Old Snake Scales
Gently, Severus tucked a thick quilt around Drusilla, brushing her hair out of her eyes. He tossed her gown onto the basket with the other laundry for the house elves to clean, and settled onto a chair, watching her. He could see the faintest tremors running through her body, unpleasantly familiar tremors. Such tiny muscle spasms were an aftereffect of the Cruciatus curse. Rising from the chair, he made his way to a locked cupboard, absently wondering if the potion that he’d devised for the treatment of the curse would work as well for a vampire as for a mortal.
There was only one way to find out, and at least it would be from watching someone else instead of taking the potion himself. Settling beside her on the bed, he touched her lips, noticing the layer of blood coating them. Leaning down, he gave a soft kiss, tasting the blood.
Blood of a wizard, with the tang of fear and lust.
“Time to give you your medicine, my dark princess,” Severus whispered, placing the vial against her lips.
As her mouth opened, he poured the deep purple potion into her mouth. As a vampire, she couldn’t choke on it, even if she didn’t swallow immediately. Another tremor hit Drusilla, and the fluid slipped down her throat. She shuddered, possibly in reaction to the taste, reminiscent of bitter almonds. While the flavor would never be his favorite, it was quite pleasant compared to other potions, such as Polyjuice or Skele-grow.
Slowly, the tremors faded, and she seemed to slip into a deep sleep. Curling himself beside her, Severus permitted himself to rest as well. For the first time since the school term had started, he’d been able to feed deeply; tasting the fear in someone’s blood as they realized what he was, feeling the life drain from them into himself, and leaving them fallen to the ground, no more than an empty carcass. It was quite pleasurable, especially since they’d been limiting themselves to unintelligent beasts in the forest and blood from the animals prepared for the students to eat. Wizard’s blood fresh from the throat was far better than cooling goblets of cow’s blood.
To his delight, he woke to his lovely Sire’s cool fingers running over his body, which had somehow become stripped of his robes. Giggling, she demanded, “Wake up, dragon-childe. I’ve been very good and killed the nasty snake.”
Caressing her arm, he murmured, “I thought you ate a wizard, princess.”
“Not the way he wanted me to eat him,” she giggled, and then nipped at his collarbone. Her teeth caught his neck, teasing up to his ear. “He wanted me to play with him, like I play with you. Or at least, he thought he wanted to play…”
Severus groaned as her nails opened the skin of his chest. “You play a bit rougher than most wizards would enjoy.”
“You don’t complain about how I play…”
He silenced her with a kiss, pulling her closer to him. As the kiss deepened, he noticed that her tongue felt rougher, as if healing from something. Further inspection made it clear that someone had bitten her tongue. A flare of something that wasn’t quite jealousy burned. “Did he bite you?”
“He did, but he had no right to try to punish me. He’s not my Daddy, not my childe to have the right to be in my bed, to strip my clothing from me. I didn’t want to make the beast with him. He used a nasty word, full of sharp little teeth ripping at me. It was powerful magic, and not very nice,” Drusilla shook her head, frowning at the memory as her fingers moved lower. “Could you make a spell that only hurt half as much? That might be more fun…”
Severus had never imagined anyone making a request like that. Was she seriously considering something like the Cruciatus as foreplay? “Not at the moment.”
She grinned, and there was no more discussion of spells or wands for some time.
End part 1.
Severus didn’t think much on her words until later, as he was cleaning up after the fourth year Ravenclaw-Slytherin Potions class. She had met Voldemort, and he’d found her desirable, trying to force her into relations with him. Not that he could blame anyone for finding Drusilla attractive, but still… She’d resisted his advances, even aided by the Imperious Curse, and so he’d bitten her tongue. Hard enough to draw blood. Something was bad about that… But then she’d killed him, ripping Voldemort’s throat open and draining his blood.
Draining his blood… She’d taken his blood, and he’d taken hers, even if only a small amount. Blood exchange followed by death. Blast it all, had she managed to accidentally turn the Dark Lord into a vampire?
“He would be even more terrible,” Severus whispered, his mind spinning out images of what a vampire Voldemort could accomplish. It was far too horrible to permit. Even leaving aside the incredible, inexcusable waste of the way Voldemort killed, he certainly wouldn’t want that wretch to be around two hundred years from now.
He stalked out of the dungeons, his robes flaring behind him. This was certainly not a fortunate development. Something needed to be done. Something had to prevent Voldemort from rising again, darker and more terrible than before. Unfortunately, as far as the Wizarding world could fathom, the only one presumed to be able to get rid of Voldemort for good was Harry Potter. Perhaps he could make use of that fact.
He could hear students in the hallway, their voices loud enough to drown out the beating of their hearts and the soft swishing of their blood. The eternal, intolerable debate over Quidditch teams, and a loud discussion of the horrible unfairness of somebody or other being banned. Quidditch fans were annoying, all too easily loosing track of more important matters than which team caught the snitch, which could put more quaffles through the hoops. It was a fine game, but it was only a game.
“… could have won the game if he’d been in!” The young man held the pained outrage of a deprived fanatic.
“But they’ll have more games this season, and he’ll be able to play in those, won’t he?” Potter’s voice, lacking the same intensity as the other, who could only be his cohort in crime, the youngest Weasley male.
“It won’t be the same! Here, let’s see if this helps explain…” Soft murmuring of spells came next.
“Students are forbidden from using magic in the halls, as you two should well know,” he strode into view, looking at the pair of them. He wasn’t surprised to see that their usual third, Granger, was nowhere to be seen. She seemed too sensible to be caught in Quidditch-fever. “Ten points from Griffyndor, and detention tonight for both of you.”
“Detention? But… That’s not…” Weasley sputtered, his face flushing almost as red as his hair.
The boy was so flushed… Severus found himself wondering how he would taste. “Yes, detention. You will report to Madam Hooch tonight at eight, Weasley. Potter, tonight you’re mine.”
Potter paled, swallowing hard. He nodded, smelling faintly of fear. Severus smiled at that, only then remembering that the boy had been half convinced that he’d be eaten during the Occulomancy lesson. Weasley was still red-faced, his blood taunting with its nearness, barely restrained by his skin. It would be so very easy to make the blood flow… which was exactly why his detention would be somewhere else.
“What are the pair of you still doing here? Don’t you have some class that you undoubtedly need to study for? Go!” He snarled, hoping that his fangs weren’t showing. If Weasley didn’t stop flaunting his blood like that, he wouldn’t be held responsible for tasting him.
The boys bolted away, feet slapping at the stone of the corridor. He could smell their fear, more from Weasley than from Potter, and it called to him. His hand curled into a fist as he fought against his instincts, not chasing after them no matter how tempting their fear smelled. He stayed there, not trusting himself to move a single foot until he couldn’t smell their fear anymore.
Vampires had a few simple weaknesses, and if Potter had been paying attention in his Defense classes – one of the few things that he seemed to do well in – he would know how to fight a vampire. If they could get back to the clearing in the Forest where Voldemort had fallen… It would be a simple matter for Potter to kill Voldemort before the new vampire could orient himself.
Failing that, he could always kill him while Voldemort was busy attacking Potter. Either way, he’d win.
Absently, he wondered just how the Dark Lord had returned, and when it had happened. Was this something that he’d remained unaware of because his Mark was gone? Perhaps he should watch some of the Slytherins more closely, in case they were puzzled about his continued presence if their Death Eater parents mentioned him not appearing in answer to Voldemort’s summons.
End part 2.
He could hear Potter coming down the hall, complaining about someone being stubborn, and not listening at all. Grumbling about trying to tell ‘him’ something important, and being put off and offered a stupid bit of candy. It even sounded like he was kicking at the walls.
Glancing at the clock, Severus arched an eyebrow as he realized that Potter actually seemed to be coming to his detention early. Walking to the door, he drawled, “Stop kicking the wall before you break one of your toes, you’ll need them tonight. Since you’re here, come inside and close the door.”
The boy looked like he wanted to slam the door, but instead just pulled it shut. Glancing at the back of the room, he frowned at the rows of drying cauldrons. “Sir? You said I had a detention, what am I supposed to be doing? The cauldrons are all clean.”
“I could still have you scrub them again,” Severus commented, noticing the way Potter’s hand clenched at the words. “I didn’t order you down here to clean cauldrons tonight.”
“Someone would probably notice if… But you’d already know that, wouldn’t you? You wouldn’t have called me down here as an after-dinner snack.” Potter shook his head, and settled at a desk, seemingly more comfortable with that little bit of distance and a table between them.
“Why were you cursing in the halls, Potter?” Severus leaned against his desk, wondering just who had roused such creative words from the boy. If he’d use half that creativity for his assignments for History of Magic… or perhaps he did, and that was why his grades for that class were so dreadful. Or maybe he’d had another run-in with Draco. Draco had tasted much better than he had expected; it was such a pity they’d had to let him live.
“I was trying to talk to Headmaster Dumbledore. I’ve been having some more of those dreams…” Potter fell silent, his eyes unfocused. “I don’t know who else I could tell about them that wouldn’t think that I’m crazy. Pettigrew was in them, with Voldemort. They were in some old house, talking about a woman that they killed, and some plans. They already attacked at the World Quidditch Cup, just like they said they would in the dreams.”
Severus narrowed his eyes, standing up straight. “What else have these dreams said?”
Potter blinked, and ran his hand through his hair before he answered. “There was some sort of plan, but he was persuaded to use someone else, instead of ‘the boy’. I wonder if they meant me. There’s still some sort of plan that he’s got, something here, because he said that he had someone loyal to him at Hogwarts. He was… He was stalking around, looking…”
“He was flesh again,” Severus interpreted. “Was he lurking in someone, like he did to Quirrel? Or did he find some other way?”
“Independent flesh, but… there was something wrong with him. More than before, I mean,” Potter fumbled as he tried to explain. “He didn’t look human. His eyes were wrong, red and sort of like a snake. I don’t know what he did, but his skin was… it was wrong. Not human, but not quite as horrible as those Dementors last year.”
“Are these dreams part of the reason why Dumbledore decided that you should learn Occulomancy?” Severus guessed. Part of his mind was trying to figure out who could be in the castle loyal to Voldemort. If he was as confident as that, it couldn’t be one of the upper level students. One of the staff would be in an ideal position, but the only new member was Alastor Moody, a man who had demonstrated amply that he’d rather die or suffer horribly than join Voldemort.
“I think so,” Potter murmured, looking as if the idea hadn’t previously occurred to him. Shaking his head, he looked back to the front of the room. “What am I going to do for detention?”
Glancing at the clock, Severus decided that it would be fully dark by the time they stepped outside. “You’re going into the Forbidden Forest.”
“Am I going in there alone?” the boy’s voice was barely over a whisper, a flicker of fear wafting from his body.
“Oh no, Potter, I’m not sending you into the forest alone. I’ll be right there with you,” Severus purred, enjoying the fear that the boy was trying to hide. Motioning for Potter to follow, he crossed the room and opened the door. “Voldemort was attempting to perform some ritual that he thought would affect the wards around the school. He was interrupted.”
“Won’t he come back then, and try again?” Potter was jogging to keep up.
“Drusilla killed him last night,” Severus muttered, deciding not to comment on the state of her apparel when he found her.
“Then why are you still worried?”
Clenching his teeth together, Severus mentally counted to one hundred. “Because he won’t stay down for much longer. I expect him to wake up tonight. Imagine, the Dark Lord, a vampire. No longer killing simply for the pleasure of it, but out of a true blood-thirst.”
“Darker and more terrible than before…” Potter stumbled, fear filling the air. “I think she might have actually been making a real prediction.”
Severus decided not to ask what the boy meant about predictions. He would rather that they made certain that Voldemort was completely dead tonight, before the preparations for the Tri-Wizard Tournament became too hectic. There were still lingering traces of red and purple to the west, but the sun was safely down. Stalking towards the Forest, he demanded, “You were paying attention in Defense, and know how to deal with a vampire, do you not?”
“Yes, sir. Sunlight… not unless there’s a spell for that. Beheading or impalement with wood through the heart. Fire. Did I miss something?” Potter asked, breathing a bit harder as he tried to keep up.
“There are sunlight spells,” Severus admitted. “But in the interests of my own health, I’m not going to demonstrate them. They have an area of effect. As you could master the Patronus Charm, I have no doubts that you would be capable of them. Perhaps you could ask Moody or Flitwick about them later.”
Potter stumbled several times before he muttered ‘lumos’, spilling a bluish light from his wand. Apparently it was enough to keep him from tripping any more as he followed Severus into the forest. The unease and fear that he could smell from him were quite tempting.
“Sir? All the Defense books describe vampires as, well… nasty. But you don’t seem nastier than before.” He paused, stepping carefully over a fallen branch. “In fact, you seem… well, you don’t seem to hate me anymore.”
“I don’t,” Severus replied.
“Not that I’m complaining, but why not? Did being turned into a vampire really change you that much?” Potter insisted.
“I don’t feel that different, in most ways. Meals have changed, and I doubt that I will be refereeing any more Quidditch games. I remember being mortal, remember all the feelings that went along with it, but they’ve changed. I don’t hate you now, though I’d probably still hate your father. I still despise Black.” Severus shrugged, “If it makes you feel any better, I still don’t like you very much.”
“At least some things haven’t changed,” Potter muttered, sounding oddly relieved. “Then why are we out here?”
“So that you can kill Voldemort, of course. I don’t have to like you to realize that the whole Wizarding world expects it from you. I am simply providing you the opportunity.”
“He’s expecting me to kill a vampire. I’m only fourteen,” Potter’s shocked whisper would have been missed by mortal ears. “What if I can’t do it?”
“Then I’ll kill him while he’s busy with you,” Severus countered. “Come now, you fought a troll in your first year, and apparently a basilisk in your second, Dementors last year, why quaver at a vampire?”
“He’s still a powerful Dark wizard!” Potter exclaimed.
“So am I. One way or another, Voldemort will be destroyed tonight. It is only that the whole world expects you to be the one responsible, I simply thought to give you the chance.” Severus turned, seeing a few footsteps from the night before. “He won’t think of using spells immediately, his first focus will be trying to feed.”
“Not really a comforting thought, sir. I don’t want to be anybody’s dinner.” The scent of Potter’s fear was stronger now. “Just how much faster will he be?”
“If you can consistently catch the snitch, you should be fine,” Severus attempted to reassure Potter. This was the clearing, now… yes, that dark lump was Voldemort. He hadn’t started to move yet, though he could feel him, so it would be soon. “Just don’t look him in the eyes.
Nervously, Harry Potter raised his wand, the light spell fading. His other hand rubbed at his scar, while the boy frowned. “Right. It can’t be worse than the basilisk. I hope.”
End part 3.
At the very same moment that Voldemort began to stir, Potter gasped, his hand clutching at his scar. There was the faint scent of blood, laden with magic. It smelled as if Potter held far more magic in him than Burgess, more magic than Draco. Very tempting… But if he gave in and attacked Potter, then they wouldn’t be able to stop Voldemort.
There was a low hissing sound as Voldemort rose to his feet, a completely inhuman noise. He sounded rather snake-like, in fact. Hands curled into claws, held ready and wandless, as he looked up, glaring with baleful golden eyes, his forehead contorted into a loathsome visage, sharp teeth bared.
“I think he looked better as a wart on the back of Quirrel’s head,” Potter mumbled.
Voldemort hissed again, looking directly at the boy, and took a single step towards them.
Potter skipped backwards, calling out, “Impedimentia! Nao veja! Confundus!”
Voldemort growled, wiping at his eyes.
Potter hissed back, before calling out a firm, “Petrificus Totallus!”
Severus realized that the strange hissing could only be Parseltongue. He’d known that Voldemort was one, but it had never occurred to him that two Parseltongue wizards could hold a conversation in the language, or more likely, trade insults. Gesturing at a fallen branch, Severus transfigured it into a sharp stake. He felt a pang of unease, but tossed the stake to Potter, “Use it.”
The boy nodded, moving slowly towards the magically bound Voldemort, his whole demeanor proclaiming that he was still afraid. His wand was in one hand, the stake in a white-knuckled grip in the other. “Now I just need to hope that he still has a heart…”
That was when Voldemort moved.
He lunged towards Potter, one hand grasping at the boy’s robes while he snarled, “Crucio!”
Potter screamed, arms flailing under the effects of the Cruciatus curse. One hand glanced off Voldemort’s head, causing the Dark Lord to scream, flinging the boy away from him. The distraction was also enough to break the curse. From the way that he snarled, he was clearly not amused.
Sending blasting curses at the boy, Voldemort stalked towards Potter, who was scrambling backwards, terror evident in his expression. His scar was bleeding now, a steady trickle down along his nose and down his cheek. With his voice trembling, Potter gasped out, “Accio stake!”
The stake leapt into the air as if flung by an invisible hand, and flew into Voldemort’s side, causing him to shriek in pain. Now the scent of vampire blood almost drowned out the smell of Potter’s blood.
Potter followed up with a shouted ‘Lumos’ that was potent enough to leave Severus blinking away spots. Immediately, Potter was casting again, layering several binding spells and stupify’s as well as a few other jinxes. None of them were particularly advanced, but they might slow the Dark Lord down a little bit.
Then Potter did something clever, shouting, “Accio wand!”
With Voldemort’s wand in his other hand, Potter alternated stunning and containments with conjuring sticks, changing them to sharp points, and sending them into Voldemort’s body. Between the spells and the sharp pieces of wood, Voldemort was soon quite immobile, and only then did Potter seem to calm at all. Taking a few steps closer, he summoned another stick, transformed it into a sharp stake, and carefully considered Voldemort’s body. Then, he gestured with one of the wands, and the stake pierced Voldemort.
With a shriek, Voldemort exploded into a puff of dust, leaving a grainy layer of ash caught up in the splashes of dark blood.
For a moment, Potter blinked, staring at the ashes. Then, he put one wand in his pocket and conjured a handkerchief, vigorously wiping at his face. When he dropped it to the ground, it was grimy, and smeared with blood. “That was disgusting… I could feel little pieces of him on me.”
Severus nodded, understanding the revulsion that sensation must have produced. He was fairly certain that he would have felt something similar. “What happened when you hit him? I don’t believe you to have enough strength in your flailing to have harmed him.”
“It hurt him, burned his skin,” Potter edged around the blood and ashes. “The same thing happened when Quirrel tried to take the Stone from me in my first year. Headmaster Dumbledore said that it was because of my mother’s sacrifice.”
“Your mother’s sacrifice? That seems a bit…” Severus paused, trying to find a suitable word. Ridiculous? Far-fetched?
“That’s what Dumbledore said, and I don’t have any other explanation,” Potter shrugged. “I was busy being happy that I wasn’t dead when he told me that, and before I was busy trying to keep Quirrel-mort from getting the stone. I didn’t care why it worked as long as it did.”
“Sloppy. That lack of understanding is why you have so much difficulty with your potions. Now, I suggest that you return to the school, and go tell Dumbledore that you’ve dealt with Voldemort. I think I’ll linger out here long enough for dinner, unless you’d like to volunteer?” Severus didn’t expect Potter to stay. The boy might be brave, and foolish, but he wasn’t quite the idiot that he’d accused him of being.
“No, sir, but if you’d like, I could tell the Headmaster where you are? He’ll probably want to ask you some questions about this later,” Potter replied, one hand gesturing at the place where Voldemort had become dust.
“True enough. Go and tell him, I’ll be in later. The password to his office is Chocolate Frogs.” Severus turned, starting deeper into the forest. He had a rather long future ahead of him, and it wouldn’t do at all to taint it by draining the so-called savior of the wizarding world.
The boy might even be less frustrating to teach after this, and if he could manage to cultivate a working acquaintance, it could be very useful to know a Parseltongue… Just think of advantages to speaking to serpents when attempting to gather snake skin or venom! Besides, if the boy would defend a werewolf on the strength of his long-dead father’s friendship, he might be persuaded to stand for a vampire who had been one of his teachers. He’d be a far more useful boy to cultivate than some of the Death Eaters’ spawns, and not nearly as witless.
He had time to work on Potter. Three more years with the boy as a student, and the rest of his mortal lifetime afterwards… And now, there was no Voldemort to hinder his plans. Severus was pleased with the way the night had gone.
End part 4.
end Old Snake Scales.
End Snake series.