Ladies and gents mistress Slytherin is on a roll tonight! I finally finished one of my promised stories whew! This one was actually a project I began last year, I just couldn't get that scene where Snape dies sad and alone out of my head and I had to write a story where'll see. *grins*

Oh and again I have a twitter account now JJCDante is me feel free to drop me a line or follow me there!





Chapter 1

He slipped silently through the halls little more than a rippling shadow just as dark as the ones that made up a majority of the hall this late at night. When he'd first come to Hogwarts six years ago he'd made it a game to try to wander these halls at night without getting caught, time and amusement had bred into a wealth of spells that could be used to sneak around with.

But tonight's journey through Hogwarts darkened corners had a purpose.

The Slytherin badge on his collar ensured that he knew just how close war was on the horizon. Of course he'd suspected it since Potter's first year when he'd followed the boy out of curiosity and found him dueling the dark lord himself. He had only been a second year at the time and had hardly any training outside of theoretical knowledge whereas Potter had even less than that. He could remember well how naive he'd been up until that point, witnessing the dark lord in all of his unforgiving glory was like a bitter cold slap of reality to the face. His only ambition had been to be better and stronger than anyone else, he wanted them to know who he was- but self preservation helped him understand the consequences before they occurred.

He dodged behind a suit of armor breath catching in his throat as a familiar pattering of feet rushed towards them.

It was no good, his quarry was wounded, pale and exhausted, the man could hardly stand on his own, he needed to get to his quarters safely and without having to stop and speak with noisy caretakers and their cats. He could practically feel the way the man was swaying! Clenching his jaw in determination he reached into his pocket and pulled out a pouch the scent of lavender ensured it was the right one as he pulled out a pinch inhaled deeply and slowly blew it into the air. Filch never saw it coming. The squib blinked once, twice and again before smiling a happy sleepy smile and promptly slumping to the ground dead asleep. The cat lasted a few seconds longer letting out a few loud purrs before stumbling towards Filch and nuzzling his side before falling asleep.

Silently he cast a few choice spells to ensure that no one would be suspicious before rushing back into the shadows. He slipped forward eyes zeroing in on his target.

Snape swayed precariously and slurred out the password to his chambers before finally falling against one of the walls and sliding slowly down it in a slump. Worry replaced the rage that would have sat like acid in his belly as he rushed forward and carefully sprinkled a bit more dust into the air ensuring that Snape wouldn't wake. He was careful not to cast anything else though relying on his strength and Snape's recent weight loss to carry the man through. By now he knew where everything was in Snape's rooms. He knew the passwords and wards and secret hiding places in which Snape kept his more dangerous potions, as well as where the healing salves and brews were to be accessed.

He had to admit, if anything he would be a passable healer by the time this war was truly unleashed on the world.

At first it had been mere curiosity- the bane of his existence he had to admit- that had led him to following Snape. He'd always known of course that the safest way to learn was through another person's mistakes and triumphs. His grandmother, horrid witch she was had constantly drilled into his mind how dangerous people like Severus Snape were, and how he should show them proper respect. Unfortunately for her, her warnings had only driven him to wanting to know more, to see with his own eyes, to prove himself somehow.

So he'd followed Snape.

He'd known especially after seeing the dark lord for the first time that he could use Snape as a means of survival. After all the man had survived the first war relatively unscathed and without all the money Lucius Malfoy and others had poured into their freedom.

Of course following Potter was far easier than following Snape.

It had certainly been a learning experience that much was for certain. The man was not amused the first several times he caught him but it only fed his determination. Snape was a deeply complex man and every mystery he'd unraveled about the man only brought more questions. He'd had to learn that he'd made his game of sneaking around impossibly difficult by adding Snape to the mix.

His fingers trailed a long bloody line on a wiry shoulder watching it branch and pulse with lingering magic. This wasn't good, Snape had been taking too much curse damage as of late both from the cruciatus and from the curses others sent him when they had the chance.

"I thought I might find you here Damian." The headmaster said tiredly. Damian pursed his lips and struggled to ignore the man as he began to work on the damage. "I took the liberty of sending Filch to bed; really Damian the man could have caught his death out there." The man chided as he took a seat.

"You can't keep sending him out there Dumbledore." Damian said as he wound bandages around Snape's arm. "The amount of residual dark magic alone is going to start to affect his spell casting, not to mention the damage done to his nerves-" He cut himself off as he glanced up and noted the man's twinkling eyes. "What?" He said defensively.

"I had worried for you Damian, growing up in that house as you did, never was there a family more filled with hatred, but you've proven yourself to be a far better wizard." He said settling his hands in his lap idly. Damian frowned deeply.

"Dumbledore…" He said hesitantly. Immediately Dumbledore held out his hands in surrender.

"I did not mean that as an insult Damian." He said cheerfully. Damian frowned and returned to Snape.

"No, but you did mean something by it." He said gritting his teeth.

"I did." The headmaster allowed as if admitting it made it any better. "Not many people know about the Vermont family any more, I am saddened to say that their own bitterness towards the world at large has caused them to slip into obscurity. However that is not to say that those who do remember them are likely to forget." He said tilting his head forward.

"Are you trying to recruit me?" Damian said flicking his wand with practiced notions.

"You wear your power like a closely coveted cloak and hide your true potential from the world Damian, but in the last ten minuets I have seen you perform with the same finesse and magical prowess that an entire team of talented Mediwizards could not hope to boast." Dumbledore said causing his wand to falter briefly before he could stop it. Dumbeldore knew then. Dumbledore knew that he'd been hiding under the guise of mediocrity, but for how long? And what did he know?

"I am not a Light wizard Dumbledore." He said solemnly. "I am not certain what you want from someone such as myself but I'd ask you to speak plainly, your negligence of my head of house alone makes me wary of agreeing to anything." He said reverting to the formal speech he was most accustomed to at home.

"I am saying that perhaps we could use someone like you." Dumbledore said blatantly. "Someone who is neither light nor dark, someone who possesses a balance of right and wrong." Dumbledore said looking down at him now. Damian wondered what the man must see in him. A boy who fooled people on a daily basis behind large ugly glasses, hair that was purposefully trussed and clothes were just large enough to make him appear thin and waif-like, yet a boy who hid true power just beneath his skin.

"You think that I don't know better than to align myself with a Lord be he Light or Dark?" He said an edge of bitterness that all his family carried lacing his voice. They'd trusted before, and that trust was broken by both sides until they trusted no one at all and contented themselves in their solitude.

"Ah," Dumbledore said tilting his chin forward. "I was wondering when your families' teachings might manifest themselves." Damian felt the cold steal into him seeping into his bones.

"My family has nothing to do with the truth Dumbeldore. History repeats itself quite obviously where Light Lords and Dark Lords are concerned, my family trusts, becomes loyal and then is betrayed. If you think that I will be blind to this-"

"If not for the Lords than for Severus." Dumbledore said his gaze suddenly calculating. Damian felt his jaw snap shut and his heart thunder to a halt. "I am not blind Damian, you love him." It was as he'd feared.

"So your true colors have come to light then?" He said forcing himself to be calm, relaxing as he fed his emotions into a cool lake in his mind. "You who makes such a point in firmly advocating love and the power it holds would wield that power to get what you want. I must admit that I am nearly as surprised as I am appalled headmaster, perhaps you aren't a Light Lord after all, you simply masquerade as one." He said feeling the cold seep into the room even as he turned to Snape who was resting peacefully his dreams pleasant because of the powder. He felt Dumbledore's power spike.

"You would not do it then? Even for Severus? Even knowing that he will suffer horribly?" Damian felt something inside of him shiver protectively at the thought.

"If I did, you would only seek to replace him using me, you would think that he has little use for you and you will perhaps kill him. I am no stranger to your methods Dumbledore." He said coldly.

"I would never harm Severus, I see him as a son-"

"If this is how you treat the people you claim to love Light Lord then I shudder to think of how you will treat people who are mere allies." He said pointing to Snape's prone figure. Dumbledore's gaze actually followed his finger staring down at Snape with an unfathomable look.

"I see that the Vermont family weakness had only become a strength in you." He said quietly at length.

"The ability to love has never been a weakness headmaster, it was our willingness to trust that lead to our betrayal time and time again." He said firmly.

"So you would sit this war out?" Dumbledore said leaning forward. "You would stay away from it even knowing that you could prevent disasters beyond your imagination? You will keep your chin tucked into your chest and ride the tides with your power drawn tightly to you?" Damian gazed at the man coolly before tilting his head to the side.

"Is that what you want then? To know where I stand? What my intentions are, whether you should treat me as friend or foe?" He said knowingly. The headmaster narrowed his eyes before nodding. Damian had to pull his hand back when he realized that he was stroking Snape's hair away from his face.

"I will protect this man." He said evenly but booking no argument. "However aside from that knowledge I don't think I care to tell you where I stand." He said dismissively. The headmaster didn't need to know that he'd been steadily pouring his magic into the wards since his third year when it became too much to hide. He didn't need to know that he was slipping out to spy on death eater meetings or how hard it was for him to stay back when Snape was being tortured. Dumbledore had no business knowing anything that he hadn't figured out for himself.

"I see." He sounded calm but there was a steel edge in his voice.

"You should check on your precious savior." He said tired of the conversation. "Tonight's meeting would have been especially frightening." He said casting a few more monitoring charms on Snape. "And the professor will most assuredly need time to recover headmaster." He added with a frown.

"What would you give me to ensure that he takes a break?" The headmaster said his eyes bearing a sharp glint. Damian stiffened.

"You would have me barter for this? Do you truly care so little for the man that risks his neck for you?" He demanded.

"Would you refuse to bargain for the safety and happiness of the man you love?" Dumbledore returned.

"I would protect him in my own way sir I will not tie myself to the likes of you when I understand quite well that you would betray us both the second you are able." He said his magic struggling against the bindings he kept on himself.

"Not as readily as you may think." Dumbledore said mildly. Damian opened his mouth to speak but Snape shifted and muttered in his sleep capturing his attention and concern. "The love of a Vermont is steadfast and unwavering." Dumbledore said quietly. "It does not ever falter and it is all encompassing. A Vermont may only ever love once in their life and when they do love there is nothing in this world that would keep them from the person they love, thus is their determination. These are words I have heard since I was but a child Damian, don't think for a second that I am the only one that knows them."

"Yet the love of a Vermont is a truly double edged sward headmaster, magic herself has blessed the family Vermont with whatever gifts be necessary to protect that love. Many see it as a curse, a weakness as you so astutely pointed out; however, it is both a curse and a blessing."

"The true power of the Vermont." Dumbledore whispered leaning forward. "I have only ever seen it once in my lifetime-"

"And you will be hard pressed to see it again." Damian said stiffly. "I am not a sideshow." He said his tones clipped. Dumbledore leaned back again his expression relaxing.

"Severus has loved before." He said smoothly. Damian fought the cold stone of betrayal that he had no right to feel. "A woman." Dumbledore continued narrowing his eyes.

"That is his story to tell Albus Dumbledore." Damian said coldly his eyes flashing in the dim light. "Not yours." He added forcing himself to calm.

"Yet I will tell you anyway that she is dead, and that the love of the man resting there has spanned all these years, it is the force that drives him to sacrifice what he has-"

"Enough." His voice took a low dangerous timbre vibrating with a slip of power that he was unable to hold back. Dumbledore pulled back his stance ridged and wary. Damian forced himself back into control, it wasn't like him to slip this way, he prided himself in his control. But these last few weeks had been so hectic that he hadn't been able to feed his excess magic into the wards. He would have to soon though or Dumbledore wouldn't be the only one to sense him. He was a powerhouse right now, a beacon that would call out to any who knew what it meant. "I could kill you for betraying his confidence this way." He whispered.

"But Severus would never forgive you if you did." Dumbledore said triumphantly. Damian grit his teeth.

"I wonder Dumbledore, if he doesn't hate you as much as he loves you." He said sharply. "If I could I would tear him away from the likes of you." He added. Dumbledore looked at him gravely.

"Is there no way that I could convince you to help us? Join the Order of the Pheonix Vermont; help us win this war-"

"Help you win this war you mean?" He said stiffly. "Help you become a brighter star, help you put up a new Light Lord in the Potter boy?" He said incredulously. "The boy can hardly handle himself much less lead an army." He scoffed. Dumbledore sat in silence then appearing as though deep in thought proving to Damian at least that this was hardly over; the man would bring it up again and again until he received a definitive answer. I was an answer he didn't want to give, because in truth as he gazed down and Snape's slumbering expression he knew that he would do whatever it might take to keep the man safe. Not for the first time he cursed himself for having fallen so deeply without noticing until it was too late.