Dear Readers,

I have gone through all my chapters, looking through spelling, grammar and punctuation errors. I am shocked by the amount of mistakes in my writing.

As this story comes to its eventual conclusion, I would like to thank all of my committed reviewers. I am hesitant to offer any timeline as to when I finish this story; however I can give an approximate time range of January 25-31.

As per usual, please enjoy yet another chapter and REVIEW!

Chapter 21

Severus Snape has disapparated to the Malfoys' ballroom. He knew his master was there, waiting for news.

'My Lord.' Snape gave a low bow to the Dark Lord, his eyes fixed squarely on the red slits.

'Severus you have taken longer than I expected. What kept you?'

'The Potter boy was insinuating my treachery to Dumbledore, my Lord. I had to shut Potter's wide mouth.'

'Harry Potter has a lot of nerve even for a type of situation he is currently in, my Lord.' It was Bellatrix. The fanatic gaze she was giving her master was rather revolting.

'Bellatrix, the boy expects to be saved by Dumbledore. His past escapes from my grasp have given him hope. I will torture him more to get that daring out of him. Potter will bow to my will, Bella.' Voldemort's last words were forced out. It seemed that the Dark Lord had reservations as to how to make Harry Potter completely hopeless.

'Where is your brother in-law, Bella?' Voldemort began pacing the room impatiently. 'Where is that failure?'

'My Lord, Lucius is in his room. He asked to excuse him for his absence.'

'I need him Bella. Get him in here now.' Voldemort's voice used the familiar demanding note.

Bellatrix bowed. 'As you wish, my Lord.'

Snape was left alone with the Dark Lord.

'Severus, we now have a chance to talk. Tell me whether you think Potter has a chance to escape.'

'My Lord, Potter's situation has never been graver. We have Draco to thank for that.'

'Yes, the Malfoy boy proved very useful in all of this. Very useful indeed. But answer my question directly, Severus, do you think there is a glimmer of hope that Potter will get out of this one?'

'I consider Harry Potter's escape in this case very improbable, my Lord.' Snape tilted his head slightly. 'Forgive me for saying this, but Dumbledore's efforts have now trapped us here. We are guaranteed to be facing hordes of Aurors who will strike at the first notice should we try to leave these premises.'

Voldemort's red gaze seemed to intensify considerably. 'Your intelligence is once again astounding, Severus. You are the only loyal servant who seems aware of this issue. I must find a way to break these anti-disapparition wards.

'My Lord, unfortunately I am powerless in this matter. Dumbledore has the might of Fudge and the Ministry behind him. I am sure of your victory in this conflict, my Lord. Forgive me for my daring, but there is no power to break these wards.'

Lord Voldemort did not seem to be angry at Snape for saying it. 'You know Severus - you have a very realistic point of view. Others will try to raise themselves in my eyes, saying that I have the capability to break Dumbledore's meddling. You on the other hand do not lie to me Severus. Indeed you are my most talented and loyal servant, Severus.'

Snape gave a very low bow, a smile playing on his face. 'My Lord knows that I wish only to serve him.'

Voldemort smirked. 'There is another issue Severus. But I must have Lucius present in order to discuss it.'

Just then Lucius Malfoy entered the room, Bellatrix was right after him.

Lucius gave a painfully low bow. 'My Lord.' Lucius' voice was a croak.

'Lucius, only you know how to grant me the most pitiful greeting.' Voldemort's voice was filled with cold malice. 'Do you know why I summoned you here, Lucius?'

'No my Lord.' Lucius was looking fearfully at Snape. Was it another punishment Lucius was going to have to face?

'I did not expect you to. You do not seem to question anything anymore. Not even you own son.' Voldemort began pacing circles around the dishevelled Malfoy. 'Severus knows and suspects more about Draco than you do, Lucius. It really is shameful for you to not be interested in the affairs of your son.'

'Forgive me my Lord.' Lucius was filled with trepidation and slight confusion. 'As to what affairs are you referring to?'

'I am referring to your son's weakness, Lucius. You should have seen the pathetic display I have witnessed. Your son may have brought me Harry Potter; however he does not have the guts to torture the boy. He is spineless, much like you lately, Lucius.'

'My Lord, I am sure Draco was more than happy to torture the Potter boy…' Lucius' weak attempt at defending his son was instantly deflected by Voldemort.

'Do not try to fill my head with your stupid lies, Lucius. Do you think I am that naïve? Do you think you can trick me?' Voldemort's voice rose, indicating an immediate danger to Lucius.

'My Lord, I think Draco just needs more practice. He needs to know he has power. We need to test him more - he will not fail, I am sure.' Bellatrix's input earned her a glare from Voldemort.

'As ingenious as your plan sounds, Bellatrix, I cannot have a weak Death Eater in my midst.' Voldemort then turned to Snape, who just opened his mouth.

Snape smiled at the Dark Lord. 'If I might, My Lord. I think Draco is not ready to become a Death Eater. He is only sixteen after all. His mind has still not matured enough to accept out rightful ways.' Snape then glared at Bellatrix and Lucius. 'As much as these two want Draco to join our midst, I still think their judgement is clouded by illusions of Draco's success. Yes Draco may have brought Potter here, but that would have been impossible without the help of Bella and me.'

Voldemort looked at Snape for a long moment. 'Your thoughts are reasonable, Severus. I too think that Lucius' son is not ready yet. Lucius should not have boasted about his son's accomplishment, what do you think Lucius?'

Lucius was under the spotlight again. 'My Lord, I merely suggested that Draco was successful. I never boasted…'

'Do not lie to me, Lucius! I know how proud you are. You think Draco's achievement has earned you a pardon for your past transgressions. Do not forget that I can take what I give, Lucius. My forgiveness may have its limits.' Voldemort spoke threateningly but still silkily.

The Dark Lord turned to Snape again. 'Severus, you are correct to say that Draco is not ready. However, I will not sit with my hands folded and wait for the boy to grow up. I must take action to expedite the maturing process.' There was something playful in Voldemort's voice. It seemed that he thought of a plan to make Draco a true Death Eater.

Snape did not like the sound of whatever his master had in store for Draco. Draco really must escape as soon as possible.

'Now to execute my plan…' Voldemort turned from his three most powerful servants, heading downstairs to find the fourth.