Categories > Books > Harry Potter > To Fight the Coming Darkness

Why Lucius Will Never Eat Corn Again

by JBern 9 reviews

The fallout continues from last chapter. Fasten your safety belts!

Category: Harry Potter - Rating: R - Genres: Action/Adventure, Romance - Characters: Dumbledore, Flitwick, Harry, Lucius, Snape, Voldemort, Other - Warnings: [!!] [?] [V] - Published: 2006-08-05 - Updated: 2006-08-06 - 6266 words - Complete

Disclaimer - I don't own Harry Potter, but I bet Harry wishes I did.

Acknowledgements - All the people who wished me luck and congratulations on passing my Cisco CCIE written exam. Thank you. The usual crew of IP82, FairyQilan, Sirius009, Nukular Winter, ChuckDaTruck and Smeagolita deserve extra special thanks for helping guide this tale.

Chapter 19 - Why Lucius Will Never Eat Corn Again

It was one of the perils of being a Dark Lord, suffering the incompetence of your underlings. It was an inescapable part of his life. Perhaps star athletes suffer from the same malaise, knowing that their abilities are what really carries their team. Somehow knowing that you are the best and that no one around you will reach your level. No matter how many times he would say 'Do not fail me.' to a group of his minions, one or more of them would inevitably discover a new and incomprehensible way to fail him. It was a careful balance, a fine line between enforcing discipline to maintain order and perverse sadism. Any would be Dark Lord must understand the magnitude of the failure and punish accordingly.

So it was that he and the rest of his inner circle came to be staring at the quivering mass of flesh known as Marcus Flint. The rest of the new initiates lined the walls of the central chamber. The young Death Eater had already endured several torture curses from both Lucius Malfoy and Peter Pettigrew for his failure. Georgina Crabbe, wife of Crabbe Senior and a licensed healer was attempting to undo the damage to the Lovegood girl. It had not been a pretty sight. Pettigrew was incensed. The latest reports were that she would live, but odds were that she would spend her days in the long-term spell damage ward only slightly more coherent than Bellatrix's victims.

"Enough!" Voldemort said causing Peter to terminate his curse. The Dark Lord rose from his chair and walked towards Flint. He looked at the thirty or so Death Eaters that filled the room, sensing the nervousness of all the 'newbies'. His inner circle remained calm, knowing that their master was about to do something to the boy.

"Dear Mister Flint, how to express my displeasure in your failure? I am almost at a loss for words. Which is your wand hand?" The waste of magic in front of him held his right hand towards his master trembling in fear. Voldemort brought the heel of his boot down on Flint's left had enjoying the sound of the cries. To often his minions forgot the simple pleasures of 'old fashioned' torture. Slaves to their magic, they were. Voldemort continued standing on the hand while scratching his chin thoughtfully.

"What have you to say for yourself Marcus?" He demanded.

"I have failed you Master. I am not worthy." Flint grunted. It was an impressive answer. He had expected begging and pleading. It was a pleasant change to someone used to such groveling.

"Indeed you have and at the simple task of guarding a prisoner. Had she overcame her bonds and somehow escaped, I would certainly be upset, but no you failed to pass on a simple order that the girl was off limits for my loyal follower's entertainment. Peter, would you agree that such dereliction is unacceptable?"

"Yes, Master. Please allow me to kill him." Peter answered. His eyes were practically begging for permission.

"Alas, no Peter. Not this time." Voldemort said as he removed his foot from the crushed hand beneath him. A quick wave of his yew wand and the bones mended themselves. "Stand up Marcus." He commanded.

The rest of the room was deathly silent as Marcus stood. The tension in the air was delightful. "Show me your mark."

Flint complied and rolled up his sleeve to reveal his Dark Mark. "You will have to earn this back, Marcus. Prepare yourself for this will no doubt be painful." With that, Voldemort touched his wand to the brand and began chanting in Parseltongue. The young death eater cried out in pain and sank to his knees as the insignia of his servitude was ripped from his arm. Leaving the boy on the ground he walked over to one of the new Beauxbaton recruits, a pretty young brunette with hazel eyes. Leaning into her, he whispered his instructions. She nodded and immediately left the room.

Voldemort crossed to the other side of the chamber and opened a cabinet. He withdrew a pair of vials from the rack and removed the stopper. He walked casually back to Marcus, who had returned to his standing position. It gave Voldemort a slight pause. He wondered if removing a mark so soon after it had been applied caused the resulting pain to be less than he had expected. Perhaps the longer the mark had been allowed to imprint itself on the wearer caused the pain to be greater when it is removed.

"Drink up, Mr. Flint." He said handing the two vials to Marcus, who immediately downed them.

Voldemort paused before continuing. "Diluted Manticore tail venom. You officially have thirty minutes to live, young man. In five minutes time, you will leave for Gringott's. If you can kill ten goblins and make it back here in that time, the antidote and my forgiveness await you. Otherwise, you die from the poison or the goblins. Good hunting Marcus and do make certain to use the phrase 'Die Goblin Scum'."

Voldemort shoved the shocked wizard towards the door. Marcus Flint scrambled out of the room and headed for the apparition point. Severus approached him. The tall potions master whispered, "Milord, you do realize that if the antidote is not administered within ten minutes, it is ineffective."

"Of course Severus, somehow I doubt a single wizard storming the Goblin's lobby would last more than a minute or two. I sent the female recruit to observe how the Goblin defenses react and his Mark is gone. I wouldn't want to push the creatures further into an alliance with the Ministry. Of course the Goblins will be outraged and when they find no Dark Mark or evidence of the Imperius curse, they will be angry at the Ministry. Besides, the second potion I gave him will mask the effects of Lucius and Peter's curses. It was something he should have recognized from his NEWT level classes. You must be slipping in your lectures, Severus." The Dark Lord ended with a smug rebuke of Snape.

Severus nodded knowingly. Flint was no real loss. It was reassuring to see that his master had thought this plan out. He knew that the diluted poison once in the bloodstream would do it's work and then destabilize long before any autopsy would be performed.

Voldemort turned to the assembled Death Eaters and addressed them. "Each and everyone of you is important to me. We have gathered together for a cause, to see this useless and ineffective Ministry swept from existence and establish a new regime that governs not from rules and laws, but by strength and power. We will not let them continue to weaken and dilute our strength and sap our resolve. They have always sought to hide our existence from the muggles, slowly watching our numbers dwindle. How much longer before we are not a viable society? How can we claim our birthright and heritage as the supreme beings on this planet, when those that claim to rule us are strangling our very existence? No more I say! This foolishness ends. The old guard will be swept aside. Those that stand against us will perish at the end of our wands! We will rebuild the Wizarding world to protect it from the muggle empires. I will not allow our way of life to be destroyed. You are my chosen ones. You will be the ones who stand beside me as we usher in an age of glory not seen since the days of Merlin himself. Our time has come! Our time is now! Today Britain! Tomorrow the World!"

Voldemort smiled as he saw the euphoric faces before him. One would think that the impending death of Marcus Flint was a celebration. 'After all,' he thought. 'All the world is a stage and I intended to have a leading role.' It was ironic that he didn't believe a word of what he just said, but some will follow power and some will follow a message, but more will power and a message.


"Something vexing you?" Susan asked across the breakfast table as she spread some preserves on her toast.

"Just worried about Fred and Luna." Harry responded. He didn't like lying by omission, but the wretched 'greater good' demanded it. He was worried about the tow of them, but it wasn't the only thing on his mind.

"Well, Snape said they weren't being tortured at the moment. I'd like to believe him, but I lost any and all trust for him the moment you pulled that mask off his face." Susan replied recalling the night her family was slain. She looked over at the portrait of Harry's godfather. Both Sirius and Bellatrix were passed out at the table in the picture, the ever-filling Firewhiskey flask between the two. After a bit of awkwardness, the two echoes got along surprisingly well and were in the middle of trying to drink each other under the table when Harry and Susan returned from Hogwarts. It appeared that there had been no clear winner between the cousins. Sadly, neither her mum nor her aunt had sat for a Wizarding portrait and truth be told, Susan wasn't exactly sure she would want to find one. Would they have approved of her actions? Her aunt seemed to like Harry, but liking and approval were two completely separate things. Beyond a few questions every now and then, Susan had no idea what her mum thought of Harry Potter.

"I know. I just want to get the both of them back. We've got Tonks in another hour and Lupin in the afternoon. How are you feeling?"

"Never better. Professor Lupin complimented me on my transfiguration yesterday. He thinks I am almost ready to try some basic conjuration." Susan answered with her best chipper smile. Mentally, she sighed. All the aches and pains from her training sessions still nagged at her. She had never worked this hard in her life! Tonks was a ruthless slave driver and even though Susan knew she was improving steadily, she knew it wasn't enough. Harry outclassed her in every sense of the word and he was so driven! Her Hufflepuff loyalty and work ethic were often the only thing that kept her from quitting in exhaustion. She suspected that in a fight she would be both a liability and a distraction to him.

Oblivious to her anxiety, Harry had confided that he was worried about Tonks. True the metamorph had regained her ability, but she was still hurting from her ordeal. Harry had said the young auror was a cheerful person with a carefree personality, but she still hadn't seen it. Professor Lupin was doing his best, but while his skills in transfiguration, defense and conjuration were quite good, his social skills with the opposite sex left much to be desired. The auror had a good deal of anger that she wasn't suppressing very well at the moment.

"I told you that you would catch on. It's just like transfiguration only you start with nothing. Maybe you'll have a knack for it."

"I wouldn't hold your breath, Harry. The only thing I seem to have a knack for is collapsing in exhaustion every other hour of training." Susan answered slightly downcast.

"I prefer when we collapse in exhaustion together after our private workouts." Harry said playfully trying to lighten the mood. Seeing it did not work, he switched tactics. "Susan, don't you ever wonder why all the teachers spend all this time lecturing and don't just show you how to cast the spell. You ever wonder why charms, transfiguration and defense are all taught on different days? Constantly using your magic is exhausting. Don't let it get you down. I'm pretty much knackered by the time drill sergeant Tonks is done with us. Just wait until I start doing this to the DA this year and watch how they hate me."

"You're right. I just can't help comparing my performance to yours. Well, I better get going if I want to get back before the taskmistress arrives."

"Are you sure you don't want me to go with you?"

"I'll be fine. Hardly anyone is in Gringott's this early. Besides, I don't want you to see my mother's wedding dress, when I get it out of the vault. It's bad luck and I have to drop it off at Madame Malkin's for professional adjustments. Plus I have to look for 'something old' down there."

It was still amazing that they were talking about getting married in just a few short weeks. Hannah, Chelsea, and Hermione had taken the lead in getting preparations rolling. Yesterday while Harry had been dealing with the horror surrounding the deaths and abductions, the trio were helping her design the invitations. It seemed a bit ridiculous in light of things, but Harry had actually encouraged her. He told her that they needed to continue on and not let the attacks deter them. She suspected it was just something to keep her occupied, but didn't voice her suspicions to anyone other than Hannah. Most of the others seemed to be busy planning the funerals of those who died at the joke shop. It took some of the joy out of their planning, but they still made significant progress.

Susan stood up and gave Harry a quick kiss. "I promise, I'll be careful." She then headed to the floo and called out for the Leaky Cauldron before disappearing.


Susan quickly made her way into the alley. Under normal circumstances she would have flooed to the Weasley's store, but sadly it wasn't the case. She passed both Lavender Brown and Colin Creevy who were headed to the Cauldron for breakfast at the end of their shift. She did note that they were holding hands as well, which allowed Susan to test out her evil smile at the possibility of spreading a bit of her own gossip.

There were not too many customers this just shy of seven in the morning. She spotted a young woman at the new accounts desk using what she suspected were not so nice words in French. The goblin servicing her looked slightly irate, but then again Susan thought that most goblins look slightly irate. There were a handful of customers already at the teller windows but over half had no one at all. She was walking past the several with customers on her way to the cart area when she heard a shout.

"Die, goblin scum! Lacero!" A wizard in a brown cloak fired a point blank severing charm at the teller in front of him. Susan froze momentarily as the man jumped up on the counter and began firing curses at the goblins. The one directly opposite from her managed to flick a dagger almost reflexively at the wizard before disappearing into a fine bloody mist. Susan started backing away and fumbling for her wand as she saw the dagger bury itself into the wizard's shoulder. He howled in pain and continued firing curses. Three security trolls were coming out of the guardroom. The ground shook as something massive hit the ground behind her.

Chippedfang was the nightshift security manager. As such, he had a nice desk situated back and away from the teller windows. He should have been relieved by now, but Spinebreaker was taking advantage of him again. True, his appointment was only in the last month, but he would eventually have to challenge the older and more well positioned goblin, unless he wanted to spend an additional two hours each day waiting for his relief. The moment the curses started flying. He immediately hit the first touchstone. That seals off the entrance and sounds the alarm in the guardroom. Within seconds trolls would be dispatched. He activated the second touchstone, which would alert the Humans, as a courtesy. The goblin at the desk next to him fired a crossbow at the deranged wizard. The stick-waving monstrosity responded with a blasting curse that destroyed his neighbor's desk mortally injuring Burntflesh and showering him with debris. The goblin security chief was knocked to the ground and stunned. With his mangled left hand, now sporting two less fingers than when he started the night, he hit the third touchstone. That would finish this fool.

Flint had two daggers and three crossbow bolts sticking out of his body. He was starting to become dizzy, but tried not to loose focus. Was it five or six of the foul imps he'd offed already? He tossed another exploding curse into the teller area sending blood and money - both Wizarding and muggle into the air. He felt the counter he was standing on shake. Did Gringott's employ giants? He spun and looked at the lobby as four massive statues of gargoyles leapt down from their perches gouging the tiled floor. Each was maybe four meters tall. He fired a blasting curse at one only to see it fizzle ineffectively at some magical shield protecting the creature. He managed a second one before the golem was upon him. The hole blown into the wing may have been a small comfort to him as the creature's stone claws eviscerated him. Had Voldemort placed a bet on Mr. Flint's performance, he would have been pleased to know that Marcus lasted one minute and thirty-seven seconds.

Susan watched in horror as the gargoyles converged on the wizard and an instant later he was dead. Her wand clutched uselessly in her hand. She had been about to start casting stunners at him before the gargoyles arrived. Unfortunately Susan, like most other customers in the lobby at the moment did not know the limitations of such fantastic constructs. They were impressive in size and strength and the magic that protected them, but were hampered by the small number of instructions that could be issued to a construct. The goblins of Gringott's had programmed their constructs upon activating to attack any human actively casting spells with lethal force. Any human holding a wand was to be disabled using reasonable force - well, reasonable to a goblin that is.


Lucius Malfoy managed a small smile as he watched the rank and file leave the room. Flint's death was certain. He almost felt bad for recommending to the boy that he admit his unworthiness and accept what punishment the Master offered. Despite last nights 'activities', Lucius was still a very frustrated man. His discreet inquiries to his ex-wife's whereabouts had turned up nothing. He didn't even know where Draco was, only that the whore had sent him to the mainland on a vacation. The parents of the boy's friends questioned their children and turned up no clue. To say Lucius was concerned was a mild statement.

"Lucius now that the new initiates are gone, perhaps you would care to enlighten me as to why I was forced to dispose of Marcus like that?" Voldemort queried.

"Milord, it was a terrible misunderstanding ...", he started but was silenced by the Dark Lord holding his hand up.

"Sniveling does not become you, Malfoy." Lucius winced at the implied anger of the statement. "Somehow, you expect me to believe, that you did not realize that I had plans involving the girl when I specifically tasked Peter with her capture. Am I to assume that you have so little control over your urges, that you would purposefully endanger one of my carefully laid designs? I do believe the pressures of your position are getting to you, Lucius. Do you feel that I am placing too much of a burden on you for your meager skills to handle?"

"No Master, I ..."

"It does not matter what you feel or what you think! It matters what I think and what I think is that you are a failure! Time and time again, you fail me! Your vaunted political allies are doing little to stop Scrimgeour. They can barely slow him down at this point. Your inability to keep your wife in check resulted in her leaving with a good chunk of your fortune, which is hampering my war efforts. You led my followers into the Department of Mysteries. I don't even want to discuss my diary! Perhaps a change in job functions is in order? Madame Faircloth, I wish you to begin communicating my wishes to Baron Carruthers. Salvage what you can from the present situation. Peter, you will take charge of the daily operation of my headquarters. Ensure that there is no repeat of last night's idiocy."

Lucius was visibly stung. His responsibilities summarily stripped. "Milord, these are but setbacks. I can still prevail."

"I want you to consider how you will prevail for the next week, Lucius." A flick of his wand and Voldemort created a cage. "I want you to think long and hard on how you intend to serve me, when I return you to your human form. Peter will make sure that you have plenty to eat and drink this week. He's very good at caring for animals, though I don't know if he has specific experience with dungbeetles. Peter, do you think you can manage to keep Lucius fed this week?"

Peter gleefully looked upon the horrified expression on Malfoy's face. "I will personally provide his dining, Master. Thank you for this privilege."

A second wave of his wand and an incantation interrupted by Malfoy's desperate plea for leniency and in Lucius Malfoy's place was a much larger than normal dungbeetle. Peter carefully placed the insect into the conjured cage.


Susan stared at the golems in a mixture of horror and relief. The wizard's death had been shocking, but it was over. At least that is what she thought until one of the statues turned towards an elderly wizard who was approaching with his wand out and backhanded him with arm that easily weighed twice as much as Susan. The man went sailing through the air and impacted against the wall. The other statues were moving on other witches and wizards.

"Turn the blasted things off!" She screamed. None of the goblins or trolls seemed to pay her cries any heed. She watched as a middle-aged witch was thrown bodily into the teller area. She had to do something quickly. She stabbed her wand and shouted, "Reducto!" She watched as her blasting curse impacted ineffectively on whatever runic magic was protecting the monster. It did get the attention of the creature, steering it away from the trio of spellcasters in front of it.

'Good going Bonsey! Now it is going to kill you!' She thought quickly and decided on a plan of action. "Catena ex Ferreus!" Her and Harry's use of the combat magic book in their private sanctuary had led her to this binding spell. The Latin in the spell was straightforward enough 'Chains of Iron'. Six feet of linked chain shot out of her wand and curled around the legs of the stone behemoth moving towards her. It staggered and fell. Instead of using its claws to free itself it dragged itself forward towards her using it's arms. The golem still moved quickly, but it gave Susan enough time to complete the most complex spell she had learned from the aforementioned tome - a swish, a jab, switch to two-handed grip, two complete circles around her head and thrust towards intended target. "Tero atque Contrucido!" The spell itself was a blasting spell meant to attack fortifications. The book had nicknamed the spell as the 'Dionysius' s Pocket Siege Engine."

The scarlet beam from her wand was painfully slow. By the time the golem and the spell collided, barely three meters separated the two of them. Susan felt a pull on her magic as the lancing energy struck the gargoyle head on. Her eight inch willow and chimera fur wand twitched and vibrated as she struggled to maintain her two handed grip. It was not the only thing to vibrate. On the other side of the beam the gargoyle's forward momentum was completely halted. The stone that formed the head shuddered as the runes protecting the stonework blazed against Susan's magical assault. A flash of light and a resounding crack signified that one side had given way. For a brief horrifying moment, Susan thought it was her wand that cracked. Thankfully, it was the stone head that gave way and exploded as the beam began boring a ten- centimeter circular hole into the statue's torso. The rest of the statue toppled onto its right side.

Susan's victory was short-lived as the destruction of one golem drew the immediate attention of the other three, which had been on the other side of the bank where only a few humans were still standing. Apparently, she was now the greater threat as all three began rapidly closing the distance. She had only one option. She sprinted for the nearest cart. The goblin inside it was cowering.

"Drive dammit! Go!" She screamed at the goblin. She cast the chain binding spell again as the cart rolled forward and started picking up speed. It slowed one down and the second had to navigate past the already destroyed gargoyle, but the third closed the final gap and brought its clawed fist down on the side of the cart derailing it. The blow sent the speeding cart careening off the tracks and into the wall.

The gargoyle lurched forward, but sensed that the threat had been neutralized. Before it could scan for the next threat, it received the 'all clear' signal and started back towards the carved pedestal from whence it came along with the two other remaining constructs.


Harry drummed his fingers impatiently on the chair in Dumbledore's office. He was on edge, like the case of nerves that he usually gets just before a quidditch match. Having been here all morning and with it approaching noon, Harry was hungry, but not certain he wanted to eat. He wished he could go flying. Maybe, he could bring Susan out here tomorrow and go for a few laps around the pitch. He had seen Terry and Mandy headed for the broom shed as Tonks led him up to the castle. They were probably going flying, but then again, given those two who really knew what they were up to. Susan would enjoy the morning off. Trixie would inform Susan that Harry had been brought to Hogwart's instead of having the morning lesson.

"Bored, Lord Black? My carcass is no doubt turning in its grave." Phineas Nigellus' painting asked. In Dumbledore's office, the painting and Harry agreed that the echo should maintain his air of disdain and indifference towards Harry. Back in the Sanctuary, they had spent several long hours together. The painting was able to provide keen insight into the behavior and actions of Albus Dumbledore.

"Behave, Phineas." Dumbledore chided while offering Harry a lemon drop. Much to his surprise, Harry actually accepted taking two. Harry popped one into his mouth and simply glared at the portrait of Phineas Nigellus. "Relax, Harry. Events will unfold as they are meant to. Impatience will do nothing to speed their progress. I have sent Minerva and Filius to greet Severus. I daresay that he will not be pleased that his floo access to the castle has been revoked."

"I am surprised you are going through with it." Harry said.

"Sometimes as one gets older, it becomes harder to admit one's mistakes. You would think it would get easier with age. Often the young are accused of being headstrong and resistant to change, but I can assure you people of all ages fall prey to those maladies. I will ask you to avoid provoking him."

"I won't provoke Snape. I won't back down from him though."

"This is usually the point in the conversation that I tell you to call him Professor Snape. Isn't it?" Dumbledore said foregoing another lemon drop in favor of a licorice wand.

"Yes, but after today the best you could do is scold me for not calling him Mister Snape." Harry added.

"Indeed, Harry."


"What is this foolishness? Another meaningless security procedure?" Severus demanded. The floos at Hogwart's were denying him access. He was forced to arrive in Hogsmeade and apparate to the edge of the wards.

"Good morning Severus. Beautiful day isn't it?" The unusually chipper voice of Filius Flitwick said. Both he and McGonagall were on the path obviously waiting for him.

"Well?" Severus demanded looking down at the diminutive charms professor. He enjoyed watching the smile disappear from Flitwick's face.

"I'm going to have to ask you to surrender your wand." McGonagall interjected.

"Again with this? Oh very well." He said handing it to her.

Filius spoke up. "The other one as well, Severus." There was an implied threat in Flitwick's tone of voice.

"I see. Suppose, I am unwilling to part with it?" Severus responded, the words slowly tumbling out of his mouth.

"Then, we would both find out how fast I really am, Death Eater." Flitwick responded. He paused before continuing, "The point is moot anyway. Even if you outdrew me, Minerva would finish you. What? You don't think she has it in her? Consider the fact that you are here bartering with the lives of two of our students, before you make your choice."

"Technically, Fred Weasley is a former student, but Filius is quite correct about my feelings." Minerva said as both men realized during their tense exchange that her wand was now in her hand. "Now that the pleasantries are out of the way, you will surrender your spare wand and we will escort you to the Headmaster. Afterwards, you will be escorted back to this point, where the house elves will be waiting with your personal effects from the castle. Is that clear enough for you, Mister Snape?"


"Well, I suppose it won't be official until Albus tells you, but we are done with you. You have worn out your welcome by working with a monster that makes war with children! I had always thought the day you were finally shown the door would be a joyous occasion, now I realize that the show is not worth the price of admission."

Realizing his position, Snape surrendered his backup wand. He was then instructed to walk five paces in front of the two of them into the castle. Oddly enough, they passed several other professors on their way to the Headmaster's office. Several just looked at him. A few even managed a serviceable imitation of his mocking sneer. Pomona Sprout met his eyes and before walking away loudly proclaimed, "Good riddance to this pile of rubbish."

At the entrance to the office, even the statue seemed a bit more hostile. Instead of the quick fluid movement of it stepping aside, it was slow, deliberate and its head turned to follow him as he ascended the steps. He raised his hand to knock on the oak door.

"Enter." He heard before his hand had made contact. The door opened of its own accord. Inside Dumbledore and Potter awaited him.

"Greetings Mister Snape. Please be seated. Before we deal with our unpleasant business, I will have to ask you to bear with me as I am forced to conduct some official business." Dumbledore paused while Snape seated himself. "On behalf of myself and the Board of Governors of Hogwart's School of Wizardry and Witchcraft, it is with great regret that I must invoke clause seven of your employment agreement. I have prepared a document for your review, which indicates exactly how and how many times you have violated the 'Due Cause' caveat of your agreement. If you wish to appeal this termination, you will need to present your case when the Board meets later this month."

"Exactly what led you to this course of action, Headmaster?" Severus asked not really attempting to sound polite.

"The pensieve memory provided by young Susan of your actions at her house. Harry and I viewed it after you left yesterday and I must say that both of us were quite surprised to learn that it was you and not Rudolphus Lestrange that performed the killing curse on Dana Bones. It seems I have failed to steer you back into the light, but I am beginning to believe that you never really wanted to come back."

There was a pregnant silence as Dumbledore sipped his tea. Harry merely regarded Snape with an impassive look on his face. He thought of watching the memory with the Headmaster after Snape had left them, while collecting the Headmaster's memories of fighting with Riddle. He remembered being angry enough to kill. Harry planned to apologize to Neville for being so short with him. Twenty seconds later, Dumbledore spoke again.

"Well, I suppose we must now discuss the terms for our prisoner exchange. The exchange will take place tonight at nine PM, at the edge of the wards. Your master will not be present. The prisoners will ... "

Snape had had enough of being pushed around. "Nor will you, Dumbledore. No more than five of your precious Order is to be present."

"In that case no more than three Death Eaters are to approach within 500 yards of the wards." The aging wizard's ire was palatable."

"There will be equal numbers." Snape countered.

"I intend to be there regardless of what the two of you decide." Harry spoke up.

"Harry ..." Dumbledore started.

"Don't take that tone with me. I am going to be there." Harry said with a finality.

"Very well. Five Order members and Mr. Potter."

"Five Death Eaters and myself."


"Then my business here is done. With the exception of knowing the name of the person Mr. Potter intends to spare." Snape said standing up. The old man looked sad.

"Fred Weasley. We'll trade Penelope for Fred. I'll escort him to the wards." Harry said. "I need a good patronus memory."

"Minerva and Filius have that covered, Harry."

"No, I'll handle it. I haven't let Susan see that memory since she took it out of her head and somehow I'll have to explain to her that I let the bastard that killed her Mum walk away, twice. So, I damn well am going to enjoy giving him the heave ho."

"Very well, Harry. Take Severus to the wards. Do remember to be civil. Send Minerva and Filius up to see me."

"Well Ex-professor Snape, what are you waiting for?" Harry said gesturing with his wand towards the door.

They walked down the steps and Harry relayed Dumbledore's instructions to the slightly bewildered professors, before continuing towards the exit. Snape waited until they were alone before indulging in a bit of goading.

"It's a pity, Potter. Had the old man started training you the moment you first stepped foot in this school, I would say you would have one chance in ten against the Dark Lord. Having seen the two of you in action, I know you stand no chance."

"Always looking to save your own worthless hide. Keep walking." Harry said in an even tone.

"I am sure the Lovegood girl will keep many of my lord's troops entertained. I daresay that I might even partake."

"What would it take to save her?"

"What are you offering, Potter?"

"How about a memory of what I witnessed just before I destroyed the Headmaster's office? I believe you overheard the first two lines, shortly before you sold out my parents to the thing whose boots you lick. The Headmaster made me aware of that little tidbit too. My owl is leaving for the ministry this afternoon. My new friend Rufus is going to put a bounty on you, so please do venture out into the public eye."

"I'll bring the girl. You will remove the memory in front of me and swear an oath that it is the memory in question."

"Deal. You realize that after tonight, the next time I see you I will kill you?"

"You can delude yourself all you want, boy! I am ten times the wizard you will ever be."

"Yet here we are and only one of us has a wand, you spineless sack of shit. Yours are behind that rock." Harry said pointing to a rock typically used as a congregation point for students waiting for their friends on trips into Hogsmeade.

Snape walked over next to the pile of books and boxes. There was a distinct lack of ingredients, but his master's cabinets were stocked with supplies that were removed from Hogwart's over several years - no terrible loss except for a few expensive items, which could be purchased with Dungbeetle's money. He picked up the wands only to have them turn into rubber chickens.

"Oh dear." Harry said with mock sincerity. "The house elves must have packed your real wands and left those out. I'll make certain to congratulate them when I get back. See you tonight, Snivellus."


Author's notes - I passed my Cisco exam and now have returned to my hobby with a vengeance. This chapter took forever to get started, but once it did the darn thing practically wrote itself. See my full author notes on Darklordpotter.
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