight hesitation there.
"I know you like keeping people in the dark. Merlin knows you've kept me in the dark my whole life. Now I'm Dark, and unless I convince you now that we have the same goal in this war, that you have nothing to fear from me; you will declare me just another enemy. Don't think I haven't heard the whispers behind my back already."
"Bloody Hell, Harry!..."
"…You hijacked Snape's body!" came the two twins again.
Harry grinned. "You guys are way too clever, you know that?" he winked. "You're absolutely right!"
"Harry! Give Professor Snape back his body this instant!" came the commanding voice of Molly Weasley.
He shook his head. "Why am I not surprised? Switching back is not an option anymore, I'm afraid Molly. Things have changed too much for it to work."
"Please Harry, let us try!" Dumbledore asked.
"I know this is not fair to the Professor, but I'm afraid he's going to have to take one for the team. As you like to say; it would be for the Greater Good."
"Why are you being so selfish, Harry?" Molly reprimanded.
Harry shook his head sadly. "I have the power to remove Dark Marks, I even have the power to track them. If we switched back, we would lose that. Instead we'd have to kill them all to kill Voldemort. Tell me, Molly. What would you choose?"
She looked down. "If you could do it, maybe Professor Snape could learn?"
"Why am I not surprised you're automatically dismissing Harry Potter from doing this. He's the child, he's to stay out of the war, right? He couldn't possibly be capable of finishing this, right? He's too young!" he sneered. "You may have tried to keep him isolated and ignorant, but let me tell you, that is no longer the case. You see, the dear Professor left all his knowledge and memories behind when we switched. I am Harry Potter with a Potions Master degree; a Harry Potter who spent twenty years as a Death Eater, spying on the Dark Lord; a Harry Potter who's embraced all those experiences and made them mine. To be perfectly honest, I no longer consider myself to be Harry Potter."
"Still, my boy, I am going to have to ask you to switch back," Dumbledore ordered in his fatherly way.
He was getting angry at their stubbornness. "You may from now on refer to me as The Serpent Prince, Headmaster. I am no longer 'your boy', nor am I your student, you ward, your servant or your friend. I came to tell you how to win this war." He shook his head sadly. "I guess I have accomplished that. Now it's up to you to use the information wisely. Show this meeting to Snape in a pensieve, tell him to owl me. I'll agree to a private meeting when he's calmed down." He bowed his head. "Good Bye!"
The Prince stepped back and with his arms and cloak wrapped dramatically around him, he let the black mist surround him again. When the mist dissipated, he was gone.
The Prince sighed when he arrived back at his castle. That hadn't gone as well as he'd hoped. It seemed he was still an optimist at heart. He should have known they wouldn't support him the way he wanted. Then again, maybe he was too impatient; they did usually take some time to come around. Not that dear Molly would ever think of him as anything but a child; something he'd not been since he was five and was put in charge of doing all the Dursley household chores.
He tossed the cloak across the back of one of the library wingback chairs and moved over to the large table in the middle of the room. He'd spread a large magical map of the British Isles across the table. He'd made it himself, with the Marauders' Map as a template. He'd mapped every single Death Eater as of the night before he removed his own Mark. Unfortunately any update would have to wait until he'd captured himself one of them. He needed a Mark to initiate the tracking of a Death Eater.
The Map was littered with the helpful little red dots. He wished he could tell them apart, but the ancient magic didn't conveniently give out names like the Hogwarts Wards did. He only knew where they were, not who they were. Some, he could make a reasonably good guess, of course, but still… He sure had his work cut out for him.
He glanced at the concentration of green dots, and the one golden one in a London neighborhood. The Order meeting was still going on.
He relaxed back in one of the chairs. The intricate silver and onyx tips on his fingers slid out again when he relaxed. He wondered briefly what about his bond with Darkness had created them. They sharpened and dulled as needed, and channeled the Dark Magic better than any wand. Black lightning sparked between his fingers when he concentrated briefly. He made a fist, and they didn't cut him. They were one more weapon given to him in his quest. He briefly wondered when exactly his need to be 'normal' had disappeared. Nothing about him was normal anymore, and he didn't mind the slightest.
"Benny, get me a glass of red wine, thanks!" he ordered the little elf hiding in the corner. He might as well relax for a bit, he had a feeling he wouldn't be able to concentrate on anything else until he heard from Snape.
As he waited, he wondered if he'd get Snape as the partner he wanted. He'd hated the man for five years, yet now he felt closer to him than any other human being. He couldn't help wonder how the experience had changed the other man. He snorted. "Probably the same snarky bastard he's always been!" No, the Prince had no illusions that the two would ever be friends. He'd settle for some mutual respect.
When the Owl-wards pinged two hours later, he'd long since finished the wine and was reading one of the more interesting old Slytherin biographies. He checked the map, only the golden dot remained in place.
Have you gone completely BONKERS?
Get over here!
The note wasn't signed, didn't need to be. He'd recognize that scrawl anywhere, even written with his old faulty fingers that had been broken and burned too often as they grew to work properly.
Chuckling at the image of the other man's indignant anger, he threw the cloak across his shoulders and gathered the Dark Mist around him. He truly liked the unique way of travel, there was no dizzying spinning, or being squeezed through a tube as with other magical transportation. He gathered the Mist, decided where to go, and willed the Mist to appear there, and he appeared along with the mist.
He stepped out of the mist back in the Grimmauld Place kitchen and automatically absorbed the Mist as usual. The obviously pacing boy stopped to stare at the arrival. The Prince remained quiet, studying the still bruised boy glaring at him.
"What the hell did you do to my body?" the boy growled.
The Prince smirked, very reminiscent of the body's previous owner; but the way he spoke was very different. "I made it mine when I moved in, of course." He nodded towards the boy's body. "I see you've recovered somewhat from the summer visit to the Dursleys. Had a nice time, did you?"
"It appears, we are not so different after all; you and I," Snape said with a defeated sigh as he sank down onto a chair half way down the table.
The Prince sat down at the end of the table, keeping some distance between them. "I was so angry when nobody would listen to what I told about them, that I had to go back there. Dumbledore thought I was exaggerating, you thought I was lying, my friends couldn't even imagine what it's like. Nothing I said helped, so when this happened, I took the chance to finally get the truth out."
Snape looked up. "I do understand now, Harry. I…I apologize for not listening, for holding onto my prejudice. I'm truly sorry, Harry."
"I'm sorry too, Professor Snape. I never intended to make the switch permanent, but here we are."
"What did happen to you? Nothing about you seems to be the same."
"I am quite willing to tell you all my secrets, but they will have to remain between you and I. I certainly won't tell them here, where the Order is listening in. I will say, that my ultimate goal in speaking with you is to have you as my partner in the hunt for Death Eaters and Voldemort. I'm not returning to Hogwarts and I don't think you should either. There's nothing there for either of us to learn and we'll never be safe there."
Snape looked at Harry for a long moment before he made his decision. "I, Severus Tobias Snape, in the body of Harry Potter, swear upon my life and magic, to never reveal the secrets of the man known as The Serpent Prince unless given permission in advance. I also give my oath to give any aid that is within my power in your quest to defeat Voldemort and his Death Eaters."
"So mote it be," the Prince accepted the oath with a nod and a swirl of magic surrounded them momentarily. He rose as he felt the wards around the property ping with the arrival of another powerful wizard. He held out his clawed hand towards Snape. "Come, we better leave before Dumbledore tries to trap you here." They heard the front door open.
Snape grabbed the hand, and the Prince pulled him close and wrapped them both in Mist. Dumbledore never had time to reach the room before they were gone.
"That wasn't what the old man had planned, was it?" Prince asked as the Mist cleared to show the magnificent view of the Slytherin Castle in moonlight.
"No, he ordered me to persuade you to return to Hogwarts, and together we'd be researching ways to reverse this."
"Oh well, I'm sure he'll survive the disappointment. Anyway, welcome to Slytherin Castle."
"I don't understand. How did you find this place? I certainly don't know anything about it."
The Prince laughed. "It was a total accident. The famous Potter Luck, struck again!" He held out his clawed hand and showed him the Prince Family Ring. "I put on this little ring of yours, and ordered the cute little snake on it to 'take me home' in Parseltongue. Turns out 'home' to a Parsel Mage are this place, and you need a Family Head Ring to find it." He started across the lawn to the gate. "Come on, I'll add you to the wards, you'll be able to come and go as you wish."
"I'm speechless, even after all this time knowing you. Only you would find and claim a whole Castle, by accident!"
"Hey, what happened to your compulsive need to insult me?"
Snape gave an amused chuckle in return. "Somehow it feels like I'm insulting myself when I do. I don't know when it happened, but two months of living in your head seems to have cured some of my snarkiness. It's weird."
Harry snorted. "Believe me; I know all about what happens when you move into someone else's head."
"I can see you do. You've gone completely Dark haven't you?"
They went through the formalities of adding Snape to the wards and entering the Castle before Harry replied to the question.
"I have not just gone dark, Snape. I'm the bloody Dark Lord, chosen by the Darkness itself, no less."
Snape stopped, gaping in surprise now. "You're serious?"
"You're being pretty nice for a Dark Lord," he deadpanned.
"I'm seducing you over to my side, of course," Harry grinned predatorily, snapping his claws. "Everyone knows the one who has The-Boy-Who-Lived on his side will win."
"Oh, is that right? And what's in it for me?"
Harry grinned mischievously. "Hmm…what would you want?" he asked mock thoughtfully.
Snape considered the question and while he did Harry swiped his hands towards the younger looking man. Tendrils of black lightning crackled between them, and Snape gasped when his equilibrium suddenly shifted somewhat. He looked down, to find the rags he had been forced to wear had turned into his regular black ensemble. Black hair fell down his face.
"What did you do now?" he startled when he realized the cadence of his voice was back to his old drawl.
A laughing Dark Lord conjured a mirror in front of Snape with a chuckle. "I thought you'd feel more comfortable in your old ensemble, Professor."
In the mirror was a Harry Potter dressed in Snape's black robes, with long greasy hair, minus the bruises, chipped teeth and too pale skin. It felt weirdly like coming home. He turned back to the other, with his fixed nose and teeth, with hair pulled back and even longer. None of them were recognizable anymore. "I like it," Snape grinned. "Feels comfortable, familiar even," he mused. "You healed all my lingering wounds?"
Harry nodded. "Yes. Did you know Salazar Slytherin wasn't just a Potions Master? He was also a very powerful Dark Healer; something that has been a forgotten art for many centuries. When the Light outlawed everything Dark, they also lost a very powerful tool in the Healing Arts. Join me fully, be my partner, and I will not just heal your new body to its full potential, I will teach you how to be a Dark Healer." He grinned again. "How's that for an incentive?"
The chuckle that came out of Snape, was one of disbelief. "You ARE trying to seduce me. Healing Magic? Are you sure you're Dark? The Dark I learned were all rather destructive."
Harry again held out his hand. Black mist filled the air above his palm, then black flashes cracked through it. "Yes, all my magic comes from Darkness. I no longer have any Light magic within me, nor am I able to conjure it from the environment. Dark can be used to do anything you want, except bring light. A Lumos is beyond me, but I can still conjure fire easily." The Black mist turned into warm flames. "My patronus is gone for good, but Dementors and Lethifolds are Dark Creatures, thus under a Dark Mage's command. Dark and Light are equal and opposite. In nature they exist in eternal balance. Either can be good or evil, it's the choice of the practitioner."
The grin that came upon Snape's face was beautiful to behold. "You have no idea what a relief this is to me. The Dark always called out to me, still does in this body; and to know it is not something I have to fear giving into…" he was grinning like a madman.
"It's quite the revelation, isn't it?" Harry grinned back, extinguishing his theatrical display with a gesture.
"Yes, and strange! To think two months ago I was your professor, and now I'm prepared to become your apprentice. How did you learn all this so fast?"
"I got all your knowledge for free, so to speak. After that, once I had embraced the Dark, it was a matter of molding the magic to my will. The many books and scrolls here told me what was possible, and somehow instinctively I knew how. Dark Magic on this level isn't about wandwaving and complicated incantations, it's all silent and wandless. It was only a couple of days ago I took the final step and did the Bond Breaking Ritual that ended with me becoming the Dark Lord. A lot of the knowledge and confidence needed to act the part actually comes from you. It's amazing what difference the memory of two decades as a grownup makes for an insecure teenager," he winked. "Though I'll never be such a stickler for titles and formality the older generations always demanded."
"I know what you mean; I get now how it's a shallow way to show respect. Before, I would have been furious at the mere hint of a forgotten Sir or Professor. Now, having your ten years of forced politeness to your tormentors, I find respect is in the attitude and action more than the correctly used title."
"I think we've both become better and more complete people," Harry nodded. "It's amazing how we've already had a whole normal conversation; our first ever."
"And I believe we have much to discuss in the future, as well." Then he surprised Harry by going down on one knee, bowing his head. "I, Severus Tobias Snape, in the body of Harry Potter, hereby expand my promise of aid, into the full pledge of my eternal loyalty to the Dark Lord known as The Serpent Prince!"
"So mote it be," the both of them finished, thus Harry accepting the pledge and binding the other man to him.
"As a measure of my trust, I will share my Dark knowledge and you will have the freedom to choose your path in life. I am your Lord, but I will never be a dictator, like Voldemort and Dumbledore."
Snape rose, and got the shock of his life when his Dark Lord actually 'hugged' him. "Welcome to the true Dark Side, Severus!"
Snape blinked at the strange moisture welling up in his eyes when they stepped apart. "When Dumbledore told me you'd gone dark, that no matter your words you were lost to the cause; he was so very wrong. You are the cause, and you WILL be the Savior of our world."
"Dumbledore is too Light and too old to ever understand. More importantly, he's not the Light Lord. For someone so Dark-phobic, he's far too ready to use the Dark to achieve his precious "Greater Good". For Magic to crown him Light Lord, he would have to renounce Dark in the way I did Light, and he never will."
Harry swung an arm around the shoulders of his new partner. "I think it's time to retire for the evening. I've had the suite next to mine prepared for you."
"Good idea, I do think I need some time to think on what's happened."
"Tomorrow, I'll show you around, and we can make plans for the future."
Together, they ascended the many stairs to the Master Floor where there were several suites reserved for the Castle's Masters.