Hey Guys! Disclaimer: I do not own these characters or anything you find here that it also found within the books or movies. They came up with that stuff, I'm just adding a twist. This fic is going to be a little different, but I hope it turns out well!
Just to get a few things out there, I am disregarding a lot of the things that happen in the books/movies, but am also using random bits. There is no cut off on the Cannon, just whatever I feel like using. Which means no horcruxes. Also, this is rated M for a reason. It is likely to be graphic both violently and sexually. If you don't like that, then this is not the fic for you. Anyway, on with The Clash of the Conjurers!
I really hope you enjoy my story! If you do, Please REVIEW! :D
Swirling darkness twisted the night air around him. A hundred faceless men stood witnesses to this horrible scene. Traitor, the harsh wind seemed to whisper and the rustling robes of his audience echoed the sentiment. They knew.
A single pillar of smoke stepped forward from the wall of black surrounding him, as if a slice of the very night drew closer with a cackling laughter at odds with fluidity of the scene. "Traitor!"
His body shook from a wicked curse at the point of the other man's wand. The moment had come; the moment he had dreaded for a lifetime, but had always expected: he was going to die.
Red eyes glowed from within the depth of the limitless black. Eyes he knew could see straight into his mind, past his flesh, past his fears, into his very soul. For a moment he feared that his soul, tainted as it may have been, would be ripped from his body as if from the kiss of a dementor. But he was powerless to stop it. "Avada Kedavra!"
Severus gasped in a gulp of air so hard that it strangled him. The room was dark, but the cheap, harsh light of Spinner's End filtered in through his moth-eaten curtains and he could see that the only things twisting around him were his own threadbare sheets. Wiping a clammy palm across his sweat-soaked brow, Severus panted a moment more before slipping out of bed and heading to the bathroom for a cold shower.
It was that place in between asleep and awake that he most dreaded. There, paranoia could seep into his very bones, and he could believe even his worst nightmares. It was for this reason, each time sleep brought such visions of horror, that he immediately sought the cognizance of being awake.
"Merlin," he groaned as the cold water poured down his back. He had accepted long ago that he would not survive the final conflict between the Dark Lord and Potter, but that acceptance did not make it any less frightening. Not that he had much to live for, but he feared for the fate of his soul in its tattered condition. Life had been its own brand of hell. If the afterlife was worse, he had good reason to fear death.
The Butterfly Effect. It was such a whimsical name for something so complex and difficult to comprehend. Hermione Granger stared up at the ceiling over her bed, biting her nails as she contemplated the text she was currently immersed in. Her hair fell like a bushy waterfall over the edge of the mattress and her legs were stretched out up the wall beside her bed. A heavy hardback rested on her stomach, opened against her blouse, the pages crinkling slightly with the steady rise and fall of her breathing.
Having run out of books on magic that she hadn't read several times already, Hermione had delved into her parents' 'philosophy and science' shelf. Chaos theory, she mused, was a decidedly unnerving idea. Her mind immediately made the jump to Harry and Voldemort and what it could mean for the future of the Wizarding World. If something as simple as a glance in someone's direction could have an effect profound enough to alter that person's future…
Hermione breathed in deeply. She knew it wasn't as simple as that. Every movement in the entire world sent out ripples and was caused by ripples. Perhaps the fate of humanity had been determined the moment the stars were born. This was why she so loved Arithmancy. If every action or reaction was caused by something else, and every cause could be calculated after the fact, did that mean that the future was already set in stone like the other side of the equals sign in a mathematical equation and that adding up every miniscule variable would, in effect, predict the future?
Suddenly, Hermione's hair was yanked painfully as her beloved ginger kitty, Crookshanks, caved to the temptation of the dangling curls. "Ouch!" Hermione swung her legs back down and flipped over to stare down at the fat, orange menace. "What was that for?!" She laughed into his squished face as he looked up at her with an ironic expression. Reaching down, she grabbed hold of the fluffy culprit and dragged him onto the bed beside her. "Oh, Crooks. What am I going to do? The World is in chaos and we may have a war by the end of the year! And yet, I find myself hoping that it can wait just a little longer so that I can at least take my NEWTS." She cringed at her own admission. Voicing the thought aloud made it seem so much more selfish than it had in her head. But they were about to begin their seventh year at Hogwarts, and she had been looking forward to the NEWTS since she'd first known she was a witch.
"Hermione!" her mother's voice called from the bottom of the stairs. "Supper's ready!" Hermione sighed. Tonight was her last night at home with her family before going to stay at Order Headquarters with Harry and Ron. She was going to miss her parents desperately, especially because she couldn't be sure she would ever see them again. But she was looking forward to seeing her friends and spending the rest of the summer planning for their final year at Hogwarts and the inevitable upcoming war.
"Albus, old fool, surely you must realize that the boy is pitifully ill equipped to challenge the Dark Lord. Your platitudes will not suffice to bring him to the cusp of victory. Your Golden Boy needs a taste of bitter reality." Severus was pacing the small study in aggravation as he spoke to his colleague. His mood was made darker with his own powerlessness to rid the old man of the insufferable twinkle that forever seemed to emanate from those penetrating, blue eyes.
"You underestimate the boy, Severus," the Headmaster cheerfully replied. Severus snorted at that absurdity.
"Someone has to be realistic, Albus. Someone has to see beyond the façade of flawlessness you've wrapped around the boy. We are all doomed if you have bought into it, yourself."
"And I suppose you believe that you would be better qualified to prepare Harry for this upcoming conflict?" Severus suppressed a retort at the old man's blasé attitude.
"Fine." Severus froze in his steps and turned to look at the older wizard.
"I said…" Albus drew out, slowly, "'fine.' Now if that is all?" The Headmaster began to stand, a process that was made slow by the creaking of his old joints as he pried himself from the squashy cushions of the old couch.
"What do you mean 'if that is all'?" Severus shouted, leaning his weight against the back of an armchair facing the professor. "Of course it's not bloody all! You know what I am asking, Albus, and I know you have an answer. Now, enough with your petty mind games!"
"Alright, Severus. There's no need to shout." Severus growled angrily at this pronouncement. The old goat really knew how to rile his temper. I shouldn't give him so much power. "I will contact Horace tomorrow. If—that is an if, Severus—he agrees to resume his old position, I will allow you to take up the post as the new Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor." By the magnanimous way with which Albus bestowed this great kindness upon Severus, he had no doubt that the old man had been eagerly anticipating making that announcement. For Severus, however, there was no monumental sentiment in the achievement of acquiring a position he had asked for every summer for sixteen years. Rather, he sighed tiredly and relaxed against the chair beneath his grip.
"Thank you," he murmured. A small part of him was merely pleased that he would have the opportunity to teach his favorite subject before he died. He loved Potions because that was who he was. But he loved the Dark Arts and defense against them because he had been seduced by them himself and he knew, better than almost anyone, the price one paid for succumbing to that dark temptation.
In his position as a spy, Severus never had the opportunity to fight off the Dark Arts. He was forced to embrace them. Yet, in his mind, those defenses would play out again and again as if on a loop in lieu of fulfillment. More than anything, he wanted to fight against the temptress; the siren of the darkness. And he would do so, but only vicariously, through his students. Finally, he would have retribution.
Grimmauld Place was the den of chaos that Hermione had always expected it to be. What she never remembered, however, was how tiring that chaos could be after a day of listening to Fred and George teasing Ginny, while Harry caught up with Sirius, and Ron drooled after Fleur Delacour. The half-veela was about to be married to his brother, for Merlin's sake! Not that she cared, really. Any feelings she may have had for Ron last year had melted away when she realized how shallow he really was. But it did put her at odds with the rest of the people present because she suddenly found that she was the odd one out.
It was for this reason that Hermione had given in to the desire to visit her favorite room in the house. The Black Family library was not particularly impressive, but what it lacked in size, it made up for in eccentricity. From household management charm books to old tomes dealing with the dark arts, one never knew what to expect when picking a book at random from one of the rickety shelves. And after her little dip into chaos theory, picking a book at random was exactly what Hermione had wanted to do.
Unfortunately, the first book she pulled from the shelf was a dusty old guide for preparing severed House elf heads to mount on the wall. Stuffing it back in disgust, Hermione decided that a second choice would still be random. She wrinkled her nose when she drew The Magical Mythologies: Witches and Wizards Worshipped by Muggles Willingly and almost returned it to its place as well. Something on the cover of the book caught her eye, however, and she pulled it closer for a better look. There, in gold filigree after the title and the name of the author was the sideways 8 that she knew was a symbol for infinity. She smoothed a thumb over the surface of the emblem and smiled. The very same symbol had been sewn throughout her father's chaos theory text. The Universe does not play with dice, she told herself.
Hours later, she made her way back upstairs to rejoin the madness, only to find that no one was in the boys' room, where they usually spent their evenings. Perhaps they've all gone down to the kitchen? As she made her way downstairs, the door to the study opened and she froze in her tracks. Professor Dumbledore stepped out of the room, looking rather pleased with himself. She wondered what could have put that dotty smile on his face. He headed straight for the exit and she wondered how long he had been at Grimmauld and if he was planning to return. As the front door closed, she almost returned to her task of descending the stairs, but a faint sound made her stop.
Professor Snape, dreaded Potions Master and Head of Slytherin House stepped out of the study, looking more tired than she had ever seen him. His head was bowed as he closed the door and she watched his shoulders slump as he exhaled deeply, bringing a hand up to pinch the bridge of his nose. For an instant, she was reminded of her reading the day before and a sudden twist of paranoia in her gut made her shiver with the sickening thought that her eyes upon him now could cause a chain reaction somehow leading him to his doom. She shook her head. It could just as easily be the other way around. Then, the moment was gone, and so was her professor.
Hermione breathed a sigh of relief and continued down the stairs. As she reached the kitchen door, she could hear angry yelling inside. Curious, she stepped into the doorframe. Immediately, her eyes flew wide as she took in the scene before her. Ron and Ginny were shouting across the table at one another, wands drawn. Apparently, the topic was Fleur.
"You just don't know her!" Ron yelled indignantly, his face red in an ugly contrast to his hair.
"Oh, and you do?!" Ginny countered, though Hermione noticed that her own angry blush was somehow beautiful. Ginny had really blossomed in the last couple of years, and the boys had already noticed.
"Well…" Ron sputtered, "I—it's just—she…" Hermione decided that she shouldn't be here. Taking a step backward, she collided with something very solid. She gasped in surprise as long, pale hands reflexively clutched her upper arms. They were gone almost the instant that they touched her bare skin, but not before her head had jerked around to meet the dark, forbidding eyes of Professor Snape. She leapt away from him, back into the kitchen.
"S-sorry, sir," she managed, feeling her cheeks grow hot with embarrassment as his shock faded into an ugly sneer. All it took him was two steps into the kitchen and silence reigned. Hermione spun around to see that her friends' red faces had drained of color in the space of an instant. Such was the Potions Master's talent for terror.
"If you feel the need to continue bickering," he began lazily in that silky baritone, "take it elsewhere." Hermione could see Ron's jaw set in anger and his face was beginning to redden again. "You may be under the impression that this is your home, but allow me to disillusion you of that falsehood. 12 Grimmauld Place is the Headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix. And, unless I am much mistaken, the next session of bickering is not scheduled until tomorrow afternoon, when the Headmaster returns." Hermione's jaw dropped at the mocking tone of his voice. Was he making a joke? "Now, go away. I wish to enjoy my tea in peace."
Ron looked like he was going to argue, but Ginny grabbed his arm, shaking her head meaningfully as she dragged him toward the door. Hermione watched them leave, only to find herself alone with Snape. Her cheeks began to heat again with embarrassment as she slipped past him to follow her friends back upstairs.
Whaddya think? I know I'm just barely setting the stage, but let me know how you like it so far! 8}