Fifty-Five: History and Hatreds
Lestrange was in heaven, walking behind The Dark Lord once more with his wife by his side. The overwhelming pall of the Dementors was missing from this place, making Lestrange feel as though he might begin to fly unaided by spell or broom, or to explode from the sheer uninhibited energy he felt. He had always been able to hide such things well, but his wife had less experience and so the manic grin upon her features was there for all to see. He would have to teach her how to mask herself later.
Ah yes, he remembered with certain pleasure the first happy memory he'd relived upon being released from Azkaban by The Dark Lord. That memory was of himself and his wife on her first mission together. She had recently joined Lestrange in fervent support of their Lord and was proving her worth of the mark freshly placed upon her arm and stamped upon her soul; that mission was the torture and displacement of the Auror couple, the Longbottoms.
It was an experiment, Lestrange recalled, the first of many- an attempt at finding ways to be able to displace and extract the soul in a manner other than the use of the Killing Curse or Dementors. The use of both the curse and those creatures consumed the souls they removed in different ways. The Dark Lord wished to control those souls himself in his continued search for immortality. The results of the experimental curse had an effect on the Longbottom's souls, but not in a way that they had hoped. The experiment had been cast after liberal application of the Cruciatus, but the thusly loosened souls had escaped before the new curse could be completed and contain them, instead fleeing for parts unknown. The souls would have tried returning later, but because of that same experimental curse the souls were locked out of their own bodies until the curse was removed- which would be never if Lestrange had anything to say about it.
Even during the eventual Ministry trial of himself and his wife, Lestrange had found it priceless that the Longbottoms were diagnosed as being merely insane through the Cruciatus curse that had been lavishly applied to them. St. Mungos would be of no help to them. Only through the willing participation or the deaths of his wife and himself would the curse on the Longbottoms be removed. The judges had wondered why he couldn't help but let out the occasional laughter during the trial, cackling his amusement even as the Dementors dragged him away...
Despite these pleasant reminisces, Lestrange found himself sighing as they entered the main room. The sight brought to mind another memory of a similar circumstance when he was walking this same path with the Dark Lord, Parcelsis Snape, Cassius Malfoy and his son, Lucius. As was the case at that time, Severus Snape lay on the altar on the far end, awaiting their attention. Only this time differed in that Lucius, the boy, was now the Malfoy head and currently unconscious due to a displeasure that Lucius' father had never earned from their Lord. Lucius' son Draco was safely locked away in one of the mansion's many rooms as he had been less than cooperative at discovering his Father's condition. And Parcelsis... well, Severus' Father had run off. The Dark Lord wasn't pleased at that, but Parcelsis had mainly been brought from Azkaban for insurance in case the Malfoys weren't enough to bring Severus out of Hogwarts.
Lestrange wondered idly how intact Parcelsis' sanity was. He suspected part of the answer lay in the elder Snape's cell, with the diagrams and cramped and intricate print that had taken up most of the visible space on the walls and some areas of the floor. Having only gotten a glimpse of it as The Lord's men carried Parcelsis from his cell, Lestrange shrugged off the question. After Parcelsis discovered the truth behind what happened to his wife and the motivation behind Severus' being given the Dark Mark as well, the elder Snape was quite unlike himself even before he was thrown into Azkaban. He'd previously accepted The Lord's alterations to his son and had even contributed to those changes in appearance, temperament and even his magic. In some ways, Parcelsis had lost sanity after the death of his wife in the extent that his desire for justice and revenge drove him.
And here was the result, resting bound and unconscious before them upon The Lord's altar. Severus Snape, one part of the long ago discovered Prophecy. It was their Dark Lord's intention to bring that Prophecy about in the capture of the other person- the key to the power their Lord would then possess. Perhaps it would even bring them the bonus of delivering Harry Potter into their keeping- if the boy wasn't the missing key himself- which was entirely possible.
To be safe, however, Lestrange had performed his specialty for his Master: Warding. Now the Malfoys' fireplace would only allow a Hogwarts student younger than 18 years through the floo. The other key person of the Prophecy was from a different generation than Severus, so was either older or younger- and all indications from the scraps of the Prophecy they had found pointed to younger and being a current Hogwarts student. No adult wizard would be able to follow the key, the students would be drawn to Severus, and the power would be in their hands.
The sound of the approaching footsteps might have made most others tense, but Severus had been a spy of long-standing and knew such a gesture would give him away. Being restrained made it even easier this time, despite the less than fortuitous circumstances. As the footsteps paused, Severus strained his hearing in the hopes of catching information that could be useful.
"Open your eyesssss, my boy. I know you better than to think you could not recover your sssssssssensssess before now."
Severus felt a disappointed twinge at the discovery and, knowing that the best way to delay the inevitable was through conversation, he opened his eyes to regard the frightening sight that loomed over his otherwise magically frozen form. When the Dark Lord deliberately put emphasis on his newly serpentine nature, it was wisest not to give him any reason to become irritated.
A thin and almost skeletal hand rose, accompanied by a harrowing smirk. "Let usss take a look at you, my Ssssseverusss," was hissed as the Dark Lord gently brushed at Severus' cheek in the parody of a parental caress.
Harry was in hell, walking down the hallway behind Draco who was assisting Lucius by supporting some of his weight. Harry had wanted to break away from the two and their painfully slow progress, but Lucius had asserted that /he/ was the Master of his manor, and that it hid his deadly wards and unseen hallways well indeed. And so he followed, watching warily as Lucius occasionally raised hand, wand, or word to disable that which challenged the strange little group.
After what seemed like forever, they reached the end of the hall and a door that led to a small room. "A small and secret room which happened to be located next to the one we had used a number of times when Severus was younger," Lucius explained with a bitter smile, "Preparing him for his destiny."
"What destiny?" Harry felt his temper rise to a slow simmer- as though it wasn't already restless. "The Prophecies?"
"How well informed you are," Lucius sneered in return as Draco helped him towards the far end of the room. "Now be quiet- the room is warded against sound going in or out, but it is wisest to not take any chances where the Dark Lord is involved."
Waving a hand at a portion of the wall, Lucius revealed an illusory window that showed the next room and the people inhabiting it. With the softest of curses, Lucius quickly identified Lestrange and his wife, something Harry barely listened to upon spotting Voldemort standing over the prone Severus upon an altar.
At first, Harry was confused at the fact that he didn't see Severus' aura emanating as it should. He'd expected that Severus was likely hurt in being captured, and as Harry felt otherwise unharmed, the theory would follow that Harry would be in possession of the aura sight. As Voldemort shifted his position and started to raise his hand towards Severus' face, Harry understood. The aura was compressed, showing as a thin outline to Severus' body as it was restrained by an invisible force. Squinting, Harry was able to make out the stomach churning colors of helpless anxiety and frustration as the aura shifted, pressing forward as though seeking a way out from its prison.
Voldemort brushed Severus' cheek and temple, slowly hissing, "Let usss take a look at you, my Ssssseverusss."
Harry felt a protective surge of anger that made him see red. He heard a growl and felt two pairs of hands holding him back from his physical desire to break through the wall to get to Severus.
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