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21
His Dark Heart





He couldn’t sleep. A little gnat niggled at his psyche. There was something terribly wrong with what was happening to him. He felt in danger, as if at any moment he would draw his last breath. Severus had enjoyed his stay at the Malfoys, enjoyed the company of Narcissa but it was wrong, something about his visit was just wrong.

He wrapped himself in his robe, slipped on his slippers and walked down the hall toward the library. A soft light glowed telling him that someone else was awake.

Lucius Malfoy sat staring into the fire that flickered in the hearth in the library. Severus knocked on the door jam. “May I come in?” he asked.

Lucius looked up with a rueful smile. “You needn’t be so formal, Severus,” he said staring back into the fire. “You’re always welcome.”

Severus walked into the elegant room filled with the finest furniture, rugs and hundreds of books. “Why?” he asked as he settled down in a chair opposite Lucius and also starred into the fire.

“Why, what, my old friend?” asked Malfoy.

“Why am I always welcome?” Somehow this seemed the reason for his lack of sleep and the niggling little warning of danger in his mind.

Lucius sighed. “Because you’re my friend and you’re a loyalist like myself. We serve out master together.” He turned his gaze to watch Severus. The man was always insufferably dressed in black. Even his nightclothes were black.

“But Narcissa,” pressed Snape. “Why her? You invited me, prodded me into your wife’s bed, why?” It was wonder that Lucius would be so generous. In fact, it was impossible for Lucius Malfoy did nothing without a reason or a benefit to himself.

“Was she not…to your liking?” said Lucius slowly. His eye twitched with humor.

Snape dared a glare at his host. It was absurd, this game that Lucius played. He was playing some cunning underhanded game, surely.

“Forgive me,” said Lucius. “I am perhaps a little jealous.”

“Then why?”

A look of sly malice crept unmistakably across Lucius’ face. “Because the silly dragon has put you at risk, you fool.” His voice was harsh and angry. “You have risked everything and for what? She’s not even human!”

“I wasn’t given a choice if you recall,” Severus shot back at him. “Dumbledore stuck her with me and our master saw fit to bind her to me for life!” The words came out in a burning stream. “I am now forever bound to a dragon! I risk my life daily at that school under the watch of Dumbledore who suspects me constantly. I have been the most faithful of servants to our master and yet he nearly killed me, and for what? Only to somehow catch that dragon. He thought her to be important enough for that! My life is worth nothing to any of them, Lucius.” He realized as he said the words that all of it was true. “The Dark Lord may as well have killed me. My life is worth little more than dirt.” He slumped uncharacteristically in the chair and glared into the fire. He hated them all.

Lucius laughed. “Don’t be such a child. Our master had no wish to kill you…yet.”

Severus openly sneered at him this time.

“Come, come,” said Lucius. “You’re so dramatic! You always were so put upon, Severus. Granted, your job is difficult and you’re a constant target to our enemies, but look at me!” He smiled indulgently. “I’m out there, as well. Keeping my mouth shut and my pocket book open for that fool Fudge. It is a constant toil. We are but servants of our master and in the end, my friend, in the end, we will be rewarded for our loyalty.”

“I’m not so sure that my reward won’t be my death,” said Severus morosely.

“Bring him the dragon, Severus,” urged Lucius. “Bring him the dragon and he’ll see your worth. He only wants her out of the clutches of Dumbledore now. He believes her to be a threat of some kind, though I fail to see how that’s possible.”

“She’s unique.”

Lucius was curious. It had been burning inside him. The young woman had been his lover and now she was a monster. “Have you seen her as a dragon?” he asked. “Have you seen this power that Voldemort wants?”

“She is very strong and she is able to see my thoughts.” It was strangely comforting to confess this to Lucius. He carried such a huge burden around with him all the time. Everyone wanted a piece of him.

“She’s bewitched you, hasn’t she? The cunning minx,” said Lucius. “That’s why I gave you Narcissa, my friend, to break her spell on you.” He laughed at him. “And I think she has, my lovely bride. She’s broken the dragon’s spell. Now, you must honor our Dark Lord. You must enlist the dragon in our cause!”

Snape said nothing and starred back into the fire. It did seem logical, to bring her to Voldemort but she would never allow it. The first audience with the Dark Lord had ended in disaster for him. If anything, he knew she would not put him in danger again. In that she was loyal to him. She was also loyal in her pledge to Dumbledore. He idly wondered what she was doing at the moment. Most likely she had spent the last week fighting with her father while gathering information for the Order. It amused him that she and her father were so adamant with each other. He resolved to save her from herself. He would call on her.

“I’ll leave for Hogwarts today, I think,” he said aloud to Malfoy. “I’ll do as you say if I can. I’ll convince her to come to cause.” She could take a turn at being a target and feel the sting of being a double agent for a time. Let her bring her smug know-it-all attitude to Voldemort and see where that got her. The Dark Lord would make mince meat of her supposed dragon superiority. He wouldn’t, in truth mind her companionship on the front lines.




Later that day he found himself not in her company but staring down angrily at the little house elf of the Wood household. He was so angry that she was not to found where he’d expected to find her that he was of a mind to take out his wand and hex the little devil just to spite her.

“What do you mean she hasn’t been here all week?” he yelled.

He was aggravated no end at her audacity at leaving him without telling him where she was. She knew where he was. She had best return the courtesy. He paced the vestibule fuming. “Where is she?” he demanded.

“I dunno, sir,” cringed the little elf Wicca. This gentleman was very scary and he wished he could disappear. He bowed low touching his nose to the ground.

Snape flapped the edges of his black traveling cloak in frustration. “The very nerve of her!” he bellowed.

“Professor Snape, what in the world are you shouting about in my house?” asked Roland Wood indignantly. He stood at the top of the stair looking down at the black galoot having a temper tantrum in his vestibule below. “Your shouting could wake the dead and I’ll not have you frightening my servant in this manner, sir.” He walked down the stair and waited for an explanation. Roland Wood was aggravated.

Severus was momentarily caught out. He’d forgotten about her father. She was infuriating and now he looked a fool, once again. “Forgive me, sir,” he said bowing to the ambassador. “I have suffered a disappointment and forgot myself.”

“Well?” asked Roland not appeased. “Explain yourself!”

“I-I expected Miss Wood to be here,” he said carefully. “It is important that we return to Hogwarts.” Any lie would do to save face. “If you know where she is, it is imperative that she know this. Do you know?”

“I do,” said Roland. He had no intention of illuminating this Death Eater on the wicked whereabouts of his audacious daughter. And for that matter, his daughter was going to get an earful regardless. Lovesick bellowing Death Eaters in his hall was a thing she was entirely responsible for and he aimed to tell her so.

“Do you intend to tell me?” Snape’s anger was reaching a danger point.

“No, I do NOT!” said Roland unimpressed with the smoldering stare and curling lip of this supposed professor. He’d faced down worse wizards then Snape. “I think that I’ll leave Felicity to explain her own whereabouts, sir.”

Snape was livid and wanted to take out his wand and use an unforgivable on someone. Anyone would do. He fumed silently and then resigned that he would not be afforded the opportunity to kill, however, and there was nothing for it but to bow and take his leave. “Wherever she is then, sir, please inform her that I was calling and that she must return to work post-haste,” He said formally and curtly then apparated from the room without another word.

“That man is a loose cannon and will kill someone before he calms down,” said Roland to Wicca who had let out an audible sigh of relief when the black wizard had popped out of the room.

Wicca nodded in agreement.




Severus Snape’s day had gone from bad to worse in a matter of hours. He would be the very last man on earth to admit however that it was his entirely of his own making. He only made it worse when he pranced into Grimmauld Place unannounced and demanded he speak with Harry Potter about an important errand that Albus Dumbledore had set him on. It was only a rouse to have an excuse to look for Felicity Wood but again he’d be the last man to admit that he could have waited until all the students were back at school to inform Mr. Potter of his Occulmency lessons. Severus Snape had wanted to see for himself, had wanted to know absolutely that what he suspected was true. If Remus Lupin were gone, then he’d know.

He was a man quite proud of his cold and calculating control. He refused to admit to himself or anyone else that he could be dangerous to others. He was out there risking his life daily while there were some who hid behind Albus Dumbledore’s robes. He wasn’t going to be made a lap dog for any woman, no matter how pleasurable she was to him. The dragon was comforting to be sure, but he could find such comfort elsewhere if she was so accommodating to others; others that he hated.

It had been foolish, perhaps just a little to confront Sirius Black as he had done or to face that talent less little twerp that James Potter had spawned. He had asked Black about Felicity before Potter had come into the room and then been driven insane by the answer. For that braggart Black couldn’t help including an explanation. He couldn’t resist rubbing his face in it. He would have killed the berk given half the chance but the ridiculous Weasley’s and their enormous slobbering brood had interrupted that pleasure. He’d been rash, perhaps but what a relief it would have been to curse that coward into tomorrow. It was an outrage to have had to ask permission of Black as if he were a servant, as if he even cared whether the boy lived or died. The favored heir apparent be damned! He secretly hoped that the Dark Lord would squash the little nemesis.

Severus steamed and raged as he apparated to the outskirts of Hogwarts. He knew where Felicity was now and it only made him angrier. Remus Lupin had not been at Grimmauld Place. He’d seen that right away. The lazy loaf would have been lounging about in the kitchen, as he always was if he’d been there. He knew where she was. She was with him. Black had told him as much.



Severus Snape moved swiftly across the lawn ignoring the foot of snow that he trudged through. Stupid bloody useless Filch should have cleared the walks by now. He stormed up the stair and strode directly to Dumbledore’s tower. He should have thought better of it, should have stopped for a breather, a cup of coffee or even a smoke but he was hell-bent by then and in a rage.

He pounded on the door to the Headmaster’s office.


Albus Dumbledore let out an audible sigh as he looked up from his papers, realizing there was an irate and irrational potions professor just outside his door. He wasn’t surprised, nor was he displeased. The professor was just another problem on his list.

“Come in, Professor Snape,” he said lightly.

Snape pushed opened the door and walked purposely inside the room stopping just short of Dumbledore’s desk. He was intent on his anger, intent on having his say for once.

“Good day to you, Severus,” said Dumbledore smiling up at him. “How was your Christmas? Did everything go well?” He happily indicated a chair. “Do sit down, you must be tired after such an exhausting time of it.” He peered up at Severus Snape who suddenly looked as if the wind had been kicked right out of him. Poor lad. Dumbledore had that affect on people sometimes. When he wanted it.

Severus stood looking down at Dumbledore. He shifted his weight from one foot to the other. He dithered. He brushed his ever-errant hair from his eyes. “I’ve come,” he fumbled. “I’ve come to report in, sir,” he said finally.

He sat down in the chair defeated. He had no idea why he’d gotten so angry. No idea, at all. Or, for that matter, how the anger had dissipated so suddenly. “I’ve informed Mr. Potter of his Occulmency lesson, Professor,” he said evenly and calmly.

“Fine, fine,” said Dumbledore watching him. “And how did that go?”

Snape allowed a small smirk. “Black interfered,” he said.

“And?”

“And we had words. He and I have never seen eye to eye. The man’s a blagger.”

Dumbledore sighed and looked down at his desk for a moment. “Sirius Black is a troubled soul, Severus. He isn’t, however, a liar or a cheat. You and he have never got on well but do remember my dear Professor that you are free to come and go while he is trapped in that house.”

“I would not describe my predicament as exactly free, sir,” said Snape dryly.

Dumbledore chuckled. “No, no perhaps not!” He smiled pleasantly but with an edge of steel in his eye. “You must remember why we are here, my friend. You must remember what’s at stake. Many lives are in your capable hands.”

Severus starred into the cold blue eyes of his headmaster.

“I ordered her to go to Wolvin, Severus,” said Dumbledore.

Severus did not utter a word.

“The werewolves, as much as you disapprove of them have a right to live in peace.”

Severus moved not a muscle.

“Have you anything to tell me, Severus?”

Professor Snape’s mind went quite blank in an effort to hide from Albus Dumbledore. “No, sir,” he said with a shake of his head. “Nothing.”


“Very good then,” said Dumbledore smiling. “Welcome home, then.”

“Yes, sir. Thank you, sir,” and Severus rose to go.

He bowed and walked to the door stiffly.

“Oh, Severus?” called Dumbledore from his desk as Snape put his hand to the door.

“Sir?”

Albus paused to take in the image of the man. “You did very well, very well, indeed. I very much appreciate your sacrifices.”

“Thank you, sir,” said Severus and he was gone.




Albus Dumbledore stared at the door for some seconds. He’d learned much from the Professor and not all of it good. Lucius and Tom were up to several somethings but that was as to be expected. It seemed that they were using manipulation of Severus Snape and they hoped to gain the dragon in their growing arsenal. Tom could be such a cunning merciless enemy sometimes. And now…Dumbledore sighed again…now he wasn’t even human any longer let alone sane.

So many problems on his list! It seemed to endlessly be growing by the day!

Sirius was also, indeed a growing problem. Young Harry was, too. He was a frustrated and struggling youth with the weight of the world placed squarely on his shoulders. Dumbledore was most worried about Harry and the prophecy. It all hinged on how he, in the end would decide. He and Voldemort would end up at some crucial point in the future, vying for the same space and one would die while the other lived.

There were so many problems on his list.

He sighed and realized with a chuckle that he was doing a great deal of sighing of late.

Severus could go either way but he had faith in the man. He’d learned to appreciate the man over the years despite the differences in their personalities. He was a Slytherin and a Slytherin could always be depended upon to act accordingly. Severus Snape was a man to be trusted in a crisis. Lucius Malfoy and Tom Riddle would both drive Snape back to the fold no matter how hard they tried to lure him away.

For Severus Snape had the one thing that they did not, something that Dumbledore had absolute and unshakable faith in. Snape would, in the end, do the right thing. It was that simple. The man was a born to it. Yes, he was calculating, and self-absorbed but he would do the right thing in the end and simply because he had to, because he was compelled to, deep down in his heart.


************


I'd loved to hear what you think! Cheers, Pru

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