The Severus Snape that walked down the driveway of Malfoy Manor was utterly baffled. His Lord was not his Lord, he had changed, completely, into someone else. His madman of a Lord had somehow acquired the Soul and Mind of Harry Potter!
He shook his head, he had a hard time wrapping his mind around the fact that this change in loyalty was now a done deal. He could feel how the magic of the Vow eased its grip on him when he gave in to his urge to help and protect. The last few years, since Potter had showed up at Hogwarts, he had constantly walked a fine line, that hurt or rewarded depending on how nasty he was to the boy.
Now the Boy had turned into his Lord and between the Mark and the Vow he no longer even desired to resist. He was now this New Lord's man, totally and fully. Strangely, he couldn't care less if this turned out a mistake, and he wasn't Harry Potter at all, as long as this change in attitude persisted.
He chuckled when he thought back to the meeting. He'd known instantly that something was not normal. The pain from the call barely hurt and wasn't accompanied by the usual fear-inducing wave of dark power, all he got was a strong urge to go see his Master.
He'd told Dumbledore something wasn't right with his Master, and the Headmaster had figured he was wounded and needed potions after the fight at the ministry. Severus was ordered to go, and do his best. Harry Bloody Potter would have to wait for his help. His Vow had remained strangely silent.
By the time he stepped outside the Estate, he had shrunk his uniform and put it away with the mask in one of his many robe-pockets. It wouldn't do to show up at the Hogwarts Gate in full Death Eater regalia, would it? He tightened his emotional control and easily apparated to his destination. The reporters he'd fought to get through earlier had given up, or went to lunch, thankfully.
He set a quick pace up the path to the main entrance. He wondered how the Headmaster would react when he found out he'd be losing his Potions Professor. A thought struck him; maybe he shouldn't tell him at all before the defection was a reality. He internally nodded to himself, yes that would be for the best. There was no point giving the old man the idea that he'd still be spying for him after this, now was there?
Inside, he noticed that lunch was still in session in the Great Hall, so he took the route towards his own dungeon chambers instead of directly to the Headmaster's office. He sighed at the thought of just how much he had to pack before he could go. He was not about to leave anything behind if he could help it, and most of his possessions and private research were in the castle. He figured he'd be done by late evening and then he'd leave in the early morning hours.
Inside his private chambers, he blinked, again baffled. When he reached for the manual handle to the cupboard where he stored his bottomless, multi-compartment-trunk; and was faced with the image of the Greasy Git in the mirror hanging on his cupboard door.
"What? How?" he was honestly confused. All he'd done since he left the Malfoy Manor was walk across the grounds and through the castle, he had not met one single witch, wizard or student on the way. How had he been re-cursed? When? He hadn't noticed a thing even though his nose had grown and his hair was hanging in greasy strings again.
The puzzle was nagging at him, but he forced himself to ignore the urge to investigate. He'd be leaving in a matter of hours, after all. And it was actually for the best that he was back to his usual self like this. His usual quick glamour was probably detectable by Dumbledore.
Ignoring the image, he opened the cupboard and levitated the trunk from the cupboard with a wave of his wand. With the trunk in the middle of the floor, he gave a command he'd long known he might one day need. "Time to PACK!" he called out, his intent clear.
Into the trunk's first compartment went his library, in the second his private potions laboratory, then in the third all the furniture, in the fourth went everything else. The whole process would probably take a couple of hours, since he wasn't just packing for an emergency, but for a complete move. Once done, he'd be able to put the whole thing in a pocket. Before he was hit by a flying book or scroll, he ducked out the door to head for Dumbledore's office. The packing would take care of itself.
He took the long route through the student corridors and the main entrance hall, instead of the direct secret passage the Headmaster had created for him. He snorted to himself when he realized he was actually feeling nostalgic. He'd been stalking these halls, taking points and scaring students for fifteen years, and before that he'd been a student. Last time he'd left, after graduation, he couldn't leave the seven years of torment behind soon enough. This time, he also had good memories, but they were not enough to make him even hesitate to leave.
He did slow his steps as he passed the Infirmary, slightly curious about Potters condition, but decided he didn't need to be held up there at the moment; which he knew he would be if Madame Pomfrey got his claws into him.
"Gummy Bears," snarled in his usual style got him past the Gargoyle guardian to the Headmaster's office. He was let in without delay.
"Severus, my boy, come in, have a seat, have a Lemon Drop." came the old fool's usual greeting when he stepped into the office.
He sat, using the dispassionate mask he usually wore to face the Headmaster. For the first time since he began his job as a spy, he was about to lie to his second Master about something truly important. "You were right, Albus. The Dark Lord is indeed badly wounded."
Dumbledore nodded, his damn eyes twinkling. "I had a feeling he would be, considering in how bad shape Harry is."
Severus decided to see if the old man had any idea what had really happened. "What exactly happened, Albus? The Dark Lord wouldn't tell me much, he just ordered me to brew some quite Dark Strengthening Draughts."
"Voldemort..." Severus arm twitched, but he suppressed the flinch out of habit when his mark twinged in pain. Not that it stopped the old man from saying The Name. "...fully possessed Harry at the Ministry, but Harry fought back and He left quickly enough. After that, Harry lost consciousness and we haven't been able to wake him as of yet. Madame Pomfrey said she could not find anything wrong with him, other than a few cuts and bruises."
"How do you figure Potter managed that when he can not withstand my weakest Legilimency probe, or even push me out of his mind without a Protego?"
"I suspect it was not Harry that did the pushing this time, it was Voldemort who couldn't stand to remain in the boy's mind. It is a theory of mine, that Voldemort can not stand to come in direct contact with any positive emotion, like love, or even friendship; something the boy has in multitude."
Severus grit his teeth together at The Name again even as he nodded. Couldn't the old coot show some consideration when he'd been told The Name was painful? "So, in reverse you think Harry can not come in direct contact with such evil? Is that why he is comatose?"
"He will be fine in a day or two, Severus. Remember how he was knocked out in his first year when he came into contact with Quirrel? I'm sure he is just exhausted from the fight." Something in the twinkle of the old man's eyes worried Severus.
Severus nodded, knowing he wouldn't get more information from the man. At least he didn't seem to suspect what had actually happened. "Good, then I can concentrate on brewing the Restoratives for the Dark Lord."
"Yes, you have a good opportunity to nestle yourself closer to Him. It would be good if he trusted you with more information. Do what you can, and do not worry about what he asks of you. I need you to do as you must to get closer, Severus."
Severus wanted to sneer that he didn't turn traitor to just turn right back around and still do the despicable acts he'd been forced to do as a Death Eater. He didn't, of course, instead he nodded. "Of course, Headmaster."
He left the office slightly relieved. Even though he'd slowly grown comfortable around the Headmaster over the years, it was still slightly nerve wrecking to sit in front of him once again a Traitor to the Light. Harry Potter may be in charge of the Dark Lord's body, but that didn't mean he was still Light. The Dark Lord's very magic was Dark, and so would Potter's be from now on. He had a feeling the New Dark Lord would be both dangerous and Dark, but he wouldn't be as cruel and as Evil as the old owner of that body.
Making his way down the stairs, his Mark once again flared to life and he got the urge to see his Lord as quickly as possible. "Again?" he mumbled as he made haste down the corridor to the nearest shortcut.
Finally alone, and with time to relax and reflect, the enormity of what had happened the last twenty four hours washed over Harry. He needed a good cry, the only family he remembered caring about was gone, killed by the crazy woman downstairs. But, no tears would come, he soon realized as he curled up on the soft king-sized bed.
As it turned out; Lord Voldemort's resurrected body was physically unable to cry. He didn't need food or sleep either, it appeared upon reflection. Voldemort may have enjoyed food and drink, but he lived on magic. Unknown to any of his Marked followers, he leeched it from them, the environment or stealing it from people he killed. As long as his followers lived and had magic, so would Voldemort. Harry shuddered, he was scarily powerful now. Compared, his old body and magic was pitiful. There was just no way he could return before he'd made sure Voldemort was truly gone. He couldn't return that much power to a madman.
Forcefully denying the image of Sirius falling through the Veil, he turned his thoughts towards his friends. A stab of guilt shot through him. He'd completely forgotten about them. He had absolutely no idea what had happened to them after he'd left them in the Department of Mysteries. Shame at his selfishness squeezed his heart. How could he forget his friends? He'd barely considered Sirius since the switch, and forgotten his friends completely.
Worry wormed through him. He wished he could contact Severus and ask, but the bloody Wizarding World didn't have any phones, did they? He needed a better, more secure, way to communicate than floo or owl, especially now that he was cut off from any friends and allies. Maybe something like the DA coin could be extended to do more text? He'd have to mention it to Hermione. Then he remembered she thought he was in a coma. He smirked, maybe Severus could kidnap the girl later? He needed her support and her friendship now more than ever.
His mind wanted to sink down into depression over the situation, but his body refused to numb the world around him. Even in relaxation, his body was alert and awake, ready for immediate action. Harry sighed and sat up on the edge of the bed. He rested his head in his hands and was immediately reminded of just how disfigured he was. With a deep, shaky breath he squished his eyes together and fisted his hands in disgust. He absolutely refused to acknowledge his new physique just then. "Ignore and redirect!" he mumbled, because that was what he usually did when it came to thoughts he didn't want or need at the time.
Not that it was a problem to redirect his thoughts, he had plenty of problems to consider. First and foremost he needed to figure out why he was in Voldemort's body, then he needed to find out how Voldemort was immortal and lastly, how to make sure he was dead. In between that, he needed to learn how to live in a less than human body, in a less than friendly world. He had a strong feeling this wouldn't be over in a week, or even a month.
Well, first things first. Possession. He thought back to his second year, the last time he'd witnessed Voldemort possessing someone. It surprised him when he realized that he had nothing on that situation from Voldemort's memories. That Diary must have been completely separate then, he mused even as information on exactly what the Diary was came to him from the goldmine of information that was in his head. It was a Horcrux, a piece of Voldemort's soul. Harry gasped, he'd found it, the reason Voldemort was immortal.
He had to take a deep breath to calm down in the excitement that shot through him. Voldemort had split his soul in two equal pieces six times. The oldest and thus largest piece had been in the Diary, and that was now neutralized. Very few things could neutralize a Horcrux, but Basilisk venom was one of them. He snorted at his typical luck.
What else were there: his family ring, Slytherin's locket, Hufflepuff's Cup, Ravenclaw's Diadem and his familiar Nagini. He frowned there should have been another instead of Nagini, Voldemort had started to make a Horcrux the night he tried to kill Harry fourteen years ago. Harry touched the empty space on his forehead where the scar used to be. Maybe he had indeed succeded in making a Horcrux, accidentally.
If he had, then the piece would have been really small, like barely two percent, since all he knew told him a soul always split in half. No wonder the bloody Dark Lord was so unstable. As Harry, he'd lived with that tiny piece in his head without knowing it was even there, he would probably not notice that piece plus the Dark Lord's half of that size piece now.
Dumbledore had the destroyed diary, he must have figured it out, if he expected Harry to sacrifice himself. The only known way to eliminate a living Horcrux was death of the host. He chuckled, the snake in the next room didn't have long to live. Now he really needed his old body, he couldn't chance that the prophecy protected him if Dumbledore decided to kill it to eliminate the Horcrux. Besides, he needed to check if it still was a Horcrux, there was a definitive chance the piece of soul had been pulled along when Harry and Voldemort left.
Shit, one of the other Horcruxes was still at Hogwarts. In the very room he'd spent all year training; the Room of Requirement. Now he definitely had to have another word with Snape. The Spy was about to burn and they'd have a difficult time entering Hogwarts again without another agent. He grabbed the yew wand he'd shoved up his sleeve earlier and checked the time; barely dinnertime.
"Wormtail!" he bellowed out the door.
"Master!" came a squeak from right around the corner.
The Parseltongue came easily upon his split tongue as he once again called for Severus to come. He closed the door in Wormtail's face when he was finished. Severus knew where to find him.
Waiting for his ally to arrive he brought out some parchment and some kohl. With a steady hand, he drew a picture of the Diadem Severus would have to find and retrieve. He noted down roughly where in the big room he'd put it, but there was no knowing if it hadn't been moved in the decades since he last saw it. Strange how Voldemort had not checked it when he possessed Quirrel. Perhaps he'd been afraid to draw attention to the place. Harry shrugged, having the facts of the events seemed more important than the motivations behind them.
Contemplating the room, he also remembered a skill he'd learned there. Voldemort could bloody fly without a broom! Harry grinned, it was easy too, as long as you had the power. Wand in hand, he held out his arms and floated upon the air as if it had been the surface of a lake. The wand directed the direction, but it was pure will that made it happen.
He almost crashed when a rushed knock came upon the door. He turned to float on his back, arms under his head. "Come!" he ordered.
Harry floated down to the floor in front of the stressed professor, like some deathly angel. "Thank you for coming, Ssseverusss."
"What was so important it could not wait until tomorrow?" the man was as bad tempered as usual. He was also back to looking like his usual Greasy Git. He didn't even acknowledge the flying thing, he must have known about it already.
"Right then," Harry made sure the door had closed behind his guest, and put up another couple secrecy spells on top. "Have you ever heard of Horcruxess?" he asked, getting right to the point.
Severus gaped. "Merlin!" The look of nausea on his face told Harry he knew exactly what the bastard had done. "How many?"
"Ssseven of them."
The air went out of the professor. "And one of them is in Hogwarts?"
"You're ssmarter than you look, Professor. It's in the Room of Requirement, and you'll need to get it before you leave there tomorrow."
"You know what and where the rest of them are? Merlin, how would we have figured this out if this hadn't happened?"
"I know where they were, I can't know if they've been found or moved. Voldemort had no idea hiss first one, his old Diary, had been found and desstroyed. I think Dumbledore at leasst ssussspectsss, I gave him the Diary after I dessstroyed it in the Chamber of Ssecretss."
Snape made big eyes. "You destroyed a Horcrux? At the age of twelve? How? They're supposed to be almost impossible to destroy."
Harry laughed. "My ussual bloody luck, what elsse? There wass a Bassilisssk in the chamber, I killed it and happened to have a fang in my hand. I drove it though the book and it died. End of Horcrux."
Snape seemed to ponder the answer. "We might need to put off my leaving Hogwarts until I've retrieved some more venom, or we'll have trouble eliminating the rest of them."
"Good point. Getting down into the chamber shouldn't take too long if I can teach you to sssay open in parsseltongue to get in and perhapsss how to fly back up again." He sighed. "I do wish I could come with you, but I have sseriousss doubtss this body could get through the Hogwartss wardss."
"Parseltongue can be taught? Fly? I thought that was something that was exclusive to the Dark Lord?"
Harry grinned mischievously. "No, my dear Professsor. It'ss jusst bloody hissing. Even Ron could sssay OPEN after hearing it from me a few timesss. The flying iss a Dark Lord thing, but you have my mark, sso if I sso chosse, you'll get the ability ass well. Come, show me your mark."
Severus rolled up his sleeve almost eagerly.
"There'sss a lot your Dark Lord haven't told you about thisss mark. It'ss not jusst to call you, or find you, it alsso keepss him alive, it leechess magic from you. He can alsso ussse it to boossst your power and give you new ssskillss. Asss I'll do now..." Harry put the wand to the mark and channelled magic from the leyline below the Manor into Severus' mark. He specifically routed this power to the ability to defy gravity and move through the air. Realizing he could also give information, he abandoned the idea of a drawing and instead pictured all the Horcruxes, the Chamber and the way to say OPEN in his mind and pushed it too through the mark. "Jusst in casse ssomething happensss to me, you'll know everything you need, Ssseveruss"
The poor man almost fell over when Harry let go of his arm. He had to steer him towards a chair. "Whoa what a rush!".
"A Dark Lord may give ass well ass take," Harry grinned. He enjoyed watching the other man's magical euphoria. "That little boosst should give you at leassst a couple hourss in the air."
"Until now, this bloody mark has only ever given me pain," Severus was stroking it lovingly.
"Well, that will change now. I can remove it if you wish, but then I wouldn't be able to boossst you again."
The smile on Severus' face was beautiful to behold, even through the Ugly-Glamour he was wearing. "Then I think I'll keep it for a while longer. Thank you Harry!"
"Don't mention it, that iss what a good Lord doess to hisss loyal followersss," he nodded. "Now, back to business. How about you try out that parsseltongue word I gave you before you head back to Hogwartssss and I head over to Gringottsss now that the Alley hass calmed down after the attack at the minissstry."
"sssisssishs" came out of Snape's mouth.
"OPEN" Harry enunciated the best he could.
"opeeeen" came the hesitant, yet understandable hiss.
"Again, a couple of times."
"opeeen...openn...open...open...open...OPEN..." to Harry it sounded like warped versions of English, not hissing.
"You got it, that'sss perfect," Harry added as Severus kept saying it.
"Right, then. Back to business, extended. I'll get the Horcrux first, then go down into the chamber for the venom. Do you mind if I harvest some other parts if I have time? Do you want me to destroy the Horcrux immediately?"
Harry nodded. "Collect the fangss and the venom and dessstroy the Horcrux firssst, then harvessst ass much ass you want. You ssstill have to pack away all your belongingsss and suppliesss before you quit and essscape with my body in the morning."
"Got it. Wouldn't it be cool if I fly out a window with the body?"
Harry burst out in laughter. "I really like you when you abandon the sssnark for a sssense of humor, Ssseverusss. Go for it!"
The Professor laughed as well. "The constant snark and nasty was a part of Dumbledore's compulsion. I am rather more relaxed now, thankfully. I had wondered what was left of the real me after all these years."
"I guesss we'll be the Dark Maraudersss, then. Oh, remindsss me, can you get at my stuff in Gryffindor tower? Among other thingsss I have thisss really cool map my father made that you could ussse. It showsss where everybody iss in the castle, at all timesss. Might give uss an advantage if we need to visssit ssometime."
"Not a problem, I'll get everything that isn't in the Headmaster's office."
The two of them parted ways. Severus to his last very busy night at Hogwarts and Harry to glamour himself for a visit to Gringotts Bank.
To be continued...