Firstly, I'd like to say a big thank you to all the people that reviewed last chapter, it really made my day re-reading all of your wonderful reviews and actually got me back on track, finishing this chapter after a too-long break.
Secondly, the middle of this chapter was extremely hard to write, I wrote the beginning and the ending and then I flopped in the middle. I had so many ideas swirling in my head after posting the last chapter, and my muse was kick-started, ready to write the next ten chapters no problem, and it slowly drained away as I struggled through this chapter. *sigh* So I just wanted to apologize in advance for the lack of descriptive setting in this one, it's something I've always struggled with and one of the reasons my dream of becoming a published author will probably never happen. Anyway enough of my sob fest, hope you enjoy the chapter.
Snow was falling, whirling all around them as they hurried through the grounds. Severus was keeping a fast pace and Harry found it hard to keep his balance in the shoes he was wearing. He slipped a few times in the freshly fallen snow but quickly righted himself.
He called out to Severus to slow down but either his voice was lost in the howl of the wind or Severus chose to ignore him.
They were headed towards the main gate, if Harry hadn't been so preoccupied with keeping his balance, or the wind that was stinging his face and making his eyes water, he might have wondered what was so important that they couldn't talk about it within Hogwarts.
Other than the recent past experiences with Severus, Hogwarts was the safest place he knew.
They got to the gate and Severus slowed down, he swished his wand and the hinge swung forward so that they could get past. Harry walked through with him, turning back to the castle for a moment with the lights from the windows shining bright in the darkness.
He turned back to Severus who was standing, looking at him. He still seemed unsure.
"Se..verus" Harry stuttered, the cold had seemed to freeze his face and he found he had trouble forming words "what are we doing out here?"
"I..." he began also seeming to have trouble with his words.
He wasn't acting like himself and suddenly Harry felt like he'd made a horrible choice following Severus out here alone. The thought that Severus might purposely bring him harm was so startling that he took a step back and his heart began to beat furiously.
He knew Severus had been angry with him but had he muddled things so badly that Severus wanted to hurt him?
Severus reached into his cloak pocket and Harry tensed, unconsciously going for his own wand, but all Severus pulled out was a second pair of gloves.
He held them out to Harry who didn't move to take them, he was full of distrust now that he had a minute to actually think about the situation.
Severus shrugged and made to put the gloves back in his pocket "You looked cold and I remembered I had my old pair, I had to replace them last week because I managed to rip a hole in the thumb."
Harry's unease lessened, he held out his hands for the gloves with a soft "Thank you."
As soon as his fingers had clasped the pair of gloves he felt a pull at his navel - the familiar and very uncomfortable feeling of traveling by portkey engulfed him and he had the urge to let go but couldn't manage to pull his fingers away. The dizziness intensified and a moment later he found himself standing on wobbly knees outside of two huge oak doors.
He turned to Severus, who had held up better than Harry, and sent him a murderous look. He opened his mouth to ask what the hell Severurs thought he was doing but he didn't get a chance, the door in front of them began to open and Severus quickly said apologetically under his breath "He just wants to talk to you Luke."
Harry felt the hair on the back of his neck stand up as the door opened fully and he found himself facing his worst nightmare.
"Ah," Voldemort said, his voice deeper than Harry had remembered "there you are, we're so pleased you could join us this evening Mister Jones."
Harry's stomach dropped at the sight of Voldemort's wide smile, welcoming him inside. He felt like he couldn't breathe, his thoughts were in a whirlwind, from 'Run' to 'This isn't happening' to the gut wrenching thought of 'How could Severus do this to me?'
His feet were glued to the spot and he had started to sweat. Voldemort walked through the door and held out his hand to Harry "Tom Riddle," he said as Harry very reluctantly took his hand while his mind screamed at him not to. He'd already come to the conclusion that he couldn't just run away, he had no way of getting back to Hogwarts and he had no idea where he was. If he turned his back on Voldemort he didn't know if he'd be hexed on the spot, he also knew he couldn't start a duel with him outright. The last few times he'd faced Voldemort he'd had luck and friends on his side, he couldn't chance it.
As their hands met Harry's expected to feel biting pain in his concealed scar but he felt nothing other than the cool feel of Voldemort's hand.
So their connection hadn't followed him through time, it still gave him uncomfortable chills though.
"Severus," Voldemort said turning and clasping Severus forearm as he gave him a one armed hug, his tone was pleased "thank you for coming tonight and convincing Mister Jones to join us."
Harry couldn't help the look of displeasure that slipped onto his face when Severus looked over at him guiltily but he forced it away as Voldemort turned back to him.
"Come in," he said placing a hand on Harry's shoulder and guided him towards the threshold. Harry's steps were stiff, his movements were jerky as he tried desperately to calm himself and act normal. The cool hand on his shoulder was not helping things though, his body did not want to cooperate.
Voldemort seemed to sense just how much Harry was struggling and his hand squeezed his shoulder just a little too tightly "Don't be nervous," he said with a chuckle, in a voice that Harry was sure he meant to be reassuring but had a slight edge to it "I've waited so long to meet you. Lucius has told me that you have been…hesitant, but I don't blame you, I bet you've heard stories and it's quite nerve wracking to be in my presence but I assure you, I just want to chat."
Harry fought his very strong instincts to pull away and managed to bring his panic down. He just needed to play along. Voldemort wasn't going to do anything to him tonight, he wanted Harry to be one of his followers and he was going to try and persuade him. If he just managed to get through the next little while, he'd be free to go…at least he hoped.
They made their way through the doors and into a grand hallway. Voldemort automatically let go and Harry had to hold in his relieved sigh.
Severus walked in after them and Harry could tell he was looking at him, Harry pretended he wasn't there. If he made it out of here alive, he might have to kill Severus, future be damned.
"Severus," Voldemort said and both boys turned their attention to him. He was standing just a few feet from them with a grin plastered on his too-handsome face, "why don't you go to the dining room and help Lucius and the others, I'd like to show Luke around before we sit down to dinner."
'Others? Dinner?' Harry did not like the sound of that.
Harry noticed Voldemort's eyes narrow, ever so slightly and he turned to look at Severus who hadn't moved from behind him. He was looking at Harry, his body language unsure. A small part of Harry flickered with hope, that the Severus he had known was still in there, but he was still too angry with him to let it show.
"Severus," Voldemort began again, in a calm yet frightening voice "don't worry about your friend, he's in good hands."
Severus' shoulders even so slightly fell and he nodded "Of course," he said and walked down the hall and out of sight, without looking back.
'Coward,' Harry thought bitterly, though he knew Severus really hadn't had a choice, if only he hadn't waited until this moment to regret his decision.
"Come Luke," Voldemort said, holding an arm out to his right, where a set of double doors stood. Harry noted the change in how he had been addressed. Now that they were alone apparently they were no longer strangers. A knot began to form in his stomach.
Twenty minutes later, Harry and Voldemort made their way, slowly to the dining room. "Did you enjoy the tour?" Voldemort asked.
Harry made himself nod, "It was nice." Harry chewed on his inner lip and then added a quiet "thank you," which was like a punch to the gut but Voldemort was looking at him expectedly.
Truthfully the tour had been impressive, if it had been in any other situation; he would have been in awe. There was an enormous library, bigger than the one at Hogwarts, with impressive looking tomes limning the shelves. He'd had the briefest thought of what Hermione would do to spend a day in a library like it, until his eyes had landed on book upon books, radiating dark magic and evil feelings. The thought was whisked away and the knot in his stomach had grown.
Then he'd been led to an extensive potions lab. There were hundreds of ingredients lining the walls, many he'd never seen before. He could see the obvious appeal for Severus. However the thought of Severus darkened his mood so much that he almost allowed hos scowl to show.
He'd then shown Harry a room of inventions. The room had an organized chaos to it and Voldemort had explained that one of his 'friends' was an inspiring inventor, who showed true potential and when asked Voldemort had of course given him the space to hone his talent.
As they had left that room behind, they'd come to another set of doors. Harry had looked over at them and Voldemort gave him a look like he was considering taking him through. Then he smiled, I don't think you're ready for that room yet. Maybe I'll show it to you the next time you come."
Harry realized exactly what Voldemort was trying to do. Pique his interest, so that if the other rooms alone hadn't hooked his interest, he'd have a reason to come back.
Now as they stood outside the door to the dining room, Voldemort smiled at him. "I hope you have been able to see how much I can offer you. Lucius and Severus have told me so much about your talents, with my help and my resources, it could do wonders for your future. I have connections you know? I can open doors for you. You have top marks in Defense Against the Dark Arts, want a job as an Auror at the Ministry? No problem. You want to aim higher still; you can be my right hand man. We could do so much together. I want to change the world Luke and with you by my side we can do anything.
Harry could now see how Voldemort had become so powerful when he first arose as the Dark Lord. He was handsome, charismatic and he talked a good game. Offering people their wildest dreams, who could say no to that?
Harry forced a smile and said before he could stop himself "Sounds too good to be true."
The smile that had been gracing Voldemort's face slipped for a millisecond but Harry still caught it, his breathing stopped, why had he said that? He was so close to getting out of here, but this nightmarish ordeal was bringing out the worst in him.
However instead of doing away with him on the spot, Voldemort chuckled "Lucius said you were a fighter, I like that about you, but don't turn this opportunity down so quickly. Very soon the world will know my name and it will embrace me with open arms. Those who resist…well they aren't long for this world."
Harry heard the threat even though Voldemort's smile had only become more charming. "Now, let's eat shall we?"
He opened the door and inside was a table set for kings, with about forty or so people milling around. Some of which Harry recognized, like the students who had dropped out this year, Lucius who was chatting amicably with a few other wizards who looked his age and Severus who was standing far from the action, looking paler than normal.
"Friends," Voldemort called out and the noise in the room instantly quieted "thank you all so much for coming tonight. Let us all take our seats and enjoy this special meal."
There were cheers and everyone moved to find a spot. Voldemort took his seat at the head of the table and then gestured for Harry to sit to his left. Lucius sat across from him, and Severus, slowly removing himself from his spot, sat a few spaces down. He didn't look at Harry once, instead he kept his eyes on his food for the whole meal.
"I'd like to thank you Luke again for coming, I hope it was enlightening, and that you'll be back soon."
Harry tried not to run as he walked down the steps away from the Manor.
"Here Severus, your portkey back to the castle," Harry turned to look as Severus was handed a galleon, Voldemort winked at him as he placed it in his hand "get something nice on your next Hogsmeade weekend."
"Thank you," Severus said quietly.
Voldemort grinned "Don't dawdle now boys, wouldn't want the Headmaster getting any ideas."
Severus walked to Harry and held out the coin, Harry reached out and grabbed the coin as if was in the middle of a Quidditch game and he'd just seen the golden snitch.
Harry hit the ground hard, the knot in his stomach gave and vomited. He gasped for air as he retched again. Tears gathered in his eyes and dripped down his nose.
"Luke?" he heard Severus say tentatively.
He ignored him, and threw up until his stomach was cramping and nothing was coming out. He continued to heave, unable to control himself. He rocked back and forth, trying to catch his breath.
He felt a hand on his back and he wrenched himself away. He didn't need to look at Severus to know that he'd be standing there in the snow looking hurt.
Harry gave himself another minute before pushing himself to his feet. He turned around and leveled Severus with a frosty glare "How could you?" he accused, angrily.
"Luke…I didn't…I" Severus tried but couldn't find the words.
Harry couldn't hold back his anger at that "How could you do that to me?" he screamed, pushing Severus hard in the chest. Severus managed to stay on his feet. "You knew I wanted nothing to do with him! You Bastard!"
Severus stood there, shocked into silence, at Luke's outburst.
The fact that he wasn't saying anything made Harry even angrier, "You're so weak, you spend a few weeks with Lucius and you let him trick you into joining HIM?!"
Severus looked as though Harry had slapped him, he took a step back and clutched at his left arm.
A terrible feeling took over Harry as he narrowed in on Severus's arm.
"Roll up your sleeve," he said, it came out in a whisper and Severus' eyes widened.
"What?" he said anxiously.
"Roll up your sleeve," Harry said again, his voice coming out sharp this time.
Severus shook his head.
Harry stepped forward and grabbed Severus' arm, the other boy started to fight but it left him almost instantly as shame clouded his face, he held his arm out to Harry, allowing him to roll up his sleeve.
Harry knew it would be there. There was no doubt in his mind but still it was a shock to see the dark skull marring Severus' beautiful pale skin. Harry stood staring at it, as flakes of cold, white snow fell across it. He shook his head slowly and let Severus' arm drop. He felt hallow inside, Severus was a death eater.
Harry looked once more at Severus, he was standing defeated, looking small in the snow. His dark mark still visible, in the whiteness all around. Harry couldn't take it, he turned and ran.
Breathing hard, he ran as fast as he could away from Severus. The snow slowed him down, but he kept going. He couldn't stand to be near him. This person that he had become, that Harry didn't recognize.
He blocked out the sound of Severus calling his name and just ran faster. He didn't know where he was going; he just needed to get away from the boy he had loved…who he had failed.
He ran through the doors of the entrance hall and headed up the steps rather than down towards the Slytherin common room. He just kept going, up and up and up. Having to trust that the moving staircases wouldn't betray him and let him fall to his death.
When he got to the seventh floor he sprinted down the corridor, he realized then that his feet were subconsciously carrying him to the Gryffindor Tower, the place where he felt most at home even though it wasn't his home in this time.
Harry felt sick to his stomach, remembering how Voldemort had reached out to squeeze his shoulder, how he'd placed an arm around him and spoken to him intimately. How Severus had stood off to the side and just watched. He thought of the dark mark burned into Severus' skin…it was all too much. He felt dizzy.
His vison was unfocused, he continued to run not seeing until he slammed into a solid force and fell to the floor. He sat there, trying to catch his breath, not knowing what he had hit. The only sound was his harsh breaths as he stayed there head down, feeling wetness behind his eyes.
Harry's head whipped up and he stared into the dark eyes of Professor Snape, who was looking at him with his usual scowl.
His breath caught in his throat as he realized the impossible. He was in his own time. He must have traveled through a wormhole as he'd run away. That explained the dizziness, and the blurriness…he didn't have his glasses.
Professor Snape was still glaring at him, waiting for him to say something.
Severus. His Severus…was gone.
In that moment the dam broke, the tears that he had been holding back fell and he cried. Unashamedly cried, sitting there on the floor in front of his Professor, he wept openly for everything he had lost and would never get back.
A/N: This might be my longest chapter ever but I had to get it done. I know it's a doozy. I've been wanting to post this chapter forever. I've had the very end written since the beginning. I know it was a lot to take in, hopefully you guys aren't too upset!