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Chapter Five: Prophecy and Prevarication

The man was distressed at the sudden unexplained increase of pain, which also increased his confusion, but it didn't stop him from noticing how the blood drained from the boy's face when he'd asked the question of the boy. The boy swayed on his feet for a moment until he reached out one hand to grasp the crate nearest him, dropping a few small green apples he'd been holding. "Voldemort," the boy whispered.

It was then that the man heard voices; a mixed up babbling that was more impressions of words which caused the man to flinch, startled during the moment it lasted.

//The boy cannot...//

//Parted they must remain, until...//

//-for or against us.//

//-have but to maintain the conditioning-//

Shaking his head to clear it was a movement that the man yet again came to regret as he found himself sucking in breath between his clenched teeth, raising a trembling hand to his neck. "... what?" he whispered once the room settled down to a slow spin rather than a careening path across the globe.

The boy hesitated before repeating the word. "Voldemort. I think he's behind this all." He fell silent as though there was more to say, but he felt greatly reluctant to say it.

"What does he have to do with why my arm is hurting?" the man finally rasped into the silence.

The boy stiffened further with whatever it was that troubled him. He seemed to be warring internally with himself, his cracked glasses reflecting a flawed reflection of the man that was difficult to see at that distance. At long last, the man watched the boy slowly advance towards him, the only sound in the shed being the labored breaths the man gasped through his pain. Slowly, the boy knelt at his side and just as slowly reached for the man's left sleeve to push it up past his elbow. A horrific tattoo of a skull with a snake coming out of its mouth was revealed to the man's startled gaze, the lines seeming burnt into his skin which was red and raw looking around the marks.

"... He's summoning you," the boy solemnly murmured. Seemingly out of curiosity, the boy moved a finger towards the tattoo, hovering over it without touching as though to see if it emanated heat. With no seeming evidence of a burn, the boy lowered the finger to touch the tattoo- and all went black.

The surface below him was of cold stone, and as his fingers explored he found that the surface was elevated. He sat up and looked down where he'd lain only to see the body of a young man whose features were creased from past pain and troubles. His hair was long, black and unkempt; his robes were of similar condition. It was then that he noticed that he was sitting in the same space as the young man, insubstantial, and that they both were resting atop an altar-like slab of stone inside what appeared to be a large dungeon room.

At the sound of others approaching, the man jumped to his feet and hid behind a nearby stone column before the small group became visible through the doorway out. A man completely enshrouded in black robes and hood led the way with a few other men trailing behind him. Two had long blonde hair and were of the proper age and appearance for them to be father and son- the younger of the two seemed to be only a little older than the black haired man he'd shared his resting place with. The other two men had hair that was darker, one of whom looked to contain a bright-eyed intelligence while the other's hair was shorn unevenly with a sharpness to his gaze that seemed rather unstable.

For some unknown reason that was beyond him, he was confused about not feeling any pain. Dismissing the thought as odd, he remained hidden to witness the events that unfolded before him.

"... boy cannot be allowed to be away from our control for too long, My lord," the older blonde man said to the one who led them. "We've seen during his school years what happened when it was left for too long. Remember the time that he nearly managed to feed himself to the werewolf. He almost got away then."

"Dumbledore didn't notice the plea for what it was, and hasn't paid it attention since then," the hooded figure intoned as he stepped up to the stone altar supporting the unconscious body. "He was too concerned for his fool Gryffindors, as usual," he said with a momentary glance in the direction of the younger blonde.

"The prophecy spoke of a key," rasped the shorn man. "A key to power- and he is one or the other; key or power. Parted they must remain, until both are ours."

"Perhaps we should favor an end to the boy instead," the older blonde muttered. "He can be a powerful tool- for or against us."

"He already is a powerful tool, and one I wish to keep," the hooded figure ordered as he stood over the unaware figure of the young man. "I will not allow this venture to be a waste of the time and effort put into it already. The prophecy is not to pass for many years yet; we have but to maintain the conditioning and he will be doubly useful in his position as Dumbledore's little Potions Master."

Interestingly, both the dark man with the signs of intelligence and the younger blonde couldn't quite hide a moment's flicker of relief at the hooded figure's words while the figure produced a length of wood from his robes and lowered his hood. The man thusly revealed was one who emanated charisma and dark purpose in his expression, the features chiseled and strong with short dark hair and a tint of red around the eyes. "Take his wand," he directed of the intelligent one. "He will be returned to you in time for breakfast."

A length of wood- the wand- a familiar looking wand- was removed from the sleeve of the unconscious man's robe and taken from the room as instructed, and the charismatic man turned to his work. Raising his own wand over the younger body he intoned first, "Obliviate!" Additional words were muttered under his breath as the body upon the stone dais became restless, the head moving back and forth in slow denial until it grew still again. The man finished with an emphatically stated, "Obfuscate!" before lowering his wand and staring at the body with a possessive sort of satisfaction.

When the man reached out to rest his hand on the younger man's chest his brow furrowed for a moment as though he felt something odd, but then he shook his head and turned to leave the room with powerful strides.

Once the leader had left, the man slowly crept out from his hiding place, his brow furrowed in a matching expression to the leader's previous one as he looked after him. Shivers would not stop their incessant marching up and down his spine. When the leader had touched the young man, the man's skin had crawled. And the 'wand' that was taken from the young man looked compellingly like the one... the one he knew he had touched recently but could not recall where.

Slowly he approached the still figure upon the stone dais and studied him. Without remembering what his own features looked like- this also seemed odd to him but soon dismissed in his dreamlike fugue- he speculated as to whether the young boy was in fact himself from years ago.

Reaching out to the body, he felt his hand pass through and into the chest just before he found himself drawn forward as though by a swift and irresistible force. All was black once more.

When Harry didn't see a sign of protest from Snape, he touched the Dark Mark to see if it was actually burning or if the redness was a glamorie effect due to the summoning. He didn't count on Snape's body arching upwards the moment he made contact, nor did he expect the sharp burning to begin in his scar. He threw himself over Snape's convulsing body to keep him from hurting himself further, but he also heard voices as though from a great distance. Voices discussing the fate of a boy being used as a tool; one who was becoming Dumbledore's potions master- the boy must be Snape!

The burning in his scar grew to a crecendo, tearing a pained gasp from Harry as he clutched his head and listened to the spellwork being done by the voice. From what the voices had said, he thought this might have all happened in the past. He hoped it was the past, and not the present. Snape was trying to shake his head but Harry diverted one of his hands from his scar to hold the head still; the convulsions had slowly come to a halt and the pain slowly ebbed... Snape grew still so Harry cautiously sat up again, watching Snape for further movement.

He wasn't feeling concern for the man, was he? No, it must be a new wash of guilt for causing Snape further harm. It seemed as though everything and everyone he touched was doomed to come to harm- sooner or later.

Just as Harry was starting to wonder how long Snape would be unconscious this time his black eyes snapped open, accompanied by a gasp. A myriad of thoughts seemed to flicker through the dark depths as Snape readjusted himself to consciousness.

Retaining his recently won wariness, Harry rose to his feet and retreated back to the door to fetch the meager fruit he had found growing wild. Wordlessly he offered Snape an apple, careful to hold it so that it wasn't necessary to touch his professor to give it to him.

Snape stared at the apple for some moments before accepting it from Harry. He didn't bite into it, rather he asked in a somewhat shaky voice, "I seem to find myself asking this of you too often for my taste... but what happened?"

Still in the throes of guilt, Harry turned to look into the corners of the shack better revealled in the sunlight. "I should search this place; maybe there's a first aid kit or something I can use to- uh- keep your leg straight." With that, he retreated into the patchwork shadows of the far corner.


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